Tuesday, October 02, 2012


Celebrated: Nationwide, today only

Today is also my father's birthday — Happy Birthday, Dad — and World Farm Animals Day, but the big news is that today is the U.S. publication date of BOOKS TO DIE FOR, a project that has consumed a disproportionate amount of my time since the beginning of this year.

BOOKS TO DIE FOR is a collection of essays from 120 of the world's top crime writers in response to the question, "What one book should all mystery lovers read?" If you're a mystery fan, you won't be surprised to see many of the standards here, books like Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (discussed by the versatile Kelli Stanley); The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain (Joseph Finder's pick); Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca (chosen by Minette Walters); and The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (Kathy Reichs' choice). But even I, after ten years of writing newsletters for The Mystery Bookstore, had never heard of Fast One by Paul Cain (recommended by Chuck Hogan) or The Dead Letter by Metta Fuller Victor (Karin Slaughter's choice). And I'd forgotten all about so many of the books and authors in this collection, or forgotten that I'd once meant to check them out. I've already tracked down a copy of Margery Allingham's The Tiger in the Smoke, recommended by Phil Rickman, and I can confirm that it's every bit as good (and creepy) as he says it is.

Thanks to the generosity of its editors, John Connolly and Declan Burke, the cover page of the American edition credits me as "assistant editor," which is pretty darn cool. It may overstate the nature of my work on this book, which was mainly logistical/administrative. (I am "editorial assistant" on the cover page of the UK edition; feel free to discuss the difference between the two titles in the comments section.) I did translate five of the essays from French, German and Spanish, straining brain cells I haven't used since college. Putting the book together was a labor of love for all involved, including the publishers.

What's challenging about a book like this is that it's probably not a book that people will buy for themselves. It's big, for one thing, and might seem like a luxury to those of us (most of us) who don't have unlimited funds to spend on books. But it's a book that all mystery fans will love having on their shelves, and therefore makes a perfect gift for anyone who loves crime fiction. Even if I hadn't worked on this book, I'd be giving it away as a Christmas present.

That is not to say, however, that you shouldn't buy a copy instead of waiting to see whether you get one from me.

BOOKS TO DIE FOR has its official U.S. launch on Friday afternoon at Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, in Cleveland.  Some 30 authors will be signing the book there, and if you'd like to order a copy, get in touch with one of the convention's booksellers. A series of events have been scheduled for BOOKS TO DIE FOR between now and the end of the month, and I'll be at most of them — check out the complete schedule here, and look for me at the events in Pittsburgh, New York, Washington, Richmond and Boston.