Private investigations Mystery writers on the secrets, riddles, and wonders in their lives

Book - 2020

"In Private Investigations, twenty fan-favorite mystery writers share their first-person stories of grappling with mysteries they've personally encountered, at home and in the world. Caroline Leavitt regales us with a medical mystery, a time when she lost her voice and doctors couldn't find a cure; Martin Limon travels back to his military stint in Korea to grapple with the chaos of war; Anne Perry ponders the magical powers of stories conjured from writers' imaginations, and more"--

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New York : Seal Press 2020.
First edition
Physical Description
vi, 311 pages ; 22 cm
  • Introduction : solving the mystery / Victoria Zackheim
  • Ghosted / Hallie Ephron
  • Plot twists : this writer's life / Jeffrey Deaver
  • An extra child / Sulari Gentill
  • Field notes à la Maigret from Paris / Cara Black
  • Lydia and Jack / Connie May Fowler
  • The land of the morning calm (and other military mysteries) / Martin Limón
  • The clay that we shape / William Kent Krueger
  • Origins and destinations / Ausma Zehanat Khan
  • A trick of the light / Kristen Lepionka
  • The mystery of deception / Lynn Cahoon
  • The long shadow of war / Rhys Bowen
  • I don't know this word / Rachel Howzell Hall
  • The beams keep falling / Steph Cha
  • Writing about war / Jacqueline Winspear
  • Can we live without mystery? / Tasha Alexander
  • Godfathers, Nancy Drew, and cats / Carole Nelson Douglas
  • The mystery of my lost voice / Caroline Leavitt
  • Remembering the past / Charles Todd
  • Nuns, magic, and Steven King / Robert Dugoni
  • I want to be a magician / Anne Perry.
Review by Library Journal Review

Mystery giants Anne Perry and Jeffery Deaver are known for tales of twisty suspense and thrilling whodunits, but in this volume, edited by Zackheim (creative nonfiction, Univ. of California, Los Angeles), they, along with 18 other crime fiction writers, explore the enigmas of their own lives. Some tackle actual mysteries--Hallie Ephron visited a medium when her friend was haunted by a ghost. But most contemplate personal journeys. Martin Limon considers how the Korean War has impacted his fiction. Jacqueline Winspear and Charles Todd discuss the gravity of writing about World War II. Connie May Fowler recalls how her abusive childhood led to her choice not to have children. William Kent Krueger delves into his mother's mental illness, and its influence on his storytelling, particularly his novel Ordinary Grace. VERDICT Genre fans are sure to be curious about this rare window into the lives of their favorite authors, as will anyone who enjoys compelling, candid tales.--Melissa Stoeger, Deerfield P.L., IL

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

An anthology of true-life essays by "mystery writers revealing the mysteries of their lives."San Francisco-based screenwriter and playwright Zackheim (The Bone Weaver, 2001, etc.) curates a collection of tales that range from upbeat to depressing. Some of the essays explain in depth how real-life occurrences directly influenced the storylines of the contributors' published novels; other essays mention such a connection elliptically or in passing. Mystery fans will be familiar with most or all of the contributors, but general readers will find one of the benefits of the anthology to be the discovery of new authors. One of the best-known contributors is Jeffery Deaver. His essay is a straightforward account of how he came to write bestselling mystery fiction despite numerous rejections from publishers and why he needed to internalize a simple lesson from his childhood before success arrived. In conclusion, the author writes, "just as in good detective fiction, the plot twist in which the mystery is solved was right before my eyes the entire time." The most detailed and creatively constructed essay is Carole Nelson Douglas' "Godfathers, Nancy Drew, and Cats," in which she explores her "past as prologue" to her career as a "veteran fiction writer who has wondered from childhood how ordinary people let their lives spiral into unhappiness, even violence and disaster." Of all the contributors, William Kent Krueger is the most direct at revealing how his real-life episodes influenced his writing. "For readers," he writes, "stories have the potential to do much more than entertain. They instruct; they enlighten; they encourage; they inspire. For authors, the blessings are much the same." Throughout, the contributors, which include Hallie Ephron, Martin Limn, Cara Black, Rhys Bowen, Jacqueline Winspear, and Anne Perry, explore a range of difficult topicse.g., mental health breakdowns, domestic abuse, shattered romance, nightmarish experiences in war zones. The anthology demonstrates both that truth can be stranger than fiction and that truth can also morph into effective fiction.An adequate collection that will have the most appeal for fans of the contributing authors. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.