How to present: The Art of the Mystery

June 12, 2009 at 10:56 pm (books, Local interest (Baltimore-Washington), Mystery fiction)

The Art of the Mystery

I’ve just started work on preparing for this event, and all I can say at the moment is..Good Grief!! Where to start? What to say, in the space of one hour, about my favorite genre and most beloved form of entertainment, and often – yes, more often than you’d think – edification as well.

I began by sitting down with a legal pad. Somehow, I am always reassured by legal pads: surely I will think of something useful when confronted by those lovely blue lines and equally lovely yellow background… So, at first, naturally, nothing at all came to me. Then I scribbled the following:

1. Quiz?

2. Useful websites, including & especially “Best of” lists

3. Secondary sources and other nonfiction titles of interest

4. History of the genre

5. Classics

6. Good titles for book discussion

7. Subgenres

8. Trends

9. Specific title recommendations

10. General author recommendations

11. Short story recommendations

12. Recommendations from audience members

All in the space of one hour, right? Right….

I think that folks come to this sort of event eager for recommendations. So I consulted my “Best Mysteries” posts for 2007 and 2008 and got some good ideas from those. But this made me think about what my favorite “reads” in crime fiction were for this year. After all, it being June, it’s a reasonable time to take stock. Here are some leading candidates:





But wait – I’d better stop here, as I don’t want to give the game away completely!

I will tell you, though, that  the room will be filled with mysteries and some related nonfiction; there will be book lists and other handouts – and maybe even more…

The final obstacle to overcome is the perception some people have that Glenwood is at the farthest edge of the known universe. It’s actually at a lovely location in western Howard County. I get there by going west on Route 144, aka Frederick Road, which winds through some exceptionally pretty countryside. You will probably see horses as you drive along. Sometimes there are even cows and sheep!  So treat yourself to this bucolic excursion on July 9. It will culminate in what I trust will be an enjoyable evening for all, as we talk about The Art of the Mystery.


  1. frances wang said,

    Sorry you could not be at Usual Suspects to hear my book report.
    I focused only on the author and the book, Full Dark House, and the prep time was, shall we say, enormous. But it was a great deal of fun and very informative for me.
    Christopher Fowler is a most worthy author of mysteries as he puts together stories that are intensely intricate, full of wisdom and wit, and in which that which seems to be x often is absolutely y. He gets “topsy/turvy” and plays with his stories. He turns the typical murder mystery upon its edge in order to tease the reader’s mind by creating intricate puzzles within puzzles utilizing characters, physical location and plot lines as equally important parts in the story. Fowler’s Bryant and May mysteries are not to be read swiftly but if given the attention they require, they deliver enthralling, multi-layered mysteries that keep you coming back for more. You can tell, I am hooked.

    I will try to be at your presentation. I know it will be fascinating and informative.
    Frances Wang

    • Roberta Rood said,


      Thanks so much for your illuminating and eloquent reply. And I hope that your are able to attend my presentation.

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