Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Adventures at the American Library Association Conference - Part II

This past weekend was the American Library Association had their annual conference in San Francisco. I spent some quality time in the Sisters In Crime booth. 

Here's mystery writer Matt Coyle signing his latest novel, Night Tremors

Matt signs frequently with his buddy, David Putnam author of The Replacements. Here's David signing and the two of them getting their books out. 

MP Cooley has a new hardback out this summer called Flame Out. It's set in Washington State and follows up with Former FBI agent June Lyons where she left off in Cooley's first book, Ice Shear. MP will be at Thrillerfest July 10-14. You can see her there. 

On the Pop Top stage, highlighting popular culture topics, the last panel on Saturday was all mystery. Cate Carlisle, Juliet Blackwell, Emily Brightwell, Jenna McKinlay and Elaine Viets regaled us with stories about where they get their ideas, and what it's like plotting murders. 

Here's Laurie R, King and Cara Black hamming it up in the Sisters in Crime booth.

Overall it was a great conference full of lots of mystery and wonderful books. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

#MajorCrimes Facebook Chat Recap with GW Bailey, James Duff and Phillip Keene

James Duff hit Facebook to answer fans questions as he does almost every Monday when Major Crimes is airing. It's really fun to have so much access to the creator of Major Crimes and The Closer. He's not the only one. Earlier this season Mary McDonnell (Captain Sharon Raydor) and Tony Denison (Lt. Andy Flynn) did a Facebook chat and earlier today GW Bailey (Provenza) and Phillip Keene (Buzz) were on Reddit for an AMA (Ask Me Anything)

Every week there's an extra webisode featuring the character of Rusty Beck, called Identity where he tries to discover the real name of a victim called Alice Herrera. It's ironic that in tonight's episode we finally learn Jonathan Del Arco's character, Dr. Morales' first name. No, I'm not going to tell you what it is. You have to watch it for yourself. (You gotta love Jonathan Del Arco!)

I've recapped James Duff's Facebook chat responses below. He does an excellent job of recapping the questions in his answers so in the interest of space, I just include his answers. Any spoilers for tonight's episode have been removed. 

James Duff Ilona Arcari starts us off tonight with a good question. Are we going to learn Dr. Morales's name tonight on Rusty's vlog. We will. Go to Identity by Rusty Beck after the show.

James Duff Mike Robin just stepped in - my producing partner for eleven years - and wants me to tell all of you this is the best of our lighter episodes. Ever.

James Duff And Patrice will be back on the show in a couple of weeks.

James Duff GW loves tonight's episode because he gets to tell Phillip off several times in each act!And Patrice will be back on the show in a couple of weeks.

James Duff Of course, let's not forget Tony Denison is also a big deal in this episode. It is our second Flynn/Provenza/Buzz episode.

James Duff GW and Phillip did a Reddit today. And their conversation is hilarious.

James Duff Maybe that's a secret.

James Duff Phillip and GW are a great team whenever they're together. 

James Duff Ashlee B L asks Phillip and GW what was the best thing about working on tonight's episode. They both say getting to work so much with each other.

James Duff Yes, tonight, you will learn a little bit about Buzz's backstory, but we got some of it last year.

James Duff It also includes the Dodgers.

James Duff Lila Jones asks if we're going to see anything about Flynn's upcoming sobriety. And we are, in a way. In two weeks, we'll be dealing with alcoholism again. And Flynn is one of our resident experts.

James Duff GW and Tony and Buzz feel like they should have a crossover show to run between seasons of Major Crimes. GW said it will be called, Provenza!

James Duff Major Crimes goes to some dark places. We like to take a little light with us.

James Duff GW wants to thank you for the questions, Phillip wants to thank you for finding us again this year, and we all want to thank you for watching and making Major Crimes a part of your week. We know how busy you are, and we appreciate so much that you make time for us!

James Duff If you loved Murphy Brown, Adam and Joe reunite for this episode, and prove they're both up to the task.

James Duff No, we are not going to hire Donald Trump, now that he's been let go from Celebrity Apprentice. He's running for President, and there are rules about that.

James Duff And, as regular readers of our Facebook chat will recall, I always refer to MPC (Michael Paul Chan) as the adult on the show!

James Duff Luana DG asks if we will see more of the Sharon and Flynn relationship. Yes. You will.

James Duff To whoever asked, we probably won't have time to meet Hobbs family; we have to concentrate on the division. GW says he wants more time with Patrice. And that Dawn is an amazing actor for him to work with because he gets to do love scenes.

James Duff People are asking about our ratings. We're doing very well. I think in the live+same day Nielson's we'll be the number one or number two show on cable, and our DVR numbers are pretty spectacular. Of course, A&E proved that you can cancel your highest rated show for no good reason and Longmire ended up on Netflix. Someone suggested this is the last year of the show. I doubt that very seriously. But we can't ever know the future, and we're not coming back until our network decides to pick us up.

James Duff @Evelyn David asks if we have all this summer season written. As of tomorrow, the answer will be yes!

James Duff GW says he will get grief from people who think he was too mean to Buzz. And it's all worth it.
I loved our guest cast Lee Garlington has been a longtime friend. Joe is a genius and all the young people are genius!
James Duff 

James Duff Laurel Roy says Joe Regalbuto: Yay! G.W. could not agree with you more!

James Duff For those who are asking where Rusty is, he's not as heavy in this episode as he is in the next one. Our actors trade off carrying the story. But his Alice journey is still going on, and if you miss him tonight, you can see him in the vlog, Identity, which will be posted on this page as the show ends.

James Duff Adam Belanoff wrote this evening's episode and I think he had a blast putting it together.

James Duff Megan E- Author asks if Phillip ever dreamed Buzz would be an officer. He didn't dare hope, he says, but G.W. thought it was a great step for their two characters. And it has given them more to do in the Murder Room scenes.

James Duff Stephania T asks if Brandon will be back soon as Det. Robby Oderno. Yes! In five weeks. We love Brandon and he does an amazing job.

James Duff Leo Geter is a genius. I'm not the first to say it. And I won 't be the last.

James Duff Our comedies must include the Dodgers. Or baseball.

James Duff I loved our guest cast Lee Garlington has been a longtime friend. Joe is a genius and all the young people are genius!

James Duff I agree. We do the comedic episodes to break up the darkness a little.

James Duff Aileen C P says we needed this lighter episode after the intensity of the ones that came before.

James Duff GW and I are both from Texas and we both lived all over the state. Though I never got to be in Austin for any real length of time (despite having shot there a couple of times).

James Duff And we'll see you here next week. And catch up with Rusty's vlog if you can. Tonight's post features Jonathan Del Arco!

James Duff Our guest stars and series regulars really knocked it out of the park.

James Duff It will play out in real time.

James Duff If you like a show, I know how irritating and difficult it can be when it goes off the air. That's how I feel, too, when my favorite programs go off the air.

James Duff I miss Game of Thrones and Survivor and Sense8 and it's hard to believe how long we have to wait for them to come back.

James Duff But you will see us through most of August. And then we will come back for another eight-episode run in the autumn.

James Duff And remember, tonight, you can learn Dr. Morales's first name on Rusty's vlog, Identity!

James Duff Like all jobs, there are some things cops don't like to do, or would pass on to other divisions if they could.

James Duff Phillip loved Joe and he does an amazing job in this episode, as does all the past cost. But I feel good about our performance, and I feel even better about the KIND of audience we have.

James Duff Phillip says he's afraid of what GW will get to do to him next.

James Duff Everyone has a nickname.

James Duff I'm behind my own work, but the other writers have done a spectacular job of keeping things moving. But our writer's room is filled with great talents.

James Duff Oddly, GW and Phillip MPC, because he sometimes insists that GW and Phillip leave while he's doing a big speech because their reactions make him laugh.

James Duff Kryzzle G asks when shooting a comedic episode like this one, which of the series regulars are most likely to crack up and "blow" a take.

James Duff Patricia A H asks if GW ever goes back to Port Arthur. He does! Not very often, but a lot more than I go back to Beaumont.

James Duff There is a hashtag on Twitter right now #Buzzflynnza!

James Duff Joy SB asks if we can have longer seasons.Actually, we are doing eighteen episodes this year, one less than last.

Don't forget that tonight is a Flynn and Provenza episode!

Book Review: Exit Strategy by Lena Diaz

Kerry Hammond is here with a book review of Exit Strategy, the first book in a new series by Lena Diaz, along with an interview with the author.

Exit Strategy is the first book in the Exit Inc. thriller series by Lena Diaz. I really loved the book and had a great time reading it. The characters were wonderful, both heroes and villains. The action was non-stop, and it kept me on the edge of my seat. The scenes were so well written that I wonder if the author spent any amount of time hanging from a zip line for research. The romance was well-placed and well-done. It was a great addition to the storyline, and I only needed a moderate amount of ice water to cool down. The book was a thriller, in the sense that the reader knows a lot of the underlying information at the beginning, and follows along as the hero chases down the bad guys. But as the story progressed, the information that was revealed added to the twists and turns of the book, and I quickly realized that there was another mysterious dimension to the storyline.

The story revolves around Sabrina Hightower, a young woman who has recently lost her parents in an accident. Her grandfather, who was more of a parent to her than her own were, has gone missing and she fears he may be dead. In the middle of the night, she hears an intruder in the house. The next thing she knows, she’s being carried away by Mason Hunt. Mason works for a secret, government sanctioned hit squad whose job it is to take out terrorists and other criminals hiding in plain sight among normal, everyday citizens. He has actually been sent to kill Sabrina, but believes that the exit order issued against her is false and that she may be innocent. This fact makes him question his past missions and the work he’s done for Exit Inc.

When Mason’s boss realizes he’s gone rogue, he sends out other agents to not only take him out, but to make sure that they take out Sabrina too. The two are running from the bad guys, but also trying to figure out why a fake order was issued, and whether or not Sabrina’s grandfather’s disappearance is tied up in the whole thing. Sabrina is no weak female, she can shoot a gun and defend herself. She’s a strong character who is not looking for a man to save her life, but soon realizes she may need a little help to stay alive.

I really haven’t had this much fun with a romantic thriller since my last Sandra Brown book. I will absolutely read the next book in the series, all the while wondering who should play Mason in the movie version.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Adventures at the American Library Association Conference

Snoopy was in San Francisco for the festivities.

This weekend the American Library Association hit San Francisco for it's annual conference featuring tons of writers, books and library technology. Mystery Playground was on-hand working the Sisters in Crime booth talking with librarians about the We Love Libraries $1000 lottery grant. It was great to see Cari Dubiel of the ABC Book Review podcast who was running the booth this year. 

Here are Robin Burcell and Kelli Stanley before signing books in the Sisters in Crime booth. I especially love Kelli's Miranda Corbie books and Robin's Kate Gillespie series. 

Here's award winning author Catriona McPherson in the Midnight Ink booth signing her new book that comes out this September, The Child Garden. I love her Dandy Gilver series and her Midnight Ink books. 

This one has a serious spooky cover...

Here's New York Times bestselling author, Juliet Blackwell signing her new standalone mainstream novel, The Paris Key. This book comes out September 1 from NAL and it looks fabulous. Juliet also has two wonderful cozy mystery series, one called the Haunted Home Renovation series and the Witchcraft mysteries. She's been researching poison clothes for the Witchcraft series books she's working on. That sounds like so much fun.

Remember Cliff Notes? These buttons are so adorable. 

Fun Cliff Notes Buttons

We'll have part two of Adventures at the ALA on Tuesday, so come on back...

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Literary Matchbooks

Kerry Hammond is here today to show us some matchbooks that look like actual books, although much, much smaller.

I was once again wandering through my favorite local bookstore, the Tattered Cover, when I came across something equal parts adorable and ingenious. At the counter, I spotted a cigar box full of matchbooks. Each one had a shrunken sized book cover of a famous book on the front.

I had to buy a couple for myself, and sifted through to find Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie.

I also found Only the Dead Know Brooklyn, Thomas Wolfe Short Stories.

I still can’t get over how cute they are. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Tipples with the Women of WISE Enquiries

Cathy Ace is back with a new book, and new "tipples" as she calls them. It's time to meet the women of the WISE Enquiries Agency...

Today, let’s raise several glasses, because we’re meeting four new private investigators – of the soft-boiled variety. In THE CASE OF THE DOTTY DOWAGER Cathy Ace introduces us to the women of the WISE Enquiries Agency, who are called in by Henry Twyst, eighteenth duke of Chellingworth, to try to explain away his mother’s claim that she discovered a dead body in the dining room at her Dower house. The corpse has disappeared, and all she has to back up her claim is a bloodied bobble hat.  

For this case, Carol Hill - a happily married, pregnant Welsh woman in her thirties, stays at her home base to provide background information for the team, which she gleans with her excellent computing skills. Going undercover to Chellingworth Hall, set in the rolling Welsh countryside, to help out the worried duke are Christine Wilson-Smythe – the beautiful and brainy daughter of an Irish viscount, Mavis MacDonald – a widowed and retired army nurse, with grown sons and an aged, ailing mother all still living in her native Scotland, and Annie Parker – born of St Lucian parents within the sound of Bow Bells, so a true English cockney, with a knack for getting people to tell her almost anything. They are a force to be reckoned with, representing as they do the four Home Nations of Britain – Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England (hence the acronym) and being able to call upon an excellent set of complementary skills.
Here, set out on the author’s grandmother’s Welsh plaid wool blanket, are what the women would like to sip, and even nibble as they do so. Carol’s pregnant, so she’s choosing a cool glass of milk (though she’d prefer a pint of dark mild ale); for Christine, it’s champagne tastes on (thanks to her stellar career in the City of London) champagne money; Mavis enjoys a not-so- wee dram of the good stuff when she has a chance to relax, which isn’t often; for Annie it’s always a G&T, and her preference is for Beefeater Dry London Gin – of course! So, Iechyd da! Sláinte! Sláinte! and Cheers! from the women of the WISE Enquiries Agency. 

THE CASE OF THE DOTTY DOWAGER will be released on July 1st, but is pre-ordering at all bookstores and online now. And asking your local librarian to order it is always an option.  

Born and raised in Swansea, South Wales, Cathy Ace is the author of the Cait Morgan Mysteries. Her new series is The WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries – featuring four female professional investigators, one of whom is Welsh, one Irish, one Scottish and one English (hence the acronym). They tackle quirky British cases from their base at a Welsh stately home – the ancient seat of the Twyst family, the Dukes of Chellingworth, which is set in the rolling countryside of the Wye Valley in Powys, Wales, near the picturesque village of Anwen-by-Wye. Cathy lives in Beautiful British Columbia, where her ever-supportive husband, and two chocolate Labradors, make sure she’s able to work full-time as an author, and enjoy her other passion – gardening.
Facebook: Cathy Ace – Author

Twitter: @AceCathy

You can see Cathy Ace's other Drinks with Reads posts here, here and here

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Crafty Thursdays: Vintage Slide Lamp Shade

Today we're making lamp shades out of vintage Kodachrome slides. We used slides that my crafting buddy Pat's sister found tucked away in the back of her garage. If you don't have slides of your own, you can find them at estate or garage sales or on eBay. Some of the eBay prices can be crazy depending what the slides show. 

  • Lamp shade (we used top diameter of 8 inches)
  • 10 MM base metal rings (we found ours at Michaels)
  • Kodachrome slides 
  • Scissors 
  • Lamp base
  • Small hole punch
  • Light Bulb

Step One: 
Remove the covering from the lampshade you bought. The goal of this exercise is to get to the bare wire of the lampshade frame to use this as your frame for the slides.  The toughest part of this step was getting the glue to come off the wire frame. Ultimately it took a combination of Goo Gone (industrial goo remover available at most hardware and grocery stores) and a SOS pad.  You really only need the top part see photo below. 

Step Two: 
Arrange all the slides that you want to use for the project.  Find slides with like subject matter or colors. Make sure they're all either landscape or portrait orientation (vertical or horizontal.) You can mix them up if you want, but the will lampshade look less uniform. I like this look better.  You’ll need four rows down and XXXX across. Make sure they are all right side up and facing the direction you want. I prefer to not have any lettering if I can avoid it. (I know this picture shows that we didn't do this until after punching the holes. It would be easier to do it before.) 

Step Three: 
Get your small hole punch and punch one hole on each corner of one slide. Take care to make the holes the same distance from the edges. I eyeballed this, but if you are a perfectionist, you may want to measure it. You can use a slide will act as your template. Next punch four holes in XXXX slides. 

Step Four:
Now you are ready to start assembling the slide shade. Take your little jump rings and force them open with your fingers. You can also use pliers for this, but it’s faster if you don’t need them. You are going to attach the slides to one another using the rings. You can see how they are connected in this photo:

Step Five (Optional):
If you have a cat you should encourage him or her to sit on the project while in progress and wag their tail. This makes the final lamp shade turn out better. It also means you get to pick up tiny rings from the floor where they landed after a giant tail swish. 

Barnum surveys the project:

Step Six:
Once you have that completed you are ready to start putting it on the lampshade. Use a ring for every hole at the top of the lampshade. It’s important that each slide has two rings attached to the top so the lampshade hangs straight.  We used a wine bottle to hold up the shade while we worked. 

This gives you an idea of what the lamp shade look like on the inside. You have to put rings on either side of each slide to connect it to the top, otherwise the slides hang crookedly. Here's what it looked like when we didn't have two rings per slide. It's on top of the puzzle table. 

Step Six (Optional): 
Now you can string your crystals and hang them from the holes left at the bottom. Or you can just be done. 

So that's how you make a lampshade out of vintage Kodachrome slides of critical. We're not giving this one away, but you never know what we'll be up to next week, so come on back. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

An Afternoon with Nancy Atherton

Kerry Hammond is back from an afternoon book signing with one of her favorite authors, Nancy Atherton. The signing was at Denver's Tattered Cover bookstore and she's telling us all about it .  

I am a big fan of Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimity series, and I consider myself very lucky that the author and I reside in the same great state of Colorado. We have a local bookstore chain called the Tattered Cover, and when I saw Nancy Atherton on the line-up, I cleared my schedule.

Nancy Atherton events are a lot of fun. Not only is she a great author, but she’s also extremely happy, bubbly, and excited about her books and her writing. Her website bio will tell you that if you run into her at a conference, she’ll be the “woman in jeans and sneakers who's bounding around like a hyperactive gerbil.” At her signings, she talks about how much she loves being a full-time writer and how lucky she is to love her profession as much as she does.

Her series started out when two sentences popped into her head, “When I learned of Aunt Dimity’s Death, I was stunned. Not because she was dead, but because I had never known she’d been alive.” She wasn’t quite sure where it came from, but she used it to start her book series with the first installment, Aunt Dimity’s Death. The books revolve around a character named Lori Shepherd, an American now living in the small fictional village of Finch, located in the Cotswolds in England. The first book explains how Lori came to live in Finch, and how she realized that by opening a blue journal she could communicate with a woman named Dimity from beyond the grave. Some of the stories take place in Finch, but others are set in other places around the globe. Mysterious happenings follow Lori and her family, so there is no place that is safe from her investigating.

Aunt Dimity and the Summer King came out this year, and it is book #21 in the series. It takes place in Finch and has Lori Shepherd taking care of a brand new baby girl. She comes across an eccentric inventor and a shady real estate dealer. As usual, Lori will take it upon herself, with the help of Aunt Dimity, to make sure Finch and its residents are safe from any evil that may lurk in the shadows.

A little bonus, Nancy stamps all her books with a pink bunny when she signs. (Reginald is Lori's pink flannel bunny in the series.)

If you’re looking for an entertaining series with lots of surprises but little in the form of blood and gore, you can’t go wrong with these books. Click here to read a Mystery Playground Drinks with Reads Review of another Aunt Dimity Book.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Golden Characters

The minute that I saw Jeremy Previn's Ari Gold smirk on the cover of this book I knew I had to read it and read it fast. For those of you who aren't fans of the HBO series Entourage, Previn plays a talent agent with a giant personality who's ego and approach to life is as obnoxious as it is funny. Of course, in that fictional world, he's also very successful. In real life, I wouldn't put up with him for five minutes. And I don't even think I need to see the new Entourage movie. So why did I pick this book up? Because I knew what I was getting - a certain kind of laughter.  

My Ari fascination got me to thinking about stand out characters that you never forget. There are the classic and obvious ones, like Scarlett O'Hara, Mickey Mouse and Sherlock Holmes. But there are also lesser known characters that have stuck with me - Deputy Brenda Leigh Johnson from TNT's The Closer with her petite frame, southern drawl and feminine clothes that distinguished her from other TV detectives as much as her willingness to do anything to close a case and her secret addiction to candy bars. 

I think of Mary Russell, Laurie R. King's creation, of a female equal to Sherlock Holmes, or Boyd Crowder, the eloquent anti-hero of stories written by Elmore Leonard and on the TV show Justified who has a need to call lawman Raylan Givens his friend because they dug coal together. 

But what makes Poirot and his little grey cells more memorable than dozens of other crime solvers. How do Sherlock, Dracula and Peter Pan stand the test of 100 years. Why do I prefer the 10th Doctor to all of the other Doctor Whos? They are all time lords, live in a TARDIS, have a sonic screwdriver and have the knowledge of multiple lifetimes. You could say with Doctor Who that it's the charm of David Tennant or the little details added to the tenth doctors character. But it raises more questions than answers. 

I don't think it's just about likeability. Most of the characters are larger than life with exaggerated tendencies that would make them all hard to deal with on a daily basis. It's not about charm, there isn't a charming iteration of Sherlock out there. 

Who are some of your favorite characters and why do you love them? 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Major Crimes Facebook Chat with Michael Paul Chan and James Duff

James Duff, Co-Creator and Executive Producer of Major Crimes returned to Facebook for his weekly chat with fans. This week he was joined by Michael Paul Chan, the actor who plays Lt. Tao. I was stuck on an airplane that was delayed (thanks, United) so I was unable to attend the chat, but I've put together the recap here. I may have missed something because of the delay, so please forgive any omissions. Before we get into the chat you may want to check out the last two installments of Identity: What's in a Name - The vlog featuring the character of Rusty in a story about a missing girl called Alice Herrera. The vlog has been intersecting a side storyline in the TV episodes. 

I also wanted to call out writer Kendall Sherwood for the Long Beach shout outs in last week's episode. Last October, I met Kendall, James Duff, Damani Johnson, Kathe Mazur, Jonathan Del Arco and Adam Belanoff at Bouchercon, the world's largest mystery convention. It was held in Long Beach. I'm not sure it was an intentional nod to their Bouchercon visit, but I laughed every time Provenza cursed Long Beach. 

And finally - BSG reunion tonight! Love that Jamie Bamber (Lee Adama) guest starred in this episode with Mary McDonnell (the former President of the Twelve Colonies, Laura Roslin). Now if we can just get Edward James Olmos (William Adama) to guest star - So Say We All

And now for the chat recap. As usual, I've only included James' replies since he's pretty good at including the question in the answer. I've also omitted anything that directly referred to the plot of tonight's episode. 

Here we go:

James Duff
Hey everyone, welcome to our Facebook chat for our third episode this season! Sorry to be late but we had location photo review for episode 9!

James Duff Tonight's episode features Jamie Bamber, who was a cast mate of Mary's in Battlestar Galactica, one of my favorite television series of all time.

James Duff And Bill Brochtrup also recurs as Dr. Joe, Rusty's therapist. It's a great team as we cut back and forth between two mysteries, only one of which we can solve.

James Duff I know a lot of people want to know if Sanchez will find peace. I would say looking for something vastly increases your chances of finding it.

James Duff DeQuana Ellis asks if we'll see more of Amy Sykes! Certainly, we are! The week after next, Amy finds a witness to a murder that she has to work out how to protect.

James Duff Gracie A wants to know if we will see more of what's in Raydor's desk drawers. Good question, Gracie! i'll think about it.

James Duff Also, tonight, Rusty's v-log features Garrett Coffey, as Slider, Alice's killer.

James Duff Hi, Evelyn David. Always nice to have you here. Yes, Jack Raydor comes back this winter and everyone who loves reading, Evelyn Davidhas several great mysteries with which you can fill up your Kindle!

James Duff People are asking if we will be wrapping up the Stroh case. As far as I'm concerned, we have. Stroll has escaped, and he is no longer in the country. The murder of the judge trumps everything else Stroh has done; in essence, Rusty is no longer a witness.

James Duff Kathy D asks how we came up with the v-log idea for Rusty's character. We wanted to expand our footprint beyond the usual television screens and offer people extra digital content. And we left Alice unidentified and on the board all last season (after her murder) so that people might remember her. And now that Rusty is growing older, he needs to view the world from a wider point of view. I like it that he cares about something other than himself and chess

James Duff Joining me now for the rest of our chat is the eternally genius, Michael Paul Chan!

James Duff And in episode eight this season, we visit the sets of Badge of Justice, the television show on which Tao consults.

James Duff Helen L asks Michael which is his favorite episode of Major Crimes. He answers, very diplomatically I think, that it is always the one he's working on right now.

James Duff I think he's done some amazing work on both series. The critical missing in The Closer where we found the boy in the pool was one. The episode of Major Crimes where an architect he helped convict of murder had his verdict voided. Last season's episode where he teamed with Luke Perry displayed the extent of Michael's range.

James Duff Thank you for joining me here for our weekly get together. I love watching the show with you! And we'll do it again next week with Phillip P. Keene!

James Duff Kathy D says she loves Tao being a walking encyclopedia. Michael Paul Chan says he needs a quiet room in the house to learn all the encyclopedic language he has to learn.

James Duff Buzz Watson goes on his first tour of duty as a Reserve Officer of the LAPD, a ride along with Flynn & Provenza. What could possibly go wrong?

James Duff MPC loves working with Kathe Mazur, who plays DDA Hobbs, or as we call her, Our Lady of Perpetual Pessimism. The whole cast loves Kathe. She was also in American Sniper and did a great job there as well.

James Duff Michael Paul wants everyone to know how hard it is to memorize all the technical dialogue he has to recite. But once he gets it down, it's fun.

James Duff DeQuana Ellis asks if we'll get a chance to meet Tao's wife. We've already met Tao's wife. She's done three episodes, I think, though mainly on The Closer. We would love to have Patty back for another episode this year. We plan to celebrate the graduation of Tao's oldest son from graduate school.

James Duff Helen L loves to see Tao correct Provenza. I love it when Tao gets tough. There's a shot of him moving forward toward a suspect with his gun that remains one of my favorite moments of all time.

James Duff I should mention that next week's episode revolves around an extremely expensive wedding that gets threatened by the discovery of a murder.

James Duff By the way, Judge Grove returns tonight, played by Ron Marasco, who is not only a terrific actor, but an amazing writer whose book on acting is a must read.

James Duff Honestly, there is nothing MPC (as we call him on our sets) can't do. Including surf!!

James Duff Katie S says she's a "big fan of Chan!" So is my sister-in-law! She loves all the characters, of course, but MPC is her favorite.

James Duff And that Buzz has issues with Flynn and Provenza as he tests out the limits of Stand Your Ground.

James Duff Katie S notes that MPC has quite a movie resume, and wants to know how different it is doing a television series. MPC, first you have be nicer to everybody because you're going to see them maybe for years!But honestly, it's no challenge, it's a gift, says MPC. And to do this show on a weekly basis is an opportunity actors dream about. And I would say working with an actor like MPC is something writers dream about! It's no secret, by the way, that I call MPC the adult on our series.

James Duff Gracie A asks why Tao changed from med school to being a police officer.
He says in the episode that doctors have to spend a lot of time covering their asses. "We spend our time covering each other." That's the quote.
James Duff Lots of people are asking if they just saw Mark Harmon's son, Sean Harmon! Sharp eyes, ladies and gentlemen. Yes, Sean has also done some MMA fighting and we wanted to make the scene as dynamic and authentic as possible.

James Duff Ann M asks if Andy might do something to win Rusty's okay to date Sharon. I think he'

James Duff And when Lt. Tao just shut down the INTRANET, he was talking about a closed network used by the LAPD. Most law enforcement agencies use closed networks for the purpose of protecting themselves against hacking, etc. And that he loved shutting down the intranet.

James Duff A couple of people are asking if Jon Tenney will be coming back as Deputy Chief Fritz Howard. Yes, of course! Jon is a great actor and a terrific friend and we can't wait to have him back. He's in episode seven and eight (back to back appearances).

James Duff Next week, Flynn and Provenza!

James Duff Ilona Arcari asks if we are going to have a Christmas episode this year!
In our fall and winter eight episode season, we will celebrate both Christmas and Thanksgiving this year.

James Duff Stroll should be considered a transnational threat. I do not consider him a genuine threat to Rusty anymore. In fact, he only used Rusty to distract people from his escape.

Crime & Beyond Book Club Reads Lisa Unger

Kerry Hammond reports to Mystery Playground today from the most recent meeting of the Denver-based Crime & Beyond Book Club.

Crime & Beyond met this month to discuss yet another new author (for us). We read In the Blood by Lisa Unger, a standalone book by the author. The reviews were excellent across the board and we all really loved it—there were several scores of 10 out of 10. It had great characters, a great plot, and enough twists and turns to throw most of us off.

The book followed Lana Granger, a college student in her senior year whose mother was murdered and whose father is in prison, and on death row, for that murder. Lana’s college professor and mentor convinces her to take a job helping a severely disturbed 11-year-old boy near the college. During this time, Lana’s college roommate goes missing. Since a prior roommate also went missing, and was found dead, the police question Lana about the latest disappearance. She seems very reluctant to give the police the full story and the reader is left wondering about the facts, not only of her roommate’s disappearance, but of her mother’s murder as well.

Lisa Unger is a wonderful storyteller. She pulls you into her characters’ lives and hooks you on their story. She lays down the clues for any reader who wants to pick them up, but most of us pass right by, too enthralled to stop and examine their significance. This leads to unexpected surprises and wonderful plot twists. I can’t wait to read her other books, it looks like she’s published 16 in total.

Next month we will read That Night by Chevy Stevens, another new to us author.