by Steve Steinbock
We Mystery People are great. I challenge anyone to find a more congenial, interesting, funny, and just plain nice group of people. Writers, editors, booksellers, and fans gather several times a year celebrate mystery fiction through workshops, presentations, discussions, and parties.
Last week I shared how I befriended Doug Greene through very serendipitous circumstances. It was Doug who introduced me to the world of Mystery People (“fandom” is too narrow a term), and first told me about the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention. But the one year I decided to take the plunge and attend Bouchercon turned out to be the year he decided to stay home. That was the 1994 Seattle Bouchercon.
I was nervous and intimidated, being cast astray in a daunting literary ocean, for all of around three minutes. It took about that long to discover how welcoming Mystery People can be. On one elevator ride I met Jeremiah Healy. On another elevator ride I met the late William DeAndrea. And I think it was at the top of an escalator that I had a face-to-face meeting with an academic librarian and short story writer whom I’d “met” on the DorothyL listserv. I don’t know if he remembers the encounter, but it was one of my first. That academic librarian was, of course, our own Rob Lopresti.
I’ve met a lot of great people through Bouchercon. My memories from the end of the 1997 Monterey Bouchercon are warm with the scent of shared pizza and shared conversation with author/reviewer/frequent Criminal Brief commenter Jon Breen. After years of corresponding with and reading the Gumshoe Site of Japanese novelist, translator, and mystery fan Jiro Kimura, I finally met him at the 2003 Bouchercon in Las Vegas.
Here are some photos taken, I believe, at the 2005 Bouchercon in Chicago. See how many people you can identify.
Lest you think Bouchercon is the only time Mystery People come together, other key gatherings are Malice Domestic, Left Coast Crime, Sleuthfest, New England Crime Bake, Noir Con, Bloody Words, Magna Cum Murder, Thillerfest, and of course the MWA Edgar Awards. (My apologies to international readers for my North American focus. I’m relying on you to fill in my omissions).
In case you’re still wondering who’s who. . .
The first photo shows Jiro Kimura and Doug Greene following a panel session in Las Vegas.
In the next photo we have (1) Melodie Johnson Howe, (2) Patricia Hoch, (3) James Lincoln Warren, (4) Linda Landrigan (editor of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine), (5) Edward Hoch, and (6) Robert Levinson. I apologize that I can’t identify the person to whom Melodie is gesturing (7).
In the last photo, (8) Doug Greene is laughing while (9) Patricia Hoch tries to hide, while the love-birds (10) Angela and (11) Barry Zeman try to ignore them.
Astute viewers might spot Mystery Scene co-editor Brian Skupin just above Doug’s head, and I’m fairly certain that’s Hal Rice, Jr., next to the pillar just above Pat’s purse. Hal is an amazing guy. The son of Mystery Fans Extraordinaire Hal and Sonya Rice, I don’t think Hal Jr. had anything to do with the mystery world until the untimely death of Hal Sr. He’s been a regular presence (along with his mother) at Bouchercons ever since.