Bouchercon 2011 happened to coincide with my mother's 90th birthday. As both Bouchercon and Mom are in St. Louis, I was able to make both.
I had not been to Bouchercon since 2005, so I had a lot of friends to catch up with, but that's what the bar and the hospitality room are for. I spent way too much time and money in the bar and talked myself hoarse on Friday night.
One of the best things about Bouchercon is the book bag. This one was huge. I won't list all of the books I received, but two that really look exciting are The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg and The Deputy by Victor Gischler. Lackberg is one of Europe's top novelists. The buzz at Bouchercon is that she will soon be one of America's. Gischler is the author of hard-boiled crime fiction such as Gun Monkeys and Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse, so I know this one will be a wild ride.
The Private Eye Writers of America held the Shamus Award dinner on Friday night. Lori Armstrong's book, No Mercy, won best P.I. hardcover. Lori seemed shocked to win. A lot of people expected Robert Crais to get the award for The First Rule. I'm going to get Armstrong's book for sure. Mercy seemed to be the theme for the night. Michael Ayoob won Best First P.I. Novel for In Search of Mercy. Sarah Paretsky was given the Hammer Award, a new award for best character for, who else?, V.I. Warshawski. The award so move Sarah that she was speechless. The Shamus award dinner is always held off-site. This year it was held at a St. Louis landmark, Anheuser-Busch Brewery. All the beer we could drink. Thank God I didn't have to give a speech.
Bob Randisi, who founded the PWA, was one of the special guests of the convention. He's written over 550 books, averaging 16 books a year. For most writers, 16 books would be a productive career. He did not reveal any secrets except that he likes to tell stories.
None of the panels struck me as extraordinary this year, though with five concurrent sessions each hour, it was impossible to get to all of them. There might very well be some great ones that I missed. Don't get me wrong. Most of the panels I attended were informative and fun: Max Allen Collins telling about his relationship with Mickey Spillane; Collin Cotterill, Linwood Barclay, Bill Crider, Lisa Lutz and Elaine Viets talking about their one star Amazon reviews.
In reality, the panels are secondary to the real fun of Bouchercon—a four day conversation about crime fiction with writers and readers from around the world that flowed in and out of the bars, the dealer room and through the halls.
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