Smokey the Cat
Becky Masterman

Sixty seconds with Becky Masterman...

BECKY MASTERMAN, who was an acquisitions editor for a press specializing in medical textbooks for forensic examiners and law enforcement, received her M.A. in creative writing from Florida Atlantic University. Her debut thriller, Rage Against the Dying, was a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel of 2013, the ITV Thriller Award, as well as the Macavity, Barry, and Anthony awards. Becky lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband.

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Masterman: I’m a person who finds it much more interesting to describe someone else

RTE: What's the one record you'd take to a desert island?

Masterman: The Guinness record for days survived on a desert island. I’m very competitive.

RTE: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Masterman: Beth from Little Women so I could be impossibly good, die young, and be mourned extravagantly

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January 24, 2015

It may be something else to blame on global warming, but recent hot summers in Britain seem seriously to have affected young middle-class women. During a hot July in 2013, a narrator of THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, by Paula Hawkins went decidedly off the rails while trying to recover from the loss of her "perfect life," and in another debut, ONE STEP TOO FAR, by Tina Seskis, a successful Manchester lawyer walks away from hers and hops a train to London, where she transforms herself into someone altogether different. I thought that Hawkins handled a tricky plot with aplomb, while Christine Zibas calls ONE STEP TOO FAR an exciting debut.

England has no monopoly on women kicking over the traces. THE BLUE JOURNAL, by LT Graham, examines what happens when a woman in Connecticut is murdered, leaving behind the journal of the title, which is blue in several senses of the word. Sharon Mensing says it is a promising start to a new series. Brigid Quinn, the protagonist of Becky Masterman's FEAR THE DARKNESS, is very far from a conventional heroine and one that Megan Sweeney enjoyed very much.

Flavia de Luce is also not your average eleven-year-old girl. Her latest adventure, AS CHIMNEY SWEEPERS COME TO DUST, by Alan Bradley, takes her to Toronto, Ontario, to boarding school, but I thought the move did her few favours. Charles Todd sends Ian Rutledge back to just before the Great War in A FINE SUMMER'S DAY to the lovely summer of 1914. PJ Coldren thought that Todd captures the feeling of that period splendidly.

Revenge is a powerful motive for murder and Karen Chisholm has nothing but praise for Paul Cleave's FIVE MINUTES ALONE, the next in the Christchurch (NZ) Carver series.(The title refers to the frequently expressed desire on the part of those close to a victim to be granted just five minutes alone with the perpetrator.) Jeffrey Siger takes us to Greece in SONS OF SPARTA, to an area rife with corruption and menace. Sharon Mensing was left wondering if the peripheral position of women in the book is a function of the society itself or the author's perspective.

The international thriller this week is BRED TO KILL, by Franck Thilliez. Anne Corey says the plot turns on anthropology and eugenics and ranges over a broad range of topics from left-handedness to lacto-intolerance. She enjoyed the trip on the whole. Meredith Frazier remarks that there is less about retired racehorses than you might expect from the jacket copy of HIGH STAKES, by John McEvoy, but that it does awaken the urge to visit the west of Ireland.

Time for a walk on the bright side, you say? Phyllis Onstad can recommend Maggie King's debut cosy, the solidly-titled MURDER AT THE BOOK GROUP, especially to members of such groups who may also wonder what secrets the other members are hiding. And the protagonist of TJ O'Connor's DYING FOR THE PAST is remarkably active for a dead man, says Ben Neal, who calls it a harmless and often charming example of a soft-boiled mystery.

Becky Masterman is answering our questions this week in "Sixty Seconds with..." in the box to your left.

And don't forget to check out what our former colleagues are saying at CRIMEREVIEW about what's happening in crime fiction in the UK.

We'll be back in two weeks, when it will be February, which the calendar claims is the shortest month of the year, but which is really the longest, as anyone dealing with serious winter will attest. Please come back and see what we've been up to.



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Our mascot and masthead is Smokey the Cat. Smokey the cat went to the great playground in the sky on April 29, 2008, at 3:30 p.m. He was about 13 years old, had diabetes and only 11 teeth left. He is much happier now. He will remain as our masthead and mascot.

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