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Malice Domestic XV
(Arlington VA, May 2003)
By Nina de Angeli

A three day orgy of talking about mysteries, meeting authors, browsing new and out of print dealer stalls - that's Malice Domestic. Not to mention the freebies, scads of new books in the registration packet!

This annual fan convention celebrates the traditional mystery, clever puzzles without excessive sex and gore, often featuring amateur detectives. To my delight, I had chances to meet and talk with a number of my favorite authors, buy their books and have them signed. To cap it all, fellow BookLoons reviewer G. Hall and I joined members of our Sisters in Crime chapter at a gala awards banquet.

Several of my favorite historical mystery authors appeared this year: Charles and Caroline Todd (Ian Rutledge series, 1919 Britain); Elena Santangelo (Pat Montella series, US history and contemporary); Lauren Haney (Lt. Bak, ancient Egypt); Sharan Newman (Catherine Levendeur series, mediaeval France) and Miriam Monfredo (Seneca Falls series, US Civil War era).

Elizabeth Peters (Amelia Peabody series) won the Lifetime Achievement Award and was interviewed by my favorite audiobooks reader, Barbara Rosenthal. Elizabeth Peters, in real life Barbara Mertz of Maryland, is an archaeologist and Egyptologist who also writes as Barbara Michaels.

Some notable authors of contemporary mysteries at the convention included Robin Hathaway (Dr. Fenimore medical mystery series, and a new series just out); Joanne Dobson (Karen Pelletier literary mystery series); and Lyn Hamilton (archeological mystery series), who gave a fascinating talk on Etruscan archeology

The Agatha Awards, named for Agatha Christie, are based on votes by convention attendees. Winners receive a ceramic teapot decorated with skull and crossbones. This year the teapot holders were:

Best Novel - You've Got Murder by Donna Andrews;
Best First Novel - In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming; Best Non-Fiction - They Died in Vain: Overlooked, Underappreciated, and Forgotten Mystery Novels, ed. Jim Huang;
Best Children's/YA - Red Card: A Zeke Armstrong Mystery by Daniel J. Hale & Matthew LaBrot;
Best Short Story - TIE: The Dog That Didn't Bark by Margaret Maron, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (December 2002) and Too Many Cooks by Marcia Talley, Much Ado About Murder, ed. Anne Perry.

The first-ever Poirot Award, to individuals making significant contributions to the traditional mystery through means other than writing, went to actor David Suchet for his movie and TV portrayals of Christie's detective Hercule Poirot.

Malice Domestic XVI will take place April 30 - May 2, 2004. Conference information can be found at
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