RT Booklovers Convention 2011: Start Your Morning With A Cup Of Mystery

There's nothing like starting out the day with a bit of intrigue. And at the Mystery Chix & Private Dix Morning Mystery there were mystery-minded folks out in force! Fans of the genre got to spend some time with some of the top names in mystery over a light breakfast and refreshments. Authors came out from all corners of the mystery genre. From suspense author Rick Mofina to Carole Nelson Douglas who writes the cat detective Midnight Louie, historical mystery author Rhys Bowen to romantic suspense's Allison Brennan, and even television writers William Link and Lee Goldberg got in on the action.

A few of the morning's mystery chix and private dix

We got into the spirit of this morning mixer by asking some of the famous mischief makers in attendance who they turn to when they want to get a mystery chix or private dix reading fix. Here's what they had to say:

Brenda Novak is known for turning up the heat in her romantic suspense, but shares her go-to sleuth with us. "My favorite mystery chick is Stephanie Plum. Who can resist her? For not having a great deal of investigative savvy, she's got tons of courage and makes me laugh as she bumbles her way through each mystery. (Or maybe it's really Morelli who has won my heart)." 

William Link co-created Columbo, Murder She Wrote and Ellery Queen, Link had this to say about his top crime solvers: "Porfiry Petrovich – the inspector in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Dick Levinson’s and my template for our character Columbo. If you know Columbo, need I say more?"

Rhys Bowen, the winner of this year's RT Reviewers' Choice Award for best historical mystery, stayed historical with her choice saying, "She's not really a chix/dix but Nelly Bly was an inspiration to me in the creation of Molly Murphy, and to a certain extent Lady Georgie. Nelly was, of course, investigative reporter but at a time when women were supposed to be delicate homebodies she reported on corruption in foreign governments, conditions in women's prisons. She proved that a historical woman detective could do anything she set her mind to. Molly Murphy has followed her example!"

Robert Gregory Browne is known for his thrillers and screenplays, but he says, "The greatest of all 'private dix' has to be Philip Marlowe. The character not only fueled my interest in the private detective genre and mysteries in general, but helped forge a desire to write mysteries and thrillers myself. The Long Goodbye has to be one of the best mysteries of all time and Marlowe was in true form in the story. While Raymond Chandler didn't create the private eye novel, he certainly elevated the genre by creating Marlowe."

Dianne Emley, a Procedural mystery author, goes for a modern classic. "My favorite mystery chix is Clarice Starling as she was in The Silence of the Lambs, the first Thomas Harris’ novel in which she appeared. She’s tough, tenacious, yet vulnerable, carrying scars from her past which still haunt her. Because she took a risk and revealed her vulnerabilities, Hannibal Lector gave her important information to help her solve her case. When finally she tracks down the bad guy, during the final chase and shoot-out she’s realistically nervous and unsteady, doubting herself, but she does what she need to do. Clarice was a model for the protagonist of my series featuring Homicide Detective Nan Vining, who can also be scary strong in bad situations while at the same time, she struggles with past traumas and subsequent vulnerabilities that threaten to derail her."

Suspense author Brett Battles has high praise for Deckard from Blade Runner. "This is one of my favorite movies, and Deckard is such a great retro-film-noir detective in a futuristic world. Hunting down androids who appear human, a beautiful femme fatal who is one, too, and Deckard not wanting to do the job in the first place makes this a first class mystery and Rick Deckard my favorite private dix."

Mystery author Allison Brennan is known for her long-running suspense mysteries with more than a dash of romance. She told us ... "My favorite Mystery Chix & Private Dix are Nick and Nora Charles. I've read The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett, and I've seen all six movies multiple times. I love the witty banter and snappy dialogue, the larger-than-life characters, and that Nick and Nora work together. Their affection for each other is icing on this noir cake."

Lori Armstrong is known for her chiling mysteries but when it comes time for her to pick a gutsy gumshoe she says, "My favorite mystery chick is Kinsey Milhone from Sue Grafton's 'Alphabet' series. Kinsey is tough, smart, and tenacious. She's also one of the first of a new breed of female characters, a PI who is a little edgier and every bit as strong as any male PI. I am grateful to Sue Grafton for crafting such a wonderful female character and opening the door for other female authors to write about these types of women and showing that readers won't shy away from a gun toting, tough talking, justice seeking chick."

D.P. Lylea medical doctor and forensic mystery author who is known for consulting on popular TV shows and runs The Writers Forensics blog, gets right to the point. "Favorite dix: James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux. Favorite chix: Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone."

Investigative reporter turned author Rick Mofina picks "Lieutenant William F. Kinderman, the D.C. homicide detective found in the pages of The Exorcist and its sequel, Legion by William Peter Blatty. Kinderman, a rumpled, self-effacing cop, is a beautifully-drawn character that we meet in the original, who evolves in the sequel. In Legion, the reprisal of Kinderman is masterful. The book's opening is brilliant. Blatty's theme as he described it, the suffering of the innocents confronting evil is central to most crime fiction. But his poetic handling of Kinderman appears to have influenced other thriller writers. Thomas Harris comes to mind. Set aside the fact Legion is paranormal procedural, it is above all, a compelling detective story. Kinderman deserves recognition. I return to him often. Too many people overlook the inspiring job Blatty did in breathing life into that guy, who after all, was chasing the greatest villain of all time."

And last but not least, the captain of the 2011 Mystery program at the RT Booklovers Convention, Carole Nelson Douglas picks a blast for the past, a teen gumshoe who always got her guy. "Although I've enjoying reading about and watching films featuring an enormous variety of female sleuths, including those I created for my own mystery series … there's only one all-time mystery chick for me. She's the first one who hooked me on reading the genre and buying every book in her series at a dollar a crack . . . from my allowance. I'm referring to Nancy Drew, the feisty teenage girl amateur detective. Although the 'Carolyn Keene' author name covered more than one author, Nancy's admirable life situation and qualities never changed: she had a supportive single-parent father, a good boyfriend, two great gal pals, and her own transportation, a roadster. Her grit and brains solved cases and got her into trouble sometimes, as well as out of it. She gave me unfailing entertainment and puzzles to solve and aspirations of being a fun and independent Grrrl power gal myself."

We want to know, did any of these authors pick your favorite mystery chix or private dix? And if not, who's your favorite? And of course, if you're not attending this year's convention, you can follow all the action on the RT Daily Blog and hopefully you can join us next year in Chicago!