The Bouchercon “Rush”

What an amazing week last one was for me.  Bouchercon has for 42 years been the major convention putting together mystery authors and mystery readers from all oer the world.  I’ve attended a bumch of them—-Baltimore, Philadelphia, San Diego, St. Paul, Austin, Pasadena, Omaha—and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few more.  This year’s was in downtown Cleveland, approximately 40 minutes from my front door—and it flattered the socks right off me that I was named one of the Guests of Honor.Let me confess right here that I was the ONLY Guest of Honor at Bouchercon in 2012 that I never heard of!  The others were Elizabeth George, whom I first met 25 years ago when both of us had just published our first mystery novels; Robin Cook, the best writer of medical mysteries ever: John Connolly, who was Master of Ceremonies and one of the funniest people I’ve ever met; and the duenna of mystery novels and probably the best-read genre author since Agatha Christie, the wonderful, generous and delightfully charming Mary Higgins Clark,  I gloried even being in their company.There were approximately 1700 attendees, which made the lobby and the bar of the venerable Renaissance Hotel very crowded indeed—so much so that there were quite a few old friends,  and many writers I would have killed to meet (sure, we mystery authors use the “kill” word a lot), but actually was unable to find them.  I was hoping I’d run into a few in the elevator, but no luck.  All of us spent much of our time staring at the chests of others, trying to read their name tags.  I did momentarily get to speak with Lisa Black, a former Clevelander who now lives in Florida and writes a series about a Cleveland forensic examiner (Lisa does that for a living, too) who’s faced with difficult crimes in all her books.I want to mention a few I DID see—friendships going back twenty-five years or more, and I’m so pleased I was able to reunite with them in the midst of all the festivities.  Let me begin with Robert J. Randisi.  He is the godfather of the current private eye movement and has nearly single-handedly kept it alive for more than a quarter of a century.  He is the founder of the Private Eye Writers of America (PWA), and I say with love and pride that without him, I wouldn’t even BE here—and Bouchercon would not have been held in Cleveland at all.  His longtime love, Marthayn Peligrimas, has been with him all the way—she writes as Christine Matthews—and together they hosted a terrific PWA cruise Saturday night about the Nautica Queen—great dinner, even better booze, and a romantic three hour cruise around the Inner Harbor of Lake Erie. There is nothing more breathtaking than the lights of downtown Cleveland at right, viewed from out on the lake.  I was proud as hell to announce that this is MY town!I had breakfast with another longtime friend and private eye author, John Lutz, with his woinderful wife Barbara,  Later that day John “interviewed” me on my own panel (I moderated another one and appeared on a third).  John was one of the authors who inspired me early in my career,  Steve Hamilton began his career, as I did, winning the Best First Private Eye Novel award and has been turning out superb books ever since; he’s the current president of PWA, an office many of us I mention in this blog have also held, and his kind words about me at that dinner/cruise will remain with me always.  I was delighted to be the dinner partner for two consecutive nights with dear old friend Sara Paretsky, like me a Chicago native, and the author of the tough and thoughtful private eye series featuring V.I. Warshawski.  Her work is always entertaining, but makes one think—hard—as well.  Spending time with other P.I. pals, Parnell Hall and Max Allan Collins, rounded off my evening.

A mention also of my agent, Dominick Abel, who has taken care of my career for its entirety (26 years now), and I’m glad he finally got to meet in person my publisher, David Gray, and publicist Jane Lassar, both of whom have allowed me to be who and what I am.

Finally, let me mention the love of MY life, Holly Albin, who attended Bouchercon 2012 with me.  Some difficulties with a bad knee kept her from enjoying some of the more social events, but she was the best sport in the world, had fun when she was able to, used SIX of the eight pillows in our suite at the hotel, and never complained for a moment.  Not only drop-dead beautiful and the best and most loving friend EVER, she’s also the most courageous person I’ve ever known, and I loved every second I spent with her on that astonishing roller coaster ride.

There will be more Bouchercons—the next two are in Albany NY and Raleigh NC.  There will be more ups and downs in my life, more excitement, more of a rush for me; at least I HOPE so.  But there will never be another week like this last one,  Thanks to everyone who attended, whether I got to talk with you or not.  This one will remain right in the forefront of my memory for the rest of my life.

About Les Roberts

Author, Internet and Radio Personality (, Teacher, Critic, not a bad jazz piano player, Cleveland lover.
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