Crime on the Comstock

Crime on the Comstock News September 2017


Welcome to the first newsletter for Left Coast Crime 2018: Crime on the Comstock. You are receiving this newsletter either because you are registered for LCC 2018 or because you attended LCC 2017 in Honolulu. LCC 2017 attendees, who are eligible to submit nominations for the LCC 2018 Lefty Awards, will remain on the distribution list through the nomination period in January 2018. To unsubscribe, click the link at the bottom of the newsletter and you will be removed from our list (and will not receive a nomination form).

Meet the Special Guests for Crime on the Comstock

News from Guest of Honor Naomi Hirahara

Dear LCC Renoites!

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be part of the festivities in March 2018. The convention coincides with the publication of my seventh and final Mas Arai mystery, Hiroshima Boy. This novel is set entirely in contemporary Hiroshima, mostly on a small island that is a fifteen-minute ferry ride from the city. The mystery has a bit of a Shetland or Broadchurch kind of vibe to it, in spite of being set in Japan and not the United Kingdom. It’s been exhilarating and emotional to complete the series. My biggest concern was to finish well and properly serve my protagonist, the aging gardener, Mas Arai. I believe that I have done so and am looking forward to sharing this book with you all in Reno.

I’m also doing research for a new series set in historic Chicago. This will be a stretch for this native Los Angeleno. But one thing I’ve learned from Hiroshima Boy is that it’s our job as writers to not always tread on what is easy or familiar. By pushing ourselves mentally and yes, sometimes physically, new doors open. I’ll also be stepping into telling stories in another medium – film. No, I’m not going to be a filmmaker, but I’ll be working as a producer for a small independent film adaptation of my first Mas Arai novel. Learning new things is certainly invigorating, introducing me to a younger generation of storytellers.

I’ve also been thinking of all the fun and mischief we’ll be having in Reno. Since we will be together as friends and readers, I want us to have plenty of opportunities to laugh. I took an improv class this summer and some of those skills will be put to good use at the convention. And there will be karaoke, too, but no worries – nothing like the karaoke you’ve been exposed to in the past.

So get ready for the unexpected in Reno. It will be a wonderful party celebrating the diversity of our genre.

Much love,
Naomi Hirahara

News from Guest of Honor William Kent Krueger

A big Western howdy to everyone! I’m William Kent Krueger, but please just call me Kent. It’s my privilege to be one of the guests of honor at the 2018 Left Coast Crime: Crime on the Comstock.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with my work, I write the Cork O’Connor mystery series, which is set in the great Northwoods of Minnesota. I’ve published sixteen novels in the series and won a few awards along the way. I also wrote Ordinary Grace, which received the 2014 Edgar Award for Best Novel. I live in Saint Paul, a city I dearly love, and I do all my writing in some wonderful little coffee shops there.

One of the most amazing blessings that comes to an author in our genre is the discovery of the whole mystery community. At conferences like Left Coast Crime, the energy is so very positive and incredibly infectious. The fans are smart and enthusiastic, and among the mystery writers themselves there’s a genuine sense of camaraderie that’s unique in the world of the arts. Despite its size, Left Coast tends to feel like an intimate conference. Because of that and the fabulous settings and the careful preparation that goes into it every year, this is always one of my favorites.

This fall I’ll be touring with Sulfur Springs, the newest Cork O’Connor novel. By the time Left Coast Crime rolls around, I’ll have completed #17 in the series, which will be called Desolation Mountain. God willing, I’ll be hard at work on the companion novel to Ordinary Grace.

Next March, I’m looking forward very much to visiting Reno, a city in which I’ve never set foot. Although the setting will be a new one for me, I know I’ll see lots of familiar faces there. I hope yours is one of them. Yeehaw! Let’s have some fun!

News from Toastmaster Todd Borg

Left Coast Crime 2018 has asked me to serve as toastmaster, a position that has in the past been filled by dozens of famous authors, and thus it is an honor to which I will scarcely do justice. But I’ll do my best, and I’ll hope for your tolerance.

Regarding personal business, my own books continue. Number 15 in my Tahoe mystery series, Tahoe Payback, was out in August to strong sales and reviews.

As for the Tahoe gang, Detective Owen McKenna is still without the benefit of a sidearm, a psychic scar from his former life as Homicide Inspector on the San Francisco PD. Yet he continues to chase bad guys and, sometimes, thrash them around a bit before he turns them over to — what did he call it once in a naive fit of romantic delusion? — that thin blue line between order and chaos.

And, natch, McKenna’s still got Spot, all 170 Harlequin-Great-Dane-pounds of him to set new hotdog-Hoovering speed records and, occasionally, intimidate any bad guys dumb enough to get in his sights when he decides to step up from his wayward street pup instincts and emulate professional, valedictorian-type police dogs on a suspect-takedown mission.

As with Owen McKenna’s lack of gun, his deprivations still include the absence of forensic entomologist girlfriend Street Casey as a live-in companion or even - gasp - potential marriage mate. With her requirements for complete independence as the most important measure of a life worth living, Street regularly disappoints McKenna. But with her kindness and grace and a voice that melts Owen’s soul, she remains the focus of his desire.

Finally, Owen McKenna’s best buddy, Douglas County Sergeant Diamond Martinez, is again on his intellectual search as he studies Mexican history, mixes it with 19th century English philosophy and a judicious mixture of porter brew (brown beer for brown men), and finds in the revelations new understandings of why criminals continue to proliferate and fascinate. Stay tuned for #16 in the summer of 2018.

Meet Ghost of Honor Mark Twain (McAvoy Layne)

For thirty years now, in over four thousand performances from Piper’s Opera House in Virginia City to Leningrad University in Russia, McAvoy Layne has been preeminent in preserving the wit & wisdom of, “The Wild Humorist of the Pacific Slope,” Mark Twain.

McAvoy is a winner of the Nevada Award for Excellence in School and Library Service, and author of a book to be published in January, The Secret Lives of Pine Nuts. He plays the ghost of Samuel Clemens in the Biography Channel’s episode of Mark Twain, and in the Discovery Channel’s Cronkite Award winning documentary, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Says McAvoy, “It’s like being a Monday through Friday preacher, whose sermon, though not reverently pious, is fervently American.”

Toastmaster Todd Borg on Reno

For Left Coast Crime visitors, here’s a bit of a travelogue to whet your appetites...

As regards our host cities of Reno and Sparks, you should know that in addition to Left Coast Crime gracing Reno with its presence, there are many cool aspects to the Reno/Sparks/Tahoe area. (Note, every time you hear anyone refer to the more famous Reno, you can quietly mouth the words, “and Sparks”to give sister city Sparks her due. Our host hotel, the Nugget, is in Sparks, after all. As for Tahoe, it doesn’t need any due, as it is glorified by the annual crush of millions of visitors already.)

Reno’s Cool thing #1 – ART
Reno is known as Art Town for a good reason. One is that it has the Nevada Museum of Art, with as serious an art collection as you’ll find in any comparably-sized city, and it is housed in a very modern, custom, arty building. Reno is also home to multiple art galleries.

As for the literary arts, Reno is well-anchored in the word firmament by Sundance Bookstore, one of the all-time greatest independent bookstores anywhere.

There are other literary events such as the Reno Literary Crawl that takes place in downtown Reno. (We writers are used to groveling, so crawling is a step up…)

Cool thing #2 – TAHOE
Reno is just down the mountain from Lake Tahoe, in many respects the most fantabulous, high-elevation, super pure, super deep, amazing gorgeous awe-inspiring body of water in the world.

Okay, for you sticklers, we’re talking 22 miles long by 12 miles wide, 6230 feet in the sky, (i.e., the lake is 1000 feet higher than mile-high-city Denver), 1630 feet deep (10th deepest in the world), with water that passes many official standards for distilled water (you can see down 70 feet). (Yes, there’s a lake in the Andes that is bigger and higher, but it ain’t deep and pure like Tahoe.) Tahoe has over a dozen major ski resorts, every kind of boating, and many of the most beautiful hiking and biking and cross-country ski trails found anywhere. There’s a reason why Reno changed the name of its airport to the Reno Tahoe Airport. Tahoe is simply, by any measure, one of the world’s most beautiful places. And Reno is its number one access point. When you come to Reno, everyone advises that you schedule an extra day or more to drive up to Tahoe and see for yourself what all the fuss is about. If the weather is decent, I recommend going up #431, the Mount Rose Highway. Take it over the summit. At about 9000 feet, it is the highest year-round pass in the Sierra. Then drive down at least to the overlook above Incline Village. The view from that overlook alone will stay with you forever. Way better still is to drive all the way around the lake. When you see Emerald Bay, you are likely to agree that it is near the top of the all-time-most-amazing places. (Can you tell I’m a Tahoe enthusiast? You may have noticed that my book titles all begin with Tahoe…)

Cool thing #3 – TECH
Reno is the new hot tech magnet, and as such is experiencing a tech boom like no other city. You’ve probably heard that Tesla’s Giga Factory, a facility that also has Panasonic investing major bucks, is currently setting up shop in the Reno area. They followed Amazon, which built a giant fulfillment center in Reno a couple of years ago. Apple is investing $1 billion in a cloud-storage data center just east of Reno. Apple also just bought an entire city block near downtown Reno to build another facility. Then there is that search company called — let me think —oh yeah, Google. Google just bought 1200 acres in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center. Yes, you read that number correctly. What does Google plan to do with that much land near Reno? Stay tuned to find out. Then there’s Microsoft, which has only three regional operations centers in the world, and one of them is in Reno. Even Berkshire Hathaway has built a power plant in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center.

Wait, I just mentioned Apple, Google, Microsoft, Berkshire Hathaway, and Amazon in one paragraph. Measured by market cap, those are the five biggest companies in the world. And they are all investing heavily in the Reno area. I guess we better sit up and take notice...

Cool thing #4 – NEW HIP
Reno has a hip thing going that is far beyond its gambling history.
  • Did you know that the world’s tallest and largest climbing wall is on the outside of Reno’s Whitney Peak Hotel? It is 164 feet high.
  • Did you know that during the spring you can kayak whitewater on the Truckee River in downtown Reno? If you want something more tame, walk the Truckee River Walk through downtown Reno. It is a beautiful stroll along the Truckee, down which all the water from Lake Tahoe flows.
  • How about Reno’s vibrant live theater scene with multiple acting companies? For example, the Reno Little Theater is featuring a murder mystery play called Death By Design in the weeks before and during Left Coast Crime. How perfect is that?
  • Reno also houses the University of Nevada’s Reno (UNR) campus, with over 20,000 students. Compared to the university’s Las Vegas campus, UNR is the harder school in which to get accepted, but its graduates make more money. And it isn’t thirteen thousand degrees in the summer!
  • What else? The Reno Aces is a Minor League baseball team that’ll take you back to old-time baseball. Their stadium is right near downtown. Listen to the crack of the bat on a fastball, smell the hotdogs (Spot is), lick the beer head off your upper lip. This is classic, old-time baseball. When it comes to the essence of the sport, the Yankees got nothing on the Aces.
  • And if you’re a flying buff, there are few things more exciting than the Reno Air Races. You can’t get airplane races just anywhere!
Cool thing #5 – THE CLASSICS
The old stuff is still strong. The National Car museum will delight you whether you are a gearhead or are merely into old classic cars as modern art pieces.

Considered the Taj Mahal of tenpins, Reno’s National Bowling Stadium is world-class. And if you want to visit a casino, there are many to choose from, including the Nugget hotel and casino where Left Coast Crime is taking place.

That’s all for now! Stay tuned for our next newsletter featuring some optional “field trips” in the Reno/Sparks area before and after the convention.

Are You Registered for Crime on the Comstock?

Not sure if you are registered for LCC 2018? Check our Crime on the Comstock List of Attendees. Visit the LCC 2018 Registration Page to register for Left Coast Crime 2018.

Left Coast Crime 2019:
Whale of a Crime

March 28–31, 2019 at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Lifetime Achievement Honouree: Sue Grafton
Guests of Honour: C.J. Box & Maureen Jennings
Fan Guests of Honour: Don & Jen Longmuir
Toastmaster: Cathy Ace
Visit the Whale of a Crime website for all the details and to register.