I always have such a great time at the Great Manhattan Mystery Conclave, and this year was no exception. Keynote speaker Diane Mott Davidson looks like Kathleen Turner and is as smart, funny, and utterly charming as it is possible to be. And she brought Got-A-Hot-Date Bars—that she made herself before coming, from a recipe from her latest culinary mystery, Sweet Revenge—to hand out at her book signing. (Honestly, these bars are so good, they should be called Better-Than-A-Hot-Date Bars.) I bought Sweet Revenge while I was at the Conclave, and I’m enjoying the story even more now that I can hear Diane’s voice in my head as I read.
Nancy Pickard was as gracious and wonderful as always, and while we were at the Conclave, she found out that she had won the Macavity Award for The Virgin of Small Plains. No book deserves it more. Honestly, if you haven’t read it, treat yourself. It is the best book I’ve read in a long time.
Will Thomas was a terrific toastmaster. I haven’t yet read his historical mysteries about a private detective and his sidekick in Victorian London, but I fully intend to. They sound wonderful.
The law enforcement panel was terrific, as always. There are only a handful of certified forensic anthropologists and forensic psychologists in the country, and we’re fortunate to have one of each teaching at Kansas State University in Manhattan. They, along with a Riley County homicide detective, the retired Riley County district attorney (who sounds just like Jimmy Stewart—I kid you not), and the chief public defender in Wichita, spoke for over two hours on Saturday morning, and were just fascinating. I could’ve listened to them all day.
I missed a few of the Conclave regulars who couldn’t attend this year, such as Susan McBride, Mark Bouton, and Margaret Shauers. And of course, it’s a little like Christmas—I looked forward to it for so long that now that it’s over, I’m feeling a bit of a letdown.
But that won’t last long because this Friday I’ll be motoring down to Wichita for the Kansas Book Festival. I am very lucky to be invited to so many fun book events.