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2014 Long Beach Bouchercon - Report

It is late on Sunday. A long, fun weekend and honestly I am exhausted. My recap of the 2014 Long Beach Bouchercon could wait until tomorrow. But why put off today what you will probably have to complete tomorrow or the next day. [Editor's Note: Probably?]

I had good luck with the panels this year. It amazes me that you throw a bunch of authors in a room and more often then not the panel works. I found myself in a number of panels this year where I either knew nothing of the author or only what I could glean while doing Amazon searchers for their books in the five minutes before the panel started. It works when it feels like it should fail more often. I do know that I have become selective in the panels I choose to attend. There was at least one panel session on Thursday and Friday I did not attend. There was only one panel that was a bust from the get go. For those little traumas I have long learned to follow the adage of life being too short. A quick, quiet exit is smart for all involved.

My biggest disappointment was Adrian McKinty's inability to attend the Conference. Author-wise many of the authors I read do not attend the conference. I was MIA when Michael Connelly put in his late Saturday appearance. I pinned a few hopes on Robert Crais being a last minute addition. No Dennis Lehane. [Editor's Note: Did he ever?] No Stephen Booth. No Sean Chercover, No Marcus Sakey, No James Lee Burke, No Craig Johnson. Mr. McKinty's absence was unavoidable . Long story short I was going no matter what. The drive from Hungry Detective headquarters to hotel lobby was 45 minutes. Seeing his name pop up on the list of attendees was a big highlight for me. Alas.... Get well soon Adrian.

Last week I devoted a few moments to make a list of books I would like to acquire. My moratorium on buying books that strayed outside the The Hungry Detective canon was set aside because it was unrealistic not too. This was my first Bouchercon in four years and my next will likely be Toronto in 2017. With all those books in one place I knew that at some point I would walk into the book room and break, to think otherwise would be...and was... foolish. Half the reason for me to sit in a panel is to be persuaded to immediately buy their book. I count it as a victory of self control that I only did that once with Allen Eskens' book THE LIFE WE BURY. Otherwise the book buying went, unexpectedly, to the purchase of seven books by Edward Marston. There is a longer story here that I might expand upon in another post. But without being too reductive, I got sucked into the spectacular dust jacket art for his books. His Doomsday Books are fantastic hence the reason I bought five. His International Guest of Honor panel was a highlight and in fact reinforced the decision to buy a number of books from an author I did not even know existed until last Thursday morning. That is the magic of Bouchercon right there. The discovery of an unknown author is a lovely secret when it reveals its self to you. The sun shines brighter on days when that happens.

So the book room. First I appreciate everything the booksellers do to get books to the show. They are good people and I am thankful for them all. There were two large dealers, Mysterious Galaxy from San Diego and Scene of the Crime Books from St. Catharines, Ontario that more or less supplied 80% of the books from attending authors. Mysterious Galaxy had more books, but Scene of the Crime had attractive UK editions. Of the twelve books I bought, five books came from those dealers. Scene of the Crime had a number of Edward Marston Railway series that tempted me, but at some point I went with Marston's Doomday series and that lead me to Mystery Mike. Mystery Mike has been my go to for books at Bouchercon for awhile. He supplies a curated selection of popular new books as well as an authors back catalog. He certainly helped me out on the Marston Doomsday books and had I wanted to lose all sense of propriety I could have made serious inroads on Marston's other series. My one mild surprise was that Book Carnival from just around the corner in Tustin did not have more of a presence in the room. They had a respectable but small table of exclusively new books. I just went to their store. I know they had the stock to be another back catalog dealer. It seemed like a missed opportunity, but maybe only to me.

Probably no secret that the book room is a big part of my Bouchercon experience. It is with this in mind that one of the more intriguing panels I attended was the Collecting 101 panel on Saturday Morning. While not being exactly what I wanted I could have listened to those guys talk about collecting for another hour and not even batted an eyelash. I hope future Conference organizers will consider this a viable stream for future Conferences in the way that Publisher/Editor/Agent panels serve an important function. If there was a panel a day that focused on the topic of collecting Crime Fiction you could have panels for years. I don't think this is my bias either.

Right. So it is Wednesday now. I will hit the publish button...so that I can further tweak the typos I find.

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