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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Murder 203: Library Hosts Cloak and Dagger Literary Festival

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By James Lomuscio

There is always at least one body and a flawed detective who is the only one who can solve an unsolvable Image
Nonfiction author Paul La Rosa talks to mystery writers and fans today at the Westport Public Library about his book on the “Craig’s List Killer.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) James Lomucsio for

Up against a ticking clock, myriad plot twists and turns and a roster of red herring suspects, the hero eventually solves the mystery through logical deduction, a process known as ratiocination, not to mention a little luck.

Welcome to the world of the mystery writing, more specifically “Murder 203: Connecticut’s Mystery Festival,” a two-day genre immersion event organized by the Westport and Easton public libraries that concluded today at the Westport Public Library.

An avid mystery fan, Bernadette Baldino, director of the Easton Library, conceived of the idea that kicked of Saturday night in Easton with Mary Jane Clark, an Agatha Christie-styled writer who brings a contemporary, fear inspiring edge to her Eliza Blake novels.

In Westport, more than 20 mystery authors and an equal number of fans came to hear about real life crime—and perhaps glean inspiration for their next novels—from journalist and author Paul La Rosa of Brooklyn, N.Y.

La Rosa, a producer of television’s “48 Hours,” is also the author of nonfiction crime books, his most recent one, “Seven Days of Rage,” the story of the Philip Markoff, the so-called Craig’s List killer.

“The big difference between mysteries and true crime is that with true crime it’s true,” La Rosa said. “I deal with real characters, not the ones I make up in my head.

“I meet these killers,” he added. “They call me on the phone. I get collect calls from killers in prison and from the people who are friends of the victims.”

La Rosa offered some advice to novelists writing present day mysteries.

“These days it’s harder and harder to commit a murder and get away with it because of the digital age we’re in,” he said.

With a lot of old fashioned gumshoe work taking place in cyberspace today, La Rosa said murderers “wind up leaving digital breadcrumbs.”

In fact, La Rosa said, Markoff made it easy for police to find him by not hiding his Internet protocol (IP) address. The end result was that the Boston police could find him quickly.

The mystery novelists present came from throughout Connecticut and the country. Among them was Peggy Ehrhart, author of the Maxx Maxwell mystery series, which features a female sleuth who is a struggling musician in Hackensack, N.J.

Also present was Christopher Knopf of Avon,  the author of “Short Squeeze,” a murder mystery set in the Hamptons.

Jessica Speart of Easton, who penned the Rachel Porter mystery series, seemed to have a particular interest in La Rosa’s talk since her first nonfiction mystery, “Winged Obsession,” is about to be released. It is about a Japanese wildlife smuggler.

“I think it’s just wonderful,” Speart said about the event. “It’s a small enough event, and you get to mingle with others who enjoy reading mysteries.”

“It’s been a great, great conference,” said Steven Torres of Vernon.

Torres’ lead character, Luis Gonzalez, is a sheriff in Puerto Rico.

Baldino, who came up with the idea for the event, says her for love for the genre began childhood.

“It all started with Nancy Drew,” Baldino said. “And if you ask any woman in this room, she will say Nancy Drew, too.”

Posted 04/18/10 at 11:35 PM


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Kudos to Bernadette and to Murder 203 co-founder Jane Murphy for a great conference!

Follow Jane’s Mystery blog on the Westport Library website at

Posted by Marta Campbell on April 19, 2010 at 07:07 PM | #

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