Saturday, October 17, 2009

On the road again: Bouchercon, Indianapolis, day 4

One of the mysteries of mystery conventions is why they schedule the way they do. At every Bouchercon I've attended, the hotel bar roars with activity until the hotel forces out the last writers and fans and locks the doors. Also at every one of these events, the panels kick off at 9:00 a.m.--and usually with the very best presentations of the day. Perhaps the fans doing the scheduling don't care about the writers, or maybe it's all a diabolical plot to get a famous author to break in the face of sleep deprivation and reveal some major secret; I can only speculate. In any case, one of today's best panels began at the ungodly hour of 9:00 a.m., so I got up early enough to shower and be in my chair just as the moderator grabbed the microphone.

The stated topic was must-read thrillers, but the real discussion point was the book of essays about one hundred must-read thrillers that the International Thriller Writers association will be putting out next summer. David Morrell acted as moderator, with ITW co-founder Gayle Lynds and Lee Child the other people I'd come to hear. As it turns out, Child's essay on Theseus and the Minotaur will kick off the book. At about age eleven, Child was reading the story of Theseus in Latin for school, then on his own time was reading Fleming's Doctor No. Child said he was struck that the plots were essentially the same and that later he came to see Theseus and the Minotaur as the first thriller story. The other panelists were fine, but this tidbit alone made the early awakening worthwhile.

We ate lunch with Karen, who picked us up at the hotel and took us to the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, which is, oddly enough, here in Indianapolis. We had time only to eat in the cafe there and tour the lovely grounds a bit, but it was a nice time and good to catch up with Karen. I had no clue that Indianapolis had canals, much less a canal walk.

The highlight of the afternoon was a panel on the rules of paranormal mysteries, which proved to be quite funny. As is usually the case, Charlaine Harris stole the show.

I'm happy to report that the three signed, first-edition hardcovers I donated to the charity auction prompted some bidding. When last I looked, five different folks had bid on them, which, given their SF covers, bordered on miraculous. I didn't get to see the winning bid, because when I wandered by the dealers' room in the late afternoon, the books were already gone, but I did see one bid of $60, so at least they went for more than the sum of their Amazon list prices.

Dinner was back at 14 West, both because we knew it would be reliably good (t was) and because it was across the street from the movie theater near the hotel. At said theater we watched Law Abiding Citizen, which I liked more than the vast majority of critics. Other than failing hard with the mechanism by which the cops learned about the protagonist's operational secrets, a narrative gadet that was as close to a true deus ex machina as I've seen in a while, the film ran its course as one might expect from the premise.

Ah, well, enough blather. A book beckons me, and write it, I must.

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