By: Ken Fermoyle Photo Credits: Liz Fermoyle
The verdict was unanimous. A jury of some 600 mystery aficionados, including 300 authors, voted in favor of the Left Coast Crime 2003 convention in Pasadena, CA from Feb. 27 to Mar. 3. “Anyone who thought otherwise could have copped an insanity plea!” quipped one of the attendees as LCC2003 drew to a close Sunday afternoon.
And in truth it was among the best all-volunteer-organized affairs this writer has attended over the years. Organizers kept the many events moving along on schedule. The program was studded with interesting activities, aside from the many panels that were frequent and fascinating. Two offbeat presentations opened festivities on Thursday evening.
One featured an old-time radio presentation of “Sorry, Wrong Number” performed by a popular group, 30 Minutes to Curtain, devoted to the preservation of radio drama. The other (“When the Fuzz Really Are Fuzzy”) was a demonstration of how the Pasadena PD uses trained police dogs as fuzzy crime-fighters.
Four 50-minute panels per hour crammed the Friday and Saturday schedules, each with a moderator and panelists selected for their knowledge of and involvement in the subject at hand. Subjects ranged from “Off the Beaten Path: Exotic Locales,” “Fangs a Lot: All Creatures Bite & Maul,” and the very popular “L.A. Beyond the Sunshine & Oranges: A Paradise of Darkness” (with panelists including Jan Burke, Robert Crais, T. Jefferson Parker & April Smith) to “Black and White and Dead All Over: Reporter Sleuths,” “Cops vs. Coppers: Yanks & Brits Duke It Out” and “Small Presses: Does Size Really Matter?”
That just scratched the surface, of course.
“The worst feature of LCC2003 was having to make a choice between the four hourly panels,” bemoaned one fan, who had two favorite authors on competing panels several times during the convention. “I’ve been reduced to flipping a coin to decide which panel I’ll attend.”
Toastmaster Jerrilyn Farmer presided over festivities, including awards presentation at the Friday dinner.
The Lefty Award is a tradition at Left Coast Crime. At LCC 2003, the Lefty was awarded to the most humorous mystery novel published in the U.S. during the previous year. Hardbacks, paperbacks, and trade paperbacks were all eligible. Nominees for 2002 were:
Buck Fever – Ben Rehder; Hard Eight– Janet Evanovich; The Hearse Case Scenario – Tim Cockey; This Pen for Hire – Laura Levine; Pipsqueak – Brian Wiprud; The Rival Queens – Fidelis Morgan.
Co-winners were Brian Wiprud and Tim Cockey.
The Arty (for best cover art) went to Ben Rehder’s book Buck Fever.
Maryelizabeth Hart, director of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association (IMBA) presented the IMBA’s 2003 Dily award to Julia Spencer-Fleming for her bookIn the Bleak Midwinter. Ms. Spencer-Fleming received a specially made glass art sculpture in recognition of this achievement.
Bob Crais, LCC2003 Guest of Honor, enlivened the Saturday evening dinner (Mexican food, buffet style) with a virtual time and crime tour of the Los Angeles area, ranging from the Black Dahlia murder in 1958 to the homes of Harry Bosch (“16 miles dead west of us…”) and Elvis Cole (“…on the south side of that same mountain…”) You can read the full text athttp://leftcoastcrime2003.com/craisinfo.htm#Crais%20remarks
Sisters in Crime sponsored a Movie Lounge in a separate suite on Friday and Saturday, with an impressive array of movies screened each day. Titles included L.A. Confidential, Sunset Boulevard and Chinatown, The Thin Man, Hitchcock’sNotorious and The Big Fix, treats for any cinema fan. Videotaped interviews with authors Earlene Fowler, Rhys Bowen and Cynthia Harrod-Eagles were interspersed among the movies.
Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFBD), Los Angeles Unit, benefited from proceeds of silent auctions held Friday and Saturday evenings. These events and others raised nearly $14,000 for RFBD.
There was more but this reporter staggered home Sunday afternoon, loaded with notebook, camera gear and newly signed books, too pooped to pound the keyboard at any greater length. Suffice it to say that I willattend Left Coast Crime 2004 – and recommend that you do likewise! #####