Judy Penz Sheluk and Kristina Stanley have both been featured in my series How I Got Published when they were both starting out – before they established themselves as the respectful mystery writers they have become.

Both are Canadian. Judy Penz Sheluk writing about a small town community outside of Toronto and Kristina Stanley writing about the mountain resorts of British Columbia.

Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime International, Sisters in Crime – Guppies, Sisters in Crime – Toronto, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers, Inc. and the Short Mystery Fiction Society. She lives in a small town northwest of Toronto, Ontario. Read more here.

Skeletons in the Attic


Calamity (Callie) Barnstable isn’t surprised to learn she’s the sole beneficiary of her late father’s estate, though she is shocked to discover she has inherited a house  she didn’t know existed. However, there are conditions attached to Callie’s inheritance: she must move to Marketville, live in the house, and solve her mother’s murder.



Skeleton’s in the Attic is the first of Judy’s series but not her first mystery.

I found myself immediately drawn into Skeleton’s in the Attic not only because of the suspense but because of the wonderfully quirky characters inhabiting this novel. The author does a fantastic job managing her characters and making them all come alive with their own distinct personalities and secrets, adding layers to the novel’s core suspense.

As Callie moves into her father’s house and gets to know her eccentric neigbours, clues to her mother’s disappearance begin to emerge. The problem is that the more clues appear the more nothing is what it appears to be and Callie can’t quite trust those providing these clues.

Although warned that the truth can break your heart, Callie can’t stop her relentless quest to discover the truth behind her mother’s disappearance. I particularly enjoyed the protagonist’s search for a mother who abandoned her when she was six and in trying to put together the pieces of her mother’s past she dips into memories of her own childhood.

Skeleton’s in the Attic is a cozy, enjoyable read.


Kristina is the author of the Stone Mountain Mystery Series.

Her books have garnered the attention of prestigious crime writing organizations in Canada and England. Crime Writers of Canada nominated her first novel for the Unhanged Arthur award. The Crime Writers’ Association nominated her second novel for the Debut Dagger. She is published in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. click here for more.



On a cold winter morning, the safe at Stone Mountain Resort is robbed, and Kalin Thompson’s brother, Roy, suspiciously disappears. As Director of Security, Kalin would normally lead the investigation, but when her brother becomes the prime suspect, she is ordered to stay clear.




In her third installment of The Stone Mountain Mystery Series, Kristina Stanley begins the novel with her signature nail-biting tension. She immediately plunges the reader into the middle of an avalanche and we find out very quickly that “…Roy’s headlamp burst to life, eerily illuminating his surrounding snow coffin.”

Lovely sentence.

Kristina Stanley maintains tension and suspense throughout the novel, whether it has to do with the protagonist’s decision to take an appealing job offer that might tear apart her newly married relationship with Ben, or, this being a mystery, on solving a murder.

I’ve had Avalanche on my Kindle since last June. When the weather started to turn cold and snow covered the ground I pulled up the novel. Avalanche is perfect to take on a ski holiday or to sit by a fireplace, sipping hot cocoa or tea and getting lost in the tangles of relationships.

In the category of Women’s Sleuth Mysteries, Avalanche was an Amazon Hot New Release.

I’ve now read all three of the Stone Mountain Mysteries and this is my favourite.



As part of The Metropolis Blue Literary Festival, I attended readings by three renowned international crime writers.

The readings were held at Drawn and Quarterly –  a cozy, friendly book store in Mile End.



It was in Mile End that Mordecai Richler set his famous “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz”. Since then, Mile End, one of Canada’s most densely populated artist communities,  has become a thriving hub for not only musicians (Arcade Fire) but many artists, writers, photographers and filmmakers continue to migrate to this area.

Carlo Lucarelli, one of Italy’s best loved crime writers read from his second mystery novel,The Damned Season which features his Commissario de Luca.  His De Luca trilogy, set in Italy at the end of World War II, became extremely successful and he has since published over a dozen novels and collections of stories. 



I never know the ending of my novels. If I did it would be too boring to write.

Part of the magic of writing is to follow the characters and discover them. To dig deeply into the soul of your character.I like to be surprised when I write.

American writer Koethi Zan, read from her debut novel The Never List.



The moment she read these lines I wanted to read her book:

For us there was no such thing as fate. Fate was a word you used when you had not prepared, when you were slack, when you stopped paying attention. Fate was a weak man’s crutch.

When she finished her reading she sat next to me and so I struck up a conversation with her.

This being her first novel, I was curious about how she got published. It turns out that she is married to Stephen Metcalf,  the writer-columnist at Slate who sent Zan’s manuscript to his agent.

I hate connections because I don’t have any. I told her that I was writing a crime novel but it wasn’t half as good as her writing.

 She leaned close to me and said, “Every writer thinks this.”


For a whole year before writing this book I read nothing but crime fiction, in particular the Scandinavian crime writers.

I bought her book and started reading it. Connections or not, you have to know how to write and Koethi Zan sure does. Besides writing well, her book is a real page turner.

The final reader was the Austrian writer, Wolf Haas, known for his crime fiction featuring detective Simon Brenner.



Three volumes of his mystery series have been made into popular German language films. He has been awarded the German thriller prize and the 2004 Literature Prize from the City of Vienna.

You get ideas as you write. You learn a lot about yourself when you write a book.








Short Story Competition

I know this is short notice but maybe some of you have a great mystery short story in your files that is dying to be published.

The deadline for the CWA Margery Allingham Short Story Competition is a mere week (and a bit) away.

This competition is for unpublished stories of no more than 3,500 words. This competition is open to anyone over the age of 18, no matter where they live but the story must be in English.

First prize is £1,000 (kindly sponsored by the Margery Allingham Society) plus Bloomsbury Reader, who publish amongst others The White Cottage Mystery by Margery Allingham, will publish the winning story in ebook format for sale worldwide through all ebook retailers within 6 months of the announcement (subject to standard Bloomsbury Reader terms).

Full terms and conditions are available on our website as well as the entry form. The deadline is Sunday 16th March.

The submission fee is £10.

Happy writing!


Lucy Santos
Director, Crime Writers’ Association

Good Luck to all of you.