Of local interest only, but if you're a fan of detective fiction in Houston, you're probably acquainted with Dean James, manager of Murder By The Book, Houston's best source for all things mysterious. According to the email I got last week, James is leaving his post at MBTB:
It is with a sad heart that we announce that Dean James has left Murder By The Book after working here for two decades.
Mississippi-born & raised, Dean James came to Houston in the 1980s to attend graduate school, and began working at Murder By The Book part-time. His extensive knowledge (his mind's the proverbial steel trap) and breadth of reading quickly made him a hit with our customers. Since coming to Houston & Murder By The Book, Dean has earned a Ph.D. in history from Rice, a Master's in library science, and as a writer, the Agatha & Macavity Awards for Non-Fiction. With co-author Jean Swanson, Dean wrote By a Woman's Hand and Killer Books; with Jan Grape and the late Ellen Nehr, he co-edited Deadly Women. On his own, he's the author of four Simon Kirby-Jones novels, one (so far) Wanda Nell Culpepper mystery, three other non-series works of suspense and several short stories.
In 1996 he began full-time work and became manager of the store. All of us - customers and staff alike - are really going to miss him.
But don't worry about never seeing Dean again... not only will he drop by the store often and work a few of the signings, he'll be teaching an eight-week course at Rice University's School of Continuing Studies, entitled "Strong Poison: The British School of Murder and Mystery", beginning next month.
The worldwide popularity of the works of Arthur Conan Doyle, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, and P.D. James raises the question: What makes the English novel of murder and detection so appealing and so distinctive from its American counterparts? Writer and historian Dr. Dean James will trace the development of crime fiction in England from Victorian times through the age of the "great detective" and the "Golden Age" of mystery writing, to the present day, when a new generation of English crime writers is emerging. Authors to be discussed include: Wilkie Collins, R. Austin Freeman, Margery Allingham, Reginald Hill, Gladys Mitchell, Anne Perry, Jacqueline Winspear , Peter Lovesey, Val McDermid, Ken Bruen, and many, many more! Book sales at the class provided by Murder By The Book.
For more information or to register for "Strong Poison," please contact Rice University's School of Continuing Studies at (713) 348-4803 or online at http://www.scs.rice.edu.
McKenna Jordan, who has a Bachelor's in English Literature from the University of Houston, will work at filling Dean's shoes as Murder By The Book manager.