Bouchercon Calgary’s website is live! Check out some of the authors who will be here in October, 2026. I’m excited to be part of the organizing team. https://bouchercon2026.com/ The photo shows co-chair Pamela McDowell and me presenting Calgary’s bid at Minneapolis Bouchercon last September.
This winter Tourism Calgary sent me an email out-of-the-blue. They explained they were considering a bid for the 2026 Bouchercon World Mystery Convention and wanted my help connecting with the Calgary writing community. The bid needed sufficient volunteer support to host this major convention. Tourism Calgary had done an internet search for local mystery writers and my name popped up in various places. They thought the convention could have numerous spinoff benefits for Calgary.
I’d first heard about Bouchercon at Mystery Writers’ INK, a Calgary writing group I belonged to for many years. Members considered it the premiere mystery writing convention in North America. A couple of them attended Bouchercon 2007 in Anchorage, Alaska. They described their experience as a fun mix of learning, book promotion, and travel. Many Bouchercon regulars plan annual holidays around the convention.
I was excited by the email and agreed to meet online with two Tourism Calgary contacts, and later with them and the Bouchercon administrator. I learned that Bouchercon is huge. Typically about 1,800 people attend. The majority are mystery fans, rather than writers. Bouchercon is usually held in the USA, although Toronto, Canada, has hosted three times and the U.K. twice. In London 1990, P.D. James was Guest of Honour. Nottingham England’s Lifetime Achievement Guest of Honour in 1995 was Ruth Rendell (not Robin Hood). Other Guests of Honour through the years have included Sara Paretsky, Ian Rankin, Harlan Coben, Laura Lippman, James Patterson, Michael Connolly, Anne Perry, Karin Slaughter, Anthony Horowitz — enough name dropping.
In October 2017, I attended Bouchercon Toronto. Louise Penny was Canadian Guest of Honour. (Each Boucherson has about a half dozen Guests of various descriptions). I moderated a panel on Noir Mystery Novels to a large audience (scary, both the moderator role and the subject matter). Each convention produces a short story anthology, with the proceeds going to a charity. A highlight for me was my story’s acceptance in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon Anthology 2017. This earned me a seat at the author signing table.
The Bouchercon administrator told us their organization provides a wealth of support and experience for host cities, but, in addition, Calgary would require a strong Local Organizing Committee. I provided Tourism Calgary with names of people and local groups to contact, including BWL. Our publisher, Jude Pittman, was instantly on board and will be part of the committee. Tourism Calgary sent a survey to local writers and organizations and the enthusiastic response exceeded everyone’s expectations. Calgary is called the volunteer capital of Canada for good reason. The Calgary Public Library, Calgary Wordfest, and the University of Calgary expressed interest in playing roles.
Tourism Calgary is now preparing a formal bid to host the convention in 2026. In June the Bouchercon administrator will fly to Calgary to assess the city’s hotel and convention capacity. If it meets the criteria, I’m told Calgary stands a great chance of winning the bid when the Bouchercon board votes this summer.
Since I’ve been with them from the start, Tourism Calgary asked me to chair the Local Organizing Committee. After some angst, I agreed to co-chair with Calgary author Pamela McDowell, my friend for 25 years. Pam and I will be busy, but it will be fun to work together on this big project.
Looks like Calgary mystery writers and readers are in for exciting years ahead. Stay tuned.
Bouchercon 2017 was an opportunity to visit Toronto in the fall
As I promised on today’s Calgary Public Library Zoom presentation, here’s my arbitrary list of novels set in Canada, to get you started. These are books I happened to stumble upon and they tend to reflect my more recent reading. I’m sure I’ve missed a number of great writers that you’ll discover on your own.
Many of the books are in your local library and you can request ones that aren’t. The books are listed by author name. I don’t always specify book titles. Sometimes I’ve read a later book in a series, while you might want to start with book # 1.
Since I’m a westerner, I’ll travel from west to east on this cross-Canada journey.
William Deverell – Legal mystery series written by a former lawyer. Clever and witty writing that portrays the ‘hippie’ character of Salt Spring Island.
Beverley McLachlin – another retired lawyer writing a legal mystery series, this one set in Vancouver. McLachlin, the former Chief Justice of Canada, grew up in Pincher Creek Alberta, and wrote an interesting memoir. I enjoyed Full Disclosure, book # 1 of her mystery series, and look forward to discussing the sequel, Denial, with my book club in February.
J. G. Toews, Lucky Jack Road (book 2 of her mystery series) – set in Nelson, BC, another ‘hippie’ setting I enjoyed, both on the page and in my travels.
Dave Butler, Full Curl, book 1 of environmental mystery series featuring a national park warden who deals with conservation issues. Book 1 is set in Banff National Park, Alberta.
Jayne Barnard, The Falls series set in Bragg Creek, AB
Dwayne Clayden, Brad Coulter police thriller series set in Calgary, AB, written by a former paramedic and police officer.
Alice Biena, Female PI series with lots of Calgary setting.
David Poulsen, Cullen and Cobb series set in Calgary.
Garry Ryan, gay detective series set in Calgary.
Randy McCharles, Peter Galloway series takes us to the Calgary Stampede and northern Alberta.
Candas Jane Dorsey, The Adventures of Isabel, postmodern style, insight into LGBTQ life in Edmonton.
Sharon Butala, Zara’s Dead, fiction based on a 1962 murder that took place in Saskatoon, SK.
Gail Bowen, long-running Joanne Kilbourn series set in Regina, deals with the challenges of a middle-aged woman and her family.
Helen Humphreys, Rabbit Foot Bill, literary mystery based on a 1947 Saskatchewan murder, which raises questions about mental health issues.
Vanessa Farnsworth, The Haweaters, based on an 1877 murder committed by the author’s ancestor. A good look at pioneer life on Manitoulin Island.
Giles Blunt, police detective series set in northern Ontario.
R. J. Harlick, Ottawa region series deals with indigenous issues. One book in the series is set in the Northwest Territories.
Randall Denley, Payback, book # 2 of a series: well-crafted whodunnit set in the Ottawa Valley.
Maureen Jennings, November Rain, book # 2 of a historical mystery series set in Toronto by the author of Murdoch Mysteries, which became a hit television show.
Katrina Onstad, Stay Where I Can See You, not a traditional mystery novel, but beautifully written and crafted with insight into domestic abuse and class conflicts in contemporary Toronto. Winner of the 2021 Crime Writers of Canada Award for Best Novel Set in Canada.
E.R. Yatscoff, firefighter series set in Niagara Peninsula, written by a former firefighter.
Louise Penny, popular Inspector Gamache series mostly set in Three Pines, a fictional village outside of Montreal, and featuring an interesting and sometimes quirky cast of recurring characters. A dark take on the British cozy.
Joan Hall Hovey, And Then He Was Gone, suspense with paranormal aspects, set in New Brunswick.
Kevin Major, One for the Rock, Two for the Tablelands… This series could go to infinity. Dry humour and great Newfoundland setting.
Mike Martin, A Perfect Storm, Book # 9 of a series featuring an RCMP officer living in rural Newfoundland. I enjoyed the book without having read the previous eight in the series.
Clearly, there are many more Canadian stories, including novels by authors I’ve heard about but haven’t yet read. Time for me to remedy this!