Monday, March 26, 2007

The latest Spielberg thriller: Art Theft?

The FBI recently disclosed that Steven Spielberg had a stolen Norman Rockwell painting hanging on his wall, in plain sight. Apparently Spielberg bought Rockwell’s "Russian Schoolroom" in 1989 from an art dealer he assumed to be legitimate.

How was he to know it had been stolen?

The word on the street is caveat emptor – “beware, buyer”. These days missing and stolen art is tracked by a variety of on-line services, including the Missing Art Registry. In fact, Spielberg realized he was holding ill-gotten gains when an employee checked the FBI Web site last month, and discovered that the painting had been listed as stolen from a gallery in 1973.Though Spielberg won’t be charged with wrongdoing– it was determined he knew nothing of the theft when he bought the piece – he has to surrender the painting to its original owners. He is one of the many unfortunate collectors who have been burned intransactions that appeared to be legitimate.

Authorities say the higher online visibility of missing and stolen art is not only resulting in artwork being turned in, but also has inspired more people to come forward to claim title to the works. This is especially true in the case of artwork lost during World War II under the Nazis. For example, last year, the FBI recovered three works by 19th century painter Heinrich Burkel that disappeared from a German air raid shelter during the closing days of World War II. The paintings' rightful owner contacted authorities after seeing the works offered for sale on the Web by a dealer from Pennsylvania. It turned out that a New Jersey man had bought them in the 1960s. They were kept in the family with no idea that they were stolen until they were put up to auction. They were subsequently returned to the museum in Germany, from whence they came.

For more on Norman Rockwell and his art, visit his museum website.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A love of libraries…and librarians!

Lately I’ve been lucky enough to be spending time in libraries…and remembering how much I love them. There’s something about the unmistakable scent of thousands of books; kids sprawled on the floor, reading; adults milling about, searching, and dreaming. Whether learning English, looking for a good novel, or researching tax laws, the library is a hushed hermitage, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives.

It is too easy to assume that with the advent of our new millennium, the old style library is no longer vibrant and necessary. We hear of one county after another slashing library budgets, or threatening to cut off funding altogether. One of my best friends is a teen librarian in Princeton, New Jersey. She sees the library as one of the last true community spaces – and in particular, an alternative locale for teenagers to gather not only for homework help and research, but also to socialize in a safe, sane, fun setting.

Libraries have changed a lot since I spent much of my own childhood haunting their shelves – especially memorable are long, sweaty summer afternoons where the cool library offered a special sanctuary. These days access to the internet is a big draw, and there’s a tendency for book-lovers like me to look upon the infernal computer terminals as the end of civilization as we know it…and yet, a computer can be a great democratizing tool. Despite numerous obvious drawbacks, the internet has made it virtually impossible to stifle access to information.

Ultimately, that is a great thing.

The other day I was on a “Sisters in Crime” panel at the South Branch of the Berkeley Library, and it was heartening to see the little building packed with people of all ages and ethnicities on a summery Thursday evening. A couple of weeks ago I led a discussion of Sue Grafton at the South San Francisco Library, and there was a great turn out of Friends of the Library as well as others interested in mystery writing and reading in general.

My upcoming book, Brush with Death (July 3, 2007) has a special dedication to librarians and schoolteachers, who do so much to better the world. And it is now my personal mission to get my books onto the shelves of libraries across the nation. If anyone knows of libraries hungry for books, please tell them to contact me. I am happy to donate signed copies of the Agatha-Award nominated Feint of Art and bestselling Shooting Gallery to any public libraries who are willing and able to add them to their catalogued collection.

I would also love to hear your library stories.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Triple the Suspense in San Leandro

March 31, 2007 at 2:00 PM
At the Main Library
300 Estudillo Ave, San Leandro
For more information, call (510) 577-3971

Three local authors (two former San Leandro residents) will discuss their latest exciting novels - all filled with intrigue, plot twists, and suspense.

At this free program, they will entertain you with insider stories about the publishing industry (things you wouldn't believe!), and their experiences of the research and writing processes. They encourage a lively discussion and welcome lots of questions and interaction with the audience.

Featured Authors:

Hailey Lind
Shooting Gallery is Hailey's newest mystery. New Mystery Reader calls her series "Delightfully different...Annie Kincaid is a fun and fascinating new sleuth...a series to watch." Hailey's first novel, Feint of Art, has been nominated for an Agatha for best first novel. The latest in the Art Lover's Mystery Series, Brush with Death, will be in bookstores in July.

Camille Minichino
The Oxygen Murder is the eighth novel in her periodic table mystery series. With 111 elements, she has a long way to go. Booklist Says "plenty of humor enlivens an engrossing story."

Ann Parker
Ann's Silver Rush series, beginning with Silver Lies, has received parise from national reviewers. Publisher's Weekly called her newest, Iron Ties, "outstanding" and notes "many nice twists in this appealing adventure."

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sisters in Crime Panel -- BERKELEY, CA

On Thursday, March 15, at 6:00 pm, I'll be speaking on a panel with three other local authors at the South Branch of the Berkeley Public Library.

1901 Russel Street (at Martin Luther King Jr)

Hailey Lind is an artist as will as a writer and brings this experience to Shooting Gallery, her new book that explores the world of art fakes. Her first book, Feint of Art, has been nominated for an Agatha best first novel award!

Here are some details on the other authors:
Diana R. Chambers is the author of the topical thriller, Stinger, involving a CIA officer, a daring journalist and an elusive Afghan chief.

Peggy Dulle's new book, Death is Clowning Around, was inspired by the strange behavior of her computer at work.

Priscilla Royal has a degree in world literature where she discovered the beauty of medieval literature. Her medieval mysteries included Sorrow Without End, Tyrant of the Mind, and Wine of Violence. Her newest, Favas Can Be Fatal, take on modern life in the restaurant business.

Hope some of you can make it.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Panels, Signings and Sightings

Hailey Lind will be out there reading, signing, and hopefully, selling some books this month!!
You can always find details on upcoming events at the website. I will post more details on each appearance here and on myspace blog, so check back for more info...

Thursday, March 1, 2007

AAUW Authors Panel and Fundraiser -- Pleasant Hill

I will be joining the Pleasant Hill Branch of the American Association of University Women for an Author's Panel and Fundraiser on Saturday, March 10th, at 7 p.m., Hillcrest Congregational Church, 404 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill, 94523.

Fellow Sisters in Crime authors FRAN WOJNAR and PEGGY DULLE will also be there!

The Pleasant Hill Branch of Am. Assoc. of University Women is celebrating the Branch's 50th anniversary in the fall of 2007. This event is a fundraiser for the AAUW Educational Foundation in Washington, DC. This year, 2006-2007, we (the Foundation) have given grants of over 3.3 million to women for graduate study and community grants. The Pleasant Hill Branch sent in $6,000 toward this wonderful opportunity for women.

Hope you will join us to support a great cause and some local Bay Area authors.