Between the Lines: Bee Book Club to host mystery authors

The Sacramento Bee Book Club has been around the literary block and back. Since 1997, its agenda has been to bring nationally recognized, award-winning authors to Sacramento, and invite the public to attend their presentations and book signings. Some of the biggest names on the fiction and nonfiction landscapes have appeared, including Janet Evanovich, Lee Child, Amy Tan, Walter Mosley, Diana Gabaldon, Bill Bryson, Joyce Maynard, Erik Larson and dozens of others.

Now the Bee Book Club is going to try something a bit different. In a special edition on July 31, four Northern California mystery writers will appear onstage in conversation with each other. It will be a “panel discussion,” of sorts, in which the authors will collectively answer questions about how they do what they do, talk about their main character and explain why the mystery-thriller genres are so enduringly popular.

The novelists and longtime friends are Cara Black (“Murder in Pigalle,”, Rhys Bowen (“City of Darkness and Light,”, Catriona McPherson (“Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses,” and Terry Shames (“The Last Death of Jack Harbin,”

The quartet will share the stage at 6 p.m. at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, 828 I St., Sacramento (doors open at 5:15 p.m.). It’s a free event in partnership with the Sacramento Public Library, but tickets are required. They are available starting today at Look for more details on the cover of the July 29 Living Here section. Information: (916) 321-1128.

The four authors’ latest books will be offered at a 30 percent discount through July 31 at select bookstores. The novels are “Murder in Pigalle” by Cara Black (Soho, $28, 320 pages); “City of Darkness and Light” by Rhys Bowen (Minotaur, $26, 309 pages); “Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses” by Catriona McPherson (Minotaur, $26, 320 pages); and “The Last Death of Jack Harbin” by Terry Shames (Seventh Street, $15.95, 255 pages).

Participating bookstores are Barnes & Noble, Avid Reader at the Tower in Sacramento, Avid Reader in Davis, Face in a Book in El Dorado Hills, Time Tested Books, Underground Books, Hornet Bookstore at California State University, Sacramento, the UC Davis Bookstore and the Bookseller in Grass Valley.

Two more authors will appear for the Bee Book Club this year:

• Sept. 18: Nonfiction writer and editor-at-large for Outside magazine Hampton Sides traveled far afield for “In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the U.S.S. Jeannette.” In 1879, the ship left port to explore the North Pole. What happened next became high adventure.

• Oct. 23: This year, Jodi Picoult will publish her 22nd novel, “Leaving Time.” A woman who has searched a decade for her missing mother recruits two allies to help – a psychic and the P.I. who originally investigated the missing-person case.

CapRadio Reads

Capital Public Radio’s book club, CapRadio Reads, continues with another provocative event. Author Galadrielle Allman will appear in conversation with “Morning Edition” host Donna Apidone, to discuss “Please Be With Me: A Song for My Father” (Spiegel & Grau, $28, 400 pages). It’s her biographic ode to her father, Duane Allman, the late musician and founding member of the legendary Allman Brothers Band.

The $15 tab will include appetizers and wine, but act quickly – the venue is expected to fill fast. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. July 15. The book club hosts meetings the second Tuesday of each month in the radio station’s Community Room, 7055 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento. Register at

Here’s the buzz

Since Book Central is situated inside The Sacramento Bee, we paused when we saw these recently released titles:

“The Bees” by Laline Paull (Ecco, $26, 352 pages): Flora 717 is a “sanitation” worker bee who moves up in her hive’s hierarchy to join the Queen’s inner sanctum. Intrigue and danger follow in this debut, described as “ ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ meets ‘The Hunger Games.’ ” The 2007 animated “Bee Movie” with Jerry Seinfeld and Renée Zellweger comes to mind, but there’s more drama (and biology lessons) than humor in this novel.

“Keeping the Bees” by Laurence Packer (Harper, $16, 272 pages): The author – a zoologist and biology professor – points out that bees are threatened by more than just colony-collapse disorder. Globally, their disappearance would alter mankind’s food supply and disrupt Earth’s ecology. Fortunately, he explains how we can save the insects.

“A Sting in the Tale” by Dave Goulson (Picador, $25, 288 pages): In recounting his quest to reintroduce an extinct species of bumblebee into the United Kingdom, the founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust gives readers history and science lessons.

Prolific husband/wife team

It seems there’s always a new chapter ahead for Bill Pronzini and Marcia Muller in their remarkable collaborative life of mystery. The Petaluma-based husband-wife novelists are among the most widely recognized names in crime fiction – he for his “Nameless Detective” series, she with her Sharon McCone thrillers. They are among a handful of married couples to gain grand-master status from the Mystery Writers of America. They appeared together for the Bee Book Club in 2009.

In Pronzini’s new “Strangers,” his P.I. works to prove the innocence of a teenager accused of three assaults (Forge, $25, 256 pages). In Muller’s “The Night Searchers,” her P.I. investigates the strange activities of a San Francisco-based group of treasure hunters (Grand Central, $26, 290 pages).

Upcoming author appearances

Cindy Sample for her humorous mystery series, “Dying for a Daiquiri,” “Dying for a Date” and “Dying for a Dance,” 2 p.m. July 19 (National Daiquiri Day) at Total Wine, 2765 E. Bidwell St., Folsom; (916) 984-6923),

Francine Toder for “The Vintage Years,” 1 p.m. Aug. 10 at the Sacramento Central Library, 828 I St, Sacramento, (916) 264-2920. The psychologist will expand her presentation to explain recent gains in neuroscience research that shows how how taking up the arts (painting, music, writing) after age 60 can stimulate the brain and enhance well-being. More at