Do you like a super thriller?
Well, you’re not the only one, as throngs of people with murder on their minds will be pouring into downtown Minneapolis next week when the World Mystery Convention takes place in the Twin Cities.
And this year’s gathering of fans, writers, and mysterious agents gained an extra layer of buildup and suspense. Normally held every year, the pandemic forced the 2020 convention to be held remotely while last year’s was canceled. This year will be the first in-person convention since the pandemic.
Luring the convention (named Bouchercon after author/editor/critic Anthony Boucher, who helped start the Mystery Writers of America organization) to Minnesota — not on par with an amateur sleuth uncovering the identity of a serial killer based on a series of seemingly unrelated clues – is considered quite an achievement.
“For Minnesota readers, Bouchercon in their own backyard could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Ellen Hart, author of the Jane Lawless mystery series. She called it “The World’s Fair for Mystery Fans”.
Despite billing itself as a “worldwide” assembly, this year’s convention, held in downtown Minneapolis from Sept. 8-11, has a strong Minnesota flavor.
It is subtitled “Land of 10,000 Thrills” and includes several of the state’s prominent authors. Minnesota stars include: Hart, a three-time Minnesota Book Award winner, who receives the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award; Edgar Award winner William Kent Krueger and creative writing teacher (and author) Jess Lourey.
The convention will include a tribute to Vince Flynn, the St. Paul author of Mitch Rapp’s bestselling books, who died of cancer in 2013. And it’s the first Bouchercon to include a hygge session.
Devin Abraham, owner of south Minneapolis bookstore Once Upon a Crime, and Terri Bischoff, editor of Crooked Lane Books, made the first pitch for the convention four years ago. The cornerstone of their campaign, they say, was Minnesota’s strong list of writers, large number of bookstores, and reputation for voracious readers.
Fanning the flames
The first Bouchercon – pronounced Bau-chure-con – took place in 1970.
Since then, the convention aims to grow and maintain the community of mysteries. To that end, it is billed as a forum where “readers, writers, editors, publishers, agents, booksellers, and other detective novel enthusiasts come together for a four-day weekend of education, entertainment, and entertainment”, according to the convention website.
High-profile events include panels on topics such as female protagonists, serial killers, and sidekicks. There are sessions focusing on historical mysteries, locked up mysteries and political thrillers, as well as panel discussions on agent and publisher relations, the use of social media and self-publishing.
The convention will also include interviews with Krueger, Lourey and Hart, as well as Alexander McCall Smith, author of the No. 1 hit series Ladies Detective Agency, and Attica Locke, who does double duty as a crime novelist and screenwriter and was nominated for an NCAAP Image Award.
And there will be opportunities for readers to chat with writers informally. There will also be autograph sessions (bring your own or buy one on site). Bouchercon is proud of its reputation as a “fan convention” where readers can rub shoulders with writers.
“You can go see them or buy them a beer,” said Krueger, series writer Cork O’Connor who will be attending his 17th Bouchercon.
A week before the convention, over 1,300 people had registered, with more to come. Registration is open until the start of the convention.
Tickets for the convention are $215. More information, including a full list of events, is available at bouchercon2022.com.