| Chapter One|
(Read or print)
It was ten years ago, at the very first Malice Domestic Convention. Carolyn Hart, Susan Dunlap and I had stepped into the elevator together, each of us wearing our Malice Domestic name tags.
The hotel was also hosting a large gathering of trial lawyers that weekend, and the elevators were full of attorneys in sober business suits and ties. One of them looked at our name tags, instantly deduced that we were probably social workers or mid-echelon civil servants and said, "Malice Domestic, hmm-mm? Is your conference about violence in the home?"
"You could say so," Susan replied with a perfectly straight face.
For ten years, Malice Domestic has celebrated the traditional mystery, i.e., crime with a distinctly domestic face: no Mafia shootouts, no evil masterminds pulling strings for world domination, no sewer rats crawling up from urban cesspools. Violence here is seldom by random chance. Should a drive-by shooting actually occur, we soon learn which of the victim's nearest and dearest has access to a black sedan. If someone keels over in the chocolate mousse, the poison usually comes from Grandmother's enameled pillbox. The knife is seldom a switchblade. It's more likely to be an antique Persian dagger that hung over the sideboard and was used to slice the cheddar before turning up in hubby's chest.
In short, victim and perpetrator know each other. If they are not related by blood or marriage, then they work together, are lovers (or ex-lovers), are rivals for the same desirable plum, are privy to the other's darkest secrets.
Think Christie instead of Cain, Sayers rather than Spillane.
In the last ten years, Malice Domestic (the convention) has honored some of the best modem practitioners of this side of the genre: Elizabeth Peters, Patricia Moyes, Charlotte MacLeod, Aaron Elkins, Anne Perry, Dorothy Salisbury Davis, Ellis Peters, Peter Lovesey, Carolyn Hart and Robert Barnard.
For the last eight years, Malice Domestic (the annual anthology) has presented stories by these authors plus dozens more who write wittily and perceptively of personal relationships gone awry.
This year's collection continues the tradition.
In 1992, Margaret Maron swept all the mystery awards-Agatha, Anthony, Edgar, Macavity-for Bootlegger's Daughter, her first novel featuring Southern judge Deborah Knott. Since then, Maron has continued to garner critical acclaim for her Knott books and those featuring self-possessed New York police lieutenant Sigrid Harald. Maron lives on her family farm in North Carolina.