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Is it just me, or all my friends brilliant? Naw, I'm much too mean to like work just because I know the person who produces it. Anyway, here's a sampling of folks worth checking out.

Laura, Lauren Henderson, Katy Munger at the Bouchercon basketball game

My friends in the mystery-writing world include Sujata Massey, the women of Tart City (Katy Munger, Stella Duffy, Lauren Henderson and Sparkle Hayter), Harlan Coben, Peter Robinson, Martha Lawrence, Dennis Lehane, Bob Crais, S.J. Rozan, Keith Snyder, Rick Riordan, Karin Slaughter, and Susan McBride, Rochelle Krich, Mary Reed and about two dozen more people whose names will be added as soon as they yell at me.

In journalism, I recommend that you plug the names "Melinda Henneberger" and "Terry Teachout" into the search engine at the New York Times. Melinda, who is heading to Rome as the Times correspondent there, is simply one of the best newspaper journalists in the country. Terry freelances for seemingly everyone, and writes frequently for the Times.

At the Houston Chronicle, look for the work of Jeannie Kever and Mike Tolson. The San Antonio Express-News features one of the best editorial cartoonists in the country, John Branch, and two former San Antonio Light columnists, Buck Harvey and Rick Casey.

In the pages of the New Yorker, the byline of Larissa MacFarqhar is one to watch. At, Jacob Weisberg provides Bushisms and some of the best political commentary in the country.

My own newspaper has a quirky site,, but if you can make it work, there are almost too many wonderful writers to mention. My favorite? Theo Lippman Jr., who six years into retirement is producing more copy than some of the people on staff. Former Sun reporter Rafael Alvarez, who often appears in my books disguised as Ralph Pickle, really should be Baltimore's poet laureate. Or, at least, Highlandtown's.

Theo Lippman Jr.
Theo Lippman Jr.           

Children's literature
My mother was a children's librarian and I collect the books that I loved as a young reader. Every Tess novel has at least one allusion to the series books written by Lenora Mattingly Weber. I also was partial to Maud Hart Lovelace, Elizabeth Enright's books about the Melendy family, E.L. Konigsburg, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, Edward Eager, E. Nesbit, Noel Streatfeild and L. Frank Baum's Oz books.

Except for the Happy Hollisters, I read few mystery series in my youth. My latest novel, "In a Strange City," is a tribute of sorts to two all-time favorites -- Enright's "A Spiderweb for Two" and Konigsburg's "From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler."

Laura and Dulcie; photo ©Jim Burger Greyhound Pets of America: My beloved greyhound, Dulcie, died in January 2024. I urge people who are interested in owning dogs to go greyhound -- or to consider the idea of rescuing another purebred dog, or adopting a mixed breed from the local shelter. Virtually every breed has a rescue group, with chapters nationwide. The more popular a breed is, the more likely it is to have a rescue group.

Health Care for the Homeless: I was a social services reporter for many years. During that time, I felt I couldn't contribute directly to local charities, as it might constitute a conflict of interest. (I gave my money to United Way, with no designation.) Once I left poverty reporting, I started giving directly to this organization, which I consider one of the finest in Baltimore. The Homeless Persons Representation Project is another fine and worthy group.

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