The Mesdames of Mayhem’s Fifth Anthology, In the Spirit of 13

Nov 30, 2022 | 2022 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Sylvia Maultash Warsh

Ten years ago in Toronto, two separate writing critique groups came together to form the Mesdames of Mayhem, the brainchild of Madeleine Harris-Callway and Donna Carrick, with the purpose of pooling their talent and promoting the work of women authors. Originally, there were thirteen writers in total, all women, so naturally their first anthology was called Thirteen. Since then, they’ve grown to twenty-four authors stretched across Canada – and they now include three Messieurs.

They have produced an anthology every two years: Thirteen, 13 O’clock (a time theme), 13 Claws (an animal theme), and In the Key of 13 (a music theme). This year, they are celebrating their tenth anniversary with the release of their fifth anthology of spine-tingling stories, In the Spirit of 13 (a spirit theme).

Over the years, their collections have garnered a Crime Writers of Canada award for Best Story as well as three nominations for awards, plus a Derringer nomination. They’ve even had a critically acclaimed CBC documentary made about them by filmmaker Cat Mills who was named an honorary Madame for her work: Meet the women who love murder | The Mesdames of Mayhem – YouTube.

In the Spirit of 13 was launched the day before Halloween at the Sleuth of Baker Street Bookstore in Toronto. For many of us, it was the first indoor group event since the pandemic began, and we thoroughly enjoyed it in our costumes and masks.

In this latest anthology, “spirits” are given a wide range, from ghosts and demons to alcohol. Many of the stories in the collection are by established authors who’ve won or been short-listed for leading crime fiction awards. Others are by talented new writers. We’re especially happy to include the debut crime fiction story by filmmaker Cat Mills.

A taste of some of the stories: a detective agency is run by ghosts killed in a car crash in 1929; an invisible dog wreaks revenge; a creepy rooming house with old men and cats harbors a secret; a cell phone takes over its owner’s life; a reporter’s grandmother comes back from the dead to help her out of a fix; an investigator is asked to identify a Korean spirit called a Kumiho, a nine-tailed fox who eats the heart and liver of her suitor; at a séance, a doctor is warned to beware of the yellow dog; a disgruntled actress who has been refused a plum part is killed and returns to haunt the set; a computer is possessed by a dybbuk; Russian oligarchs feature in a diabolical plot to save a centuries-old vineyard in Sicily. To counter the world’s dark and turbulent times, the authors have slanted their stories to the lighter side, but darkness creeps into a few of them.

A list of the authors: M.H. Callway, Donna Carrick, Ed Piwowarczyk, Catherine Astolfo, Rosemary Aubert, J.E. Barnard, Melodie Campbell, Lisa de Nikolits, Cheryl Freedman, Therese Greenwood, Marilyn Kay, Blair Keetch, Sylvia Maultash Warsh, Rosemary McCracken, Cat Mills, Lynne Murphy, Jane Petersen Burfield, Rosalind Place, Madona Skaff, Caro Soles, Kevin P. Thornton, Melissa Yi.

Mesdames of Mayhem | Thrilling readers with our passion for crime fiction

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