Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What to See in Phoenix

The Phoenix visitors bureau ( says the city's "perpetual sunshine might tempt you to spend all your free time lounging next to a swimming pool." Those of us who attend Left Coast Crime know we're more likely to be indoors all day and night talking mystery! But whether you slip away for an afternoon's hike, an evening meal, or a quick shopping trip—or better yet, if you come a day early to LCC or stay a couple days late—we hope you'll explore this fascinating city.

Note: Packaged tours will soon be arranged for LCC attendees to some of the attractions below. More info soon!

Major museums and sites in Phoenix focus on Native American culture. And uniquely American architecture. And music. So ... a little bit of everything.

Heard Museum: dedicated to the sensitive and accurate portrayal of Native arts and cultures, the museum boasts a significant permanent collection, as well as rotating exhibits focused on different aspects of Native American life.

Taliesin West: the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright, America's most famous architect and a National Historic Landmark, offering a totally immersive tour experience.

Musical Instrument Museum: the first in the world dedicated to the celebration of global instruments, including examples from 200 countries and territories. 

Outdoor exploration:
You can find nearly any fair-weather outdoor activity available in Phoenix, including golfing, balloon rides, canyoneering, ATV tours, horseback excursions, and hiking. Some of the most popular are below, but whatever you choose, be sure you take plenty of water with you to combat the extra-dry climate!

Desert Botanical Garden: home to the world's finest and most diverse collection of succulent plants, a site for discovering the wonders of the Sonoran Desert (photo from the DBG website).

Camelback Mountain: the city's most famous landmark, which resembles a camel in repose, it challenges hikers with a rugged but rewarding trek to its 2,700 foot hump.

South Mountain Park and Preserve: the largest municipal park in the United States, covering 16,000 acres, making it nearly 20 times bigger than New York's Central Park. Filled with native flora, ancient petroglyphs, and 50-plus miles of trails—including a paved road to the summit.

Phoenix Zoo: featuring more than 1,400 animals, including Bornean orangutans, Asian elephants, Sumatran tigers, Komodo dragons, Andean bears, and more in 125 acres of natural habitats. 

What you want from Phoenix is the flavor of the Southwest, from Southwest designs, to Native American crafts, to the cowboy aesthetic. With maybe a little quirkiness and mystery thrown in....

Old Town Scottsdale: galleries dedicated to Native American and cowboy arts share a pedestrian-friendly streetscape with shops that sell Southwestern jewelry and crafts—along with some of Greater Phoenix's finest restaurants and trendiest nightlife.

Lawless Denim, where you can get custom jeans made to your style, color, thread, button, and pocket-liner specifications.

Curious Nature, a "natural history emporium" where you can learn a lot (mostly about taxidermy) and purchase one-of-a-kind treasures. In case you want to show off an articulated bat skeleton or a freeze-dried toad to your friends in the LCC bar.

The Poisoned Pen Bookstore: an independent bookstore specializing in fiction, especially mystery, thrillers, historical and literary fiction, and literature of the Southwest.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

ICYMI: Lefty Awards Updates

If you’ve ever been to a Left Coast Crime, you know about the awards handed out. There’s always a “Lefty Award,” there’s often a historical award, and after that, the categories tend to shift around a bit, because the local organizing committee has the ability to define which other awards they want to present.

The names also tended to change every year, to reflect the local area. For example, in LCC Portland this year, “The Rose” was handed out for the best mystery novel set in the LCC region, and “The Rosebud” was awarded to the best first mystery novel.

But that’s going to change a bit, starting at the Great Cactus Caper (Phoenix, 2016). Going forward, there are two major changes being made to the LCC awards structure:

1.       Naming convention: all awards will be considered “Leftys.” That means we’ll see the Lefty for Best Humorous Novel, the Bruce Alexander Memorial Lefty for Historical Mystery, the Lefty for Best First Novel, and so on.
2.       Two fixed awards: from now on, the Leftys for both the Best Humorous Novel and the Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Novel will be awarded every year. The local organizing committee will have the choice to award as many as two additional Leftys, in the categories of their choosing.

What does this mean? Maybe you should start making your lists now! LCC Phoenix will send out nomination requests after the first of the year for the following categories:
  • Best Humorous Novel: awarded to the best humorous mystery novel of 2015.
  • Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award: awarded to the best mystery novel of 2015 covering events before 1960.
  • Best LCC Regional Novel: awarded to the best mystery novel set in the LCC region.
  • Best Novel: awarded to the best mystery novel of 2015.
And you wouldn’t want to forget that great book you read in the first half of the year….