KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Add up the clues and the solution becomes obvious: readers, writers and savvy sleuths should make tracks for the annual Mystery Fest Key West. Now in its sixth year, the event offers attendees interested in crafting and enjoying mystery fiction the chance to meet, interact with and learn from some of America’s most notable authors.
The dastardly doings are set for Friday through Sunday, June 28-30, headquartered at The Studios of Key West, 533 Eaton St. The popular literary conclave includes discussions on aspects of mystery writing, meet-and-greets with presenting authors, book signings and social gatherings at suspiciously atmospheric Key West locales.
The festival’s headliners are world-renowned suspense thriller writer Jeffery Deaver, whose 40 novels include the Lincoln Rhyme series that spawned the 1999 film “The Bone Collector,” and Heather Graham, whose “Krewe of Hunters” bestsellers are among her more than 200 novels and novellas.
Other “culprits” slated to offer insights are New York Times bestselling authors Lisa Black, Carla Norton and Diane A.S. Stuckart; noir writer Mike Dennis, festival founder and author/publisher Shirrel Rhoades, forensic botanist Jane Bock and literary agent Bob DiForio.
The sleuthfest starts at 5:30 p.m. Friday, June 28, with a reception hosted by superstar author Graham and Key West Mayor Teri Johnston at the Custom House Museum, 281 Front St.
Attending “suspects” can learn about successful mystery writing at Saturday’s panels and presentations. Topics include forensics for writers, plotting a mystery, the state of the publishing industry, how featured authors got their start and the reasons they write specific types of mysteries. Deaver’s keynote speech is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.
The day’s attractions also include the presentation of the Whodunit Mystery Writing Award. The winner receives a book-publishing contract with Absolutely Amazing eBooks among other prizes.
Only clueless attendees will miss the evening’s highlight: a 6:30 p.m. rum sampling at the Hemingway Rum Co. Distillery at 201 Simonton St. The distillery honors literary giant Ernest Hemingway, who lived and wrote in Key West during the 1930s.
Events conclude Sunday with a waterfront brunch for mystery buffs at the Schooner Wharf Bar, 202 William St.
Cost of the festival is $195 per person. Those who register by June 1 are eligible to win a cameo “character placement” role in an upcoming book by presenting author Gray Basnight.
Event information and registration: mysteryfestkeywest.com
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY
The festival’s keynote speaker is suspense thriller writer Jeffery Deaver, whose 40 novels include the Lincoln Rhyme series that spawned the 1999 film “The Bone Collector.”
John H. Cunningham is the author of the best selling, seven book, Key West based Buck Reilly adventure series.
Lisa Black's series of crime novels involves forensic scientist Maggie Gardiner and homicide detective Jack Renner.