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Mayhem: Mystery writers tell how they 'dunit'

Locust Valley-October 22, 2008: Nelson DeMille, author of

Locust Valley-October 22, 2008: Nelson DeMille, author of The Gold Coast, and now a sequel The Gate House, tours in the areas that encompass his books. This is the train station in Locust Valley. Newsday Photo / Bruce Gilbert Credit: NEWSDAY PHOTO / BRUCE GILBERT/Bruce Gilbert

It's the who's who of whodunits: More than 45 mystery and thriller writers - and readers - will converge on the Hamptons this weekend for Mayhem, two days of book discussions and readings. The second annual free event, geared toward mystery lovers and wannabe writers, is hosted by the BookHampton stores in East Hampton, Sag Harbor and Southampton.

"We had a tremendous crowd and reaction last year," says BookHampton owner Charline Spektor. "It's a wonderful mystery festival. The world is chaotic, and in real life, there isn't always a resolution. But in mystery books, the bad guy gets it in the end and the good guy wins. There's a primal satisfaction in knowing justice triumphed."

What to expect

There are 16 sessions scheduled Saturday and Sunday, each focusing on a different aspect of mystery novels - about 75 to 100 people are expected to attend each. At 10 a.m. Saturday in East Hampton, for instance, "Ripped from the Headlines" is about fictional mysteries that stem from real-life events, such as panelist Andrew Gross' new thriller "Reckless," on a global banking scandal. "High-Heeled Shoes" pays tribute to women heroines (5 p.m. Saturday, Sag Harbor). Another highlight, Spektor says, is bestselling author Nelson DeMille, appearing at Mayhem for the first time. He will participate in a panel at noon Saturday in Sag Harbor on how writers develop a victim.

"Victims are usually divided into two categories: mean, nasty people who deserve to get killed, and innocent victims you feel sorry for," says DeMille, who lives in Garden City. "I tend to make my victims innocent because I care about them, and I hope the reader cares about them - about their death, the investigation, the resolution of the case."

On Sunday, a panel discussion about getting published, featuring literary agents, will by held at 1 p.m. in East Hampton.

The writers

Susan Isaacs of Sands Point, author of "Compromising Positions," says Mayhem "brings a lot of interesting mystery writers together with their audience. "If you earn your living sitting alone in a room, telling stories, it's great to be able to mouth off and have people listen," she says.

Isaacs, along with fellow bestselling author Vince Lardo of Amagansett, will participate in the 11 a.m. Sunday panel "Die Laughing" (East Hampton), about fusing mystery with humor.

"Mayhem is a community event - albeit, a community that has a national and even international reputation," says Lardo, who now pens the Archy McNally series created by the late Lawrence Sanders. "It gives readers a chance to meet the authors they know only from the printed page. We are flesh and blood, not newsprint."


WHEN | WHERE Saturday-Sunday at BookHampton stores in East Hampton (41 Main St., 631-324-4939), Sag Harbor (20 Main St., 631-725-8425) and Southampton (93 Main St., 631-283-0270)



Some Highlights


10 a.m., East Hampton: "Ripped From the Headlines," featuring Linda Fairstein, Alex Berenson, Harold Schechter, Jodi Compton and Andrew Gross

Noon Sag Harbor: "What Did I Do to Deserve This: Choosing a Victim," featuring Nelson DeMille, S.J. Rozan, Alafair Burke, Tasha Alexander, Fairstein and Gross


11 a.m., Southampton: Classic mystery movies East Hampton: "Die Laughing," featuring Susan Isaacs, Carol Higgins Clark, Vince Lardo, Hope McIntyre, David Carkeet and Kate Gallison

1 p.m., East Hampton: "Whatever It Takes: Getting Read and Getting Published," featuring Celina Spiegel, Barney Karpfinger, Philip Spitzer, Jeremy Nussbaum, Geoff O'Brien and Burke

2 p.m., Sag Harbor: "Action Heroes," featuring Alex Berenson, Gross, W. Craig Reed, Lorenzo Carcaterra, Wendy Corsi Staub and Andrew Grant

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