Genre Hopping with Josh Pachter #giveaway

News Flash: Josh’s lucky winners are Kathy Laweryson, Luis, Judith, Carol Perry, Kait Caron, and Daria. Congratulations, folks, and please check your email.

Edith/Maddie hanging out in San Diego.

And one of the authors I’ve already greeted is Josh Pacher. Josh is a prolific and talented short story author who in recent years has also turned his hand to editing musician-based anthologies of short stories. And now his first novel is out! Read down for a special giveaway.

Here’s the Blurb for Dutch Treat: When American grad student Jack Farmer is sent to Amsterdam to do historical research in the Begijnhof, a closed community populated by elderly women, he meets Dutch nurse Jet Schilders and finds himself juggling romance … and murder.  

It’s not too much of a genre hop from the Wickeds’ books to his, but our genre hopping feature is what I invited him over for, and he was happy to answer our standard set of questions. Read down for a SIX e-book giveaway!

What genres do you write in? I write straightforward crime fiction, sometimes from the point of view of the criminal and sometimes from the point of view of the person (police officer, private investigator, amateur sleuth) who solves the crime. My work rarely includes on-the-page sex or violence, but my characters do occasionally use language that prevents their stories from being classified as cozies, despite the cats and teapots.  

What drew you to the genre you write? In 1966, my ninth-grade English teacher gave me a copy of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and it was love at first sight (with the magazine, not Miss Ryan). A year later, I read Richard Deming’s “Open File” in EQMM—it was a police procedural in which the investigators failed to solve a crime—and at the ripe old age of fifteen I thought there were enough clues presented that the cops ought to have been able to resolve the case.

So I wrote a new ending and mailed it to the magazine … and a few weeks later I got a handwritten response from editor Frederic Dannay—one of the two cousins who wrote as “Ellery Queen”—that ended like this: “Have you ever considered writing a detective story yourself? Seems to me, Josh—if I may—you should!” So of course I did, and Mr. Dannay bought and published the result, and I’ve been writing short crime fiction ever since!  

What sets your book apart from what is out there? Dutch Threat is set in the present day, but at heart it’s a look back at the whodunnits of the Golden Age of Crime Fiction. The story unfolds in the Begijnhof, a closed community in the middle of Amsterdam that’s locked up at night, so there are a limited number of people who had the opportunity to commit the murders … and most of them are elderly women. If there’s another book like it out there, I haven’t seen it!  

Do you write a series or standalones? Why? Dutch Threat is a standalone, although quite some time ago I already had the book in mind and wrote a short story that takes place a year or so after the events of the novel. But I’ve written several short-story series—one back in the 1980s about Mahboob Chaudri (a Pakistani policeman in the island emirate of Bahrain) and a current series about Helmut Erhard (a private eye in Texas whose father was a German POW during WWII).

Most of my more than a hundred published short stories are standalones, though, and both my Chaudri and Erhard series started out as one-offs. In each case, I found myself liking the main character so much that I wanted to get to know him better—and the only way I could think of to do that was to continue to write about him…

What are you working on now? First Week Free at the Roomy Toilet, a chapter book for younger readers, is coming from Level Best in February. They originally offered me a three-book contract for First Week Free and two sequels, but I recently retired from a fifty-year career as an educator and decided I was done with the pressure of deadlines, so I signed for the first book only. I am, however, working on a sequel … but at my own pace, not with a deadline hanging over my head.  

What are you reading right now? For the last couple of years, I’ve been editing a series of anthologies of crime fiction inspired by the songs of singer/songwriters: Joni Mitchell, Jimmy Buffett, Billy Joel, Paul Simon. (The Joni one includes stories by the Wickeds’ Sherry Harris and Edith Maxwell!) The fifth book in the series, Happiness Is a Warm Gun: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of the Beatles, was published by Down and Out last month, and right now I’m reading stories for #6, which will be Friend of the Devil: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of the Grateful Dead. For fun, I’m reading Anthony Horowitz’ latest Hawthorne mystery, A Twist of the Knife, and at the recommendation of Leya Booth (the publisher of Dutch Threat), Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s delightful children’s book The Egypt Game.  

Do you have a favorite quote or life motto? “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” (John Lennon, “Beautiful Boy”)     Favorite writing space? This is a little embarrassing, but I do most of my plotting in the shower. I do most of my writing in my home office, upstairs in the Midlothian, Virginia, home I share with my wife Laurie.  

Favorite deadline snack? As I said above, I’m not really doing deadlines anymore. But I would never say no to an Oreo, a bowl of buttered popcorn, or a nice thick slice of watermelon!   What do you see when you look up from writing? On occasion, the editors of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine have commissioned illustrations to accompany my stories, and several times I’ve bought the original artwork and had it framed. I’ve also framed the cover art for the two collections of William Brittain’s short stories I edited for Crippen & Landru and the certificate I received from EQMM for finishing second in their Readers Award balloting in 2019. These treasures and several others are hanging on the wall above my desk.

Readers: If you’ve been to Amsterdam, what was your favorite thing about your visit? If you haven’t been to Amsterdam, what would you most like to see or do there? My editor will send an e-version of the new book to six commenters today.

Note: Josh is also at Bouchercon in the Pacific time zone, so he might not be able to respond to comments right away today. (And what a generous giveaway offer from Genius Book Publishing!)

Josh Pachter is the author of more than a hundred short crime stories, which have appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and many other periodicals and anthologies. In 2022, Crippen & Landru published The Adventures of the Puzzle Club and Other Stories, containing five stories by Ellery Queen and nine by Pachter. Dutch Threat is his first novel, and First Week Free at the Roomy Toilet, his first chapter book for younger readers, will be published by Level Best Books in 2024. He also edits anthologies and translates fiction from Dutch and other languages. A finalist for the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity,  Thriller, and Derringer Awards, he received the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s Golden Derringer Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2020.


28 Thoughts

  1. Hi, Josh! Your book sounds really interesting – I think elderly women can be very feisty but maybe beyond suspicion by police, so is one guilty? Hmmmm! I’ve never been to Amsterdam but have seen tv shows about it, most recently Van Der Valk, and I find the relaxed feeling of the city and all the bikes quite unique. Is it quite lawless there?

  2. “Dutch Treat” sounds marvelous and I’ve added it to my TBR list.

    Always appreciate the Wickeds for introducing me to a new to me author.

    I’ll stay out of the contest since I can’t read ebooks, but there’s going to be some very lucky ones that get selected.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  3. Congratulations on your new book, Josh! I’ve never been to Amsterdam. If I ever make it there, the Name Frank House will be must visit. Other than that, I’d love to cruise around on a bike to take in the sights. Cheers!

    1. Be careful on that bike — pedaling patterns are very different from what you’re used to!

  4. Welcome and congratulations, Josh! I must confess that I was unaware of your books, but after reading your interview, I want to read them all! I love Amsterdam, and love to browse little shops and stop by cafes and eateries. One of my memorable places to return to is: “Dutch Delicacy”, one of those fabulous cheese shops, of which there are so many, and I would love to visit them all…I just love the huge sandwiches, pastries and breads. Now I have to return, and take your books to read on the flights. Thank you for sharing your writing skills with us readers. Enjoy San Diego! Luis at ole dot travel

    1. Many thanks, Luis! Yes, one of my favorite things about Amsterdam is the little specialty food shops. Because the city is densely populated, apartments tend to have small kitchens, which means small refrigerators, which means most people have to shop for groceries every couple of days … which keeps the small corner shops in business!

  5. Welcome, Josh and congratulations on the new book! I’ve never been to Amsterdam but hope to make it some day. I really appreciate how much you do for the author community. Have a great time at Bouchercon!

    1. Thanks, Sherry! Sorry you didn’t make it to B’con, but I’ll see you at Malice is not before!

  6. Your book sounds wonderful! I’ve never been to Amsterdam and would love to visit one day. The Anne Frank house would definitely be on the list of places to visit, have read & taught her book & others about her, also loved David Sedaris’s essay about visiting the house.

    1. Amsterdam is a lovely city to visit, Judith. If you go for the standard three days, though, you might want to skip the Anne Frank House, since the lines are often *really* long! Instead, try the Onze Lieve Vrouw op Zolder, which is a lovely old home with a “secret” church on the top level.

  7. That community of elderly women sounds fascinating. Yes, I’ve been to Amsterdam. Bought a small diamond earring and lots of delicious rumballs. Visited the Van Gogh Museum, and a real Dutch cottage and the Red Light District and took a canal boat ride even though it was December!

    1. The canal-boat ride seems like a touristy thing to do, Carol, but it *does* give you a terrific overview of the city. I always take one, every time I visit!

  8. I’ve been to Amsterdam 20+ years ago. It was a wonderful city, but I’d love to go back. (Yes, please enter me in the giveaway.)

  9. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Amsterdam twice, and the second time I happened to get a perfect sunny day with gorgeous blue skies and fluffy white clouds (a rarity, as anyone who’s spent time in the drizzly Netherlands knows!). That day, I was simply awestruck by the beauty of the city — the canals, the historic architecture, the flowers, the boats, the bikes. It was magnificent!

    Can’t wait to read this book and be transported back there! Congrats, Josh!

    1. Thanks, Kathryn! And thanks again for filling in so ably at the last moment at Noir at the ‘Voir!

  10. Woot! Tall cotton on the letter from the original Ellery Queen cousin. That is a dream come true. Looking forward to reading Dutch Treat!

    I loved the canal side houses in Amsterdam. I always wanted to go to the attics and see the view! Never made it. The history of their construction fascinates me.

    1. I wish I still had that letter from Fred Dannay, Kait. It’s long gone … but those last couple of lines are burned ineradicably into my memory….

    1. As I said to a previous commenter, Jessie, I recommend the touristy canal-boat ride as a perfect way to see and learn about the city’s architecture.

  11. Hi, all! I’m having a hard time logging in from Bouchercon, but I will respond to you all on Monday or Tuesday and announce the contest winners then. Meanwhile, do keep posting — and if you prefer reading books on paper, DUTCH THREAT is shipping now and can be ordered from Genius Book Publishing!

  12. I have never been to Amsterdam. I would love to see the tulip fields as well as the windmills. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.

    1. There actually *are* a couple of windmills right in the city, Debra, but no tulip fields. Try to go in the spring, and go to Lisse and the Keukenhof for the tulips — and Kinderdijk for a long line of working windmills!

  13. I visited Amsterdam years ago – maybe 2004? My favorite place was the Museum of Resistance – what extraordinary accounts of courage. I also loved the flower market.

    1. Thanks, Daria. Next time you go to the Bloemensingel — Amsterdam’s flower market — make sure that any bulbs you buy come with an export license. Otherwise, it’s illegal to bring them into the US!

  14. And here are the winners of a free copy of the Dutch Threat ebook: Kathy Laweryson, olletravel, Judith, Carol J. Perry, Kait Carson, and Daria Darnell. The good folks at Genius Book Publishing will be sending you the book, and we’d be delighted if — once you’ve read it — you’d take a moment to rate and/or review it at Goodreads. (We’d love an Amazon rating/review, too, but I don’t think you’ll be able to do that until the e-book releases on November 1.)

    If you don’t want to wait for November, the trade paperback edition is available now at

    Thanks to all for your comments!

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