More than 250 mystery writers and their groupies descend on Sleuthfest today at the Renaissance Hotel (1617 SE 17th St. Cswy., Fort Lauderdale) for four days of author/editor/agent parties, workshops, and seminars. Can you smell the gunshot residue yet?
Why is there so much murderous intent in South Florida? Maybe it's the humidity. Or the fact that I-95 ends here with the gravitational pull of all that's sordid on the Eastern Seaboard. Maybe it's because of easy access to that convenient body-disposal area known as the Everglades.
"The craziness in the news" makes Broward County fertile ground for the genre, writer Nancy Cohen says. "Every day, there's something you can cut out that could be the basis of a mystery." Cohen has written six books revolving around her main character -- hairstylist Marla Shore -- in the Bad Hair Day Mystery series. Series titles include Murder by Manicure, Permed to Death, and Cohen's latest -- Died Blonde -- in which "Marla's rival hairdresser is found dead in the meter room behind their shopping strip," she says. Beware, psychics are involved. It used to be mystery writers could get by being just that -- think about the prolific death doyenne Agatha Christie. Now, however, every gaggle of mystery writers seems to contain high-cred former FBI agents, ex-English major trial lawyers, and sleepless forensic scientists jonesing to tell their tales out of school.
If you want to get up-close and personal with the authors, hit the free bookstore events. Julian Rubenstein, author of Ballad of the Whiskey Robber, will be at Borders Aventura (19925 Biscayne Blvd., Aventura) tonight at 7:30. At 7 p.m. Friday, March 4, James Swain (Mr. Lucky) will speak at Murder on the Beach Bookstore (273 Pineapple Grove Way, Delray Beach). But your best bet is the big daddy of author events: the reception and book signing at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 6, at Murder on the Beach. Dozens of writers with murder in mind will be there, including locals John Dufresne and Elaine Viets. For information about Sleuthfest, visit www.mwa-florida.org. For details about Sunday's bookstore party, call Murder on the Beach at 561-279-7790. -- Dave Amber
Zorba Would be Proud
Ancient Greece is often referred to as the birthplace of Western civilization. What more could you say about a culture that developed the first democratic government and the Pythagorean theorem? But the Greeks were about far more than bureaucracy and mathematical formulas, and this weekend, there's virtually no need to be wary of Greeks bearing gifts at the largest, oldest, and most-Greek Greek Festival in South Florida -- presented by St. Catherine's Greek community. There are free Greek dancing lessons, homemade Greek delicacies, authentic Greek cuisine, a live orchestra for dancing provided by the Islanders (bouzouki music), and Greek imports featuring the newest jewelry, arts, crafts, and paintings. More important, there will be plenty of traditional Greek beverages such as ouzo and metaxa that are sure to put hair on your chest. Throw on a toga and come out to St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church (110 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach). The event takes place Friday through Sunday with free parking and shuttle service from Prospect Place (3111 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach). Admission is free on Friday and costs $2 Saturday and Sunday. Call 561-833-6387. -- Paul A. Leone
But save the drama for mama
Cloud 9 Lounge in Davie is more than just a place you can go to shoot some pool and down some beer; it's a safe place to avoid Ed Heeney, that jerk who told the Daily Show that Broward County's gay community kept him from getting laid (like that's the reason). But more important, Cloud 9 is the place where you can see famous dudes like Billy Idol and George Michael -- well, their drag-king facsimiles, at least. While drag queens are a dime a dozen 'round these parts, leave it to Jeff DeMac and the Drama Kings to try balancing the scales of gender-bending entertainment. But this isn't some novelty show for bored straight couples to gawk at. The show is part of an environment "where women can be king for a night." The drama takes place at 11 p.m. Friday at Cloud 9 Lounge (7126 Stirling Rd., Davie), but you can always show up early for some beer-drinkin' and ball sinkin'. Call 954-499-3525. -- Jason Budjinski
Are you a big fan of the movie Braveheart? Do you hate the English? Do you like to drink beer while prancing around in a skirt, er, kilt? If you answered yes to any of these or if you'd just like to spend a day enjoying Celtic tradition, break out your bagpipes and come out to this weekend's 22nd Annual Southeast Florida Highland Games at the Sportsplex of Coral Springs (2575 Sportsplex Dr.). Sponsored by the Scottish American Society of South Florida, the festival features highland dancing, pipe bands, athletic championships, traditional music, sheepdog herding demonstrations, Scottish food, and (of course) heavy drinking with a bunch of people whose last names begin with Mac. So head to the Highlands on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets cost $10 for adults and $3 for children under 14. Call 954-296-1242. -- Paul A. Leone