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NH Book Festival: Murder in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Writers’ Project will present its second New Hampshire Book Festival in October, with a theme of “Murder in New Hampshire.”

Working with several Concord area partners, the Writers’ Project is involved with Concord Reads, sponsored by the Concord Public Library Foundation; The Big Read program, sponsored by the Center for the Book at the New Hampshire State library, and New Hampshire Technical College, which will host two events with the Writers’ Project--an evening with best-selliing author Anita Shreve (SOLD OUT!) and the presentation of the Donald Hall-Jane Kenyon Prize in American Poetry.

Concord Reads has chosen The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve as its community-wide reading project for the fall. The novel centers around the murder of two women in 1873 on Smuttynose Island on the Isle of Shoals, off the New Hampshire coast. It skips to present day with a photographer working on a project about the murders. She visits the islands with her husband, his brother and his girlfriend. 

Concord Reads is also planning several events tied to the book, including crime and “cold case” discussions; a murder mystery evening, a "what's your favorite mystery" discussion with Rebecca Rule, and the showing of two films, The Island Kingdom by Andrea Melville and The Weight of Water, starring Elizabeth Hurley, Catherine McCormack, Sean Penn and Sarah Polley. For more information and full schedule of CONCORD READS, CLICK HERE

Four New Hampshire authors will share their work with an audience at the Concord Public Library beginning at 1:30 p..m. Sunday, Oct. 14. The writers are Richard Adams Carey, Mark Okrant, George Kelly and Robert Begiebing.

At 1:30 p.m., Carey will open the afternoon with his talk on “Murder in New Hampshire – Colebrook, 1997.” He will be joined by journalist John Harrigan.

On Aug. 19, 1997, in the North Country community of Colebrook, five people died and several more were wounded during four separate shooting incidents over the course of that afternoon. It was a day of such dramatic event, involving so many people, that for months afterward the town’s News and Sentinel newspaper—where two were murdered—received letters of condolence from all over the world, including people in Asia, Africa, and South America.

It was the fate of John Harrigan—owner and publisher of the News and Sentinel at that time—to have played a central role in those events. Richard Adams Carey has been at work on a book about that day since 2004. Rick represents a writer’s perspective on such events; he will describe how he was drawn to the subject and read from his nonfiction work-in-progress, Their Town. John Harrigan represents the perspectives of a friend, neighbor, witness, survivor—and a newspaperman who had to report on that day in the heat of the moment; he will speak directly from memory.

Carey is the author of Raven's Children: An Alaskan Culture at Twilight, Against the Tide: The Fate of the New England Fisherman, and The Philosopher Fish: Sturgeon, Caviar, and the Geography of Desire. He is the assistant director of Southern New Hampshire University’s MFA in Fiction and Nonfiction program, and a former president of the New Hampshire Writers’ Project.

At 2:30 p.m., scenes from George Kelly’s play, “Langmaid,” will be performed by several actors. Kelly’s stage play tells of the grisly murder of Josie Langmaid in the late 1800s in Pembroke. Her killer was caught and convicted, but Kelly’s play is a fictionalized account of the case in which the wrong man was accused and nearly hanged. George Kelly, a Concord resident is a retired educator and principal. He teaches writing courses at New Hampshire Technical Institute.

At 3:30 p.m., Mark Okrant will talk about the murder and mayhem that take place in his New Hampshire-based books, including the Kary Turnell Mystery Series, which use New Hampshire tourist destinations as backdrops. Okrant is a professor of tourism management at Plymouth State University and frequently writes of murder at New Hampshire’s grand hotels.

At 4:30 p.m., author Robert Begiebing will close the afternoon’s events with a talk on one of the earliest murder cases in New Hampshire.

Begiebing’s The Strange Death of Mistress Coffin takes place on the New Hampshire coast in the late 1640s. A young woman’s body has been found in a river. Adding to the mystery is her husband’s halt to legal proceedings against a suspect who has disappeared into the New England wilderness. Begiebing’s book is based on an actual unsolved murder in colonial New Hampshire.

Originally published in 1992, The Strange Death of Mistress Coffin has been re-released by University Press of New England. It is the first in Begiebing’s trilogy New England fiction, including The Adventures of Allegra Fullerton and Rebecca Wentworth’s Distraction. Watch the book trailer HERE. Begiebing is founding director of the Low-Residency MFA in Fiction and Nonfiction at Southern NH University, where he has won three awards for excellence in teaching and is currently Professor of English Emeritus. He is a former board member of the New Hampshire Writers’ Project.

New Hampshire Book Festival Schedule:

Wednesday, Oct. 10, 7 p.m.: “Poe & Me,” novelist Elaine Isaak and poet Rodger Martin discuss the influence of Edgar Allan Poe on their work. The discussion is part of The Big Read program of the Center for the Book at the New Hampshire State Library.7 p.m. Concord Public Library. Free and open to the public.

Thursday, Oct. 11, 7 p.m.: The Weight of Water author Anita Shreve is interviewed by Christina Lucas, professor of English at New Hampshire Institute of Technology at the Sweeney Auditorium, NHTI, Concord. 7 p.m. Seating limited. Free, but registration is requested. SOLD OUT! 

Friday, Oct. 12, 6 p.m.: Authors in New Hampshire Pulp Fiction series, Live Free or Die, Die, Die!, and other anthologies in the series read from their work. 6 p.m. Barley House, Main Street, Concord. Free and open to the public. We encourage you to support our community partner, The Barley House, by purchasing drinks and dinner at the venue.

The readers are (LFOSF- Live Free or Sci-Fi; LFODDD - Live Free or Die, Die, Die; LFOU - Live Free or Undead):

Alex Caldwell
Rye, NH
reading "The Wormhole Of Wilson, New Hampshire" from LFOSF

Geoffrey James
Hollis NH

Chris Dahlen
Portsmouth, NH
reading "We Are Ted Tuscadero For President" from LFOSF

Nathan Wyckoff
Northwood, NH
Reading "Island on the River" from LSOSF

Stephen Cahill
East Burke, VT
reading "TOUCHDOWN" from LFOSF

Clay Wirestone
Concord NH
reading "First in the Galaxy" from LFOSF

Jeffrey R. DeRego
Derry, NH
reading "Coo-coo for Coconuts" from LFODDD

Rob Azevedo
Manchester NH
reading "Got a Quarter" from LFODDD

Susan Nye
New London, NH
reading "Murder on the Mountain" from LFODDD

Robin Curtiss
West Lebanon
reading "Cow Hampshire" from LFODDD

Elaine Issac
Bedford, NH
reading "Memento Mori" from LFOU

Greg Norris
Allenstown, NH
reading "Road Rage" from LFOU

Friday, Oct. 12, 8 p.m.: Flash Fiction competition for the Concord area. Up to ten writers read original work for the right to compete in the state finals on April 6, 2013 at Writers' Day at Southern New Hampshire University, with keynote Andre Dubus III. Barley House, Main Street, Concord, 8 p.m. and immediately following Live Free or Die, Die, Die! readings. Free and open to the public. To sign up as a contestant CLICK HERE. First come, first served with preference given to NHWP members. ONLY A FEW SLOTS REMAINING... Sign up today! 

Sunday, Oct. 14, from 1:30-5:30 p.m.: An afternoon focused on murder in New Hampshire. Concord Public Library. Authors Robert Begiebing, Richard Adams Carey, George Kelly and Mark Okrant. Free and open to the public. See above for details.

Monday, Oct. 15, 7 p.m.: Author Richard Adams Carey talks about his work in progress, Their Town, about the 1997 murders in Colebrook, N.H. Conway Public Library, 7 p.m. Free.

Wednesday, Oct. 24, 7 p.m.: Presentation of the Donald Hall–Jane Kenyon Prize in American Poetry to Jane Hirschfield. 7 p.m. Sweeney Auditorium, New Hampshire Technical Institute, Concord, N.H. $10. BUY YOUR TICKET(S) NOW. The prize is sponsored by the New Hampshire Writers’ Project and the Concord Monitor. Also attending the event will be Donald Hall, New Hampshire resident and former U.S. poet laureate, and Wes McNair, New Hampshire native and poet laureate of Maine. Previous winners of the Hall-Kenyon Prize are former U.S. poets laureate Ted Kooser and Kay Ryan. Hirshfield has published seven collections of poetry, including Come, Thief; After; and Given Sugar, Given Salt, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She was elected chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2012. A week before the event, the NHWP Book Club for Poets, a group open to writers who wish to discuss craft, will feature Hirshfield's Come, Thief on Tuesday, Oct. 16, at the Danforth Library, New England College, in Henniker. For more information about the Book Club for Poets, visit For more information about the Hall-Kenyon Prize, contact NHWP at (603) 314-7980 or

Saturday, Oct. 27, 7 p.m.: Murder Mystery at Bishop Brady in Concord brought to you by Concord Reads. Enjoy your Halloween with this spooky adventure! The final event in this year's Concord Reads program will be a delightfully sinful murder... Join us for this "who dunnit?"