Love a great whodunit?

Well, you're not the only one as throngs of people with murder on their minds will be milling around downtown Minneapolis next week when the World Mystery Convention comes to the Twin Cities.

And this year's gathering of mystery fans, writers and agents has gained an extra layer of buildup and suspense. Normally held annually, the pandemic forced the 2020 convention to be held remotely while last year's was canceled. This year will be the first in-person convention since the pandemic.

Luring the convention (called Bouchercon in honor of author/editor/critic Anthony Boucher, who helped launch the Mystery Writers of America organization) to Minnesota — while perhaps not on par with an amateur sleuth uncovering the identity of a serial killer based on a series of seemingly unconnected clues — is considered quite an accomplishment.

"For Minnesota readers, Bouchercon in their own backyard could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Ellen Hart, author of the Jane Lawless mystery series. She called it the "World's Fair for mystery fans."

Despite its billing as a "world" assembly, this year's convention held at the downtown Hilton Minneapolis Sept. 8-11, has a strong Minnesota flavor.

It's subtitled "Land of 10,000 Thrills" and includes several of the state's prominent authors. Minnesota all-stars include: Hart, a three-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award who is being given the organization's Lifetime Achievement Award; Edgar Award winner William Kent Krueger, and creative writing professor (and author) Jess Lourey.

The convention will include a tribute to Vince Flynn, the St. Paul author of the bestselling Mitch Rapp books, who died from cancer in 2013. And it's the first Bouchercon to include a hygge session.

Devin Abraham, owner of the south Minneapolis bookstore Once Upon a Crime, and Terri Bischoff, senior editor for Crooked Lane Books, made the first pitch for the convention four years ago. A cornerstone of their campaign, they say, was Minnesota's strong lineup of writers, large number of bookstores and reputation for having voracious readers.

Fanning the flames

The first Bouchercon — pronounced Bau-chure-con — was held in 1970.

Ever since, the convention aims to grow and sustain the mystery community. To that end, it's billed as a forum where "readers, writers, publishers, editors, agents, booksellers and other lovers of crime fiction gather for a four-day weekend of education, entertainment and fun," according to the convention's website.

The wide-ranging events include panels on such things as female protagonists, serial killers and sidekicks. There are sessions focusing on historical mysteries, locked-room mysteries and political thrillers, as well as roundtables on dealing with agents and publishers, using social media and self-publishing.

The convention will also feature interviews with Krueger, Lourey and Hart, as well as with Alexander McCall Smith, author of the bestselling No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, and Attica Locke, who does double duty as a mystery novelist and screenwriter and has been nominated for an NCAAP Image Award.

And there will be opportunities for readers to chat with writers on an informal basis. There also will be book signings (bring your own or buy one there). Bouchercon is proud of its reputation as a "fan convention" in which readers can rub elbows with writers.

"You can go up to them or buy them a beer," said Krueger, the writer of the Cork O'Connor series who will be attending his 17th Bouchercon.

A week before the convention, more than 1,300 people had registered, with more still coming. Registration is open until the convention starts.

Tickets to the convention are $215. More information, including a complete list of events, is available at