Edna Buchanan Gets Misty-Eyed at Memories of Murderous Miami

The seemingly ageless "Queen of Crime" Edna Buchanan was at Books & Books in Coral Gables Thursday night to read from her new novel, Love Kills.

For the graying audience that packed the place, it wasn't so much a reading as a chance to revel in Miami noir. They wanted to know a little about Britt Montero, Buchanan's alter-ego character who cracks a killing spree as an ace reporter for The Miami News. But the questions and unsolicited remembrances really started to flow like a night at the bar when the Pulitzer Prize-winning former Herald police reporter started recalling crimes she had covered.

Buchanan rattled off case after grisly case with what seemed like some form of excitement, rubbing her hands and speaking in a somewhat rushed cadence. She said she would always be haunted by cases of missing people never found, bodies never identified. She still petitions commissioners to deny parole to killers she wrote about, still keeps mementos of victims never found.

After all those years, Buchanan has come to see certain criminals – mass murderers and the like – as set on irrevocable paths from day one. "Some people are born this way," she said. "They're broke and they can't be fixed."

Asked what she thought of the current state of the Herald, Buchanan said simply, "It's not the same paper," before praising several writers, including the young crime reporter David Ovalle, Carl Hiaasen, and Dave Barry.

Leaving the bookstore, an older gentlemen exclaimed to his wife, "What an interesting life." The woman replied, "Terrible plastic surgery." --Rob Jordan

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Frank Houston