Ilze Berzins

Death in the Baltic: The World War II Sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff. The untold story of the worst maritime disaster.

In Amsterdam at the Grand Hotel Amrath here I am showing my publication LATVIAN DUMMIES ON FACEBOOK to the ladies of THE RED HAT SOCIETY.

My new book cover created after the outrage caused by my earlier cover which showed a female breast-- a taboo here in the USA!

Waterville Public Library proudly displays The Blood Red Teardrop. Notice bar code on offending boobs...


A Colby College coed peeks shyly out from the cover of The Blood Red Teardrop, my most recent publication. The coed is partly nude, but not for long. The nice librarian at Waterville Public Library is about to plaster a barcode across the offending body part: the boob—or, more specifically, the offending nipple. Cathy explained to me that some patrons deface book covers they deem improper, redacting any offending body part with a big black marker.    

I’m okay with the barcode. That’s nothing compared to the months of proscription I’ve endured here in Maine since the publication of this book late November 2011. In fact, the Waterville library is more progressive than the hoity-toity Freeport library which refused the kind donation of The Blood Red Teardrop claiming that the entire cover was offensive. No mention of the word boob or, God forbid, nipple. Is that so strange when you consider that, years back, the word breast was not allowed to be printed in USA newspapers?

Moving on: The Executive Director of the Maine Alliance of Writers& Publishers wrote me this doozie: “I think you and I pretty much agree, however, when was the last time you saw a book on the NYT bestseller list with nudity on the cover.”

There’s more: Maine books reviewer Bill Bushnell embarrassed himself by sending me (by mistake, I guess) a mean-spirited e-mail intended for his friend Sharon. Apparently Bill and Sharon had been engaged in a Berzins-bashing exchange. It seems old Bill got too aroused by the nipple to do his job. Too bad. No one reads his drippy reviews anyway. As for his boss, The Morning Sentinel: that local rag would be out of business were it not for billionaire Don Sussman who bailed it out just in time.

Finally, bookseller Mr Paperback: Some weeks ago the manager removed The Blood Red Teardrop from its display and sold the book from behind the counter, claiming that patrons were coming into the store and turning the book around so that the offending cover was out of sight. Then, lo and behold, all Mr Paperback outlets went out of business. Not because of the nipple of course but I can’t help wondering…

Still there’s the bright light of my favourite bookstore, The Gulf of Maine in Brunswick. Gary, one of the delightful owners, stated, “With a cover like that, of course the book is prominently displayed.”

That being said, people enjoy reading the book. In fact there’s a waiting list for it at the Pittsfield Rehab and Nursing Centre and the girls at Waterville Public Library are standing in line for the book—barcode and all.

Several new books play up mystery, wonder of Maine

By Dale McGarrigle
Monday, March 10, 2008 – Bangor Daily News

“FREEDOM,” by Ilze Berzins, 2008, Albert Street Press, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, paperback, 279 pages, $25.

The small Waldo County town of Freedom seems an unlikely setting for a murder mystery, especially when you factor in a group of Latvian immigrants, a fledgling filmmaker and livestock.

But “Freedom,” the ninth book by Ottawa author Ilze Berzins, is an unusual mystery. …Read the full post »

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TITLE: Critic’s worst nightmare is start to mystery

DATE: 01 Mar 2008

AUTHOR: Andris Straumanis

Isadora Purins, the main character in Ilze Berzins’ latest mystery, Freedom, dreams of putting a bullet into the head of the critic who ravaged her novel. If that’s a warning, so be it. …Read the full post »

Take a walk on the dark side

Ottawa Citizen:
December 18, 2005
By Mike Gillespie

Just when you think life can’t get much worse for a fortysomething struggling through a miserable Ottawa winter — and at Christmas-time, no less — another wheel falls off Stacy Karsubova’s bus.
Grim just got a whole lot grimmer.

But then, Ilze Berzins’ “Riga” series has that signature about it — brooding, bleak, dark, but, thankfully, ultimately satisfying.

Ghosts & Shadows is the Ottawa author’s latest Latvian mystery and one that returns her cast of Eastern European characters to the capital. …Read the full post »

The Ottawa Citizen
Sunday, January 23, 2005
Page: C10
Section: Citizen’s Weekly: Reading
Byline: Mike Gillespie
Source: The Ottawa Citizen

Editor’s picks

Perennial mystery favourite Ilze Berzins is back on the shelves with the thriller Kolka (Albert Street Press, $24.95). The Ottawa novelist/artist, who has produced a compelling series of novels including such favourites as Revenge on the Rideau, Death in the Glebe, Riga Mortis and Riga Blanca, has found a touchstone — that mystery lovers like to read about their home towns. So while Kolka, and Berzins’ other cleverly drawn novels, criss-cross the world, home (Ottawa) is where the heart is. …Read the full post »

Ottawa Citizen:
January 18, 2004
From Crime Scene
By Mike Gillespie

Also new on the shelves

In a scene of marital wretchedness played out over grilled salmon and a nice Caesar salad, Paulette, the perfect housewife, plots the murder of her cheating husband, Andy. How she plans the demise of this boorish, 51-year-old Don Juan, as he travels to post-Soviet Riga on business, is all part of the comedic stew Ottawa novelist Ilze Berzins cooks up for readers in her sixth murder mystery, Riga Blanca (Albert Street Press, or from the author — [email protected]; $24). …Read the full post »