October Supplemental!

IMG_1391

Amber Here!

Fall brings many delightful things, colorful leaves, pumpkin spice everything and a cornucopia of new releases! So many in fact I cannot wait to share them with you guys.

So here’s the first in a string of single book reviews, hope they help you sort out your to-be-read stacks!

(And btw don’t forget to check out my other blog – Finder Of Lost Things!)

Chloe Neill – Wild Hunger

An Heirs Of Chicagoland Novel

Twenty years have passed since we last visited Chicago – the food is still great, the Cubs are still swinging, and supernatural politics are still tricky. The biggest change? The Houses are no longer allowed to investigate supernatural crimes which occur in their fair city – the Ombudsmen’s office scrutinizes all (which means Merit’s hung up her katana). This arrangement has worked out well, due to the peace struck by Master Ethan Sullivan and his Sentinal Merit with Chicago and its other supernatural residents.

This peace is a blueprint for other, more troubled, regions in the world. One of the places looking to forge their own peace accord? The vampire Houses of Western Europe, who’ve all agreed to treat Chicago as neutral territory, where they can attempt to hammer out their own peace accord. It doesn’t hurt that all the Houses in Chicago are well armed and well trained (plus the Pack) and are ready to keep everyone honest.

What does this mean to the daughter of Ethan and Merit? Who happens to be completing her year of armed service for a Parisian House in exchange for a college education? She’s going home.

Elisa Sullivan should feel thrilled at the prospect of seeing her family and friends again, and she does…But setting foot in Chicago also fills her with trepidation. Because Elisa has a secret, a secret linked to the magic which enabled her mother to carry her to term (Elisa’s unlike any other vampire in the world because she was born, not made).

Unfortunately, this secret isn’t Elisa’s only problem or even her biggest headache. That honor belongs to the less than popular member of one of the delegations who gets murdered literally in her parent’s backyard – which threatens to unravel the entire summit.

Then there’s the Faries…and the heir-apparent of the Pack…all of whom seem intent on throwing wrenches into the works…

This book is the first in a new series which features the next generation of the supernaturals of the Chicagoland series (I mean it is the description of the series).

This premise puts Neill in a tricky position writing-wise.

Creating whole new stories set in and amongst an already existing landscape is tricky. Because Neill needed to incorporate the pillars of the original series, many of whom are immortal (or really difficult to kill – which amounts to the same thing) while writing unique new characters to follow on their heels.

On the whole, Neill pulled it off well.

Wild Hunger does an excellent job of hinting around at exciting future storylines while echoing earlier themes of the original series. All the while following clues to resolve the fast-paced mystery being investigated by our new heroine. Perhaps Wild Hunger has a bit of the soft-reboot blues, the need to pay homage to the old guard weighing the narrative down slightly. BUT I am confident this slight flaw will be cleared up in the next installment allowing the shiny new cast to go their own way – with the original players making cameos when needed.

And I cannot wait until the next one is released! (BTW I inhaled this book in one sitting!)

Wild Hunger is a fun, fast read and I highly recommend it. Neill does a great job in quietly catching up a new reader with the backstory without boring her longtime readers (which is a huge feat in and of itself!). Anyone who’s looking for an entertaining supernatural mystery this Halloween season should give this book a try! (Plus, if you’re intimidated by a huge series, Wild Hunger allows you to leap into Chicagoland without reading Neill’s entire catalog. But I warn you if you love Wild Hunger you might be tempted to go back and start Some Girls Bite!)

OCTOBER NEWZINE

IMG_0560 copy

On our side of this blog, we get to see statistics about visitors. We don’t see your names or what kind of slippers you’re wearing, but we see the nations from which you come to visit us. Most – duh – are from North America. No surprise about that, or visitors from England or Australia; there’s that common tongue issue. But there have been visitors from all across Europe, Asia, the subcontinent, Africa… 59 different countries at last count. China doesn’t like us and no one from the Caribbean has visited – if any of us were in the Caribbean, we wouldn’t be lookin’ at websites either!

Wherever you are, whatever kind of slippers you wear, welcome. We’re gratified so many folks still care what we do and say.

    WORD OF THE MONTH

Tohubohu (n): complete disorder or dishevelment. (thanks to Says You!, #1516)


2018 Seattle Antiquarian Bookfair ~ Oct. 13th & 14!


    LINKS OF INTEREST

August 31st: Man stole mother-in-law’s corpse from funeral parlour – it’s not what you think

August 31st: How the Hogwarts Express was saved from a Welsh scrapyard

September 4th: Judy Garland’s slippers: Five more items that are still missing

September 4th: The Books Everyone Starts and No One Finishes

September 5th: Teacher’s hidden book cover pebbles inspire reading

September 5th: Manchester Pusher: Does a serial killer haunt the city’s canals?

September 7th: Amazon’s Antitrust Antagonist Has a Breakthrough Idea. With a single scholarly article, Lina Khan, 29, has reframed decades of monopoly law.

September 7th: Adam Woog ~ Ruthless vs. righteous: vivid stories on ‘Scarface and the Untouchable’ and ‘The Sinners’

September 7th – John Steinbeck was a sadistic womaniser, says wife in memoir

September 8th – Lee Child on Birmingham: ‘The pollution was insane. Rivers would catch fire’

September 8th: The FBI’s Spying on Writers Was Literary Criticism at Its Worst

September 8th: Agent Jack by Robert Hutton review – MI5’s secret Nazi hunter

September 11th: ‘So shocked’: customer wins bookshop in raffle

September 12th: Author Of ‘How To Murder Your Husband’ Arrested For Allegedly Killing Her Husband

September 13th: The Book List: The alternative titles F Scott Fitzgerald considered for ‘The Great Gatsby’

September 13th: Bob Woodward: By the Book

September 14th: Agatha Christie Shaped How the World Sees Britain

September 14th: Bond 25 Is Getting a Whole New Script

September 17th: Last call for Nevada’s brothels?

September 17th: Cat in Bristol brings home bag of suspected class A drugs

September 17th: CCTV footage of 85-year-old tackling armed raiders goes viral

September 17th: The Joker: Joaquin Phoenix and the many faces of Gotham’s most wanted

September 19th: Bob Woodward’s ‘Fear’ is the fastest-selling book in Simon & Schuster’s history

September 19th: Author of ‘Kopp Sisters’ historical crime fiction series now calls Portland home

September 20: Impersonating Philip Marlowe

September 21st: How to write the perfect sentence

September 22nd: Ann Cleeves on north Devon: ‘I remember family days on the beach, picnics and space’

September 23rd: Galileo’s newly discovered letter shows his clever attempt to outsmart the Catholic Church

September 23rd: from Adam Woog ~ New crime fiction: An Agatha Christie-ish mystery and two new offerings from local writers

September 26th: Remembering Code Breaker Jean Annette Watters

September 26th: Do We Really Still Need Banned Books Week?

September 26th: A Window into the Lucrative World of Rare Book Heists

September 27th: Bookworms’ paradise away from Beijing bustle


    ANOTHER WORD OF THE MONTH

mool (n): The soil used to fill a grave. (thanks to Says You!, #1003 – recorded live in Seattle!)


    FAREWELL AND REST IN PEACE

August 31st – Thriller writer Amanda Kyle Williams, 61

September 1st – Bookseller Barbara Bailey, 74

September 6th – Burt Reynolds died at 82

    AUTHOR EVENTS

October 10th, 7:30 pm: Deborah Harkness, Powell’s

October 12th, 7pm: Charlaine Harris, Powell’s

October 18th, 7pm: Walter Mosley, Northwest African American Museum, Seattle

October 18th, 7pm: Elizabeth George, Hugo House

October 19th, 7:30pm: Walter Mosley, Powell’s

October 25th, 7pm: Joe Ide, Third Place Books/LFP

October 25th, 7pm: Warren C. Easley, Powell’s

    ONE LAST WORD OF THE MONTH

Concantenation (n.): Circa 1600, “state of being linked together”, from Late Latin concatenationem (nominative concatenatio) “linking together”, noun of action from past participle stem of concatenare “to link together”, from com “with together” (see con) + cantenare, from catena “a chain” (see chain (n.)). As a series of things united like links in a chain from 1726. [thanks to etymonline.com]

   WHAT WE’VE BEEN DOING

  AMBER

IMG_1140

J.D. Robb – Leverage In Death

What would you do to save your family?

This is the question facing Paul Rogan. His answer? To follow his instructions exactly, so he walks into his 9 am meeting and detonates the bomb.

When Eve Dallas discovers the bomber is a victim himself, coerced into killing his friends, she won’t rest until she finds the who and why of these crimes.

This installment of the In Death series is a solid addition to the rest of the series. It hits all the notes you are looking for with Roarke, Mavis (and her adorable kid), Peabody and Nadine, while advancing several side storylines Robb’s been building over the last few books with her supporting cast. The most important amongst them? Will Eve ever catch the dastardly candy thief? Dallas has a plan…

In any event, this book was a fun and fast read which, if you are a fan of the series, I don’t think you will be disappointed in!

IMG_1149

Dianne Freeman – A Lady’s Guide To Etiquette And Murder

Frances Wynn married young. Her mother, a New York socialite, was keen on marrying her off to a man with a title – which is how Frances became the Countess of Harleigh. Unfortunately, her husband took a looser stance on their marriage vows than Frances and when he suddenly passed away – it was under scandalous circumstances.

But that’s behind Frances, her year of mourning is finished and she’s determined to leave the country (and her money hungry in-laws) behind. To that end, Frances’ has secured a lovely little house in Belgrave for her and her young daughter. Even better? Her younger sister and favorite Aunt are coming to spend the season with her!

But things soon turn sour when an anonymous letter surfaces accusing Frances of murdering her husband! To clear her name, she’s going to have to figure out how to solve this mystery without making any social gaffes!

I loved reading this mystery! In fact, I devoured it all in one (very long) sitting.

While it is on the lighter side, it isn’t nearly as frivolous as the cover makes it look (though to be honest it is what first caught my eye). This book is about a woman who’s trying to reclaim her own life and discovering (and reveling) in the freedom afforded to a widow which she never had as a debutante or wife. This heady sense of freedom allows her to muster up the chutzpah to try and solve the mystery of the anonymous letters, a series of burglaries, and figure out why she doesn’t entirely trust one of her sister’s suitors!

Seriously –  this book is a fun, witty read and it never rests upon its laurels! If you like lighter historicals like Rhys Bowen’s  Her Royal Spyness series – I think this book will be right up your alley! (Seriously can’t remember the last time I had so much fun reading a mystery!)

  JB

Here’s a word you’ll need to know for the new John Connolly: chthonic (adj.) “of or pertaining to the under world,” 1882, with -ic + Latinized form of Greek khthonios “of the earth, in the earth,” from khthon “the earth, solid surface of the earth” (mostly poetic), from Proto-Indo-European root *dhghem- “earth.”

His latest Charlie Parker novel, The Woman in the Woods continues Parker’s dance with those things, those creatures, who come from the darkness, from a world that the opposite of Parker’s, where the dead live and talk, and some who do live have long ago relinquished their souls to a ugly, black power. There are the Pale Children, who limbs are jointed backwards; The Backers, wealthy, established Brahman who are allied with the fabled Not-Gods who search for the King of Wasps, the Buried God; there’s the deadly Mors, a woman completely devoid of color and compassion, whose evil rolls off her with the scent of “a whorehouse mattress”; and there’s Quayle, a dignified figure who may have once been human – he can’t honestly recall – but whose murderous search for the missing leaves of a book cause the deaths of those in his way.

Along the way there are three very different bookmen. Dobey, owner of a greasy spoon who helps damaged girls and women escape to safety and offers them a quiet place to rest amongst his collection. Of course there is Quayle, whose timeless search is for the missing pages of a volume that can change reality once reassembled. Then there is the cantankerous expert in Portland who finds the key piece of the puzzle.

This book fills in more to the picture of the evil Parker and his allies battle. It’s not yet complete but we get more of it, pieces added to a freaky puzzle. And in this book, Connolly ties this fictional evil to that is afoot in our “real” world. Parker’s friend Moxie bemoans “…If I could outlaw one word, the obvious others apart, it would be fucking ‘patriotism’. It’s nationalism in better clothing. You know who were patriots? The Nazis, and those Japanese fucks who bombed Pearl Harbor, and the Serbs who rounded up all those men and boys and put them in holes in the ground outside Srebrenica before going back to rape their women, at least until someone tried bombing sense into them. Patriots build Auschwitz. You start believing that ‘my-country-wrong-or-right’ shit, and it always ends up at the same place: a pit filled with bones.”

Indeed, Connolly writes pointedly that “Violence called to violence, and intemperate words were the kindling of savagery.” This goes for the Parker saga, as well as 2018 America.

One of the many unsettling aspects of the book at the center of the tale is that it’s illustrations change, while being viewed and from viewer to viewer. You seem to see things that might not really be there. Much like the face of the woman in the woods on the dust jacket.DSCN0089

Com’on John – hurry up with the next!

and thanks to Clare for the advanced reading copy, a nice addition to my Connolly shelf!


The Battered Badge is Robert Goldsborough‘s 13th Nero Wolfe mystery. Bill Farley always dismissed them as a pale imitation of Rex Stout’s series but he always read them, saying he couldn’t miss a chance to spend time with old friends. 9781504049108

I approach them the same way and have enjoyed them. But I must admit that this entry is dull and lifeless, even though we get a good visit with Lily Rowen. There are too many phone conversations spread out in the chapters as they trade information and wisecracks. For all of the action, this could’ve been a novella and been fine.

What is fun is that it ends with Inspector Cramer getting all the participants together at police headquarters instead of the brownstone to catch the killer. That scene made it all worth while.

Make no mistake, I’ll keep reading these books. Why miss the chance to spend time with old friends?

⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇐⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒⇒


After what I thought were a couple of, well, duds, Craig Johnson is back in thrilling form with Depth of Winter, his 14th full Longmire novel. (I found An Obvious Fact to be boring and I didn’t buy the revelation of who was the killer in The Western Star, even though I liked the scenes from the past and getting to know Martha).

is a mirror image of Hell is Empty(the best, I think, of this fine series), though this time Walt’s desperate journey is into the heat of the desert, not the snow of the mountains. If you’ve been keeping up with the Longmire books, you’ll remember that the Mexican killer Bidarte – with whom Walt and his friends have been dancing Serpent’s Tooth – has struck back in vengeance, kidnapping Cady and drawing Walt south of the border. ”

I slowly turned in all directions, but all I could see was the heat undulating from the baked surface of the desert like invisible samba dancers. I wished for a sound, but pressed hard against the sky, the terrain gave no answers.”

While the usual cast is mostly absent – Henry guards grandbaby Lola and Vic is heard only by phone – there’s a wonderful new group of folks helping Walt on his quest. An Apache sharpshooter, a retired member of the Mexican secret service and his sister with the violet eyes who is thought to be a witch, mules and a pink Cadillac, and of course death, too much death. There is even, slyly slipped in so don’t miss it, about guides from another world. Walt is not alone. But he sure feels like it. Boy howdy…

Does he succeed? What – you think I’d spill that?

??????????????????????????????????????

Lastly, a year ago today, Sept. 30, 2017, the Seattle Mystery Bookshop ceased operation at the close of business.

Seemed like something we should note.

Support Small Businesses…

If you don’t they go away!

7=’    7=’    7=’    7=’    7=’    7=”

Until November

September

shareimg-4.png

    A Couple of Things

~ We’re not trying to blow our own horns but it seems as if there are far, far fewer signings by mystery and crime writers since we closed. And if we miss including any authors, it may be that, having been out of the book biz for some time, we don’t recognize their names. We no longer have the knowledge or time to be as comprehensive as we’d like. We’re doing the best we can.

~ You may have noticed over the years that in our Links of Interest section that there are many more entries from the UK than from the US. That’s because outfits like the NYTimes or Washington Post allow only a certain number of clicks to articles each month before you have to pay. So we favor those who don’t require subscription in order to search for the good stuff that we include. We’re not snobs – we’re cheap.

~ September 30th will mark one year since the shop ceased operation. Hard to believe, seems like just yesterday… Which leads us to – – –

    Word of the Month

gliffing(n): “a flash of time, a moment, an instant…”  (thanks to Says You!, #1101)

    Finder Of Lost Things

shareimg-9

Amber here! So with a fair bit of trepidation and nervousness, I am ready (as I will ever be) to present what I’ve been working on!

When SMB closed last year, I decided to fall back and do something else I loved – blogging. After working on the My 52 Weeks With Christie blog for the shop a few years back – I discovered I enjoyed creating those weekly posts. When I finished my year with Christie, I was completely surprised at how much I missed all the writing and researching they required!

With a bit of time on my hands last September, I decided to follow in the footsteps of the old penny dreadfuls (hopefully without actually being dreadful), and I wrote my own weekly mystery series!

So here it is – Finder Of Lost Things – my mystery blog which will release a new installment every Friday morning! It’ll have accompanying photos, 99% of which were taken by me. There will be funnies, misunderstandings, shenanigans, pirates, and food! I sincerely hope you have as much fun reading it as I did working on it!

Here’s the overview from the site:

“My name is Phoebe Arden, and I used to be the Caretaker of Nevermore Cemetery.

My job is more than just mowing lawns, digging graves and thwarting vandals. The problem is my boss doesn’t understand what exactly my job entailed (or in fact any of my duties).

Now I am on the outside looking in, and I still need to protect Nevermore from my boss’s schemes, internal decay, and corrosive outside influences.

This is going to require coffee. Lots and lots of coffee…and maybe an egg roll.”

FRAN HERE – I’ve read a lot of it already and you’re going to love it! Pinky-swear!

    Ngaio Marsh Awards

The winners  to be announced at special event on September 1st 2018 as part of the WORD Christchurch Festival.

  Best Crime Novel

Marlborough Man by Alan Carter (Fremantle Press)

See You in September by Charity Norman (Allen & Unwin)

Tess by Kirsten McDougall (VUP)

The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell (Mary Egan Publishing)

A Killer Harvest by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press)

The Hidden Room by Stella Duffy (Virago)

  Best First Novel

The Floating Basin by Carolyn Hawes

Broken Silence by Helen Vivienne Fletcher (HVF Publishing)

All Our Secrets by Jennifer Lane (Rosa Mira Books)

The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell (Mary Egan Publishing)

Nothing Bad Happens Here by Nikki Crutchley (Oak House Press)

    Signings

Tues, Sept 4, 7pm: Seanan McGuire, University Books

Mon, Sept 10, 7pm: Craig Johnson, Powell’s

Tues, Sept 11, 7pm: Craig Johnson, Third Place/LFP

Wed, Sept 12, 7pm: John Straley, Powell’s

Fri, Sept 14, 7pm: John Straley, Third Place/Ravenna

Wed, Sept 19, 7:30: Amy Stewart, Powell’s

Tues, Sept 25, 7pm: Amy Stewart, Third Place/LFP

         Links of Interest

Vulture, July 31st: When Crime Comes for the Crime Writer by Laura Lippman

CNN, August 1st: Swedish Crown Jewels Stolen by Thieves Who Fled by Speedboat

New York Times, August 2nd: Sophie Hannah: By the Book

The Daily Beast, August 3rd: The Golden State Killer Suspect’s Chilling Warning Signs: Tantrums, Flirtations, and Poisoned Dogs

The Guardian, August 6th: The new tool in the art of spotting forgeries: artificial intelligence

The Guardian, August 7th: UKIP suspends three members over socialist bookshop attack [UKIP stands for the UK Independence Party. They wear hats saying Make  Britain Great Again.]

Entertainment Weekly, August 7th: Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series celebrates its 25th anniversary

BBC, August 8th: The Murderer Turned Author Who Published Clues To His Crimes

BBC August 8th: How digital publishers are ‘shaking up’ the industry

BBC August 9th: Looted 5,000-year-old artefacts to be returned to Iraq

BBC, August 10th: German police save man from baby squirrel terror

NY Times, August 10th: All the World’s a Crime: Thrillers from Around the Globe

BBC, August 10th: Can you read at superhuman speeds?

Salon, August 10th: Finding Tom Thomson’s body: The mysterious death of a famous Canadian artist

BBC, August 11th: France’s 25-year treasure hunt for a golden owl

NY Times, August 12th: As Barnes & Noble Struggles to Find Footing, Founder Takes     Heat

The Guardian, August 13th: How Wilkie Collins found sensation in ordinary life

The Guardian, August 13th: Family claims win in high court challenge to Northants library cuts

Salon, August 14th: “Dead Air” and the true crime boom: What happens when amateurs investigate murder?

The Guardian, August 15th: Sorry to break it to you, far-righters: James Bond is not on your team

The Daily Beast, August 18th: I Grew Up in the Shadow of a Neighborhood Killer. He May Have Finally Been Caught

The Seattle Times, August 19th: Sunday Best – a weekly look at looks

08142018_France-Fashion_142806-640x427

CNN, August 21st: Mom Reveals Her Secret Spy Life to Kids

The Guardian, August 22nd: Malibu residents fear serial attacker is stalking their scenic enclave

The Guardian, August 22nd: Direct another day: who should replace Danny Boyle on Bond 25?

Daily Herald, August 25th: New Versions of Hercule Poirot Keep Coming, and That’s a Good Thing, by Sophie Hannah

Sunday Seattle Times, August 26:

Crime fiction: 2 witty new novels and a Northwest gem – from Adam Woog

Meet the UW Libraries’ keeper of rare books and artifacts

Northwest book festivals to attend this fall, in Seattle, Vancouver, B.C., and Portland

The Washington Post, August 26th: George Pelecanos has helped make TV great again. His new book reminds us why.

The Courier, August 30st: Police: Thieves stole over $40,000 in rare insects, reptiles

    RIP

In early August we lost a treasured member of the SMB family. Gina Rembeisa died unexpectedly on August 7th. She’d been one of our key customers for as long as we can remember. By key, we mean foundational – she was one of those few crucial customers who bought enough books in the early years to help us to survive and succeed. But that also meant that we got to know one another well. 

Gina-2

Gina read voraciously. She’d call when a new newsletter got to her and give us a list that would fill a sheet from a legal pad. Then she’d go over what had not come in from supplemental lists. She’d try someone new and have to have every earlier book. She had countless cards in our Future File system, cards for authors from whom she’d want every new book. She would take signed copies but they weren’t necessary. She was a reader, not a collector. She’d stop in on a Saturday morning and chat with Bill or whichever one of us was there, then take her heavy bag of books out.

In the last couple of years of the shop, she’d had difficulty walking and we’d mail her books to her, which meant we saw her less and less but she’d call and say “Hello, dear,  how are you?” – and she really wanted answers.

A psychotherapist for 40 years and a lover of books for much longer, her dream was to retire one day and volunteer the Seattle Mystery Bookshop to be with all of her dear friends, human & books alike. Her husband, Tom, donated 69 boxes of Gina’s books to the Friends of the Library Foundation in her honor. She often told Tom, “You never give away your friends.” Gina was a woman of great spirit, determination, humor, and love.

Our best to her husband Tom.

Rest in Peace, dear. We miss your calls.

August 16th, Moranga King, jazz singer and actress (Mama Corleone in The Godfather)

August 19th:  John Calder, British Publisher Who Fought Censorship, Dies at 91

    What We’ve Been Doing

   Amber

IMG_0397

Theodora Goss – The Strange Case of The Alchemist’s Daughter

Our heroine’s story begins with a funeral. Mary’s mother finally succumbed to the madness which had threatened to overwhelm her for years. Beyond just losing her mother Mary Jekyll (yes, the daughter of that Mr. Jekyll), she also lost her income. Meaning? While Mary still has a house to live in, she has virtually no money to keep body and soul together, much less run a household.

Her prospects are slim indeed until her mother’s solicitor gives her a sheaf of papers which hint at the location of the notorious murderer, Mr. Hyde. Unsure whether the reward for his capture is still viable, Mary consults Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The one hundred pound reward would be a great stopgap measure until she worksed out a more permanent solution for her money woes.

The only problem? Her mother’s information doesn’t lead them to Mr. Hyde but to his daughter.

And that’s when Mary’s real adventure begins.

This is a fantastically fun book! Seriously. If you enjoy reading a mystery populated by all the best characters from old gothic novels (and one of the greatest literary detectives of all time), you’ll love this book!

What I loved is how Goss was able to take the titans of the gothic/horror canon and twist them slightly into something new – while keeping true to their fictional roots. Plus, it is ever so much fun reading about beloved characters through another author’s eyes and how they interpreted these classic stories. By using the daughters of well-known mad scientists, she’s able to breath new life into these stories making them into something new without significantly deviating from the original novels from whence they spring!

Now here’s the thing – you have to be able to suspend a bit of disbelief while reading this book – mainly because coincidences are a tad thick. Not unbelievable mind you, they are well explained and plausible, but just rather prevalent. But, honestly, if you can read from the POV of the daughters of Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, Dr. Frankenstein, Dr. Moreau and Dr. Rappaccini (an evil scientist from a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne), I think you can handle a slight overabundance of coincidences. Plus if I am honest, they keep the book moving at a breakneck speed which is a whole lotta fun to read!

So I guess the above is more of a heads up than a warning…

I would recommend this series to anyone who enjoyed reading Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series or classic gothic novels! I devoured The Strange Case Of The Alchemist’s Daughter in two sittings, and I look forward to rereading it again very soon.

IMG_0439

Rhys Bowen – Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding

The latest installment of the Royal Spyness Mysteries was released this month!

And I loved it!

In Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding, we find Georgie & Darcy making all the decisions one needs to when planning a wedding. Which only get more complicated when the King and Queen invite themselves, their kids, half of the nobility of Europe, and ask if the princesses can be her bridesmaids!

One bright note? Georgie’s godfather offered her an early wedding present – his home! Since Georgie is Sir Hubert’s only heir and he’s away so often climbing mountains, he thinks it would be wonderful if she could be the mistress of Eynsleigh! This prospect positively delights Georgie, the real estate pickings in London are slim indeed, unless you enjoy basements, attics, or a view of a brick wall. Deciding to get the estate back in ship shape before Darcy comes to join her, Georgie leaves immediately for her new digs.

The only fly in the ointment? Sir Hubert thinks things might not be running smoothly in his absence and when Georgie arrives, she agrees. Something is rotten in the Eynsleigh estate!

Once again Bowen delivers a beautiful installment in the Royal Spyness series! She’s filled it with hope under the looming cloud of the impending war, the King’s death, and his son’s abdication. This series does a great job of giving a very human side of the Great Depression and the historical context of the period – without ever  losing Georgie’s voice or the fact she’s investigating one mystery or another!

In all seriousness, I love this series and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a slightly lighter read! Or enjoys historical aspects in their mysteries!

*Just for those who may have read her in the past – there are no ghosts or supernatural elements in this mystery! So pick it up and read with wild abandon! I promise you will love it!

   Fran

Stories from work. The spelling is mine, but the all-caps are hers.

Gal came to turn herself in to go to jail. She’d been using, was being up-front about it, and it’s the weekend, so why not? We gave her a form to fill out, telling us what she used, and why.

“What did you use?” Crystal Meth, Alcohol, Heroin, and CIGARETTES.

Why did you use these? USA FREEDOM

Um…okay.

9780374265922SO LUCKY (MCDxFSG), but the story being told has little to do with murder, and much to do with mayhem, especially the mayhem created when your body fails you.Mara Tagarelli is at the top of her game, CEO of a multi-million dollar AIDS foundation, happily married, martial arts teacher. And it all comes crashing down.

In one week, her wife asks for a divorce, Mara is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and she loses her job. When things crash, they crash hard.

The story is fiction, make no mistake, but the sentiments are raw and real. Nicola Griffith captures the pain and fury – indeed, incandescent rage – that engulfs someone when their life changes and there is nothing to be done to stop what’s happening, when all you can control are symptoms. When you go from self-reliant to needing the help of strangers.

This is a fast, fast read – you’ll do it in a day if only because you cannot stop turning the pages! Nicola Griffith is always a master wordsmith; she’s put her heart into SO LUCKY, and it shows.

I asked one of my friends who also has MS to read the book, tell me whether or not it resonated for him. His response: Around the MS angle, it resonated to the point that I will hand this book to those curious about the disease as it speaks of my experiences in ways I can rarely muster.

Read it for the joy of reading Nicola Griffith’s work. The fact that you’ll be profoundly moved is an incredible bonus.

 

I was trying to decide which of two books I was going to read next when the Beatles came on the radio, talking about Lucy in the sky, and my decision was made. 9780062412843 David Handler’s THE GIRL WITH KALEIDOSCOPE EYES (Wm. Morrow) it was.

I have deliberately not read Handler’s “Stewart Hoag” mysteries because I know myself. When I love one series by an author, I generally don’t love another. I’m weird that way, and I own it. I adore Carolyn Hart’s “Death on Demand” series and while I enjoy “Henrie O”, Annie Darling has my heart. I can read Nora Roberts, but for me it’s J. D. Robb all the way. And, because I’m weird in my own special way, Laurie R. King’s “Kate Martinelli” series calls to me more than her “Mary Russell” stories.

When it comes to David Handler, I’m a “Berger and Mitry” fan to my bones. I adore that mis-matched duo with a profound devotion. Start with The Cold Blue Blood if you can find it, and go from there. But because I am who I am, I didn’t want to read the “Stewart Hoag (Hoagy)” series, because it couldn’t possibly live up to Mitch Berger and Desiree Mitry.

I hadn’t counted on Lulu.

Stewart Hoag (known as Hoagy, after the sandwich not Carmichael) is a literary genius who has written one hugely acclaimed critical masterpiece, crashed and burned, and now is reduced to ghostwriting celebrity bios, at which he excels. Unfortunately, celebrities attract trouble and Hoagy can’t just let things go. He has to know the truth, hence the series of murder mysteries.

In THE GIRL WITH KALEIDOSCOPE EYES, it’s 1992, and Hoagy and his intrepid sidekick Lulu – his mackerel munching  basset hound – are specially requested to write a tell-all for the famous Monette Aintree, brand-name celebrity. That would just be an ordinary day’s work, except Hoagy was once head over heels in love with Monette’s sister, Reggie. And their long-lost father, Richard Aintree, wrote a book that’s known to everyone, is read in every school, and who has vanished after his wife, the girls’ mother, committed suicide.

It’s been 20 years since David Handler has written a Hoagy and Lulu mystery, and now I’ve read two of them. He absolutely has the same voice in the latest as he had in the earlier one, which is a testament to his talent, since that kind of hiatus can change things beyond recognition. And I can see why people have been clamoring for more.

At first, I was a bit put off by the amount of name dropping Hoagy does, but then the gentle cynicism he represents hooked me, and now I find it charming. In both the books I’ve read, it’s Mr. Handler’s ability to create characters that sucks me in. You know me, characters are key.

Generally I advocate beginning a series from the beginning, but I haven’t seen a copy of The Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald since the shop closed, and it was rare there. I’m slowly gathering them, but it’s a delight to have a new hunt for treasure.  If you start with THE GIRL WITH KALEIDOSCOPE EYES, you’ll feel right at home.

Go, find it, enjoy!

   JB

Observation from work: cashiering at a hardware store is the first job I’ve had were people coming at you with knives, pitchforks, sledgehammers, and axes is not a bad thing. It means they want to buy them, not make you the body in a book…

Back in early 2006, I picked up a debut novel. She was a complete unknown, as debut authors are by definition. The author was from my hometown and I was curious. The premise of the book sounded interesting so, what the hell, I’d give it a shot.

That was Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. 9780525575757My review in that Friday’s newzine a dozen years ago started with “WOW”.

My opinion of her work has only increased.

With the HBO adaptation that we’ve been watching, I haven’t been able to remember the nitty-gritty of the book and how they compare. So, I decided to re-read it. This is what has stood out to me:

#1 – It’s very well cast

#2 – The show downplays how active Camille’s scars are and how her feelings at any moment cause different words she’s carved into her skin to buzz. Not sure how they could adequately do it without a narration, to be fair. Still, something is lost in the translation.

#3 – Amma is toned down in the show, not being a super-bitch as in the book.

#4 – No rollerskating in the book, but it is a great visual in the show.

#5 – As always, no adaptation from book to screen can capture that beauty of the author’s writing. Even with a narrator, it can’t be done because you can’t be startled by the words and go back to re-read and re-appreciate them.

“Crisp clean clothes to make us forget all the drips and dank smells that come from our bodies. I was in college by the time I realized I like the smell of sex. I came into my friend’s bedroom one morning after a boy darted past me, smiling sideways and tucking his socks into his back pocket. She was lazing in bed, splotchy and naked, with one bare leg dangling out from under the sheets. That sweet muddy smell was purely animal, like the deepest corner of a bear’s cave. It was almost foreign to me, this lived-in overnight odor. My most evocative childhood scent was bleach.”

That’s why I appreciate and adore Gillian Flynn’s writing. Her words are evocative and her sentences circle around with surprising bite.

Now if we could just get her back to writing novels…

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

~-Until October-~

Support Small Businesses 

If You Don’t, They Go Away…

August

shareimg-6

      Presents

If it hadn’t been for Seattle Mystery Bookshop, I would never have met Jonathan Santlofer (whose memoir THE WIDOWER’S NOTEBOOK just went on sale, complete with his original art illustrating it – you want it, you really, truly do!), and who just sent me a print of his original drawing of Anthony Bourdain.

Thank you, Jonathan! It’s amazing!

Santlofer's Bourdain

Jonathan's signature

Jonathan's inscription

~ Fran

        Special News from Hard Case Crime!

Friends —hard-case-crime-logo

Over the years, many of you have asked us if you could get posters or prints of Hard Case Crime covers. The answer has always been no — until now. We’ve just teamed up with the incredibly talented Paul Suntup who produces gorgeous, hand-crafted special editions of classic books and comparably gorgeous art prints of classic book covers. Together, we selected 14 of our favorite covers — by Robert McGinnis, Glen Orbik, and Gregory Manchess — and Paul has put all his enormous skill behind reproducing these covers at poster size (16.5″x24″) as giclee prints on acid-free art paper.

My jaw dropped when I saw just how beautiful these look, and I think you’ll be really pleased too. If you want to see for yourself and maybe order some to decorate your walls or for your Hard Case Crime collection, visit Paul’s website:
https://shop.suntup.press/collections/hard-case-crime. And if there are covers we haven’t done yet that you wish you could order, feel free to email me to let me know: editor@hardcasecrime.com.

But for now: please check out Paul’s beautiful prints. You won’t be sorry you did.

Best regards,
Charles
———–
Charles Ardai
Editor, Hard Case Crime

           New Book from an Old Friend!

Every now and then, one of the shop’s long-time customers let us know that they have published a book. We used to tell such folks “get it published and we’ll give you a signing”. We can no longer offer that but we can still give ’em a plug.

Henry Berman was one of those long-time customers. He’d come in and we’d talk mysteries and he and JB would talk baseball. Recently, he wandered into the hardware store where JB now works – to the delight of both, we think – and mentioned he had written a book. JB offered to mention it in the next newzine, so here’s the info. It’s not a mystery, but it sounds interesting:

Teens and Their Doctors: The Story of the Development of Adolescent Medicine, by Henry Berman, MD, and Hannah Dashefsky, BSN, RN, traces the development of the field from the first program, opened by Ros Gallagher at Boston Children’s Hospital, in 1951, to the creation of the Society for Adolescent Medicine (SAM), in 1968.

The book describes the growth of the specialty in those two decades, including how it was influenced by changes in society, and how practitioners responded to social change with approaches created to care for alienated youth, such as free clinics, mobile medical vans, and teen hotlines. The core of the book is composed of interviews with more than
eighty specialists in adolescent medicine, all of whom were trained by the pioneers of the field.

It also tackles the question asked of specialists in adolescent medicine: “What is adolescent medicine, anyway?” No simple answer is proposed, but the role these physicians play in caring for teens, and the characteristics of those who choose the field, are dramatized by scores of stories—from the humorous, to the poignant, to the heart-breaking.

Henry Berman is a board-certified pediatrician who has been practicing adolescent medicine since 1972. He is a Clinical Professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine and is on the staff of Seattle Children’s Hospital. [and he likes reading mysteries and the Seattle Mariners!]

        Author Signings

August 2nd, 7pm: Heather Redmond, Third Place/Lake Forrest Park

August 2nd, 7pm: Owen Hill (one of the authors of The Annotated Big Sleep – see JB’s write- up) University Books

August 7th, 7pm: Laurel K. Hamilton, University Books

August 15th, 7pm: Carola Dunn, Powell’s

        Words of the Month

squalid (adj): From the 1590s, from Middle French squalide and directly from Latin squalidus “rough, coated with dirt, filthy,” related to squales “filth,” squalus “filthy,” squalare “be covered with a rough, stiff layer, be coated with dirt, be filthy,” of uncertain origin. Related: Squalidly; squalidness; squalidity.

squalor (n) : from the 1620s, “state or condition of being miserable and dirty,” from Latin squalor “roughness, dirtiness, filthiness,” from squalere “be filthy”.

thanks to etymonline.com

        Links of Interest

The Daily Beast, February 27, 2016: My Lunch with ‘The Spider’ Who Nearly Wrecked the CIA

The Guardian, June 29th: Robert Harris: I’m Not Sure You Can be the World’s Superpower and Remain a Superpower

The Daily Beast, June 30th: The Kenyan Beach Town Malindi Is a Tropical Paradise—With a Mafia Problem

The Guardian, July 2nd: Alternative Nobel literature prize planned in Sweden

Seattle Times, July 2nd: Lit Life: Three true-crime stories that are stranger than fiction

Seattle Times, July 2nd: Adam Woog – Two new crime-fiction novels draw from real events

The Guardian, July 4th: Top Ten Books About Gangsters

AtlasObsucra, July 6th: Send Us the Greatest Note You’ve Found Written in an Old Book

The Guardian, July 6th: Gillian Flynn: Books That Made Me (“Agatha Christie blew my mind. Every character was evil”)

BBC, July 9th: How ‘Vertigo’ foreshadowed catfishing, AI and #METOO

Slate, July 9th: Raymond Chandler in the Age of #METOO by Megan Abbott

BBC, July 10th: The Ancient Library Where the Books are Under Lock and Key

BBC, July 10th: Original 1926 Winnie-the-Pooh map sells for record £430,000

BBC, July 11th: Joaquin Phoenix becomes the latest Joker

The Guardian, July 12th: Die Hard at 30: how it remains the quintessential American action movie

Live Science, July 13th: Possible Oldest Fragment of Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ Discovered in Greece

Seattle Times, July 15th: A Book Lover’s Lasting Legacy: 5,000 Books Given to Yakima Valley Libraries

NWNewsNetwork, July 16th: We Might Have Been Looking For D.B. Cooper In Wrong Place For All These Years

King 5 News, July 18th: Seattle is home to the Northwest’s first “death museum”

New York Times, July 19th,  : Karin Slaughter: By the Book

LA Times, July 19th: Lawrence Osborne does Raymond Chandler quite well, thank you

Bustle, July 21st: Reading True Crime Makes Me Feel Less Anxious — And I Think I Know Why

KNKX, July 21st: Pinball In Seattle Had Corrupt And Violent Beginnings

Seattle Times, Sunday, July 22nd:

Adam Woog – Three New Crime Fiction Novels by Northwest Authors

Lit Life: Climb Above the Chaos of the Pike Place Market into a Book-Lined Oasis of Calm

  Megan Abbott Talks TV Projects, Raymond Chandler, and Women-Centered Crime Fiction

Washington Post, July 24th: A modern twist on a classic Agatha Christie novel

The Independent, July 24th: The Book List: The titles in ex-Talking Head David Byrne’s private library[this is a weekly column and past lists can be seen here.]

Bustle, July 25th: In The Era Of #MeToo, I’ve Realized Just How Rebellious ‘Gone Girl’ Really Was

BBC, July 26th: Sean Connery Co-Wrote a Bond Film That was Never Made

Bustle, July 27th: Thrillers Have Always Been A Feminist Battleground — We’re Just Finally Noticing It Again

The Daily Beast, July 27th: Inside the Fiery Massacre at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesen Estate

The Guardian, July 27th: ‘Dire statistics’ show YA fiction is becoming less diverse, warns report

BBC, July 29th: Tsundoku – the Art of Buying Books and Never Reading Them

Bustle, July 30: Books From Thomas Jefferson’s Personal Library Were Discovered In A Dumpster — But The Man Who Found Them Didn’t Realize It Until It Was Too Late

The Guardian, July 30th: Accidents at Amazon: Workers Left to Suffer After Warehouse Injuries

The Guardian, July 31st: ‘Spectacular’ ancient public library discovered in Germany

        R.I.P.

The Guardian, July 7th: Spider-Man Co-Creator Steve Ditko Dies Aged 90 (JB is heartbroken…)

Vulture, July 13th: Stan Lee Remembers Steve Ditko: ‘His Talent Was Indescribable’

 

        What We’ve Been Up to

    Amber

IMG_9841

So my least favorite time of year is upon us – sticky, sweaty heat filled long July & August days. Other than giving me something to look forward to (i.e., September and October) I struggle this time of year…However the one positive thing which comes out of me turning into an immovable lump of Amber on hot days is I read to distract myself!

My current fixation is Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series, yes I know I’ve written about them before, but I think they are wonderful so I’m reviewing them again! I absolutely adore these witty, smart mysteries and right now I can’t get enough of them! And I believe anyone who likes an excellent light classic mystery should check these books out – post haste!

The series is set in and around Egypt (a place hotter than where I currently reside). Each features some kind of archeological (occasionally straying into anthropological) endeavor. But Peters’ doesn’t limit herself to just Egyptian history, she also adds in the build-up of WWI and WWII and how these events impact Peabody, her family and their activities in Egypt. With so many layers of history in these books, you might assume that they would be dry and dull affairs…

Let me dissuade you of this very erroneous notion!

While Peters does a fine job with the history, she never lost sight of the fact she was penning mysteries. They are hilarious, adventurous and clever in their construction. While not necessarily always playing fair with the reader her solutions never come out of left field and still make sense. She adds and subtracts characters from her narratives at will, so they never become stale – even main characters who we grow to love aren’t always safe. Which makes (me at least) need to read each book carefully – but rapidly – to make sure my favorites are still breathing at the end!

One other thing I appreciate about these books, which other double-digit-length-series should emulate, Peters never repeats the same introduction to her characters from book to book. She found inventive ways to introduce new readers to her well-established cast without her longtime readers skipping the whole first chapter because she cut-and-pasted the same intro from one book to the next.

You can pick up the series anywhere and start reading – Peters herself skips around in time when she wrote them – but I would recommend you read The Crocodile In The Sandbank first. It will give you the essentials, after that you can read the rest of the books at will.

In that way, Peters reminds me of Agatha Christie’s Poirot (though don’t read them thinking Peabody is like Poirot, you will be sorely disappointed) after you read the first, you can skip around. Neither author is particularly bloody, but I would not place them in the cozy range – there’s too much meat in their mysteries for that categorization. In my mind, both writers created classic detectives and puzzles for them to solve.

Now to segue into another historical adjacent mystery…

IMG_9854

Meaning? The history isn’t particularly accurate – being steampunk in nature with a side of vampires, werelioness, and a ghost inhabiting a dirigible. While perhaps not the most accurate in its’ historical essentials the characters possess such wit coupled with impeccable manners you can skate right over any other irregularities.

What I am trying to say is that Gail Carriger finally came out with the third book, Competence, in her Custard Protocol series!!

The Spotted Custard (the aforementioned dirigible) and her crew are back and on a brand new adventure! This time they find themselves in South America on a mission to save the last remaining Peruvian vampires. On said mission of mercy, they will navigate unknown currents, pirates and the local’s mistaken notion that several of the Custard’s crew are Nuns working for the Spanish Inquisition!

While Competence never loses sight of the fact that it’s an adventure story, the most interesting storylines occur amongst the ship’s crew. Trying to ethically reform Rue’s soulless cousin (so he doesn’t murder everyone on the ship). Percy Tunstell’s shocking discovery that he’s actually having a rather good time floating around the globe. And finally, Primrose Tunstell must figure out where her heart lies – with her fiancee back in England or with the werelioness courting her.

I could not put this book down! I loved reading about the Spotted Custard’s adventures (mainly) from Primrose and Percy’s point of view! It was refreshing! Their roles on the dirigible, personalities, and sensibilities are very different from Rue’s. This extra attention allowed for a higher amount of character development for the twins than occurred than in the first two installments.

Plus from start to finish this book was all go! There literally was never a dull moment! I had a tough time putting it down! I just had to know what happened next. I cannot wait for the last book of the series, Reticence to come out next year, to see where this self-proclaimed band of misfits winds up!

    Fran

9781633884397I’ve always maintained that Kat Richardson is one of the most intelligent writers I know, and that statement still holds true. Writing as K. R. Richardson, her new novel, Blood Orbit (Pyr tpo, $18.00) is thought-provoking, dynamic, complex, and a hell of a lot of fun.

Unfolding her world deliciously slowly, Kat introduces us to a world that is basically run by the Gattis Corporation, and where rookie cop Eric Matheson and his training officer, Santos, run into a nightclub, a jasso, with seventeen murder victims inside. Almost immediately, Matheson is assigned to assist Chief Investigating Forensic Officer J. P. Dillal, and they’re given a very tight timeline to figure out what happened. Otherwise, in this Company town, the Gattis Corporation will come up with a solution that will suit its own ends, regardless of the truth.

And if that isn’t enough pressure, CIFO Dillal has been cybernetically altered, but the modifications are new, untested, and in fact, not completely healed. And he’s disturbing to look at, which makes him unsuited for undercover work.

The world created by K. R. Richardson is so layered, so complete, and so alien that it will take several books, I suspect, to really get a grasp on it, but it is well worth the effort – and I promise you, it’s an easy effort! Her writing is so smooth, so well narrated that you’ll find yourself learning about the various people, the races, the government, the corporation, all of it without really trying. It just seeps into your brain until you can see the world.

And her people! Oh man, I love her people! For one of the races she’s developed a patois that I desperately want to hear spoken! I suspect it’s beautiful, and strange, and I find myself using some of the language, which gets me the odd head tilt. I’m good with that.

Make no mistake, Blood Orbit is a police procedural, and it’s noir. Very bad things happen to those we care about, and events unfold in complicated and dark ways, but the truth is out there, if Matheson and Dillal (and you with them) are willing to do what it takes to find it.

I absolutely have to re-read this book because I know I missed a lot of nuance in my rush to find out what happened, and I’m already vibrating in anticipation of a sequel.

Keep writing, Kat! We need more of this!

    JB

I’ve been reading James Lee Burke since I joined the staff of SMB in 1990. I was struck by Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell on an almost visceral level. There’s something about those two that resonated with me, both through Dave’s narration and Burke’s words, and the actions of the “Bobbsey Twins from Homicide”. I’ve had my criticisms of the series: how many goombas did Dave go to school with in this smaller Louisiana town, and weren’t these best friends getting a bit too old to be pulling the shit they were doing if they were in ‘Nam in the early years? I’ve been willing to ignore those quibbles because I loved these guys so much. But it started to feel as if it was time to retire the series, really, and I thought that the end of Light of the World would’ve been the great way to do it:

“I placed my arm around his waist, and together we limped up the slope, a couple of vintage low-riders left over from another era in the season the Indians called the moon of popping cherries, in the magical land that charmed and beguiled the sense and made one wonder if divinity did not indeed hide just on the other side of the tangible world.”

9781501176845But then came Robicheaux last January and of course I’m going to read it. There’s no way to NOT read a book about Dave and Clete. But I have to say this is an odd book. It is jumbled with Dave doing and saying things that Clete would normally say, and vice versa. Dave’s fictional daughter Alafair has become even more a depiction of Burke’s real daughter, the wonderful writer Alafair Burke. A noted, local, fictional novelist in this book is said to have thought his best book is one that got little notice, White Doves at Morning – which is a wonderful Civil War novel that James Lee Burke published in 2002. There’s continual reference to a series of murders and there’s a bit about them in the Author’s Notes at the front of the book, but there’s nothing in this book that really addresses those crimes and those references just seem misleading. Dave feels lost and makes comments to Clete about their ages. And though I enjoyed the sheer pleasure of Burke’s writing I finished the book not really understanding who did what and why they did it.

Oh well. At least I got over 400 pages of Dave and Clete, Alafair and Helen, and that alone is well worth the time.

Killing King by Stuart Wexler and Larry Hancock continues the recent books and research on the assassination of Dr. King by filling in our knowledge of how organized and active what most of us have thought of as the KKK in the 1960s and showing the national efforts and range of these “humans”. The Klan was just one element of this crowd and, indeed, many of actors in this story were not members of the clan. They didn’t need it, they thought it too soft. Imagine that. The Klan just targeted blacks. These guys wanted the Jews targeted as much, if not more. They’re truly creepy.

The subtitle tells a great deal; “Racial Terrorists, James Earl Ray, and the Plot to 9781619029194Assassinate Martin Luther King Jr.” Do they say who fired the shot? I’m not sure. It’s a fascinating book but not for what it says about that horrifying day in Memphis but for what it says about the Southern white racists.

In light of Charlottesville, the recent press given to neo-Nazis, and the “alt-right”, this book shows once again how active these “people” have been all along and we who are humans and people have been fooled into thinking they’d gone away. But they’ve never gone away. They’ve been an ugly part of the American quilt all long. I don’t think I was naive about this but Killing King powerfully details their plots and plans, and makes it show in a different light.

One of the central ogres in the story is Wesley Swift, a preacher of hate and racial genocide whose rants had wide-ranging effects mainly due to tapes of his “church”. He and his followers were hoping to nudge the country into racial violence and, eventually they hoped, into a race war that would cleanse the continent. If you thought Charlie Manson was far out with Helter Skelter, the Caucasian monsters in this book were well ahead of Charlie.

What kept coming to me as I read this history was the racial terrorism that has continued since: Richard Butler and the Aryan Nations in Idaho; Robert Matthews, the guy who robbed the bank at Northgate and who split off to form The Order; what prison story or movie doesn’t mention the Aryan Brotherhood? Christian Identity, domestic terrorists – it all stinks of narrow-mindedness and a blood-thirsty belief that “we’re right, they’re wrong so they can die”… Where does it end?

Guess it doesn’t.

Lastly, I have to say something about Megan Abbott and Raymond Chandler and all of teeth-gnashing over are his books acceptable in the days of #METOO.

The new Annotated Big Sleep is a great deal of fun – mostly. 9780804168885It provides no end of local color to Chandler and LA at the time the book was written and published and does a great job explaining and showing how he cannibalized his short stories to be elements of his novels – in the case of The Big Sleep they do it nearly line by line. There are lingo explanations and word derivations. There are photos and illustrations – the original book on the left and the annotations on the right. As Otto Penzler is quoted on the back of the trade paper original, “What a great excuse to read this masterpiece again! The annotations are addictively fascinating, educational, and almost as compulsively readable as the novel.”

One complaint I have about the annotating authors is that they are far too PC. They’re putting today’s views onto an author who wrote this book 80 years ago!

Deciding who to read or not read now based on what and how they wrote 50 or 500 years ago is inane. Yes, in the hardboiled fiction of the early 1900s, women were demeaned and slapped around and viewed as dames and femme fatales. Some were portrayed as weak and some as praying mantises. Deciding to stop reading the authors now because they don’t measure up to our current political correctness or #METOOishness is as pointless as the arguments a few years ago to stop reading Mark Twain because he wrote the “n-word”. Guess that would ban Blazing Saddles, too… There’s a movie that couldn’t be made today and more’s the pity.

In no small way this is censorship.

Certainly we can take the authors’ time and atmosphere into account when we read their words but mature adults do that anyway, don’t we? We don’t think Shakespeare was anti-women because he manipulated Othello into murdering his wife, nor do we think it because Lady Macbeth was such a blood-thirsty femme fatale. Should “Hamlet” never again be taught or staged because he made Ophelia a “frail” who was so weak a woman that she drowned herself? 

The point is to not overlay our present views on the artists of the past because it isn’t fair to them or useful to us. “Present views” are continually changing like the width of ties or the height of hemlines. The shop once had a customer who actually professed that they’d never read a book in which the characters smoked. Imagine that! Let your mind wander and consider all that such a rule would eliminate from your culture. Isn’t there smoking in Some Like it Hot, West Side Story? There’s probably some in Mary Poppins! Egad!

Read Raymond Chandler for the beauty of his words, for the way he constructs a sentence, for the sparkle of his art because that’s what it is. Who really gives a damn who killed Owen Taylor? I never have and it’s never stopped me from loving the book. Let the things that make you cringe slide off to the side, don’t let them bother you, and slip into his pages.

“What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that.”

Support Small Businesses 

If You Don’t, They Go Away…

July’s Newzine

shareimg-5

2018 Nero Finalists Have Been Announced!

The “Nero” is an annual award presented to an author for literary excellence in the mystery genre. The award is presented at the Black Orchid Banquet, which is traditionally held on the first Saturday in December in New York City; this year the banquet will be on Saturday, December 1, 2018.

This year, the finalists are:

Kathleen Kent, The Dime (Mulholland Books/Little, Brown)
Loren D. Estelman, The Lioness is the Hunter (Forge)
Matt Goldman, Gone to Dust (Forge)
Stephen Mack Jones, August Snow (Soho)
Warren C. Easley, Blood for Wine (Poisoned Pen Press)

This year’s nominees join a procession of fine writers including Lee Child,
Walter Mosley, and Linda Fairstein, all of whom have been honored with the
prestigious “Nero.”

Congratulations to all!

Stephannie, Nero Award Chair (NeroAwardChair@nerowolfe.org)
Jane K. Cleland, Black Orchid Novella Award Chair (BlackOrchidAward@nerowolfe.org)

     Signings

Linda Castillo, Third Place Books, July 19th, 7pm

Carola Dunn, Third Place Books, July 20th, 6pm

Kevin O’Brien, Elliot Bay Books, July 31st, 7pm

Megan Abbott, Third Place Books, July 30th, 7pm

Megan Abbott, Powell’s, July 31st, 7pm

     Word of the Month

fredo: cold and passionless, a direction in music, (thanks to Says You, #1014) or, political commentary…

     Links of Interest

Here is a two-part story about a murder and the man imprisoned for the crime. It is very much in the vein of the series that have been on podcast or cable: “Blood Will Tell”, Part 1, Part 2

Daily Beast, June 1st: MH379 Didn’t Just Disappear, It was Caught in a Swamp of Corruption

Seattle Times, June 2nd: The Soviets Secretly Mapped Seattle

The Guardian, June 2nd: A Story of Survival: New York’s Last Remaining Independent Bookshops

WRAL, June 2nd: Listen Carefully, Book Lovers: Top Authors Are Skipping Print (yes, they’re going instead to audio – and to whom? Audible… aka SPECTRE! Seems they’re not yet done raiding the crippled world of publishing.)

Daily Beast, June 2nd: How Cuba Helped Make Venezuela a Mafia State

The Independent, June 3rd: James Bond producers want Helena Bonham Carter to play a villain

Newser, June 4th: What May Be ‘Most Famous Map in English Lit’ Up for Grabs – 1926 EH Shepard sketch of Hundred Acre Wood appears in AA Milne’s ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’

The Guardian, June 5th: Editorial: The Guardian view on Amazon: not a normal monopoly 

The Guardian, June 6th: A queer, diverse Nancy Drew: is this how to keep children’s classics alive?

The Oregonian, June 6th: Portland(ia) Feminist Bookstore, In Other Words, is Closing 

BBC June 10th: Serial poopers: What makes people poo in public places?

The Guardian, June 12th: Tim Miller Can Find Almost  Anyone. Can He Find His Daughter’s Killer?

BBC, June 12th: Demolished Londonderry house still receives post

BBC, June 12th: A plan to use pupils to run school libraries

The Washington Post, June 13th: Years ago I wandered into a used book store and a man named X handed me this gem [ JB agrees – these books are jewels!]

BBC, June 13th: Daredevil raccoon’s Minnesota skyscraper climb

The Guardian, June 13th: “Conan Doyle for the Defence” by Margalit Fox review – a case worthy of Sherlock Holmes

The Guardian, June 13th: Morality clauses: are publishers right to police writers?

The Guardian, June 19th: Oxford English Dictionary extends hunt for regional words around the world

BBC, June 21st: Why Hitchcock’s “Kaleidoscope” Was Too Shocking to be Made

Vox, June 22nd: Water rights, freeways, and Hollywood gossip: the secret history of LA, in 3 detective movies 

Atlas Obscura, June 22nd: Why Medieval Monasteries Branded Their Books

The Guardian, June 23rd: How alleged Toronto serial killer Bruce McArthur went unnoticed

The Guardian, June 23rd: How Well Do You Know Your Fictional Bookshops?

The Washington Post, June 25th: Supreme Court won’t hear the case of Brendan Dassey, sentenced to life as a teen and featured in ‘Making a Murderer’

BBC, June 26th: My best friend’s killer got away – until I made police try again

The Guardian, June 27th: Publishers are paying writers a pittance, say bestselling authors

The Atlantic, June 27th: What Is “The Staircase” Trying to Do?

The Guardian, June 30th: All the Pieces Matter review – the inside story of “The Wire”

Vox, June 30th: You can rent a room above this bookstore by the sea and run the shop

          RIP

BBC, June 6th: Jerry Maren: Last Wizard of Oz Munchkin dies aged 98

BBC, June 8th: Anthony Bourdain

BBC, June 9th: The first Bond girl, Eunice Grayson, dies at 90

LA Times, June 28th: Celebrity admirers bid farewell to Harlan Ellison, a ‘great author and cautionary tale’

Miami Herald, June 29th: Rob Hiaasen, journalist killed in Maryland newsroom shooting, had deep South Florida ties  (our best to his brother Carl)

                    What We’ve Been Doing

     Amber

IMG_8133

Georgette Heyer – The Unfinished Clue

Put one – gold-digger & jealous husband, amused spinster, nervy wife & her would-be-lover, a tyrant, a self-absorbed dancer & a sap, a snake charmer, old friend, a vicar & a gossip under the same roof for an entire weekend and you’re bound to have a murder!

No one was particularly sad to see Sir Arthur Billington-Smith go toes up at the end of the weekend; the only real complaint they had was his lousy timing! They were all still residents when he got himself murdered.

Even worse?

None of the partiers (aka suspects) can leave until the culprit is caught!

I enjoyed this mystery. You have a house stuffed to the gills with great suspects, a bevy of motives and a couple of red herrings! There are only three characters in the entire book I liked, Finch (the butler), Dinah (the victim’s sister-in-law) and Inspector Harding (from Scotland Yard). The rest of the cast of characters are so abominable in their own unique way I could hardly wait to see what they would do next!

Then there’s Georgette Heyer’s use of language – words like “highfalutin” and “nincompoop” are used conversationally. Her vocabulary taken with her singular turn of phrase make this book a joy to read!

Shakespeare’s Hamlet tells us that “Brevity is the soul of wit,” in Heyer’s case, this is true. The Unfinished Clue is by far the shortest mystery I’ve read by her – and it works. At no point did I feel like this book dragged on – between the arguments, accusations, hysterics, and murder – this book never stops chugging along.

If you can overlook one or two outmoded ways of thinking which make this book feel a bit dated ( a touch of misogyny and the horror of a “nice you man” falling into the clutches of a dancer) – this is a fantastic mystery. One I would recommend to most mystery readers who relish a delightful English country house mystery.

     Fran

I’ve added my reviews separately (because of course I did) so let’s see if I can come up with an anecdote from work.

We have folks who go FTR – Failure To Report – rather a lot, as you’d suspect. If you’re a mystery writer, let me clue you in on something. Vengeful ex-girlfriends (generally our culprits are guys, so I’m not stereotyping much here) are a real thing.

We get calls all the time from ladies scorned who know more about how (and when) to find their ex-guys than any PI ever written. They put bill collectors and student loan repayers to shame. I can’t tell you how many calls we’ve gotten from women saying, “You wanna know where to find the sonofabitch? Let me tell you, he’ll be walking into 1234 Main Street, Apt. 56, at 1:34 a.m. with that SKANK, and by 1:45 they’ll be asleep because he sucks in bed!”

You want top-of-the-line surveillance? Get an ex on the job!

You know how you say that once you retire, you’ll read all those books you’ve been buying but never got around to? Or hope to contract some disease that can only be cured by reading books so you can finally attack the piles towering around you?

Well, since I’m not getting fabulous new ARCs every day any more (small sob), I decided to do just that – read something I’ve been meaning to read. Something I was told years ago to read, by Janine and Adele and Tammy in this case.

I picked up Tim Maleeny’s STEALING THE DRAGON (Midnight Ink). And of course I love it. THEY TOLD ME I WOULD! And they were right, and I should have years ago, but I’ve come to my senses now.

Trust me, if these three tell you to read something, don’t put it off. Otherwise you’ll miss out on characters like Cape Weathers, Tim’s protagonist who’s been a lot of things in his disreputable past but is now a private investigator in San Francisco.

You’d think that idea would have been worked to death, that there couldn’t be anything new or different about a PI in Frisco, and, like me, you’d be wrong. Tim Maleeny is smart, funny, wickedly sharp, twisty and wonderful.

In STEALING THE DRAGON, you meet Cape who is an old friend to you by page three. And the premise here is that a cargo ship filled with illegal Chinese immigrants crashes into Alcatraz, which has nothing to do with Cape until it’s brought to his attention that just about the only person who could have done what happened on that ship is his best friend and protector, Sally.

As the story progresses, we see things unfolding in Cape’s investigation, but we also see how Sally became to be who she is, and she’s amazing and magnificent.

So take the advice of those wiser than I am and do yourself a favor. Go to your local indie bookshop (because duh!) and order STEALING THE DRAGON, BEATING THE BABUSHKA, and GREASING THE PINATA, and enjoy yourself. Do not make the mistake I did of reading the first one without the other two close at hand.

Seriously – learn from my mistakes here and enjoy yourself immensely in the process!

     JB

I’ve been a fan of Chandler and Marlowe for decades – no secret there. So I was thrilled to read in the Seattle Times about a new Philip Marlowe novel coming out in July. I was able to secure an advanced reader copy, Lawrence Osborne’s Only to Sleep, from the publisher. It’s an odd book, but then most of Chandler’s novels were, too, when you think about it. Sometimes they don’t make sense, you don’t always know who did what, and behind the wondrous prose is gauzy world of Marlowe and the rich and poor of Chandler’s imagination, not necessarily of the real LA.

In Osborne’s novel, a 72 year-old Marlowe has retired and is living simply on Mexican coast. He uses a cane due to a broken foot from a decade ago but still seems to get around. The cane has a sword in it and that’s his only weapon. No shoulder holster under his coat, no Luger in a hidden compartment in the car. He seems to be a puzzled old man trying to figure out what his did with his life and what it was all about. Then he gets a chance have one more case.

Like most of his cases, its pretty banal. An insurance company wants him to check to see if someone who is supposed to be dead really is before they pay out the policy. And why not? “There was, I thought, something calling to me from out in the dark. It came out int he tempest, even from the lights of the fishing boats a mile out to sea. You can be called to a last effort, a final heroic statement, because I doubt you can call yourself to leave comforts and certainties for an open road. But the call is inside your own head. It’s a sad summons from the depths of your own wasted past. You could call it the imperative to go out with full-tilt trumpets and gunshots instead of the quietly desperate sound of a hospital ventilator.” Right there, on page 10, you can feel that Osborne has captured the mind-set of Marlowe, a sense of nobility swirled with fatalistic boredom.

On the way, Marlowe will meet a raft of people as well as the dame in the center of the case. Is she a grieving widow or a femme fatale? It’s 1988. Surely they’ve not gone extinct? “So I skipped that question and just enjoyed her presence. She was the only thread I was handling as I groped my way through the dark on my small and wind-swept odyssey. A thread as soft as silk, shiny and mysterious, or, if you want to put it another way, a dance partner that is different with every step. Count me as one of those who knows that life is unbearable not because it’s a tragedy but because it’s a romance.”

That’s Chandleresque.

This is the second new Marlowe novel the estate has commissioned, not counting the Robert B. Parker works. The first was Benjamin Black’s The Black-Eyed Blonde. I hope and expect them to continue. I would just ask that they speed up the publications.

From Third Place/Ravenna, I have on order the newly released The Annotated Big Sleep, which Adam Woog profiled in his recent Seattle Times column.

Then there’s the used hardcover of Frank Nitti: The True Story of Chicago’s Notorious “Enforcer” by Ronald D. Humble. I thought I’d known a lot about Nitti but from this book I have a far greater understanding of his power and reach. It’s a book with a great deal of information but is unfortunately presented with haphazard organization and wooden writing. Wish he’d had a better editor…

Lastly, if you’re into podcasts, there are three I’d recommend:

~ One has been out awhile – Shit*town is a wild and strange trip into the head and heart of a brilliant man who loathes his small hometown. The story begins with an accusation of murder and then spins off into weirdness.

~ Slate has just released a series of episodes on Watergate called Slow Burn. It’s well done, interesting and very, very timely. Again, thought I knew a lot about that era but I’m learning more with each episode.

~ The last and newest is The RFK Tapes, which re-examines the Robert Kennedy assassination. There are three episodes out so far. Not sure how many there will be. Again, well done, interesting and very very timely.

 

That’s It Until August.

Support Small Businesses if you don’t, they go away!

R.I.P.

Anthony Bourdain first gained attention in 2004 with his bestseller Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. He followed that with a variety of books, including three witty mysteries that involved – understandably – cooking. The founder of Seattle Mystery Bookshop was a big fan of them and we had him in to sign during his 1995 tour for Bone in the Throat. From then on stocked the books in our Culinary section.

Sometime after that, Bourdain was in Seattle and stopped by to say hello. He very kindly remembered us and his time in the shop. During that visit in the Autumn of 2004, we got him to sign our author book and it was a page we showed off for the rest of the shop’s existence.

Today’s sad news requires we show it one last time.

Kitchen’s closed.

img020

June Newzine

shareimg-3

Summer, right? Well, we’re now past Memorial Day, so it must be that time in which livin’ is easy… so they say.

And, a reminder: these new Newzines are not meant to be read in one sitting, as the old Friday afternoon missives could be. We imagine folks coming back to these monthly posts more than once. They’re long, but so are months. Err, or they used to be when we had summer vacation from school!

Something Special from a Good Friend

The following is from one of the SMB’s most valued customers, most supportive collectors, and trusted friends. Steve has had some thoughts since the shop closed, and sent us this:

Missing SMB

First, a confession: I am a book collector and assess bookshops with a jaundiced eye. I’ve been in every variety of bookstore from the well heeled, inefficiently designed rare book shop that is a book shy a designer’s idea of a library, to the tatty, dusty, work-of-love, paperback-only shop that can only subside due to free rent while the landlord waits for a real tenant to amble in. I collect first editions of various literary genres, but especially mysteries. My wife and I are passionate about books, so much so that when we paid off our original mortgage we took out another to build the library we’d always wanted in order to house our substantial book collection. Or at least part of it, since books are everywhere in our home and may be the only things keeping it upright.

As a result of my affliction, I loved the Seattle Mystery Bookshop (SMB). When I say that I loved the shop, I loved everything about it, everything that had taken so long for the owners (Bill Farley, then JB Dickey) to compile: the knowledgeable and affable staff; the efficient attention to customers’ needs and wants; the broad assortment of inventory composed of new and used books displayed for comfortable, lazy browsing; the quarterly newsletter focused on upcoming publications that allowed me to send a list to the staff so that they could have my published choices ready for me during my next visit; my own space on their back shelves where I could first see some of the new books I was about to buy; their locked shelves of rarer books where I might, and often did, find a treasure.

But I also loved the composite whole, an institution much greater than the sum of its parts that was a retreat from daily concerns where I could get lost in the possibilities and implicit joys of future reading.

So when SMB finally closed, I was bereft. I had a system that I had worked out with SMB’s staff to ensure that I would never miss a favorite author’s newest work. I had staff backup in case I did miss a favored new work since the staff would always question me about my error. And the staff always made certain to tell me about new authors that I’d never heard of that fell within my range of interests, either spontaneously in a statement of enthusiasm beginning “you just have to read this” or in response to my oft asked question at the conclusion of each visit: “What have I missed?”

It finally became apparent to me that I could no longer argue with JB that he ought to keep the store open. I came to understand the stress he endured from so many pressures: competition from low priced online retailers; rude so-called “customers” who came to sample books they were about to buy on-line for less money; trying to operate a retail shop in a city hostile to smaller businesses; the constant lack of nearby parking spaces; the constant construction and street closures that adversely affected business; the steadily falling income due to the deadly combination of fewer walk in customers, rising hardback prices, and the steadily increasing portion of new books which were lower priced (and, therefor, less profitable) paperbacks; the rise of the e-book; and on and on. JB was stressed by this storm of ill luck and needed a break, so I had to learn to shut my mouth and, as a friend, help him extricate himself from the lifelong dream that had gradually become a nightmare.

But what was I, the now-former customer, to do after SMB closed?  I approached this problem with my customary optimism. I have been a professional problem solver all my life, so I just knew I’d find a way. And I tried. Boy, how I tried! But like any other good thing, even I who loved the SMB institution didn’t know how good I’d had it until the institution was gone; I didn’t understand how bad the alternatives could be. I confess to failing to find a good, or even a marginally acceptable, alternative – at least so far. I am still searching.

Since SMB closed, I have tried many things to feed my passion for mysteries. I have subscribed to on-line mystery lists to see what is upcoming, but they are nowhere close to being as comprehensive as SMB’s newsletters which was blind to categorized favoritism and a major publication in and of itself. I’ve tried to deal with other storied mystery retail institutions only to find flaw after flaw in their operations. (One well known New York store never updates its listings of rare books, such that out of the six rare books I have attempted to buy from them only one has been delivered as the others were already sold. I no longer even bother to look at their on-line inventory of rare books on the presumption that if a book is listed there it must be gone. Why waste my time?) I’ve haunted the mystery sections of local booksellers, but none have the breadth of collection that SMB had, and the only one that comes close has no attentive staff dedicated to making my day’s selections as complete or as interesting as they could be. And there is no one there to ask what I might have missed before I go out their door. And even if there were, they wouldn’t know me well enough to advise me effectively.

No, nothing has worked well for me. I’ve made do since SMB closed its doors, but just making do is never very satisfying to a passionate collector. The pleasure in my monthly purchases of mysteries has been reduced from a sigh of contentment to a sigh of regret. I have to make my own lists of wants without help from a knowledgeable staff – lists I either forget to make or forget to take. There is no one who, when I become too ill to visit, will take my orders by email and lovingly wrap and mail them to me as SMB uncomplainingly did. There is no one to make each visit to their store both bookishly satisfying as well as a pleasant reunion with old and dear friends of both the quick and the tome varieties.

I’m about ready to scream my frustration. Hell, I can’t find anyone I can deal with who is even remotely efficient; I’d settle for adequate if I could ever stumble upon it. My frustration is probably Bill’s and JB’s fault for setting the bar so high. If only they and their staff hadn’t created something so perfect, I could have, in my ignorance, settled for so much less.

Sigh!

A New Series of Mystery Reprints

Otto Penzler of The Mysterious Bookshop is starting a new publisher. Penzler Publishing will reissue classic American mysteries. In some way, this press will be filling the void that Rue Morgue left. “Reprints of Golden Age classics by British writers have been very successful,” Penzler noted, “so it seems the time has come to recognize the best American authors of traditional detective fiction.” The first  batch of titles due out this Fall are from instantly recognizable authors: Rice, Queen, Rinehart, Hughes, Rawson, and Palmer.

Word of the Month

snollygoster (n.): From 1846, American English slang, a fanciful coinage – “originally an unprincipled politician or crooked lawyer, today in means someone either incompetent or “ethically challenged”, someone who will not keep a promise.” (thanks to etymonline and Says You! #906)

Author Events

June 2nd, Erica Miner, Third Place Books/Lake Forrest Park, 6pm

June 7th, Leslie Budewitz, Third Place Books/Lake Forrest Park, 7pm

June 7th, Nicola Griffith, Eagle Harbor Books, 6:30

June 11th, Ruth Ware, Powell’s, 7:30

June 12th, Ruth Ware, Third Place Books/Lake Forrest Park, 7pm

June 21st, Christine Carbo, Third Place Books/Lake Forrest Park, 7pm

June 22nd, Cara Black, Third Place Books/Ravenna, 7 pm

 Links of Interest

The Guardian, April 27th: Vetting for stereotypes: meet publishing’s ‘sensitivity readers’

Daily Beast, May 1st: The CIA Cleared Her Book Twice. Then It Took It Back. Why? It’s a Secret

The Guardian, May 1st: Books by Women Priced 45% Lower, Study Finds

The Guardian, May 1st: Why does it seem like serial killers all wear the same glasses?

The Guardian, May 1st: Are women responsible for all the extreme sexual violence on screen? (Germaine Greer has stirred up a hornet’s nest with her latest claims, suggesting women are more enthusiastic than men when it comes to depictions of sex and violence. We asked leading crime writers for their views)

BBC, May 3rd: Mystery Pooper Caught In The Act

BBC, May 4th: Whoops! Idaho State University Lost Some Plutonium

Daily Beast, May 5th: From Russia’s Secret Espionage Archives: The Art of the Dangle

New York Times, May 6th: Save Barnes & Noble!

Daily Beast, May 8th: The Surreal Story of a Purple-Faced Lady and My Mom’s Stolen Jewels

The Guardian, May 12th: Barnes & Noble: why it could soon be the bookshop’s final chapter

Daily Beast, May 12th: The Blue Diamond Affair: The Jewel Heist That Became a Diplomatic Nightmare

Vox, May 14th: Louisa May Alcott on Little Women: “I grow tired of providing moral pap for the young”

The Guardian, May 14th: Waterstones accused of breaking pledge not to take on independents

The Guardian, May 14th: Bacon, cheese slices and sawblades: the strangest bookmarks left at libraries

Seattle Times, May 14th: A 14th human foot – this one in a hiking boot – washes ashore in Canada

The Oregonian, May 18th: D.B. Cooper Case Drops Another Suspect Into the Spotlight

The New York Times, May 19th: A Staten Island Man Found a Safe of Cash in His Backyard. Then Things Got Weird.

Crosscut, May 21st: Seattle is a ‘City of Literature’. Now What?

The Guardian, May 21st: My Friend Dahmer”: is it time to stop glamorising the serial killer?

The Guardian, May 22nd: John le Carré letter reveals author’s contempt for British political class

Atlas Obscura, May 22nd: Lesbian Pulp Fiction That Saved Lives

Seattle Times, May 24th: Daniel Craig to Return as 007 in 2019, Danny Boyle at Helm

Daily Beast, May 26th: Love and Death and the Queen of Diamonds

Seattle Times, May 27th: How a Canadian Mystery Writer Found the Clues to Success (hint: she writes about Three Pines…)

The Oregonian, May 27th: End of a Story for a Hawthorne Boulevard Bookstore (JB used to hit this place on Portland book-hunting trips)

The Atlantic, May 28th: Killing Eve” and the Riddle of Why Women Kill

New York Times, May 28th: How Dostoyevsky Predicted the ‘True Crime’ Craze

AtlasObscura, May 29th: Secrets Revealed at NSA’s National Cryptologic Museum

AtlasObscura, May 29th: Grave Robbing 101

RIP

May 13th – Margot Kidder, Lois Lane in the earlier Superman movies, 69.

May 21st  – Bill Gold, one of Hollywood’s best-known creators of film posters, has died aged 97 – the creator of the iconic Dirty Harry, Goodfellas & Dial ‘M’ For Murder and 2,000 more posters!

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

IMG_8132

So Pretty A Problem – Francis Duncan

Chief detective inspector Jonathan Boyce’s boss has ordered him to take a holiday. A recent bout of pneumonia has left him weak and tired to the point the commissioner felt the need to intervene. Unable to do anything but comply with his boss’s order Jonathan decided it was high time he paid a visit to his sister in Falporth in Cornwall.

Wanting to impress said sister he asks his friend Mordecai Tremaine if he’d like to come along (she’s read about Mordecai’s second career in the papers and Jonathan’s letters). Mordecai readily agrees to the trip despite the uncomfortable situation it places him in. Oh not with Boyce’s family, but with a close acquaintance who also resides in the small seaside town.

A few weeks previously he discovered that the wife of painter Adrian Carthallow was having an affair, which caused Mordecai’s romantic soul to cringe. When the artist and his wife relocated to their summer home for a few months, Mordecai was relieved….until the unexpected invitation for Boyce propelled him back into their sphere.

Mordecai’s vacation soon turns into a busman’s holiday when Adrian Carthallow is shot dead by his wife. The only hitch in the giddyup? The wife’s story is so full of holes it looks like swiss cheese, and there are about a half-a-dozen other people who had a motive to want the man dead.

I love this mystery!

If you took the setting of And Then There Were None, the motives of Murder In Retrospect, the detective Columbo, and Sherlock Holmes’ pipe, then shook them up in a bag, you might come close-ish to this latest installment in the Mordecai Tremaine series.

Francis Duncan flawlessly combines the locked-room mystery with the English country house murder in this “new” book. What I enjoyed reading was the deftness which Francis manipulated and updated these classic tropes. He was able to keep them recognizable but change them in such a way that made them feel different.

The other fascinating aspect of this book? Every suspect was under the same emotional influence, love. Francis does a great job in showing the variants of this seemingly pure emotion and how it provided more than enough motive for murder.

Though So Pretty A Problem was written in 1947 this book doesn’t feel dated. Which I think broadens the appeal of this mystery to those who enjoy reading the occasional timeless trope. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a classic golden age mystery and/or looking for something to fill the void after finishing the Agatha Christie (or alternatively needing a break from them). Or someone who is looking for something without much blood that doesn’t fall into the cozy trap!

Fran

I’m loving my new job still, and it’s always interesting.  For example:

So, a guy gets out of jail on Monday. He’s supposed to show up in 24 hours, but hey, sometimes life happens so we gave him 48. Not everybody would, and not every offender gets a break, but once in a while, we’re nice. Don’t judge.

But then, by Wednesday when he’s a no-show, we sigh and put out a warrant for him. We tried to be nice, but the rules are the rules.

Thursday the warrant’s issued, and we trundle along as we always do.

Today. Today he shows up. We ask if there’s a reason he didn’t check in. Nope. Not really. Just didn’t.

We peer at him closely. “Are you high?” He nods, happily.

“Before coming here? What did you take?”

“Meth.”

There are several exchanged looks, puzzled and frowny.

“So you took meth before you came here?” He nods again.

“You know that means you’re going to jail, right?” He nods.

More exchanged looks.

“Okay, fill out this form admitting that you’ve used drugs.” He does.

“Alrighty then, you wanna tell us why you took meth and then came here on a Friday afternoon?”

Long pause. “….it might rain?….”

Like I said, my job is always interesting.

 

REVIEWS NOW:

9780544947306Now, before you go sighing, “Oh dear goslings, ANOTHER ONE?” let me tell you that Carrie Vaughn‘s BANNERLESS (Mariner) is not your typical everything’s-awful or how-will-we-survive type dystopian novel. Far from it.

It’s hopeful. And nice.

Dystopian, yes. It’s after the Fall, civilization has collapsed and has been re-formed and made into something that will work, at least for the time period we’re concerned about.

Along the Coast Road region, communities are thriving. People are organized into households within their towns, groups of people who live within their own communities to help each other. The households work together so that the towns thrive, and everyone depends on everyone else doing their part.

When a household has proven its stability and resourcefulness, they can be awarded a banner, which entitles that household to have a child. No children are allowed without a banner; population control is key to maintaining survival. Starvation is still a real possibility. Outcasts and children born outside of the rules are considered to be “bannerless” and are therefore shunned. Mostly.

Crimes tend to be of the more mundane sort – who’s hoarding food, not contributing enough, over-extending their growing fields without permission – and to handle those sorts of things, investigators travel to the communities with problems and resolve them. Investigators’ word is law; they have the power to dissolve households and even remove awarded banners as they see fit.

Enid of Haven has only been an investigator a short while. Generally, being an investigator isn’t a full-time job, so she and her household are doing what they normally do, but then she’s tasked with investigating a suspicious death in a nearby town, Pasaden. Suspicious deaths are very, very rare, so Enid takes this seriously. She and her enforcer, her former mentor Tomas, go to Pasaden to see if they can figure things out.

And on the surface, Pasaden seems to be a quiet, safe and welcoming community. What happened?

This is the first in a series, and I devoured it. In BANNERLESS, Carrie Vaughn has crafted a world that is fully functional, multi-dimensional, and captivating. It’s a straight-up murder mystery (no spoiler there, I promise) but it’s got such complexity and such deep layers that it captures the imagination.

If you like traditional mysteries and are game for a slightly different setting with rules that take a bit of getting used to but which make perfect sense once you do, I can’t recommend BANNERLESS enough. Even if you’re not into science fiction or things of that genre, trust me, you’ll enjoy this one. I can’t wait to read the sequel!

******************************************

So yeah, here I’m going to be talking about two books, but they tie in together so hang with me. ‘Kay? Thanks!

9781501118364First, if you haven’t picked up John Connolly‘s book of short stories, Night Music (Emily Bestler Books), you should have. I know there are a lot of you who don’t much like short stories, but please, make an exception here, for two reasons.

One is that you absolutely need to read (or re-read) the seventh short story, “The Fractured Atlas – Five Fragments” before you read his new Charlie Parker novel, about which I’ll talk later.

A lot of what you find out in “The Fractured Atlas” will ring bells for you from things discussed in earlier Parker novels, but having this set of short stories under your belt will make The Woman in the Woods (Emily Bestler Books) much more understandable.

Besides, they’re beautifully written and just creepy enough to make you uneasy. But then, several of the short stories are. You know how John Connolly can take something ordinary and give it a slight twist? These are distilled Connolly.

The last thing I want to say is that when you read – or re-read – the first story, “The Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository”, if it doesn’t ring a chord deep within in you, I’m not sure we can be friends any longer. Yeah, it’s that good.

9781501171925So then, onto the The Woman in the Woods. Obviously there’s not a lot I can say about it because if you haven’t read the series, there are spoilers, and if you have and are waiting for this one to come out, which it does this month, I believe (thank you, Claire Lamb, for seeing that I got an ARC – I am forever in your debt!) then by reading “The Fractured Atlas”, you’ll know all you need to know.

However, I must say that I absolutely adore the insights into Louis and Angel’s relationship we get due to Angel’s illness, and Charlie is perfect in his response to the whole situation.

Granted, some of Louis’s anger is going to lead to problems down the line, but it’s nothing that can’t be handled. In fact I’m looking forward to that confrontation.

Enough being cryptic. Trust me, you’re going to enjoy The Woman in the Woods and it will leave you wanting the next installment Right Now. In fact, I may have to go re-read the entire series while I wait. That’ll make the time pass quickly and will be such a treat!

JB

I know I wasn’t the only one who was struck by the oddity of the 2003 bank robbery in which a pizza delivery guy held up a bank with a bomb affixed to him. I never really followed the case but I remembered it. So did GM Ford, because he used it in Blown Away, his last Frank Corso novel in 2006. On the last page, he left poor Corso trembling in a bank with  a bomb locked around his neck.

If you have access to Netflix (I hope Jerry does) I recommend Evil Genius, a four-part documentary about the crime, the cops who investigated it, and those suspected and charged in the crime. Netflix gets it right when they say “This baffling true crime story starts with the grisly death of a pizza man who robs a bank with a bomb around his neck — and gets weirder from there.” Sure as hell does.

Like any fan of crime and mystery and whodunnits, I’ve talked this series over with a number of fans, trying to figure out questions that were left and we can’t get very far. I’ll admit it isn’t for the cozy crowd, but it is a fascinating series, well constructed and engrossing.  Give it a try. netflix-Evil-Genius-s1-bg-1

Soon as I finish John Meacham’s biography of Andrew Jackson, I’m going to dig into a large pile of mysteries – new books by Mike Lawson, John Straley, Phillip Kerr, James Lee Burke, John Connolly, and, the most intriguing, Lawrence Osborne’s forthcoming Philip Marlowe novel, Only to Sleep!

When the hell will we see a new book from Carol O’Connell, Carl Hiaasen, Don Winslow, James Ellroy, and Gillian Flynn! We’re so out of the loop now that we no longer see publisher’s catalogs. We’re lost, just like all of you.

Support Small Businesses!

If you don’t, they’ll go away…