from Lithub‘s CRIME READS
A merry rundown of crime fiction set during the holiday season.
by Paul French
JB would like to say how delightful it was to have Elaine W. wander into where he works. She was a long-time customer at SMB, really more of a family member. She’d been with us so long it is impossible to say how long. It was wonderful to see her!
The 2019 Shamus Awards were announced at the beginning of November at the annual Blouchercon, this year held in Dallas. Here are the lists of those nominated in four categories, with the winners in bright, bloody red. Congratulations to all!
Likewise, here are the 2019 Anthony Awards, nominees and winners, also announced at Bouchercon.
Part 1: ‘Men without faces’ led teen girls down ‘primrose path to hell’ in 1950s Portland prostitution scandal, Part 2: Revenge of Portland’s ‘blonde babe’: Teen prostitute told all about reform-school lesbians during 1959 vice scandal
miser (n): From the 1540s, “miserable person, wretch,” from Latin miser (adj.) “unhappy, wretched, pitiable, in distress,” a word for which “no acceptable Proto-Indo-Eeuropean pedigree has been found” [de Vaan]. The oldest English sense now is obsolete; the main modern meaning of “money-hoarding person” (“one who in wealth conducts himself as one afflicted with poverty” – Century Dictionary) is recorded by 1560s, from the presumed unhappiness of such people. The older sense is preserved in miserable, misery, etc. Besides general wretchedness, the Latin word connoted also “intense erotic love” (compare slang got it bad “deeply infatuated”) and hence was a favorite word of Catullus. In Greek a miser was kyminopristes, literally “a cumin seed splitter.” In Modern Greek, he might be called hekentabelones, literally “one who has sixty needles.” The German word, filz, literally “felt,” preserves the image of the felt slippers which the miser often wore in caricatures. Lettish mantrausis “miser” is literally “money-raker.”
In 2018, Otto Penzler (owner of The Mysterious Bookshop in NYC, publisher of the late, lamented Mysterious Press, and publisher of various presses still working) put his personal collection up for auction. See the photo below, and commence drooling.
He now has a memoir about his years of collecting, Mysterious Obsession: Memoirs of a Compulsive Collector. At this link, you can read more about Otto and the collection. At the far end of the lower floor, you can see a desk. On it, at the far corner by the window, you can see a Maltese Falcon statuette. ON the floor, leaning against the desk is what we assume to be the original art for the dust jacket of James Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia – published by Mysterious Press.
Oh to have had an afternoon to wander the shelves, look at the spines, and to possibly hold some of these books, the finest copies of legendary crime and mystery novels.
The Rise of E-Books:The Last Decade Has Been Tumultuous For The Publishing Industry
December 4: Warren C. Easley, Third Place/LFP, 7pm
December 7: Tamara Berry in conversation with M.J. Beaufrand, University Books, 3pm
polysemous (adj) 1884, from Medieval Latin polysemus, from Greek polysemos “of many sides” etymonline
polysemy (n) a condition in which a single word, phrase, or concept has more than one meaning or connotation. dictionary.com
November 4: The World’s Oldest Recipes Decoded
November 9: Leonardo da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks
November 10: Sesame Street at 50: Five defining moments
November 14: Rembrandt theft foiled at Dulwich Picture Gallery
November 15: ‘One in a million’ three-antler deer spotted in US
November 18: Police break up archeological crime gang in Italy
November 18: The Secret Life of Plants as Murder Weapons
November 23: Egypt animal mummies showcased at Saqqara near Cairo
From what we remember, the story on Chatham’s Clark City Press was such that if he chose to publish an author, they got to pick which of Chatham’s paintings that would grace the cover of the trade paperback. And then they got that painting as a gift. The one we remember was the only novel by noted PNW poet Richard Hugo (he memorialized in the name The Hugo House) which was the outstanding mystery, Death and the Good Life. The current edition of the book has a different cover but I remember when we had this one in the shop. It was lovely. ~ JB
November 15: Inventor of the famed ‘Sourtoe Cocktail’ dies
November 22: Gahan Wilson, Vividly Macabre Cartoonist, Dies at 89
November 22: Jane Galloway Heitz dies aged 78
Last week on Finder of Lost Things…Marshmallows and music distract Phoebe from realizing something important is happening in Nevermore….
Gail Carriger – Reticence
Weddings and funerals.
The two events which bring together friends, family, and tangentially attached relations together in one place then ply them with alcohol. What could go wrong? Add in werewolves, vampires, were-lioness, intelligencers, and inventors you’ve got the makings of a smashing party or a brawl.
However, Reticence actually starts with a job interview and the hiring of a new doctor for the Spotted Custard. Then we segue seamlessly into a wedding.
It makes sense when you read it.
For one to fully understand and appreciate Reticence, you need to have read the other three Custard Protocol books – plus the Parasol Protectorate & Finishing School series. As many, many of the main players from each of these other series pop up in this installment.
It’s what happens at weddings, everyone turns up to wine, dine, and dance to the happy couple.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Perhaps it felt a hair rushed at the end – however – Carriger does a beautiful job of winding up the series in an elegant and humorous way. Leaving herself just enough wiggle room, should the whim seize her, she could continue to write of Rue and her crew’s adventures. Or start an entirely new series set in the same universe.
Either way, Reticence won’t leave you disappointed. I know I wasn’t.
(And if you haven’t started reading Ms. Carriger’s books, you should! They are lovely, full of whimsy, tea cakes, supernatural creatures, the occasionally soulless, complicated inventors, steampunk, politics, and hats.)
November was kinda sucky for me. Let’s just say that I need two new knees, and our beloved but aged cat died.
I tend to read David Eddings when I’m down, but I found a “Death on Demand” book by Carolyn Hart I hadn’t read: Walking on my Grave (Berkley). It was the perfect read.
Okay, so I figured out who did it early on, and the big twist wasn’t really a surprise. But you know how it is when you visit old friends; sometimes you just need time in their company, listening to the old stories. Walking on my Grave reminded me of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, in the very best ways.
Granted, I still didn’t get the paintings at the end right, and I love that she always surprises me there. I’ll be Amber would have gotten them, though.
Oh, and be sure to read the chap-books at the end!
Shop dream: the shop was small, cramped, and we were running around looking for the Xmas books. Oddly, none of the usual ones were on the shelves. Authors’ books were missing those titles. Behind a bunch of movable displays, I saw that there was an alcove with a bunch of tables. The books on those tables badly needed to be returned. They were old and had dust on the jackets (so they were doing their jobs!). Again, Amber was in the dream but not Fran. I really don’t understand why Fran isn’t in the dreams but the last couple have had the need to do returns, which probably goes back to trying to keep the place afloat.
Fran here – Yeah, why is that? I could help return books (after I snag the ones I want to keep, that is!)
Fran and I have had an on-going discussion about the cosmology in John Connolly‘s Charlie Parker series. Certainly, there’s a great deal of spirituality. There are figures of good and figures of great evil. There are actual spirits or should they be called ghosts? There are beings that are more – or worse – than human, whose lives are longer than those of normal humans. The figures of evil lay out their schemes and keep track of Parker. It is pretty clear that by now they’re afraid of him. Is it because he’s dangerous, or because he’s a figure of “good” who seems indestructible? There are “bad” gods, something unseen but referred to as The Buried God. Does that mean there’s a corollary Good God? I’m not a fan or a believer in organized religion but there’s a battle going on in these books between the destroyers and those who are out to stop them. I’m not ready to say that Parker, as well as Louis and Angel, are avenging angels in the classic, halo-wearing sense, but they certainly scare the shit out of the bad guys. And that is a great thing.
A Book of Bones is the 17th novel in the series. Fran and I would urge you to read them if you like lyrical prose and characters who are not all black or white. There’s lots of blood, sure, but gentle humor between friends as well as ribald laughs springing from the oddities of the human race. These are not books for the squeamish, but for readers who appreciate a challenge. If you do start the series, read them in order. That’s the best way to see the story lines unfold. If you do, you’re lucky, for you have a long line of books to consume. For us who have been following the series all these years, we have to endure the wait for next year’s book and pray it is a Parker book, not something else. Lord have mercy if we have to wait two years. Especially now, as this latest book’s very last sentence is a twist you can’t see coming. It’s a game changer. Can’t wait to see where John takes us next!
Movie Review: The Irishman
I admit that I had high hopes for the new Scorsese movie. The cast would be stellar, the story interesting and, after all, it’d be a Scorsese mobster movie. The cast was great – Pacino as Hoffa was outstanding, Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino had a stunning stillness, Harvey Keitel appeared in a few scenes with a quiet menace, and De Niro was, well, DeNiro (I’ve always been a fan but just seems to be doing the same thing film after film – his expressions never change). But I must say it was a let down. It fizzled to it’s end and all you could say was “huh”. It is no Goodfellas.
Don’t judge a book by its cover. This cover is wrong. Don’t recall any trees in the entire story. This cover says “spooky”, even haunted”. Maybe so. But the spook is a good guy.
“Evidently unsettled, too, by Reacher’s gaze, which was steady, and calm, and slightly amused, but also undeniably predatory, and even a little unhinged.”
Things are the usual with this book. Even normal. Except when they’re not. Reacher gets off a bus. He helps an old guy. He’s drawn into trouble. He gives better than he gets. Bad guys go down. There are some differences.
First, this reads like an homage to Red Harvest. Two rival gangs rule a town. They’re set against one another. Second, Reacher gathers a little team with whom he does his damage. Third, he talks about knowing someday he won’t win. Says he knows he’s old but not that old. Lastly, he asks the woman to leave town with him.
Blue Moon – the title is as nonsensical as the cover art – but ignore it. This is one of the best Reachers in years. Good, hard, mean fun. It even touches on current issues. An easy triple. Maybe even an in-the-park homer.
But you should look up the meaning of “gamine”.
Shop dream: it was near the end of the month and I suddenly realized that the newsletter hadn’t been proofed, it wasn’t in the format for the printer and there was little time to get it done before it had to be mailed out… Did it have to do with needing to finish up this edition of the newzine as we near the end of November? WHO KNOWS!
myrmidon (n): One of a warlike people of ancient Thessaly, legendarily ruled by Achilles and accompanying him to Troy, c. 1400, from Latin Myrmidones (plural), from Greek Myrmidones, Thessalian tribe led by Achilles to the Trojan War, fabled to have been ants changed into men, and often derived from Greek myrmex “ant” (from Proto-Indo-European *morwi– (see Formica (2)), but Watkins does not connect them and Klein’s sources suggest a connection to Greek mormos “dread, terror.” Transferred sense of “faithful unquestioning follower,” often with a suggestion of unscrupulousness, is from c. 1600. (thanks to etymonline)
From The Crime Hub – Some of the Best Legal Thriller Writers
Home on the Range ~ Craig Johnson – ‘Land of Wolves’ author moseys between stacks at the ranch
One Neat Trick to Writing Great Mystery Plots (in which Charles Finch raves about Tana French)
Calliope : 1. the Greek Muse of heroic poetry 2. a keyboard musical instrument resembling an organ and consisting of a series of whistles sounded by steam or compressed air
With a name literally meaning “beautiful-voiced” (from kallos, meaning “beauty,” and ops, meaning “voice”), Calliope was the most prominent of the Muses—the nine sister goddesses who in Greek mythology presided over poetry, song, and the arts and sciences. She is represented in art as holding an epic poem in one hand and a trumpet in the other. The musical instrument invented and patented in the 1850s, played by forcing steam or compressed air through a series of whistles, was named after the goddess. Because its sound could be heard for miles around, the calliope was effective in luring patrons to river showboats, circuses, and carnivals, which is why the instrument continues its association with such attractions today.
(Thanks to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary for the definition)
ABC’s Stumptown is the scuzzy private-eye show we need right now (it’s also ‘set’ in Portland)
November 1: Ann Cleeves, UBooks at University Temple United Methodist, 7pm
November 6: Curt Colbert (with Jake Rossiter!), Third Place/LFP, 6pm
Noveber 13: Warren C. Easley, Powell’s 7pm
November 13: Clyde Ford, Third Place/LFP, 7pm
November 15: Daniel H. Wilson (and the Andromeda Strain), Powell’s, 7:30pm
November 16: Clyde Ford, Village Books, 4pm
November 16: Rick E. George, Village Books, 7pm
November 23: Ace Atkins (with Spenser), Third Place/LFP, 6pm
Triskaidekaphobia: fear of the number 13
It’s impossible to say just how or when the number thirteen got its bad reputation. There are a number of theories, of course. Some say it comes from the Last Supper because Jesus was betrayed afterwards by one among the thirteen present. Others trace the source of the superstition back to ancient Hindu beliefs or Norse mythology. But if written references are any indication, the phenomenon isn’t all that old (at least, not among English speakers). Known mention of fear of thirteen in print dates back only to the late 1800s. By circa 1911, however, it was prevalent enough to merit a name, which was formed by attaching the Greek word for “thirteen”—treiskaideka (dropping that first “e”)—to phobia (“fear of”).
(Thanks to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary for the definition)
September 26: Sold ~ Charles Dickens’s Liquor Log
October 1: Japan’s last pagers beep for the final time
October 3: How Mary Roberts Rinehart, Queen of the Mystery Novel, Was Very Nearly Murdered (And don’t miss Amber’s write up further along!)
October 5: Playing Catch a Killer With a Room Full of Sleuths – At a forensic conference in California, law enforcement officials grappled with how to avoid destroying one of the field’s biggest innovations in decades.
October 6: The peculiar bathroom habits of Westerners
October 12: How to protect your books with medieval curses
October 16: The art of doing makeup on a dead body
October 21: Why Do We Rewatch Our Favorite Films?
October 24: Roy DeCarava’s photos of jazz greats
Scaramouch: 1. a stock character in the Italian commedia dell’arte that burlesques the Spanish don and is characterized by boastfulness and cowardliness 2: a cowardly buffoon
In the commedia dell’arte, Scaramouch was a stock character who was constantly being cudgeled by Harlequin, which may explain why his name is based on an Italian word meaning “skirmish,” or “a minor fight.” The character was made popular in England during the late 1600s by the clever acting of Tiberio Fiurelli. During that time, the name “Scaramouch” also gained notoriety as a derogatory word for “a cowardly buffoon” or “rascal.”
Today not many people use the word (which can also be spelled “scaramouche”), but you will encounter it while listening to Queen’s ubiquitous rock song “Bohemian Rhapsody,” in the lyric “I see a little silhouetto of a man / Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the fandango?”
(Thanks to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary for the definition)
October 7: Rip Taylor Was In On The Joke
October 13: Hitchhiker’s actor Stephen Moore dies aged 81
October 28: Robert Evans, Chinatown producer, dies at 89
Today on Finder of Lost Things...Beatrice stuns Little Ben with a compliment of sorts, Phoebe gives him some much needed advice all before dinner arrives at their table!
Miss Pinkerton – Mary Roberts Rinehart
When you start this mystery, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
One, Miss Pinkerton reads differently than most modern mysteries. Due in large part to the had-I-but-known writing device, Rinehart is credited with founding. Meaning? Sprinkled here and then in the narrative are tantalizing hints of what’s to come — placed there by Rinehart to keep her readers turning the page late into the night.
By today’s standards, this method of storytelling is considered old fashioned. But it makes sense as most of Rinehart’s work was initially serialized in magazines, so she used this style of foreshadowing to hook her readers into buying the next edition of said publication. Initially, until I read enough to understand her style, it felt very staccato. But now that you’ve been forewarned, this shouldn’t be a problem for you!
(I didn’t find out any of this background information until after I finished the book – because I don’t read introductions until I finish said story, due to the shocking number I’ve read which contained inadvertent spoilers for veteran readers.)
Second, Rinehart not only was a novelist but a trained nurse as well. This hands-on experience allows Rinehart to infuse nurse Hilda Adams with some real depth, allowing our amateur detective to rise above her cookie-cutter counterparts in other mysteries of a similar vintage.
Not unlike Agatha Christie’s Superintendent Battle, who uses his police uniform to dupe the unsuspecting into thinking him dull and slightly stupid. Miss Adams uses her crisp white uniform to fade seamlessly into the background of a household to become a police detective’s ‘man on the inside’ and help solve a murder or two.
Third, similar to Georgette Heyer mysteries, Rinehart adds several different types of love/romantic entanglements to her story. Each fitting well into the narrative, they add extra layers to the story and the characters.
This touch of romance didn’t bother me in the least as Rinehart wove it into the text seamlessly. However, I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so I’m letting you know. (BTW – it isn’t sappy and provides motive – so if you’re on the fence never fear it only adds layers.)
Overall I enjoyed reading this book.
In fact, the byplay between Miss Adams and her police counterpart intrigued me enough I’m going to hunt down the rest of the Miss Pinkerton mysteries! Because I’d really like to know where Miss Adams’ story started and where it ends since Rinehart provided just enough hints to make me want to find out.
I know, I know, you’re going to say, “Oh look, Fran’s touting a book by William Kent Krueger. So what? She always does.” It’s true. I do.
But wait, hear me out! STOP SCROLLING, DARN IT!
Desolation Mountain (Atria) is somewhat different from the rest of the Cork O’Connor books, and in an intriguing – if dark – way. Now I’ll grant you, I’ve spent several years poking around the North Country with Cork and his family, so in the first chapter I knew who the two people talking were even before I read the names. And what’s exciting about Desolation Mountain is it taps into something Kent is really good at: coming-of-age stories.
Go re-read Ordinary Grace and tell me I’m wrong.
Stephen is really growing up, and I can see him eventually taking Cork’s place as an investigator, even though that’s not his path. But in addition to becoming a Mide, Stephen has a powerful need to know, to understand. And he has to learn who he is first, hence the coming-of-age bit. Granted, he’s 20 now, but sometimes I still think he’s 6. It’s been a delight watching Stephen grow up under William Kent Krueger’s skillful hands, and he’s becoming a powerful character on his own, which is fantastic.
But the other seriously cool aspect to Desolation Mountain is that Kent brought in a character from his stand-alone book, The Devil’s Bed. Bo Thorsen is involved in the same investigation as Cork and Stephen, but he’s not necessarily their ally. It makes for some off-the-charts tension.
So yeah, I’m pushing a book by William Kent Krueger, and it’s not a surprise, but the book itself, Desolation Mountain, really is! And if you haven’t read any others and pick this one up to start with, like my wife did, you’re gonna want to go back to the beginning and start with Iron Lake.
Note from the real crime world – I’ve been reading a lot of police reports in my job, and I can now definitively say that every crime, every last one, is made infinitely worse when you read, “The suspect was wearing a clown suit.”
Blowout came from an interesting question.
Rachel Maddow wondered why Putin would risk messing with the 2016 US election. In hindsight, we know they did and, to some point, it was worth it – but it clearly wouldn’t have been a sure bet. Had Clinton won, the full weight of the US government would’ve been pointed at Russia in retribution. So why the risk? It is an interesting question.
“The meek may inherit the earth, but the bold could certainly screw it up in the interim.”
And that’s where the book goes. Along with way, she provides a succinct and entertaining history of the oil industry and the birth of fracking. She overlays it with the growth of Exxon/Mobil, the corporate rise of Tillerson, the political rise of Putin, the growth of Russia’s kleptocractic state, and the economic pit Putin drilled for himself and his country.
And the center of it all is Ukraine. The Ukraine of Crimea, and Manafort, and the crippling sanctions affixed by the Obama administration due to Russia’s interference in Ukraine and its elections, and their military incursions. Ukraine remains in the center of things, now thanks to Drumpf and his quid pro quo, Giuliani and his buddies, and, of course, Putin’s schemes. Power, money, oil, natural gas, and more power.
“Putin and his techno-warriors figured out what differences and disagreements and prejudices were corroding the health and cohesion of American society. They found the most ragged faults and fissures in our democracy: immigration, race, religion, economic injustice, mass shootings. Then they poured infectious waste into them.” Putin just hack America. She adroitly shows he fracked us.
It’s a book with a broad topic but written with confidence and comedy – that which makes no sense is not spared her wit and scorn. What is or was farce is clearly shown to be. You hear her voice in her words as clearly as if she was sitting at your side reading it to you.
Blowout is a gusher of info and a barrel of fun. It is also a serious work.
A while ago, I wrote a couple of posts about a trip to San Francisco and taking the Dashiell Hammett Walking Tour. It took me a couple of weeks but I hunted down a copy of Don Herron’s out-of-print book about it. It is great fun. It provides an entertaining and informative biography of Hammett as the tour proceeds around the city, telling you what he did when he lived at this address or that address, why this building or that building is mentioned in The Maltese Falcon and what the support of that conclusion is (the late PI and crime writer Joe Gores plays a hefty part in the opinions), and includes photos and maps of the routes. If you find a copy, and it is the 30th Anniversary edition with forwards by Hammett’s daughter Jo and by crime writer Charles Willeford, snag it.
Lastly ~ My Latest Seattle Mystery Bookshop Dream!
Bill Farley and I were some kind of contractors, doing painting in someone home (certainly affected by my current work in a hardware store). We walked into the bookshop – which was in a dingy area of town but not on Cherry St, I don’t think, the street was level – and it was clear it had just moved into this smaller space. Empty bookshelves were stacked to the left side of the door in front of a big window. There were also some that were jammed with books – I think it was the beginning of the alphabet. There were shelves lining the walls and Amber was busy loading books into them. There weren’t very many people in the shop at that moment but more began to come in. I stepped behind the register to ring someone up and there was suddenly a long line of people plus a cranky old woman who wanted to ask question NOW. Then the space was much smaller and it was hard to move around the shelves that cluttered the space. and the jam of customers.
Once again, Fran wasn’t in the dream. Not sure what that means…
But it was nice to spend time with Bill again!
The following is a guest review Brenda Winter Hansen, someone JB now has the great pleasure to work with. Her bona fides are listed after her review, should you require them, otherwise take JB’s word that she’d have fit in at SMB easily but would’ve needed more salty chips – and salsa – than we normally kept on hand…
In A Trick of Light, three very different misfits who have suffered significant losses deal with the hand fate has dealt them. Desperation and determination lead each of them down different and often intersecting paths until they weave themselves into a clever satisfying narrative that reminds us how often love, loss, and rebirth are tightly bound within the stories of all our lives.
Nia is a teenager who has been kept away from the real world her whole life by a loving (yet intensely controlling) father with the best of intentions. Raised in a virtual reality world, she is a true digital native and hungers for the real world and visceral connections with real people more than anything. Cameron is the young adult son of a computer genius who disappeared in a freak storm on the lake when Cameron was very young. Cameron tempts fate by sailing into the recurring freak storm and is struck by lightning which changes his life and mind forever. Cameron’s best friend Juaquo hasn’t been the same since his mom died from cancer. He tries to keep up the façade of normal life but he’s coming apart at the seams.
This character-driven origin story set in a near-future near-apocalypse world, does a great job of keeping the characters realistic. Their authentic actions and dialogue drive the plot forward in a believable, if not always elegant, manner. But what about young adulthood is elegant? The authors reflect an astute awareness of the emotional inner life of teens and how their attempts to build relationships sometimes end up alienating them. When they do connect, their darker and often destructive emotions rise to the top to fight against the injustices of their world. A healthy dose of creepy cool and gruesome elements pepper this novel without being over the top disgusting or gratuitous. There is plenty action and intrigue that kept me page turning until the end.
Some readers might find the plot a bit drawn out, but believability of the characters made up for it beautifully. The relationship building between Nia and Cameron is well done; from their awkward moments and visceral yearning, to conflicts and resolutions. It’s Juaquo who needs more attention in this story. I found myself wanting additional back story so the brotherly bond between Cameron and Juaquo would feel more believable. I wondered if the authors considers splitting the narrative one more time so the reader has Juaquo’s perspective as well. Without him as a third narrator, Juaquo’s presence feels a bit more like a plot prop when it could have been a pivotal role in the formation of this powerful trio and an even more powerful ending.
The digital world is a constant feature in the landscape of this novel, and there is even an out loud reference to the seminal Ready Player One. With cinematic storytelling, one can easily envision the conflation of virtual and real worlds. A Trick of Light bears the influence of The Matrix (but not overly so) and I can easily imagine (and hope to see) this as a movie. The complications of dealing with social media as a teen in the 21st century is tangled among a narrative that questions reality. What is real? Who is real? In the end you are left to wonder if feelings are the realest thing we have since they seem to be what define us the most. Without feelings, who are we?
Viewpoint: Was CIA ‘too white’ to spot 9/11 clues? [see Words of the Month]
The Long Read: On 15 September 1981, 10-year-old Ursula Herrmann headed home by bike from her cousin’s house. She never arrived. So began one of Germany’s most notorious postwar criminal cases, which remains contentious to this day.
homophily: “This is a common phenomenon in recruiting… people tend to hire people who think (and often look) like themselves.”
David Strathairn Joins Guillermo Del Toro’s Nightmare Alley (JB says if you’ve never seen the original, with Tyrone Power, you should. It’s a great film noir, even though it isn’t really a mystery!)
William Kent Krueger, Oct. 4, 7pm, Powell’s
Dylan Meconis, Oct. 11, 7pm, Third Place/Ravenna ~ “cartoonist, writer, and illustrator who created the graphic novels Family Man, Bite Me!, and Outfoxed, which was nominated for a Will Eisner Comic Industry Award”, AND she’s the daughter of Charlie Meconis, one of our long-time customers, friend of the shop, Tigers’ fan, and all-around hip fellow!
Clyde Ford, Oct. 15, 7pm, Elliot Bay Books
Curt Colbert, Oct. 20, 3pm, Elliot Bay Books
Benjamin Percy, Oct. 28, 7pm. Elliot Bay Books
Martin Limón, Oct. 30, 7pm, Third Place/LFP
misleared (adj.): Scottish, from 1560, ill-mannered, Ill-bred. (thanks to Says You!)
September 3: Banksy artwork stolen from central Paris
September 3: BBC’s secret World War Two activities revealed
September 5: How a Hitler bust was found under French Senate
September 5: Loch Ness Monster may be a giant eel, say scientists
September 8: Lt. Joe Kenda of “Homicide Hunter”: “I never pulled the trigger because I never had to”. Legendary homicide detective on the end of his hit show and how he solved all those crimes without killing anyone
September 11: Message in bottle saves family stranded on waterfall
September 12: The Distinctly American Ethos of the Grifter
September 14: CIA unveils Cold War spy-pigeon missions
September 19: Why Some People Become Lifelong Readers
September 19: Black panther found prowling roofs in French town
September 23: Scotland’s secret WW2 fuel depot
September 23: The Mysterious Origins of the Uncrackable Video Game
September 24: 8 HELPFUL READATHON HACKS
September 24: The monster of all US conspiracy theories
Coulrophobia: abnormal fear of clowns
A New Word added to Merriam-Webster Dictionary in September 2019! Their comment: “Although Hollywood releases and dictionary updates are not coordinated, even for publicity purposes, this entry hits your screens within weeks of the premieres of both It Chapter Two and Joker.”
September 6: Marita Lorenz, the spy who loved Fidel Castro died
September 23: A great personality and competitor! Amber will miss watching him cook very much. Chefs Remember Carl Ruiz
Last Week on Finder Of Lost Things….We found out the details of Tiffany Grindle’s disappearance and subsequent discovery by The Grumpiest Park Ranger.
Next Week…We find out if the police (and the paper’s police blotter) have figured out who Phoebe and Dourwood were two of the four pirates running around Nevermore…
Vendetta In Death – J.D. Robb
“NO MATTER YOUR RACE, CREED, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, OR POLITICAL AFFILIATION, WE PROTECT AND SERVE, BECAUSE YOU COULD GET DEAD.” The sign in Lieutenant Eve Dallas’s bullpen should also include a phrase, ” …OR CHARACTER, WE PROTECT…” Because once again Dallas, Roarke, Peabody, Feeney, and McNabb must stand for victims that are far from innocent.
Vendetta In Death takes the Me Too movement and deftly combines it with an unstable personality which ends up creating a vigilante. A serial killer bent on cleansing New York of the men who perpetrate crimes against women. Rather than making sure they face actual justice our vigilante, calling herself Lady Justice, bestows her own in a very public fashion. Now it’s up to Dallas and her team to find the killer before she strikes again.
This is a fast fun read. Perhaps not as dense as some of the installments in the In Death Series, it is still satisfying. Even better, it furthers the storylines of a couple of the regular cast members, which is always fun to read.
(Robb also dispenses with the boilerplate introductions of her characters in this book! Which I must say moved the book along better and for us, long-time readers it was a fantastic improvement to the story!)
Wonton Terror – Vivien Chien
Have I told you how much I enjoy reading this series?
Chien’s culinary-themed mystery should be the way every mystery of this genera should be written. I’m not joking. Chien works her food theme into the mystery flawlessly where it is both ever-present but NEVER detracts from the mystery itself.
That is some serious skill.
Our heroine Lana Lee is flawed, fearless, and fun. She’s also slowly learning what it means to be an amateur detective: stepping on toes, accidentally offending people, getting repeatedly told to stay out of things, donning a disguise, and deducing. All while managing her family’s noddle shop and balancing the twin insanity of her new hostess and her family!
In Wonton of Terror Lana runs into some old family friends who, as it turns out, have some serious problems. When their food truck blows up, killing one of the owners, Lana finds she isn’t short on suspects or motives!
I would suggest this book/series to anyone who enjoys a good cozy read every now and again. Don’t let the foodie cover fool you this book is all about the mystery!
We all know how damaging lies can be, right?
So, what if telling a lie was illegal? Any lie? Think about it for a moment.
That’s the premise of Ben H. Winters’ latest bit of speculative fiction, Golden State (Mulholland), and it makes for some fascinating and disturbing reading, which is only made more relatable due to Mr. Winters’ incredible talent.
Something has happened outside the Golden State, and whatever it is was Unknown and Unknowable, but the fine folks of the Golden State have sealed themselves off from everyone else. Within their society, everything rumbles along as usual. If you steal the petty cash and it’s discovered, the cops will come haul you away where you’ll stand trial, and the punishments are pretty much what you’d expect.
But if you lie about it, in public much less in a court of law, well then things become exponentially worse for you. Your petty crime has just been superseded by the felony you just committed. Because telling a lie is the absolute worst thing you can do.
Ah, but how will anyone know if you lie? How does anyone really know? In this fairly dystopian setting, the Unknown and Unknowable Event has left some people with the ability to see lies. To hear them. To notice a shiver in the air, a bending of the atmosphere, and they know. These people are trained to be members of the Speculative Service, an elite force that takes very seriously their charge to determine if an untruth has deliberately been uttered.
Not that you could get away with it anyway, since everything is being recorded at all times. And I do mean everything. If you have nothing to hide, you don’t need privacy. All the logs will simply go into storage, where they’ll be kept forever. Right?
Lazlo Ratesic is a veteran agent for the Speculative Service. He’s been guardian of the Objectively So for decades now, and he’s used to doing it alone so when he’s saddled with a rookie, he’s understandably grumpy. But she’s smart and has a greater talent for discerning the truth than he does, and if that isn’t annoying enough, she’s intense and thorough. He can’t wait to shove her off onto someone else.
Golden State is classic noir with a speculative twist. It’s compelling, it’s thought-provoking, and it’s very, very human. Lazlo Ratesic has faint echoes of Ben Winters’ other protagonist whom I adore, Hank Palace, but he’s completely his own person. Imagine an odd but powerful mash-up of The Maltese Falcon and Fahrenheit 451, if you can.
It’s hard to believe that the man who wrote Golden State also wrote fabulous children’s books, but there you go. Didn’t I say Ben H. Winters is talented?
It’s April in Absaroka County. Walt’s been back a month and his wounds have not yet healed. Not only are his physical wounds bothering him, his psychological ones worry him and everyone around him. He’s chagrined to find out he has “minders”.
“It is difficult to confront madness, because insanity is a stranger to reason and any reasonable response would be insane.” Henry’s approach to the world is sometimes difficult for Walt – and us – to follow. But the questions of reason are real in Land of Wolves because Walt has been surrounded by wolves for so long. Some have been circling him. Some, like one in his book, appear to be watching him. And then there is Walt’s unease that he himself has become a predator. He tells Vic he feels “disconnected”. I think he’s always feared that he would, or had, become a wolf. “‘So, what is it I’m so damned terrified of, Doc?’ ‘Why Walter, I would’ve thought it was obvious.’ He smiled his sad, worldly smile. ‘Yourself.'”
By the end of the book, he’s come to understand that he’s a shepherd, one who guards against the wolves. He needn’t have worried.
Entwined in this search for a human wolf, Craig Johnson plays with his cast to lift the dark questions Walt keeps under his hat. They worry about Walt but also gig him about his condition. And due to Walt’s lackadaisical approach to signing what Ruby puts on his desk, he now has a computer on that desk. It’s a source of great amusement. “An entirely new screen appeared, and I could see an abbreviated version of my email response boxed in the left-hand corner. I shouted to the outer office. ‘It worked!’ Ruby’s voice came back in response. ‘We’re all so proud of you, Walter.'”
In tone, the book reminded me of Another Man’s Moccasins. While the over-all story is a search for a killer, it’s the under-story that captures your attention.
And pay attention to Craig’s acknowledgements. That’s the true beginning of this tale of wolves.
One last thought ~ as if I needed another reason to stop by the Red Pony for a Ranier, it ends up that Henry has “A Night in Tunisia” by the Jazz Messengers on the jukebox. ‘Nuff said!
And while we’re on the subject of predators, I finally got to a book I’d picked up months ago. I’d heard the sad story of Michelle McNamara, how she’d spent so long investigating the wolf she tagged the Golden State Killer, started writing I’ll Be Gone in the Dark but died before she finished the book and, even more frustrating, before he killer was arrested.
McNamara was a wonderful writer. She was able to make analogies that give the book color and convey a sense of the dread felt by people of the time and places. One of the most effective was writing about a scene from The Creature from the Black Lagoon where the woman swims while the creature moves along below her, unseen until the end of one claw brushes against her foot. That captures the evil that roamed California in the form of the GKS and the many other names hung on this fiend during his different phases, leaving people uneasy knowing that this evil was out there, just below their calm, suburban surface. And his disturbing ability to move through houses and neighborhoods – and, seemingly, time – brought echoes of the Manson family creepy-crawling homes while people slept.
I have to admit that the structure of the book was bothersome. It hops around in time and that makes it difficult to follow the monster’s path. But the book fit in well with my current immersion in true crime. I inhaled it.
Amber’s Review: So here’s the thing, I’ve never read a Craig Rice mystery, well other than Home Sweet Homicide. So in preparation for writing this review, I did some research on Rice and her writing style.
This is where things got interesting.
Well more interesting, as her book was entirely engrossing.
At first blush Home Sweet Homicide doesn’t appear to be a typical Craig Rice novel. Her primary detectives are three kids, ages 14, 12 and 10. There isn’t a drop of alcohol anywhere to in the pages which, according to my reference books, is unusual. As Rice’s detectives typically spend an inordinate time throwing the sauce back. In addition, the kids work loosely with the police, which her hard-boiled detectives rarely consider a worthwhile option.
Digging further into her other mysteries, I began to glimpse Rice’s genius for the absurd and her flair for recycling old tropes into fresh plot devices.
Need an example of her absurd literary recycling? When short of the necessary pocket change, our junior detectives in Home Sweet Homicide would hit up the owner of the soda fountain for a malt on credit. Then pay off their debt when they managed to get two nickels to rub together. Archie, Dinah, and April were also not above hustling an unsuspecting mark to obtain a free malt or two or three.
This complicated relationship with the soda fountain, its owner and malts – bears all the hallmarks of Rice’s most famous detective of John J. Malone. Who favors whiskey over malts and Angel’s City Hall Bar over the dimestore on the corner.
And it works!
Another intriguing facet of this work is Archie, Dinah and April’s mother Marian Carstairs.
Marian Carstairs is considered by most an imperfect self-portrait of Craig Rice herself. Both were at one point crime reporters, freelance writers, and mystery novelists – who published under several nom de plumes. Even more telling? Their writing style. Both women simply rolled a blank sheet of paper into their typewriters and started typing. Neither woman constructed outlines, character lists, the major plot points, or even the solution until they punched it out. They just sat down at the typewriter and typed until they reached the end!
(btw- I’d be lost without an outline.)
This mystery was witty, smart, and fun to read.
I would recommend this zany mystery to anyone who could enjoy a plot which at one point or another – rests of a band of grubby boys, a mother’s day present and an impromptu dance party.
P.S. – The picture, above my review, is of a Rue Morgue edition I bought at the shop years ago and is unfortunately out of print now.
But never fear! Otto Penzler has reissued this great mystery in his American Mystery Classic series. So you click on the green cover above the postscript to go to Otto’s site and grab yourself a copy of this great book!
P.P.S. – Don’t forget to check out this week’s edition of Finder of Lost Things – Penny In The Air!
Both Wood and Orin come clean about the shenanigans they both pulled on Phoebe this evening!