RIP ~ a World-Class Bookman

John Dunning, author, rare bookseller, force of nature dead at 81

Though he’d published other novels before Booked to Die, it cemented his fame and reputation in the world of mysteries, biblio-mysteries, and publishing. When it was published in 1992, if the term
“hyper-modern collectable” had been used or not, it applied to this book. Shop founder Bill Farley ordered just two copies from the publisher – not strange as it was a hardcover from an unfamiliar author – and he took two probably and simply because it was a mystery book about books, and biblio-mysteries have a special niche in our world. But before Bill could order more copies the book had vanished from all sources. And as an instant collectable, the race was on to find a copy of this immediately rare book with it’s escalating price.

Each book in the Janeway series dealt with a different aspect of the world of book collecting.

Booked to Die concerned libraries of collectable books. It provided a good view of why books became collectable and the rampant insanity inherent in collecting – and collectors. (we know whereof we speak…)

The Bookman’s Wake (1995) dealt with fine, small presses, the sort that survive by subscription. In this instance, it focused on a 1969 Poe book from a fine press in Northbend, WA. Lucky for us, the setting for most of the action guaranteed he’d come to town for a signing!

The Bookman’s Promise (2004) centered on the provenance of a specific book – who really owned it and how to prove it.

The Sign of the Book (2005) saw Janeway looking into the murder of a book collector and the question of the authenticity of an author’s signature.

The Bookwoman’s Last Fling (2006) is, alas, the final Janeway novel. He’s asked to value a collection of juvenilia – collectable children’s books. He notices that some highly valuable books have been replaced by cheap editions while others haven’t. The story combines John’s love of books with his love of horseracing. He was a man of great interests and great knowledge.

If memory serves, he was working on another Janeway when he was operated on for a brain tumor. The results were that he never recovered the ability to write and never finished the book. Janeway travels the streets, alone now, searching for the next adventure, the next great find.

Vaya con dios to both of them. Our best to Helen the bookwoman he left to dust the shelves.

June 2023

Words of the Month

cachinnation (n.): “loud laughter,” 1620s, from Latin cachinnationem (nominative cachinnatio) “violent laughter, excessive laughter,” noun of action from past-participle stem of cachinnare “to laugh immoderately or loudly,” of imitative origin. Compare Sanskrit kakhati “laughs,” Greek kakhazein “to laugh loudly,” Old High German kachazzen, English cackle, Armenian xaxanc‘. [Perhaps this is a way to understand what Chandler meant when he wrote in “The Simple Art of Mureder”: In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption. It may be pure tragedy, if it is high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony, but it may be the raucous laughter of the strongman.]

The Robot Did It ~ The biggest twist in the new mystery story “written” by artificial intelligence? It’s pretty good!

Man Uses AI to Write 97 Terrible Books, Sells $2,000 Worth

Nerding Out at New York’s Antiquarian Book Fair

It’s Okay to Like Good Art by Bad People

What is this summer’s big mystery book?

Flea Market Cons and Other Slippery Shenanigans 

Midway as Menace: On Carnivals, Characters, and the Fear of the Other

With Their Knowledge Combined, Two Scholars Are Deciphering a Long-Lost Native Language

It is long past time to retire the pernicious, anti-historical, dumb search for who “really” wrote Shakespeare’s plays.

*Historian and mystery novelist is first woman to head Archives

*A stolen purse, a thriller writer and a particular set of skills

Live and Let Drive! MI6 spooks are looking for James Bond-loving cabbies to drive cars, minibuses and lorries for the secret service

Man returns overdue library book nearly 100 years after it was checked out

Why a Small-Town Record Store in Rural Pennsylvania Was My First Library

Only in Florida: couple steals rare books, vintage comics, AND endangered tortoises.

Words of the Month

giggle (v.): c. 1500, probably imitative. As a noun from 1570s.

AI Is Tearing Wikipedia Apart

More people are getting away with murder. Unsolved killings reach a record high

Chinese hackers will ‘probably’ breach protected government networks within 5 years, leaked document says

Computer system used to hunt fugitives is still down 10 weeks after hack

Ransomware Gang Hijacks College’s Emergency Broadcast System to Threaten Students

Dallas disrupted by hackers – courts closed, police and fire sites offline

Europol is worried criminals may exploit the powers of ChatGPT. Here’s why

The Last Honest Man: Frank Church and the fight to restrain US power

The Terrifying Secret Weapon The CIA Created To Assassinate World Leaders

MLK’s famous criticism of Malcolm X was a ‘fraud,’ author finds

Criminals are using AI in terrifying ways — and it’s only going to get worse

Abortion Clinics See Triple-Digit Spikes in Stalking, Burglaries, Bomb Threats & Arson

CIA chief announces new steps to address sexual assault, harassment allegations

Your DNA Can Now Be Pulled from Thin Air. Privacy Experts Are Worried.

FBI misused surveillance tool on Jan. 6 suspects, BLM arrestees and others

The Tortured Bond of Alice Sebold and the Man Wrongfully Convicted of Her Rape

He Freed an Innocent Man From Prison. It Ruined His Life

The NAACP says Florida isn’t safe for Black people. Unfortunately, they’re right

Russia calls for Lindsey Graham’s assassination after controversial comments about ‘dying Russians’ (after his comments were edited by the Russians to sound terrible)

AI Deepfakes of True-Crime Victims Are a Waking Nightmare

Words of the Month

groan (v): Old English granian “to utter a deep, low-toned breath expressive of grief or pain; to murmur; to lament,” from Proto-Germanic *grain- (source also of Old Norse grenja “to howl”), of imitative origin, or related to grin (v.). Meaning “complain” is from early 13th C., especially in Middle English phrase grutchen and gronen. As an expression of disapproval, by 1799.

Inside The Battle For North Dakota’s Bookshelves

A Tiny Blog Took on Big Surveillance in China—and Won

Idaho Library Reverses Book Ban After Breaking Open Meetings Law

‘Publishing these books is a risk’: Taiwan’s booksellers stand up for democracy

Illinois set to become first state to end book bans

Hayley Kiyoko Says Cops Warned Her Not to Include Drag Queens in Her Nashville Show

The book battle is escalating, with library funds on the line

So, What Are Agents Seeing in the Era of Book Bans?

Asked to Delete References to Racism From Her Book, an Author Refused

Oklahoma Guv Defends Cutting PBS for ‘Indoctrinating’ Kids

DeSantis calls it a ‘hoax,’ but Florida’s obsession with sanitizing books is real — and scary | Opinion

Lawsuit filed against Twitter, Saudi Arabia; claims acts of transnational repression committed

Are you a doctor who hates treating gay people? Come to Florida, where Ron DeSantis has legalised bigotry

PEN, Random House and parents file lawsuit after rightwing groups seek to ban books that address racism or sexual identity

School librarians face a new penalty in the banned-book wars: Prison

Book bans soared in the ’70s, too. The Supreme Court stepped in.

Book Banners Take Over Idaho Library Board After Disgraceful Campaign

Salman Rushdie warns free expression under threat in rare public address after attack

Hong Kong leader says public libraries must ensure books don’t violate laws

Hong Kong neck-and-neck with Florida in bookbanning competition.

China’s comedy crackdown sparks fears of Cultural Revolution 2.0

Author resigns from PEN America board amid row over Russian writers panel

Target becomes latest company to suffer backlash for LGBTQ+ support, pulls some Pride month clothing

Georgia School District Book Removal Violated Civil Rights

Glasgow Subway Ad Censored for Featuring Michelangelo’s ‘David’

An analysis of book challenges from across the nation shows the majority were filed by just 11 people

In 1933, Helen Keller Wrote a Letter to Book-Burning Nazis About the Power of Ideas

Maryland families sue school district over LGBTQ book policy

China Removes 1.4 Million Posts and 67,000 Accounts in Latest Social Media Purge

Texas Legislature moves to regulate school library content

Words of the Month

cackle (v.): early 13c., imitative of the noise of a hen (see cachinnation); perhaps partly based on Middle Dutch kake “jaw,” with frequentative suffix -el (3). As “to laugh,” 1712. From 1856 as “a short laugh.”

Seattle Public Library to let young people nationwide borrow banned books

Hawaii’s Native language nearly vanished—this is the fight to bring it back

New Capitol Hill bookstore brings fresh perspective to familiar space

Hundreds of Oregon hate crimes go unprosecuted every year. Here’s why

Author Louise Penny on her ‘Gamache’ series and writing with Hillary Clinton

New Idaho law creates crime of ‘abortion trafficking’

*Oregon woman’s 13-year stolen car odyssey uncovers deceit, purged records and state DMV gaps

Novelist James Patterson, journalist Vicky Ward plan book on killing of Idaho college students

Police near Seattle issue warning about AI phone scammers impersonating family members

Man arrested in Seattle mail thefts that halted delivery for hundreds

Idaho college murders strain town financially as investigation expenses mount

A Seattle bookstore named after a cat balances tradition with plans for bold new chapter

Artist who falsely claimed Native American heritage sentenced to 18 months’ probation

What Makes Seattle Such a Good Setting for Thrillers?

Words of the Month

grin (v.): Old English grennian “show the teeth” (in pain or anger), common Germanic (cognates: Old Norse grenja “to howl,” grina “to grin;” Dutch grienen “to whine;” German greinen “to cry”), from PIE root *ghrei– “be open.” Sense of “bare the teeth in a broad smile” is late 15th C., perhaps via the notion of “forced or unnatural smile.”

John Wilkes Booth ‘Wanted Poster’ at auction, rarer than US Constitution

They Hired a P.I. to Find Missing Loved Ones. He Turned Them Into YouTube Content

Did F. Scott Fitzgerald think all women over 35 should be murdered?

The Taylor Swift effect: why a mystery book is rocketing up US charts – despite no one knowing anything about it

What scares master of suspense Dean Koontz? Plenty.

Koontz had the indoor pool removed and installed a custom library of his 20,000 books by other authors, many of them first editions. (Philip Cheung for The Washington Post)

Cops hoping to spot lurking mountain lion set up camera. Something menacing appeared

Connecticut ‘witches’ exonerated by Senate lawmakers

Alabama digital road sign hacked to display white supremacist messages

‘Mad and offensive’ texts shed light on the role played by minstrels in medieval society

How Arthur Conan Doyle Was Duped By Some of the Victorian World’s Most Obvious Hoaxes

Words of the Month

titter (v.): from the1610s, “giggle in a suppressed or nervous way,” probably of imitative origin. Related: Tittered; tittering. The noun is attested by 1728.

AI Spam Is Already Flooding the Internet and It Has an Obvious Tell

OSHA cites Amazon for failing to adequately aid injured workers

A Group of Amazon Drivers Just Joined One of the Biggest Unions in the US

Is Temu the Future of Buying Things? Imagine if Amazon and TikTok had a baby.

To become an Amazon Clinic patient, first you sign away some privacy | Perspective

Coroner says blunt force injury killed worker at Amazon warehouse in Indiana

Amazon pays small-town florists and funeral homes to deliver packages

Oregon cuts Amazon $1B in tax breaks for 5 new data centers

[Oregon lawmakers move to scale back tax break reforms]

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin wins contract to land NASA astronauts on moon years after heated bid process

US regulators launch investigation into worker death at Amazon warehouse

Amazon investors reject proposals on worker safety, climate impact

Words of the Month

guffaw (n.): from the 1720, Scottish, probably imitative of the sound of coarse laughter. Compare gawf (early 16th C.) “loud, noisy laugh.” The verb is from 1721.

MWA Announces the 2023 Edgar Award Winners

Author Fatimah Asghar is the first winner of the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction

Here are this year’s Pulitzer Prize winners.

Announcing the 2023-2024 Steinbeck Fellows.

International Booker prize announces first ever Bulgarian winner

Haymarket Books is launching a fellowship for writers impacted by the criminal legal system.

Haruki Murakami wins Spain’s Princess of Asturias Award for literature.

Words of the Month

chuckle (v.): from the1590s, “to laugh loudly,” frequentative of Middle English chukken “make a clucking noise” (late 14th C.), of imitative origin. Meaning shifted to “laugh in a suppressed or covert way, express inward satisfaction by subdued laughter” by 1803.

A chapter ends for this historic Asian American bookstore, but its story continues

What Will the Bookstore of the Future Look Like?

Concise Writing: How to Omit Needless Words

James Ellroy, Michael Connelly discuss ‘Widespread Panic,’ a crime novel set in 1950s L.A.

Susan Isaacs: Why It Only Took Me 45 Years to Write a Series

Chinese man builds bookstore on a mountaintop. Yes, he’s a poet.

Charles Reznikoff: The Finest Noir Poet You’ve Never Heard Of

Meet the owners of the newest bookstore in Brooklyn.

Simon & Schuster again up for sale, executives confirm

9 Books Illustrating Agatha Christie’s Enduring Presence in Our Cultural Zeitgeist

Peter Robinson, Remembered

Dennis Lehane on Boston, Busing, and the Summer of ’74 [see JB’s review below]

The State of the Crime Novel, Part 1: A Roundtable Discussion with the Edgar Nominees

The State of the Crime Novel, Part 2: A Roundtable Discussion with the Edgar Nominees

Do Great Actors Make Great Novelists?

Whodunnits With a Killer Twist

Kelly McMasters on Starting a Bookstore to Save Her Marriage

What Journalism Can Teach You About Writing Fiction

7 Fabulous Crime Novels and the Craft Lessons They Drive Home

Not even NYT bestsellers are safe from AI cover art

TikTok Users Report Reading 50% More Because of BookTok

This Black Woman Opened A Free Library In Brooklyn

Nearly 1,000 Years Old, This Text Shows the Ingenuity of Chinese Woodblock Printing

James Comey is trying to master the twist ending. This time, on purpose.

Ron DeSantis’s context-free history book vanished online. We got a copy.

True crime can be an unedifying business, so why am I drawn to writing about it?

How Should We Feel About Barnes & Noble Now?

Good news: there are more bookstores in the US this year than last.

What I Learned About Writing From Reviewing

How Screenwriting Can Help You Write Stronger Fiction

Lost story by ‘poet of the tabloid murder’ James M Cain discovered in Library of Congress

The Origin of the Red Herring and its Place in Literature

Ancient books in northern Italy frozen to salvage them from flood damage

How Not To Get Murdered At a Thriller Conference

Ivy Pochoda on Writing About Violent Women (Without Making Excuses for Them)

Vengeance Becomes Her: 5 Great Thrillers About Women Getting Revenge

Books and Murder: The Perfect Match

Words of the Month

chortle (v.): coined 1871 by Lewis Carroll in “Through the Looking Glass,” perhaps from chuckle and snort. Related: Chortled; chortling. As a noun, from 1903.

Author Events

June 8: Brenda Peterson signs Stiletto, Elliot Bay, 7pm

June 9: James Comey signs Central Park West, Third Place/Town Hall, 7:30pm

June 19: S.A. Cosby signs All the Sinners Bleed, Powell’s 7pm

Hallmark’s ‘Carrot Cake Murder: A Hannah Swensen Mystery’ Reunites Alison Sweeney, Cameron Mathison

Hollywood turned spy fiction’s most hard-boiled killer into Austin Powers [the Matt Helm books are great – JB]

Dwayne Johnson is set to reprise Maui in Disney’s live-action remake of Moana, but did you know the character is inspired by The Rock’s grandfather who was a James Bond villain opposite Sean Connery?

Elizabeth Banks On Her New “Book Club” with Canned Wine Brand Archer Roose and Her Favorite Non-Fake Reads Right Now

Neil Jordan on Marlowe, Noir, and a Los Angeles That Doesn’t Exist Anymore

Dorothy B. Hughes at the Movies

‘Vertigo’ is still the best movie ever. Or the worst movie ever. Discuss.

Creating the ‘Buddy Tragedy’ of White House Plumbers

Here’s that Murder on the Orient Express adventure game you wanted

Natalie Portman Now Finds Her Role in ‘Léon’ to Be ‘Cringe’

When ‘Homicide’ Hit Its Stride

Eddie Murphy in Talks to Star in ‘Pink Panther’ Movie

Scorsese’s eagerly awaited ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ premieres at Cannes

>Viggo Mortensen, Shia LaBeouf, Courtney Love, Al Pacino and John Travolta Board David Mamet’s JFK Thriller ‘Assassination’

5 Things The Bourne Franchise Has That James Bond Doesn’t

James Bond Thunderball risked ‘sex and sadism’ X-rating and scared Sean Connery to death

Dario Argento interview: ‘There is a fascination surrounding murder and I try to use my fantasy to explore it’

David Lynch interview: ‘Even in the so-called dark things, there’s beauty’

10 Times James Bond Almost Cast An American Actor As 007

Ian Fleming Nearly Saved The Silliest James Bond Movie

Which Elmore Leonard Adaptation Should You Stream This Weekend?

Why Chris Pine Chose Star Trek Over An L.A. Confidential Sequel

The Best New Crime Shows to Watch This Month

7 Great Espionage Films Set During WWII

White House Plumbers Tells the Whole Story of all the Really Stupid, Very Dirty Stuff That Went Down During Watergate

Words of the Month

yuck (v.): to “laugh,” 1938, yock, probably imitative.

May 6: Sam Gross Was Funny to the End

May 19: Jim Brown, NFL Legend Turned Hollywood Action Hero, Dies at 87

May 20: British novelist Martin Amis has died, according to his agent. Amis was 73

April 28: Looted Monastery Manuscripts Rediscovered During Office Renovation

May 3: Right-Wing Doctors’ Org Accidentally Leaks Massive Trove of Sensitive Documents

May 3: Maryland appeals court denies Adnan Syed request to reconsider murder ruling

May 3: European police arrest more than 100 mafia suspects in drug crackdown

May 4: Victims Say $39M Ponzi Scheme Was a Father-Son Operation

May 8: The Billion-Dollar Ponzi Scheme That Hooked Warren Buffett and the U.S. Treasury

May 10: Utah mom who wrote a children’s book about grief after her husband died is now charged with murdering him

May 10: Met Museum Will Hire Team to Investigate Looted Art

May 12: She Stole $54 Million From Her Town. Then Something Unexpected Happened. The place previously best-known as Ronald Reagan’s childhood home, site of the Petunia Festival and the Catfish Capital of Illinois, was now also the home of the largest municipal fraud in United States history.

May 16: How to raise $89 million in small donations — and make it disappear

May17: Man indicted for stealing Dorothy’s ruby slippers from Wizard of Oz

>May 17: Bobby Kennedy Pinned JFK’s Killing on the CIA: RFK Jr. Says His Dad Saw It as Revenge for President’s Moves to Rein in Agency

May 19: Whistleblower Claims FBI Had The Zodiac Killer Identified, Covered It Up

May 25: $100 Million Gone in 27 Minutes

May 26: Peruvian police seize cocaine bricks wrapped in Nazi insignia

May 26: Investigators Using AI to Help Solve Cold Case of Missing NJ Boy 

May 26: FBI Reveals Alleged Plot to Kill Queen Elizabeth During 1983 Visit

>May 27: Feds hid JFK film that could prove ‘grassy knoll’ conspiracy: lawsuit

May 27: Arby’s Sued After Manager Found Dead in Freezer

May 28: The pope and Emanuela Orlandi: Vatican back in the spotlight over mystery of missing girl

Words of the Month

laugh (v.): from the late 14th C., from Old English (Anglian) hlæhhan, earlier hliehhan, hlihhan “to laugh, laugh at; rejoice; deride,” from Proto-Germanic *klakhjan (source also of Old Norse hlæja, Danish le, Old Frisian hlakkia, Old Saxon hlahhian, Middle Dutch and Dutch lachen, Old High German hlahhan, German lachen, Gothic hlahjan), from PIE *kleg-, of imitative origin (compare Latin cachinnare “to laugh aloud,” Sanskrit kakhati “laughs,” Old Church Slavonic chochotati “laugh,” Lithuanian klagėti “to cackle,” Greek kakhazein).

Originally with a “hard” -gh- sound, as in Scottish loch; the spelling remained after the pronunciation shifted to “-f.” To laugh in one’s sleeve is to laugh inwardly so as not to be observed. “The phrase generally implies some degree of contempt, and is used rather of a state of feeling than of actual laughter” [Century Dictionary].

Deanna Raybourn — A Sinister Revenge

One of the things I love about the Veronica Speedwell Mysteries is how Raybourn seamlessly weaves natural history into her mysteries! In fact, as in A Sinister Revenge, they become critical to the plot! Imparting just enough info, should you like, you can find out more about whatever she’s spliced into the story. 

In A Sinister Revenge, we find ourselves exposed to fossils, or more specifically, one giant fossil. Said fossil is at the heart of this murder in retrospect, where the remaining members of a group of friends come back together to discover who amongst them is a murderer….whilst Veronica and Stoker are on the outs, and Tiberius tries his hand at playing peacemaker.

Honestly, this series is so much fun.

I cannot recommend these books enough. You don’t HAVE to read the first in series to read this one….so long as you recognize several books precede it. However, if you do not, you will miss much of the nuance betwixt the main characters — Veronica, Stoker, Tiberius, and Merryweather. Plus, the books are such a lark; why would you not want to start with the first? 

For the next several months, I’ll be doing something a bit different. You see, I’m re-reading all of Louise Penny’s Gamache books, and I’ve gone on about them before, but this time, I’m approaching them a little differently, so hang with me.

Then I’m reviewing either a movie or TV show that I think you should watch, and of course, I’ll tell you why.

Ready? Okay, here we go:

What brings me back to these books is not Inspector Gamache himself, although he’s an inspiration and an icon. It’s Three Pines, the hidden little Canadian village where so much takes place – and rest assured, it isn’t Cabot Cove – and where so many special and wonderful people live.

At the top of the hill Armand Gamache stopped the car and got out. He looked down at the village and his heart soared. He looked over the rooftops and imagined the good, kind, flawed people inside struggling with their lives. People were walking their dogs, raking the relentless autumn leaves, racing the gently falling snow. They were shopping at M. Beliveau’s general store and buying baguettes from Sarah’s boulangerie. Olivier stood at the Bistro doorway and shook out a tablecloth. Life was far from harried here. But neither was it still.”

It’s the sense of community that brings me back. All the people with their mixture of good and bad, selflessness and selfishness, small kindnesses and petty cruelties, all the very human parts of us call to me, and the quiet, unassuming little village seems like a refuge. You’ll love it here.

Speaking of community, have you seen the movie The Old Guard? It’s written by an author I know I’ve mentioned more than once, since he’s a fantastic author and an all-around great guy, Greg Rucka.

[JB has watched The Old Guard a number of times and was thrilled to hear a sequel is coming!]

I was 14 and just in high school when Boston erupted over forced school busing in 1974. I remember seeing pictures and news footage of outraged white people screaming and throwing things at the buses carrying black students into their world. Adults. That impression is deep. There were only a couple of black students in my high school, which as in a predominantly – if not all – white suburb. But there was no overt objection to those kids, at least that I was aware of then or now. You can bet there was silent objection. Had to be. But I just couldn’t grasp the snarling fury of those parents in Boston. It reminded me of the news coverage of 60s civil rights protests in the South. I knew nothing of South Boston. Then.

South Boston is the setting of probably my favorite series of books, Dennis Lehane‘s Patrick and Angie private eye novels. Wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve read the series a dozen times, and Darkness, Take My Hand more than that. Reread it just a couple of weeks ago, on a trip home. His new novel, Small Mercies, is set in their world, in 1974 as the busing is about to start. As made clear in his books, South Boston was a homogeneous and insular place, and folks don’t like to be told what to do, especially by cops or government – they’ll only accept orders from the Irish gangster who runs the whole shebang: Marty Butler, surely a stand-in for the actual king, Whitey Bulger.

Set against all of this anger and prejudice and mindless hatred of those people, he gives us the story of Mary Pat Fennesey, a lifelong resident who has never questioned anything she’s been told. But then her last child vanishes – she lost a son to drugs after Viet Nam – and her daughter Jules is her heart. The answers she starts to receive to her requests for help, and the fury released by the upcoming busing, cause her look long and hard at her neighborhood and herself.

Hers was childhood of bewilderment, violence, and devoid of reason. “She can’t remember that girl, but she can feel her. She can feel her bafflement and terror. At the noise and the fury. At the storm of rage that swirled around her and spun her in place until she was so fucking dizzy from it, she had to learn to walk in it without falling down for the rest of her life.” To use a phrase from Darkness, Mary Pat is a person of impact. Her actions cause ripples that alter what comes next.

Her relentless search for answers brings her into conflict with those who want the questions to stop. And then there are her friends, her family, who don’t like seeing the the truth that her answers expose. She won’t be swayed or stopped. One fist-fight – at 44, Mary Pat is still the battler everyone remembers from her childhood – leaves her looking “like she was attacked by the live trees in a fairy tale.” But you can be sure those trees don’t look so hot, either.

Lehane had just turned nine when Boston blew up over busing. It obviously left a deep impression on him. Small Mercies is a book of heartbreak and determination, both from the resistance to change and from those who dare to. It is beautifully written, of course, and provocatively challenging. It’s a proud addition to Dennis Lehane’s shelf of literature.

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Visiting Old Haunts

Downtown for a Mariners’ game, we parked “in front of the shop”, like we used to. It isn’t a bad walk to the park and you’re out of the worst of the traffic when heading home.

Granted it was late on a Saturday afternoon, but still it was all dark.

Bakeman’s looks like a fortress – more later…

The hair salon is gone –

Both it and our old space just had chairs and tables, as if used for the meetings of ghosts… No business names present, not filled with customers or workers.

Southwest corner of Second and Cherry – empty as well

But Bakeman’s – – –

Walled off, gated at the sidewalk, probably to keep the campers out and not inviting to a new tenant, and just devoid of life. Hard to believe that space used to be jammed with people, talk, clanking silverware, and the shouting of orders and desires.

~ JB

May 2023

Two Brain Networks Are Activated While Reading

New James Bond Story ‘On His Majesty’s Secret Service’ Commissioned to Celebrate King Charles’ Coronation [more 007 ahead ~ 007=’]

Watch the only remaining footage of the very first film adaptation of The Great Gatsby.

Baroque, Purple, and Beautiful: In Praise of the Long, Complicated Sentence

‘Explicitly queer and trans’: the 1580s play that inspired Shakespeare’s cross-dressing love plots

Artist Constructs Portraits of Famous Faces by Stacking Thousands of Books

Head of Russia’s ‘Fancy Bear’ Hackers Inundated With Sex Toys, FBI Memorabilia

The Great American Poet Who Was Named After a Slave Ship

The Most Creative and Unique Bookmobiles from Around the World

What we can learn from the Midwestern war against the Klan 100 years ago

>Report shows ‘astonishing’ depravity in sexual abuse of more than 600 in Baltimore’s Catholic archdiocese [if you can’t open that report, try the ones below. the story has ties to the Netflix series “The Keepers”]

>Report details ‘staggering’ church sex abuse in Maryland

>Baltimore’s Catholic Clergy Sexually Abused More Than 600 Children, AG’s Report Finds

Inside the international sting operation to catch North Korean crypto hackers

Horror in Winnipeg as another Indigenous woman’s body found in landfill: ‘It keeps happening’

The Real Scandal Behind the Pentagon Leaks

Why did the US take so long to notice the classified document leak?

Meet the Viral Sheriff Who Took on Florida Nazis

FBI arrests 2 on charges tied to Chinese outpost in New York City

The Rise of ‘Gas Station Heroin’

Water Theft Proves Lucrative in a Dangerously Dry World

They Saw the Horrific Aftermath of a Mass Shooting. Should We? [this is a brutal examination of the effects of the Sandy Hook massacre on those responsible for dealing with the crime scene. it is not an easy read but it’s important to understand the breadth of the trauma in these events that just keep happening.]

agowilt (n): a sudden, sickening and unnecessary fear (Says You!, #701)

This local author’s new novel was inspired by a real Seattle crime incident

True-crime fans seized on the Idaho killings. Their accusations derailed lives.

Seattle’s Couth Buzzard Books saved from closure, for now

Richland restaurant vandalized before drag brunch event

Car crashes into Ballard public library

Capitol Hill synagogue vandalized on eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day

Swastikas, Nazi flag on home upset neighbors in La Center

In Secret Recording, a Top City Library Official Calls Alaska Natives “Woke” and “Racists”

Sex, Lies, and LSD: The CIA’s Untold Story of Operation Midnight Climax

Original ‘Tetris’ Creators Reveal the Game’s Wild Espionage Origin Story

Jorge Luis Borges’ estate belongs to ~no one~, says attorney.

Hemingway’s letters to a ‘co-ed’ are going to auction

What’s going on with all the empty author signing pics?

The Buffalo-Bone Cane Mystery: Did It Really Belong to Wyatt Earp?

Inside Harlan Crow’s ‘Garden of Evil’ and his collection from Washington to Monet

Inside the ‘Gateway Process,’ the CIA’s Quest to Decode Consciousness and Unlock Time Travel

Are celebrity publishing imprints the new celebrity vodka?

French publisher arrested in London for “terrorist acts” in the form of *checks notes* lawful protests.

Matthew McConaughey says Woody Harrelson could be his half-brother

A Snapshot of the Many and Various Criminals Aboard the Titanic

Where Does the Cardigan-Wearing Librarian Stereotype Come From?

Murdoch Newsroom Melts Down Over Alleged Chocolate Heist

funk (n.1) “depression, ill-humor,” perhaps from earlier sense “cowering state of fear” (1743), identified in OED as originally Oxford slang, probably from Scottish and Northern English verb funk “become afraid, shrink through fear, fail through panic,” (1737), of unknown origin. Perhaps from Flemish fonck “perturbation, agitation, distress,” which is possibly related to Old French funicle “wild, mad.”

Gone With the Wind Novel Slapped With Trigger Warning

Here’s How One Angry Parent Got All Graphic Novels Pulled From a School District

Federal Judge Sends Books Dubiously Deemed ‘Pornographic’ Back to Texas Library Shelves

Ruby Bridges: how a 90s Disney movie about racism caused a culture war

‘Propaganda to infect children’s minds’: Climate misinformation textbook mailed to 8,000 US science teachers

How teachers and librarians are subverting book bans in the US

Florida removes book about Anne Frank from school libraries

In Kanye Academy, there are no Black history books

Book banning is the worst eighties throwback, says Judy Blume

As Classic Novels Get Revised for Today’s Readers, a Debate About Where to Draw the Line

Texas Officials Would Rather Close Library Than Stock Books They Don’t Like

Missouri Republicans threaten to defund public libraries in stunning move over book bans

Scholastic wanted to license her children’s book — if she cut a part about ‘racism’

“There Needs To Be Some Book Burning:” Montana Senate Debates Obscenity Bill

Anti-Book Ban Billboard Burned in Louisiana; Fundraiser, Protest Planned

Bolshoi ballet about Nureyev dropped due to ban on ‘LGBT propaganda’

Third of UK librarians asked to censor or remove books, research reveals

Idaho Library Removes Books Based on Bill That Was Vetoed

Judge OKs Restraining Order Against Reporter Probing Far-Right Arizona Sen. Wendy Rogers

Chinese Censorship Is Quietly Rewriting the Covid-19 Story

Opinion: Florida wants to bar schools from talking about menstruation. What would Judy Blume say?

Tennessee Bill Would Punish Publishers for “Obscene” Material

He Couldn’t Teach ‘Slavery Was Wrong.’ So He Quit.

ALA: Number of unique book titles challenged jumped nearly 40% in 2022

Amazon closing beloved bookstore accidentally gets phrase

tied to JFK assassination trending during Trump arraignment

After 3 years, The Riveter’s Amy Nelson still fighting Amazon and DOJ

Amazon looks to grow diamonds in bid to boost computer networks

Amazon plans to reduce stock awards for employees as of 2025

Amazon Vow to Stop Seller Squeeze Was Fake, California Says

“Amazon Doesn’t Care About Books’: How Barnes & Nobel Bounced Back

Amazon’s new fee calls into question the era of free online returns

Google and Apple Are Reportedly Miffed About All the Porn on Amazon Kindle

Lydia Davis refuses to sell her next book on Amazon

funk (n.2) “bad smell,” 1620s, probably from the verb funk in the sense “blow smoke upon; stifle with offensive vapor” (though this is not recorded until later 17th C.). It is from dialectal French funkière “to smoke,” from Old French fungier “give off smoke; fill with smoke,” from Latin fumigare “to smoke” (see fume (n.)).

Not considered to be related to obsolete funk (n.) “a spark,” mid-14c., fonke, a general Germanic word (compare Dutch vonk, Old High German funcho, German Funke. The Middle English word is probably from Low German or from an unrecorded Old English form.

In reference to a style of music felt to have a strong, earthy quality, it is attested by 1959, a back-formation from funky (q.v.).

Here is the shortlist for the 2023 Carol Shields Prize.

Here are the winners of the 2023 Windham-Campbell Prizes.

Here are the 2023 ‘5 Under 35’ honorees from The National Book Foundation.

Here are the winners of the 2023 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award

Here is the Granta 2023 Best of British Novelists list

Here is the 2023 International Booker Prize shortlist.

Author James Patterson accuses New York Times of ‘cooking’ its Best Sellers list in blistering letter to the editor they refused to publish: ‘It’s bonkers

The Unbearable Costs of Becoming a Writer

Jacqueline Winspear Considers the Art of Historical Fiction

Rare manuscript that paved way for British monarchy’s return up for auction

Five Nonfiction Books That Mix True Crime and History

Bay Area Book Festival founder to step down

Five Speculative Novels Set In Worlds Full of Books

Mystery, Magic and Misdirection: Illusionists in Crime Fiction

Student’s library book has been due since 1967. They just mailed it back with surprise

Teton Verse returns for an evening of reading, open mic poetry

Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers

5 Deliciously Dark Novels that Explore the Sinister Side of Marriage

Don Winslow on the Aeneid, Hollywood, and Reaching the End of His Career as a Novelist

“I’m Going to Pick a Fight”: Don Winslow, High Priest of Crime Fiction, Wants to Write Trump Out of the Story

The Backlist: Revisiting Ruth Rendell’s ‘Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter’ with Kate White

UK publishing industry reports record-breaking year in 2022

Curators solve mysteries of ‘poisonous’ 19th-century portrait album

Hundreds of years after the first try, we can finally read a Ptolemy text

Strange Marks Began to Appear on a 600-Year-Old Leonardo da Vinci Codex. Now, Scientists Have an Answer

Top 10 Espionage Novels Centering Women’s Stories: Kim Sherwood, the first woman to take on the mantel of writing 007, lists her favorite spy fiction.

May 2: Cory Docturow signs Red Team Blues, Powell’s, 7pm

May 8: Jeff Ayers of International Thriller Writers and Taylor Adams, author of Hairpin Bridge and No Exit, will be discussing Jeff’s latest book The Last Word, UBooks, 6pm

May 10: Dave Barry signs Swamp Story, Elliot Bay/Town Hall, 7:30

May 22: Joe Ide signs Fixit: an IQ Novel, Third Place/LFP, 7pm

May 23: M.P. Woodward & Boyd Morrison sign Dead Drop, UBooks, 6pm

The 25 most dangerous femme fatales in film noir

Out of the Past: Duplicity and Doomed Romance

Why You Should Care That Hollywood Writers Are Poised to Strike

15 Best Heist Movies Where The Thieves Get Away With The Cash [great list of great movies but the author is WRONG about some of them being successful heists – and he leaves off The Getaway!]

‘True Detective: Night Country’ Trailer: Jodie Foster Solves Bone-Chilling Alaskan Mystery

Why Christopher Nolan Should Remake One Of His Own Movies

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Killers Of The Flower Moon Is One Of Longest Movies Since Gone With The Wind

Chris Chalk, the Conflicted Heart of Perry Mason, on Stealing Scenes and Playing a Cop

The 25 best neo-noir films [what about Zodiac?]

The 20 most blood-curdling portrays of real-life killers

The Funniest Mobster Comedies Ever Shot

How to Blow Up a Pipeline‘: FBI Sends Terrorism Warning

Martin Scorsese Producing a Film Adaptation of the Mystery Novel WHAT HAPPENS AT NIGHT

Writer Neil Gaiman debuts his first music album with an Australian string quartet

Welcome to Wrexham: Second series of Welcome to Wrexham announced

It’s a licence to thrill as James Bond turns 70 – and faces a different era ~ 007 began his dazzling undercover career through the pages of Ian Fleming’s debut novel Casino Royale on April 13, 1953

Every Unmade Timothy Dalton Bond (& Why They Didn’t Happen)

How Ian Fleming Wrote Casino Royale and Changed Spy Fiction Forever

Next James Bond reboot should embrace 1950s world of Ian Fleming’s books – warts and all

James Bond star was real-life secret agent who lived double life, family claim after his death

funky (adj.) 1784, “old, musty,” in reference to cheeses, then “repulsive,” from funk (n.2) + -y (2). It began to develop an approving sense in jazz slang c. 1900, probably on the notion of “earthy, strong, deeply felt.” Funky also was used early 20th C. by white [racist] writers in reference to body odor allegedly peculiar to blacks. The word reached wider popularity c. 1954 (it was defined in “Time” magazine, Nov. 8, 1954) and in the 1960s acquired a broad slang sense of “fine, stylish, excellent.”

April 1: Sharon Acker, Actress in ‘Point Blank’ and ‘Perry Mason,’ Dies at 87

April 7: Billy Waugh, veteran who tracked Carlos the Jackal for CIA and hunted bin Laden, dies at 93

April 9: Michael Lerner, Actor in ‘Barton Fink,’ ‘Harlem Nights’ and ‘Eight Men Out,’ Dies at 81

April 10: Al Jaffee, Trailblazing ‘Mad’ Magazine Cartoonist, Dies at 102

April 11: Man suspected of being Stakeknife, Britain’s top spy in IRA, dies

April 12: Anne Perry, Crime Writer With Her Own Dark Tale, Dies at 84

April 20: Michael Denneny, a dean of gay publishing, dies at 80

April 3: Small Town Horror Story: Roberta Elder, The Black Woman Serial Killer

April 3: Texas Man Used AirTag to Track and Kill Suspected Truck Thief

*April 3: A Brief History of the Mug Shot

*April 4: History’s most famous mug shots: Trump doesn’t join the lineup

April 5: $250 million up in flames: The infamous crime that scarred California’s Wine Country

April 6: The Demise of Genesis Market, Which Sold Stolen Identities, Continues the Dark Web’s Losing Streak

April 6: How a note linked a burned body in Missouri to a 32-year-old Kansas City disappearance

April 6: Punk rock fan uncovers six-year scam that sold $1.6 million worth of counterfeit vinyl records to collectors

April 8: Who Killed This Millionaire Ex-Playboy Bunny?

April 8: Two moms drove their adopted children off a cliff. And everyone started asking the wrong questions.

April 10: Jascha Heifetz in the Case of the Violinist and the Fanatical Doorman

April 11: Here’s How Cadaver Dogs Are Trained To Find Dead Bodies

April 11: Sheriff Tried to Double Her Salary With Money Meant for Hiring New Staff

April 11: The Case of the Fake Sherlock ~Richard Walter was hailed as a genius criminal profiler. How did he get away with his fraud for so long?

April 14: Unresolved Questions About Boston Marathon Bombing Suspects

April 15: Son of ‘Sally Daz’ sentenced for 2018 execution of mobster dad in McDonald’s drive-thru

April 16: Man who once modeled for romance novels gets prison in Jan. 6 attack

April 17: FBI arrests guardsman who applied for job on

April 19: Swiss bank accused of impeding hunt for accounts linked to Nazis

April 20: Iowa teens plead guilty to beating Spanish teacher to death over grade

April 20: Crooks’ Mistaken Bet on Encrypted Phones

April 20: Feds Charge Another in Welfare Scheme Tied to Brett Favre

April 21: El Chapo’s sons fed enemies to tigers and used chiles for torture: DOJ

April 21: Third Suspect Arrested for Threats Against Anti-Hate Florida Sheriff

April 23: This ‘Disney Dad’ Pastor Is Now FBI’s Most Wanted

April 26: LA Prosecutors Charge Man With Falsely Claiming To Be A Doctor For Years. They’re Asking Patients To Come Forward

April 27: A fisherman went missing in 1998. Now his remains at Lake Mead have been identified

April 27: Thai woman accused of murdering 12 friends in cyanide poisonings

April 29: Andy Warhol portrait of OJ Simpson to be auctioned in New York

April 29: What’s white, fluffy and has 10,000 legs?

flunk (v.): 1823, American English college slang, original meaning “to back out, give up, fail,” of obscure origin, traditionally said to be an alteration of British university slang funk “to be frightened, shrink from” (see funk (n.1)). Meaning “cause to fail, give a failing mark to” is from 1843. Related: Flunked; flunking.

Last Seen Wearing — Hillary Waugh

Originally published in 1952, Last Seen Wearing is one of the first police procedurals that gave readers a realistic portrayal of both the police people and the methods they employ to clear cases. Which, in this instance, is the disappearance of college freshman Lowell Mitchell. 

Waugh, a pioneer of the police procedural subgenera, follows the case from start to finish — showing there are no shortcuts when solving a case. Unlike Holmes’s specialized knowledge or the leaps Poirot’s little grey cells make — Police Chief Frank Ford relies on his thirty-three years of experience as a cop and the leg work of his men to run down every lead, blind alley, and dead-end so they leave no stone unturned in their search for Lowell Mitchell, a girl who doesn’t seem to have an enemy in the world. 

Unique at the time, Waugh shows all the ephemeral leads Ford’s men run to ground, the tedious leg work done to verify every piece of information, and the politics that inevitably creep into the case thanks to the pressure exerted by the press, family, and district attorney who’ve all got a stake in getting the crime solved…by yesterday preferably.

All these small and large details helped create a slow burning plot, which turns into a raging inferno by the time you reach the last page. Seriously, I couldn’t put it down as Chief Frank Ford, right-hand man Burt Cameron, and his officers closed in on their suspect.

Another interesting tidbit about this particular mystery is that it’s loosely based on the actual real-life disappearance of Paula Jean Welden. Who, on December 1, 1946, decided to hike the Long Trail (as it’s called) a few miles away from her college in Vermont. Unable to persuade anyone to go with her, she set out alone. Several people met her on and during her journey, however, none saw her leaving. When she didn’t turn up by the next morning, as her roommate thought she was studying elsewhere on campus that night, the search was on. 

Paula, or more gruesomely her body, was never found.

In an odd twist of events, Paula wasn’t the first to go missing in this area. One year earlier, Middie Rivers, a local man familiar with the area and an experienced outdoorsman, disappeared without a trace whilst hunting with four other people. Exactly three years later, on December 1, 1949, a military veteran went missing whilst traveling by bus through the area. Ten months later, an eight-year-old boy Paul Jepson, vanished into thin air while waiting for his mother to finish feeding some pigs. It’s rumored that bloodhounds tracked him to nearly the exact spot where Paula Welden was last seen four years earlier. Sixteen days after Paul went missing, Frieda Langer disappeared while hiking with friends. Of the five people who vanished from the area over five years, Frieda’s body was the only one ever found.

And not one of the quintet of mysteries was ever solved. 

This string of people going missing from the same general location earned the area the moniker — The Bennington Triangle. 

To be clear, Last Seen Wearing only details Paula’s missing person case. Using elements of the search for her and her family life in the book, the conclusion (obviously) is Waugh’s alone. Nevertheless, it’s a mystery I’d highly recommend to anyone looking for a police procedural, which is a classic and surprisingly bloodless!

Back in the day, Amber and I speculated about the possibility that Nora Roberts farmed out her J. D. Robb series because, aside from a well-crafted mystery, you never knew what you were gonna get. Cozy? Noir? Humorous? It didn’t matter because it was going to be good, but man, you just never knew. 

Of course we were wrong, and she writes it all. Have you heard about her writing schedule? It’s her job, and she treats it like a day job, writing in the morning at a set time, breaks for lunch, then writes until 5:00 or so, then quits for the day. Now THAT is discipline! So of course she’s prolific. 

And it explains why, every time you pick up a J. D. Robb title, you don’t know what flavor it’s going to be. For her own sanity, she’s gotta mix it up. All you know is that it’s going to be good, and you’re going to get to spend time with characters you know and love. 

Amber noted last month that this book, the 55th in the series (!), might need a trigger warning because it deals with graphic and brutal topics, namely the sex trafficking of children. You may think that Nora Roberts writes sweet romantic stuff, and she does, but do not ever doubt that she can hit hard and be brutal as well. As J. D. Robb, she gives it a futuristic twist, but that’s window dressing. The heart of the story is always solid. 

What gives Desperation in Death the nuances it has, and part of the impact, comes from being a long-time fan of the series. Without spoilers, knowing Eve Dallas’s background informs and influences the storyline in ways that only a skilled writer can bring to a tale. 

So take a deep breath, brace yourself, and jump into an action packed murder mystery, filled with all the feelings you get when you read a really good story, and take a deep breath, because if you’re a fan of the series, you’ll know what I mean when I say Jenkinson’s tie is yet again a real topic of discussion. 

I won’t have it finished when this needs to post but I’m confident that what I think now of the book will carry through to the last page.

Timothy Egan is a local writer of note. His Pulitzer-winning reporting has been featured in the NYTimes, and we stocked his book Breaking Blue at the shop. That’s an account of a notorious Depression-era crime in Eastern Washington.

His latest is A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan’s Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman Who Stopped Them. It’s an astonishingly brilliant and rich account of the rise of the Klan in Northern states and it’s leaders’ heartless moves to grow their craven ideals. I’m old enough to have witnessed the Civil Rights movement firsthand through the TV tube of my suburban home. I knew of an earlier White Power movement, though that of the South. His book is a revelation.

Egan’s portrait is cleaner, clearer, and that much more damning about the race relations in our country. If you think that the weak-minded racists of today are bad, that evil is more public than ever before… well, read this book. It shows the truth that White Power has been a threat to democracy all along, and is ever present, and, if not openly walking the streets in sheets, it has never gone away.

Egan’s book is crucial, critical, and a cold-eyed look at white supremacy in middle-America.

If you appreciate what we do, please spread the word!


April 2023

People were always amazed at our ability to recognize books that they’d read but couldn’t remember. Our joke, when working with such questions, was that someone would inevitably come in and ask about a book they read 30 years ago, the cover was red and it had murder in the title and could we tell them what it was? It was amazing that with the right clues we often could figure out what the book was.

Well, case in point: Marian emailed to ask the following – “I bought a book from your store somewhere in the early 2010s that I think Fran recommended to me. It was a red paperback and it was the first book this author had written. The story was wonderful and started off with a woman who had no memory of who she was. She had written letters to herself throughout the course of the book discovered more about her identity and the identity of the person who’d removed her memory. She was in an agency within the British Parliament and essentially dealt with paranormal type topics.” She’d lent out the book and never got it back. Could we possibly tell her what it was??

Fran and Amber had the answer in no time: Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook

Another satisfied customer!! Nice job ladies!!! They still got tha magic!

And just to be clear, this was not one of our old April Fool pranks. It happened on March 21st. Really! Seriously! No joke!! Don’t believe me!?!?!? Guess we can’t blame you…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Words of the Month

fool (v.): Mid-14th C., “to be foolish, act the fool,” from fool (n.1). The transitive meaning “make a fool of” is recorded from 1590s. Sense of “beguile, cheat” is from 1640s. Also as a verb 16th C.-17th C. was foolify. Related: Fooled; fooling. Fool around is 1875 in the sense of “pass time idly,” 1970s in sense of “have sexual adventures.”

Overlooked No More: Dilys Winn, Who Brought Murder and Mystery to Manhattan

Why Bill insisted we keep politics out of author events: ‘He’s a Tyrant’: Trumpers Fume After Being Booted From DeSantis Book Event

Judy Blume asks that you stop being so weird about what your kid reads.

The Real Star of North by Northwest is Cary Grant’s Suit

When handling rare books, experts say that bare, just-cleaned hands are best. Why won’t the public believe them?

Lost in translation: 4 perfect words that have no English equivalent

$250K offered to decode ancient Roman scrolls

A new $1,500 book offers never-seen ‘Shining’ ephemera. Are you obsessed enough?

An Ancient Document Breakthrough Could Reveal Untold Secrets of the Past

In “All the Knowledge in the World,” Simon Garfield recounts the history of the encyclopedia — a tale of ambitious effort, numerous errors and lots of paper.

LeVar Burton Is Still Championing Literacy In The Right to Read

A Rare Collection of Shakespeare Folios Is on Sale for $10.5 Million

Go Inside the Emily Dickinson House, Vibrantly Restored in Amherst, Mass.

For Decades, Cartographers Have Been Hiding Covert Illustrations Inside of Switzerland’s Official Maps

Serious Stuff

Ezra Klein: This Changes Everything (AI and how the creators don’t know what is coming…fiction and term papers aren’t his worry)

Former acting Met commissioner allegedly called bulk of rape complaints ‘regretful sex’

Books by female authors studied by just 2% of GCSE pupils, finds study

Hackers steal sensitive law enforcement data in a breach of the U.S. Marshals Service

A former TikTok employee tells Congress the app is lying about Chinese spying

Sensitive Personal Data of US House and Senate Members Hacked, Offered for Sale

Roald Dahl is the last thing we should worry about on World Book Day

Inside the “Private and Confidential” Conservative Group That Promises to “Crush Liberal Dominance”

He was with Emmett Till the night he was murdered. The horror haunts him still

Mauritania’s Ancient Libraries Could be Lost tot he Expanding Desert

Secret trove offers rare look into Russian cyberwar ambitions

‘Vulkan files’ leak reveals Putin’s global and domestic cyberwarfare tactics

Words of the Month

foolocracy (n.): 1832, from fool (n.) + -ocracy (word-forming element forming nouns meaning “rule or government by,” from French -cratie or directly from Medieval Latin -cratia, from Greek -kratia “power, might; rule, sway; power over; a power, authority,” from kratos “strength,” from PIE *kre-tes– “power, strength,” suffixed form of root *kar “hard.” The connective -o- has come to be viewed as part of it. Productive in English from c. 1800.)


Culture war in the stacks: Librarians marshal against rising book bans

A partial Malcolm X quote that sparked protest is removed from a university building

A New Bill Could Legalize Kidnapping Trans Kids by Their Parents

The Right Wants to Boycott Hershey’s Because a Trans Woman Was in Its Ad

Self-Censorship on College Campuses Is Widespread and Getting Worse

Idaho College Pulls 6 Abortion-Related Artworks from Exhibit, Citing State Law

A Man Accused Of Spray-Painting “Groomer” On Libraries Has Now Been Charged With Possessing Child Sex Abuse Materials

First they came for drag storytime… Then they came for James Patterson?

Censored and then forgotten, Anatoly Kuznetsov’s Babi Yar, about the Nazi occupation of Kyiv, is again painfully relevant.

Kirk Cameron Gets Tennessee Library Director Fired

Are Literary Agents Seeing Changes in Publishing with Increased Book Bans (A Survey): Book Censorship News, March 24, 2023

The Librarians Are Not Okay

Tallahassee principal is forced to resign after parents complained that Michelangelo’s statue of David is ‘pornographic’ and shouldn’t be shown to sixth grade art history class

MO lawmakers strip library funding over book ban lawsuit

Agatha Christie Novels Stripped of Slurs, References to Ethnicity

Plot twist: Activists skirt book bans with guerrilla giveaways and pop-up libraries

Shameful: ‘Ruby Bridges’ Film Banned from School Because White Parents Feeling Some Kind of Way

Spotsylvania to remove 14 books from school libraries for explicit content

Heroic DC library staff trolls all-star conservative story hour with LGBTQ display.

Opinion A new book-ban fiasco in Florida reveals the monster DeSantis created

Words of the Month

folly (n.): Early 13th C., “mental weakness; foolish behavior or character; unwise conduct” (in Middle English including wickedness, lewdness, madness), from Old French folie “folly, madness, stupidity” (12th C.), from fol (see fool (n.)). From c. 1300 as “an example of foolishness;” sense of “costly structure considered to have shown folly in the builder” is attested from 1650s. But used much earlier, since Middle English, in place names, especially country estates, probably as a form of Old French folie in its meaning “delight.”

Local Stuff

Two WA artists plead guilty to faking Native American heritage

Duck hunter finds human remains 43 years ago in WA, officials say. DNA identifies them

72 Hours in Seattle: Where to Eat, Drink, and Visit During AWP 2023~Hot Tips From Local Writers

How police pursued Idaho slaying suspect

J.A. Jance on Creating Believable Characters

Shoreline Community College Website Hacked in Apparent Ransomware Attack

Odd Stuff

Wine vocabulary is Eurocentric. It’s time to change that.

Magic: the Gathering fans ‘heartbroken’ as $100,000 worth of cards found in Texas landfill

Man Busted With 600 Year Old Mummified “Girlfriend” [Shades of Norman Bates…]

A Murdaugh family death in 1940 was also suspicious — and eerily similar

Novelist William Kennedy bought the Albany home where Jack “Legs” Diamond was gunned down. Nearly 40 years later, he’s selling the landmark for $499,000

Neuroscience Explains Why Bill Gates’ Weird Reading Trick Is So Effective

Pssst! Wanna buy an Oscar? The mysterious case of the missing Academy Awards

My neighbor found Lincoln’s hair in his basement. I found a mystery.

Did voter fraud kill Edgar Allan Poe?

How to spot the Trump and Pope AI fakes

Words of the Month

muggins (n.): A “fool, simpleton,” 1855, of unknown origin, apparently from the surname and perhaps influenced by slang mug “dupe, fool” (1851; see mug (n.2)). It also was the name of simple card game (1855) and the word each player tried to call out before the other in the game when two cards matched. The name turns up frequently in humor magazines, “comic almanacks,” etc. in 1840s and 1850s.


Amazon Driver Says AI Is Tracking Their Every Move, Even Beard Scratching

Group of businesses unite to battle Amazon

Uh oh, trouble in Amazon-headquarters-town.

Amazon’s belt-tightening affects towns across the U.S.

Seattle court to Amazon: Time to improve safety at Kent warehouse

It Sure Seems Like Amazon Is Making a New Web Browser

Amazon’s Pricey Stock Is Getting Harder to Justify

Amazon Sellers Disguised Banned Gun Parts as Bike Handlebars

‘Three Pines’ Canceled, Author Louise Penny ‘Shocked and Upset’ Prime Video Series Won’t Return

Amazon delivery firms say racial bias skews customer reviews

Amazon Is Considering a Surprising New Acquisition

Amazon fights Oregon data center clean energy bill

Amazon flags “frequently returned” items to warn customers

Amazon consultant admits to bribing employees to help sellers

Words of the Month

mome (n.): A “buffoon, fool, stupid person,” 1550s, from Old French mome “a mask. Related Momish. The adjective introduced by “Lewis Carroll” is an unrelated nonsense word.


Here are the winners of the 2023 PEN America Literary Awards

Author receives young author award for novel about the legacy of male violence

2023 Lambda Award Shortlist Finalists Announced

The winner of The Story Prize in 2023 is Ling Ma for Bliss Montage.

Here are the finalists for the 2023 Dylan Thomas Prize.

The 2023 National Book Critics Circle Awards

Here are the 2023 Whiting Award winners.

Book Stuff

R. W. Green reflects on carrying on his beloved friend M. C. Beaton’s long-running series.

The Brave Women Who Saved the Collected Texts of Hildegard of Bingen

Mysteries Featuring Anonymous Notes As Catalysts

Rupert Holmes Can’t Read While Music Is Playing

How Barnes & Noble turned a page, expanding for the first time in years

A book collector’s memoir: Pradeep Sebastian on the joys of discovering and collecting fine books

Turns out that America’s most “recession-proof” business is . . . bookstores.

8 Books That the Authors Regretted Writing

The FBI is spying on a Chicago bookstore because it’s hosting “extremists.”

Ashes in the Aspic: Elisabeth Sanxay Holding’s Life and Short Crime Fiction

Stranger Than Fiction: Crime in the Library

>Filippo Bernardini has been accused by the government of stealing over 1,000 book manuscripts. In court filings, he said he was motivated not by money but by a love of reading.

>Manuscript Thief of 1,000 Unpublished Books Will Not Receive Prison Time

Why More Men Should Read Romance

Blurred Lines: When a Novel’s Author Is Also Its Narrator

Top 10 books about corruption

Espionage Book Recommendations From a Former CIA Spy

What Murder Mysteries Get Wrong About The Food Industry

Downtown SF’s Death Spiral Continues as Independent Bookstore Shutters

Houston’s local bookstores thrive by being more collaborative than competitive

Why Are Audiences So Captivated by Locked-Room Mysteries?

50 Years of ‘The Long Goodbye’ [the movie, the book marks 70 years this year]

Why 1973 Was the Year Sidney Lumet Took on Police Corruption

Is 1973 actually crime film’s greatest year?

New Mystery: Remembering Nebraska’s forgotten “whodunit queen”

In defense of fan fiction, and ignoring the ‘pretensions of polish’

What I Buy and Why: Bibliophile Pom Harrington on His Original Roald Dahl Book Illustration, and the Accessible Beauty of Picasso’s Prints

The Joy of the Bad Decision in Crime Fiction

Harlan Coben’s Top Tip for Book Touring: Appreciate Crowds

Literary baby names ranked from least to most cringey.

Inside the revolutionary Free Black Women’s Library in Brooklyn

The 11 Best Book Covers of March

8 Novels Featuring Artificial Intelligence

How about a Cuppa and a Good Mystery?

What’s The Difference Between Suspense and Mystery?

Author Events

April 4: Timothy Egan signs A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan’s Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman Who Stopped Them, Elliot Bay/Town Hall, 7:30

April 18: Matt Ruff signs The Destroyer of Worlds, a sequel to Lovecraft Country, Powell’s, 7pm

April 20: Don Winslow signs City of Dreams, Powell’s, 7pm

Other Forms of Entertainment

Paul Newman’s Reflection on Noir: The 25th Anniversary of Twilight

‘Devil in the White City’ Dead at Hulu (Erik Larson’s book was published in 2003!)

The Real Los Angeles History Behind ‘Perry Mason’ Season Two

Oscar Isaac will play Kurt Vonnegut in a new crime series

FX Reviving ‘Justified’ Starring Timothy Olyphant for New Limited Series

Netflix Wins Defamation Suit Over ‘Making a Murderer’

The 50 best true-crime documentaries you can stream right now

You’ve Probably Already Heard, but Monk is Coming Back

We Need More Female-Driven Revenge Movies

The 25 Greatest Revenge Movies of All Time

Wild Things: Why this steamy 1998 film is an underrated noir classic

Netflix Exposes the Pedophile Cult Leader Who Went to War With the FBI

Alex Mar and Sarah Weinman Discuss True Crime and Criminal Justice Storytelling

A Remake Of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo Is In The Works, And Robert Downey Jr. Is Involved

Three ways Robert Downey Jr’s Vertigo might not be Hollywood’s stupidest ever idea

Thriller writer Harlan Coben on his latest Netflix series with Joanna Lumley

The 18 Scruffiest Detectives in Crime Film and TV

Words of the Month

jobbard (n.): A “fool, stupid man,” mid-15th Cc., jobard, probably from French jobard (but this is not attested before 16th C.), from jobe “silly.” Earlier jobet (c. 1300).


Feb. 28: Ricou Browning, the Gill-Man in ‘Creature From the Black Lagoon,’ choreographed the final scuba-battle in ‘Thunderball’, and co-wrote the movie ‘Flipper’,Dies at 93

Mar. 1: Linda Kasabian, Former Manson Family Member Who Helped Take Down Its Leader, Dies at 73

Mar. 3: Bryant & May novelist Christopher Fowler has died aged 69

Mar. 3: Tom Sizemore, ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ ‘Heat’ and ‘Natural Born Killers’ Actor, Dies at 61

Mar. 8: Ian Falconer, creator of Olivia the precocious piglet, dies at 63

Mar. 9: Robert Blake, Combustible Star of ‘In Cold Blood’ and ‘Baretta,’ Dies at 89

Mar. 14: John Jakes, Author of the Miniseries-Spawning ‘North and South’ Trilogy, Dies at 90 (before he his the historical goldmine, he was a presence in the early crime pulps)

Mar. 17: Lance Reddick, ‘The Wire’ and ‘John Wick’ Star, Dies at 60

Mar. 17: Jim Mellen, an Original Member of the Militant Weathermen, Dies at 87

Mar. 17: Jim Gordon, rock drummer (co-writer on “Layla” who played the piano section) who later killed mother, dies at 77

Mar. 22: Gordon T. Dawson, Peckinpah Protégé and ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ Writer and Producer, Dies at 84

Mar. 29: Julie Anne Peters, Whose Young-Adult Books Caused a Stir, Dies at 71

Mar. 29: George Nassar, 86, killer who heard confession in Boston Strangler Case, is dead

Words of the Year (for Tammy, who used this all the time)

wacky (adj.): “crazy, eccentric,” 1935, variant of whacky (n.) “fool,” late 1800s British slang, probably ultimately from whack “a blow, stroke,” from the notion of being whacked on the head one too many times.

Links of Interest

Mar. 2: Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg diagnosed with terminal cancer

Mar. 2: Two U.S. Citizens Arrested for Illegally Exporting Technology to Russia

Mar. 3: Roe v. Wade Case Documents Fetch Over $600K at Auction

Mar. 3: Hiding in plain sight: Why are wanted Sicilian mafia bosses often found so close to home?

Mar. 8: The Invention of the Polygraph, and Law Enforcement’s Long Search for a ‘Lie Detector’

Mar. 17: Teen’s Body to Be Exhumed After Murdaugh Conviction

Mar. 17: 4Chan Troll Living With His Mom Arrested for Threatening Anti-Nazi Sheriff

Mar. 22: Ex-Florida Lawmaker Who Sponsored ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Pleads Guilty in Covid Fraud Case

Mar. 22: Poisons are a potent tool for murder in fiction: A toxicologist explains how some dangerous chemicals kill

Mar. 22: The SEC charges Lindsay Lohan, Jake Paul and others with illegally promoting crypto

Mar. 22: How a Team of Ambitious Crooks in 1960s Montreal Planned the Biggest Bank Heist Anyone Had Ever Seen

Mar. 27: Everybody Panic: 5 Strange and Sinister Cases of Crime and Mass Hysteria

Mar. 27: Murder in the Air? The Mysterious Death of Stunt Pilot B.H. DeLay

Mar. 27: Man falsely convicted of raping writer Alice Sebold settles lawsuit against New York

Mar. 28: Pardon Sought in 1908 Execution That Was Really a Lynching

Mar. 29: Maryland court reinstates murder conviction of ‘Serial’ subject Adnan Syed

Mar. 29: ‘To Die For’ inspiration Pamela Smart will stay in prison after losing final appeal at Supreme Court

Mar. 29: The Evolution and Art of the Big Con

Mar. 31: Oscar Pistorius denied parole over killing of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

Mar. 31: The Gangster Who Died Twice

Words of the Month

gawp (n.): A “fool, simpleton,” 1825, perhaps from gawp (v.) “to yawn, gape” (as in astonishment), which is attested from 1680s, a dialectal survival of galp (c. 1300), which is related to yelp or gape and perhaps confused with or influenced by gawk.

What We’ve Been Up To


Once upon a time, when I worked as a bookseller, the founder of our shop wrote a list of the five best mysteries (in his estimation) of all time. Rex Stout’s Fer de Lance, of course, topped the list. (Bill was a huge Nero & Archie fan — as those of you who knew him well remember.) However, at that point, I hadn’t started My 52 Weeks With Christie blog nor begun reading my way through the classics section. So, on an academic level, I found Bill’s list interesting but not one I felt compelled to read my way through.

Fast forward one decade.

Whilst perusing the shelves of my local bookstore, I chance upon a copy of The Poison Chocolates Case, and it sparked a memory. I don’t recall its exact position on it, but for whatever reason (probably the word chocolates), I recollected its inclusion in Bill’s esteemed list. 

So I picked it up.

And my oh my, do I agree with our late great founder of SMB.

Based loosely on the Detection Club, which Anthony Berkeley helped found, the story’s Crime Circle gets together regularly to discuss all things, “….connected with murder, poisons and sudden death.” (pg. 11). (Similar to the Real Murders Club from Charlaine Harris’s Aurora Teagarden mysteries and the Hallmark Movies.) In any case, believing a group of amateur sleuths/criminologists unequal to the task of finding a solution to a rapidly cooling case, which stumped Scotland Yard’s best, Chief Inspector Moresby presents the evidence and theories to the Club’s six members. 

These six members have one week to form and prove their theories before presenting them to the group — and no solution is off limits.

Berkeley does a masterful job of presenting the same case seven times, with seven VERY different solutions — each ratcheting up the tension just a little further until landing on an ending that somehow I didn’t see coming!

Another aspect of this book I enjoyed is the fact the members of the Crime Circle draw parallels with real true crime cases and their own theories. Their commentary on said cases is fascinating and contains enough detail, you can research them on your own. 

Should you be so inclined.

Now, I’ve read variations on this style of mystery before — Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie, written seven-ish years after The Poisoned Chocolates Case, pits four detectives against four murderers in order to solve a single crime. Asimov’s Black Widowers short stories (based on Asimov’s own experience with the Trap Door Spiders — an arguing/dinner society of noted sci-fi figures AND a favorite of Fran’s!) reminds me of Berkeley’s Crime Circle as well. Unfortunately, while reminiscent of Berkeley’s work and brilliant in their own right, neither Christie nor Asimov captures the same slow burn or surprise Berkeley manages to cram into this masterpiece.

Seriously, if you’re looking for an outstanding mystery, I highly suggest, just as Bill did before me, you pick yourself a copy of The Poisoned Chocolates Case — you won’t be sorry.


As I may have mentioned, I’ve been depressed lately, and it’s had an effect on my reading, in that I haven’t been doing much. 

However, JB is smart, and JB knows I love Mike Lawson’s books, and JB knows I have a crush on his character Emma in the DeMarco books, so JB sent me an inscribed copy of Alligator Alley, the 16th DeMarco book. 

Sneaky man. But he knows me because man, did it ever work!

It’s an established fact that I adore Joe DeMarco and Emma and Mahoney and the entire ensemble that Mike Lawson has created. In fact, I’m so fond of Emma that my wife is a little jealous. She told Mike, who just grinned. 

So knowing that Alligator Alley strongly featured Emma was an additional draw for me, and I dove in. Well, not entirely, because it’s set in Florida, mostly, and like DeMarco, I’m not a huge fan of gators except in a safely distanced way. But alligators don’t hold a candle to Emma, so I was sucked right in. 

Andie Moore is a young member of the DOJ’s Inspector General staff, and she’s been sent to Florida to look into a money laundering case, just do research and learn. But she’s enthusiastic, and idealistic, so she goes above and beyond. Things do not go well.

Back in DC, Henry Cantor, who ran the DOJ’s Oversight Division and who was Andie’s supervisor, turns to John Mahoney when Andie is killed, asking for a favor. Mahoney might – and often did – lie to the President about doing favors, but if Henry Cantor asked for something, Mahoney will move heaven and earth to make it happen. What Henry wants is for Mahoney’s fixer, Joe DeMarco, and the enigmatic Emma to look into Andie’s murder. 

Mahoney’s not the only one who would do anything for Henry, and DeMarco doesn’t stand a chance with Emma onboard. And so the investigation begins.

Why would they do so much for this man? Read the book. Once again, Mike Lawson has excelled at creating wonderful and memorable characters in Alligator Alley. They’re flawed and passionate and absolutely real, and I’m head over heels in love with them. 

Especially Emma. But don’t tell my wife; she already knows and doesn’t wanna talk about it. 


I truly wish Bill had been able to read Loren D. Estleman’s Black and White Ball, the 27th in his classic hardboiled series with Detroit PI Amos Walker. He enjoyed anything Estleman wrote but was especially fond of Walker and hitman Peter Macklin. In this entry in the series, we get both. In fact, it’s a story told from four views. Macklin hires Walker to guard his soon-to-be ex-wife from an anonymous threat. Sections are told from Walker’s perspective, from Macklin, and also Laurie Macklin. If that wasn’t enough, the fourth view is from the stalker. We get a full view of all the actors and get a deeper view of Walker than ever before.

We also get Estleman’s homage to Chandler’s opening to “Red Wind”: But things are the same no matter whether it’s Kokomo or Katmandu: The kindly old gentleman who runs the hobby shop has images on his computer that could get him twenty years in stir, the devoted couple celebrate their golden anniversary with a butcher knife and a .44, the kids with the paper route throws an a Baggie willed with white powder for the house on the corner. Noxious weeks grown in all kinds of soil.

It’s just a comfort to spend time with Loren D. Estleman.

Stephen Hunter returns to Earl Swagger in The Bullet Garden. As always, Hunter’s fiction is overlaid on an historical frame. It’s a fact that the Allies were hindered in their post-DDay advance due to Nazi snipers. Hunter ingeniously inserts Earl into the fight to stop their attacks. We’re treated to Earl’s efforts to understand how they’re able to shoot at will without leaving a trace of their ghastly work. From that he knows he’ll be able to track them and end their slaughter.

No one in London is sure what to the new Major Swagger, but there are elements afoot to stop him. Hunter is sly in steering you to and away from characters and events to keep you following the action. If you’re like me, you can’t glide over the meticulous details of the weaponry. I find it slows the flow but I understand that he writes for a variety of audiences.

The solution to the snipers’ methods is fascinating. Is that how it was done on the 1944 farmland the GIs called “the bullet garden’? Who cares! Swagger has a plan and it is WWII fiction at it’s best ~ Where Eagles Dare, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Von Ryan’s Express, The Eagle Has Landed, to name great books made into great movies – and it’s in that company.


And if you’re looking for a movie recommendation, if you have access to Hulu, I’d urge you to watch The Boston Strangler. Yes, it takes some liberties with people and events – as did Zodiac – but I thought it was the equal of Zodiac: moody, tense, well-rounded characters frustrated by what they face and played well by the actors, and a well-established sense of time and place.

Words of the Month

nugatory (adj.): “trifling, of no value; invalid, futile,” c. 1600, from Latin nugatorius “worthless, trifling, futile,” from nugator “jester, trifler, braggart,” from nugatus, past participle of nugari “to trifle, jest, play the fool,” from nugæ “jokes, jests, trifles,” a word of unknown origin.

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