November Guest Review!

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 9780358117605(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?

 Winter Hansen is a Seattle writer of Young Adult literature, freelance editor, and occasional guest blogger who enjoys running, reading, riding (bike/snowboard/motorcycle), and hiking. A firm believer in the healing powers of procrasti-baking and the importance of the Oxford comma, she will play Bananagrams anytime, anywhere.




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October’s Newzine

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We’d like to note that, as this is posted on October 1st, yesterday was the second anniversary of the end of business at the Seattle Mystery Bookshop. We locked the door at the end of regular business hours on September 30, 2017. Hard to believe it’s been that long while at the same time it feels as if it was yesterday. So it goes…

      Words of the Month

impeach (v.): formerly also empeach, late 14th C., empechen, “to impede, hinder, prevent;” early 15th C., “cause to be stuck, run (a ship) aground,” also “prevent (from doing something),” from Anglo-French empecher, Old French empeechier “to hinder, stop, impede; capture, trap, ensnare” (12th C., Modern French empêcher), from Late Latin impedicare “to fetter, catch, entangle,” from assimilated form of in- “into, in” (from PIE root *en “in”) + Latin pedica “a shackle, fetter,” from pes (genitive pedis) “foot” (from PIE root *ped- “foot”).In law, at first in a broad sense, “to accuse, bring charges against” from late 14th C.; more specifically, of the king or the House of Commons, “to bring formal accusation of treason or other high crime against (someone)” from mid-15th C.  The sense of “accuse a public officer of misconduct” had emerged from this by 1560s. The sense shift is perhaps via Medieval Latin confusion of impedicare with Latin impetere “attack, accuse” (see impetus), which is from the Latin verb petere “aim for, rush at” (from PIE root *pet “to rush, to fly”).The Middle English verb apechen, probably from an Anglo-French variant of the source of impeach, was used from early 14th C. in the sense “to accuse (someone), to charge (someone with an offense).” Related: Impeached; impeaching.thanks to etymonline.com

      Serious Stuff

How Hollywood star Jean Seberg was destroyed by the FBI

Any consequences? Amazon Critics Angry Over Accidental Early Release Of Margaret Atwood Novel 

Modern Life Has Made It Easier for Serial Killers to Thrive 

The Lattimer Massacre Happened More Than a Century Ago. The Sheriff’s Account of the Killing Could Have Been Written Yesterday. 

Canada: arrest of ex-head of intelligence shocks experts and alarms allies

Viewpoint: Was CIA ‘too white’ to spot 9/11 clues? [see Words of the Month]

The Last Manson Mystery: Fifty years ago, Bobby Beausoleil murdered Gary Hinman. Did he set in motion the Manson killings and the myth of Helter Skelter? 

Revealed: how the FBI targeted environmental activists in domestic terror investigations 

US soldier discussed bombing media and targeting Beto O’Rourke, FBI alleges

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.

      Words of the Month

homophily: “This is a common phenomenon in recruiting… people tend to hire people who think (and often look) like themselves.”

      Odd’s N Ends

Trump’s Tweets are Lamented by Many Who Believe Words Matter 

There’s a Thriving Online Market for DIY Gun Silencers

      Book World

Excerpt: The Novelist and the World War II Spy Brothel ~ How Graham Greene got into the espionage business  

Exclusive: John le Carré’s new novel set amid ‘lunatic’ Brexit intrigue 

The Second Sleep by Robert Harris review – a ‘genre-bending thriller’: The future Britain looks medieval in Robert Harris’s dystopian tale. But who ruined everything? 

The Loser-Spy Novelist for Our Times:Mick Herron writes about the broken spies sworn to protect today’s broken England.

Book clinic: who are the best alternatives to Agatha Christie?

Why Angry Librarians Are Going to War With Publishers Over E-Books 

When Milton met Shakespeare: poet’s notes on Bard appear to have been found 

Attica Locke’s Latest, ‘Heaven, My Home,’ Explores Race And Forgiveness 

“If Reacher Were Real, He’d Probably Be Unbearable!” Philosopher Andy Martin on the making and meaning of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher.

The Cult of Books That Lost Their Cool

Mistakes are Embarrassing the Publishing Industry

A fairy tale in Edmonds: The Neverending Bookshop is a crafty destination for fantasy lovers

      Other Means of Entertainment

Criminal on Netflix: The restrictions of film and TV confined to one location

Remake The Princess Bride? Inconceivable!

Next 007 should be a woman says Bond star Pierce Brosnan

Jeff Daniels Will Star As a Not-So-Trusty Police Chief in Showtime’s Rust 

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!)

      Author Events

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

      Words of the Month

misleared (adj.): Scottish, from 1560, ill-mannered, Ill-bred. (thanks to Says You!)

      Links of Interest

August 31: Author Sherrilyn Kenyon Drops Lawsuit Alleging Her Ex Was Poisoning Her

September 3: Banksy artwork stolen from central Paris

September 3: BBC’s secret World War Two activities revealed

September 5: These Sherlock Holmes films have gone missing. UCLA and Robert Downey Jr. are on the case

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 9: Walter Mosley Says He Quit ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ After Being Reported for Using the N-Word

September 11: Message in bottle saves family stranded on waterfall

September 12: The Distinctly American Ethos of the Grifter

September 12: Michelle Dockery interview: ‘I wouldn’t say no to playing James Bond’

September 13: A portrait was hung in the Legion of Honor for ‘Vertigo.’ No one’s seen it since.

September 14: CIA unveils Cold War spy-pigeon missions

September 16: Librarian Finds Returned Book with Entire Soft Taco Used as Bookmark

September 16: A rediscovered mysterious 18th Century document appears to give clues to a lost ancient township somewhere in a Brazilian National Park.

September 17: ‘I got the guy!’ My 17-year manhunt for a $50m art criminal

September 19: Why Some People Become Lifelong Readers

September 19: Black panther found prowling roofs in French town

September 20: Area 51: Storming of secretive Nevada base to ‘see aliens’ fails to materialize

September 22: Batman fans celebrate 80th birthday of DC Comics superhero

September 23: How the ‘Blonde Rattlesnake’ Stirred Public Fascination With Female Accomplices

September 23: Scotland’s secret WW2 fuel depot

September 23: Dexter: 8 Things In The Show That Only Make Sense If You Read The Books

September 23: The Mysterious Origins of the Uncrackable Video Game

September 24: Cimabue: Long-lost €6m artwork found in elderly woman’s kitchen

September 24: 8 HELPFUL READATHON HACKS

September 24: An art student trained her pet rat to make paintings with his feet — and it’s delightful

September 24: This Is the Full Story Behind That Explosive Confession In Steven Avery’s Case

September 24: The monster of all US conspiracy theories

September 26: A Texas Ranger got a prolific serial killer to talk. This is how

September 28: Blue Diamond Affair: The mystery of the stolen Saudi jewels

September 30: Ida Lupino, the Mother of American Independent Film, Finally Gets Her Due

      Words of the Month

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.”

      R.I.P.

September 1: Leslie H. Gelb, Who Oversaw the Pentagon Papers, Dies at Age 82

September 6: Marita Lorenz, the spy who loved Fidel Castro died

September 14: Robert McClelland, surgeon who tried to save JFK and believed there was a second shooter, dies at 89

September 20: Retired NYPD Chief of Detectives John Keenan, who led the team that found and arrested ‘Son of Sam’ serial killer, dies at 99

September 20: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ actor Aron Eisenberg dies at age 50

September 23: A great personality and competitor! Amber will miss watching him cook very much. Chefs Remember Carl Ruiz

September 24: J. Michael Mendel, ‘Simpsons’ and ‘Rick and Morty’ producer, dead at 54

      What We’ve Been Up To

   AmberFern22

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…

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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!)

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Wonton Terror – Vivien Chien

Have I told you how much I enjoy reading this series?

Seriously.

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!

   Fran

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.

9780316505413That’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?

   JB

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”.

9780525522508“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, 9780062319791I 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. 




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Another Review!

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Home Sweet Homicide – Craig Rice

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.

However.

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.

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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!

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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!

September Newzine

biggest      This ‘n’ That

From the LA Times: We have studied every mass shooting since 1966. Here’s what we’ve learned about the shooters

Michael Chabon Will Showrun Star Trek: Picard 

She fights every ‘troll, psycho and perv’ she can find – and uses the law to do it 

How to Cancel Your Amazon Prime Membership (and Why You Should): Here’s how to stop financially supporting a monopoly.

Paging Big Brother: In Amazon’s Bookstore, Orwell Gets a Rewrite

Not a murder in the story – so far as they know – but a fascinating one from National Geographic: DNA Study Deepens Mystery of Lake Full of Skeletons

Nineteen years ago, Tom Wales was shot dead as he worked at his computer in the lower floor of his Queen Anne house. This is notable for two reasons – first, he was and is the only Assistant United States Attorney to be murdered in office and, second, until Aug. 21 there had been no indictments. There’s a podcast which covers the case: somebody somewhere. The entire first season 12 episodes, covers the case.

NASA Said to be Investigating First Allegation of a Crime in Space

The Great Seattle Pot Heist

The ‘Breaking Bad’ Movie is Coming To Netflix In October and The Trailer Is Here

The Case of the Missing $7 Million Car and the Car Detective on the Hunt

       Words of the Month

jabber (v.)”talk rapidly and indistinctly,” 1650s, spelling variant of Middle English jablen (c. 1400), also javeren, jaberen, chaveren, jawin; probably ultimately echoic. Related: Jabbered; jabbering. The noun, “rapid, unintelligible talk” is 1727, from the verb. Related: Jabberment (Milton). [thanks to etymonline]

Foyles Sets Up Libraries for High-End Retirement Homes

Can Britain’s Top Bookseller Save Barnes & Noble?

JD Salinger: novels finally to be published as ebooks

Who needs bookshops anyway? Libraries Are Telling People How Much Money They Save by Not Buying Books 

The Tale of Genji: The world’s first novel? 

Why are women obsessed with true crime? Rachel Monroe has some answers

Ever Thought About Pursuing a Book Deal? Here’s How to Get Started

10 Great Books that Defy All Genres (thanks to Kat Richardson for this post)

Top Publishers Sue Audible (aka Amazon, aka SPECTRE), Alleging Encroachment On Text Territory

Why Beatrix Potter self-published Peter Rabbit

Parnassus Books Cares About Us. Does Amazon? [Thanks to Steve for passing this to us!]

Ringing the changes: how Britain’s red phone boxes are being given new life 

A California Type Foundry Is Keeping Vintage Printing Alive

      Manson: The 50th Anniversary

The Manson Family murders, and their complicated legacy, explained

How many more did Manson family kill? LAPD investigating 12 unsolved murders 

A ‘Mindhunter’ Fan Put the Charles Manson Scene Side-By-Side With an Actual 1981 Interview

      The Second Season of “Manhunter”

This one scene explains what makes Netflix’s “Mindhunter” so scary

Mothers cry out for justice as Mindhunter introduces the Atlanta Child Murders

The real Mindhunters: why ‘serial killer whisperers’ do more harm than good

Mindhunter star Holt McCallany: ‘I met Manson Family murderer Bobby Beausoleil – I’d bet my life he wouldn’t kill again’

      Words of the Month

gibberish (N) “rapid and inarticulate speech; talk in no known language,” 1550s, imitative of the sound of chatter, probably influenced by jabber. Used early 17th C. of the language of rogues and gypsies. (thanks to etymonline)

       Author Events

Sept 17 ~ Candace Robb (& Owen Archer!), 7pm, Third Place/LFP

September 17 ~ April Henry, 7pm, Powell’s/Cedar Hills

September 20 ~ Craig Johnson, 7pm, Powell’s/Cedar Hills

Sept 23 ~ J.A. Jance,  7pm, Third Place/LFP

September 23 ~ Amy Stewart, 7:30pm, Powell’s

September 27 ~ J.A. Jance, 7pm, UBooks/Mill Creek

September 28 ~ J.A. Jance, 4pm, Village Books

       Links of Interest

August 1: John Dillinger’s Relatives Say They Have ‘Evidence’ The Buried Body May Not Be His

August 1: The Fruitcake Prison Break That Reshaped Irish History

August 2: How a Group of Gamers Tracked Down a Quadruple Murder Suspect

August 2: Philadelpha Phillies Sue To Keep Beloved ‘Phanatic’ Mascot From Free Agency

August 3: Watergate Salad: A Fluffy Green Bite Of Washington, D.C.’s Past

August 3: Belfast City Cemetery: 150 years of buried stories

August 3: Concrete Carmel ‘Pueblo’ has a great view and a hidden room behind a bookcase – a steal at only $9.8 Million!

August 5: Red Sea Diving Resort: The holiday village run by spies


August 7: The Lies of the Irishman ~ Netflix and Martin Scorsese are making their biggest bets ever on the confessions of a mafia “hitman.” The guy made it all up.

August 16: The Publisher of I Heard You Paint Houses Responds to “The Lies of the Irishman”


August 7: Franz Kafka papers lost in Europe but reunited in Jerusalem

August 7: Scientists Discover Prehistoric Giant ‘Squawkzilla’ Parrot, As Big As Small Child

August 9: The Classic Novel That Is Most Often Abandoned By Readers

August 10: How death cafes are de-stigmatizing death

August 11: Interview with Martin Freeman ~ ‘The Detective’s Moral Dilemma Drew Me In’

August 12: Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard ‘done with zombies’

August 12: Pompeii archaeologists uncover ‘sorcerer’s treasure trove’

August 12: The Subversive Messages in the Wizard of Oz

August 12: A Novel Concept: Silent Book Clubs Offer Introverts A Space To Socialize

August 13: Long overdue: Five library books returned a few decades late

August 13: DREAMY CLOSET LIBRARY IDEAS TO ADD TO YOUR HOME

August 13: The Women Who Tasted Hitler’s Food

August 13: Is the bystander effect a myth?

August 14: Letter from Africa: The power of an apostrophe

August 15: Leonardo da Vinci’s abandoned and hidden artwork reveals its secrets

August 15: Self-Proclaimed “Dobby’s Freedom Keeper” Regularly Replaces House Elf Headstone

August 16: 5 HISTORICAL MYSTERIES THAT COMBINE REAL HISTORY WITH WHODUNNIT

August 16: THE ANATOMY OF THE BOOK

August 17: “Lincoln’s Spies”: Elizabeth Van Lew, southern sexism and the winning of a secret war

August 17: Sherlock Season 5: Martin Freeman updates fans on chance of new episodes

August 18: ‘Is that bum trap missing a flesh-bag?’: a guide to Australia’s convict slang

August 19: ‘Murder She Wrote’ & Me

August 20: The mystery photos of a 1957 gay wedding

August 20: “No Time to Die” ~ What the new 007 title might mean

August 20: Film props from The Shining, Star Wars, Jurassic Park and more go up for auction

August 21: The Cold War spy technology which we all use

August 22: GREAT BOOKS ABOUT TRUE CRIMES

August 22: Physicists discover hidden text in what was thought to be blank Egyptian papyri

August 24: The Russian spy who posed as a Canadian for more than 20 years

 

       R.I.P

August 6: Toni Morrison: Nobel Prize-winning author dies at 88

August 9: Comic Book Creator Ernie Colón Dies at 88

August 16: Peter Fonda, star of ‘Easy Rider’ and scion of Hollywood royalty, dies at 79

August 17: Richard Williams, ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ animator, dies at 86

August 20: We learned this day of the death of a long-time customer, Alison Moore.

Fran Here: I spoke with Alison on the phone frequently, and while it took a little learning to translate her Liverpudlian accent to American, she was an absolute delight. Because she was wheelchair-bound, and later bedridden, we shipped to her all the time.

But Alison wasn’t just an avid reader. She’d have us send books to friends of hers all across the US! Not necessarily mysteries – as you know, we would order anything in print – but always for birthdays and Christmas. It was interesting getting to know her friends. And they, in turn, would call to order gift certificates for her to use when she called to order for  herself. If was one of those sad souls who let us know she’d passed.

There were times after the shop closed when Alison would call me at home, just to see how I was holding up. And then we’d talk about how things were going with her. She never really recovered after her husband died, but she was feisty all the way. Home Health tried to insist she keep her husband’s hospital bed, but he was almost 6′ tall, and she barely hit 5′. She said she kept slipping off it. She won, of course.

We at the shop are sorry to hear of her passing, and it’s a personal loss to me. I’ll miss hearing the, “Hey, Fran, how’re ya doin’?” followed by “What’cha been readin’?” Wherever you are now, Alison, I hope there’s a HUGE library!

August 27: Richard Booth, self-styled King of Hay, who put the market town on the map by establishing it as a centre for the secondhand book trade

August 30: James R Leavelle, detective handcuffed to Lee Harvey Oswald when he was shot, dies aged 99

       Words of the Month

polysemy (n) A condition in which a single word, phrase, or concept has more than one meaning or connotation. dictionary.com

polysemous (adj) 1884, from Medieval Latin polysemus, from Greek polysemos “of many sides” etymonline

       What We’ve Been Up To

   AmberFinder

Last Friday In Finder of Lost Things the Resident’s come to Phoebe’s aid since her crew took their pirate costumes entirely to much to heart – and imbibed in too much spiced rum!

This coming Friday Phoebe, Wood, Beatrice and Laney run for their freedom across the last stretch of Nevermore – trying to stay ahead of Little Ben and security!

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Rhys Bowen – Love and Death Among the Cheetahs

Georgie is off on a surprise honeymoon safari Darcy has arranged for them… Which they can only afford because Darcy accepted an assignment from his mysterious employers. Of course, Darcy attempts to keep Georgie in the dark about the arrangement, but his new wife has solved her fair share of mysteries. So his secret isn’t a secret for very long.

Plus Georgi has her little task to complete for the Queen.

One thing I love about the Royal Spyness series is how Bowen creates a subtle sort of anxiety within the pages of her book. By sticking relatively close to historical events, Bowen establishes a sense of tension within her series – a worry which grows in each installment as we creep inevitably closer to WWII.

This worry is in no small part due to Darcy’s secret overseas work, which in the coming conflict will place him directly in harm’s way. And by extension Georgie, who is keen to prove her deductive prowess to her new husband (who wasn’t always privy to all her previous investigations).

In Love And Death Among The Cheetahs amongst the exotic animals and even wilder Happy Valley set Georgie proved her worth right away. By helping both solve a murder and uncovering a spy within their midsts!

However, it’s not Hitler whom I theorize will affect Georgie’s immediate future. But her cousin David, that dreadful American woman (as she’s known) and the King’s declining health. What will happen upon the King’s death? How will the chaos, created by David’s unwillingness to give up his American divorcee and his political leanings, effect Georgie, her family, and England?

And when he abdicates will that be the last we hear of David?

Or his disapproving mother and sending Georgie to the continent to extract her errant son from trouble? Or will the new King look to her for help?

Only time will tell.

But until the next book, I will fret over the safety and well being of Georgie’s grandfather, Queenie, Zou Zou, her erratic mother, Binky, Fig, and everyone else. Because of the aforementioned cleverness of Bowen’s storytelling, I know what’s coming. Even if Georgie and Darcy only see the hints of Hitler’s plans right now.

However, I am still very excited to see where Bowen takes her Royal Spyness series next!

Especially since Georgie finally feels secure enough to reveal the steely spine she inherited from her Great-Grandmother Queen Victoria. Showing not only Fig she’s done with her backhanded compliments, but allowed her to deftly deal with an old bully, a determined letch, and a belligerent detective. All in one book!

I would recommend Love and Death Among the Cheetahs if you are looking for a country house style mystery. Well, country house adjacent. As Love And Death Among The Cheetahs is set in Kenya, not the United Kingdom. And rather than the fox hunting, horse-loving aristocratic set routinely featured in the style of book. We meet the wanton, dissolute and libertine set of Happy Valley expats. Who enjoy sex, drugs, and safaris instead.

(BTW – Georgie is utterly shocked at their antics!)

In point of fact, I would highly recommend this entire series to anyone looking for a lighter, historically mystery series. If you don’t want to start all the way back at the beginning, never fear! So long as you’re aware you aren’t starting with the first in series, you will do just fine!

One Last Note!

My other blog My 52 Weeks With Christie – in which I kept posting my original photos to and re-blogging other Agatha Christie enthusiast pictures, TV clips and other ephemera on – reached a milestone!

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I’ve posted a total of 8,000 items and counting! Which I’m told is quite something – since it was originally only suppose to have a total of 52 posts!

   Fran

You know my fondness for Joshilyn Jackson. It’s no secret, and hasn’t been since gods in Alabama. 9780446178167She’s always remarkable, taking on some really tough topics in that genteel Southern way she has.

With her latest one, Never Have I Ever (Wm. Morrow), she takes off the gloves. Always a Southern lady, mind you, but in this new book, Joshilyn Jackson comes out swinging! It’s a much, much darker books than any of her others, and yes, I’m including Between, Georgia in that. For those of you who haven’t read it, partway through I was muttering, “Trust Joshilyn, trust Joshilyn, she’ll make it right!”

9780062855312Never Have I Ever is much darker than a body dumped in kudzu or an airport gypsy explaining that murder is the best solution.  Amy Whey’s life starts unraveling in the first chapter. Are you familiar with the game “Never Have I Ever”? It’s kind of a middle school game, like Three Truths and a Lie, that can be adapted to an adult game quite easily. Someone says, “Never have I ever (fill in the blank with something you’ve never done)” and anyone who HAS done it has to drink. Kind of embarrassing but fun, right?

It’s a blast. You should play. It’s like Never Have I Ever, but for grown-ups. We skip the coy denials and go right to confession. You start by telling everyone the worst thing you did today.”

When Roux crashes the monthly book club meeting, takes over, plies most of the women with alcohol and gets them to tell their secrets, Amy knows she could have stopped her, but she didn’t. Like watching a car crash, she just let it happen.

Sure, I’ll play,” I said quietly, to Roux alone. “The worst thing I did today was let you get this pack of harpies drunk in my house.”

However, Amy has a serious secret. One her neighbors, her friends, even her husband have no idea about. Things are about to go badly for everyone.

Make no mistake, this is still the Joshilyn Jackson we know and love, and her trademark humor is still present. There were times when I snorfled so loudly I startled the dog. But this is, at its heart, a much darker novel than we’ve seen before.

And it’s about time. Joshilyn Jackson is becoming one of the great literary voices of our time; she’s a storyteller of exceptional depth and quality. You’re going to love Never Have I Ever, even when you’re not entirely sure you can like Amy, and that juxtaposition is what will keep you eagerly turning pages.

Never Have I Ever lied to you about reading Joshilyn Jackson. You won’t be disappointed.

   JB

Aug 8th gave me another shop dream. I’d been away for some weeks for some reason and the “shop” was small, narrow place with shelves around the walls and the new release paperback table taking up most of the floor space. The table was a mess. Titles that should’ve been removed weeks ago were not only still on but had been re-ordered. Some single paperbacks were spine up between stacks of others. Duplicate copies were stacked randomly on a shelf near the door and Amber and Fran were desperately trying to get it squared away. I started trying to work out what should be removed AND returned AND sorted by publisher, but people were in the way and where was I going to be able to do all of this… It was a dream of chaos.

I’ve been weaving back and forth from this book to another for several months. Still
haven’t finished the Mueller Report, or 9th Street Women, or the second-to-last Philip Kerr. Guess I’ve been a restless reader. Something new crops up – such as the O’Neil book on the 60s – and it is easy to set down what I’m in to go to something else. But there are other reasons, too. Most of what I’ve been reading for the last few months have been thick and heavy hardcovers. For the trip to San Francisco, I wanted smaller and lighter. So I picked up a couple of mass market books I’d meant to read for, well, decades, and they were as great as I expected. Both were used paperbacks I’d brought home when the shop closed.

U8ayPh3U2P8COne was Donald Westlake’s Lemons Never Lie, one of his Grofield books published in 1971 as by Richard Stark. Grofield first appeared in one of Stark’s Parker books. I’ve read all of them and loved them but somehow never got to these. Mistake. This one is the last of the four separate books and now I’ll have to track the other three down. As with the Parker books, this one was a finely-crafted story of a professional thief with a highly developed sense of how his world should work. Unfortunately, Grofield violates his own rules a number of times and pays for his errors. But gets his justice at the end. It seems odd to talk about “honor” and “justice” with a crime novel about a thief…but that’s the world we’ve picked for our entertainment.

The other was Timothy Hallinan’s final Simeon Grist novel, The Bone Polisher. Early shop colleague Tammy had gotten me into these back in the mid-90s. I immediately loved them. Grist is an LA private eye who never got a college degree though he’s studied many different fields – this allows Hallinan to have him be erudite and literate and amusing without him coming off as pedantic. This last one I’d salted away because I’d never wanted the series “to end”. But it was time and it was a thrill.

And as to that trip to that Big Bay to the south, there are two posts about it, #1 and #2. Check them out should you be curious – – – – – – —


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San Francisco #2

Don Herron has been conducting his walking tour of Dashiell Hammett’s San Francisco for over four decades. He knows his stuff up one hill and down the next. When we scheduled our long weekend in the middle of August I knew it was a must.

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The tour begins here, at 870 Flood, where the Pinkerton Detective Agency had it’s San Francisco office. Dashiell Hammett worked there in office #314. From here he got so much of the color and characters that he then used in his stories.

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No dummies, the building pays homage to Hammett and The Black Bird in one of the large, glass cases that line the entry foyer. If you can read the writing here, it tells you that the statuette is owned by John’s Grill.

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Go straight through the foyer and you end up on Ellis Street. Turn right and there it is. Hammett ate lunch there and so did Spade.

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The above photo shows that Sam Spade Lamb Chops are still on the menu.

The walking tour took nearly 3.5 hours. It was a very warm afternoon. There was lots of shade but I still fried my nose. It was worth it.

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In the top right corner of this building, Hammett wrote Red Harvest, The Dain Curse, and The Maltese Falcon. Herron said it’s a very small apartment. When the Murphy bed is down it’d be hard to move around the room.

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[Pardon my thumb in the corner.] This is a plaque by the entrance of that white building on Post. The Maltese Falcon doesn’t specify the building in which Spade lived but there are clues in the text that lead Herron to say this is Spade’s building as well as Hammett’s.

Mystery writer Mark Coggins has a page about the apartment. It includes photos and a floor plan. Take the embedded link to the story about the guy who lived in it.

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Much of the tour relates how much of the city was destroyed in the 1906 quake and what had been rebuilt by the time of Hammett’s residency. One of the buildings that did survive is in the center of the photo (admittedly not great but one must dodge oncoming vehicles). Look to the left of the street light, and then the long, red sign, and you can see a tall, tan building that has a reddish roof that’s then topped with light green fencing. That’s the building that Herron points toward as the likely location of the Space & Archer office.

Herron explained that the tour was originally 4 hours be he cut back on the hills as he aged. Don’t know if the tour used to range as far as this building.

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The tour pointed out more than just Hammett’s world. This hotel, which has learned to take advantage of it’s Hollywood past, was where Kim Novak’s character lived in Vertigo. It was around this area that I found I was one block from Frank Bullitt’s apartment in that movie. I really wanted to run up there for a photo but it was getting late in the day, I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink for about 5 hours… can’t do it all. However, not once but twice we Ubered past the intersection where the car chase in Bullitt began. Close as I could get.IMG_0966

At this point, he corner of Pine and Hammett, turn or look left and you see a red brick building where Hammett also lived. Must have been before living on Post because of how he used this area in The Maltese Falcon. He didn’t move around as much as the Chandlers but almost. Down the way is Stockton and you can see the railings for the three stories of stairs that lead down a level.IMG_0967

And not far from this is the Stockton Tunnel. It has changed quite a lot. At the time he wrote the scene, it was mostly a vacant lot with a long dirt hill down to the next street. IMG_0968

Across Pine is this alley named Burritt Street. Above the man in the fedora (that’s Don in full regalia, trench coat and all) is another plaque. It says this: IMG_0969

The red brick across from the plaque wouldn’t have been there when Hammett knew the area, so the idea is Archer either followed Brigid here, or met her, and she let him have it. He then fell backwards and rolled down the hill to the lower level of Stockton.

You can see that Hammett used the city he knew well in the novel, the buildings and the lots, and used them well.

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Don ends the tour here, with a view of the majestic St. Francis hotel at Union Square. Hammett worked here, too. In the front, top-left set of rooms, silent film great Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and 2 friends had their roaring party in September of 1921. A young actress fell ill and died a few days later and Arbuckle was charged with rape and manslaughter. The Hearst papers turned it into a massive swamp of accusations and ugliness. Two trials resulted in hung juries; the third acquitted him. The scandal finished his career and the trials were a media circus. The Pinkertons were part of the investigative force, as was Hammett.

Wyatt Earp once stayed there, too.

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Saw this Black Bird at the Legion of Honor. It’s an eagle, not a falcon, but I couldn’t resist including it. At that museum, we ran into an unexpected delight – a Peter Paul Rubens exhibit. IMG_0945

One of the items was this pen and ink wash title page illustration Rubens created.

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Lastly, at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Popeye!

If you find yourself in San Francisco and have a Sunday afternoon to burn, Don Herron’s walking tour is well worth the time!

 

A grateful tip of the fedora to Don.

San Francisco #1

JB Here ~

I had my first real vacation in something like six years. We went to San Francisco for a long weekend, did museums and ate great food, and did two touristy things I’d wanted to do for a good, long time. This post – #1 – covers our trip to Alcatraz. The next – #2 – deals with a certain black bird…

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This is the east side of the cell block. Many things amazed me. First of all, the complex is far larger than I had imagined. Secondly, the cell block is a small part of it. The water tower was graffitied by the Native Americans who occupied the island for 19 months starting in 1969. Alcatraz is now a national park and, each time the tower needs to be repainted, relatives of those who did the original painting are invited to redo the “graffiti”. I think that’s uncommonly cool.

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Walking up to the cell block, you pass this very small building. The interior is, honestly, about the size of a small bedroom.

It is the prison’s morgue…

The interior is rudimentary and sparse and may date more to the island’s time as a fort than a prison. Still, it is dark and creepy and tiny.

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This is  your average cell. Cot would’ve been on the right. Under the sink is the air vent through which the three men dug to escape. Those cells are preserved but did I take a picture of one of them? I took a picture of this cell for a reason. Can you figure it out?

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Here’s a view looking out of a solitary confinement cell. The size is the same as others but the guards would first shut the bars and then close and lock the outer door – which is about six inches thick and without windows. Solitary and shut off from world.

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This is the exercise yard. The dirt at the end is the “baseball diamond. At the right are the large cement steps where cons could sit and stare at freedom. At left, at the base of the wall, are horse shoe pits. All the white stuff? – sea gull poop. In the distance is the Marin County headland, Sausalito, and the Golden Gate Bridge to the left over the greenery.

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This is one wall of the prison’s library. Hard to know what it looked like when full of books and shelves. All that are present are against the walls.

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Turn around in the library and you see the gate out and, across the aisle, one side of the three-tiered D block.

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I don’t recall the designation of this cell block – A or B? – but it’s where the serious cons were kept – those too dangerous to be with the other dangerous criminals. Tourists can’t get into this section but I imagine the cells size is about the same as in the other blocks. If I heard right, this is the block were the “Birdman of Alcatraz”, Robert Stroud, was housed.

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Here’s a view of the guard’s station. I like the ring of big keeps hanging up by the window.

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I liked this spin file of location and phone number by state. Reminded me of the shop’s Future File.

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From the southwest corner of The Rock, you see downtown San Francisco. The free audio tour – which I would highly recommend if you get there – mentions how hard it was on the cons to see the city so near and how they could hear the city at night. In turn, I wondered what it was like for the people in the city to constantly look away from their Paradise, across the water, and see a grim reminder of the fall from Eden, federal prison well stocked with killers, maniacs, and hardcases.

The rubble at the island’s edge shows that much of the complex is gone – light keeper’s house, warden’s house, to name a couple. Lost to the destructive and damp salt air. There are some photos around the island that let you see how it once looked. And, of course, there’s no shortage of photos on-line.

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There are many things I’d like to do in my time left on the planet. Being in prison isn’t on the list…

There was one point where a park ranger demonstrated the mechanism to open and shut the cell doors on one level on one side. I was transfixed by the sight, sure, but more so by the echoing, metallic ringing of the heavy doors sliding open and then closed. Besides being nearly deafening, it was also just so final. I was so transfixed that I never thought of taking a video of it and had to kick myself later. Ends up it wouldn’t have mattered. We can’t upload video to this blog, so I don’t get to post the little “movie” I took of The Rock as our ferry pulled away. Ah well.

As luck would have it, the night after we got home Eastwood’s Escape from Alcatraz was on TV. Filmed there in the prison, it is a very good way to see how it all looks.

Finally –

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A shot that has nothing to do with Alcatraz. This was the next night, with this section of the Bay Bridge being the only part of the structure visible through the fog. Tells you just how thick that fog can be.

Next up: The Dashiell Hammett Walking Tour

Americans assemble: Meet the Artist Capturing the superhero in all of Us

From Crosscut.com

Seattle photographer Nate Gowdy celebrates the many hues of red, white and blue.

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“In a rampart of a building at the southwest edge of Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, people from all walks of life have been dressing up as American superheroes. Some choose their red, white and blue costumes from a large cardboard box. Others bring their own props to the building, which served as an immigration center for 72 years — a way station where newcomers were detained, deported or granted citizenship.

The superheroes are a diverse league: teachers, politicians, immigrants, veterans and students donning tights, shiny gloves and star-spangled plastic shields to strike a pose for Seattle photographer Nate Gowdy.

“’It’s about being American,’ Gowdy says of The American Superhero, the ongoing, collaborative patriotic portrait project for which he is photographing people of all ages, genders, races, creeds and abilities. ‘It’s about embracing our differences, which always ends up highlighting our commonalities.'”

 

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