“In the early 1950s Avon Books created the VendAvon, a coin-operated book vending machine, found in airports, hospitals, and ferry terminals. Avon installed 210 machines, each containing 24 of the latest Avon titles, across several states.” [Second row down, far left is Paul Cain’s Seven Slayers, to the left of the Cain is Raymond Chandler’s Fingerman, and then Robert Terrall’s A Killer is Among Us, down a row and two over is Cain’s one novel, Fast One, and by the woman’s right ear is Frederick Nebel’s Six Deadly Dame, and bottom row, 3rd from the left, is Agatha Christie’s The Big Four.]
“In June 1947, Popular Science featured an early book vending machine called the Book-O-Mat which offered a selection of 50 books published by Pocket Books, any one of which could be purchased for a quarter.”
“The Penguincubator appeared in London in 1937. Conceived by Allen Lane, the founder of Penguin Books, the Penguincubator dispensed classic literature in paperback form for about the same price as a pack of cigarettes.
Sir Allen may have succeeded in changing English reading habits, but the Penguincubator had little to do with it. Specifically, it was never manufactured in sufficient quantity to make an impact on the market.”

photos and italicized quoted from flickr


Man Who Accidentally Got Paid 330x His Salary Quits, Disappears

Hip, Woke, Cool: It’s All Fodder For the Oxford Dictionary of African American English

Love the Smell of Old Books? This Bookseller Would Like You to Leave.

Drool over the personal bookplates of 18 famous writers.

The Secrets of a Long-Overlooked Cipher Linked to Catherine of Aragon

After a local bookstore was scammed out of $35K their Detroit neighbors stepped in to save it

The Crypto Revolution Wants to Reimagine Books

Oakland librarian reflects on nearly 10 years of chronicling found objects

Mystery of Australia’s ‘Somerton Man’ solved after 70 years, researcher says

Rare 1952 Mickey Mantle baseball card going up for auction

After Selling for $43 million, Rare Copy of the Constitution Goes on Display

Teens who mostly read paper books are better readers, a recent study says.

Books and bouncy houses: How the Uvalde library is helping a broken community heal

Words of the Month

nonsense (n.) “that which is lacking in sense, language or words without meaning or conveying absurd or ridiculous ideas,” 1610s, from non “not” + sense (n.); perhaps influenced by French nonsens. Since mid-20th C., non-sense, with the hyphen, has been used to distinguish the meaning “that which is not sense, that which is different from sense,” not implying absurdity.

Serious Stuff

>Police Department Used Images of Black Men Holding Guns as Target Practice

*How To Directly Impact Democracy: Book Censorship News, July 1, 2022

*Who Controls What Books You Can Read?

*Pathetic Proud Boys Ruin Another Pride Month Event for Kids at Indiana Library

*Battle Over Sex and Gender in Books Divides a Texas Town

*All the Little Things You Lose in the Culture War

*Oklahoma Threatens Librarians: ‘Don’t Use the Word Abortion’

*School District Enacts One of ‘Strictest’ Book Bans Yet After Raucous Meeting

People Are Using AI to Generate Disturbing Kids’ Bedtime Stories

An Old Waterpark Could Be Mexico’s Largest Narco Mass Grave

Six Reasons the Murder Clearance Rate Is at an All-Time Low

Two men jailed for Molotov cocktail attack on Dutch journalist’s home

>Emmett Till’s Accuser Wrote A Secret Memoir!

>Emmett Till’s Chicago Home Will Be Preserved

>MS Police Chief Boasted “Shot That N-Word 119 Times,’ According To Leaked Recording

>Co-defendant in Central Park Five case to be exonerated

A Hacker Explains How to Shoplift

Rare medical book collection tracks tangled history of women’s health

28 Incarcerated Women Allege That Guards Allowed Male Inmates to Rape Them for $1000

Local Stuff

Do you recognize this woman? Mounties renew appeal to help ID woman found dead in Richmond marina (Vancouver Sun)

Lucinda Turner, who worked to combat illicit trade in Indigenous art, has died at 63

Planes, parachutes and armed robbery: Netflix take on the master criminal who became a folk hero (D.B. Cooper documentary)

From books to weddings and memorials, Island Books has served Mercer Island for nearly 50 years

D.B. Cooper, the changing nature of hijackings and the foundation for today’s airport security

The Outsider Journalist: The Story Behind a 70 Year Old Cold Case Murder and the Push for Alaska’s Statehood

Shelf Talkers: What Booksellers Are Reading at Third Place Book

Portland’s Books With Pictures named best comic shop in the world

Words of the Month

hooey (n.)“nonsense, foolishness,” 1922, American English slang, of unknown origin.

Odd Stuff

How TikTok Became a Bestseller Machine

As Watergate simmered, Nixon buckled down on a sportswriting project

Feds Nab Woman Who Tried to Rent a Hitman on RentAHitman.Com.

Dressed to Kill: A True Crime Collection of Criminal Clothing

A Judge Pulled a Gun in the Courtroom—and Then It Got Weird

How an Unqualified Sex Worker Allegedly Infiltrated a Top Air Force Lab

Million-Dollar Wine Heist Ends With Mexican Beauty Queen Arrested in Europe

The YouTuber making millions from true crime and make-up

FBI Comes Up Empty-Handed in Search for Jimmy Hoffa in New Jersey Landfill

How a Dick Pic Helped Detectives Crack a $30M Celebrity Diamond Heist

Alabama Officials Tell Reporter Her Skirt Is Too Short to View Inmate’s Execution

The Sinaloa Cartel Is Now Selling Tesla and Prada Branded Cocaine

Eadweard Muybridge: The Eccentric English Bookseller Who Created the First ‘Motion Picture’ Was Also a Murderer

The Collected Works of the Zodiac: Was the 1960s serial killer a frustrated author, desperate for his voice to be heard?

Codebreakers Find ‘Sexts,’ Arctic Dispatches in 200-Year-Old Encrypted Newspaper Ads

Literary-themed cruises with famous writers are apparently a thing now.

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul Unveil Bronze Statues of ‘Breaking Bad’ Characters in Albuquerque

Words of the Month

twaddle (n.)“silly talk, prosy nonsense,” 1782, probably from twattle (1550s), of obscure origin.


Security News This Week: Amazon Handed Ring Videos to Cops Without Warrants

Amazon Gave Ring Doorbell Videos to US Police 11 Times Without Permission

Fake online reviews lead shoppers to overpay, new study says

Amazon wants to be your doctor now, too

Amazon’s Dangerous Ambition to Dominate Healthcare [Time Magazine, no less]

Words of the Month

guff (n.)“empty talk, nonsense,” 1888, from earlier sense of “puff of air” (1825), of imitative origin.


Mick Herron wins crime novel of the year award for Slough House

Booker prize unveils book club challenge

2022 Booker prize longlist of 13 writers aged 20 to 87 announced

These 24 debuts just made the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize longlist.

Here’s the shortlist for the first Ursula K. Le Guin Fiction Prize.

Book Stuff

Writer’s Digest Best Writing Advice Websites For Writers 2022

Iowa City Public Library eliminates fines for overdue materials

HarperCollins Union Has Voted To Strike

Sotheby’s To Bring A Most Rare Shakespeare First Folio Under The Hammer In New York On July 21

PS: Rare original copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio sells for £2m ($2.4M US)

Irish writers dropped from UK school curriculum in move to increase diversity

Daphne du Maurier: Novelist who traced past to a French debtors’ jail

The New York Public Library Opens a ‘Virtual Branch’ on Instagram and Launches a Reading Recommendation Project Using Augmented Reality Technology

‘First modern novel – oldest language’: Sanskrit translation of Don Quixote rescued from oblivion

Collecting first-edition Beatrix Potter books

The Cult Classic That Captures the Grind of Dead-End Jobs

News From Nowhere: Inside Liverpool’s iconic radical bookshop

His First Novel Was a Critical Hit. Two Decades Later, He Rewrote It.

The Great Locked Room Mystery: My Top 10 Impossible Crimes

Tess Gerritsen: ‘There’s always comfort in Sherlock Holmes’

My First Thriller: Laura Lippman

Dana Canedy, Publisher of Simon & Schuster’s Flagship Imprint, Has Left the Job

London and the Long, Dark shadow of Charles Dickens

A copyright lawsuit threatens to kill free access to Internet Archive’s library of books

This Website Makes It Easy for You to Support Local Bookstores

Writer Gets Locked Out of Novel Draft by Chinese Word Processor for Illegal Content

From Mo Hayder: The Desert Brings Danger and Mystery in This First Look at The Book of Sand

The Bookseller Who Helped Transform Oxford, Mississippi

Little Essays on Sherlock Holmes: “The Engineer’s Thumb”

Book review by Joseph Kanon: A (dubious) suicide, a (possible) mole and an enduring CIA mystery

Ian Flemings ’13 Rules for life’ notebook sells for $52,500 [“Rule 13. Live until your dead.“]

A historic lesbian-owned queer bookstore is fighting to stay open.

21 Independent Bookstores to Browse in the DC Area 

Attention ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ fans: Rare Dr. Seuss collection coming to Columbia

With Violence All Around Us, What Does It Actually Mean For a Book To Be a Crime Novel?

Artist Barbara Bloom and Writer Ben Lerner Invent a New Kind of Book

How do you organize your books? 9 authors share their favorite shelves.

Vintage Typewriters Are Taken Apart and Reassembled Into Movable Bird Sculptures

How a Book Is Made – Ink, Paper and a 200,000-Pound Printer

Milton Propper: Scion and Imitator of the Golden Age Mystery, Pioneer of the Procedural

We Need to Reckon with the Rot at the Core of Publishing

Meet the People Behind Some of Today’s Best Small Publishers Specializing in Crime Fiction

From Duluth to Decatur these bookstores are helping in the fight for reproductive justice.

The Search for the Funniest Crime Novel Ever Written

Author Events

Aug. 3: Deborah Cuyle signs Murder and Mayhem in Spokane, Auntie’s 7pm

Aug. 4: Leah Sottile signs her Idaho true crime book, When the Moon Turns to Blood, Elliot Bay Books, 7pm

Aug. 9: Mercer Island author Mark Pawlosky signs Hack, Island Books 6pm

Aug. 13: 2 OR authors sign their new cozies from Kensington ~ Angela M. Sanders and Emmeline Duncan, University Books, 2pm

Aug. 19: Beverly Hodgins signs Mercy and Madness: Dr. Mary Archard Latham’s Tragic Fall From Female Physician to Felon!, Auntie’s 7pm

Aug. 23: Patricia Briggs signs her new Mercy Thompson, University Books 6pm

Aug. 23: Peter Blecha and Brad Holden sign Lost Roadhouses of Seattle, Third Place/Ravenna 7pm

An Interesting List That Mixes Books and Film

The 50 Greatest Fictional Deaths of All Time

Other Forms of Entertainment

True crime psychologist sharing insights with Central Illinois library-goers

‘Dark Winds’ Renewed for Season 2 at AMC

+Michael Mann Plans To Turn His Heat 2 Novel Into ‘One Large Movie’

+Why Marxist Heist Masterpiece ‘Thief’ Was James Caan’s Finest Work

+Inside Tokyo Vice, the Flat-Out Coolest Show of the Year

Daredevil’s Darker Tone Called For A Different Kind Of Superhero Costume

The 25 Best True-Crime Podcasts of All Time

7 Movies Depicting a “Perfect” Murder

Girl in the Picture review – the scale of the true-crime monstrosity will leave you reeling

All Agents Defect: Espionage in the Films of David Cronenberg

‘Almost mythical’ Michael Flatley thriller Blackbird gets September release; Lord of the Dance star ‘thrilled’ self-financed film finally being released four years after premiere

The ‘Butcher of Delhi’ Was One of the Most Savage Serial Killers in History. A New Netflix Series Dives Into His Twisted Mind.

‘Noir Alley’ host celebrates cinema’s double crosses and doomed characters

Tony Sirico Used to Direct His Sopranos Castmates, Whether They Liked It or Not

Is Christopher Nolan’s ‘Insomnia’ a Successful Remake?

Two Drivers Shooting at Each Other Crash Into Chicago Set of FX’s ‘Justified: City Primeval’

8 International Podcasts To Listen to This Summer

The HBO True Crime Series That Starts With an Exoneration—Then Gets Really Interesting

Five of the Best Unexpected Crime Movies of All-Time

Your Guide to the Best Crime Shows Coming Out This Month [published at the very end of July]

Deliverance at 50: a violent battle between urban and rural America

Jonathan Banks of ‘Better Call Saul’ explains Mike’s saving grace

Words of the Month

fiddlestick (n.): 15 C., originally “the bow of a fiddle,” from fiddle (n.) and stick (n.). Meaning “nonsense” (usually fiddlesticks) is from 1620s. As an exclamation, c. 1600.


July 1: Joe Turkel, the Bartender in ‘The Shining,’ Dies at 94

July 3: Novelist and former Guardian journalist Susie Steiner dies at 51

July 7: James Caan, Macho Leading Man of Hollywood, Dies at 82 [here’s a link to what we put up on the day of his death]

July 8: Tony Sirico, ‘The Sopranos’ Actor, Dies at 79

July 8: Larry Storch, Corporal Randolph Agarn on ‘F Troop,’ Dies at 99

July 9: L.Q. Jones, ‘Wild Bunch’ Actor and Member of Peckinpah’s Posse, Dies at 94

July 11: Bond theme composer Monty Norman dies aged 94

July 12: Frederick Nolan, thriller writer and publisher who became an authority on the American old west and Billy the Kid, was 91

July 21: Taurean Blacque, Det. Neal Washington on ‘Hill Street Blues,’ Dies at 82 [let’s be careful out there!]

July 23: William Richert, Writer-Director of ‘Winter Kills,’ Dies at 79

July 24: Bob Rafelson, Director of ‘Five Easy Pieces’ and Co-Creator of ‘The Monkees,’ Dies at 89

July 25: David Warner, Convincing Big-Screen Villain in ‘Time Bandits,’ ‘TRON’ and ‘Time After Time,’ investigator in ‘The Omen’, Dies at 80

July 25: Paul Sorvino, Actor in ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘That Championship Season,’ Dies at 83

July 27: Faye Marlowe, Actress in the Film Noir Classic ‘Hangover Square,’ Dies at 95

July 27: Stone Barrington novelist Stuart Woods dies at 84

July 28: Mary Alice, Actress in ‘Fences,’ ‘Sparkle’ and The Matrix Revolutions, Dies at 85

Links of Interest

July 3: Long-Lost Alexander Hamilton Letter to Marquis de Lafayette Discovered

July 5: Top secret D-Day map of Omaha Beach goes to Library of Congress.

July 9: Where Is Pete Panto? A union leader on the Brooklyn docks disappeared 81 years ago, presumably murdered by the mob.

July 12: Bombs, blackmail and wire-taps: how I spent my childhood on the run from the FBI

July 13: Prisoners of their own device? Men accused over theft of Hotel California manuscript

July 14: Man exonerated in Malcom X murder sues New York City for $40m

July 14: Roman Polanski rape case testimony can be unsealed, prosecutor says

July 14: ExCIA Hacker Convicted for ‘One of the Most Damaging Acts of Espionage in American History’

July 15: Mexico Captures Drug Lord Rafael Caro Quintero, Portrayed on ‘Narcos: Mexico’

July 15: New Report Shows Criminals Are Mixing Crypto Streams to Conceal Revenue

July 16: Crypto Founders Say It’s Not Their Fault They’re Enabling Ponzi Schemes

July 17: Millions in jewels stolen from armored truck outside LA

July 18: FBI Warns Fake Crypto Apps Are Stealing Millions

July 18: Inside the Stringer Bell Bandit’s Bank Heist Spree

July 19: Rhino Horns, Tiger Teeth and 6 Tonnes of Ivory Seized in $18M Record Bust

July 19: Italian police thwart illegal sale of Artemisia Gentileschi painting

July 19: ‘Law & Order: Organized Crime’ Crew Member Shot & Killed On Set Of NBC Drama

July 20: A discarded coffee cup may have just helped crack this decades-old murder case

July 20: How Professor Maynard Burned Down – The criminologist on trial for serial arson.

July 20: Delia Owens, author of Where the Crawdads Sing, wanted for questioning over real-life killing

July 21: Thieves stole ‘Precious Blood’ relic. It reemerged at detective’s door.

?July 22: Rays’ Wander Franco Has $650K Worth of Jewelry Stolen from Car in Hotel Parking Lot [pardon the editorializing, but who needs that much jewelry, and who is dumb enough to leave it in a car?!?!?!]

July 22: Three Picasso artworks discovered in three months

July 22: A German Woman Turned Herself in for a Brazen Art Theft, but Claims She Lost the Painting

July 23: Woman sentenced to prison for collecting $400,000 in viral GoFundMe scam

July 25: Former GOP Congressman Made Hundreds of Thousands Off Insider Trading Scheme, Feds Say

July 25: She seemed like an elderly Sacramento landlady. Dorothea Puente was actually a serial killer.

July 25: French Authorities Detain Two Archaeologists, Including a Louvre Curator, as Part of an Ongoing International Art-Trafficking Dragnet

?July 25: NYPD: Preacher, Wife Robbed of $1M in Jewelry During Sermon [see July 22 – same questions]

July 27: KGB Photo Deepens Mystery of Texas Couple Who Stole Dead Babies’ Identities, Feds Say

July 27: Anti-Vaxxers Looking for Love Had Their Data Exposed

July 27: Third set of human remains found at Lake Mead amid drought, National Park Service says

July 28: Father of JonBenet Ramsey is pushing for new DNA testing

?July 29: Brooklyn Pastor Robbed of $1 Million in Jewelry Accused of Plundering Congregant’s $90,000 Retirement Fund [now watch – the crime reader in us wonders if he staged the robbery to collect on the insurance?]

July 29: California court upholds death penalty for notorious serial killer Charles Ng

Words of the Month

falderol (n.)also falderal, falderall, folderol, etc., 18th C. nonsense words from refrains of songs; meaning “gewgaw, trifle” is attested from 1820.

What We’ve Been Up To


A Bride’s Guide to Marriage and Murder — Dianne Freeman

Familiarity breeds contempt…and when it’s your family?


Things can get explosive.

And explode they do (though not literally). When a murder, accusations of infidelity, thugs, and rivalries all come to a head at and after France and George’s much-anticipated wedding.

Seriously, if your looking for a light-hearted historical murder mystery that never takes itself too seriously — the Countess of Harleigh Mystery series is the one for you! Freeman does an excellent job of blending the time period, manners, and societal rules into an excessively readable mystery.

What I love the most about the Countess of Harleigh Mysteries (BTW – Frances is said Countess) is their funny. Not a slap you on the back hardy-har-har kind but wry, sly, and observational humor that one can relate to – especially if you’ve ever tried planning a wedding with the “help” of your family and/or in-laws.

Now, you don’t need to read them in order….However, there are only four predecessors, so starting at numero uno, A Lady’s Guide To Etiquette and Murder isn’t too much of a stretch, and hopefully, you’ll laugh (or at least smile) as much as I did whilst turning the pages.


Okay, so hear me out

I don’t have a review, but I have a really good explanation. A couple of ’em, if I’m being honest. And one is legit book stuff!

The mother of a dear friend of mine passed away, and she lived near me. Her son and his wife, both of whom are great friends of mine, asked me to assess her books to see if there was anything worthwhile in there. We all figured probably not, but hey, you never know, right? And she was a pack rat, as was her late husband, so treasures were possible.

There were a couple of catches. One was that she lived near where we had originally moved to in New Mexico, which is now an hour away from where I now live, but is certainly much closer than the five hours away where Bill and Kate live. I have time and am certainly willing to help, so that was just a minor thing.

The bigger issue is that, while I’m pretty good at mysteries, I’m not so well versed at Southwestern history.

Like not at all. And it’s been educational.

There have been books, and pamphlets, and cookbooks, and all manner of things. Including Hillermans and Jances, which were easy enough. But mostly it was Southwestern stuff.

Boxes and boxes of books. It’s kept me busy, and it’s been immense fun.

But that’s why I haven’t reviewed anything.

Well, that and the fact that I’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. But that’s not really a good reason. Assessing books, however, really is.

I’m going to try to have a review next month, but I’m planning on putting these books up for sale, and honestly, that may take a lot of time, so we’ll see what next month brings.

Oh, but it’s exciting!


After catching up on my Haller, Bosch, and Ballard, I picked up another from my always growing To Be Read Pile – Stephen Hunter’s Game of Snipers from 2019. Burned through it in two days, as one does with a thriller of this quality (please note I chose to not writer “of this calibre”. Swagger books are reliable fun. I don’t know about anyone else, but I skip over the nitty-gritty details of the guns in play and stick with the action. This one is as if one put the Day of the Jackal in the US with Swagger part of the team hunting the sniper. And thanks to David G. for keeping me supplied!

We’ve been watching a number of series that I’d recommend: “Dark Wind”, the adaptation of Tony Hillerman’s The Listening Woman, “Reservation Dogs”, “Obi-Wan Kenobi” with a wonderfully guilt-ridden Obi-Wan, “DB Cooper Where Are You”, and “Under the Banner of Heaven”. After watching that, I bought a copy of Jon Krakauer’s book on which it was based and burned through it. First of all, the series is quite accurate when it says “inspired” by the book. While the series is a good police procedural, it is largely fiction. Written in 2003, it is a deep dive into the Mormon faith and the fundamentalist offshoots. True it does center around a vicious double murder but it really is about people blinded by their faith and incapable or unwilling to look at the real world before them. While Krakauer does make a few faint parallels to Isis and other foreign “tribes”, the book felt more relevant to me when matched to Trumpism, and the true believers who know that they know to be truth and everyone else is just wrong.

This being the 50th Anniversary year of Watergate, I’ve read four books on that “event”- that period is better. In 2012, Lamar Waldron released his mammoth, 808 page Watergate: The Hidden History. It’s a deep dive into the subject. Then, in 2013 came Phil Stanford’s slim trade paperback White House Call Girl: The Real Watergate Story. Earlier this year, Garrett M. Graff’s Watergate: A New History was released. It was just under the page count of Waldron’s. I wrote about both of those in an earlier newzine. [If you want to read just one, read Waldron’s. And then read Graff’s!]

Now, what I expect to be the last “major” book on Watergate (at least this year) is out: Jefferson Morley’s Scorpion’s Dance. I’d looked forward to this, as I thought his book on James Jesus Angleton, The Ghost, was quite good. But I found this book focusing on the lethal dance between President Nixon and CIA Chief Richard Helms to be oddly light. I suppose I was expecting something of the heft of Waldron’s or Graff’s and I found it short on depth. For instance, during the heat of August 1973, he glides over the details of the Saturday Night Massacre in one small paragraph and doesn’t use that weighted term. I certainly followed along because I knew the details and was hoping for new revelations. There was little of it. I would not recommend this to someone not familiar with that crucial and sordid history.

Yet there were a few bits new to me that I found interesting:

~ After his arrest, James McCord directed his wife and a neighbor, who was also a CIA officer, to burn papers and copies of transcripts of the DNC wiretaps. The damper in the fire place was closed, they filled the house with smoke, and had to explain what was going on to the fire department.

~ He never points to a specific rationale for the Watergate break-ins, but does repeatedly write about the salacious recordings that the bugs provided. It is the supposition of some – like Stanford – that a call girl ring was being run out of the DNC office and the bugs were to get dirt on the Dems. Indeed, the office of Larry O’Brien, the head of the DNC, never was bugged.

~Helms quoted a Nixonian threat as having a “devious, hard-nosed smell”

~ Sometimes it is just the way he phrases things: “In this perilous situation, Helms had one advantage that Nixon did not. For the president, it was illegal to conceal of destroy material evidence, suborn witnesses, or dissemble to law enforcement. Helms, not so much… As CIA director, Helms had discretion to hide certain activities from law enforcement. As the duly sworn president, Nixon did not. And that would make all the difference in determining who would fall first.”

~ I had not known that like JFK, LBJ, and Nixon, Helms had recording equipment in his office. Those recordings and transcripts were destroyed damn fast. Likewise, the day after Nixon’s resignation, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had been recording and transcribing their meetings since the end of WWII, destroyed all of those records.

~ After his fall, Helms was stunned by how Washington had deserted him. “‘ It was unthinkable that the Establishment would turn against Dick Helms’… He could not understand with all these powerful friends and with all these connections and with all these people who he had helped and become socially close to them and that retained positions of influence and power, that this could nonetheless be done to him…” This brought to mind the disbelief in the intelligence world after Philby defected to the Soviets. He was one of them, he was from their schools, they socialized and ate dinner and drank in the same clubs – this “Old Boy” network was the rot at the center of the post-war Free World. Those who belonged to it were deluded and took us down with them.

~ At Helms’ sentencing, the judge threw down the wrath of the bench at him: “If public officials embark deliberately on a course to disobey and ignore the laws of our land because of some misguided and ill-conceived notion and belief that there are earlier commitments and considerations which they must first observe, the future of our country is in jeopardy.”

What would that Judge, Barrington Parker, an African-American Republican appointed by Nixon, think of January 6th and The Big Lie that won’t die????


July 2022

Independent booksellers grew in number, diversity in 2021

One in Five Americans Struggles to Read. We Want to Understand Why.

Words of the Month

dame (n.): c. 1200, “a mother,” also “a woman of rank or high social position; superior of a convent,” and an address for a woman of rank or position, used respectfully to other ladies, from Old French dame “lady, mistress, wife,” from Late Latin domna, from Latin domina “lady, mistress of the house,” from Latin domus “house” (from PIE root *dem “house, household”). From early 14th C. as “a woman” in general, particularly a mature or married woman or the mistress of a household. Used in Middle English with personifications (Study, Avarice, Fortune, Richesse, Nature, Misericordie). In later use the legal title for the wife of a knight or baronet.

Slang sense of “woman” in the broadest sense, without regard to rank or anything else, is attested by 1902 in American English.

We got sunlight on the sand, We got moonlight on the sea

We got mangoes and bananas, You can pick right off the tree

We got volleyball and ping-pong, And lots of dandy games

What ain’t we got? We ain’t got dames!

Richard Rodgers, “There Is Nothin’ Like a Dame,” 1949 (etymonline)

It’s a tricky thing to suss out who is awarded what each year when Buckingham Palace releases The Gazette. For those of us who don’t follow it, the initials attached to the various awards are as confusing as the bureaus outta DC. OBE? GBE? DBE?

We bring this up after the news that Ian Rankin is now SIR Ian Rankin. We could remember Dame Agatha and Dame Phyllis, and Sir Arthur, but who else? This sent us off on a quest for answers – and then we ran into the three-letter question.

To be given Sir or Dame, one must be a subject of the Queen. Hitchcock was born in England, as was Bob Hope, and Sidney Poitier was born in Jamaica, so they all were knighted. Spielberg is an honorary knight, as was Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Dames and Sirs are, or have been, awarded GBE, KBE, or DBE. If you want to know what the difference is, well do your own investigation. It’s pretty simple.

Sir Ian joins a healthy list of authors: Antonia Fraser, Hilary Mantel, Salmon Rushdie, Kingsley Amis, William Golding, Iris Murdoch, PG Wodehouse, JRR Tolkein, and Jorge Louis Borges, to name some in no particular order. Not many mystery or crime writers that we found right off.

A healthy list of writers declined the “honors”: CS Lewis, Roald Dahl, Aldus Huxley, Robert Graves, JB Priestly, Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, and Rudyard Kipling.

There are names that aren’t on any list. For instance AA Milne… Anyway –

Congratulations to Sir Ian, a great writer and a nice guy!

Words of the Month

knight (n.) Old English cniht “boy, youth; servant, attendant,” a word common to the nearby Germanic languages (Old Frisian kniucht, Dutch knecht, Middle High German kneht “boy, youth, lad,” German Knecht “servant, bondman, vassal”), of unknown origin. For pronunciation, see kn. The plural in Middle English sometimes was knighten.

Meaning “military follower of a king or other superior” is from c. 1100. It began to be used in a specific military sense in the Hundred Years War, and gradually rose in importance until it became a rank in the nobility from 16th C. Hence in modern British use, a social privilege or honorary dignity conferred by a sovereign as a reward, without regard for birth or deeds at arms. In 17thc.-19thc. a common jocularism was to call a craftsman or tradesman a knight of the and name some object associated with his work; e.g. knight of the brush for “painter.” Knight in shining armor in the figurative sense is from 1917, from the man who rescues the damsel in distress in romantic dramas (perhaps especially “Lohengrin”). For knight-errant, see errant.

The horse-headed chess piece so called from mid-15thc. Knights of Columbus, society of Catholic men, founded 1882 in New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.; Knights of Labor, trade union association, founded in Philadelphia, 1869; Knights of Pythias, secret order, founded in Washington, 1864. (etymonline)

For your Summer plans –

Top 10 novels about things that go horribly wrong on islands

Classy Stuff

Russian Journalist to Auction Nobel Medal to Benefit Ukraine

Nobel sold for Ukrainian kids shatters record at $103.5M

Serious Stuff

They were killers with powerful guns. The president went after their weapons.

>The Group Banning LGBT Books Wants to Replace Them With Anti-Gay Propaganda

>Long Island library board comes to its senses and reverses ban on children’s Pride displays.

>First they came for queer story time… And what did you do?

>This right wing religious website is telling readers to ruin LGBQT+ library displays.

>A South Dakota school district planned to destroy Dave Eggers’s novel. He went to investigate

=Perspective | Why the press will never have another Watergate moment

=During Watergate, John Mitchell left his wife – so she called Bob Woodward

=Woodward and Bernstein thought Nixon defined corruption. Then came Trump.

=How ‘All the President’s Men’ went from buddy flick to masterpiece

=How Martha Mitchell’s firing of a bodyguard spurred Watergate scandal

=Why ‘The Watergate Three’ Are Remembered as a Duo

=Watergate Still Holds Secrets, Even After 50 Years

=The Target of the First Watergate Burglary Still Wonders: ‘Why Me?’

=How the CIA’s Cuba Debacles Brought the Future Watergate Conspirators Together

=Watergate at 50: Revelations From New Declassified Evidence

=He discovered the Watergate break-in, then died destitute and forgotten

=Opinion: What the Nixon pardon tells us about the perils of letting Trump walk

Michigan prisons have banned dictionaries in the “obscure” languages of Swahili and Spanish.

Suspected murderer of Wisconsin judge had hit list including Mitch McConnell

Blake Masters Blames Gun Violence on ‘Black People, Frankly’

‘I’m Not Jumping in’: Arizona Cops on Leave for Standing by as a Man Drowned

Massive Internet Identity Theft Marketplace Shut Down by Feds

Specialist gang ‘targeting’ Ukrainian treasures for removal to Russia

How a Tulsa grandmother became a vicious Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist—in her own words.

Google Says It Bans Gun Ads. It Actually Makes Money From Them.

Kurt Vonnegut Museum Is Giving Florida 1,000 Copies of ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ Amid Ban Effort

After 91 years, Black teen exonerated by defense lawyer’s great-grandson

What drove some to resist Hitler — and others to stay quiet

Discovery of 1955 warrant in Emmett Till’s murder sparks calls for arrest

Feds Find ‘Significant Justification’ to Investigate NYPD’s Sex Crimes Unit

Words of the Month

excrescence (n.): early 15c., “action of growing out,” from Latin excrescentia (plural) “abnormal growths,” from excrescentem (nominative excrescens), present participle of excrescere “grow out, grow up,” from ex “out” (see ex-) + crescere “to grow” (from PIE root *ker- (2) “to grow”). Meaning “that which grows out abnormally” (on a living thing) is from 1570s (excrescency in this sense is 1540s). (etymonline)

Local Stuff

Elliott Bay Book Co. sold to longtime manager, Capitol Hill bar and business owners

White supremacism, WA ties, death threats: What to know about Patriot Front arrests near Idaho pride event

Out West, we know the right-wing extremist threat just keeps rising

How A Break-In and A Blizzard Shaped April Henry’s New Mystery

From vacation reads to picks for locals, Vashon Bookshop serves an island’s literary needs

Spokane author Jess Walter on writing short stories, his working-class roots and his hometown

Oregon School’s Ridiculous Battle Over ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Ends With Book Ban

Ransomware attacks increasing in Oregon, nationwide, FBI says

~ Samantha Allen on Writing the Sasquatch Slasher Novel the World Needs Right Now

~ Why Samantha Allen Wrote A Lesbian Sasquatch Novel

Odd Stuff

This Hacker Group Forces People to Do Good to Get Their Data Back

*Attempted Reagan Assassin John Hinckley Jr. To Play Brooklyn Concert

*John Hinckley’s Sold-Out Brooklyn Concert Is Canceled

Eleven members of Rome-based mafia clan face trial over electricity theft

Accused Murderer’s Defense Says Cough Syrup Made Her Run a Woman Over

Minor Literature: Kafka’s Drawings

Cupcake Mogul Led a Wild Double Life Using Dead Baby’s Identity, Feds Say

Denied his high school diploma over a book fine in 1962, he finally walked the stage

Find your next great literary insult in Nabokov’s burn book.

Frederick Douglass Books, a new imprint, will publish nonfiction by writers of color.

One of the country’s oldest Black-owned bookstores is closing.

The sad-sack, fascist Proud Boys have sunk to a new low: storming a library story time.

?James Patterson claims White male writers face ‘another form of racism’

!Author James Patterson apologizes for saying white male writers face ‘another form of racism’

Dog uncovers ‘fugitive Dutch pedophile’s’ child abuse stash and hidden cellphone among ‘rancid’ laundry in dingy Mexico apartment after sniffing out electronics during police raid

Simon & Schuster Will Distribute Jan. 6 Report With Foreword by Conspiracy Theorist

How Jean-Paul Sartre’s relentless pranking forced his teacher to resign

You Could Win This Drug Lord Mansion in Mexico City for $10

Cousins receive mystery postcards sent decades ago: ‘I was stunned’

A Drug Lord Who ‘Died’ of COVID Last Year Was Just Arrested in Europe

Words of the Month

peep (v.1): “to glance, look from a state of concealment” (especially through or as through a small or narrow opening), mid-15th C., pepen, perhaps an alteration of Middle English piken (see peek (v.)). Hence, “to come partially into view, begin to appear” (1530s). Peeping Tom “a curious prying fellow” [Grose] is from 1796. (etymonline)


Amazon employees protested its Pride event over its sale of anti-trans books.

Authors are protesting Amazon’s e-book policy that allows users to read and return

Amazon restricts LGBT goods in United Arab Emirates

Words of the Month

vote (n): mid-15th C., “formal expression of one’s wish or choice with regard to a proposal, candidate, etc.,” from Latin votum “a vow, wish, promise to a god, solemn pledge, dedication,” noun use of neuter of votus, past participle of vovere “to promise, dedicate” (see vow (n.)). Meaning “totality of voters of a certain class or type” is from 1888.


Kalani Pickhart has won the NYPL’s Young Lions Fiction Award.

George Chauncey has won the Kluge Prize for his work in LGBTQ history

Miles Franklin 2022: shortlist revealed for Australia’s prestigious literary prize

Book Stuff

10 Years Later, Gone Girl Is Ripe for a Sequel

20 Famous Writers on Being Rejected

Martin Edwards: My Life In Crime

Shop Talk: Lisa Unger on Waking Up Early, Carving Out Time, and Writing Longhand in the Target Parking Lot

How Agatha Christie’s Deep Respect for Science Helped Her Mysteries Stand the Test of Time

We’re Living in a Golden Age of Australian Crime and Mystery Television

Former Hong Kong journalists open independent bookstore Have a Nice Stay for those who remain amid emigration wave

James Patterson shares his formula for success. It’s pretty simple.

Here are the guest editors for the Best American Series 2022. (see the choice for mystery and suspense!)

Cornell Woolrich, the Dark Prince of Noir

The Disposable Spy: Or, How To Get Away With Revealing Agency Secrets In a Novel

It took a Hundred Years and Two Gays to Decode Her Diaries

The Only Surviving Manuscript of ‘Paradise Lost’

The best independent bookstores in the US [see 1 and 6]

The book that tore publishing apart: ‘Harm has been done, and now everyone’s afraid’

A Newly Discovered Céline Novel Creates a Stir

The Schomburg Center Literary Festival Makes Its Return to Harlem

NY Public Library Is Giving Away 500,000 Free Books This Summer

Inside the Push to Diversify the Book Business

Interview with an Indie Press: Seagull Books

Death Goes Drag: How the Queer Experiences of Mystery Writers Rufus King and Clifford Orr Influenced Their Golden Age Detective Fiction

Be gay, read books: Aesop’s free Queer Library is back

Five independent bookshops you need to visit in Scotland

‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ celebrates 25 magical years

Book bombs: Trump aide tell-alls fail to sell

San Francisco Art Book Fair Returns After a Two-Year Break

Check out a cool new guide to indie bookstores on the West coast.

Author Events (in person)

July 6: Jess Walter signs The Angel of Rome and Other Stories, Powell’s 7pm

July 7: Daniel Nieh signs Take No Names, Powell’s, 7pm

Words of the Month

sufferage (n): late 14th C., “intercessory prayers or pleas on behalf of another,” from Old French sofrage “plea, intercession” (13th C.) and directly from Medieval Latin suffragium, from Latin suffragium “support, ballot, vote; right of voting; a voting tablet,” from suffragari “lend support, vote for someone,” conjectured to be a compound of sub “under” (see sub-) + fragor “crash, din, shouts (as of approval),” related to frangere “to break” (from PIE root *bhreg “to break”). On another theory (Watkins, etc.) the second element is frangere itself and the notion is “use a broken piece of tile as a ballot” (compare ostracism).

The meaning “a vote for or against anything” is from 1530s. The meaning “political right to vote” in English is first found in the U.S. Constitution, 1787. (etymonline)

Other Forms of Entertainment

>‘The Wire’ at 20: ‘This Show Will Live Forever’: David Simon and Edward Burns

>‘The Wire’ Stands Alone

>‘Reality Never Gives You the Perfect Narrative’. In ‘We Own This City’, David Simon and George Pelecanos argue police corruption has never been worse.

>‘The Wire’ in Five Scenes

‘I thought I looked beautiful’ – how we made ‘The Incredible Hulk’

Jon Hamm, Juno Temple, Jennifer Jason Leigh to Lead ‘Fargo’ Season 5 at FX

Film Noirs ‘The Guilty’ and ‘High Tide’ Have Strong Literary Roots

The Old Guard 2 Adds Some Ex-Superheroes to Its Immortal Cast

+‘Dark Winds’: A Pulpy Mystery That Makes Native Characters the Stars of Their Own Story

+‘Dark Winds’ Review: Murder Most Foul in the Navajo Nation

‘The Staircase’ Subject Michael Peterson Addresses HBO Show

The Staircase: For Michael Peterson and Daughter Margaret, the Nightmare Continues With HBO Max

46 Things We Learned from Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Out of Sight’ Commentary

An exclusive first look at the new Netflix true crime documentary, Girl in the Picture

The Story of Lee Marvin, Gene Hackman, and Quite Possibly the Strangest American Crime Film of the 1970s

She played Scout in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’ Now she’s got a new role.

‘The Old Man’ Brought Jeff Bridges to TV. John Lithgow Had No Advice. c

Heat: Robert De Niro and Al Pacino reunite to discuss their hit thriller

Norman Lloyd, King of the Hitchcock Collaborators

10 Conspiracy Thrillers for the Truly Paranoid (movies, that is…)

The Wild History of the Real ‘Only Murders’ Building

+From “Fargo” to “Dark Winds,” Zahn McClarnon keeps perfecting his art – but don’t call him an artist

Knives Out 2 has a title and a release date!

David Mamet To Direct ‘2 Days/1963’ Drama On Sam Giancana’s Role In JFK Assassination, From Script By Mobster’s Grandnephew Nicholas Celozzi


Ian Fleming’s lost James Bond screenplay reveals a very different 007

James Bond star Naomie Harris backs Chiwetel Ejiofor to play 007

America’s very own 00-FELON! Disastrous tale of CIA agent who was hired to write James Bond-style novels in a bid to revive agency’s terrible reputation – but ended up a sensational flop before being ARRESTED for involvement in Watergate

Ralph Fiennes Almost Became James Bond Before Bossing Daniel Craig Around

Words of the Month

boggart (n.) also boggard, specter, goblin, sprite,” especially one supposed to haunt a particular spot, 1560s; see bug (n.). (etymonline)


June 1: David C. MacMichael, C.I.A. Whistleblower, Dies at 95

June 2: Barry Sussman, Washington Post editor who oversaw Watergate reporting, dies at 87

June 13: Philip Baker Hall, the Library Cop Lt. Bookman on ‘Seinfeld,’ Zodiac, Hard Eight, Dies at 90

June 13: Baxter Black, cowboy poet and ‘Morning Edition’ commentator, dies at 77

June 14: George Weyerhaeuser Sr., timber company scion who was kidnapped as a child, dies at 95

June 17: Legendary Comic Artist Tim Sale Has Died

June 30: Sonny Barger Dies: Hells Angels Founder, ‘Sons Of Anarchy’ Actor & Rolling Stones Nemesis Was 83

Links of Interest

June 1: Myths surround ‘Untouchable’ lawman Eliot Ness. What’s the truth?

June 3: A U.S. murder suspect fled to Mexico. The Gringo Hunters were waiting.

+June 3: Lakota elders helped a white man preserve their language. Then he tried to sell it back to them.

June 4: Suspect in Litvinenko poisoning dies in Moscow, TASS reports

June 4: How Can People Fall Asleep To True Crime Shows And Podcasts?

+June 6: Puzzle Monday: Secrets of the Original Code-Talkers

June 6: The Mystery of a Billionaire’s Wife’s Disappearance May Turn on ‘Crypto Lead’

June 7: Decentralized Crypto Exchange Offline After Hacker Steals $113M

June 8: Woman Arrested for Murdering Boyfriend After Tracking Him With Apple AirTag

June 8: True the Vote Raised Millions to Combat Voter Fraud—But No One Really Knows Where the Money Went

June 9: The missing daughter of a slain Texas couple has been found alive more than 4 decades later

June 9: Florida man got $4.5 million from COVID-19 PPP fraud, then lost $3 million — and freedom

June 10: The greatest work in English literature: Shakespeare First Folio expected to fetch $2.5m at auction

June 11: Jack Vettriano reveals new muses inspired him to paint again

June 14: A brother’s 36-year fight against one of New Zealand’s worst miscarriages of justice

June 16: Rescued Art Museum: Stolen artefacts recovered by police go on display in Rome

June 17: The Reply Guy From Hell – For almost two decades, this man terrorized women online. Then they decided to band together.

June 17: Ex-Amazon worker convicted in massive Capital One hack

June 20: ‘Master of Disguise’ on the Run After Mexican Authorities Find Girlfriend’s Remains

June 20: How Paintings Lost in a Small-Town Art Heist Were Recovered 50 Years Later

June 21: Alcatraz Escapees, Now in Their 90s, STILL Sought by U.S. Marshals Wielding Digitally Aged Images of Fugitives

June 21: Scientist turned bumbling Miami spy for Russia gets 4 years in cloak-and-dagger caper

June 22: Bill Cosby Sexually Assaulted a Teen at Playboy Mansion, Civil Jury Finds

June 24: Dutch mobster Willem Holleeder sentenced to life in prison over contract killings

June 24: Contractor Loses USB Drive Holding an Entire City’s Personal Details During Drunken Night Out

June 26: How a Detective Helped Nail the Torso Killer—From the Grave

June 27: Subway worker allegedly shot, killed over ‘too much mayonnaise’ on customer’s sandwich

June 28: Biotech Wizard Left a Trail of Fraud—Prosecutors Allege It Ended in

June 28: Ghislaine Maxwell sentenced to 20 years for ‘horrific’ sex trafficking

June 29: R&B singer R. Kelly sentenced to 30 years in prison

June 29: Jamie Bartlett on the Biggest Crypto Scam of All and the Heartless Bulgarian Cryptoqueen Behind It

June 30: Researchers Blame North Korea for $100 Million Horizon Bridge Cryptocurrency Theft Amid ‘Global Manhunt’

Words of the Month

boggle (v.): From the 1590s, “to start with fright (as a startled horse does), shy, take alarm,” from Middle English bugge “specter” (among other things, supposed to scare horses at night); see bug (n.); also compare bogey (n.1), boggart. The meaning ” hesitate, stop as if afraid to proceed in fear of unforeseen difficulties” is from 1630s; that of “confound, cause to hesitate” is from 1640s. As a noun from 1650s. Related: Boggled; boggling; boggler (from c. 1600 as “one who hesitates”). (etymonline)

What We’ve Been Up To


Aunt Dimity & the Enchanted Cottage — Nancy Atherton

Once again, residents are plunging gleefully into Finch’s semi-regular ritual called the Moving-Van Vigil. Never heard of the tradition? Well, it’s where Finch villagers stake out a newly rented cottage and try to deduce who the newcomer is by the possessions as they’re moved from van to house….or what they can extrapolate from the labels on the cardboard boxes. 

When the movers finish hauling their last box, the villagers disperse and chew over their tentative conclusions for three full days, thereby giving their new neighbor breathing space to get the cottage in some semblance of order. Then they descend en masse, casserole dishes in hand, to welcome the latest addition to Finch’s thriving village life.

Violators of this rule are given the hairy eyeball, publicly snubbed, and met with stony silence.

Lori and Tommy are willing to face the consequences when they witness Mr. Windle (the latest unwitting participant of this nosey tradition) in a moment of extreme melancholy, whereupon the two start worrying that the newest addition to Finch means to do himself harm….

Aunt Dimity & the Enchanted Cottage is an excellent addition to the series! It shows Finch and its penchant for nosiness at its very best. Demonstrating how a community bands together to ensure one of its’ own stays safe and remember those who earlier inhabitants failed.

I would recommend The Enchanted Cottage to anyone who loves this series and/or to anyone who needs a lovely light mystery to escape the never-ending bad news cycle. 

Now, all that being said — there is one essential detail to keep in mind….Do Not Read the synopsis on the front fly-leaf. 

I’m serious.

Whoever wrote it did this book and the Residents of Finch a great disservice. First, this anonymous person in the publishing house made it sound as if the villagers completely dismissed Mr. Windle for rebuffing their advances of friendship. Now, anyone who knows anything about Finch KNOWS this would never happen. Especially if they think someone needs help.

Second, this unknown synopsis writer gives away a major plot point in the mystery. I mean…who does that? Albeit when you read the summary, you wouldn’t know, but the moment you start the book? It doesn’t take long to figure out that this faceless writer both told the truth about the mystery and misled you simultaneously. 

If you can, take my word that Aunt Dimity & the Enchanted Cottage is a well-written, captivating entry in this murderless mystery series and is well worth your reading time.


Stories need to be told.

Stories were different, though: they came alive in the telling. Without a human voice to read them aloud, or a pair of wide eyes following them by flashlight beneath a blanket, they had no real existence in our world. They were like seeds in the beak of a bird, waiting to fall to earth, or the notes of a song laid out on a sheet, yearning for an instrument to bring their music into being. They lay dormant, hoping for a chance to emerge. Once someone started to read them, they could begin to change. They would take root in the imagination, and transform the reader. Stories wanted to be read, David’s mother would whisper. They needed it. It was the reason they forced themselves from their world into ours. They wanted us to give them life.

John Connolly wrote that in the first few pages of his amazing book, THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS, back in 2006. It was true then, and it’s true now.

If you haven’t read THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS, first of all, you’re missing out on a classic fairy tale, not one that’s been Disney-fied but the truly grim ones, the real ones. Mind you, there’s laugh-out-loud moments to be found, but this is a dark tale for children and adults.

David, mentioned above, loves the old fairy tales, and found refuge in them when his mother died and his father remarried. World War II was breaking over London, and David goes to live in the country with his father and their new family. Isolated and lonely, David turns to books. But when a downed German plane crashes in the garden where David is exploring, a hole in the garden wall is the only potentially safe place David can go.

Except what’s on the other side of the wall isn’t the neighboring yard. It’s a world filled with all the stories he’s been reading, and unless he is very resourceful and quick, David could be stuck there. Forever.

I’ve told you about this book before, and it bears reinforcing my determination that you should read it, but that’s not the only reason I’m telling you to pick it up.

Here’s what John Connolly said in a recent newsletter:

For some time I’ve been working on a sequel to THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS. I never really thought I’d write a sequel to that book, although I have returned to the universe of it with some short stories over the years. Nevertheless, I’ve had recourse to re-read the original over the last decade or so: first to give it a gentle polish for the 10th anniversary edition, and then, during lockdown, in order to write a film script based on it. (The script provided a way forward, I think, as well as indicating that there was too much material in the book for a two-hour film. The film company is now looking at it in terms of a possible television series, which would provide more scope for expansion, but I’ve done my bit as far as scripts for it are concerned.)

The polish for the anniversary edition, completed in 2016, probably provided the initial impetus, while the screenplay concretized some ideas I’d had. The result is that THE LAND OF LOST THINGS will be published in the autumn of either 2023 or 2024, but most likely the former. There’s some work to be done on it yet in terms of revision, but it’s coming into focus.

YAY! A film/series and a sequel? It doesn’t get better than that!


After watching the series “The Lincoln Lawyer”, I decided to go back to Michael Connelly’s series with Mickey Haller, Harry Bosch’s half-brother. I’d stopped reading that series after the second book in the series, The Brass Verdict, which is what the TV covered. 3rd was The Reversal – which features Bosch as working with Haller. The next in the series was temporarily out of print, so I spent the month catching up with Bosch, and the newest member of that universe, Renee Ballard: The Late Show, Dark Sacred Night, Night Fire, and the Dark Hours. What the hell – if you’re gonna do it, just go overboard! Ballard and Bocsh make a great team. Each of their joint books contain at least one cold case that takes takes up most of the book, and sprinkled in are Ballard’s Late Show cases that work like mini-short stories. It’s a fascinating way to craft a novel. Won’t be another Bosch and Ballard until early November, so not it is back to Haller and the fifth in that series, The Gods of Guilt.

Finally, a personal plea: if you’re not happy with the way the country is going, the way every American’s right to privacy has been eagerly stripped away by the minority, you must resolve to vote in EVERY election. Yes, presidential elections are crucial, but so are all the local and state elections. Don’t like gerrymandering? Vote! Don’t like what the schoolboard is doing? VOTE! Don’t like what your state legislators are doing, or the governor? VOTE! If you’re registered but don’t vote, you’ve helped those who removed your – our – rights. If you’re not registered – register and vote in every election. Because, as you can see, it matters… Protesting is good, showing numbers and raising voices is good. “A few weeks before his death in 1895, Douglass was asked what advice he would give to a young black American. ‘Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!’ the old man answered.”

Remember – Black MEN in America were theoretically given the right to vote in 1870 but that was not enforced – again, theoretically – until the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That now seems to be under threat in many forums. WOMEN in America were not allowed to vote until the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920! So, if you listen to Constitutional Originalists who want the things to return to what the Constitution said when it was written… ‘Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!’ and VOTE!


60 Years of Webslinging

The New York Times

60 years ago, Peter Parker swung into our world after being bitten by a radioactive spider.

June 5, 1962, Marvel Comics published the latest creation from the team of Steve Ditko and Stan Lee. Should you be in DC (the city, not the other comic outfit), stop by the Library of Congress and you can see the original artwork for his debut. He didn’t rate his own comic yet – that would come not quite a year later, in March 1963, with the first issue of The Amazing Spider-man

From there would come Aunt Mae and Uncle Ben, the obnoxious J. Johah Jameson, Harry and Norman Osborn, and those two women vying for Peter’s attention, Mary Jane and Gwen, Doc Ock, The Green Goblin, the Lizard, the Sandman, the Vulture, Mr. Big, Kraven the Hunter, and many others. Even as a kid, I wondered how these bad guys were able to return to fight so often. Did they escape from jail or were they held only a few issues?? There would be times he’d be up against other superheros. After all, NYC was full of ’em!

When I was collecting with my cousin Jeff, way, way back in the distant past, there was just the one Spider-man comic. Now there are…well, I don’t know how many. I don’t know how many villains he’s battled all told. There was animated series shown very early on Saturday mornings in the 60s that my Dad had orders to get me up to watch. I don’t remember the live-action TV series, and that’s probably good that I missed it. I think the second, 2004, Toby Maguire movie with Doc Ock is the best. I had subscriptions to Spider-man, Fantastic Four, Captain America and a few others but had long stopped collecting by junior high. I have most of the Spider-mans from about #20 to #100, and a handful before #20. The first issue I bought was #55, which came out in 1967. At that time, you could to shops selling old magazines and buy them for peanuts. I can’t believe our parents took us to these grungy “bookshops” that were probably filled with porn, but the boxes of comics were on the floor, under shelves of whatever, and we’d eagerly sit in the dust to find issues we were missing. The irony is that those same shops probably were filled with old pulp magazines – Black Mask, Dime Detective – that’d be worth as much, if not more, that the comics we hunted.

Here’s the earliest one I have – #9, though without a cover.

Here’s the earliest one I have with a cover, #11 – April 1964

So congratulations to Peter Parker, Stan Lee, and Steve Ditko. Spider-man is a great American creation. I’m sure that in on June 5th, 1962, none of them had any idea what lay ahead. I learned to draw by copying the artwork and kept and treasured them these decades. At some point, probably soon, I should part with them but I’m not quite sure I can do it just yet….

~ JB

June 2022

The deadliest school massacre in US history took place 95 years ago

Odd Stuff

Baroness Mone: first lady of lingerie embroiled in criminal investigation over £200m PPE contract

Russia Pretends It Didn’t Accidentally Show Bonnie and Clyde During Victory Day Parade

Ben Franklin Put an Abortion Recipe in His Math Textbook

Nikola Tesla told him: “Bury your Findings until Humanity is Ready”

Trolling’s Surprising Origins in Fishing

‘Grandfather of Goth’: fans campaign for US stamp honoring Edward Gorey

When Julia Child worked for a spy agency fighting sharks

Bringing order to the chaos of reality… Jarvis Cocker interviews six collectors

Lost’ Picasso spotted in Imelda Marcos’s home after son’s election win

Letters from the Loneliest Post Office in the World

Bird-watcher wrongfully accused in Central Park video gets a bird-watching TV show

Utah Hunting Guide Facing Felony for Rigging Don Jr.’s Bear Hunt

A ‘Jawsactor is named police chief in the town where the iconic movie was filmed

Burn-proof edition of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ up for auction

Evil twinks and gay gangsters: why we need to remember history’s horrid homosexuals

In Pictures: See Gilded Manuscripts That Span 1,500 Years in a New London Exhibition About Gold and the Written Word

For shame: Bram Stoker was a serial defiler of library books.

A 17th-century book about the existence of aliens has been found in England.

Words of the Month

Bug (n): An “insect, beetle,” 1620s (earliest reference is to bedbugs), of unknown origin, probably (but not certainly) from or influenced by Middle English bugge “something frightening, scarecrow” (late 14th C.), a meaning obsolete since the “insect” sense arose except in bugbear (1570s) and bugaboo (q.v.).

Serious Stuff

*In the battle over books, Nashville library’s response? ‘I read banned books’ cards

*Upset by book bans, teen starts forbidden book club in small Pa. town

*How a Debut Graphic Memoir Became the Most Banned Book in the Country

*An Idaho school district has permanently banned 24 books, including The Handmaid’s Tale.

*Courageous Afghan teenagers help start an underground book club in defiance of Taliban

*Miami Herald Editorial Board: Florida’s book rejection frenzy has right-wing kookiness written all over it

By Carl Hiaasen: Want to understand Miami? Read these 10 books, says Mitchell Kaplan of Books & Books

*Florida’s shopping for social studies textbooks. No social justice content allowed

*Subscribe to this banned books club—and help provide families with free books!

*Va. Republicans seek to limit sale of 2 books in Barnes & Noble for ‘obscenity’

*Video captures vandal removing $1,000 in LGBTQ books from roadside library

*Belarus has banned the sale of 1984.

*Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ Shows Why Book Bans Are So Futile

A bloodstain expert’s testimony helped put him in prison. But can forensic science be trusted?

>Ukrainian Officials Accuse Russian Forces of Looting Thousands of Priceless Gold Artifacts and Works of Art

>Russian internet users downloading VPNs by the millions in challenge to Putin

>Russian sentenced to life in Ukraine’s 1st war crimes trial

Paraguay drugs prosecutor killed on honeymoon on Colombian beach

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to give books to refugee children

On the Way the Criminal Justice System Fails Our Poor Communities

Startup raises $17 million to develop smart gun

A 17-year-old boy died by suicide hours after being scammed. The FBI says it’s part of a troubling increase in ‘sextortion’ cases.

FBI says it foiled Islamic State sympathizer’s plot to kill George W Bush

Local Stuff

New red dress artwork inspired by Sarah de Vries, one of serial killer Pickton’s victims

WA woman, serving 90 years for planting poisoned pills, seeks release from prison

This summer, Blue Kettle Books will drive Seattle’s newest and smallest bookstore to you

Whistler Writers Festival spring series set to inspire and entertain

Joshua Freed, former Bothell mayor and GOP gubernatorial candidate, accused of misleading real estate investors

After 10 years on the run, couple pleads guilty in Federal Way scuba diver’s death

Words of the Month

bug (v.1) “to bulge, protrude,” 1872, originally of eyes, perhaps from a humorous or dialect mispronunciation of bulge (v.). Related: Bugged; bugging. As an adjective, bug-eyed recorded from 1872; so commonly used of space creatures in mid-20th C. science fiction that the initialism (acronym) BEM for bug-eyed monster was current by 1953. (etymonline)


2022 Pulitzer Prize winners

Patricia Lockwood has won the £20,000 Dylan Thomas Prize

PEN America honors activists, artists and dissidents

Stephen Colbert Presents Peabody Institutional Award to ‘Fresh Air’’s Terry Gross

Here are the finalists for CLMP’s Firecracker Awards (or, a perfect indie reading list).

French author Alice Zeniter has won the eye-popping €100,000 Dublin Literary Award.

Book Stuff

Independent book stores aren’t just points of purchase but points of contact for communities

When You Learn Your Mother Was a Serious Writer Only After She’s Gone

Author’s essay about why she plagiarized chunks of her debut novel about a young, black pregnant woman is pulled after it’s found she copied that AS WELL

Five Writers Weigh in on the Weird Shame of Publishing a Book

5 Non-Fiction Titles That Are So Vibrant They Read Like Fiction

10 Reasons Why Victorian England Is the Perfect Setting for Murder

John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee Novels, Ranked

Phoebe Atwood Taylor: Prolific Mystery Novelist and Creator of “The Codfish Sherlock”

A Brutal—and True—Piece of Writing Advice from Toni Morrison

Revisiting Gary Indiana’s Bewildering, Haunting True Crime Trilogy

Tracing the Romance Genre’s Radical Roots, from Derided “Sex Novels” to Bridgerton

On My Love of Libraries: Lessons From My Father

Bestselling novelist Don Winslow pivots from writing to politics

John Grisham: ‘Non-lawyers who write legal thrillers often get things so wrong’

How Do You Decolonize the Golden Age Mystery? Read More Historical Fiction!

Get Lit(erary) at Burning Man Publishing’s Launch Party

The Obscure London Library Where Famous Writers Go for Books

In-Person Author Events

June 6: David Duchovny signs The Reservoir, Powell’s, 6pm

June 9: David Duchovny signs The Reservoir, Seattle Town Hall, 7:30pm

June 29: Jess Walter signs The Angel of Rome and Other Stories, FolioSeattle, 6pm

Other Forms of Entertainment

Michael Keaton to direct and star in hitman-with-dementia movie

Two friends facing off resulted in the greatest Columbo episode eve

How ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ Took On Murder and the Mormon ChurchWords of the Month

Black and White and Noir All Over: A Brief History of Vintage Newspaper Crime Comic Strips

What are these serial killer subplots doing in Nora Ephron movies?

The Staircase Uncovers New Questions Within Tired True-Crime Theories

For ‘The Lincoln Lawyer,’ Manuel Garcia-Rulfo Climbs in the Front Seat

Armie Hammer Special Among New True Crime Slate at ID and Discovery+

A New Biography of Michael Cimino Is as Fascinating and Melancholy as the Filmmaker Himself [Don’t forget Thunderbolt and Lightfoot!]

Words of the Month

bug (v.2): “to annoy, irritate,” 1949, perhaps first in swing music slang, probably from bug (n.) and a reference to insect pests. Related: Bugged; bugging. (etymonline)


May 1: Kathy Boudin, Radical Imprisoned in a Fatal Robbery, Dies at 78

May 5: Alfred Baldwin, chief Watergate eavesdropper and lookout, is dead at 83

May 9: Jack Kehler, Actor in ‘The Big Lebowski,’ ‘The Man in the High Castle,’ Dies at 75

May 10: James R. Olson, ‘Andromeda Strain,’ ‘Rachel, Rachel’ Star, Dies at 91

May 12: Randy Weaver, white separatist involved in Ruby Ridge standoff with FBI, dies at 74

May 13: Robert C. McFarlane, Top Reagan Aide in Iran-Contra Affair, Dies at 84

May 13: Fred Ward Dies – ‘The Right Stuff’, ‘Tremors’ & ‘Remo Williams’ Actor Was 79

May 20: John Aylward, prominent Seattle theater, ‘ER’and ‘West Wing’ actor, dies at 75

May 20: Remembering Roger Angell, New Yorker editor and Hall of Fame baseball writer

May 26: Ray Liotta, Actor in ‘GoodFellas,’ Dies at 67

Words of the Month

bug (v.3) “to scram, skedaddle,” 1953, of uncertain origin, perhaps related to bug (v.2), and compare bug off. Bug out (n.) “precipitous retreat” (1951) is from the Korean War. (etymonline)

Links of Interest

April 29: The Prosecutor Who Put John Gotti Away Explains How He Did It

May 1: The Gonzo Brothel Owner Who Stole $550 Million from the US Government

May 2: CIA Spook Who Admitted Raping Unconscious Women Does a U-Turn: I’m Impotent!

May 4: The Long Island Cops Who Schemed To Take Over the District Attorney’s Office

May 3: Drought reveals human remains in barrel at Lake Mead

May 5: AI Identifies 160 Possible ‘Crews’ of Criminal Cops in Chicago

May 7: A Crime Beyond Belief : A Harvard-trained lawyer was convicted of committing bizarre home invasions. Psychosis may have compelled him to do it. But in a case that became a public sensation, he wasn’t the only one who seemed to lose touch with reality.

May 7: Fugitive Hitman Dies in Mysterious Canadian Plane Crash

May 7: How 5 Convicted Murderers Banded Together to Get Out of Prison

May 7: Mystery of phone in North Sea could hold key to ‘Wagatha Christie’ case

May 7: Meet the YouTube Scuba Divers Solving Cold Cases – – and Racking Up Views

May 9: MI5 asked police to spy on political activities of children in 1975, inquiry hears

May 10: Guilty! Two-Timing Hubby Is Undone by Murdered Wife’s Fitbit

May 11: Man dies from heart attack after strangling his girlfriend to death and burying her in the backyard

May 12: How ‘Leonardo DiCaprio’ Scammed a Houston Widow Out of $800K

May 12: Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre sued by state of Mississippi

May 12: On the Trail of the Shenandoah Murders at the American Investigative Society of Cold Cases

May 12: Daughter’s Hair May Help Reveal Who Poisoned Her Dad—Twice

May 17: Writing History When the Crime Is Stranger Than Fiction

May 17: When You’re This Hated, Everyone’s a Suspect

May 18: True crime tourism: The good, the bad and the Bundy

May 19: “Criminal profiling has been fooling us all.”

May 20: ‘Casanova Scammer’ Pleads Guilty to Defrauding More Than 30 Women

May 23: The most audacious Confederate spies — and how they got away with it

May 24: Pediatrician Accused of Trying to Whack Ex-Hubby Asked Her Staff for Hitman Contacts

May 25: The Most Famous NFT Artist Got Hacked, Ripping Off His Followers

May 25: See video of jewelry store employees fight off robbers

May 25: On the Radical, Popular Creator of the First Female Superhero

May 26: Former head of Louvre charged in Egyptian artefacts trafficking case

May 30: A Dead Hamster Just Helped a Man Get Off Death Row

Words of the Month

bug (v.4) “equip with a concealed microphone,” 1949, earlier “equip with an alarm system,” 1919, underworld slang, probably a reference to bug (n.1). Bug (n.) “concealed microphone” is from 1946. Related: Bugged; bugging. (etymonline)

What We’ve Been Up To


Are you looking for a good book? Do you enjoy reading about poison? If you do, I’ve got an entertaining title for you: A Taste For Poison by Neil Bradbury, Ph.D.

The premise of the book is this: “….a chemical is not intrinsically good or bad, it’s just a chemical. What differs is the intent with which the chemical is used: either to preserve life — or to take it.” (pg.7)

Bradbury forwards this Shakespearean inspired theme (from Hamlet‘s line: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”) by detailing the beneficial and lethal qualities of each of the eleven chemicals included in A Taste For Poison. By describing the underlying science of how said chemical kills on a cellular level, he conversely covers the knowledge we’ve reaped from sussing out their methods.

Now, don’t let the science scare you off. Bradbury’s explanations are clear, concise, and easily understood. (Even with fuzzy recollections of high school biology classes.)

Augmenting the science are true crime cases featuring said substances. While a number of the crimes covered are quite famous, due to A Taste For Poison‘s firm focus on the chemical itself, these well canvassed cases find new life (so to speak). Thereby making the book a pleasure to read.

Balancing out this chilling subject matter is Bradbury’s sly sense of humor. Which not only generates wry observations, it keeps the book moving smoothly onward and from sinking into its own morbidness.

Seriously, A Taste For Poison is a fascinating read. One I would recommend to any mystery reader with a curious mind as it celebrates neither crime nor criminal. Rather, it demonstrates how these substances have been misused by a few and have helped the many.


First off, I highly recommend the new Netflix series “The Lincoln Lawyer”. Yes, there was a 2011 Matthew McConaughey movie by that name, but while it is about the same character, this series is a whole, new deal. Mickey Haller is an LA defense attorney who works mostly out of his car (hence his nickname). But this new 10-episode series comes from The Brass Verdict, the second book in the series by Michael Connelly. And, no – Bosch is not in the series due to SPECTRE having those rights. [Come to think of it, is the reason McConaughey does Lincoln car commercials because he was in The Lincoln Lawyer? Just occurred to me…]

Second off (I know that isn’t what you say but why not??”), I highly recommend “The Offer”, a series about the making of The Godfather. Great cast with a story told by mixing in famous lines from the movie, reminiscent of how Shakespeare in Love used motifs from the theatre. The series is on Paramount+.

Third off, if you want to get a true history of what Ukraine has been through in its past, and if you have a strong soul, read Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands. It is NOT an easy read. Be warned that there will be times you have to put it down. It covers the years 1930 – 45 and what happened in the territory that now encompasses Poland, Ukraine, and the Baltic states, and the 14 MILLION humans murdered by Stalin and Hitler. Strong stuff and important stuff to know.

Last off, everyone should read Michael Lewis’s The Premonition. All of his books are gems. I started with Moneyball. The Premonition deals with the disparate people who were pulled together by events to fight pandemics in the US and what happened when The Big One (covid) hit. It’s a fascinating story of smart people trying to do the best thing constantly thwarted by people in power who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, understand. And while I’m at it, I’d recommend his podcast ” Against the Rules”. Like his books, he focuses on the “referees” (ie people with power) in the world who don’t know what they’re doing. A particularly stand-out episode is “The Overconfidence Game”, about idiot men explaining things they don’t understand to women who do. Sad and funny...

One of the shop’s great old (length of time, not chronological age) customers was a Pat, a gentleman collector with a vast, VAST collection of books, mostly paperbacks. He kept track of them all with a notebook that had grid paper marked up to note what he had, what he needed to upgrade in quality, and where the holes in the collection were. Here are some photos he sent me of just four of the groups. If you think you have too many books, rest easy…

These are his Ace paperbacks
These are the Ballentines
These are the Gold Medals
And these are the digests from different publishers – middle left of the shot you can see Avon’s “Murder Mystery Monthly” in numerical order, of course!

Many Thanks to Pat for sharing some views of his impressive collection.