Crime In Bricktown….

      Amber Here

Remember way back in December when I posted pictures of the seedier side of Lego’s “Modular Building Sets” (I dubbed it Bricktown just now as it’s easier to type)? The main attraction for SMB was the fact it had a Private Detective’s Agency on the second floor!

As it turns out there was a bit more intrigue to be found next door to the PI’s Office…

(Which of course is a separate build….)

The Brick Bank located next door to the PI’s office is getting robbed!

(Which incidentally is why my brother bought the set for me, he thought it was hilarious and the perfect compliment to my first set!)

IMG_2829

Here’s our Bank Robber preparing to enter the air duct which is conveniently is bereft of security features.

No one in the building suspects that a heist is happing right now! Not the staffer sitting next to the air shaft; nor the lady in the laundromat on the other side of the vault; even the bank teller is unaware of what’s happening a few short paces away!

IMG_2841

Our thief is positively giddy at the sight of his new found loot! All he needs to do now is make a clean get away – thru the secret passage way of the barbershop next door…

IMG_2849

Unfortunately our sleuth missed his opportunity to catch the thief in the act, as he was solving another puzzle (The Case of the Missing Tuna Sandwich).

IMG_2855 2

But he’ll be hot on the thief’s trail soon…

      Review

This build was perhaps a bit easier than the PI’s Office. Due to the fact you weren’t required to build so many secret nooks, exits and hidden holes. And while those made the PI’s office more difficult to build – it also made it more entertaining.

The Bank build was more straight forward. It contained a complicated aspects, such as the chandelier and the working vault door, it did grab me the same way the previous or my next build has.

(Though, to clarify it is still an Expert build – kids who are either veteran Lego build masters or kids able to follow step by step instructions without frustration or a combo of kids/older kids/adults working together to complete – should tackle this build.)

However, it does complete a great story and for that I found The Brick Bank build worth my time!

      P.S.

Don’t forget to check out my other blog: Finder Of Lost Things!

I promise it has nothing to do with Legos! And everything to do with murder.

Though in tomorrow’s episode Phoebe will enter Wood’s doghouse after a disturbing idea strikes her!

Another April Review!

IMG_2809

Amber Here!

Don’t forget to check out my other blog Finder of Lost Things! This week Phoebe nearly kills herself running up a mountain chasing possibilities!

Anne Bishop – Wild Country

Fran reviewed this novel in the April newzine – but because I love this series (and this book) so much I must add my review on top of hers! So here it is…

What do you get – when you mash together Stephen King’s The Stand with a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western populate the town with werewolves (and every other kind of were-predator you can think of) and a fringe of humanity?

Anne Bishop’s Wild Country.

This book invokes such a feeling of the old west that all I could think of was Aaron Copland’s Rodeo while I was reading it (and if you aren’t familiar with the Copland click here – ignore the first few seconds where there’s a woman speaking and focus on the music – the ballet – meh – but the music is one of my all-time favorite works). From the saloon run by Madame Sythe – complete with alcohol, gambling, and flirty girls (who ONLY flirt) to livery stables, cattle ranches and mounted police – Bishop did a great job of establishing the old west feel without taking it over the top. It was wonderful!

And here’s where I must echo Fran’s review – the events that occur in Wild Country happen concurrently with those in Etched in Bone – so in order to eke out every nuance from this story – you must read both books. You don’t have to if you don’t want to – I think you can pick up a lot in context – but not every event will make complete sense (and again you’ll miss the subtlety in Bishop’s plot). But if you mainline the entire series, starting with Written In Red, you’ll be in good shape! (And in for a treat – I adore every one of Bishop’s books.)

Either way, this book is an excellent read and distracted me from finishing my work so entirely I finally had to sit down and finish it in one marathon session so I could get things done – and because it was so good, I didn’t even feel guilty!

(And I feel guilty about virtually everything!)

April Newzine

smb

      Odds ‘N’ Ends

This Week in True-Crime Podcasts: Going Deeper on Netflix’s The Keepers


JB stumbled on this site in early March. There are interesting articles going back months. This’ll be a site we’ll keep an eye on for future links. Under “Culture”, he found this:

March 1st: Fingerprinting: How Studying These Unique Patterns Forever Changed History ~A cousin of evolution theorist Charles Darwin created the first fingerprint classification system.

Next, under “Action”, then “Crime”, he found a long list of interesting pieces, from the Lufthansa Heist to the strange story of Sir Henry Whitecliffe. Lots to poke through!


Here’s a new one for us. We’ve all heard scathing reviews by critics of movies before they open. But have you ever heard a scathing review of a movie poster before the movie opens? Here’s your chance: NPR’s Ailsa Chang talks with film critic William Bibbiani about the role movie posters play today, following the release of the poster for Quentin Tarantino’s, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

      Words of the Month

fossick: From 1850–55; compare dial. fossick troublesome person, fussick to bustle about, apparently fuss + -ick, variant of -ock. As a verb (used without object): Mining , to undermine another’s digging; search for waste gold in relinquished workings, washing places, etc., to search for any object by which to make gain: to fossick for clients. As a verb (used with object), to hunt; seek; ferret out.(thanks to dictionary.com)

      Book Events

April 1: Dana Haynes, Powell’s, 7pm

April 2: Jeffrey Siger, Third Place Books/LFP 7pm

April 8: Harlan Coben, Third Place Books/LFP 7pm

April 9: J.A. Jance, Third Place Books/LFP 7pm

April 9: Jacqueline Winspear, Elliot Bay 7pm

April 11: Mary Daheim & Candace Robb, Third Place Books, 7pm (postponed from Feb due to SNOW)

April 13: J.A. Jance, Village Books, 7pm

April 17: J.A. Jance, University Books, 7pm

April 18: Alafair Burke, Powell’s 7:30

      Links of Interest

March 1: Hallie Rubenhold: ‘Jack the Ripper’s victims have just become corpses. Can’t we do better?’

March 2: How the N.Y. Public Library Fills Its Shelves (and Why Some Books Don’t Make the Cut)

March 5: Nobel prize in literature to be awarded twice this year

March 5: The Who’s Pete Townshend announces debut novel, The Age of Anxiety

March 5: Crusader skull stolen from Dublin church recovered

March 6: The boldness factor: Here’s how to distinguish a psychopath from a ‘shy-chopath’

March 7: By the Book: Donna Leon

March 7: World Book Day features Welsh-language titles in Braille

March 7: Meet the Real Estate Appraiser of the World’s Most Gruesome Murder Sites

March 7: Penn and Teller and Mischief Theatre to produce Magic Goes Wrong

March 8: 5 New International Series Visit 5 Far-Flung Crime Scenes

March 9: Mobster Carmine Persico dies after serving 33 of 139-year sentence

March 10: 3 Billboards In Baltimore: How One Woman Is Trying To Find Her Sister’s Killer

March 10: Great Escape hero’s journal of getaway plot uncovered

March 11: Will Seattle save WA’s only Black-Owned Bookstore?

March 12: Nurse from Cornwall told of own death in pension letter

March 12: Wild goats flock into town in bad weather

March 13: Chickens ‘gang up’ to kill intruder

March 14: Crime author: Life and death on Bradford’s ‘forgotten’ streets

March 14: Stolen masterpiece was switched with fake in police sting

March 14: Frank Cali, of New York’s Gambino family, is shot dead in New York

March 15: The Wild Story of the Real-Life Mobster Who Starred in ‘The Godfather’

March 16: Charles Manson, Rose Bird, Caryl Chessman and California’s wrenching death penalty debate

March 17: An app called Citizen promises “awareness” of nearby danger. What it provides is more complicated.

March 18: What Not to Do After Robbing a Bank: Put the Money Right Back

March 20: Edible Book Festivals Are for Pun and Food Lovers

March 21: The police sex scandal that ‘rocked’ 1929 Portland – and might be tied to a notorious unsolved murder

March 21: Mount Everest: Melting glaciers expose dead bodies

March 22: How a bookshop wolf handles awkward customers

March 25: The amateur sleuth who searched for a body – and found one

March 26: A Dutchman known as the “Indiana Jones of the art world” has found a Picasso painting that was stolen 20 years ago.

March 26: Vatican women editors resign from women’s magazine

March 26: Paul McCartney’s school book sold for £46k after bidding war

March 26: Sir Edward Elgar manuscript found in autograph book

March 27: Egyptian coffin art in ‘pop-up’ show in pub

March 27: Could A Novel Lead Someone To Kill? ‘Murder By The Book’ Explores The Notion

March 28: Garfield phones beach mystery finally solved after 35 years

March 28: ‘Fake’ Botticelli painting is from artist’s studio

March 28: Super-rare Harry Potter book with title misspelling sells at auction

      Words of the Month

claque (n.): A “band of subservient followers,” 1860, from French claque “band of claqueurs” (a set of men distributed through an audience and hired to applaud the performance or the actors), agent noun from claquer “to clap” (16c.), echoic (compare clap (v.)). Modern sense of “band of political followers” is transferred from that of “organized applause at theater.” Claqueur “audience member who gives pre-arranged responses in a theater performance” is in English from 1837.

This method of aiding the success of public performances is very ancient; but it first became a permanent system, openly organized and controlled by the claquers themselves, in Paris at the beginning of the nineteenth century. [Century Dictionary]

Thanks to Says You!, episode #134

      R.I.P.

February 10 – (but no one knew until March) Jan-Michael Vincent, star of Airwolf and The Winds of War, dies at 74

March 1: Charles McCarry, master of American espionage fiction, died at 88. “There is simply no other way to say it,” Otto Penzler, a leading expert on crime and espionage fiction, wrote in the New York Sun in 2004. “Just the straightforward, inarguable truth: Charles McCarry is the greatest espionage writer that America has ever produced.”

March 4: Luke Perry of Beverly Hills, 90210 and Riverdale dies at 52

      Words of the Month

toady (n.): A “servile parasite,” from 1826, apparently shortened from toad-eater “fawning flatterer” (1742), originally (1620s) “the assistant of a charlatan,” who ate a toad (believed to be poisonous) to enable his master to display his skill in expelling the poison. The verb is recorded from 1827. Related: Toadied; toadying.

      What We’ve Been Doing

    Amber

Don’t forget! Check out my mystery blog!  Finder Of Lost Things

This week we discover Beatrice has an arch nemesis…much to everyone’s amusement!

IMG_2791

Deanna Raybourn – A Dangerous Collaboration

Veronica Speedwell is back! Woot! After the last fantastic installment, A Treacherous Curse, Victoria was left with a bit of a conundrum, i.e., her feelings for Stoker.

So what does she do? The only sensible thing…run away!

When she finally returns, six months later, she barely has time to unpack her bags before Stoker’s brother Lorde Templeton-Vane whisks her off to a remote island in Cornwell. Where nothing is exactly as it seems…

I don’t know how Deanna Raybourn does it – but the Veronica Speedwell Mysteries get better and better with every installment! And I’m not the only one who thinks so, as she is in the current class of Edgar Award nominees – for Best Novel. Not Best Historical Mystery – but Best Novel – the bluest of blue ribbons of the Edgars.

Somehow in this book, she manages to take a traditional country house mystery and gently twist it into something far more interesting than the original cloth it’s cut from. From changing up the setting from a manor house to a creaky old castle (with its own poison garden) to altering the typical countryside setting to a windswept island (full of superstition) each of the traditional features were there – but so artfully arranged that it wasn’t until I finished the book that I realized the style Rayborn had chosen.

And I read a lot of country house mysteries.

However, what Raybourn deftly handles in this book are the tangled feelings Veronica holds for Stoker (and vice versa). Never once did I roll my eyes or skip ahead because the words written on the page we so syrupy sweet or maudlin that they pushed the bounds of credulity. Raybourn did a seriously good job layering them into the narrative in just the right amount!

While this particular style, is usually bloodless, Raybourn is able to add a tremendous sense of urgency & horror in the solution, never fear. Even better? She plays by The Rules! Everything the reader needs to solve the mystery along with Veronica & Stoker is laid out before you. However, in true author form, you aren’t quite sure you’re correct until the crucial moment, which is a wonderful feeling!

If you can’t tell, I loved this book! It was an exciting and fast-paced read which didn’t disappoint!

Now you don’t have to read the rest of the books to read this one – but I highly suggest you at least read A Treacherous Curse first – as there will be large swaths which won’t make as much sense without knowledge of Veronica, Stokers and Lord Templeton-Vane’s backstories. (But seriously all the books are great and well worth your time – and they’re in paperback now – so why not give one a go?)

If you enjoy historical mysteries, you will not find this book or series wanting!

    Fran

IMG_2803

I took a quick break in my Christine Feehan binge because the new Anne Bishop “Others” novel is out, and, well…Anne Bishop. The Others. They’re my Kryptonite. Okay, one of many, but still.

If you haven’t read them, you absolutely have to start with Written in Red. The world she’s created is only somewhat similar to ours, so you need your feet firmly under you before you tackle Wild Country (Ace). You most especially need to have the fifth in the “Lakeside Courtyard” series, Etched in Bone, firmly in your mind before you tackle this one.

Wild Country takes place not long after the Great Predation, when everything is still very much in flux between the Others and the humans. The formerly human controlled town of Bennett is beginning a mixed species experiment, to see if this time it can work if the Others are in charge instead of the humans.

Bennett is very much an Old West frontier-type town, a boom town as long as humans remember who surrounds them, not just in the wild country but their neighbors. Anyone with any power is Other. Humans can build their businesses, as long as the Others – in this case the Sanguinati – approve.

But, as with our Old West, where there’s boomtown, there’s trouble.

I re-read Lake Silence, the first of the Others novels that wasn’t a Lakeside Courtyard novel, just to remind myself of the world. Lake Silence is a much lighter-hearted book. Not that what happens to Vicki isn’t dark, but between the Sproingers and Yorick’s Vigorous Appendage, Lake Silence was a fun read.

Wild Country hearkens back to Written in Red in many ways. It’s very dark, bad things happen to good people with no one able to stop it, and honestly, I think it’s some of Anne Bishop’s finest writing. But you have to have your feet firmly entrenched in the events that happen in Etched in Bone, not only to understand the severity of what happens, but also because some of the Lakeside Courtyard folks are involved in this story.

I was up until 3:44 in the morning finishing this.  And I think I’ll have to go back and re-read it, because I was tearing through to find out what happened so quickly that I’m sure I missed bits.

What an amazing series. In fact, I may just go back and re-read the whole thing, but reverse the order of the last two books, so that I get that hard one-two punch, followed by life in Sproing, which is decidedly less dramatic, despite the eyeball in the wave-cooker.

Woof. I’m exhausted. But in a really good way. Thank you, Ms. Bishop!

    JB

9780062664488

Magnificent, stunning, a massive and major work, an epic journey into our contemporary heart of darkness.

 

 

 

 

 

9781400096930

 

 

 

I have to believe that this really is the end of the saga due to the way the story arcs across the three books. Winslow said that he was done after The Power of the Dog.

 

 

 

 

9781101873748

 

Then he swore he was done after the sequel, The Cartel.

But The Border really must be it – or he continues with secondary characters… which he is capable of doing.

If you are at all interested in his new book, you must start with Power of the Dog. The Cartel begins soon afterward, as then does The Border. These are not really three books, these are three sections of one massive story.

 

Its a commitment, yes. It would be a marathon, yes. But if we’re in a time in which folks will binge hours upon hours of a TV series, it is nothing to commit to binging this set of books.

So do it.


Support

Individuality, Neighborhoods & People

Shop Small Businesses

Saturday, April 27th ~ Independent Bookstore Day!

Lefty Awards

spenser-sembrat-727427-unsplash

This weekend Left Coast Crime held its annual convention in Vancouver, British Columbia – and you know what that means….This year’s Lefty Awards were given out! Here are the winner and nominees, grats to both.

Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery Novel

Ellen Byron – Mardi Gras Murder 
Kellye Garrett – Hollywood Ending
Timothy Hallinan – Nighttown
Leslie Karst – Death al Fresco 
Cynthia Kuhn – The Spirit in Question
Catriona McPherson – Scot Free 

Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel (Bruce Alexander Memorial)
for books covering events before 1960

Rhys Bowen – Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding 
David Corbett – The Long-Lost Love Letters of Doc Holliday 
Laurie R. King – Island of the Mad
Sujata Massey – The Widows of Malabar Hill 
Ann Parker – A Dying Note
Iona Whishaw – It Begins in Betrayal 

Lefty for Best Debut Mystery Novel

Tracy Clark – Broken Places 
A.J. Devlin – Cobra Clutch
A.J. Finn – The Woman in the Window 
Dianne Freeman – A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder 
Aimee Hix – What Doesn’t Kill You
Keenan Powell – Deadly Solution
J.G. Toews – Give Out Creek

Lefty for Best Mystery Novel

Lou Berney – November Road 
Matt Coyle – Wrong Light 
Louise Penny – Kingdom of the Blind 
Lori Rader-Day – Under a Dark Sky 
Terry Shames – A Reckoning in the Back Country 
James W. Ziskin – A Stone’s Throw 

Another March Review!

IMG_2818

Amber Here!

This book/series is so brilliant it deserves a second review!

Don’t forget to check out my other blog – Finder of Lost Things! This week Phoebe winds up in another shed waiting for a man about a boat on the way to the gang’s group vacation!

Maureen Johnson – The Vanishing Stair

Now Fran reviewed this book back in March’s Newzine -but I must add my own words to the wonderfulness that is this book! So read her excellent review (click here then scroll down or reread the whole newzine – your choice), then read mine.

Because we both agree you need to start this series posthaste!
Maureen Johnson should sideline as a magician.

Why? She has some serious skill in sleight of hand!

Like any skilled magician, she draws her audiences eye in one direction – while the real trick is occurring someplace else – leaving her readers to sit in awe of her skill.

By the end of The Vanishing Stair, Johnson gives us the answers we were looking for at the end of Truly Devious; who the pair in the picture were, who kidnapped Ellingham’s wife and daughter, what happened to the missing student and many other solutions besides.

But our author is tricksy.

While giving us the answers we crave – Johnson gives us more questions, complicated questions and subtly unravels a case we thought neatly sewn up at the end of Truly Devious. All without her readers fully realizing what’s happening until the final chapter’s finished.

Seriously this book is excellent.

If Johnson’s aiming for a trilogy, then this is one of the best, outstanding and brilliant middle books I’ve read in a very long time. In fact, it’s just a clever mystery on its own – but you have to read the first book first thus making this a superb middle mystery.

What’s even better? I have a sneaking suspicion Johnson’s sleight of hand doesn’t end in this installment – I think both our cold, unraveled & current cases link together to form something far more sinister than we currently suspect. Something which will impact Stevie (our heroine) in ways that she and we cannot yet foresee.

I cannot wait to see where exactly the next book leads us!