July 2021

Seriously Cool

Inside Lin-Manuel Miranda’s New NYC Bookstore That Takes Design Cues From Broadway

You Won’t Find the Hardcover of Dave Eggers’s Next Novel on Amazon. “The Every,” a follow-up to his hit book “The Circle,” will be available in independent bookstores in October. The paperback will arrive just six weeks later, but the hardcover will remain exclusive to independent stores.

The People Have Spoken: Jeff Bezos Should Go to Space and Stay There

If even superheroes can’t have fun sex, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Why bother organizing your books? A messy personal library is proof of life

The Early, Wild, Exploited, and Sometimes Radical Days of the Comic Book Industry in America

Did you know that Daryl Hannah created best literary board game of all time?

Attention: LeVar Burton wants to read your short stories.

The Surprisingly Fun Story of How the Popsicle Was Invented by an 11-Year-Old Boy

Serious Stuff

Whatever Happened to Elise De Viane? On The Mystery Woman in Dashiell Hammett’s 1931 Sexual Assault Case

How the Father of Modern Policing ‘Abolished’ the Police

Is Poe the most influential American writer? A new book offers evidence

Jack Ruby Is the Key to the Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy Theories. So Why Have We Forgotten About His Trial?

The D.C. crime lab is in trouble — again

‘If publishers become afraid, we’re in trouble’: publishing’s cancel culture debate boils over

Inside the UK’s top secret ‘Increment’: Unit of real-life James Bonds is so classified, the British government won’t admit they exist

Why the US government murdered Fred Hampton

Narco Hitmen on Jet Skis Sprayed a Cancun Beach With Bullets, Killing Two People

Investigators Find Remains of 17 Victims Under A Suspected Serial Killer’s House

Maine tries to shift some costs of recycling onto companies instead of taxpayers

The Federal Writers’ Project created jobs, built trust, and invigorated American literature. We should try it again.

Florida Republican Threatened to Call in Hit Squad to Make Rival ‘Disappear’

Why Have Local Newspapers Collapsed? Blame Readers.

Tell Us If You Know More About These Financial Crimes Investigated By the SEC

How Our Investigation Into Untested DNA Evidence Helped Solve a 1983 Murder

How the Banning of Joyce’s Ulysses Led to “The Grandest Obscenity Case in the History of Law and Literature”

‘The Mafia Was Behind This’: Why Are Politicians Ignoring a Climate Activist’s Murder?

In a Muffled Hong Kong, Bookstores Offer Freedom of Thought

Ex-Marine and Neo-Nazi Told Followers How to Shoot Truckers to Dismantle Supply Chain

Right-Wing Death Squad’: Active-Duty Marine Plotted to Bomb DNC, Murder Black People, Feds Say

Bill Cosby Walks Free From Prison After Conviction Is Tossed

Local Stuff

A key witness was scared to testify in a murder trial. Days later, his tavern burned down and he vanished

Two Girls Were Snatched From a Tiny Logging Town. Is This Man Responsible?

Here’s when Seattle and King and Snohomish counties plan to open all their library branches

Goodbye to Reckless Video, Seattle’s next-to-last video store

From a new location in Pioneer Square, Arundel Books is in the business of selling dreams

A UW student with a 2-book deal and more from this week in Seattle Times books coverage

Price Gougers Rip Off Pacific Northwest Heatwave Victims

Words of the Month

screwball (n): crazy, insane, odd or eccentric, predates the “screwball comedy” of Hollywood. From baseball, a pitch that breaks the other way from a curve ball, invented in the 1890s. (Says You! #1523)

SPECTRE

Amazon Worker Who Won $1 Million Delighted He Can Now Pay His Bills

Amazon’s Cost Saving Routing Algorithm Makes Drivers Walk Into Traffic

Amazon provides $100 million to build affordable housing near Sound Transit stations

Amazon files 13 lawsuits against alleged counterfeiters

Amazon’s not so secret problem: bogus product reviews

Amazon Workers Call for Strike on Prime Day in Germany

Internal Amazon documents shed light on how company pressures out 6% of office workers

Amazon is said to be in talks to buy stake in self-driving truck startup Plus

Footage of Amazon destroying thousands of unsold items in Britain prompts calls for official investigation

Amazon faces MPs’ scrutiny after destroying laptops, tablets and books

Amazon is destroying thousands of unsold books

Amazon Acquires Encrypted Messaging App Wickr

Lessons of a self-published writer: independent bookstores are good, Amazon not so much.

Black and Brown Amazon Drivers Face Guns, Racial Slurs, and Dog Bites on the Job

Amazon delivery contractors quit Portland routes, citing ‘unsafe’ work expectations

It’s Finally Clear Why Amazon Bought Whole Foods

Oo7=’dd Stuff

This is, of course, all fiction – fictional characters in fictional movies. But the work and care that went into creating this theory makes it worth the read ~ JB

Wild Fan Theory That Sean Connery’s Character In ‘The Rock’ Is Actually James Bond Is Hard To Deny

Words of the Month

blockhead (n.): 1540s, also block-head – a “stupid person,” someone whose head is impenetrable, from the head-shaped oaken block used by wig-makers and hat-makers, though the insulting sense is equally old.

Awards

David Diop’s At Night All Blood is Black has won the 2021 International Booker Prize

Here are the winners of this year’s Pulitzer Prize

Here are the winners of the 2021 Orwell Prizes

Hilary Mantel has won the Walter Scott Prize . . . again

The shortlist for this year’s Arthur C. Clarke Award is all debuts

Joy Williams has won the 2021 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction

The Macavity Award BALLOT 2021your chance to vote!

Words of the Month

nincompoop (n.) 1670s, nicompoop; modern form from 1713. Despite similarity [noted by Johnson] to Latin legal phrase non compos mentis “insane, mentally incompetent” (c. 1600), the connection is denied by the OED’s etymologists because the earliest forms lack the second -n-. Weekley thinks first element may be a proper name, and cites Nicodemus, which he says was used in French for “a fool,” or Nicholas. Klein says it is probably an invented word. Century Dictionary has no objection to the non compos mentis theory. (etymonline)

Book Stuff

The Conservative Publishing Industry Has a Joe Biden Problem

The Literature of the Con: Great Books About Grifters and Swindlers

A Translator Considers the Joys of Crime Fiction

James Lee Burke Goes Time Traveling

How to Write an Effective Villain

How America’s Weirdest Guidebooks Were Funded by the Government

The Shadow Was Pulp Fiction’s Original Pop Culture Phenomenon. Now, He’s Mostly Forgotten. What Happened?

The Conservative Publishing Industry Has a Joe Biden Problem

New Publisher Says It Welcomes Conservative Writers Rejected Elsewhere

Trump’s Memoir Is Bringing Publishers to a Long-Overdue Reckoning With Truth

Brontë Auction Is on Hold as Group Tries to Keep Library Intact

A Brief History of the Rise—and Evolution—of True Crime Books

What Makes a Killer Plot Twist?

Queer Crime Fiction: A Roundtable Discussion

On the destruction by fire of the greatest library in the world you’ve never heard of

How Elizabeth Bowen’s Big Houses Laid the Groundwork for Irish Domestic Noir

The Man Rewriting Prison from Inside

Deadpool Creator Fabian Nicieza on (Finally) Finishing His Novel

Stealing Science-Fiction: Why the Heist Works so Well in in Sci-Fi

Donna Leon: A Crime Reader’s Guide to the Classics

Archivists Find Vincent Van Gogh Sketches Used as a Bookmark

Parul Khakhar: The Indian stay-at-home mum trolled for poem on Covid dead

The clever folds that kept letters secret

‘Most of Australia’s literary heritage is out of print’: the fight to rescue a nation’s lost books

Mystery book-lover at Waterstones Yarm gives £100 of vouchers to shoppers

Cozy Mysteries for Gardeners

The Hot-Spot Library Was Born In Two Shipping Containers In A Cape Town Slum

The Crime Books Top Authors Read Twice Because They’re Just That Good   

The PI of Color: When It’s About More Than the Crime

A Flight Attendant Drafted Her Novel on Cocktail Napkins. It Took Off.

Seven Mystery Novels Where the Crimes Are Motivated by Books

Author Events – with the country opening up, maybe we’ll see the return of in-person signings? We’ll start watching!

Other Forms of Entertainment

Jamie Lee Curtis’ Blumhouse Adapting Series Based on Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta Books

Listen, There’s This Charade Remake Where Mark Wahlberg Speaks French and I Really Want To Tell You About It

‘Lupin’ Took the World by Stealth. Part 2 Can’t Be So Sneaky

The Curious Case of “Herlock Sholmès”: When the creators of Lupin and Sherlock got into a copyright dispute, the solution was as inelegant as it was hilarious.

For Heaven’s Sake Makes True Crime Feel Cozy

Trump wanted Justice Department to stop SNL from making fun of him, report says

Harrison Ford Injured While Filming ‘Indiana Jones 5’

Michael Connelly Says Bosch Is Just Like Batman …

‘The Limey’: How Steven Soderbergh Subverted the Classic Revenge Film

Soderbergh, Cheadle return to Detroit in ‘No Sudden Move’

Steven Soderbergh Is Thinking About An Ocean’s 14 Says Don Cheadle

Every Unmade Alfred Hitchcock Movie Explained

Words of the Month

sucker (n): someone not weened, innocent and gullible to the ways of the world. 1600s. (Says You! #1523)

R.I.P.

June 2: Dan Frank, Adventurous Pantheon Book Editor, Is Dead at 67

June 3: F. Lee Bailey, tenacious defense lawyer for the famous and infamous, dies at 87

June 6: Clarence Williams III, ‘Mod Squad’, American Gangster, and Prince’s dad in ‘Purple Rain,’ dies at 81

June 7: Richard Robinson, who turned Scholastic into a children’s book giant, dies at 84

June 13: Ned Beatty, actor Known for ‘Network’ and ‘Deliverance,’ Dies at 83

June 14: Richard Baron, Who Published Baldwin and Mailer, Dies at 98

June 18: Frank Bonner, who played Herb Tarlek on ‘WKRP in Cincinnati,’ dies at 79

June 19: Vance Trimble, who won Pulitzer Prize by exposing congressional corruption, dies at 107

June 21: Robert Quackenbush, Creator of Animal Detective Stories, Dies at 91

June 27: ‘Cops’ Creator John Langley Dead at 78

June 28: Robert Keppel, who spent his life chasing serial killers including Ted Bundy and the Green River killer, dies at 76 [We had the pleasure, the honor, to host Bob a couple of times for signings. His Signature Killers is fascinating. Beyond that, he’d often stop in when in downtown Seattle just to say hello and chat. He was a nice man. Do yourself a favor and read the obituary if you don’t know about him. He led an impressive and important life. ~ eds.]

Links of Interest

May 31: The Somerton man died alone on a beach in 1948. Now Australian scientists are close to solving the mystery

June 1: An Inside Look at One Woman’s Life in the FBI Academy

June 1: An Apple Detective Rediscovered 7 Kinds Of Apples Thought To Be Extinct

June 1: How Frigid Conditions and a Failed Execution in 17th Century England Pointed the Way To a Scientific Breakthrough

June 2: How Forensic Anthropologists Read the Skeletons of the Dead For Clues

June 2: From prison, a convicted drug dealer designed a board game. It challenges players to go legit

June 3: Hollywood Flashback – Zoot Suit Riots Rocked L.A. in the Summer of 1943

June 3: 1914 Babe Ruth trading card valued at record $6 million

June 4: The man who uncovered Lou Gehrig’s letters

June 7: Australia’s Most Wanted Crime Bosses May Have Infiltrated Its Biggest Airline to Traffic Drugs

June 9: The Scottish Anthropologist Who Inspired Dracula

June 10: Get away from it all with a trip to this Japanese book hotel

June 11: Kerry Greenwood’s Life In Crime

June 11: A Very Memorable Monster: Fictional Serial Killers You Can’t Forget

June 11: Edgar Allan Poe’s Other Obsession

June 12: Detectives Just Used DNA To Solve A 1956 Double Homicide. They May Have Made History

June 15: How the FBI’s National Stolen Art File Reunites Lost Works With Their Rightful Owners

June 15: Rare orchids found in City of London bank’s rooftop garden

June 16: California Woman Steals Car With Baby Inside—Then Tries to Give Kid to Stranger: Police

June 15: “They Wanted Something for Nothing”: The Many Cons of the Yellow Kid

June 16: The Balloon-Hoax of Edgar Allan Poe and Early New York Grifters

June 16: British Woman Guilty of Killing Sleeping Hubby With Boiling Sugar Water

June 17: A Former Cop Has Confessed to Being a Serial Killer

June 17: Police Ask Public to Be ‘Vigilant’ After Body Parts Found in Multiple Locations

June 18: Criminals Are Sending Malicious Hardware Wallets to Steal People’s Crypto

June 18: We Talked to the Realtor Who Sold the Infamous Manson Family Murder House

June 18: Husband Confesses to Murdering Wife As Smartwatch Data Exposes His Cover-up

June 18: The Case of the Stolen Watch Detective

June 19: The Rosenbergs were executed for spying in 1953. Can their sons reveal the truth?

June 19: As Money Launderers Buy Dalís, U.S. Looks at Lifting the Veil on Art Sales

June 19: When a grifter gets swindled: Former GOP chairman accused of stealing from Paul Manafort’s PAC

June 19: Scottish Man Who Faked His Death in California Is Jailed for Rape

June 20: Enthusiastic Amateurs Advance Science As They Hunt For Exotic Mushrooms

June 21: California man arrested over theft of 42,000lbs of pistachios

June 22: Murder accused ‘thought family was hoarding gold hidden from Nazis’

June 22: The Book Smugglers Who Defied the Nazis — Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum’s New Exhibit Chronicles a Stunning True Story

June 22: I’ve Cracked Zodiac, a French Engineer Says. Online Sleuths Are Skeptical

June 23: ‘Redneck Rave’ Descends Into Throat Slashing, Impalements, and Mass Arrests

June 23: AI helps restore Rembrandt’s Night Watch masterpiece

June 24: No one knows why Ambrose Bierce disappeared, but here are some theories

June 24: Which writers have the best tombstone inscriptions?

June 25: Letter From ‘Father of Vaccination’ Edward Jenner Sold at Auction

June 25: Police Swapped a Cocaine Shipment with Icing Sugar – and Ruined Their Own Case

June 26: ‘At first I thought, this is crazy’: the real-life plan to use novels to predict the next war

June 28: The FBI searched cave for Civil War gold, fearing Pa. officials would seize it, new court documents

June 28: A Maryland attic hid a priceless trove of Black history. Historians and activists saved it from auction

June 28: Turkey’s mysterious ‘portal to the underworld’

June 29: Picasso painting found as builder arrested over art heist

Words of the Month

whackjob (n): one whose beliefs are not based in reality, first used in Elmore Leonard’s 1992 Rum Punch. (Says You! #1523)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

The Broken Spine – Dorothy St. James

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this mystery. 

Tru, our librarian heroine, spoke to the not-so-secret rebellious streak housed in my heart of hearts. By not only saving hundreds of books – that her town’s leading lights consigned to the dump for being “obsolete” – then used said books to open a secret lending library! (Can it get any better?) As the aforementioned leading lights, decided to transform Tru’s beloved library into a bookless technology center. 

But no good deed goes unpunished.

Just as Tru and her cohorts are spit polishing the brass for the secret opening of their clandestine reading room – one of the driving forces behind this abominable shift in biblio-philosophies is found crushed beneath a shelf of DVDs. And Tru, who didn’t mince any words about his bookless library scheme, is suspect numero uno.

So now, unless she’s willing to rat-out her secret project (Which isn’t going to happen even if it gives her an iron-clad alibi) Tru must figure out who actually did the deed to save her own bacon!

While this is a cozy mystery, it’s not a cute one, and it’s a fine first in series. St. James does a good job in adding layers to her characters and nuance to her plot. If you enjoy reading biblio mysteries, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with The Broken Spine.

Oh, and did I mention there’s a cat named Dewey that has his paws all over things?

Fran

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is swallows.jpg



It’s summertime, vacation time, time away from school. So let me drag you back to high school via the inestimable Lisa Lutz. Trust me, even if you’ve been to boarding school, you haven’t been to Stonebridge Academy, a New England prep school with a terrible secret.

Alexandra Witt didn’t really want to teach at Stonebridge, but her famous author dad knew she needed a job after things went sideways at her last teaching gig, and he got her a place at the Academy. Alex takes the job, but with serious reservations; she and her father have a difficult past.

It doesn’t take Alex long to figure out the usual issues: teens with issues and egos, teachers with issues and egos, and an eccentric curriculum designed to allow students freedom of expression, which doesn’t always bring out the best in, well, anybody

But there’s something else going on, and because of Alex’s unorthodox teaching methods, she is soon privy to information she didn’t want to have. With strong-willed students going their own ways, Alex is caught up in a really ugly situation, and getting out of it could be incredibly difficult. And dangerous

The Swallows is Lisa Lutz at her best. It’s dark, true, but her trademark humor is liberally sprinkled throughout the novel, and her pacing is breathtaking Told from several points of view, not just Alex’s, you get a good look at what goes on at Stonebridge Academy, and it’s a testament to Lisa’s talent that each voice is unique. There’s never any doubt as to who is talking.

If I have a complaint, it’s that there are so many people – not narrators, but characters in general – that there were times when, having put the book down because stupid life dragged me away, that I had to figure out who was whom again. But then, I’m getting older. These things happen.

The mere fact that The Swallows is a Lisa Lutz novel should be enough to recommend it to you, if you’ve read her other work. If you haven’t, then by all means, grab it and dive in. Oh, you’re in for quite a ride, even if you’re back in school during summer vacation!

JB

Around the time the shop was closing, the second novel by Andy Weir was set to be published. I’d loved both the book and the movie The Martian, and had high hopes for this new one Artemis. Over three years later I picked up a copy and have to say it was a disappointment. The science that underlies the fiction, as with The Martian, gives it the foundation of believablility. But the voice of the central character is annoying. The story would’ve been better, sleeker, had it been written in third person. But there you go. If you want a crime story set in the first settlement on the moon, and what the science and physics of it would be, give it a try.

MONDAY, JUNE 28, 2021, 4:35PM IN JB’S YARD

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

June 2021

Can You Play the Word FART in Scrabble?

Florida High School Gives Refunds After Editing 80 Student Yearbook Pics to Be ‘More Modest’

MI5 reveals letters from children who want to be next James Bond

Finally, it will come as no secret that we are no fans of Amazon. In fact, for years we’ve referred to them as SPECTRE due to what we feel is their nefarious practices. Now, with the news that Amazon is in talks to buy MGM for $9Billion, the circle comes around. MGM is the owner of the James Bond movies. If Amazon does buy the entertainment behemoth, SPECTRE will own SPECTRE…

Serious Stuff

In The Ransomware Battle, Cybercriminals Have The Upper Hand

“This Was Devastating to Everybody”: Inside the New York Post’s Blowup Over a Bogus Story at the Border

The Enduring Mystery of H.H. Holmes, America’s ‘First’ Serial Killer

More than two dozen AR-15 rifles from the Miami Police Department are ‘unaccounted for’

Crime without punishment—why are so many murders in America going unsolved?

This legislator is trying to limit the “enormous economic and social power” of . . . fact-checkers.

The Worsening Massachusetts Crime Lab Scandal Is Just the Beginning

A new fellowship will provide unrestricted $25,000 grants to Puerto Rican writers

Russian Show ‘Fake News’ Wages Lone Battle Against The Kremlin’s TV Propaganda

The dangerous secrets inside the Secret Service, and how the agency has been shortchanged

Gaza’s largest bookstore has been destroyed.

How to Actually Prosecute the Financial Crimes of the Very Rich

How Hacking Became a Professional Service in Russia

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley resigns over mishandling of MOVE bombing remains

Sacco and Vanzetti’s Trial of the Century Exposed Injustice in 1920s America

Did Paying a Ransom for a Stolen Magritte Painting Inadvertently Fund Terrorism?

How McCarthyism, the Rise of Tabloids, and J. Edgar Hoover’s Quest to Prove Himself “Manly” Led to a Surveillance State

If our counting is right, there were 52 mass shootings in April, 2021. In May – and the month isn’t over as this is typed – there have been 65, more than 2 a day. If it feels as if they’re happening all the time it is because they are.

Local Stuff

Former Vancouver tour operator sentenced to one-year jail term for ticket scam in New Orleans

East Vancouver parents launch diversity book drive

Tacoma Public Library joins the trend, opting to permanently end fines for overdue items

Vancouver: Books and Murder in Terminal City Crime and the City visits the rain-soaked mean streets of Vancouver for a look at the latest in Canadian crime writing.

Meet Three Trees Books, the tiny bookstore that makes a big impact on its Burien community

Mia Zapata: Man Convicted of Murdering Gits singer Died in Prison

A new Barnes & Noble opens in Kirkland, showing how the bookstore chain is changing

J.D. Chandler, prolific chronicler of Portland murder and corruption, dies at 60

Florida man arrested on [Portland] TriMet bus with guns, ammunition and other weapons

Odd Stuff

What 8 of the World’s Most Famous Books and Texts Smell Like, According to Science

4,000-Year-Old Ancient Egyptian Writing Board Shows Student’s Spelling Mistakes

FBI Releases Long-Withheld File on Kurt Cobain

German ‘dead fraudster’ exposed by pet poodle in Majorca

Florida Bank Robbery Suspect Used Taxicab as Getaway Car

Ohio Man Allegedly Posed as CIA, FBI, and DEA in Single Traffic Stop

Philly DA Candidate Forced to Address Paralegal Found Dead in His Mansion

Man Legally Changes Name To James Bond Villain Before Allegedly Plotting With His Mom To Kill Dad Over Inheritance

Evelyn Waugh’s twelve-bedroom house—complete with party barn—is now for sale.

VOTER FRAUD: ‘I Wanted Trump to Win’: Husband Charged in Wife’s Murder Also Used Her Name to Vote

Fun fact: Courtney Love read Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy” for her Mickey Mouse Club audition.

A New Crazy Conspiracy on the Right Has People Filming Wood

The Persistent Mystery of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Name

Cracking the Code of Letterlocking

Apparently the Brontës all died so early because they spent their lives drinking graveyard water.

Here’s a wild story about a publishing scam that includes Morgan Freeman and 9/11

Denise Mina: ‘Edgar Allan Poe is so good I feel sick with jealousy’

77 Strange, Funny, and Magnificent Book Titles You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

John Steinbeck’s estate urged to let the world read his shunned werewolf novel

Somerton man: Body exhumed in bid to solve Australian mystery

Lost village emerges from Italian lake

From James Grady (Six Days of the Condor): The Time I Watched Norman Mailer Try to Fight G. Gordon Liddy in the Street

QAnon Crowd Convinced UFOs Are a Diversion From Voter Fraud

Death Row Inmates In Wyoming Played Baseball To Decide Their Fate

​Man Miraculously Survived Execution By Firing Squad

Poe’s Best-Selling Book During His Lifetime Was a Guide to Seashells

The Untold Story of Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard’s Secret Pact With Nazi Propagandist Leni Riefenstahl

Words of the Month

Why is it that “slim chance” and “fat chance” mean the same thing?

SPECTRE

California Appeals Court Rules Amazon Can Be Held Liable for Third-Party Sellers’ Faulty Products

Amazon had a big year, but paid no tax to Luxembourg, its European headquarters

Why I am deleting Goodreads and maybe you should, too …

Employee Charges Amazon With Violating Labor Law at NYC Union Drive

Amazon Hoping to Invoke the Power of Positive Affirmations To Reduce Workplace Injuries

Amazon hit with antitrust lawsuit. D.C. attorney general says it drives prices up

Bernie Sanders Is Fighting a Massive ‘Bailout’ to Jeff Bezos’ Space Company

Amazon Workers Are Petitioning the Company to Bring Its Pollution to Zero By 2030

Here’s a Question: Why does Amazon even bother with the entertainment? – Commentary from the NY Times

Words of the Month

fast can mean to stay in place (“hold fast”) or to move quickly

Awards

Here are the winners of Publishing Triangle’s 33rd annual Triangle Awards.

Trevor Shikaze is the winner of n+1’s inaugural Anthony Veasna So Prize.

The Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses has split its prize money among the longlist

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi and Patrice Lawrence have won the Jhalak prize for writers of color.

Book Stuff

‘Once-in-a-Generation’ Rare Books Auction at Christie’s Brings in $12.4 M.

Why Len Deighton’s spy stories are set to thrill a new generation

Why literary novels about wrenching events are taking more and more cues from crime writing

My First Thriller: Harlan Coben

The Crime Novelist Who Wrote His Own Death Scene

Books become free speech battleground

How Much Do Authors Make Per Book?

B. Traven: Fiction’s Forgotten Radical

This surreal seaside library will transport you into the clouds

St. Louis’ Over-the-Top Library with a Secret Treasure

Early Medieval English literature was a sordid swamp of wanton plagiarism!

Highway of Darkness: A Mystery Reader’s Road Trip Up California’s Highway 99

The Enduring Mystery of Mary Roberts Rinehart, America’s Answer to Agatha Christie

How an Irish Barman Created a Home for New York’s Literary Elite

The language of blurbs, decoded

This American Monk Travels the World to Rescue Ancient Documents From Oblivion

“Get in, get out. Don’t linger. Go on.” Read Raymond Carver’s greatest writing advice

Other Forms of Entertainment

The Son of Sam Murders Never Really Added Up. There’s Evidence David Berkowitz Wasn’t Working Alone.

Netflix Is Serving Up Girlpower, and Gunpowder Milkshake This Summer

James Bond: Why Dali’s Tarot Cards Were Cut From Live and Let Die

Indiana Jones 5 Script Is Everything Mads Mikkelsen Wished It To Be

Hitman convicted of murdering T2 Trainspotting actor Bradley Welsh

Discovery+ Orders Ghislaine Maxwell Docuseries From James Patterson

Book Nook: Eternal by Lisa Scottoline: Vick Mickunas’ interview with Lisa Scottoline

The Sopranos‘ Greatest Episode: How ‘Pine Barrens’ Was Made

Gabagool and Malpropisms: Dialogue Lessons from ‘The Sopranos

New Jersey Man Killed Outside Strip Club Immortalized on ‘The Sopranos’

Alec Baldwin Asked to Play Character Who Whacked Tony Soprano

Westlake’s Memory to Adapted to the Big Screen

How ‘Mare of Easttown’ Is Breaking New Ground for HBO and the Prestige Crime Series

HBO Announces New Episode of True Crime Docuseries ‘I’ll Be Gone in the Dark’

Book Nook: A Lot Can Happen in the Middle of Nowhere: The Untold Story of the Making of Fargo by Todd Melby

John Ridley to Write the Next Volume of Black Panther Comics

A Brief History of the Serial Killer Movie That Was Supposed to Be David Fincher’s Follow-Up to ‘Zodiac’

The Best TV Crime Dramas, as Recommended By TV Crime Drama Creators

Back to the Movies: ‘Mission: Impossible 7’ Will Remind Us Why We Need Movie Theaters

‘Nightmare Alley’: A Restoration to Dream About

Podcast: Library of Mistakes

Bluffs, Tells, and Martinis: An Analysis of the ‘Casino Royale’ Poker Scene

Words of the Month

to dust can mean both to remove dust and to add dust

RIP

May 13: Norman Lloyd, ‘St. Elsewhere’ Actor & Hitchcock Colleague, Dies At 106

May 13: Spencer Silver, an inventor of Post-it Notes, is dead at 80

May 19: Charles Grodin, ‘Midnight Run,’ ‘Heartbreak Kid’ star, dies at 86 [see also A Love Letter to the Late, Great Charles Grodin]

May 26: Eric Carle, Creator Of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar,’ Has Died

May 29: B.J. Thomas, Oscar-winner for Butch Cassidy song, dies at 78

May 29: Gavin McLeod – “Mary Tyler Moore Show”, Kelly’s Heroes, “Hawaii 5-0” actor – dead at 90

May 31: RIP Paul Soles, the Original Voice of Spider-Man

May 31: Buddy Van Horn, Clint Eastwood’s Stunt Double and Director, Dies at 92

Links of Interest

May 1: Alaska’s first CSI takes on blood and burglaries in sub-zero weather

May 1: Tattoo Artist Myra Brodsky On Craftsmanship, Magic And Film Noir

May 2: Fortune Teller Plots Brutal Murder Of A 70-Year-Old War Vet For His Coin Collection

May 3: Canadian sign war captivates the internet

May 4: The Tragic True Story Of Hawaii’s Massie Trial

May 4: Feds Say Accused Swindler Lied About Money, Trump, Cancer

May 4: How the ‘Queen of Thieves’ Conned French Riviera Wealthy

May 4: Belgian farmer accidentally moves French border

May 5: ‘We go after them like pitbulls’ – the art detective who hunts stolen Picassos and lost Matisses

May 5: Was the Story of ‘Catch Me If You Can’ Frank Abagnale Jr.’s Greatest Con?

May 6: ‘I couldn’t be with someone who liked Jack Reacher’: can our taste in books help us find love?

May 8: The Time When Sir David Attenborough Helped Solve A Murder

May 8: Duck Tales: Man Uses Naval Skills To Get 11 Ducklings Down 9 Stories

May 10: The Louvre’s Looted Renaissance Masterpiece: New Book Explores the Plundering of a Veronese Painting

May 10: ‘Ogre of the Ardennes’ serial killer dies in French prison hospital

May 11: Noir and Neon: A Match Made in San Francisco

May 11: The “Three-Dimensional Game-Board” of Agatha Christie’s Country Houses

May 12: An Archive of Images from San Quentin State Prison

May 12: NFL-quality QB Colin Kaepernick’s first book as editor comes out October 12

May 13: U.S. Marshal Framed Ex-GF as Rape Predator, Had Her Jailed for Months: Docs

May 13: Amateur sleuths traced stolen Cortés papers to U.S. auctions. Mexico wants them back

May 13: A new digital library in Rome lets commuters read unlimited e-books for free.

May 14: Pride and Property: on the Homes of Jane Austen

May 15: Neo-Nazi Dumps 3 Bodies at New Mexico Hospital and Runs: FBI

May 17: The Passenger: Lost German novel makes UK bestseller list 83 years on

May 17: Master Lock Has Had a Hold on the Industry for 100 Years

May 18: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Publishing Your Work in a Literary Magazine

May 18: Galapagos Islands: Erosion fells Darwin’s Arch

May 18: After flunking out of service training, this dog is now helping solve arson cases

May 18: Restitution of Franz Marc Painting Sets New Precedent for Art Sold Under Nazi Duress

May 18: A Revelatory Exhibition Traces the Poet Dante’s Path Through Exile in Italy, and the Artworks He Likely Encountered—See Images Here

May 19: Infrared technology shows how a 15th-century French ruler erased his deceased wife from art history

May 20: Hidden Inscriptions Discovered in Anne Boleyn’s Execution Prayer Book

May 21: Researchers Discover Hidden Portrait in 15th-Century Duchess’ Prayer Book

May 21: Russian police find buried trove of jewellery from World Cup heist

May 21: Safecrackers in Fact and Fiction

May 21: Albert Einstein letter with E=mc2 equation in his own hand sells for $1.2m

May 24: Body of missing man found in Spanish dinosaur statue

May 24: Rosary Beads Owned by Mary, Queen of Scots, Stolen in Heist at English Castle

May 25: Emily Brontë’s handwritten poems are highlight of ‘lost library’ auction

May 25: The Life and Legacy of Philip Agee, the CIA’s First Defector and Most Committed Dissident

May 25: You can now buy E.L. Doctorow’s gorgeous Manhattan home, for just $2.1 million

May 25: A plane spotted his ‘SOS’ and saved him in 1982. It was the same night he killed two women, police

May 26: Is the 300-year search for one of Shakespeare’s actual books over?

May 26: An Insurance Startup Bragged It Uses AI to Detect Fraud. It Didn’t Go Well

May 26: Mother Arrested After Asking Cops What to Do About Her Son’s Rotting Corpse

May 26: The Real Story of All Those Crazy Recording Devices Nixon Insisted on Installing in the White House

May 26: A dealer moved cocaine, heroin around the U.K. A photo showing his ‘love of Stilton cheese’ brought him down

May 26: Central Park ‘Exonerated 5’ Member Reflects On Freedom And Forgiveness

May 26: LAX Cargo Handlers Allegedly Carried Out Bungled $200K Gold Bar Heist

May 27: Australian spy novelist Yang Hengjun faces China espionage trial

May 28: Gothic Tea ~ A Dark History of Tea in Fiction and Real Life

May 28: Plunder of Pompeii: how art police turned tide on tomb raiders

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

A Taste For Honey – H.F. Heard

Ever wonder what Winnie-the-Pooh would do if he found himself embroiled in a mystery? I believe H.F. Heard inadvertently gave us the answer in a Taste For Honey

Admittedly, H.F. Heard didn’t intend to write an A.A. Milne pastiche. Heard intended A Taste For Honey to enter the Sherlockian canon of works. The driving force within the novel is a mysterious beekeeper who owns a surprising amount of knowledge in a diverse number of fields. And I concede Mr. Mycroft and his bees are intriguing.

HELPFUL HINT if you decide to pick up this title… If you know nothing about this book other than this review and the blurb on the back, I advise you NOT TO READ Otto Penzler’s introduction. 

Until after you’ve finished the book. 

Unfortunately, within those roman numeral pages, Mr. Penzler unintentionally spoils the biggest mystery in the book and its’ ending by making one fundamental assumption – the reader already knows how A Taste For Honey wraps up. Granted, it’s a reasonable assumption – as A Taste For Honey‘s original publication date was eighty years ago (1941) and is apparently well known in Sherlockian circles. However, if, like me, you’d never heard of this book prior to picking it up – take my advice read the introduction last.

In any case, back to Sydney Silchester – the reluctant companion pressed into service by Mr. Mycroft – who reminded me of that famous yellow bear. 

Not only because his singular love of honey put him in the path of both a murderer and a detective. But because of his love of long walks, nature, his own company, and his overall reluctance to get involved with other people. And really, Sydney is a man of very little brains who (if it weren’t for Mr. Mycroft) would’ve become the villain’s second victim.

Undoubtedly, Heard didn’t intend for me to liken his narrator to Edward Bear. However, once it dawned on me, I couldn’t shake the notion! It added an extra layer of humor to an already excellent mystery I’d happily recommend to anyone who enjoys British and/or Sherlockian-style mystery.

(BTW – I’ve no evidence that even hints that Heard intended to mash together Winnie-the-Pooh and Sherlockiana. Though chronologically speaking, Pooh appeared in print (1926) well before A Taste For Honey was written. Additionally, Milne did pen a well-received locked-room mystery in 1922, The Red House Mystery – thereby getting on the radar of mystery readers and writers….so it’s possible, though not probable…right?)

Fran

Of course I want you to read the latest Joshilyn Jackson novel. I want you to read ALL of her work, so it’s no surprise that I want you to read this one, and the core reasons are just as compelling.

Can she create complex and believable characters? If anything, they only get better.

Can she tell an amazing and gripping story? Oh my goodness yes, and again, they just get better.

Will you find something to relate to? That’s her special gift.

Bree Cabbat was not raised in wealth. Her single mom firmly believed that the world was dangerous and a deeply scary place. However, Bree has found comfort and happiness in her marriage to Trey, and their two daughters are beautiful and headstrong and as challenging as pre-teens can be. Right now, though, Bree’s six-month-old baby, Robert, is the center of her world.

She figures she imagined the woman looking into her window, but is disturbed when that same strange lady appears in a parking lot, watching her.

And then Robert vanishes. It only takes the turn of a head, a few precious seconds, and Bree’s baby is gone. But Robert hasn’t been taken by some woman who longs for a child. No, Robert is being held hostage, not for money but for Bree to complete one simple task, along with her silence.

Here’s where my foggy brain caught up to my history of reading Joshilyn Jackson’s books. She tells one helluva tale, that’s indisputable. But what I hadn’t realized until Mother May I is that she shines a powerful spotlight on social issues. The thing is, she does it in such a personal way that it’s easy to overlook how compelling and clever she is because you’re caught up in the sweep of the story.

If you need to have an issue addressed, look at one of Joshilyn Jackson’s books. From racism to privilege to domestic violence to dysfunctional families, she’s got it covered, and in a way that makes it personal but never preachy. She’s brilliant.

So yes, read Mother May I, and anything else by Joshilyn Jackson that you can get your hands on. Do it now.

JB

“It was common for Negro Leaguers – especially those reared in the Southern states – to cherish the unfettered citizenship that Mexico offered them. Its perks were famously articulated by [Willie] Wells, the Devil himself (fondly regarded across the Spanish-speaking nation as El Diablo, which is inscribed on his Texas tombstone), who observed to Wendell Smith of the Pittsburgh Courier that ‘we live in the best hotels, eat in the best restaurants, and can go anyplace we care to. We don’t enjoy such privileges in the United States. We have everything first-class, plus the fact that the people here are much more considerate than the American baseball fan.’ … Monte Irvin, the future Hall of Famer, played only one season in Mexico before he was called away to World War II, but that season made a profound impression. ‘It was the first time in my life that I felt free.’” Irvin was 23 when drafted.

While it was way past time last year for Major League Baseball to incorporate the records of Negro League players into the statistics of those there were not allowed to play with, Lonnie Wheeler‘s new biography of the man reported by all who saw him play – black and white – to have been the fasted man who ever played baseball, points out the problems doing that .

“‘That Cool Papa Bell,’ recalled [Art] Pennington, speaking to Brent Kelley in Voices from the Negro Leagues, ‘I thought I could outrun him. I was young (Bell’s junior by twenty-one years), and Taylor would have us get out and run the hundred-yard dash. We would run, but all at once Cool Papa would walk on by me. And I thought I could fly in those days.'”

Black baseball was never covered with the specificity of white ball. The white papers rarely covered Negro League games and no papers devoted time or space to reliable box scores. Reconstructing Bell’s or any other player’s stats is a fruitless pursuit. So by not being allowed into the Major Leagues, their abilities were not documented as the white players had been, so it is now impossible to do side-by-side comparisons. They were robbed of playing time and then robbed of the proof that baseball uses to measure a player. Wheeler’s title points to this: The Bona Fide Legend of Cool Papa Bell. There are some newspaper stories, the recorded testaments of his contemporaries, and still pictures, but no film of him flying around the bases. Bell scoring from first on a simple base hit was not odd, nor was stealing his was around the diamond. It is a crime that blackball was treated so poorly, but it isn’t a surprise.

Besides the racist cruelty and hatred they had to withstand, they were also relegated to inferior ballparks (one section of the book relates how one ballpark had tracks running through the outfield and play would be suspended for the trains to pass), uncomfortable travel means, and the indignity of outplaying white players in the off season but not being allowed to outplay them in the regular season. And nothing about this is different from what jazz musicians or any other black person confronted then – or now. But through it all, by all accounts, Bell kept his dignity, kept his attire fine, and was a roll model for all who came in contact with him. He loved the game and was not shy or reluctant to freely give pointers to anyone, whether it was on base running or drag bunting. As Wheeler points out as well, when the major leagues were finally ready to accept black players, those who were too old to be brought “up” worked to ensure the younger players’ statistics were stellar. These veteran players held themselves back while playing so as to highlight the younger players stats, and ensure they’d be taken by the white teams. Stylish and selfless that was Bell.

Wheeler’s book is a lively story, told with spirit and no small amount of sadness for what might have been had the black ball players been allowed to play in the major leagues, had their accomplishments been recorded objectively, had America not been so mean and foolish. But then, that’s the story of American, a lively tale mixed with sadness for how great it should’ve been and what was missed. It’s a great baseball book and an honest American tale.

[and this brings us to our last word twister: in baseball, the foul pole is fair…]

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

MAY 2021

In the market for an illuminated manuscript? Got £8 million?

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a stratospheric $3.25-million record sale of rare Superman comic

Got £2.75 million to spare? Now you can buy Agatha Christie’s house.

New York bookstore figures out the perfect sideline: pickles

Grammar-Nerd Heaven: A new exhibit showcases the surprisingly contentious history of English grammar books

Imagine your ideal artist’s retreat in this breathtakingly beautiful forest library

Of course Vladimir Nabokov imagined emoticons over a decade before they were invented

Words of the Month

griff (n.): Slang, an accurate account. Also, inside information. (Says You! #720)

Serious Stuff

The Pandemic’s Wrongest Man: In a crowded field of wrongness, one person stands out ~ Alex Berenson.

Banned Books: Books by Steinbeck, Alexie among most objected to in 2020

Surprise: the ALA’s 2020 list of most challenged books shows an uptick in antiracist texts.

He Led Hitler’s Secret Police in Austria. Then He Spied for the West.

Climate change is a major threat to stability, spy agencies say

The Women of the OSS: On The Pioneering American Spies of WWII

Cuomo staffers were (illegally) asked to work on Cuomo’s memoir as part of their government jobs

‘Out of Control’ Cape Town Fire Destroys Historic University Library, Students Evacuated

Sinn Féin president apologizes for murder of Lord Mountbatten

Here’s what QAnon documentaries reveal about how conspiracies flourish

How the Kremlin provides a safe harbor for ransomware

Mexico cartel used explosive drones to attack police

Publishers Are Using E-books to Extort Schools & Libraries

For the 1st time in history an Air Force general will face court-martial

Spanish Police Raided a 3D Printed Gun Workshop And Found Nazi Symbols

Remains Of Black Children Killed in MOVE Bombing Cannot Be Located

U.S. Federal Investigators Are Reportedly Looking Into Codecov Security Breach, Undetected for Months

Tool Links Email Addresses to Facebook Accounts in Bulk

False Memories and Manufactured Myths: Growing Up in a Conspiracy Theory Household

Hackers Say They Stole 250GB of Internal Documents From DC Police

Towards A New Understanding of Psychosis and Violence

Feds Raid Giuliani’s NYC Apartment in Ukraine Probe

Murder Cover-Up: Man Allegedly Set Deadly Wildfire to Hide His Crime

From Canada ~ Last Publisher Left Standing: Why Books Are Facing a Bleak Future

What Abusive Partners, Corrupt Cops and Authoritarian Leaders Have in Common – A VICE News podcast about power and control

Extremists find a financial lifeline on Twitch

The Incredible Rise of North Korea’s Hacking Army

SPECTRE Stuff

Amazon Intended Its Army of Paid Twitter Sycophants to Be ‘Authentic,’ Have a ‘Great Sense of Humor’

What on Earth Is Amazon Doing? The company’s social-media aggression is shocking. It shouldn’t be.

How Amazon and America’s one-click obsession are warping the future of work

Malls that buckled due to e-commerce or suffered during the pandemic are being given new life by the very entity that precipitated their decline — Amazon.

Texas Man Charged In Plot To Bomb Amazon Web Services Data Center “The suspect’s goal was to allegedly ‘kill off about 70% of the internet.’”

‘There’s a Very Human Cost to Convenience’

Amazon internet program Project Kuiper will launch first satellites with Boeing joint venture

Amazon Launches Another Union-Busting Campaign

Amazon employees say you should be skeptical of Jeff Bezos’s worker satisfaction stat

Amazon profit more than triples as pandemic shopping boom persists

Local Stuff

Investigators hope new DNA-enhanced sketch of ‘Bones 17’ gives Green River victim a name

Powell’s says laid-off workers will have to apply for their jobs amid dispute with union

Seattle Independent Bookstore Day is back this year — with a twist

How Brick & Mortar Books has become a pillar of the Redmond community

Hacker Steals Info of Thousands of Gay Dating App Users/“’attacker’ gained access to the passwords, usernames, and emails of more than 7,700 users living in Washington State

How a journalist unraveled a gory founding myth of the Pacific Northwest

An Oregon Woman Says a Police Officer Raped Her. She Was the One Arrested

Words of the Month

Isn’t it irenic? It’s time to bring back beautiful words we have lost

Odd Stuff

John le Carré, chronicler of Englishness, died Irish, son reveals. Author was so opposed to Brexit that he took Irish citizenship to remain European

Flat Earther Busted in Freemason Arson Spree

Literature’s Most Curious Creations – A new book takes readers into collector Edward Brooke-Hitching’s “madman’s library”

People Are Stealing Legos. Here’s Why

The $50 Million Art Swindle on BBC

15 Scams People Almost Pulled Off That Will Leave You Impressed And Appalled

“Nobody ever made fun of him, but I did.” Orson Welles on his friendship with Hemingway.

Can you tell when someone is lying?

Found: Page 25 of the CIA’s Gateway Report on Astral Projection

Has anybody seen some loose ceremonial swords? The Truman Presidential Library wants them back

Trove of Treasures, From Gold Skull Ring to Tudor Coins, Unearthed in Wales

These 17th-Century Skull Watches Open Up to Reveal Time as It Passes Us By

Mom busted after cops reportedly find cocaine on son’s Dr. Seuss book

Soon you’ll be able to vacation at Jane Austen’s country estate . . . in a cowshed.

California Gold Rush town votes to remove noose from its logo

I’m obsessed with Liu Ye’s gorgeous, photorealistic paintings of books.

Bang & Olufsen’s Book-Shaped Bookshelf Speaker Will Disappear Into a Shelf Full of Books

Accusations of spying and sabotage plunge Russian-Czech relations into the deep freeze

Author’s killer ‘thought victim was working with Putin to spread Covid’

Fraud and Spiritualism Between the Wars: A Study of Two Hoaxes

Sasquatch Director Joshua Rofé on Chasing After Murder Mysteries and Monsters

This bucolic 1946 newsreel about Daphne Du Maurier could also be the beginning of a horror film

Man Murders Housemate Over Bad Internet Connection

Baby Doctor Charged With Insane Dark Web Kidnapping Plot

Awards

Here are the 35 finalists for the 2021 Oregon Book Awards

Here are the literary Guggenheim Fellows of 2021.

2021 Hugo Award Finalists Announced

Announcing the winners of the 2021 Whiting Awards.

A scammer just stole £30k of literary prize money—and is trying to steal more.

A Look at Your 2021 ITW Thriller Awards Nominees

The State of the Crime Novel in 2021: A Roundtable With the Edgar Awards Nominees

The State of the Crime Novel in 2021, Part 2: Writing During the Pandemic

Congratulations to the Winners of the 2021 Edgar Awards

Book Stuff

A Pop-up Bookstore Honors a Man Who Intended to Give It All Away

A Groundbreaking Lesbian Book Is Back in Print

Readers on the bookshops they miss most: ‘I can’t wait to take my lockdown baby!’

How A Humble Bookseller Helped Give Rise To The Renaissance

How Substack Revealed the Real Value of Writers’ Unfiltered Thoughts

Who engages with books, and how? Portland State University study tells new story about consumer behavior

John Grisham Leaves the Courtroom for Basketball, and Sudan

The Story of Richard Wright’s Lost Novel

Publisher halts Philip Roth book amid sexual abuse claims against biographer

“Bailey is the story now, but Roth still looms over it all. This fiasco has tendrils reaching into every level of media and publishing.” Jo Livingstone considers the industry-wide implications of the allegations against Blake Bailey.

What Snoop Dogg’s success says about the book industry

Despite protests from employees, Simon & Schuster still plans to publish Mike Pence’s book.

Hundreds of Simon & Schuster Employees Demand No Book Deals for Authors Tied to Trump Admin

As the subject of no fewer than three biographies since her death in 1995, the popular Patricia Highsmith writer lived a complicated, if fascinating, life. What was she really like?

‘Never stupid to ask questions’: Rare Raymond Chandler essay gives writing, office tips

Remembering one of the first woman-owned bookshops in America, which Publishers Weekly, in 1916, called “something old-worldly, yet startlingly new.”

Outcry over book ‘censorship’ reveals how online retailers choose books — or don’t

A Secret Feminist History of the Oxford English Dictionary

‘Bill and I got pretty friendly’: James Patterson on writing with Clinton and clashing with Trump

An original Robert Frost manuscript is up for auction.

How the Darker Side of the Fight for Women’s Suffrage Inspired One Historical Mystery Novelist

The Revenge Novel and the Art of Getting Even

Honoring the Legacy of Eleanor Taylor Bland: A Roundtable Discussion

“Write as if you were dying.” Read Annie Dillard’s greatest writing advice.

Other Forms of Entertainment

The Last Good Friday remembered at 40 by those involved

Hippie Murderer Charles Sobhraj’s Story Is Stranger Than What’s In The Serpent 

‘The Sons of Sam’ Trailer: New Docuseries Challenges Official Narrative of Infamous Seventies Killing Spree

the 100 best, worst, and strangest Sherlock Holmes portrayals of all time

Drawing on Their Escapes From the Nazis, These Artists Became Celebrated Cartoonists

9 True Crime Podcasts You Should Be Listening to Now

All the Information You Need for the LA Book Festival

The killer question: are true-crime podcasts exploitative?

One of the bloodiest anti-Asian massacres in U.S. history, now a podcast

Lynda La Plant: The hit crime writer changed the face of television with her groundbreaking female DCI Jane Tennison, who was played by Helen Mirren. But, she tells Charlotte Cripps, the TV production companies wanted nothing to do with the show at first

Hitchcock, The Voyeur: Why Rear Window Remains the Director’s Definitive Film

The most prolific serial killer in U.S. history got away with it for almost 50 years. A new docuseries exposes how a biased system failed his victims, and fostered a murderer.

The Best True Crime Documentaries You Haven’t Binged Yet

James Ellroy Is Going to Host a Podcast About Los Angeles Crime—Seriously

Hercule Poirot’s First Appearances on Television and RadioWords of the Month

A Ruthless Ranking Of The 25 Best Muppets, According To Listeners

Netflix’s Why Did You Kill Me? Shows How One Mother Solved Her Daughter’s Murder With Social Media

The 10 Greatest Movies Adapted from Crime Novels—According to a Producer and Novelist

Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet: Film Noir’s Greatest Odd Couple

Words for the Month

buttle (v.) to act or serve as a butler (Says You! #720)

RIP

April 6: Paul Ritter dies at 54

April 8: Richard Rush, subversive film director fascinated by the counterculture who won critical acclaim for The Stunt Man, dead at 91

April 10: Ramsey Clark, attorney general who became a critic of U.S. policies, dies at 93

April 10: Giorgos Karaivaz: Veteran crime journalist shot dead in Greece

April 12: Joseph Siravo: ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘Jersey Boys’ star dies aged 64

April 14: Bernie Madoff, Financier Behind Notorious Ponzi Scheme, Dies At 82 [eds. – no rest for you, you bastard!]

April 28: Daniel Kaminsky, 42, found key flaw in internet’s basic plumbing

April 29: Jason Matthews, spy novelist who drew on his experience in the CIA dies at 69

Links of Interest

March 29: The Doodler: The Truth About The Unidentified Serial Killer

April 1: Arabian coins found in US may unlock 17th-century pirate mystery

April 1: Nazi-Looted Poussin Painting Found in Italy, Returned to Owners

April 1: A Swindler Almost Sold These Forged ‘Masterpieces’ for $14.7 Million

April 2: Australia: Geologist beaten up by ‘angriest octopus’ on beach

April 4: Gay, communist, female: why MI5 blacklisted the poet Valentine Ackland

April 6: Dutch Man Arrested in Connection with High-Profile Heists of van Gogh, Hals Works

April 6: Why Murder Mysteries Are a Lot Like Science, According to a Neuroscientist and Novelist

April 6: Decrypted Messages Lead to Seizure of 27 Tons of Cocaine in Europe

April 6: A Former IRA Bank Robber On Writing A Heist Novel Based on a Long-Unsolved Crime

April 7: Feds Allege Tech CEO Designed ‘Parasitic Narco Sub’ for Drug Cartels

April 9: ‘Lost golden city’ found in Egypt reveals lives of ancient pharaohs

April 10: Heinz Promises To Catch Up To Americans’ Demand Amid Ketchup Packet Shortage

April 12: SportsTrouble in Titletown ~ Georgia’s Valdosta High School, a longtime football powerhouse, is awash in a scandal involving race, funny money, allegations of improper recruiting and a one-armed booster named Nub.

April 13: The Crusade Against Pornhub Is Going to Get Someone Killed

April 13: 1st Century Roman Statue, Looted A Decade Ago, Found In Belgium By Off-Duty Police

April 14: Japan’s Most Notorious Kidnapping Is Still Unsolved

April 14: How Gilded Age Corruption Produced the Biggest, Maddest Gold Rush in History

April 15: Inspecting the NYPD “Puzzle Palace”

April 15: A Kidnapping Gone Very Wrong

April 15: NC High School Basketball Coach Killed Trying to Rob Notorious Mexican Drug Cartel

April 15: Maila Nurmi’s Oregon upbringing led to sexy horror icon Vampira; new book captures her intense, tragic life

April 15: Mystery tree beast turns out to be croissant

April 16: Pottery Shard May Be ‘Missing Link’ in the Alphabet’s Development

April 16: The Florida Resort That Played an Unlikely Role in the Bay of Pigs Fiasco

April 17: He Was Yoga’s First Star Guru. Then He Ended Up in Jail.

April 20: 7 Unsolved Mysteries of the Art World

April 21: Toronto Gallery Robbed of Almost $300,000 Worth of Art in Heist

April 21: The Crazy Way $30M Was Stolen From Safe Deposit Boxes

April 22: AI unlocks ancient Dead Sea Scrolls mystery

April 22: Italian hospital employee accused of skipping work for 15 years

April 23: Human Skeleton Found Lying on Couch in Abandoned House

April 23: The Secret Mission To Unearth Part Of A 142-Year-Old Experiment

April 23: Billionaire Mukesh Ambani Buys Golf Club Featured In James Bond Film ‘Goldfinger’ For $79 Million

April 23: A rising actor, fake HBO deals and one of Hollywood’s most audacious Ponzi schemes

April 24: Enterprise Password Manager Passwordstate Hacked, Exposing Users’ Passwords for 28 Hours

April 24: Everything We Know About The Unsolved Icebox Murders

April 24: National Spelling Bee adds vocabulary and lightning-round tiebreaker for 2021

April 24: Did Argentina rob art from its own museum to fund the Falklands War? Military junta stole £1.8m of paintings from Buenos Aires gallery to buy arms from Taiwan, new book claims

April 25: MI6 takes inspiration from James Bond with hunt for ‘new Q’ to lead high-tech team

April 26: Josh fight: Hundreds join friendly battle for naming rights

April 26: Is This Man the Evil Genius Behind the Old-Master Forgery Spree Called the ‘Crime of the Century’? We Paid Him a Visit to Find Out

April 26: Could H.H. Holmes And Jack The Ripper Be The Same Person?

April 26: She Escaped Charles Manson’s Murderous Sex Cult

April 27: The Secrets of the World’s Greatest Jailbreak Artist

April 28: How an Ex-Cop Linked to the Murder of a DEA Agent Walked Free From a Life Sentence

April 29: The Bizarre Story Of The Serial Killer Who Tried To Prevent Earthquakes

April 30: Why People Don’t Believe Son Of Sam Killed Alone

Words for the Month

eggcorn (n.) “an idiosyncratic substitution of a word or phrase for a word or words that sound similar or identical in the speaker’s dialect. The new phrase introduces a meaning that is different from the original but plausible in the same context… eggcorns are sometimes also referred to ‘oronyms’… The term eggcorn, as used to refer to this kind of substitution, was coined by professor of linguistics Geoffrey Pullum in September 2003 in response to an article by Mark Liberman on the website Language Log, a group blog for linguists.[2] Liberman discussed the case of a woman who substitutes the phrase egg corn for the word acorn, and he argued that the precise phenomenon lacked a name. Pullum suggested using eggcorn itself as a label… An eggcorn is similar to, but differs from, folk etymology, malapropism, mondegreens or puns.” (Wikipedia)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Do you need a new addiction? I’m sure you do. On the upside, this habit’s less problematic than Sherlock’s 7% solution. However, it isn’t without cost.

What am I prattling on about, you ask? 

The Deadbolt Mystery Society.

A subscription box that sends you a mystery to solve every month! 

So far, I’ve unmasked a stalker, solved a decades-old cold case, foiled a kidnaper, resolved an art heist, and unraveled several murders in Valley Falls. (The small town where these cases are set. You work for a P.I. firm that takes on all kinds of clients.) 

One of the best things about each Deadbolt Mystery Society box, beyond the variety of crimes, is the wildly different types of evidence they supply, kinds of puzzles to solve, and suspects/witnesses/victims you meet. 

Just part of the clues for one box!

The puzzles of which I write are sometimes sneaky, always challenging, and require a vast array of skills to solve. One time I created a comprehensive timeline in order to cross-reference events against alibis—another time, I widdled down a massive list of addresses to locate a suspect’s abode and played a board game. On top of the logic & math problems, pictograms, cryptograms…The Deadbolt Mystery Society uses such a wide assortment of puzzles across all their boxes; it keeps them from becoming predictable and your wits sharp!

If you haven’t guessed – I’m a fan. 

They remind me vaguely of online hidden-object games like the Enigmatis series (I loved them), Yuletide Legends (an excellent holiday-themed game), or Dreamwalker (another I enjoyed playing). In so far as, no matter how urgent your case, you need to solve each and every puzzle provided to move closer to the penultimate solution. 

However, unlike the hidden-object games, which use short animated clips to move the story along – Deadbolt Mystery Society employs QR codes.

More often than not, these QR codes send you to password-protected web pages, which require you to input the solution from one of the aforementioned puzzles in order to obtain the next clue! Keeping the investigator honest – as you can’t just guess the answers – you need to know them.

One of the QR codes in this box tells you when to open the next packet – with more new puzzles to solve – SQUEE!!!

But once you surmount each hurtle, you are rewarded with a witness statement, diary entries, cryptic phone messages, eerie songs…the list goes on, and you never know what you’re going to uncover next – which is great fun! 

(BTW – you need either a smartphone or tablet with a camera to solve each case. Otherwise, you’re dead in the water.)

Deadbolt Mystery Society says each case takes anywhere between 2-6 hours to solve, depending on your skill level and the number of people working together. I take my time and usually solve them in a week or two – depending on how much free time I can carve out (unlike books – I don’t rush thru these). I would recommend these for adults or teens working in tandem with an adult, as most of the puzzles are pretty tricky (by design).

Not sure you’re ready to sign up? The Deadbolt Mystery Society also sells individual boxes – if you want to try it out before committing to a subscription!

FYI: While the web pages, photos, and packets don’t explicitly show any gore, the scenarios themselves can have a high body count (this last month featured a serial killer) together with the puzzle difficulty level… I’m not sure I’d be comfortable gifting a subscription to any of my nieces or nephews under fifteen or sixteen.

Fran

A Walk on the Dark Side

I haven’t been reading a lot of noir lately, because things are noir enough in real life, even though I have puppies to help liven things up. Oh, and they do!

But as I was unpacking books, I ran into Lono Waiwaiole’s “Wiley” series. Well, the first two anyway. I haven’t unearthed the third one yet. The thing is, I have them, but I never read them. I like Lono as a person, JB and Bill raved about the books, so I knew I’d like them. I just never got around to it.

Until now.

I just finished Wiley’s Lament. WHY DID I NOT READ THIS EARLIER? Holy cats.

Wiley is just kinda drifting through life. He’s living in a house owned by his old buddy, Leon, and he gambles to pay the rent. When he comes up short, Wiley leaves his home environs of Portland, OR, and wanders up to Seattle, where he robs drug dealers. He has nothing to lose, as far as he’s concerned.

“When I lose, I go to Seattle and find a drug dealer to rip off.”

“Isn’t that dangerous?”

“I like the symmetry of it. Either I get the money, or it blows up in my face and I don’t need any money.”

“It sounds like you don’t really care which one it is.”

“I don’t,” I said. “That’s the key to the whole thing.”


But when Wiley’s estranged daughter is murdered, his interest in things comes sharply into focus. He blames his buddy, Leon, for Lizzie’s death, but it turns out things are much, much more complicated than what Wiley initially thought, and that drive to find out just what happened puts both Wiley and Leon on a dark and dangerous path.

It’s brilliant.

Lono Waiwaiole‘s writing is dark, visceral, and deeply, profoundly human. Wiley and Leon and their associates are not the guys in white hats. They’re flawed and emotionally scarred, and it takes some looking to see the solid and faithful hearts beating underneath. But it’s there, and you care. Deeply.

And of all the characters I wish I could be, among a whole lot of wonderful and memorable people, I want to be Elmer. He’s a total delight to me. Granted, I want to be faster. Maybe I just want his wisdom.

I’m so sorry I took this long to read Wiley’s Lament, and I’ve got Wiley’s Shuffle close to hand. If you haven’t read them, now is a good time.

JB

Mike Lawson’s books have an subtle thrum to them, a smooth motion that seems to me to hum. They are the finest example of thrillers as, once they start, they don’t slow down. And though DeMarco is a classic reluctant hero, he never fails to see the case finished, even if he has to cut corners.

House Standoff is a departure for Lawson, this time playing with the strict rules of a whodunnit. Someone close to DeMarco has been murdered in a distant setting, and he’s not going to rest, as he warns the people he bangs into, until he finds out who pulled the trigger. Mike provides a number of suspects and seeds the stories with red herrings. The book works like a Manor House mystery, set in a small town in the Far West. And then he has the audacity of upend the rules. It is a stunning piece of work.

He buffaloed me. I was sure I’d fingered the killer, but …

There are many series I have re-read many times. I think it is time to start the DeMarcos at the beginning. Sounds like as much fun as can be had between the covers of a paperback. Keep me occupied til he next new Lawson book.

And I can’t wait for this: James Ellroy Gets to the Scene of the Crime

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

Mid-Month Musings

I was in my teens when I started reading Gothic mysteries. It seemed like a natural progression, y’know? Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Ken Holt, and then Gothics crossed my path. From a teenage perspective, they made sense. Strong women facing danger with more romance than Nancy ever saw.

I noticed that people tended to fall into two categories: Jane Eyre or Jane Austen. That’s obviously over simplistic, but I found that a lot of folks found their footing either with the perils presented by the Brontes or the human drama showcased by Ms. Austen. Both are excellent, and of course a whole lot of people love both, as they should.

In my opinion, there’s a misplaced dismissal and, frankly, snobbish elitism when mystery readers consider Gothics. They’re dismissed as formulaic, and more than a little silly.

I beg to disagree.

The Gothic tradition is formulaic to an extent, yes, because there are certain elements that need to be met – a woman out of her element, isolated in some way, the dashing hero (or is he?), the scowling villain (or is he?), and an overwhelming feeling of something dire, sometimes with a supernatural twist, but often not.

To me, that’s as formulaic as a thriller, with it’s obligatory car chases, gun play, and the hero getting shot in the shoulder but shrugging it off. Mind you, I love them both!

And that brings me to what may be the Gothic’s Gothic novel, HOUSES OF STONE by Barbara Michaels.



Whether you know her as Elizabeth Peters, Barbara Mertz, or Barbara Michaels, no one can deny that she could write a compelling tale, but her cleverness in putting the Gothic novel on display in this book is phenomenal.

Basic plot, Karen Holloway has created a name for herself by finding a small book of poems by a heretofore unknown 19th century poet known only as Ismene. When she’s presented the partial manuscript by the same unknown lady, Karen finds herself in a race to figure out who Ismene really is, but of course the challenges, both physical and emotional, keep piling up.

The manuscript is a 19th century Gothic, and that’s the area of Karen’s expertise. It also happens to be an area of expertise for Barbara Michaels.

What makes HOUSES OF STONE particularly special is that it’s a Gothic novel about a Gothic novel, while the protagonist discusses the elements of the Gothic novel. What Ms. Michaels did was write a great treatise on the Gothic novel and then use the story she was telling to illustrate all her points.

Those points are not light and fluffy, though. She discusses racism, feminism, chauvinism, and looks hard at the politics of repression of the female voice in literature, with a strong nod to Virginia Woolf’s observations about a woman needing a space of her own.

It’s also a page turner, and a must-read for anyone who loves books.

If you’ve ever dismissed the Gothic, you should read this book. If you love Gothic novels, you should read this book.

Ah hell. You should read this book!

APRIL 2021

~ For Your Amazement ~

How were the small words in English created?

When in Need of the Right Word, Great Writers Simply Make Them Up

Why Is Tower Records Coming Back Now, of All Times?

Dave Barry: Hiaasen’s retirement is good news for sleazeballs nationwide

clinomania: the excessive desire to stay in bed

Serious Stuff

Dr. Seuss Books Are Pulled, and a ‘Cancel Culture’ Controversy Erupts

A Dr. Seuss Expert Cuts Through the Noise on the Cancel Culture Controversy

Ransomware Gang Fully Doxes Bank Employees in Extortion Attempt

The Silent Trial of the Century

Opinion: Book sales are up, but bookstores are struggling. It matters where you shop.

Conspiracy Theories and the Problem of Disbelief – The Atlantic

New piece of Dead Sea Scrolls jigsaw discovered after 60 years

How Would the Publishing World Respond to Lolita Today?

Operation finds 150 missing children in Tennessee

Ransomwared Bank Tells Customers It Lost Their SSNs

Steph Cha: The Atlanta shooting is another reminder the cops are not our friends

Hiding in Plain Sight: How Criminals Use Public Perception to Commit Crimes

Michael Albrecht Was There When John Wayne Gacy Confessed. He Saw Through the Serial Killer’s Charm. (from Peacock’s new original docuseries John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise)

Ballistics work at D.C.’s crime lab criticized by forensic experts

True crime shows spotlight women as victims — but don’t help improve women’s safety

U.S. Special Operations Command Paid $500,000 to Secretive Location Data Firm

The big spike in murders in 2020, explained in 600 words

‘We have your porn collection’: The rise of extortionware

PNW Stuff

Portland underworld scandal in 1950s pitted gangsters against Hollywood; B-movie reshoots compare city then and now

One dead, five wounded in stabbing at Vancouver library, suspect in custody

For 10 years, Book Larder has thrived by mixing 2 of Seattle’s great loves: books and food

Convicted serial killer Joseph Duncan dies on death row

Adam Wood Reviews: 3 new crime novels transport readers across the world and back in time

Clyde Ford: How we should deal with Dr. Seuss books and cancel culture

Odd Stuff

Read a previously unpublished (New Yorker-rejected) poem about Superman… by Vladimir Nabokov.

Storied and Sordid: The History of Jeffrey Epstein’s Just-Sold Mansion

Back in 1986, the Castros helped retrieve Hemingway’s stolen Nobel Prize.

Philadelphia Is a Secret Spy Mecca

The Macabre Mystery of a British Family’s Skull-Topped Spoons

Take a look inside this rare, self-published Andy Warhol cookbook.

Octavia Butler is now officially on Mars.

Scientists Have Unlocked the Secrets of the Ancient ‘Antikythera Mechanism’

Murder Tourism in Middle America: The World of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood

The Mariko Aoki Phenomenon: When You Need To Poop After Entering A Book Store

That Time Scientists Discovered a Creature in Loch Ness and Then Realized It Was a Sunken Prop from The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes

Rare sneakers. Bots. Insider connections. This scandal has it all

Globe Trotter James Bond Sticker Collection ~ ONLY  $340

“Howl”: illuminating draft of Allen Ginsberg’s seminal poem found

Japanese Man Scales Building to Steal Pokémon Cards, Gets Arrested

I’m Alone: How One Canadian Rumrunner Defied the U.S. Coast Guard and Sparked an International Scandal

Ten Savage Insults From Literary Icons

Mafia fugitive caught after posting cooking show on YouTube

Vincent D’Onofrio wrote a book, and it looks insane and wonderful.

Words of the Month

lachschlaganfall (n): a medical term for when a person laughs so much that they fall unconscious. (thanks to Ripley’s Believe it or Not!)

Department of SPECTRE

Activists sue big French retailer over Amazon forest damage

Amazon merchant kicked off website spent $200,000 to get justice

Amazon Has Become a Prime Revolving-Door Destination in Washington

A Kansas Bookshop’s Fight with Amazon Is About More Than the Price of Books

Want to borrow that e-book from the library? Sorry, Amazon won’t let you.

Worker says Amazon hung anti-union signs in bathroom stalls

Amazon, contractors settle wage-theft lawsuit by Seattle-area drivers for $8.2 million

Amazon Illegally Interrogated Worker Who Led First COVID-19 Strikes, NLRB Says

Amazon Called out for Denying Workers are Forced to Pee in Bottles

The Amazon Union Vote Is Ending in Bessemer. Workers Are Already Preparing for the Next Fight.

Dear Amazon: Why can’t we sell our ebook on your platform?

Amazon started a Twitter war because Jeff Bezos was pissed

‘Fake’ Amazon workers defend company on Twitter

Twitter Is Banning Amazon ‘Ambassadors’ and It’s a Total Mess -The real Amazon ambassadors are fake too.

Chicago bookseller proposes class action lawsuit against Amazon over pricing (the law firm handling the suit is based in Seattle)

Awards

Here are the finalists for the 2020-21 L.A. Times Book Prize.

2021 The National Book Critics Circle Awards

Writers from 4 continents up for International Booker Prize

Book Stuff

Sara Paretsky on Dorothy B. Hughes and the Meaning of ‘Noir’

New Orleans is looking toward a hopeful future. A new bookstore is lighting the way.

Here’s the best writing advice from Colson Whitehead’s 60 Minutes interview.

My First Thriller: Tom Straw

How Kurt Wolff Transformed Pantheon into a 20th-Century Publishing Powerhouse

To Really Understand Agatha Christie, You Need to Know About Poisons

Books Hold The Key To Elly Griffith’s The Postscript Murders

My father was famous as John le Carré. My mother was his crucial, covert collaborator

The Best Books for Starting an Occult Library

Harlan Coben, 75 million books in print, and a new one coming out

Stephen Fry backs Sherlock Holmes museum campaign in Portsmouth

Scholastic Book Fairs Have Another Tough Quarter

Betrayal Is Timeless: The Evolution of George Smiley 

Dean Koontz: ‘Life is one long suspense novel’

On the Vast and Multitudinous Worlds of the Library

Authors fear the worst if Penguin owner takes over Simon & Schuster

Amanda Gorman brings the representation debate to the small world of book translation

Douglas Adams’ note to self reveals author found writing torture

‘Captain Underpants’ book pulled for ‘passive racism’ against Asians

HarperCollins will acquire the trade division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for $349 million.

New Yorker staffers vote to authorize strike amid tensions with Condé Nast

Jacqueline Winspear: How I Became A Mystery Writer While Breaking Every Rule

The Joys of Evaluating Books on Whether Their Plot Twists Are Surprising, Shocking, or Just Plain Bonkers

Other Forms of Entertainment

Mark Hofmann’s Deadly Web of Master Forgery Is at the Center of Murder Among the Mormons

Golden State Killer Investigator Joins ‘America’s Most Wanted’ Reboot

HBO’s true crime drama ‘The Investigation’ is slow and frustrating on purpose (and JB recommends the series!)

‘The Sopranos’: David Chase and mobster Johnny Sack on how they made a TV classic

David Simon headed back to Baltimore, HBO for new police corruption miniseries

Peter Falk’s ‘Columbo’: The TV Detective’s 1st Name, How It Surfaced in a Lawsuit, and What the Star Had to Say (there are a number of Columbo stories at this site this month)

Memento at 20: Christopher Nolan’s memory thriller is hard to forget

The Criminal Minds of Jim and Tim: The Clemente brothers went from the FBI to Hollywood murder consultants. Now they’re rebooting America’s Most Wanted.

Fifty Years Later, Get Carter Is Still the Iconic British Gangster Film

Why Are We Obsessed With Psychopaths?

Why the Coen Brothers’ Cinematic Sleight of Hand is So Good

Cutter and Bone: Two Masterpieces Deserve Their Proper Due

Inside the Twisted Making of Basic Instinct

Revisiting The Anderson Tapes, Sidney Lumet’s Wisely Paranoid Heist Film, 50 Years Later (JB recommends the original book AND the movie)

Hitchcock Presents: A Brief History of the Weird, Wild Hitchcock Shows That Once Dominated TV

Thief at 40: Michael Mann’s confident debut sent a message

Comfort in the Uncomfortable: How Christopher Nolan Uses Noir to Get Weird

Words of the Month

bad penny (n): This proverb has lived long in the language. It derives from the notion that some coins were ‘bad’, that is, they were debased or counterfeit.

The ‘clipping’ of coins was rife in the Middle Ages, long before standardisation of the coinage was reliably enforced. This example from the reign of Edward I shows the degree of ‘badness’ that pennies then endured.

The term ‘bad penny’ was established enough in English by the late 14th century for it to have been used in William Langland’s famous prose poem The vision of William concerning Piers Plowman, 1370-90: “Men may lykne letterid men… to a badde peny.”

thanks to phrases.org.uk

Links of Interest

March 2: I-5 Strangler Killed in Prison

March 3: A breakthrough technology allows researchers to see inside sealed centuries-old letters.

March 3: My Babysitter, the Serial Killer

March 5: My Novel Reopened A Cold Case. My True Crime Book Puts Ghosts To Rest.

March 5: Napoleon Has Always Fascinated Novelists, But His Life Really Was Fit for a Thriller

March 7: Wife’s Body Dug Up in Florida Backyard After Hubby Made Chilling Taunts

March 8: I Was Hired to Assassinate Pablo Escobar

March 8: Behind Enemy Lines: Women in Combat During World War II

March 9: Researchers Uncover Remains of Polish Nuns Murdered by Soviets During WWII

March 10: DNA study of 6,200-year-old massacre victims raises more questions than answers

March 12: Scientists unlock mysteries of world’s oldest ‘computer’

March 15: French Government to Seek Return of Klimt Painting Sold Under Duress During World War II

March 15: Mother ‘used deepfake to frame cheerleading rivals’

March 19: Greek bull figurine unearthed after heavy downpour

March 21: The Most Shocking True Crime Revelations, Every Year Since 1999

March 23: She had a ‘cool’ childhood babysitter. Four decades later, she learnt he was a serial killer

March 24: Israeli Spy Pollard Betrays America Yet Again

March 25 : The Murder That Stunned Gangland Philadelphia

March 25: The Actress, the Steward and the Ocean Liner: What Really Happened in Cabin 126?

March 28: True-crime fanatics on the hunt: inside the world of amateur detectives

March 28: A Biblical Mystery and a Reporting Odyssey

Words of the Month

to coin a phrase : Coining, in the sense of creating, derives from the coining of money by stamping metal with a die. Coins – also variously spelled coynes, coigns, coignes or quoins – were the blank, usually circular, disks from which money was minted. This usage derived from an earlier 14th century meaning of coin, which meant wedge. The wedge-shaped dies which were used to stamp the blanks were called coins and the metal blanks and the subsequent ‘coined’ money took their name from them.

Coining later began to be associated with inventiveness in language. In the 16th century the ‘coining’ of words and phrases was often referred to. By that time the monetary coinage was often debased or counterfeit and the coining of words was often associated with spurious linguistic inventions; for example, in George Puttenham’s The arte of English poesie, 1589: “Young schollers not halfe well studied… will seeme to coigne fine wordes out of the Latin.”

Shakespeare, the greatest coiner of them all, also referred to the coining of language in Coriolanus, 1607: “So shall my Lungs Coine words till their decay.”

Quoin has been retained as the name of the wedge-shaped keystones or corner blocks of buildings. Printers also use the term as the name for the expandable wedges that are used to hold lines of type in place in a press. This has provoked some to suggest that ‘coin a phrase’ derives from the process of quoining (wedging) phrases in a printing press. That is not so. ‘Quoin a phrase’ is recorded nowhere and ‘coining’ meant ‘creating’ from before the invention of printing in 1440. Co-incidentally, printing does provide us with a genuine derivation that links printing with linguistic banality – cliché. This derives from the French cliquer, from the clicking sound of the stamp used to make metal typefaces.

‘Coin a phrase’ itself arises much later than the invention of printing – the 19th century in fact. It appears to be American in origin – it certainly appears in publications there long before any can be found from any other parts of the world. The earliest use of the term that I have found is in the Wisconsin newspaper The Southport American, July 1848: “Had we to find… a name which should at once convey the enthusiasm of our feelings towards her, we would coin a phrase combining the extreme of admiration and horror and term her the Angel of Assassination.”

thanks to phrases.org.uk

RIP

February 23: Edgar-winner Margaret Maron dead at 82

March 3: Marie Tippet, Widow of Dallas officer slain by Lee Harvey Oswald, dies

March 6: Lou Ottens, Inventor of the Audio Cassette Tape, Dead at 94

March 7: Judith Van Gieson: R.I.P.

March 7: Remembering Allan McDonald: He Refused To Approve Challenger Launch, Exposed Cover-Up

March 8: The Phantom Tollbooth Author Norton Juster Dies At 91

March 9: Roger Mudd, probing TV journalist and network news anchor, dies at 93

March 9: ‘Phantom Tollbooth’ Author Norton Juster Dies At 91

March 15: Yaphet Kotto, Bond Villain and ‘Alien’ Star, Dies at 81

March 16: Ronald DeFeo, Killer Who Inspired ‘The Amityville Horror,’ Dead at 69

March 19: Henry Darrow, ‘High Chaparral’ actor who fought to expand roles for Latinos, dies

March 23: George Segal, Leading Man of Lighthearted Comedies, Dies at 87

March 25: Jessica Walter, Play Misty for Me and beloved ‘Arrested Development’ star with a long resume, dies at 80

March 26: Children’s Author Beverly Cleary, Creator Of Ramona Quimby, Dies At 104

March 26: Larry McMurtry, bookseller and award-winning novelist who pierced myths of his native Texas dies at 84

March 29: Brian Rohan, San Francisco attorney for Ken Kesey, Grateful Dead and the counterculture, Dies at 84

March 31: G. Gordon Liddy, Watergate mastermind, dead at 90

Words of the Month

shot in the dark: The term ‘shot’ has been slang for an attempt since the middle of the 19th century; for example, this piece from Joseph Hewlett’s comic work Peter Priggins, the college scout, 1841: “After waiting for a little while, Ninny… made a shot, and went so near the mark.”

‘A shot in the dark’ is simply a hopeful attempt to hit an enemy that you can’t see.

George Bernard Shaw seems to have been the first to use it metaphorically, in The Saturday Review, February 1895: “Never did man make a worse shot in the dark.”

thanks to phrases.org.uk

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Ashley Weaver – A Deception At Thornecrest

Change is a tricky thing. Often uncomfortable, awkward, unsightly, and a difficult thing to manage gracefully. Whether it’s moving to a new house in a new city, purchasing a new car, or adopting a new pet, unexpected complications always seem to creep into the proceedings.

Books series are no different. 

Any author worth their salt, who endeavors for a successful string of books knows – eventually – they will need to change things up. Otherwise, the series stales and stalls. 

Elizabeth Peter’s efficiently handled this problem by sending Amelia Peabody to a different location in Egypt (generally speaking) for each installment. Patricia Moyes employed a similar tactic by sending her husband & wife team on vacation all over the world. J.K. Rowling sends her famous wizard off to school (or to defeat dark wizards every year.

In the case of Ashley Weaver’s A Deception At Thornecrest, she does the reverse – she sends Amory Ames and her husband Milo home.

And it works beautifully.

Over the past six books, neither member of our dynamic duo has spent much time at Thorncrest – so it’s the perfect place for Weaver to set her transition mystery. By mixing a bit of old with a bit of new, Weaver is all set to send our heroine into new and exciting directions in future books. Even better? She accomplishes this aim with such flawless skill it makes A Deception At Thornecrest a joy to read.

One of the most significant changes in Amory’s life? She’s about to become a first-time mother! A fact which both she and Milo are over the moon about, in their understated way. The only hitch in the giddy-up? During the annual Springtide festival, a stable hand is murdered…Amory, our remarkable amateur sleuth, is discouraged at every turn from investigating because of her “delicate condition”.

Fortunately for Lady Justice and us readers, Amory has zero interest in heeding their unsolicited opinions. 

A Deception At Thornecrest was a compelling historical mystery, one which I thoroughly enjoyed reading from beginning to end. Even better, if you’re not interested in reading the previous exploited of our heroine and her husband (but I would highly suggest you do as they are lovely), you don’t have to! Because this is a transitional book, so long as you aren’t starting with numero uno, you can start with this installment and be alright.

Honestly, I cannot say enough good things about A Deception At Thornecrest

Fran

It’s not her latest, but it’s the most recent one I’ve read, and holy cats, does J.T. Ellison have a twisty mind! Just one more reason to love her, honestly, just like you’re going to love Good Girls Lie.

The Goode School is an Ivy League feeder boarding school in Virginia, and there’s a long waiting list of girls hoping to be chosen. The Goode School accepts only 50 girls for each grade level, and each girl is properly and thoroughly vetted before acceptance. You know what I mean, right?

Ash Carlisle is a bit of an exception. She’s British, for starters. She was being considered before her parent suddenly died, and no one can say that the Goode School is without compassion.

However, Ash’s new classmates don’t take to her that well, and Ash has secrets, so she doesn’t want to make a fuss. The resulting dynamic of mean girls, vulnerable girls, and a certain amount of looking the other way by staff members leaves Ash in a precarious position.

Then things start to get really ugly. Even deadly.

J.T. Ellison attended a similar school, although it wasn’t as perilous, so her insights and knowledge about this setting give Good Girls Lie an added edge that, combined with J.T.’s fabulous writing, makes this novel deeply disturbing. And did I mention it’s twisty as all get out? You get to see events through multiple viewpoints, and very little of what everyone sees on the surface is real. Just like most social interactions, I suspect.

You don’t have to have attended a posh boarding school to appreciate Good Girls Lie, although if you have, I bet you’ll recognize some of the people. You’re in for a treat!

JB

The title alone gave me hope that the book would answer some of my questions about why there have been so many serial killers in the last decade. Peter Vronsky is a Canadian with a PhD in criminal justice history. I saw that he’d written a couple of other books on the subject and this new one, American Serial Killers: The Epidemic Years 1950-2000, seems the most promising to address my curiosity.

Why so many? Why now? Why do many not fit the profile we’re always told about? And most strangely, why do some seem to quit?

Vronsky carefully explains what he sees as the roots – fathers who came back damaged from WWI, the great number of desertions by fathers during the Depression, and those effects on families and sons specifically. There were women who really should never have been mothers due to domineering personalities or mental health issues, the frequent element of head injuries and you have a pool ready for the birth of trouble. As youngsters, they were subjected to the social traumas of WWII, the revelations of horrors of the Holocaust, the dawn of the atomic age, and the movement of the population from the smaller towns where everyone was known to one another to the large cities and their anonymity, and evil can erupt. Mix in the interstate highway system… OK, so far I understand.

But he then begins to mix in the proliferation of true crime magazines in the 40s and 50s – when they’d begun in the 20s. I understand that many of the killers in the 60s, 70s and 80s mention them as formative with their lurid imagery. But I don’t see that had there not been these magazines, things would’ve been far different. It strikes me as a cheap target, like Bundy saying it all started with pornography.

Similarly, Vronsky puts blame on film noir and the pessimism and corruption they portrayed. He neatly glides by the fact that film noir was a direct outgrowth of the crime novels of the 20s, 30s and 40s. He doesn’t attempt a connection that the fiends were reading novels about sex and death, just looking at images of it. Municipal corruption was a massive menace well before the killers of the last half of the 20th C., but he gives little attention to the first half. I can make a couple of guesses as to why: killers could still travel around by jumping trains but the journalism may’ve lacked the ability to connect murders in different locales. He often points to the problem with killers crossing jurisdictions and police from one town/city/county/state not communicating with one another. Indeed, it still seems to be a problem – not every facet of law enforcement knew what was going on at the Capitol on January 6th, or 9/11.

Odder still, he spends an unnecessary amount of time and gory detail on crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer while mentioning that many others have been ignored in the study of serial killers. If we’ve never heard of them, he’s missed his chance to inform us.

But I could also guess that many killers in the century from 1850 to 1950 had easy outlets for their murderous ways – they had the Civil War where murder could easily be disguised as warfare, they had the Wild West where murder was cheap and easy, and they had the growth of Organized Crime where there were always opportunities for hired killers.

Over all, the book was interesting but frustrating. For an academic, he was flippant at time, snarky at others, and those instances felt out of place. It is one thing to be casual and entertaining. It is another to sound off key.

My largest question – why do some seem to stop – was answered in one quick paragraph about Gary Ridgeway: the thrill was gone. Really? That doesn’t feel adequate to explain why a monster who killed dozens of women would simply cease doing it. I hope to get an answer to that some day from a future author.


“This whole arduous process began with a monumental failure by the keepers of the public memory – the government and the press. Their failure remains with us. Over the past half century, this case has been filled with bitter arguments and wild conspiracy theories; government bodies papering over significant failures; junk science and ’eminence-based’ conclusions; sober, tenacious research and trumpeting blowhards. But over these same decades and despite many mistakes and reverses, a partial truth has been brought to light. That truth, however, leaves open many of the questions that should have been answered fifty years ago and in all likelihood cannot be answered now. Principally…who did it, and why?”

Another book that had great promise yet fell slightly short was Josiah Thompson‘s Last Second in Dallas. The philosophy professor who left academia to become a private eye in San Francisco had released one of the seminal books on the JFK assassination in 1967, Six Seconds in Dallas. It’s always been hailed as a scholarly work on the shooting and, while he stayed connected tangentially with the case, he’d published nothing else in the nearly 55 years since.

His new book is in the form of a re-examination and memoir. He situates his arguments amongst the developments in his life and the assassination evidence that has come out over the decades. He admits when he had something wrong and corrects it. It’s a fascinating thing to track.

Thompson has always focused on the evidence, the “what” of the case, not the “who” of the case. As the titles say, he’s focused on the seconds of gunfire in Dealy Plaza, not those who organized the crossfire or pulled the triggers. This narrow view allows him to delve deeply into what is known and can be proved and he does a masterful job of it.

“There is, however, one fact about assassination that has not changed in fifty years. It is its most obvious feature – the brutal effectiveness of crime… In this whole narrative, what was clear in 1966 is even clearer now. This was a highly sophisticated, devastatingly effective assassination: who bullets to the head and one to the back. Its very audacity is the most compelling feature. And speculation as to who did it and why must at least start with that fact.”

However, within those seconds of shots, he does allow some questions to go unanswered. He’s got four shots being fired. What accounts for that shallow wound in Kennedy’s back that didn’t penetrate far? The Dallas doctors could feel the end of the tract with their little fingers. What of the bullet or fragment or chip of cement that nicked James Tague? Tague and his wound are not mentioned by Thompson even as he has bullet fragments bouncing around the inside of the limo. Other than the gunman behind the picket fence, he’s non-committal about the location of the other shooters – one in the depository, the other… perhaps, like the identity of the participants, he’s leaving those questions to others. He also condescendingly dismisses the Garrison investigation, which was, after all, about the “who”s. That sounded unfair, tone-deaf, and short-sighted.

Still, Last Second in Dallas is a fascinating book and a worthy addition to my shelves of books on the assassination.

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

Christie and Henching

Amber Here!

Question: Have you ever moved house/apartment/room and discovered you’ve inadvertently started a collection? Or perhaps you were aware of said collection but utterly unaware of its sheer size due to it being tucked away in odd corners/cabinets/drawers of your abode.

Or – in my case – on multiple shelves, in multiple bookcases, in multiple rooms. The collection in question? Agatha Christie, and Agatha Christie adjacent, books. 

In 2014, when I started my Christie blog, I quickly discovered photos make the internet go round. Meaning? I began posting cover art along with reviews.

And you can’t photograph the same cover art over and over again…

So over the past seven years, I’ve haunted little out-of-the-way used bookshops in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and biblio.com for foreign/vintage/obscure Agatha Christie mystery covers…when I wasn’t spending my SMB paycheck to augment and enhance my collection. 

Fast forward to March 2021. When we move into new digs (and for the first time ever), I’ve my own home office and finally gathered all my Christie’s into a single room. 

Though not a single bookcase. 

Fran (who I texted when I realized how marginally out of control my collection’s got) thought you guys might be interested to see part of what I’d amassed.

These are the vintage volumes…haven’t had time to put them in order yet…perhaps on a rainy day…
These are the modern editions and my Christie research books…

(Hilariously these photos don’t include the other book cases filled with other classic mysteries and general mystery related research books! My office is mostly shelves…and yet still not enough space…)

Now For Something Completly Different.

Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

How many of you out there watched the Venture Brothers? (If you haven’t, you really should.) To narrow our focus further, how many of you recall The Monarch’s most trusted henchman Number 24 (aka Gary)? Yes. No.

Well, I love the series (and am still miffed Adult Swim axed its longest-running series last year), and I’ve watched every episode several times over. And when I first started reading Hench, Anna loosely reminded me of Gary…if his life were bleaker.

Much, much, bleaker.

Which initially made me want to set the book down and walk away…Because I thought I knew where the story was heading (especially when Anna accepted a contract with a villain named Electric Eel).

Boy, am I glad I stuck with it. (And finished it a day later.)

Because not only did I not see the direction Anna’s life would take…I found a clever, sarcastic, and compelling hench(woman) whose motivations were entirely understandable and relatable – but whose viciousness (in her revenge) is utterly and unapologetically unrestrained. 

Seriously, Hench is an excellent read. Because it’s more than just a tale of a single all-consuming revenge…

…sigh…

This review is so hard because I want to seriously gush about this book, but in gushing over it, I would ruin the layers, nuance, and sheer evil genius found within its pages. Hench is a book, if SMB were still open, I would simply put Hench in your hands* and say: 

“Trust me.” (Squinting at Fran.) 

Because if this is a first in a series (and I suspect it is or at least will have a follow-up), I CANNOT wait to see where Anna’s henching takes her next.

(Provided I knew you enjoyed reading gritty urban fantasy and/or sci-fi.)

March 2021

Editors’ note: we’re going to take a break from the usual Words of the Month and take the opportunity to inject some color into the issue…

Words of the Month

orange (n.) From the late 14th C., in reference to the fruit of the orange tree (late 13th C. as a surname), from Old French orange, orenge (12th C., Modern French orange), from Medieval Latin pomum de orenge, from Italian arancia, originally narancia (Venetian naranza), an alteration of Arabic naranj, from Persian narang, from Sanskrit naranga-s “orange tree,” a word of uncertain origin.

Not used as a color word in English until 1510s (orange color), “a reddish-yellow color like that of a ripe orange.” Colors similar to modern orange in Middle English might be called citrine or saffron. Loss of initial n- probably is due to confusion with the definite article (as in une narange, una narancia), but also perhaps was by influence of French or “gold.” The name of the town of Orange in France (see Orangemen) perhaps was deformed by the name of the fruit. Orange juice is attested from 1723.

The tree’s original range probably was northern India. The Persian orange, grown widely in southern Europe after its introduction in Italy 11th C., was bitter; sweet oranges were brought to Europe 15th C. from India by Portuguese traders and quickly displaced the bitter variety, but only Modern Greek still seems to distinguish the bitter (nerantzi) from the sweet (portokali “Portuguese”) orange.

Portuguese, Spanish, Arab, and Dutch sailors planted citrus trees along trade routes to prevent scurvy. On his second voyage in 1493, Christopher Columbus brought the seeds of oranges, lemons and citrons to Haiti and the Caribbean. Introduced in Florida (along with lemons) in 1513 by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon. It was introduced to Hawaii in 1792.

TIME’S UP. Carl Hiaasen is retiring his Miami Herald opinion column, but not his outrage

Tim Dorsey on Writing About Florida as a Floridian

Here is a deeply soothing bookmaking video for your Friday escape.

Sarah Weinman To Take Over Marilyn Stasio’s Crime Column

How Magazines Helped Shape American History

Feast your eyes on this gorgeous Tokyo bookshop-slash-hotel.

Serious Stuff

How the Great Depression and WWII Gave Birth to the Modern Serial Killer

The Librarian War Against QAnon

Writing About the Russian Mob: The Brutal and the Absurd

He escaped a lynch mob, then sued its members in court

Malcolm X family demands reopening of murder investigation

Malcolm X family says letter shows NYPD and FBI conspired in his murder

Was Bugsy Siegel the ‘Supreme Gangster’? A Biography Makes the CaseBUGSY SIEGEL: The Dark Side of the American Dream By Michael Shnayerson

An Ex-KGB Agent Says Trump Was a Russian Asset Since 1987. Does it Matter?

Pensacola Navy base mass shooter had accomplices, help from Saudi Arabia, victims claim in terror lawsuit

Woody Allen’s memoir publisher threatens to sue HBO over documentary

Book Publishing’s New Power Club

What the FBI Had on Grandpa

9 Ways to Support Journalists Even if You’re Broke

According to data, Black and Latinx Millennials are keeping the book industry alive.

‘By Means Fair or Foul’: America’s Conspiracy to Assassinate Black Power

PNW Stuff

Writers call for resignation of director of Seattle’s Hugo House

Hugo House director resigns amid calls for racial equity

Lynnwood’s Greg Bear, stalwart of modern science fiction, starts writing his life story

Woman finds kilo of cocaine in crochet kit bought at Seattle store

Will downtown Seattle bounce back after the pandemic? [we include this article as it deals with Cherry Street Coffee, which was just down the street when SMB closed. that the owner, Ali, had to install a buzzer at the door so that only customers could be let in says something about the state of Pioneer Square since we left. very sad!]

Seattle’s longest-running Black-owned bookstore begins a new chapter in Columbia City

Powell’s will reopen more rooms to the public at its flagship City of Books store downtown

Oddities

They Tore Down John D. MacDonald’s Old Florida Home to Build a Mansion and There’s Nothing You or I or Travis McGee Can Do About It Now

Crete police ‘perplexed’ by case of dead Briton aboard sunken yacht

On discovering a secret society in an Alice in Wonderland-themed restaurant.

MI6 spy chiefs advertising for part-time James Bonds who ‘must love travel’

Got $18 million dollars lying around? Wanna buy Steinbeck’s house?

Can a robot write a play? We’ll find out this month.

One of these bookcases was designed by a communist; the other was manufactured by a fascist. Can you tell which is which?

Did nuclear spy devices in the Himalayas trigger India floods?

The Prices on Your Monopoly Board Hold a Dark Secret

Dead strange … in search of Britain’s most unusual tombs

A Mystery Inscription on ‘The Scream’ That Baffled Experts for Decades Was Written by Edvard Munch Himself, New Research Shows

The 120 Days of Sodom: France seeks help to buy ‘most impure tale ever written’

Now Ted Cruz may be buying his own books through a mystery company

The Sordid Tale Of The Woman Who Scammed Marie-Antoinette

Hillary Clinton, Louise Penny to Co-Write Mystery Novel

Watch a supercut of typewriters being used on screen.

Rooster fitted with blade for cockfight kills its owner in India

Words of the Month

vermilion (n.) From the late 13th C., “cinnabar, red dye,” from Anglo-French and Old French vermeillon “red lead, cinnabar, (cosmetic) rouge” (12th C.), from vermeil (see vermeil). As an adjective, from 1580s.

Depart of SPECTRE

Amazon to pay $62M to settle claims it lifted delivery driver tips

Amazon will monitor delivery drivers with AI cameras that know when they yawn

New York Takes On Amazon Over COVID Safety Measures

Militant preppers, ‘boogaloo’ members and QAnon adherents can push products on Amazon

Amazon Drivers Are Worried About New ‘Customer-Obsessed’ Disciplinary Program

Bias, disrespect, and demotions: Black employees say Amazon has a race problem

Words of the Month

violet (n.) A small wild plant with purplish-blue flowers, c. 1300, from Old French violete (12th C.), diminutive of viole “violet,” from Latin viola “the violet, a violet color,” cognate with Greek ion (see iodine), probably from a pre-Indo-European substrate Mediterranean language. The color sense (late 14th C.) developed from the flower.

Awards

Here are the finalists for the 2021 PEN America Literary Awards.

Book Stuff

Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö: A Crime Reader’s Guide to the Classics

Jonathan Kellerman Wants to Know Why Crime Fiction Has Such a Hard Time with Mental Health Professionals

Rooms of Their Own: Where Some of the Best Women Writers Created Art

Poirot at 100: the refugee detective who stole Britain’s heart

‘I think I’ve written more Sherlock Holmes than even Conan Doyle’: the ongoing fight to reimagine Holmes

The Future of Police Procedurals: What is the responsibility—and the path forward—for authors writing crime fiction about police?

The Depths of Stephen King’s Misery

Stephen King is helping a group of elementary students publish a pandemic-themed book.

Authors Guild urges DOJ to stop Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House merger

Danny Trejo’s memoir is hitting shelves (extremely hard) this summer.

Meet the bookstore owner behind National Black Literacy Day.

Who Really Created the Marvel Universe?

My First Thriller: Walter Mosley

For Years, a Literary Villain Made Joe Ide Wary of Nurses

For the Spy Novelist Robert Littell, The Cold War Never Ended

The Women Pushing Espionage Fiction Into New Territories: A Roundtable Discussion

Elle Cosimano introduces a new generation of crime writers who started in YA.

On The Man Who Didn’t Fly, A Most Original Mystery

Interview with an Indie Press: Milkweed Editions

NYC’s Robber Baron Library Has a Flair for the Dramatic

Author Events

Third Place Books: March 18 – Virtual Event ~ Live on Zoom! Donna Leon, in conversation with Cara Black – Transient Desires (Tickets Required!)

Words of the Month

Burgundy (n.) A region, kingdom, duchy, and province in France, from Medieval Latin Burgundia, from Late Latin Burgundiones, literally “highlanders,” from Proto-Indo-European *bhrgh-nt– “high, mighty,” from root *bhergh– (2) “high.” The Burgundians were a Germanic people, originally from what is now Sweden, who migrated and founded a kingdom west of the Rhine in 411. Their story is told in the 12th C. Nibelungenlied. As “wine made in Burgundy,” 1670s; as a color resembling that of the wine, 1881 (burgundy rose as a color is from 1872). Related: Burgundian.

Other Forms of Entertainment

The Gentleman Badass: Conrad O’Brien-ffrench Was the Real James Bond

Strong bonds: Marek Reichman on Aston Martin and 007

The World Is Not Enough‘s Cut Ending Explored Something All Bonds Ignore

The James Bond Villain David Bowie Almost Played (And Why He Wasn’t Cast)

Orson Welles, Lucille Ball, and The Greatest Thriller That Never Was

“The Investigation” eschews salaciousness for a bleak yet poignant Scandi noir take on true crime (JB recommends the series)

Buckle up! “The Lady and the Dale” is a wild ride through the cons of auto CEO Elizabeth Carmichael (JB recommends this series, too)

STREET WRITER: The literary video game we didn’t know we needed.

The 45 best prison escape films, ranked

Tom Stoppard’s Double Life

My worst moment: Chris Noth and his ‘Law & Order’ ending — (dun! dun!)

Why you should watch Body Heat, the best erotic thriller ever made.

The (Almost) Impossible Oscars Success of The Silence of the Lambs

The Magic of Moonlighting

Criminal Broads Presents: An Epic Scam ~The Soothsayer: Rose Marks

Why Did Raymond Chandler Hate Strangers on a Train So Intensely?

What to Read and Watch Next If You’re Finding Yourself Oddly Fascinated by the Idea of Cults

The Bourne Challenge: How to Create a New Hero in the Long Shadow of Jason Bourne

Here’s an homage to one of cinema’s greatest homages: Paul Thomas Anderson’s love for The Long Goodbye

How two feisty Brits met, got drunk, and became true crime podcasting soulmates

Danny DeVito and Barry Sonnenfeld: how we made Get Shorty

James Bond: Die Another Day Originally Confirmed 007 Codename Theory

Amblin to Adapt Walter Mosley’s ‘Easy Rawlins’ Books for TV

Words of the Month

verdigris (n.) From c. 1300, vertegrez, from Old French verte grez (13th C.), verte de Grece (late 12th C.), literally “green of Greece,” from obsolete French verd, from Latin viridis (see verdure). The reason for it being called that is not known. In other languages, “green of Spain” (German grünspan, Danish spanskgrönt, Dutch spaansch-groen), from Medieval Latin viride Hispanum. Current spelling in English is from 1789. In chemistry, confined to a basic copper acetate; popularly applied to the green encrustation on copper or brass exposed to the air.

RIP

January 29: ‘Charming’ D.B. Cooper suspect Sheridan Peterson dies at 94, spent years dedicated to political causes

January 29: Sharon Kay Penman, Whose Novels Plumbed Britain’s Past, Dies at 75

February 1: Famed San Francisco private eye Jack Palladino dies after attack

February 2: Hal Holbrook, Actor Who Channeled Mark Twain, Is Dead at 95

February 4: Eugenio Martinez, CIA Watergate burglar pardoned by Reagan, dies at 98

February 5: Christopher Plummer, Sound of Music star and oldest actor to win an Oscar, dead at 91

February 10: Fanne Foxe, Who Plunged Into the Tidal Basin and Emerged Famous, Dies at 84

February 23: SF poet and City Lights founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti dies at 101

February 26: Sheila Washington Dies at 61; Helped Exonerate Scottsboro Boys

Links of Interest

January 6: Why has the Zodiac Killer never been caught?

February 1: The Delicate Art of the English Tea Set: A Historical Mystery Writer’s Appreciation

February 3: The Killer Outside Me: Living Life In Close Proximity To A Bizarre Series of Accidents, Murders, and Tragedies

February 4: Bestselling author, Mary Kay Andrews, helps solve real-life mystery

February 5: They hunted predators who sexually abuse children and lost their lives for it

February 5: Dante’s Descendant Wants to Overturn the Poet’s 1302 Corruption Conviction

February 7: The Wild Story Of Sheila Keen-Warren, The Killer Clown

February 8: Is This the Body of a Woman Mayor Murdered During the Spanish Civil War?

February 8: French woman faces court threat in ‘quest’ to win back Nazi-looted Pissarro

February 8: His Gangster Grandpa Was a Big Frog in a Small Pennsylvania Pond

February 11: Glamorous Immorality: A Brief History of Old Hollywood’s Organized Criminals

February 12: Forgotten spies who fought the Nazis in the Middle East

February 13: Val McDermid – ‘To survive, you had to be twice as good as the guys’

February 16: Scenes from a Small City Mob Life, Circa 1960

February 18: Italian mafia boss wins legal right to play music in his solitary prison cell

February 22: U.S. arrests wife of Mexico cartel chief El Chapo on drug charges

February 22: As a Black Lord of the Rings fan, I felt left out of fantasy worlds. So I created my own

February 22: ‘The man was obviously a crook’: the decline and fall of Robert Maxwell

February 22: 8 Wonderful Libraries to Visit Post-Pandemic

February 24: When the Last Call Killer Came to Five Oaks

February 25: DNA From Vanilla Coke Can Cracks 1981 Colorado Murder

February 28: Same Gun Used in Failed Plot to Kill Hypnotist Tied to 2012 Murder of British Family

Words of the Month

blue (adj.1) “of the color of the clear sky,” c. 1300, bleu, blwe, etc., “sky-colored,” also “livid, lead-colored,” from Old French blo, bleu “pale, pallid, wan, light-colored; blond; discolored; blue, blue-gray,” from Frankish *blao or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *blæwaz (source also of Old English blaw, Old Saxon and Old High German blao, Danish blaa, Swedish blå, Old Frisian blau, Middle Dutch bla, Dutch blauw, German blau “blue”).

This is from Proto-Indo-European *bhle– was “light-colored, blue, blond, yellow,” from root *bhel– (1) “to shine, flash, burn,” also “shining white” and forming words for bright colors. The same PIE root yielded Latin flavus “yellow,” Old Spanish blavo “yellowish-gray,” Greek phalos “white,” Welsh blawr “gray,” showing the slipperiness of definition in Indo-European color-words. Many Indo-European languages seem to have had a word to describe the color of the sea, encompassing blue and green and gray; such as Irish glass (from PIE root *ghel- (2) “to shine,”); Old English hæwen “blue, gray,” related to har (see hoar); Serbo-Croatian sinji “gray-blue, sea-green;” Lithuanian šyvas, Russian sivyj “gray.”

The present spelling in English is since 16th C., common from c. 1700. The sense “lead-colored, blackish-blue, darkened as if by bruising” is perhaps by way of the Old Norse cognate bla “livid, lead-colored.” It is the meaning in black and blue, and blue in the face “livid with effort” (1864, earlier black and blue in the face, 1829).

The color of constancy since Chaucer at least, but apparently for no deeper reason than the rhyme in true blue (c. 1500). Figurative meaning “sad, sorrowful, afflicted with low spirits” is from c. 1400, perhaps from the “livid” sense and implying a bruised heart or feelings. Of women, “learned, pedantic,” by 1788 (see bluestocking). In some phrases, such as blue murder, it appears to be merely intensive. Blue was by c. 1600 the distinctive color of the dress of servants, which may be the reason police uniforms are blue, a tradition Farmer dates to Elizabethan times.

Blue pencil as an editor’s characteristic tool to mark corrections in copy is from 1885; also as a verb from 1885. The fabulous story of Blue-beard, who kept his murdered wives in a locked room, is from 1798. For blue ribbon see cordon bleu under cordon. Blue whale attested from 1851, so called for its color. Blue cheese is from 1862. Blue water “the open ocean” is from 1822. Blue streak, of something resembling a bolt of lightning (for quickness, intensity, etc.) is from 1830, Kentucky slang. Delaware has been the “Blue Hen State” at least since 1830, supposedly from a nickname of its regiments in the Revolutionary War.

blue (adj.2) As “lewd, indecent” recorded from 1840 (in form blueness, in an essay of Carlyle’s); the sense connection with the color name (see blue (adj.1)) is unclear, and is opposite to that in blue laws (q.v.). John Mactaggart’s “Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia” (1824), containing odd words he had learned while growing up in Galloway and elsewhere in Scotland, has an entry for Thread o’Blue, “any little smutty touch in song-singing, chatting, or piece of writing.” Farmer [“Slang and Its Analogues Past and Present,” 1890] offers the theory that this meaning derives from the blue dress uniforms issued to harlots in houses of correction (from c. 1600), but he writes that the earlier slang authority John Camden Hotten “suggests it as coming from the French Bibliothèque Bleu, a series of books of very questionable character,” and adds, from Hotten, that, “Books or conversation of an entirely opposite nature are said to be Brown or Quakerish, i.e., serious, grave, decent.”

What We’ve Been Up To

Fran

Do you remember how excited we were when Ernest Cline wrote Ready Player One? You should, because we could not stop talking about it, and were selling it right up until we closed.

Amber even got to sit in the prize-winning DeLorean, which was extra-special cool!

So you know I was over the moon when the sequel, Ready Player Two, came out. But then, I just sat there and stared at it, not reading it, because what if it wasn’t as good? Second books often aren’t, although technically this isn’t the second book, since Armada dropped in there. But you know what I mean. What if…?

If you’re in the same place, go ahead and dive in. You’re in for a treat!

When we left Wade Watts (a/k/a Parzival, or just “Z”), he and his spunky crew had won James Halliday’s challenge and had been rewarded with his empire. Life was good.

Nine days later, Wade discovers a secret that Halliday left for him to find, and suddenly everything goes nuts. The old OASIS Haptic goggles and gloves are suddenly obsolete, but the new and completely hidden technology, OASIS Neural Interface, will literally change the world.

This is not necessarily a good thing, and it divides the crew.
And then there’s a new riddle to be solved, a game to be won. Things get even worse.

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

February Newzine

Let’s start with some great news: Independent bookshops defy expectations during the Covid-19 pandemic with hundreds of new stores opening

Self-soothe with this video of a 120-year-old book of fairy tales being restored.

This Turkish library is shaped like a shelf of giant books.

What Fiction Can Teach Journalists: A Reading List From Maurice Chammah

Stating the obvious: Every Mystery Writer Knows, You Can Kill Anyone But The Dog

My Nudist, Holocaust-Survivor Grandma Spied on the Nazis

Suspect in Kim Kardashian’s Paris Robbery Writes Book … About Robbing Kim Kardashian

And something new and ridiculous: the final Daniel Craig 007 movie may have to have some re-shoots due to delays making product placement deals problematic!

Serious Stuff

Pharmacist Arrested, Accused Of Destroying More Than 500 Moderna Vaccine Doses

The 1954 Attack On The Capitol And The Woman Who Led It

How Online Sleuths Identified Rioters At The Capitol

A Serial Rapist Terrified a Black Sorority for a Decade. Police Just Cracked the Case.

Netflix’s Night Stalker Doc Details the Hunt For Richard Ramirez. But There’s More to the Story.

How a Whistleblower Helped Launch a Landmark Prosecution in the Battle Against the Opioid Epidemic

‘The Internet Is a Crime Scene’

A Vast Web of Vengeance: Outrageous lies destroyed Guy Babcock’s online reputation. When he went hunting for their source, what he discovered was worse than he could have imagined.

A Scoop About the Pentagon Papers, 50 Years Later

On the banned German novelist who disappeared herself from the Nazis.

Local Stuff

Saving Seattle’s National Archives will take a team effort

In Netflix’s ‘Cobra Kai,’ Seattle restaurateur Yuji Okumoto reprises a role — and a life — he thought he’d left behind

Melinda Gates has donated $250,000 to the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction.

Powell’s Books says Andy Ngo’s book will not be in store

Mossback’s Northwest: The Washington outlaw who couldn’t be caught

[and we include this just for fun: Mossback’s Northwest: The Palouse cowboy who inspired John Wayne]

Orca Post-Mortems Tell the Story of a Population Facing Numerous Threats

DNA puts a name to one of the last unidentified victims of the Green River Killer

Meet Book the Future founder Andrea Liao, a Bellevue high schooler honored for her work in the literacy field

Multnomah County Library saw record 4 million digital checkouts in 2020; here are the most popular titles

Judge orders DOJ attorneys to testify about improper questioning of witness in Thomas Wales investigation

Department of SPECTRE

Amazon and major publishers colluded to keep e-book prices high, lawsuit says

Amazon Is Helping to Fund a Militia That Stormed the Capitol

UW study:Amazon algorithms promote vaccine misinformation

Amazon seeks to block shareholder proposals on hate speech, diversity, workplace conditions and surveillance tech

Words of the Month

CHANTAGE – the extortion of money by threats of scandalous revelations aka Blackmail. French, from chanter to yield to extortion, be compliant, literally, to sing + -age

This word is first recorded in the period 1870–75. Other words that entered English at around the same time include: Mafiafifth wheelgiveawayimmobilizeupgrade

Awards

ALA Youth Media Awards (Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King, and many more!)

Mystery Writers of America Announces 2021 Edgar Allan Poe Award Nominations

3 books by Oregon authors win Pacific Northwest Book Awards

Book Stuff

The Great Gatsby and All Your Favorite Works from 1925 Have Now Entered the Public Domain

Shelf Life: Tana French:the famed mystery writer takes our literary survey.

American Dirt: How one of publishing’s most hyped books became its biggest horror story — and still ended up a best seller.

My First Thriller: Lawrence Block

The Life and Wild Times of O. Henry

You’re using the term ‘Orwellian’ wrong. Here’s what George Orwell was actually writing about

‘Invisible Men’ chronicles pioneering Black artists of the early comic book industry

At the Library: Spare some time for the overlooked books

Ernest Cline Was ‘Raised by Screens.’ Look How Well He Turned Out!

Penny dreadfuls were the true crime podcasts of their time

The Thrill of Researching Your Crime Novel

The dramatic — and embellished — life of Graham Greene

Closure of an iconic Paris bookshop alarms French bibliophiles

Why do books have prices printed on them?

Open letter calls for publishing boycott of Trump administration memoirs

How Teaching Writing Makes Jonathan Lethem’s Own Writing Better

Patricia Highsmith – Jan 19, 1921

~ Patricia Highsmith at 100: the best film adaptations

~ Patricia Highsmith: the ‘Jew-hater’ who took Jewish women as lovers

~ Upgrade your writing soundtrack with Patricia Highsmith’s favorite songs.

Exploring the People of Middle-earth: Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, an Unexpected Hero

Indie bookstore to open a block away from recently shuttered Barnes & Noble

Rare Devon fabric book found in London archives

Here’s what you need to know about the book club service that just raised $40 million.

This new indie bookstore categorizes books by emotion.

Merriam-Webster just added 520 new words to the lexicon, but these are the best ones.

Paul Yamazaki on Fifty Years of Bookselling at City Lights

Today in cool internet passion projects: the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction.

John le Carré Offered a Piece of Advice to a Struggling Novelist. She’ll Never Forget It.

It Takes a Village To Keep a Book In Print: A Chat with the Collins Crime Club

My First Thriller: Randy Wayne White

Other Forms of Entertainment

Sex and the City: New series announced but Kim Cattrall won’t return

The secret artists creating miniature buildings for street mice

His Vaccine Story Inspired His Father To Write A Disney Classic

The people who want to send smells through your TV

Don’t Toss Your Christmas Tree Yet! Here’s How You Can Cook With It

‘Where Are The Women?’: Uncovering The Lost Works Of Female Renaissance Artists [When JB was in college, he took an art history class entitled “Women in Art”, taught by Dr. Jeanne Stump. It was one of the first such classes in the US and he’s thrilled the painters he studied over 40 years ago are finally getting the attention they have always deserved.]

The True Story Behind Why the Original ‘The Twilight Zone’ Got Canceled

John Bishop Boards the TARDIS for Season 13 of Doctor Who 

Car Concerts Offer Choirs A Way To Rehearse And Perform

PI Storytelling Through the Ages: Books, Blogs and Podcasts by Real Private Eyes

‘The Umbrella Academy’ Season 3 Unveils Cast For Sparrow Academy Which Includes… A Telekinetic Cube?

Hollywoodland: The Best Neo-Noir You Probably Haven’t Seen

Kevin Feige Confirms ‘Deadpool 3’ Is an MCU Movie

“Lincoln Lawyer” Series Lands at Netflix, Starring Manuel Garcia-Rulfo — Find Out Which Book It Will Cover

Evil Incarnate: The Aesthetics of On-Screen Villainy

What Happened To Michael Peterson From The Staircase?

Classic bands accused of crowding out new music on streaming services

Radiohead: School band demo up for auction

‘SNL’ And ‘Second City’ Announce Scholarships For Diverse, Emerging Comic Talent

‘Artists, Weirdos, Hellriders And Homies:’ Thrasher Magazine Turns 40

Timothy Dalton had Three Unmade James Bond Movies That Influenced the 007 Franchise After He Left

Words of the Month

RUB BUBBERS (OR CLANK NAPPERS) – A dexterous person/people who steal silver tankards from inns and taverns.

Thanks BBC America

Links of Interest

December 31: Serial squirrel: Neighbors keep eye out for fierce rodent

January 4: Inside the U.S. Army’s Warehouse Full of Nazi Art

January 4: Sherlock Holmes and the case of toxic masculinity: what is behind the detective’s appeal?

January 5: HG Wells fans spot numerous errors on Royal Mint’s new £2 coin

January 5: Hemingway’s Politics Were No Secret—Just Read His Only Crime Novel

January 5: Sword Taken 4 Decades Ago Is Returned To Mass. Community

January 5: Fishermen rescue naked fugitive from Australian tree

January 6: Irving “Gangi” Cohen: The Man Who Escaped Murder, Inc. and Hid Out in the Movies

January 9: The mystery at heart of Milky Way: Astronomers are still arguing after 70 years over mushroom clouds at centre of galaxy… so were they caused by exploding stars or a black hole swallowing a gas cloud? 

January 10: Split in two ~ magicians to celebrate 100 years of sawing people in half

January 11: Megalodons gave birth to large newborns that likely grew by eating unhatched eggs in womb

January 11: A level results: Why algorithms aren’t making the grade

January 13: Gurlitt’s last Nazi-looted work returned to owners

January 13: Tower of London’s ‘queen’ raven Merlina missing

January 13: Italy ‘Ndrangheta group: Biggest mafia trial in decades opens

January 13: For Sale: Papers From the Planning of the 1963 March on Washington

January 14: Lizzie Borden’s House Is Up For Sale

January 15: A productivity tool company has solved writing by . . . reinventing the typewriter.

January 18: Man found ‘living in airport for three months’ over Covid fears

January 19: Stolen 500-year-old painting found in Naples cupboard

January 19: Those Guillotines are awfully close to your neck

January 27: Marie Dean Arrington: The Woman Who Fled From a Florida Electric Chair

January 27: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Murder: A Roadside Killing and The Novel That Captured an Era

Words of the Month

MASK OF SANITY – Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy—these serial killers were famous not only for their crimes, but their deceptively charming dispositions. This is what crime experts refer to as the Mask of Sanity. Coined by psychiatrist Hervey M. Cleckley in his 1941 book, this describes the phenomena of psychopaths easily blending in with their peers because they don’t typically suffer from more noticeable mental symptoms like hallucinations and delusions.

Thanks to MentalFloss

RIP

December 29: ‘Columbo,’ ‘Murder, She Wrote’ co-creator William Link dies

January 8: Michael Apted, Director Of The ‘Up’ Documentary Series, Dies At 79

January 8: Legendary Dodgers Manager Tommy Lasorda Dies At 93

January 9: Remembering Journalist And Friend Neil Sheehan

January 9: Marion Ramsey: Police Academy and Broadway star dies at 73

January 14: Siegfried Fischbacher: Member of magic duo Siegfried and Roy dies

January 17: Phil Spector, famed music producer convicted of murder, dies at 81 after contracting COVID-19

January 23: ‘Barney Miller,’ ‘Sanford and Son’ actor Gregory Sierra dies at 83

January 26: Cloris Leachman, Oscar-winning actress and prolific TV star, dies at 94

January 28: Cicely Tyson, Who Brought Grace And Gravitas To The Screen, Has Died At 96

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

While working the shelves of Seattle Mystery Bookshop, several series caused me no end of dismay when trying to space them out, so they looked pretty for you all! 

Agatha Christie often clogged the classics section with the sheer variety of sizes publishers used to reprint her mysteries. Earle Stanley Gardner also had his moments of causing classic section consternation due to the sheer volume of books he wrote – 82 in the Perry Mason series alone! 

M.C. Beaton and Alexander McCall Smith (in the general mysteries) eventually got their own sections due to the ever-expanding series. 

However, there’s one writer who often lead me to tear my hair out – J.D. Robb. 

Due to Robb’s overwhelming popularity, we needed to keep the majority of the In Death Series on hand at all times. Meaning? When Robb released a new book or we received a batch of used mysteries…We often needed to move entire rows & sections of books around, so Eve and her cohorts didn’t scrunch, encroach, or simply dominate the neighboring authors!

Now that Robb’s hit book number 51 in her In Death series, I shudder to think how we’d struggle to fit her prodigious output on the shelves! 

Speaking of book 51, Shadows in Death…Robb delivers yet another page-turning, read-late-into-the-night thriller you can devour in a single (long) sitting. One that will leave Eve & Roarke fans with a pleasant taste in their mouths; as we learn more about Roarke’s past, watch Eve work with her team and visit Ireland!

Feeney had stars in his eyes.

Perhaps, just perhaps, the mystery’s culmination teetered on the edge of sensationalism. But really, it only ever teetered, but Robb never actually jumped the shark, so we’re still fine!

Did you know the Western tradition of a bride wearing white didn’t come about until Queen Victoria wore a white dress to her wedding in 1840? The trend soon caught on amongst the elite across Europe as it became a symbol, not of the bride’s ‘purity’ but her family’s wealth. (i.e., they could afford to purchase an easily ruined dress.) Prior to this point, brides wore all kinds of colors – red being a particular favorite. 

It wasn’t until prosperity hit the middle classes after WWII, helped along by the silver screen, that white wedding gowns became commonplace across the US and Europe.

In 1981 the tradition received a significant boost when soon-to-be Princess Diana walked down the aisle in a stunning ivory dress which sported 10,000 pearls, a 25 ft train, and a 153-yard tulle veil. As one-in-six people around the entire world watched the wedding – her gown inspired generations of brides. 

Beyond the fact, it undoubtedly took some serious spine and determination to pull the weight of the dress down the aisle. The train and veil caused one wedding day hiccup. The designers failed to consider the size of the glass coach Princess Diana would ride in to St. Paul’s Cathedral. So, despite the bride’s best efforts, the dress became badly wrinkled on the ride over.

I know a few wrinkles in a dress doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but I know from experience, trying to create a perfect day – something like this can easily spin one out.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your view, Lindsey Norris doesn’t need to wait until the big day for something to go wrong! Not only did the guest list accidentally triple overnight – she and Sully find their officiant washed up on the beach of their wedding venue…dead!

So it’s a race against time as Lindsey & Sully work to solve a friend’s murder, find a new officiant, and expand their wedding venue – all before the big day! 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading One For The Books

The murder and the practicalities behind throwing a wedding provide an excellent counterpoint to well – the wedding. An event, which handled by a less deft mystery author, can edge towards the overly sweet – a trap McKinlay, thankfully, never falls into!

In addition, the possible motives of our cast of suspects are, for lack of a better word – intriguing. As no one, not even our victim, is innocent. It’s this tangled set of relationships, ones that neither Lindsey nor Sully ever suspected, and their revelations that make this mystery.

Then there’s The Lemon, Ms. Cole, who since announcing her aim to become Briar Creek’s next mayor – is endeavoring to loosen up and smile more….neither of which is precisely in her wheelhouse – thus adding an extra layer of sharp mirth to an already engaging read. 

All in all, One For The Books was a fun, fast-paced, and diverting book I would recommend to anyone looking for a biblio-mystery or a fun way to escape an afternoon or two!

Don’t Forget to Check out my other Blog – Finder of Lost Things!

This last week we’ve met Squiddy, The Brownie Stealing Bench and Phoebe’s Silver City Operative!

Fran

One of the questions we routinely got at the bookshop was, “Have you read every book here?” It was generally accompanied with a laugh, although sometimes it was a serious question.

We always grinned and responded that there was no way to read all of them, and that we all had areas of specialty. The fact is, of course, that not only could we not have read all 10,000+ titles, but we honestly had so many new titles coming in every week, we didn’t even pretend to try.

That didn’t mean we couldn’t sell books we hadn’t read. A good working knowledge of the standards and classics worked well, and the quality of writing helped several series sell themselves.

That’s why I was pleased to finally get around to reading my first book by Charles Todd. I prefer to start at the beginning of a series, and I should have begun with A Test of Wills, but it turns out that I had an Advance Reader Copy of The Red Door, so that’s what I read.

It was obvious there were ongoing things I would have gotten had I started at the beginning, and I will enjoy filling in the backstory, but the delight of Charles Todd is that each story stands by itself. So I got to meet Ian Rutledge and his internal companion, Hamish, and I’m thoroughly hooked.

The Red Door has two inquiries, one concerning a street thief who attacked Rutledge on a bridge, and escapes. However the thief, known as Billy, becomes more aggressive, and it’s up to Rutledge to stop him.

But a missing person case takes precedence, since the Talley family is very important, and finding Walter Talley is deemed to be of utmost importance. Rutledge is given the assignment to find Talley, and to keep news of his disappearance out of the press, to protect the family’s privacy. What Rutledge finds in his investigation will leave death and sorrow as secrets are revealed.

The combined talents that comprise Charles Todd are wonderful, and I am looking forward to reading them all. The depth of understanding they bring to our shell-shocked hero steeped in the times and turmoil of Great Britain in the wake of the Great War makes this book, and I can only assume all the rest, absolutely compelling.

Have we read them all? Not even hardly, but it’s great to start in on some of the ones I know I missed!

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

Amber Here!

A Resolution At Midnight – Shelley Noble

People around the world have different traditions concerning New Year’s. 

Creating New Year’s resolutions, banging pots & pans outside at midnight (hopefully your neighbors do the same), kissing your sweetheart, or jumping off a chair at the very second the hands strike twelve – are all popular.

One particular interesting tradition that features a bit of divination, favored by Germans around the turn of the century, was placing walnut shells in a punchbowl and watching them zip around to figure out how the following 365 days will go. 

However, one of the most recognized and well-known traditions is the NYC ball drop in Times Square. Which, if you didn’t already know, first started its duties by marking the end of 1907 and the beginning of 1908. And this is when A Resolution At Midnight comes to a thrilling conclusion (it’s in the title, after all). 

(Fun Fact: The ball’s only failed to mark the occasion twice – in 1942 & 1943 – when the threat of air raids kept it, and the rest of New York, dark.)

Now you know where A Resolution At Midnight ends, lets got back to the beginning – ten days before Christmas, when Lady Dunbridge arrives home from gift hunting and finds a short note from Mr. X requesting a meeting at a nickelodeon…in just over thirty minutes! Even in 1907, New York traffic is still thick. So Phil, much to her annoyance, arrives late to her meeting…whereupon she discovers a man with his throat slit! 

Here’s what I love about this series: Shelley Noble never loses sight of the fact she’s writing a mystery. Yes, she incorporates the very first NYC ball drop, the NY Times, the seedy underbelly of NY politics, and the slow slide of the NYPD back into its bad ways after Roosevelt moved on…but Noble never succumbs to the temptation of historical pontification. Rather, Noble seamlessly weaves just enough detail of these fascinating facts to flesh out her mystery without Without ever detracting, derailing, or slowing the pace of her storyline. Yet, she manages to give her audience enough detail to do a bit of historical sleuthing on their own – if they so choose.

A Resolution At Midnight is no exception. 

Honestly, I loved every second of this book. Noble festoons her mystery with just enough of both winter holidays to give the reader a taste of the season and – not unlike Christie – counterbalances it with a nice bloody murder. Which happily sops up all the saccharine that often saturates stories set during this time of the year. 

Seriously, I would recommend A Resolution At Midnight to anyone who likes strong female leads and historical mysteries. 

How About Lynchmob?

What Should We Call the Sixth of January?

Jill Lapore, The New Yorker





 

obloquious (n.): mid-15th C., obloquie, “evil speaking, slander, calumny, derogatory remarks,” from Medieval Latin obloquium “speaking against, contradiction,” from Latin obloqui “to speak against, contradict,” from ob “against” (see ob-) + loqui “to speak,” from Proto-Indo-European root *tolkw– “to speak.” (etymonline)

sedition (n.) From the mid-14th C., “rebellion, uprising, revolt, concerted attempt to overthrow civil authority; violent strife between factions, civil or religious disorder, riot; rebelliousness against authority,” from Old French sedicion (14th C., Modern French sédition) and directly from Latin seditionem (nominative seditio) “civil disorder, dissension, strife; rebellion, mutiny,” literally “a going apart, separation,” from se- “apart” (see secret (n.)) + itio “a going,” from ire “to go” (from Proto-Indo-European root *ei- “to go”).

Meaning “conduct or language inciting to rebellion against a lawful government” is from 1838. An Old English word for it was folcslite. Less serious than treason, as wanting an overt act, “But it is not essential to the offense of sedition that it threaten the very existence of the state or its authority in its entire extent” [Century Dictionary]. (etymonline)

peenge (v.): to whine, fret and complain of cold and hunger, to pretend poverty. (Says You!, episode 219). From the Oxford/Lexico site: To whine, complain in a whining voice; to mope, fret.

traitor (n.) c. 1200, “one who betrays a trust or duty,” from Old French traitor, traitre “traitor, villain, deceiver” (11th C., Modern French traître), from Latin traditor “betrayer,” literally “one who delivers,” agent noun from stem of tradere “deliver, hand over,” from trans- “over” (see trans-) + dare “to give” (from PIE root *do- “to give”). Originally usually with a suggestion of Judas Iscariot; especially of one false to his allegiance to a sovereign, government, or cause from late 15th C. Compare treason, tradition. (etymonline)

caterwaul (n.): “disagreeable howling or screeching,” like that of a cat in heat, late 14th C., caterwrawen, perhaps from Low German katerwaulen “cry like a cat,” or formed in English from cater, from Middle Dutch cater “tomcat” + Middle English waul “to yowl,” apparently from Old English *wrag, *wrah “angry,” of uncertain origin but somehow imitative. Related: Caterwauled; caterwauling. As a noun from 1708. (etymonline)

whinge(n.): “to complain peevishly,” British, informal or dialectal, ultimately from the northern form of Old English hwinsian, from Proto-Germanic *hwinison (source also of Old High German winison, German winseln), from root of Old English hwinan “to whine” (see whine (v.)). Related: Whinged; whinging. (etymonline)

lynch (v.): 1835, “inflict severe (but not deliberately fatal) bodily punishment (on someone) without legal sanction,” from earlier Lynch law (1811), in reference to such activity, which was likely named after William Lynch (1742-1820) of Pittsylvania, Virginia, who c. 1780, led a vigilance committee to keep order there during the Revolution. Other sources trace the name to Charles Lynch (1736-1796) a Virginia magistrate who fined and imprisoned Tories in his district, c. 1782, but the connection to him is less likely. The surname is perhaps from Irish Loingseach “sailor.”

It implies lawless concert or action among a number of members of the community, to supply the want of criminal justice or to anticipate its delays, or to inflict a penalty demanded by public opinion, though in defiance of the laws. [Century Dictionary, 1895]

Originally any sort of summary justice, done without authority of law, for a crime or public offense; it especially referred to flogging or tarring-and-feathering. At first the act was associated with frontier regions (as in the above citation), though from c. 1835 to the U.S. Civil War it also often was directed against abolitionists. The narrowing of the meaning to “extra-legal execution by hanging” is evident by the 1880s, and after c. 1893 lynching mostly meant killings of blacks by white mobs (especially in retaliation for alleged sexual assaults of white women). This shift in use seems due in part to the work of African-American journalist and activist Ida B. Wells. “Lynch mob” is attested from 1838. Compare earlier Lydford law, from a place in Dartmoor, England, “where was held a Stannaries Court of summary jurisdiction” [Weekley], hence:

Lydford law: is to hang men first, and indite them afterwards. [Thomas Blount, “Glossographia,” 1656]

Also in a similar sense was Jedburgh justice (1706) and, as a verb, to Dewitt (1680s), a reference to two Dutch statesmen of that name, opponents of William of Orange, murdered by a mob in 1672. Related: Lynched; lynching. The city of Lynchburg, Virginia, dates to the 1750s when John Lynch, brother to Charles but a peaceable Quaker, had a ferry landing on the James River there. (etymonline)

mob (n.): From the 1680s, “disorderly part of the population, rabble, common mass, the multitude, especially when rude or disorderly; a riotous assemblage,” slang shortening of mobile, mobility “common people, populace, rabble” (1670s, probably with a conscious play on nobility), from Latin mobile vulgus “fickle common people” (the Latin phrase is attested c. 1600 in English), from mobile, neuter of mobilis “fickle, movable, mobile” (see mobile (adj.)).

Mob is a very strong word for a tumultuous or even riotous assembly, moved to or toward lawlessness by discontent or some similar exciting cause. Rabble is a contemptuous word for the very lowest classes, considered as confused or without sufficient strength or unity of feeling to make them especially dangerous. [Century Dictionary, 1897]

Also used of a promiscuous aggregation of people in any rank of life (1680s), and in Australia and New Zealand used without disparagement for “a crowd.” Meaning “gang of criminals working together” is from 1839, originally of thieves or pick-pockets; the American English sense of “organized crime in general” is from 1927.

The Mob was not a synonym for the Mafia. It was an alliance of Jews, Italians, and a few Irishmen, some of them brilliant, who organized the supply, and often the production, of liquor during the thirteen years, ten months, and nineteen days of Prohibition. … Their alliance — sometimes called the Combination but never the Mafia — was part of the urgent process of Americanizing crime. [Pete Hamill, “Why Sinatra Matters,” 1998]

Mob scene “crowded place” is by 1922, from earlier use in reference to movies and theatrical productions; mob-rule “ochlocracy” is by 1806.

ochlocracy (n.): “government by the rabble,” 1580s, from French ochlocratie (1560s), from Greek okhlokratia (Polybius) “mob rule,” the lowest grade of democracy, from kratos “rule, power, strength” (see -cracy) + okhlos “(orderless) crowd, multitude, throng; disturbance, annoyance,” which is probably literally “moving mass,” from PIE *wogh-lo-, suffixed form of root *wegh– “to go, move.”  “Several possibilities exist for the semantic development: e.g. an agent noun *’driving, carrying, moving’, or an instrument noun *’driver, carrier, mover’. … An original meaning ‘drive’ could easily develop into both ‘stirred mass, mob’ and ‘spiritual excitement, unrest'” [Beekes]. For sense development, compare mob (n.). Related: Ochlocrat, ochlocratic; ochlocratical. Greek also had okhlagogos “mob-leader, ochlagogue.”