June 2020

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    Stuff That’s Just Too Cool

Odd Job’s Lethal Bowler from Goldfinger Surfaces

LeVar Burton still loves reading aloud. His storytelling might be what you need right now.

John Grisham: Why Indie Bookstores Are Essential 

A journal Jim Morrison wrote in Paris will soon be up for auction. 

The Washington Post’s virtual literary event calendar is now available. Readers can find an updated list of national bookstore, library, author events and more!

A variation on “The Dog Ate My Homework” story: Fun fact ~ John Steinbeck’s dog ate the first draft of Of Mice and Men.

    Serious Stuff

Dirty money piling up in L.A. as coronavirus cripples international money laundering

The Dark History of America’s First Female Terrorist Group 

Why it’s so hard to read a book right now, explained by a neuroscientist 

Declassified FBI Photos Show the Horror of Being a First Responder in Jonestown 

What to Make of Isaac Asimov, Sci-Fi Giant and Dirty Old Man? Despite Calling Himself a Feminist the Author of the Foundation Stories Was a Serial Harasser

A renowned scholar claimed that he discovered a first-century gospel fragment. Now he’s facing allegations of antiquities theft, cover-up, and fraud.

An Alaska School Board Will Keep Classics on the Curriculum after an Uproar over Their Removal

The World’s First ‘Incel’ Terrorism Charge

The Atlantic lays off dozens of staff members as pandemic hits media budgets

    Local Stuff

‘Starting a New Chapter: Seattle Booksellers, moved by community support amid the shutdown, say ‘indie bookstores will thrive again’

How Seattle book workers have adapted to coronavirus shutdowns — and what they’ve been reading

Starting a novel while stuck at home? Seattle author Elizabeth George shares tips in ‘Mastering the Process.’ 

What Happens to Powell’s Books When You Can’t Browse the Aisles?

    Words of the Month

bada bing (adj?): According to this interview, James Caan just improvised the words during the filming of that scene from The Godfather. Others attribute it to the rim shot produced by drummers during a comedian’s set. Others, yet, say it goes back to a skit on “The Jackie Gleason Show”, which may’ve gotten it from some earlier forgotten use in the Catskills or vaudeville. In this 1965 album, Pat Cooper says it at 14:27 into his recorded performance – it goes by very fast. Clearly, the modern use stems from The Godfather in 1972.

    Awards

Bryan Washington has won the £30,000 Dylan Thomas Prize. 

Here’s the shortlist for the £10,000 Caine Prize. 

The NYPL has announced the 2020 Young Lions Fiction Award Finalists.

The National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize goes to DIBS for Kids.

    Book Stuff

Inside the wild double life of rare books dealer John Jenkins

Legal Thrillers for Literary Snobs

Social isolation (and video chat) is bringing renewed attention to the art of the bookshelf

The Most Important (and Literary?) Meal of the Day 

Christie & Sayers & Allingham & Tey: Celebrating the Crime Queens of the Golden Age

The Cornerstones of Country Noir

Anything can be a Penguin Classic with this handy cover generator.


My First Thriller: Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly on ‘fake news,’ COVID-19 writing and his nonprofit-set thriller


How Novelist Megan Abbott Learned to Write for Television

Scott Turow on the One Character Who Keeps Coming Back to Him, Again and Again

Powell’s Books will be back, CEO Emily Powell pledges, but not soon

For Bookstore Owners, Reopening Holds Promise and Peril

For booksellers in L.A., a partial reopening brings hope and anxiety

Barnes & Noble is slowly reopening stores to shoppers in a few states.

‘Economic duress is nothing new’: Can America’s oldest black bookstore survive the pandemic?

Legendary Paris bookshop reveals reading habits of illustrious clientele

Research finds reading books has surged in the UK during lockdown

I wish more people would read … Damon Runyon’s short stories

Coronavirus Shutdowns Weigh on Book Sales 

Coronavirus forces National Book Festival to shift to online-only format this year

Martin Edwards on the Enduring Popularity of Traditional Mysteries 

25 GREAT INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES IN THE U.S.

    Other Forms of Entertainment

Otto Penzler’s list of Greatest Crime Films of All-Time Continues

Michael Mann Is Talking to Directors, Wondering When They Can All Go Back to Work 

Before there was Jessica Fletcher, there were the Snoop Sisters.

Scrubs: A sitcom that’s actually aged well?

Hollywood’s Women in Criminal Justice: Sometimes Fact, Sometimes Fiction


Luca Guadagnino to remake Scarface with Coen brothers script

Scarface Hitman Geno Silva Dies of Dementia at 72


Die Hard With a Vengeance: The strange saga of Laurence Fishburne and how it ended up in court

“Hightown”: An Old-School Crime Drama That’s Thoroughly Modern 


Armed Guards and Death Threats: Inside the Making of Netflix’s Harrowing Jeffrey Epstein Documentary 

New book claims Bill Clinton had an affair with Ghislaine Maxwell

New Jeffrey Epstein doc should finally lead to a reckoning with Bill Clinton


    Words of the Month

contretemps (n): From the 1680s, “a blunder in fencing,” from French contre-temps “motion out of time, unfortunate accident, bad times” (16th C.), from contre, an occasional, obsolete variant of contra (prep.) “against” (from Latin contra “against;” see contra (prep., adv.)) + tempus “time” (see temporal). Meaning “an unfortunate accident, an unexpected or embarrassing event” is from 1802; as “a dispute, disagreement,” from 1961. It also was used as a ballet term (1706). [thanks to etymonline]

    RIP

May 10:Thomas Reppetto, Crime Watchdog and Historian, Is Dead at 88

May 12: Simon & Schuster President and CEO Carolyn Reidy Dies at 71

May 19: Leonard Levitt, Reporter Who Riled NYPD Brass, Dies at 79

May 28: Larry Kramer: Elton John leads tributes to playwright and Aids activist

    Author Events

nope, not yet…

    Links of Interest

May 2: Real-life Indiana Jones reveals £100million treasure trove dating back to 1200s

May 6: New Zealand coronavirus: Massive car heist under cover of lockdown

May 8: Authorities Recover 19,000 Artifacts in International Antiquities Trafficking Sting

May 11: Medieval Arrows Inflicted Injuries That Mirror Damage Caused by Modern Bullets

May 12: How It Felt Learning My Dad Is a Serial Killer

May 12: The Spy Who Handed America’s Nuclear Secrets to the Soviets

May 13: French serial-killer expert admits serial lies, including murder of imaginary wife

May 14: This AI-generated dictionary is very cool and also terrifying.

May 15: Why Do Some Writers Burn Their Work?

May 15: Lisa Scottoline’s daughter, Francesca Serritella, makes a name for herself as a novelist with ‘Ghosts of Harvard’

May 17: Dirty Harry’s blood-soaked San Francisco was a terrifying reality

May 17: Michael Jordan: NBA legend’s trainers sell for record $560,000

May 18: Text Found on Supposedly Blank Dead Sea Scroll Fragments

May 18: Sir Frederick Barclay’s nephew ‘caught with bugging device’ at Ritz hotel

May 18: Neil Gaiman spoken to by police after 11,000-mile trip

May 19: Do police sketches actually help catch criminals?

May 20: How to find a book without knowing the actual title

May 21: Bill Clinton and James Patterson reunite for a second thriller

May 21: A Crime Reader’s Guide to the Pope of Trash

May 21: Tony Hadley, a radio quiz, one syllable – and a $10,000 riddle

May 21: ‘I wrote my wife a poem every day for 25 years’

May 22: Loon stabs eagle through heart

May 22: Romance Writers of America aims for happy end to racism row with new prize

May 22: The Great Elmore Leonard Renaissance of the Late ‘90s

May 23: Berlin WW2 bombing survivor Saturn the alligator dies in Moscow Zoo

May 26: Canada tow-truck turf wars lead to nearly 200 charges

May 26: On Dracula‘s birthday, remember the copyright battle over the illegally-adapted Nosferatu.

May 26: ‘The Genetic Detective’ ~ CeCe Moore’s True Crime Career Started Out In An Unusual Way

May 27: About That Time Whitey Bulger “Won” the Mass Millions Lottery

May 27: What Do You Do With a Stolen van Gogh? This Thief Knows

May 27: Roman mosaic floor found under Italian vineyard

May 28: Sherlock Holmes and the Womanly Art of Self-Defense – Or, how to incorporate late 19th century suffragette self-defense movements into a Sherlock Holmes pastiche series.

    Words of the Month

melch (v.) to yield easily to pressure (thanks to Says You!, #522)

    What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

candyfinal

Guess What!!!! Season 2 of Finder of Lost Things is nearly ready to start posting! The story is finished and 2/3 of the photography is finished! So in the next couple of weeks it will go live!!! Woot!

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A Murderous Relation – Deanna Raybourn

Veronica Speedwell is back, and let me tell you, I’ve been looking forward to the next book in this series – and it didn’t let me down!

Though I must say when I read the flyleaf, I was a bit worried. As this story is set smack dab in Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror – and let me tell you everyone and their second cousin who writes historical mysteries in Victorian London eventually puts Whitechapel into their story…with varying degrees of success.

Happily, Raybourn has done a great job of incorporating the very well known string of murders in an intriguing way – while also skirting the specter that still haunts those cobblestone streets. By not only making sure we see the women as human beings (which often gets overlooked) but feel the fear that gripped London due to the London Police’ inability to apprehend him.

However, first and foremost, Veronica is asked by the royal family for help in making sure her half-brother and heir-to-the-throne doesn’t get caught in an indelicate position with someone who isn’t his future wife…Veronica initially says no…but then Lady Welly falls ill…and Veronica and Stoker decided to snoop around a bit.

And action, old enemies, and anarchy ensues.

I loved reading Rayborn’s mystery, writing, and flare from cover to cover! BTW – you don’t HAVE to read them in order…but if you read this one first, then go back and start with number one…well, you’ll have spoiled a portion of the tension in the earlier installments. So while you don’t have to read them in order – at this point I think you should! (You won’t be disappointed!)

Fran

So, isn’t 2020 a total pip? Something exciting around every corner, right?

Yeah, about that. So I decided to take a break from anything suspenseful, and on the recommendation of my favorite New Mexico hair stylist turned mask maker, I decided to read The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment by A. J. Jacobs.

9781416599067Jacobs has found his niche in journalism and writing. He doesn’t just try new things, he immerses himself in them to see how they work. For example, one of his experiments is detailed in a book I have yet to read called “The Know-It-All”, where he reads every word of an encyclopedia. He also lived Biblically for a year. His wife is a saint.

In My Life as an Experiment, A. J. Jacobs has put together some of his smaller projects. For example, one chapter deals with unitasking – focusing solely on doing only one thing at a time. Literally just one thing. If you’re eating, don’t talk. No background noise, just eat.

Another deals with telling the absolute truth, no filters. He did this for a whole month. It’s amazing he has any friends left, and did I mention his wife is a saint?

What could be just stupid and mockable is the way A. J. Jacobs writes. He’s smart. He’s funny as hell. And he lists his sources and resources for things he does. He approaches each experiment with total concentration and absolute focus, true, but he never loses sight of himself, his wife and kids, and his sense of delight and enthusiasm. If it doesn’t interest him, he won’t do the experiment. It has to be meaningful and interesting and educational to him.

And it will be to you as well.

Now, what I didn’t realize when I started My Life as an Experiment, that at the back, before the source list and acknowledgments and whatnot, there’s another subsection for each chapter. He makes some observations about what he wrote, and some of the details that didn’t go into the flow of the narrative but are still fascinating. There are a couple of Appendices that are equally fascinating.

It’s not a mystery. It’s not true crime unless maybe one instance of identity theft. But it’s interesting and fun and humorous and exactly the change I needed right now. I think you’ll enjoy it too.

JB

Still reading and enjoying and amazed by John Connolly’s“The Sisters Strange”, his Charlie Parker novella being written and published as it is ready. At this writing, there are nearly 40 short chapters.  It’s a neat trick to pull off and a great story – as usual.

Not really sure how long I’ve been reading the Nate Heller books from Max Allan Collins. Maybe before SMB existed? They’re a terrific mix of true crime events and hardboiled fiction as Collins puts his private eye into historical cases and provides his solution to the events. In an early one, the determination isn’t that Zangara wasn’t trying to shoot FDR that day but intended to, and did, kill Chicago Mayor Cermak. The first few books deal mainly with the Chicago Mob and the hit was ordered by them for Cermak’s treachery.

The books deal with nearly all of the famous and lurid crimes and figures of the 20th C.: Bugsy Siegel, the Lindbergh Kidnapping, the Black Dahlia case, the Torso Murders in Cleveland, the disappearance of Earhart and the death of Forrestal, and, of course, JFK.

9780765378293The new book, Do No Harm, inserts Heller into the Marylin Shepard case and reunites the PI with a number of figures – Eliot Ness, F. Lee Bailey, Flo Kilgore (his stand in for journalist Dorothy Kilgallen) – and re-creates the case, the crimes, the trials, and the suspects. As usual, it’s great fun.

However, there’s one major problem with the story: on one hand, Sam Shepard is portrayed as a philandering rogue, on another as a man whose beautiful wife found sex painful and allowed what we’d now call an open marriage, and yet on a third hand, the victim is said to have been having a torrid affair with a neighbor. Well, which is it – she found sex painful or she was having a torrid affair with the mayor? Collins doesn’t resolve it, or, I suppose, leaves it unresolved as just another aspect of the case muddied by the different views of those involved.

At any rate, I look forward to Heller’s next case, whatever it may be. Not many more big cases for Heller to tackle, but then Collins is always full or surprises. I recommend the book AND the series!

9781501176890In The New Iberia Blues, Dave and Clete and Alafair continue their peculiar journey through live, with irritation and love, anger and confusion, dealing with the horrors we inflict upon one another, intentionally or not. Some horrors are minor while others scar the mind. And in this small corner of the world, we’re lucky we have these people to tackle the bad guys.

Burke’s writing skills haven’t lost a step. He knows where the world has been – literature, too – and isn’t hesitant to show the trail. “Every literary plot is either in the Bible, Greek mythology, or Elizabethan theater. Hemingway said it was all right for an author to steal as long as he improved the material… Read Charles Dickens’s journalistic account of a public execution in London. It will make you want to flee humanity”. Maybe so, but humanity also produces prose like that of James Lee Burke. So let’s stay a bit longer, huh?

 



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