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


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.


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.


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


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.


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