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

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