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…]

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