October 2021

Seriously Scary Stuff

Gabby Petito’s disappearance, and why it was absolutely everywhere, explained

Gabby Petito’s Family Asks ‘Amazing’ Social Media Sleuths to Help More Missing Persons

Femicides in the US: the silent epidemic few dare to name

Craig Johnson on Spirituality, the West, and the Plight of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: From the introduction to Craig’s new Longmire:

“The plight of missing an murdered indigenous women is so great that I had to reassure my publisher that the statistics contained in this novel are accurate. The numbers are staggering, and they speak for themselves. What if I were to tell you that that the chances of a Native woman being murdered is ten times the national average, or that murder is the third leading cause of death for indigenous women? What if I told you that four out of five Native women have experienced societal violence, with having experienced sexual violence as well. Half of Native women have been stalked in their lifetime, and they are two times as likely to experience violence and rape than their Anglo counterparts. Heartbreakingly, the majority of these Native women’s murders are by non-Natives on Native owned land.

“The violence is being addressed, but there is so much more to do. Jurisdictional issues and a lack of communication among agencies make the investigative process difficult. Underreporting, racial misclassification, and underwhelming media coverage [emphasis from us] minimize the incredible damage that is being done to the Native communities as a whole.

There are a number of wonderful organizations that are attempting to make a difference, the nearest to me being the Native Indigenous Women’s Resource Center in Lame Deer, Montana.”

Please join us in donating.

Seasonal Stuff

Remember the creepy house from The Silence of the Lambs? Now it’s a vacation rental

Company Apologizes for Sending Clowns to Schools and Terrifying Parents

Words of the Season

rougarou (n.): “Rougarou” represents a variant pronunciation and spelling of the original French loup-garou. According to Barry Jean Ancelet, an academic expert on Cajun folklore and professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in America, the tale of the rougarou is a common legend across French Louisiana. Both words are used interchangeably in southern Louisiana. Some people call the monster rougarou; others refer to it as the loup-garou. The rougarou legend has been spread for many generations, either directly from French settlers to Louisiana (New France) or via the French Canadian immigrants centuries ago. In the Cajun legends, the creature is said to prowl the swamps around Acadiana and Greater New Orleans, and the sugar cane fields and woodlands of the regions. The rougarou most often is described as a creature with a human body and the head of a wolf or dog, similar to the werewolf legend. (wikipedia)

Something for Bill: Detroit Crime Fiction: A Literary Tradition Like No Other (but he’d fidget that Rob Kantner and Jon A. Jackson weren’t included…)

Cool Stuff

Anthony Sinclair’s “Goldfinger Suit” lets you dress like Bond – with stitch-perfect authenticity

Don’t despair: LeVar Burton has designs on his own book-themed game show

James Patterson and Scholastic are joining forces to mitigate illiteracy

Bookseller of Kabul vows to stay open despite only two customers since the rise of the Taliban

Serious Stuff

So Sally Rooney’s racist? Only if you choose to confuse fiction with fact

Biles: FBI turned ‘blind eye’ to reports of gymnasts’ abuse

They Follow You on Instagram, Then Use Your Face To Make Deepfake Porn in This Sex Extortion Scam

Three former U.S. intelligence operatives admit to working as ‘hackers-for-hire’ for UAE

There Are Too Many Underemployed Former Spies Running Around Selling Their Services to the Highest Bidder

Stephen King has released a new short story, with profits going to support the ACLU

Long-Secret FBI Report Reveals New Connections Between 9/11 Hijackers and Saudi Religious Officials in U.S.

After student protests, a Pennsylvania school district has reversed its ban on diverse books

In 1865, thousands of Black South Carolinians signed a 54-foot-long freedom petition

She bought her dream home; a ‘sovereign citizen’ changed the locks

CIA Reportedly Considered Kidnapping, Assassinating Julian Assange

Paper shortage hits American retailers when they need it most

Everything you need to know about the current book supply-chain issues—and how you can help.

How can independent bookstores begin to pay their booksellers a fair and living wage?

America Is Having a Violence Wave, Not a Crime Wave

Local Stuff

More fallout from how we’re defunding Seattle police backward, this time in Pioneer Square

Portland Cop Who Was Caught on Video Bashing the Head of a Protest Medic Won’t Be Charged With a Crime

Bitcoin uses as much electricity as Washington State. How is that possible?

Proud Boy Shot While Chasing Anti-Fascists as City Fears More Violence

Huge hack reveals embarrassing details of who’s behind Proud Boys and other far-right websites

This was the worst slaughter of Native Americans in U.S. history. Few remember it.

Joie Des Livres brings life and culture to Tiny Seabrook

Odd Stuff

30 delightful puns from the Victorian Era

When Ray Bradbury Asked John F. Kennedy if He Could Help with the Space Race

Bart’s Books, an Ojai landmark, is a Central California destination unlike anything you’ve ever seen

Mom and Daughter Killed Adult Film Actress With Backyard Butt Implants, Cops Say

Accused cannibal gets prison time for botched castration in remote cabin

New Zealand Covid: Men caught smuggling KFC into lockdown-hit Auckland

Far-Right Group Wants to Ban Books About MLK, Male Seahorses

Read Herman Melville’s embarrassingly short, typo-marred obituary.

Awards

Washington State Book Awards 2021 winners announced (congratulation to Jess Walter!)

Here are the finalists for the 2021 Kirkus Prize

Read the short story that won this year’s Moth Short Story Prize

Here are the recipients of the 2021 American Poets Prizes.

Analysis: the 2021 Booker shortlist tunes in to the worries of our age

Here’s the longlist for the 2021 National Book Award for Fiction

Announcing the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 honorees

Here’s the longlist for the 2021 National Book Award for Translated Literature

Here are this year’s Dayton Literary Peace Prize honorees

Words of the Season

soucouyant (n.): The soucouyant is a shapeshifting Caribbean folklore character who appears as a reclusive old woman by day. By night, she strips off her wrinkled skin and puts it in a mortar. In her true form, as a fireball she flies across the dark sky in search of a victim. The soucouyant can enter the home of her victim through any sized hole like cracks, crevices and keyholes. Soucouyants suck people’s blood from their arms, legs and soft parts while they sleep leaving blue-black marks on the body in the morning. If the soucouyant draws too much blood, it is believed that the victim will either die and become a soucouyant or perish entirely, leaving her killer to assume her skin. The soucouyant practices black magic. Soucouyants trade their victims’ blood for evil powers with Bazil, the demon who resides in the silk cotton tree. To expose a soucouyant, one should heap rice around the house or at the village cross roads as the creature will be obligated to gather every grain, grain by grain (a herculean task to do before dawn) so that she can be caught in the act. To destroy her, coarse salt must be placed in the mortar containing her skin so she perishes, unable to put the skin back on. Belief in soucouyants is still preserved to an extent in Guyana, Suriname and some Caribbean islands, including Dominica, Haiti and Trinidad. The skin of the soucouyant is considered valuable, and is used when practicing black magic. Many Caribbean islands have plays about the Soucouyant and many other folklore characters. Some of these include Trinidad Grenada and Barbados. Soucouyants belong to a class of spirits called jumbies. Some believe that soucouyants were brought to the Caribbean from European countries in the form of French vampire-myths. These beliefs intermingled with those of enslaved Africans. (wikipedia)

Book Stuff

Bristol manuscript fragments of the famous Merlin legend among the oldest of their kind

Beautiful, Decorative, and Sometimes Crude: Illuminated Manuscripts and Marginalia

S.A. Cosby, a Writer of Violent Noirs, Claims the Rural South as His Own

Michael Connelly Can’t Stop Chasing Leads

Why William Gibson Is a Literary Genius

My First Thriller: James Grady

This Gemlike Library Put America on the Architectural Map

Top 10 books about lies and liars

Newly discovered Tennessee Williams story published for the first time

Women Crime Writers Discuss Violence, Women, and What Readers Will and Won’t Accept

What Is Crime in a Country Built on It?

Peek inside Waseda University’s brand new Haruki Murakami library

Ken Follett Returns to Espionage Thrillers

Zibby Owens to publish books using a company-wide profit-sharing model

Lena Waithe, Gillian Flynn to Start Book Imprints

Sara Gran Talks Publishing, Sex Magic, and Ownership for Authors

A Brief History of Giallo Fiction and the Italian Anti-Detective Novel

This new vending machine will provide New Yorkers with short stories on the go

Love in the Bookshop: A Mystery Writer’s Ode to Bookstore Romances

Democracy is Cheap, but the Constitution Expected to Fetch at least $15M at Auction

He Taught Ancient Texts at Oxford. Now He Is Accused of Stealing Some

Edwin Torres’ Way

This year’s literary MacArthur fellows on the best writing advice they’ve received (and more)

They’ve Seen the Future And They Don’t Like It: The Year’s Best Scifi Noir (So Far)

The Real-Life Political Scandal That Inspired Jean-Patrick Manchette’s First Thriller

Other Forms of Entertainment

Vince Vaughn to star in film version of Hiaasen’s Bad Monkey

Hillary and Chelsea Clinton’s HiddenLight Options Maisie Dobbs Series of Novels

Quentin Tarantino: ‘There’s a lot of feet in a lot of good directors’ movies’

30 Things We Learned from Quentin Tarantino’s ‘True Romance’ Commentary

How British Crime Dramas Became Appointment TV

David Chase Chose Journey for ‘Sopranos’ Finale Because Song Was Hated by Crew

Michael Gandolfini and the Riddle of Tony Soprano

Narcos: Mexico’ to End With Season 3 at Netflix

Ray Liotta Says Iconic ‘Goodfellas’ Tracking Shot Take Was Ruined by Line Flub

Here’s the tantalizing first trailer for Denzel Washington’s Macbeth

No Time To Die: The Inside Story Of Daniel Craig’s Final Hurrah

Why the world still loves 1970s detective show “Columbo”

Apple bags rights of Brad Pitt, George Clooney’s new thriller

Words of the Season

manananggal (n.) The manananggal is described as scary, often hideous, usually depicted as female, and always capable of severing its upper torso and sprouting huge bat-like wings to fly into the night in search of its victims. The word manananggal comes from the Tagalog word tanggal, which means “to remove” or “to separate”, which literally translates as “remover” or “separator”. In this case, “one who separates itself”. The name also originates from an expression used for a severed torso. The manananggal is said to favor preying on sleeping, pregnant women, using an elongated proboscis-like tongue to suck the hearts of fetuses, or the blood of someone who is sleeping. It also haunts newlyweds or couples in love. Due to being left at the altar, grooms-to-be are one of its main targets.The severed lower torso is left standing, and is the more vulnerable of the two halves. Sprinkling salt, smearing crushed garlic or ash on top of the standing torso is fatal to the creature. The upper torso then would not be able to rejoin itself and would perish by sunrise. The myth of the manananggal is popular in the Visayan regions of the Philippines, especially in the western provinces of Capiz, Iloilo, Bohol and Antique. There are varying accounts of the features of a manananggal. Like vampires, Visayan folklore creatures, and aswangs, manananggals are also said to abhor garlic, salt and holy water. They were also known to avoid daggers, light, vinegar, spices and the tail of a stingray, which can be fashioned as a whip. Folklore of similar creatures can be found in the neighbouring nations of Indonesia and Malaysia. The province of Capiz is the subject or focus of many manananggal stories, as with the stories of other types of mythical creatures, such as ghosts, goblins, ghouls generically referred to as aswangs. Sightings are purported here, and certain local folk are said to believe in their existence despite modernization. The manananggal shares some features with the vampire of Balkan folklore, such as its dislike of garlic, salt, and vulnerability to sunlight. (wikipedia)

Links of Interest

Sept 1: How Ireland’s First “Assassination Society”–The Invincibles–Was Formed

Sept 3: All I Really Need to Know I Learned Covering Homicides

Sept 7: Why some people think this photo of JFK’s killer is fake

Sept 8: A Cop Killed Another Cop. A Woman Was Charged Instead

Sept 9: Georgia DA Already Charged for Parking Lot Donuts Now Accused of Trying to Frame Man for Murder

Sept 10: Spider-Man beats Superman in record $3.6m comic sale

Sept 10: Italy seizes 500 fake Francis Bacon works

Sept 10: Books, churches, what will Canadians burn next?

Sept 11: ‘Every message was copied to the police’: the inside story of the most daring surveillance sting in history

Sept 11: Louis Armstrong and Spy: How the CIA Used him as a “Trojan Horse” in Congo

Sept 11: Lead FBI Agent in Whitmer Kidnap Plot Is Fired After Swingers Party Incident

Sept 12: The Terror and Agony of Being a Mexican Hitman’s Son

Sept 13: Why Use a Dictionary in the Age of Internet Search?

Sept 13: Capitol Police Suspect Something Amiss With Swastika-Covered Nightmare Truck, Find Driver With Machete

Sept 14: 14 Defendants Indicted, Including the Entire Administration of the Colombo Organized Crime Family

Sept 14: Austin Funeral Homes Regularly Pour Blood and Embalming Fluid Down the Drain

Sept 14: Monkey Thieves, Drunk Elephants — Mary Roach Reveals A Weird World Of Animal ‘Crime’

Sept 15: A Bonkers South Carolina Crime Saga Has Taken Another Bonkers Twist

Sept 15: Fred West: Future victim searches need strong justification, say police

Sept 17: Denmark moves to bar some prisoners from meeting new lovers after submarine killer romance controversy

Sept 19: FBI says fortune seized in Beverly Hills raid was criminals’ loot. Owners say: Where’s the proof?

Sept 20: Police Arrest 106 Tied to Mafia-Connected Cybercrime Group

Sept 21: Caril Ann Fugate and the Presumption of Guilt

Sept 21: Two Cops Are Accused of Hiring Hitmen to Take Out Their Enemies

Sept 21: Gilgamesh Dream Tablet to be formally handed back to Iraq

Sept 21: Salisbury poisonings: Third man faces charges for Novichok attack

Sept 22: Joshua Melville’s Search for the Truth About His Radical Bomber Father, Sam Melville

Sept 22: Carlos the Jackal seeks to reduce life sentence for deadly 1974 grenade attack

Sept 23: JetBlue Passenger Storms Cockpit, Strangles Flight Attendant, Breaks Out of Restraints

Sept 24: Snapchat Is Fueling Britain’s Teen Murder Epidemic

Sept 24: The Heist of the Century: Who Cracked the Manhattan Savings And Loan Safe?

Sept 24: Mexico’s Soccer League Colluded to Cap Women’s Salaries, Regulator Says

Sept 24: Mississippi woman Clara Birdlong likely Samuel Little victim

Sept 24: How Chippendales’ Male-Stripping Empire Ended in Bloody Murder

Sept 27: Judge orders ‘unconditional release’ for Reagan shooter Hinckley

Sept 28: Texas nurse faces capital murder trial for 4 patient deaths

Sept 29: For $84,000, An Artist Returned Two Blank Canvasses Titled ‘Take The Money And Run’

Sept 30: Afghans artists bury paintings, hide books out of fear of Taliban crackdown on arts and culture

Sept 30: Yale Says Its Vinland Map, Once Called a Medieval Treasure, Is Fake

RIP

Sept 6: Michael K. Williams, ‘The Wire’ Star, Dies at 54 [Joe R. Lansdale Remembers The Genesis of Hap and Leonard and Pays Tribute to Michael K. Williams]

Sept 22: Melvin Van Peebles, Godfather of Black Cinema, Dies at 89

Words of the Season

Chonchon (n.) The Chonchon is the magical transformation of a kalku (Mapuche sorcerer). It is said only the most powerful kalkus can aspire to master the secret of becoming this feared creature. The kalku or sorcerer would carry out the transformation into a Chonchon by an act of will and being anointed by a magical cream in the throat that eases the removal of the head from the rest of the body, with the removed head then becoming the creature. The Chonchon has the shape of a human head with feathers and talons; its ears, which are extremely large, serve as wings for its flight on moonless nights. Chonchons are supposed to be endowed with all the magic powers of, and can only be seen by, other kalkus, or by wizards that want this power. Sorcerers take the form of the chonchon to better carry out their wicked activities, and the transformation would provide them with other abilities, such as drinking the blood of ill or sleeping people. Although the fearsome appearance of a chonchon would be invisible to the uninitiated, they would still be able to hear its characteristic cry of “tue tue tue”, which is considered to be an extremely ill omen, usually predicting the death of a loved one. (wikipedia)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village – Maureen Johnson & Jay Cooper

Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village is exactly what it claims to be – a guide. Elucidating all the things a tourist needs to know about a quiet English village in order to navigate it and the inevitable undercurrents successfully (i.e. not get murdered).

Its’ also one of the funniest books I’ve ever read.

Aimed at the lovers of classic manor house and/or English village mysteries (think the Queens of Crime, Georgette Heyer, Francis Duncan, Patricia Wentworth) it takes the stock characters, architecture, and events found within those pages and gives them an irreverent, rib-tickling, and on the nose descriptions.

There’s even a quiz at the end to test your prowess.

I died twice…on the same page.

What I love even more – is how many of the people, places, and things Johnson describes in Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered that I recognize either from reading them or from watching tv shows like Father Brown, Death In Paradise, and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves classic mysteries and has a very good sense of humor – Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered will not let you down!

Fran

This is not a political post, but the book I’m talking about has its roots in politics, specifically the 2016 election. When the results were tallied, many people were upset, and out of that visceral reaction a new publishing house was born, Nasty Woman Press, the Creative Resistance.

Spearheaded by the glorious Kelli Stanley, Nasty Woman Press, a 501(c)(4) non-profit, decided to use literary creativity to bring awareness and aid to those who are struggling. To quote Kelli, “Our plan is to publish anthologies of captivating fiction and thought-provoking non-fiction, each built around a general theme – the theme itself tying in to the non-profit for which the book is raising money.”

That’s right. The profits from the sale of each book go to a cause. In the case of the the debut anthology, Shattering Glass, the theme is empowered women, and the profits go to Planned Parenthood.

Now, I know that a lot of you don’t like short stories, but here’s where you trust me. The fiction is amazing, and not all the authors are female. Anyone who says that men can’t write accurately about women needs to read some of these stories. Men can and do understand women, and know how to write them as believable characters.

But it’s not just the stories. One of the essays, written by Jacqueline Winspear about women firefighters, has stayed with me since I read it, and even as I type this, California is on fire, and I want to sit down with Jackie over a pot of tea and listen to her, because she knows her stuff.

The opening essay by Valerie Plame – yes, THAT Valerie Plame, outed CIA spy turned politician and novelist – is definitely thought provoking and erudite. I’ve read it a couple of times now.

But in the end, you’re going to love this anthology and come back to it. Parts of it will leave you aching, sometimes you’ll be so pissed you want to throw things, and at other times, you’re going to laugh out loud at the audacity. You will not remain unmoved. And that’s because these people can Write.

Who, you might ask? Well, I don’t want to spoil surprises, but if you like the writing of people like Cara Black, Catriona McPherson, Anne Lamott, Joe Clifford, Senator Barbara Boxer, Jess Lourey, and Seanan McGuire, you’re in for a treat.

Trust me.

JB

Pickup up a copy of Scott Turow’s The Last Trial. It’s one of those many books by favorite authors that I missed after the shop closed. It’s all that you’d expect from Turow – no one else plots such stunning and sinuous legal thrillers. But the wonderful part of the book, for me, was spending time with defense attorney Sandy Stern. While the lawyer is described differently, it’s impossible for me to not picture and hear Raul Julia as him, and since it is likely to be the last book with Stern and Julia’s sadly dead, it was so nice to be in their company one last time.

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There are words authors use that are too fancy for the stories they’re telling. In a way, it’s showy. It’s proving you have a large vocabulary. “Verdant” is one. It is almost always out of place. And, please – PLEASE – can we retire “plethora”!

But, having blurted that out of my head, I am here to HIGHLY RECOMMEND Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby. A new book is out now in hardcover. It’s getting high praise. I thought I’d go back and start with his first and – man – the guy can not only write beautifully but plot a tight, thrilling story.

“That was the things about his mother. She could be emotionally manipulative one minute then making you laugh the next. It was like getting hit in the face with a pie that had a padlock in it.”

Beau is a young guy whose stuck in a thicket of bills – mortgage on his garage, his dying mother’s healthcare is a mess, his youngest daughter needs money for starting college. He’s turned his back on his past livelihood – get-away-driver. His father was a noted driver and Beau doesn’t want to follow that path. “But when it came to handling his responsibilities we both know Anthony Montage was about a useful as a white crayon, don’t we?”

But the bills are demanding and off we roar into a series of sharp turns and dead ends that threaten everything he cherishes. Danger is his passenger and worse follows. “Reggie jumped like a demon had spoken to him.”

This is great noir, a great crime novel. I believe it is a stand-alone. I don’t think his books are connected. And I look forward to reading more. Cosby writes with a fluid, memorable style. How can you not want to read an author who comes up with a line like this: “She was wearing a tank top and shorts so tight they would become a thong is she sneezed.”

Here’s a great interview with Cosby. And a piece he wrote about his philosophy of writing.

Bought his new hardcover.

But it’ll have to wait ’til I finish the new Longmire.

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The new James Ellroy, Widespread Panic, is everything you’d expect from an Ellroy book – literately lurid, speedily sleazy, and full of film faces. The narrator is real-life reprobate Fred Otash, a former cop, LA fixer, and all-around asshole. He’s into everything, everyone and everywhere. The book takes the form or a sort of memoir, a look back on a set of years in the 1950s. Naughty and nefarious nostalgia.

As with any Ellroy, when finishes, it is difficult to remember if there were any good people in the story. As with any Ellroy, the story is stocked with actual people. How does he get away with it without being sued out of his bowtie? Elizabeth Taylor in a three-way romp? James Dean, Nick Adams, Nicholas Ray and many others as reprehensible souls involved in rampant raids, reprobates riding roughshod over rights! None are alive now, but….

You enjoy Ellroy? Dig it!

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