September 2022

Following the attack on Salman Rushdie, his books are leading the bestseller lists.

Kentucky’s flood-affected bookstores need your help.

Attention book lovers: your dream job is hiring again.

How Does the FBI Break Into a Safe?

How Spider-Man Led to the Invention of the Prisoner Ankle Monitor

Take a Look Inside Dr. Seuss’ La Jolla Home Before it Sells For The 1st Time in 70 Years

Missing Pages: the podcast revisiting jaw-dropping literary scandals

The 15 Most Instagrammed Bookstores in the World

The Orient Express Is Resuming Its Legendary Journeys From Paris—and It’s More Glamorous Than Ever

Here’s another incredibly strange dream-like Chinese bookstore.

Newly published Charles Dickens letters reveal he was ‘a bit of a diva’

Spice Up Your Life: Swag for Unabashed Smut Readers

Words of the Month

school (n.): [place of instruction] Middle English scole, from Old English scol, “institution for instruction,” from Latin schola “meeting place for teachers and students, place of instruction;” also “learned conversation, debate; lecture; disciples of a teacher, body of followers, sect,” also in the older Greek sense of “intermission of work, leisure for learning.”

This is from Greek skholē “spare time, leisure, rest, ease; idleness; that in which leisure is employed; learned discussion;” also “a place for lectures, school;” originally “a holding back, a keeping clear,” from skhein “to get” (from PIE root *segh- “to hold”) + -olē by analogy with bolē “a throw,” stolē “outfit,” etc.

The basic sense of the Greek word is “leisure,” which passed to “otiose discussion” (in Athens or Rome, the favorite or proper use of free time), then it came to be used for the place for such discussion.

The Latin word was widely borrowed (in addition to Old French escole, French école, Spanish escuela, Italian scuola; Old High German scuola, German Schule, Swedish skola, Gaelic sgiol, Welsh ysgol, Russian shkola).

The meaning “students attending a school” in English is attested from c. 1300; the sense of “school building” is by 1590s. Sense of “people united by a general similarity of principles and methods” is from 1610s; hence school of thought (by 1848). As an adjective by mid-18th C., “pertaining to or relating to a school or to education.”

School of hard knocks “rough experience in life” is by 1870; to tell tales out of school “betray damaging secrets” is from 1540s. School-bus is from 1908. School days is from 1590s. School board “local committee of education” is by 1836; school district “division of a town or city for the management of schools” is by 1809. (etymonline)

Serious Stuff

+Stephen King in Books Merger Trial: “Consolidation Is Bad for Competition”

‘Assassin with loaded AK47’ faces federal charges for surveilling home of Iranian-American journalist

Grand jury declines to indict woman in Emmett Till killing

Howard Carter stole Tutankhamun’s treasure, new evidence suggests

‘Hackers against conspiracies’: Cyber sleuths take aim at election disinformation

Mexico calls disappearance of 43 students a ‘state crime’

Mexico arrests former top prosecutor over 2014 missing students case

The big idea: should revenge ever be a part of justice?

Over 90% of Medieval Manuscripts Have Been Lost, Study Says 

30 years ago tonight [Aug. 25], Sarajevo’s National Library was burned to the ground

How Two Mexican Drug Cartels Came to Dominate America’s Fentanyl Supply

Joyce Carol Oates and Margaret Atwood on All Things Evil

Books and bomb shelters: Ukraine returns to school

CENSORSHIP OR THE AMERICAN TALIBAN

After Anti-LGBTQ Attacks, Suburban Chicago Bakery Threatened With Fines

Books by Toni Morrison and others now feature a warning label in a Florida school district.

New York will censor a book about the Attica uprising in its state prisons

US library defunded after refusing to censor LGBTQ authors: ‘We will not ban the books’

Virginia Republicans are testing a new way to ban books and restrict their sales. In the long run, it might just work.

Tennessee District Attorney Now Denies That She Would Prosecute Librarians for Keeping Queer Books

universities scrap ‘challenging’ books to protect students

School librarians in Missouri pull books as new law allows charges for ‘explicit’ material

Librarian sues over accusations that kids’ section contains “erotic” books

A school librarian is suing the right-wing “activists” who defamed and harassed her.

Book banning goes full ouroboros as a Texas school district removes the Bible from its shelves.

Students lose access to books amid ‘state-sponsored purging of ideas’.

A Florida district declines dictionary donations as it navigates a new book law

A Texas woman went to the cops about an actual library book.

Afghan women open library to counter growing isolation

The book-banning lawsuit against Barnes & Noble is moving forward in Virginia.

Judge thwarts Va. Republicans’ effort to limit book sales at Barnes & Noble

They’re shooting books now: censorship-loving, book-banning vigilantes stoop to a new low.\

Local Stuff

True Crime Byline: Surprise verdict in Robert Pickton trial upset family, supporters

I’ve been battling Indigenous art fraud for 30 years. It’s only getting worse.

Mercer Street Books has become a world-famous neighborhood bookstore

Odd Stuff

Last Convicted Salem ‘Witch’ Is Finally Cleared

An Update on a Previously Posted Story: Man Who Lost $180 Million Bitcoin Hard Drive 9 Years Ago Still Trying to Dig Through Trash – He’s not ready to give up.

Texas man who shot a woman in the neck is killed after bullet also hits him

Man trying to burn spider with lighter sparked Utah wildfire, police say

John Lennon’s Scathing Post-Beatles Breakup Letter to Paul McCartney Goes to Auction

Tarek Abi Samra on Stealing Kant From a Bookstore

“It has absolutely nothing going for it, except Satan.” Read James Baldwin on The Exorcist.

+These are the best lines from all the PRH-S&S antitrust trial erotic fiction on the internet.

Jigsaw Puzzles for Crime Fans

Amina Akhtar and Erin Mayer Talk Fashion and Murder

Artwork of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang invention has sold for £3500

French justice ministry under pressure to explain jail go-karting

‘Mutilated by rats,’ burned, trashed: 200 years of presidential papers lost

The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz Would Like a Word With the FBI

Great Moon Hoax of 1835 convinced the world of extraterrestrial life

A 1835 illustration in the New York Sun claimed to show animals on the moon, discovered by Sir John Herschel in his observatory at the Cape of Good Hope, and copied from sketches in the Edinburgh Journal of Science. New York Times

Words of the Month

learn (v.): Old English leornian “to get knowledge, be cultivated; study, read, think about,” from Proto-Germanic *lisnojanan (cognates: Old Frisian lernia, Middle Dutch leeren, Dutch leren, Old High German lernen, German lernen “to learn,” Gothic lais “I know”), with a base sense of “to follow or find the track,” from PIE root *lois “furrow, track.” It is related to German Gleis “track,” and to Old English læst “sole of the foot” (see last (n.1)).

From c. 1200 as “to hear of, ascertain.” Transitive use (He learned me (how) to read), now considered vulgar (except in reflexive expressions, I learn English), was acceptable from c. 1200 until early 19th C. It is preserved in past-participle adjective learned “having knowledge gained by study.” Old English also had læran “to teach” (see lere). (etymonline)

SPECTRE

Dum Dums hustle on Amazon costs family candy business millions

Amazon is diving deeper into health care. That’s raising eyebrows

+The books merger that’s all about Amazon | Commentary

Amazon Wants to Make TV Out of Your Front Yard

Uh Oh, Amazon Bought Your Favorite Robot Company

Amazon keeps growing, and so does its cache of data on you

007=’

Desmond Llewelyn’s James Bond archive sells for 15k

Watch the Lego store in London build a life size James Bond Aston Martin DB5

James Bond’s Tastes: ‘Goldfinger’

Why David Bowie Turned Down A Chance To Be A Bond Villain

Daniel Craig Learned A Painful Lesson On His First Day As James Bond

James Bond’s Dr No is getting Steelbook boxset for 60th anniversary

Bond films’ future secured after MGM and WB agree deal

Was Goldfinger’s Famous Gold Paint Scene Based on a Real-Life Incident?

Christopher Nolan Is Still The Best Director Choice For James Bond 26

Words of the Month

study (v.): Early 12th C., “to strive toward, devote oneself to, cultivate” (translating Latin occupatur), from Old French estudiier “to study, apply oneself, show zeal for; examine” (13th C., Modern French étudier), from Medieval Latin studiare, from Latin studium “study, application,” originally “eagerness,” from studere “to be diligent,” from PIE *(s)teu- (1) “to push, stick, knock, beat” (see steep (adj.)). The notion appears to be “pressing forward, thrusting toward,” hence “strive after.

From c. 1300 as “apply oneself to the acquisition of learning, pursue a formal course of study,” also “read a book or writings intently or meditatively.” From mid-14th C. as “reflect, muse, think, ponder.” Meaning “regard attentively” is from 1660s. (etymonline)

Awards

Tess Gunty has won the inaugural Waterstones debut fiction prize.

Book Stuff

The True Story Of The World’s Most Obsessive Book Collector

‘Heat 2’: Why Michael Mann’s Sequel to His Classic Crime-Movie Had to Be a Novel

Charity shop’s ‘donation of a lifetime’ with first edition Charles Dickens classic

Meet-Cute: Susan Coll on Falling In Love with (and at) a Bookstore

People of color driving rise of independent bookstores

What We Gain from a Good Bookstore

Ex-cop charged after fatally shooting another officer during training exercise at a DC library

Eight Courtroom Dramas That Leave Readers Reeling 

Uh-oh! Scientists have invented… augmented reality books.

Dollars, Cents, and Being Left With the Bill: Jillian Medoff on Breaking Up With Her Literary Agent

If You Want to Ruin Bookstores for Yourself, Become a Writer

Shelf Talkers: What They’re Reading at Brazos Bookstore in Houston, Texas

Hold the Backstory: Or, How To Open Your Novel with a Bang

Sara Paretsky: ‘The story of Joan of Arc made me long for a vision’

Pages Upon Pages: 5 Favorite Books-Within-Books

The Independent Bookstore, as Imagined by a Corporate Lobbyist

The Creative Life and Death of Bruce Montgomery, aka Edmund Crispin

Color Her Orange: Talking with Grace Ellis About Her New Graphic Novel Featuring Patricia Highsmith

A Reading List of Psychopathic Women

The World of Philo Vance, Spectator of Life (this is the introduction to the new edition of Van Dine’s The Benson Murder Case)

What Is Going On With Barnes & Noble?

Book Publishers Go to War With the Internet Archive 

A Reading List of Psychopathic Women

Darwin’s Lost Treasure, Found

Andrew Cuomo wins lawsuit over his $5 million book deal

Bad Blood: A poet is suing Taylor Swift for more than $1 million for copyright infringement.

On Crosswords and Crime Fiction

Hungry Like a Dog: James Ellroy Will Not Stop Being James Ellroy

The Dangers of the Open Road: 5 Key Works of Motorcycle Noir

On Maggie Bradbury, the woman who “changed literature forever.”

Good news for books: The Washington Post’s book section is back!

In “The Life of Crime,” Martin Edwards takes on the colorful history of the detective novel, and its enduring fascination.

Author Events (in person)

Sept.6: Craig Johnson signs his new Longmire, Third Place/LFP, 7pm

Other Forms of Entertainment

‘Irredeemable’ Batgirl movie unexpectedly cancelled despite being in final stages

The Truth Finally Comes Out About Why David Fincher’s Mission Impossible 3 Never Happened

Terrence Malick Is One Of The Unsung Heroes Behind Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry Role

10 Underappreciated American Neo-Noirs of the Early 1970s 

We’re getting a Keanu Reeves prestige TV series: Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City

How Quinn Martin and His Crime Shows Came to Dominate 1970s TV

French Connection‘s “Picking Your Feet In Poughkeepsie” Line Explained

Robert De Niro, Barry Levinson Team for Warner Bros. Gangster Drama ‘Wise Guys’

The Bourne Identity at 20: the surprise hit that changed action film-making

Rediscovering a Vanished Species: Half-Hour TV Mysteries

Remembering Harry O, The Seventies’ Second Best, Mostly Forgotten Private Eye Series (remembered fondly by JB!)

Enough James Bond. Give These Spy Books a Movie.

Steve Carell’s Understated Performance Kills in Serial-Murder Drama ‘The Patient’

Ryan Gosling in Talks to Join Margot Robbie in New ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ Movie

Confess, Fletch Trailer: Jon Hamm Takes Over The Troublesome Reporter Role From Chevy Chase

‘After Dark: Neo Noir Cinema’ Collects Memorable Noirs from the 90s

Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson’s Batman Sequel Is Officially
Moving Forward

The Big Sleep Was Smart To Cut A Major Humphrey Bogart Scene

Review: ‘Out Of The Blue’ Is A Film Noir With Ample Self-Awareness

Clue Drops Bodies in a New Animated Series

Steve Carell Led Series ‘The Patient’ is a Surprisingly Profound High Concept Thriller

Apple show halts production in Baltimore after shooting threat

10-hour marathon of rarities highlights Music Box film festival

Eddie Murphy’s ‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley’ Sets Cast

The Best Crime Shows Coming Out in September

Words of the Month

class (n.): c. 1600, “group of students,” in U.S. especially “number of pupils in a school or college of the same grade,” from French classe (14th C.), from Latin classis “a class, a division; army, fleet,” especially “any one of the six orders into which Servius Tullius divided the Roman people for the purpose of taxation;” traditionally originally “the people of Rome under arms” (a sense attested in English from 1650s), and thus akin to calare “to call (to arms),” from PIE root *kele- (2) “to shout.” In early use in English also in Latin form classis.

Meaning “an order or rank of persons, a number of persons having certain characteristics in common” is from 1660s. School and university sense of “course, lecture” (1650s) is from the notion of a form or lecture reserved to scholars who had attained a certain level. Natural history sense “group of related plants or animals” is from 1753. Meaning “high quality” is from 1874. Meaning “a division of society according to status” (with upper, lower, etc.) is from 1763. Class-consciousness (1903) is from German Klassenbewusst. (etymonline)

RIP

Sad note: we just learned that Seattle mystery writer Frederick D. Huebner died on December 31, 2019. He was a great writer, a great friend of the shop, and one of the very few people who ever bought one of JB’s paintings. Sorry we didn’t know it at the time to pay tribute then.

Aug. 1: Vadim Bakatin, last head of Soviet KGB, dies at 84

Aug. 6: Clu Gulager, Actor in ‘The Virginian,’ ‘The Last Picture Show’ and ‘Return of the Living Dead,’ Dies at 93 (he was also one of The Killers, the last movie of Ronald Reagan’s)

Aug. 7: Roger E. Mosley, Actor on ‘Magnum, P.I.,’ Dies at 83

Aug 8: David McCullough, award-winning author, has died at 89 (he was also the narrator of Ken Burns’ epic series “The Civil War”)

Aug. 10: Raymond Briggs, Beloved Author and Illustrator of ‘The Snowman,’ Dies at 88

Aug. 16: Wolfgang Petersen, German Commander of ‘Das Boot,’ ‘Air Force One,’ ‘In the Line of Fire,’ ‘Outbreak’, Dies at 81

Aug. 18: Andrew J. Maloney, Prosecutor Who Took Down John Gotti, Dies at 90

Aug. 23: Writer Michael Malone, 80, Dies of Pancreatic Cancer (great books – Uncivil Seasons, Handling Sin, Time’s Witness)

Aug. 29: Robert LuPone, “Sopranos” and Broadway Actor, Dead at 76

Links of Interest

July 31: Meet the Exotic Dancer Who Went Undercover to Take Down Domestic Terrorists

Aug. 1: Why Armstrong, Sinatra and Crosby all had mob connections: ‘Get yourself the biggest gangster’

Aug. 1: Have Scholars Finally Deciphered a Mysterious Ancient Script?

Aug. 1: Exclusive: 83-Year-Old Paroled for Starved Rock Murders Claims New DNA Results Prove His Innocence

Aug. 2: The Greatest True Spy Stories

Aug. 4: The Crime of My Life – A crime reporter turned his investigative skills toward an old family crime with deep contemporary relevance and finds himself implicated

Aug. 5: Crypto Company Offers Massive Bounty to “White Hat Hackers” After Giant Heist

Aug. 5: ‘Soon I Will Own You’: Inside the Wild Life of a Fake CIA Bro

Aug. 7: Learjets, Mistresses, and Bales of Weed: My Dad’s Life as a Drug Kingpin

Aug. 7: Ex-Scientologists Came Forward with Shocking Child Trafficking Claims. Now They Say They’re Being Stalked

Aug. 9: Drug Lord Mass-Killer ‘El Chueco’ Strikes Fear in Mexico’s Sierra Madre Mountains

Aug. 10: Realtor Accused of Trying to Put a Hit on Former Mother-in-Law Is in Hot Water Again

Aug. 10: After a career of cracking cold cases, investigator Paul Holes opens up

Aug. 10: Lake Mead’s bodies may be identified using genetic genealogy, a science redefining ‘unsolvable’

Aug. 11: Stolen €250,000 Gagliano violin, sold by thief for just €200, recovered by police 3 years later

Aug. 12: At What Point Do You Become a Money Launderer?

Aug. 15: Human remains reportedly found in suitcases bought at New Zealand auction

Aug. 15: Julian Assange lawyers sue CIA over alleged spying

Aug. 15: Stolen Picasso painting ‘worth millions of dollars’ found during drug raid, Iraqi authorities claim

Aug. 16: Two of New York’s Oldest Mafia Clans Charged in Money Laundering Scheme

Aug. 16: Using Fake Psychics, Brazilian Woman Allegedly Stole $142 Million Worth of Art

Aug. 18: Justice Department announces 3 men charged in Whitey Bulger’s killing

Aug. 18: Photographer Theo Wenner Spent Two Years Following Homicide Detectives in Brooklyn’s Most Dangerous District. Here’s What He Saw

Aug. 19: On the 1981 Wonderland Murders and the 2003 film that reconstructs its events

Aug. 22: France remembers De Gaulle’s close escape depicted in The Day of the Jackal

Aug. 24: Crowd-sourced detective work narrows window for disappearance of Winston Churchill portrait (it was replaced by a fake…)

Aug. 30: A Salem Witch Trials exhibit is coming to the New-York Historical Society

Aug. 31: Ruth Dickins was convicted of murder in 1948. A new book re-examines the case.

Aug. 31: New Exhibition Explores Three Generations Of Family Of Pulitzer Prize-Winning Writer John Hersey

Aug. 31: Utica Sculpture Residency Vandals Are Under the Age of 11, Police Say

Words of the Month

recess (n.): 1530s, “act of receding or going back or away” (a sense now obsolete), from Latin recessus “a going back, retreat,” from recessum, past participle of recedere “to go back, fall back; withdraw, depart, retire,” from re– “back” (see re-) + cedere “to go” (from PIE root *ked “to go, yield”).

Meaning “hidden or remote part” is recorded from 1610s; that of “period of stopping from usual work” is from 1620s, probably from parliamentary notion of “recessing” into private chambers. Meaning “place of retirement or seclusion” is from 1630s; that of “niche, receding space or inward indentation in a line of continuity” is from 1690s.(etymonline)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Nonna Maria and the Case of The Missing BrideLorenzo Carcaterra

I finished this book in a day. 

I tried so hard to take it slow, I swear! 

I gardened, did laundry, baked cookies, made the bed betwixt chapters…and yet, I still devoured the pages in less than twelve hours!

The thing is, Nonna Maria occupies the space between Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple. Driven by neither cold logic nor the belief in the baseness of people’s motivations — Nonna Maria serves at the pleasure of her fellow islanders. Intervening when asked, she combines island gossip, a decade’s worth of past experiences, and her own leg work to solve whatever problem presented to her — relying on a plethora of friends, a legion of family members, and occasionally the Carabinieri to catch the culprit (and have her back during perilous situations).

I know Barnes & Noble placed Nonna Maria in their cozy section. Probably because there’s not much in the way of on-stage bloodletting…However, there’s still plenty of death, thugs, threats, and mystery to satisfy any reader without relying on a shoehorned in themes like cats, gourds, cookies, Santa, quilting, dumplings, or crafting to generate interest in the story.

I cannot recommend Nonna Maria and the Case of The Missing Bride highly enough. Set in sun drenched Southern Italy, this mystery is everything I didn’t know I wanted to read over and over again this August!

Fran

Louise Penny isn’t afraid of tackling difficult subjects. She never has been, even before her collaboration with Hilary Rodham Clinton, about which I’ll write in another post.

But in The Madness of Crowds, she delves much deeper into a dark place that most of us would really rather avoid. I don’t want to get into specifics because of spoilers, but she taps into a collective awareness that no one wants to look at, but of which we have all glanced at.

All the regulars are back, and this is really not a stand alone. To get the full impact, you need to have read all the books that have come before, beginning with Still Life. There are new, compelling characters here, ones who will remain with you forever, and there are the ongoing delights. Rosa has expanded her vocabulary, and is teaching it to the children, much to their parents’ dismay. There is laughter and humor, compassion and passionate humanity, and all of it stems from people being people, in the best and worst possible ways.

I really cannot recommend Louise Penny’s writing strongly enough. They do need to be read in order, and once you have experienced the world of Three Pines, even if you’re not a fan of police procedurals, you’ll want to visit this village time and again, I promise.

JB

Finally, finally, after toooo many decades, I read Fredric Brown’s The Fabulous Clipjoint. Published in 1947 – and winning the very first Best Novel Edgar – it’s a lively and raucous story of a young man and his uncle who undertake an investigation into a murder – the young guy’s father and his uncle’s brother.

This is the first in a series to feature Ed and his uncle Am (short for Ambrose). Am is a carny and the pages are jammed with the hardboiled jargon of the late 40s AND carnival lingo. Am also makes for a good investigator. His years sizing up “marks” at the carny give him an edge when talking to those involved.

Here’s one line that I found particularly sharp. Uncle Am says to his nephew, “I’m not worried about going to hell, Ed, but I begrudge the money the ticket costs.”

A bonus is the introduction by Lawrence Block who takes you on a tour of his reading as a young man.

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A year or so before the shop closed, a man came in one afternoon and introduced himself: James Grady. Now, maybe you have to be a “certain age” to have reacted as Fran and I did. Six Days of the Condor was published in 1974, which means I probably read the paperback in 1975 when it came out. The movie version, Three Days of the Condor was released around the same time. I’d read a number of his books over the years, Old Dogs was one that stands out.

We chatted awhile and he explained that he had an idea for a thriller that took place on a train going from Seattle to Chicago and was in town to start his research. We talked about the long history of train mysteries and showed him our list in the Yellow Notebook that we refereed to when people came in asking for one. I kept my eyes alert for his book, and it’s out now.

James Grady’s This Train features an odd cast of characters who first see one another in the Seattle train station. At first, they’re “named” by their visual shorthand. As the trip progresses, you learn names and details. You can tell that some are a bit shady but, if you’ve been reading thrillers as long as I have, you know that anything is possible from any one character.

The fun, of course, is finding out who is who and if you’re suspicions were correct. You find that the short-hand descriptors from the start – the guy in the camel-colored cashmere coat or the young woman with the intense red hair – are also accurate descriptors of their personalities.

And then, or course, why are all of these people on this one train and what about the SWAT team, and the guy who always lugs around the beat-up satchel? Well, find out yourself. It’s a great ride!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This debut by Dwyer Murphy got great reviews. The New Yorker promoted it, and the cover carries a one-word rave by Walter Mosely. As a bonus, An Honest Living is billed as a bibliomystery and who isn’t looking for the next John Dunning? So I got a copy right away.

This is very much a New York Novel. The lawyer who narrates the story is certain to tell you what street he’s on, where he turns, where he eats or drinks, details about the neighborhoods, and so on. In that, it reminded me very much of the Scudder books by Lawrence Block. The City itself is a character.

The time frame was a bit puzzling. At one point, he looks someone up on-line and mentions Gawker – stopped publishing in 2016 but recently re-started- so I was unclear about when the book was set. Of course, that shouldn’t really matter, but when I first read that name it popped me out of the story. And that’s not a good thing.

And I can’t point to any good things. He writes well, the characters were interesting…

Overall, it was a very easy book to put down. I have no particular fascination for the minutia of NYC when it is a major component of the story. It read as if it was filler, in place of a plot – because the mystery, and the bibliomystery element, aren’t there. I don’t even think it is fair to call it a mystery for a number of reasons but I can’t tell you those and not ruin the story. Go ahead, give it a try.

Especially if you live in NYC…

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

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