December’s Newzine

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JB would like to say how delightful it was to have Elaine W. wander into where he works. She was a long-time customer at SMB, really more of a family member. She’d been with us so long it is impossible to say how long. It was wonderful to see her!

      Awards!

The 2019 Shamus Awards were announced at the beginning of November at the annual Blouchercon, this year held in Dallas. Here are the lists of those nominated in four categories, with the winners in bright, bloody red. Congratulations to all!

Likewise, here are the 2019 Anthony Awards, nominees and winners, also announced at Bouchercon.

Donald Trump To Award National Medal of Arts To Jon Voight, Alison Krauss, James Patterson

Jack the Ripper victims’ biography wins book prize

Staunch Book Prize: Should writers ditch female victims? 

‘Mouthful by mouthful’: the 2019 Bad Sex Award in quotes

      Serious Stuff

Part 1: ‘Men without faces’ led teen girls down ‘primrose path to hell’ in 1950s Portland prostitution scandal, Part 2: Revenge of Portland’s ‘blonde babe’: Teen prostitute told all about reform-school lesbians during 1959 vice scandal 

Thirty years after the Berlin Wall fell, a Stasi spy puzzle remains unsolved 

Privacy Issues Surrounding Popular DNA and Ancestry Tests

US domestic abuse victim pretends to order pizza to alert 911

      Words of the Month

miser (n): From the 1540s, “miserable person, wretch,” from Latin miser (adj.) “unhappy, wretched, pitiable, in distress,” a word for which “no acceptable Proto-Indo-Eeuropean pedigree has been found” [de Vaan]. The oldest English sense now is obsolete; the main modern meaning of “money-hoarding person” (“one who in wealth conducts himself as one afflicted with poverty” – Century Dictionary) is recorded by 1560s, from the presumed unhappiness of such people. The older sense is preserved in miserable, misery, etc. Besides general wretchedness, the Latin word connoted also “intense erotic love” (compare slang got it bad “deeply infatuated”) and hence was a favorite word of Catullus. In Greek a miser was kyminopristes, literally “a cumin seed splitter.” In Modern Greek, he might be called hekentabelones, literally “one who has sixty needles.” The German word, filz, literally “felt,” preserves the image of the felt slippers which the miser often wore in caricatures. Lettish mantrausis “miser” is literally “money-raker.”

      Books, Writing and Publishing

In 2018, Otto Penzler (owner of The Mysterious Bookshop in NYC, publisher of the late, lamented Mysterious Press, and publisher of various presses still working) put his personal collection up for auction. See the photo below, and commence drooling.
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He now has a memoir about his years of collecting, Mysterious Obsession: Memoirs of a Compulsive Collector. At this link, you can read more about Otto and the collection.  At the far end of the lower floor, you can see a desk. On it, at the far corner by the window, you can see a Maltese Falcon statuette. ON the floor, leaning against the desk is what we assume to be the original art for the dust jacket of James Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia – published by Mysterious Press.

Oh to have had an afternoon to wander the shelves, look at the spines, and to possibly hold some of these books, the finest copies of legendary crime and mystery novels.

Garry Disher ~ Being a crime writer doesn’t mean I condone murder. Do I even have to say it? 

America’s First Banned Book Really Ticked Off the Plymouth Puritans


New Library Is a $41.5 Million Masterpiece. But About Those Stairs  

AND

The $41 Million Hunters Point Library Now Has A Leak Problem


Here’s Why You Should Preorder All of Books from Independent Bookstores 

Dublin Murders Makes a Murky Mess of Tana French’s Lyrical Crime Novels

Whodunnit in the Library: Someone Keeps Hiding the Anti-Trump Books 

‘Extraordinary’ letters between Ian Fleming and wife to be sold 

Dean Koontz reveals 6 new thrillers — and why you won’t find them in bookstores 

How the salacious double murder of a minister and a choir member in 1922 inspired one of the earliest legal thrillers. 

Why Penny Dreadfuls Scandalized Victorian Society—But Flew off the Shelves 

Martha Grimes Has Plenty of Style 

26 Years Later, Nicholas Meyer Is Returning to Sherlock Holmes. Why Now? 

Judi Dench appeals for public help to bring rare Brontë book to UK as auction looms 

Miniature Manuscript Penned by Teenaged Charlotte Brontë Will Return to Author’s Childhood Home

The Uncertain Future of the World’s Largest Secondhand Book Market 

After moving ‘about 20 feet,’ Burien’s Page 2 Books is reconnecting with its community

Shakespeare & Co. at 100 years 

Lin-Manuel Miranda Is Officially A Bookstore Owner After Purchasing The Drama Book Shop In New York City

12 Books Like ‘Knives Out’ For Fans Of Family Sagas, Murder, & Knitwear

Louisa May Alcott’s Forgotten Thrillers Are Revolutionary Examples of Early Feminism

Interview with an Archivist: Randal Brandt on Berkeley’s Legendary Detective Fiction Collection

The Rise of E-Books:The Last Decade Has Been Tumultuous For The Publishing Industry

      Other Forms of Fun

American Icons: The tales of Edgar Allan Poe

Jack Goldsmith discusses his book, “In Hoffa’s Shadow”, at Politics and Prose.

Serial didn’t invent true crime, but it did legitimize it 

The case for spoilers. Some people avoid them at all costs. I seek them out — and I’m not alone.

7 International True Crime Podcasts You Should Be Listening To 

Noah Hawley and Billy Bob Thornton Look Back at the First Season of Fargo 

Where does fake movie money come from? 

Shedunnit – how Agatha Christie became cinema hot property

Dutch police podcast unearths clues to decades-old murder  

Did you know about this deleted subplot in You’ve Got Mail featuring a creepy author?

‘Your throat hurts. Your brain hurts’: the secret life of the audiobook star

      Author Events

December 4: Warren C. Easley, Third Place/LFP, 7pm

December 7: Tamara Berry in conversation with M.J. Beaufrand, University Books, 3pm

      Words of the Month

polysemous (adj) 1884, from Medieval Latin polysemus, from Greek polysemos “of many sides” etymonline

polysemy (n) a condition in which a single word, phrase, or concept has more than one meaning or connotation. dictionary.com

      Links of Interest

November 1: Indiana woman found dead with python wrapped around neck

November 3: Musician Stephen Morris’ shock as lost £250,000 violin returned

November 3: Olivia Newton-John’s Grease outfit fetches $405,700 at auction

November 3: Kazimir Malevich: A mystery painting, either masterpiece or fake, puzzles experts

November 4: The World’s Oldest Recipes Decoded

November 7: Mystery of Napoleon’s missing general solved in Russian discovery

November 7: What is Collins Dictionary’s 2019 word of the year?

November 8: 75 books from university presses that will help you understand the world

November 9: Leonardo da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks

November 10: Sesame Street at 50: Five defining moments

November 12: Lady in a Fur Wrap: Mystery of Glasgow painting revealed

November 13: ‘The Soprano’s’ Lorraine Bracco Shares Memories Of James Gandolfini: ‘I Have A Profound Love For Him’

November 13: HUNTER: Sementilli murder an echo of 1944 film noir classic?

November 14: ‘The Preppy Murder’ Has a Very Different Take on Linda Fairstein’s Legacy

November 14: Rembrandt theft foiled at Dulwich Picture Gallery

November 14: Switzerland’s plan to stop stockpiling coffee proves hard to swallow

November 15: ‘One in a million’ three-antler deer spotted in US

November 18: Police break up archeological crime gang in Italy 

November 18: The Secret Life of Plants as Murder Weapons

November 19: Professor who is expert on corruption charged with laundering money

November 20: What can 200-year-old DNA tell us about a murdered French revolutionary?

November 20: Marco Polo parchment sheds light on last year of his life in Venice

November 20: Film Noir Perfectly Captures the Mass Torment and Paranoia of the Mid-Twentieth Century

November 20: Owner reunited with cat found 1,200 miles from Portland home

November 21: Aya de Leon on ‘Hustlers’, social justice, and the complicated intersection of feminism and crime.

November 21: Detectorists stole Viking hoard that ‘rewrites history’

November 21: Cambridge’s ‘Pink Floyd’ pub Flying Pig saved from demolition

November 23: Egypt animal mummies showcased at Saqqara near Cairo

November 24: Don Johnson: ‘I didn’t expect to live to 30, so it’s all been gravy’

November 25: Dresden Green Vault robbery: Priceless diamonds stolen

      R.I.P.

November 4: Yvette Lundy, French resistance heroine, dies aged 103

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November 15: Remembering Russell Chatham, landscape painter and writer.

From what we remember, the story on Chatham’s Clark City Press was such that if he chose to publish an author, they got to pick which of Chatham’s paintings that would grace the cover   of the trade paperback. And then they got that painting as a gift. The one we remember was the only novel by noted PNW poet Richard Hugo (he memorialized in the name The Hugo House) which was the outstanding mystery,  Death and the Good Life. The current edition of the book has a different cover but I remember when we had this one in the shop. It was lovely. ~ JB

November 15: Inventor of the famed ‘Sourtoe Cocktail’ dies

November 20: Walter J. Minton, Putnam Publisher Who Defied Censors, Dead at 96

November 22: Michael J. Pollard Dies: Oscar-Nominated ‘Bonnie And Clyde’ Actor Was 80

November 22: Gahan Wilson, Vividly Macabre Cartoonist, Dies at 89

November 22: Jane Galloway Heitz dies aged 78

November 26: Soviet Spy who Foiled Nazi Plot to Kill Allied Leaders Dies, Aged 93

      Words of the Month

evagation (n.): The “action of wandering,” 1650s, from French évagation, from Latin evagationem (nominative evagatio), noun of action from past participle stem of evagari, from assimilated form of ex “out, out of” (see ex-) + vagari, from vagus “roving, wandering” (see vague).

      What We’ve Been Up To

   Amber

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Last week on Finder of Lost Things…Marshmallows and music distract Phoebe from realizing something important is happening in Nevermore….

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Gail Carriger – Reticence

Weddings and funerals.

The two events which bring together friends, family, and tangentially attached relations together in one place then ply them with alcohol. What could go wrong? Add in werewolves, vampires, were-lioness, intelligencers, and inventors you’ve got the makings of a smashing party or a brawl.

Or both.

However, Reticence actually starts with a job interview and the hiring of a new doctor for the Spotted Custard. Then we segue seamlessly into a wedding.

It makes sense when you read it.

However.

For one to fully understand and appreciate Reticence, you need to have read the other three Custard Protocol books – plus the Parasol Protectorate & Finishing School series. As many, many of the main players from each of these other series pop up in this installment.

It’s what happens at weddings, everyone turns up to wine, dine, and dance to the happy couple.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Perhaps it felt a hair rushed at the end – however – Carriger does a beautiful job of winding up the series in an elegant and humorous way. Leaving herself just enough wiggle room, should the whim seize her, she could continue to write of Rue and her crew’s adventures. Or start an entirely new series set in the same universe.

Either way, Reticence won’t leave you disappointed. I know I wasn’t.

(And if you haven’t started reading Ms. Carriger’s books, you should! They are lovely, full of whimsy, tea cakes, supernatural creatures, the occasionally soulless, complicated inventors, steampunk, politics, and hats.)

Fran

November was kinda sucky for me. Let’s just say that I need two new knees, and our beloved but aged cat died.

I tend to read David Eddings when I’m down, 9780451488558but I found a “Death on Demand” book by Carolyn Hart I hadn’t read: Walking on my Grave (Berkley). It was the perfect read.

Okay, so I figured out who did it early on, and the big twist wasn’t really a surprise. But you know how it is when you visit old friends; sometimes you just need time in their company, listening to the old stories. Walking on my Grave reminded me of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, in the very best ways.

Granted, I still didn’t get the paintings at the end right, and I love that she always surprises me there. I’ll be Amber would have gotten them, though.

Oh, and be sure to read the chap-books at the end!

   JB

Shop dream: the shop was small, cramped, and we were running around looking for the Xmas books. Oddly, none of the usual ones were on the shelves. Authors’ books were missing those titles. Behind a bunch of movable displays, I saw that there was an alcove with a bunch of tables. The books on those tables badly needed to be returned. They were old and had dust on the jackets (so they were doing their jobs!).  Again, Amber was in the dream but not Fran. I really don’t understand why Fran isn’t in the dreams but the last couple have had the need to do returns, which probably goes back to trying to keep the place afloat.

Fran here – Yeah, why is that? I could help return books (after I snag the ones I want to keep, that is!)


Fran and I have had an on-going discussion about the cosmology in John Connolly‘s Charlie Parker series. Certainly, there’s a great deal of spirituality. There are figures of good and figures of great evil. There are actual spirits or should they be called ghosts? There are beings that are more – or worse – than human, whose lives are longer than those of normal humans. The figures of evil lay out their schemes and keep track of Parker. It is pretty clear that by now they’re afraid of him. Is it because he’s dangerous, or because he’s a figure of “good” who seems indestructible? There are “bad” gods, something unseen but referred to as The Buried God. Does that mean there’s a corollary Good God? I’m not a fan or a believer in organized religion but there’s a battle going on in these books between the destroyers and those who are out to stop them. I’m not ready to say that Parker, as well as Louis and Angel, are avenging angels in the classic, halo-wearing sense, but they certainly scare the shit out of the bad guys. And that is a great thing.

A Book of Bones is the 17th novel in the series. 9781982127510Fran and I would urge you to read them if you like lyrical prose and characters who are not all black or white. There’s lots of blood, sure, but gentle humor between friends as well as ribald laughs springing from the oddities of the human race. These are not books for the squeamish, but for readers who appreciate a challenge. If you do start the series, read them in order. That’s the best way to see the story lines unfold. If you do, you’re lucky, for you have a long line of books to consume. For us who have been following the series all these years, we have to endure the wait for next year’s book and pray it is a Parker book, not something else. Lord have mercy if we have to wait two years. Especially now, as  this latest book’s very last sentence is a twist you can’t see coming. It’s a game changer. Can’t wait to see where John takes us next!


Movie Review: The Irishman

I admit that I had high hopes for the new Scorsese movie. The cast would be stellar, the story interesting and, after all, it’d be a Scorsese mobster movie. The cast was great – Pacino as Hoffa was outstanding, Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino had a stunning stillness, Harvey Keitel appeared in a few scenes with a quiet menace, and De Niro was, well, DeNiro (I’ve always been a fan but just seems to be doing the same thing film after film – his expressions never change). But I must say it was a let down. It fizzled to it’s end and all you could say was “huh”. It is no Goodfellas.


Don’t judge a book by its cover. This cover is wrong. Don’t recall any trees in the entire story. This cover says “spooky”, even haunted”. Maybe so. But the spook is a good guy.

Evidently unsettled, too, by Reacher’s gaze, which was steady, and calm, and slightly amused, but also undeniably predatory, and even a little unhinged.”

Things are the usual with this book. Even normal. Except when they’re not. Reacher gets off a bus. He helps an old guy. He’s drawn into trouble. He gives better than he gets. Bad guys go down. There are some differences.

First, this reads like an homage to Red Harvest. Two rival gangs rule a town. They’re set against one another. Second, Reacher gathers a little team with whom he does his damage. Third, he talks about knowing someday he won’t win. Says he knows he’s old but not that old.  Lastly, he asks the woman to leave town with him. 9780399593543

Blue Moon – the title is as nonsensical as the cover art – but ignore it. This is one of the best Reachers in years. Good, hard, mean fun. It even touches on current issues. An easy triple. Maybe even an in-the-park homer.

But you should look up the meaning of “gamine”.


Shop dream: it was near the end of the month and I suddenly realized that the newsletter hadn’t been proofed, it wasn’t in the format for the printer and there was little time to get it done before it had to be mailed out… Did it have to do with needing to finish up this edition of the newzine as we near the end of November? WHO KNOWS!


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November’s Newzine

Wideer turkey jpeg

      Serious Stuff

My Family Story of Love, the Mob, and Government Surveillance 

Samuel Little: FBI confirms ‘most prolific’ US serial killer

How Did a Serial Killer Escape Notice? His Victims Were Vulnerable and Overlooked

The Green River Killer and Me

The British Spy Who Tried to Stop the Iraq War 

Cameron’s Books & Magazines, a Portland institution since 1938, is closing

New York’s infamous Rikers Island jail is to close 

Seattle hosts true crime event hunting for fresh clues in decade-old murder case 

Appeals Court Set To Weigh In On Request To Access Testimony From 1946 Lynching Cold Case. Can and Should Grand Jury Material ever be Made Public?

Famed NYC ME Baden Says Examination of Jeffrey Epstein Death Points to Murder

      Words of the Month

myrmidon (n): One of a warlike people of ancient Thessaly, legendarily ruled by Achilles and accompanying him to Troy, c. 1400, from Latin Myrmidones (plural), from Greek Myrmidones, Thessalian tribe led by Achilles to the Trojan War, fabled to have been ants changed into men, and often derived from Greek myrmex “ant” (from Proto-Indo-European *morwi (see Formica (2)), but Watkins does not connect them and Klein’s sources suggest a connection to Greek mormos “dread, terror.” Transferred sense of “faithful unquestioning follower,” often with a suggestion of unscrupulousness, is from c. 1600. (thanks to etymonline)

      Book Stuff

The Global War on Books, Redux: Governments are spending a remarkable amount of resources attacking books — because their supposed limitations are beginning to look like ageless strengths.

Author Jenny Lawson Aims to Create a Sanctuary With Nowhere Bookshop

Ancient Greek Scroll’s Hidden Contents Revealed Through Infrared Imaging 

Light Billions of Times Brighter Than the Sun Used to Read Charred Scrolls From Herculaneum

Diary of a small town sensation: how the Wimpy Kid author built his dream bookshop

“Me Before You” Author Jojo Moyes Has Been Accused Of Publishing A Novel With “Alarming Similarities” To Another Author’s Book

From The Crime Hub – Some of the Best Legal Thriller Writers

Australia’s First Published Dictionary Was Dedicated to ‘Convict Slang’

Home on the Range ~ Craig Johnson – ‘Land of Wolves’ author moseys between stacks at the ranch 

Celebrating Elmore Leonard’s “Rules for Writing”

“My Ties to England have Loosened”: John LeCarré on Britain, Boris and Brexit 

John le Carré: ‘Politicians love chaos – it gives them authority’

Every Child Can Become a Lover of Books 

When True Crime Gets Personal 

Removing the Mystery From Mystery Writing: 13 Tricks Used by Acclaimed Novelists 

Tana French Is Our Best Living Mystery Writer 

One Neat Trick to Writing Great Mystery Plots (in which Charles Finch raves about Tana French)

The 20 essential L.A. crime books

New Hunger Games prequel gets a compelling title, book cover  

Oxford University professor accused of selling ancient Bible fragments 

The Booksellers is a fascinating look into the world of rare book dealers 

Writer Nicholas Meyer on the Inspiration Behind His Latest Sherlock Holmes Tale

How to Write Hercule Poirot in 2019 

Learning to Write Mysteries the Mystic River Way

The Crimes Never End: A Guide to Mystery’s Biggest and Longest-Lasting Book Franchises

What It’s Like to Build and Operate a Tiny Traveling Bookshop

Diaries Expose “Strong Brew’ of Ripley Novelist Patricia Highsmith’s Dark Thoughts

The State of the Crime Novel: A Roundtable Discussion with Crime Authors

The Hunt for Shakespeare’s Library: I Couldn’t Stop Looking If I Wanted To

      Words of the Month

Calliope : 1. the Greek Muse of heroic poetry 2. a keyboard musical instrument resembling an organ and consisting of a series of whistles sounded by steam or compressed air

With a name literally meaning “beautiful-voiced” (from kallos, meaning “beauty,” and ops, meaning “voice”), Calliope was the most prominent of the Muses—the nine sister goddesses who in Greek mythology presided over poetry, song, and the arts and sciences. She is represented in art as holding an epic poem in one hand and a trumpet in the other. The musical instrument invented and patented in the 1850s, played by forcing steam or compressed air through a series of whistles, was named after the goddess. Because its sound could be heard for miles around, the calliope was effective in luring patrons to river showboats, circuses, and carnivals, which is why the instrument continues its association with such attractions today.

(Thanks to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary for the definition)

      Other Forms of Fun

ABC’s Stumptown is the scuzzy private-eye show we need right now  (it’s also ‘set’ in Portland)

Knives Out director Rian Johnson explains how to build a great whodunnit mystery

Kenneth Branagh’s Death On The Nile Starts Filming With An All-Star Cast

Nancy Drew and the Mystery of Her Enduring Relavence 

Nancy Drew Is Not Who You Remember ~ The girl detective gets a CW reboot, but is she more than endlessly recyclable intellectual property?

The Seductive Power of the Femme Fatale

Is the time finally right for a “Friends” reboot?

Sesame Street to cover addiction with new muppet Karli

Marvel Comics at 80: From bankruptcy threat to billions at the box office 

Motherless Brooklyn Is a Warning About the Dangers of Unchecked Political Power 

true love meets true crime

      This ‘N’ That

Japan ninja student gets top marks for writing essay in invisible ink

JUNIE B. JONES: NIGHTMARE CHILD OR FEMINIST ICON

       Author Events

November 1: Ann Cleeves, UBooks at University Temple United Methodist, 7pm

November 6: Curt Colbert (with Jake Rossiter!), Third Place/LFP, 6pm

Noveber 13: Warren C. Easley, Powell’s 7pm

November 13: Clyde Ford, Third Place/LFP, 7pm

November 15: Daniel H. Wilson (and the Andromeda Strain), Powell’s, 7:30pm

November 16: Clyde Ford, Village Books, 4pm

November 16: Rick E. George, Village Books, 7pm

November 23: Ace Atkins (with Spenser), Third Place/LFP, 6pm

      Words of the Month

Triskaidekaphobia: fear of the number 13

It’s impossible to say just how or when the number thirteen got its bad reputation. There are a number of theories, of course. Some say it comes from the Last Supper because Jesus was betrayed afterwards by one among the thirteen present. Others trace the source of the superstition back to ancient Hindu beliefs or Norse mythology. But if written references are any indication, the phenomenon isn’t all that old (at least, not among English speakers). Known mention of fear of thirteen in print dates back only to the late 1800s. By circa 1911, however, it was prevalent enough to merit a name, which was formed by attaching the Greek word for “thirteen”—treiskaideka (dropping that first “e”)—to phobia (“fear of”).

(Thanks to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary for the definition)

      Links of Interest

September 26: Sold ~ Charles Dickens’s Liquor Log

September 30: Piece of missing L.A. Library sculpture found in Arizona. Where are the other two?

October 1: The Messy Consequences of the Golden State Killer Case

October 1: Japan’s last pagers beep for the final time

October 3: How Mary Roberts Rinehart, Queen of the Mystery Novel, Was Very Nearly Murdered  (And don’t miss Amber’s write up further along!)

October 3: Gandhi’s ashes stolen and photo defaced on 150th birthday

October 4: ‘Object, matrimony’: The forgotten tale of the West Coast’s first serial bride killer

October 4: Herculaneum scroll: Shining a light on 2,000-year-old secrets

October 5: Playing Catch a Killer With a Room Full of Sleuths – At a forensic conference in California, law enforcement officials grappled with how to avoid destroying one of the field’s biggest innovations in decades.

October 5: John Dillinger: US gangster’s body set to be exhumed

October 6: The peculiar bathroom habits of Westerners

October 7: The Comic That Explains Where Joker Went Wrong

October 7: Paul McCartney’s psychedelic Wings tour bus rediscovered

October 7: Saturn overtakes Jupiter as planet with most moons

October 8: Rube Goldberg: celebrating a remarkable life of cartoons and Creations

October 8: Here Are All the Aston Martins Confirmed for James Bond’s “No Time to Die”

October 8: Inside the abandoned Soviet base the Cold War left behind

October 8: See How The Foremost ‘50s Pulp Fiction Illustrator Anticipated Fake News In This Unusual Museum Show

October 10: Harry Potter first edition sells for £46,000 at auction

October 12: How to protect your books with medieval curses

October 14: After years searching, I found my sister next door

October 15: Blooming fakes: Amsterdam tourists hit by tulip scam

October 16: The art of doing makeup on a dead body

October 16: Would You Buy Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy’s Property?

October 16: Egypt archaeologists find 20 ancient coffins near Luxor

October 16: For Sale: Jane Austen’s Wince-Inducing Descriptions of 19th-Century Dentistry

October 16: The mysterious ‘inverted tower’ steeped in Templar myth

October 17: Why is Banksy vetting the customers of his online store?

October 17: Leonardo da Vinci feud: The ‘earlier’ Mona Lisa mystery

October 18: Fierce Australian dust storm turns day to night in seconds

October 18: Fearless, free and feminist: the enduring appeal of Jack Reacher

October 20: Longtime Universal boss Ron Meyer sues art dealer over ‘forged’ Mark Rothko painting

October 21: Australian newspapers black out front pages in ‘secrecy’ protest

October 21: Why Do We Rewatch Our Favorite Films?

October 21: Franco exhumation: Why is Spain moving a dictator’s remains?

October 24: Roy DeCarava’s photos of jazz greats

10/26: Defying the Cosa Nostra: The Man who Accidentally Bought a Mafia Stronghold

October 27: Kurt Cobain cardigan sells at auction for $334,000

October 27: Cimabue painting found in French kitchen sets auction record

October 28: Mystery of the skeleton hijacked by Nazis and Soviets

October 26: Ted Bundy Said an Entity Made Him Murder. These Ghost Hunters Went Searching for It

Oct 28: Want free barbecue for life? Help catch the burglars who stole from this restaurant

October 30: Australian police freeze multi-million dollar properties in Chinese crime link probe

      Words of the Month

Scaramouch: 1.  a stock character in the Italian commedia dell’arte that burlesques the Spanish don and is characterized by boastfulness and cowardliness 2a cowardly buffoon

In the commedia dell’arte, Scaramouch was a stock character who was constantly being cudgeled by Harlequin, which may explain why his name is based on an Italian word meaning “skirmish,” or “a minor fight.” The character was made popular in England during the late 1600s by the clever acting of Tiberio Fiurelli. During that time, the name “Scaramouch” also gained notoriety as a derogatory word for “a cowardly buffoon” or “rascal.”

Today not many people use the word (which can also be spelled “scaramouche”), but you will encounter it while listening to Queen’s ubiquitous rock song “Bohemian Rhapsody,” in the lyric “I see a little silhouetto of a man / Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the fandango?”

(Thanks to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary for the definition)

      R.I.P.

October 7: Rip Taylor Was In On The Joke

October 12: Robert Forster, Oscar-Nominated ‘Jackie Brown’ Actor, Dead at 78

October 13: Hitchhiker’s actor Stephen Moore dies aged 81

October 21: Nick Tosches, writer of great variety, dies at 69

October 28: Robert Evans, Chinatown producer, dies at 89

      What We’ve Been Up To

   Amber

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Today on Finder of Lost Things...Beatrice stuns Little Ben with a compliment of sorts, Phoebe gives him some much needed advice all before dinner arrives at their table!

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Miss Pinkerton – Mary Roberts Rinehart

When you start this mystery, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

One, Miss Pinkerton reads differently than most modern mysteries. Due in large part to the had-I-but-known writing device, Rinehart is credited with founding. Meaning? Sprinkled here and then in the narrative are tantalizing hints of what’s to come — placed there by Rinehart to keep her readers turning the page late into the night.

By today’s standards, this method of storytelling is considered old fashioned. But it makes sense as most of Rinehart’s work was initially serialized in magazines, so she used this style of foreshadowing to hook her readers into buying the next edition of said publication. Initially, until I read enough to understand her style, it felt very staccato. But now that you’ve been forewarned, this shouldn’t be a problem for you!

(I didn’t find out any of this background information until after I finished the book – because I don’t read introductions until I finish said story, due to the shocking number I’ve read which contained inadvertent spoilers for veteran readers.)

Second, Rinehart not only was a novelist but a trained nurse as well. This hands-on experience allows Rinehart to infuse nurse Hilda Adams with some real depth, allowing our amateur detective to rise above her cookie-cutter counterparts in other mysteries of a similar vintage.

Not unlike Agatha Christie’s Superintendent Battle, who uses his police uniform to dupe the unsuspecting into thinking him dull and slightly stupid. Miss Adams uses her crisp white uniform to fade seamlessly into the background of a household to become a police detective’s ‘man on the inside’ and help solve a murder or two.

Third, similar to Georgette Heyer mysteries, Rinehart adds several different types of love/romantic entanglements to her story. Each fitting well into the narrative, they add extra layers to the story and the characters.

This touch of romance didn’t bother me in the least as Rinehart wove it into the text seamlessly. However, I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so I’m letting you know. (BTW – it isn’t sappy and provides motive – so if you’re on the fence never fear it only adds layers.)

Overall I enjoyed reading this book.

In fact, the byplay between Miss Adams and her police counterpart intrigued me enough I’m going to hunt down the rest of the Miss Pinkerton mysteries! Because I’d really like to know where Miss Adams’ story started and where it ends since Rinehart provided just enough hints to make me want to find out.

   Fran

9781501998096I know, I know, you’re going to say, “Oh look, Fran’s touting a book by William Kent Krueger. So what? She always does.” It’s true. I do.

But wait, hear me out! STOP SCROLLING, DARN IT!

Desolation Mountain (Atria) is somewhat different from the rest of the Cork O’Connor books, and in an intriguing – if dark – way. Now I’ll grant you, I’ve spent several years poking around the North Country with Cork and his family, so in the first chapter I knew who the two people talking were even before I read the names. And what’s exciting about Desolation Mountain is it taps into something Kent is really good at: coming-of-age stories.

Go re-read  Ordinary Grace and tell me I’m wrong.

Stephen is really growing up, and I can see him eventually taking Cork’s place as an investigator, even though that’s not his path. But in addition to becoming a Mide, Stephen has a powerful need to know, to understand. And he has to learn who he is first, hence the coming-of-age bit. Granted, he’s 20 now, but sometimes I still think he’s 6. It’s been a delight watching Stephen grow up under William Kent Krueger’s skillful hands, and he’s becoming a powerful character on his own, which is fantastic.

But the other seriously cool aspect to Desolation Mountain is that Kent brought in a character from his stand-alone book, The Devil’s Bed. Bo Thorsen is involved in the same investigation as Cork and Stephen, but he’s not necessarily their ally. It makes for some off-the-charts tension.

So yeah, I’m pushing a book by William Kent Krueger, and it’s not a surprise, but the book itself, Desolation Mountain, really is! And if you haven’t read any others and pick this one up to start with, like my wife did, you’re gonna want to go back to the beginning and start with Iron Lake.

*************************************

Note from the real crime world – I’ve been reading a lot of police reports in my job, and I can now definitively say that every crime, every last one, is made infinitely worse when you read, “The suspect was wearing a clown suit.”

     JB

Blowout came from an interesting question. 9780525575474

Rachel Maddow wondered why Putin would risk messing with the 2016 US election. In hindsight, we know they did and, to some point, it was worth it – but it clearly wouldn’t have been a sure  bet. Had Clinton won, the full weight of the US government would’ve been pointed at Russia in retribution. So why the risk? It is an interesting question.

“The meek may inherit the earth, but the bold could certainly screw it up in the interim.”

And that’s where the book goes. Along with way, she provides a succinct and entertaining history of the oil industry and the birth of fracking. She overlays it with the growth of Exxon/Mobil, the corporate rise of Tillerson, the political rise of Putin, the growth of Russia’s kleptocractic state, and the economic pit Putin drilled for himself and his country.

And the center of it all is Ukraine. The Ukraine of Crimea, and Manafort, and the crippling sanctions affixed by the Obama administration due to Russia’s interference in Ukraine and its elections, and their military incursions. Ukraine remains in the center of things, now thanks to Drumpf and his quid pro quo, Giuliani and his buddies, and, of course, Putin’s schemes. Power, money, oil, natural gas, and more power.

“Putin and his techno-warriors figured out what differences and disagreements and prejudices were corroding the health and cohesion of American society. They found the most ragged faults and fissures in our democracy: immigration, race, religion, economic injustice, mass shootings. Then they poured infectious waste into them.” Putin just hack America. She adroitly shows he fracked us.

It’s a book with a broad topic but written with confidence and comedy – that which makes no sense is not spared her wit and scorn. What is or was farce is clearly shown to be. You hear her voice in her words as clearly as if she was sitting at your side reading it to you.

Blowout is a gusher of info and a barrel of fun. It is also a serious work.

9780982565087A while ago, I wrote a couple of posts about a trip to San Francisco and taking the Dashiell Hammett Walking Tour. It took me a couple of weeks but I hunted down a copy of Don Herron’s out-of-print book about it. It is great fun. It provides an entertaining and informative biography of Hammett as the tour proceeds around the city, telling you what he did when he lived at this address or that address, why this building or that building is mentioned in The Maltese Falcon and what the support of that conclusion is (the late PI and crime writer Joe Gores plays a hefty part in the opinions), and includes photos and maps of the routes. If you find a copy, and it is the 30th Anniversary edition with forwards by Hammett’s daughter Jo and by crime writer Charles Willeford, snag it.

 

Lastly ~ My Latest Seattle Mystery Bookshop Dream!

Bill Farley and I were some kind of contractors, doing painting in someone home (certainly affected by my current work in a hardware store). We walked into the bookshop – which was in a dingy area of town but not on Cherry St, I don’t think, the street was level – and it was clear it had just moved into this smaller space. Empty bookshelves were stacked to the left side of the door in front of a big window. There were also some that were jammed with books – I think it was the beginning of the alphabet. There were shelves lining the walls and Amber was busy loading books into them. There weren’t very many people in the shop at that moment but more began to come in. I stepped behind the register to ring someone up and there was suddenly a long line of people plus a cranky old woman who wanted to ask question NOW. Then the space was much smaller and it was hard to move around the shelves that cluttered the space. and the jam of customers.

Once again, Fran wasn’t in the dream. Not sure what that means…

But it was nice to spend time with Bill again!



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Vios Con Dios, Jon!

Earlier this month, Jon Talton announced he was retiring from his economic column that’s run in the Seattle Times for many years.

At the bookshop, he was better known as the author of nine books that featured, as his website says,David Mapstone, unemployed history professor forced to come home to Phoenix, where his only job prospect is working for his old friend in the Sheriff’s Office.” There are also two books of his Cincinnati Casebooks, and Deadline Man, a mystery centered around a Seattle newspaper columnist.

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Jon spent 37 years in the newspaper biz. He worked at a large number of papers, becoming a sought-after editor. How he managed to do all of that and produce critically acclaimed novels – and a history of his home town, Phoenix – is one of those things that amazes the rest of us who are happy just to get the laundry done. As if all of this output isn’t enough, he’s also got a blog on which he writes on various topics. It’s always interesting     ~ Rogue Columnist

We always enjoyed having Jon, and his partner in crime Susan, in to sign each new book.

We wish him well with his future writings and on his ever twisting trail.

Adios!

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Another Review!

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Home Sweet Homicide – Craig Rice

Amber’s Review: So here’s the thing, I’ve never read a Craig Rice mystery, well other than Home Sweet Homicide. So in preparation for writing this review, I did some research on Rice and her writing style.

This is where things got interesting.

Well more interesting, as her book was entirely engrossing.

At first blush Home Sweet Homicide doesn’t appear to be a typical Craig Rice novel. Her primary detectives are three kids, ages 14, 12 and 10. There isn’t a drop of alcohol anywhere to in the pages which, according to my reference books, is unusual. As Rice’s detectives typically spend an inordinate time throwing the sauce back. In addition, the kids work loosely with the police, which her hard-boiled detectives rarely consider a worthwhile option.

However.

Digging further into her other mysteries, I began to glimpse Rice’s genius for the absurd and her flair for recycling old tropes into fresh plot devices.

Need an example of her absurd literary recycling? When short of the necessary pocket change, our junior detectives in Home Sweet Homicide would hit up the owner of the soda fountain for a malt on credit. Then pay off their debt when they managed to get two nickels to rub together. Archie, Dinah, and April were also not above hustling an unsuspecting mark to obtain a free malt or two or three.

This complicated relationship with the soda fountain, its owner and malts – bears all the hallmarks of Rice’s most famous detective of John J. Malone. Who favors whiskey over malts and Angel’s City Hall Bar over the dimestore on the corner.

And it works!

Another intriguing facet of this work is Archie, Dinah and April’s mother Marian Carstairs.

Marian Carstairs is considered by most an imperfect self-portrait of Craig Rice herself. Both were at one point crime reporters, freelance writers, and mystery novelists – who published under several nom de plumes. Even more telling? Their writing style. Both women simply rolled a blank sheet of paper into their typewriters and started typing. Neither woman constructed outlines, character lists, the major plot points, or even the solution until they punched it out. They just sat down at the typewriter and typed until they reached the end!

(btw- I’d be lost without an outline.)

This mystery was witty, smart, and fun to read.

I would recommend this zany mystery to anyone who could enjoy a plot which at one point or another – rests of a band of grubby boys, a mother’s day present and an impromptu dance party.

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P.S. – The picture, above my review, is of a Rue Morgue edition I bought at the shop years ago and is unfortunately out of print now.

But never fear! Otto Penzler has reissued this great mystery in his American Mystery Classic series. So you click on the green cover above the postscript to go to Otto’s site and grab yourself a copy of this great book!

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P.P.S. – Don’t forget to check out this week’s edition of Finder of Lost Things – Penny In The Air!

Both Wood and Orin come clean about the shenanigans they both pulled on Phoebe this evening!

September Newzine

biggest      This ‘n’ That

From the LA Times: We have studied every mass shooting since 1966. Here’s what we’ve learned about the shooters

Michael Chabon Will Showrun Star Trek: Picard 

She fights every ‘troll, psycho and perv’ she can find – and uses the law to do it 

How to Cancel Your Amazon Prime Membership (and Why You Should): Here’s how to stop financially supporting a monopoly.

Paging Big Brother: In Amazon’s Bookstore, Orwell Gets a Rewrite

Not a murder in the story – so far as they know – but a fascinating one from National Geographic: DNA Study Deepens Mystery of Lake Full of Skeletons

Nineteen years ago, Tom Wales was shot dead as he worked at his computer in the lower floor of his Queen Anne house. This is notable for two reasons – first, he was and is the only Assistant United States Attorney to be murdered in office and, second, until Aug. 21 there had been no indictments. There’s a podcast which covers the case: somebody somewhere. The entire first season 12 episodes, covers the case.

NASA Said to be Investigating First Allegation of a Crime in Space

The Great Seattle Pot Heist

The ‘Breaking Bad’ Movie is Coming To Netflix In October and The Trailer Is Here

The Case of the Missing $7 Million Car and the Car Detective on the Hunt

       Words of the Month

jabber (v.)”talk rapidly and indistinctly,” 1650s, spelling variant of Middle English jablen (c. 1400), also javeren, jaberen, chaveren, jawin; probably ultimately echoic. Related: Jabbered; jabbering. The noun, “rapid, unintelligible talk” is 1727, from the verb. Related: Jabberment (Milton). [thanks to etymonline]

Foyles Sets Up Libraries for High-End Retirement Homes

Can Britain’s Top Bookseller Save Barnes & Noble?

JD Salinger: novels finally to be published as ebooks

Who needs bookshops anyway? Libraries Are Telling People How Much Money They Save by Not Buying Books 

The Tale of Genji: The world’s first novel? 

Why are women obsessed with true crime? Rachel Monroe has some answers

Ever Thought About Pursuing a Book Deal? Here’s How to Get Started

10 Great Books that Defy All Genres (thanks to Kat Richardson for this post)

Top Publishers Sue Audible (aka Amazon, aka SPECTRE), Alleging Encroachment On Text Territory

Why Beatrix Potter self-published Peter Rabbit

Parnassus Books Cares About Us. Does Amazon? [Thanks to Steve for passing this to us!]

Ringing the changes: how Britain’s red phone boxes are being given new life 

A California Type Foundry Is Keeping Vintage Printing Alive

      Manson: The 50th Anniversary

The Manson Family murders, and their complicated legacy, explained

How many more did Manson family kill? LAPD investigating 12 unsolved murders 

A ‘Mindhunter’ Fan Put the Charles Manson Scene Side-By-Side With an Actual 1981 Interview

      The Second Season of “Manhunter”

This one scene explains what makes Netflix’s “Mindhunter” so scary

Mothers cry out for justice as Mindhunter introduces the Atlanta Child Murders

The real Mindhunters: why ‘serial killer whisperers’ do more harm than good

Mindhunter star Holt McCallany: ‘I met Manson Family murderer Bobby Beausoleil – I’d bet my life he wouldn’t kill again’

      Words of the Month

gibberish (N) “rapid and inarticulate speech; talk in no known language,” 1550s, imitative of the sound of chatter, probably influenced by jabber. Used early 17th C. of the language of rogues and gypsies. (thanks to etymonline)

       Author Events

Sept 17 ~ Candace Robb (& Owen Archer!), 7pm, Third Place/LFP

September 17 ~ April Henry, 7pm, Powell’s/Cedar Hills

September 20 ~ Craig Johnson, 7pm, Powell’s/Cedar Hills

Sept 23 ~ J.A. Jance,  7pm, Third Place/LFP

September 23 ~ Amy Stewart, 7:30pm, Powell’s

September 27 ~ J.A. Jance, 7pm, UBooks/Mill Creek

September 28 ~ J.A. Jance, 4pm, Village Books

       Links of Interest

August 1: John Dillinger’s Relatives Say They Have ‘Evidence’ The Buried Body May Not Be His

August 1: The Fruitcake Prison Break That Reshaped Irish History

August 2: How a Group of Gamers Tracked Down a Quadruple Murder Suspect

August 2: Philadelpha Phillies Sue To Keep Beloved ‘Phanatic’ Mascot From Free Agency

August 3: Watergate Salad: A Fluffy Green Bite Of Washington, D.C.’s Past

August 3: Belfast City Cemetery: 150 years of buried stories

August 3: Concrete Carmel ‘Pueblo’ has a great view and a hidden room behind a bookcase – a steal at only $9.8 Million!

August 5: Red Sea Diving Resort: The holiday village run by spies


August 7: The Lies of the Irishman ~ Netflix and Martin Scorsese are making their biggest bets ever on the confessions of a mafia “hitman.” The guy made it all up.

August 16: The Publisher of I Heard You Paint Houses Responds to “The Lies of the Irishman”


August 7: Franz Kafka papers lost in Europe but reunited in Jerusalem

August 7: Scientists Discover Prehistoric Giant ‘Squawkzilla’ Parrot, As Big As Small Child

August 9: The Classic Novel That Is Most Often Abandoned By Readers

August 10: How death cafes are de-stigmatizing death

August 11: Interview with Martin Freeman ~ ‘The Detective’s Moral Dilemma Drew Me In’

August 12: Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard ‘done with zombies’

August 12: Pompeii archaeologists uncover ‘sorcerer’s treasure trove’

August 12: The Subversive Messages in the Wizard of Oz

August 12: A Novel Concept: Silent Book Clubs Offer Introverts A Space To Socialize

August 13: Long overdue: Five library books returned a few decades late

August 13: DREAMY CLOSET LIBRARY IDEAS TO ADD TO YOUR HOME

August 13: The Women Who Tasted Hitler’s Food

August 13: Is the bystander effect a myth?

August 14: Letter from Africa: The power of an apostrophe

August 15: Leonardo da Vinci’s abandoned and hidden artwork reveals its secrets

August 15: Self-Proclaimed “Dobby’s Freedom Keeper” Regularly Replaces House Elf Headstone

August 16: 5 HISTORICAL MYSTERIES THAT COMBINE REAL HISTORY WITH WHODUNNIT

August 16: THE ANATOMY OF THE BOOK

August 17: “Lincoln’s Spies”: Elizabeth Van Lew, southern sexism and the winning of a secret war

August 17: Sherlock Season 5: Martin Freeman updates fans on chance of new episodes

August 18: ‘Is that bum trap missing a flesh-bag?’: a guide to Australia’s convict slang

August 19: ‘Murder She Wrote’ & Me

August 20: The mystery photos of a 1957 gay wedding

August 20: “No Time to Die” ~ What the new 007 title might mean

August 20: Film props from The Shining, Star Wars, Jurassic Park and more go up for auction

August 21: The Cold War spy technology which we all use

August 22: GREAT BOOKS ABOUT TRUE CRIMES

August 22: Physicists discover hidden text in what was thought to be blank Egyptian papyri

August 24: The Russian spy who posed as a Canadian for more than 20 years

 

       R.I.P

August 6: Toni Morrison: Nobel Prize-winning author dies at 88

August 9: Comic Book Creator Ernie Colón Dies at 88

August 16: Peter Fonda, star of ‘Easy Rider’ and scion of Hollywood royalty, dies at 79

August 17: Richard Williams, ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ animator, dies at 86

August 20: We learned this day of the death of a long-time customer, Alison Moore.

Fran Here: I spoke with Alison on the phone frequently, and while it took a little learning to translate her Liverpudlian accent to American, she was an absolute delight. Because she was wheelchair-bound, and later bedridden, we shipped to her all the time.

But Alison wasn’t just an avid reader. She’d have us send books to friends of hers all across the US! Not necessarily mysteries – as you know, we would order anything in print – but always for birthdays and Christmas. It was interesting getting to know her friends. And they, in turn, would call to order gift certificates for her to use when she called to order for  herself. If was one of those sad souls who let us know she’d passed.

There were times after the shop closed when Alison would call me at home, just to see how I was holding up. And then we’d talk about how things were going with her. She never really recovered after her husband died, but she was feisty all the way. Home Health tried to insist she keep her husband’s hospital bed, but he was almost 6′ tall, and she barely hit 5′. She said she kept slipping off it. She won, of course.

We at the shop are sorry to hear of her passing, and it’s a personal loss to me. I’ll miss hearing the, “Hey, Fran, how’re ya doin’?” followed by “What’cha been readin’?” Wherever you are now, Alison, I hope there’s a HUGE library!

August 27: Richard Booth, self-styled King of Hay, who put the market town on the map by establishing it as a centre for the secondhand book trade

August 30: James R Leavelle, detective handcuffed to Lee Harvey Oswald when he was shot, dies aged 99

       Words of the Month

polysemy (n) A condition in which a single word, phrase, or concept has more than one meaning or connotation. dictionary.com

polysemous (adj) 1884, from Medieval Latin polysemus, from Greek polysemos “of many sides” etymonline

       What We’ve Been Up To

   AmberFinder

Last Friday In Finder of Lost Things the Resident’s come to Phoebe’s aid since her crew took their pirate costumes entirely to much to heart – and imbibed in too much spiced rum!

This coming Friday Phoebe, Wood, Beatrice and Laney run for their freedom across the last stretch of Nevermore – trying to stay ahead of Little Ben and security!

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Rhys Bowen – Love and Death Among the Cheetahs

Georgie is off on a surprise honeymoon safari Darcy has arranged for them… Which they can only afford because Darcy accepted an assignment from his mysterious employers. Of course, Darcy attempts to keep Georgie in the dark about the arrangement, but his new wife has solved her fair share of mysteries. So his secret isn’t a secret for very long.

Plus Georgi has her little task to complete for the Queen.

One thing I love about the Royal Spyness series is how Bowen creates a subtle sort of anxiety within the pages of her book. By sticking relatively close to historical events, Bowen establishes a sense of tension within her series – a worry which grows in each installment as we creep inevitably closer to WWII.

This worry is in no small part due to Darcy’s secret overseas work, which in the coming conflict will place him directly in harm’s way. And by extension Georgie, who is keen to prove her deductive prowess to her new husband (who wasn’t always privy to all her previous investigations).

In Love And Death Among The Cheetahs amongst the exotic animals and even wilder Happy Valley set Georgie proved her worth right away. By helping both solve a murder and uncovering a spy within their midsts!

However, it’s not Hitler whom I theorize will affect Georgie’s immediate future. But her cousin David, that dreadful American woman (as she’s known) and the King’s declining health. What will happen upon the King’s death? How will the chaos, created by David’s unwillingness to give up his American divorcee and his political leanings, effect Georgie, her family, and England?

And when he abdicates will that be the last we hear of David?

Or his disapproving mother and sending Georgie to the continent to extract her errant son from trouble? Or will the new King look to her for help?

Only time will tell.

But until the next book, I will fret over the safety and well being of Georgie’s grandfather, Queenie, Zou Zou, her erratic mother, Binky, Fig, and everyone else. Because of the aforementioned cleverness of Bowen’s storytelling, I know what’s coming. Even if Georgie and Darcy only see the hints of Hitler’s plans right now.

However, I am still very excited to see where Bowen takes her Royal Spyness series next!

Especially since Georgie finally feels secure enough to reveal the steely spine she inherited from her Great-Grandmother Queen Victoria. Showing not only Fig she’s done with her backhanded compliments, but allowed her to deftly deal with an old bully, a determined letch, and a belligerent detective. All in one book!

I would recommend Love and Death Among the Cheetahs if you are looking for a country house style mystery. Well, country house adjacent. As Love And Death Among The Cheetahs is set in Kenya, not the United Kingdom. And rather than the fox hunting, horse-loving aristocratic set routinely featured in the style of book. We meet the wanton, dissolute and libertine set of Happy Valley expats. Who enjoy sex, drugs, and safaris instead.

(BTW – Georgie is utterly shocked at their antics!)

In point of fact, I would highly recommend this entire series to anyone looking for a lighter, historically mystery series. If you don’t want to start all the way back at the beginning, never fear! So long as you’re aware you aren’t starting with the first in series, you will do just fine!

One Last Note!

My other blog My 52 Weeks With Christie – in which I kept posting my original photos to and re-blogging other Agatha Christie enthusiast pictures, TV clips and other ephemera on – reached a milestone!

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I’ve posted a total of 8,000 items and counting! Which I’m told is quite something – since it was originally only suppose to have a total of 52 posts!

   Fran

You know my fondness for Joshilyn Jackson. It’s no secret, and hasn’t been since gods in Alabama. 9780446178167She’s always remarkable, taking on some really tough topics in that genteel Southern way she has.

With her latest one, Never Have I Ever (Wm. Morrow), she takes off the gloves. Always a Southern lady, mind you, but in this new book, Joshilyn Jackson comes out swinging! It’s a much, much darker books than any of her others, and yes, I’m including Between, Georgia in that. For those of you who haven’t read it, partway through I was muttering, “Trust Joshilyn, trust Joshilyn, she’ll make it right!”

9780062855312Never Have I Ever is much darker than a body dumped in kudzu or an airport gypsy explaining that murder is the best solution.  Amy Whey’s life starts unraveling in the first chapter. Are you familiar with the game “Never Have I Ever”? It’s kind of a middle school game, like Three Truths and a Lie, that can be adapted to an adult game quite easily. Someone says, “Never have I ever (fill in the blank with something you’ve never done)” and anyone who HAS done it has to drink. Kind of embarrassing but fun, right?

It’s a blast. You should play. It’s like Never Have I Ever, but for grown-ups. We skip the coy denials and go right to confession. You start by telling everyone the worst thing you did today.”

When Roux crashes the monthly book club meeting, takes over, plies most of the women with alcohol and gets them to tell their secrets, Amy knows she could have stopped her, but she didn’t. Like watching a car crash, she just let it happen.

Sure, I’ll play,” I said quietly, to Roux alone. “The worst thing I did today was let you get this pack of harpies drunk in my house.”

However, Amy has a serious secret. One her neighbors, her friends, even her husband have no idea about. Things are about to go badly for everyone.

Make no mistake, this is still the Joshilyn Jackson we know and love, and her trademark humor is still present. There were times when I snorfled so loudly I startled the dog. But this is, at its heart, a much darker novel than we’ve seen before.

And it’s about time. Joshilyn Jackson is becoming one of the great literary voices of our time; she’s a storyteller of exceptional depth and quality. You’re going to love Never Have I Ever, even when you’re not entirely sure you can like Amy, and that juxtaposition is what will keep you eagerly turning pages.

Never Have I Ever lied to you about reading Joshilyn Jackson. You won’t be disappointed.

   JB

Aug 8th gave me another shop dream. I’d been away for some weeks for some reason and the “shop” was small, narrow place with shelves around the walls and the new release paperback table taking up most of the floor space. The table was a mess. Titles that should’ve been removed weeks ago were not only still on but had been re-ordered. Some single paperbacks were spine up between stacks of others. Duplicate copies were stacked randomly on a shelf near the door and Amber and Fran were desperately trying to get it squared away. I started trying to work out what should be removed AND returned AND sorted by publisher, but people were in the way and where was I going to be able to do all of this… It was a dream of chaos.

I’ve been weaving back and forth from this book to another for several months. Still
haven’t finished the Mueller Report, or 9th Street Women, or the second-to-last Philip Kerr. Guess I’ve been a restless reader. Something new crops up – such as the O’Neil book on the 60s – and it is easy to set down what I’m in to go to something else. But there are other reasons, too. Most of what I’ve been reading for the last few months have been thick and heavy hardcovers. For the trip to San Francisco, I wanted smaller and lighter. So I picked up a couple of mass market books I’d meant to read for, well, decades, and they were as great as I expected. Both were used paperbacks I’d brought home when the shop closed.

U8ayPh3U2P8COne was Donald Westlake’s Lemons Never Lie, one of his Grofield books published in 1971 as by Richard Stark. Grofield first appeared in one of Stark’s Parker books. I’ve read all of them and loved them but somehow never got to these. Mistake. This one is the last of the four separate books and now I’ll have to track the other three down. As with the Parker books, this one was a finely-crafted story of a professional thief with a highly developed sense of how his world should work. Unfortunately, Grofield violates his own rules a number of times and pays for his errors. But gets his justice at the end. It seems odd to talk about “honor” and “justice” with a crime novel about a thief…but that’s the world we’ve picked for our entertainment.

The other was Timothy Hallinan’s final Simeon Grist novel, The Bone Polisher. Early shop colleague Tammy had gotten me into these back in the mid-90s. I immediately loved them. Grist is an LA private eye who never got a college degree though he’s studied many different fields – this allows Hallinan to have him be erudite and literate and amusing without him coming off as pedantic. This last one I’d salted away because I’d never wanted the series “to end”. But it was time and it was a thrill.

And as to that trip to that Big Bay to the south, there are two posts about it, #1 and #2. Check them out should you be curious – – – – – – —


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AUGUST’S NEWZINE

flamingoagain

There just isn’t pleasing some people. The trick is to stop trying.

~ Robert Mitchum

      Book Stuff

Buzz Aldrin carried a tiny book with him to the moon

Our congratulations to one of our favorite authors. Nicola Griffith has been nominated for the 2019 Washington State Book Award in the fiction category for So Lucky. Fran’s review was in our September 2018 newzine (scroll down towards the end).

Local writer Clyde Ford – he of the maritime private eye series set in Bellingham – has a new book out in September. Think Black is the story of his father being the first black software engineer hired by IBM. Another local mystery writer, Jon Talton, wrote about the father and son: At Big Blue, America’s First Black Software Engineer Blazed a Trail but Pail a Heavy Price

NEWS BULLETIN! No need to feel guilty about the pleasures of mystery books (aren’t you relieved???)

Here’s a site that one of us stumbled upon: Literary Hub. Got there by following a link to this story~ Interview with a Bookstore: Bluestockings. They’ve got many pages. This one’s devoted to Bookstores and Libraries!

The Amazon effect: How independent booksellers are fighting back 

From Douglas Preston: Online book-selling scams steal a living from writers

How Do You Read Ancient Scrolls to Brittle to Unfurl?

Crime writers react with fury to claim their books hinder rape trials: “Novelists have condemned the Staunch prize – for thrillers without violence against women – as a ‘gagging order’, after organisers said the genre could bias jurors.” [The gist seems to be that Dame Agatha could not have been nominated if any women were murdered in her books…]

From Uber driving to huge book deal: Adrian McKinty’s life-changing phone call: “Recent reports have highlighted just how hard it can be to make a living as a “midlist” author – one whose books are judged good enough to publish, but not good enough to support with any significant marketing budget. In the UK, writers’ earnings have fallen by 42% in real terms since 2005, according to the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, with median earnings now at under £10,500 a year – well below the minimum wage. The worldwide picture is similarly disheartening.”

Two bestselling series are going to be adapted for TV ~ Michael Connelly’s Lincoln Lawyer and (we detest promoting it) Lee Child’s Jack Reacher for SPECTRE

First edition Harry Potter book sells for £28,500 

Fragment of medieval ‘vagina monologue’ found at Austrian abbey

The Con Man Who Became a True-Crime Writer

Why Do Women Love True Crime? 

To Plot My Next Murder, I Went to the Body Farm ~ Lisa Gardner

We Asked 13 Novelists, From Lee Child to Ruth Ware, ‘What’s the Best Murder You Ever Wrote?’

Lastly, for Bill: The Weird, Wild, Inimitable Noir of Donald E. Westlake

      Words for the Month

Taradiddle

Definition: 1.Fib  2. Pretentious nonsense

The true origin of taradiddle is unknown, but that doesn’t mean you won’t encounter a lot of balderdash about its history. Some folks try to connect it to the verb diddle (meaning “to cheat”), but that hasn’t been proven and may turn out to be poppycock. You may hear some tommyrot about it coming from the Old English verb didrian, which meant “to deceive,” but that couldn’t be true unless didrian was somehow suddenly revived after eight or nine centuries of disuse. No one even knows when taradiddle was first used. It must have been long before it showed up in a 1796 dictionary of colloquial speech (where it was defined as a synonym of fib), but if we claimed we knew who said it first, we’d be dishing out pure applesauce.

(Thanks to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary)

       Podcasts!

Podcast Live Event! Criminal (a brilliant & addictive true crime podcast) is coming to Seattle in September! Buy tickets now they are going fast!

A Hit Podcast Finds ‘True Crime” in the Justice System

       For Your Viewing Pleasure

Anyone is a fan of “Killing Eve” needs to start watching “Jett” on Cinemax. It stars Carla Gugino as a professional thief just released from prison. Hoping to go straight, she’s quickly reminded that she still owes some favors to old colleagues. Great writing and unexpected zigs and swerves. ~ JB

This Autumn (which, really, is coming at us at a frightful rate), we’ll get to see The Irishman, Martin Scorsese’s new crime film staring Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Anna Paquin, and Harvey Keitel.

John Dillinger Exhumation to be Documented by History Channel

Mid-August gifts us with the second season of “Mindhunter”, the outstanding Netlix series about the establishment of the FBI’s study of killers. This season, the killers will include Richard Speck, David Berkowitz, Wayne Williams, and Charlie Manson (played by the same actor as in the new Tarantino film).

Speaking of the Tarantino – JB highly recommends Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood. It’s got a great sense of the era, great acting, and the usual lunatic touches we expect from a Tatantino film.

       This ‘n’ That

Inside the deadly world of India’s sand mining mafia

I ran across a surprise the other day. Tooling around on the internet looking for stories for this newzine, I found this headline: We’re already excited about Jessica Chastain’s spy thriller. That itself was interesting. Interesting as well was that she refers to the folks doing it as a “studio”. About time women in Hollywood formed their own studios to vie with the dumb ol’ white-man outfits that have run the movie biz since it’s inception. But the surprise for me was the next to last line: “Theresa Rebeck penned the script for the movie…” Theresa is an Edgar-winning writer of TV, movies, novels and plays, as well as a director. She’s brilliant, funny and, most importantly to me, married to one of my oldest friends. (She once let me pick up her Edgar, which she got for an episode of “NYPD Blue”). So cool, far out, groovy and neat-o all around! Can’t wait to see the movie!! ~ JB

Meet English baker ‘Annabel Lecter.’ These Made-to-Order Cakes Look Like Beautiful Nightmares  

As I discovered to my cost at Agatha Christie’s favourite hotel, there is a tide… 

‘Double Indemnity’ Is 75, But Anklets (And Film Noir) Are Forever


An Epidemic of Disbelief: What new research reveals about sexual predators, and why police fail to catch them

Author James Patterson on Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘Unbelievable’ Crimes 

How a Predator Operated in Plain Sight


      Words for the Month

Crumbs!

Definition: Used to express surprise or chagrin.

Who doesn’t love crumbs? Most people, actually. And when we ask the question ‘where does the interjection crumbs come from,’ we have a wide range of possibilities to choose from. Is it a shortened form of crumbs-in-the-bed? No. Is it an abbreviation of the 19th century Cornwall dialect word crum-a-grackle (defined by Joseph Wright in his English Dialect Dictionary as “a mess, difficulty, bother”)? Probably not, although this is a word we should all consider adopting in everyday use. Might it simply be a variant of the phrase “By crum!” in which crum was employed as a mild oath of uncertain provenance? That is the least satisfying answer, which of course means that it is the most likely to be true.

(Thanks to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary)

      Author Events

Aug 2: Heather Redmond, 6pm, UBooks/MC

Aug 15: Rhys Bowen, 7pm, Third Place/LFP

Aug 20: Steve Cavanaugh, 7pm, Third Place/LFP

Aug 29: Karin Slaughter, 7pm, Third Place/LFP

Aug 30: Louise Penny, 7pm, Village Books

      Links Of Interest

July 1: THE CARE AND FEEDING OF A MACGUFFIN

July2: Watch: the first trailer for Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out” tips its hat to Agatha Christie

July 2: DNA Begins to Unlock Secrets of the Ancient Philistines

July 3: The CIA and Jack Gregersen’s exploding hat ~ Agency classified a stranger’s suggestion that it invest in anti-personal headgear for over 40 years

July 3: Little Miss Marple! ‘Extremely rare’ photos reveal legendary crime writer Agatha Christie as a playful child at her Devon family home from 1895 to 1898

July 4: Mad Magazine to cease publication of new material

July 4: Sudan tomb diver reveals pharaoh’s secrets

July 4: Tutankhamun: Bust Egypt says was ‘stolen’ sells for £4.7m

July 5: This 33,000-Year-Old Man May Have Been Killed by a Left-Handed Murderer

July 5: How the Manson Killings Gripped Los Angeles

July 5: The God-Haunted Characters of James Lee Burke

July 5: The disabled artist and her dirty secret

July 6: In pictures: New Unesco World Heritage Sites

July 6: What to Expect When You’re Expecting Evil

July 7: How Norway turns criminals into good neighbours

July 8: ‘It sickens me’: Gillian Flynn slams Gone Girl theory in missing woman case

July 8: The only library to survive from the Graeco-Roman world

July 9: From Uber driving to huge book deal: Adrian McKinty’s life-changing phone call

July 9: The City That Launched The Publishing Industry

July 10: The Accidental Tour Guide ~Laura Lippman — novelist, reporter, and Baltimorean — on her city’s many lives and layered literary myths.

July 10: Found: 15 Wallets From the 1940s, Stolen and Stashed Behind a Bathroom Wall

July 10: Suzanne Eaton, US scientist, found dead in WW2 bunker on Crete

July 10: At The T-Rex Races: On Your Mark, Get Set, Rawwrr!

July 10: Inside One of the Most Spectacular and Dangerous Bank Heists in U.S. History ~ An excerpt from Peter Houlahan’s thrilling new book, “Norco ’80”

July 11: Scarecrow police officer slows speeding drivers

July 12:  Truck Heists, Dog Poisonings, and Murder: Inside the Brutal World of the Truffle Trade

July 12: My gonzo night at Hunter S Thompson’s cabin

July 13: How ‘Licence to Kill’ Put the James Bond Franchise on Ice

July 14: The Literary Battle of the Sexes, 1907-Style

July 14: To Plot My Next Murder, I Went to the Body Farm

July 14: Jo Nesbo, Master of Norway Noir, Returns With His Creepiest Yet

July 16: Mona Lisa is moving – what does it take to keep her safe?

July 16: How a ‘slick talker’ lobbyist boosted the false Seth Rich murder conspiracy — before getting shot himself

July 16: Dutch police are being infiltrated by criminal gangs, report says

July 16: Real life film noir: crime scenes from the LAPD – in pictures

July 16: A young couple was shot dead on a Jenner beach. 15 years later, the mystery is finally solved

July 16: The Doctor Who Helped Israeli Spies Catch Eichmann But Refused Recognition 

July 17: Wonka bar and Golden Ticket fetch £15,000 at auction

July 18: New Investigation Answers Pressing Question: Whatever Happened to All of Bob Ross’ Paintings?

July 18: This little-known inventor has probably saved your life

July 18: David Crosby Reflects On Music, Misdeeds And Making The Most Of What’s Left

July 19: Tennessee town dispels ‘meth-gator’ myth

July 19: The Quiet Cruelty of When Harry Met Sally

July 19: Richard Oland: A millionaire, a murder and a mystery killer

July 19: How A 10-Year-Old Boy Helped Apollo 11 Return To Earth

July 21: A Peculiarly Dutch Summer Rite: Children Abandoned in the Night Woods

July 21:What actually happens inside us when we read?

July 21: The Best Fantasy Novels Of All Time

July 21: Burglars Lift $2 Million Worth Of Body-Shaping ‘Faja’ Undergarments

July 22: French Minerve submarine is found after disappearing in 1968

July 22: Baseball card collecting world rocked by fraud scandal

July 22: 11 Books to Read if You’re an Adult Who Loves Veronica Mars

July 23: Body Found in Supermarket Identified as Employee Who Disappeared 10 Years Ago

July 23: The “Pulp Fiction” prequel never made: Tarantino details the amazing premise

July 23: 6 CLASSIC BOOKS TO READ IF YOU LOVE LOCKED ROOM MYSTERIES

July 27: Sanditon: Sex, nudity and slavery in Jane Austen TV drama

July 29: 50 States of True Crime ~ Every state has an infamous crime — and a book about it.

July 29: Missile launcher found in US man’s luggage at airport

July 30: THIS IS HOW PHOTOS IN “I SPY” BOOKS WERE CAPTURED

July 30: Rochester Cathedral’s crazy golf course 

      R.I.P.

July 8: Martin Charnin: Annie musical writer dies aged 84

July 9: Award-winning actor Rip Torn, known for ‘Larry Sanders Show,’ dies at 88

July 11: Denise Nickerson: Violet Beauregarde actress dies aged 62

July 11: Jim Bouton dies at 80 ~ All-Star MLB pitcher, former Seattle Pilot, author of Ball Four, and actor in Robert Altman’s film of Chandler’s The Long Goodbye. In the movie, he played Marlowe’s friend Terry Lennox, around whom the story orbits.

July 13: Andrew Graham-Yooll, the man who dared to report on Argentina’s missing

July 17: Andrea Camilleri, who has died aged 93, was almost 70 when he took up the genre, but his novels are as rich with serious thinking as with thrilling plots

July 18: David Hedison – star of the original The Fly, captain of the Seaview in “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”, and Felix Leiter to  007’=’ twice – dead at 92

July 23: MHB Conant was a long-time customer. She was a huge fan of Thomas Perry as well as a number of other writers. She’d bounce in and get copies to give to friends. If we had more than one copy of Vanishing Act or The Butcher’s Boy, she’d take two. Early on she’d ask to have them individually gift wrapped which, to be honest, wasn’t always something we had the time to do – but that’s what you do for long-time customers. Yet though someone is a familiar face, you don’t necessarily know much about them, and that’s true with MHB. (We didn’t even know what the initial stood for!) She was a teacher, singer, and founder of a program to encourage reading around the world. She lead a remarkable life. She was 77 at the time of her death.

July 24: Rutger Hauer, ‘Blade Runner’ Co-Star, Dies at 75

July 24: Mystery author and geologist Sarah Andrews dies at 68 in a small plane crash with her husband and only son.

      Words for the Month

Apple Sauce

Definition: 1. a relish or dessert made of apples stewed to a pulp and sweetened  2. slang : BUNKUM, NONSENSE

English offers a smorgasbord of words for nonsense, some of which are better known as words for food. We have baloney, spinach, rhubarb, and toffee, not to mention full of beans. And if none of those offerings are to your taste, you can say that’s pure banana oil! Seemingly innocuous applesauce was first introduced to this menu back in the early 20th century. Back then, there may have been some bias against the real stuff. Poet Wallace Stevens’s turn-of-the-century description of a meal consisting of “some unnameable smathering of greasy fritters . . . and of course the inevictable applesauce” shows a lack of respect that must have been shared by others.

(Thanks to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary)

       What We’ve Been Up To

   Amber

Daisy            Finder Of Lost Things

Don’t forget to check out my other penny dreadful style blog! This Wee Phoebe and the crew are heading into Nevermore to help dissuade Little Ben from making a grave mistake…Oh, and Wood decide’s this is the perfect time to settle up on an old bet with Phoebe! (click on my pic above to go to the blog!)

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A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder – Dianne Freeman

Freeman’s follow-up to last year’s Agatha Award winning novel, A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder is an absolute gas to read!

Francis Wynn, or for those who aren’t on a first-name basis the Countess of Hareligh, is back and is finally feeling like she’s on firm ground. The only canker in her hedge? It’s summertime in London, and everyone’s fled to the country!

Well, all most everyone.

Only the diehards, those of more modest means or those unable to secure an invitation to a friend’s estate – remain in the city. Unfortunately, since Francis occupies the second of those three categories, her household’s stuck with a very open social schedule.

Their unfettered social diary does prove fortuitous for Francis’s little sister Lily. Despite Francis’s reservations on the subject and irregardless of the limited guest list, Lily and her shiny new fiance are determined to throw a huge bash to announce their engagement.

Francis’s dance card fills out further when she’s pulled into another murder investigation on behalf of her favorite bumbling cousin – a cousin who she both introduced to the victim and inadvertently cast suspicion on with the police.

The only upside? Francis no longer needs to worry about how to entertain her household during the month of August anymore. And, even better, she gets to spend some more quality time with her handsome neighbor Mr. George Hazelton…

Effervescent, lively, and light I loved reading every page mystery.

What I love about A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder is it reminds me vaguely of a Jane Austen novel (only set about eighty-ish years after Austen’s books). The vocabulary, manners, and (the mostly) meticulous observance of social conventions calls to mind that earlier era.

But… (There’s always a but.)

Freeman blends these classic features with a bold and slightly irreverent hand. Creating two books where our heroine not only knows her own mind but follows up her thoughts with decisive action. It doesn’t hurt that Francis Wynn has more latitude to act as a widow than married or single women do during this period. But still, living on her own – with her Aunt, daughter, sister, housekeeper, maid, kitchen boy and debutant – without a man in the house? It’s still slightly scandalous for the times. And heaven only knows what society would say if they knew about the private garden path linking her and Mr. Hazelton’s homes…And it’s that bit of ridiculousness which Freeman exploits, to great effect, in both her books.

Seriously if you’re looking for a fun historical beach book, I would highly recommend A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder.

Though I must caution you, I think you’d enjoy Gossip & Murder better if you read her award-winning Etiquette & Murder, first as there are several story threads which deftly bind the first and second books together.

Even better? Etiquette & Murder is in paperback!

   Fran

Okay, I’m gonna be honest here. I don’t have anything new to review, but here’s why.

I’m still traveling through life with Inspector Gamache. YES, I BLAME LOUISE PENNY! And I’m thrilled she’s going to be in town this month, as you saw above. You must not go. I want her all to myself. So there.

In fact, I’ve been loving her writing so much that I got Lillian hooked on the series, and now she’s not talking to me, but only because she’s off in Three Pines as well. We read non-spoiler snippets to each other.

Also in my defense, we got a dog.

Shadow in streaking sunlight.JPG

Her name is Shadow, and she’s a 2-year-old Lab mix. High energy and a goofball, but a delight. However, she does take up a great deal of time, what with cuddles and walks and playing.

So I’m a little slower getting through the Inspector Gamache series than I should be, but you know what? I’m okay with that. Not only is Shadow a fun dog, but that means I have to slow down in my reading, so I can savor them, enjoy them. And I’m glad there are so many, but I’m still reaching the end of what’s currently printed, and honestly, I don’t know how all you veteran Penny readers have been able to stand the wait between books. You must be saints!

    JB


Around the 4th, I had two bookshop dreams:

The first started with a former employee telling me about someone’s reaction to the newzine. Apparently, we were still mailing out the printed version. I was getting the latest one ready to mail and was informed that one of our best customers was mad because she hadn’t been getting her copies….

The second started with me working across and down Cherry from the shop. Something or someone reminded me that the 117 location would be closing and what was left would be moved to a different location. So I went to Bakeman’s to get chocolate chip cookies for Amber but she wasn’t there. As I walked in, she was heading out the side/back door with an armload of boxes. Fran wasn’t in this dream. I started loading my own books that  I hadn’t yet taken home into bags and started trying to get a hold of my wife to get her to come pick them up and to get me so I could get something to eat before coming back down to Pioneer Square to begin dismantling the shelves and counters and I remember thinking that the carport would once again be choked with wood. I was mad I couldn’t get ahold of her, mad about the work ahead, and mad – again – about the closure of SMB. Then I woke up.

On the 12th, I woke up after one where I was still trying to empty the space – though it wasn’t the actual SMB space (surely others have dreams where the places aren’t the right places or people aren’t the same people?). Most of the shelves were empty but there were still some things to pack. One shelf behind the empty counter was of thick black binders. When I took the one on the far right down it was filled with Bill’s financial records. There was even a section of the red rear receipts from credit card slips. But then I realized I didn’t have enough large boxes. John C. was here helping and offered to go get some but I said I’d go. For some reason, I was driving a battered early 60s Chevrolet, dirty grey or white, the kind with wings that my parents used to have. I got mired in a endless maze of alleys and one-way streets and finally made it out onto a street up by I-5 in order to head south to buy boxes – when I realized I was late to have dinner with friends. It was already early evening and I knew Gretchen would be mad when I called to say I wouldn’t be there for hours…. It went on from there and I never got back to the shop before I woke up EXHAUSTED...

Just before this was posted, I had another dream that is shop related. All I remember is that the lunch special at Bakeman’s was lasagna…


Journalist Tom O’Neill’s Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties is a wild, wild ride. As he relates, he began his journey as a job to right a story about the 20th Anniversary of the Tate-LaBianca murders and his investigation grew into a decades-long pursuit that consumed his life. And we’re enlightened for it.

He begins by relating some points in Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter that never quite made sense to him. From there comes a complete re-investigation of the crimes. From the end-notes, you can see that he talked to everyone who would talk about the era, LA at that time, the victims, the original investigation as well as members of Manson’s family. You get stories of the parties at Cielo Drive, parties at Beach Boy Dennis Wilson’s place, and how Charlie formed his family in the hay-day of Haight/Ashbury before relocating to the LA basin. How did he achieve such complete control over those in his clutches and get a bunch of peaceful hippies to slaughter on command?

What’s it all got to do with the CIA? Ever heard of MKULTRA, 9780316477550the CIA’s program to effect mind-control? Doctors in San Francisco were working on it. Ever heard of the FBI’s COINTELPRO, the program to infiltrate and undermine the leftist challenge to the status quo? Turns out CHAOS was the CIA’s program to do the same – even though the CIA’s own rules prohibit  them from working within the US.

What’s it got to do with the Manson Family? Read the book. How many did they really kill? Why aren’t more files being released? Why didn’t the cops investigating the Tate-LaBianca deaths believe the Helter Skelter story? Read the book.

“It’s when someone claims that I’ve ‘found the truth’ that I get anxious. I haven’t found the truth, much as I wish I could say I have. My goal isn’t to say what did happen – it’s to prove that the official story didn’t. I’ve learned to accept the ambiguity. I had to, I realized, if I ever wanted to finish this book. For every chapter here, there are a dozen I’ve left out. There’s more, there’s always more.”

The book includes photos of his house and the mass of binders and stacks of papers that went into the book. He presents a wealth of information that’s never been released before and rails against the refusal of official offices to release what he knows they have – recording, documents, files, and case notes. He relates showing documents to the original cops or the original prosecutors and they’re shocked at seeing these things for the first time. Let’s get it all out in the open. I sure hope someone agrees to fund his further research and investigation. I sincerely hope his wild ride continues!



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An Extra Review!

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(The cookies in the picture are garam-masala chocolate gingerbread cookies – I use a different recipe than the one Nancy Atherton put in her book because it required nuts and I’m allergic!)

Aunt Dimity & the Heart of Gold 

by Nancy Atherton

Did you ever wonder how Miss Marple honed her investigative abilities? Or in fact, how she remained so sharp in between each case?

I believe she kept her wits keen through continual practise. Miss Marple not only investigated the occasional murder that crosses her path – but all the little mysteries that popped up in her village of St. Mary Mead as well.

Now you shouldn’t confuse the word little with unimportant.

As Miss Marple’s learned the small mysteries (and therefore their solutions) are often analogous to the bigger mysteries, like murder and blackmail.

Which I think explains how Miss Marple was able to solve Colonel Protheroe murder in her first full-length mystery, Murder At The Vicarage. She’d already had decades worth of parallels to draw from and years of practice finding answers to prickly questions.

Now you might be wondering why on earth I am talking about Miss Marple in a review for an Aunt Dimity mystery.

The answer is this: Lori Sheperd (our sleuth), in many ways, reminds me of Miss Marple.

Go with me for a minute here.

Married with three children, an American and decades younger than the Grand Dame herself – I know superficially, Lori doesn’t appear to resemble Miss Marple in the slightest. However, if you take a closer look at their traits, striking similarities start popping out of the text.

Both women are fixtures in their community, volunteer their time, help their friends, and enjoy a good chat with their neighbors.

This “chatting” is where we find one of the most significant similarities between these two extraordinary women – their marked partiality to obtaining and occasionally disseminating village gossip. This “newsgathering” allows them both to acquire a richer view of the villages in which they reside and a better understanding of human nature – which is essential in solving mysteries.

The other important trait Lori shares with Miss Marple is her love of solving little mysteries. Any curious puzzle that pops up in Finch – Lori wants to solve it. From a quilting bee that ends with a revelation of a widow’s curse to a mysterious wishing well – very little can stop Lori from pursuing the truth.

And by keeping this murderless mystery series, Nancy Atherton has successfully avoided the Cabot Cove Syndrom which oftentimes plagues series of this length (24 books and counting). Meaning? We aren’t left wondering why anyone would live in the small village of Finch if people keep getting shot, stabbed, poisoned or garrotted in it.

Similarly, Agatha Christie was able to neatly sidestep this Syndrome by only penning twelve full-length titles and of those she set a fair few of those outside the borders of St. Mary Mead. (Atherton’s done this as well only her mysteries are set outside Finch – though wouldn’t it be fun if Lori visited St. Mary Mead? Or is that to on the nose you think?)

The most notable difference between these two ladies that I think needs addressing is their outlook on life. Miss Marple’s take on the world is one of pronounced pragmatism. Over the years, Miss Marple’s heard a plethora of rumors and solved a multitude of crimes. This knowledge has lead to the understanding that while not always pleasant, the dimmest view of someone’s motives is often the most accurate. While Lori, who hasn’t seen nearly as much, holds a far more upbeat vision of the world and the people in it. Perhaps in time, Miss Marple and Lori’s world views will align, but only time will tell.

Until then Lori will continue to hone her skills (much as Marple did) solving every niggly little puzzle that creeps up in Finch.

Such as the latest installment, Aunt Dimity & The Heart of Gold. A lovely mystery which uses Christmas/winter as a backdrop/springboard to propel this mystery forward. Where a mysterious motorist crashes a Christmas party, then discovers a Hindu alter hidden in a priest hole no one, including the homeowners, knew was there!

Lori really has her hands full in this one…

I thoroughly enjoyed every page in this book. Atherton does a great job in balancing the mystery with the Christmastime theme. Happily, she never succumbs to the syrupy sweetness that often plagues book set in December! Again using the time of year to move the mystery forward – not stall it under a ton of garland.

Now, if Atherton’s backlist daunts you, don’t worry. So long as you understand you are not starting with the first book and are willing to roll with it, you’ll be fine. As it was, I was a few books (six) out of date and had no problems picking up the thread of the series again. Now I normally recommend you start with the first book first, so you understand the hint of magic eddying around the fringes of this series, but it’s not required.

All that being said, I must say I couldn’t put this book down until I finished the very last (and highly satisfying) page. And the only reason I didn’t finish it in one sitting is that I needed to get some sleep!

I would recommend this book to anyone like me who loves a great mystery and/or enjoys reading Christmas books in July!

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Don’t Forget to check out my other blog – Finder of Lost Things!

This week, Dourwood decided is the perfect time to execute The Brace Affair…what could go wrong?