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)
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
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 17: Paul Dano to play the Riddler in The Batman
(briefly mentioned in the story is this gem: “He’s also attached to The Power of the Dog
, the new film from Jane Campion that will also star Kirsten Dunst and Benedict Cumberbatch.” !!!
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 2: a 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)
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
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!
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.
I 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.”
Blowout came from an interesting question.
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.
A 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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