OCTOBER NEWZINE

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On our side of this blog, we get to see statistics about visitors. We don’t see your names or what kind of slippers you’re wearing, but we see the nations from which you come to visit us. Most – duh – are from North America. No surprise about that, or visitors from England or Australia; there’s that common tongue issue. But there have been visitors from all across Europe, Asia, the subcontinent, Africa… 59 different countries at last count. China doesn’t like us and no one from the Caribbean has visited – if any of us were in the Caribbean, we wouldn’t be lookin’ at websites either!

Wherever you are, whatever kind of slippers you wear, welcome. We’re gratified so many folks still care what we do and say.

    WORD OF THE MONTH

Tohubohu (n): complete disorder or dishevelment. (thanks to Says You!, #1516)


2018 Seattle Antiquarian Bookfair ~ Oct. 13th & 14!


    LINKS OF INTEREST

August 31st: Man stole mother-in-law’s corpse from funeral parlour – it’s not what you think

August 31st: How the Hogwarts Express was saved from a Welsh scrapyard

September 4th: Judy Garland’s slippers: Five more items that are still missing

September 4th: The Books Everyone Starts and No One Finishes

September 5th: Teacher’s hidden book cover pebbles inspire reading

September 5th: Manchester Pusher: Does a serial killer haunt the city’s canals?

September 7th: Amazon’s Antitrust Antagonist Has a Breakthrough Idea. With a single scholarly article, Lina Khan, 29, has reframed decades of monopoly law.

September 7th: Adam Woog ~ Ruthless vs. righteous: vivid stories on ‘Scarface and the Untouchable’ and ‘The Sinners’

September 7th – John Steinbeck was a sadistic womaniser, says wife in memoir

September 8th – Lee Child on Birmingham: ‘The pollution was insane. Rivers would catch fire’

September 8th: The FBI’s Spying on Writers Was Literary Criticism at Its Worst

September 8th: Agent Jack by Robert Hutton review – MI5’s secret Nazi hunter

September 11th: ‘So shocked’: customer wins bookshop in raffle

September 12th: Author Of ‘How To Murder Your Husband’ Arrested For Allegedly Killing Her Husband

September 13th: The Book List: The alternative titles F Scott Fitzgerald considered for ‘The Great Gatsby’

September 13th: Bob Woodward: By the Book

September 14th: Agatha Christie Shaped How the World Sees Britain

September 14th: Bond 25 Is Getting a Whole New Script

September 17th: Last call for Nevada’s brothels?

September 17th: Cat in Bristol brings home bag of suspected class A drugs

September 17th: CCTV footage of 85-year-old tackling armed raiders goes viral

September 17th: The Joker: Joaquin Phoenix and the many faces of Gotham’s most wanted

September 19th: Bob Woodward’s ‘Fear’ is the fastest-selling book in Simon & Schuster’s history

September 19th: Author of ‘Kopp Sisters’ historical crime fiction series now calls Portland home

September 20: Impersonating Philip Marlowe

September 21st: How to write the perfect sentence

September 22nd: Ann Cleeves on north Devon: ‘I remember family days on the beach, picnics and space’

September 23rd: Galileo’s newly discovered letter shows his clever attempt to outsmart the Catholic Church

September 23rd: from Adam Woog ~ New crime fiction: An Agatha Christie-ish mystery and two new offerings from local writers

September 26th: Remembering Code Breaker Jean Annette Watters

September 26th: Do We Really Still Need Banned Books Week?

September 26th: A Window into the Lucrative World of Rare Book Heists

September 27th: Bookworms’ paradise away from Beijing bustle


    ANOTHER WORD OF THE MONTH

mool (n): The soil used to fill a grave. (thanks to Says You!, #1003 – recorded live in Seattle!)


    FAREWELL AND REST IN PEACE

August 31st – Thriller writer Amanda Kyle Williams, 61

September 1st – Bookseller Barbara Bailey, 74

September 6th – Burt Reynolds died at 82

    AUTHOR EVENTS

October 10th, 7:30 pm: Deborah Harkness, Powell’s

October 12th, 7pm: Charlaine Harris, Powell’s

October 18th, 7pm: Walter Mosley, Northwest African American Museum, Seattle

October 18th, 7pm: Elizabeth George, Hugo House

October 19th, 7:30pm: Walter Mosley, Powell’s

October 25th, 7pm: Joe Ide, Third Place Books/LFP

October 25th, 7pm: Warren C. Easley, Powell’s

    ONE LAST WORD OF THE MONTH

Concantenation (n.): Circa 1600, “state of being linked together”, from Late Latin concatenationem (nominative concatenatio) “linking together”, noun of action from past participle stem of concatenare “to link together”, from com “with together” (see con) + cantenare, from catena “a chain” (see chain (n.)). As a series of things united like links in a chain from 1726. [thanks to etymonline.com]

   WHAT WE’VE BEEN DOING

  AMBER

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J.D. Robb – Leverage In Death

What would you do to save your family?

This is the question facing Paul Rogan. His answer? To follow his instructions exactly, so he walks into his 9 am meeting and detonates the bomb.

When Eve Dallas discovers the bomber is a victim himself, coerced into killing his friends, she won’t rest until she finds the who and why of these crimes.

This installment of the In Death series is a solid addition to the rest of the series. It hits all the notes you are looking for with Roarke, Mavis (and her adorable kid), Peabody and Nadine, while advancing several side storylines Robb’s been building over the last few books with her supporting cast. The most important amongst them? Will Eve ever catch the dastardly candy thief? Dallas has a plan…

In any event, this book was a fun and fast read which, if you are a fan of the series, I don’t think you will be disappointed in!

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Dianne Freeman – A Lady’s Guide To Etiquette And Murder

Frances Wynn married young. Her mother, a New York socialite, was keen on marrying her off to a man with a title – which is how Frances became the Countess of Harleigh. Unfortunately, her husband took a looser stance on their marriage vows than Frances and when he suddenly passed away – it was under scandalous circumstances.

But that’s behind Frances, her year of mourning is finished and she’s determined to leave the country (and her money hungry in-laws) behind. To that end, Frances’ has secured a lovely little house in Belgrave for her and her young daughter. Even better? Her younger sister and favorite Aunt are coming to spend the season with her!

But things soon turn sour when an anonymous letter surfaces accusing Frances of murdering her husband! To clear her name, she’s going to have to figure out how to solve this mystery without making any social gaffes!

I loved reading this mystery! In fact, I devoured it all in one (very long) sitting.

While it is on the lighter side, it isn’t nearly as frivolous as the cover makes it look (though to be honest it is what first caught my eye). This book is about a woman who’s trying to reclaim her own life and discovering (and reveling) in the freedom afforded to a widow which she never had as a debutante or wife. This heady sense of freedom allows her to muster up the chutzpah to try and solve the mystery of the anonymous letters, a series of burglaries, and figure out why she doesn’t entirely trust one of her sister’s suitors!

Seriously –  this book is a fun, witty read and it never rests upon its laurels! If you like lighter historicals like Rhys Bowen’s  Her Royal Spyness series – I think this book will be right up your alley! (Seriously can’t remember the last time I had so much fun reading a mystery!)

  JB

Here’s a word you’ll need to know for the new John Connolly: chthonic (adj.) “of or pertaining to the under world,” 1882, with -ic + Latinized form of Greek khthonios “of the earth, in the earth,” from khthon “the earth, solid surface of the earth” (mostly poetic), from Proto-Indo-European root *dhghem- “earth.”

His latest Charlie Parker novel, The Woman in the Woods continues Parker’s dance with those things, those creatures, who come from the darkness, from a world that the opposite of Parker’s, where the dead live and talk, and some who do live have long ago relinquished their souls to a ugly, black power. There are the Pale Children, who limbs are jointed backwards; The Backers, wealthy, established Brahman who are allied with the fabled Not-Gods who search for the King of Wasps, the Buried God; there’s the deadly Mors, a woman completely devoid of color and compassion, whose evil rolls off her with the scent of “a whorehouse mattress”; and there’s Quayle, a dignified figure who may have once been human – he can’t honestly recall – but whose murderous search for the missing leaves of a book cause the deaths of those in his way.

Along the way there are three very different bookmen. Dobey, owner of a greasy spoon who helps damaged girls and women escape to safety and offers them a quiet place to rest amongst his collection. Of course there is Quayle, whose timeless search is for the missing pages of a volume that can change reality once reassembled. Then there is the cantankerous expert in Portland who finds the key piece of the puzzle.

This book fills in more to the picture of the evil Parker and his allies battle. It’s not yet complete but we get more of it, pieces added to a freaky puzzle. And in this book, Connolly ties this fictional evil to that is afoot in our “real” world. Parker’s friend Moxie bemoans “…If I could outlaw one word, the obvious others apart, it would be fucking ‘patriotism’. It’s nationalism in better clothing. You know who were patriots? The Nazis, and those Japanese fucks who bombed Pearl Harbor, and the Serbs who rounded up all those men and boys and put them in holes in the ground outside Srebrenica before going back to rape their women, at least until someone tried bombing sense into them. Patriots build Auschwitz. You start believing that ‘my-country-wrong-or-right’ shit, and it always ends up at the same place: a pit filled with bones.”

Indeed, Connolly writes pointedly that “Violence called to violence, and intemperate words were the kindling of savagery.” This goes for the Parker saga, as well as 2018 America.

One of the many unsettling aspects of the book at the center of the tale is that it’s illustrations change, while being viewed and from viewer to viewer. You seem to see things that might not really be there. Much like the face of the woman in the woods on the dust jacket.DSCN0089

Com’on John – hurry up with the next!

and thanks to Clare for the advanced reading copy, a nice addition to my Connolly shelf!


The Battered Badge is Robert Goldsborough‘s 13th Nero Wolfe mystery. Bill Farley always dismissed them as a pale imitation of Rex Stout’s series but he always read them, saying he couldn’t miss a chance to spend time with old friends. 9781504049108

I approach them the same way and have enjoyed them. But I must admit that this entry is dull and lifeless, even though we get a good visit with Lily Rowen. There are too many phone conversations spread out in the chapters as they trade information and wisecracks. For all of the action, this could’ve been a novella and been fine.

What is fun is that it ends with Inspector Cramer getting all the participants together at police headquarters instead of the brownstone to catch the killer. That scene made it all worth while.

Make no mistake, I’ll keep reading these books. Why miss the chance to spend time with old friends?

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After what I thought were a couple of, well, duds, Craig Johnson is back in thrilling form with Depth of Winter, his 14th full Longmire novel. (I found An Obvious Fact to be boring and I didn’t buy the revelation of who was the killer in The Western Star, even though I liked the scenes from the past and getting to know Martha).

is a mirror image of Hell is Empty(the best, I think, of this fine series), though this time Walt’s desperate journey is into the heat of the desert, not the snow of the mountains. If you’ve been keeping up with the Longmire books, you’ll remember that the Mexican killer Bidarte – with whom Walt and his friends have been dancing Serpent’s Tooth – has struck back in vengeance, kidnapping Cady and drawing Walt south of the border. ”

I slowly turned in all directions, but all I could see was the heat undulating from the baked surface of the desert like invisible samba dancers. I wished for a sound, but pressed hard against the sky, the terrain gave no answers.”

While the usual cast is mostly absent – Henry guards grandbaby Lola and Vic is heard only by phone – there’s a wonderful new group of folks helping Walt on his quest. An Apache sharpshooter, a retired member of the Mexican secret service and his sister with the violet eyes who is thought to be a witch, mules and a pink Cadillac, and of course death, too much death. There is even, slyly slipped in so don’t miss it, about guides from another world. Walt is not alone. But he sure feels like it. Boy howdy…

Does he succeed? What – you think I’d spill that?

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Lastly, a year ago today, Sept. 30, 2017, the Seattle Mystery Bookshop ceased operation at the close of business.

Seemed like something we should note.

Support Small Businesses…

If you don’t they go away!

7=’    7=’    7=’    7=’    7=’    7=”

Until November

August

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      Presents

If it hadn’t been for Seattle Mystery Bookshop, I would never have met Jonathan Santlofer (whose memoir THE WIDOWER’S NOTEBOOK just went on sale, complete with his original art illustrating it – you want it, you really, truly do!), and who just sent me a print of his original drawing of Anthony Bourdain.

Thank you, Jonathan! It’s amazing!

Santlofer's Bourdain

Jonathan's signature

Jonathan's inscription

~ Fran

        Special News from Hard Case Crime!

Friends —hard-case-crime-logo

Over the years, many of you have asked us if you could get posters or prints of Hard Case Crime covers. The answer has always been no — until now. We’ve just teamed up with the incredibly talented Paul Suntup who produces gorgeous, hand-crafted special editions of classic books and comparably gorgeous art prints of classic book covers. Together, we selected 14 of our favorite covers — by Robert McGinnis, Glen Orbik, and Gregory Manchess — and Paul has put all his enormous skill behind reproducing these covers at poster size (16.5″x24″) as giclee prints on acid-free art paper.

My jaw dropped when I saw just how beautiful these look, and I think you’ll be really pleased too. If you want to see for yourself and maybe order some to decorate your walls or for your Hard Case Crime collection, visit Paul’s website:
https://shop.suntup.press/collections/hard-case-crime. And if there are covers we haven’t done yet that you wish you could order, feel free to email me to let me know: editor@hardcasecrime.com.

But for now: please check out Paul’s beautiful prints. You won’t be sorry you did.

Best regards,
Charles
———–
Charles Ardai
Editor, Hard Case Crime

           New Book from an Old Friend!

Every now and then, one of the shop’s long-time customers let us know that they have published a book. We used to tell such folks “get it published and we’ll give you a signing”. We can no longer offer that but we can still give ’em a plug.

Henry Berman was one of those long-time customers. He’d come in and we’d talk mysteries and he and JB would talk baseball. Recently, he wandered into the hardware store where JB now works – to the delight of both, we think – and mentioned he had written a book. JB offered to mention it in the next newzine, so here’s the info. It’s not a mystery, but it sounds interesting:

Teens and Their Doctors: The Story of the Development of Adolescent Medicine, by Henry Berman, MD, and Hannah Dashefsky, BSN, RN, traces the development of the field from the first program, opened by Ros Gallagher at Boston Children’s Hospital, in 1951, to the creation of the Society for Adolescent Medicine (SAM), in 1968.

The book describes the growth of the specialty in those two decades, including how it was influenced by changes in society, and how practitioners responded to social change with approaches created to care for alienated youth, such as free clinics, mobile medical vans, and teen hotlines. The core of the book is composed of interviews with more than
eighty specialists in adolescent medicine, all of whom were trained by the pioneers of the field.

It also tackles the question asked of specialists in adolescent medicine: “What is adolescent medicine, anyway?” No simple answer is proposed, but the role these physicians play in caring for teens, and the characteristics of those who choose the field, are dramatized by scores of stories—from the humorous, to the poignant, to the heart-breaking.

Henry Berman is a board-certified pediatrician who has been practicing adolescent medicine since 1972. He is a Clinical Professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine and is on the staff of Seattle Children’s Hospital. [and he likes reading mysteries and the Seattle Mariners!]

        Author Signings

August 2nd, 7pm: Heather Redmond, Third Place/Lake Forrest Park

August 2nd, 7pm: Owen Hill (one of the authors of The Annotated Big Sleep – see JB’s write- up) University Books

August 7th, 7pm: Laurel K. Hamilton, University Books

August 15th, 7pm: Carola Dunn, Powell’s

        Words of the Month

squalid (adj): From the 1590s, from Middle French squalide and directly from Latin squalidus “rough, coated with dirt, filthy,” related to squales “filth,” squalus “filthy,” squalare “be covered with a rough, stiff layer, be coated with dirt, be filthy,” of uncertain origin. Related: Squalidly; squalidness; squalidity.

squalor (n) : from the 1620s, “state or condition of being miserable and dirty,” from Latin squalor “roughness, dirtiness, filthiness,” from squalere “be filthy”.

thanks to etymonline.com

        Links of Interest

The Daily Beast, February 27, 2016: My Lunch with ‘The Spider’ Who Nearly Wrecked the CIA

The Guardian, June 29th: Robert Harris: I’m Not Sure You Can be the World’s Superpower and Remain a Superpower

The Daily Beast, June 30th: The Kenyan Beach Town Malindi Is a Tropical Paradise—With a Mafia Problem

The Guardian, July 2nd: Alternative Nobel literature prize planned in Sweden

Seattle Times, July 2nd: Lit Life: Three true-crime stories that are stranger than fiction

Seattle Times, July 2nd: Adam Woog – Two new crime-fiction novels draw from real events

The Guardian, July 4th: Top Ten Books About Gangsters

AtlasObsucra, July 6th: Send Us the Greatest Note You’ve Found Written in an Old Book

The Guardian, July 6th: Gillian Flynn: Books That Made Me (“Agatha Christie blew my mind. Every character was evil”)

BBC, July 9th: How ‘Vertigo’ foreshadowed catfishing, AI and #METOO

Slate, July 9th: Raymond Chandler in the Age of #METOO by Megan Abbott

BBC, July 10th: The Ancient Library Where the Books are Under Lock and Key

BBC, July 10th: Original 1926 Winnie-the-Pooh map sells for record £430,000

BBC, July 11th: Joaquin Phoenix becomes the latest Joker

The Guardian, July 12th: Die Hard at 30: how it remains the quintessential American action movie

Live Science, July 13th: Possible Oldest Fragment of Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ Discovered in Greece

Seattle Times, July 15th: A Book Lover’s Lasting Legacy: 5,000 Books Given to Yakima Valley Libraries

NWNewsNetwork, July 16th: We Might Have Been Looking For D.B. Cooper In Wrong Place For All These Years

King 5 News, July 18th: Seattle is home to the Northwest’s first “death museum”

New York Times, July 19th,  : Karin Slaughter: By the Book

LA Times, July 19th: Lawrence Osborne does Raymond Chandler quite well, thank you

Bustle, July 21st: Reading True Crime Makes Me Feel Less Anxious — And I Think I Know Why

KNKX, July 21st: Pinball In Seattle Had Corrupt And Violent Beginnings

Seattle Times, Sunday, July 22nd:

Adam Woog – Three New Crime Fiction Novels by Northwest Authors

Lit Life: Climb Above the Chaos of the Pike Place Market into a Book-Lined Oasis of Calm

  Megan Abbott Talks TV Projects, Raymond Chandler, and Women-Centered Crime Fiction

Washington Post, July 24th: A modern twist on a classic Agatha Christie novel

The Independent, July 24th: The Book List: The titles in ex-Talking Head David Byrne’s private library[this is a weekly column and past lists can be seen here.]

Bustle, July 25th: In The Era Of #MeToo, I’ve Realized Just How Rebellious ‘Gone Girl’ Really Was

BBC, July 26th: Sean Connery Co-Wrote a Bond Film That was Never Made

Bustle, July 27th: Thrillers Have Always Been A Feminist Battleground — We’re Just Finally Noticing It Again

The Daily Beast, July 27th: Inside the Fiery Massacre at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesen Estate

The Guardian, July 27th: ‘Dire statistics’ show YA fiction is becoming less diverse, warns report

BBC, July 29th: Tsundoku – the Art of Buying Books and Never Reading Them

Bustle, July 30: Books From Thomas Jefferson’s Personal Library Were Discovered In A Dumpster — But The Man Who Found Them Didn’t Realize It Until It Was Too Late

The Guardian, July 30th: Accidents at Amazon: Workers Left to Suffer After Warehouse Injuries

The Guardian, July 31st: ‘Spectacular’ ancient public library discovered in Germany

        R.I.P.

The Guardian, July 7th: Spider-Man Co-Creator Steve Ditko Dies Aged 90 (JB is heartbroken…)

Vulture, July 13th: Stan Lee Remembers Steve Ditko: ‘His Talent Was Indescribable’

 

        What We’ve Been Up to

    Amber

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So my least favorite time of year is upon us – sticky, sweaty heat filled long July & August days. Other than giving me something to look forward to (i.e., September and October) I struggle this time of year…However the one positive thing which comes out of me turning into an immovable lump of Amber on hot days is I read to distract myself!

My current fixation is Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series, yes I know I’ve written about them before, but I think they are wonderful so I’m reviewing them again! I absolutely adore these witty, smart mysteries and right now I can’t get enough of them! And I believe anyone who likes an excellent light classic mystery should check these books out – post haste!

The series is set in and around Egypt (a place hotter than where I currently reside). Each features some kind of archeological (occasionally straying into anthropological) endeavor. But Peters’ doesn’t limit herself to just Egyptian history, she also adds in the build-up of WWI and WWII and how these events impact Peabody, her family and their activities in Egypt. With so many layers of history in these books, you might assume that they would be dry and dull affairs…

Let me dissuade you of this very erroneous notion!

While Peters does a fine job with the history, she never lost sight of the fact she was penning mysteries. They are hilarious, adventurous and clever in their construction. While not necessarily always playing fair with the reader her solutions never come out of left field and still make sense. She adds and subtracts characters from her narratives at will, so they never become stale – even main characters who we grow to love aren’t always safe. Which makes (me at least) need to read each book carefully – but rapidly – to make sure my favorites are still breathing at the end!

One other thing I appreciate about these books, which other double-digit-length-series should emulate, Peters never repeats the same introduction to her characters from book to book. She found inventive ways to introduce new readers to her well-established cast without her longtime readers skipping the whole first chapter because she cut-and-pasted the same intro from one book to the next.

You can pick up the series anywhere and start reading – Peters herself skips around in time when she wrote them – but I would recommend you read The Crocodile In The Sandbank first. It will give you the essentials, after that you can read the rest of the books at will.

In that way, Peters reminds me of Agatha Christie’s Poirot (though don’t read them thinking Peabody is like Poirot, you will be sorely disappointed) after you read the first, you can skip around. Neither author is particularly bloody, but I would not place them in the cozy range – there’s too much meat in their mysteries for that categorization. In my mind, both writers created classic detectives and puzzles for them to solve.

Now to segue into another historical adjacent mystery…

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Meaning? The history isn’t particularly accurate – being steampunk in nature with a side of vampires, werelioness, and a ghost inhabiting a dirigible. While perhaps not the most accurate in its’ historical essentials the characters possess such wit coupled with impeccable manners you can skate right over any other irregularities.

What I am trying to say is that Gail Carriger finally came out with the third book, Competence, in her Custard Protocol series!!

The Spotted Custard (the aforementioned dirigible) and her crew are back and on a brand new adventure! This time they find themselves in South America on a mission to save the last remaining Peruvian vampires. On said mission of mercy, they will navigate unknown currents, pirates and the local’s mistaken notion that several of the Custard’s crew are Nuns working for the Spanish Inquisition!

While Competence never loses sight of the fact that it’s an adventure story, the most interesting storylines occur amongst the ship’s crew. Trying to ethically reform Rue’s soulless cousin (so he doesn’t murder everyone on the ship). Percy Tunstell’s shocking discovery that he’s actually having a rather good time floating around the globe. And finally, Primrose Tunstell must figure out where her heart lies – with her fiancee back in England or with the werelioness courting her.

I could not put this book down! I loved reading about the Spotted Custard’s adventures (mainly) from Primrose and Percy’s point of view! It was refreshing! Their roles on the dirigible, personalities, and sensibilities are very different from Rue’s. This extra attention allowed for a higher amount of character development for the twins than occurred than in the first two installments.

Plus from start to finish this book was all go! There literally was never a dull moment! I had a tough time putting it down! I just had to know what happened next. I cannot wait for the last book of the series, Reticence to come out next year, to see where this self-proclaimed band of misfits winds up!

    Fran

9781633884397I’ve always maintained that Kat Richardson is one of the most intelligent writers I know, and that statement still holds true. Writing as K. R. Richardson, her new novel, Blood Orbit (Pyr tpo, $18.00) is thought-provoking, dynamic, complex, and a hell of a lot of fun.

Unfolding her world deliciously slowly, Kat introduces us to a world that is basically run by the Gattis Corporation, and where rookie cop Eric Matheson and his training officer, Santos, run into a nightclub, a jasso, with seventeen murder victims inside. Almost immediately, Matheson is assigned to assist Chief Investigating Forensic Officer J. P. Dillal, and they’re given a very tight timeline to figure out what happened. Otherwise, in this Company town, the Gattis Corporation will come up with a solution that will suit its own ends, regardless of the truth.

And if that isn’t enough pressure, CIFO Dillal has been cybernetically altered, but the modifications are new, untested, and in fact, not completely healed. And he’s disturbing to look at, which makes him unsuited for undercover work.

The world created by K. R. Richardson is so layered, so complete, and so alien that it will take several books, I suspect, to really get a grasp on it, but it is well worth the effort – and I promise you, it’s an easy effort! Her writing is so smooth, so well narrated that you’ll find yourself learning about the various people, the races, the government, the corporation, all of it without really trying. It just seeps into your brain until you can see the world.

And her people! Oh man, I love her people! For one of the races she’s developed a patois that I desperately want to hear spoken! I suspect it’s beautiful, and strange, and I find myself using some of the language, which gets me the odd head tilt. I’m good with that.

Make no mistake, Blood Orbit is a police procedural, and it’s noir. Very bad things happen to those we care about, and events unfold in complicated and dark ways, but the truth is out there, if Matheson and Dillal (and you with them) are willing to do what it takes to find it.

I absolutely have to re-read this book because I know I missed a lot of nuance in my rush to find out what happened, and I’m already vibrating in anticipation of a sequel.

Keep writing, Kat! We need more of this!

    JB

I’ve been reading James Lee Burke since I joined the staff of SMB in 1990. I was struck by Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell on an almost visceral level. There’s something about those two that resonated with me, both through Dave’s narration and Burke’s words, and the actions of the “Bobbsey Twins from Homicide”. I’ve had my criticisms of the series: how many goombas did Dave go to school with in this smaller Louisiana town, and weren’t these best friends getting a bit too old to be pulling the shit they were doing if they were in ‘Nam in the early years? I’ve been willing to ignore those quibbles because I loved these guys so much. But it started to feel as if it was time to retire the series, really, and I thought that the end of Light of the World would’ve been the great way to do it:

“I placed my arm around his waist, and together we limped up the slope, a couple of vintage low-riders left over from another era in the season the Indians called the moon of popping cherries, in the magical land that charmed and beguiled the sense and made one wonder if divinity did not indeed hide just on the other side of the tangible world.”

9781501176845But then came Robicheaux last January and of course I’m going to read it. There’s no way to NOT read a book about Dave and Clete. But I have to say this is an odd book. It is jumbled with Dave doing and saying things that Clete would normally say, and vice versa. Dave’s fictional daughter Alafair has become even more a depiction of Burke’s real daughter, the wonderful writer Alafair Burke. A noted, local, fictional novelist in this book is said to have thought his best book is one that got little notice, White Doves at Morning – which is a wonderful Civil War novel that James Lee Burke published in 2002. There’s continual reference to a series of murders and there’s a bit about them in the Author’s Notes at the front of the book, but there’s nothing in this book that really addresses those crimes and those references just seem misleading. Dave feels lost and makes comments to Clete about their ages. And though I enjoyed the sheer pleasure of Burke’s writing I finished the book not really understanding who did what and why they did it.

Oh well. At least I got over 400 pages of Dave and Clete, Alafair and Helen, and that alone is well worth the time.

Killing King by Stuart Wexler and Larry Hancock continues the recent books and research on the assassination of Dr. King by filling in our knowledge of how organized and active what most of us have thought of as the KKK in the 1960s and showing the national efforts and range of these “humans”. The Klan was just one element of this crowd and, indeed, many of actors in this story were not members of the clan. They didn’t need it, they thought it too soft. Imagine that. The Klan just targeted blacks. These guys wanted the Jews targeted as much, if not more. They’re truly creepy.

The subtitle tells a great deal; “Racial Terrorists, James Earl Ray, and the Plot to 9781619029194Assassinate Martin Luther King Jr.” Do they say who fired the shot? I’m not sure. It’s a fascinating book but not for what it says about that horrifying day in Memphis but for what it says about the Southern white racists.

In light of Charlottesville, the recent press given to neo-Nazis, and the “alt-right”, this book shows once again how active these “people” have been all along and we who are humans and people have been fooled into thinking they’d gone away. But they’ve never gone away. They’ve been an ugly part of the American quilt all long. I don’t think I was naive about this but Killing King powerfully details their plots and plans, and makes it show in a different light.

One of the central ogres in the story is Wesley Swift, a preacher of hate and racial genocide whose rants had wide-ranging effects mainly due to tapes of his “church”. He and his followers were hoping to nudge the country into racial violence and, eventually they hoped, into a race war that would cleanse the continent. If you thought Charlie Manson was far out with Helter Skelter, the Caucasian monsters in this book were well ahead of Charlie.

What kept coming to me as I read this history was the racial terrorism that has continued since: Richard Butler and the Aryan Nations in Idaho; Robert Matthews, the guy who robbed the bank at Northgate and who split off to form The Order; what prison story or movie doesn’t mention the Aryan Brotherhood? Christian Identity, domestic terrorists – it all stinks of narrow-mindedness and a blood-thirsty belief that “we’re right, they’re wrong so they can die”… Where does it end?

Guess it doesn’t.

Lastly, I have to say something about Megan Abbott and Raymond Chandler and all of teeth-gnashing over are his books acceptable in the days of #METOO.

The new Annotated Big Sleep is a great deal of fun – mostly. 9780804168885It provides no end of local color to Chandler and LA at the time the book was written and published and does a great job explaining and showing how he cannibalized his short stories to be elements of his novels – in the case of The Big Sleep they do it nearly line by line. There are lingo explanations and word derivations. There are photos and illustrations – the original book on the left and the annotations on the right. As Otto Penzler is quoted on the back of the trade paper original, “What a great excuse to read this masterpiece again! The annotations are addictively fascinating, educational, and almost as compulsively readable as the novel.”

One complaint I have about the annotating authors is that they are far too PC. They’re putting today’s views onto an author who wrote this book 80 years ago!

Deciding who to read or not read now based on what and how they wrote 50 or 500 years ago is inane. Yes, in the hardboiled fiction of the early 1900s, women were demeaned and slapped around and viewed as dames and femme fatales. Some were portrayed as weak and some as praying mantises. Deciding to stop reading the authors now because they don’t measure up to our current political correctness or #METOOishness is as pointless as the arguments a few years ago to stop reading Mark Twain because he wrote the “n-word”. Guess that would ban Blazing Saddles, too… There’s a movie that couldn’t be made today and more’s the pity.

In no small way this is censorship.

Certainly we can take the authors’ time and atmosphere into account when we read their words but mature adults do that anyway, don’t we? We don’t think Shakespeare was anti-women because he manipulated Othello into murdering his wife, nor do we think it because Lady Macbeth was such a blood-thirsty femme fatale. Should “Hamlet” never again be taught or staged because he made Ophelia a “frail” who was so weak a woman that she drowned herself? 

The point is to not overlay our present views on the artists of the past because it isn’t fair to them or useful to us. “Present views” are continually changing like the width of ties or the height of hemlines. The shop once had a customer who actually professed that they’d never read a book in which the characters smoked. Imagine that! Let your mind wander and consider all that such a rule would eliminate from your culture. Isn’t there smoking in Some Like it Hot, West Side Story? There’s probably some in Mary Poppins! Egad!

Read Raymond Chandler for the beauty of his words, for the way he constructs a sentence, for the sparkle of his art because that’s what it is. Who really gives a damn who killed Owen Taylor? I never have and it’s never stopped me from loving the book. Let the things that make you cringe slide off to the side, don’t let them bother you, and slip into his pages.

“What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that.”

Support Small Businesses 

If You Don’t, They Go Away…

July’s Newzine

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2018 Nero Finalists Have Been Announced!

The “Nero” is an annual award presented to an author for literary excellence in the mystery genre. The award is presented at the Black Orchid Banquet, which is traditionally held on the first Saturday in December in New York City; this year the banquet will be on Saturday, December 1, 2018.

This year, the finalists are:

Kathleen Kent, The Dime (Mulholland Books/Little, Brown)
Loren D. Estelman, The Lioness is the Hunter (Forge)
Matt Goldman, Gone to Dust (Forge)
Stephen Mack Jones, August Snow (Soho)
Warren C. Easley, Blood for Wine (Poisoned Pen Press)

This year’s nominees join a procession of fine writers including Lee Child,
Walter Mosley, and Linda Fairstein, all of whom have been honored with the
prestigious “Nero.”

Congratulations to all!

Stephannie, Nero Award Chair (NeroAwardChair@nerowolfe.org)
Jane K. Cleland, Black Orchid Novella Award Chair (BlackOrchidAward@nerowolfe.org)

     Signings

Linda Castillo, Third Place Books, July 19th, 7pm

Carola Dunn, Third Place Books, July 20th, 6pm

Kevin O’Brien, Elliot Bay Books, July 31st, 7pm

Megan Abbott, Third Place Books, July 30th, 7pm

Megan Abbott, Powell’s, July 31st, 7pm

     Word of the Month

fredo: cold and passionless, a direction in music, (thanks to Says You, #1014) or, political commentary…

     Links of Interest

Here is a two-part story about a murder and the man imprisoned for the crime. It is very much in the vein of the series that have been on podcast or cable: “Blood Will Tell”, Part 1, Part 2

Daily Beast, June 1st: MH379 Didn’t Just Disappear, It was Caught in a Swamp of Corruption

Seattle Times, June 2nd: The Soviets Secretly Mapped Seattle

The Guardian, June 2nd: A Story of Survival: New York’s Last Remaining Independent Bookshops

WRAL, June 2nd: Listen Carefully, Book Lovers: Top Authors Are Skipping Print (yes, they’re going instead to audio – and to whom? Audible… aka SPECTRE! Seems they’re not yet done raiding the crippled world of publishing.)

Daily Beast, June 2nd: How Cuba Helped Make Venezuela a Mafia State

The Independent, June 3rd: James Bond producers want Helena Bonham Carter to play a villain

Newser, June 4th: What May Be ‘Most Famous Map in English Lit’ Up for Grabs – 1926 EH Shepard sketch of Hundred Acre Wood appears in AA Milne’s ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’

The Guardian, June 5th: Editorial: The Guardian view on Amazon: not a normal monopoly 

The Guardian, June 6th: A queer, diverse Nancy Drew: is this how to keep children’s classics alive?

The Oregonian, June 6th: Portland(ia) Feminist Bookstore, In Other Words, is Closing 

BBC June 10th: Serial poopers: What makes people poo in public places?

The Guardian, June 12th: Tim Miller Can Find Almost  Anyone. Can He Find His Daughter’s Killer?

BBC, June 12th: Demolished Londonderry house still receives post

BBC, June 12th: A plan to use pupils to run school libraries

The Washington Post, June 13th: Years ago I wandered into a used book store and a man named X handed me this gem [ JB agrees – these books are jewels!]

BBC, June 13th: Daredevil raccoon’s Minnesota skyscraper climb

The Guardian, June 13th: “Conan Doyle for the Defence” by Margalit Fox review – a case worthy of Sherlock Holmes

The Guardian, June 13th: Morality clauses: are publishers right to police writers?

The Guardian, June 19th: Oxford English Dictionary extends hunt for regional words around the world

BBC, June 21st: Why Hitchcock’s “Kaleidoscope” Was Too Shocking to be Made

Vox, June 22nd: Water rights, freeways, and Hollywood gossip: the secret history of LA, in 3 detective movies 

Atlas Obscura, June 22nd: Why Medieval Monasteries Branded Their Books

The Guardian, June 23rd: How alleged Toronto serial killer Bruce McArthur went unnoticed

The Guardian, June 23rd: How Well Do You Know Your Fictional Bookshops?

The Washington Post, June 25th: Supreme Court won’t hear the case of Brendan Dassey, sentenced to life as a teen and featured in ‘Making a Murderer’

BBC, June 26th: My best friend’s killer got away – until I made police try again

The Guardian, June 27th: Publishers are paying writers a pittance, say bestselling authors

The Atlantic, June 27th: What Is “The Staircase” Trying to Do?

The Guardian, June 30th: All the Pieces Matter review – the inside story of “The Wire”

Vox, June 30th: You can rent a room above this bookstore by the sea and run the shop

          RIP

BBC, June 6th: Jerry Maren: Last Wizard of Oz Munchkin dies aged 98

BBC, June 8th: Anthony Bourdain

BBC, June 9th: The first Bond girl, Eunice Grayson, dies at 90

LA Times, June 28th: Celebrity admirers bid farewell to Harlan Ellison, a ‘great author and cautionary tale’

Miami Herald, June 29th: Rob Hiaasen, journalist killed in Maryland newsroom shooting, had deep South Florida ties  (our best to his brother Carl)

                    What We’ve Been Doing

     Amber

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Georgette Heyer – The Unfinished Clue

Put one – gold-digger & jealous husband, amused spinster, nervy wife & her would-be-lover, a tyrant, a self-absorbed dancer & a sap, a snake charmer, old friend, a vicar & a gossip under the same roof for an entire weekend and you’re bound to have a murder!

No one was particularly sad to see Sir Arthur Billington-Smith go toes up at the end of the weekend; the only real complaint they had was his lousy timing! They were all still residents when he got himself murdered.

Even worse?

None of the partiers (aka suspects) can leave until the culprit is caught!

I enjoyed this mystery. You have a house stuffed to the gills with great suspects, a bevy of motives and a couple of red herrings! There are only three characters in the entire book I liked, Finch (the butler), Dinah (the victim’s sister-in-law) and Inspector Harding (from Scotland Yard). The rest of the cast of characters are so abominable in their own unique way I could hardly wait to see what they would do next!

Then there’s Georgette Heyer’s use of language – words like “highfalutin” and “nincompoop” are used conversationally. Her vocabulary taken with her singular turn of phrase make this book a joy to read!

Shakespeare’s Hamlet tells us that “Brevity is the soul of wit,” in Heyer’s case, this is true. The Unfinished Clue is by far the shortest mystery I’ve read by her – and it works. At no point did I feel like this book dragged on – between the arguments, accusations, hysterics, and murder – this book never stops chugging along.

If you can overlook one or two outmoded ways of thinking which make this book feel a bit dated ( a touch of misogyny and the horror of a “nice you man” falling into the clutches of a dancer) – this is a fantastic mystery. One I would recommend to most mystery readers who relish a delightful English country house mystery.

     Fran

I’ve added my reviews separately (because of course I did) so let’s see if I can come up with an anecdote from work.

We have folks who go FTR – Failure To Report – rather a lot, as you’d suspect. If you’re a mystery writer, let me clue you in on something. Vengeful ex-girlfriends (generally our culprits are guys, so I’m not stereotyping much here) are a real thing.

We get calls all the time from ladies scorned who know more about how (and when) to find their ex-guys than any PI ever written. They put bill collectors and student loan repayers to shame. I can’t tell you how many calls we’ve gotten from women saying, “You wanna know where to find the sonofabitch? Let me tell you, he’ll be walking into 1234 Main Street, Apt. 56, at 1:34 a.m. with that SKANK, and by 1:45 they’ll be asleep because he sucks in bed!”

You want top-of-the-line surveillance? Get an ex on the job!

You know how you say that once you retire, you’ll read all those books you’ve been buying but never got around to? Or hope to contract some disease that can only be cured by reading books so you can finally attack the piles towering around you?

Well, since I’m not getting fabulous new ARCs every day any more (small sob), I decided to do just that – read something I’ve been meaning to read. Something I was told years ago to read, by Janine and Adele and Tammy in this case.

I picked up Tim Maleeny’s STEALING THE DRAGON (Midnight Ink). And of course I love it. THEY TOLD ME I WOULD! And they were right, and I should have years ago, but I’ve come to my senses now.

Trust me, if these three tell you to read something, don’t put it off. Otherwise you’ll miss out on characters like Cape Weathers, Tim’s protagonist who’s been a lot of things in his disreputable past but is now a private investigator in San Francisco.

You’d think that idea would have been worked to death, that there couldn’t be anything new or different about a PI in Frisco, and, like me, you’d be wrong. Tim Maleeny is smart, funny, wickedly sharp, twisty and wonderful.

In STEALING THE DRAGON, you meet Cape who is an old friend to you by page three. And the premise here is that a cargo ship filled with illegal Chinese immigrants crashes into Alcatraz, which has nothing to do with Cape until it’s brought to his attention that just about the only person who could have done what happened on that ship is his best friend and protector, Sally.

As the story progresses, we see things unfolding in Cape’s investigation, but we also see how Sally became to be who she is, and she’s amazing and magnificent.

So take the advice of those wiser than I am and do yourself a favor. Go to your local indie bookshop (because duh!) and order STEALING THE DRAGON, BEATING THE BABUSHKA, and GREASING THE PINATA, and enjoy yourself. Do not make the mistake I did of reading the first one without the other two close at hand.

Seriously – learn from my mistakes here and enjoy yourself immensely in the process!

     JB

I’ve been a fan of Chandler and Marlowe for decades – no secret there. So I was thrilled to read in the Seattle Times about a new Philip Marlowe novel coming out in July. I was able to secure an advanced reader copy, Lawrence Osborne’s Only to Sleep, from the publisher. It’s an odd book, but then most of Chandler’s novels were, too, when you think about it. Sometimes they don’t make sense, you don’t always know who did what, and behind the wondrous prose is gauzy world of Marlowe and the rich and poor of Chandler’s imagination, not necessarily of the real LA.

In Osborne’s novel, a 72 year-old Marlowe has retired and is living simply on Mexican coast. He uses a cane due to a broken foot from a decade ago but still seems to get around. The cane has a sword in it and that’s his only weapon. No shoulder holster under his coat, no Luger in a hidden compartment in the car. He seems to be a puzzled old man trying to figure out what his did with his life and what it was all about. Then he gets a chance have one more case.

Like most of his cases, its pretty banal. An insurance company wants him to check to see if someone who is supposed to be dead really is before they pay out the policy. And why not? “There was, I thought, something calling to me from out in the dark. It came out int he tempest, even from the lights of the fishing boats a mile out to sea. You can be called to a last effort, a final heroic statement, because I doubt you can call yourself to leave comforts and certainties for an open road. But the call is inside your own head. It’s a sad summons from the depths of your own wasted past. You could call it the imperative to go out with full-tilt trumpets and gunshots instead of the quietly desperate sound of a hospital ventilator.” Right there, on page 10, you can feel that Osborne has captured the mind-set of Marlowe, a sense of nobility swirled with fatalistic boredom.

On the way, Marlowe will meet a raft of people as well as the dame in the center of the case. Is she a grieving widow or a femme fatale? It’s 1988. Surely they’ve not gone extinct? “So I skipped that question and just enjoyed her presence. She was the only thread I was handling as I groped my way through the dark on my small and wind-swept odyssey. A thread as soft as silk, shiny and mysterious, or, if you want to put it another way, a dance partner that is different with every step. Count me as one of those who knows that life is unbearable not because it’s a tragedy but because it’s a romance.”

That’s Chandleresque.

This is the second new Marlowe novel the estate has commissioned, not counting the Robert B. Parker works. The first was Benjamin Black’s The Black-Eyed Blonde. I hope and expect them to continue. I would just ask that they speed up the publications.

From Third Place/Ravenna, I have on order the newly released The Annotated Big Sleep, which Adam Woog profiled in his recent Seattle Times column.

Then there’s the used hardcover of Frank Nitti: The True Story of Chicago’s Notorious “Enforcer” by Ronald D. Humble. I thought I’d known a lot about Nitti but from this book I have a far greater understanding of his power and reach. It’s a book with a great deal of information but is unfortunately presented with haphazard organization and wooden writing. Wish he’d had a better editor…

Lastly, if you’re into podcasts, there are three I’d recommend:

~ One has been out awhile – Shit*town is a wild and strange trip into the head and heart of a brilliant man who loathes his small hometown. The story begins with an accusation of murder and then spins off into weirdness.

~ Slate has just released a series of episodes on Watergate called Slow Burn. It’s well done, interesting and very, very timely. Again, thought I knew a lot about that era but I’m learning more with each episode.

~ The last and newest is The RFK Tapes, which re-examines the Robert Kennedy assassination. There are three episodes out so far. Not sure how many there will be. Again, well done, interesting and very very timely.

 

That’s It Until August.

Support Small Businesses if you don’t, they go away!

R.I.P.

Anthony Bourdain first gained attention in 2004 with his bestseller Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. He followed that with a variety of books, including three witty mysteries that involved – understandably – cooking. The founder of Seattle Mystery Bookshop was a big fan of them and we had him in to sign during his 1995 tour for Bone in the Throat. From then on stocked the books in our Culinary section.

Sometime after that, Bourdain was in Seattle and stopped by to say hello. He very kindly remembered us and his time in the shop. During that visit in the Autumn of 2004, we got him to sign our author book and it was a page we showed off for the rest of the shop’s existence.

Today’s sad news requires we show it one last time.

Kitchen’s closed.

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June Newzine

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Summer, right? Well, we’re now past Memorial Day, so it must be that time in which livin’ is easy… so they say.

And, a reminder: these new Newzines are not meant to be read in one sitting, as the old Friday afternoon missives could be. We imagine folks coming back to these monthly posts more than once. They’re long, but so are months. Err, or they used to be when we had summer vacation from school!

Something Special from a Good Friend

The following is from one of the SMB’s most valued customers, most supportive collectors, and trusted friends. Steve has had some thoughts since the shop closed, and sent us this:

Missing SMB

First, a confession: I am a book collector and assess bookshops with a jaundiced eye. I’ve been in every variety of bookstore from the well heeled, inefficiently designed rare book shop that is a book shy a designer’s idea of a library, to the tatty, dusty, work-of-love, paperback-only shop that can only subside due to free rent while the landlord waits for a real tenant to amble in. I collect first editions of various literary genres, but especially mysteries. My wife and I are passionate about books, so much so that when we paid off our original mortgage we took out another to build the library we’d always wanted in order to house our substantial book collection. Or at least part of it, since books are everywhere in our home and may be the only things keeping it upright.

As a result of my affliction, I loved the Seattle Mystery Bookshop (SMB). When I say that I loved the shop, I loved everything about it, everything that had taken so long for the owners (Bill Farley, then JB Dickey) to compile: the knowledgeable and affable staff; the efficient attention to customers’ needs and wants; the broad assortment of inventory composed of new and used books displayed for comfortable, lazy browsing; the quarterly newsletter focused on upcoming publications that allowed me to send a list to the staff so that they could have my published choices ready for me during my next visit; my own space on their back shelves where I could first see some of the new books I was about to buy; their locked shelves of rarer books where I might, and often did, find a treasure.

But I also loved the composite whole, an institution much greater than the sum of its parts that was a retreat from daily concerns where I could get lost in the possibilities and implicit joys of future reading.

So when SMB finally closed, I was bereft. I had a system that I had worked out with SMB’s staff to ensure that I would never miss a favorite author’s newest work. I had staff backup in case I did miss a favored new work since the staff would always question me about my error. And the staff always made certain to tell me about new authors that I’d never heard of that fell within my range of interests, either spontaneously in a statement of enthusiasm beginning “you just have to read this” or in response to my oft asked question at the conclusion of each visit: “What have I missed?”

It finally became apparent to me that I could no longer argue with JB that he ought to keep the store open. I came to understand the stress he endured from so many pressures: competition from low priced online retailers; rude so-called “customers” who came to sample books they were about to buy on-line for less money; trying to operate a retail shop in a city hostile to smaller businesses; the constant lack of nearby parking spaces; the constant construction and street closures that adversely affected business; the steadily falling income due to the deadly combination of fewer walk in customers, rising hardback prices, and the steadily increasing portion of new books which were lower priced (and, therefor, less profitable) paperbacks; the rise of the e-book; and on and on. JB was stressed by this storm of ill luck and needed a break, so I had to learn to shut my mouth and, as a friend, help him extricate himself from the lifelong dream that had gradually become a nightmare.

But what was I, the now-former customer, to do after SMB closed?  I approached this problem with my customary optimism. I have been a professional problem solver all my life, so I just knew I’d find a way. And I tried. Boy, how I tried! But like any other good thing, even I who loved the SMB institution didn’t know how good I’d had it until the institution was gone; I didn’t understand how bad the alternatives could be. I confess to failing to find a good, or even a marginally acceptable, alternative – at least so far. I am still searching.

Since SMB closed, I have tried many things to feed my passion for mysteries. I have subscribed to on-line mystery lists to see what is upcoming, but they are nowhere close to being as comprehensive as SMB’s newsletters which was blind to categorized favoritism and a major publication in and of itself. I’ve tried to deal with other storied mystery retail institutions only to find flaw after flaw in their operations. (One well known New York store never updates its listings of rare books, such that out of the six rare books I have attempted to buy from them only one has been delivered as the others were already sold. I no longer even bother to look at their on-line inventory of rare books on the presumption that if a book is listed there it must be gone. Why waste my time?) I’ve haunted the mystery sections of local booksellers, but none have the breadth of collection that SMB had, and the only one that comes close has no attentive staff dedicated to making my day’s selections as complete or as interesting as they could be. And there is no one there to ask what I might have missed before I go out their door. And even if there were, they wouldn’t know me well enough to advise me effectively.

No, nothing has worked well for me. I’ve made do since SMB closed its doors, but just making do is never very satisfying to a passionate collector. The pleasure in my monthly purchases of mysteries has been reduced from a sigh of contentment to a sigh of regret. I have to make my own lists of wants without help from a knowledgeable staff – lists I either forget to make or forget to take. There is no one who, when I become too ill to visit, will take my orders by email and lovingly wrap and mail them to me as SMB uncomplainingly did. There is no one to make each visit to their store both bookishly satisfying as well as a pleasant reunion with old and dear friends of both the quick and the tome varieties.

I’m about ready to scream my frustration. Hell, I can’t find anyone I can deal with who is even remotely efficient; I’d settle for adequate if I could ever stumble upon it. My frustration is probably Bill’s and JB’s fault for setting the bar so high. If only they and their staff hadn’t created something so perfect, I could have, in my ignorance, settled for so much less.

Sigh!

A New Series of Mystery Reprints

Otto Penzler of The Mysterious Bookshop is starting a new publisher. Penzler Publishing will reissue classic American mysteries. In some way, this press will be filling the void that Rue Morgue left. “Reprints of Golden Age classics by British writers have been very successful,” Penzler noted, “so it seems the time has come to recognize the best American authors of traditional detective fiction.” The first  batch of titles due out this Fall are from instantly recognizable authors: Rice, Queen, Rinehart, Hughes, Rawson, and Palmer.

Word of the Month

snollygoster (n.): From 1846, American English slang, a fanciful coinage – “originally an unprincipled politician or crooked lawyer, today in means someone either incompetent or “ethically challenged”, someone who will not keep a promise.” (thanks to etymonline and Says You! #906)

Author Events

June 2nd, Erica Miner, Third Place Books/Lake Forrest Park, 6pm

June 7th, Leslie Budewitz, Third Place Books/Lake Forrest Park, 7pm

June 7th, Nicola Griffith, Eagle Harbor Books, 6:30

June 11th, Ruth Ware, Powell’s, 7:30

June 12th, Ruth Ware, Third Place Books/Lake Forrest Park, 7pm

June 21st, Christine Carbo, Third Place Books/Lake Forrest Park, 7pm

June 22nd, Cara Black, Third Place Books/Ravenna, 7 pm

 Links of Interest

The Guardian, April 27th: Vetting for stereotypes: meet publishing’s ‘sensitivity readers’

Daily Beast, May 1st: The CIA Cleared Her Book Twice. Then It Took It Back. Why? It’s a Secret

The Guardian, May 1st: Books by Women Priced 45% Lower, Study Finds

The Guardian, May 1st: Why does it seem like serial killers all wear the same glasses?

The Guardian, May 1st: Are women responsible for all the extreme sexual violence on screen? (Germaine Greer has stirred up a hornet’s nest with her latest claims, suggesting women are more enthusiastic than men when it comes to depictions of sex and violence. We asked leading crime writers for their views)

BBC, May 3rd: Mystery Pooper Caught In The Act

BBC, May 4th: Whoops! Idaho State University Lost Some Plutonium

Daily Beast, May 5th: From Russia’s Secret Espionage Archives: The Art of the Dangle

New York Times, May 6th: Save Barnes & Noble!

Daily Beast, May 8th: The Surreal Story of a Purple-Faced Lady and My Mom’s Stolen Jewels

The Guardian, May 12th: Barnes & Noble: why it could soon be the bookshop’s final chapter

Daily Beast, May 12th: The Blue Diamond Affair: The Jewel Heist That Became a Diplomatic Nightmare

Vox, May 14th: Louisa May Alcott on Little Women: “I grow tired of providing moral pap for the young”

The Guardian, May 14th: Waterstones accused of breaking pledge not to take on independents

The Guardian, May 14th: Bacon, cheese slices and sawblades: the strangest bookmarks left at libraries

Seattle Times, May 14th: A 14th human foot – this one in a hiking boot – washes ashore in Canada

The Oregonian, May 18th: D.B. Cooper Case Drops Another Suspect Into the Spotlight

The New York Times, May 19th: A Staten Island Man Found a Safe of Cash in His Backyard. Then Things Got Weird.

Crosscut, May 21st: Seattle is a ‘City of Literature’. Now What?

The Guardian, May 21st: My Friend Dahmer”: is it time to stop glamorising the serial killer?

The Guardian, May 22nd: John le Carré letter reveals author’s contempt for British political class

Atlas Obscura, May 22nd: Lesbian Pulp Fiction That Saved Lives

Seattle Times, May 24th: Daniel Craig to Return as 007 in 2019, Danny Boyle at Helm

Daily Beast, May 26th: Love and Death and the Queen of Diamonds

Seattle Times, May 27th: How a Canadian Mystery Writer Found the Clues to Success (hint: she writes about Three Pines…)

The Oregonian, May 27th: End of a Story for a Hawthorne Boulevard Bookstore (JB used to hit this place on Portland book-hunting trips)

The Atlantic, May 28th: Killing Eve” and the Riddle of Why Women Kill

New York Times, May 28th: How Dostoyevsky Predicted the ‘True Crime’ Craze

AtlasObscura, May 29th: Secrets Revealed at NSA’s National Cryptologic Museum

AtlasObscura, May 29th: Grave Robbing 101

RIP

May 13th – Margot Kidder, Lois Lane in the earlier Superman movies, 69.

May 21st  – Bill Gold, one of Hollywood’s best-known creators of film posters, has died aged 97 – the creator of the iconic Dirty Harry, Goodfellas & Dial ‘M’ For Murder and 2,000 more posters!

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

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So Pretty A Problem – Francis Duncan

Chief detective inspector Jonathan Boyce’s boss has ordered him to take a holiday. A recent bout of pneumonia has left him weak and tired to the point the commissioner felt the need to intervene. Unable to do anything but comply with his boss’s order Jonathan decided it was high time he paid a visit to his sister in Falporth in Cornwall.

Wanting to impress said sister he asks his friend Mordecai Tremaine if he’d like to come along (she’s read about Mordecai’s second career in the papers and Jonathan’s letters). Mordecai readily agrees to the trip despite the uncomfortable situation it places him in. Oh not with Boyce’s family, but with a close acquaintance who also resides in the small seaside town.

A few weeks previously he discovered that the wife of painter Adrian Carthallow was having an affair, which caused Mordecai’s romantic soul to cringe. When the artist and his wife relocated to their summer home for a few months, Mordecai was relieved….until the unexpected invitation for Boyce propelled him back into their sphere.

Mordecai’s vacation soon turns into a busman’s holiday when Adrian Carthallow is shot dead by his wife. The only hitch in the giddyup? The wife’s story is so full of holes it looks like swiss cheese, and there are about a half-a-dozen other people who had a motive to want the man dead.

I love this mystery!

If you took the setting of And Then There Were None, the motives of Murder In Retrospect, the detective Columbo, and Sherlock Holmes’ pipe, then shook them up in a bag, you might come close-ish to this latest installment in the Mordecai Tremaine series.

Francis Duncan flawlessly combines the locked-room mystery with the English country house murder in this “new” book. What I enjoyed reading was the deftness which Francis manipulated and updated these classic tropes. He was able to keep them recognizable but change them in such a way that made them feel different.

The other fascinating aspect of this book? Every suspect was under the same emotional influence, love. Francis does a great job in showing the variants of this seemingly pure emotion and how it provided more than enough motive for murder.

Though So Pretty A Problem was written in 1947 this book doesn’t feel dated. Which I think broadens the appeal of this mystery to those who enjoy reading the occasional timeless trope. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a classic golden age mystery and/or looking for something to fill the void after finishing the Agatha Christie (or alternatively needing a break from them). Or someone who is looking for something without much blood that doesn’t fall into the cozy trap!

Fran

I’m loving my new job still, and it’s always interesting.  For example:

So, a guy gets out of jail on Monday. He’s supposed to show up in 24 hours, but hey, sometimes life happens so we gave him 48. Not everybody would, and not every offender gets a break, but once in a while, we’re nice. Don’t judge.

But then, by Wednesday when he’s a no-show, we sigh and put out a warrant for him. We tried to be nice, but the rules are the rules.

Thursday the warrant’s issued, and we trundle along as we always do.

Today. Today he shows up. We ask if there’s a reason he didn’t check in. Nope. Not really. Just didn’t.

We peer at him closely. “Are you high?” He nods, happily.

“Before coming here? What did you take?”

“Meth.”

There are several exchanged looks, puzzled and frowny.

“So you took meth before you came here?” He nods again.

“You know that means you’re going to jail, right?” He nods.

More exchanged looks.

“Okay, fill out this form admitting that you’ve used drugs.” He does.

“Alrighty then, you wanna tell us why you took meth and then came here on a Friday afternoon?”

Long pause. “….it might rain?….”

Like I said, my job is always interesting.

 

REVIEWS NOW:

9780544947306Now, before you go sighing, “Oh dear goslings, ANOTHER ONE?” let me tell you that Carrie Vaughn‘s BANNERLESS (Mariner) is not your typical everything’s-awful or how-will-we-survive type dystopian novel. Far from it.

It’s hopeful. And nice.

Dystopian, yes. It’s after the Fall, civilization has collapsed and has been re-formed and made into something that will work, at least for the time period we’re concerned about.

Along the Coast Road region, communities are thriving. People are organized into households within their towns, groups of people who live within their own communities to help each other. The households work together so that the towns thrive, and everyone depends on everyone else doing their part.

When a household has proven its stability and resourcefulness, they can be awarded a banner, which entitles that household to have a child. No children are allowed without a banner; population control is key to maintaining survival. Starvation is still a real possibility. Outcasts and children born outside of the rules are considered to be “bannerless” and are therefore shunned. Mostly.

Crimes tend to be of the more mundane sort – who’s hoarding food, not contributing enough, over-extending their growing fields without permission – and to handle those sorts of things, investigators travel to the communities with problems and resolve them. Investigators’ word is law; they have the power to dissolve households and even remove awarded banners as they see fit.

Enid of Haven has only been an investigator a short while. Generally, being an investigator isn’t a full-time job, so she and her household are doing what they normally do, but then she’s tasked with investigating a suspicious death in a nearby town, Pasaden. Suspicious deaths are very, very rare, so Enid takes this seriously. She and her enforcer, her former mentor Tomas, go to Pasaden to see if they can figure things out.

And on the surface, Pasaden seems to be a quiet, safe and welcoming community. What happened?

This is the first in a series, and I devoured it. In BANNERLESS, Carrie Vaughn has crafted a world that is fully functional, multi-dimensional, and captivating. It’s a straight-up murder mystery (no spoiler there, I promise) but it’s got such complexity and such deep layers that it captures the imagination.

If you like traditional mysteries and are game for a slightly different setting with rules that take a bit of getting used to but which make perfect sense once you do, I can’t recommend BANNERLESS enough. Even if you’re not into science fiction or things of that genre, trust me, you’ll enjoy this one. I can’t wait to read the sequel!

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So yeah, here I’m going to be talking about two books, but they tie in together so hang with me. ‘Kay? Thanks!

9781501118364First, if you haven’t picked up John Connolly‘s book of short stories, Night Music (Emily Bestler Books), you should have. I know there are a lot of you who don’t much like short stories, but please, make an exception here, for two reasons.

One is that you absolutely need to read (or re-read) the seventh short story, “The Fractured Atlas – Five Fragments” before you read his new Charlie Parker novel, about which I’ll talk later.

A lot of what you find out in “The Fractured Atlas” will ring bells for you from things discussed in earlier Parker novels, but having this set of short stories under your belt will make The Woman in the Woods (Emily Bestler Books) much more understandable.

Besides, they’re beautifully written and just creepy enough to make you uneasy. But then, several of the short stories are. You know how John Connolly can take something ordinary and give it a slight twist? These are distilled Connolly.

The last thing I want to say is that when you read – or re-read – the first story, “The Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository”, if it doesn’t ring a chord deep within in you, I’m not sure we can be friends any longer. Yeah, it’s that good.

9781501171925So then, onto the The Woman in the Woods. Obviously there’s not a lot I can say about it because if you haven’t read the series, there are spoilers, and if you have and are waiting for this one to come out, which it does this month, I believe (thank you, Claire Lamb, for seeing that I got an ARC – I am forever in your debt!) then by reading “The Fractured Atlas”, you’ll know all you need to know.

However, I must say that I absolutely adore the insights into Louis and Angel’s relationship we get due to Angel’s illness, and Charlie is perfect in his response to the whole situation.

Granted, some of Louis’s anger is going to lead to problems down the line, but it’s nothing that can’t be handled. In fact I’m looking forward to that confrontation.

Enough being cryptic. Trust me, you’re going to enjoy The Woman in the Woods and it will leave you wanting the next installment Right Now. In fact, I may have to go re-read the entire series while I wait. That’ll make the time pass quickly and will be such a treat!

JB

I know I wasn’t the only one who was struck by the oddity of the 2003 bank robbery in which a pizza delivery guy held up a bank with a bomb affixed to him. I never really followed the case but I remembered it. So did GM Ford, because he used it in Blown Away, his last Frank Corso novel in 2006. On the last page, he left poor Corso trembling in a bank with  a bomb locked around his neck.

If you have access to Netflix (I hope Jerry does) I recommend Evil Genius, a four-part documentary about the crime, the cops who investigated it, and those suspected and charged in the crime. Netflix gets it right when they say “This baffling true crime story starts with the grisly death of a pizza man who robs a bank with a bomb around his neck — and gets weirder from there.” Sure as hell does.

Like any fan of crime and mystery and whodunnits, I’ve talked this series over with a number of fans, trying to figure out questions that were left and we can’t get very far. I’ll admit it isn’t for the cozy crowd, but it is a fascinating series, well constructed and engrossing.  Give it a try. netflix-Evil-Genius-s1-bg-1

Soon as I finish John Meacham’s biography of Andrew Jackson, I’m going to dig into a large pile of mysteries – new books by Mike Lawson, John Straley, Phillip Kerr, James Lee Burke, John Connolly, and, the most intriguing, Lawrence Osborne’s forthcoming Philip Marlowe novel, Only to Sleep!

When the hell will we see a new book from Carol O’Connell, Carl Hiaasen, Don Winslow, James Ellroy, and Gillian Flynn! We’re so out of the loop now that we no longer see publisher’s catalogs. We’re lost, just like all of you.

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May Day!

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Here’s the old e-mail computer from the shop set up on JB’s dining room table to send out that blast about the newzine. Dedication and Dr Pepper!

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2018 Edgar Awards Winners Announced

Best Novel: Attica Locke, Bluebird, Bluebird

Best First Novel by an American: Jordan Harper, She Rides Shotgun

Best Paperback Original: Anna Mazzola, The Unseeing

Here’s the full list of winners. Congratulations to all.

Tryin’ Something New

Since the shop closed, we’ve been stymied about author events and signed copies. Maybe you’ve felt that, too… So we’re going to try (TRY) to keep track of what authors are coming into the PNW and when they’ll be signing. The trick is there is no centralized listing anymore. The papers have let it go and we’re out of the circle, so this may not work. But we’ll try ’cause we’d like to know who is coming around as well. If you’re interested in anyone who is listed, its up to you to make the moves to go see the author or order from that particular bookshop:

May 8th, Amanda Quick (Jayne Ann Krentz), Third Place Books, 7pm

May 16th, Nicola Griffith, Elliot Bay, 7pm

May 17th, Sam Wiebe in conversation with Brian Thornton, Third Place Books, 7pm

May 22nd, Nicola Griffith, Powells, 7:30

Word Of The Month

fuller (n): “one who fulls cloth,” Old English fullere “fuller” (Mark ix.3), from Latin fullo “fuller” (see foil (v.)). The native word is walker. Fuller’s earth (silicate of alumina) is recorded by 1520s; so called because it was used in cleansing cloth.

Something Serious Now

Help with a cold case: Will new sketches lead to killer of Canadian couple, slain during trip to Seattle in 1987?

This is new to us but there’s a new type of mass murderer – the “family annihilator”. Not surprisingly, most are men. But women are catching up. A recent instance is this story of an Oregon family. Deadly Hart crash stands out for experts who study family annihilators

How, we often wonder, has the human race survived this long?

Links of Interest

The Independent, March 2nd: Why Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is Still Popular 80 Years On

The Oregonian, March 8th: ‘The Godfather’ at 49: The vendettas, tirades and real Mob threats behind the classic novel, movie

New York Times, March 30th: Ernie Cline ~ By the Book

The Daily Beast, March 31st: Strippers, Cocaine and Murder: The Crazy (True) Story of Two Crooks’ Pursuit of a Soviet Submarine

The Guardian, April 1st: Macbeth by Jo Nesbø review – something noirish this way comes

BBC, April 3rd: Has London’s murder rate overtaken New York’s?

BBC, April 5: The History Detective

New York Times, April 6th: A Traffic Jam Changed Her Life (interview with Jacqueline Winspear)

Politico, April 7th: How Trump is Shaking Up the Book Industry (read this while remembering the people wringing their hands are the same ones who for decades sneered at crime and mystery novels as mere “genre fiction”)

Vox, April 7th: Apparently There’s a Longstanding and Vicious Feud Between Architects and Librarians 

The Guardian, April 10th: There’s No Female Conspiracy in Publishing ~ Your Book Just Might Not Be Good

BBC, April 12th : New Tolkien Work To Be Published

NY Times, April 12th: By the Book – James Comey

The Guardian, April 12th: : It’s no mystery that crime is the biggest-selling genre in books

Seattle Times, April 13th: Chagall stolen in 1988 New York heist turns up after aging criminal wants to clear his conscience

The Guardian, April 14th: Packing My Library by Alberto Manguel

The Guardian, April 14th: The Perfect Crime: Why Thrillers are Leaving Other Books for Dead

The Guardian, April 20: Al Pacino on Scarface 35 Years Later

The Daily Beast, April 21st: The Crazy (True) Story of One Man’s Hunt for $2 Million in Buried Cocaine Treasure

The Oregonian, April 23rd: Conservative author Brad Thor calls Donald Trump ‘unfit to serve,’ launches 2020 primary challenge

Daily Beast, April 25th: Golden State Killer, Joseph DeAngelo, Arrested After 40-Year Hunt, Authorities Say

Independent, April 27th: How Spider-Man creator Stan Lee got caught up in a web of strife

The Guardian, April 28th: Top [UK] Writers Choose Their Perfect Crime – Crime fiction is now the UK’s bestselling genre. So which crime novels should everyone read? We asked the writers who know …

Daily Beast, April 28th: Whatever Happened to the Book Herman Wrote After Moby Dick?

The Atlantic, April 30th: Artificial Intelligence Is Cracking Open the Vatican’s Secret Archives

RIP

BBC, April 1st: Hill Street Blues creator Steven Bochco dies aged 74

BBC, April 15th: Full Metal Jacket actor R. Lee Ermey dies at age 74

BBC: April 30th: Twin Peaks Actress Pamela Gidley dies at age 52

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

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Murder Has A Motive & Murder For Christmas by Francis Duncan

Mordecai Euripides Tremaine

One of the best detective names I’ve seen…I think ever. He’s a sixty-something, retired tobacconist who has a secret weakness for the serials in Romantic Stories (think romance novels doled out in weekly bite-sized portions). His other hobby? Murder.

While occupying his place behind the counter of his tobacco shop, he’d refined his eye for detailed observation. The summing up of the people around him without giving them the smallest hint he was the least bit interested in them is a skill he painstakingly taught himself. Couple this skill with an inoffensive look? It’s a lethal combination, for the criminal element.

While only an amateur, Mordecai’s keen eye has come to the attention of certain members of Scotland Yard – who are more than willing (and slightly embarrassed) to use him as their “man on the inside” when needed. Much to Mordecai’s delight.

Originally both these mysteries were printed in the late 1940’s – but with the recent spat of reprints, Francis Duncan’s unique detective has found a second life on bookstore shelves. Both titles feature an English country house style of mystery which the author executes in grand style. Each character is well written, and the mysteries are engaging. And while Mordecai may have a romantic heart, it never interferes with his ability to solve whatever crime presents itself.

I reading both Murder Has A Motive & Murder For Christmas. Perhaps not as literary as Elizabeth Daly or as quick a read as an Agatha Christie, I find Francis Duncan’s more playful than either of the other great ladies. These books feel like Duncan liked her detective and the murder he was solving.

I would recommend these books to anyone who enjoys reading an excellent classic English mystery in a similar vein as Georgette Heyer, Elizabeth Daly or Agatha Christie.

 

IMG_7910Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

Set in the same world as one of my favorite books, Written In Red, it features a whole new cast of characters, locations, and dangers.

In Vicki DeVine’s divorce settlement she was awarded the gently decaying resort called The Jumble located on the shores of Lake Silence. Newly renovated, but still rustic, Vicki is making a real go at running her own business, which hits a bump when she finds her only guest reheating an eyeball in the wave cooker. Why? It would be too squishy to eat otherwise.

When Vicki calls the police, after confiscating the eyeball, it sets in motion a series of events which might find the resort and the small town of Sproing wiped off the map, because the Elders won’t stand for human machinations.

Lake Silence is lighter than any of the books in the first series of The Others. However, don’t let that fool you. While being smart and sassy, Bishop still keeps that dark edge hovering just under the surface of the mystery. Written in alternating perspectives of the main cast of charecters, it moves along at a breakneck pace, and I couldn’t put it down.

You don’t need to have read her first series, just knowing they exist is enough (well that and the fact that The Others have zero problem eating humans that try anything devious with them). Bishop mentions a few of the old guard, but they never make an on page cameo in the book. Otherwise, this reads more like a stand-alone mystery which just happens to be set down the road from the events of Written In Red.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading urban fantasy mysteries.

(Added bonus? You get to meet Sproingers. And no I won’t tell you what/who they are – you have to read the book!

Fran

It’s been interesting to see how real crime plays out. I’ve read a LOT of police reports in my new job, and there are some interesting people out there. Fortunately, I’ve discovered that murder is much less common than mystery and thriller writers would have  us believe (whew!), but drug usage is as commonplace as toilet paper.

I’ve also become accustomed to the sound of tasers being tested, something I never thought would be commonplace for me. I work with good folks, and so far things have been running smoothly in my little section of the Department of Corrections, and I’m pleased for that.

For the longest time after the shop closed, I couldn’t read mysteries, but Mike Lawson got me out of that by presenting me with a signed copy of his new Joe DeMarco book, HOUSE WITNESS, and of course I couldn’t resist. The twelfth in such an excellent series, it was the perfect re-introduction.

I’m not going to say much about the plot except to say that one of Mahoney’s past encounters has left him with a son whom Mary Pat knows nothing about. When Mahoney’s son is killed in what seems to be a random act of violence, Mahoney is compelled to find out why, and he sends DeMarco to figure it out.

But what should be an open-and-shut case becomes something completely different, and DeMarco finds himself chasing what may be an illusion. Or it may be something much more complicated and dark.

If HOUSE WITNESS doesn’t read quite like a typical Mike Lawson book, it’s because it started off being a stand-alone, with a completely different perspective – the story was told from the bad guy’s perspective. But Mike’s publishers wanted it to be a DeMarco book, and I’m so glad they did! Still, you’re going to find that the antagonist in HOUSE WITNESS is stunningly conceived and disturbingly real.

On a side note, Mike told me he’s working on a project that is not at all a mystery or thriller, but more of a comedy. I hope – oh man, I hope! – that comes to something and we get to read it! Mike Lawson has a great deal of talent, and spreading his wings can only be good for us, his fans!

Truly Devious

Fran here, again.

Remember those days when you’d walk in or call and I’d come toward you with that kind of crazy light in my eyes and a book in my hands, thrust the book at you and say, “Trust me, you want this!”?

Yeah. I’m doing that again. It’s a straight-up mystery, nothing otherworldly about it, and yes, it’s being marketed as a Young Adult book, but I don’t care, you need to read this. The only drawback is that it’s the first of a trilogy and the other two aren’t written yet.

Read it anyway.

Maureen Johnson’s newest book, TRULY DEVIOUS, is amazing, but you’ve probably already figured out I think that, and I do – to the point where I’ve given away two copies, have one for myself, and will be giving away another copy soon.

I LOVE THIS BOOK! You may have picked up on that.

It starts with a riddle, a threatening poem, really, and the story alternates between events that happened in the 1930s and today. Ellingham Academy is a school that is free to those who meet admittance criteria, and Stevie Bell has been offered a place there. She’s curious and bright and comes from a bohemian background, and she has a passion for true crime. And back in the 30s, there was a kidnapping and murder which no one has ever solved, so that’s Stevie’s goal – to figure out who did it and what happened.

She meets other eccentric types at the school – actors and singers and a writer suffering from serious writer’s block, and those are just the students. The faculty is equally unique.

You’ll bounce between what is actually happening in both timelines, seeing how the kidnapping took place, along with modern day crimes that do result in another murder. So now Stevie has two crimes to solve, if she can handle it. It’s one thing to think about historical crime, and quite another to actually be a part of it.

This is a brilliant bit of writing and an homage to a lot of the Golden Age writers, especially the Golden Age ladies who wrote, not just Agatha Christie but many of the others Amber has mentioned in the past, and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

So yes, I’m coming across the shop floor with this book in my hands saying, “Trust me, you want this book. You really do!”

JB

Here’s a summation of the books that I’ve read since the shop closed. You’ll note that there’s not much crime or mystery included. I guess it’s natural that I’ve shied away from those books:

Stephen King’s It: Hadn’t read it in a couple of decades and thought I’d do it now after having seen the latest movie. Still a great, epic read.

Bill James and Rachel McCarthy James, The Man from the Train: James is the baseball writer who single-handedly revolutionized statistics in the game but he’s also a true crime aficionado. His Popular Crime is just as entertaining as his Baseball Abstract. His co-author and daughter traced a couple of famous lurid murders into something much larger, something unconnected by the police of 100 years ago.

Barbara Tuchman, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century: She meant the mirror to reflect on the 20th C., but it reflects awfully well on the 21st, too. “Havoc in a given period does not cover all of the people of the time, and though its effect is cumulative, the decline it drags behind takes time before it is recognized.”

Michael  Isikoff and David Corn, Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump: A clear and detailed account of Russia’s attack – on-going if reports are to be believed – from the start of their undeclared war to the time the book was released. By two, top-flight investigative journalists, sure to make your blood boil.

Malcolm Nance, The Plot to Hack America: A fuller, more infuriating explanation of the Rooskie’s attack on America and her allies. Nance is from the world of intelligence and is a smooth writer.

Mike Lawson, House Witness: Ingenious, smooth, assured, witty, smart, clean – just some of the ways to characterize Mike’s writing. His latest DeMarco is a perfect example of that. I consumed it over my last weekend and wish it had been longer to have given me more time in his words.

 

housewitness

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April 1st – NO FOOLIN’

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We’ve decided to restart the “newzine” in a different way.

All of us have run across articles that make us think “damn, that should go in a newzine…” We’d like to go back to sharing such things.

We are all still reading, though not as much or the same types of books, and have a desire to write about what we are, or have, read.

There may be other things we’d like to share and a new post will give us a venue.

And we thought maybe you’d like to know what we’ve been doing since the shop closed, so we can use the first one to catch up.

What will be different is that it will be monthly – 1st of the month – unless Big Things call for additional posts. Obviously there won’t be news of signings or signed books, or the On This Day section, but if there’s some notable anniversary we might list it. Really, who knows where this will go!

But we should be clear ~ The Seattle Mystery Bookshop no longer exists as a retail institution. We’re not going to be selling books, we’re not taking in used books, we’re not going to be issuing a quarterly newsletter, and replying to e-mails will be limited.

We are making this up as we go, creating on the fly, howling at the moon, and improvising as a trio. Let’s see where it goes!

We’ll start off with What We’ve Been Doing in alphabetical order:

Amber

After the shop closed I traveled around with my husband for his work (btw Moscow, Idaho is a very pleasant place to spend time)! Then Christmas rolled around and I was baking cookies like a mad woman for family and friends – having perfected the recipes on you folks (thanks for being my guinea pigs!).

When the shop first closed I read most anything that didn’t even hint in the direction of mysteries. Books on butter, Christopher Robin, cooking and mindfulness passed thru my hands during this period. However being a life long fan of mysteries I couldn’t stay away for very long and started tearing through the genera again (and missed raving about my favorites to you all!).

The thing which has been occupying the bulk of my time, since the shop closed, is writing. I plan to launch a serial fiction blog – very soon – just working on completing the first story arc and photos for the posts!

Fran

At first, it was kind of nice to have a vacation, even if it was unpaid. After a while, though, being away from the shop, from working every day, became a bit more difficult.

I decided to take a break from reading mysteries, and I decided to read all of Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series – all 14 books, at about 800 pages each. I still haven’t finished it, but I’m in the home stretch now, and I will complete the series, darn it!

I’ve taken several breaks over the course of reading Jordan’s series, and I have some reviews coming up. You know me, always reading, always reviewing! Why should it stop because the shop closed, right?

And I did finally find employment, not too distantly related to my time at SMB. I now work for the Department of Corrections, so I’m still keeping my fingers on the pulse of crime! Just not fictional crime nowadays.

But I do miss seeing everyone, and it’s been hard for me as it has for all of you not to know what to read next. I’ll let you know what I’ve read and liked, though, and I hope that points you in directions you might not have contemplated.

Just know that you are much loved and missed by all three of us!

JB

For me, October and November were days of trying to relax and release the stress of the last decade of shop ownership. Lots of naps with the dog, walks with the dog, hanging out by the fire with the dog. It was wonderful and badly needed.

By the end of November I began to get serious about looking for work. I’d always joked that if the shop went down I’d like to work at Ace Hardware. My first application with them went nowhere. They didn’t need anyone at that time. But I persisted, while applying to a variety of places and my insistence paid off. I started at my local Ace hardware at the beginning of January. I can walk to work and I can leave at the end of my shift without bringing any “work” home with me. A number of people have already discovered that I work there and all say the same thing: “I don’t know what to read without the newsletters!”. Well, join the crowd. I don’t either. But I have to say I haven’t had much interest in reading crime or mystery books since the shop closed. Mostly I’ve been reading histories and biographies, things I had wanted to read for years but hadn’t allowed myself the time to read due to the pressure to keep up with what was new in at SMB.

But not a day goes by that I don’t miss the shop and working with Fran and Amber.

Word of the Month

Farce (n.): From the late 14th C., “force-meat, stuffing;” 1520s, in the dramatic sense “ludicrous satire; low comedy,” from Middle French farce “comic interlude in a mystery play” (16th C.), literally “stuffing,” from Old French farcir “to stuff,” (13th C.), from Latin farcire “to stuff, cram,” which is of uncertain origin, perhaps from Proto-Indo-European *bhrekw “to cram together,” and thus related to frequens “crowded.”

... for a farce is that in poetry which grotesque is in a picture. The persons and action of a farce are all unnatural, and the manners false, that is, inconsisting with the characters of mankind. [Dryden, “A Parallel of Poetry and Painting”]

According to OED and other sources, the pseudo-Latin farsia was applied 13th C. in France and England to praise phrases inserted into liturgical formulae (for example between kyrie and eleison) at the principal festivals, then in Old French farce was extended to the impromptu buffoonery among actors that was a feature of religious stage plays. Generalized sense of “a ridiculous sham” is from 1690s in English.

[thanks to etymonine.com]

Links of Interest

Newser, Jan 29th: Forensic Linguist Solves a Jack the Ripper Mystery

Newser, Feb 28th: Copy of Declaration of Independence was Hidden Behind Wallpaper

Esquire, March 1st: Everything We Know about Quentin Tarantino’s 9th Movie (has to do with the Manson Murders)

The Guardian, March 5th: Canada Police Find Seventh Victim of Alleged Serial Killer Landscaper

The Guardian, March 6th: “The Wire”, 10 years on: ‘We tore the cover off a city and showed the American dream was dead’

BBC, March 8th: Oldest Message In A Bottle Found…

Esquire, March 8th: David Chase is Bringing Back “The Sopranos”, but not in the way you might expect.

The Daily Beast, March 9th: Isn’t It About Time We Stopped Loathing Mickey Spillane?

BBC, March 11th: Solving the Mystery of N. Ireland’s Water

The Atlantic, March 12th: How Psychopaths See the World

BBC, March 12th: The Tutor Who Watched The Romanovs Fall

Fox, March 14: Charles Manson’s Grandson Reveals His Plans for the Cult Leader’s Remains

Fresh Air, March 14th: Danny Trejo on Acting, Addiction, and Playing /\’The Mean Chicano Dude’

The Guardian, March 20th: Danny Boyle’s 007: What Can We Expect From the Next James Bond?

The Nation, March 22nd: Floating in the Air – The World that Made Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment

The Guardian, March 23: Money in the Morgue by Ngaio Marsh ~ an draft now finished by Stella Duffy

The Guardian, March 28th: Colonel Sun: Is Kingsley Amis’s Bond Novel the Weirdest of All?

Buzzfeed, June 17, 2017: (this is old but only recently discovered and even more timely now) From Russia With Blood, a six-part investigative series on Russian assassinations in Europe, posted long before the recent nerve-agent attack.

In Memoria

There have been a number of Notable Deaths since the end of September. Here are a few that should be mentioned:

Oct 21: Donald Bain, author who put Bill Farley into a Jessica Fletcher mystery, 82

Nov 9: John Hillerman, of Chinatown and “Magnum PI” fame, 84

Nov 11: Charles Manson, 83 (Charlie never seems to completely go away, does he?)

Dec 20: Jim French, local radio actor and mystery program producer, 89

Dec 28: Sue Grafton, one letter shy of a complete alphabet, 77

Jan 3: Fred Bass, owner of the fabulous NYC bookstore, The Strand, 89

Jan 6: Dave Toschi, one of the original detectives on The Zodiac case, 86

Jan 18: Stansfield Turner, former head of the CIA, 94

Jan 18: Peter Mayle, British novelist of light French mysteries, 78

Jan 19: Dorothy Malone, Hollywood royalty, 93

Feb 12: Bill Crider, mystery writer and blogger, 76

Mar 8: Kate Wilhelm, Oregon writer of many disciplines and a Fran favorite, 89

Mar 23: Philip Kerr, Chandlerian creator of Bernie Gunther, 62

R.I.P., all’a’youse

That’s it. See you on May Day!