Hard to believe that the time has flowed so quickly, but today marks five years since we locked the doors on the Seattle Mystery Bookshop as an operating business for the last time. Sure, there was lots of work left to do – counting the inventory, boxing it up, dismantling the shelves, the computers system, and packing it all out of the space – but Sept. 30, 2017 was the end of the road.
Seems as if there should be noirish terms to apply.
Amber, Fran and I would still get together for lunch now and then. But then Fran moved out of state, Amber moved out of town, and now we keep in touch electronically, as we do with you.
We miss one another, we miss being together, we miss being around books every day and knowing about what books to look forward to, and we miss talking about the books we love with readers looking for a new book to love.
But nothing good lasts forever and it was grand while it did.
For James Edmund Caan, born in NYC on March 26, 1940
For “Brian’s Song”, El Dorado, Thief, The Godfather, Rollerball, Misery, Cinderella Libery, The Killer Elite, Comes a Horseman, A Bridge Too Far, Gardens of Stone, Alien Nation, Eraser, “Poodle Springs”, and, of course, Elf.
dame (n.): c. 1200, “a mother,” also “a woman of rank or high social position; superior of a convent,” and an address for a woman of rank or position, used respectfully to other ladies, from Old French dame “lady, mistress, wife,” from Late Latin domna, from Latin domina “lady, mistress of the house,” from Latin domus “house” (from PIE root *dem– “house, household”). From early 14th C. as “a woman” in general, particularly a mature or married woman or the mistress of a household. Used in Middle English with personifications (Study, Avarice, Fortune, Richesse, Nature, Misericordie). In later use the legal title for the wife of a knight or baronet.
Slang sense of “woman” in the broadest sense, without regard to rank or anything else, is attested by 1902 in American English.
We got sunlight on the sand, We got moonlight on the sea
We got mangoes and bananas, You can pick right off the tree
We got volleyball and ping-pong, And lots of dandy games
What ain’t we got? We ain’t got dames!
Richard Rodgers, “There Is Nothin’ Like a Dame,” 1949 (etymonline)
It’s a tricky thing to suss out who is awarded what each year when Buckingham Palace releases The Gazette. For those of us who don’t follow it, the initials attached to the various awards are as confusing as the bureaus outta DC. OBE? GBE? DBE?
We bring this up after the news that Ian Rankin is now SIR Ian Rankin. We could remember Dame Agatha and Dame Phyllis, and Sir Arthur, but who else? This sent us off on a quest for answers – and then we ran into the three-letter question.
To be given Sir or Dame, one must be a subject of the Queen. Hitchcock was born in England, as was Bob Hope, and Sidney Poitier was born in Jamaica, so they all were knighted. Spielberg is an honorary knight, as was Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Dames and Sirs are, or have been, awarded GBE, KBE, or DBE. If you want to know what the difference is, well do your own investigation. It’s pretty simple.
Sir Ian joins a healthy list of authors: Antonia Fraser, Hilary Mantel, Salmon Rushdie, Kingsley Amis, William Golding, Iris Murdoch, PG Wodehouse, JRR Tolkein, and Jorge Louis Borges, to name some in no particular order. Not many mystery or crime writers that we found right off.
A healthy list of writers declined the “honors”: CS Lewis, Roald Dahl, Aldus Huxley, Robert Graves, JB Priestly, Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, and Rudyard Kipling.
There are names that aren’t on any list. For instance AA Milne… Anyway –
Congratulations to Sir Ian, a great writer and a nice guy!
Words of the Month
knight (n.) Old English cniht “boy, youth; servant, attendant,” a word common to the nearby Germanic languages (Old Frisian kniucht, Dutch knecht, Middle High German kneht “boy, youth, lad,” German Knecht “servant, bondman, vassal”), of unknown origin. For pronunciation, see kn–. The plural in Middle English sometimes was knighten.
Meaning “military follower of a king or other superior” is from c. 1100. It began to be used in a specific military sense in the Hundred Years War, and gradually rose in importance until it became a rank in the nobility from 16th C. Hence in modern British use, a social privilege or honorary dignity conferred by a sovereign as a reward, without regard for birth or deeds at arms. In 17thc.-19thc. a common jocularism was to call a craftsman or tradesman a knight of the and name some object associated with his work; e.g. knight of the brush for “painter.” Knight in shining armor in the figurative sense is from 1917, from the man who rescues the damsel in distress in romantic dramas (perhaps especially “Lohengrin”). For knight-errant, see errant.
The horse-headed chess piece so called from mid-15thc. Knights of Columbus, society of Catholic men, founded 1882 in New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.; Knights of Labor, trade union association, founded in Philadelphia, 1869; Knights of Pythias, secret order, founded in Washington, 1864. (etymonline)
excrescence (n.): early 15c., “action of growing out,” from Latin excrescentia (plural) “abnormal growths,” from excrescentem (nominative excrescens), present participle of excrescere “grow out, grow up,” from ex “out” (see ex-) + crescere “to grow” (from PIE root *ker- (2) “to grow”). Meaning “that which grows out abnormally” (on a living thing) is from 1570s (excrescency in this sense is 1540s). (etymonline)
peep (v.1): “to glance, look from a state of concealment” (especially through or as through a small or narrow opening), mid-15th C., pepen, perhaps an alteration of Middle English piken (see peek (v.)). Hence, “to come partially into view, begin to appear” (1530s). Peeping Tom “a curious prying fellow” [Grose] is from 1796. (etymonline)
vote (n): mid-15th C., “formal expression of one’s wish or choice with regard to a proposal, candidate, etc.,” from Latin votum “a vow, wish, promise to a god, solemn pledge, dedication,” noun use of neuter of votus, past participle of vovere “to promise, dedicate” (see vow (n.)). Meaning “totality of voters of a certain class or type” is from 1888.
sufferage (n): late 14th C., “intercessory prayers or pleas on behalf of another,” from Old French sofrage “plea, intercession” (13th C.) and directly from Medieval Latin suffragium, from Latin suffragium “support, ballot, vote; right of voting; a voting tablet,” from suffragari “lend support, vote for someone,” conjectured to be a compound of sub “under” (see sub-) + fragor “crash, din, shouts (as of approval),” related to frangere “to break” (from PIE root*bhreg– “to break”). On another theory (Watkins, etc.) the second element is frangere itself and the notion is “use a broken piece of tile as a ballot” (compare ostracism).
The meaning “a vote for or against anything” is from 1530s. The meaning “political right to vote” in English is first found in the U.S. Constitution, 1787. (etymonline)
boggle (v.): From the 1590s, “to start with fright (as a startled horse does), shy, take alarm,” from Middle English bugge “specter” (among other things, supposed to scare horses at night); see bug (n.); also compare bogey (n.1), boggart. The meaning ” hesitate, stop as if afraid to proceed in fear of unforeseen difficulties” is from 1630s; that of “confound, cause to hesitate” is from 1640s. As a noun from 1650s. Related: Boggled; boggling; boggler (from c. 1600 as “one who hesitates”). (etymonline)
Once again, residents are plunging gleefully into Finch’s semi-regular ritual called the Moving-Van Vigil. Never heard of the tradition? Well, it’s where Finch villagers stake out a newly rented cottage and try to deduce who the newcomer is by the possessions as they’re moved from van to house….or what they can extrapolate from the labels on the cardboard boxes.
When the movers finish hauling their last box, the villagers disperse and chew over their tentative conclusions for three full days, thereby giving their new neighbor breathing space to get the cottage in some semblance of order. Then they descend en masse, casserole dishes in hand, to welcome the latest addition to Finch’s thriving village life.
Violators of this rule are given the hairy eyeball, publicly snubbed, and met with stony silence.
Lori and Tommy are willing to face the consequences when they witness Mr. Windle (the latest unwitting participant of this nosey tradition) in a moment of extreme melancholy, whereupon the two start worrying that the newest addition to Finch means to do himself harm….
Aunt Dimity & the Enchanted Cottage is an excellent addition to the series! It shows Finch and its penchant for nosiness at its very best. Demonstrating how a community bands together to ensure one of its’ own stays safe and remember those who earlier inhabitants failed.
I would recommend The Enchanted Cottage to anyone who loves this series and/or to anyone who needs a lovely light mystery to escape the never-ending bad news cycle.
Now, all that being said — there is one essential detail to keep in mind….Do Not Readthe synopsis on the front fly-leaf.
Whoever wrote it did this book and the Residents of Finch a great disservice. First, this anonymous person in the publishing house made it sound as if the villagers completely dismissed Mr. Windle for rebuffing their advances of friendship. Now, anyone who knows anything about Finch KNOWS this would never happen. Especially if they think someone needs help.
Second, this unknown synopsis writer gives away a major plot point in the mystery. I mean…who does that? Albeit when you read the summary, you wouldn’t know, but the moment you start the book? It doesn’t take long to figure out that this faceless writer both told the truth about the mystery and misled you simultaneously.
If you can, take my word that Aunt Dimity & the Enchanted Cottage is a well-written, captivating entry in this murderless mystery series and is well worth your reading time.
Stories need to be told.
“Stories were different, though: they came alive in the telling. Without a human voice to read them aloud, or a pair of wide eyes following them by flashlight beneath a blanket, they had no real existence in our world. They were like seeds in the beak of a bird, waiting to fall to earth, or the notes of a song laid out on a sheet, yearning for an instrument to bring their music into being. They lay dormant, hoping for a chance to emerge. Once someone started to read them, they could begin to change. They would take root in the imagination, and transform the reader. Stories wanted to be read, David’s mother would whisper. They needed it. It was the reason they forced themselves from their world into ours. They wanted us to give them life.“
John Connolly wrote that in the first few pages of his amazing book, THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS, back in 2006. It was true then, and it’s true now.
If you haven’t read THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS, first of all, you’re missing out on a classic fairy tale, not one that’s been Disney-fied but the truly grim ones, the real ones. Mind you, there’s laugh-out-loud moments to be found, but this is a dark tale for children and adults.
David, mentioned above, loves the old fairy tales, and found refuge in them when his mother died and his father remarried. World War II was breaking over London, and David goes to live in the country with his father and their new family. Isolated and lonely, David turns to books. But when a downed German plane crashes in the garden where David is exploring, a hole in the garden wall is the only potentially safe place David can go.
Except what’s on the other side of the wall isn’t the neighboring yard. It’s a world filled with all the stories he’s been reading, and unless he is very resourceful and quick, David could be stuck there. Forever.
I’ve told you about this book before, and it bears reinforcing my determination that you should read it, but that’s not the only reason I’m telling you to pick it up.
Here’s what John Connolly said in a recent newsletter:
For some time I’ve been working on a sequel to THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS. I never really thought I’d write a sequel to that book, although I have returned to the universe of it with some short stories over the years. Nevertheless, I’ve had recourse to re-read the original over the last decade or so: first to give it a gentle polish for the 10th anniversary edition, and then, during lockdown, in order to write a film script based on it. (The script provided a way forward, I think, as well as indicating that there was too much material in the book for a two-hour film. The film company is now looking at it in terms of a possible television series, which would provide more scope for expansion, but I’ve done my bit as far as scripts for it are concerned.)
The polish for the anniversary edition, completed in 2016, probably provided the initial impetus, while the screenplay concretized some ideas I’d had. The result is that THE LAND OF LOST THINGS will be published in the autumn of either 2023 or 2024, but most likely the former. There’s some work to be done on it yet in terms of revision, but it’s coming into focus.
YAY! A film/series and a sequel? It doesn’t get better than that!
After watching the series “The Lincoln Lawyer”, I decided to go back to Michael Connelly’s series with Mickey Haller, Harry Bosch’s half-brother. I’d stopped reading that series after the second book in the series, The Brass Verdict, which is what the TV covered. 3rd was The Reversal – which features Bosch as working with Haller. The next in the series was temporarily out of print, so I spent the month catching up with Bosch, and the newest member of that universe, Renee Ballard: The Late Show, Dark Sacred Night, Night Fire, andthe Dark Hours. What the hell – if you’re gonna do it, just go overboard! Ballard and Bocsh make a great team. Each of their joint books contain at least one cold case that takes takes up most of the book, and sprinkled in are Ballard’s Late Show cases that work like mini-short stories. It’s a fascinating way to craft a novel. Won’t be another Bosch and Ballard until early November, so not it is back to Haller and the fifth in that series, The Gods of Guilt.
Finally, a personal plea: if you’re not happy with the way the country is going, the way every American’s right to privacy has been eagerly stripped away by the minority, you must resolve to vote in EVERY election. Yes, presidential elections are crucial, but so are all the local and state elections. Don’t like gerrymandering? Vote! Don’t like what the schoolboard is doing? VOTE! Don’t like what your state legislators are doing, or the governor? VOTE! If you’re registered but don’t vote, you’ve helped those who removed your – our – rights. If you’re not registered – register and vote in every election. Because, as you can see, it matters… Protesting is good, showing numbers and raising voices is good. “A few weeks before his death in 1895, Douglass was asked what advice he would give to a young black American. ‘Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!’ the old man answered.”
Remember – Black MEN in America were theoretically given the right to vote in 1870 but that was not enforced – again, theoretically – until the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That now seems to be under threat in many forums. WOMEN in America were not allowed to vote until the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920! So, if you listen to Constitutional Originalists who want the things to return to what the Constitution said when it was written… ‘Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!’ and VOTE!
60 years ago, Peter Parker swung into our world after being bitten by a radioactive spider.
June 5, 1962, Marvel Comics published the latest creation from the team of Steve Ditko and Stan Lee. Should you be in DC (the city, not the other comic outfit), stop by the Library of Congress and you can see the original artwork for his debut. He didn’t rate his own comic yet – that would come not quite a year later, in March 1963, with the first issue of The Amazing Spider-man
From there would come Aunt Mae and Uncle Ben, the obnoxious J. Johah Jameson, Harry and Norman Osborn, and those two women vying for Peter’s attention, Mary Jane and Gwen, Doc Ock, The Green Goblin, the Lizard, the Sandman, the Vulture, Mr. Big, Kraven the Hunter, and many others. Even as a kid, I wondered how these bad guys were able to return to fight so often. Did they escape from jail or were they held only a few issues?? There would be times he’d be up against other superheros. After all, NYC was full of ’em!
When I was collecting with my cousin Jeff, way, way back in the distant past, there was just the one Spider-man comic. Now there are…well, I don’t know how many. I don’t know how many villains he’s battled all told. There was animated series shown very early on Saturday mornings in the 60s that my Dad had orders to get me up to watch. I don’t remember the live-action TV series, and that’s probably good that I missed it. I think the second, 2004, Toby Maguire movie with Doc Ock is the best. I had subscriptions to Spider-man, Fantastic Four, Captain America and a few others but had long stopped collecting by junior high. I have most of the Spider-mans from about #20 to #100, and a handful before #20. The first issue I bought was #55, which came out in 1967. At that time, you could to shops selling old magazines and buy them for peanuts. I can’t believe our parents took us to these grungy “bookshops” that were probably filled with porn, but the boxes of comics were on the floor, under shelves of whatever, and we’d eagerly sit in the dust to find issues we were missing. The irony is that those same shops probably were filled with old pulp magazines – Black Mask, Dime Detective – that’d be worth as much, if not more, that the comics we hunted.
So congratulations to Peter Parker, Stan Lee, and Steve Ditko. Spider-man is a great American creation. I’m sure that in on June 5th, 1962, none of them had any idea what lay ahead. I learned to draw by copying the artwork and kept and treasured them these decades. At some point, probably soon, I should part with them but I’m not quite sure I can do it just yet….
From her publisher’s bio: “Mary Richardson Daheim started spinning stories before she could spell. Daheim has been a journalist, an editor, a public relations consultant, and a freelance writer, but fiction was always her medium of choice. In 1982, she launched a career that is now distinguished by more than sixty novels. In 2000, she won the Literary Achievement Award from the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. In October 2008, she was inducted into the University of Washington’s Communication Alumni Hall of Fame. Daheim lives in her hometown of Seattle and is a direct descendant of former residents of the real Alpine, which existed as a logging town from 1910 to 1929, when it was abandoned after the mill was closed. The Alpine/Emma Lord series has created interest in the site, which was named a Washington State ghost town in July 2011. An organization called the Alpine Advocates has been formed to preserve what remains of the town as a historic site.”
Mary published 28 Emma Lord books, the last, Bitter Alpine, in 2020. Her 32nd Bed & Breakfast, Lady MacDeath, is to be published posthumously in June 2023. In addition to all of those, there were 7 romance novels, the first of which was published in 1983.
From the site Seattle Wrote, here are her thoughts on writing. Her line about where her ideas come from is pure Daheim: “My husband once suggested that I answer this by saying I get them out of the garage where we keep the rest of the junk. That’s flippant, but the garage as a metaphor for storing ideas is apt. Life is the source of ideas. So much of what I base my books on is drawn from actual events, many of which have happened to me. Sometimes I feel as if I’m not writing fiction, but autobiography.”
We were great fans of her, and her books. We would see her twice a year, at least – once for a signing for a new Alpine book, and once for a new Bed & Breakfast book.
She’d make a point of coming down a little before noon so she could slip across the street and get a turkey/cranberry sandwich at Bakeman’s. Then, with her gravelly voice and huge smile, she’d sign books and entertain us with stories of her family, especially of Cousin Judith, of visiting the real Apline, WA, when her grandparents lived there, and with whatever else was bopping around her mind.
Only Bill or Mary would’ve been able to say how she connected with the shop. In an old shop 1992 calendar, it’s noted that she was in to sign on Thurs, April 23rd, noon. She was back in to sign on Sat, Dec. 5th. By that year, she’d published three Bed & Breakfast comedies. Was she in to sign the first two? Can’t say. In 1992, she released her first Alpine mystery, so the December event was the premiere signing for it.
She was always cheerful and kind. At times, she’d welcome JB into her home to sign this or that special request. Her big old house on the northeast side of Queen Anne overlooked Fremont. He knew to prepare to stay awhile, to discuss the bookshop, publishing, some crazy family event, or any number of topics. She gave us author copies – books given to an author by the publisher – to clear space in her basement and help us when times were tough. She was a gem of the highest sparkle!
In a later, 1991, guest book, the ones we had all visiting authors sign, she wrote this:
We’re so glad she felt at home with us. Now she’s with Dave and, no doubt, having cocktails with Bill and B Jo, telling stories and laughing.