Fun Stuff During This Dreadful Time

                                We asked authors what they read, hear and watch in quarantine. Here’s Charles Finch’s diary

Op-Ed: If marijuana is essential during the coronavirus shutdown, why not books?G_book-the-joint-rolling-handbook-2_1-1

10 crime writers to read while under house arrest

                     James Patterson sets up fund to help indie booksellers  (and why is Patterson the only BIG NAME AUTHOR who does this???)


Buy a book from your local indie bookstore. We’re going to need them when the coronavirus lockdown is over.

Foxed, Fuddled, Swallowed a Hare, and Other Words for “Drunk” From A Pocket Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue


Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist in history. 

A Few 19th-Century Parlor Games to Amuse You While You’re Stuck at Home

These Are Plot Descriptions of Actual Episodes from the 1960s Spy Television Series The Man From U.N.C.L.E, and Wow they are… Insane



Nero Wolfe Unsold Pilot from 1959

Posted by Lee Goldberg this 26 minute, black and white TV show yesterday. It’s well cast.

Kurt Kasznar stars as Nero Wolfe and William Shatner stars as Archie Goodwin. Seven years before ‘Star Trek’, Shatner is good as Archie, capturing his light style of patter with a layer of metal just below. Born in Vienna, Kaszner is also good as Wolfe, with an actual accent that allows his Wolfe to have an international touch. He may not be quite as large as Wolfe was, and you can’t tell if he’s wearing a yellow shirt due to the black and white filming, but he comes off as an imperious figure.

There are none of the other characters. Wolfe has Archie gather everyone in the office and solves the murder in one episode, but he does so without Cramer being there. Archie delivers Wolfe’s breakfast to him, so there’s no Fritz – though Wolfe compliments him for the meal. And, it must be said, the office is all wrong. Maybe it would’ve been corrected if pilot had been bought. There were two or three episodes filmed. Let’s hope the others turn up as well!

But had the pilot been bought and the show a success, would there have been a Captain Kirk?


SPECTRE: the battle never ends

Did Amazon Throttle My Sales After I Criticized Them in the New York Times?

Danny Caine on the Transparency and Responsibility of the World’s Largest Bookstore

and, by

In Amazon’s Bookstore, No Second Chances for the Third Reich

The retailer once said it would sell “the good, the bad and the ugly.” Now it has banished objectionable volumes — and agreed to erasing the swastikas from a photo book about a Nazi takeover.

From the UK:

Concerns over safety at Amazon warehouses as accident reports rise.

Why Amazon Knows So Much About You

On “Frontline”:

“Amazon Empire” is PBS’ frightening look at Jeff Bezos’ relentless capitalist success story


To read through our earlier posts on SPECTRE from our old blog, click on that link. The posts started on June 22, 2011 and went to June 21, 2017. Scroll down to the bottom and click on the tiny arrow to move backward through the earlier posts.

spect re


Hello, Booksellers!

Booksellers! Apply for an International Bookselling Fellowship

See the World Through Bookselling Without Borders

Bookselling Without Borders is a global partnership of independent publishers that supports travel to international book fairs and residencies for booksellers. It is currently accepting applications for 2020 fellowships.

BWB connects booksellers to the international book community through all-expenses-paid trips to the world’s premier book fairs. This year, the program is expanding to include the Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair and the Bogotá International Book Fair, in addition to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the Turin Book Fair, and the Frankfurt Book Fair. Participating booksellers will be treated to customized itineraries of specially developed panels, meetings, seminars, and receptions with publishers, authors, and other booksellers.

Booksellers interested in diverse and international literature and in fostering relationships with the international literary community are encouraged to apply. The application period ends February 16.

See the article in Lithub for the full story and details!

JB’s Best of the Last Decade


These sorts of lists are really pointless. I look at the lists from others – lists of books, lists of movies, lists of albums or songs – and I rarely agree with them. Hell, in the Rolling Stone‘s lists I don’t even know who most of the singers are – but then I’m now in my 60s and never was very hip…

But they are a way to look back on what you read and to see what stood up to time. Books that may’ve been on my Best of the Year some time ago don’t hold up to others that were also on one of the lists.

Then, too, it is often impossible to tease out one title from ten years of a favorite author’s books. So I’ll cheat and include some authors whose title really stands in for the entire decade’s worth of books.

And then it is also the case that favorite authors don’t appear on the list because the book of theirs that you really loved was before 2010. That’s the case with Winslow, O’Connell, Estleman, Kerr, Lehane, and Ellroy for instance.

In typing this out I noticed a gap in the center of the decade where no books are listed. That could’ve been an effect of our battles to save the shop and how that colored my enjoyment of what I was reading, and that I did a lot of re-reading of old favorites for comfort.

So, by year published:IMG_1187

2011: Urban Waite, Terror of Living

2011: Peter Spiegelman, Thick as Thieves

2011: Craig Johnson, Hell is Empty

2012: Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl

2012: Jess Walter, Beautiful Ruins

2013: James Lee Burke, Light of the World (would’ve been the perfect end to the series)

2013: Roger Hobbs, Ghost Man

2019: John Connolly, A Book of Bones (but, really, each book is just a chapter of a greater story)

2019: Mike Lawson, House Arrest (stands in for a consistent decade of great works)

Then a few non-fiction titles –

2011: Bill James, True Crime: Reflections on the Celebration of Violence

2015: Rinker Buck, The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey

2019: Adam Higginbotham, Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster

Last thought – I don’t have a Best Book of the Decade. Guess I don’t think like that any more!


Downtown Continues to Empty

Downtown Seattle Barnes & Noble

store to close Saturday

“The Barnes & Noble bookstore in downtown Seattle’s Pacific Place shopping center is closing this weekend. A sign inside the store announces: ‘This Barnes & Noble is closing on Jan. 18. Thank you for your patronage over the past 22 years.’”

This is the second Barnes & Noble location in Seattle to close within the past 12 months: The West Seattle store, in the Westwood Village shopping center, shut down in January 2019. The once-mighty Barnes & Noble chain has struggled nationally in the age of Amazon; in the past decade, it has closed more than 150 stores. Its University Village location closed in 2011. Barnes & Noble was acquired by Elliott Management, a hedge fund, last summer.

The closure leaves downtown Seattle without a general bookstore.

A Barnes & Noble spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.

Barnes & Noble continues to operate a handful of stores in the area, including at Northgate Mall, near Westfield Southcenter mall, and in Bellevue, Issaquah, Woodinville and Lynnwood.”

An abrupt announcement – just  two days warning. If this continues, if more B&N stores close, watch for major contractions in publishing, as we saw when Borders closed its stores.

Well, it was fun while it lasted…

Jack Reacher series author Lee Child ‘quits and lets brother step in’


“The author of the Jack Reacher series of novels is retiring and handing over the writing duties to his brother, according to a report.

Lee Child said he has been searching for a way to kill off the title character, portrayed on film by Tom Cruise, for years but has ultimately decided his fans deserve to see him live on in books which will now be written by Andrew Grant.

But Child, who was born James Grant, has reportedly set out a condition for his brother: he too must change his surname to Child.

“For years I thought about different ways of killing Reacher off. First of all, I thought he would go out in a blaze of bullets, something like the end of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It would take an army to bring him down [but] Reacher had to have an afterlife after I was done,” Child told the Times.

Grant is an established author in his own right. “It’s not as if I twisted his arm into doing it. And he didn’t twist mine either. It just happened. It feels like a natural development. My brother is a good writer. Now he has a hero,” Child said.

He added: “Readers don’t need to know about me or whoever writes the books. They only really care about Reacher. And I know he’s now in safe hands.”

Child has sold more than 100m books since embarking on a career as a novelist relatively late in life at 40. Jack Reacher has been turned into a film and is also reportedly being made into a series for Amazon’s Prime service.

According to the Times’ report, the cover of the next Reacher novel – in a series which is published by an imprint of Random Penguin House – will read: “Lee Child with Andrew Child”, in what has been interpreted as a possible sign of the publishing company’s nerves.”

We were told years ago by a prominent Reacher Creature that Lee/James knew exactly how he was going to kill Reacher to end the series. Guess it is too difficult to kill a cash cow.

The Child brothers now join the ranks of the Pattersons, the Cusslers, the Evanoviches, the Parkers, and all the authors whose books are written by committee, or buy a ghost.

Reacher deserves better.

Reacher deserves his blaze of glory.