MARCH 2022

TAULT, an agency for Ukrainian writing, is calling on translators to help them.

Ukrainian Film Academy Calls for Boycott of Russian Cinema After Invasion

Anonymous: the hacker collective that has declared cyberwar on Russia

Pat Robertson Insists Putin ‘Compelled by God’ to Invade Ukraine and Kick Off ‘End Times’ [no – that’s not an early April Fool…]

Words of the Month

curse (n.) Late Old English curs “a prayer that evil or harm befall one; consignment of a person to an evil fate,” of uncertain origin. No similar word exists in Germanic, Romance, or Celtic. Middle English Compendium says probably from Latin cursus “course” (see course (n.)) in the Christian sense “set of daily liturgical prayers” extended to “set of imprecations” as in the sentence of the great curse, “the formula read in churches four times a year, setting forth the various offenses which entailed automatic excommunication of the offender; also, the excommunication so imposed.”  Connection with cross is unlikely. Another suggested source is Old French curuz “anger.”

Meaning “the evil which has been invoked upon one, that which causes severe trouble” is from early 14th C. Curses as a histrionic exclamation (“curses upon him/her/it”) is by 1680s. The curse in 19th C. was the sentence imposed upon Adam and Eve in Genesis iii.16-19. The slang sense “menstruation” is from 1930. Curse of Scotland, the 9 of diamonds in cards, is attested from 1791, but the signification is obscure.

curse (v.) Middle English cursen, from Old English cursian, “to wish evil to; to excommunicate,” from the source of curse (n.). Intransitive meaning “swear profanely, use blasphemous or profane language” is from early 13th C. (compare swear (v.)). The sense of “blight with malignant evils” is from 1590s. Related: Cursed; cursing. (etymonline)

Mystery artist’s sculptures from classic Scottish books raise £50,000

Books overboard! Supply chain headaches leave publishing all at sea

Serious Stuff

Longtime ‘Reading Rainbow’ host LeVar Burton urges kids to read banned books: ‘That’s where the good stuff is’

CEO of Penguin Random House donates $500,000 to fight book bans

I’m offended my book isn’t considered offensive enough to be banned too

Comic book store owner to ship ‘Maus’ free to anyone who asks in Tenn. district where it’s banned

A professor has offered to teach Maus to all students affected by its ban.

Book Bans Are Targeting the History of Oppression

QAnon Pastor Holds Book Burning at His Church

Neo-Nazis just marched on a community library in Providence.

This great wave of American book-banning is not slowing down

Most Americans don’t agree with book bans.

Wentzville School Board reverses its decision on banned book

Cancel culture is real but it’s not the ‘woke mob’ you should worry about

ACLU sues Missouri School District for Permanent Removal of Eight Books

Erik Prince Helped Raise Money for Conservative Spy VentureNew details reveal the ambitions of an operation intended to infiltrate opponents of Donald Trump, including moderate Republicans as well as progressives and Democrats.

Now We Know Their Names

The Crypto Backlash Is Booming

DOJ arrests couple in connection with $4.5 billion cryptocurrency hack

They Were Convicted of Scamming $18 Million in Covid Relief Loans. Now, the FBI Can’t Find Them

A Hacker Group Has Been Framing People for Crimes They Didn’t Commit

Gaslight: How a harrowing Ingrid Bergman film inspired the psychology buzzword

The Fascinating—and Harrowing—Tale of the First Japanese American to Publish a Book of Fiction

Credit Suisse leak unmasks criminals, fraudsters and corrupt politicians

Mellon Foundation Awards $1.5M Grant to Document Indigenous Enslavement

Three men plead guilty to planning U.S. power grid attack, driven by white supremacy

Thieves in the Night: A Vast Burglary Ring From Chile Has Been Targeting Wealthy U.S. Households

Local Stuff

Left Behind: Some Portland teachers embrace proven approach to teaching reading, but most stick with methods that haven’t worked

Seattle Woman’s Worry over Mom’s Missing Wordle Update Leads to Police Finding Her Held Hostage

FBI ups reward to $20000 in 2002 Washington state killing

Seattle’s newest bookstore is the culmination of a mother’s dream and daughter’s passion

Odd Stuff

Decoding Dickens’s Secret Notes to Himself, One Symbol at a Time

On the 1863 novel that predicted the Internet, cars, skyscrapers, and electronic dance music.

Vintage Vinyl LP of ‘Girl From Ipanema’ Leads Police to a ‘Most Wanted’ Fugitive

Various People Are Fighting Over John McAfee’s Body, Which Is Stuck in a Spanish Morgue

A Las Vegas bartender was robbed at gunpoint. His bosses made him pay back the stolen money, a lawsuit says.

How G. Gordon Liddy Bungled Watergate With an Office-Supply Request

An Amelia Earhart Mystery Solved (Not That Mystery)

Detecting Jane: A Possible Cause of Jane Austen’s Early Death

Stormy Daniels Sues Ex-Literary Agent Over Money Avenatti Stole

Love note to Jacobite rebel embroidered in human hair to go on show

A woman in danger contacted the wrong police force — over 3,000 miles away. Luckily, they still helped her

Record Store Day is harming, not helping, independent music shops like mine

Man Finds 170 Bottles of Luxury Japanese Whiskey Stolen, Replaced With Fizzy Water

Scientists reveal how Venus fly trap plants snap shut

How a Few Salty Brits Pioneered the Art of the Weaponized Index

Morbid coin-operated mortuary automaton circa 1900

Nonsense, Puns, and Dirty Limericks: A Serious Look at Poetic Wordplay

“Dental Plumper” Jaw Prosthetic Worn by Marlon Brando in ‘The Godfather’ (1972)

Words of the Month

jynx (n.)”wryneck,” 1640s, from Modern Latin jynx (plural jynges), from Latin iynx (see jinx – see below!). As “a charm or spell,” 1690s. (etymonline)

SPECTRE

Jeff Bezos’ superyacht will see historic bridge dismantled

Thousands of Dutch vow to pelt Jeff Bezos’ superyacht with rotten eggs

After backlash, Jeff Bezos suggests naming library auditorium for Toni Morrison

A group of bipartisan lawmakers is grilling Amazon for its continued sale of a chemical compound used in suicides

U.S. Lawmakers Question Amazon Over Sale of Chemical Compound Used in Suicide

Black Lives Matter Kicked Off Amazon Charity Platform

New Amazon headquarters sparks feud among Indigenous South Africans

Words of the Month

jinx (n.) From 1911, American English, originally baseball slang; perhaps ultimately from jyng “a charm, a spell” (17th C.), originally “wryneck” (also jynx), a bird used in witchcraft and divination, from Latin iynx “wryneck,” from Greek iynx. Jynx was used in English as “a charm or spell” from 1690s.

“Most mysterious of all is the psychics of baseball is the “jinx”, that peculiar “hoodoo” which affects, at times, a man, at other times a whole team. Let a man begin to think that there is a “jinx” about and he is done for the time being.” Technical World Magazine, 1911

The verb is 1912 in American English, from the noun. Related: Jinxed; jinxing. (etymonline)

Awards

MWA Confers First Neely Grants

Long Island University Announces 73rd Annual George Polk Awards In Journalism

Bard Graduate Center Welcomes Submissions for Horowitz Book Prize

WORLD BOOK DAY ~ MARCH 3, 2022

Book Stuff

Major collection of James Joyce documents and books donated to university

You Can Now Explore Marcel Duchamp’s Personal Papers Online

Rediscovering a Lost Dystopia and Its Prescient Author

Some Fundamental Principles for Writing Great Sex

‘A certain pleasant darkness’: what makes a good fictional sex scene?

In ‘Anonymous Sex,’ No Strings — and No Bylines

What Pornographic Literature Shows Us About Human Nature

Sara Gran Considers The Art of Suspense

How much lost medieval literature is there? A wildlife-tracking method may have the answer.

Louise Welsh: ‘It was like driving with the lights off’

Time To Curl Up with a “Quozy” – A Queer Cozy Mystery

Leonard Cohen’s Unpublished Fiction Will Be Collected in New Book ‘A Ballet of Lepers’

American Literature is a History of the Nation’s Libraries

The Bleak, Propulsive Noir of Simenon’s Romans Durs

How a Book is Made ~ Ink, Paper, and a 200,00-Pound Printer

David Lagercrantz on His New International Thriller Inspired by Sherlock Holmes

Lisa Gardner, the Thriller Writer Who Loves Historical Romance

Why Berlin Is the Mecca of Espionage Fiction: A Conversation with Joseph Kanon and Paul Vidich

‘A symbol of new beginning’: Mosul’s university library reopens

Other Forms of Entertainment

Your literary guide to the 2022 Oscar nominations.

With ‘Death on the Nile,’ Kenneth Branagh humanizes Hercule Poirot

On the Coen Brothers’ Bitter, Brokenhearted Noir, Miller’s Crossing

Trevanian: An Appreciation for the Godfather of the Mountain Thriller

How did Mission: Impossible 7 become one of the most expensive films ever?

B-More or B-Less: Meditations on The Wire and Baltimore

The Ordinary, the Sublime, and The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

The Outfit review – Mark Rylance’s mob tailor makes the cut

Can The Thin Man Serve as a Gateway to Cozy Mysteries?

The Real Story Behind David Fincher’s ‘Zodiac’

The Irresistible Rebellious Irreverence at the Heart of Noir

Hey, Kenneth Branagh, Leave Miss Marple Alone!

The Ipcress File: The rebel spy who is the anti-James Bond

The lit mag of the moment, founded by two women in their 20s, isn’t afraid to say what’s on its mind

Nothing Can Stay Hidden Forever: The True Crime Legacy of Lost Highway

‘The Crown’’s jewels stolen in Yorkshire raid on TV show’s vehicles

Steven Spielberg Developing Film Based on Steve McQueen’s Frank Bullitt (HUH?!?!?)

Is Adaptation a Feminine Act? On the Women Writers Who Worked on Alfred Hitchcock Presents

March 15th is the 50th Anniversary of The Godfather’s premiere

Francis Ford Coppola’s Favorite Godfather Scene Is One You Can’t Refuse

Restoring ‘The Godfather’ to Its Original (Still Dark) Glory

Museum Shows

Three mystery exhibitions, Toronto Public Library

“Cowboys, Detectives, and Daredevils” pulp exhibition in New Britain, CT

Words of the Month

hex (v.) From 1830, American English, from Pennsylvania German hexe “to practice witchcraft,” from German hexen “to hex,” related to Hexe “witch,” from Middle High German hecse, hexse, from Old High German hagazussa (see hag). Noun meaning “magic spell” is first recorded 1909; earlier it meant “a witch” (1856). Compare Middle English hexte “the devil” (mid-13th C.), perhaps originally “sorcerer,” probably from Old English haehtis. (etymonline)

RIP

Feb. 4: Jason Epstein, Editor and Publishing Innovator, Is Dead at 93

Feb. 4: Judd Bernard, Producer on the Neo-Noir Classic ‘Point Blank,’ Dies at 94

Feb. 13: Ivan Reitman, ‘Animal House’ Producer and ‘Ghostbusters’ Director, Dies at 75

Feb. 15: Peter Earnest, CIA veteran who helped launch International Spy Museum, dies at 88

Feb. 16: P.J. O’Rourke, satirist and conservative commentator, dies at 74

Feb. 24: Monique Hanotte, Belgian resistance member who rescued 135 downed Allied airmen in World War II, dies at 101

Feb. 24: Sally Kellerman, Hot Lips Houlihan in ‘M*A*S*H,’ Dies at 84

Feb. 28: David Boggs, Co-Inventor of Ethernet, Dies at 71

Links of Interest

Feb. 1: Scam the bereaved, defraud the dead: the shocking crimes of America’s greatest psychic conman

Feb. 1: Hanslope Park: The True Home of Britain’s Spy Gadgets

Feb. 2: The Knife Twist – The Sheridan brothers have been waiting years for a clue to their parents’ brutal deaths. Last week, they got one.

Feb. 2: Australian Grave Robbers are Stealing Human Remains

Feb. 4: Scandal on a Wealthy Island: A Priest, a Murder and a Mystery

Feb. 5: ‘Darkness Enveloped My Soul’: The Final Confessions of the Torso Killer

Feb. 8: Kurt Schwitters’ unknown portrait sitter identified as wartime German spy

Feb. 10: Man Says QAnon Told Him His Wife Was a CIA Sex Trafficker. He Killed Her.

Feb 10: A Brief History of Strychnine, the Poison of Choice for Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Scores More—But Why?

Feb. 13: Mexican Cartel ‘Cannibal Schools’ Force Recruits to Eat Human Flesh

Feb 13: A ‘Sopranos’ Expert Analyzes Chevy’s Meadow and AJ Super Bowl Commercial

Feb. 14: Inside a Massive Human Smuggling Ring Led by US Marines

Feb. 15: Hollywood actor who bilked investors in $650 million scheme gets 20 years in prison

Feb. 16: Florida Woman Accused of Using $15K of Pandemic Loan to Hire Hitman

Feb. 16: Florida Police Distributed a Link to Pay Traffic Fines That Was Actually a Link to a MAGA Store

Feb 19: Who Is Behind QAnon? Linguistic Detectives Find Fingerprints

Feb. 20: Convicted fraudster Bernie Madoff’s sister, husband found dead

Feb. 20: Hacker Uses Phishing Attack to Steal $1.7 Million in NFTs From OpenSea Users

Feb. 21: ‘Frasier’-Inspired Killer Covered up Milkshake Murder of Her Rich Boyfriend with Fake Suicide

Feb. 22: Getting By in Prison With Nothing But Books

Feb. 25: Cops Crack a 40-Year-Old Murder—but Who Killed the Killer?

Feb. 27: Wine crime is soaring but a new generation of tech savvy detectives is on the case

Feb. 27: How Criminal Profiling Foiled a Serial-Killing Boy Scout

Feb. 28: Edgar Allan Poe’s pocket watch among donations to museum

Feb. 28: Unsolved Murder Could Shed New Light on Gardner Museum Art Heist

Feb. 28: A ticket stub from Jackie Robinson’s majors debut sells for a record-breaking $480K

Words of the Month

whammy (n.) Often double whammy, “hex, evil eye,” 1932, of unknown origin, popularized 1941 in Al Capp’s comic strip “Li’l Abner,” where it was the specialty of Evil-Eye Fleegle. (etymonline)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Vivien Chien – Hot And Sour Suspects

In this installment of A Noodle Shop Mystery finds Lana Lee trying speed dating….to bring new customers to her family’s noodle house. It also brings in a familiar face Rina Su, a fellow Asia Village shop owner. Sick of being single, Rina attends and finds a match. But of course, when potential love is involved – drama soon follows – and before the next day dawns, Rina’s date is discovered dead, and she’s the prime suspect!

Lana, not one to watch her friend twist, immediately leaps into action….the only thing is Rina makes it perfectly clear she doesn’t want Lana’s help. Undeterred, Lana presses on, and the only problem is – every piece of evidence she finds makes Rina look guiltier.

Again I need to reiterate how much I enjoy this series! 

One of the things I love reading the most is how Lana navigates the relationships in her life. Her aplomb when dealing with the people around her is amazing, and while Lana doesn’t always get it right, she tries, and with the crazy cast around her – that’s all you can ask for!

Another feature of this series I think Chien cleverly uses is the Ho-Lee Noodle House. The family-owned restaurant Lana manages is a wonderful backdrop for this series. I will also reiterate that Chien does a great job of keeping Noodle House a device that keeps the story moving without completely taking over. So while this book does have a food theme, it doesn’t feel like it as Chien does a beautiful job making sure the mystery and characters shine first and foremost.

In any case, if you like lighter mysteries, I highly recommend the Noodle Shop Mysteries. And while you could start with Hot And Sour Suspects – I highly suggest you start with the first in the series Death By Dumpling so that you can get a better handle on the relationships at play in this series.

JB

See my review of the BRILLIANT new thriller from Mike Lawson

Watergate’s Central Mystery: Why Did Nixon’s Team Order the Break-In in the First Place? [I’m reading this book now and it is fabulous. If Putin would stop taking the world to hell, I’d get more of it read…]

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

Brilliance

Mike Lawson is incapable of writing a bad book. They’re all smooth, inventive, and original. His new stand-alone, Redemption, is no exception. In fact, it’s brilliant.

I must admit that I was at first disheartened by the opening chapters. I thought the story was going to be a familiar one, with a plot not unlike a specific bestseller of years past. But I had forgotten one critical element ~ TRUST MIKE LAWSON.

Redemption is a tough book to characterize if you don’t want to give too much away. Jamison Maddox destroyed his glittering, Wall Street life by being part of an insider trading case. A pariah is his former world, he accepts a job in a small Illinois town doing financial research for a family-run company that works for clients who want to know the skinny on individuals and businesses. It’s boring but easy. But why the company is so strict about security is odd.

This is Big Time Suspense overlaid with an unhealthy dread of noir. A femme fatale, deadly children, treacherous parents, a love-struck dupe… you know it isn’t going to end well – but how? Every time I thought I knew where the story was headed, I was wrong. Lawson masterfully lead me toward each misdirection – gleefully, I have to assume – setting me up for his next one. Not only is his smooth story-telling always a kick to read, he’s a genius at structuring his his books to keep you off-balance and guessing to the end. He’s outdone himself with Redemption.

I can honestly say that all of my other favorite authors – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Carol O’Connell, Don Winslow, Dennis Lehane, James Ellroy, and Craig Johnson – have had books that, I thought, were duds. Not Mike Lawson. Not a clunker in the list.

This new book should win every award that exists, from the Edgar and Dagger to the Booker and Pulitzer – hell, an Oscar while we’re at it. Redemption is that good, that timely, and that brilliant.

His books are impossible to beat and over far, far too fast. That’s the only bad thing about Mike’s books ~ I have to wait a year for the next one.

Coming April 5, 2022.

Phebruary 2022

Capitol Rioters Called Pelosi’s Office Looking for Stuff They Left Behind on Jan. 6

Words of the Month:

GALL (n.): brazen boldness coupled with impudent assurance and insolence (Merriam-Webster)

gall (v.)”to make sore by chafing,” mid-15c., from gall (n.2). Earlier “to have sores, be sore” (early 14c.). Figurative sense of “harass, vex, irritate, chafe the spirit of,” is from 1570s. A past-participle adjective gealled is found in Old English, but OED says this is from the noun. Related: Galled; galling. (etymonline)

OK, just had to get that outta our systems – – – –

Something for the start of Sprint Training: Babe Ruth Handwritten Autographed Contract Could Get Over $1M At Auction

Archaeologists Unearth 4,000-Year-Old Stone Board Game in Oman

The poet Maya Angelou is the first Black woman to be featured on a U.S. quarter

See Fantastical Maps From ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Lord of the Rings’ and More

Single page of Spider-Man comic sells for over $3.3m

After his anti-Semitism, some of Roald Dahl’s Netflix money will fund an anti-racist trust.

Women Plundered and Swashbuckled With the Best (and Worst) of Them

221 Pieces of Sherlock Holmes History on View in NYC

The Case for Writing Longhand: ‘It’s About Trying to Create That Little Space of Freedom’

The Library Where the ‘Books’ Are Human Beings

Serious Stuff

Planting the seeds of a love of reading

Mean Tweets, 1950s Style: Read Ingrid Bergman’s Hate Mail From Her Scandalous Affair With Roberto Rossellini

On the time J.R.R. Tolkien refused to work with Nazi-leaning publishers

Train Robberies Are Back

Opinion: Prison systems insist on banning books by Black authors. It’s time to end the censorship. Why Is It So Hard For Incarcerated People To Get Access To The Books They Need And Want?

Book bans are back in style

~Wentzville School Board bans acclaimed novel from high school libraries over obscenity complaints ~Banning Toni Morrison book only proves her point about the discomfort of language ~A Mississippi mayor is withholding $110,000 from libraries until they ban ‘homosexual materials.’ ~Art Spiegelman decries Tennessee school board for removing ‘Maus‘ from its curriculum ~“Maus” sales soar after banning by Tennessee school board ~‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ booted from required reading list at Washington state school

How Does the FBI Art Crime Team Operate?

New Research Tracks Ancient Artifacts Looted by the Nazis

A Tricky First Case for the Man Who Wrote the Rules on Nazi Looted Art

The Louvre and Sotheby’s are Teaming Up to Identify Works for Restitution

France Approves Return of Nazi-looted Artworks, Including Paintings by Gustav Klimt and Marc Chagall

North Korean hackers stole $400 million in cryptocurrency in 2021

How Criminal Hackers Put on the White Hat

80 years ago, the Nazis planned the ‘final solution’. It took 90 minutes.

Serial murders, beatings and beheadings: violence against the homeless is increasing, advocates say

He Spent 25 Years Infiltrating Nazi, the Klan, and Biker Gangs

And This doesn’t really fit anywhere, so – – – – – –

Guessing Games: Celebrating the Fair-Play Mystery Revival

Local Stuff

Clark County investigator cracks ‘unsolvable’ cold case, IDs Oregon woman 17 years after her death

Shakespeare First Folio Acquired by the University of British Columbia

Here are Seattle Public Library’s most popular books of 2021

Portland author Jerry McGill’s debut novel is up for a prestigious prize

Seattle author Elizabeth George fills us in on her latest novel, ‘Something to Hide’

Meet the FBI agent who spent 9 years on the D.B. Cooper hijacking

Patience has paid off at Phinney Books, one of Seattle’s best indie bookstores

Eastern WA crime syndicate faked 14 crashes for insurance payouts, federal indictment says

Millions of dollars from state’s unemployment fraud loss likely won’t be recovered

Portland men charged in safe, ATM-cracking ring tied to 30 burglaries across metro area

Words of the Month

jiffy (n.): From 1785, “a moment, an instant, short space of time,” colloquial, origin unknown; said to have been thieves’ slang for “lightning.” (etymonline)

Odd Stuff

That $1,000 Bourbon you bought may be a phony

Did the FBI find Civil War gold? Treasure hunters sue for answers

The nominees for Words of the Year are in—and they include “stonk” and “horny jail.”

Why We’re All Shooketh

On the Insanity of Being a Scrabble Enthusiast

The First Superman Painting has a Strange and Mysterious History

Words of the Month

weird (adj.): c. 1400, “having power to control fate,” from wierd (n.), from Old English wyrd “fate, chance, fortune; destiny; the Fates,” literally “that which comes,” from Proto-Germanic *wurthiz (source also of Old Saxon wurd, Old High German wurt “fate,” Old Norse urðr “fate, one of the three Norns”), from PIE *wert– “to turn, to wind,” (source also of German werden, Old English weorðan “to become”), from root *wer (2) “to turn, bend.” For sense development from “turning” to “becoming,” compare phrase turn into “become.”

The sense “uncanny, supernatural” developed from Middle English use of weird sisters for the three fates or Norns (in Germanic mythology), the goddesses who controlled human destiny. They were portrayed as odd or frightening in appearance, as in “Macbeth” (and especially in 18th and 19th century productions of it), which led to the adjectival meaning “odd-looking, uncanny” (1815); “odd, strange, disturbingly different” (1820). Related: Weirdly; weirdness. (etymonline)

SPECTRE

The true cost of Amazon’s low prices

‘Sold by Amazon’ program shut down after WA attorney general’s investigation

Awards

Nero & Black Orchid Novella Award Winners 2021

MWA Announces 2022 Grand Master and Raven and Ellery Queen Award Honorees

Mystery Writers of America’s 2022 Edgar Allan Poe Award Nominees

Issaquah author wins prestigious Newbery Medal for children’s literature

Here are the winners of the 2022 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence.

Book Stuff

Space Where Detroit’s First Black-Owned Bookstore Once Lived Receives Preservation Grant

Skyhorse picks up Mailer anthology, as Random House passes

My pandemic book club changed the way I think about literature — and community

Harlan Coben: ‘I used to write in the back of Ubers’

Mysterious Book Thief Who Haunted the Publishing World for Years Is Nabbed by FBI

Nine decades later, W.E.B. Du Bois’s work faces familiar criticisms

A Glimpse Inside the World’s Most Beautiful Libraries

Did Kurt Vonnegut have PTSD? And does ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ prove it?

A Personal Catalogue of the World’s Most Storied Bookstores

Why Lady Macbeth is literature’s most misunderstood villain

Leading Bookseller’s Private Collection Goes Up for Sale

“Dune” Crypto Group That Paid $3M For Rare Book Mocked For Thinking They Owned The Rights

A Library the Internet Can’t Get Enough Of – The New York Times

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Personal Library Is Up for Auction

James Bond books dedicated to Paul Gallico among star lots at library auction

‘More than wonderful’ … Gaza bookshop to reopen after unexpectedly successful global campaign

Interview: Tony Lyons, the US publisher who picks up books ‘cancelled’ by other presses

This unique bookstore and ranch needs a new owner (with $1.52 million to spare).

Other Forms of Entertainment

Tobias Menzies to Star in Lincoln Assassination Series at Apple

Michael Keaton Explains Why He Initially Walked Away From Batman: “Can’t Live With Myself”

The Forgotten Superheroes of Blaxploitation Movies

FX Reviving ‘Justified’ Starring Timothy Olyphant for New Limited Series

Did David Simon Glorify Baltimore’s Detectives?

Seattle Times readers recommend watching these book-to-screen detectives

The Real Stories Behind ‘The Godfather’

Next two ‘Mission: Impossible’ movies delayed until 2023, 2024

‘Casablanca’ had a rocky start. Its stars never expected it to become a classic.

A Brief Compendium of Modernist Homes for Movie Villains with Flawless Taste

Pro Safecracker Fact Checks Safecracking in Movies [fun video! and, to the right of it, a list of other, similar crime fact check videos]

Words of the Month

jibber-jabber (v.) From 1728, “to talk gibberish,” reduplication of jabber (q.v.). Related: Jibber-jabbering. As a noun from 1813, also gibber-gabber. Compare gibble-gabble “idle talk, chatter” (c. 1600). Jibber (v.) is attested from 1824. (etymonline)

RIP

Jan. 2: Max Julien Dies: Star Of Film Cult Classic ‘The Mack’ Was 88

Jan, 6: Peter Bogdanovich, Oscar-Nominated Director and Champion of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Dies at 82

Jan. 7: Sidney Poitier, Black acting pioneer, dies aged 94

Jan. 10: Robert Durst, real estate scion convicted of murder, dies

Jan. 12: Andrew Jennings, Journalist Who Exposed FIFA Corruption, Dies at 78

Jan. 20: German actor Hardy Kruger, star of adventure movies, dies at 93 (he was in two of my all-time favorite movies: Hatari and The Flight of the Phoenix ~ JB)

Jan. 21: Meat Loaf Dies: ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ Singer & ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ Actor Was 74 (don’t forget Fight Club!)

Jan. 22: Don Wilson, the Ventures’ Co-Founder and Rhythm Guitarist, Dead at 88

Jan. 28: Ron Goulart, Who Spanned Genres in 180 Books, Dies at 89

Jan. 29: Carol Speed Dies: Star Of Blaxploitation Film ‘The Mack’ And Horror Classic ‘Abby’ Was 76

Jan. 30: Howard Hesseman, who played WKRP’s Johnny Fever, dies at 81

Links of Interest

Jan 1: He Was the West’s Most Important Undercover Spy. An Affair Brought It All Down.

Jan. 3: The Long Afterlife of a Terrible Crime

Jan. 3: US intelligence errors helped build myth of Nazi Alpine redoubt, says historian

Jan 6: Police say a home was bursting with stolen Amazon packages. Three people have been arrested.

Jan. 6: An infamous heist revisited: One mystery that remains unsolved

Jan. 7: ‘Art & Crime’ looks at the forgeries, thefts and manipulations that plague the art world

Jan. 9: Student sleuths: Scotland’s undergraduate-led cold case unit

Jan. 9: How Fake Spies Ruin Real Intelligence

Jan. 10: Do People Really Know What They Think They Know about Cornell Woolrich?

Jan. 10: How European Royals Once Shared Their Most Important Secrets

Jan. 11: Why is so little known about the 1930s coup attempt against FDR?

Jan 11: For your hands only: James Bond’s smart gun becomes a reality

Jan. 12: Tragic tale of top violinist who vanished mid-performance at New York’s Met Opera House

Jan. 12: ‘Crime tourists’: International rings targeting wealthy Asian, Middle Eastern families in US

Jan. 12: Netscape Billionaire James Clark Says He Handed Over $35 Million In Trafficked Art

Jan. 13: The Overlooked Art (and Drama) of Courtroom Sketching

Jan. 15: The Unsolved Pocket-Knife Murder of an Aspiring Teacher

Jan. 17: Long Island serial killer case: after 11 years, could answers be coming?

Jan. 18: Dentist Killed His Wife on an African Hunting Trip, US Says

Jan. 21: Man Arrested For Stealing $1M in Cash That Was Going to Be Destroyed

Jan. 21: Man ‘Accidentally’ Stabbed Grandma 60 Times Because She Nagged Him

Jan. 22: Guns, Catfishing, Lies: The Wildest Sheriff Race in America

Jan. 24: Read Arthur Miller’s steamy love letter to Marilyn Monroe.

Jan. 24: Did the U.S. Army Post a Fake Lana Del Rey Quote to Boost Recruiting?

Jan. 26: A Piece of Texas Music History Sells at Auction Amid Claims That It Was Stolen

Jan. 27: Crime Scene Cleaner Confesses to Killing Dad With a Dumbbell, Cops Say

Jan. 28: Case of 2 Canadian Mob Suspects Murdered in Mexico Just Keeps Getting Weirder

Jan. 28: Lady Gaga Dognapping: How Cops Cracked Attempted Murder Case

Words of the Month

jibe (v.) To “agree, fit,” 1813, gibe, of unknown origin, originally U.S. colloquial, perhaps a figurative extension of earlier jib, gybe (v.) “shift a sail or boom” (see jib). OED, however, suggests a phonetic variant of chime, as if meaning “to chime in with, to be in harmony.” Related: Jibed; jibes; jibing.

gibe (n.) A “a taunt,” 1570s, from gibe (v.) “speak sneeringly” (1560s), of uncertain origin; perhaps from French giber “to handle roughly,” or an alteration of gaber “to mock.”(etymonline)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

18 Tiny Deaths: The untold Story of Frances Glessner Lee and the Invention of Modern Forensics by Bruce Goldfarb

Usually, I’m not one who enjoys non-fiction.

However.

Ever since learning about the Nutshell Studies – I’ve wanted to learn more. Hence my rare delve into 18 Tiny Deaths. A book which I thoroughly enjoyed reading…after I made my way past the first chapter or two. The chapters, while necessary to set the scene – so the reader both understands who Captain Lee was, where she came from, and why her relentless pursuit was so important – are a tad dry.

But then you make it to chapter four and discover the slight slog was entirely worth it. 18 Tiny Deaths does an excellent job of presenting what forensic science was like back in Lee’s day and what inspired her to take up her’s life work. Work which extended far beyond the creation of her famous Nutshell Studies and earned her the title of the Mother of Modern Forensic Science.

Seriously, I could go on and on about the impact Lee had on investigative procedures – but then I’d be robbing you of the pleasure of this read. Though, to be warned, The Nutshell Studies themselves only play a small part in this book, as she created them as study aids for her seminars. So it doesn’t go into excruciating detail about their creation – instead, 18 Tiny Deaths focuses on the whole of Lee’s contributions to forensic science.

I would highly recommend this read to anyone who enjoys reading about interesting women who, through charm and single-minded determination, get things done and enjoy reading about investigative side crime. (It’s also a great book to read alongside or before The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death by Botz.)

Creepy Cross-Stitch by Lindsay Swearingen

This is just a little blurb for those of you who are still working on needlecrafts while binging television shows like Nancy Drew, You, How To Get Away With Murder, Death In Paradise, and Father Brown…(BTW – I recommend all the aforementioned series.)

In any case, back to my main topic.

Creepy Cross-Stitch contains some unique patterns, which, like the front cover, includes patterns for friendly little ghosts, a grave, fun vintage Halloween themes, and a skull bell jar pattern.

All of which are fun to stitch.

(For edification’s sake – it does not contain Ouiji, palmistry, or witchery flavored designs or embroidery. If you’re looking for those designs – try Stitch Craft by Gayla Partridge. Another book I’d recommend checking out.)

JB

futz (v.) To “loaf, waste time,” 1932, American English, perhaps from Yiddish. Related: Futzed; futzing. (etymonline)

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

January 2022

The stuffed toys that inspired A.A. Milne’s “Winnie-the-Pooh.”

NYC Public Library’s Cabinet of Wonders Opens Wide

Words for the Month

pilpul (n.) A pointless argument. (Says You! #919)

HUH? Stuff

A first edition of Harry Potter is now the most expensive modern work of fiction ever sold.

On the Murder Mystery Movie Written by Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins

The Underappreciated Genius of William Lindsay Gresham’s Nightmare Alley [the remake by Benicio Del Toro comes out soon]

See the Real Live Man Who Grew Up in a Carnival

Nuclear Experts: Hey, So, Those Anti-5G Radiation Necklaces Are Actually Radioactive

Wait, is ‘Die Hard’ a remake of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life?’

Can you solve the very first published crossword puzzle?

Indiana Jones’ Rabbi Thought He Found the Ark of the Covenant and Nearly Started a War

The Most Scathing Book Reviews of 2021

Did Philip K. Dick discover the real-life Matrix in 1977?

Serious Stuff

Retail Theft Has Gotten Very Organized

Israeli spyware was used against US diplomats in Uganda

The CIA Is Deep Into Cryptocurrency, Director Reveals

10 Books Texas Officials Want to Ban From Schools

Crime Prediction Software Promised to Be Free of Biases. New Data Shows It Perpetuates Them

To Investigate Serial Killers with the FBI, First She Had to Pass the Test

The FBI’s Legendary Mindhunter Wonders, Did He Get It Right?

‘JFK’ at 30: Oliver Stone and the lasting impact of America’s most dangerous movie

Inside the Disastrous Conspiracy Roadshow That Likely Killed a COVID-Denying Ex-CIA Agent

The meaning of words: Orwell, Didion, Trump and the death of language

Local Stuff

‘You don’t know how to grieve’: Loved ones of missing Federal Way teen gather 24 years later

Cold case detective, forensic DNA scientist hope to inspire others after solving infamous Spokane crime

Oregon-based Dark Horse Comics sold to Swedish video game company

Rethinking mugshots: Online era means they live forever so states, including Oregon, are moving to limit release

Words for the Month

oojah (n.) An object whose name one can’t remember. (Says You !#916)

Odd Stuff

Unmasked: the Penguin saves world from Covid in Danny DeVito’s Batman story

How the CIA Took Over a Florida Island

Hackers Are Spamming Businesses’ Receipt Printers With ‘Antiwork’ Manifestos

TikTok isn’t just for tearjerkers—it’s also for obscure 1930s literary puzzles, apparently.

Who Owns a Recipe? A Plagiarism Claim Has Cookbook Authors Asking

The ‘Home Alone’ house could be yours for a night

Ransomware Jerks Helped Cause the Cream Cheese Shortage

Ohio police ask for help finding thieves who stole entire bridge

He was close by for three presidential assassinations. Including his dad’s.

Man Who Tried to Kill the Queen With a Crossbow Made Darth Vader Terror Video Before Breaking into Palace

9 Spine-Tingling True Crime Relics Sold in 2021

SPECTRE

Amazon’s Dark Secret: It Has Failed to Protect Your Data

What Happened to Amazon’s Bookstore?

Complaint to FTC: Amazon search results full of potentially deceiving ads

Most of Amazon’s Pollution-Spewing Warehouses Are Built In Communities of Color

This Amazon program has funneled thousands to anti-vax activists during the pandemic

Amazon Delivery Workers Threatened With Firing, Told to Keep Driving During Tornadoes

Words of the Month

cumberground (n.) Totally worthless object or person; something that is just in the way. (fishofgold.net)

Awards

Here are the winners of the 2021 Hugo Awards.

Hugo Awards Host DisCon III Apologizes for Taking Money From Defense Company

Martha Wells continues run of female Hugo award winners

Survey says: the Booker is the most important literary prize in the world.

Book Stuff

Emma Straub on Opening Her Bookstore, Books Are Magic

Millions of followers? For book sales, ‘it’s unreliable.’

Feminist retelling of Nineteen Eighty-Four approved by Orwell’s estate

Library audio and ebook loans in 2021 reveal unexpected stars

Chris Cuomo’s Upcoming Book Pulled by HarperCollins

Penguin Random House Defends Effort to Buy Simon & Schuster

Lawrence Block: The Thrill of Discovering the Novels of Fredric Brown

Co-founder of independent bookstore in Hong Kong, Jisaam Books, shares why she continues even if it makes no profit

True Crime Is Changing (And That’s A Good Thing)

Nothing Like a Mad Woman: 11 Unexpected Thrillers About Female Rage

The New Outliers: How Creative Nonfiction Became a Legitimate, Serious Genre

Writing Sex Scenes in the Realm of Mystery

‘Don’t start a sex scene when your mother-in-law is visiting’: how I wrote a novel in a month

The Books Briefing: The Quiet Skill of Mass-Market Novels

Lost library of literary treasures saved for UK after charity raises £15m

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Salem: A Town with a Dark History of Brutality and Murder

Poor, Black and in Real Trouble: The Baltimore Noir of Jerome Dyson Wright

One of world’s smallest books sold at auction for £3,500

How Many Books Does It Take to Make a Place Feel Like Home?

Inside Yu and Me Books, Manhattan’s first Asian American woman-owned bookstore/café.

Politics and Prose employees moved to unionize—then the store owners hired an anti-union law firm.

This village was a book capital. What happens when people stop buying so many books?

Other Forms of Entertainment

8 True Crime Podcasts You Need to Listen to This Winter

‘I’ve healed. I don’t want to be the badass’ – Noomi Rapace on beating her Dragon Tattoo trauma

How HBO’s Love Life addresses the whiteness of the publishing industry

James Bond: acclaimed writers explain how they would reinvent 007

Sylvester Stallone to Star in Taylor Sheridan/Terence Winter Contemporary Kansas City Mob Drama for Paramount+

Mannix Was Vintage TV’s Perfect Savvy PI

Our 15 Favorite Underrated Film Noirs

The Real Story Behind ‘Casablanca’

The Best Crime Movies of 2021

Dirty Harry at 50: Clint Eastwood’s seminal, troubling 70s antihero

Vincent D’Onofrio on Wilson Fisk’s Hawkeye Return: “He Wants His City Back”

Rat Pack Crime Cinema

Spectre Cut Twist Would Have Revealed Ralph Fiennes’ M As Blofeld

The Black Neo-noirs of the ’90s

10 Best Neo-Noir Thrillers To Watch Like Nightmare Alley

Words of the Month

vada (n.) Damp or moist (Says You #1025)

RIP

Dec 1: Here’s our tribute to G.M. Ford

Dec 1: Philip B. Heymann, 89, Dies; Prosecuted Watergate and Abscam

Dec 5: Martha De Laurentiis, Producer on ‘Hannibal’ and ‘Red Dragon,’ Dies at 67

Dec 11: Anne Rice, who spun gothic tales of vampires, dies at 80

Dec 15: Trailblazing feminist author, critic and activist bell hooks has died at 69

Dec 23: Joan Didion has died at 87

Dec 27: Sarah Weddington, attorney who won Roe v Wade abortion case, dies aged 76

Dec 27: Andrew Vachss died at 79. At this time we have no details

Dec 29: David Wagoner, prolific poet of the Northwest, is dead at 96

Dec 30: Assunta Maresca, first female boss in Camorra mafia, dies aged 86: Maresca, known as Pupetta, or ‘Little Doll’, found fame when she shot dead her husband’s killer in Naples at the age of 18

Links of Interest

Nov 30: Inside the FBI’s Unlikely Undercover Operation Infiltrating a Radical Militia in Kansas

Dec 1: Serial killer’s confessions have LA detectives chasing ghosts

Dec 1: Dickens letter brings Victorian dinner drama to life

Dec 2: A Prolific Art Thief Got an Incredible Sentence

Dec 3: The Ponzi of Paris: The Greatest, Wildest Confidence Artist in French History

Dec 4: Police may have discovered source of the “bags and bags” of money in wall of Joel Osteen’s church

Dec 7: Hedge Fund Billionaire Surrenders $70 Million in Looted Art

Dec 9: Encrypted Phone Company Backdoored by FBI Will Lead to ‘Years’ of Arrests

Dec 9: Mom Charged for Telling Daughter to Punch Opponent in High School Basketball Game

Dec 9: The Tragic Misfit Behind “Harriet the Spy”

Dec 11: Secret Customs and Border Protection Unit Snooped on Journalists, Gov’t Officials

Dec 14: N.Y. Ethics Board Tells Former Gov. Cuomo to Return Book Money

Dec 14: Mysterious 40-Year-Old Remains ID’d as Member of Soul Outfit the O’Jays

Dec 14: OJ Simpson a ‘completely free man’ after parole ends in Nevada

Dec 15: Meet MS-13’s ‘Black Widow’ Who Tricked Men Into Marriage and Killed Them

Dec 16: The lawyer who tried faking his death, and the writer exposing his crime dynasty

Dec 26: 6 of the Biggest Crypto-Heists of 2021 – Gizmodo

Words of the Month

ultracrepidarian (adj.) Noting or pertaining to a person who criticizes, judges, or gives advice outside the area of his or her expertise. (fishofgold.net)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Liz Ireland – Mrs. Claus and the Halloween Homicide

What do you get when you take Christmas, Halloween, murder, and whiz it up in a blender?

This book.

Okay – now you need to trust me on this one.

April Claus married into one of the most famous families in the world, which initially didn’t impact her life a whole lot – as her husband was heir to the mantle of Santa Claus. Sadly, thru a series of unfortunate and murderous events, both she and her husband were thrust into the roles of Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus on a strictly interim basis. (The details of how this came about are detailed Mrs. Claus and the Santaland Slayings.)

Now having a whole year of Mrs. Claus duties under her belt and being the new blood of the clan April is keen on introducing the elves of Christmastown to another holiday, her (previous) favorite Halloween, an idea which proves somewhat controversial in a town dedicated to all things Christmas.

A small but vocal contingent of elves believes Christmastown should remain a single celebration city. The most vocal critic of All Hallows Eve is Tiny Sparkletoes – who unfortunately – is found dead not long after a greenhouse full of pumpkins is vandalized…

Now I picked up this book based on the mash-up of holidays promised in the title – and it did not let me down. In fact, it utterly beat my expectations! The setting of Christmas town, the entertaining character names, and the reindeer (oh, the reindeer!) are treated so off-handedly that it successfully neutralizes the sweetness that could’ve crept into this narrative. April Claus just happens to live at the North Pole with her husband in Kringle Castle.

No big deal.

It also helps that April finds herself hip-deep in investigating a case of vandalism but a potential murder. Then there’s the problem of her best friend’s creepy boyfriend, drunk reindeer, and a mother-in-law who isn’t ready to cede her status as the numero uno – Mrs. Claus.

Seriously, Mrs. Claus and the Halloween Homicide is a well-paced and surprisingly nuanced themed mystery that will have you turning the pages quicker and quicker to find out whodunit!

Fran

HAPPY MERRY JOLLY!

So, how was your holiday season? We spent ours being all trendy, having the newly fashionable COVID Christmas, and it was just as spectacular as you might imagine.

I hope you didn’t participate, and if you did, I hope you’re feeling much better. We are, thank you for asking. That’s very sweet of you, but we’re vaccinated and boosted, so we were just unhappy, not in danger. Mostly we were blearily waiting for Barnaby to solve the Midsomer crime of the day. He’s reliable, is Barnaby. We needed that. Thank you, Caroline Graham!

I didn’t read a lot during this time. Brain fog is a real thing, hence the need for Barnaby to solve the cases. But I did read a YA book that was tons of fun, and perfectly suited my mood – Maureen Johnson’s Devilish.

While I never attended a religious prep school on the East Coast, any high school student will be able to relate to the issues facing Jane Jarvis, who doesn’t quite fit in, is too smart for her own good, and is worried about her bestie, Allison Concord. See, Ally’s changed, and while on the surface it seems to be a good thing, Jane is concerned because the changes in Ally are so radical. I mean, who gets a scholarship that pays for you to go shopping? To change your entire personality and become the Cool Kid? Something is suspicious, and Jane is going to find out what.

What I love about Maureen Johnson’s writing is how very relatable all her people are. While I’ve never been in the circumstances Jane finds herself in – and I’m grateful for that, by the way! – I know her, and Ally, and Owen, and Elton, and even the nuns.

Devilish is a quick read, which is perfect for this time of year, and definitely worth your while. If, however, you decide to save it for a summer beach read, I totally understand. The important thing is that you read it. Which you will, right?

BEST OF THE NEW YEAR TO ALL!

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

BLACK BORDER FOR FORD

We’re heartbroken to learn today of the death of G.M. Ford. Jerry died on December 1st according to his partner-in-crime Kathleen Skye Moody. We know he was born on July 9, 1945 in Everett, MA. At this time, we do not know where he was living when he died, or the cause. He was 76.

Jerry was an early customer of the shop. He and his dear friend Arnie would stop in on weekends to chat, chew the fat, buy some books and complain about the quality of the books he’d been reading. He’s laughingly say that he could write a better book, and Bill would say sure, sure, Jerry, sure you could. He would threaten to do it and Bill promised to give him his first signing if he got it published.

Pretty soon, he’d say that he was writing one, then that it was finished, then that he had an agent and the agent had sold it. We were left to swallow and hope it was good. Son of a gun – it was.

That was Who in Hell is Wanda Fuca?, and, of course, Bill and Tammy and I loved it. Just like Jerry, it was funny and smart and one-of-a-kind. The release date was set for May 1995. We were thrilled to set up a signing. But then an odd thing popped up. When Bill saw the publisher’s proposed dust jacket, he frowned at it said something to the effect that a brown paper bag would be better. Bill, you see, being an old bookman, had clear thoughts about book promotion… And lead us to the idea of making our own dust jacket to celebrate the book and the premiere signing.

It took off with a life of it’s own. 200 numbered, signed and dated copies, dated and signed on the date listed on the dust jacket. We weren’t sure how it was going to work but, boy did it. We found ourselves doing something similar for the next seven books – the next five Leo Watermans, and the first two Frank Corsos. It was a big production and great fun. Jerry admitted that he was in no way a collector but I think he was bemused and gratified that so many fans, from across the country, demanded to have the same number of their limited editions, year after year.

If you don’t live in the Puget Sound area, you may not get the joke of the first book’s title. One of “The Boys”, the drunks that acted like Leo’s Baker Street Irregulars, asked that question in the book, taking the waterway for a woman’s name. His second book also had ties to another geographic spot, Concrete, WA. Jerry didn’t want to get locked into a title gimmick that he would regret so he stepped it sideways. Instead of original, Set in Concrete, he used Cast in Stone.

we stole the idea for the dance steps from the sidewalks along Broadway, on Capitol Hill

There came a time when he grew tired of battling his publisher over titles. He wanted to call his third Leo The Pigeon Shit Shuffle. Strangely, his publisher declined to use it. We did. His fourth book, his homage to Nero Wolfe, was to be A Steak in the Action, but the publisher wanted something shorter and punchier, so it became Slow Burn (not for our dj). For the fifth, he refused to give it a title and allowed them to pick one. We used his working title, Whatever #5.

By 2006, Jerry had seemed to have retired Leo Waterman, and he left Frank Corso in Blown Away in 2006, pleading for help with a bomb wired around his neck (Jerry was gleeful at the ending, happy to have used that odd, true 2003 crime that was at that time unsolved but that he remembered!) After that, he began writing stand-alone thrillers and then began publishing through SPECTRE (Amazon) as so many local authors were doing. We explained to him that we couldn’t sell books from them and I think he felt we’d turned our backs on him. The last signing we had with him was in 2008.

He would still drop in to chat. He’d find a reason to come down to Bakeman’s for lunch and spend some time with us. And then, when we were occupied with customers, he’d wander out, often without saying goodbye. It always felt as if we’d see him again sometime. Until we didn’t.

We’re not ones to bring religion into the shop but, if there is an afterlife, a heaven, we’re heartened to think he’s there swapping stories with John D. MacDonald and Rex Stout (two of his favorites). And we hope that he’s wandered into that Big Bookshop in the sky to say hello to Bill Farley, a man Jerry dedicated Black River to as “master of all things mysterious and bookseller extraordinaire”.

Gerald Manson Ford.

G.M. Ford.

Jerry Ford.

Thanks, Jerry. It was wonderful!

December 2021

A Word for the Wet November

obnubilate (v.): “to darken, cloud, overcloud,” 1580s, from Latin obnibulatus, past participle of obnubilare “to cover with clouds or fog,” from ob “in front of, against” (see ob-) + verb from Latin nubes “cloud,” from PIE *sneudh– “fog” (see nuance). Related: Obnubilated; obnubilating. Middle English had obnubilous “obscure, indistinct” (early 15th C.). (etymonline.com)

10 Perfectly Plotted Murder Mysteries That Take Place During Christmas [she missed Criss Cross by Tom Kakonis]

10 Thrillers You Forgot Take Place During Christmas [left out was Lethal Weapon!]

Is your Christmas present spying on you? How to assess gifts’ privacy risks

Engraved on a tombstone almost 2000 years ago, this is music’s oldest surviving composition

Remember when the Grateful Dead did a 12-minute freestyle based on “The Raven”?

Murder Isn’t Easy: The Forensics of Agatha Christie by Carla Valentine review – science and skullduggery

Who will buy the extremely rare concept art book for Jorodowsky’s unproduced Dune?

Rare Einstein Papers Containing Early Relativity Calculations Fetch $13 Million At Auction

Bishop Who Left Clergy for Erotica Writer Accused of Being ‘Possessed’

Dubbing ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ to spread the Navajo language

Huge Roman Mosaic Depicting Scenes From the ‘Iliad’ Found Beneath U.K. Field

On the only mystery novel written by A.A. Milne, creator of Winnie-the-Pooh

obloquy (n.): From the mid-15th C., obloquie, “evil speaking, slander, calumny, derogatory remarks,” from Medieval Latin obloquium “speaking against, contradiction,” from Latin obloqui “to speak against, contradict,” from ob “against” (see ob-) + loqui “to speak,” from PIE root *tolkw- “to speak.” Related: Obloquious. (etymonline.com)

Serious Stuff

What is the ‘international’ hand signal to indicate you are in danger and where does it come from?

A parent wants to criminally prosecute librarians for sharing a book about a genderqueer kid.

Conservatives Are Just Openly Endorsing Book Burning Now

Burning books: 6 outrageous, tragic and weird examples in history

We’re Preparing For a Long Battle.’ Librarians Grapple With Conservatives’ Latest Efforts to Ban Books

Fairfax schools will return 2 books to shelves after reviewing complaints over content

A woman murdered every month: is this Greece’s moment of reckoning on femicide?

Two men convicted in assassination of Malcolm X to be exonerated

Denver area worst in U.S. for porch pirates, study suggests

Local Stuff

The Monsters of Maple Falls

‘Case of the century’: Lawyers, judges and journalists reflect on case of Kevin Coe, Spokane South Hill rapist, 40 years later

Powell’s Books survived Amazon. Can it reinvent itself after the pandemic?

What About Ann Rule? An ode to the original queen of true crime, who focused on victims, not perpetrators; lessons, not details; and loss, not violence.

Seattle pair charged with stealing $1 million in jobless benefits, small business loans

Nancy Pearl, Seattle’s most famous librarian, looks back on a lifetime of books

In a Confessional Book, a Nike Exec Omits the Name of the Man He Murdered

Omak Library may close if anti-mask aggression continues

BookTree in Kirkland entices with new and used books; here’s what its customers are reading

The 10 Weirdest Revelations from the FBI Files on D.B. Cooper for the 50th Anniversary of His Escape

Odd Stuff

Is Superman Circumcised? favourite to win Oddest book title of the year

‘Plastic and Lies’: Murder Charges Expose Vast Underground Butt-Injection Operation

Michael Corleone, Role Model

Quentin Tarantino is selling Pulp Fiction all over again – this time as art

Of Course True Crime Fans Are Guilty: For Fyodor Dostoevsky, that was the point.

SPECTRE

[seriously, we were honest in our belief that it wasn’t worth including stories about Amazon. We’ve waged a war against the behemoth for 20 years and few have paid attention. But the stories keep piling up, sooo…..]

Bookshops thrive as France moves to protect sellers from Amazon

Interview: The Every is about an all-powerful monopoly that seeks to eliminate competition’: why Dave Eggers won’t sell his new hardback on US Amazon

Elizabeth Warren’s concerns over COVID book sold on Amazon draw Seattle lawsuit

In the supply chain battle of 2021, small businesses are losing out to Walmart and Amazon

Amazon takes its war to get products to our door to the high seas

Amazon push for lower prices could be bad for shoppers everywhere

Tom Morello Signs Open Letter Denouncing Amazon’s Palm-Scanning Concert Tech

Forget Amazon. The Best Gifts Are Closer Than You Think

Amazon Will Face Black Friday Strikes and Protests in 20 Countries

Amazon agrees to pay $2.5M to settle pesticide sales lawsuit

How Amazon may change America’s chicken economy

Higher prices on Amazon cause a retail ripple effect

Words of the Month

obscurantism (n.): “opposition to the advancement and diffusion of knowledge, a desire to prevent inquiry or enlightenment,” 1801, from German obscurantism, obscurantismus (by 1798); see obscurant + -ism. (etymonline.com)

Awards

Here are the winners of the 2021 National Book Awards

National Book awards: Jason Mott wins US literary prize for ‘masterful’ novel Hell of a Book

Book Stuff

Texas School District Tells GOP Rep to Shove His Silly Book Burning Crusade

Justice Dept. Sues Penguin Random House Over Simon & Schuster Deal

Authors Guild calls for DoJ to block Bertelsmann’s S&S purchase

The Century-Old Russian Novel Said to Have Inspired ‘1984

James Bond: Kim Sherwood to write trilogy as first female 007 author

Sally Rooney novels pulled from Israeli bookstores after translation boycott

Paul Newman Will Tell His Own Story, 14 Years After His Death

What Agatha Christie’s Novels—And Life—Have to Teach Today’s Crime Writers

Lisa Lutz, Author and Secret Sharer

Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen on the History of Libraries

Hollywood Loves Books… And authors are cashing in big-time

Code Blue: Ballard, Bosch and a City in Crisis in Michael Connelly’s The Dark Hours

In the Middle of Infrastructure Talks, Joe Manchin Has Pursued a Book Deal

Bob Eckstein Illustrates New and Renovated Bookstores and Libraries from Around the Country

A Case for Football as the Most Literary of American Sports (Baseball Has Reigned Long Enough, Says Corey Sobel)

WATCH: Bill Fitzhugh on Finding Satire in the Serious

Getting It Wrong: How Thomas Perry Learned to Live With His Books’ Errors

Luis Soriano Had a Dream, Two Donkeys, and a Lot of Books

When the Heart of a Beach Town Is an Indie Bookstore

How a Cairo bookshop beat the odds to write its own story

Persephone Books: Finding Space for Women Writers For Two Decades

Making Good out of Murder: On Gwen Bristow and Bruce Manning, Crime Reporters and Crime Writers

Neal Stephenson recommends 6 books on information manipulation

Ann Patchett on Creating the Work Space You Need

Inside story: the first pandemic novels have arrived, but are we ready for them?

It was a call to arms’: Jodi Picoult and Karin Slaughter on writing Covid-19 into novels

UK officials still blocking Peter Wright’s ‘embarrassing’ Spycatcher files

Other Forms of Entertainment

Alan Cumming Answers Every Question We Have about Goldeneye

It’s a wonderful life? The darker side of James Stewart’s screen persona

Blaxploitation Considered Anew In Exhibition at Poster House New York

Dexter Always Gets His Man. Even When It’s Michael C. Hall.

Please Stop Asking How I Wound Up in Fargo

Columbo’s First Case: How One of TV’s Most Iconic Detectives Got His Start

Why ‘Narcos: Mexico’ Is Ending With Season 3

When The Mob Gets a Podcast

A New ‘Thing’ Comic by Walter Mosley Should Inspire ‘The Fantastic Four’

10 Underappreciated American Noirs of the Late 1950s and the 1960s

Nice Heists: Movies Where the Big Score Basically Goes According to Plan

Sopranos Lorraine Bracco Disliked Dr. Melfi’s Final Exit

Yellow, Stranger: The Color Theory of Zodiac

‘No Way Out’ and the Best of “Social Message” Film Noir

Words of the Month

obreption (n.): “the obtaining or trying to obtain something by craft or deception,” 1610s, from Latin obreptionem (nominative obreptio)  “a creeping or stealing on,” noun of action from past-participle stem of obrepere “to creep on, creep up to,” from ob “on, to” (see ob-) + repere “to creep” (see reptile). Opposed to subreption, which is to obtain something by suppression of the truth. Related: Obreptious.

RIP

Oct 28: Peggy York dies; first woman LAPD deputy chief, inspiration for TV’s ‘Cagney & Lacey’

Nov 5: JoAnna Cameron, an Early Female Superhero on TV, Is Dead at 73

Nov 9: Dean Stockwell, “Quantum Leap” and Blue Velvet actor, dies aged 85

Nov 14: Wilbur Smith dead: International bestselling author dies aged 88

Nov 15: NPR books editor Petra Mayer has died at 42

Links of Interest

Nov. 2: The Manhattan ‘Madam’ Who Hobnobbed With the City’s Elite

Nov 3: Locusta of Gaul: Rome’s Imperial Poisoner and Possibly the World’s First Serial Killer

Nov 3: A Painting Stolen in East Germany’s Biggest Art Heist May be an Unknown Rembrandt

Nov 4: Bones in the Backyard: How Police Cracked a Grisly Cold Case

Nov 7: Italian Mafia: ‘Ndrangheta members convicted as Italy begins huge trial

Nov 9: What lies beneath: the secrets of France’s top serial killer expert

Nov 10: The Great Age of the Celebrity Crime Reporter

Nov 10: A solar firm owner is sentenced to 30 years over a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme

Nov 10: Fate of Al Capone’s former home uncertain after new owner hires an architect

Nov 11: Father and Daughter Tortured and Killed Over Valuable Stradivarius Violins, Prosecutor Says

Nov 11: The Rise of the London Police and the 1877 Scandal That Nearly Shut Down Scotland Yard

Nov 11: The Never-Ending Hawaiian Lawsuit and the Search for Yamashita’s Gold

Nov 12: The Real Stories That Inspired ‘Casino Royale’

Nov 14: After a 52-year chase, authorities ID the man behind an infamous Ohio bank heist

Nov 14: How the Mob Made Pinball Public Enemy #1 in the 1940s

Nov 14: The Story of Espionage Is (Often) the Story of Incompetence

Nov 15: A Utah company says it revolutionized truth-telling technology. Experts are highly skeptical.

Nov 16: New York ethics board rescinds approval for Cuomo’s book deal

Nov 17: The Story of the Jonestown Massacre Is About Much More Than Jim Jones. We’ve Been Fighting to Tell It for Decades

Nov 17: Wikipedia and Google Identified Wrong Man as a Serial Killer for Years

Nov 18: Tiny Gold Book Found in English Field May Have Ties to Richard III

Nov 18: ‘Everybody’s Absolutely Horrified’: High Society Is Bracing Itself for Ghislaine Maxwell’s Trial

Nov 19: The Mark Twain House Is America’s Best House Museum

Nov 19: Rare First Printing of the U.S. Constitution Is the Most Expensive Text Ever Sold at Auction

Nov 20: South Carolina Residents Find Elderly Neighbor Dead—Then Learn He’s One of FBI’s 15 Most Wanted Fugitives

Nov 20: Two hundred years later, a long-lost document sheds light on the purchase of Liberia

Nov 20: Candy Rogers Was Murdered in 1959. Cops Finally Know Who Did It.

Nov 20: A Woman’s Quest to Solve Her Grandma’s 40-Year-Old Motel Murder

Nov 21: California Nordstrom Pillaged in 1 Minute by Gang of Thieves

Nov 22: What Bob Dylan Does—Or Doesn’t—Know About the Assassination of JFK

Nov 22: Crime Fiction Is Ridiculous. We Might As Well Have Fun With It.

Nov 23: Man detained more than 2 years because of mistaken identity sues Hawaii

Nov 23: Doctors Declared This Man Dead. He Came Out Alive From a Freezer 6 Hours Later

Nov 24: After 40 years, the man wrongfully convicted of Alice Sebold’s rape has been exonerated

Nov 25: Teen Accused of Rigging School Contest Faces Decades in Jail

Nov 26: ‘Zodiac Killer’ Gary Francis Poste led posse of ‘thrill kill’ assassins

Nov 29: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Detection Dogs

Words of the Month

subreption (n.): “act of obtaining a favor by fraudulent suppression of facts,” c. 1600, from Latin subreptionem (nominative subreptio), noun of action from past-participle stem of subripere, surripere (see surreptitious). Related: Subreptitious. (etymonline.com)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

The Box In The Woods – Maureen Johnson

The Box In The Woods is probably one of the finest transitional books I’ve read – period. 

A bold statement, to be sure, but I think an accurate one nonetheless.

The Box in the Woods is a continuation of Johnson’s Truly Devious series. 

In that, a brand new cold case reunites Stevie and company during their summer vacation. Even better, if you’ve skipped reading the Truly Devious series and aren’t sure you want to sink in the extra time reading the trilogy (though you really should, they’re great), you don’t need to. Johnson brilliantly catches you up – without ruining the first three books! 

Seriously, you don’t know how rare this is.

For some insane reason, mystery writers (or I suspect their editors as the more likely culprit) love revealing the ending of a previous mystery in newer installments! A feature that is fantastically frustrating if you accidentally start in the middle of the series. Thankfully, Johnson neatly sidesteps this common transgression. 

But I digress.

Another reason why I enjoyed reading this book is Johnson makes use of two very well-known tropes and cunningly freshens them up. 

Trope One: The horrors of summer camp as popularized by the Friday the 13th franchise. 

Set a month or two after Stevie solved the Truly Devious case, Stevie’s hired to investigate the notorious Camp Wonder Falls murders, a cold case from 1978 where four camp counselors sneak out to hang out one summer night and are found murdered the following morning. Amplifying the horror of the crime is the fact neither the Sherriff nor State Police solved the crime. Leaving Barlow Corners, where Camp Wonder Falls and all four victims called home, in a state of animated suspension.

Amplifying this trope: Stevie and friends are hired as counselors to the newly revitalized (and renamed) summer camp as cover for said detecting. 

While writing this review, I began to wonder: Does this trope have any real-world roots, or is it a purely fictional construct?

The answer sent me down an hours-long rabbit hole.

More specifically, I discovered an unsettling case dubbed the Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders. In 1977, Michele Heather Guse (9), Lori Lee Farmer (8), and Doris Denise Milner (10) were raped and murdered during a thunderstorm while attending Camp Scott (which was later shut down).

The Sherriff honed in on an escaped felon and convicted rapist who grew up in the area as his prime suspect. Gene Leroy Hart, said offender, was found not guilty of the girl’s murder in 1979. Other suspects have surfaced over the years, but no convictions have come about. Nor has DNA testing helped, as the biological material has deteriorated enough over the years that finding usable samples has become increasingly difficult.

Hauntingly, two months prior to the three little girl’s murder, a room was ransacked during a counselor’s training session. The perpetrator left a note stating, “We are on a mission to kill three little girls in Tent One.”. 

The note, deemed a prank, was unfortunately tossed out. 

(Click here if you’re interested in reading Tulsa World’s coverage of the tragedy. Or here for an alternate suspect theory.)

But back to The Box In The Woods.

The second trope Johnson used is one I’ve read at least a dozen times before – yet Johnson disguised it so cleverly I didn’t see it coming. Which I think is the mark of a great author and an excellent book.

Unfortunately, I can’t explain the trope any further. Otherwise, I will ruin the book for you. This is one where you need to trust me – the trope’s there, and it’s well-executed.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA detectives (though it is only YA due to the ages of the sleuths and a few hormones) and/or those who enjoy Agatha Christie-esque mysteries. 

Honestly, I can’t say enough good things about The Box In The Woods!

The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death – Essay & Photography by Corinne May Botz

Interestingly, the review of the Nutshell Studies is directly linked to The Box In The Woods. When Stevie is first approached about investigating the cold case at Wonder Falls, she knows her folks won’t be keen on the idea, as they don’t understand or entirely approve of her fascination with true crime. So Stevie devises a strategy – which involves using a book filled with photos of the Nutshell Studies – to secure her parent’s permission to become a counselor at the notorious camp.

Intrigued by Johnson’s description, I found the book Stevie was reading.

Whereupon I discovered I’d seen homages to these scaled works in Elementry, CSI: Las Vegas, and Father Brown.

Created by Frances Glessner Lee, the mother of forensic science in the United States, these dioramas are intended to help train investigators on how to approach and analyze crime scenes.

Each scene is a 1-foot to 1-inch scale replica of crime scenes Lee either read about or visited. And much like Dragnet, Lee altered the specifics of each case she used, lest the detectives already know the solution. Though small, these gruesome dollhouses are fully immersive crime scenes where only one of three outcomes were acceptable – accident, suicide, or murder.

Brining us to Botz’s book.

Botz’s photography of these tiny worlds is both haunting, eerily lovely and acquaints her readers with the specter at the feast. All the while keeping true to Lee’s goal for the Nutshell Studies.

And this is where my criticism of this book lies.

Authors and Readers don’t always have the same agenda when beginning a book. And that’s okay. However, it is the duty of the author to set a clear message for their audience – particularly when dealing with such a tantalizing and fascinating subject like the Nutshell Studies.

Because, much like Stevie in The Box In The Woods, I wanted to hone my own critical thinking skills and eye on dioramas meant to do just that.

And this is where the rub of the book lies.

Botz waited until page 220 of 223 in a footnote, no less, to inform her readers she only included the solution to five out of twenty Nutshell Studies. (And one other tiny pet peeve the few provided solutions aren’t listed in the order the cases were presented in the previous chapter.) In any case, the reason for this purposeful omission is due to the fact law enforcement still use the Nutshell Studies as training tools. So they asked Botz not to reveal three-quarters of the solutions.

Which is entirely understandable and isn’t the basis of my quibble.

My objection lies in waiting until the last four pages to finally elucidate this crucial detail – Botz could’ve just as easily placed the footnote in her prologue (which would’ve avoided a great deal of frustration and annoyance).

Admittedly, in Botz’s preface, she does allude to this contentious detail. Stating she set out to photograph the Nutshell Studies, “With the resolve of an investigator at the scene of a crime (yet with no interest in solving it)…” (pg. 12). Additionally, Botz felt a kinship with Lee – which meant Botz kept true to Lee’s intent for the Nutshells, “…they were not supposed to treat the Nutshells as ‘whodunnits’…they are, rather, designed as exercises in observing and evaluating indirect evidence…” (pg. 29).

This obfuscation of information continues with the photographs, as Botz only gives the audience small slices of these miniatures to study. Now, these slices are spectacular in their incredible detail, meticulous craftsmanship, and atmospheric perspective – but they do not afford the same opportunity for the reader as they do investigators.

Happily, Botz does include the background info written by Lee for each diorama. Then provides a crime scene diagram of each overall scene where Botz highlights investigative features, the personal quirks Lee buried within the rooms or just general fun facts. They draw the reader’s eye hither, thither, and yon much like a red herring in a mystery novel.

Now, with all this being said – and I know my criticism is rather long – I would still highly recommend reading this book. Although, with the caveat, the cases may leave you a bit frustrated with not knowing the answers…In any case, the sheer precision and accuracy of Lee’s dioramas is astonishing, and Botz’s photography elevates the Nutshell Studies to a whole new level. Making Botz’s book The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death deserving of your time and energy. Because I bought this book several months back, and I still find something new each and every time I reread it.

BEST OF THE NEW YEAR TO ALL

MAY WE ALL HAVE THE

HOLIDAYS WE DESERVE

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

November 2021

My Poor Ass’: Michelangelo Wrote a Poem About How Much He Hated Painting the Sistine Chapel

Have Sumatran fishing crews found the fabled Island of Gold?

A Kansas City fashion icon was kidnapped for ransom. How the mafia helped save her

Catch These 5 Incredible Finds—From Ian Fleming’s Annotated James Bond Draft, and Chandler’s inscribed hardcover to Fleming, to a Rare Tolkien Trove—at Firsts, London’s Rare Book Fair

A super-rare first folio fragment of Shakespeare’s Henry IV is up for auction.

How to Flirt Effectively, According to Michael Mann Movies

Ten books from The Simpsons Library I would like to read.

How One Unexpected Phone Call Led to the Rescue of the Last Diving Horse in America

A Scientific Explanation for Your Urge to Sniff Old Books

We Added New Words to the Dictionary for October 2021

Boy, if there’s a Word of the Month that fits us it is this:

gallimaufry (n.)“a medley, hash, hodge-podge,” 1550s, from French galimafrée “hash, ragout, dish made of odds and ends,” from Old French galimafree, calimafree “sauce made of mustard, ginger, and vinegar; a stew of carp” (14th C.), which is of unknown origin. Perhaps from Old French galer “to make merry, live well” (see gallant) + Old North French mafrer “to eat much,” from Middle Dutch maffelen [Klein]. Weekley sees in the second element the proper name Maufré. Hence, figuratively, “any inconsistent or absurd medley.” (etymonline)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

‘The beginning of the snowball:’ Supply-chain snarls delay books (with local views)

Supply chain issues are slowing the production of books ahead of the holidays (the reporter also talks about how the sale of e-books has fallen)

Serious Stuff

Pandora papers: biggest ever leak of offshore data exposes financial secrets of rich and powerful

Global hunt for looted treasures leads to offshore trusts

The United States of Dirty Money

State of Emergency Declared Over Crime Spike and Cocaine Boom in Ecuador

The Long American History of “Missing White Woman Syndrome”

What happens to crime where recreational marijuana is legal? Here’s what we know

Opinion | Journalists bungled coverage of the Attica uprising. 50 years later, the consequences remain

Drawing a line from Cold War brainwashing to the misinformation age

We Finally Know How 43 Students on a Bus Vanished Into Thin Air

50 Years Later, Looking Back at the Real-Life Crime Network That Inspired The French Connection

How The French Connection Reinvented (and Exploded) the Police Procedural

In secret tapes, palm oil execs disclose corruption, brutality

A Black family got their beach back — and inspired others to fight against land theft

A Black 10-Year-Old Drew an ‘Offensive Sketch.’ She Was Handcuffed by Cops.

A Drug Cartel Sent a Severed Head to Tijuana’s New Police Chief on His First Day

When the Family Legacy Is Murder

Secret recording reveals Texas teachers told to counter Holocaust books with ‘opposing’ views

This lady is trying to ban Toni Morrison’s books from schools for being “pornographic.”

Kenosha police accused of ‘deputizing’ militia vigilantes during Jacob Blake protests

White House Once Again Delays Release of JFK Assassination Documents

Was He Framed for Killing Black Kids to Get the Klan off the Hook?

There is a consistency to the debate over book censorship: Distress about change

A Union Scandal Landed Hundreds of NYPD Officers on a Secret Watchlist. That Hasn’t Stopped Some From Jeopardizing Cases

The Secret History of Latin America’s Female Cartel Bosses

Local Stuff

1927 Murderer’s Row program turns up in East Vancouver, BC

20 years after unsolved killing of federal prosecutor Thomas Wales in Seattle, details emerge about the FBI’s theory

Reward for info in murder of Seattle prosecutor climbs to $2.5 million decades after death

The Case of Perry Mason’s Courtroom Cousin

Seattle police arrest Pike Place Market store owner suspected of trafficking stolen Lego sets

Amanda Knox was exonerated. That doesn’t mean she’s free

Fremont’s Outsider Comics is the inclusive home base for a new generation of Seattle nerds

Ursula K. Le Guin always wanted Powell’s Books to be a proud union shop.

An ode to the glorious ’70s cover art of the books of Ursula K. Le Guin.

Cops Solve Mystery of Alaska Serial Killer Victim Known as ‘Horseshoe Harriet’

Words of the Month

absurd (n): “plainly illogical,” 1550s, from French absurde (16th C.), from Latin absurdus “out of tune, discordant;” figuratively “incongruous, foolish, silly, senseless,” from ab– “off, away from,” here perhaps an intensive prefix, + surdus “dull, deaf, mute,” which is possibly from an imitative PIE root meaning “to buzz, whisper” (see susurration). Thus the basic sense is perhaps “out of tune,” but de Vaan writes, “Since ‘deaf’ often has two semantic sides, viz. ‘who cannot hear’ and ‘who is not heard,’ ab-surdus can be explained as ‘which is unheard of’ …” The modern English sense is the Latin figurative one, perhaps “out of harmony with reason or propriety.” Related: Absurdly; absurdness. (etymonline)

Odd Stuff

On the mysterious obscenity scribbled on John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath manuscript

The Socialite Gangster Who Charmed the New York Literati

From Pen Stroke to Key Stroke: On Slander in Suspense ~ Poisoned pen letters were a staple of Golden Age crime fiction. Now, writers are using new technologies continue the tradition.

Lord of the Rings orc was modeled after Harvey Weinstein, Elijah Wood reveals

Dodgers Fan Thought to Be Most-Wanted Fugitive Just a Dodgers Fan, U.S. Marshals Determine

5 historic codes yet to be cracked

Eighty years after his death, weapons experts now say expressionist painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s suicide may have been murder

Who was Agent 355? The Mystery of America’s First Female Spy

Australian Court to Deliberate the World’s Most Expensive Apostrophe

The Reason Some Are Convinced Paul McCartney Is A Clone

Dormice favoured by Italian mafia seized in drugs raid

He’s a poet and the FBI know it: how John Giorno’s Dial-a-Poem alarmed the Feds

The Bizarre History of the Many, Many Bond Imitators of 60s and 70s Pop Culture

A recent auction of the Al Capone’s mementos testifies to his enduring appeal—and the thorny nature of collecting items owned by criminals

Missouri Man Won’t Sell Back Murder Victim’s Wedding Ring

Egypt detains artist robot Ai-Da before historic pyramid show; Sculpture and its futuristic creator held for 10 days, possibly in fear she is part of spying plot

This Former Crime Scene Cleaner Is Now a Go-To COVID Slayer

Dressed to kill: Why gangster and fashion films have a lot in common

10 Years of Rituals – Inside an exorcist’s diary

When a cobra became a murder weapon in India

Words of the Month

paradox (n): From t he 1530s, “a statement contrary to common belief or expectation,” from French paradoxe (14th C.) and directly from Latin paradoxum “paradox, statement seemingly absurd yet really true,” from Greek paradoxon “incredible statement or opinion,” noun use of neuter of adjective paradoxos “contrary to expectation, incredible,” from para- “contrary to” (see para- (1)) + doxa “opinion,” from dokein “to appear, seem, think” (from PIE root *dek- “to take, accept”).

Originally with notions of “absurd, fantastic.” Meaning “statement that is seemingly self-contradictory yet not illogical or obviously untrue” is from 1560s. Specifically in logic, “a statement or proposition from an acceptable premise and following sound reasoning that yet leads to an illogical conclusion,” by 1903. (etymonline)

Awards

Here are the 2021 National Book Award Finalists

Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah has won the Nobel Prize in Literature

Baillie Gifford prize reveals ‘outstanding storytelling’ on 2021 shortlist

A woman won a million-euro Spanish literary prize. It turned out that ‘she’ was actually three men

Here’s the shortlist for the 2021 T.S. Eliot Prize

A new literary prize in honor of Ursula K. Le Guin will recognize “realists of a larger reality.”

Here are the finalists for the 2021 Cundill History Prize

Here are the 2021 Kirkus Prize winners

Book Stuff

Publishing Is a Nightmare: 31 Horror Films about Writing, Reading, and the Book Business

How to Deal with Rejection (and Get Revenge) Like Edgar Allan Poe

Handwritten manuscript of The Grapes of Wrath to be published for the first time

The Books Briefing: The Essential Qualities of a Book

Lee Child on the Invention of Fiction

Stephen Fry on the enduring appeal of Georgette Heyer

Hanif Abdurraqib on What It Was Like to Work at a Chain Bookstore

9 very niche bookstores for your very specific interests

Steph Cha on Choosing the Best of Mystery and Suspense Stories During an Unprecedented and Harrowing Year

State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny review – politics and patriotism

Fictional Detectives, Real Hobbies: Appreciating the Leisure Activities of Fiction’s Greatest Sleuths

John Grisham on Judges, Innocence and the Judgments He Ignores

Murder in the Stacks: Mysteries That Take Place In Bookstores

The Unheralded Women Scribes Who Brought Medieval Manuscripts to Life

On the Various, Multipurposed Manuscripts of Canterbury Tales

Interview: ‘My life in the mafia’s shadow’: Italy’s most hunted author, Roberto Saviano

Solange Launches Free Library of Rare, Out-of-print Books by Black Authors

Amelia Earhart’s long-hidden poems reveal an enigma’s inner thoughts

The Detection Club and the Mid-Century Fight over “Fair Play” in Crime Fiction

Inside the Real-Life Succession Battle at Scholastic

How Being a Firefighter Prepares You to Write Crime Fiction (nope, the author’s last name isn’t Emerson)

Why is Baseball the Most Literary of Sports?

A Murder Mystery That Refuses to be Solved

How to Have Sex in Crime Fiction

Not Everything We Watch Has to Be “Meaningful.” This Series Proves It

Redemption for Doctor Watson

Other Forms of Entertainment

True Crime Fans Are Obsessed With This Forensic Psychology YouTube Channel

‘The Many Saints of Newark’ Led Michael Imperioli to Depressing Realization About His ‘Sopranos’ Character

Netflix Orders Edgar Allen Poe Classic From ‘Midnight Mass’ Team

Sue Grafton’s alphabet series will be adapted for TV—despite her family’s “blood oath.”

One Good Thing: Only Murders in the Building plays like a Nora Ephron murder mystery

This new Broadway play doesn’t have a script — but it does have a transcript

He Read All 27,000 Marvel Comic Books and Lived to Tell the Tale

Brusque cops and femmes fatales: discovering Gilles Grangier’s forgotten noir gem

Corbin Bernsen to Reprise ‘L.A. Law’ Role in ABC Update

The Curious, Astounding Collection of the Magician Ricky Jay

Sopranos‘ Star Steve Schirripa Says Significant Bobby Baccalieri Moment Was an Accident

You Don’t Understand What This Is Doing to Me:” In the age of anti-heroes Tony Soprano reigned supreme. In a new book, we take a look at the toll the character took on James Gandolfini

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is curating a series of classic works by Black playwrights.

‘North by Northwest’ is Basically a James Bond Movie as Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Netflix Tracks Korea’s Most Notorious Serial Killer Yoo Young-chul—Who Targeted the Rich, Then Prostitutes

Re-entering the Void with the Best Episode of ‘True Detective’

Who will play Norman Mailer in this new true crime series?

If you find yourself in mortal danger this weekend, remember the last words of these famous writers.

Elizabeth Banks and Margot Robbie are making a live-action The Paper Bag Princess movie.

Words of the Month

preposterous (adj.): 1540s, “contrary to nature, reason, or common sense,” from Latin praeposterus “absurd, contrary to nature, inverted, perverted, in reverse order,” literally “before-behind” (compare topsy-turvy,cart before the horse), from prae “before” (see pre-) + posterus “subsequent, coming after,” from post “after” (see post-).

The sense gradually shaded into “foolish, ridiculous, stupid, absurd.” The literal meaning “reversed in order or arrangement, having that last which ought to be first” (1550s) is now obsolete in English. In 17th C. English also had a verb preposterate “to make preposterous, pervert, invert.” (etymonline)

RIP

Oct 8: ICON LOST ~ Robert Grossman dead at 88 – Famed neurosurgeon who examined assassinated President John F Kennedy passes away

Oct 21: Julie Green, who painted plates with the last meals of death row inmates

Oct 27: The comedian and satirist Mort Sahl, who has died aged 94, was a combination of Lenny Bruce and Bob Hope – with a little Will Rogers thrown in.

Oct 29: Val Bisoglio Dies: Character Actor Who Played Father In ‘Saturday Night Fever’, Appeared On ‘Quincy, M.E.’ & ‘Sopranos’ Was 95

Links of Interest

Oct 2: The mafia killed her mother. Now she wants to take them on as mayor of Naples

Oct 2: Woodlawn Jane Doe: How scraps of DNA and a genealogy website solved a 45-year-old mystery

Oct 2: Jeffrey Wright: ‘There’s a relentless, grotesque debasement of language in the US’

Oct 2: ‘It will be found’: search for MH370 continues with experts and amateurs still sleuthing

Oct 3: How a Tip to Obituaries Breathed New Life Into a Decades-Old Mystery

Oct 6: It’s Time to Learn About the Lives of John Wayne Gacy’s Victims—And Not Just the Labels Hung on Them

Oct 7: The Boone Family, the Struggle for Kentucky, and the Kidnapping That Rocked Colonial America

Oct 7: The Birth of the CIA—And the Soviet Mole Who Had a Hand in Everything

Oct 8: Case of the Zodiac killer takes another twist – but police say it isn’t solved

Oct 9: How JFK used James Bond to fight the Cold War

Oct 9: How The Mob Controlled The Jukebox Industry

Oct 12: A new film explores the life of Odessa Madre, the ‘queen’ of D.C.’s underworld

Oct 12: Reclaiming the Legacy of Nora May French, the Pioneering Poet Made Into a Femme Fatale by Mediocre Men and California Mythology

Oct 12: You Can Now Rent the Villa Where ‘James Bond’ Was Created on Airbnb

Oct 12: An American Outrage: Journalism, Race, and the Clinton Avenue Five

Oct 13: Florida Police Arrest Woman for Allegedly Tampering With Flight School Computers

Oct 14: Robert Durst: US millionaire sentenced to life for murder

Oct 14: Lake District mysterious abandoned tea-for-two found in woodland

Oct 15: City is taking its official wizard off the payroll after over 2 decades

Oct 16: Nike Jordan boss reveals he murdered an 18-year-old in 1965

Oct 16: Australian Police Make Record $104M Heroin Seizure

Oct 17: Spies next door? The suburban US couple accused of espionage

Oct 17: As Japan’s yakuza mob weakens, former gangsters struggle to find a role outside crime

Oct 19: Romance scams cost consumers a record $304 million as more people searched for love online during the pandemic

Oct 19: Mexican Gangster Rapper ‘El Millonario’ Just Got Arrested on Murder Charges

Oct 19: Edith Carlson, a single librarian with a small income, was excited to work with Frank Lloyd Wright—at first.

Oct 22: Tragic Alec Baldwin Prop Gun Shooting Isn’t the First Movie-Set Death

Oct 22: How Gun Deaths Happen On Film Sets

Oct 22: Rocker Randy Bachman’s guitar was stolen 45 years ago. A fan tracked it down

Oct 22: Ransomware Gang Says the Real Ransomware Gang Is the Federal Government

Oct 22: The house from the movie ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ is up for sale

Oct 23: She Picked Up Her Husband From Jail and Was Never Seen Again

Oct 24: Rollercoaster fan takes 6,000th ride after pandemic delays

Oct 25: Family of Newly Identified Gacy Victim Never Knew He Was Dead

Oct 26: Feds: Embassy Staffer Who Drugged, Molested Women Was in CIA

Oct 26: MAGA, the CIA, and Silvercorp: The Bizarre Backstory of the World’s Most Disastrous Coup

Oct 26: The Forgotten Story of a Polish Spy Whose Los Angeles Trial Was a Cold War Flashpoint

Oct 27: Post photographer Matt McClain on the trail of Edgar Allan Poe

Oct 29: Instagram Model Allegedly Helped Break Mom Out of Prison by Distracting Guard

Words of the Month

canard (n.): An “absurd or fabricated story intended as an imposition,” 1851, perhaps 1843, from French canard “a hoax,” literally “a duck” (from Old French quanart, probably echoic of a duck’s quack); said by Littré to be from the phrase vendre un canard à moitié “to half-sell a duck,” thus, perhaps from some long-forgotten joke, “to cheat.” But also compare quack (n.1). (etymonline)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Mango, Mambo, and Murder – Raquel V. Reyes

Until I cracked the spine of Mango, Mambo, and Murder – I hadn’t realized how very long it’s been since I’ve started a new series. Or, in fact, a series that didn’t feature a mystery writer, bookshop owner, or librarian as the sleuth. So why you ask, are these careers important? Reading about true or fictional crime does generally give bookish detectives a leg up in their investigations.

However, in Mango, Mambo, and Murder, our investigator is Dr. Miriam Quinones-Smith, a Food Anthropologist, mother of one, and the newest resident of Coral Shores, Miami. All outstanding life achievements – but not ones that prepared her for investigating a murder. However, this is precisely what Miriam needs to do when her best friend Alma is accused of murder.

And she makes mistakes. Lots of mistakes. Because she’s quite literally an amateur sleuth trying to solve her first case – the first one I’ve read in a very long time.

Even better?

She did a good job.

However, the cream of the first book in A Caribbean Kitchen Mystery series is how Reyes (our author) seamlessly works food into her mystery. The dishes Miriam cooks add layers and nuance to the book without detracting from the unfolding story because food is the cornerstone upon which Mirium’s life is built, therefore making it a cornerstone of the book.

But it’s still very much a mystery…with delicious sounding Cuban food on the side.

The one and only criticism I have for the Mango, Mambo, and Murder is that the very last chapter is just a hair overly sweet. But as it is a first novel – which gives a slightly unusual but satisfying wrap -up the murder mystery – I can forgive this very small foible.

Overall, I would recommend this mystery to anyone who enjoys reading cozy mysteries, culinary mysteries, and/or culturally diverse mysteries. Raquel V. Reyes did a great job creating a new exciting character, who I am looking forward to meeting again.

(BTW – Thanks to JB who emailed me about this great book!)

JB

Craig Johnson’s new Longmire, Daughter of the Morning Star is a puzzler. I don’t mean that due to it’s mystery and crime and whodunnit elements. I mean it from the point of view of “where is this going”?

Walt spends the book up in Montana, helping the locals search for a missing Indian woman. The issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women is a real and frightening problem but Walt is the sheriff of the largest county in WY, he doesn’t have a huge staff (is the Powder River annex still manned? Was it rebuilt after it was torched? Has his Basque deputy been replaced?) Who’s running the place? While the hunt for the missing girl is the plot, the story is more about Walt’s continued brush with Native American spirituality, what it means to him, how he deals with it – or not – and how the Spirits deal with Walt. There are a number of Mallo wrappers in the story and if you’ve been reading the books you understand their significance.

There’s a lot of basketball, not enough Vic, and the oddity of Dog shying away from Walt after a Spirit encounter but then everything is normal between them with no explanation.

Felt, again, like a bridge book – taking the series somewhere but not going very fast. Still, anytime with Walt and Henry is time well spent.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

After becoming frustrated with the commercials during BBC’s airing of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I turned off the TV and started re-reading the book. It has to be at least 20 years since I first read it. I was struck – again – by how well crafted it is as a mystery/thriller/crime novel, how assured it was as a first time work of fiction, and how serious Stieg Larsson was about addressing the violence done to women. Re-read all three. Great trilogy!

SHOP SMALL ~ BUY SMALL

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Taking a break from reviewing

It’s been a year since I left the Pacific Northwest, and I’ve been busy. Rather than review, I thought I’d give you a peek into my new world. Come on in.

We bought a tiny pistachio farm. We have 103 pistachio trees, one almond, a peach tree, and a couple pomegranate and lime trees. We’re in the Tularosa Basin in New Mexico, which is a HUGE change from the PNW, but we’ve lived in New Mexico before.

Obviously bookshelves were the first priority.

Oh, and yes, it does rain here. Sometimes like a firehose has been opened.

It snows here too, by the way. So yes, we feed the birds.

And yes, we got puppies. Look at them. Aren’t they adorable? The one on the left is Tank, who is beating up on his sister, Mazikeen. Don’t worry, she can hold her own.

But now, you see…

Now, at about a year old, they’re much more sophisticated.

LOL, no, they’re not. They’re complete doofuses, and firmly believe that they’re still lap dogs, even though they weight well over 50 pounds each. But they’re cuddle bugs and we love them.

You may not know it, but the Tularosa area in New Mexico is great for roses.

The pistachios grew beautifully, and we had a great harvest.

See those red pods? Those are pistachios still in their protective hull, which is easy to remove when they’re ready for harvesting. It was amazing to watch.

And yes, they’re tasty!

So that’s what I’ve been up to. I’m still reading and will obviously keep on reviewing, but I’ve missed chatting with all y’all, and wanted to take a moment to catch up. Have a great holiday season!

Fran

Out of the Night, When the Moon is Bright – – – ZORRO!

First of 5 parts, introducing Don Diego de la Vega who secretly fights for justice as the swashbuckling hero Zorro of Spanish California (1769–1821)

After Douglas Fairbanks released his 1920 movie, The Mark of Zorro, demand for more stories was great. Johnston McCulley would write over sixty more Zorro stories, beginning in 1922 with ‘The Further Adventures of Zorro’. His last Zorro story appeared posthumously in April 1959.

McCulley was a prolific writer, publishing under many names other than his own: Harrington Strong, Raley Brien, George Drayne, Monica Morton, Rowena Raley, Frederic Phelps, Walter Pierson, John Mack Stone, among others as did so many pulp writers.

In addition to Zorro, McCulley created numerous pulp characters who continue to inspire today: Black Star, The Spider, The Mongoose, Thubway Tham, The Green Ghost, The Thunderbolt, and The Crimson Clown.

October 2021

Seriously Scary Stuff

Gabby Petito’s disappearance, and why it was absolutely everywhere, explained

Gabby Petito’s Family Asks ‘Amazing’ Social Media Sleuths to Help More Missing Persons

Femicides in the US: the silent epidemic few dare to name

Craig Johnson on Spirituality, the West, and the Plight of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: From the introduction to Craig’s new Longmire:

“The plight of missing an murdered indigenous women is so great that I had to reassure my publisher that the statistics contained in this novel are accurate. The numbers are staggering, and they speak for themselves. What if I were to tell you that that the chances of a Native woman being murdered is ten times the national average, or that murder is the third leading cause of death for indigenous women? What if I told you that four out of five Native women have experienced societal violence, with having experienced sexual violence as well. Half of Native women have been stalked in their lifetime, and they are two times as likely to experience violence and rape than their Anglo counterparts. Heartbreakingly, the majority of these Native women’s murders are by non-Natives on Native owned land.

“The violence is being addressed, but there is so much more to do. Jurisdictional issues and a lack of communication among agencies make the investigative process difficult. Underreporting, racial misclassification, and underwhelming media coverage [emphasis from us] minimize the incredible damage that is being done to the Native communities as a whole.

There are a number of wonderful organizations that are attempting to make a difference, the nearest to me being the Native Indigenous Women’s Resource Center in Lame Deer, Montana.”

Please join us in donating.

Seasonal Stuff

Remember the creepy house from The Silence of the Lambs? Now it’s a vacation rental

Company Apologizes for Sending Clowns to Schools and Terrifying Parents

Words of the Season

rougarou (n.): “Rougarou” represents a variant pronunciation and spelling of the original French loup-garou. According to Barry Jean Ancelet, an academic expert on Cajun folklore and professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in America, the tale of the rougarou is a common legend across French Louisiana. Both words are used interchangeably in southern Louisiana. Some people call the monster rougarou; others refer to it as the loup-garou. The rougarou legend has been spread for many generations, either directly from French settlers to Louisiana (New France) or via the French Canadian immigrants centuries ago. In the Cajun legends, the creature is said to prowl the swamps around Acadiana and Greater New Orleans, and the sugar cane fields and woodlands of the regions. The rougarou most often is described as a creature with a human body and the head of a wolf or dog, similar to the werewolf legend. (wikipedia)

Something for Bill: Detroit Crime Fiction: A Literary Tradition Like No Other (but he’d fidget that Rob Kantner and Jon A. Jackson weren’t included…)

Cool Stuff

Anthony Sinclair’s “Goldfinger Suit” lets you dress like Bond – with stitch-perfect authenticity

Don’t despair: LeVar Burton has designs on his own book-themed game show

James Patterson and Scholastic are joining forces to mitigate illiteracy

Bookseller of Kabul vows to stay open despite only two customers since the rise of the Taliban

Serious Stuff

So Sally Rooney’s racist? Only if you choose to confuse fiction with fact

Biles: FBI turned ‘blind eye’ to reports of gymnasts’ abuse

They Follow You on Instagram, Then Use Your Face To Make Deepfake Porn in This Sex Extortion Scam

Three former U.S. intelligence operatives admit to working as ‘hackers-for-hire’ for UAE

There Are Too Many Underemployed Former Spies Running Around Selling Their Services to the Highest Bidder

Stephen King has released a new short story, with profits going to support the ACLU

Long-Secret FBI Report Reveals New Connections Between 9/11 Hijackers and Saudi Religious Officials in U.S.

After student protests, a Pennsylvania school district has reversed its ban on diverse books

In 1865, thousands of Black South Carolinians signed a 54-foot-long freedom petition

She bought her dream home; a ‘sovereign citizen’ changed the locks

CIA Reportedly Considered Kidnapping, Assassinating Julian Assange

Paper shortage hits American retailers when they need it most

Everything you need to know about the current book supply-chain issues—and how you can help.

How can independent bookstores begin to pay their booksellers a fair and living wage?

America Is Having a Violence Wave, Not a Crime Wave

Local Stuff

More fallout from how we’re defunding Seattle police backward, this time in Pioneer Square

Portland Cop Who Was Caught on Video Bashing the Head of a Protest Medic Won’t Be Charged With a Crime

Bitcoin uses as much electricity as Washington State. How is that possible?

Proud Boy Shot While Chasing Anti-Fascists as City Fears More Violence

Huge hack reveals embarrassing details of who’s behind Proud Boys and other far-right websites

This was the worst slaughter of Native Americans in U.S. history. Few remember it.

Joie Des Livres brings life and culture to Tiny Seabrook

Odd Stuff

30 delightful puns from the Victorian Era

When Ray Bradbury Asked John F. Kennedy if He Could Help with the Space Race

Bart’s Books, an Ojai landmark, is a Central California destination unlike anything you’ve ever seen

Mom and Daughter Killed Adult Film Actress With Backyard Butt Implants, Cops Say

Accused cannibal gets prison time for botched castration in remote cabin

New Zealand Covid: Men caught smuggling KFC into lockdown-hit Auckland

Far-Right Group Wants to Ban Books About MLK, Male Seahorses

Read Herman Melville’s embarrassingly short, typo-marred obituary.

Awards

Washington State Book Awards 2021 winners announced (congratulation to Jess Walter!)

Here are the finalists for the 2021 Kirkus Prize

Read the short story that won this year’s Moth Short Story Prize

Here are the recipients of the 2021 American Poets Prizes.

Analysis: the 2021 Booker shortlist tunes in to the worries of our age

Here’s the longlist for the 2021 National Book Award for Fiction

Announcing the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 honorees

Here’s the longlist for the 2021 National Book Award for Translated Literature

Here are this year’s Dayton Literary Peace Prize honorees

Words of the Season

soucouyant (n.): The soucouyant is a shapeshifting Caribbean folklore character who appears as a reclusive old woman by day. By night, she strips off her wrinkled skin and puts it in a mortar. In her true form, as a fireball she flies across the dark sky in search of a victim. The soucouyant can enter the home of her victim through any sized hole like cracks, crevices and keyholes. Soucouyants suck people’s blood from their arms, legs and soft parts while they sleep leaving blue-black marks on the body in the morning. If the soucouyant draws too much blood, it is believed that the victim will either die and become a soucouyant or perish entirely, leaving her killer to assume her skin. The soucouyant practices black magic. Soucouyants trade their victims’ blood for evil powers with Bazil, the demon who resides in the silk cotton tree. To expose a soucouyant, one should heap rice around the house or at the village cross roads as the creature will be obligated to gather every grain, grain by grain (a herculean task to do before dawn) so that she can be caught in the act. To destroy her, coarse salt must be placed in the mortar containing her skin so she perishes, unable to put the skin back on. Belief in soucouyants is still preserved to an extent in Guyana, Suriname and some Caribbean islands, including Dominica, Haiti and Trinidad. The skin of the soucouyant is considered valuable, and is used when practicing black magic. Many Caribbean islands have plays about the Soucouyant and many other folklore characters. Some of these include Trinidad Grenada and Barbados. Soucouyants belong to a class of spirits called jumbies. Some believe that soucouyants were brought to the Caribbean from European countries in the form of French vampire-myths. These beliefs intermingled with those of enslaved Africans. (wikipedia)

Book Stuff

Bristol manuscript fragments of the famous Merlin legend among the oldest of their kind

Beautiful, Decorative, and Sometimes Crude: Illuminated Manuscripts and Marginalia

S.A. Cosby, a Writer of Violent Noirs, Claims the Rural South as His Own

Michael Connelly Can’t Stop Chasing Leads

Why William Gibson Is a Literary Genius

My First Thriller: James Grady

This Gemlike Library Put America on the Architectural Map

Top 10 books about lies and liars

Newly discovered Tennessee Williams story published for the first time

Women Crime Writers Discuss Violence, Women, and What Readers Will and Won’t Accept

What Is Crime in a Country Built on It?

Peek inside Waseda University’s brand new Haruki Murakami library

Ken Follett Returns to Espionage Thrillers

Zibby Owens to publish books using a company-wide profit-sharing model

Lena Waithe, Gillian Flynn to Start Book Imprints

Sara Gran Talks Publishing, Sex Magic, and Ownership for Authors

A Brief History of Giallo Fiction and the Italian Anti-Detective Novel

This new vending machine will provide New Yorkers with short stories on the go

Love in the Bookshop: A Mystery Writer’s Ode to Bookstore Romances

Democracy is Cheap, but the Constitution Expected to Fetch at least $15M at Auction

He Taught Ancient Texts at Oxford. Now He Is Accused of Stealing Some

Edwin Torres’ Way

This year’s literary MacArthur fellows on the best writing advice they’ve received (and more)

They’ve Seen the Future And They Don’t Like It: The Year’s Best Scifi Noir (So Far)

The Real-Life Political Scandal That Inspired Jean-Patrick Manchette’s First Thriller

Other Forms of Entertainment

Vince Vaughn to star in film version of Hiaasen’s Bad Monkey

Hillary and Chelsea Clinton’s HiddenLight Options Maisie Dobbs Series of Novels

Quentin Tarantino: ‘There’s a lot of feet in a lot of good directors’ movies’

30 Things We Learned from Quentin Tarantino’s ‘True Romance’ Commentary

How British Crime Dramas Became Appointment TV

David Chase Chose Journey for ‘Sopranos’ Finale Because Song Was Hated by Crew

Michael Gandolfini and the Riddle of Tony Soprano

Narcos: Mexico’ to End With Season 3 at Netflix

Ray Liotta Says Iconic ‘Goodfellas’ Tracking Shot Take Was Ruined by Line Flub

Here’s the tantalizing first trailer for Denzel Washington’s Macbeth

No Time To Die: The Inside Story Of Daniel Craig’s Final Hurrah

Why the world still loves 1970s detective show “Columbo”

Apple bags rights of Brad Pitt, George Clooney’s new thriller

Words of the Season

manananggal (n.) The manananggal is described as scary, often hideous, usually depicted as female, and always capable of severing its upper torso and sprouting huge bat-like wings to fly into the night in search of its victims. The word manananggal comes from the Tagalog word tanggal, which means “to remove” or “to separate”, which literally translates as “remover” or “separator”. In this case, “one who separates itself”. The name also originates from an expression used for a severed torso. The manananggal is said to favor preying on sleeping, pregnant women, using an elongated proboscis-like tongue to suck the hearts of fetuses, or the blood of someone who is sleeping. It also haunts newlyweds or couples in love. Due to being left at the altar, grooms-to-be are one of its main targets.The severed lower torso is left standing, and is the more vulnerable of the two halves. Sprinkling salt, smearing crushed garlic or ash on top of the standing torso is fatal to the creature. The upper torso then would not be able to rejoin itself and would perish by sunrise. The myth of the manananggal is popular in the Visayan regions of the Philippines, especially in the western provinces of Capiz, Iloilo, Bohol and Antique. There are varying accounts of the features of a manananggal. Like vampires, Visayan folklore creatures, and aswangs, manananggals are also said to abhor garlic, salt and holy water. They were also known to avoid daggers, light, vinegar, spices and the tail of a stingray, which can be fashioned as a whip. Folklore of similar creatures can be found in the neighbouring nations of Indonesia and Malaysia. The province of Capiz is the subject or focus of many manananggal stories, as with the stories of other types of mythical creatures, such as ghosts, goblins, ghouls generically referred to as aswangs. Sightings are purported here, and certain local folk are said to believe in their existence despite modernization. The manananggal shares some features with the vampire of Balkan folklore, such as its dislike of garlic, salt, and vulnerability to sunlight. (wikipedia)

Links of Interest

Sept 1: How Ireland’s First “Assassination Society”–The Invincibles–Was Formed

Sept 3: All I Really Need to Know I Learned Covering Homicides

Sept 7: Why some people think this photo of JFK’s killer is fake

Sept 8: A Cop Killed Another Cop. A Woman Was Charged Instead

Sept 9: Georgia DA Already Charged for Parking Lot Donuts Now Accused of Trying to Frame Man for Murder

Sept 10: Spider-Man beats Superman in record $3.6m comic sale

Sept 10: Italy seizes 500 fake Francis Bacon works

Sept 10: Books, churches, what will Canadians burn next?

Sept 11: ‘Every message was copied to the police’: the inside story of the most daring surveillance sting in history

Sept 11: Louis Armstrong and Spy: How the CIA Used him as a “Trojan Horse” in Congo

Sept 11: Lead FBI Agent in Whitmer Kidnap Plot Is Fired After Swingers Party Incident

Sept 12: The Terror and Agony of Being a Mexican Hitman’s Son

Sept 13: Why Use a Dictionary in the Age of Internet Search?

Sept 13: Capitol Police Suspect Something Amiss With Swastika-Covered Nightmare Truck, Find Driver With Machete

Sept 14: 14 Defendants Indicted, Including the Entire Administration of the Colombo Organized Crime Family

Sept 14: Austin Funeral Homes Regularly Pour Blood and Embalming Fluid Down the Drain

Sept 14: Monkey Thieves, Drunk Elephants — Mary Roach Reveals A Weird World Of Animal ‘Crime’

Sept 15: A Bonkers South Carolina Crime Saga Has Taken Another Bonkers Twist

Sept 15: Fred West: Future victim searches need strong justification, say police

Sept 17: Denmark moves to bar some prisoners from meeting new lovers after submarine killer romance controversy

Sept 19: FBI says fortune seized in Beverly Hills raid was criminals’ loot. Owners say: Where’s the proof?

Sept 20: Police Arrest 106 Tied to Mafia-Connected Cybercrime Group

Sept 21: Caril Ann Fugate and the Presumption of Guilt

Sept 21: Two Cops Are Accused of Hiring Hitmen to Take Out Their Enemies

Sept 21: Gilgamesh Dream Tablet to be formally handed back to Iraq

Sept 21: Salisbury poisonings: Third man faces charges for Novichok attack

Sept 22: Joshua Melville’s Search for the Truth About His Radical Bomber Father, Sam Melville

Sept 22: Carlos the Jackal seeks to reduce life sentence for deadly 1974 grenade attack

Sept 23: JetBlue Passenger Storms Cockpit, Strangles Flight Attendant, Breaks Out of Restraints

Sept 24: Snapchat Is Fueling Britain’s Teen Murder Epidemic

Sept 24: The Heist of the Century: Who Cracked the Manhattan Savings And Loan Safe?

Sept 24: Mexico’s Soccer League Colluded to Cap Women’s Salaries, Regulator Says

Sept 24: Mississippi woman Clara Birdlong likely Samuel Little victim

Sept 24: How Chippendales’ Male-Stripping Empire Ended in Bloody Murder

Sept 27: Judge orders ‘unconditional release’ for Reagan shooter Hinckley

Sept 28: Texas nurse faces capital murder trial for 4 patient deaths

Sept 29: For $84,000, An Artist Returned Two Blank Canvasses Titled ‘Take The Money And Run’

Sept 30: Afghans artists bury paintings, hide books out of fear of Taliban crackdown on arts and culture

Sept 30: Yale Says Its Vinland Map, Once Called a Medieval Treasure, Is Fake

RIP

Sept 6: Michael K. Williams, ‘The Wire’ Star, Dies at 54 [Joe R. Lansdale Remembers The Genesis of Hap and Leonard and Pays Tribute to Michael K. Williams]

Sept 22: Melvin Van Peebles, Godfather of Black Cinema, Dies at 89

Words of the Season

Chonchon (n.) The Chonchon is the magical transformation of a kalku (Mapuche sorcerer). It is said only the most powerful kalkus can aspire to master the secret of becoming this feared creature. The kalku or sorcerer would carry out the transformation into a Chonchon by an act of will and being anointed by a magical cream in the throat that eases the removal of the head from the rest of the body, with the removed head then becoming the creature. The Chonchon has the shape of a human head with feathers and talons; its ears, which are extremely large, serve as wings for its flight on moonless nights. Chonchons are supposed to be endowed with all the magic powers of, and can only be seen by, other kalkus, or by wizards that want this power. Sorcerers take the form of the chonchon to better carry out their wicked activities, and the transformation would provide them with other abilities, such as drinking the blood of ill or sleeping people. Although the fearsome appearance of a chonchon would be invisible to the uninitiated, they would still be able to hear its characteristic cry of “tue tue tue”, which is considered to be an extremely ill omen, usually predicting the death of a loved one. (wikipedia)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village – Maureen Johnson & Jay Cooper

Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village is exactly what it claims to be – a guide. Elucidating all the things a tourist needs to know about a quiet English village in order to navigate it and the inevitable undercurrents successfully (i.e. not get murdered).

Its’ also one of the funniest books I’ve ever read.

Aimed at the lovers of classic manor house and/or English village mysteries (think the Queens of Crime, Georgette Heyer, Francis Duncan, Patricia Wentworth) it takes the stock characters, architecture, and events found within those pages and gives them an irreverent, rib-tickling, and on the nose descriptions.

There’s even a quiz at the end to test your prowess.

I died twice…on the same page.

What I love even more – is how many of the people, places, and things Johnson describes in Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered that I recognize either from reading them or from watching tv shows like Father Brown, Death In Paradise, and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves classic mysteries and has a very good sense of humor – Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered will not let you down!

Fran

This is not a political post, but the book I’m talking about has its roots in politics, specifically the 2016 election. When the results were tallied, many people were upset, and out of that visceral reaction a new publishing house was born, Nasty Woman Press, the Creative Resistance.

Spearheaded by the glorious Kelli Stanley, Nasty Woman Press, a 501(c)(4) non-profit, decided to use literary creativity to bring awareness and aid to those who are struggling. To quote Kelli, “Our plan is to publish anthologies of captivating fiction and thought-provoking non-fiction, each built around a general theme – the theme itself tying in to the non-profit for which the book is raising money.”

That’s right. The profits from the sale of each book go to a cause. In the case of the the debut anthology, Shattering Glass, the theme is empowered women, and the profits go to Planned Parenthood.

Now, I know that a lot of you don’t like short stories, but here’s where you trust me. The fiction is amazing, and not all the authors are female. Anyone who says that men can’t write accurately about women needs to read some of these stories. Men can and do understand women, and know how to write them as believable characters.

But it’s not just the stories. One of the essays, written by Jacqueline Winspear about women firefighters, has stayed with me since I read it, and even as I type this, California is on fire, and I want to sit down with Jackie over a pot of tea and listen to her, because she knows her stuff.

The opening essay by Valerie Plame – yes, THAT Valerie Plame, outed CIA spy turned politician and novelist – is definitely thought provoking and erudite. I’ve read it a couple of times now.

But in the end, you’re going to love this anthology and come back to it. Parts of it will leave you aching, sometimes you’ll be so pissed you want to throw things, and at other times, you’re going to laugh out loud at the audacity. You will not remain unmoved. And that’s because these people can Write.

Who, you might ask? Well, I don’t want to spoil surprises, but if you like the writing of people like Cara Black, Catriona McPherson, Anne Lamott, Joe Clifford, Senator Barbara Boxer, Jess Lourey, and Seanan McGuire, you’re in for a treat.

Trust me.

JB

Pickup up a copy of Scott Turow’s The Last Trial. It’s one of those many books by favorite authors that I missed after the shop closed. It’s all that you’d expect from Turow – no one else plots such stunning and sinuous legal thrillers. But the wonderful part of the book, for me, was spending time with defense attorney Sandy Stern. While the lawyer is described differently, it’s impossible for me to not picture and hear Raul Julia as him, and since it is likely to be the last book with Stern and Julia’s sadly dead, it was so nice to be in their company one last time.

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There are words authors use that are too fancy for the stories they’re telling. In a way, it’s showy. It’s proving you have a large vocabulary. “Verdant” is one. It is almost always out of place. And, please – PLEASE – can we retire “plethora”!

But, having blurted that out of my head, I am here to HIGHLY RECOMMEND Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby. A new book is out now in hardcover. It’s getting high praise. I thought I’d go back and start with his first and – man – the guy can not only write beautifully but plot a tight, thrilling story.

“That was the things about his mother. She could be emotionally manipulative one minute then making you laugh the next. It was like getting hit in the face with a pie that had a padlock in it.”

Beau is a young guy whose stuck in a thicket of bills – mortgage on his garage, his dying mother’s healthcare is a mess, his youngest daughter needs money for starting college. He’s turned his back on his past livelihood – get-away-driver. His father was a noted driver and Beau doesn’t want to follow that path. “But when it came to handling his responsibilities we both know Anthony Montage was about a useful as a white crayon, don’t we?”

But the bills are demanding and off we roar into a series of sharp turns and dead ends that threaten everything he cherishes. Danger is his passenger and worse follows. “Reggie jumped like a demon had spoken to him.”

This is great noir, a great crime novel. I believe it is a stand-alone. I don’t think his books are connected. And I look forward to reading more. Cosby writes with a fluid, memorable style. How can you not want to read an author who comes up with a line like this: “She was wearing a tank top and shorts so tight they would become a thong is she sneezed.”

Here’s a great interview with Cosby. And a piece he wrote about his philosophy of writing.

Bought his new hardcover.

But it’ll have to wait ’til I finish the new Longmire.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The new James Ellroy, Widespread Panic, is everything you’d expect from an Ellroy book – literately lurid, speedily sleazy, and full of film faces. The narrator is real-life reprobate Fred Otash, a former cop, LA fixer, and all-around asshole. He’s into everything, everyone and everywhere. The book takes the form or a sort of memoir, a look back on a set of years in the 1950s. Naughty and nefarious nostalgia.

As with any Ellroy, when finishes, it is difficult to remember if there were any good people in the story. As with any Ellroy, the story is stocked with actual people. How does he get away with it without being sued out of his bowtie? Elizabeth Taylor in a three-way romp? James Dean, Nick Adams, Nicholas Ray and many others as reprehensible souls involved in rampant raids, reprobates riding roughshod over rights! None are alive now, but….

You enjoy Ellroy? Dig it!

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