Another February Review!

IMG_2264

      Amber Here!

This came out mid January and I couldn’t wait another week to tell you guys about this book! 

Don’t forget to check out my other blog – Finder of Lost Things! This week you learn why Phoebe learned as a child to loathe sheds…

      Behold A Fair Woman – Francis Duncan

It’s been a while, five years in fact since I used my Christie rating system, but I think its applicable to Francis Duncan’s Mordecai Euripedes Tremaine mystery series.

Now let me remind you of the three categories…

My highest accolade, Shrimp Level. Which hearkens back to a wonderful dinner in which I ate shrimp sauteed with a delicate steak in butter. Seriously, years later I can still picture the plate and almost remember the taste! Christie’s Murder of Roger Ackroyd, A Murder Is Announced, Crooked House and Endless Night all fall within the Shrimp category (and many others besides).

Still superior, but not achieving the dizzy heights of Shrimp is the Potroast Level. Lovely warm and filling, I’ve never eaten a bad bite of this comfort food. For Christie, this category helps to level out the towering heights and bottom scraping lows of her long career. Peril At End House, Sleeping Murder, The Man In The Brown Suit and Cards On The Table fall into this category for me.

Then there’s the Meringue Level. Which are all fluff and no substances an ultimately disappointing type of cookie. I do not care for meringue in any form, whether baked as a cookie or topping a pie. This level is where I place Christie’s Passenger To Frankfurt, Destination Unknown and N or M.

Now, why am I speaking of Christie during a review of an entirely different author?

(Besides the fact I’ve been devouring some of Christie’s works again?)

Because I feel Duncan’s books can stand toe to toe against any of the books in the Potroast Level (one or two even hovering just under the bottom line of the shrimp level) of the Christie canon! Francis Duncan’s books are all an excellent read.

Each of the five Mordecai mysteries fall within the purview of the classic British mystery Christie helped to evolve. A closed cast, multiple suspects who often possess “unshakable” alibies and each one interestingly enough occurs on a holiday of one kind or another. One fascinating feature of Duncan’s mysteries are the motives. Often stemming from the same emotion, the author is able to show the nuances found within that single emotion and how each may or may not lead to murder. Which I find fascinating to read.

Now onto Behold A Fair Woman.

I am bereft, as this is the final Mordecai Euripidies Tremaine mystery! Francis penned five in total, and I relished reading each one. I cannot recommend them highly enough! Perhaps Source Books will discover other titles, possibly written under another pseudonym, and republish them as well? Please?

But in any case back to Behold A Fair Woman – where Mordecai is taking a holiday away from his hobby of murder. The sorrow left in his heart after a successful investigation always weighs on him, despite the succor his other secret passion, romantic tales, brings him.

But as they say, the best-laid plans of mice and men…Soon Mordecai is embroiled in a murder investigation when he discovers the body of a local hotel owner in the water tank of a neighboring tomato grower.

What I found most astonishing in this installment was how fair Duncan plays with his reader and yet is still able to pull off a bait and switch in the end – which makes complete sense with the evidence compiled by our intrepid amateur sleuth! It has been a very long time since I’ve read anything which pulled this feat off so well, perhaps dating all the way back to my Christie reading.

Which is why I pulled out the Christie rating system because I felt the classic nature of Duncan’s mysteries, deserved to be tallied against The preeminent classic British mystery writer!

I would recommend Behold A Fair Woman, or any of his other titles, to anyone looking for a lively classic mystery!

February’s Newzine!

nick-fewings-547388-unsplash copy

      Podcasts

LeVar Burton Reads: The Best Short Fiction, Handpicked by the World’s Greatest Storyteller – Literally LeVar Burton (of Reading Rainbow & Star Trek fame) reading short stories (all kinds) to you!

Netflix has released a new series that IS interesting and certainly IS grisly: Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.  It is also full of period film of Seattle in the 70s.

      Word of the Month

supergrass (n): supergrass is a British slang term for an informant who turns Queen’s evidence, often in return for protection and immunity from prosecution. In the British criminal world, police informants have been called “grasses” since the late 1930s, and the “super” prefix was coined by journalists in the early 1970s to describe those who witnessed against fellow criminals in a series of high-profile mass trials at the time…

The first known use of “grass” in that context is Arthur Gardner’s crime novel Tinker’s Kitchen, published in 1932, in which a “grass” is defined as “an informer”. The origin of the term “grass” being used as signifying a traitor, a person who informs on people he or she knows intimately, ostensibly can be traced to the expression “snake in the grass”, which has a similar meaning. The phrase derives from the writings of Virgil (in Latin, latet anguis in herba) and has been known in the English language, meaning “traitor”, since the late 17th century.

An alternative claim is made for the term originating from rhyming slang, whereby “grasshopper” is defined as “copper”, meaning “policeman”. The rhyming slang version was supported in 1950 by lexicographer Paul Tempest. (wikipedia)

      Book Events

February 4: April Henry, 7pm Powell’s

February 9: Mike Lawson, 1pm Barnes & Noble, Silverdale

February 14: Mary Daheim AND Candace Robb, 7pm Third Place/LFP

February 16: Mike Lawson, 3pm, Magnolia Bookstore

February 24: Jasper Fforde, 6pm Third Place/LFP

      Links of Interest

January 1: Books are good for your brain. These techniques will help you read more.

January 2: Australian police respond to spider death threats

January 3: Can An Auto-Immune Disease Explain The Salem Witch Trials?

January 4: Manson family murderer Robert Beausoleil recommended for parole

January 5: ‘Kidnapper’ chased out of North Carolina karate studio

January 6 (from the UK): Independent bookshops grow for second year after 20-year decline

January 7: ‘The Sopranos’ at 20: How did the show change TV — and us?

January 7: David Chase on ‘The Sopranos,’ Trump and, Yes, That Ending

January 8: A woman’s murder in Peking and a literary feud

January 8: How true-crime podcasts find clues the police miss

January 9: ‘The Millions’ Will Live on, But the Indie Book Blog Is Dead

January 10: Woman fined after bragging about illegal hunt on dating app

January 11: Some Dos and Don’ts from Famous Authors

January 11: ‘Hugely heavy’ hippo sculpture stolen

January 11: Can Romance Novels Save Heterosexual Sex?

January 11: British sarcasm ‘lost on Americans’

January 12: Can a fugitive remain on the run forever?

January 13: True Detective’: Three Real-Life Cases Behind the Show’s Central Mystery

January 13: After Stephen King Tweeted at a Maine Paper for Cutting Book Reviews, It Gave Readers a ‘Scary Good’ Offer

January 14: The Hunt for the Nazi Loot Still Sitting on Library Shelves

January 15: The Homeless Man Who Set Up A Book Club

January 15: ‘Most famous’ banned book to be sold

January 16: TV series based on Portland writer Chelsea Cain’s novel premieres on WGN America

January 16: The Villainous Bitch Has Become the Most Boring Trend in Literature

January 17: The Library Of Forbidden Books

January 17: New York’s Secret Travel Club

January 17: Nancy Drew is Still Influencing – Well the covers are at any rate

January 17: Sherrilyn Kenyon~Bestselling author accuses husband of poisoning her in ‘Shakespearean plot’

January 18: Earliest Fragments of the English Language Revealed

January 21: How ‘Sherlock’ went from super-sleuth to the Baker Street Men Behaving Badly

January 22: ‘Sopranos’ Prequel Film Finds Young Tony: Michael Gandolfini Is Chip Off Old Block

January 23: An infamous mobster’s home was up for sale in Vegas. Buyers made an offer. Who could refuse?

January 23: ‘Buffy’ returns with a modern comic book reboot

January 23: Guillermo del Toro leads drive to save horror bookshop Dark Delicacies

January 23: San Francisco’s Aardvark Bookstore Closes after 40 Years

January 23: ~ If I Hate Violence So Much, Why Do I Love Writing About It?

January 23: Don Winslow ~ I Write Fiction About Border Crime, But Unlike Trump I Tell the Truth.

January 23: A week in the life of a London murder detective

January 24: Medieval book coffer shows appetite for mobile reading ‘is nothing new’

January 24: Times reporter pens book about mystery of missing Skelton brothers

January 24: 7-year-old’s book accepted into Library of Congress

January 24: Amanda Knox ~ European court orders Italy to pay damages

January 25: Penguin Random House Closes the Prestigious Imprint Spiegel & Grau

January 27: Booker Prize Looses Sponsor

January 27: The Knotty Nostalgia of the Hardy Boys Series

January 28: The tiny library bringing books to remote villages

January 28: Book explores old murder mysteries in Lorain County

      Word of the Month – Continued

croodle (v): To cower or cuddle together, as from fear or cold; to lie close and snug together, as pigs in straw. (thanks to wordfinder)

      R.I.P.

December 29: June Whitfield – The wonderful voice of Miss Marple on BBC Radio

We say farewell to Ed Kennedy, a customer who went back to the early daysimage-69068_20190102 of the shop. He’d bop in with a big smile and a friendly “Hey, Man!” He bought books for himself, mysteries and special orders for himself and relatives. Ed had a deep, smooth voice and would often be on his way to or from a session of taping a book for the Washington Talking Book. This seemed to be one of his great pleasures, reading a book aloud for those who couldn’t read themselves. With that voice he must’ve been one of their stars.

Thanks, Ed. Vios con dios!

January 4: Edgar Winner Brian Garfield, dead at 79

January 20: Tony Mendez, Mastermind of the Rescue of the US Hostages in Iran

January 31: Dick Miller, Gremlins and Terminator actor, dies aged 90

      Word of the Month – Lastly

Rivulose – adjective – marked with irregular, narrow, sinuous, crooked lines or furrows resembling rivers marked on a map.

While they may use this word primarily to describe the irregular, surfaces of bugs, fishes, and mushrooms (for purposes entomological, ichthyological, and mycological), you can apply it as you wish. It can, for example, do the job of describing the wrinkles on your typical lexicographer’s shirt. The word is Latin in origin, tracing back to rivulus, meaning “rivulet,” and the English suffix –ose, meaning “possessing the qualities of.” Something that is rivulose is marked with lines reminiscent of those made by a rivulet—that is, a small stream—as viewed from far above.

(thank-you to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary)

      What We’ve Been Doing

    Amber

Don’t forget! Check out my mystery blog!

 Finder Of Lost Things

After an eventful night which included a mysterious FLYT fare, the discovery of Little Ben’s ill conceived pet cemetery plans and getting chewed out by Joseph at Nevermore. Phoebe’s on her way home for a quiet snack and then bed…

But her night’s not quite over yet!

img_2185

No Wind Of Blame by Georgette Heyer

So this mystery is a bit of a conundrum.

Because, for one reason or another, until the murder of Wally Carter I disliked every character Heyer introduced into the narrative. Since the deed wasn’t done until page one-hundred-and-thirty-one…well let’s just say it took me a while to work my through the cast’s hysterics, dramatics, whining, and martyrdom to the meat of the matter.

But two things kept me from shelving the book permanently, neither Heyer nor her foil, Inspector Hemingway has ever let me down.

And as you’ve guessed, (since I’m writing a review) my patience was rewarded, because the last half of the book was excellent.

Even better?

Through Hemingway’s investigation, observations, and dry wit, you come to understand exactly who these people are and their motivations, which shed an entirely new light on the first half of the book, making it infinitely more interesting – and well worth a reread.

Perhaps not the best of Heyer’s mysteries (it is definitely not the worst), the solution straining the boundary of credulity, it is still a satisfying read.

You just need to stick with it!

BTW – Source Books has reissued all of Georgette Heyer’s mysteries! So if you couldn’t find them previously, they are easy to find now! And I highly recommend a read thru of her mysteries, if you enjoy classic 1930s-1950s British mysteries!

My favorites: Death In The Stocks & Why Shoot A Butler?

    Fran

img_2197

Okay, let me just say up front that I adore Amber and trust her implicitly. Therefore you have to understand the sorrow with which I tell you, Amber lied.

Amber lied BIG TIME.

Okay, first of all, go back and read her review of Brandon Sanderson‘s book, LEGION. It’s okay, we’ve got time. I’ll wait. It’s back in December, so you won’t have to scroll far.

Done? Groovy.

I’m not going to recap the synopsis; you just read it. But what you’re not getting is how BADLY SHE UNDERSELLS THIS BOOK!

Holy cats.

Granted, if you’re looking for Sanderson’s telltale fantasy story, you’ll be disappointed, but only briefly because the writing is incredible! It’s a suspense story, yes, and it’s told in three parts, but once again, it’s the characters that make it. And Stephen Leeds’ “aspects” are so fully formed, so incredibly wonderful, that you can’t help but get involved with them.

And if you have an artistic friend, perhaps a writer, this helps you understand how complex characters can be created.

I’ll be re-reading it, I have no doubt. It’s the kind of story that is multi-layered, and psychologically complex.

And I do wish we were still working together because Amber would have had me read this much sooner than I did, and that would have been wonderful. So now, listen to her, listen to me, and go read Brandon Sanderson’s LEGION!

Why are you still here? Go!

    JB

Coming in April is a fascinating history of the Allies’ use of women to work with the Resistance during World War II in preparation for the invasion of Europe.

9780451495082

Sarah Rose’s D-Day Girls is a heady mix of mission and personality as you get to know these women – Rose takes pain to note that the women involved did refer to themselves as “girls” – the men in charge of the missions in London, and the men hunting them in France.

Rose details the resistance within the Allies to allowing women to have a role in the fight, partly due to the usual, age-old sexism that women can’t or shouldn’t go into battle, partly due to racism (one woman was Jewish and could she be trusted!!), and partly due to real qualms about possible sexual torture if captured. There’s a pageant of humanity in this story – fear and courage, hope and frustration, passion and fury, good and evil – all told with a lively writing style that is somewhere in-between Ben McIntyre, Eric Larson, and Alan Furst.

In one of those strange quirks of history, the man in charge of these heroes was Captain Selwyn Jepson. It was his job to find people to insert into France and it seemed only logical to him that if men were in short supply send women. Jepson was a well-known mystery novelist and screenwriter before and after the war.

It’s a fascinating story with details and dates. I guess I’d always thought that the French Resistance took place throughout the war but Rose shows that the Resistance as a nation-wide organization really only started in 1943, with the women spending ’42 being trained in tradecraft. It was due to the approach of the invasion that the Allies used the Resistance to bedevil the Nazis so that they couldn’t respond well to an invasion. Luckily for us all it worked well enough to allow Normandy to succeed.

Thank god the men got out of the way and let these women do their jobs!

The author notes that the indignities these women went through before going into enemy territory didn’t end then. After the war, they were not awarded to the same extent as the men who did the same thing, their medals were of lesser levels. And then, of course, they were ignored by historians for the last sixty years.

I’m glad Sarah Rose has stepped in to redress this contemptuous treatment.

Support

Individuality, Neighborhoods & People

Shop Small Businesses

Agatha’s Announced!

agatha-awards-lead

One of the best things about this time of year? Awards! You get to see all your old friends getting recognized for being outstanding writers (of which you already knew!)!

Announcing the 2018: Agatha Award Nominees

   Best Contemporary Novel

Mardi Gras Murder – Ellen Byron
Beyond the Truth – Bruce Robert Coffin
Cry Wolf – Annette Dashofy
Kingdom of the Blind – Louise Penny
Trust Me – Hank Phillippi Ryan

   Best Historical Novel

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding – Rhys Bowen
The Gold Pawn – L.A. Chandlar
The Widows of Malabar Hill – Sujata Massey
Turning the Tide – Edith Maxwell
Murder on Union Square – Victoria Thompson

   Best First Novel

A Ladies Guide to Etiquette and Murder – Dianne Freeman
Little Comfort – Edwin Hill
What Doesn’t Kill You – Aimee Hix
Deadly Solution – Keenan Powell
Curses Boiled Again – Shari Randall

   Best Short Story

All God’s Sparrows – Leslie Budewitz (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
A Postcard for the Dead – Susanna Calkins in Florida Happens (Three Rooms Press)
Bug Appetit – Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
The Case of the Vanishing Professor – Tara Laskowski (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
English 398: Fiction Workshop – Art Taylor (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)

   Best Young Adult Mystery

Potion Problems (Just Add Magic) – Cindy Callaghan
Winterhouse – Ben Guterson
A Side of Sabotage – C.M. Surrisi

   Best Nonfiction

Mastering Plot Twists – Jane Cleland
Writing the Cozy Mystery – Nancy J Cohen
Conan Doyle for the Defense – Margalit Fox
Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life – Laura Thompson
Wicked Women of Ohio – Jane Ann Turzillo

Winners will be announce this May! For more info on the Agatha Awards, click here!

Edgar Nominees Announced!

the-edgars-banner

The 2019 Edgar Nominees have been announced!

Even more exciting? Some old friends of the shop & favorite authors were singled out for their outstanding writing this year!

Congrats to one and all! And good luck!

   Best Novel

The Liar’s Girl – Catherine Ryan Howard
House Witness – Mike Lawson
A Gambler’s Jury – Victor Methos
Down the River Unto the Sea – Walter Mosley
Only to Sleep – Lawrence Osborne
A Treacherous Curse – Deanna Raybourn

   Best First Novel

A Knife in the Fog – Bradley Harper
The Captives – Debra Jo Immergut
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy – Nova Jacobs
Bearskin – James A. McLaughlin
Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

   Best Paperback Original

If I Die Tonight – Alison Gaylin
Hiroshima Boy – Naomi Hirahara
Under a Dark Sky – Lori Rader-Day
The Perfect Nanny – Leila Slimani

Under My Skin – Lisa Unger

   Best Critical/Biography

The Metaphysical Mysteries of G.K. Chesterton: A Critical Study of the Father Brown Stories and Other Detective Fiction – Laird R. Blackwell
Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession – Alice Bolin
Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920s – Leslie S. Klinger
Mark X: Who Killed Huck Finn’s Father? – Yasuhiro Takeuchi
Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life – Laura Thompson

   Mary Higgins Clark

A Death of No Importance – Mariah Fredericks
A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder – Dianne Freeman
Bone on Bone – Julia Keller
The Widows of Malabar Hill – Sujata Massey
A Borrowing of Bones – Paula Munier

For the full list of nominees click here!

January Newzine


share

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL! WELCOME TO 2019!

      Awards!

2018 Nero Award Winner Announced:

Winner: Stephen Mack Jones, August Snow  (Soho Crime)

The 2018 Nero Finalists:

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

November 27: MWA Announces 2019 Special Edgar Awards – Grand Master, Raven and Ellery Queen Award Recipients

      Podcasts

Michael Connelly is starting a podcast called Murder Book. Sounds like fun! It starts January 28th.

      Word of the Month

nick-fidge: a child who is always getting scolded  (thanks to Says You, episode #815)

      Book Events

January 9: Christopher Sandford, Third Place Books/SP

January 11-20: Tasveer South Asian Literary Festival

January 12 and Jan. 16.: Jayne Ann Krentz

January 18: Lindsay Faye, Powell’s

January 18: Gail Carriger, UBooks

January 29: Ian Rankin in conversation with Phillip Margolin, Powell’s

      Links of Interest

November 30: Powell’s Books CEO reflects on her career, reading habits and why she loves books

November 30: Books are back: Indigo CEO talks the future of book stores, new Robson Street store

December 2: When he feared communists were infiltrating America, Congressman Larry McDonald took extreme measures — building his own intelligence-gathering arm.

December 2: Jeeves And Wooster, But Make It A Modern Spy Novel

December 2: Is Your Holiday Gift Spying On You?\

December 3: In Love With Teen Lit: Remembering The ‘Paperback Crush’ Of The ’80s And ’90s

December 3: Spoiler Alert! The Psychology Of Surprise Endings


December 3: 2018 Bad Sex Writing

~ Bad Sex in Fiction Award: James Frey ‘honoured’ to win 2018 title for novel ‘Katerina’

~ Bad Sex in Fiction Award: Haruki Murakami, James Frey and Gerard Woodward among all-male shortlist

~ Bad Sex awards: 20 of the worst shortlisted extracts from Morrissey to Stephen King


December 5: Former Guild Theatre in downtown Portland will become home to Japanese bookstore

December 6: How We Got Hooked On Grisly True Crime Murders

December 6: Val McDermid’s ‘Broken Ground’ Balances Location, Character And Props In Perfect Proportion

December 6: What Kind of Monster Tears the Pages Out of Books? Aquaman!

December 7: The worst things about working in shops at Christmas

December 7: The Paper Publishing a Holiday Books Guide since 1851

December 8: Is Listening to a Book the Same Thing as Reading It?

December 9The Man Making Art From Government Surveillance

December 10: Starving The Watchdog: Who Foots The Bill When Newspapers Disappear?

December 10: John le Carré’s Next Novel to Land in 2019

December 11: Mystery Blast Sank The USS San Diego in 1918. New Report Reveals What Happened

December 11: Brazilian Booksellers Face Wave of Closures That Leave Sector in Crisis

December 11: What’s eating this 400-year-old painting?

December 12: Chocolate meltdown closes German road

December 12: 25 Movies Added To National Film Registry

December 12: James Patterson made $86 million in 2018, topping the list of the world’s highest-paid authors

December 12: When out-of-date code causes chaos

December 13: Roald Dahl’s war medals finally arrive, 73 years on

December 13: New Zealand anger over Google naming murder suspect

December 13: New York Times London crime Twitter appeal backfires

December 14: The inside story: How police and the FBI found one of the country’s worst serial killers

December 15: Oregon library halts book-discard effort after list revealed

December 17: Amazon faces boycott ahead of holidays as public discontent grows

December 18: She swiped her co-worker’s Coke can. Police say it cracked a 28-year-old murder case.

December 18: “Making a Murderer” detective sues Netflix for defamation

December 18: Cate Blanchett Disappears in the Trailer for “Where’d You Go, Bernadette”

December 19: Lee Child on HARDtalk

December 20: Third of rare Scotch whiskies tested found to be fake

December 21: Why this Tokyo book shop is charging customers an entry fee

December 22: True-life treasure hunt that turned into a comic book

December 23: Bottleneck at Printers Has Derailed Some Holiday Book Sales

December 27: James Lee Burke ~ By the Book

December 28: This American Life ~ The Room of Requirement: “Libraries aren’t just for books. They’re often spaces that transform into what you need them to be: a classroom, a cyber café, a place to find answers, a quiet spot to be alone. It’s actually kind of magical. This week, we have stories of people who roam the stacks and find unexpected things that just happen to be exactly what they required.”

December 28: Notes from the Book Review Archive: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Thought Sherlock Holmes Was ‘a Lower Stratum of Literary Achievement’

December 28: How paperback redesigns give publishers a second chance at winning readers

December 28: Glasgow’s LGBT book shop a ‘wonderful success’

December 28:  Josephine Baker’s secret life as a World War II spy

December 29: The Krull House by Georges Simenon review – a dark masterpiece

December 29: New Life for Old Classics, as Their Copyrights Run Out

December 30: Tell Us 5 Things About Your Book: A Deep Dive Back Into ‘The Sopranos’

      Word of the Month – Continued

Murdermongress – (nonce-word) A female writer of murder stories.

Origin: From murdermonger + -ess. Earliest use found in Ogden Nash’s (1902–1971) description of Agatha Christie in a 1957 work.

Pronunciation: /ˌməːdəmʌŋɡəˈrɛs//ˈməːdəˌmʌŋɡ(ə)rɪs/

(Thanks to Oxford English Dictionary)

      R.I.P.

December 14: Sondra Locke: Any Which Way You Can actress dies aged 74

December 18: Penny Marshall: US TV star and director dies aged 75

December 27: Seattle loses its chronicler of vice: journalist Rick Anderson6a00d8341e589c53ef0134896f4661970c-500wi This is a photo from our old blog: “Journalist, columnist and all-around-writer Rick Anderson was in to sign ‘Seattle Vice’. The sub-title says it well: ‘Strippers, Prosititution, Dirty Money and Crooked Cops in the Emerald City’. 11.20.10”

      Word of the Month – Lastly

scot-free (adj.) Old English scotfreo “exempt from royal tax,” from scot “royal tax,” from Old Norse skot “contribution,” literally “a shooting, shot; thing shot, missile” (from Proto-Indo-European root *skeud- “to shoot, chase, throw;” the Old Norse verb form, skjota, has a secondary sense of “transfer to another; pay”) + freo (see free (adj.)). First element related to Old English sceotan “to pay, contribute,” Dutch schot, German Schoß “tax, contribution.” French écot “share” (Old French escot) is from Germanic. (thanks to etymonline)

      What We’ve Been Doing

    Amber

Don’t forget to check out my original mystery! Finder Of Lost Things

This Friday Phoebe meets her mystery during an unexpected FLYT fare!

IMG_2071

Murder At The Brightwell by Ashley Weaver

Murder At The Brightwell is a rare treat, a contemporaneously written mystery which feels as if it were penned during the nineteen-thirties. A closed caste of characters, subtle violence, and with the very glamorous upper-crust class of English society – all of which are hallmarks of the era (of writing).

What I find fascinating is the author’s ability to slip in complex emotional ties without ever detracting from the story: the not-so-subtle marital issues, the love triangles and a finely illustrated double standard applied to husbands & wives of the period – all of which concern, in one way or another, our band of vacationers. But Weaver does such an excellent job of using these same motives in a variety of ways it adds to the underlying tension without ever once becoming monotonous.

I loved it.

Her styles reminds me a bit if you crossed Georgette Heyer’s mysteries with Agatha Christie’s. Not romance as such portrayed on the page, but the detailing of complex relationships shared by people which can give rise to all kinds of unresolved or unexpressed feelings which in turn can lead to happy endings if hammered out or dangerous, dark emotions if left to fester.

This understated attention to the interpersonal relationships and social mores makes for fascinating and rich reading.

Because our detectives are suffering the woes of marital strife, much of the book feels a touch melancholy. Which is not usually my cup of tea, but because the mystery and the people are so interesting, for once this didn’t bother me. Which is a huge tribute to the author, because the prose never tipped into the trap over overstated sadness or despair – or having the heroine witter on about what a bad wife she thinks she is (taking on blame that isn’t her own trying to justify her husband’s bad behavior is an irritating read, in my opinion).

In any case, I would recommend this first in series to anyone who enjoys reading a great classic/historical mystery set in England!

    Fran

IMG_2075

If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember Mr. Peabody and Sherman, and Mr. Peabody’s WABAC machine. Of course, I always thought of it as “Way Back” machine, but it did make history interesting.

Fun Fact (before I actually start talking books): For a long time, nobody knew what WABAC meant, just that computers of that period generally ended in AC – ENIAC, UNIVAC, which lead to “brainiac”, where AC stood for Analog Computer – so of course WABAC had to end in “AC”. It was theorized at one point that WABAC stood for “Wormhole Activating & Bridging Automatic Computer”, but in 2014, DreamWorks created the “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” movie, and they announced that WABAC actually stands for “Wavelength Acceleration Bidirectional Asynchronous Controller”. So now you know.

Anyway, we hop into the WABAC machine, and we head to the 1970’s, which is farther back than I’d prefer to remember it being, and the sentence that always led to brainiac exercises was, “How do you justify your existence?”

That was the question that was asked of guests at every meeting of the Black Widower Society, a fictional monthly meeting of men who were based on the real life society Isaac Asimov belonged to at the time, although the cast was never based on his compatriots.

Tales of the Black Widowers and More Tales of the Black Widowers are frequently overlooked by both science fiction and mystery lovers, which is unfortunate because they are some fabulous little mysteries. At each meeting of the Black Widowers, a puzzle is presented, whether deliberately or not, and all of the wildly intelligent members of the Black Widowers takes a turn at trying to solve it. In the end, it’s the waiter, Henry, who comes through, because he sees things simply and straightforwardly.

Okay, before someone starts shouting at me about sexism and whatnot, remember the time this was written. Yes, it’s sexist. Not necessarily misogynistic, but definitely sexist. My response is that’s the time it was written, it’s a period piece – you’ll notice no one has cell phones either – and just enjoy the puzzles. The personalities of each of the characters is well-defined, and as a treat, in one of the stories in the sequel, Asimov inserts himself as a guest, although he uses the pseudonym “Mortimer Stellar”.

Seriously, take a trip back to the mid 70’s and have a few evenings with the Black Widowers, if you can. The books are largely out of print, to the best of my knowledge, so you have the added delight of tracking them down, like the detective you know you are!

(BTW: Amber Here – I read all these short stories at Fran’s urging and she’s right – as always – these are Fine mysteries! Which are well worth the extra effort of tracking down!)

    JB

I’ve read most of the books by Ben MacIntyre. I missed the book on the formation of soldiers during WW2 of what would become the SIS. That came out when the shop was closing and I just didn’t get to it. His newest is The Spy and the Traitor. It’s a very timely book as it deals with Soviet espionage and the Russian spy who became an important double agent for the West at the end of the Cold War. 9781101904190

It’s full of Soviet aims and Soviet skills, as well as the mixed efforts of their side. For every die-hard Soviet agent intent on defeating the West there was one who didn’t care and worked more for themselves. This story of Oleg Gordievsky is illuminating because he was from a KGB father and had accepted the entire Soviet line about the decadent West. While he did see as much decadence in the West as in his own country, he was staggered by the freedoms, the art, the music, and the happiness of the West.

In an age where Russia seems to be turning back to Soviet life under Putin, MacIntyre lays out the fruitlessness of this. It’s all about control at the top and power and those who suffer are those ordinary citizens, not the elite. In this, the mirror is held up to the West these days and we have to ask where we are going.

The truly alarming section of the book deals with the Andropov era and how he steered the Soviet world into a concrete belief that the West under Reagan was about to preemptively launch a nuclear attack against the Warsaw Pact and orders were sent out to be alert for certain signs that the attack was near – signs that largely were of everyday actions and policies of the West that had no part of an attack. It’s a chilling account that I had not heard about before.

I highly recommend this book, indeed, any book by Ben MacIntyre. You can’t call them “true crime” but fascinating history told well they are.

Shop Small Businesses If You Don’t

They go away …