Bookshops & The Virus, again ~ updated

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From The Seattle Times

How you can support Seattle-area bookstores — and have plenty to read! — during the coronavirus pandemic

if you don’t live in Seattle, call or e-mail your local bookseller to see what their options are.

DON’T ORDER FROM SPECTRE!

If you want your local booksellers to survive this crisis you have to support them!




The Mysterious Bookshop in NYC

is Now Closed for the Foreseeable Future

Dear Customers, Readers, Authors, and Friends,

Thank you for your years of patronage and your support in these troubling times. Today is the last day that the Mysterious Bookshop will be open for the foreseeable future. The state of New York has decreed that all nonessential businesses must close their doors until an end to this pandemic is in sight.

More on Publishing during COVID-19: updated

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As New York’s Indie Bookstores Close Their Doors, They Search for Community Online

Big-hearted strangers turn Little Free Libraries into Little Free Pantries.

Bookshop.org to share 30 percent of each purchase with bookstores impacted by coronavirus shutdowns.

All Powell’s Locations Temporarily Closed:

“When we closed our doors, we also closed off the vast majority of our business without any prospect of it returning soon. As a result, we have been forced to make the unthinkable decision to lay off the vast majority of you in the coming few days. Many people have spoken publicly demanding we pay our employees and extend health insurance for the duration. No one can possibly know how much I wish I could make that happen. We are simply not that kind of business – we run on duct tape and twine on a daily basis, every day trading funds from one pocket to patch the hole in another. We have worked hard over the years to pay the best possible wages, health care and benefits, to make contributions to our community, to support other non-profits. Unfortunately, none of those choices leave extra money on hand when the doors close. And when the doors close, every possible cost must stop as well.”

March 2020

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Pardon the slide into politics, but… British man found guilty of trying to steal Magna Carta. Guess he needed the Senate behind him…

And photos of a library to make you drool: Inside the ‘Vibrant Intellectual Ecosystem’ of Larry McMurtry’s Home Library:Bibliostyle_McMurty-p112_B-1

See our old stomping grounds in a photo from 1880 – Cherry Street in the snow

      Serious Stuff

Nambi Narayanan: The fake spy scandal that blew up a rocket scientist’s career 

The art heists that shook the world – in pictures

Police suspected a crime lab technician of murder. Their mistake led him to hang himself, his widow says.

CIA and German intelligence controlled global encryption company for decades, says report

Corruption, Inc.: Andrea Bernstein on the Trumps, the Kushners, and the Age of the Oligarchs

After a night at the cinema in 1986, Olof Palme was assassinated on Stockholm’s busiest street. The killer has never been found. Jan Stocklassa discusses whether novelist Stieg Larsson’s theory can provide any answers. 

Authors Guild releases grim 50-page report on “The Profession of the Author in the 21st Century”

Opening a Pandora’s box of truths about rape kits 

Two teens held on manslaughter charges in deadly California library fire

Did Medgar Evers’ Killer Go Free Because of Jury Tampering? 

Piled Bodies, Overflowing Morgues: Inside America’s Autopsy Crisis

      Words of the Month

ekphrastic: of poetry, words to describe a work of art.    (thanks to Says You!, show 2101)

      Awards

John Le Carre’s acceptance speech upon receiving the Olaf Palme (take the time to read this, it is worth it!)

Nominees for the 2020 Barry Awards have been announced. You can find them here. We don’t recall if they’ve done this before but, at the bottom, are the nominees for Best of the Decade.

Here’s the longlist for the 2020 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. 

Announcing the finalists for the $35,000 Aspen Words Literary Prize. 

The L.A. Times announces its 2019 Book Prize finalists and a new award for science fiction.

      Words of the Month

griffonage: illegible handwriting     (thanks to Says You!, show 2101)

       Author Events

March 4: John Straley, Third Place/LFP, 7pm

March 6, John Straley, Powell’s, 7pm

March 6: J.P. Gritton, Third Place/Ravenna, 7pm

March 7: Phillip Margolin, Third Place/Ravenna, 6pm

March 8: Michael Christie, Powell’s, 7:30pm

March 12: Anne Bishop, Powell’s, 7pm

March 13: Emily Beyda, Powell’s, 7:30

March 14: Phillip Margolin, Everett Public Library, 2pm

March 16: Anne Bishop & Patricia Briggs, UBooks, 6:30pm

March 17: Matt Ruff, Elliott Bay, 7pm

March 17: Phillip Margolin, Powell’s, 7pm

March 19: Matt Ruff, Powell’s, 7:30pm

March 23: Jason Pintor, Third Place/Ravenna, 7pm

March 24: Matt Ruff, Third Place/LFP, 7pm

      Book Stuff

New Nancy Drew comic celebrates beloved sleuth’s 90th birthday by killing her

Carl Hiaasen: A Crime Reader’s Guide to the Classics


Review: Sam Wasson takes a deep dive into Chinatown

And a sample from the book: How Raymond Chandler and the Tate-LaBianca Murders Inspired the Making of Chinatown

See JB’s section for his review of the book


The Belgrade Book Collection That Survived War, Fascism, and Neglect. One family has kept it going—and growing—since 1720.

Taking Maigret’s first case in for questioning 

‘No Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition or Mumbo Jumbo’: Dorothy L Sayers and the Detection Club 

Patti Smith pitches in to help burgled Oregon bookshop 

Everyone Can Be a Book Reviewer. Should They Be?

New women’s fiction prize to address ‘gender imbalance’ in North America 

How not to separate your church from your state: Tennessee seeks to make Bible “state book.”

NYC Books Through Bars explains how you can support prison books projects—or start your own 

Printing Novels in the Gulag: How Soviet prisoners turned to 19th century detective fiction to while away the long hours.

Georges Simenon’s remarkable novel manages to make its loathsome protagonist compelling company 

Sophie Hannah on the recipe for a perfect crime novel – books podcast

Heroic Librarians: Unexpected Roles and Amazing Feats of Librarianship 

The Great Los Angeles Crime Novel—And the Women Who Are Revitalizing It 

The strange quest to crack the Voynich code

Not a Cult, a new bookstore in Los Angeles, puts authors of color at the forefront. 

The Books Briefing: A Study in Sleuthing 

Spanish-language newsstand, a 1940s Boyle Heights gem, braces for the end

Who Should Decide What Books Are Allowed In Prison?

Jane Goodall’s next book, ‘The Book of Hope,’ to be released in fall 2021  

The Life and Work of C.W. Grafton: Crime Novelist, Lawyer, and Father to a Mystery Icon

The Cozy Mysteries of the Pacific Northwest

Take a walking tour of Seattle’s liveliest literary neighborhood: Pike Place Market

      Other Forms of Fun

Jodie Foster Set To Direct Drama On 1911 Theft Of Mona Lisa; Los Angeles Media Fund-Backed Film

“Back To The Future” is being rebooted – on stage, not on screen

‘Friends’ to reunite for one-off special

The artistic wizard who brought Oz to life

Tom and Jerry: 80 years of cat v mouse 

Doc Savage: Man of Bronze – Classic Pulp Hero Headed to Television 

These Famous Noirs and Mysteries Were Inspired by Real-Life Crimes 

Juries and Judgement in Hollywood Cinema

Perry Mason returns to TV later this year


Counting Down the Greatest Crime Films of All-Time

Mystery power house Otto Penzler gives his list of the 106 best crime films. You may have quibbles of his rankings as we did (The Fugitive is #54 yet Bullitt is #98?!?) but it’s a fun and informative list. Click on each title to get the skinny!


      Words of the Month

foe (n):  Old English gefea, gefa “foe, enemy, adversary in a blood feud” (the prefix denotes “mutuality”), from adjective fah “at feud, hostile,” also “guilty, criminal,” from Proto-Germanic *faihaz (source also of Old High German fehan “to hate,” Gothic faih “deception”), perhaps from the same Proto-Indo-European source that yielded Sanskrit pisunah “malicious,” picacah “demon;” Lithuanian piktas “wicked, angry,” peikti “to blame.” Weaker sense of “adversary” is first recorded c. 1600. (etymonline.com)

       Links of Interest

January 30: Agatha Christie’s Greatest Mystery Was Left Unsolved

January 31: New Clue May Be the Key to Cracking CIA Sculpture’s Final Puzzling Passage

February 3: The Oxford Professor Who Kept Tabs on His Student—Who Turned Out To Be a Conman ~ The (Mostly Unknowable) Life of a Fraud

February 3: Amazon knows more than just what books I’ve read and when – it knows which parts of them I liked the most

February 4: Never Do That to a Book ~ Sure, you love books. But is it courtly love or carnal love?

February 5: My Uncle, The Librarian-Spy ~ In 1943, a Harvard librarian was quietly recruited by the OSS to save the scattered books of Europe. 

February 7: Why Avocados Attract Interest Of Mexican Drug Cartels

February 9: Identification 95 Years After Ship’s Disappearance Puts Mystery To Rest

February 10: Whitechapel mural will celebrate the lives of Jack the Ripper’s victims

February 10: Stolen Art, Nazis, and the Eternal Search for Justice

February 11: How the Earliest Crime Scene Investigators Identified Murder Victims

February 12: ‘Trust your dog’: extraordinary pets help solve crimes by finding bodies

February 13: Objects Made by Prisoners in the United States

February 13: Rebels of Black History: The Life and Legend of Madam Stephanie St. Clair

February 14: Bookshop burglary foiled after prosecco distracts raiders

February 14: The Legend of a Cave and the Traces of the Underground Railroad in Ohio

February 14: How a Trashed Italian Manuscript Got Sewn Into a Sweet Silk Purse

February 14: The Lancashire hideaway of an Italian mafia boss

February 14: In 1933, two rebellious women bought a home in Virginia’s woods. Then the CIA moved in.

February 17: Facial Recognition Technology Is the New Rogues’ Gallery

February 18: The Best James Bond Themes that Never Made it to the Screen

February 18: PenguinRandomHouse Makes Progress in Green Initiatives

February 18: Neanderthal ‘skeleton’ is first found in a decade

February 19: Compassion fatigue is taking its toll on librarians.

February 19: How to Murder Harry Potter ~ In “deathfic,” writers of fan fiction find unexpected comfort in killing off their favorite popular characters.

February 19: Date night couple foil attempted armed robbery

February 19: The NYT Spelling Bee Gives Me L-I-F-E by Laura Lippman

February 20: How a stolen safe changed a burglar’s life

February 21: Romulus mystery: Experts divided on ‘tomb of Rome’s founding father’

February 21: Elizabethan playwright Ben Jonson once beat a murder charge by translating some Latin.

February 23: Brockport book shop makes plea to customers and community

February 24: People v. Gillette: How an Obscure Execution in the Finger Lakes Inspired Generations of Storytellers

February 25: France rock riddle contest gives meaning to mysterious inscription

February 25: The unbelievable history of con artists ~ The neuroscience of why we believe hucksters has made fraud a steady business over the centuries.

February 26: The Best Gifts for Writers, According to Writers (From John Waters to Jeremy O. Harris)

February 27: Don’t Pick Your Nose, 15th-Century Manners Book Warns

      R.I.P.

Kirk Douglas died at the age of 103 on February 5th. There will have been a yuge number of articles about him, his life, career, and personality. They’ll have written about Sparticus and on and on. We’d like to narrow our view to one timeless, classic performance – badman Whit in Jacques Tourneur’s 1947 film noir masterpiece Out of the Past. Along with Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer, the triangle at heart of this clash of love and power is the epitome of noir. If you’ve never seen it, do yourself a favor and see it. ~ JB

February 8: Robert Conrad died at 84. We remember him for his 1959 TV show “Hawaiian Eye” and, with “West, James West”, bringing James Bond to “The Wild, Wild West” in 1965. Great theme song, great opening credits, great train full of gadgets.

February 13: Charles ‘Chuckie’ O’Brien, who called himself Jimmy Hoffa’s ‘foster son,’ dies at 86

February 18: True Grit author Charles Portis dies aged 86

February 19: The Computer Scientist Responsible for Cut, Copy, and Paste, Has Passed Away

February 20: Frank Anderson, former CIA spymaster in the Middle East, dies at 77

February 23: Walter Satterthwait, dead at 73

February 24: Katherine Johnson: Nasa mathematician dies at 101

February 26: Creator of New York City subway map Michael Hertz dies

February 26: Clive Cussler: Dirk Pitt novels author dies aged 88

       Words of the Month

fustigate (v.)”to cudgel, to beat,” 1650s, back-formation from Fustication (1560s) or from Latin fusticatus, past participle of fusticare “to cudgel” (to death), from fustis “cudgel, club, staff, stick of wood,” of unknown origin. De Vaan writes that “The most obvious connection would be with Latin -futare” “to beat,” but there are evolutionary difficulties.

       What We’ve Been Up To

   Amber

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Finder of Lost Things

I’m working furiously and I’m nearly finished writing Season Two of Finder of Lost Things! Then comes editing and photography so I’m hoping it will be out in the next month or two! I’ll keep you guys posted.

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Golden In Death – J.D. Robb

I’m not going to go into a synopsis of the mystery as this is quite literally the fiftieth installment in the ‘In Death’ series.

Suffice to say there’s a murder in New York and Eve’s on the case.

Despite hitting this landmark installment number, don’t look for this book to get mired in nostalgia for Eve and her crew. Golden In Death is a very mystery-centric story uncluttered by unnecessary parties, conflicts, and dramas (aside from the whole murder thing). All of our favorites Mavis, Leonardo, Trina, and Nadine (and her new rocker boyfriend), Peabody’s family – are all included – but in a nebulous and natural fashion. Giving us just a glimpse of what they’re up too, without losing the momentum of the case at hand.

Even better? The standard boilerplate descriptions of Eve and Roake have been rejiggered and reworked, so they feel fresher to the well-indoctrinated eyes of Eve Dallas fans!

I really enjoyed this book. The mystery is one that I found interesting and relevant to this milestone installment. (Which, truth be told, is the real reason why I didn’t write a synopsis – as I did not want to spoil a single twist in this book!) I thoroughly enjoyed reading each page and stayed up well past my bedtime in order to finish it – as once again – I couldn’t help myself.

BTW – if you haven’t started this series yet, because you’re intimidated by the sheer length and breadth of it, never fear. You can start with this book and be just fine. Though if you want to avoid spoilers and giveaways, I’d suggest going back, after finishing Golden In Death and start with Naked In Death. I know there’s a lot of books in between these two – but having read them all already – you have at least two hours* of fun ahead of you!

(*Which is only a rough estimate as I’ve no clue how long it would take to read this series – and I love you guys – but I’m not going to time myself to find out!)

   Fran

Truly Devious

And the mystery is solved! Do you know who did it?

We first met Stevie Bell in Maureen Johnson’s Truly Devious, where we learned about the famous Ellingham Academy – what would you be accepted for? – and the troubles that happened there back in the 30’s. Stevie’s determined to solve the mystery of whatever happened to young Alice Ellingham, but trouble besets her in her current life.

In The Vanishing Stair, things get even more complicated. Stevie’s not even supposed to come back to Ellingham, but fate conspires in her favor. Still, now she has more mysteries to unravel.

Finally, in The Hand on the Wall, Stevie figures things out. But what’s the price? And does she really see a moose?

In this trilogy, Maureen Johnson has created a fabulous homage to the Golden Age mystery writers, especially Agatha Christie, but she’s put a decidedly modern twist on it, and it works perfectly. And of course the Dorothy Parker style poem adds flair! But it takes a special talent to combine the subtle clues and genteelly labyrinthine story with modern day complexities, and there’s no one quite like Maureen Johnson, who takes on this challenge and not only makes it work, but keeps it riveting and thought-provoking.

These are considered young-adult novels, but trust me, you don’t need to be a tween to enjoy this trilogy, and I promise you that you will!

   JB

My love of Chandler, my adoration of Chinatown, 9781250301826and my interest in history and true crime smash together in San Wasson’s The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood

The basics of the book are the story of the movie – the initial conception, the years of work to get it in filmable shape, filming, and its reception. But the book is jammed with so much more.

The story told contains the sense of LA at the time, the impact of the Manson murders on LA and Hollywood, where the various participants came from, and how they came together to make this remarkable movie. It then tells the story of the movie making and how each participant moved on from there. And, really, how this was the height of a creative period in Hollywood that was supplanted by the era of the blockbuster and the takeover of the studios by money people interested more in return than film making, than in “art”.

Overall, this is a melancholy book, itself a story that ends badly, like all noir must. There are Robert Towne’s battles to get the thing written and then seeing it overtaken by Polanski. There are Polanski’s experience of horrors – the loss of his mother in Auschwitz and the murder of his wife. There are Robert Evans’ battles with those above him who wanted something different, something better, out of the movies he was producing. There was Nicholson who was dealing with personal nightmares throughout the period and whose dream of a fabled trilogy of Gittes films never came to pass.

But it is a story of lightning in a bottle. That all of these figures came together at this time and managed to create this singular movie is a demonstration of the odds against such a thing happening at all.

Wasson’s book is  well crafted and informative, and never fails to surprise and never fails to show the entire period with all of its faults, ugliness, astonishments, and creativity. And, like all true noir, no one leaves the story unmarred. In the end, we are all left with a stunning work of art, a movie that shows what can emerge out of human minds, out of human suffering.

 

Buy Local ~ Support Local

Let’s Play A Game!

Okay, here we go. Are you ready?

I’m going to list a series of authors, and you have to match them to the titles of the short story they wrote. The only clue you get is that it all revolves around the band Steely Dan. The anthology is called Die Behind the Wheel, and it was edited by Brian Thornton.

Here we go:

David Corbett                                            Black Cow

Nick Feldman                                             Dirty Work

Bill Fitzhugh                                               Do You Have a Dark Spot on Your Past?

Linda Joffe Hull                                         Green Earrings

R. T. Lawton                                                Haitian Divorce

Cornelia Read                                            Harley Quinn is Dead

Stacy Robinson                                          Home at Last

David Schlosser                                         Josie

Brian Thornton                                         On Your Knees Tomorrow

Sam Wiebe                                                  Pretzel Logic

Simon Wood                                               Show Biz Kids

James W. Ziskin                                         Your Gold Teeth

Plus there’s a forward and an introduction, which you really should read, although no one will blame you for jumping into the stories. And let’s face it, the music of Steely Dan just screams crime story, doesn’t it?

Except – and there will be another quiz later on – there’s a second anthology that deals with science fiction topics – A Beast Without A Name, again edited by the wonderful Brian Thornton. Wanna cheat on that one? Buy it now, and then you can smirk at knowing all the answers before the quiz!

And I don’t wanna hear the only refrain, “But I don’t like short stories.” You’ll like these, pinky swear!

SPECTRE: the battle never ends

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

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

and, by

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

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

From the UK:

Concerns over safety at Amazon warehouses as accident reports rise.

Why Amazon Knows So Much About You

On “Frontline”:

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


 

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

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Hello, Booksellers!

Booksellers! Apply for an International Bookselling Fellowship

See the World Through Bookselling Without Borders

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

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

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

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

The Queen of Suspense

Mary Higgins Clark died on the evening of the last day of January, too late to be included in our February newzletter. But that’s ok. She deserves her own post.

Mary Theresa Eleanor Higgins was born on Christmas Eve, 1927, in The Bronx. Her father owned an Irish pub and things got tighter as the Depression ground on. Things got far harder when her father died in his sleep when she was 12.

She began writing stories in grammar school and was encourage by the adults around her. She submitted her first story to a magazine at 16. It was rejected. Her first job was as a secretary but she was known for her beauty as well and did modeling – once with a young Grace Kelly. She was recommended to Pan Am and took the job as flight attendant because it paid more than modeling. She was introduced to Warren Clark at the night of her farewell dinner before she took off. She had known of him and he was immediately smitten with her and told her they’d marry in a year. She flew international routes for 1949 but did give it up to marry Clark two days after her 22 birthday.

She went back to writing to occupy herself, she studied at NYU, joined a writer’s group and learned to look through the newspapers for ideas. Finally, in 1956, after 40 rejections in 6 years, she sold a story to a magazine. In that time she also had 4 children and, after that first story sold, she began to regularly sell her fiction.

Starting in 1959, Warren Clark began to have health problems. A series of heart attacks left him unable to work by 1964. To be able to support the six of them, Mary asked a friend to get her work writing scripts for radio. On the day she was given her first job, her husband suffered a fatal heart attack. Her mother-in-law, upon finding him dead, herself dropped dead.

She kept writing though the short story market had nearly vanished. She kept writing for the radio. She turned her radio scripts – about George and Martha Washington – into a novel. It sold for a very modest amount and was, as she later joked, immediately remaindered. Soon after it was published, her own mother died. She kept working. She kept pressing her children to work at their education to ensure their financial health. She decided to show them by example. In 1971 she entered Fordham and, in 1979, graduated  summa cum laude with a BA in philosophy.

This was a woman who could not be stopped.th

Through more heartache and death and school, she kept writing and, finally, in the Spring of ’74, Simon & Schuster bought her novel Where are the Children? for $3,000. Three months later the paperback rights sold for $100,000. Her financial worries were over. Two years later, her second novel sold for $1.5 million.

We’re not even going to try to list her novels or even count them. There are the novels, the short fiction, the Holiday stories. And then there were the accolades. From wikipedia:

“Higgins Clark won numerous awards for her writing. In addition to those previously referenced, she won the Horatio Alger Award (1997) and the Passionists’ Ethics in Literature Award (2002), as well as the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University Spirit of Achievement Award (1994) and the National Arts Club‘s Gold Medal in Education (1994). She was awarded eighteen honorary doctorates, including one from her alma mater, Fordham University. Her success was also recognized by groups representing her heritage. The American Irish Historical Society granted her the Gold Medal of Honor in 1993, and in 2001 she won the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. She was named a Bronx Legend (1999).[52]

Mary Higgins Clark served as the Chairman of the International Crime Congress in 1988 and was the 1987 president of the Mystery Writers of America. For many years she served on the board of directors of the Mystery Writers of America. Simon & Schuster, which have published all of Higgins Clark’s novels and in the late 1990s signed her to a $64-million, four-book contract,[30] have funded the Mary Higgins Clark Award, given by the Mystery Writers of America to authors of suspense fiction.[3][55] The announcement that an award would be given in her honor was made at the 55th Annual Edgar Allan Poe Awards, where Higgins Clark was inducted as a Grand Master.[55]

Higgins Clark was made a Dame of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, and was honored as a Dame of Malta and a Dame of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.[30] The Franciscan Friars gave her a Graymoor Award (1999) and she was awarded a Christopher Life Achievement Award. She served as a board member for the Catholic Communal Fund and as a member of the Board of Governors at Hackensack Hospital.[56]

Higgins Clark was inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame in March 2011.[57]

In 1981, by happenstance, she was in DC the day President Reagan was shot. Again, from wikipedia,Because she had a press pass she was able to join the media waiting to hear the President’s prognosis. When the doctor finally arrived to start the press conference, Higgins Clark was one of the few people chosen to ask a question.[9]”

In 1996, she married John J. Conheeney, a retired CEO from the financial industry, and they lived in a number of homes her books afforded her to own. She died at one of them in Naples, FL. She was 92

Her website gives more details, as well as a number of videos.

Alas, she was one of the authors we never had the honor of hosting for a signing. We did get to have her daughter, Carol Higgins Clark, back in the early 2000s.

R.I.P. Mary Theresa Eleanor Higgins Clark Mary Theresa Eleanor Higgins Conheeney

 

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February 2020

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Every now and then we lose a member of the SMB family and, though they are perhaps not well known to you, we want to note their passing –

Jim Norman recently died. Hard to say exactly when he moved into the orbit of the shop but it certainly was way back in the days of our Jance events at The Doghouse. Jim was a HUGE Jance fan and he and his first wife Carol created and gave a J.A. Jance tour to show other fans places where key events in Judy’s books occurred. Carol was killed in a collision with a drunk driver and the tours ended.

Jim was a loyal customer for at least a couple of decades and was always ready with a large smile to match his big frame and followed it with caring questions in his deep, soft voice. We got to know his second wife, Lynne, at later Jance signings and when she’d stop by to pick up books for him after he retired to the Olympic Peninsula.

Jim had a big life. He was in law enforcement in California, and owned a bookshop at one point. That gave him a special fondness for Bill’s bookshop, and sympathy when we were having a hard time.

Our hope is that Jim and Bill have found one another and are sharing laughs and a meal in a booth at The Doghouse in the sky.

      Serious Stuff

On the Antifascist Activists Who Fought in the Streets Long Before Antifa ~ The Rich American History of Nazi-Punching 

Jo Nesbø: ‘We should talk about violence against women’ 

Satan, the FBI, the Mob—and the Forgotten Plot to Kill Ted Kennedy

Soul Assassin: The Brief Life and Death of Jerome Johnson. In 1971, somebody hired a young Black man to assassinate an Italian mafia boss. Five decades later, the mystery continues.

True Crime Podcast, “The Murder Squad”, Leads to Arrest in 40-Year-Old Cold Case 

Smorgasbords Don’t Have Bottoms – Publishing in the 2010s (obviously written before the news of the downtown B&N closed)


Rural Montana Had Already Lost Too Many Native Women. Then Selena Disappeared. 

New app created by Clyde Ford’s company aims to reduce number of missing and murdered Native women


Bombs and blood feuds: the wave of explosions rocking Sweden’s cities

A New Missouri Bill Proposes Jailing Librarians Who Provide Children with “Age-Inappropriate” Books

      Awards

Lee Child Announced as One of the Judges for the Booker Prize

Romance Writers of America Cancels Awards Program 

John le Carré wins $100,000 prize, donates the money to charity.

      Words of the Month

auld lang syne : the good old times

From “Auld Lang Syne”:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Robert Burns never actually claimed to coin the phrase “Auld Lang Syne”—he said it was a fragment of an old song he’d discovered—but scholars credit him with the song we hear every New Year’s.

(Thanks to Merriam-Webster for the definition!)

      Book Stuff

From the Book of Genesis to contemporary crime writing, a look at why “trouble is always the most interesting element in any story.”

Fiction’s Most Manipulative Masterminds

Chuck Palahniuk on His Childhood Love of Ellery Queen and Writing in a Good Mood

The Noir Poetry and Doomed Romanticism of Cornell Woolrich 

Reviving the Traditional Mystery for a 21st Century Audience 

The case of the Encyclopedia Brown mystery that makes no sense 

Walter Mosley: ‘Everyone Can Write a Book.’ 

Graham Greene and Dorothy Glover’s Amazing Collection of Victorian Detective Fiction 

The Strange Cinematic Afterlife of ‘Red Harvest’

A library found it was missing $8 million of its rarest items. Nearly three years later, a man on the inside admitted to selling the items to a local bookstore 

How One Librarian Tried to Squash Goodnight Moon. There’s a reason this classic is missing from the New York Public Library’s list of the 10 most-checked-out books of all time.

Why Philosophers could transform your 2020 

Sold: Pierre de Coubertin’s Blueprint for the Olympics. The 14-page speech is now the world’s most expensive piece of sports memorabilia.

Shakespeare’s First Folio: Rare 1623 collection expected to fetch $6m at auction

The Making of a Harlequin Romance Cover

How a Book Cover Gets Made: Nicole Caputo on Belletrist’s Studio Sessions

Bookshop.org hopes to play Rebel Alliance to Amazon’s Empire (not sure how this is not a repeat of Indiebound, but more power to ’em!)

Dutch Art Sleuth Finds Rare Stolen Copy Of ‘Prince Of Persian Poets’

Real Book Lovers Aren’t Afraid to Cut Them in Half

Feminist Zines Have Have Been Around Longer Than You Thought—Here’s Where One Began

Anne Brontë is the least famous Brontë sister. But she might have been the most radical.

“The Third Rainbow Girl” author on the true story of a double murder she didn’t set out to write

HAPPY 120TH BIRTHDAY UNIVERSITY BOOKSTORE! Here are some things you might not have known about it.

Nourishing ‘long roots’: In a year, Madison Books has forged an essential role in one of Seattle’s oldest communities 

Exclusive: watch the trailer for The Booksellers, a new documentary about rare book dealers.

      Other Forms of Fun

The Year in Sherlock Holmes A Sherlockian Review of 2019

The Most Anticipated Crime Shows of 2020

Brad Pitt Reveals The Reaction To Se7en‘s Twist Ending Was Not What He Expected 

Season Four ‘Fargo’ Trailer: Chris Rock’s Loy Cannon Battles Mafia to Control Kansas City 

‘Silence of the Lambs’ Sequel ‘Clarice’ Gets Series Commitment at CBS

Ross Thomas’s Edgar-Winning Novel Briarpatch coming to USA Network Feb. 2nd

Marvel to get first transgender superhero

      Author Events

February 3: Clyde Ford, Powells 7:30pm

February 12: Joe Ide,  Third Place/LFP, 7pm

February 13: Joe Ide, Powell’s 7:30pm

February 27: Charles Finch, Powell’s, 7pm

February 28: Charles Finch in conversation with Mary Anne Gwinn, UBooks, 6pm

      Words of the Month

Apricity: the warmth of the sun in winter

This word provides us with evidence that even if you come up with a really great word, and tell all of your friends that they should start using it, there is a very small chance that it will catch on. Apricity appears to have entered our language in 1623, when Henry Cockeram recorded (or possibly invented) it for his dictionary The English Dictionary; or, An Interpreter of Hard English Words. Despite the fact that it is a delightful word for a delightful thing it never quite caught on.

(Thanks to Merriam-Webster for the definition!)

      Links of Interest

January 3: “One Last Job, Then I’m Out…”: Broken Resolutions in Classic Crime Films A brief history of broken promises in noir.

January 4: ‘The ghost of Manzanar’: Japanese WW2 internee’s body found

January 7: Alpacas dine out on donated Christmas tree feast

January 8: Why We Love Untranslatable Words

January 9: Burglar cooks snack in Taco Bell then falls asleep

January 9: Did The Trojan War Really Happen?

January 12: Night rider: 21 years sleeping on a London bus

January 13: The True Crime Story That Changed My Life

January 14: My decade as a fugitive: ‘I felt I could be killed at any moment’

January 14: Billie Eilish to sing the new James Bond theme

January 14: The teenage Dutch girls who seduced and killed Nazis

January 14: ‘The Irishman’ tells us who killed Jimmy Hoffa; a lawyer with a secret trove of documents says the movie got it wrong

January 15: James Bond’s greatest hits – and biggest misses

January 15: The accidental Singer sewing machine revolution

January 16: Golden Age Hollywood was Full of Ex-Cons

January 16: Meet the NASA intern who discovered a new planet on his third day

January 17: Textbooks are pricey. So students are getting creative.

January 16: Spain billionaire guilty of trying to smuggle a Picasso

January 22: Burglar traps himself in Vancouver store

January 22: The art heists that shook the world – in pictures

January 24: The secret life of Yakuza women

January 24: Mummy returns: Voice of 3,000-year-old Egyptian priest brought to life

January 27: Philip Pullman calls for boycott of Brexit 50p coin over ‘missing’ Oxford comma. Critics fume over the omission of Oxford comma from phrase ‘Peace, prosperity and friendship’ as new coin enters circulation

January 27: Me and the G-Man. A crime writer’s research sparks an unlikely
friendship with an FBI agent

January 27: Man Sentenced to Probation Despite Stealing More than $1 Million From Dr Pepper (JB swears it wasn’t him…)

January 28: What Authors Can Learn from the Greatest Long Takes in Movie History

January 28: Tesco cat Pumpkin defies Norwich supermarket ‘ban’

January 29: Ken Harmon’s “Fatman: A Tale of North Pole Noir” to come to the screen (One of Amber’s favorite comic mysteries!)


Food Fights

January 8: How New York’s Bagel Union Fought — and Beat — a Mafia Takeover. The mob saw an opportunity. Local 338 had other ideas.

January 17: In 1930s New York, the Mayor Took on the Mafia by Banning Artichokes


      R.I.P.

Buck Henry, comedy icon beloved for The Graduate and ‘Get Smart,’ dies at 89 

Edd Byrnes, Who Played ‘Kookie’ in ’77 Sunset Strip,’ Dies at 87

Stan Kirsch: Highlander and Friends actor dies aged 51

Forensic Artist Betty Pat Gatliff, Whose Facial Reconstructions Helped Solve Crimes, Dies at 89

Former Seattle Attorney Egil Krogh, Nixon ‘plumber’ who authorized a pre-Watergate break-in, dies at 80

Terry Jones: Monty Python stars pay tribute to comedy great

‘First Middle-earth scholar’ Christopher Tolkien dies

      Words of the Month

forensic (adj.) “pertaining to or suitable for courts of law,” 1650s, with -ic + stem of Latin forensis “of a forum, place of assembly,” related to forum “public place” (see forum). Later used especially in sense of “pertaining to legal trials,” as in forensic medicine (1845). Related: Forensical (1580s). [thanks to etymoline]

      What We’ve Been Up To

   Amber

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Finder of Lost Things – I am furiously working on the end of season two! So please be patient!!!! On the upside you’ve now got time to catch up if you’ve fallen behind!

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Shelley Noble – Tell Me No Lies

Lady Dunbridge is back, and her second stab at detection doesn’t disappoint! Her reputation for being of assistance in a crisis is growing. So much so, that when a man is found murdered (and ignobly shoved into a laundry shute) after a debutante’s ball – the host comes to Phil (our Lady Dunbridge) for help.

One of the best things about these books (so far) is how seamlessly Noble has taken the traditional English Manor House mystery and plunked it down in historic NY City amongst; the Great Stock Market Crash of 1907, Teddy Roosevelt’s recent departure as the head of NY Police Commissioner’s Board (thus leaving a vacuum and allowing dirty cops free reign again), and the Gilded Age of the NY City elite (partying in full swing).

Well, those who didn’t lose their shirts in the aforementioned crash…

Another reason why I enjoy this burgeoning series is the number of mysteries Nobel packed betwixt the cover of her books!

Not only do we have the murder at hand to enjoy watching Lady Dunbrige solve…We also have the continuing mystery of Phil’s maid Lily. To whom Phil hasn’t a clue what her real name is, where she comes from or her history. What she does know is Lily keeps a stiletto strapped to her ankle at all times, knows her way around locks, and speaks several languages.

Lily’s worked hard under the supervision of Phil’s butler Preswick learning her new trade as a lady’s maid – but the question is, can Phil really trust Lily?

Then there’s MR. X, a man who Phil possesses even less data on than Lily (including what he looks like). However, it’s his motivations that are the true mystery. Why is he footing the bill for her year-long lease at the Plaza? Why does he want her at the ready should he need her talents (social position, connections, and brains) to help solve murders (so far…)? Even more important are they working on the same side of the law?

Both of these carried over questions, which Noble does a great job of dropping bread crumbs to keep her readers following her questionable characters, are only the tip of the iceberg of curious people and tangled motivates present in her two books.

If you enjoy nearly bloodless, fast-paced, smart, witty historical mysteries, you’ll find the Lady Dunbrige Mysteries well worth your time.

Though, as my colleague below has pointed out – you need to start with the first book first! Ask Me No Questions. Otherwise, the second installment won’t have nearly the depth of flavor!

the-rook

Now onto a Television Show Review!

If you perused our Best of the Decade book lists we compiled and published in January, then you know The Rook by Daniel O’Malley was at the top of my pile. So let me tell you I was really excited when I learned, back in May, STARZ had optioned it into a television series! (Unfortunately, because I’m disinclined to sign up for yet another streaming service, I had to wait until January before it became available on iTunes. Hence why I am reviewing it now.)

Here’s the thing.

(There’s always a thing with adaptations.)

When I first started watching The Rook, I needed to squint my eyes and look at it sideways to see the original text on the screen.

Not only does the show delete several beloved (well maybe not beloved but definitely interesting) Court members.

If you’re looking to see the Chevaliers Eckhart & Gubbins (metal manipulation & contortionist extraordinaire), Bishop Alrich (vampire) or Lord Wattleman (who sunk a submarine while naked in WWII and never had his powers really explained – that I recall) striding across the screen – you’ll be in for a disappointment.

It’s also missing the incidents with the purple spores & all the chanting, the cube of flesh bent on absorbing people, The Greek Woman, the dragon, a rabbit, and well quite a bit more besides.

The screen writes also futzed, which is a rather tame word for utterly reworked, the plot. Oh’ there’s still plenty of intrigues, infighting, and backstabbing – never fear.

But the villains of the piece have shifted dramatically.

To say the on-screen adaptation bears only a passing resemblance to the book and lacks much of the original wit and whimsy is an accurate assessment.

HOWEVER.

This is the thing.

If you think of books, television, movies, plays, and musicals as different universes – creating an artistic multiverse if you will – then it should be accepted that what happens in a book won’t translate exactly onto a television screen.

This is what happened with The Rook.

Both versions occupy different parts of the multiverse, and both versions contain strengths and flaws…

…and I love them both.

Much of what I love about the book is utterly impractical for a television (or computer) screen. If they’d tried, I fear we would’ve end up with something like The Hobbit. Where Peter Jackson used so much CGI, the movie felt more like a cartoon and lost a lot of the charm the original Lord of the Rings trilogy contained.

So the writers needed to edit, manipulate, and rework the plot.

And where they ended up is not only relevant, it shines a bright light on an under-addressed problem in the world today – Human Trafficking.

The specter haunting the Chequy employees isn’t the Grafters and their flesh manipulation techniques… But Vultures, like Peter Van Suoc, who hunt down and kidnap EVA’s (acronym for Extreme Variant Abilities). Then take them to the Lugate organization to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

It makes sense. It’s compelling. It moves the story along. It is different.

Our other narrative mover and shaker Myfanwy Thomas – still wakes up in the rain surrounded by people wearing latex gloves, she still loses her memory, she still has a choice between the red & blue keys, she still writes her new self letters and she still pursues the questions of who she is & who stole her memory.

Perhaps the television version is bleaker than its counterpart in the book universe – but is that such a bad thing? The adaptation strays much farther into grey areas than the book ever did. Mainly by asking the question – what really separates the Vultures & Lugate from the Chequy at the end of the day?

So if you can wrap your mind around an artistic multiverse, I would highly suggest watching The Rook. Not only is the story compelling – but watching the treatment Gestalt received at the hands of both the writers and the actors – is brilliant.

Seriously.

   Fran

I’ve been deep in series-itis for as long as I can remember, and I’ve told you about these three before, so I’m not going to go into plot details because either you know already or I might reveal spoilers, so I’m just going to talk about them kind of generally.

Mind you, I LOVE THESE SERIES, so I’ll also remind you which is the first one in case you’ve been looking for a new series to read. They’re best read in series order, although with the first two, if you pick up the one I’m talking about, it’ll stand on its own, but won’t have the impact you’ll get if you read them in order.

Read them in order, dammit.

9781250207173First off, J.D. Robb’s Vendetta in Death.

Eve Dallas and company are back chasing a serial killer who is dealing out her perception of vengeance against men who have done awful things to the women who love them. She goes by the name “Lady Justice”, and her method of handing out said justice is brutal.

I know a lot of people dismiss Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb since she’s primarily known as a “romance” writer, but there’s quality in what she does.

I was witness to grace and strength, and for some reason it scraped me raw.” That one sentence sums up so much.

Start with Naked in Death.

Secondly, Ian Hamilton’s latest Ava Lee novel,
9781487002039

Mountain Master of Sha Tin knocks it right out of the park. Hamilton’s come up with the most off-the-wall protagonist in a long time in Ava Lee. Who expected a Chinese-Canadian lesbian forensic accountant to be the star of a thriller series? And yet, here we are.

I really recommend having read all the books before this, because Mountain Master of Sha Tin kicks you in the gut, especially if you’re as invested in these folks as I am. And Ava Lee in love is much more vulnerable than you might think. Besides, you won’t necessarily understand all the triad position names unless you do.

And you won’t be as excited as I am to know that Ian Hamilton’s started a series that tells Uncle’s back story!

Start with The Water Rat of Wanchai.

And now for the hat trick.

John Connolly. Charlie Parker. A Book of Bones. That’s really all I should have to say, honestly.

9781982127510This world, Quayle said, would continue almost exactly as before, except for those who understood where, and how, to look. They would see shadows where no shadows should be, and forms shifting at the periphery of their vision. As for the rest, they would watch the rise of intolerance, and the subjugation of the weak by the powerful. They would witness inequality, despotism, and environmental ruination. They would be told by the ignorant and self-interested that this was the natural order of things.

But in their hearts they would know better, and feel afraid.

A Book of Bones is, in many ways, the showdown we’ve been waiting for, and we are not disappointed. It almost feels like things are wrapping up.

And then John Connolly ends the book with a twist that had me staring blankly into space, calling him a right bastard, and admiring the brilliance of the twist.

This series you have to read in order; you can’t just pick up A Book of Bones and hope to know what’s going on. Besides, you don’t want to miss the dynamics between Louis and Angel. Trust me here. For hardened killers, they’ll steal your heart, as will Charlie’s daughters, but for quite different reasons.

Start with Every Dead Thing.

We’ll talk again after you’ve caught up, say about the time Golden in Death, The Diamond Queen of Singapore, and The Dirty South are out and devoured. Honestly, I can’t wait!

   JB

Two bookshop dreams:

First one is harder to recall but I was trying to reassemble bookshelves. Can’t remember why they were unassembled but it was crazy trying to fit bolts into boards and match the holes so that nuts could go onto the bolts, I’m on my knees with my nose about four inches from the floor, my glasses were falling off, I was trying to dodge the feet of customers…

The second one was that I was expecting one of my old sales reps to come over so we could have lunch. David was one of our reps for Random House. But the guy who showed up was a young rep, a new rep, and he was expecting to take an order for books in a new set of catalogues! He didn’t know that the shop was no longer active. He walked back to his car and then I realized that I needed those catalogues so that I could finish the next newsletter… To make it weirder, the house were all of this took place was the house I grew up in, not my current home. I think these newsletter dreams happen when it is getting closer to posting these newzines.

Three shows to recommend:

On Netflix, “The Confession Killer”, a documentary about Henry Lee Lucas and his confessions to hundreds of murders. At that time, back in the late 70s and early 80s, he was thought to be the serial killer with the most victims. Then it all fell apart. This documentary is more about the way it all fell apart – the internal warfare within law enforcement – than the murders. Very well done.

Also on Netflix, “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez”, a three-part look at this man who was such a talented athlete but whose internal monsters – whatever their source – drove him to destroy it all. Very well done.

Lastly, from HBO: “The Outsider”, an adaptation of a Steven King novel about an awful murder and the people who are destroyed by it – and then it gets weird. Very well done.



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JB’s Best of the Last Decade

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

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

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

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

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

So, by year published:IMG_1187

2011: Urban Waite, Terror of Living

2011: Peter Spiegelman, Thick as Thieves

2011: Craig Johnson, Hell is Empty

2012: Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl

2012: Jess Walter, Beautiful Ruins

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

2013: Roger Hobbs, Ghost Man

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

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

Then a few non-fiction titles –

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

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

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

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

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