June 2020

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    Stuff That’s Just Too Cool

Odd Job’s Lethal Bowler from Goldfinger Surfaces

LeVar Burton still loves reading aloud. His storytelling might be what you need right now.

John Grisham: Why Indie Bookstores Are Essential 

A journal Jim Morrison wrote in Paris will soon be up for auction. 

The Washington Post’s virtual literary event calendar is now available. Readers can find an updated list of national bookstore, library, author events and more!

A variation on “The Dog Ate My Homework” story: Fun fact ~ John Steinbeck’s dog ate the first draft of Of Mice and Men.

    Serious Stuff

Dirty money piling up in L.A. as coronavirus cripples international money laundering

The Dark History of America’s First Female Terrorist Group 

Why it’s so hard to read a book right now, explained by a neuroscientist 

Declassified FBI Photos Show the Horror of Being a First Responder in Jonestown 

What to Make of Isaac Asimov, Sci-Fi Giant and Dirty Old Man? Despite Calling Himself a Feminist the Author of the Foundation Stories Was a Serial Harasser

A renowned scholar claimed that he discovered a first-century gospel fragment. Now he’s facing allegations of antiquities theft, cover-up, and fraud.

An Alaska School Board Will Keep Classics on the Curriculum after an Uproar over Their Removal

The World’s First ‘Incel’ Terrorism Charge

The Atlantic lays off dozens of staff members as pandemic hits media budgets

    Local Stuff

‘Starting a New Chapter: Seattle Booksellers, moved by community support amid the shutdown, say ‘indie bookstores will thrive again’

How Seattle book workers have adapted to coronavirus shutdowns — and what they’ve been reading

Starting a novel while stuck at home? Seattle author Elizabeth George shares tips in ‘Mastering the Process.’ 

What Happens to Powell’s Books When You Can’t Browse the Aisles?

    Words of the Month

bada bing (adj?): According to this interview, James Caan just improvised the words during the filming of that scene from The Godfather. Others attribute it to the rim shot produced by drummers during a comedian’s set. Others, yet, say it goes back to a skit on “The Jackie Gleason Show”, which may’ve gotten it from some earlier forgotten use in the Catskills or vaudeville. In this 1965 album, Pat Cooper says it at 14:27 into his recorded performance – it goes by very fast. Clearly, the modern use stems from The Godfather in 1972.

    Awards

Bryan Washington has won the £30,000 Dylan Thomas Prize. 

Here’s the shortlist for the £10,000 Caine Prize. 

The NYPL has announced the 2020 Young Lions Fiction Award Finalists.

The National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize goes to DIBS for Kids.

    Book Stuff

Inside the wild double life of rare books dealer John Jenkins

Legal Thrillers for Literary Snobs

Social isolation (and video chat) is bringing renewed attention to the art of the bookshelf

The Most Important (and Literary?) Meal of the Day 

Christie & Sayers & Allingham & Tey: Celebrating the Crime Queens of the Golden Age

The Cornerstones of Country Noir

Anything can be a Penguin Classic with this handy cover generator.


My First Thriller: Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly on ‘fake news,’ COVID-19 writing and his nonprofit-set thriller


How Novelist Megan Abbott Learned to Write for Television

Scott Turow on the One Character Who Keeps Coming Back to Him, Again and Again

Powell’s Books will be back, CEO Emily Powell pledges, but not soon

For Bookstore Owners, Reopening Holds Promise and Peril

For booksellers in L.A., a partial reopening brings hope and anxiety

Barnes & Noble is slowly reopening stores to shoppers in a few states.

‘Economic duress is nothing new’: Can America’s oldest black bookstore survive the pandemic?

Legendary Paris bookshop reveals reading habits of illustrious clientele

Research finds reading books has surged in the UK during lockdown

I wish more people would read … Damon Runyon’s short stories

Coronavirus Shutdowns Weigh on Book Sales 

Coronavirus forces National Book Festival to shift to online-only format this year

Martin Edwards on the Enduring Popularity of Traditional Mysteries 

25 GREAT INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES IN THE U.S.

    Other Forms of Entertainment

Otto Penzler’s list of Greatest Crime Films of All-Time Continues

Michael Mann Is Talking to Directors, Wondering When They Can All Go Back to Work 

Before there was Jessica Fletcher, there were the Snoop Sisters.

Scrubs: A sitcom that’s actually aged well?

Hollywood’s Women in Criminal Justice: Sometimes Fact, Sometimes Fiction


Luca Guadagnino to remake Scarface with Coen brothers script

Scarface Hitman Geno Silva Dies of Dementia at 72


Die Hard With a Vengeance: The strange saga of Laurence Fishburne and how it ended up in court

“Hightown”: An Old-School Crime Drama That’s Thoroughly Modern 


Armed Guards and Death Threats: Inside the Making of Netflix’s Harrowing Jeffrey Epstein Documentary 

New book claims Bill Clinton had an affair with Ghislaine Maxwell

New Jeffrey Epstein doc should finally lead to a reckoning with Bill Clinton


    Words of the Month

contretemps (n): From the 1680s, “a blunder in fencing,” from French contre-temps “motion out of time, unfortunate accident, bad times” (16th C.), from contre, an occasional, obsolete variant of contra (prep.) “against” (from Latin contra “against;” see contra (prep., adv.)) + tempus “time” (see temporal). Meaning “an unfortunate accident, an unexpected or embarrassing event” is from 1802; as “a dispute, disagreement,” from 1961. It also was used as a ballet term (1706). [thanks to etymonline]

    RIP

May 10:Thomas Reppetto, Crime Watchdog and Historian, Is Dead at 88

May 12: Simon & Schuster President and CEO Carolyn Reidy Dies at 71

May 19: Leonard Levitt, Reporter Who Riled NYPD Brass, Dies at 79

May 28: Larry Kramer: Elton John leads tributes to playwright and Aids activist

    Author Events

nope, not yet…

    Links of Interest

May 2: Real-life Indiana Jones reveals £100million treasure trove dating back to 1200s

May 6: New Zealand coronavirus: Massive car heist under cover of lockdown

May 8: Authorities Recover 19,000 Artifacts in International Antiquities Trafficking Sting

May 11: Medieval Arrows Inflicted Injuries That Mirror Damage Caused by Modern Bullets

May 12: How It Felt Learning My Dad Is a Serial Killer

May 12: The Spy Who Handed America’s Nuclear Secrets to the Soviets

May 13: French serial-killer expert admits serial lies, including murder of imaginary wife

May 14: This AI-generated dictionary is very cool and also terrifying.

May 15: Why Do Some Writers Burn Their Work?

May 15: Lisa Scottoline’s daughter, Francesca Serritella, makes a name for herself as a novelist with ‘Ghosts of Harvard’

May 17: Dirty Harry’s blood-soaked San Francisco was a terrifying reality

May 17: Michael Jordan: NBA legend’s trainers sell for record $560,000

May 18: Text Found on Supposedly Blank Dead Sea Scroll Fragments

May 18: Sir Frederick Barclay’s nephew ‘caught with bugging device’ at Ritz hotel

May 18: Neil Gaiman spoken to by police after 11,000-mile trip

May 19: Do police sketches actually help catch criminals?

May 20: How to find a book without knowing the actual title

May 21: Bill Clinton and James Patterson reunite for a second thriller

May 21: A Crime Reader’s Guide to the Pope of Trash

May 21: Tony Hadley, a radio quiz, one syllable – and a $10,000 riddle

May 21: ‘I wrote my wife a poem every day for 25 years’

May 22: Loon stabs eagle through heart

May 22: Romance Writers of America aims for happy end to racism row with new prize

May 22: The Great Elmore Leonard Renaissance of the Late ‘90s

May 23: Berlin WW2 bombing survivor Saturn the alligator dies in Moscow Zoo

May 26: Canada tow-truck turf wars lead to nearly 200 charges

May 26: On Dracula‘s birthday, remember the copyright battle over the illegally-adapted Nosferatu.

May 26: ‘The Genetic Detective’ ~ CeCe Moore’s True Crime Career Started Out In An Unusual Way

May 27: About That Time Whitey Bulger “Won” the Mass Millions Lottery

May 27: What Do You Do With a Stolen van Gogh? This Thief Knows

May 27: Roman mosaic floor found under Italian vineyard

May 28: Sherlock Holmes and the Womanly Art of Self-Defense – Or, how to incorporate late 19th century suffragette self-defense movements into a Sherlock Holmes pastiche series.

    Words of the Month

melch (v.) to yield easily to pressure (thanks to Says You!, #522)

    What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

candyfinal

Guess What!!!! Season 2 of Finder of Lost Things is nearly ready to start posting! The story is finished and 2/3 of the photography is finished! So in the next couple of weeks it will go live!!! Woot!

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A Murderous Relation – Deanna Raybourn

Veronica Speedwell is back, and let me tell you, I’ve been looking forward to the next book in this series – and it didn’t let me down!

Though I must say when I read the flyleaf, I was a bit worried. As this story is set smack dab in Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror – and let me tell you everyone and their second cousin who writes historical mysteries in Victorian London eventually puts Whitechapel into their story…with varying degrees of success.

Happily, Raybourn has done a great job of incorporating the very well known string of murders in an intriguing way – while also skirting the specter that still haunts those cobblestone streets. By not only making sure we see the women as human beings (which often gets overlooked) but feel the fear that gripped London due to the London Police’ inability to apprehend him.

However, first and foremost, Veronica is asked by the royal family for help in making sure her half-brother and heir-to-the-throne doesn’t get caught in an indelicate position with someone who isn’t his future wife…Veronica initially says no…but then Lady Welly falls ill…and Veronica and Stoker decided to snoop around a bit.

And action, old enemies, and anarchy ensues.

I loved reading Rayborn’s mystery, writing, and flare from cover to cover! BTW – you don’t HAVE to read them in order…but if you read this one first, then go back and start with number one…well, you’ll have spoiled a portion of the tension in the earlier installments. So while you don’t have to read them in order – at this point I think you should! (You won’t be disappointed!)

Fran

So, isn’t 2020 a total pip? Something exciting around every corner, right?

Yeah, about that. So I decided to take a break from anything suspenseful, and on the recommendation of my favorite New Mexico hair stylist turned mask maker, I decided to read The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment by A. J. Jacobs.

9781416599067Jacobs has found his niche in journalism and writing. He doesn’t just try new things, he immerses himself in them to see how they work. For example, one of his experiments is detailed in a book I have yet to read called “The Know-It-All”, where he reads every word of an encyclopedia. He also lived Biblically for a year. His wife is a saint.

In My Life as an Experiment, A. J. Jacobs has put together some of his smaller projects. For example, one chapter deals with unitasking – focusing solely on doing only one thing at a time. Literally just one thing. If you’re eating, don’t talk. No background noise, just eat.

Another deals with telling the absolute truth, no filters. He did this for a whole month. It’s amazing he has any friends left, and did I mention his wife is a saint?

What could be just stupid and mockable is the way A. J. Jacobs writes. He’s smart. He’s funny as hell. And he lists his sources and resources for things he does. He approaches each experiment with total concentration and absolute focus, true, but he never loses sight of himself, his wife and kids, and his sense of delight and enthusiasm. If it doesn’t interest him, he won’t do the experiment. It has to be meaningful and interesting and educational to him.

And it will be to you as well.

Now, what I didn’t realize when I started My Life as an Experiment, that at the back, before the source list and acknowledgments and whatnot, there’s another subsection for each chapter. He makes some observations about what he wrote, and some of the details that didn’t go into the flow of the narrative but are still fascinating. There are a couple of Appendices that are equally fascinating.

It’s not a mystery. It’s not true crime unless maybe one instance of identity theft. But it’s interesting and fun and humorous and exactly the change I needed right now. I think you’ll enjoy it too.

JB

Still reading and enjoying and amazed by John Connolly’s“The Sisters Strange”, his Charlie Parker novella being written and published as it is ready. At this writing, there are nearly 40 short chapters.  It’s a neat trick to pull off and a great story – as usual.

Not really sure how long I’ve been reading the Nate Heller books from Max Allan Collins. Maybe before SMB existed? They’re a terrific mix of true crime events and hardboiled fiction as Collins puts his private eye into historical cases and provides his solution to the events. In an early one, the determination isn’t that Zangara wasn’t trying to shoot FDR that day but intended to, and did, kill Chicago Mayor Cermak. The first few books deal mainly with the Chicago Mob and the hit was ordered by them for Cermak’s treachery.

The books deal with nearly all of the famous and lurid crimes and figures of the 20th C.: Bugsy Siegel, the Lindbergh Kidnapping, the Black Dahlia case, the Torso Murders in Cleveland, the disappearance of Earhart and the death of Forrestal, and, of course, JFK.

9780765378293The new book, Do No Harm, inserts Heller into the Marylin Shepard case and reunites the PI with a number of figures – Eliot Ness, F. Lee Bailey, Flo Kilgore (his stand in for journalist Dorothy Kilgallen) – and re-creates the case, the crimes, the trials, and the suspects. As usual, it’s great fun.

However, there’s one major problem with the story: on one hand, Sam Shepard is portrayed as a philandering rogue, on another as a man whose beautiful wife found sex painful and allowed what we’d now call an open marriage, and yet on a third hand, the victim is said to have been having a torrid affair with a neighbor. Well, which is it – she found sex painful or she was having a torrid affair with the mayor? Collins doesn’t resolve it, or, I suppose, leaves it unresolved as just another aspect of the case muddied by the different views of those involved.

At any rate, I look forward to Heller’s next case, whatever it may be. Not many more big cases for Heller to tackle, but then Collins is always full or surprises. I recommend the book AND the series!

9781501176890In The New Iberia Blues, Dave and Clete and Alafair continue their peculiar journey through live, with irritation and love, anger and confusion, dealing with the horrors we inflict upon one another, intentionally or not. Some horrors are minor while others scar the mind. And in this small corner of the world, we’re lucky we have these people to tackle the bad guys.

Burke’s writing skills haven’t lost a step. He knows where the world has been – literature, too – and isn’t hesitant to show the trail. “Every literary plot is either in the Bible, Greek mythology, or Elizabethan theater. Hemingway said it was all right for an author to steal as long as he improved the material… Read Charles Dickens’s journalistic account of a public execution in London. It will make you want to flee humanity”. Maybe so, but humanity also produces prose like that of James Lee Burke. So let’s stay a bit longer, huh?

 



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October’s Newzine

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We’d like to note that, as this is posted on October 1st, yesterday was the second anniversary of the end of business at the Seattle Mystery Bookshop. We locked the door at the end of regular business hours on September 30, 2017. Hard to believe it’s been that long while at the same time it feels as if it was yesterday. So it goes…

      Words of the Month

impeach (v.): formerly also empeach, late 14th C., empechen, “to impede, hinder, prevent;” early 15th C., “cause to be stuck, run (a ship) aground,” also “prevent (from doing something),” from Anglo-French empecher, Old French empeechier “to hinder, stop, impede; capture, trap, ensnare” (12th C., Modern French empêcher), from Late Latin impedicare “to fetter, catch, entangle,” from assimilated form of in- “into, in” (from PIE root *en “in”) + Latin pedica “a shackle, fetter,” from pes (genitive pedis) “foot” (from PIE root *ped- “foot”).In law, at first in a broad sense, “to accuse, bring charges against” from late 14th C.; more specifically, of the king or the House of Commons, “to bring formal accusation of treason or other high crime against (someone)” from mid-15th C.  The sense of “accuse a public officer of misconduct” had emerged from this by 1560s. The sense shift is perhaps via Medieval Latin confusion of impedicare with Latin impetere “attack, accuse” (see impetus), which is from the Latin verb petere “aim for, rush at” (from PIE root *pet “to rush, to fly”).The Middle English verb apechen, probably from an Anglo-French variant of the source of impeach, was used from early 14th C. in the sense “to accuse (someone), to charge (someone with an offense).” Related: Impeached; impeaching.thanks to etymonline.com

      Serious Stuff

How Hollywood star Jean Seberg was destroyed by the FBI

Any consequences? Amazon Critics Angry Over Accidental Early Release Of Margaret Atwood Novel 

Modern Life Has Made It Easier for Serial Killers to Thrive 

The Lattimer Massacre Happened More Than a Century Ago. The Sheriff’s Account of the Killing Could Have Been Written Yesterday. 

Canada: arrest of ex-head of intelligence shocks experts and alarms allies

Viewpoint: Was CIA ‘too white’ to spot 9/11 clues? [see Words of the Month]

The Last Manson Mystery: Fifty years ago, Bobby Beausoleil murdered Gary Hinman. Did he set in motion the Manson killings and the myth of Helter Skelter? 

Revealed: how the FBI targeted environmental activists in domestic terror investigations 

US soldier discussed bombing media and targeting Beto O’Rourke, FBI alleges

The Long Read: On 15 September 1981, 10-year-old Ursula Herrmann headed home by bike from her cousin’s house. She never arrived. So began one of Germany’s most notorious postwar criminal cases, which remains contentious to this day.

      Words of the Month

homophily: “This is a common phenomenon in recruiting… people tend to hire people who think (and often look) like themselves.”

      Odd’s N Ends

Trump’s Tweets are Lamented by Many Who Believe Words Matter 

There’s a Thriving Online Market for DIY Gun Silencers

      Book World

Excerpt: The Novelist and the World War II Spy Brothel ~ How Graham Greene got into the espionage business  

Exclusive: John le Carré’s new novel set amid ‘lunatic’ Brexit intrigue 

The Second Sleep by Robert Harris review – a ‘genre-bending thriller’: The future Britain looks medieval in Robert Harris’s dystopian tale. But who ruined everything? 

The Loser-Spy Novelist for Our Times:Mick Herron writes about the broken spies sworn to protect today’s broken England.

Book clinic: who are the best alternatives to Agatha Christie?

Why Angry Librarians Are Going to War With Publishers Over E-Books 

When Milton met Shakespeare: poet’s notes on Bard appear to have been found 

Attica Locke’s Latest, ‘Heaven, My Home,’ Explores Race And Forgiveness 

“If Reacher Were Real, He’d Probably Be Unbearable!” Philosopher Andy Martin on the making and meaning of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher.

The Cult of Books That Lost Their Cool

Mistakes are Embarrassing the Publishing Industry

A fairy tale in Edmonds: The Neverending Bookshop is a crafty destination for fantasy lovers

      Other Means of Entertainment

Criminal on Netflix: The restrictions of film and TV confined to one location

Remake The Princess Bride? Inconceivable!

Next 007 should be a woman says Bond star Pierce Brosnan

Jeff Daniels Will Star As a Not-So-Trusty Police Chief in Showtime’s Rust 

David Strathairn Joins Guillermo Del Toro’s Nightmare Alley (JB says if you’ve never seen the original, with Tyrone Power, you should. It’s a great film noir, even though it isn’t really a mystery!)

      Author Events

William Kent Krueger, Oct. 4, 7pm, Powell’s

Dylan Meconis, Oct. 11, 7pm, Third Place/Ravenna ~ “cartoonist, writer, and illustrator who created the graphic novels Family Man, Bite Me!, and Outfoxed, which was nominated for a Will Eisner Comic Industry Award”, AND she’s the daughter of Charlie Meconis, one of our long-time customers, friend of the shop, Tigers’ fan, and all-around hip fellow!

Clyde Ford, Oct. 15, 7pm, Elliot Bay Books

Curt Colbert, Oct. 20, 3pm, Elliot Bay Books

Benjamin Percy, Oct. 28, 7pm. Elliot Bay Books

Martin Limón, Oct. 30, 7pm, Third Place/LFP

      Words of the Month

misleared (adj.): Scottish, from 1560, ill-mannered, Ill-bred. (thanks to Says You!)

      Links of Interest

August 31: Author Sherrilyn Kenyon Drops Lawsuit Alleging Her Ex Was Poisoning Her

September 3: Banksy artwork stolen from central Paris

September 3: BBC’s secret World War Two activities revealed

September 5: These Sherlock Holmes films have gone missing. UCLA and Robert Downey Jr. are on the case

September 5: How a Hitler bust was found under French Senate

September 5: Loch Ness Monster may be a giant eel, say scientists

September 8: Lt. Joe Kenda of “Homicide Hunter”: “I never pulled the trigger because I never had to”. Legendary homicide detective on the end of his hit show and how he solved all those crimes without killing anyone

September 9: Walter Mosley Says He Quit ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ After Being Reported for Using the N-Word

September 11: Message in bottle saves family stranded on waterfall

September 12: The Distinctly American Ethos of the Grifter

September 12: Michelle Dockery interview: ‘I wouldn’t say no to playing James Bond’

September 13: A portrait was hung in the Legion of Honor for ‘Vertigo.’ No one’s seen it since.

September 14: CIA unveils Cold War spy-pigeon missions

September 16: Librarian Finds Returned Book with Entire Soft Taco Used as Bookmark

September 16: A rediscovered mysterious 18th Century document appears to give clues to a lost ancient township somewhere in a Brazilian National Park.

September 17: ‘I got the guy!’ My 17-year manhunt for a $50m art criminal

September 19: Why Some People Become Lifelong Readers

September 19: Black panther found prowling roofs in French town

September 20: Area 51: Storming of secretive Nevada base to ‘see aliens’ fails to materialize

September 22: Batman fans celebrate 80th birthday of DC Comics superhero

September 23: How the ‘Blonde Rattlesnake’ Stirred Public Fascination With Female Accomplices

September 23: Scotland’s secret WW2 fuel depot

September 23: Dexter: 8 Things In The Show That Only Make Sense If You Read The Books

September 23: The Mysterious Origins of the Uncrackable Video Game

September 24: Cimabue: Long-lost €6m artwork found in elderly woman’s kitchen

September 24: 8 HELPFUL READATHON HACKS

September 24: An art student trained her pet rat to make paintings with his feet — and it’s delightful

September 24: This Is the Full Story Behind That Explosive Confession In Steven Avery’s Case

September 24: The monster of all US conspiracy theories

September 26: A Texas Ranger got a prolific serial killer to talk. This is how

September 28: Blue Diamond Affair: The mystery of the stolen Saudi jewels

September 30: Ida Lupino, the Mother of American Independent Film, Finally Gets Her Due

      Words of the Month

Coulrophobia: abnormal fear of clowns

A New Word added to Merriam-Webster Dictionary in September 2019! Their comment: “Although Hollywood releases and dictionary updates are not coordinated, even for publicity purposes, this entry hits your screens within weeks of the premieres of both It Chapter Two and Joker.”

      R.I.P.

September 1: Leslie H. Gelb, Who Oversaw the Pentagon Papers, Dies at Age 82

September 6: Marita Lorenz, the spy who loved Fidel Castro died

September 14: Robert McClelland, surgeon who tried to save JFK and believed there was a second shooter, dies at 89

September 20: Retired NYPD Chief of Detectives John Keenan, who led the team that found and arrested ‘Son of Sam’ serial killer, dies at 99

September 20: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ actor Aron Eisenberg dies at age 50

September 23: A great personality and competitor! Amber will miss watching him cook very much. Chefs Remember Carl Ruiz

September 24: J. Michael Mendel, ‘Simpsons’ and ‘Rick and Morty’ producer, dead at 54

      What We’ve Been Up To

   AmberFern22

Last Week on Finder Of Lost Things….We found out the details of Tiffany Grindle’s disappearance and subsequent discovery by The Grumpiest Park Ranger.

Next Week…We find out if the police (and the paper’s police blotter) have figured out who Phoebe and Dourwood were two of the four pirates running around Nevermore…

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Vendetta In Death – J.D. Robb

“NO MATTER YOUR RACE, CREED, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, OR POLITICAL AFFILIATION, WE PROTECT AND SERVE, BECAUSE YOU COULD GET DEAD.” The sign in Lieutenant Eve Dallas’s bullpen should also include a phrase, ” …OR CHARACTER, WE PROTECT…” Because once again Dallas, Roarke, Peabody, Feeney, and McNabb must stand for victims that are far from innocent.

Vendetta In Death takes the Me Too movement and deftly combines it with an unstable personality which ends up creating a vigilante. A serial killer bent on cleansing New York of the men who perpetrate crimes against women. Rather than making sure they face actual justice our vigilante, calling herself Lady Justice, bestows her own in a very public fashion. Now it’s up to Dallas and her team to find the killer before she strikes again.

This is a fast fun read. Perhaps not as dense as some of the installments in the In Death Series, it is still satisfying. Even better, it furthers the storylines of a couple of the regular cast members, which is always fun to read.

(Robb also dispenses with the boilerplate introductions of her characters in this book! Which I must say moved the book along better and for us, long-time readers it was a fantastic improvement to the story!)

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Wonton Terror – Vivien Chien

Have I told you how much I enjoy reading this series?

Seriously.

Chien’s culinary-themed mystery should be the way every mystery of this genera should be written. I’m not joking. Chien works her food theme into the mystery flawlessly where it is both ever-present but NEVER detracts from the mystery itself.

That is some serious skill.

Our heroine Lana Lee is flawed, fearless, and fun. She’s also slowly learning what it means to be an amateur detective: stepping on toes, accidentally offending people, getting repeatedly told to stay out of things, donning a disguise, and deducing. All while managing her family’s noddle shop and balancing the twin insanity of her new hostess and her family!

In Wonton of Terror Lana runs into some old family friends who, as it turns out, have some serious problems. When their food truck blows up, killing one of the owners, Lana finds she isn’t short on suspects or motives!

I would suggest this book/series to anyone who enjoys a good cozy read every now and again. Don’t let the foodie cover fool you this book is all about the mystery!

   Fran

We all know how damaging lies can be, right?

So, what if telling a lie was illegal? Any lie? Think about it for a moment.

9780316505413That’s the premise of Ben H. Winters’ latest bit of speculative fiction, Golden State (Mulholland), and it makes for some fascinating and disturbing reading, which is only made more relatable due to Mr. Winters’ incredible talent.

Something has happened outside the Golden State, and whatever it is was Unknown and Unknowable, but the fine folks of the Golden State have sealed themselves off from everyone else. Within their society, everything rumbles along as usual. If you steal the petty cash and it’s discovered, the cops will come haul you away where you’ll stand trial, and the punishments are pretty much what you’d expect.

But if you lie about it, in public much less in a court of law, well then things become exponentially worse for you. Your petty crime has just been superseded by the felony you just committed. Because telling a lie is the absolute worst thing you can do.

Ah, but how will anyone know if you lie? How does anyone really know? In this fairly dystopian setting, the Unknown and Unknowable Event has left some people with the ability to see lies. To hear them. To notice a shiver in the air, a bending of the atmosphere, and they know. These people are trained to be members of the Speculative Service, an elite force that takes very seriously their charge to determine if an untruth has deliberately been uttered.

Not that you could get away with it anyway, since everything is being recorded at all times. And I do mean everything. If you have nothing to hide, you don’t need privacy. All the logs will simply go into storage, where they’ll be kept forever. Right?

Lazlo Ratesic is a veteran agent for the Speculative Service. He’s been guardian of the Objectively So for decades now, and he’s used to doing it alone so when he’s saddled with a rookie, he’s understandably grumpy. But she’s smart and has a greater talent for discerning the truth than he does, and if that isn’t annoying enough, she’s intense and thorough. He can’t wait to shove her off onto someone else.

Golden State is classic noir with a speculative twist. It’s compelling, it’s thought-provoking, and it’s very, very human. Lazlo Ratesic has faint echoes of Ben Winters’ other protagonist whom I adore, Hank Palace, but he’s completely his own person. Imagine an odd but powerful mash-up of The Maltese Falcon and Fahrenheit 451, if you can.

It’s hard to believe that the man who wrote Golden State also wrote fabulous children’s books, but there you go. Didn’t I say Ben H. Winters is talented?

   JB

It’s April in Absaroka County. Walt’s been back a month and his wounds have not yet healed. Not only are his physical wounds bothering him, his psychological ones worry him and everyone around him. He’s chagrined to find out he has “minders”.

9780525522508“It is difficult to confront madness, because insanity is a stranger to reason and any reasonable response would be insane.” Henry’s approach to the world is sometimes difficult for Walt – and us – to follow. But the questions of reason are real in Land of Wolves because Walt has been surrounded by wolves for so long. Some have been circling him. Some, like one in his book, appear to be watching him. And then there is Walt’s unease that he himself has become a predator. He tells Vic he feels “disconnected”. I think he’s always feared that he would, or had, become a wolf. “‘So, what is it I’m so damned terrified of, Doc?’ ‘Why Walter, I would’ve thought it was obvious.’ He smiled his sad, worldly smile. ‘Yourself.'”

By the end of the book, he’s come to understand that he’s a shepherd, one who guards against the wolves. He needn’t have worried.

Entwined in this search for a human wolf, Craig Johnson plays with his cast to lift the dark questions Walt keeps under his hat. They worry about Walt but also gig him about his condition. And due to Walt’s lackadaisical approach to signing what Ruby puts on his desk, he now has a computer on that desk. It’s a source of great amusement. “An entirely new screen appeared, and I could see an abbreviated version of my email response boxed in the left-hand corner. I shouted to the outer office. ‘It worked!’ Ruby’s voice came back in response. ‘We’re all so proud of you, Walter.'”

In tone, the book reminded me of Another Man’s Moccasins. While the over-all story is a search for a killer, it’s the under-story that captures your attention.

And pay attention to Craig’s acknowledgements. That’s the true beginning of this tale of wolves.

One last thought ~ as if I needed another reason to stop by the Red Pony for a Ranier, it ends up that Henry has “A Night in Tunisia” by the Jazz Messengers on the jukebox. ‘Nuff said!

And while we’re on the subject of predators, 9780062319791I finally got to a book I’d picked up months ago. I’d heard the sad story of Michelle McNamara, how she’d spent so long investigating the wolf she tagged the Golden State Killer, started writing I’ll Be Gone in the Dark but died before she finished the book and, even more frustrating, before he killer was arrested.

McNamara was a wonderful writer. She was able to make analogies that give the book color and convey a sense of the dread felt by people of the time and places. One of the most effective was writing about a scene from The Creature from the Black Lagoon where the woman swims while the creature moves along below her, unseen until the end of one claw brushes against her foot. That captures the evil that roamed California in the form of the GKS and the many other names hung on this fiend during his different phases, leaving people uneasy knowing that this evil was out there, just below their calm, suburban surface.  And his disturbing ability to move through houses and neighborhoods – and, seemingly, time – brought echoes of the Manson family creepy-crawling homes while people slept.

I have to admit that the structure of the book was bothersome. It hops around in time and that makes it difficult to follow the monster’s path. But the book fit in well with my current immersion in true crime. I inhaled it. 




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July

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I’ve written this to her a number of times but thought it was time to do it publicly: Amber does a great job creating a header for each month’s newzine. All Hail Amber! ~ JB

      Odds~n~Ends

When I moved out to the PNW for grad school, one of my teachers was a great artist named Frank Okada. I got to know him very well. He kindly allowed me to borrow records from his vast jazz collection to tape. He also loaned me a copy of his late brother’s book, No-No Boy, a novel about a Japanese boy who joins the army in WWII. It’s a great book.

It’s now become the center of controversy as it was believed to be under copyright but it is now to be released by Penguin/Randomhouse. Here’s a story from the Seattle Times about the situation. I would recommend the novel to anyone but I would urge that they buy the University of Washington Press edition as it includes material from his siblings and the estate gets the royalties. As of now, PenguinHouse gives the family nothing.  ~ JB

Hard to know what this portends: Barnes & Noble Set To Be Sold To Elliott Management For About $683 Million 

Sellers in Amazon’s bookstore feel beaten up by counterfeit Wild West

“Since 1944, the mystery of how Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince, went missing remained unsolved for decades. That was until the chance discovery of a bracelet by a fisherman began to unravel what had happened”. BBC.com

Here’s one for Adele: What Really Happened to Malaysia’s Missing Airplane?

Pistol that Van Gogh ‘used to shoot himself’ sells for £115,000 at Paris auction 

‘I Really Thought He Was Going to Kill Me and Bury My Body’ Sherrilyn Kenyon accused her husband of poisoning her. Was it her wildest fiction yet?

       Podcasts!

There isn’t really much crime or mystery – as defined classically – in this podcast but it sure is an interesting take on modern America: Michael Lewis is probably most widely known for his book Moneyball (its a great book and was a good movie, too). His podcast is called Against the Rules and deals with the erosion, if not elimination, of referees in our lives. And by referees, he means those neutral people who used to be in the middle of disagreements and who would dispassionately follow the rules to settle the dispute. It is not just about umpires!

      Words for the Month

idioticon (n): “a dictionary of a dialect,” 1842, via German, from Latinized form of idiotikon, neuter of Greek idiotikos, from idioma (see idiom). [thanks to etymonline]

Not at all what you expected, right?

      Author Events

July 1: Deborah Harkness, Third Place/LFK, 7pm

July 8: Brad Holden, Elliot Bay, 7pm

July 9: Julie Weston, Third Place/LFP, 7pm

July 24: Daniel Nieh, Powell’s, 7:30pm

July 30: Kevin O’Brien, Elliot Bay, 7pm

      Words for the Month

gore (n.): A “triangular piece of ground,” Old English gara “corner, point of land, cape, promontory,” from Proto-Germanic *gaizon- (source also of Old Frisian gare “a gore of cloth; a garment,” Dutch geer, German gehre “a wedge, a gore”), from Proto-Indo-European *ghaiso- “a stick, spear” (see gar). The connecting sense is “triangularity.” Hence also the senses “front of a skirt” (mid-13th C.), and “triangular piece of cloth” (early 14th C.). In New England, the word applied to a strip of land left out of any property by an error when tracts are surveyed (1640s). Only later comes –

gore (n.): “thick, clotted blood,” Old English gor “dirt, dung, filth, shit,” a Germanic word (cognates: Middle Dutch goor “filth, mud;” Old Norse gor “cud;” Old High German gor “animal dung”), of uncertain origin. Sense of “clotted blood” (especially shed in battle) developed by 1560s (gore-blood is from 1550s). [thanks to etymonline]

      Links

May 23: Reading a ridiculously long book might seem like a chore, but it offers an unexpected reward

May 30: VICE LITTLE EARNER- Bawdy guide to London’s secret brothels in 1840s sells for £4k at auction

May 30: James Bond still a strong ‘recruitment sergeant’ for MI6, says expert

May 30: The Curious Origins of the Dollar Symbol

June 1: There are floating library boats in Sweden

June 1: House used as Tony Soprano’s is on the Market

June 1: So you want to be a novelist? A New York literary agent, editor and author reveal how bestsellers are born

June 2: James Ellroy says film adaptation of LA Confidential was ‘as deep as a tortilla’

June 2: Jodie Comer: “Mum and Dad took my BAFTA on a pub crawl”

June 3: ‘When They See Us’ Sparked a Boycott Against Central Park Five Prosecutor Linda Fairstein

June 3: Long-lost Lewis Chessman found in Edinburgh family’s drawer

June 4: Manson Family Member Leslie Van Houten Denied Parole by California Governor

June 4: Tin House magazine ends a 20-year run that helped make Portland’s literary reputation

June 5: Tourist’s lucky guess cracks safe code on first try

June 5: James Bond set ‘explosion’ at Pinewood Studios injures one

June 7: Linda Fairstein, Former ‘Central Park 5’ Prosecutor, Dropped By Her Publisher

June 7: “Langdon”, based on the Dan Brown books, is headed to NBC TV

June 7: George Orwell’s 1984: Why it still matters

June 7: The Intimacy of Crime Scene Photos in Belle Epoque Paris

June 9: A telephone for grief after the Japanese tsunami

June 10: New knees and tourist selfies: OJ Simpson on life post-prison in Las Vegas

June 10: The story of Australia’s oldest LGBTI bookstore

June 10: The First Murder Case to Use Family Tree Forensics Goes to Trial

June 11: Restaurant Temporarily Closed After Decomposing Body Leaked Through Its Ceiling

June 11: People Who Pay People to Kill People

June 12: Kim Goldman’s crusade: Make O.J. Simpson pay and never forget

June 12: A Very Happy 50th Birthday To ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’

June 12: Nirvana and Eminem music ‘lost in fire’

June 12: This Archive Captures Centuries of British Crime, From Cheese Theft to Murder

June 13: ‘Making a Murderer’ Brings Call to Abolish Actual Malice in Libel Suits

June 13: Trove of English Court Records Reveal Stories of Murder, Witchcraft, Cheese Theft

June 13: Lost Miles Davis album, Rubberband, to be released in September

June 13: Narnia creator CS Lewis’s letters to children go on sale

June 13: When Pepsi was swapped for Soviet warships

June 13: D.B. Cooper boat tour will offer insight into famous case during trip to sandbar where skyjacker’s money found

June 14: Leonard Cohen love letters fetch $876,000 at auction

June 14: Disappeared Argentina activists’ son finds family after 40 years

June 15: Kate Atkinson: ‘I live to entertain. I don’t live to teach or to be political’

June 15: Why would a nurse become a serial killer?

June 16: Babe Ruth jersey fetches record-breaking $5.64m at auction

June 17: North Carolina suspect fought off by boy with machete due in court

June 18: Mobster’s son behind dad’s murder at McDonald’s drive-thru: feds

June 18: A Prison Death, A Mysterious Autopsy, and Official Silence

June 18: NPR Identifies 4th Attacker In Civil Rights-Era Cold Case

June 20: Faber & Faber: by Toby Faber review – the untold story of a publishing giant

June 21: A Library Thrives, Quietly, in One of Pakistan’s Gun Markets

June 21: DC Comics shutters its legendary Vertigo imprint in reorganization

June 22: ‘Building over history’: the prison graveyard buried under a Texas suburb

June 22: Rogue slug blamed for Japanese railway chaos

June 23: Timeless Literary Feuds

June23: By the Book: Greg Iles

June 24: The Chilling Story of Three Women Haunted by the Same Rapist—And How the Law Failed Them 

June 24: How Amazon benefits from counterfeit books

June 25: Death in Ice Valley – New clues in Isdal Woman mystery

June 25: Stan Lee’s ‘first novel for adults’ to be published this autumn

June 25: Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul spark “Breaking Bad” reunion buzz with cryptic “Soon” messages

June 26: Target Pulls New Thread in Bikini Yarn

June 26: MOST STOLEN BOOKS 2018–2019 SCHOOL YEAR

June 27: ‘The Books Will Stop Working’: How The Microsoft Store Is Retiring Its Books Category

June 27: ‘Harry Potter’ Book With Daniel Radcliffe’s ‘First’ Autograph Sold For Over $3,000

June 28: MacKenzie Lueck murder suspect apparently wrote book involving burning bodies

June 28: No need to feel guilty about the pleasures of mystery books

June 29: Romance novelists speak out on the harassment they face online

June 29: Book details British cop’s impressions of Detroit crime

June 29: Five Examples of Steve Englehart’s Love of Obscure Comic Book History

      R.I.P.

June 1: Frank Lucas, Dies at 88; Drug Kingpin Depicted in American Gangster

June 8: Anthony Price, espionage fiction master and respected reviewer, dead at 90

June 8: Nicky Barnes, ‘Mr. Untouchable’ of Heroin Dealers, Is Dead at 78

June 12: Sylvia Miles, Scene-Stealer in ‘Midnight Cowboy’ and ‘Farewell, My Lovely,’

June 13: Bill Wittliff, ‘Lonesome Dove’ Screenwriter, Dies at 79

June 15: Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli dies at 96

June 23: Judith Krantz, Whose Tales of Sex and Shopping Sold Millions, Dies at 91

June 24: Billy Drago, who machine-gunned Sean Connery in “The Untouchables, Dies at 73

June 27: Max Wright: Star of Alf and Buffalo Bill dies aged 75

      Words of the Month

vulgate (n.): Latin translation of the Bible, especially that completed in 405 by St. Jerome (c.340-420), c. 1600, from Medieval Latin Vulgata, from Late Latin vulgata “common, general, ordinary, popular” (in vulgata editio “popular edition”), from Latin vulgata, feminine past participle of vulgare “make common or public, spread among the multitude,” from vulgus “the common people” (see vulgar). So called because the translations made the book accessible to the common people of ancient Rome.

vulgar (adj.): From the late 14th C., “common, ordinary,” from Latin vulgaris, volgaris “of or pertaining to the common people, common, vulgar, low, mean,” from vulgus “the common people, multitude, crowd, throng,” perhaps from a Proto-Indo-European root *wel- “to crowd, throng” (source also of Sanskrit vargah “division, group,” Greek eilein “to press, throng,” Middle Breton gwal’ch “abundance,” Welsh gwala “sufficiency, enough”) [not in Watkins]. Meaning “coarse, low, ill-bred” is first recorded 1640s, probably from earlier use (with reference to people) with meaning “belonging to the ordinary class” (1530). Related: Vulgarly.

What we have added to human depravity is again a thoroughly Roman quality, perhaps even a Roman invention: vulgarity. That word means the mind of the herd, and specifically the herd in the city, the gutter, and the tavern. [Guy Davenport, “Wheel Ruts”]

vulgarian (n.): A “rich person of vulgar manners,” 1804, from vulgar (adj.) + -ian.

      What We’ve Been Doing

   Amber

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Finder Of Lost Things: 

Last Friday – Phoebe mails off her anonymous tip to Ranger Lade about The Woman In White, Beatrice gets an epic stomach ache, and Ms. Hettie voices her displeasure.

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The Disappearance of Alistair Ainsworth – Leonard Goldberg

So here’s the thing – my local book store only had the new volume of the Daughter of Sherlock Holmes series on the shelves…

However, the title & summary of the new book intrigued me. Holmes’s daughter, 221b Baker Street, two Watsons, German spies, and a missing cryptographer – how could I resist such a combination?

So, not so shockingly, I went ahead and bought the book – and even less shockingly since I’m writing this review – I was rewarded for my out of order reading.

The Disappearance of Alistair Ainsworth is an intriguing, intelligent, and well-plotted mystery. While Joanna (Sherlock’s daughter), Dr. Watson and Dr. Watson Jr. depend on the Sherlockian method, they are not bogged down or bound by the minutia of the original stories. Goldberg cleverly works in select slices of the Doyle mysteries but reworks them, so they feel natural and unwilted.

Even better? Goldberg doesn’t spoil the mysteries which came before The Disappearance of Alistair Ainsworth, so you can start with the third book without knowing the solutions to the previous installments! Now, this doesn’t mean you aren’t left wondering what exactly happened to Sherlock, what happened to Joanna’s first husband or how she came to marry Dr. Watson Jr. – it means you need to go back and read the other two books to find the answers!

Even if you aren’t knowledgeable of Sherlock Holmes’s exploits, this book won’t leave you scratching your head. It is very grounded in 1914 London, the First World War, and the mystery at hand. I think anyone who enjoys historical mysteries, which just happened to feature well-known detectives, will find this book an enjoyable read!

I know I did!

   Fran

In my experience, there are three types of people who are late to the party. Spoiler alert, I know this from experience.

You’ve got the genuinely late, genuinely remorseful types. (rushes in wailing, “I’m so sorry! Traffic (or whatever)….)”

Then there are the fabulously late. (swanning in, “I’m here, let’s get this party started!”)

And the guiltily late. (sneaks in, hides in a corner, pretending to have been there all along, says nothing).

In this particular scenario, I’m the last one. I mean, I’m owning it and all, and I’m genuinely sorry about not having attended this party sooner, but…yeah. I should have been here earlier and I’m absolutely and most sincerely remorseful that I haven’t been. Because boy, have I been missing out.

I finally read Louise Penny.9781250068736

I know! I know! And yes, you’re right, and yes, I should have begun the journey with Inspector Gamache back when Adele told me to, but since the Pennys seemed to sell themselves, and no one can match Adele’s brightness and delight when talking about them, I figured I’d get around to them one of these days. That day arrived, and I’ve blasted through Still Life and A Fatal Grace almost without taking a breath.

Except I had to stop and let you all know that while I may be late to this particular party, I’m about to jump out of the corner and start dancing with everyone else.

At least until I get my hands on The Cruelest Month  (which I just did). Then I’m going back to ignoring all y’all. I’ll be needed in Three Pines. And yes, I want to live there too, even if it does give intimations of being the Quebecois version of Cabot Cove or Midsomer. I don’t care. I love these people!

Let’s Party!

   JB

It is my pattern, my want, my curse, that whenever I get interested in something, I have MV5BNTEyYmIzMDUtNWMwNC00Y2Q1LWIyZTgtMGY1YzUxOTAwYTAwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjIyMTc0ODQ@to search out info about it until I feel “full”. As soon as HBO began to air promos for “Chernobyl”, I was sold on watching it and looked forward to it. That desire was rewarded, I felt, by it being terrific TV – compulsively watchable, vivid, dynamic, truthful in is presentation, and honest. After the first episode I began to look for information about the show and the accident itself.

While I remember the accident happening at the end of April of 1986 (the month we got the keys to our house) there was much I didn’t recall clearly. Just the scale of the accident. The series was very good in presenting the accident, what lead up to it, how it unfolded. I understood going in that there were liberties taken by the creators with some of the characters – it’s HOLLYWOOD for heaven’s sake! – in order to present the story. Some shortcuts, some composite characters, some details of the massive story have to be curtailed in order to tell the larger story and have it make sense in five hour increments.

In my readings about show, I found out that there was podcast going on to accompany the series. It was a joint effort of Peter Sagal (from NPR’s “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me”) and the writer and producer of the series, Craig Mazin. Each episode of the show is discussed and dissected and Mazin is clear to explain what was done to make the show work. If you’ve watched the show but not listened to the podcast, I urge you to. If you’ve not watched the show, you must.

I got it through Apple’s podcast system. Should be easy to find on any system. Never once does Mazin claim his show is a complete recitation of the accident. He’s very clear that his interest was in not only portraying the accident and what it did to people but to also show the grim dangers of secrecy and lies.

Because the drive of the show is how hiding the truth is dangerous. While the men running the reactor that night made mistakes, the Soviet system set it up to happen eventually. If you’re too young to remember the USSR and the Cold War, the events and circumstances of the Chernobyl catastrophe will be an mind-blower. And in our time, when truth and science are dismissed and spat upon, the is a real-life cautionary tale whose end will not be written for thousands of years.

9781501134616And somewhere in my reading, I ran across a book that had just been published – Adam Higginbotham’s Midnight in Chernobyl. It was being touted as the definitive account of the entire, horrific affair – and it was. It’s dramatic and heroic in scope, you get the details and numbers in a smooth, flowing narration, and portrait he provides is staggering in its breadth and honesty. It’s got maps, and diagrams, and photos. About the only thing it lacks is the distinct smell of radiation – like ozone we’re told.

He puts you into the danger, telling you that radiation pops off your eyeballs with the sensation of a spray of water. You read how much went into building the first sarcophagus over the ruined reactor and how the second structure is big enough to hold three of the St. Peter’s Basilica.

It’s a staggering story. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Now the question is, have I learned enough to satisfy the craving?

For now, perhaps – now it is back to the Mueller report!

 


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September

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    A Couple of Things

~ We’re not trying to blow our own horns but it seems as if there are far, far fewer signings by mystery and crime writers since we closed. And if we miss including any authors, it may be that, having been out of the book biz for some time, we don’t recognize their names. We no longer have the knowledge or time to be as comprehensive as we’d like. We’re doing the best we can.

~ You may have noticed over the years that in our Links of Interest section that there are many more entries from the UK than from the US. That’s because outfits like the NYTimes or Washington Post allow only a certain number of clicks to articles each month before you have to pay. So we favor those who don’t require subscription in order to search for the good stuff that we include. We’re not snobs – we’re cheap.

~ September 30th will mark one year since the shop ceased operation. Hard to believe, seems like just yesterday… Which leads us to – – –

    Word of the Month

gliffing(n): “a flash of time, a moment, an instant…”  (thanks to Says You!, #1101)

    Finder Of Lost Things

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Amber here! So with a fair bit of trepidation and nervousness, I am ready (as I will ever be) to present what I’ve been working on!

When SMB closed last year, I decided to fall back and do something else I loved – blogging. After working on the My 52 Weeks With Christie blog for the shop a few years back – I discovered I enjoyed creating those weekly posts. When I finished my year with Christie, I was completely surprised at how much I missed all the writing and researching they required!

With a bit of time on my hands last September, I decided to follow in the footsteps of the old penny dreadfuls (hopefully without actually being dreadful), and I wrote my own weekly mystery series!

So here it is – Finder Of Lost Things – my mystery blog which will release a new installment every Friday morning! It’ll have accompanying photos, 99% of which were taken by me. There will be funnies, misunderstandings, shenanigans, pirates, and food! I sincerely hope you have as much fun reading it as I did working on it!

Here’s the overview from the site:

“My name is Phoebe Arden, and I used to be the Caretaker of Nevermore Cemetery.

My job is more than just mowing lawns, digging graves and thwarting vandals. The problem is my boss doesn’t understand what exactly my job entailed (or in fact any of my duties).

Now I am on the outside looking in, and I still need to protect Nevermore from my boss’s schemes, internal decay, and corrosive outside influences.

This is going to require coffee. Lots and lots of coffee…and maybe an egg roll.”

FRAN HERE – I’ve read a lot of it already and you’re going to love it! Pinky-swear!

    Ngaio Marsh Awards

The winners  to be announced at special event on September 1st 2018 as part of the WORD Christchurch Festival.

  Best Crime Novel

Marlborough Man by Alan Carter (Fremantle Press)

See You in September by Charity Norman (Allen & Unwin)

Tess by Kirsten McDougall (VUP)

The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell (Mary Egan Publishing)

A Killer Harvest by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press)

The Hidden Room by Stella Duffy (Virago)

  Best First Novel

The Floating Basin by Carolyn Hawes

Broken Silence by Helen Vivienne Fletcher (HVF Publishing)

All Our Secrets by Jennifer Lane (Rosa Mira Books)

The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell (Mary Egan Publishing)

Nothing Bad Happens Here by Nikki Crutchley (Oak House Press)

    Signings

Tues, Sept 4, 7pm: Seanan McGuire, University Books

Mon, Sept 10, 7pm: Craig Johnson, Powell’s

Tues, Sept 11, 7pm: Craig Johnson, Third Place/LFP

Wed, Sept 12, 7pm: John Straley, Powell’s

Fri, Sept 14, 7pm: John Straley, Third Place/Ravenna

Wed, Sept 19, 7:30: Amy Stewart, Powell’s

Tues, Sept 25, 7pm: Amy Stewart, Third Place/LFP

         Links of Interest

Vulture, July 31st: When Crime Comes for the Crime Writer by Laura Lippman

CNN, August 1st: Swedish Crown Jewels Stolen by Thieves Who Fled by Speedboat

New York Times, August 2nd: Sophie Hannah: By the Book

The Daily Beast, August 3rd: The Golden State Killer Suspect’s Chilling Warning Signs: Tantrums, Flirtations, and Poisoned Dogs

The Guardian, August 6th: The new tool in the art of spotting forgeries: artificial intelligence

The Guardian, August 7th: UKIP suspends three members over socialist bookshop attack [UKIP stands for the UK Independence Party. They wear hats saying Make  Britain Great Again.]

Entertainment Weekly, August 7th: Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series celebrates its 25th anniversary

BBC, August 8th: The Murderer Turned Author Who Published Clues To His Crimes

BBC August 8th: How digital publishers are ‘shaking up’ the industry

BBC August 9th: Looted 5,000-year-old artefacts to be returned to Iraq

BBC, August 10th: German police save man from baby squirrel terror

NY Times, August 10th: All the World’s a Crime: Thrillers from Around the Globe

BBC, August 10th: Can you read at superhuman speeds?

Salon, August 10th: Finding Tom Thomson’s body: The mysterious death of a famous Canadian artist

BBC, August 11th: France’s 25-year treasure hunt for a golden owl

NY Times, August 12th: As Barnes & Noble Struggles to Find Footing, Founder Takes     Heat

The Guardian, August 13th: How Wilkie Collins found sensation in ordinary life

The Guardian, August 13th: Family claims win in high court challenge to Northants library cuts

Salon, August 14th: “Dead Air” and the true crime boom: What happens when amateurs investigate murder?

The Guardian, August 15th: Sorry to break it to you, far-righters: James Bond is not on your team

The Daily Beast, August 18th: I Grew Up in the Shadow of a Neighborhood Killer. He May Have Finally Been Caught

The Seattle Times, August 19th: Sunday Best – a weekly look at looks

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CNN, August 21st: Mom Reveals Her Secret Spy Life to Kids

The Guardian, August 22nd: Malibu residents fear serial attacker is stalking their scenic enclave

The Guardian, August 22nd: Direct another day: who should replace Danny Boyle on Bond 25?

Daily Herald, August 25th: New Versions of Hercule Poirot Keep Coming, and That’s a Good Thing, by Sophie Hannah

Sunday Seattle Times, August 26:

Crime fiction: 2 witty new novels and a Northwest gem – from Adam Woog

Meet the UW Libraries’ keeper of rare books and artifacts

Northwest book festivals to attend this fall, in Seattle, Vancouver, B.C., and Portland

The Washington Post, August 26th: George Pelecanos has helped make TV great again. His new book reminds us why.

The Courier, August 30st: Police: Thieves stole over $40,000 in rare insects, reptiles

    RIP

In early August we lost a treasured member of the SMB family. Gina Rembeisa died unexpectedly on August 7th. She’d been one of our key customers for as long as we can remember. By key, we mean foundational – she was one of those few crucial customers who bought enough books in the early years to help us to survive and succeed. But that also meant that we got to know one another well. 

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Gina read voraciously. She’d call when a new newsletter got to her and give us a list that would fill a sheet from a legal pad. Then she’d go over what had not come in from supplemental lists. She’d try someone new and have to have every earlier book. She had countless cards in our Future File system, cards for authors from whom she’d want every new book. She would take signed copies but they weren’t necessary. She was a reader, not a collector. She’d stop in on a Saturday morning and chat with Bill or whichever one of us was there, then take her heavy bag of books out.

In the last couple of years of the shop, she’d had difficulty walking and we’d mail her books to her, which meant we saw her less and less but she’d call and say “Hello, dear,  how are you?” – and she really wanted answers.

A psychotherapist for 40 years and a lover of books for much longer, her dream was to retire one day and volunteer the Seattle Mystery Bookshop to be with all of her dear friends, human & books alike. Her husband, Tom, donated 69 boxes of Gina’s books to the Friends of the Library Foundation in her honor. She often told Tom, “You never give away your friends.” Gina was a woman of great spirit, determination, humor, and love.

Our best to her husband Tom.

Rest in Peace, dear. We miss your calls.

August 16th, Moranga King, jazz singer and actress (Mama Corleone in The Godfather)

August 19th:  John Calder, British Publisher Who Fought Censorship, Dies at 91

    What We’ve Been Doing

   Amber

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Theodora Goss – The Strange Case of The Alchemist’s Daughter

Our heroine’s story begins with a funeral. Mary’s mother finally succumbed to the madness which had threatened to overwhelm her for years. Beyond just losing her mother Mary Jekyll (yes, the daughter of that Mr. Jekyll), she also lost her income. Meaning? While Mary still has a house to live in, she has virtually no money to keep body and soul together, much less run a household.

Her prospects are slim indeed until her mother’s solicitor gives her a sheaf of papers which hint at the location of the notorious murderer, Mr. Hyde. Unsure whether the reward for his capture is still viable, Mary consults Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The one hundred pound reward would be a great stopgap measure until she worksed out a more permanent solution for her money woes.

The only problem? Her mother’s information doesn’t lead them to Mr. Hyde but to his daughter.

And that’s when Mary’s real adventure begins.

This is a fantastically fun book! Seriously. If you enjoy reading a mystery populated by all the best characters from old gothic novels (and one of the greatest literary detectives of all time), you’ll love this book!

What I loved is how Goss was able to take the titans of the gothic/horror canon and twist them slightly into something new – while keeping true to their fictional roots. Plus, it is ever so much fun reading about beloved characters through another author’s eyes and how they interpreted these classic stories. By using the daughters of well-known mad scientists, she’s able to breath new life into these stories making them into something new without significantly deviating from the original novels from whence they spring!

Now here’s the thing – you have to be able to suspend a bit of disbelief while reading this book – mainly because coincidences are a tad thick. Not unbelievable mind you, they are well explained and plausible, but just rather prevalent. But, honestly, if you can read from the POV of the daughters of Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, Dr. Frankenstein, Dr. Moreau and Dr. Rappaccini (an evil scientist from a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne), I think you can handle a slight overabundance of coincidences. Plus if I am honest, they keep the book moving at a breakneck speed which is a whole lotta fun to read!

So I guess the above is more of a heads up than a warning…

I would recommend this series to anyone who enjoyed reading Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series or classic gothic novels! I devoured The Strange Case Of The Alchemist’s Daughter in two sittings, and I look forward to rereading it again very soon.

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Rhys Bowen – Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding

The latest installment of the Royal Spyness Mysteries was released this month!

And I loved it!

In Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding, we find Georgie & Darcy making all the decisions one needs to when planning a wedding. Which only get more complicated when the King and Queen invite themselves, their kids, half of the nobility of Europe, and ask if the princesses can be her bridesmaids!

One bright note? Georgie’s godfather offered her an early wedding present – his home! Since Georgie is Sir Hubert’s only heir and he’s away so often climbing mountains, he thinks it would be wonderful if she could be the mistress of Eynsleigh! This prospect positively delights Georgie, the real estate pickings in London are slim indeed, unless you enjoy basements, attics, or a view of a brick wall. Deciding to get the estate back in ship shape before Darcy comes to join her, Georgie leaves immediately for her new digs.

The only fly in the ointment? Sir Hubert thinks things might not be running smoothly in his absence and when Georgie arrives, she agrees. Something is rotten in the Eynsleigh estate!

Once again Bowen delivers a beautiful installment in the Royal Spyness series! She’s filled it with hope under the looming cloud of the impending war, the King’s death, and his son’s abdication. This series does a great job of giving a very human side of the Great Depression and the historical context of the period – without ever  losing Georgie’s voice or the fact she’s investigating one mystery or another!

In all seriousness, I love this series and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a slightly lighter read! Or enjoys historical aspects in their mysteries!

*Just for those who may have read her in the past – there are no ghosts or supernatural elements in this mystery! So pick it up and read with wild abandon! I promise you will love it!

   Fran

Stories from work. The spelling is mine, but the all-caps are hers.

Gal came to turn herself in to go to jail. She’d been using, was being up-front about it, and it’s the weekend, so why not? We gave her a form to fill out, telling us what she used, and why.

“What did you use?” Crystal Meth, Alcohol, Heroin, and CIGARETTES.

Why did you use these? USA FREEDOM

Um…okay.

9780374265922SO LUCKY (MCDxFSG), but the story being told has little to do with murder, and much to do with mayhem, especially the mayhem created when your body fails you.Mara Tagarelli is at the top of her game, CEO of a multi-million dollar AIDS foundation, happily married, martial arts teacher. And it all comes crashing down.

In one week, her wife asks for a divorce, Mara is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and she loses her job. When things crash, they crash hard.

The story is fiction, make no mistake, but the sentiments are raw and real. Nicola Griffith captures the pain and fury – indeed, incandescent rage – that engulfs someone when their life changes and there is nothing to be done to stop what’s happening, when all you can control are symptoms. When you go from self-reliant to needing the help of strangers.

This is a fast, fast read – you’ll do it in a day if only because you cannot stop turning the pages! Nicola Griffith is always a master wordsmith; she’s put her heart into SO LUCKY, and it shows.

I asked one of my friends who also has MS to read the book, tell me whether or not it resonated for him. His response: Around the MS angle, it resonated to the point that I will hand this book to those curious about the disease as it speaks of my experiences in ways I can rarely muster.

Read it for the joy of reading Nicola Griffith’s work. The fact that you’ll be profoundly moved is an incredible bonus.

 

I was trying to decide which of two books I was going to read next when the Beatles came on the radio, talking about Lucy in the sky, and my decision was made. 9780062412843 David Handler’s THE GIRL WITH KALEIDOSCOPE EYES (Wm. Morrow) it was.

I have deliberately not read Handler’s “Stewart Hoag” mysteries because I know myself. When I love one series by an author, I generally don’t love another. I’m weird that way, and I own it. I adore Carolyn Hart’s “Death on Demand” series and while I enjoy “Henrie O”, Annie Darling has my heart. I can read Nora Roberts, but for me it’s J. D. Robb all the way. And, because I’m weird in my own special way, Laurie R. King’s “Kate Martinelli” series calls to me more than her “Mary Russell” stories.

When it comes to David Handler, I’m a “Berger and Mitry” fan to my bones. I adore that mis-matched duo with a profound devotion. Start with The Cold Blue Blood if you can find it, and go from there. But because I am who I am, I didn’t want to read the “Stewart Hoag (Hoagy)” series, because it couldn’t possibly live up to Mitch Berger and Desiree Mitry.

I hadn’t counted on Lulu.

Stewart Hoag (known as Hoagy, after the sandwich not Carmichael) is a literary genius who has written one hugely acclaimed critical masterpiece, crashed and burned, and now is reduced to ghostwriting celebrity bios, at which he excels. Unfortunately, celebrities attract trouble and Hoagy can’t just let things go. He has to know the truth, hence the series of murder mysteries.

In THE GIRL WITH KALEIDOSCOPE EYES, it’s 1992, and Hoagy and his intrepid sidekick Lulu – his mackerel munching  basset hound – are specially requested to write a tell-all for the famous Monette Aintree, brand-name celebrity. That would just be an ordinary day’s work, except Hoagy was once head over heels in love with Monette’s sister, Reggie. And their long-lost father, Richard Aintree, wrote a book that’s known to everyone, is read in every school, and who has vanished after his wife, the girls’ mother, committed suicide.

It’s been 20 years since David Handler has written a Hoagy and Lulu mystery, and now I’ve read two of them. He absolutely has the same voice in the latest as he had in the earlier one, which is a testament to his talent, since that kind of hiatus can change things beyond recognition. And I can see why people have been clamoring for more.

At first, I was a bit put off by the amount of name dropping Hoagy does, but then the gentle cynicism he represents hooked me, and now I find it charming. In both the books I’ve read, it’s Mr. Handler’s ability to create characters that sucks me in. You know me, characters are key.

Generally I advocate beginning a series from the beginning, but I haven’t seen a copy of The Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald since the shop closed, and it was rare there. I’m slowly gathering them, but it’s a delight to have a new hunt for treasure.  If you start with THE GIRL WITH KALEIDOSCOPE EYES, you’ll feel right at home.

Go, find it, enjoy!

   JB

Observation from work: cashiering at a hardware store is the first job I’ve had were people coming at you with knives, pitchforks, sledgehammers, and axes is not a bad thing. It means they want to buy them, not make you the body in a book…

Back in early 2006, I picked up a debut novel. She was a complete unknown, as debut authors are by definition. The author was from my hometown and I was curious. The premise of the book sounded interesting so, what the hell, I’d give it a shot.

That was Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. 9780525575757My review in that Friday’s newzine a dozen years ago started with “WOW”.

My opinion of her work has only increased.

With the HBO adaptation that we’ve been watching, I haven’t been able to remember the nitty-gritty of the book and how they compare. So, I decided to re-read it. This is what has stood out to me:

#1 – It’s very well cast

#2 – The show downplays how active Camille’s scars are and how her feelings at any moment cause different words she’s carved into her skin to buzz. Not sure how they could adequately do it without a narration, to be fair. Still, something is lost in the translation.

#3 – Amma is toned down in the show, not being a super-bitch as in the book.

#4 – No rollerskating in the book, but it is a great visual in the show.

#5 – As always, no adaptation from book to screen can capture that beauty of the author’s writing. Even with a narrator, it can’t be done because you can’t be startled by the words and go back to re-read and re-appreciate them.

“Crisp clean clothes to make us forget all the drips and dank smells that come from our bodies. I was in college by the time I realized I like the smell of sex. I came into my friend’s bedroom one morning after a boy darted past me, smiling sideways and tucking his socks into his back pocket. She was lazing in bed, splotchy and naked, with one bare leg dangling out from under the sheets. That sweet muddy smell was purely animal, like the deepest corner of a bear’s cave. It was almost foreign to me, this lived-in overnight odor. My most evocative childhood scent was bleach.”

That’s why I appreciate and adore Gillian Flynn’s writing. Her words are evocative and her sentences circle around with surprising bite.

Now if we could just get her back to writing novels…

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~-Until October-~

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