May Day May Day ~ 2022

These green books are poisonous—and one may be on a shelf near you

Words of the Month

astonish (v.): c. 1300, astonien, “to stun, strike senseless,” from Old French estoner “to stun, daze, deafen, astound,” from Vulgar Latin *extonare, from Latin ex “out” (see ex-) + tonare “to thunder” (see thunder (n.)); so, literally “to leave someone thunderstruck.” The modern form (influenced by English verbs in -ish, such as distinguish, diminish) is attested from 1520s. The meaning “amaze, shock with wonder” is from 1610s. (etymonline)

Watch for this new documentary, “Hello, Bookstore”

Want to See the Weirdest of Wikipedia? Look No Further.

Debunking the Mechanical Turk Helped Set Edgar Allan Poe on the Path to Mystery Writing

Scottish university cruelly cancels poor, defenseless, under-read Jane Austen. England panics.

Turns out, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote an episode of Veronica Mars.

One of the greatest legacies left by “The Godfather” was basic instructions on how to make dinner

In California, you can borrow state park passes from your local library

Earliest evidence of Maya calendar found inside Guatemalan pyramid

Scientists find earliest record of aurora in ancient Chinese chronicle

A Mysterious Sarcophagus Discovered Beneath Notre-Dame Will Soon Be Opened

An Inside Look at Judith Jones’ First Notes for Julia Child

Rare proof sheets of first Harry Potter book expected to sell for £20,000

‘We got a kick out of it’: art forgers reveal secrets of paintings that fooled experts

Original Death of Superman Artwork Sells for Over Half a Million at Auction

Man Upset Over ‘Gay’ Superman Accused of Terrorizing ‘Woke’ Companies

‘Captain America Comics’ No. 1 Sells for $3.1M

1941 creation by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, first appearance of Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes and the Red Skull

Words of the Month

confound (v.) c. 1300, “to condemn, curse,” also “to destroy utterly;” from Anglo-French confoundre, Old French confondre (12th C.) “crush, ruin, disgrace, throw into disorder,” from Latin confundere “to confuse, jumble together, bring into disorder,” especially of the mind or senses, “disconcert, perplex,” properly “to pour, mingle, or mix together,” from assimilated form of com “together” (see con-) + fundere “to pour” (from nasalized form of PIE root *gheu- “to pour”).

From mid-14th C. as “to put to shame, disgrace.” The figurative sense of “confuse the mind, perplex” emerged in Latin, passed into French and thence to English by late 14th C. The Latin past participle confusus, meanwhile, became confused (q.v.). The meaning “treat or regard erroneously as identical” is from 1580s.

confounded (adj.) as an intensive execration, “odious, detestable, damned,” 1650s, past-participle adjective from confound in its older sense of “condemn, curse,” which came to be considered “a milder form of imprecation” [OED]. It is perhaps a euphemism for damned. The sense of “put to mental confusion” is recorded from mid-14th C. [etymonline]

Serious Stuff

:A Ukrainian book publisher is collecting donations to get books to refugee kids.

Waterstones launches scheme to raise £1m for Ukraine

:Russian Nobel-winning editor says he was attacked with red paint

:US Government Disrupts Botnet Controlled by Russian Government Hackers

:Tchaikovsky’s house destroyed by Russian army in north-east Ukraine

:Finnish customs seizes millions of dollars’ worth of artwork headed to Russia

:Finland Returns $46 M. In Detained Artwork to Russia, as France Continues To Hold Russian Paintings

:Navalny review – extraordinary documentary about the attempt to kill Putin’s rival

:Why Putin Is Itching to Get His Hands on This Ex-American Banker

>Book Banning Efforts Surged in 2021. These Titles Were the Most Targeted.

>Democrats must hit back hard at GOP book bans. Here’s a start

>More books are banned than ever before, as Congress takes on the issue [oh good, we’re saved...]

>New York Public Library makes banned books available for free

>The Brooklyn Public Library is giving eCards to teens nationwide to challenge book bans

>Banned Books Are About to Be the New Pussy Hats

>‘Out of touch’: children’s authors describe increasing censorship of books on diversity

>Censorship battles’ new frontier: Your public library

>Florida rejects 54 math books, claiming critical race theory appeared in some

>Oklahoma library cancels adult romance book club after board bans sexual content

>Oklahoma public library’s sexual content ban also cuts abuse prevention program and Pride displays

>Llano County faces federal lawsuit over censorship in library system

>California Man Arrested for Alleged Threats to ‘Shoot Up’ Merriam-Webster for Defining ‘Woman’

>GOP Tennessee lawmaker suggests burning inappropriate books

>Florida activist seeks to ban Bible from schools for being too ‘woke

>Tennessee Republican says he would ‘burn’ books censored by bill

>Whitman’s ‘Leaves of Grass’ was banned — and cost him his federal job

The Female Spies Who Helped Win World War II

Two men arrested after targeting Secret Service agents in influence operation

Canadian government introduces legislation to force online giants to compensate news outlets

What We Get Dangerously Wrong About Psychopaths

A Driver Took Her Final Photo. Now She’s on a Long List of Missing Women.

Son of novelist Paul Auster charged with homicide over baby daughter’s fatal overdose on heroin and fentanyl

Son of acclaimed author Paul Auster dies of overdose while awaiting trial for daughter’s death

Newly formed board to review Civil Rights-era cold cases faces time crunch

Abraham Bolden: Ex-Secret Service agent pardoned by Biden [for a fuller account of Bolden’s case]

He caught the Golden State Killer, but the obsession took a toll [see signings!]

Report: Hackers Have Been Sexually Extorting Kids With Data Stolen From Tech Giants

Local Stuff

First missing, murdered indigenous alert system created in U.S.

Oregon Bandits on the Run With $1 Million in Stolen Fake Cash

Iowa survivalist who faked death to avoid trial arrested in Washington state

The Oregonian: ‘Threat Dictionary’ showcases power of words and how they’re used to spread, combat fear

Local author’s ‘Skid Road’ is a look at Seattle’s homeless past

Beachcomber stumbles across body partially buried in the sand near Lincoln City

Vancouver’s Black Dog Video closing for good

Melvin ‘Pete’ Mark’s heralded collection, featured at Oregon Historical Society, goes to auction

Lateness, Cursing, a Broken Sink: Starbucks Keeps Firing Pro-Union Employees

Very Oregonized Crimes ~An atlas of Oregon crime fiction.

My First Thriller: Robert Dugoni

The Oregon literary community is pissed off about poet Carl Adamshick’s $10,000 fellowship.

Words of the Month

confusion (n.) c. 1300, confusioun, “overthrow, ruin,” from Old French confusion “disorder, confusion, shame” (11th C.) and directly from Latin confusionem (nominative confusio) “a mingling, mixing, blending; confusion, disorder,” noun of action from past-participle stem of confundere “to pour together,” also “to confuse” (see confound).

Meaning “act of mingling together two or more things or notions properly separate” is from mid-14th C. Sense of “a putting to shame, perturbation of the mind” (a sort of mental “overthrow”) is from c. 1400 in English, while that of “mental perplexity, state of having indistinct ideas” is from 1590s. Meaning “state of being mixed together,” literally or figuratively, “a disorderly mingling” is from late 14th C.

confuse (v.) From the 1550s in a literal sense “mix or mingle things or ideas so as to render the elements indistinguishable;” from mid-18th C. in the active, figurative sense of “perplex the mind or ideas of, discomfit in mind or feeling,” but not in general use until after c. 1800. From 1862 as “erroneously regard as identical.” It took over these senses from its older doublet, confound (q.v.).

The past participle confused (q.v.) is attested much earlier, in Middle English (serving as an alternative past tense to confound), evidently an adaptation of Old French confus or Latin confusus, “with the native ppl. ending -ED and the present stem a much later inference from it” [OED]. (etymonline)

Odd Stuff

QAnon Surfer Who Killed His Kids Was Radicalized by Lizard People Conspiracies

In Minnie Mouse’s Dress, Right Wingers See a Penis — and a LGBTQ Conspiracy

David Mamet Comes Out as Right-Wing Culture Warrior, Claims Teachers Are Inclined to Pedophilia

Man Inspired by QAnon and Hopped Up on Caffeine Purposefully Derailed Train

Gender-Neutral Words Like ‘People’ and ‘Person’ Are Perceived as Male, Study Suggests

Shelf-promotion: the art of furnishing rooms with books you haven’t read

Goldfinger Onesie, anyone? Yours for only $545! Not the one from the movie…

Sinaloa Cartel Suspect Arrested in Colombia Thanks to His Date’s Facebook Pics

Twice Accused of Murder, This Writer Later Foresaw the Sinking of the Titanic

He Created the First Known Movie. Then He Vanished.

D.C. police arrest seven people found with dog taken in armed robbery

The Business of Fake Martian Dirt Is Blasting Off

A New Electronic Nose May Help Sniff Out Counterfeit Whiskey

The CIA’s ‘Torture Queen’ Is Now a Life Coach Hawking Beauty Products

Two Charged After Pet Duck Helps Solve Murder Mystery

The One American Serial Killer Whose Star Won’t Stop Rising

Walter Sickert review – serial killer, fantasist or self-hater? This hellish, brilliant show only leaves questions

Anglo-Saxon kings were mostly veggie but peasants treated them to huge barbecues, new study argues

Words of the Month

puzzle (v.) 1590s, pusle “bewilder, confound, perplex with difficult problems or questions,” possibly frequentative of pose (v.) in obsolete sense of “perplex” (compare nuzzle from nose). To puzzle (something) out “resolve or discover by long cogitation or careful investigation” is by 1781. Puzzling (adj.) “bewildering, perplexing,” is from the 1660s. Bepuzzle (v.), to “perplex,” from the 1590s, from be- + puzzle. (etymonline)

SPECTRE

Amazon plans to block words including “union,” “ethics,” and “restroom” from its employee chat app

Amazon Discussed Banning the Words “Fairness” and “Pay Raise”

>A Cinderella Story: How Staten Island Amazon Workers Won Against the Multi-Billion-Dollar Company

>He was fired by Amazon 2 years ago. Now he’s the force behind the company’s 1st union

>Amazon seeks to undo Staten Island union victory

Delivery company files class action on behalf of 2,500 Amazon-branded partners

Working at an Amazon Warehouse Got Even More Dangerous in 2021

Amazon CEO Blames New Workers for the Company’s High Injury Rate

How Barnes & Noble Went From Villain to Hero

What You Don’t Know About Amazon

From Amazon to Apple, tech giants turn to old-school union-busting

9 Ways to Imagine Jeff Bezos’ Wealth (a visual presentation, best viewed seated)

Words of the Month

boggle (v.): 1590s, “to start with fright (as a startled horse does), shy, take alarm,” from Middle English bugge “specter” (among other things, supposed to scare horses at night); see bug (n.); also compare bogey (n.1), boggart. The meaning ” hesitate, stop as if afraid to proceed in fear of unforeseen difficulties” is from 1630s; that of “confound, cause to hesitate” is from 1640s. As a noun from 1650s. Related: Boggled; boggling; boggler (from c. 1600 as “one who hesitates”). [etymonline]

Awards

Rabih Alameddine takes home the 2022 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

Announcing the winners of the 2022 Whiting Awards.

This year’s International Booker Prize shortlist is led by women

38th annual B.C. and Yukon Book Prizes shortlist announced

Vancouver poet makes short list for top Griffin poetry prize

The winner of this year’s Story Prize is Brandon Taylor’s Filthy Animals

The National Book Foundation has announced this year’s 5 Under 35

Here’s the very first Chowdhury Prize in Literature winner.

Lauren Groff has won the 2022 Joyce Carol Oates Prize.

Interview: Evelyn Araluen wins $60,000 Stella prize: ‘I was one paycheck away from complete poverty’

Women’s Prize for Literature Shortlist showcases global talent

Here are the winners of the 2022-2023 Rome Prize in literature.

Here are the winners of this year’s LA Times Book Prizes.

Book Stuff

Remembrance of Bookstores Past

‘Stolen’ Charles Darwin notebooks left on library floor in pink gift bag

The Library Ends Late Fees, and the Treasures Roll In

What Kind of Bookstore Browser Are You? We booksellers have seen it all.

Why a Bookstore’s Most Quiet Moments Are (Sometimes) Its Most Important

Tokyo’s Manuscript Writing Cafe won’t let you leave until you finish your novel

Why the Color Red Carries so Much Weight in Film and Literature

Gillian Flynn’s Anti-Heroines And The Dark Side of Feminism

Brandon Sanderson’s Record-Breaking Kickstarter Is the Exception, Not the Rule

Ebook Services Are Bringing Unhinged Conspiracy Books into Public Libraries

The book that sank on the Titanic and burned in the Blitz

Interview: Don Winslow ~ ‘I’m a cupcake. I certainly couldn’t be a leg-breaker’

Dope: On George Cain, New York City, and Blueschild Baby

A Treasured Mumbai Bookstore’s Colorful Makeover, and Other News

On the (Secret) Crime Novels of E.L. Doctorow

Lost Charlotte Brontë Manuscript Sells for $1.25 Million

Holocaust Survivors Ask Israel Museum to Return One-of-a-Kind Haggadah

The Charming Mid-Century Murder Mysteries and Rich Interior Life of Edith Howie

UK publishers take £6.7bn in sales as TikTok crazes fuel purchases

Waterstones launches scheme to raise £1m for Ukraine

‘I can’t leave all 10,000 to my son’: the bookshop selling one man’s lifetime collection

Interview: Stella Rimington: ‘I fell into intelligence by chance’

Library of Congress Acquires Neil Simon’s Papers and Manuscripts

Four times more male characters in literature than female, research suggests

Why is the second hand book business booming?

Dispatches from this year’s New York International Antiquarian Book Fair

Why the Mystery Novel Is a Perfect Literary Form

Don Winslow on New England Roots, Greek Poetry, and Clams in Broth

How Dorothy B. Hughes’ In a Lonely Place Brought a New, Disturbing Kind of Noir to the Postwar American Experience

Lost and Found: Rediscovering E.C.R. Lorac’s Two-Way Murder  

6 Thrillers That Will Fool the Most Seasoned Readers

The State of the Crime Novel: A Roundtable With The Edgar Nominees Edgar Awards Nominees Reflect On How The Pandemic Has Changed Their Writing Lives

The State of the Crime Novel in 2022, Part 2: Genre, Publishing, and What to Read Next

Famous first lines, rewritten with a thesaurus.

Find books set in your hometown with this neat tool

Industry trend? Jon McGregor just did his book tour by bicycle.

In-Person Author Events

May 3: Seanan McGuire, University Bookstore, 6pm

May 4: : Paul Holes, Powell’s, 7pm

May 17: Christopher Moore, Powell’s, 7pm

May 18: Christopher Moore, Third Place Books/LFP, 7pm

May 23: Adrian McKinty, Third Place Books/LFP, 7pm

Other Forms of Entertainment

Sherlock Holmes May Be Coming to Streaming Thanks to Robert Downey Jr.

Mugshots of the Real Peaky Blinders

Bruce Willis’s Minimalist Star Power

15 years ago, Tarantino released his worst movie — with the most incredible stunts

Jason Isaacs: ‘Daniel Craig is more comfortable naked than with clothes on’

A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes audiobook review – vintage crooks and conmen (read by Samuel L. Jackson)

My streaming gem: why you should watch Scarlet Street

“Operation Mincemeat”: the startling story of deception that fooled Hitler and helped win the war

Operation Mincemeat’: The Welsh drifter who helped end WW2

Harrison Ford Didn’t Do It

Serial-Killer Clown John Wayne Gacy Speaks in New Docuseries

~Peter Berg on Being Linda Fiorentino’s Sex Toy

~Kathleen Turner Made the Modern Femme Fatale

‘Killing Eve’ EP Sally Woodward Gentle on How Going With Her Gut Shaped Four Seasons and a Finale

Podcast: Run, Bambi, Run Profiles Playboy Bunny Turned Milwaukee Police Officer Turned Killer

Looking back on one of the scariest serial-killer films ever made, 10 Rillington Place

Hugh Laurie brings Agatha Christie murder-mystery to TV [his favourite, Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?]

On the Genuine Delights of Hugh Laurie’s Murder Mystery Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?

The Hound of the Baskervilles review – tongue-in-cheek sleuthing

= David Simon, Jon Bernthal and the Makers of HBO’s ‘We Own This City’ on Dirty Cops, the Drug War and the Legacy of ‘The Wire’

=‘We Own This City’ Brings George Pelecanos Back to Baltimore

Sam Peckinpah’s ‘The Osterman Weekend’ Finally Comes Home

‘Villanelle will be back!’ Killing Eve’s author speaks out over the catastrophic TV finale

‘Shining Girls’: Elisabeth Moss Tracks a Time-Traveling Serial Killer

‘The Offer’ review – the making of The Godfather makes for hit-and-miss TV

Thomas Perry’s The Old Man comes to TV staring Jeff Bridges on June 16

The True Story Behind ‘The Untouchables’

Insiders Call B.S. on ‘Tokyo Vice’ Backstory

James Patterson: “The Hollywood adaptations of my books suck”

Words of the Month

amaze (v.)”overwhelm or confound with sudden surprise or wonder,” 1580s, back-formation from Middle English amased “stunned, dazed, bewildered,” (late 14th C.), earlier “stupefied, irrational, foolish” (c. 1200), from Old English amasod, from a- (1), probably used here as an intensive prefix, + *mæs (see maze). Related: Amazed; amazing. (etymonline)

RIP

A farewell to long-time customer John Cunningham who died March 2, 2022

Mar. 30: Paul Herman Dies: ‘The Sopranos’, ‘Goodfellas’ Actor Was 76

April 2: Thomas F. Staley, Dogged Pursuer of Literary Archives, Dies at 86

April 5: Alan J. Hruska, a Founder of Soho Press, Dies at 88

April 6: Nehemiah Persoff Dies: Prolific Actor Of ‘Yentl’, ‘The Twilight Zone’, ‘Gunsmoke’ & Many More Was 102 (he was in EVERY crime show in the 60s, probably more than once!)

April 10: Bestselling author Jack Higgins dead at 92

April 9: Mimi Reinhard, secretary who typed ‘Schindler’s List,’ dies at 107

April 14: Letizia Battaglia, pioneer photographer who defied the Mafia, dead at 87

April 1`5: Christopher Coover, Auction Expert in the Printed Word, Dies at 72

April 30: Neal Adams death: Batman comic artist dies, aged 80

Links of Interest

Mar. 31: This Father-Son Team Helps People Brute-Force Their Lost Bitcoin Wallet Passwords

Mar. 31: St. Louis’ Murder Total Has Fallen, but Some Killings Went Uncounted

Mar. 31: More Than a Dozen Antiquities Linked to Disgraced Dealer Seized from Yale’s Art Gallery

April 2: Jack Ruby Is the Key to the Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy Theories. So Why Have We Forgotten About His Trial?

April 2: Man Sentenced to 650 Years in Prison in Brutal 1980s Sex Crimes

April 2: Did Body Found on Somerton Beach Belong to Cold War Spy?

April 5: Mob Hit Man Who Escaped as Sentence Neared Its End Is Recaptured

April 5: Hackers Hijacked Crypto Wallets With Stolen MailChimp Data

April 5: The novelist who wrote “How to Murder Your Husband” is now on trial for murdering her husband.

April 6: Investigating the Cold Case That Inspired ‘Twin Peaks

April 7: Yakuza Boss Bagged at Steakhouse in Rockets-for-Heroin Plot

April 8: Alex Jones Accused of ‘Jaw-Dropping’ Scheme to Hide Money From Sandy Hook Families

April 8: Former Goldman Sachs banker found guilty in 1MDB scheme

April 8: D.C. Man Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Steal More than $31 Million in COVID-19 Funds

April 8: Cops Nab Five Alleged Ringleaders of Scam-Filled Assassin Marketplace on Dark Web

April 9: Florida Man Stole Almost $600K in Crypto While Setting Up Security System: Cops

April 10: Man Finds “Priceless” Napoleon Memorabilia Stolen in Museum Heist — on eBay

April 11: Police Discover More Than 1,000 Stuffed Wild Animals in Giant Taxidermy Bust

April 12: Aides to Texas County Judge Indicted in $11M Vaccine Contract Scandal

April 12: Law Enforcement Seizes RaidForums, One of the Most Important Hacking Sites

April 13: Gangs are following and robbing LA’s wealthiest, LAPD says

April 13: US federal alert warns of the discovery of malicious cyber tools

April 14: Coca-Cola Enterprises boss admits taking £1.5m in bribes

April 14: Meet the Blockchain Detectives Who Track Crypto’s Hackers and Scammers

April 14: One hundred years ago, the British spy was caught in what appears to be the Irish Republican Army’s only authorized attack on American soil

April 15: QAnon Leaders Push Followers Into Multi-Level Marketing

April 15: How Cryptocurrency Gave Birth to the Ransomware Epidemic

April 15: ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ Is Changing His Tune on Crypto

April 16: How An Alleged Rapist And Former Twitch Streamer Helped Build An NFT Startup By Hiding Behind A Pseudonym

April 20: Cops Arrest COVID-19 Vaccine Scammer With ‘Top Secret’ Clearance Hookup

April 20: He Was a Penniless Donor to the Far Right. He Was Also a Russian Spy.

April 21: Shiba Inu Memecoin Launches Metaverse, Someone Creates Swastika Immediately

April 21: Supreme Court ruling aids family seeking return of painting confiscated by Nazis

April 21: After Pardon for Bannon, 2 Admit Bilking Donors to Border Wall

April 22: EXCLUSIVE – Washington man arrested for impersonating agent left trail of defaults and debt

April 22: Jeffrey Epstein, a Rare Cello and an Enduring Mystery

April 23: U.S. hasn’t stopped N. Korean gang from laundering its crypto haul

April 28: Ten men from same family arrested in Amsterdam for money laundering

April 28: Meta Found Snooping on Student Aid Applicants

April 29: Val Broeksmit, Deutsche Bank, and the Birth of a New Conspiracy Theory

April 29: Cops Kill Man Over Stolen Pokemon Cards in Target Parking Lot

Words of the Month

bamboozle (v.) “to cheat, trick, swindle,” 1703, originally a slang or cant word, of unknown origin. Perhaps Scottish from bombaze, bumbaze “confound, perplex,” or related to bombast, or related to French embabouiner “to make a fool (literally ‘baboon’) of.” Wedgwood suggests Italian bambolo, bamboccio, bambocciolo “a young babe,” extended by metonymy to mean “an old dotard or babish gull.” Related: Bamboozled; bamboozler; bamboozling. As a noun from 1703. (etymonline)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Murder Maps: Crime Scenes Revisited 1811 – 1911 — Dr. Drew Gray

There are many reasons why Murder Maps makes an excellent read. One of which is the selection of crimes featured in the book. Namely, most cases highlight a new forensic technique, first conviction using said technique, and/or new methodology police use to catch the perpetrator. We take techniques like fingerprinting, crime scene photography, and criminal profiling for granted – however, they aren’t nearly as old as one might think!

The second reason why I loved reading this book was the crimes Dr. Grey decided to detail. Of course, the covered period 1811 – 1911 includes the notorious crimes of H.H. Holmes, Crippen, and Jack the Ripper. However, rather than sticking to the stock descriptions of these heinous crimes, Dr. Grey includes often overlooked details. Including the five other possible victims of Jack the Ripper, the pioneering techniques the police used during the Ripper’s spree, and their failures.

Besides coving the most notorious crimes and culprits, Murder Maps also includes all kinds of other murders, including examples I’ve read repeatedly in fiction but never imagined having a real-life counterpart! Such as this old trope: an innocent actor unwittingly wields a real weapon instead of a prop and kills a fellow actor while on stage during a performance….

Speaking of the crimes detailed in Murder Maps, it reminds me of one of my favorite podcasts, The True Crime Files. The book gives you just enough details of the crime: who the victims were, where it took place, if/how it was solved, and how the judicial system dealt with the perpetrators (if they were, in fact, guilty). So if, for one reason or another, one of the crimes sparks your interest, you’ve enough information at your disposal to look it up for yourself.

Then there are the maps.

Each entry in Murder Maps, no matter how big or small, contains at least one illustration (usually from one newspaper or another) or photo (mug shots and/or crime scene photos), a brief description, and a map. Now, I must admit (for me), the maps containing only a single point (where the crime occurred) were only somewhat helpful. However, the maps where Dr. Grey put multiple features of interest, such as where the killers lived, worked, or were born in relation to where the victims were worked, attacked, or found – provide a wealth of information.

I can honestly say it’s been a very long time since I’ve enjoyed a piece of true-crime writing as much as I’ve enjoyed Murder Maps.

I would highly recommend Murder Maps to anyone who would like to dip their toes into the genera or to an aficionado looking for a new case to obsess over, new details/perspective on an old fave, and/or appreciates a well-laid-out book.

Seriously, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Fran

A Touch of Home

Since we moved back to New Mexico, I’ve been drawn to re-reading some of the authors that made New Mexico home. I know, you’re thinking about Tony Hillerman, and you should since he was fantastic, and I hope you’ve followed his daughter, Anne’s career.

But looking at these mountains out my front door has led me down more non-traditional paths.

View from my front door.

So I decided to read some Walter Satterthwait. Granted, his Joshua Croft books are set in Santa Fe, which this absolutely is not, and there’s a definite rivalry between northern and southern New Mexico, but for a good, solid story, Walter Satterthwait is spot on.

But outside town, the countryside is still spare and uncluttered, the sunlight still reels down from a clear blue silky sky, the mountains and the buttes still soar wild and reckless from a landscape so nonchalant about its lean rugged beauty, so indifferent to the passage of time, and the passage of man, that it takes the breath away. Driving through this country can be, should be, an exercise in humility; and that may be one of the very best exercises possible.

One of the things that I like about Joshua Croft is that his cynicism extends to himself. He questions everything, including his own impressions of people and events, and that is brilliantly showcased in The Hanged Man, where Croft is asked to investigate the murder of a man who just paid an undisclosed but enormous amount for a single Tarot card.

The cast of characters and suspects is just as colorful as any Tarot deck, and the delight of Satterthwait’s writing is that the people come close to being cartoonish, almost caricatures, and then he brings them back down to earth in some commonplace way that resonates.

The Hanged Man was written in 1993, and the delight of it is that, while much of New Mexico has urbanized and changed, the bones are still the same. I know these dusty roads, and back ways, and the way that people here can seem more open when they’re really quite secretive.

The Hanged Man

Maybe it’s the sun, maybe it’s the heat, maybe it’s the fact that you can trust a rattlesnake to be more honest than a human being half the time, but whatever it is about living in New Mexico, and about looking into the shadows, Walter Satterthwait is well worth your time.

JB

National Portrait Gallery exhibition looks at Watergate 50 years later

Jack Davis’s 1973 caricature of Richard Nixon, center, and his closest aides is part of the National Portrait Gallery exhibition “Watergate: Portraiture and Intrigue.” (Photo by Mark Gulezian/National Portrait Gallery/Gift of Time Magazine)

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

SEPTEMBER 2021

Big Study About Honesty Turns out to be Based on Fake Data

A bloody shame: Britons find a new favourite swearword

Female Octopuses Throw Things at Male Harassers (GOOD FOR THEM!!)

Serious Stuff

The White Christian Nationalism Behind the Worst Terrorist Attack in American History

The rightwing US textbooks that teach slavery as ‘black immigration ‘

Downtown Seattle courthouse safety issues are keeping jurors away, judges say

Tech Firms Pledge Billions to Bolster Cybersecurity after Biden Meeting

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History displays a bullet-riddled sign that documented Emmett Till’s brutal murder

Local Stuff

Oregon High School Janitor Stockpiled Weapons for Mass Shooting: Cops

Crime historian digs for DB Cooper case evidence: ‘Authorities looked in wrong area’

More meth, cocaine contamination found at Washington state toxicology lab

High Schoolers in Seattle Build a Tiny Library That Makes Room for Everyone

Read a previously unpublished Ursula K. Le Guin poem

A naked baby helped Nirvana sell millions of records. Now 30, he’s suing the band and alleging child porn

Seattle Public Library to reopen all branches by later this fall

Words of the Month

sucker (n.) A “young mammal before it is weaned,” late 14th C., agent noun from suck. Slang meaning “person who is easily deceived” is first attested 1836, American English, on notion of naivete; but another theory traces the slang meaning to the fish called a sucker (1753), on the notion of being easy to catch in their annual migrations (the fish so called from the shape of its mouth). As a type of candy from 1823; especially “lollipop” by 1907. Meaning “shoot from the base of a tree or plant” is from 1570s. Also the old name of inhabitants of Illinois. (etymonline)

Odd Stuff

Here’s why poisonous animals don’t poison themselves

A $100,000 Chicken McNugget Triggered a Child-Sex-Trafficking Conspiracy Theory

Robert Durst Reflects on Decision to Appear in ‘The Jinx’: A ‘Very, Very, Very Big Mistake’

75 Arrests, 134 Marathons & 1 Stabbing: Kansas City Superman

What Do CIA Analysts and Investigative Journalists Have In Common?

Words of the Month

folly (n.): From the early 13th C., “mental weakness; foolish behavior or character; unwise conduct” (in Middle English including wickedness, lewdness, madness), from Old French folie “folly, madness, stupidity” (12th C.), from fol (see fool (n.)). From c. 1300 as “an example of foolishness;” sense of “costly structure considered to have shown folly in the builder” is attested from 1650s. But used much earlier, since Middle English, in place names, especially country estates, probably as a form of Old French folie in its meaning “delight.” (etymonline)

SPECTRE Stuff

We’re eliminating this section of the newzine. What’s the point? They are into everything and will soon own everything. The windmill has won…

Awards

The Barry Award Winners 2021

Amanda Gorman and PRH have established a $10,000 prize for public high school poets.

Book Stuff

After a month of major controversies, the American Booksellers Association has responded

Dolly Parton Teams With Bestselling Author James Patterson To Pen First Novel ‘Run, Rose, Run’

The summer of writing scams continues with a series of Goodreads ransom notes.

In Praise of the Info Dump: A Literary Case for Hard Science Fiction

An Original Graphic Novel about Ed Gein, The Serial Killer Who Haunted America and Inspired Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Silence of the Lambs

Advance copies of Sally Rooney’s unpublished book sold for hundreds of dollars

By the Book: The Crime Novelist William Kent Krueger Still Loves Sherlock Holmes

James Lee Burke on Organized Labor, Corporate Evils, and the Plot to Dumb Down America

Hachette Book Group Will Acquire Workman Publishing for $240 Million

Want to be a bookseller? This chicken-coop-turned-bookstore is up for grabs

Mexican Noir: Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Velvet Was the Night is a thrillingly fresh take on a hard-boiled classic

Megan Abbott Discusses How to Create an Atmosphere of Dread, Anxiety, and Obsession

New York’s Legendary Literary Hangouts: Where Writers Gathered, Gossiped, Danced and Drank in NYC

Browse over one million newly digitized images from Yale’s Beinecke Library

how publishers are approaching new releases this fall

The Joys and Difficulties of Writing a Faithful Sherlock Holmes Novel

The Storyteller’s Promise: William Kent Krueger on the power of fiction and the profound experience of offering readers a little hope

Miss Marple back on the case in stories by Naomi Alderman, Ruth Ware and more

Interview with Paula Hawkins: ‘I wasn’t interested in writing the same book again’

Other Forms of Entertainment

Kate Winslet Says Mare of Easttown’s Creator Has “Very Cool Ideas” for Season 2

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Luis Guzmán to Play Morticia and Gomez Addams on Tim Burton’s Wednesday [Cara mia!]

We’re not robots’: Film-makers buckle under relentless appetite for Danish TV

A Rumination on DCI Jane Tennison

How a tragic unsolved murder and a public housing crisis led to Candyman

Words of the Month

rube (n.): From 1896, reub, from shortened form of masculine proper name Reuben (q.v.), which is attested from 1804 as a conventional type of name for a country man… As a typical name of a farmer, rustic, or country bumpkin, from 1804. The Reuben sandwich of corned beef, sauerkraut, etc., on rye bread, an American specialty (1956) is the same name but “Not obviously connected” with the “country bumpkin” sense in rube [OED], but is possibly from Reuben’s restaurant, a popular spot in New York’s Lower East Side. Various other Reubens have been proposed as the originator. (etymonline)

RIP

August 7: Nach Waxman, Founder of a Bookstore Where Foodies Flock, Dies at 84

August 9: Markie Post, veteran TV actor on ‘Night Court,’ dies at 70

August 11: Patricia Hitchcock O’Connell, actor and daughter of Alfred Hitchcock, dies at 93

August 12: Una Stubbs, ‘Till Death Us Do Part’ and ‘Sherlock’ actress dies aged 84

August 28: Caroline Todd (half of the Charles Todd team) RIP

August 29: Ed Asner, the Iconic Lou Grant on Two Acclaimed TV Series, Dies at 91 [Asner was born in Kansas City and his brother Ben owned a record store just across state line in Missouri called Caper’s Corners. It was the place we all went to get concert tickets and buy LPs. Later it was revealed that Ben Asner was one of the biggest fences in the city.]

Links of Interest

July 26: Co-Owner of Shady Beverly Hills Vault Business Accused of ‘Extensive’ Criminal Empire

July 28: In Session with Lorraine Bracco at MobMovieCon

July 28: Revisiting “The Year of the Spy”

August 4: The True Crime Junkies and the Curious Case of a Missing Husband

August 5: Tycoon Arrested After Allegedly Blabbing About His $100 Million Fraud Over Email

August 5: Investigation reopened into death of tobacco heiress Doris Duke’s assistant after paperboy comes forward

August 8: Barris Kustom Industries Car Shop For Sale, In Danger Of Closing. The legendary Hollywood shop was responsible for the iconic Batmobile

August 9: How the case of the kidnapped paperboys accelerated the “stranger danger” panic of the 1980s

August 10: Piecing Together the History of Stasi Spying

August 11: A History of Serial Killers Who Went Quiet Before Being Caught

August 12: A Lawyer’s Deathbed Confession About a Sensational 1975 Kidnapping

August 13: A Brief History of the CIA’s Efforts to Infiltrate Africa by Funding an Elaborate Network of Nonprofit Goodwill Organizations

August 15: British man accused of spying for Russia will not be extradited from Germany

August 16: Dallas Police Dept Loses 8 Terabytes of Crime Data, Throwing Court Cases Into Chaos

August 16: Gunshots Were Fired at a Dutch Museum as Two Thieves Tried to Steal a Monet Painting—and Then Dropped It on the Way Out

August 19: Police Just Found Nearly 10 Tons of Cocaine Behind a Fake Wall in Ecuador

August 22: The artist, the mafia and the Italian job: is heist mystery about to be solved?

August 24: Al Capone’s granddaughters to auction his estate, including Papa’s ‘favorite’ pistol

August 24: Mexico May Free the Cartel ‘Godfather’ Behind a DEA Agent’s Murder

August 25: Sirhan Sirhan, convicted of Robert F. Kennedy assassination, seeks parole with no opposition from prosecutors

August 27: When Comic Books Were America’s Secret Superpower – The cheaply produced, easily digestible stories were once the perfect cover for state-produced propaganda

August 29: French Woman Arrested for Stealing Jewelry Off Corpses

August 30: COVID Troll Alex Berenson Implies He’ll Sue to Get Twitter Access Restored

August 31: Doctor Accused of Trying to Hire Hells Angel to Get Rid of Witness at His Oxy Fraud Trial

Words of the Month

con (adj.): “swindling,” 1889 (in con man), American English, from confidence man (1849), from the many scams in which the victim is induced to hand over money as a token of confidence. Confidence with a sense of “assurance based on insufficient grounds” dates from 1590s. Con artist is attested by 1910.

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Due to events – mainly moving house and then painting the entire house (inside and out) I’ve fallen behind on my writing! Season 3 is on its way – but it will be a bit before I’ve got it finished, polished, and photographed…But hey, if you’ve fallen behind this is a great opportunity to catch up…right?

A Noodle Shop Mystery (series) by Vivien Chien

One of the pitfalls of no longer working in a bookshop is that one occasionally falls behind in a series. Which I must confess – I don’t really mind. Why? Because when I eventually recall the temporarily neglected author, I’ve a backlog to zip my way thru! Thus allowing me to dive headlong and immerse myself in the world of an old friend and catch up with them…

This awkward phenomenon occurred most recently with Vivien Chien’s Noodle Shop Mystery series. Where over a week, I devoured Fatal Fried Rice – where Lana’s cooking instructor winds up dead and lands Lana in very hot water. Killer Kung Pao – where the sourest business owner in the Asian Village is accused of murder, and her sister asks Lana to clear her name. And Egg Drop Dead – during Noodle House’s first catering gig, for the owner of the Asian Village, one of the owner’s staff ends up dead, and Lana’s detective skills are pressed into service.

I reveled in every word I read.

Here’s what I love about this series: Chien does a great job in varying motives, methods, investigative techniques (as Lana learns or stumbles onto new strategies), and culprits. Thus giving each of her books a sense of freshness, variety, and surprise – a feature often missing from other cozy mysteries. Another reason I enjoy this series is the fact the book’s solutions make sense. As in, I don’t need to suspend my disbelief in thinking an amateur sleuth could stumble onto the truth. Which, again, is a nice change of pace.

Above and beyond these aforementioned attributes – these books are witty, fun, and intelligent reads.

Okay, so the titles are punny – but I can assure you that’s where the cloying coziness ends. Lana just happens to manage her family’s noodle shop – it is the backdrop for the books, not the central theme. I promise.

I would recommend this series to anyone looking for a new cozy-ish series to immerse themselves in.

(BTW – I did make an entry in my phone’s calendar to remind me Chien’s new book, Hot and Sour Suspects, is out in January 2022 – so I didn’t accidentally forget again….)

Fran

Dorothy Uhnak was a real police detective in New York in the Sixties, when being a female detective was only marginally accepted. She turned her experiences into stories, several of which were turned into movies.

Victims wasn’t made into a movie, but it should have been, and honestly, still should be. Loosely based on the brutal murder of Kitty Genovese (you remember her, right? She was murdered and over 30 people heard it but did nothing), Victims follows the investigation into the murder of a young woman while people in the neighborhood watched but did nothing because they all thought it was “the Spanish girl”.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is victims.jpg

Victims is set in the 80’s – which, sadly, I’ve lately heard called “vintage”, which I find appalling because it was just yesterday, dammit – but the only thing that differentiates the setting between then and now are cell phones and digital capabilities. It’s a solid police procedural, but with a twist.

As Miranda Torres investigates the murder of Anna Grace, journalist Mike Stein investigates the lack of response by the neighbors with an eye to a searing expose of the witnesses. Technically, they are not at cross-purposes, and for some reason, Stein has been allowed access to all of NYPD’s findings. Torres is meticulous, observant, and wickedly smart.

Between them, the two find out a great deal, but since their final goals aren’t the same, neither are their investigations.

Dorothy Uhnak brilliantly captures the delicate and pervasive racism, favoritism, back-room dealing, and political chicanery that invades all areas of society, and she makes it personal. I’ve always been a fan of her Christie Opera series, and you should read them, but Victims hits home with a gut punch that lingers.

When you finish it, if you aren’t mad as hell, you haven’t been paying attention!

JB

There are series that I’ve read more than once, and there are series that I’ve read many times, six or more. This series I have read, I think, twice, and some of the books more than that. I like re-reading. It’s time spend with favorite characters, favorite voices. And now and then I still read a sentence that stands out. I’m not sure how I’ve not noticed it before. Maybe I did but this time it captured my eyes. “My thoughts struggled in my brain like exhausted swimmers.”

Maybe it locked me because it is how I’m feeling these days. I find myself having difficulty focusing on things – long books, long movies, even a ball game. It’s not those things, it’s my concentration. That’s when re-reading comes in handy. I don’t have to worry too much about tuning into the pages as I’ve been there before. That’s another reason why that line hooked me; I wasn’t looking for something remarkable and new, and it fit my present self.

By the way, it was from Lawrence Block’s Eight Million Ways to Die.

Kennedy’s Avenger: Assassination, Conspiracy, and the Forgotten Trial of Jack Ruby by Dan Abrams and David Fisher was a compete waste of $27.99. I knew it from the first few pages when the authors started from the position that Oswald was the lone assassin. While Melvin Belli’s defense tactics were amusing, I quit reading before 50 pages. A waste of paper, printer’s ink, shipping, human efforts and, as I said, money.

I bought James Lee Burke’s A Private Cathedral the week it appeared in hardcover in the Summer of 2020. Just got to it now – and now it is in trade paper. I can’t quite explain why the long wait as I love the Robicheaux series. Doesn’t matter, really.

This is an odd one on two fronts. On one, it is set in the past, as if it makes any difference to Dave and Clete. Alafair is still in college and Helen isn’t the chief of police until the end, so maybe a ten, fifteen years? The other oddity is that this one deals more with the “electric mist” and it isn’t just Dave seeing figures out of time. It is almost fair to call this one a ghost story. Certainly the main characters are spooked by what they experience.

Still, for these differences, it was a great book.

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

AUGUST 2021

Sculptures that make novel use of books – in pictures

Oof, Y’all, Dictionary.com Just Added Over 300 New Words And Definitions

Sleeping or Dead? and other hilarious “practical books for librarians” in pulp classic form. [do yourself a favor and loot at them all!]

Serious Stuff

Famed Crime Reporter Shot in Head After Leaving Amsterdam TV Studio

Inside the Rash of Unexplained Deaths at Fort Hood

How the Banning of Joyce’s Ulysses Led to “The Grandest Obscenity Case in the History of Law and Literature”

Booksellers at Hong Kong’s book fair are being forced to self-censor their selections.

A Reporter’s Fight to Expose Epstein’s Crimes — and Earn a Living

Two men charged in alleged plot to firebomb California Democratic Party headquarters

Private Israeli spyware used to hack cellphones of journalists, activists worldwide

Local Stuff

Attorneys for woman accused of lying to grand jury in Thomas Wales killing want indictment dismissed

Powell’s Books is celebrating its 50-year anniversary with a curated collection of 50 books

Alaska’s libraries are facing devastating funding cuts

Portland literary icon Ursula K. Le Guin gets a Forever stamp

The days are getting shorter. Embrace the dark with 4 mystery and crime novels

SPECTRE

Fired by bot at Amazon: ‘It’s you against the machine’

Investigating Amazon, the Employer

Amazon Transformed Seattle. Now, Its Workers Are Poised to Take It Back.

Amazon Is Selling a Bogus ‘Plandemic’ COVID Conspiracy Book in Its ‘Science’ Section

FTC Launches Investigation Into Amazon’s MGM Acquisition: Report

Amazon tells bosses to conceal when employees are on a performance management plan

Amazon Denied a Worker Pregnancy Accommodations. Then She Miscarried.

Amazon sued by U.S. product-safety agency over dangerous items

Rumored to Accept Bitcoin by End of 2021 and Develop Own Currency by 2022: Report

EU regulator hits Amazon with record $887 million fine for data protection violations

Odd Stuff

Woman Joined International Drug Syndicate to be Closer to Her Son, Court Hears

Now you can buy the glorious mansion where Mark Twain died

Cops Ignored Threat Posed by Menacing Clowns

The Scary Story Behind The Most Haunted Painting In History

Words of the Month

dreadnought (n.): Literally (one who or that which) “fears nothing,” from the verbal phrase (drede ich nawiht is attested from c. 1200); see dread (v.) + nought (n.). As a synonym for “battleship” (1916) it is from a specific ship’s name. Dreadnought is mentioned as the name of a ship in the Royal Navy as early as c. 1596, but the modern generic sense is from the name of the first of a new class of British battleships, based on the “all big-gun” principle (armed with 10 big guns rather than 4 large guns and a battery of smaller ones), launched Feb. 18, 1906. (etymonline)

Awards

Here are the dark and twisty nominees for the 2020 Shirley Jackson Awards

2021 Agatha Award Winners

The 2021 Booker Prize Nominees

Book Stuff

Significant Edward Lear poems discovered

J.P. Morgan’s Personal Librarian Was A Black Woman. This Is Her Story

For the first time, Patricia Highsmith’s diaries will be available to the public.

A nun just unearthed a previously unknown Dante manuscript

Two Editors Who Showed What Publishing Should Be

One Good Thing: An incredible true crime book about the problems with true crime books

10 Crime Novels Full of Style, Plot, and Dark Humor

Booksellers Association Apologizes for Including Anti-Trans Book in Member Pack [morons...]

How to Write a Memorable Hit Man: A Conversation Among Connoisseurs

Octavia Butler’s 1979 bio is an object lesson in writing author bios

Bookstore’s Viral TikTok Calls Out Shoppers Who Turn Around LGBTQ+ Books To Hide Covers

Tess Gerritsen Still Prefers to Read Books the Old-Fashioned Way, on Paper

Meg Tilly on the Crossover Between Acting in Thrillers and Writing Them

A new start after 60: ‘I handed in my notice – and opened my dream bookshop’

Shawshank Redemption is actually about the power of libraries

Revisiting Raymond Chandler’s most iconic lines

Other Forms of Entertainment

Five Great Movies Based on Patricia Highsmith Books (That Aren’t the Ripley Adaptations)

The fascinating, horrifying history behind Steven Soderbergh’s new heist movie

Remembering Miss Fury – the world’s first great superheroine [here’s a cover]

Danny Trejo opens up about being typecast — and a close call with the Mexican Mafia

“Scarface” Startles Anew on the Criterion Channel

Murder Is My Business: In the true crime genre’s latest iteration, writers, reporters, bloggers, documentary filmmakers, and podcast hosts have taken a soiled brand and turned it into a collective exercise in retributive justice, recording and correcting the history of sexual violence.

The Real Story Behind ‘The Monster of Florence’

The Many Saints of Newark’ is Not the Story of Young Tony Soprano

The Strange Story of Orson Welles’ Lost Film, Mr. Arkadin

Mad Men’s John Slattery and Jon Hamm Reunite for Confess, Fletch

Graham Roland, Robert Redford, George R.R. Martin Making Hilleman’s ‘Dark Winds’ Series Starring Zahn McClarnon

The Decades-Long Road Behind AMC’s ‘Dark Winds’ Native American Drama Series

Cannes Review: Oliver Stone’s ‘JFK Revisited: Through The Looking Glass’

Mark Millar Returning to Spy World With Graphic Novel ‘King of Spies’

Karls Monzon Organized One of The Biggest Heists in Florida History. Here’s Where He is Today.

Antonio Banderas Is Indiana Jones 5‘s Latest Wild Acquisition

The 33 Sexiest Erotic Thrillers

8 True Crime Podcasts You Need to Listen to this Summer

Let’s Talk About Sneakers, the Most Charming, Baffling Espionage/Heist Movie
of the 1990s

1980s Noir Films Are Better Than 1940s Noir Films: Discuss

Words of the Month

daredevil (n.): 1794, “recklessly daring person, one who fears nothing and will attempt anything,” from dare (v.) + devil (n.). The devil might refer to the person, or the sense might be “one who dares the devil.” Compare scarecrow, killjoy, dreadnought, pickpocket (n.), cutthroat, also fear-babe a 16th C. word for “something that frightens children;” kill-devil “bad rum.” As an adjective, “characteristic of a daredevil, reckless,” by 1832. (etymonline) [The Marvel superhero first appeared in April, 1964.]

RIP

July 1: Robert Sacchi, Who Played Bogart Again and Again, Dies at 89

July 2: Jack Downing, Cold War spy who came out of retirement to help CIA, dies at 80

July 5: ‘Superman,’ ‘Lethal Weapon’ director Richard Donner dies at 91

July 9: William Smith, Action Actor and Star of ‘Laredo’ and ‘Rich Man, Poor Man,’ Dies at 88. The 6-foot-2 Smith, who was a champion discus thrower at UCLA, an arm-wrestling champion and a black belt in the martial arts, had 18-inch biceps and could do 5,100 continuous sit-ups and reverse curl 163 pounds. As prolific as he was strong, he had a whopping 289 credits on IMDb, seemingly in everything from the ’60s onward.

July 12: Charlie Robinson, ‘Night Court’ Star, Dies at 75

July 24: James Polk, Pulitzer winner for Watergate reporting, dies at 83

July 28: ‘Extraordinary’ crime writer Mo Hayder dies at 59

July 30: Jerry Granelli, drummer behind ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ and former Cornish instructor, dies at 80

Links of Interest

July 6: The baffling persistence of plagiarism in the internet era

July 6: Constructing the Perfect Villain: The Bad Contractor

July 7: Inside the Fiction Group in a Maximum-Security Psychiatric Hospital

July 7: Shirley Jackson’s Love Letters

July 8: Charlotte Philby Remembers Her Paradoxical Grandfather, Kim Philby

July 9: Setting a Murder Mystery in the Real Hollywood Canteen Required Piercing a Veil of Myth and Nostalgia

July 12: Take this soothing room-by-room virtual tour of Jane Austen’s house

July 15: Cocaine stash worth €9m lands on roof of home in Sardinia

July 15: In Victorian London, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream Was a New Kind of Killer

July 15: For One Writer, Rediscovering the Novels of Dick Francis Was the Answer to a Personal Crisis and a Mysterious Illness

July 16: The Louvre’s Art Sleuth Is on the Hunt for Looted Paintings

July 19: Repentant thieves return Big Bird costume with a note: ‘Sorry to be such a big birden’

July 19: Tablet Reveals Babylonians Studied Trigonometry Before the Greeks

July 19: The Internet Made Crime Public. That’s When Things Got Complicated.

July 20: Thomas Gilbert and the Murder That Brought Down One of New York’s Most Privileged Families

July 20: Fragments of Ancient Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead’ Reunited After Centuries

July 20: The Story of 18th Century England’s Booming Graverobbing Industry, and the Man Who Inspired ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’

July 20: Defections and Detections: How a Sprawling Soviet Atomic Spy Network Was First Exposed

July 22: How Detective Fiction Helps A Forensic Psychiatrist in Her Work With Violent Offenders

July 22: Why Has Jeffrey Dahmer Become A Household Name, While The Names of His Victims Are Forgotten?

July 23: House of horror: Bath opens the world’s first museum dedicated to Mary Shelley

July 23: There is no National crime – all crime is local

July 23: Elvis’s annotated copy of The Prophet, gifted to his bodyguard and close friend, is on sale now

July 24: Who Killed the Nazi on Campus?

July 25: Some people just don’t get it. Cultural references, I mean

July 25: Buried in concrete: how the mafia made a killing from the destruction of Italy’s south

July 25: A Utah arrest shows the danger of laws that let government enforcers chill speech that they don’t like

July 26: How an 18th-Century Cookbook Offers Glimpses of Jane Austen’s Domestic Life

July 26: A Cozy Mystery Writer on the History of Class and Tea

July 27: Hobby Lobby Gives Up Stolen 3,500-Year-Old ‘Gilgamesh Dream Tablet’

July 27: A Margaret Keane ‘Big Eyes’ Painting Stolen Decades Ago Has Been Recovered

July 27: This Story About a KKK Prison Guard’s Murder Plot Is Flat Out Astonishing

July 29: Erik Larson Has a Scary Story He’d Like You to Hear

July 29: “Brother, you’ve got a fan now!” Read a letter from Nina Simone to Langston Hughes

July 29: Does ‘The Da Vinci Code’ Writer Have a Secret?

July 30: The first bestselling paperback original in the US was a work of lesbian pulp fiction

July 30: He Hired 2 Men to Kidnap His Wife. They Ended Up Drowning

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Chloe Neill – Shadowed Steel

The third installment of the Heirs of Chicagoland was a fast, fun and enjoyable read!

I mean, what’s not to love when you’ve got vampires, werewolves and everything in-between? Even better, Shadowed Steel finally sees our heroes and heroines emerge from their legendary parent’s shadows (and plot lines) to explore the mysteries and problems facing their Chicago.

(If you’re not acquainted with the series – the characters in Heirs are the kids of the original series – Chicagoland Vampires. You don’t have to read the original series to understand the new one – but I highly recommend it as they’re brilliant and add extra layers of nuance and fun to the newer books!)

Fran

It’s the writing, you see

I’ve mentioned before how much I love Rennie Airth’s writing, and if you’ve read his work, I know you get it.

If you haven’t, start with River of Darkness, and just keep going with John Madden’s investigations. You’ll be immersed in post-WWI life, and all the repercussions of the Great War.

I just finished The Decent Inn of Death, and it’s got some lovely surprises. Not whodunnit, at least not for me. But like every book by Rennie Airth, it’s not the surprise at the end but the whole journey. And here he takes us to visit Agatha Christie. Not literally, but The Decent Inn of Death definitely reminded me of Mousetrap.

One of the surprises is that, for the most part, the story doesn’t follow John Madden. Instead, we’re following his old chief and friend, former Chief Inspector Angus Sinclair, who goes to visit friends while the Maddens are away, and who gets caught up both in a mystery and a snowstorm, where there’s definitely something suspicious going on. And Angus has a murder to solve, but his health isn’t good, and these are stressful times.

It occurred to me while I was reading The Decent Inn of Death that I really like how Rennie Airth writes women. They’re strong, opinionated, forceful, and each woman is an individual character. They’re never cookie-cutter. And often, they’re surprising.

For example, Lucy Madden, John and Helen’s daughter, says this about marriage:

‘The trouble is I can’t see myself tied to any one man.’ She sighed. ‘The shine wears off so quickly. What I’d really like is to be one of those sultans who had scores of wives and kept them in a harem. I could probably manage with four or five – husbands, I mean. It would be so nice to be able to say, I’ll have you today…No, not you…you.’

‘You’re joking, of course.’

‘Am I?’ She sent a sly glance his way.

There are several women whom you will meet during your visit at The Decent Inn of Death, and each one is unique and, in her own way, perfect, although they have all manner of flaws. But you won’t become confused as to who is whom; Rennie Airth really does write women well!

JB

Bill Farley always said that they weren’t Stouts but it was always nice spending time with old friends. Robert Goldsborough’s Trouble at the Brownstone keeps up that trend. In his latest Nero Wolfe novel, the group on West 35th is disturbed when master gardener Theodore Horstmann is found nearly beaten to death. Only recently had he moved out of the brownstone into his own apartment and so the questions of where and how it happened are multiplied. All hands are called in to help and even Insp. Cramer is working with them – grousing a bit, of course, but everyone is working hard to find the culprit even as Horstmann remains in a coma. The solution may be unsurprising but is still satisfactory.

Stephen Hunter moves into a new world with Basil’s War. The book is set during WWII, the central character is an upper-class, cheeky and glib Brit, and the action is as speedy as the plot is convoluted. It is all about getting a clue to who is the Soviet spy in British intelligence not to expose them but so that information can be slipped to them that will convince Stalin to do what the Brits need him to do. They’re certain that if they just ask, he’ll think it is a devious plot and refuse, so they concoct this elaborate scheme to nudge him. Got it? Don’t worry, you’ll see once Basil’s carried out his mission. It’s a delightful book – none are exactly who you assume them to be…well, maybe van Boch of the SS. It is a very different turn from Hunter but its every bit as imaginative and serious as any of his other books, but this one is topped with a deceptive icing of nonchalant, even sporty, wit.

Respected independent scholar Jonathan Marshall is also an award-winning journalist. The reviews of his new book, Dark Quadrant: Organized Crime, Big Business, and the Corruption of American Democracy piqued my interest. It’s a fascinating book, beginning with FDR and moving forward through the growth of the Federal government, the Mob, the military-industrial complex (we really need to use Eisenhower’s original choice of “military-industrial-congressional-complex” all the time), and the parasites who affix themselves to all concerned. He brings it forward into the Trump administration and few come out of the book not covered with filth. Many of the names you’ll know – Roy Cohn, Howard Hughes, Tommy the Cork, Robert Maheu, Joseph McCarthy, Meyer Lansky, J. Edgar Hoover, Sam Giancana, Richard Nixon, on and on. Congressmen, Senators, CEOs and appointees. It’s all about greed and power, without an ounce of loyalty or civic responsibility. Talk about a shadow government… The depth and scholarship of his indictment is staggering. It’s simply staggering.

Granted, his tale is takes up nearly a century, and the players weave themselves deep into the country’s government and fabric, surfacing here and there through the decades and, following the money, entwine themselves with a variety of public figures from different facets of power. But it was disarming to continually run into his notes of “See chapter X” throughout the book, from the beginning chapters to the final ones. It gives the book a disjointed feeling, as if you’re to stop in chapter 2 to go to chapter 9 or go back from chapter 10 to chapter 5. Don’t, just keep plowing through sordid history of disgusting muck. It is an infuriating read due to subject and due to his scholarship. It’s an important subject and therefore an important book.

Finally, we’ve run into “issues” with WordPress. They’ve changed the way the program works making it less user friendly. To top it off, there was some sort of glitch and I lost reviews and links that I’d added. It’s been very frustrating. If this newzine seems thinner and less packed with goodies, that’s why.

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July 2021

Seriously Cool

Inside Lin-Manuel Miranda’s New NYC Bookstore That Takes Design Cues From Broadway

You Won’t Find the Hardcover of Dave Eggers’s Next Novel on Amazon. “The Every,” a follow-up to his hit book “The Circle,” will be available in independent bookstores in October. The paperback will arrive just six weeks later, but the hardcover will remain exclusive to independent stores.

The People Have Spoken: Jeff Bezos Should Go to Space and Stay There

If even superheroes can’t have fun sex, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Why bother organizing your books? A messy personal library is proof of life

The Early, Wild, Exploited, and Sometimes Radical Days of the Comic Book Industry in America

Did you know that Daryl Hannah created best literary board game of all time?

Attention: LeVar Burton wants to read your short stories.

The Surprisingly Fun Story of How the Popsicle Was Invented by an 11-Year-Old Boy

Serious Stuff

Whatever Happened to Elise De Viane? On The Mystery Woman in Dashiell Hammett’s 1931 Sexual Assault Case

How the Father of Modern Policing ‘Abolished’ the Police

Is Poe the most influential American writer? A new book offers evidence

Jack Ruby Is the Key to the Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy Theories. So Why Have We Forgotten About His Trial?

The D.C. crime lab is in trouble — again

‘If publishers become afraid, we’re in trouble’: publishing’s cancel culture debate boils over

Inside the UK’s top secret ‘Increment’: Unit of real-life James Bonds is so classified, the British government won’t admit they exist

Why the US government murdered Fred Hampton

Narco Hitmen on Jet Skis Sprayed a Cancun Beach With Bullets, Killing Two People

Investigators Find Remains of 17 Victims Under A Suspected Serial Killer’s House

Maine tries to shift some costs of recycling onto companies instead of taxpayers

The Federal Writers’ Project created jobs, built trust, and invigorated American literature. We should try it again.

Florida Republican Threatened to Call in Hit Squad to Make Rival ‘Disappear’

Why Have Local Newspapers Collapsed? Blame Readers.

Tell Us If You Know More About These Financial Crimes Investigated By the SEC

How Our Investigation Into Untested DNA Evidence Helped Solve a 1983 Murder

How the Banning of Joyce’s Ulysses Led to “The Grandest Obscenity Case in the History of Law and Literature”

‘The Mafia Was Behind This’: Why Are Politicians Ignoring a Climate Activist’s Murder?

In a Muffled Hong Kong, Bookstores Offer Freedom of Thought

Ex-Marine and Neo-Nazi Told Followers How to Shoot Truckers to Dismantle Supply Chain

Right-Wing Death Squad’: Active-Duty Marine Plotted to Bomb DNC, Murder Black People, Feds Say

Bill Cosby Walks Free From Prison After Conviction Is Tossed

Local Stuff

A key witness was scared to testify in a murder trial. Days later, his tavern burned down and he vanished

Two Girls Were Snatched From a Tiny Logging Town. Is This Man Responsible?

Here’s when Seattle and King and Snohomish counties plan to open all their library branches

Goodbye to Reckless Video, Seattle’s next-to-last video store

From a new location in Pioneer Square, Arundel Books is in the business of selling dreams

A UW student with a 2-book deal and more from this week in Seattle Times books coverage

Price Gougers Rip Off Pacific Northwest Heatwave Victims

Words of the Month

screwball (n): crazy, insane, odd or eccentric, predates the “screwball comedy” of Hollywood. From baseball, a pitch that breaks the other way from a curve ball, invented in the 1890s. (Says You! #1523)

SPECTRE

Amazon Worker Who Won $1 Million Delighted He Can Now Pay His Bills

Amazon’s Cost Saving Routing Algorithm Makes Drivers Walk Into Traffic

Amazon provides $100 million to build affordable housing near Sound Transit stations

Amazon files 13 lawsuits against alleged counterfeiters

Amazon’s not so secret problem: bogus product reviews

Amazon Workers Call for Strike on Prime Day in Germany

Internal Amazon documents shed light on how company pressures out 6% of office workers

Amazon is said to be in talks to buy stake in self-driving truck startup Plus

Footage of Amazon destroying thousands of unsold items in Britain prompts calls for official investigation

Amazon faces MPs’ scrutiny after destroying laptops, tablets and books

Amazon is destroying thousands of unsold books

Amazon Acquires Encrypted Messaging App Wickr

Lessons of a self-published writer: independent bookstores are good, Amazon not so much.

Black and Brown Amazon Drivers Face Guns, Racial Slurs, and Dog Bites on the Job

Amazon delivery contractors quit Portland routes, citing ‘unsafe’ work expectations

It’s Finally Clear Why Amazon Bought Whole Foods

Oo7=’dd Stuff

This is, of course, all fiction – fictional characters in fictional movies. But the work and care that went into creating this theory makes it worth the read ~ JB

Wild Fan Theory That Sean Connery’s Character In ‘The Rock’ Is Actually James Bond Is Hard To Deny

Words of the Month

blockhead (n.): 1540s, also block-head – a “stupid person,” someone whose head is impenetrable, from the head-shaped oaken block used by wig-makers and hat-makers, though the insulting sense is equally old.

Awards

David Diop’s At Night All Blood is Black has won the 2021 International Booker Prize

Here are the winners of this year’s Pulitzer Prize

Here are the winners of the 2021 Orwell Prizes

Hilary Mantel has won the Walter Scott Prize . . . again

The shortlist for this year’s Arthur C. Clarke Award is all debuts

Joy Williams has won the 2021 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction

The Macavity Award BALLOT 2021your chance to vote!

Words of the Month

nincompoop (n.) 1670s, nicompoop; modern form from 1713. Despite similarity [noted by Johnson] to Latin legal phrase non compos mentis “insane, mentally incompetent” (c. 1600), the connection is denied by the OED’s etymologists because the earliest forms lack the second -n-. Weekley thinks first element may be a proper name, and cites Nicodemus, which he says was used in French for “a fool,” or Nicholas. Klein says it is probably an invented word. Century Dictionary has no objection to the non compos mentis theory. (etymonline)

Book Stuff

The Conservative Publishing Industry Has a Joe Biden Problem

The Literature of the Con: Great Books About Grifters and Swindlers

A Translator Considers the Joys of Crime Fiction

James Lee Burke Goes Time Traveling

How to Write an Effective Villain

How America’s Weirdest Guidebooks Were Funded by the Government

The Shadow Was Pulp Fiction’s Original Pop Culture Phenomenon. Now, He’s Mostly Forgotten. What Happened?

The Conservative Publishing Industry Has a Joe Biden Problem

New Publisher Says It Welcomes Conservative Writers Rejected Elsewhere

Trump’s Memoir Is Bringing Publishers to a Long-Overdue Reckoning With Truth

Brontë Auction Is on Hold as Group Tries to Keep Library Intact

A Brief History of the Rise—and Evolution—of True Crime Books

What Makes a Killer Plot Twist?

Queer Crime Fiction: A Roundtable Discussion

On the destruction by fire of the greatest library in the world you’ve never heard of

How Elizabeth Bowen’s Big Houses Laid the Groundwork for Irish Domestic Noir

The Man Rewriting Prison from Inside

Deadpool Creator Fabian Nicieza on (Finally) Finishing His Novel

Stealing Science-Fiction: Why the Heist Works so Well in in Sci-Fi

Donna Leon: A Crime Reader’s Guide to the Classics

Archivists Find Vincent Van Gogh Sketches Used as a Bookmark

Parul Khakhar: The Indian stay-at-home mum trolled for poem on Covid dead

The clever folds that kept letters secret

‘Most of Australia’s literary heritage is out of print’: the fight to rescue a nation’s lost books

Mystery book-lover at Waterstones Yarm gives £100 of vouchers to shoppers

Cozy Mysteries for Gardeners

The Hot-Spot Library Was Born In Two Shipping Containers In A Cape Town Slum

The Crime Books Top Authors Read Twice Because They’re Just That Good   

The PI of Color: When It’s About More Than the Crime

A Flight Attendant Drafted Her Novel on Cocktail Napkins. It Took Off.

Seven Mystery Novels Where the Crimes Are Motivated by Books

Author Events – with the country opening up, maybe we’ll see the return of in-person signings? We’ll start watching!

Other Forms of Entertainment

Jamie Lee Curtis’ Blumhouse Adapting Series Based on Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta Books

Listen, There’s This Charade Remake Where Mark Wahlberg Speaks French and I Really Want To Tell You About It

‘Lupin’ Took the World by Stealth. Part 2 Can’t Be So Sneaky

The Curious Case of “Herlock Sholmès”: When the creators of Lupin and Sherlock got into a copyright dispute, the solution was as inelegant as it was hilarious.

For Heaven’s Sake Makes True Crime Feel Cozy

Trump wanted Justice Department to stop SNL from making fun of him, report says

Harrison Ford Injured While Filming ‘Indiana Jones 5’

Michael Connelly Says Bosch Is Just Like Batman …

‘The Limey’: How Steven Soderbergh Subverted the Classic Revenge Film

Soderbergh, Cheadle return to Detroit in ‘No Sudden Move’

Steven Soderbergh Is Thinking About An Ocean’s 14 Says Don Cheadle

Every Unmade Alfred Hitchcock Movie Explained

Words of the Month

sucker (n): someone not weened, innocent and gullible to the ways of the world. 1600s. (Says You! #1523)

R.I.P.

June 2: Dan Frank, Adventurous Pantheon Book Editor, Is Dead at 67

June 3: F. Lee Bailey, tenacious defense lawyer for the famous and infamous, dies at 87

June 6: Clarence Williams III, ‘Mod Squad’, American Gangster, and Prince’s dad in ‘Purple Rain,’ dies at 81

June 7: Richard Robinson, who turned Scholastic into a children’s book giant, dies at 84

June 13: Ned Beatty, actor Known for ‘Network’ and ‘Deliverance,’ Dies at 83

June 14: Richard Baron, Who Published Baldwin and Mailer, Dies at 98

June 18: Frank Bonner, who played Herb Tarlek on ‘WKRP in Cincinnati,’ dies at 79

June 19: Vance Trimble, who won Pulitzer Prize by exposing congressional corruption, dies at 107

June 21: Robert Quackenbush, Creator of Animal Detective Stories, Dies at 91

June 27: ‘Cops’ Creator John Langley Dead at 78

June 28: Robert Keppel, who spent his life chasing serial killers including Ted Bundy and the Green River killer, dies at 76 [We had the pleasure, the honor, to host Bob a couple of times for signings. His Signature Killers is fascinating. Beyond that, he’d often stop in when in downtown Seattle just to say hello and chat. He was a nice man. Do yourself a favor and read the obituary if you don’t know about him. He led an impressive and important life. ~ eds.]

Links of Interest

May 31: The Somerton man died alone on a beach in 1948. Now Australian scientists are close to solving the mystery

June 1: An Inside Look at One Woman’s Life in the FBI Academy

June 1: An Apple Detective Rediscovered 7 Kinds Of Apples Thought To Be Extinct

June 1: How Frigid Conditions and a Failed Execution in 17th Century England Pointed the Way To a Scientific Breakthrough

June 2: How Forensic Anthropologists Read the Skeletons of the Dead For Clues

June 2: From prison, a convicted drug dealer designed a board game. It challenges players to go legit

June 3: Hollywood Flashback – Zoot Suit Riots Rocked L.A. in the Summer of 1943

June 3: 1914 Babe Ruth trading card valued at record $6 million

June 4: The man who uncovered Lou Gehrig’s letters

June 7: Australia’s Most Wanted Crime Bosses May Have Infiltrated Its Biggest Airline to Traffic Drugs

June 9: The Scottish Anthropologist Who Inspired Dracula

June 10: Get away from it all with a trip to this Japanese book hotel

June 11: Kerry Greenwood’s Life In Crime

June 11: A Very Memorable Monster: Fictional Serial Killers You Can’t Forget

June 11: Edgar Allan Poe’s Other Obsession

June 12: Detectives Just Used DNA To Solve A 1956 Double Homicide. They May Have Made History

June 15: How the FBI’s National Stolen Art File Reunites Lost Works With Their Rightful Owners

June 15: Rare orchids found in City of London bank’s rooftop garden

June 16: California Woman Steals Car With Baby Inside—Then Tries to Give Kid to Stranger: Police

June 15: “They Wanted Something for Nothing”: The Many Cons of the Yellow Kid

June 16: The Balloon-Hoax of Edgar Allan Poe and Early New York Grifters

June 16: British Woman Guilty of Killing Sleeping Hubby With Boiling Sugar Water

June 17: A Former Cop Has Confessed to Being a Serial Killer

June 17: Police Ask Public to Be ‘Vigilant’ After Body Parts Found in Multiple Locations

June 18: Criminals Are Sending Malicious Hardware Wallets to Steal People’s Crypto

June 18: We Talked to the Realtor Who Sold the Infamous Manson Family Murder House

June 18: Husband Confesses to Murdering Wife As Smartwatch Data Exposes His Cover-up

June 18: The Case of the Stolen Watch Detective

June 19: The Rosenbergs were executed for spying in 1953. Can their sons reveal the truth?

June 19: As Money Launderers Buy Dalís, U.S. Looks at Lifting the Veil on Art Sales

June 19: When a grifter gets swindled: Former GOP chairman accused of stealing from Paul Manafort’s PAC

June 19: Scottish Man Who Faked His Death in California Is Jailed for Rape

June 20: Enthusiastic Amateurs Advance Science As They Hunt For Exotic Mushrooms

June 21: California man arrested over theft of 42,000lbs of pistachios

June 22: Murder accused ‘thought family was hoarding gold hidden from Nazis’

June 22: The Book Smugglers Who Defied the Nazis — Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum’s New Exhibit Chronicles a Stunning True Story

June 22: I’ve Cracked Zodiac, a French Engineer Says. Online Sleuths Are Skeptical

June 23: ‘Redneck Rave’ Descends Into Throat Slashing, Impalements, and Mass Arrests

June 23: AI helps restore Rembrandt’s Night Watch masterpiece

June 24: No one knows why Ambrose Bierce disappeared, but here are some theories

June 24: Which writers have the best tombstone inscriptions?

June 25: Letter From ‘Father of Vaccination’ Edward Jenner Sold at Auction

June 25: Police Swapped a Cocaine Shipment with Icing Sugar – and Ruined Their Own Case

June 26: ‘At first I thought, this is crazy’: the real-life plan to use novels to predict the next war

June 28: The FBI searched cave for Civil War gold, fearing Pa. officials would seize it, new court documents

June 28: A Maryland attic hid a priceless trove of Black history. Historians and activists saved it from auction

June 28: Turkey’s mysterious ‘portal to the underworld’

June 29: Picasso painting found as builder arrested over art heist

Words of the Month

whackjob (n): one whose beliefs are not based in reality, first used in Elmore Leonard’s 1992 Rum Punch. (Says You! #1523)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

The Broken Spine – Dorothy St. James

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this mystery. 

Tru, our librarian heroine, spoke to the not-so-secret rebellious streak housed in my heart of hearts. By not only saving hundreds of books – that her town’s leading lights consigned to the dump for being “obsolete” – then used said books to open a secret lending library! (Can it get any better?) As the aforementioned leading lights, decided to transform Tru’s beloved library into a bookless technology center. 

But no good deed goes unpunished.

Just as Tru and her cohorts are spit polishing the brass for the secret opening of their clandestine reading room – one of the driving forces behind this abominable shift in biblio-philosophies is found crushed beneath a shelf of DVDs. And Tru, who didn’t mince any words about his bookless library scheme, is suspect numero uno.

So now, unless she’s willing to rat-out her secret project (Which isn’t going to happen even if it gives her an iron-clad alibi) Tru must figure out who actually did the deed to save her own bacon!

While this is a cozy mystery, it’s not a cute one, and it’s a fine first in series. St. James does a good job in adding layers to her characters and nuance to her plot. If you enjoy reading biblio mysteries, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with The Broken Spine.

Oh, and did I mention there’s a cat named Dewey that has his paws all over things?

Fran

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is swallows.jpg



It’s summertime, vacation time, time away from school. So let me drag you back to high school via the inestimable Lisa Lutz. Trust me, even if you’ve been to boarding school, you haven’t been to Stonebridge Academy, a New England prep school with a terrible secret.

Alexandra Witt didn’t really want to teach at Stonebridge, but her famous author dad knew she needed a job after things went sideways at her last teaching gig, and he got her a place at the Academy. Alex takes the job, but with serious reservations; she and her father have a difficult past.

It doesn’t take Alex long to figure out the usual issues: teens with issues and egos, teachers with issues and egos, and an eccentric curriculum designed to allow students freedom of expression, which doesn’t always bring out the best in, well, anybody

But there’s something else going on, and because of Alex’s unorthodox teaching methods, she is soon privy to information she didn’t want to have. With strong-willed students going their own ways, Alex is caught up in a really ugly situation, and getting out of it could be incredibly difficult. And dangerous

The Swallows is Lisa Lutz at her best. It’s dark, true, but her trademark humor is liberally sprinkled throughout the novel, and her pacing is breathtaking Told from several points of view, not just Alex’s, you get a good look at what goes on at Stonebridge Academy, and it’s a testament to Lisa’s talent that each voice is unique. There’s never any doubt as to who is talking.

If I have a complaint, it’s that there are so many people – not narrators, but characters in general – that there were times when, having put the book down because stupid life dragged me away, that I had to figure out who was whom again. But then, I’m getting older. These things happen.

The mere fact that The Swallows is a Lisa Lutz novel should be enough to recommend it to you, if you’ve read her other work. If you haven’t, then by all means, grab it and dive in. Oh, you’re in for quite a ride, even if you’re back in school during summer vacation!

JB

Around the time the shop was closing, the second novel by Andy Weir was set to be published. I’d loved both the book and the movie The Martian, and had high hopes for this new one Artemis. Over three years later I picked up a copy and have to say it was a disappointment. The science that underlies the fiction, as with The Martian, gives it the foundation of believablility. But the voice of the central character is annoying. The story would’ve been better, sleeker, had it been written in third person. But there you go. If you want a crime story set in the first settlement on the moon, and what the science and physics of it would be, give it a try.

MONDAY, JUNE 28, 2021, 4:35PM IN JB’S YARD

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

Amber Here!

A Resolution At Midnight – Shelley Noble

People around the world have different traditions concerning New Year’s. 

Creating New Year’s resolutions, banging pots & pans outside at midnight (hopefully your neighbors do the same), kissing your sweetheart, or jumping off a chair at the very second the hands strike twelve – are all popular.

One particular interesting tradition that features a bit of divination, favored by Germans around the turn of the century, was placing walnut shells in a punchbowl and watching them zip around to figure out how the following 365 days will go. 

However, one of the most recognized and well-known traditions is the NYC ball drop in Times Square. Which, if you didn’t already know, first started its duties by marking the end of 1907 and the beginning of 1908. And this is when A Resolution At Midnight comes to a thrilling conclusion (it’s in the title, after all). 

(Fun Fact: The ball’s only failed to mark the occasion twice – in 1942 & 1943 – when the threat of air raids kept it, and the rest of New York, dark.)

Now you know where A Resolution At Midnight ends, lets got back to the beginning – ten days before Christmas, when Lady Dunbridge arrives home from gift hunting and finds a short note from Mr. X requesting a meeting at a nickelodeon…in just over thirty minutes! Even in 1907, New York traffic is still thick. So Phil, much to her annoyance, arrives late to her meeting…whereupon she discovers a man with his throat slit! 

Here’s what I love about this series: Shelley Noble never loses sight of the fact she’s writing a mystery. Yes, she incorporates the very first NYC ball drop, the NY Times, the seedy underbelly of NY politics, and the slow slide of the NYPD back into its bad ways after Roosevelt moved on…but Noble never succumbs to the temptation of historical pontification. Rather, Noble seamlessly weaves just enough detail of these fascinating facts to flesh out her mystery without Without ever detracting, derailing, or slowing the pace of her storyline. Yet, she manages to give her audience enough detail to do a bit of historical sleuthing on their own – if they so choose.

A Resolution At Midnight is no exception. 

Honestly, I loved every second of this book. Noble festoons her mystery with just enough of both winter holidays to give the reader a taste of the season and – not unlike Christie – counterbalances it with a nice bloody murder. Which happily sops up all the saccharine that often saturates stories set during this time of the year. 

Seriously, I would recommend A Resolution At Midnight to anyone who likes strong female leads and historical mysteries. 

You’re going to get tired of hearing this.

Fran Here!

I know, I know, but Louise Penny is great!

At least half of you are skipping this, aren’t you? Either you’ve already read it or you’re not a convert yet. Ha!

If you’ve never read Louise Penny, starting with her latest, ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE, actually isn’t a bad place to begin. Granted, you won’t have the emotional ties that come with being in love with the series, but don’t worry. Once you’re hooked (and you will be), you’ll go back and start with STILL LIVES, and you’ll catch up.

ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE takes place in Paris rather than Three Pines, which is part of what makes it okay to begin here. Also, you get a lot of family history, which will help you understand some of the cloudiness about Gamache’s relationship with his son, Daniel.

There is a lot going on in this book. Armand’s relationship with Daniel, Armand’s relationship with his godfather, Daniel’s relationship with Jean-Guy. And we spend a lot more time with Reine-Marie, which is lovely.

Oh, and there’s murder. And attempted murder, and theft and burglary and corporate shenanigans. Everything you expect from Louise Penny.

Now, let me be frank. This is not my favorite of her books. I think the ending was rushed, and I’m not entirely sure her new editor gets Louise’s vibe. At times it felt a little clunky.

That being said, I still skipped all my chores to race to the ending, which quite literally haunted my dreams. I woke up from a nightmare about being in the middle of the final conflict. She’s that good. So when I say it felt clunky, understand that it’s still much, much better than many other authors’ work! It just felt rushed.

So there you go, yet another endorsement for Louise Penny, and yes, you absolutely should read ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE. And don’t worry, you’ll still be in touch with the Three Pines crew. I think you’re gonna love the ending, by the way. *wink*

Now I want a Parisian pastry.

Amber Here!

So I’ve got two great historical mysteries for you: Dianne Freeman’s A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder & Rhys Bowen’s The Last Mrs. Summers!

ALGT: Mischief and Murder first!

The Countess of Harleigh is back in a new mystery! (Woot!) And life, after her last murder inquiry, is going splendidly. There’s only one small hiccup, her sister Lily and her fiancee jumped the gun a bit…and they’re now expecting! 

Now, this isn’t the first or last time such an event has occurred, but that doesn’t make it any less distressing. Especially since it means Frances will need to find a new venue, plan a country wedding, and tell her mother of the change of plans. 

It’s that last bit which both Frances and Lily are dreading.

Even worse? When they do find and arrive at the new venue, a series of accidents start befalling both staff and guests alike! 

The Last Mrs. Summers next.

Georgie is at loose ends – Darcy’s off on a secret jaunt, her Granddad is busy, and her mother’s rushed off to Germany. Happily, thanks to the unexpected appearance of her bestie Belinda Warburton-Stoke, Georgie is able to set aside the loneliness threatening to overwhelm her.

Even better? Belinda has good news! Which leads them on an adventure down the Cornish coast – where Belinda finds herself accused of murder! And of course, Georgie can’t just leave her friend in a pickle, especially since the police aren’t willing to look beyond Belinda for another suspect…

ALGT: Mischief and Murder is a witty murder mystery – with a relatable backdrop of family and relationship hiccups. Plus, reading about an American, who’s been plunked down in English high society, is an exciting twist on the usual norm for this style of historical novel. 

In The Last Mrs. Summers, Bowen does a beautiful job of melding a gothic atmosphere within her mystery and pacing it in such a way you want to keep turning the pages. While also subtly furthering the overall story arch of the oncoming specter of WWII looming at the series’s edge. 

Perhaps The Last Mrs. Summers is a bit understated in its wit and humor, and ALGT: Mischief and Murder is bubblier – but both are excellent historical mysteries (set during different eras). And I would heartily recommend both books to anyone looking for a historical mystery with a strong female lead that treads on the lighter side of murder. I know I relished each and every minute I was ensconced within their respective worlds!

(And BTW – what’s with all the blue covers this season?)

December 2020

smb december pdf

Serious Stuff

‘Get the Hell Out of Here and Get Something to Shoot With’ The political machine in McMinn County, Tennessee, had spent Election Day intimidating voters, encouraging fraud and holding poll watchers at gunpoint. That’s when a group of World War II veterans decided to revolt.

The Unsettled Legacy of the Bloodiest Election in American History

A vaccine heist in 1959 set off a frantic search to recover the serum before it spoiled

University staff urge probe into e-book pricing ‘scandal’

Censorettes: The Women Wartime Censors Who Kept The Allies Safe And Uncovered A Nest of Spies in Brooklyn

What Ozark Gets Wrong: The Latest Tricks in International Money Laundering

Buying a baby on Nairobi’s black market

Read Walter Mosley’s Incredible Speech From Last Night’s National Book Awards

Why Writing About Cults—and People Who Join Them—Is Never Easy

Two Darwin Notebooks Quietly Went Missing 20 Years Ago. Were They Stolen?

Penguin Random House to Buy Simon & Schuster

On SPECTRE

Do you really want Amazon’s new drugstore knowing your medical condition?

Secret Amazon Reports Expose the Company’s Surveillance of Labor and Environmental Groups

“Amazon’s unchecked growth is a threat to everyone’s rights.”

Audible bows to pressure and changes returns policy

On Serial Killers and the Extremely Violent

‘They were not born evil’: inside a troubling film on why people kill

The psychiatrist, who is the subject of HBO’s new documentary Crazy Not Insane, tells us what she saw during her decades interviewing and assessing serial murders

Samuel Little, America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer, Confesses to Murder That Sent Innocent Man to Prison

Watch the Chilling Trailer For Netflix’s New True-Crime Docuseries, “The Ripper”

Art Crime

Amateur Art Sleuths Are Invited to Share Their Theories on the Whereabouts of Lost Art for a New Show About Missing Masterpieces

Inside Rome’s Secure Vault for Stolen Art

Art thriller ‘The Last Vermeer’ tells the engrossing true story of an ingenious fraud

The True Story of Rose Dugdale, The Woman Who Stole Vermeer

Want to own an art book on the Sistine Chapel? That’ll be $22,000—and you can’t return it.

Words of the Month

scruple (n.) A”moral misgiving, pang of conscience,” late 14th C., from Old French scrupule (14th C.), from Latin scrupulus “uneasiness, anxiety, pricking of conscience,” literally “small sharp stone,” diminutive of scrupus “sharp stone or pebble,” used figuratively by Cicero for a cause of uneasiness or anxiety, probably from the notion of having a pebble in one’s shoe. The word in the more literal Latin sense of “small unit of weight or measurement” is attested in English from late 14c. (etymonline)

Local Stuff

A Mysterious Pacific Northwest Road Trip

UNDETERMINED: A suspicious death at Green Lake, an investigation’s limits

Strange Stuff

The Most Unusual Murder Weapons in Crime Fiction

In the Footprints of the Hound: Why The Hound of the Baskervilles Still Haunts

‘Bullets for Dead Hoods’ salvages encyclopedia of 1930s mobsters

Powell’s by Powell’s fragrance offers smell of beloved Portland bookstore in one-ounce bottle

He Once Scouted Jamaican Beaches for Dr. No. Now, His 007 Rum Will Appear in No Time to Die.

Students discover hidden 15th-century text on medieval manuscripts

What Jack the Ripper’s Victims Can Teach Us About Digital Privacy

Words of the Month

As Donald Trump refuses to concede: the etymology of ‘coup’

Awards

Here are the winners of the 2020 World Fantasy Awards.

Douglas Stuart wins Booker prize for debut Shuggie Bain

Here are the winners of the 2020 National Book Awards.

Here is the shortlist for the 2020 Costa Book Awards.

Book Stuff

France’s independent bookshops struggle to survive a second lockdown

French bookworms denied their fix in lockdown

Want to Own a Beloved Book? Toni Morrison’s Book Collection Is for Sale

My First Thriller: Scott Turow

Vatican Library Enlists Artificial Intelligence to Protect Its Digitized Treasures

Review: Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops by Shaun Bythell – virtuosic venting

A Collection of Rare Ian Fleming Books & Manuscripts Heads to Auction

Harlan Ellison’s The Last Dangerous Visions may finally be published, after five-decade wait

The Fleshly School: Sex writing in recent fiction

A comedian has just solved “the world’s most difficult literary puzzle.”

Beloved arts facility Poets House suspends operations

The Evolution of Espionage Fiction

A letter in which Beethoven literally just asks for some sheet music back has sold for $275k

The art of a short story

Unseen JRR Tolkien essays on Middle-earth coming in 2021

This museum is dedicated to the most famous Irish writers in history.  

Has Greed Fallen Behind as a Motive for Murder in Modern Crime Fiction?

Love and Murder with Jo Nesbø

The untold truth of the Hardy Boys

Arthur Conan Doyle and the Mutineers

Penguin Random House Staff Confront Publisher About New Jordan Peterson Book

‘Queen of crime’ Agatha Christie goes to Bollywood

Other Forms of Entertainment

How Sean Connery, an Unlikely Choice to Play Bond, Defined 007’s Style

15 Essential Conspiracy Theory Movies

Brooke Smith Answers Every Question We Have About The Silence of the Lambs

Val McDermid: The award-winning crime writer on how the plot of the novel that became ITV’s hit series Wire in the Blood arrived, fully formed, while she was driving on the M6

The secrets of TV’s greatest thriller-writer

This Week on Unlikeable Female Characters Podcast: Let’s Explore a Complicated Thriller Archetype: The Femme Fatale

This cryptic corner in downtown San Francisco is a movie treasure

C.J. Box on Big Sky, Big Twists, and Bringing a New Western Thriller to Montana

A forgotten female Sherlock Holmes gets her due in this audio play (with physical clues)

The Enduring Noir Legacy of John Cassavetes

31 Things We Learned from Michael Mann’s ‘Collateral’ Commentary

10 International True Crime Podcasts You Should Be Listening To Now

Misery at 30: a terrifying look at the toxicity of fandom

Out of the Shadows: Scoring ‘Double Indemnity’

‘Daredevil’ fans want Marvel to revive the show now that they have the rights again

‘Luther’ creator Neil Cross says there won’t be a season six but new project is coming soon

~ on The Godfather ~

Francis Ford Coppola announces new cut of ‘The Godfather III’

Oscar Isaac and Jake Gyllenhaal to star in ‘The Godfather’ making-of movie

Watch the dramatic trailer for Francis Ford Coppola’s new ‘Godfather III’ cut

Diane Keaton says watching recut ‘Godfather: Part III’ was “one of the best moments of my life”

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. (etymonline)

RIP

October 20: Jill Paton Walsh, writer of many genres, died at 84

November 6: Obituary: Geoffrey Palmer

November 8: Long-time customer Jim Mohundro died at 82

November 10: Scooby-Doo co-creator Ken Spears dies aged 82

November 29: Darth Vader actor Dave Prowse dies aged 85

Links of Interest

November 4: Inside the Early Days of The Crime of the Century

November 5: High Life: The Carnegie Deli Murders

November 9: Why the funniest books are also the most serious

November 10: Owners’ joy as rare £2.5m books stolen in London heist returned

November 12: The instrument that ‘aided espionage’

November 12: Newton’s Daunting Masterpiece Had a Surprisingly Wide Audience, Historians Find

November 12: 200 more copies of Newton’s ‘Principia’ masterpiece found in Europe by scholar sleuths

November 12: Cognitive Load Theory: Explaining our fight for focus

November 13: Yorkshire Ripper death: Force apology over victim descriptions

November 14: Egypt: More than 100 intact sarcophagi unearthed near Cairo

November 18: My Mother, The Mystery Writer

November 19: Theodore Roosevelt and The Frontier Lawman

November 20: War, heroism and sex: Pulp magazines & the messages they perpetuated

November 20: Berlin police hold ‘cannibal’ after bones found in park

November 22: Unknown Constables found hidden for 200 years in family scrapbook

November 22: Decades of Alan Rickman’s diaries will be published as a book in 2022.

November 24: Linda Millar’s brief life was full of tragedy. Her secrets found their way into novels thanks to her celebrated parents, Ross Macdonald and Margaret Millar. It’s time to see who she really was.

November 24: Metal monolith found by helicopter crew in Utah desert

Words of the Month

cantankerous (adj.) “marked by ill-tempered contradiction or opposition,” 1772, said by Grose to be “a Wiltshire word,” conjectured to be from an alteration (influenced perhaps by raucous) of a dialectal survival of Middle English contakour “troublemaker” (c. 1300), from Anglo-French contec “discord, strife,” from Old French contechier (Old North French contekier), from con- “with” + teche, related to atachier “hold fast” (see attach). With -ous. Related: Cantankerously; cantankerousness. (etymoline)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

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Still love Christie….I am still writing! So check out Finder of Lost Things!

I am presently killing my hands painting the interior of my husband and I’s new house…and have literally packed every single one of my books in preparation for moving (which is killing me as a bibliophile). So I haven’t had much spare time to read…I know excuses, excuses!

Fran

You’re going to get tired of hearing this.

I know, I know, but Louise Penny is great!

At least half of you are skipping this, aren’t you? Either you’ve already read it or you’re not a convert yet. Ha!

If you’ve never read Louise Penny, starting with her latest, ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE, actually isn’t a bad place to begin. Granted, you won’t have the emotional ties that come with being in love with the series, but don’t worry. Once you’re hooked (and you will be), you’ll go back and start with STILL LIVES, and you’ll catch up.

ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE takes place in Paris rather than Three Pines, which is part of what makes it okay to begin here. Also, you get a lot of family history, which will help you understand some of the cloudiness about Gamache’s relationship with his son, Daniel.

There is a lot going on in this book. Armand’s relationship with Daniel, Armand’s relationship with his godfather, Daniel’s relationship with Jean-Guy. And we spend a lot more time with Reine-Marie, which is lovely.

Oh, and there’s murder. And attempted murder, and theft and burglary and corporate shenanigans. Everything you expect from Louise Penny.

Now, let me be frank. This is not my favorite of her books. I think the ending was rushed, and I’m not entirely sure her new editor gets Louise’s vibe. At times it felt a little clunky.

That being said, I still skipped all my chores to race to the ending, which quite literally haunted my dreams. I woke up from a nightmare about being in the middle of the final conflict. She’s that good. So when I say it felt clunky, understand that it’s still much, much better than many other authors’ work! It just felt rushed.

So there you go, yet another endorsement for Louise Penny, and yes, you absolutely should read ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE. And don’t worry, you’ll still be in touch with the Three Pines crew. I think you’re gonna love the ending, by the way. *wink*

Now I want a Parisian pastry.

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

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

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!

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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,
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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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