June 2021

Can You Play the Word FART in Scrabble?

Florida High School Gives Refunds After Editing 80 Student Yearbook Pics to Be ‘More Modest’

MI5 reveals letters from children who want to be next James Bond

Finally, it will come as no secret that we are no fans of Amazon. In fact, for years we’ve referred to them as SPECTRE due to what we feel is their nefarious practices. Now, with the news that Amazon is in talks to buy MGM for $9Billion, the circle comes around. MGM is the owner of the James Bond movies. If Amazon does buy the entertainment behemoth, SPECTRE will own SPECTRE…

Serious Stuff

In The Ransomware Battle, Cybercriminals Have The Upper Hand

“This Was Devastating to Everybody”: Inside the New York Post’s Blowup Over a Bogus Story at the Border

The Enduring Mystery of H.H. Holmes, America’s ‘First’ Serial Killer

More than two dozen AR-15 rifles from the Miami Police Department are ‘unaccounted for’

Crime without punishment—why are so many murders in America going unsolved?

This legislator is trying to limit the “enormous economic and social power” of . . . fact-checkers.

The Worsening Massachusetts Crime Lab Scandal Is Just the Beginning

A new fellowship will provide unrestricted $25,000 grants to Puerto Rican writers

Russian Show ‘Fake News’ Wages Lone Battle Against The Kremlin’s TV Propaganda

The dangerous secrets inside the Secret Service, and how the agency has been shortchanged

Gaza’s largest bookstore has been destroyed.

How to Actually Prosecute the Financial Crimes of the Very Rich

How Hacking Became a Professional Service in Russia

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley resigns over mishandling of MOVE bombing remains

Sacco and Vanzetti’s Trial of the Century Exposed Injustice in 1920s America

Did Paying a Ransom for a Stolen Magritte Painting Inadvertently Fund Terrorism?

How McCarthyism, the Rise of Tabloids, and J. Edgar Hoover’s Quest to Prove Himself “Manly” Led to a Surveillance State

If our counting is right, there were 52 mass shootings in April, 2021. In May – and the month isn’t over as this is typed – there have been 65, more than 2 a day. If it feels as if they’re happening all the time it is because they are.

Local Stuff

Former Vancouver tour operator sentenced to one-year jail term for ticket scam in New Orleans

East Vancouver parents launch diversity book drive

Tacoma Public Library joins the trend, opting to permanently end fines for overdue items

Vancouver: Books and Murder in Terminal City Crime and the City visits the rain-soaked mean streets of Vancouver for a look at the latest in Canadian crime writing.

Meet Three Trees Books, the tiny bookstore that makes a big impact on its Burien community

Mia Zapata: Man Convicted of Murdering Gits singer Died in Prison

A new Barnes & Noble opens in Kirkland, showing how the bookstore chain is changing

J.D. Chandler, prolific chronicler of Portland murder and corruption, dies at 60

Florida man arrested on [Portland] TriMet bus with guns, ammunition and other weapons

Odd Stuff

What 8 of the World’s Most Famous Books and Texts Smell Like, According to Science

4,000-Year-Old Ancient Egyptian Writing Board Shows Student’s Spelling Mistakes

FBI Releases Long-Withheld File on Kurt Cobain

German ‘dead fraudster’ exposed by pet poodle in Majorca

Florida Bank Robbery Suspect Used Taxicab as Getaway Car

Ohio Man Allegedly Posed as CIA, FBI, and DEA in Single Traffic Stop

Philly DA Candidate Forced to Address Paralegal Found Dead in His Mansion

Man Legally Changes Name To James Bond Villain Before Allegedly Plotting With His Mom To Kill Dad Over Inheritance

Evelyn Waugh’s twelve-bedroom house—complete with party barn—is now for sale.

VOTER FRAUD: ‘I Wanted Trump to Win’: Husband Charged in Wife’s Murder Also Used Her Name to Vote

Fun fact: Courtney Love read Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy” for her Mickey Mouse Club audition.

A New Crazy Conspiracy on the Right Has People Filming Wood

The Persistent Mystery of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Name

Cracking the Code of Letterlocking

Apparently the Brontës all died so early because they spent their lives drinking graveyard water.

Here’s a wild story about a publishing scam that includes Morgan Freeman and 9/11

Denise Mina: ‘Edgar Allan Poe is so good I feel sick with jealousy’

77 Strange, Funny, and Magnificent Book Titles You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

John Steinbeck’s estate urged to let the world read his shunned werewolf novel

Somerton man: Body exhumed in bid to solve Australian mystery

Lost village emerges from Italian lake

From James Grady (Six Days of the Condor): The Time I Watched Norman Mailer Try to Fight G. Gordon Liddy in the Street

QAnon Crowd Convinced UFOs Are a Diversion From Voter Fraud

Death Row Inmates In Wyoming Played Baseball To Decide Their Fate

​Man Miraculously Survived Execution By Firing Squad

Poe’s Best-Selling Book During His Lifetime Was a Guide to Seashells

The Untold Story of Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard’s Secret Pact With Nazi Propagandist Leni Riefenstahl

Words of the Month

Why is it that “slim chance” and “fat chance” mean the same thing?

SPECTRE

California Appeals Court Rules Amazon Can Be Held Liable for Third-Party Sellers’ Faulty Products

Amazon had a big year, but paid no tax to Luxembourg, its European headquarters

Why I am deleting Goodreads and maybe you should, too …

Employee Charges Amazon With Violating Labor Law at NYC Union Drive

Amazon Hoping to Invoke the Power of Positive Affirmations To Reduce Workplace Injuries

Amazon hit with antitrust lawsuit. D.C. attorney general says it drives prices up

Bernie Sanders Is Fighting a Massive ‘Bailout’ to Jeff Bezos’ Space Company

Amazon Workers Are Petitioning the Company to Bring Its Pollution to Zero By 2030

Here’s a Question: Why does Amazon even bother with the entertainment? – Commentary from the NY Times

Words of the Month

fast can mean to stay in place (“hold fast”) or to move quickly

Awards

Here are the winners of Publishing Triangle’s 33rd annual Triangle Awards.

Trevor Shikaze is the winner of n+1’s inaugural Anthony Veasna So Prize.

The Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses has split its prize money among the longlist

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi and Patrice Lawrence have won the Jhalak prize for writers of color.

Book Stuff

‘Once-in-a-Generation’ Rare Books Auction at Christie’s Brings in $12.4 M.

Why Len Deighton’s spy stories are set to thrill a new generation

Why literary novels about wrenching events are taking more and more cues from crime writing

My First Thriller: Harlan Coben

The Crime Novelist Who Wrote His Own Death Scene

Books become free speech battleground

How Much Do Authors Make Per Book?

B. Traven: Fiction’s Forgotten Radical

This surreal seaside library will transport you into the clouds

St. Louis’ Over-the-Top Library with a Secret Treasure

Early Medieval English literature was a sordid swamp of wanton plagiarism!

Highway of Darkness: A Mystery Reader’s Road Trip Up California’s Highway 99

The Enduring Mystery of Mary Roberts Rinehart, America’s Answer to Agatha Christie

How an Irish Barman Created a Home for New York’s Literary Elite

The language of blurbs, decoded

This American Monk Travels the World to Rescue Ancient Documents From Oblivion

“Get in, get out. Don’t linger. Go on.” Read Raymond Carver’s greatest writing advice

Other Forms of Entertainment

The Son of Sam Murders Never Really Added Up. There’s Evidence David Berkowitz Wasn’t Working Alone.

Netflix Is Serving Up Girlpower, and Gunpowder Milkshake This Summer

James Bond: Why Dali’s Tarot Cards Were Cut From Live and Let Die

Indiana Jones 5 Script Is Everything Mads Mikkelsen Wished It To Be

Hitman convicted of murdering T2 Trainspotting actor Bradley Welsh

Discovery+ Orders Ghislaine Maxwell Docuseries From James Patterson

Book Nook: Eternal by Lisa Scottoline: Vick Mickunas’ interview with Lisa Scottoline

The Sopranos‘ Greatest Episode: How ‘Pine Barrens’ Was Made

Gabagool and Malpropisms: Dialogue Lessons from ‘The Sopranos

New Jersey Man Killed Outside Strip Club Immortalized on ‘The Sopranos’

Alec Baldwin Asked to Play Character Who Whacked Tony Soprano

Westlake’s Memory to Adapted to the Big Screen

How ‘Mare of Easttown’ Is Breaking New Ground for HBO and the Prestige Crime Series

HBO Announces New Episode of True Crime Docuseries ‘I’ll Be Gone in the Dark’

Book Nook: A Lot Can Happen in the Middle of Nowhere: The Untold Story of the Making of Fargo by Todd Melby

John Ridley to Write the Next Volume of Black Panther Comics

A Brief History of the Serial Killer Movie That Was Supposed to Be David Fincher’s Follow-Up to ‘Zodiac’

The Best TV Crime Dramas, as Recommended By TV Crime Drama Creators

Back to the Movies: ‘Mission: Impossible 7’ Will Remind Us Why We Need Movie Theaters

‘Nightmare Alley’: A Restoration to Dream About

Podcast: Library of Mistakes

Bluffs, Tells, and Martinis: An Analysis of the ‘Casino Royale’ Poker Scene

Words of the Month

to dust can mean both to remove dust and to add dust

RIP

May 13: Norman Lloyd, ‘St. Elsewhere’ Actor & Hitchcock Colleague, Dies At 106

May 13: Spencer Silver, an inventor of Post-it Notes, is dead at 80

May 19: Charles Grodin, ‘Midnight Run,’ ‘Heartbreak Kid’ star, dies at 86 [see also A Love Letter to the Late, Great Charles Grodin]

May 26: Eric Carle, Creator Of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar,’ Has Died

May 29: B.J. Thomas, Oscar-winner for Butch Cassidy song, dies at 78

May 29: Gavin McLeod – “Mary Tyler Moore Show”, Kelly’s Heroes, “Hawaii 5-0” actor – dead at 90

May 31: RIP Paul Soles, the Original Voice of Spider-Man

May 31: Buddy Van Horn, Clint Eastwood’s Stunt Double and Director, Dies at 92

Links of Interest

May 1: Alaska’s first CSI takes on blood and burglaries in sub-zero weather

May 1: Tattoo Artist Myra Brodsky On Craftsmanship, Magic And Film Noir

May 2: Fortune Teller Plots Brutal Murder Of A 70-Year-Old War Vet For His Coin Collection

May 3: Canadian sign war captivates the internet

May 4: The Tragic True Story Of Hawaii’s Massie Trial

May 4: Feds Say Accused Swindler Lied About Money, Trump, Cancer

May 4: How the ‘Queen of Thieves’ Conned French Riviera Wealthy

May 4: Belgian farmer accidentally moves French border

May 5: ‘We go after them like pitbulls’ – the art detective who hunts stolen Picassos and lost Matisses

May 5: Was the Story of ‘Catch Me If You Can’ Frank Abagnale Jr.’s Greatest Con?

May 6: ‘I couldn’t be with someone who liked Jack Reacher’: can our taste in books help us find love?

May 8: The Time When Sir David Attenborough Helped Solve A Murder

May 8: Duck Tales: Man Uses Naval Skills To Get 11 Ducklings Down 9 Stories

May 10: The Louvre’s Looted Renaissance Masterpiece: New Book Explores the Plundering of a Veronese Painting

May 10: ‘Ogre of the Ardennes’ serial killer dies in French prison hospital

May 11: Noir and Neon: A Match Made in San Francisco

May 11: The “Three-Dimensional Game-Board” of Agatha Christie’s Country Houses

May 12: An Archive of Images from San Quentin State Prison

May 12: NFL-quality QB Colin Kaepernick’s first book as editor comes out October 12

May 13: U.S. Marshal Framed Ex-GF as Rape Predator, Had Her Jailed for Months: Docs

May 13: Amateur sleuths traced stolen Cortés papers to U.S. auctions. Mexico wants them back

May 13: A new digital library in Rome lets commuters read unlimited e-books for free.

May 14: Pride and Property: on the Homes of Jane Austen

May 15: Neo-Nazi Dumps 3 Bodies at New Mexico Hospital and Runs: FBI

May 17: The Passenger: Lost German novel makes UK bestseller list 83 years on

May 17: Master Lock Has Had a Hold on the Industry for 100 Years

May 18: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Publishing Your Work in a Literary Magazine

May 18: Galapagos Islands: Erosion fells Darwin’s Arch

May 18: After flunking out of service training, this dog is now helping solve arson cases

May 18: Restitution of Franz Marc Painting Sets New Precedent for Art Sold Under Nazi Duress

May 18: A Revelatory Exhibition Traces the Poet Dante’s Path Through Exile in Italy, and the Artworks He Likely Encountered—See Images Here

May 19: Infrared technology shows how a 15th-century French ruler erased his deceased wife from art history

May 20: Hidden Inscriptions Discovered in Anne Boleyn’s Execution Prayer Book

May 21: Researchers Discover Hidden Portrait in 15th-Century Duchess’ Prayer Book

May 21: Russian police find buried trove of jewellery from World Cup heist

May 21: Safecrackers in Fact and Fiction

May 21: Albert Einstein letter with E=mc2 equation in his own hand sells for $1.2m

May 24: Body of missing man found in Spanish dinosaur statue

May 24: Rosary Beads Owned by Mary, Queen of Scots, Stolen in Heist at English Castle

May 25: Emily Brontë’s handwritten poems are highlight of ‘lost library’ auction

May 25: The Life and Legacy of Philip Agee, the CIA’s First Defector and Most Committed Dissident

May 25: You can now buy E.L. Doctorow’s gorgeous Manhattan home, for just $2.1 million

May 25: A plane spotted his ‘SOS’ and saved him in 1982. It was the same night he killed two women, police

May 26: Is the 300-year search for one of Shakespeare’s actual books over?

May 26: An Insurance Startup Bragged It Uses AI to Detect Fraud. It Didn’t Go Well

May 26: Mother Arrested After Asking Cops What to Do About Her Son’s Rotting Corpse

May 26: The Real Story of All Those Crazy Recording Devices Nixon Insisted on Installing in the White House

May 26: A dealer moved cocaine, heroin around the U.K. A photo showing his ‘love of Stilton cheese’ brought him down

May 26: Central Park ‘Exonerated 5’ Member Reflects On Freedom And Forgiveness

May 26: LAX Cargo Handlers Allegedly Carried Out Bungled $200K Gold Bar Heist

May 27: Australian spy novelist Yang Hengjun faces China espionage trial

May 28: Gothic Tea ~ A Dark History of Tea in Fiction and Real Life

May 28: Plunder of Pompeii: how art police turned tide on tomb raiders

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

A Taste For Honey – H.F. Heard

Ever wonder what Winnie-the-Pooh would do if he found himself embroiled in a mystery? I believe H.F. Heard inadvertently gave us the answer in a Taste For Honey

Admittedly, H.F. Heard didn’t intend to write an A.A. Milne pastiche. Heard intended A Taste For Honey to enter the Sherlockian canon of works. The driving force within the novel is a mysterious beekeeper who owns a surprising amount of knowledge in a diverse number of fields. And I concede Mr. Mycroft and his bees are intriguing.

HELPFUL HINT if you decide to pick up this title… If you know nothing about this book other than this review and the blurb on the back, I advise you NOT TO READ Otto Penzler’s introduction. 

Until after you’ve finished the book. 

Unfortunately, within those roman numeral pages, Mr. Penzler unintentionally spoils the biggest mystery in the book and its’ ending by making one fundamental assumption – the reader already knows how A Taste For Honey wraps up. Granted, it’s a reasonable assumption – as A Taste For Honey‘s original publication date was eighty years ago (1941) and is apparently well known in Sherlockian circles. However, if, like me, you’d never heard of this book prior to picking it up – take my advice read the introduction last.

In any case, back to Sydney Silchester – the reluctant companion pressed into service by Mr. Mycroft – who reminded me of that famous yellow bear. 

Not only because his singular love of honey put him in the path of both a murderer and a detective. But because of his love of long walks, nature, his own company, and his overall reluctance to get involved with other people. And really, Sydney is a man of very little brains who (if it weren’t for Mr. Mycroft) would’ve become the villain’s second victim.

Undoubtedly, Heard didn’t intend for me to liken his narrator to Edward Bear. However, once it dawned on me, I couldn’t shake the notion! It added an extra layer of humor to an already excellent mystery I’d happily recommend to anyone who enjoys British and/or Sherlockian-style mystery.

(BTW – I’ve no evidence that even hints that Heard intended to mash together Winnie-the-Pooh and Sherlockiana. Though chronologically speaking, Pooh appeared in print (1926) well before A Taste For Honey was written. Additionally, Milne did pen a well-received locked-room mystery in 1922, The Red House Mystery – thereby getting on the radar of mystery readers and writers….so it’s possible, though not probable…right?)

Fran

Of course I want you to read the latest Joshilyn Jackson novel. I want you to read ALL of her work, so it’s no surprise that I want you to read this one, and the core reasons are just as compelling.

Can she create complex and believable characters? If anything, they only get better.

Can she tell an amazing and gripping story? Oh my goodness yes, and again, they just get better.

Will you find something to relate to? That’s her special gift.

Bree Cabbat was not raised in wealth. Her single mom firmly believed that the world was dangerous and a deeply scary place. However, Bree has found comfort and happiness in her marriage to Trey, and their two daughters are beautiful and headstrong and as challenging as pre-teens can be. Right now, though, Bree’s six-month-old baby, Robert, is the center of her world.

She figures she imagined the woman looking into her window, but is disturbed when that same strange lady appears in a parking lot, watching her.

And then Robert vanishes. It only takes the turn of a head, a few precious seconds, and Bree’s baby is gone. But Robert hasn’t been taken by some woman who longs for a child. No, Robert is being held hostage, not for money but for Bree to complete one simple task, along with her silence.

Here’s where my foggy brain caught up to my history of reading Joshilyn Jackson’s books. She tells one helluva tale, that’s indisputable. But what I hadn’t realized until Mother May I is that she shines a powerful spotlight on social issues. The thing is, she does it in such a personal way that it’s easy to overlook how compelling and clever she is because you’re caught up in the sweep of the story.

If you need to have an issue addressed, look at one of Joshilyn Jackson’s books. From racism to privilege to domestic violence to dysfunctional families, she’s got it covered, and in a way that makes it personal but never preachy. She’s brilliant.

So yes, read Mother May I, and anything else by Joshilyn Jackson that you can get your hands on. Do it now.

JB

“It was common for Negro Leaguers – especially those reared in the Southern states – to cherish the unfettered citizenship that Mexico offered them. Its perks were famously articulated by [Willie] Wells, the Devil himself (fondly regarded across the Spanish-speaking nation as El Diablo, which is inscribed on his Texas tombstone), who observed to Wendell Smith of the Pittsburgh Courier that ‘we live in the best hotels, eat in the best restaurants, and can go anyplace we care to. We don’t enjoy such privileges in the United States. We have everything first-class, plus the fact that the people here are much more considerate than the American baseball fan.’ … Monte Irvin, the future Hall of Famer, played only one season in Mexico before he was called away to World War II, but that season made a profound impression. ‘It was the first time in my life that I felt free.’” Irvin was 23 when drafted.

While it was way past time last year for Major League Baseball to incorporate the records of Negro League players into the statistics of those there were not allowed to play with, Lonnie Wheeler‘s new biography of the man reported by all who saw him play – black and white – to have been the fasted man who ever played baseball, points out the problems doing that .

“‘That Cool Papa Bell,’ recalled [Art] Pennington, speaking to Brent Kelley in Voices from the Negro Leagues, ‘I thought I could outrun him. I was young (Bell’s junior by twenty-one years), and Taylor would have us get out and run the hundred-yard dash. We would run, but all at once Cool Papa would walk on by me. And I thought I could fly in those days.'”

Black baseball was never covered with the specificity of white ball. The white papers rarely covered Negro League games and no papers devoted time or space to reliable box scores. Reconstructing Bell’s or any other player’s stats is a fruitless pursuit. So by not being allowed into the Major Leagues, their abilities were not documented as the white players had been, so it is now impossible to do side-by-side comparisons. They were robbed of playing time and then robbed of the proof that baseball uses to measure a player. Wheeler’s title points to this: The Bona Fide Legend of Cool Papa Bell. There are some newspaper stories, the recorded testaments of his contemporaries, and still pictures, but no film of him flying around the bases. Bell scoring from first on a simple base hit was not odd, nor was stealing his was around the diamond. It is a crime that blackball was treated so poorly, but it isn’t a surprise.

Besides the racist cruelty and hatred they had to withstand, they were also relegated to inferior ballparks (one section of the book relates how one ballpark had tracks running through the outfield and play would be suspended for the trains to pass), uncomfortable travel means, and the indignity of outplaying white players in the off season but not being allowed to outplay them in the regular season. And nothing about this is different from what jazz musicians or any other black person confronted then – or now. But through it all, by all accounts, Bell kept his dignity, kept his attire fine, and was a roll model for all who came in contact with him. He loved the game and was not shy or reluctant to freely give pointers to anyone, whether it was on base running or drag bunting. As Wheeler points out as well, when the major leagues were finally ready to accept black players, those who were too old to be brought “up” worked to ensure the younger players’ statistics were stellar. These veteran players held themselves back while playing so as to highlight the younger players stats, and ensure they’d be taken by the white teams. Stylish and selfless that was Bell.

Wheeler’s book is a lively story, told with spirit and no small amount of sadness for what might have been had the black ball players been allowed to play in the major leagues, had their accomplishments been recorded objectively, had America not been so mean and foolish. But then, that’s the story of American, a lively tale mixed with sadness for how great it should’ve been and what was missed. It’s a great baseball book and an honest American tale.

[and this brings us to our last word twister: in baseball, the foul pole is fair…]

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

MAY 2021

In the market for an illuminated manuscript? Got £8 million?

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a stratospheric $3.25-million record sale of rare Superman comic

Got £2.75 million to spare? Now you can buy Agatha Christie’s house.

New York bookstore figures out the perfect sideline: pickles

Grammar-Nerd Heaven: A new exhibit showcases the surprisingly contentious history of English grammar books

Imagine your ideal artist’s retreat in this breathtakingly beautiful forest library

Of course Vladimir Nabokov imagined emoticons over a decade before they were invented

Words of the Month

griff (n.): Slang, an accurate account. Also, inside information. (Says You! #720)

Serious Stuff

The Pandemic’s Wrongest Man: In a crowded field of wrongness, one person stands out ~ Alex Berenson.

Banned Books: Books by Steinbeck, Alexie among most objected to in 2020

Surprise: the ALA’s 2020 list of most challenged books shows an uptick in antiracist texts.

He Led Hitler’s Secret Police in Austria. Then He Spied for the West.

Climate change is a major threat to stability, spy agencies say

The Women of the OSS: On The Pioneering American Spies of WWII

Cuomo staffers were (illegally) asked to work on Cuomo’s memoir as part of their government jobs

‘Out of Control’ Cape Town Fire Destroys Historic University Library, Students Evacuated

Sinn Féin president apologizes for murder of Lord Mountbatten

Here’s what QAnon documentaries reveal about how conspiracies flourish

How the Kremlin provides a safe harbor for ransomware

Mexico cartel used explosive drones to attack police

Publishers Are Using E-books to Extort Schools & Libraries

For the 1st time in history an Air Force general will face court-martial

Spanish Police Raided a 3D Printed Gun Workshop And Found Nazi Symbols

Remains Of Black Children Killed in MOVE Bombing Cannot Be Located

U.S. Federal Investigators Are Reportedly Looking Into Codecov Security Breach, Undetected for Months

Tool Links Email Addresses to Facebook Accounts in Bulk

False Memories and Manufactured Myths: Growing Up in a Conspiracy Theory Household

Hackers Say They Stole 250GB of Internal Documents From DC Police

Towards A New Understanding of Psychosis and Violence

Feds Raid Giuliani’s NYC Apartment in Ukraine Probe

Murder Cover-Up: Man Allegedly Set Deadly Wildfire to Hide His Crime

From Canada ~ Last Publisher Left Standing: Why Books Are Facing a Bleak Future

What Abusive Partners, Corrupt Cops and Authoritarian Leaders Have in Common – A VICE News podcast about power and control

Extremists find a financial lifeline on Twitch

The Incredible Rise of North Korea’s Hacking Army

SPECTRE Stuff

Amazon Intended Its Army of Paid Twitter Sycophants to Be ‘Authentic,’ Have a ‘Great Sense of Humor’

What on Earth Is Amazon Doing? The company’s social-media aggression is shocking. It shouldn’t be.

How Amazon and America’s one-click obsession are warping the future of work

Malls that buckled due to e-commerce or suffered during the pandemic are being given new life by the very entity that precipitated their decline — Amazon.

Texas Man Charged In Plot To Bomb Amazon Web Services Data Center “The suspect’s goal was to allegedly ‘kill off about 70% of the internet.’”

‘There’s a Very Human Cost to Convenience’

Amazon internet program Project Kuiper will launch first satellites with Boeing joint venture

Amazon Launches Another Union-Busting Campaign

Amazon employees say you should be skeptical of Jeff Bezos’s worker satisfaction stat

Amazon profit more than triples as pandemic shopping boom persists

Local Stuff

Investigators hope new DNA-enhanced sketch of ‘Bones 17’ gives Green River victim a name

Powell’s says laid-off workers will have to apply for their jobs amid dispute with union

Seattle Independent Bookstore Day is back this year — with a twist

How Brick & Mortar Books has become a pillar of the Redmond community

Hacker Steals Info of Thousands of Gay Dating App Users/“’attacker’ gained access to the passwords, usernames, and emails of more than 7,700 users living in Washington State

How a journalist unraveled a gory founding myth of the Pacific Northwest

An Oregon Woman Says a Police Officer Raped Her. She Was the One Arrested

Words of the Month

Isn’t it irenic? It’s time to bring back beautiful words we have lost

Odd Stuff

John le Carré, chronicler of Englishness, died Irish, son reveals. Author was so opposed to Brexit that he took Irish citizenship to remain European

Flat Earther Busted in Freemason Arson Spree

Literature’s Most Curious Creations – A new book takes readers into collector Edward Brooke-Hitching’s “madman’s library”

People Are Stealing Legos. Here’s Why

The $50 Million Art Swindle on BBC

15 Scams People Almost Pulled Off That Will Leave You Impressed And Appalled

“Nobody ever made fun of him, but I did.” Orson Welles on his friendship with Hemingway.

Can you tell when someone is lying?

Found: Page 25 of the CIA’s Gateway Report on Astral Projection

Has anybody seen some loose ceremonial swords? The Truman Presidential Library wants them back

Trove of Treasures, From Gold Skull Ring to Tudor Coins, Unearthed in Wales

These 17th-Century Skull Watches Open Up to Reveal Time as It Passes Us By

Mom busted after cops reportedly find cocaine on son’s Dr. Seuss book

Soon you’ll be able to vacation at Jane Austen’s country estate . . . in a cowshed.

California Gold Rush town votes to remove noose from its logo

I’m obsessed with Liu Ye’s gorgeous, photorealistic paintings of books.

Bang & Olufsen’s Book-Shaped Bookshelf Speaker Will Disappear Into a Shelf Full of Books

Accusations of spying and sabotage plunge Russian-Czech relations into the deep freeze

Author’s killer ‘thought victim was working with Putin to spread Covid’

Fraud and Spiritualism Between the Wars: A Study of Two Hoaxes

Sasquatch Director Joshua Rofé on Chasing After Murder Mysteries and Monsters

This bucolic 1946 newsreel about Daphne Du Maurier could also be the beginning of a horror film

Man Murders Housemate Over Bad Internet Connection

Baby Doctor Charged With Insane Dark Web Kidnapping Plot

Awards

Here are the 35 finalists for the 2021 Oregon Book Awards

Here are the literary Guggenheim Fellows of 2021.

2021 Hugo Award Finalists Announced

Announcing the winners of the 2021 Whiting Awards.

A scammer just stole £30k of literary prize money—and is trying to steal more.

A Look at Your 2021 ITW Thriller Awards Nominees

The State of the Crime Novel in 2021: A Roundtable With the Edgar Awards Nominees

The State of the Crime Novel in 2021, Part 2: Writing During the Pandemic

Congratulations to the Winners of the 2021 Edgar Awards

Book Stuff

A Pop-up Bookstore Honors a Man Who Intended to Give It All Away

A Groundbreaking Lesbian Book Is Back in Print

Readers on the bookshops they miss most: ‘I can’t wait to take my lockdown baby!’

How A Humble Bookseller Helped Give Rise To The Renaissance

How Substack Revealed the Real Value of Writers’ Unfiltered Thoughts

Who engages with books, and how? Portland State University study tells new story about consumer behavior

John Grisham Leaves the Courtroom for Basketball, and Sudan

The Story of Richard Wright’s Lost Novel

Publisher halts Philip Roth book amid sexual abuse claims against biographer

“Bailey is the story now, but Roth still looms over it all. This fiasco has tendrils reaching into every level of media and publishing.” Jo Livingstone considers the industry-wide implications of the allegations against Blake Bailey.

What Snoop Dogg’s success says about the book industry

Despite protests from employees, Simon & Schuster still plans to publish Mike Pence’s book.

Hundreds of Simon & Schuster Employees Demand No Book Deals for Authors Tied to Trump Admin

As the subject of no fewer than three biographies since her death in 1995, the popular Patricia Highsmith writer lived a complicated, if fascinating, life. What was she really like?

‘Never stupid to ask questions’: Rare Raymond Chandler essay gives writing, office tips

Remembering one of the first woman-owned bookshops in America, which Publishers Weekly, in 1916, called “something old-worldly, yet startlingly new.”

Outcry over book ‘censorship’ reveals how online retailers choose books — or don’t

A Secret Feminist History of the Oxford English Dictionary

‘Bill and I got pretty friendly’: James Patterson on writing with Clinton and clashing with Trump

An original Robert Frost manuscript is up for auction.

How the Darker Side of the Fight for Women’s Suffrage Inspired One Historical Mystery Novelist

The Revenge Novel and the Art of Getting Even

Honoring the Legacy of Eleanor Taylor Bland: A Roundtable Discussion

“Write as if you were dying.” Read Annie Dillard’s greatest writing advice.

Other Forms of Entertainment

The Last Good Friday remembered at 40 by those involved

Hippie Murderer Charles Sobhraj’s Story Is Stranger Than What’s In The Serpent 

‘The Sons of Sam’ Trailer: New Docuseries Challenges Official Narrative of Infamous Seventies Killing Spree

the 100 best, worst, and strangest Sherlock Holmes portrayals of all time

Drawing on Their Escapes From the Nazis, These Artists Became Celebrated Cartoonists

9 True Crime Podcasts You Should Be Listening to Now

All the Information You Need for the LA Book Festival

The killer question: are true-crime podcasts exploitative?

One of the bloodiest anti-Asian massacres in U.S. history, now a podcast

Lynda La Plant: The hit crime writer changed the face of television with her groundbreaking female DCI Jane Tennison, who was played by Helen Mirren. But, she tells Charlotte Cripps, the TV production companies wanted nothing to do with the show at first

Hitchcock, The Voyeur: Why Rear Window Remains the Director’s Definitive Film

The most prolific serial killer in U.S. history got away with it for almost 50 years. A new docuseries exposes how a biased system failed his victims, and fostered a murderer.

The Best True Crime Documentaries You Haven’t Binged Yet

James Ellroy Is Going to Host a Podcast About Los Angeles Crime—Seriously

Hercule Poirot’s First Appearances on Television and RadioWords of the Month

A Ruthless Ranking Of The 25 Best Muppets, According To Listeners

Netflix’s Why Did You Kill Me? Shows How One Mother Solved Her Daughter’s Murder With Social Media

The 10 Greatest Movies Adapted from Crime Novels—According to a Producer and Novelist

Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet: Film Noir’s Greatest Odd Couple

Words for the Month

buttle (v.) to act or serve as a butler (Says You! #720)

RIP

April 6: Paul Ritter dies at 54

April 8: Richard Rush, subversive film director fascinated by the counterculture who won critical acclaim for The Stunt Man, dead at 91

April 10: Ramsey Clark, attorney general who became a critic of U.S. policies, dies at 93

April 10: Giorgos Karaivaz: Veteran crime journalist shot dead in Greece

April 12: Joseph Siravo: ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘Jersey Boys’ star dies aged 64

April 14: Bernie Madoff, Financier Behind Notorious Ponzi Scheme, Dies At 82 [eds. – no rest for you, you bastard!]

April 28: Daniel Kaminsky, 42, found key flaw in internet’s basic plumbing

April 29: Jason Matthews, spy novelist who drew on his experience in the CIA dies at 69

Links of Interest

March 29: The Doodler: The Truth About The Unidentified Serial Killer

April 1: Arabian coins found in US may unlock 17th-century pirate mystery

April 1: Nazi-Looted Poussin Painting Found in Italy, Returned to Owners

April 1: A Swindler Almost Sold These Forged ‘Masterpieces’ for $14.7 Million

April 2: Australia: Geologist beaten up by ‘angriest octopus’ on beach

April 4: Gay, communist, female: why MI5 blacklisted the poet Valentine Ackland

April 6: Dutch Man Arrested in Connection with High-Profile Heists of van Gogh, Hals Works

April 6: Why Murder Mysteries Are a Lot Like Science, According to a Neuroscientist and Novelist

April 6: Decrypted Messages Lead to Seizure of 27 Tons of Cocaine in Europe

April 6: A Former IRA Bank Robber On Writing A Heist Novel Based on a Long-Unsolved Crime

April 7: Feds Allege Tech CEO Designed ‘Parasitic Narco Sub’ for Drug Cartels

April 9: ‘Lost golden city’ found in Egypt reveals lives of ancient pharaohs

April 10: Heinz Promises To Catch Up To Americans’ Demand Amid Ketchup Packet Shortage

April 12: SportsTrouble in Titletown ~ Georgia’s Valdosta High School, a longtime football powerhouse, is awash in a scandal involving race, funny money, allegations of improper recruiting and a one-armed booster named Nub.

April 13: The Crusade Against Pornhub Is Going to Get Someone Killed

April 13: 1st Century Roman Statue, Looted A Decade Ago, Found In Belgium By Off-Duty Police

April 14: Japan’s Most Notorious Kidnapping Is Still Unsolved

April 14: How Gilded Age Corruption Produced the Biggest, Maddest Gold Rush in History

April 15: Inspecting the NYPD “Puzzle Palace”

April 15: A Kidnapping Gone Very Wrong

April 15: NC High School Basketball Coach Killed Trying to Rob Notorious Mexican Drug Cartel

April 15: Maila Nurmi’s Oregon upbringing led to sexy horror icon Vampira; new book captures her intense, tragic life

April 15: Mystery tree beast turns out to be croissant

April 16: Pottery Shard May Be ‘Missing Link’ in the Alphabet’s Development

April 16: The Florida Resort That Played an Unlikely Role in the Bay of Pigs Fiasco

April 17: He Was Yoga’s First Star Guru. Then He Ended Up in Jail.

April 20: 7 Unsolved Mysteries of the Art World

April 21: Toronto Gallery Robbed of Almost $300,000 Worth of Art in Heist

April 21: The Crazy Way $30M Was Stolen From Safe Deposit Boxes

April 22: AI unlocks ancient Dead Sea Scrolls mystery

April 22: Italian hospital employee accused of skipping work for 15 years

April 23: Human Skeleton Found Lying on Couch in Abandoned House

April 23: The Secret Mission To Unearth Part Of A 142-Year-Old Experiment

April 23: Billionaire Mukesh Ambani Buys Golf Club Featured In James Bond Film ‘Goldfinger’ For $79 Million

April 23: A rising actor, fake HBO deals and one of Hollywood’s most audacious Ponzi schemes

April 24: Enterprise Password Manager Passwordstate Hacked, Exposing Users’ Passwords for 28 Hours

April 24: Everything We Know About The Unsolved Icebox Murders

April 24: National Spelling Bee adds vocabulary and lightning-round tiebreaker for 2021

April 24: Did Argentina rob art from its own museum to fund the Falklands War? Military junta stole £1.8m of paintings from Buenos Aires gallery to buy arms from Taiwan, new book claims

April 25: MI6 takes inspiration from James Bond with hunt for ‘new Q’ to lead high-tech team

April 26: Josh fight: Hundreds join friendly battle for naming rights

April 26: Is This Man the Evil Genius Behind the Old-Master Forgery Spree Called the ‘Crime of the Century’? We Paid Him a Visit to Find Out

April 26: Could H.H. Holmes And Jack The Ripper Be The Same Person?

April 26: She Escaped Charles Manson’s Murderous Sex Cult

April 27: The Secrets of the World’s Greatest Jailbreak Artist

April 28: How an Ex-Cop Linked to the Murder of a DEA Agent Walked Free From a Life Sentence

April 29: The Bizarre Story Of The Serial Killer Who Tried To Prevent Earthquakes

April 30: Why People Don’t Believe Son Of Sam Killed Alone

Words for the Month

eggcorn (n.) “an idiosyncratic substitution of a word or phrase for a word or words that sound similar or identical in the speaker’s dialect. The new phrase introduces a meaning that is different from the original but plausible in the same context… eggcorns are sometimes also referred to ‘oronyms’… The term eggcorn, as used to refer to this kind of substitution, was coined by professor of linguistics Geoffrey Pullum in September 2003 in response to an article by Mark Liberman on the website Language Log, a group blog for linguists.[2] Liberman discussed the case of a woman who substitutes the phrase egg corn for the word acorn, and he argued that the precise phenomenon lacked a name. Pullum suggested using eggcorn itself as a label… An eggcorn is similar to, but differs from, folk etymology, malapropism, mondegreens or puns.” (Wikipedia)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Do you need a new addiction? I’m sure you do. On the upside, this habit’s less problematic than Sherlock’s 7% solution. However, it isn’t without cost.

What am I prattling on about, you ask? 

The Deadbolt Mystery Society.

A subscription box that sends you a mystery to solve every month! 

So far, I’ve unmasked a stalker, solved a decades-old cold case, foiled a kidnaper, resolved an art heist, and unraveled several murders in Valley Falls. (The small town where these cases are set. You work for a P.I. firm that takes on all kinds of clients.) 

One of the best things about each Deadbolt Mystery Society box, beyond the variety of crimes, is the wildly different types of evidence they supply, kinds of puzzles to solve, and suspects/witnesses/victims you meet. 

Just part of the clues for one box!

The puzzles of which I write are sometimes sneaky, always challenging, and require a vast array of skills to solve. One time I created a comprehensive timeline in order to cross-reference events against alibis—another time, I widdled down a massive list of addresses to locate a suspect’s abode and played a board game. On top of the logic & math problems, pictograms, cryptograms…The Deadbolt Mystery Society uses such a wide assortment of puzzles across all their boxes; it keeps them from becoming predictable and your wits sharp!

If you haven’t guessed – I’m a fan. 

They remind me vaguely of online hidden-object games like the Enigmatis series (I loved them), Yuletide Legends (an excellent holiday-themed game), or Dreamwalker (another I enjoyed playing). In so far as, no matter how urgent your case, you need to solve each and every puzzle provided to move closer to the penultimate solution. 

However, unlike the hidden-object games, which use short animated clips to move the story along – Deadbolt Mystery Society employs QR codes.

More often than not, these QR codes send you to password-protected web pages, which require you to input the solution from one of the aforementioned puzzles in order to obtain the next clue! Keeping the investigator honest – as you can’t just guess the answers – you need to know them.

One of the QR codes in this box tells you when to open the next packet – with more new puzzles to solve – SQUEE!!!

But once you surmount each hurtle, you are rewarded with a witness statement, diary entries, cryptic phone messages, eerie songs…the list goes on, and you never know what you’re going to uncover next – which is great fun! 

(BTW – you need either a smartphone or tablet with a camera to solve each case. Otherwise, you’re dead in the water.)

Deadbolt Mystery Society says each case takes anywhere between 2-6 hours to solve, depending on your skill level and the number of people working together. I take my time and usually solve them in a week or two – depending on how much free time I can carve out (unlike books – I don’t rush thru these). I would recommend these for adults or teens working in tandem with an adult, as most of the puzzles are pretty tricky (by design).

Not sure you’re ready to sign up? The Deadbolt Mystery Society also sells individual boxes – if you want to try it out before committing to a subscription!

FYI: While the web pages, photos, and packets don’t explicitly show any gore, the scenarios themselves can have a high body count (this last month featured a serial killer) together with the puzzle difficulty level… I’m not sure I’d be comfortable gifting a subscription to any of my nieces or nephews under fifteen or sixteen.

Fran

A Walk on the Dark Side

I haven’t been reading a lot of noir lately, because things are noir enough in real life, even though I have puppies to help liven things up. Oh, and they do!

But as I was unpacking books, I ran into Lono Waiwaiole’s “Wiley” series. Well, the first two anyway. I haven’t unearthed the third one yet. The thing is, I have them, but I never read them. I like Lono as a person, JB and Bill raved about the books, so I knew I’d like them. I just never got around to it.

Until now.

I just finished Wiley’s Lament. WHY DID I NOT READ THIS EARLIER? Holy cats.

Wiley is just kinda drifting through life. He’s living in a house owned by his old buddy, Leon, and he gambles to pay the rent. When he comes up short, Wiley leaves his home environs of Portland, OR, and wanders up to Seattle, where he robs drug dealers. He has nothing to lose, as far as he’s concerned.

“When I lose, I go to Seattle and find a drug dealer to rip off.”

“Isn’t that dangerous?”

“I like the symmetry of it. Either I get the money, or it blows up in my face and I don’t need any money.”

“It sounds like you don’t really care which one it is.”

“I don’t,” I said. “That’s the key to the whole thing.”


But when Wiley’s estranged daughter is murdered, his interest in things comes sharply into focus. He blames his buddy, Leon, for Lizzie’s death, but it turns out things are much, much more complicated than what Wiley initially thought, and that drive to find out just what happened puts both Wiley and Leon on a dark and dangerous path.

It’s brilliant.

Lono Waiwaiole‘s writing is dark, visceral, and deeply, profoundly human. Wiley and Leon and their associates are not the guys in white hats. They’re flawed and emotionally scarred, and it takes some looking to see the solid and faithful hearts beating underneath. But it’s there, and you care. Deeply.

And of all the characters I wish I could be, among a whole lot of wonderful and memorable people, I want to be Elmer. He’s a total delight to me. Granted, I want to be faster. Maybe I just want his wisdom.

I’m so sorry I took this long to read Wiley’s Lament, and I’ve got Wiley’s Shuffle close to hand. If you haven’t read them, now is a good time.

JB

Mike Lawson’s books have an subtle thrum to them, a smooth motion that seems to me to hum. They are the finest example of thrillers as, once they start, they don’t slow down. And though DeMarco is a classic reluctant hero, he never fails to see the case finished, even if he has to cut corners.

House Standoff is a departure for Lawson, this time playing with the strict rules of a whodunnit. Someone close to DeMarco has been murdered in a distant setting, and he’s not going to rest, as he warns the people he bangs into, until he finds out who pulled the trigger. Mike provides a number of suspects and seeds the stories with red herrings. The book works like a Manor House mystery, set in a small town in the Far West. And then he has the audacity of upend the rules. It is a stunning piece of work.

He buffaloed me. I was sure I’d fingered the killer, but …

There are many series I have re-read many times. I think it is time to start the DeMarcos at the beginning. Sounds like as much fun as can be had between the covers of a paperback. Keep me occupied til he next new Lawson book.

And I can’t wait for this: James Ellroy Gets to the Scene of the Crime

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

February Newzine

Let’s start with some great news: Independent bookshops defy expectations during the Covid-19 pandemic with hundreds of new stores opening

Self-soothe with this video of a 120-year-old book of fairy tales being restored.

This Turkish library is shaped like a shelf of giant books.

What Fiction Can Teach Journalists: A Reading List From Maurice Chammah

Stating the obvious: Every Mystery Writer Knows, You Can Kill Anyone But The Dog

My Nudist, Holocaust-Survivor Grandma Spied on the Nazis

Suspect in Kim Kardashian’s Paris Robbery Writes Book … About Robbing Kim Kardashian

And something new and ridiculous: the final Daniel Craig 007 movie may have to have some re-shoots due to delays making product placement deals problematic!

Serious Stuff

Pharmacist Arrested, Accused Of Destroying More Than 500 Moderna Vaccine Doses

The 1954 Attack On The Capitol And The Woman Who Led It

How Online Sleuths Identified Rioters At The Capitol

A Serial Rapist Terrified a Black Sorority for a Decade. Police Just Cracked the Case.

Netflix’s Night Stalker Doc Details the Hunt For Richard Ramirez. But There’s More to the Story.

How a Whistleblower Helped Launch a Landmark Prosecution in the Battle Against the Opioid Epidemic

‘The Internet Is a Crime Scene’

A Vast Web of Vengeance: Outrageous lies destroyed Guy Babcock’s online reputation. When he went hunting for their source, what he discovered was worse than he could have imagined.

A Scoop About the Pentagon Papers, 50 Years Later

On the banned German novelist who disappeared herself from the Nazis.

Local Stuff

Saving Seattle’s National Archives will take a team effort

In Netflix’s ‘Cobra Kai,’ Seattle restaurateur Yuji Okumoto reprises a role — and a life — he thought he’d left behind

Melinda Gates has donated $250,000 to the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction.

Powell’s Books says Andy Ngo’s book will not be in store

Mossback’s Northwest: The Washington outlaw who couldn’t be caught

[and we include this just for fun: Mossback’s Northwest: The Palouse cowboy who inspired John Wayne]

Orca Post-Mortems Tell the Story of a Population Facing Numerous Threats

DNA puts a name to one of the last unidentified victims of the Green River Killer

Meet Book the Future founder Andrea Liao, a Bellevue high schooler honored for her work in the literacy field

Multnomah County Library saw record 4 million digital checkouts in 2020; here are the most popular titles

Judge orders DOJ attorneys to testify about improper questioning of witness in Thomas Wales investigation

Department of SPECTRE

Amazon and major publishers colluded to keep e-book prices high, lawsuit says

Amazon Is Helping to Fund a Militia That Stormed the Capitol

UW study:Amazon algorithms promote vaccine misinformation

Amazon seeks to block shareholder proposals on hate speech, diversity, workplace conditions and surveillance tech

Words of the Month

CHANTAGE – the extortion of money by threats of scandalous revelations aka Blackmail. French, from chanter to yield to extortion, be compliant, literally, to sing + -age

This word is first recorded in the period 1870–75. Other words that entered English at around the same time include: Mafiafifth wheelgiveawayimmobilizeupgrade

Awards

ALA Youth Media Awards (Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King, and many more!)

Mystery Writers of America Announces 2021 Edgar Allan Poe Award Nominations

3 books by Oregon authors win Pacific Northwest Book Awards

Book Stuff

The Great Gatsby and All Your Favorite Works from 1925 Have Now Entered the Public Domain

Shelf Life: Tana French:the famed mystery writer takes our literary survey.

American Dirt: How one of publishing’s most hyped books became its biggest horror story — and still ended up a best seller.

My First Thriller: Lawrence Block

The Life and Wild Times of O. Henry

You’re using the term ‘Orwellian’ wrong. Here’s what George Orwell was actually writing about

‘Invisible Men’ chronicles pioneering Black artists of the early comic book industry

At the Library: Spare some time for the overlooked books

Ernest Cline Was ‘Raised by Screens.’ Look How Well He Turned Out!

Penny dreadfuls were the true crime podcasts of their time

The Thrill of Researching Your Crime Novel

The dramatic — and embellished — life of Graham Greene

Closure of an iconic Paris bookshop alarms French bibliophiles

Why do books have prices printed on them?

Open letter calls for publishing boycott of Trump administration memoirs

How Teaching Writing Makes Jonathan Lethem’s Own Writing Better

Patricia Highsmith – Jan 19, 1921

~ Patricia Highsmith at 100: the best film adaptations

~ Patricia Highsmith: the ‘Jew-hater’ who took Jewish women as lovers

~ Upgrade your writing soundtrack with Patricia Highsmith’s favorite songs.

Exploring the People of Middle-earth: Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, an Unexpected Hero

Indie bookstore to open a block away from recently shuttered Barnes & Noble

Rare Devon fabric book found in London archives

Here’s what you need to know about the book club service that just raised $40 million.

This new indie bookstore categorizes books by emotion.

Merriam-Webster just added 520 new words to the lexicon, but these are the best ones.

Paul Yamazaki on Fifty Years of Bookselling at City Lights

Today in cool internet passion projects: the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction.

John le Carré Offered a Piece of Advice to a Struggling Novelist. She’ll Never Forget It.

It Takes a Village To Keep a Book In Print: A Chat with the Collins Crime Club

My First Thriller: Randy Wayne White

Other Forms of Entertainment

Sex and the City: New series announced but Kim Cattrall won’t return

The secret artists creating miniature buildings for street mice

His Vaccine Story Inspired His Father To Write A Disney Classic

The people who want to send smells through your TV

Don’t Toss Your Christmas Tree Yet! Here’s How You Can Cook With It

‘Where Are The Women?’: Uncovering The Lost Works Of Female Renaissance Artists [When JB was in college, he took an art history class entitled “Women in Art”, taught by Dr. Jeanne Stump. It was one of the first such classes in the US and he’s thrilled the painters he studied over 40 years ago are finally getting the attention they have always deserved.]

The True Story Behind Why the Original ‘The Twilight Zone’ Got Canceled

John Bishop Boards the TARDIS for Season 13 of Doctor Who 

Car Concerts Offer Choirs A Way To Rehearse And Perform

PI Storytelling Through the Ages: Books, Blogs and Podcasts by Real Private Eyes

‘The Umbrella Academy’ Season 3 Unveils Cast For Sparrow Academy Which Includes… A Telekinetic Cube?

Hollywoodland: The Best Neo-Noir You Probably Haven’t Seen

Kevin Feige Confirms ‘Deadpool 3’ Is an MCU Movie

“Lincoln Lawyer” Series Lands at Netflix, Starring Manuel Garcia-Rulfo — Find Out Which Book It Will Cover

Evil Incarnate: The Aesthetics of On-Screen Villainy

What Happened To Michael Peterson From The Staircase?

Classic bands accused of crowding out new music on streaming services

Radiohead: School band demo up for auction

‘SNL’ And ‘Second City’ Announce Scholarships For Diverse, Emerging Comic Talent

‘Artists, Weirdos, Hellriders And Homies:’ Thrasher Magazine Turns 40

Timothy Dalton had Three Unmade James Bond Movies That Influenced the 007 Franchise After He Left

Words of the Month

RUB BUBBERS (OR CLANK NAPPERS) – A dexterous person/people who steal silver tankards from inns and taverns.

Thanks BBC America

Links of Interest

December 31: Serial squirrel: Neighbors keep eye out for fierce rodent

January 4: Inside the U.S. Army’s Warehouse Full of Nazi Art

January 4: Sherlock Holmes and the case of toxic masculinity: what is behind the detective’s appeal?

January 5: HG Wells fans spot numerous errors on Royal Mint’s new £2 coin

January 5: Hemingway’s Politics Were No Secret—Just Read His Only Crime Novel

January 5: Sword Taken 4 Decades Ago Is Returned To Mass. Community

January 5: Fishermen rescue naked fugitive from Australian tree

January 6: Irving “Gangi” Cohen: The Man Who Escaped Murder, Inc. and Hid Out in the Movies

January 9: The mystery at heart of Milky Way: Astronomers are still arguing after 70 years over mushroom clouds at centre of galaxy… so were they caused by exploding stars or a black hole swallowing a gas cloud? 

January 10: Split in two ~ magicians to celebrate 100 years of sawing people in half

January 11: Megalodons gave birth to large newborns that likely grew by eating unhatched eggs in womb

January 11: A level results: Why algorithms aren’t making the grade

January 13: Gurlitt’s last Nazi-looted work returned to owners

January 13: Tower of London’s ‘queen’ raven Merlina missing

January 13: Italy ‘Ndrangheta group: Biggest mafia trial in decades opens

January 13: For Sale: Papers From the Planning of the 1963 March on Washington

January 14: Lizzie Borden’s House Is Up For Sale

January 15: A productivity tool company has solved writing by . . . reinventing the typewriter.

January 18: Man found ‘living in airport for three months’ over Covid fears

January 19: Stolen 500-year-old painting found in Naples cupboard

January 19: Those Guillotines are awfully close to your neck

January 27: Marie Dean Arrington: The Woman Who Fled From a Florida Electric Chair

January 27: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Murder: A Roadside Killing and The Novel That Captured an Era

Words of the Month

MASK OF SANITY – Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy—these serial killers were famous not only for their crimes, but their deceptively charming dispositions. This is what crime experts refer to as the Mask of Sanity. Coined by psychiatrist Hervey M. Cleckley in his 1941 book, this describes the phenomena of psychopaths easily blending in with their peers because they don’t typically suffer from more noticeable mental symptoms like hallucinations and delusions.

Thanks to MentalFloss

RIP

December 29: ‘Columbo,’ ‘Murder, She Wrote’ co-creator William Link dies

January 8: Michael Apted, Director Of The ‘Up’ Documentary Series, Dies At 79

January 8: Legendary Dodgers Manager Tommy Lasorda Dies At 93

January 9: Remembering Journalist And Friend Neil Sheehan

January 9: Marion Ramsey: Police Academy and Broadway star dies at 73

January 14: Siegfried Fischbacher: Member of magic duo Siegfried and Roy dies

January 17: Phil Spector, famed music producer convicted of murder, dies at 81 after contracting COVID-19

January 23: ‘Barney Miller,’ ‘Sanford and Son’ actor Gregory Sierra dies at 83

January 26: Cloris Leachman, Oscar-winning actress and prolific TV star, dies at 94

January 28: Cicely Tyson, Who Brought Grace And Gravitas To The Screen, Has Died At 96

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

While working the shelves of Seattle Mystery Bookshop, several series caused me no end of dismay when trying to space them out, so they looked pretty for you all! 

Agatha Christie often clogged the classics section with the sheer variety of sizes publishers used to reprint her mysteries. Earle Stanley Gardner also had his moments of causing classic section consternation due to the sheer volume of books he wrote – 82 in the Perry Mason series alone! 

M.C. Beaton and Alexander McCall Smith (in the general mysteries) eventually got their own sections due to the ever-expanding series. 

However, there’s one writer who often lead me to tear my hair out – J.D. Robb. 

Due to Robb’s overwhelming popularity, we needed to keep the majority of the In Death Series on hand at all times. Meaning? When Robb released a new book or we received a batch of used mysteries…We often needed to move entire rows & sections of books around, so Eve and her cohorts didn’t scrunch, encroach, or simply dominate the neighboring authors!

Now that Robb’s hit book number 51 in her In Death series, I shudder to think how we’d struggle to fit her prodigious output on the shelves! 

Speaking of book 51, Shadows in Death…Robb delivers yet another page-turning, read-late-into-the-night thriller you can devour in a single (long) sitting. One that will leave Eve & Roarke fans with a pleasant taste in their mouths; as we learn more about Roarke’s past, watch Eve work with her team and visit Ireland!

Feeney had stars in his eyes.

Perhaps, just perhaps, the mystery’s culmination teetered on the edge of sensationalism. But really, it only ever teetered, but Robb never actually jumped the shark, so we’re still fine!

Did you know the Western tradition of a bride wearing white didn’t come about until Queen Victoria wore a white dress to her wedding in 1840? The trend soon caught on amongst the elite across Europe as it became a symbol, not of the bride’s ‘purity’ but her family’s wealth. (i.e., they could afford to purchase an easily ruined dress.) Prior to this point, brides wore all kinds of colors – red being a particular favorite. 

It wasn’t until prosperity hit the middle classes after WWII, helped along by the silver screen, that white wedding gowns became commonplace across the US and Europe.

In 1981 the tradition received a significant boost when soon-to-be Princess Diana walked down the aisle in a stunning ivory dress which sported 10,000 pearls, a 25 ft train, and a 153-yard tulle veil. As one-in-six people around the entire world watched the wedding – her gown inspired generations of brides. 

Beyond the fact, it undoubtedly took some serious spine and determination to pull the weight of the dress down the aisle. The train and veil caused one wedding day hiccup. The designers failed to consider the size of the glass coach Princess Diana would ride in to St. Paul’s Cathedral. So, despite the bride’s best efforts, the dress became badly wrinkled on the ride over.

I know a few wrinkles in a dress doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but I know from experience, trying to create a perfect day – something like this can easily spin one out.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your view, Lindsey Norris doesn’t need to wait until the big day for something to go wrong! Not only did the guest list accidentally triple overnight – she and Sully find their officiant washed up on the beach of their wedding venue…dead!

So it’s a race against time as Lindsey & Sully work to solve a friend’s murder, find a new officiant, and expand their wedding venue – all before the big day! 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading One For The Books

The murder and the practicalities behind throwing a wedding provide an excellent counterpoint to well – the wedding. An event, which handled by a less deft mystery author, can edge towards the overly sweet – a trap McKinlay, thankfully, never falls into!

In addition, the possible motives of our cast of suspects are, for lack of a better word – intriguing. As no one, not even our victim, is innocent. It’s this tangled set of relationships, ones that neither Lindsey nor Sully ever suspected, and their revelations that make this mystery.

Then there’s The Lemon, Ms. Cole, who since announcing her aim to become Briar Creek’s next mayor – is endeavoring to loosen up and smile more….neither of which is precisely in her wheelhouse – thus adding an extra layer of sharp mirth to an already engaging read. 

All in all, One For The Books was a fun, fast-paced, and diverting book I would recommend to anyone looking for a biblio-mystery or a fun way to escape an afternoon or two!

Don’t Forget to Check out my other Blog – Finder of Lost Things!

This last week we’ve met Squiddy, The Brownie Stealing Bench and Phoebe’s Silver City Operative!

Fran

One of the questions we routinely got at the bookshop was, “Have you read every book here?” It was generally accompanied with a laugh, although sometimes it was a serious question.

We always grinned and responded that there was no way to read all of them, and that we all had areas of specialty. The fact is, of course, that not only could we not have read all 10,000+ titles, but we honestly had so many new titles coming in every week, we didn’t even pretend to try.

That didn’t mean we couldn’t sell books we hadn’t read. A good working knowledge of the standards and classics worked well, and the quality of writing helped several series sell themselves.

That’s why I was pleased to finally get around to reading my first book by Charles Todd. I prefer to start at the beginning of a series, and I should have begun with A Test of Wills, but it turns out that I had an Advance Reader Copy of The Red Door, so that’s what I read.

It was obvious there were ongoing things I would have gotten had I started at the beginning, and I will enjoy filling in the backstory, but the delight of Charles Todd is that each story stands by itself. So I got to meet Ian Rutledge and his internal companion, Hamish, and I’m thoroughly hooked.

The Red Door has two inquiries, one concerning a street thief who attacked Rutledge on a bridge, and escapes. However the thief, known as Billy, becomes more aggressive, and it’s up to Rutledge to stop him.

But a missing person case takes precedence, since the Talley family is very important, and finding Walter Talley is deemed to be of utmost importance. Rutledge is given the assignment to find Talley, and to keep news of his disappearance out of the press, to protect the family’s privacy. What Rutledge finds in his investigation will leave death and sorrow as secrets are revealed.

The combined talents that comprise Charles Todd are wonderful, and I am looking forward to reading them all. The depth of understanding they bring to our shell-shocked hero steeped in the times and turmoil of Great Britain in the wake of the Great War makes this book, and I can only assume all the rest, absolutely compelling.

Have we read them all? Not even hardly, but it’s great to start in on some of the ones I know I missed!

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

October 2020

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It’s been a hectic month for the three of us so this will probably be a shorter issue.

      Ghoulish Stuff for the Season

Did Mary Shelley actually lose her virginity to Percy on top of her mother’s grave? 

Are We Running Out of Monster Metaphors for the Disasters of the Real World? Erika Swyler on Surviving Our Fears By Creating More of Them

John Cleese Intends to Have His Unread Books Buried With Him

How Will Crime Fiction Authors Hold Up in the Coming Zombie Apocalypse?

      Words of the Month

kokum (n): fake niceness, simulated kindness  (Says You! Episode #717)

      Goofy Stuff

Jonathan Franzen’s best piece of advice for young writers will probably surprise you.

The 45 Best Bad Amazon Reviews of In Cold Blood 

‘Who knew people wanted a funny book on punctuation?’: Lynne Truss on writing Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Jim Thompson Is The Cynical Voice of Reason We Need In This Dumpster Fire of a Year

      Serious Stuff

The city depicted in To Kill a Mockingbird just elected its first Black mayor. [it was published in 1960…]

The Irish Department of Education is considering removing classic literary texts like To Kill a Mockingbird from secondary school curricula after pro-Black Lives Matter families complained about the use of the n-word in classrooms.

For the 2021-22 school year, the University of Chicago’s English department, one of the top-rated in the US, will only accept students “interested in working in and with Black Studies.”

The Evolution of Racism: A look at how the word, a surprisingly recent addition to the English lexicon, made its way into the dictionary 

Can Italy Defeat Its Most Powerful Crime Syndicate?


Amazon Is Spying on Its Workers in Closed Facebook Groups, Internal Reports Show

Amazon Is Hiring an Intelligence Analyst to Track ‘Labor Organizing Threats’

From the Idaho Statesman – not a state of the radical left: Amazon is not a friend of the book or its authors

Amazon says its warehouses are safe for workers. But the numbers reveal that workers are getting hurt much more often than the company claims.


Here’s how publishers based in the West are responding to a difficult, destructive fire season.

Sadly, we were ahead of the game: Brentwood’s Diesel bookstore launches a GoFundMe as more stores struggle through pandemic

A Massive Trove of Newly Leaked Documents Shows How Big Banks Help Criminals Move Dirty Money 

Joe And Jennifer Montana Foil Attempted Kidnapping Of Their Grandchild

A Rare Day-by-Day Document of Life Aboard a Slave Ship 

Bestselling author James Patterson donates $2.5 million for teacher grants

      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)

      Awards

Here’s the longlist for this year’s National Book Award for Nonfiction.

All the poets on the longlist for the National Book Award for Poetry are first timers.

Six Young Women with Prizewinning Book Collections

Milan Kundera ‘joyfully’ accepts Czech Republic’s Franz Kafka prize

Namwali Serpell will donate Clarke Prize money to those protesting Breonna Taylor’s murder.

Nikky Finney has won the $100,000 Wallace Stevens lifetime achievement award.

Women’s Prize for Fiction: Maggie O’Farrell wins for Hamnet, about Shakespeare’s son

      Words of the Month

zombie (n.) From 1871, of West African origin (compare Kikongo zumbi “fetish;” Kimbundu nzambi “god”), originally the name of a snake god, later with meaning “reanimated corpse” in voodoo cult. But perhaps also from Louisiana creole word meaning “phantom, ghost,” from Spanish sombra “shade, ghost.” Sense “slow-witted person” is recorded from 1936. (thanks to etymonline)

      Book Stuff

The real-life origin story behind The Count of Monte Cristo ~ Alexandre Dumas wrote his famous novel as a revenge fantasy for his father.

From Lindsay Faye: A Brief Introduction to Charles Vincent Emerson Starrett

Gayle Lynds: My First Thriller

“When I’m telling a story I imagine the eavesdropper over my shoulder.” Walter Mosley on storytelling, writing advice, and Winnie the Pooh.

“The translator is a writer. The writer is a translator. How many times have I run up against these assertions?” Tim Parks on the writer-translator equation.

$3.2 million worth of rare stolen books have been found under a house in rural Romania.

Why Writers Are Always in Pursuit of The Maltese Falcon

Just how odd is this month’s bestseller list? A look at pre-election bestsellers from years past.

The Writer Who Helped Spark an Explosive Debate Over the Future of Romance Novels

Rare Edition of Shakespeare’s Last Play Found in Spanish Library

What Are the Sexiest Books in Contemporary Crime Fiction? Authors Discuss

Why you should read this out loud

The Grim Truth Behind The Pied Piper

The Evolution of Jack Reacher

      Other Forms of Entertainment

The ancient palindrome that explains Christopher Nolan’s Tenet 

How Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant Filmed One of the Sexiest Scenes of All Time

The Big Sigh: Exploring the Lost Continent of Classic French Film Noir 1932-1966


Hunt continues for James Bond guns stolen in raid

‘Mythical’ Aston Martin Bulldog supercar being restored

007th heaven: why Tom Hardy as the new Bond is too good to be true

You May Have Read Tom Hardy Was Cast as the Next James Bond. Here’s Why That’s Not Going to Happen.


It’s Time to Acknowledge Miller’s Crossing As the Best Coen Brothers Movie

Goodfellas at 30: Martin Scorsese’s damning study of masculinity

Prince’s Sign O’ The Times: An oral history

Great British Bake Off: ‘Excellent’ Matt Lucas charms critics on show debut

Who is Tatiana Maslany, the new star of She-Hulk?

The Emotional Legacy Of ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater’

How George Michael transformed pop

‘If you steal music, you aren’t a real music fan’

From ‘SNL’ To Workout Videos, How RBG Became A Pop Culture Icon

      Words of the Month

bellicose (adj.) from the early 15th C., “inclined to fighting,” from Latin bellicosus “warlike, valorous, given to fighting,” from bellicus “of war,” from bellum “war” (Old Latin duellum, dvellum), which is of uncertain origin. (thanks to etymonline)

      Links of Interest

September 1: The Many Sides to Dan Brown ~ The author of “The Da Vinci Code” just released a classical music album for children. It happens to be one of the assets he and his wife are disputing in lawsuits over their divorce.

September 3: On a “body farm,” researchers are exploring whether the nutrients from human cadavers can change the look of plants, which authorities might use to locate missing persons.

September 6: How cold war spymasters found arrogance of Carlos the Jackal too hot to handle

September 6: Man blows up part of house while chasing fly

September 6: ‘But Do I Love You?’: Tips For Homebound Declutterers

September 6: John Cage musical work changes chord for first time in seven years

September 6: Man in box of ice breaks world record

September 8: The Unexpected Politics of Book Cover Design

September 9: The Very Brief Heyday of Crime Beat Magazine

September 9: Some in France are urging President Emmanuel Macron to relocate the bodies of poets Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine to the Pantheon, a memorial site known as the resting place of French cultural luminaries

September 10: The Black Dahlia: The Long, Strange History of Los Angeles’ Coldest Cold Case

September 10: Wuthering Heights: House that inspired Emily Bronte classic for sale

September 10: Santa Fe rejects George RR Martin’s request to build a ‘castle’ library

September 12: Crime Curators: Keepers of American criminal history

September 12: A Legendary Spy’s Unusual Recruitment in 1930S Shanghai

September 13: Reading Michael Cohen’s Disloyal as a memoir of jilted love.

September 14:“There’s a part o f me that feels the loss is incalculable. What if there was something in one of those crushed boxes that would have transformed literary criticism forever?” On the university that accidentally put Nadine Gordimer’s library on the street.

September 14: Warren Harding: Grandson of former US president asks to exhume his remains

September 16: Blood & Fire ~ the Bombing of Wall Street, 100 Years Later

September 16: Notorious B.I.G. crown and Tupac love letters sold at auction

September 18: The FBI, The Second Red Scare, and the Folk Singer Who Cooperated

September 18: ‘Bonkers’ reaction to Scottish store’s Taylor Swift signed CD surprise

September 22: John Lennon killer says sorry for ‘despicable act’

September 23: The National Portrait Gallery honors women who shaped the past century of American lit.

September 23: How a Team of Calligraphers Brought Jane Austen’s Fictional Letters to Life

September 24 : The Philosopher and the Detectives ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Enduring Passion for Hardboiled Fiction

September 24: Man dies from eating more than a bag of liquorice a day

September 26: Rimbaud and Verlaine: France agonises over digging up gay poets

September 27: Joe Montana (American football legend) & wife saves grandchild from kidnapping attempt

September 28: “Whether fiction or non, the lot of the double agent is rarely a happy one.”

September 29: The cat who hitched a lift on a worldwide tour

      RIP

September 10: Diana Rigg, “The Avengers” and 007’s only wife, dies aged 82

September 10: George Bizos obituary: Remembering Mandela’s gentle but fierce lawyer

September 10: Ronald Bell: Kool & The Gang founder dies aged 68

September 17: Legendary jazz critic, playwright, and essayist Stanley Crouch has died.

September 21: Winston Groom, author of pop cultural phenomenon ‘Forrest Gump,’ dies at 77

September 21: Sam McBratney: Guess How Much I Love You author dies

September 22: Michael Lonsdale, Bond villain and Jackal pursuer, dead at 89

September 22: Robert Graetz, Only White Pastor To Back Montgomery Bus Boycott, Dies At 92

September 24: Sir Harold Evans: Crusading editor who exposed Thalidomide impact dies aged 92

September 27: Miss Sherlock actress Yuko Takeuchi found dead at 40

September 30: Mac Davis: “In The Ghetto” songwriter dies aged 78

      Words of the Month

fear (n.) From Middle English fere, from Old English fær “calamity, sudden danger, peril, sudden attack,” from Proto-Germanic *feraz “danger” (source also of Old Saxon far “ambush,” Old Norse far “harm, distress, deception,” Dutch gevaar, German Gefahr “danger”), from PIE *pēr-, a lengthened form of the verbal root *per- (3) “to try, risk.”

Sense of “state of being afraid, uneasiness caused by possible danger” developed by late 12th C. Some Old English words for “fear” as we now use it were fyrhto, fyrhto; as a verb, ondrædan. Meaning “feeling of dread and reverence for God” is from c. 1400. To put the fear of God (into someone) “intimidate, cause to cower” is by 1888, from the common religious phrase; the extended use was often at first in colonial contexts:

“Thus then we seek to pu ‘the fear of God’ into the natives at the point of the bayonet, and excuse ourselves for the bloody work on the plea of the benefits which we intend to confer afterwards.” – Felix Adler, The Religion of Duty, 1950

(thanks to etymonline)

      What We’ve Been Up To

   Fran

I’m so sorry about last month. We’re moving from Washington State to New Mexico, which would be hectic at any time, but during COVID has been especially challenging. I can’t even begin to discuss the sheer volume of paperwork!

But my 60 boxes of books are packed, so there’s that. And I unearthed books from my To Be Read pile that honestly I’d forgotten about, 9781451649413which brings me to Kate Morton’s The Clockmaker’s Daughter. It came out in 2018. I may be behind but I’m sincere in my efforts.

The Clockmaker’s Daughter spans time from about 1850 to 2017, with stops along the way. Our narrator is Birdie, also sometimes known as Lily Millington. She’s been around for a very long time. The other person we’re following mostly is Elodie Winslow, in 2017. Obviously their paths intertwine, but it’s how and why that is so fascinating.

Birdie, as Lily, was the model for an up and coming painter in the late 1800’s, Edward Radcliffe. She was and is a highly intelligent and curious and free-spirited young lady, with a shady past. Elodie archives records and memorabilia surrounding a different 1800’s person, James Stratton, as well as dodges her soon-to-be mother-in-law whenever possible.

How these two women’s lives overlap, along with so very many other people, is at the heart of the story, but make no mistake, this is a murder mystery. Frances Brown was murdered at Edward Radcliffe’s house in 1862, and everyone believes they know what happened.

They’re wrong. Almost no one does. And finding out what happened will keep you reading, I promise. Kate Morton is an accomplished author, and she manages the different voices skillfully and deftly. This is an absolutely lush novel, and I think it would be a gorgeous movie, but no film could ever capture the depth, the insights, the myriad layers of personality and history that are encompassed in this book.

As the weather darkens and the year winds down, I really do recommend The Clockmaker’s Daughter as a great fireside read on a blustery day!

   JB

While he’s written a ton a great books, I’ve always thought The Poet is Michael Connelly‘s best book. Granted, I’ve not read it in a couple of decades but it has stuck with me as singular – and I plan to re-read it very soon.

9780316539425So I was excited to learn that his newest book, Fair Warning,  brings back reporter Jack McEvoy and eager to read it.

While the plot is, as always, original and interesting, this was a boring read. A dud. (Even the cover is bad – his publisher put a raven on it and there is zero plot connection to the earlier McEvoy novels.) The writing was flat and uninteresting, McEvoy struggles with and inability to make intimate relationships work with women – as most of Connelly’s male characters do – and I finished it just to see how it’d end. I hadn’t read any Connelly books in years and I should’ve kept it that way. A sad comment about a favorite author and nice guy.


On the other hand – – –

“It was rampaging imbecility, and possibly unstoppable.”

GET A HOLD OF THE NEW CARL HIAASEN AS FAST AS YOU CAN!

“The boy looked up from the canal bank to see what he’d snagged, dialed 911, cut his
line with a knife, and walked away. It was the third dead body he’s found while fishing, but such was the reality of a childhood spent outdoors in Florida. It was a testament to the teen’s passion for angling that he’d never considered getting a new hobby”.
Fiction or memory?

Not only is this about the usual insanity of Hiaasen’s Florida home state, it’s the insanity of the current year: covid, the election, the current occupants of the White House, MAGA fans who call themselves the Potussies (because these decadently wealthy women find “POTUS pussies” might risk their cherished places on the social registry), stripper poles in beach cabanas, tanning beds that must be test run, record-length pythons, violent texts about immigrants and howling mobs, and even a certain ex-governor. Oh, and fabulously expensive conch pearls.

“The whole place smelled like the exhaust vent at a Burger King”

The winter White House on Palm Beach island – Hiaasen has dubbed it “Casa Bellicosa” – is the scene of most of the action after Kiki Pew Fitzsimmons vanishes from a fundraiser. Soon we’re into a hunt for her involving the Secret Service, the local chief of police and a young woman who removes creatures from buildings and returns them to the wild. Angie used to be a wildlife agent but was sent to prison for feeding the hand of a poacher to an alligator. The only regret she had was that the poor alligator had to be shot.

Hiaasen does not lower himself to use the actual names of the President and First Lady – he used Secret Service code names of “Mastodon” and “Mockingbird” but he is otherwise scathing in his portrayal of the recognizable Leader of the Free World. As you might imagine. “Up on the TV screen, Mastodon wearing a vast beet-colored golf shirt that hung on his upper frame like an Orkin termite tent. His long-billed cap had been yanked down tight to keep his hairpiece moored to its Velcro moonbase during gusts of wind.”

The First Lady is treated with respect – though he gives her a fondness for a “a specific massage oil – eucalyptus and bacon mint”. She actually comes off as the only sane one in family. She may’ve even found true love!

I frankly didn’t care if the other passengers on the plane looked oddly at me for laughing out loud while consuming the book. How could you not?9781524733452

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

AND VOTE !!!!!!

September 2020

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A little something different in this months Words of the Month

Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity. The sentiment has been attributed to many other minds. (thanks to Says You!, episode 2412)

    Odd Stuff

The shop’s e-mail filter has snagged a number of messages as nefarious. They’re supposedly from US sources and the subject lines say something like “Only The U.S. Presidential Team Will Save United States from Doomsday Ahead” or “The Exceptional Benefits of The United States Presidential Team”. Makes me wonder if these are attempts by “outside actors” to influence the election. Usually, we just get sunglasses brags or Nigerian princes’ pleas in Spanish…

Was Tony Soprano’s Therapist Good at Her Job?

Improve your relationships – with advice from counter-terrorism experts

Complete your pandemic aesthetic with this bookcase that converts into a coffin.  

Frans Hals painting ‘Two Laughing Boys’ stolen for a third time

The Art of Upsetting People 

Was The Graduate Inspired by a Brontë Family Scandal?

Don’t feel bad: even Danielle Steel, author of 179 books, couldn’t write under lockdown.

    Nice Stuff

Add a Tart Twist to Your Summer Reading List With These Cocktail Themed Mysteries

Is this the greatest TV commercial ever made for a public library?

How Dashiell Hammett’s Contintental Op Became a Depression-Era Icon 

“The Easiest Eighty Thousand Words Ever Put Together”: The Story Behind the Story of David Dodge’s To Catch a Thief 

A Bruce Lee Hong Kong sightseeing tour – visit where the martial arts icon lived, filmed, trained and went to school with this DIY guide 

One Twitter Account’s Quest to Proofread The New York Times 

Did you know that Truman Capote discovered Ray Bradbury? (Well, sort of.)

Words we think we know, but can’t pronounce: the curse of the avid reader

Poetry magazine will skip its September issue to address its “deep-seated white supremacy.”

Check out this gorgeous illustrated map of Black-owned bookshops across the country.

    Serious Stuff

Agency: Nearly 87,000 bogus unemployment claims filed in Washington state

Murders of California Indigenous Women 7 times less likely to be solved, report finds

“The Con,” a new five-part docuseries, examines the 2007-08 global financial crisis and the greedy bankers and politicians who got away with (figurative) murder. 

How a Russian Defector Became a Warning from Moscow to London

Alan Dershowitz claims a fictional lawyer defamed him. The implications for novelists are very real


Bookseller, writer, and publisher organizations want congress to go after Amazon.

Portland’s Powell’s Books says it ‘must take a stand’ and will stop selling books through Amazon

(Amazon owned)Whole Foods managers told to talk up donations while enforcing BLM ban


The Real Criminal Masterminds in America Aren’t Working the System—They Created It 

3 of the World’s Deadliest Serial Killers Come From the Same Place: Why?

‘History Is Corrected’: An Interview with Civil Rights journalist Jerry Mitchell 

Sex Offender Registries Often Fail Those They Are Designed To Protect

New York rejects 11th parole bid of John Lennon’s killer 

Global Raid Targets Major TV and Movie Piracy Group 

Writers Against Trump wants to mobilize the literary community in advance of the election. 

Fact Checking Is the Core of Nonfiction Writing. Why Do So Many Publishers Refuse to Do It?  

Independent bookstores struggle under national security law in Hong Kong

    Local Stuff

Half a century after 4 murders rocked a community and a courtroom, ‘Seattle’s Forgotten Serial Killer’ explores the case of Gary Gene Grant

    Words of the Month

Benfor’s Law: The louder the voice, the weaker the argument. Passion is inversely proportional to the amount of real information available. (thanks to Says You!, episode 2412)

      Awards

Marieke Lucas Rijneveld wins International Booker for The Discomfort of Evening 

J.K. Rowling Returns Kennedy Human Rights Award After RFK Daughter Calls Author “Transphobic”

    Book Stuff

In turbulent times, culling my book collection gave me the illusion of control. Then the dilemmas began multiplying. 

Personal Space: Laura Lippman Dares to Focus on Herself

Hundreds of errors found in Hemingway’s works, mostly made by editors and typesetters

Elena Ferrante’s Master Class on Deceit: Her latest novel frames lying as a creative act.

Weird Women: The Forgotten Female Horror Writers of the 19th Century and Beyond 

What to Do About William Faulkner: A white man of the Jim Crow South, he couldn’t escape the burden of race, yet derived creative force from it. 

The Book in the Cathedral by Christopher de Hamel – adventures of a manuscript sleuth 

True Crime’s Messy, Interactive Renaissance 

The Lost Classics of One of the 20th Century’s Great Hard-boiled Writers 

The World of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser and the Birth of the 1970’s Private Detective

Middlemarch and other works by women reissued under their real names


My Pandemic Master Class with The Silence of the Lambs 

The Silence of the Lambs: The Seminal Serial Killer Novel, and Still the Best


My First Thriller: David Morrell

I prefer a more domestic murder‘: the thrilling nastiness of PD James

Surprising secrets of writers’ first book drafts

People want to support their local bookstores. They might be hurting them instead.


Vivian Stephens Helped Turn Romance Writing Into a Billion-Dollar Industry. Then She Got Pushed Out.

‘We Need People Within Our Publishing Houses Who Reflect What Our Country Looks Like’ Book publisher Lisa Lucas reflects on her career and how the literary world still isn’t diverse enough


The way you pull your favorite books off the shelf is probably ruining them.

On Repetition As a Powerful Literary Tool

    Author Events

Events, yes – signings, no

    Words of the Month

Sturgeon’s Law: “ninety percent of everything is crap.” wikipedia

    Other Forms of Entertainment

 

The 35 Most Iconic Caper Movies, Ranked

The Agony of Liam Neeson, Action Star

The Crime is Up: A hybrid podcast featuring original crime fiction and film noir appreciations.

The greatest femme fatale ever? 

What I Learned About Myself While Tallying The Body Count of Ozark’s First Season

Watch the steamy first trailer for Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile.

The Sherlock Holmes group The Baker Street Irregulars have a video podcast now, The Fortnightly Dispatch.

Otto Penzler finished his list of Greatest Crime Films of All Time

This One Line From Gone Baby Gone Plays on a Loop in My Head

    RIP

August 1: James Silberman, Editor Who Nurtured Literary Careers, Dies at 93

August 2: Wilford Brimley, Star of “The China Syndrome” and “The Natural” Dies At 85

August 4:  Pete Hamill, Quintessential New York Journalist, and Novelist, Dies at 85

August 4: Reni Santoni, Dirty Harry Actor and Seinfeld’s Poppie, Dead at 81

August 18: Ben Cross, British actor in Chariots of Fire and Sarek in Star Trek films, dead at 72

August 28: ‘Black Panther’ Star Chadwick Boseman Dies of Cancer at 43

    Words of the Month

Gibson’s Law: “For every PhD there is an equal and opposite PhD.”

    Links of Interest

July 30: Doubting Gauguin ~An amateur detective takes on the National Gallery, and the art world

August 2: He’s probably been in more movies than any actor in history (hint: he’s in “Chinatown”)

August  2: ‘Murder capital of the world’: The terrifying years when multiple serial killers stalked Santa Cruz

August 3: “I’m Going To Be Honest With You,” The Grandfather Told Police. “I Killed A Lot.”

August 4: This woman hunts for photos and other treasures left in used books — then returns them

August 5: Coups, lies, dirty tricks: The Police’s Stewart Copeland on his CIA agent father

August 5: Russia’s ‘Red Penguins’ Had Mobsters, Strippers, Beer-Chugging Bears—and Some Hockey

August 5: Whatever Happened to Eliot Ness After Prohibition?

August 5: The unusual new species of stingray found in a jar

August 6: My Life in True Crime ~ Kim Powers’ life has been spent writing about crime. But the suspicions about his own mother’s death were kept secret

August 6: The Spy Messages No Computer Can Decode

August 6: Medieval ‘wine windows’ are reopening, reviving Italian plague tradition

August 7: Tennis star, fashion designer, integration advocate . . . spy?

August 7: Cheeky boar leaves nudist grunting in laptop chase

August 9: Cavorting in Hot Springs, Ark., During Its Sin-Soaked Heyday

August 9: Gandhi’s glasses left in Bristol auctioneer’s letterbox

August 10: Thirty-year-old corpse discovered in cellar of €35m Paris mansion

August 17: Two men charged with 2002 murder of Run-DMC DJ Jam Master Jay

August 18: How a Fake CIA Spy Fooled Everyone and Swindled Millions

August 18: The Last Seduction: The greatest femme fatale ever?

August 19: The Bloody Benders: America’s First Family of Serial Killers

August 20: Jack Reacher and The Grand Unified Theory of Thrillers

August 23: Frank Sinatra Slept Here, and So Can You ~ In New York and across the country, the former homes of famous writers, musicians and film stars are available as short-term rentals

August 23: Assassins in stockings and stilettos: is it time movies killed off hitwoman cliches?

August 23: Tel Aviv covers over Peeping Toms beach mural

August 24: Kuwaiti writers welcome change to book censorship laws

August 24: Israeli youths unearth 1,100-year-old gold coins from Abbasid era

August 25: Discovery of scholar’s notes shine light on race to decipher Rosetta Stone

August 25: How Do Celebrity Conspiracy Theorists Become Who They Are?

August 25: What the Mythology of El Chapo Guzmán Tells Us About the Reality of Drug Trafficking in the Americas

August 25: Kevin Costner on ‘Dangerous’ Trump, a ‘Bodyguard’ Sequel With Princess Diana, and American ‘Amnesia’

August 27: Memories of a Coroner’s Daughter

August 28: My Top Five Female Detectives, Real and Imagined

August 28: Driven to Abstraction: the inside story of a $60m art forgery hoax

August 28: Forensics on Trial: America’s First Blood Test Expert

August 29: Denise Mina: ‘I couldn’t read until I was about nine’

     Words of the Month

Doctorow’s Law: “Anytime someone puts a lock on something you own, against your wishes, and doesn’t give you the key, they’re not doing it for your benefit.”

    What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

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Don’t forget to check out one of my other blogs – Finder of Lost Things! A serial mystery set in and around Nevermore Cemetery!

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Now due to the slowness of the mail recently all my new books were delayed in arriving, so I’ve not had a chance to read them yet. So instead, here’s a review of a Lego build I finished of a….

Bookshop!!!!!

This is probably one of the most fun (only surpassed by the detective’s agency) and detailed builds I’ve finished so far in Lego’s mains street builds. With trees, flowers, a backyard garden and books – what more can you ask for?

Lego categorizes this as an Creator Expert build – so unless you have a kid with large builds under their belt or can follow instructions well – I’d work up to this set.

However, it is totally worth practicing for!

Speaking of Lego – Here’s a funny story: Lego hand comes out of boy’s nose after two years

JB


I put this article here, rather in the Book Stuff section, ’cause Dave and Clete are two of my favorite people – no matter that they’re fiction: The Evolution of Dave Robicheaux and the Incredible Career of James Lee Burke

And then this appeared the next day: James Lee Burke on Art, Fascism, and the Hijacking of American Christianity


Charles Leerhsen‘s new biography, Butch Cassidy, 9781501117480was great fun. It’s full of interesting details – Etta’s first name was really Ethel but a typo in the Pinkerton’s file has forever changed that, and Sundance played the guitar well – who knew? I had not heard that Sundance’s mother’s maiden name was Place and that’s likely where Etta/Ethel got it.  In fact, it may be we really don’t know her birth name.

I had not heard of the collapse of beef prices during the blizzard called the The Big Die-Up of 1886-87 (a 15-inch snowflake still holds the world record for size from that storm) and that massive affect on the Old West. I had not realized the size of hauls the Wild Bunch got from banks and trains, and, as staggering as those numbers are, it is astonishing how they were always out of money. “You could go broke in the Wild West being a bandit.” And I had not realized just how far and how often they’d travel, whether by horseback or, one assumes, train.

What Leerhsen does best it draw portraits of the outlaws and juxtaposes those against what we all expect from the famed movie. Indeed, while haunted and hunted by the law, they still did quite a bit of straight work – cowboying on ranches all along the eastern Rockies. He does a similar job relating their years in South America. Again, I had not understood how long they were there. Hollywood, again. But Leerhsen points all of that out, even to the degree which screenwriter William Goldman purposefully didn’t research Cassidy and Sundance and still he got their personalities and era right.

With a light and amusing style, he sets down things that you know about in a new way. About the massive explosion in the train heist in Wilcox, WY – so well destroyed a second time in the movie, the author tells us: “When Woodcock came to, he was pleased to realize wilcoxthat the crimson splotches all over his clothes came from a shipment of raspberries that the blast had turned into flying jam. The red stuff now coated everything in sight – and would later make the stolen bank notes and coins easier to identify”. Later, one of the gang would be arrested after spending one of the stained notes.

 

There are many, many amusing passages in the book. Wish I’d kept better track of them!

But there are a few flaws to the book. For one, it’d’ve been a great help to have a map of their locations in the Eastern Rockies and in South America. Much more useful than the usual photos that are not new. They road hundreds of miles, worked at this ranch or that ranch, circled back to this one – where was that one again? He also remarks often about how Butch’s fame as an outlaw grew but he doesn’t match that but noting how many bank or train robberies there were. From what he includes, Butch seems to be an occasional outlaw, not a desperado with a national reputation.

But that leads to one glaring fault of the book. Maybe he didn’t feel the need to present anything comprehensive due to the large number of books about Butch. Indeed, time and again he mentions the authoritative or exhausting book that Richard Patterson or Kerry Ross Boren, or the work of Daniel Buck and Anne Meadows. Maybe the helpful maps are in one of those books…

At any rate, I highly recommend this book. There’s lots about the time period and what their Old Wild West was really like and, best of all, as Leerhsen seems to agree, there are no intrusive, annnoying Burt Bacharach songs.

 

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

August 2020 Newzine

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WOW – August already, huh…. ok, here we go!

On the Endless Symbolism of Jaws, Which Owes Its Dark Soul to Moby Dick

    Serious Stuff

Rulers vs. writers: The pre-Trump prehistory of author suppression


How Police Secretly Took Over a Global Phone Network for Organized Crime

Dutch police discover secret torture site in shipping containers


Activists’ books are disappearing from Hong Kong’s public libraries 

Women speak out about Warren Ellis: ‘Full and informed consent was impossible’ 

A Heist on Time and a Half: Inside The Most Corrupt Police Squad In The Nation [For more on Baltimore, don’t forget this terrific podcast about Agnew, and then there’s the Netflix series “The Keepers”…]

The Prophecies of Q

From Italy: An Entire Police Station Has Been Arrested for Dealing Drugs and Torturing Suspects 

9 Essential Books To Learn About Our Badly Broken American Political System

Does ‘Character’ Still Count in American Politics?

SFF authors are protesting Saudi Arabia’s cynical bid to host the 2022 WorldCon.

Amid a virus surge and government repression, Hong Kong’s oldest bookstore is closing.

    Local Stuff

‘I’ve been a lucky man’: Michael Coy, a mainstay in Seattle’s book scene, is retiring after 48 years in the business [Michael was one or JB’s teachers when Bill sent him to the American Bookseller’s Association’s Bookseller School. He’s a great guy and has always been very helpful with advice about bookselling. We wish him the best as he pushes back from selling to simply reading!]

Prosecutor admits grand jury gaffe with Thomas Wales witness but says perjury indictment should stand

Talking character, inspiration with Sujata Massey, author of Moira’s Book Club pick ‘The Widows of Malabar Hill’

    From the Dossier of SPECTRE

Jeff Bezos hated ads — now Amazon is America’s top advertiser

America’s Largest Unions Are Calling on the FTC to Stop Amazon 

The Amazon Critic Who Saw its Power from the Inside

MacKenzie Scott begins giving away most of her Amazon wealth. Here’s why, and where nearly $1.7 billion is going.

    Words of the Month

sibylline (adj.): From the 1570s, from Latin sibyllinus, from sibylla (see sibyl: “woman supposed to possess powers of prophecy, female soothsayer,” c. 1200, from Old French sibile, from Latin Sibylla, from Greek Sibylla, name for any of several prophetesses consulted by ancient Greeks and Romans, of uncertain origin. Said to be from Doric Siobolla, from Attic Theoboule “divine wish.”) thanks to etymonline

    Awards

Duende District, The Word, Launch BIPOC Bookseller Award

Colson Whitehead is the youngest writer to win the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction.

Hilary Mantel, Kiley Reid, Anne Tyler in Running for Booker Prize

    Book Stuff

 The Postman Always Rings Twice: 1934 New York Times review of James M. Cain’s sexually-charged, hard-boiled crime novel

Every Great Writer is a Great Deceiver: Vladimir Nabokov’s Best Writing Advice 

P. D. James: A Crime Reader’s Guide to the Classics 

Look inside Oslo’s stunning new public library, now open to the public.

My Writing Will Never Be as Good as Charles Willeford’s 

Visiting Europe’s Great Libraries from Rick Steves 

With Stores Closed, Barnes & Noble Does Some Redecorating

In Publishing, ‘Everything Is Up for Change’ 

My First Thriller: Steve Berry 

The Exhilarating, Dangerous World of Helen Eustis

6 book recommendations from crime writer Camilla Läckberg

The Celebrity Bookshelf Detective is Back

Cats and Cozy Mysteries, The Purr-fect Combination

María Elvira Bermúdez, the Agatha Christie of Mexican literature 

The Power—and the Responsibility—of True Crime Writing

    Author Events

maybe someday…..though we have heard that some places, some publishers, are doing on-line events, that still means no signatures

    Other Forms of Entertainment

“I Don’t Let Regret In” Pierce Brosnan on Love, Loss, and his Life After Bond  

My streaming gem: why you should watch Detour

Idris Elba says a Luther movie is ‘close’ to happening 

Candy: Elisabeth Moss to star in true-crime story of notorious Texas axe killer 

Fascinating Cases That ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ Viewers Helped Solve

On Netflix ~ Fear City: New York vs The Mafia & World’s Most Wanted

How They Shot the Wrong-Way Car Chase in ‘To Live and Die in L.A.’ 

Comfort Viewing: 3 Reasons I Love ‘Columbo’

How a 10-year-old created a lockdown print hit for punk fans

Loren Estleman:How Film Noir will Forever Change Your Worldview

Otto Penzler’s Greatest Crime Films of All Times Continues

The 50 Most Iconic Heist Movies, Ranked from Worst to Best

    Podcasts

“Las Vegas was better off when it was run by the mob.” Mobbed Up: The Fight for Las Vegas, an 11-part true-crime podcast series produced by the Las Vegas Review-Journal in partnership with The Mob Museum, chronicles the mob’s rise and fall in Las Vegas through the eyes of those who lived it: ex-mobsters, law enforcement officials, politicians and journalists. [JB recommends]

7 International True Crime Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

Son of a Hitman: the story of Charles Harrelson [JB recommends]

Could the CIA Have Planted Hair-Metal Propaganda During the Cold War?In the new podcast ‘Wind of Change,’ host Patrick Radden Keefe explores how the CIA used music to change hearts and minds [it is well documented that they did this with the abstract expressionists in the 50s, so why not?? – JB]

    Words of the Month

12 Common Words And Phrases With Racist Origins Or Connotations

    RIP

July 1: Rudolfo Anaya, towering figure of Chicano literature, mystery writer, dies at 82

July 6: Ennio Morricone, The Sound Of The American West, Dies At 91

July 6: Charlie Daniels: Country and southern rock legend dies at age 83

July 14: Grant Imahara: Mythbusters TV host dies suddenly at 49

July 15:  Louis Colavecchio, Master Counterfeiter, Is Dead at 78

July 25: John Saxon, ‘Enter the Dragon’, ‘Joe Kidd’, and ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’, dies at 83

July 26: Olivia de Havilland, Golden Age of Hollywood star, dies at 104

    Links of Interest

July 2: The Golden Dragon massacre ~ A bloody rampage in the heart of 1970s San Francisco

July 3: The Magic of Reading Arthur Conan Doyle’s Letters

July 6: Juanita ‘The Duchess’ Spinelli: The first woman legally executed in Calif. ran an SF crime school

July 7: The Rival Casinos That Built Hot Springs, Arkansas into an Unlikely Capital of Vice

July 8: Found – A Letter From Frederick Douglass, About the Need for Better Monuments

July 8: The Cold War and the Mysterious Death of Dag Hammarskjöld

July 9: Don’t Stay In These Famous Literary Haunted Houses!


Two versions of the same story, with different photos of the items on auction:

July 1: For Sale: Proof That Legendary Scientists Were Real People, Too

July 10: Tesla’s Patents, Einstein’s Letters and an Enigma Machine Are Up for Auction


July 10: The Secret Service Tried to Catch a Hacker With a Malware Booby-Trap. (“The attempt failed, but so-called “network investigative techniques” are not limited to the FBI, according to newly unsealed court records.”)

July 10: D-R-A-M-A ~ Big Scrabble’s decision to eliminate offensive words has infuriated players like never before.

July 13: Playing Cards Around the World and Through the Ages

July 14: Iron Age Murder Victim’s Skeleton Found in England

July 15: How Not to Deal With Murder in Space – A bizarre 1970 Arctic killing over a jug of raisin wine shows that we need to think about crime outside our atmosphere now.

July 15: The Deadly High-Speed Chase That Launched Miami into the 1980s

July 15: Don McLean’s handwritten lyrics to “Vincent” up for auction

July 16: James Patterson Reviving 30s-Era Crimefighter ‘The Shadow’ For New Novels, Films

July 16: Homicide at Rough Point: In the fall of 1966, billionaire Doris Duke killed a close confidant in tony Newport, Rhode Island. Local police ruled the incident “an unfortunate accident.” Half a century later, compelling evidence suggests that the mercurial, vindictive tobacco heiress got away with murder.

July 17: Beetle-mounted camera streams insect adventures

July 20: A ‘Fletch’ Reboot Starring Jon Hamm Is Officially In The Works

July 20: Missing Kansas dog makes 50-mile trip to old home in Missouri

July 22: The mystery of a stolen rare cello has a surprise ending

July 22: Man who forged his own death certificate to avoid jail is given away by a typo, DA says

July 23: Germany’s Ritter Sport wins square chocolate battle

July 24: Walter Mosley on What the Pandemic May Set Us Up For in the Future

July 24: Manuscript shows how Truman Capote renamed his heroine Holly Golightly

July 24: Charles Manson Wasn’t a Criminal Mastermind

July 24: Viewer spots Florida reporter Victoria Price’s cancer growth

July 24: US lottery jackpot shared after 1992 handshake

July 24: All in a Day’s Work ~ Why Do the Parker Novels Still Resonate So Powerfully?

July 27: What It’s Like To Spend A Decade Hunting A Serial Killer On The Internet

July 27: The Supreme Court Takes on a JFK Case

July 28: Banksy auctions refugee painting to aid Bethlehem hospital

July 28: It’s Pretty Easy To Level Up Your Coffee Game — Here’s How

July 28: Remington Gun-Maker Files For Bankruptcy Protection For 2nd Time Since 2018

July 29: How the U.S.-China consulate closures could impact espionage

July 29: Don Black ~ ‘the Pele of lyricists’ on Bond themes, Broadway and ‘Born Free

    What We’ve Been Up To

     Amber

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Finder of Lost Things is back!  With more posts and more photos!

Click here to read about the fallout from the Woman in White, what the Black-andBlue-Becker-Betting-Pool is all about and why Phoebe is sneaking out in the rain!

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Grady Hendrix – My Best Friend’s Exorcism

Need a good summertime read that will take you back to all the awkward moments of childhood? No? How about a book that takes you back to some of your best memories as a kid?

Sounds better right?

Remembering all those good times you had with your best friend at skating parties, talking on the phone for hours about nothing, summer vacations, or that one time you needed to exorcise a demon from your best friend’s soul? Yeah…not something everyone can relate to…but that’s precisely what Abby needs to do to save her best friend…

This book is an intensely fun read.

While it’s occasionally awkward and cringe-worthy (but in the best possible way), this uncomfortableness generated by the author adds a whole other layer to the horror/mystery/friendship story unfolding on the page. Seriously, I don’t know how Grady Hendrix did it – but episodes (minus the exorcism, demon, and animal sacrifice) feel as if he pulled them from my own experience – both the terrific and the embarrassing.

If you’re looking for a book to read under the covers with a flashlight, in the middle of the night – that will on occasion make the familiar nightly squeaks, creaks, and groans of your home sound new and strange… My Best Friend’s Exorcism is the book you’re looking for!

(P.S. Did I forget to mention it’s set in the eighties? In all, it’s spectacular Madonna influenced glory…)

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Do you like getting mail? Do you relish writing letters? Do you enjoy mysteries? Have you ever dreamed of being an armchair detective? Now’s your chance! With a mail-based mystery series called Dear Holmes.

I’ll let Mr. Holmes explain your new employment (as he’s more succinct than I):

“12/5/1901

Dear Detective,

It is my pleasure to welcome you to Dear Holmes, and your new career as a consulting detective. 

For the next few months, I will be handing some of my most challenging cases to you. My associates from around the world will write you each month with a challenging new mystery in need of solving.

Every week you will receive another letter with new details on the present mystery, bringing you closer and closer to the solution. I or Dr. Watson will receive the same letters, and reach out to the client to ask probing questions on your behalf.

Since we tend to receive some more peculiar cases, I will also make the knowledge of my network of experts available to you at times, to help shed light on some of the more perplexing details of the cases we encounter.

Your challenge is to solve the mystery before I do. Once I solve the case (at the end of the month), I will write you to share how I solved it. I sincerely hope you beat me to the task. 

Are you ready to put your deductive skills to the test?

The game is afoot!”

Now you can email the solution to Mr. Holmes for his perusal – but in the monthly Featured Detective contest – people who post their solutions thru the mail are given extra points! (Plus it gives you an excuse to purchase some top drawer stationary!)

Woot!

This is a fun and creative game that tests not only your deductive powers but your critical reading skills and the knowledge, you as a reader, have acquired of the era from which Holmes & Watson sprung.

I’ve only been a consulting detective for a month and I’m already hooked!

 

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

July 2020

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Attention: Please stop microwaving your library books.

    Cool Stuff

For you Longmire (book) fans: Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Nib Brittle 

Mad Magazine legend Al Jaffee retires at age 99 after a record-breaking career 

Donkey released after Pakistan police swoop on gambling race 

Ancient Roman Board Game Found in Norwegian Burial Mound 

Before Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak was an incredible toy maker. 

Van Gogh’s Letter About His Brothel Visit Sells For $236,000 At Auction

Behold: your favorite movies, re-imagined as vintage book covers.

Did you know the first typewriter prototype was made with 11 piano keys?

Louisa May Alcott: Early work by Little Women author published at last 

Page Through This Incredibly Detailed Sino-Tibetan Book Printed in 1410

      Words of the Month

civil (adj). From the late 14 C., “relating to civil law or life; pertaining to the internal affairs of a state,” from Old French civil “civil, relating to civil law” (13th C.) and directly from Latin civilis “relating to a society, pertaining to public life, relating to the civic order, befitting a citizen,” hence by extension “popular, affable, courteous;” alternative adjectival derivative of civis “townsman” (see city).Meaning “not barbarous, civilized” is from 1550s. Specifically “relating to the commonwealth as secularly organized” (as opposed to military or ecclesiastical) by 1610s. Meaning “relating to the citizen in his relation to the commonwealth or to fellow citizens” also is from 1610s.

The word civil has about twelve different meanings; it is applied to all manner of objects, which are perfectly disparate. As opposed to criminal, it means all law not criminal. As opposed to ecclesiastical, it means all law not ecclesiastical: as opposed to military, it means all law not military, and so on. [John Austin, “Lectures on Jurisprudence,” 1873]

The sense of “polite” was in classical Latin, but English did not pick up this nuance of the word until late 16 C., and it has tended to descend in meaning to “meeting minimum standards of courtesy.” Courteous is thus more commonly said of superiors, civil of inferiors, since it implies or suggests the possibility of incivility or rudeness” [OED].

Civil case (as opposed to criminal) is recorded from 1610s. Civil liberty “natural liberty restrained by law only so far as is necessary for the public good” is by 1640s.            [thanks to etymonline]

      Serious Stuff

What It Feels Like to Be Shot by a Rubber Bullet 

A Conversation with a Serial Killer About the First Time He Killed a Taxi Driver


Publishers Sue Internet Archive Over Free E-Books 

The Internet Archive is ending the National Emergency Library over lawsuit from publishers.


Independent bookstore owner invests in online bookstore famous for destroying independent bookstores. [I have to add this question: she’s taking a ton of guff about being hypocritical for investing in her enemy. But why? If you can benefit from your enemy AND plow the profits off your enemy into the business they threaten, isn’t that the sweatest revenge? – JB]

Rachel Cargle Is Opening a Bookstore and Writing Center to Support Marginalized Voices 

#PublishingPaidMe reveals stark disparities between payment of white writers and writers of color. 

Over 1,000 Publishing Workers Strike to Protest Industry Racism

Olaf Palme Murder: Sweden Believes it Knows Who Killed PM in 1986

7 Times Internet Detectives Got the Wrong Guy 

They were some of California’s most brutal slave owners. Their deaths sparked a massacre.

Virginia Kellogg: The Forgotten Screenwriter Behind A String of Classic Noirs

How Women Writers Are Transforming Hardboiled Noir 

Inside Crime Novelist James Patterson’s New Jeffrey Epstein Doc


‘I pray it will finally be over’: Golden State Killer survivors hope guilty plea brings justice

Golden State Killer pleads guilty to crimes that terrorized California

An inside look at the Golden State Killer suspect’s behavior

A Startling Graph: Serial Killers By Country

Radford University/FGCU  Serial Killer Information Center

      Local Stuff

J.A. Jance: Growing Up In a Small Town, Books Opened My World

Daniel Kalla: A Thriller at the Intersection of Two Epidemics: COVID-19 and the Opioid Crisis

      Words of the Month

widdershins (adj.) From the 1510s, chiefly Scottish, originally “contrary to the course of the sun or a clock” (movement in this direction being considered unlucky), probably from Middle Low German weddersinnes, literally “against the way” (i.e. “in the opposite direction”), from widersinnen “to go against,” from wider “against” (see with) + sinnen “to travel, go,” from Old High German sinnen, related to sind “journey” (see send). [thanks to etymonline.com]

       Awards

Shortlist for the 2020 Hammett Prize has been announced. 

Behold the dark and twisted nominees for this year’s Shirley Jackson Awards.

Announcing the 2020 Dagger Awards Longlist

The shortlist for the Firecracker Awards is the perfect indie reading list. 

Bad Form Young Writers’ Prize launches with trade support

       Books and Publishing

Book World: The writer who inspired Sue Grafton – her father – gets a welcome republished mystery novel 

Will China’s entry into U.S. publishing lead to censorship? 

How this New Yorker is fighting Amazon and saving independent bookstores 

Can You Really Separate Edgar Allan Poe’s Work from His Life?

Resignations, accusations, and a board in crisis: The fallout at the National Book Critics Circle.

The National Book Critics Circle Has Imploded

By day, I’ve been trying to cull my book collection. But at night, eBay beckons.

Jefferson Davis House to Lose Literary Landmark Designation

Queer True Crime: A Reading List

Book Publishing’s Next Battle: Conservative Authors

‘It was precarious and still is’: Bookshops fight back against virus and Amazon


Authors leave literary agency over JK Rowling’s comments on transgender people 

JK Rowling: Hachette UK book staff told they are not allowed to boycott author over trans row


Bookselling in Britain ~

‘We’re back in business’: UK bookshops see sales soar 

‘It was precarious and still is’: Bookshops fight back against virus and Amazon

Britain’s wholesaler Bertram Books collapses with 450 jobs at risk


Meet Ed Vaughn, an understated Black Power icon and former bookstore owner.

Overwhelmed With Orders, Some Black-Owned Bookstores Ask for Patience

For What It’s Worth: We are often stumped about where to place a link. Some stories are Serious and Cool and Book related. Where should it be placed? For instance, the above story about Black-owned bookshops being overwhelmed with support could go in all of them. (Way to go America!) An argument could be made that most all of these Book stories could, and maybe should, go in the Serious section. Then there are the Links of Interest. Why there and not another section. The answer is: who knows. It is just a matter of where they seem to fit a the moment. We’re just the deeply flawed humans like the rest of you.

We’re not trying to downplay a story by not putting it in one place or another. We hope you’ll plow through the entire issue, clicking on things that pique your interest at first, maybe coming back to others over the month.

Lastly, as we hunt  for stories to paste in for you, please note that we often don’t get time to read them ourselves. The hunt is the goal and the pressure, and while you have time to read one issue over the course of a month, we’re already building the next issue… The fun for us is the assembly of the whole. So look it all over and have fun!

There’s no replacement for the thrill of browsing in a bookstore

      Other Forms of Entertainment

How The Asphalt Jungle Changed the Face of American Noir 

James Bond: Everything That Went Wrong With Quantum of Solace

Killing Eve’s Fiona Shaw Was “Very Disturbed” by That Moment in the Season 3 Finale 

Falling in Love with “The Rockford Files”—All Over Again 

Noir: An Antidote to Social Distancing 

John Logan, Creator of Penny Dreadful, on His New Spinoff Series, City of Angels 

Bone, Blood & Bigots: On ‘The Liberation of L.B. Jones’

Psycho at 60: the enduring power of Hitchcock’s shocking game-changer

Counting Down the Greatest Crime Films of All-Time: Continues 

“Enola Holmes”: Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate sues Netflix over film about Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister

Liz Garbus Is Taking Back the Voices Stolen by the Golden State Killer 

Learning Early From Hitchcock That Nightmares Can Be Real 

Discovering the Women Authors Behind Hitchcock’s Movies

‘Ozark’ Season 4: Netflix Renews for a Fourth and Final Season

       Words of the Month

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

      RIP

May 29: Anthony James, actor in “Unforgiven,” “In the Heat of the Night”, dead at. 77

June 5: Grace Edwards, Harlem Mystery Writer, Dies at 87 

June 5: Harry Hoffman Dies at 92; Led the Expansion of Waldenbooks

June 12: Ricky Valance: First Welshman to have solo UK Number One dies

June 16: A Street Cat Named Bob: Stray who inspired series of books dies

June 19: Sir Ian Holm, star of Lord of the Rings, Alien and Chariots of Fire, dies aged 88

June 19: Carlos Ruiz Zafón, author of The Shadow of the Wind, dies aged 55

June 23: Joel Schumacher, Director of Batman Films and ‘Lost Boys,’ Dies at 80

      Author Events

ahhh… nope

      Links of Interest

June 1: I Think About This ‘Die Hard’ Villain’s Great Hair a Lot

June 1: Dick Wolf Fires ‘Law & Order’ Spin-off Writer for Violent Facebook Posts

June 1: Why Cops and Soldiers Love the Punisher

June 2: Ancient DNA offers clues to physical origins of Dead Sea Scrolls

June 3: Know your place – poetry after the Black Death reflected fear of social change

June 4: How the creator of Rizzoli & Isles went from working late-night hospital shifts in Honolulu to writing bestselling thrillers.

June 5: Remembering When Women Ruled a Wild West Town

June 8: Hidden Treasure Chest Filled With Gold And Gems Is Found In Rocky Mountains

June 8: One day, my husband disappeared. It was only the start of a larger mystery.

June 9: Meet the insidious Mr. Bucket, who embodies Dickens’ misgivings about the police force he once enthusiastically supported.

June 9: How Advertising Taught Me The Art of the Twist

June 10: Prosecutors In Sweden Finally Close Case On 1986 Assassination Of Olof Palme

June 10: Banksy artwork stolen from the Bataclan in Paris is found in Italy

June 10: Eddie Redmayne speaks out against JK Rowling’s trans tweets

June 11: The True Crime Bond

June 12: Inigo Philbrick, Dealer Behind $20 M. Art-World Scandal, Arrested by FBI

June 12: The Library-Themed Livestream Where Birds Stretch Their Wings

June 14: The people solving mysteries during lockdown

June 14: France’s ancient burial brotherhood defies Covid-19

June 16: When Crime Photography Started to See Color

June 16: The High Seas Murder That Shocked—And Baffled—The World

June 16: Diego, the Galápagos tortoise with a species-saving sex drive, retires

June 17: Emma Watson joins board Kering

June 18: In 1905, someone murdered the founder of Stanford University. They’ve never been caught.

June 19: ‘Into The Wild’ bus removed from Alaska wilderness

June 19: A History of Black Cowboys

June 22: The Uneasy Noirs of Stephen King

June 22: I Can’t Believe Readers Are Still Getting Upset Over F*cking Swearing.  In Which Amy Poeppel Uses Some Very Bad Words

June 22: Diary of a Scottish Bookseller. Shaun Bythell Recounts Life in Scotland’s Largest Used Bookstore

June 23: Amanda Peet regrets some of her career choices. Playing a murderer isn’t one of them

June 23: Confederate monument enthusiasts targeted my store—and it comically backfired.

June 23: Decades ago, Octavia Butler saw a “grim future” of climate denial and income inequality.

June 23: Loch Ness Monster debate sparked after mystery creature ‘photographed’ 

June 24: American Gods has a new annotated version with a Sherlockian twist

June 24: Segway: End of the road for the much-hyped two-wheeler

June 25: Tiny Mysteries From the Files of the New York Times (Because history is full of the small, the inexplicable, and the downright confounding….)


June 27: Me and my detective by Lee Child, Attica Locke, Sara Paretsky, Jo Nesbø and more

June 27: Lee Child on Jack Reacher: ‘I don’t like him that much’


June 28: British state ‘covered up plot to assassinate King Edward VIII’

June 28: The Motorcycle-Riding Evangelist Behind ‘Perry Mason’’s Sister Alice

June 30: I Want All of Tony Soprano’s Clothes So Bad

      Words of the Month

paup (v.) “to walk about aimlessly” (Says You!); “probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse paufa to walk slowly, walk stealthily; akin to Old English potian to push, butt, goad ” (thanks to merriam/webster)

      What We’ve Been Up To

   Ambercoming soon july jpg

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Josephine They – Miss Pym Disposes

What would you do if you discovered the evidence needed to convict a murderer? Would you turn it in to the authorities? Of course, you would.

But what if…

What if you didn’t care for the victim? Found them off-putting and a tad smarmy? What if by turning in your crucial piece of evidence, you are condemning someone (someone you actually do admire) at the very outset of their life to the miseries of jail? Or even the noose?

Would you turn the evidence in then?

Or do you let the Fates work it out?

Because surely, if the gods wanted the murderer punished, the police would find other evidence…Right? According to every mystery novel written (other than Christie’s Curtain), every murder makes plenty of mistakes and leaves clues for the authorities to find…

But what if you found the only one?

This is the heart of Miss Pym Disposes – what would you do?

I cannot believe I’ve waited so long to read this book! Seriously it’s been sitting on my shelf for years – and I finally picked it up – and I have to say it is one of the most unique mysteries I’ve read in a VERY long time. It’s like a cross between Christie and Austen – kinda. Like Christie, Tey leads you inexorably towards the culprit – laying down twists, turns, clues, motives, and means without even seeming too. (And in such a way my veteran mystery lover’s eyes didn’t spot them as I was reading – but are super clear after I finished). It reminds me of Jane Austen a bit – because you’re nearly done with the book before the deed is done!

Seriously if you’re looking for an interesting and largely bloodless mystery (that is in no way a cozy in the sense of the genera nowadays) I would highly suggest Ms. Pym Disposes!

Fran

Hi!

I don’t have a review, because in true 2020 fashion, my life has taken a turn for the weird, and my wife and I are moving to New Mexico.

It’s a big change, yes, but it’s a good one, and we’re mostly looking forward to it. It’s the right move.

Except, now I have to move my books.

See? It’s a problem! Because of my time at Seattle Mystery Bookshop, I have a LOT of books. And many of them are collectible first editions.

Oh sure, I’ve been culling, getting rid of the Advance Reader Copies I’ve held onto since 2004 that I have to finally face I’m never going to read. And the truly tattered copy of a mass market where I’ve got a better copy, but that tattered one was my first one and I love it.

But it’s still hard. And I keep running into treasures, and I love re-reading so I’m constantly having to force myself to stay focused. Oh, and I’m still working, so there’s that, and Lillian’s doing advance work down in New Mexico, so she’s busy too.

Still, the books are my problem. She’s got woodworking stuff to deal with when she gets back. And I’ve been faced with the problem of what to keep and what to *gulp* get rid of. Rehome.

I’ve given a lot of books to Page 2 Books in Burien, donated to help build their inventory during the plague. They became my go-to indie bookstore, and I want them to thrive. Fans of Jayne Ann Krentz will recognize the name. And I’ve also taken a lot of the ARCs to work so folks get books for free, and so far they’ve scooped up four boxes.

But you wouldn’t know it to look at my shelves. Did I mention I’ve got a LOT of books? And I’ve gotta get them safely packed soon. Like in the next two weeks soon, because we’ll be down there by August. We’re old farts and we’ll be hiring movers to haul down the heavy stuff, but I don’t trust them to pack my books! I barely trust ME, and I’m a professional! Well, you know, I was. Still am at heart, darn it.

And they’re heavy as all get-out, so that means lots and lots of boxes of books. Even paperbacks add up in weight after a while, don’t they? And oh look, I forgot I had this one; I wonder if it’s still as good as I remember…

Focus. Boxes. Dust jacket wrappers for the ones I missed. Each in a plastic bag. Well, not the paperbacks.

Oh hell, I just found my comic book stash.

So anyway, that’s why I don’t have a review this month. However, I am – now and always – a part of Seattle Mystery Bookshop, and I’m still going to be reviewing books, just from a different location.

Talk to you next month, and in the meantime, wish me luck!

 – Fran

JB

I follow the thinking of Bill Farley when it comes to Robert Goldsborogh‘s Nero Wolfe books – they’re not up to Rex Stout but it is a way to spend time with old friends.

His last few have been very nice. Sorry to say the latest9781504059886, Archie Goes Home, was a dud.

As the title says, a call from him aunt draws Archie back to his hometown to southern Ohio. His aunt – a world-class busybody – thinks something fishy with the death of the local, and loathed, banker. So, since the bank balance at the brownstone is healthy, and given the chance take the convertible on a trip to see his mother, off he goes.

The whole thing is flat. The characters aren’t very real, the plot zips along without any sense of depth, and I thought the lack of Wolfe was the problem. Well, even the arrival of Wolfe (driven by Saul) can’t spice up the book. It was dull, sorry to report.


9780399589829On the other hand, John Meacham‘s The Soul of America is must reading. Not only does the historian’s words flow with a smooth and delightful zip, he gives you seven sections that lay out periods in our country’s past when things were grim and the future of the democracy seemed dire, and how the leaders of the time rallied to pull the country and the people out of the muck. He doesn’t continually point to our sad, current state but it is clear that he’s showing us comparisons to now and telling us to not loose hope. If you’re at all interested in the grand sweep of history and how we can learn from past mistakes, pick it up. It is erudite and educational, and it will give you some faith in our “better angels.”


At the end of his last book, Joe DeMarco was driving off into the sunset. Without a job, he was just going to cruise and play golf. Sounded like a splendid retirement – for him. For me, I was horrified that a favorite series might be at an end. NOT TO FRET!

With the results of the 2018 election, Mahoney is headed back to being the Speaker of the House of Representatives and has promised to find a new, if meaningless title, for DeMarco.

Mike Lawson is an inventive writer. His ingenious plots shoot into doglegs and hook into unexpected roughs. The crash of a small plane starts House Privilege and quickly DeMarco is off to Boston and upstate NY to slice open the events and sink the villains. It’s a trap of money and heavies, and politics and power, and maybe a little bit of love for our lonely hero. He certainly deserves it, even if it requires hockey.

The only problem with a Mike Lawson book – ok, there are two – is that it is impossible to put one down once started, so it is over all too quickly. The other is that you have to wait a year for the next. Can’t wait to see where DeMarco is sent next.

9780802148476



BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL




June 2020

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    Stuff That’s Just Too Cool

Odd Job’s Lethal Bowler from Goldfinger Surfaces

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

John Grisham: Why Indie Bookstores Are Essential 

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

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

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

    Serious Stuff

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

The Dark History of America’s First Female Terrorist Group 

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

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

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

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

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

The World’s First ‘Incel’ Terrorism Charge

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

    Local Stuff

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

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

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

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

    Words of the Month

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

    Awards

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

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

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

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

    Book Stuff

Inside the wild double life of rare books dealer John Jenkins

Legal Thrillers for Literary Snobs

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

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

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

The Cornerstones of Country Noir

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


My First Thriller: Michael Connelly

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


How Novelist Megan Abbott Learned to Write for Television

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

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

For Bookstore Owners, Reopening Holds Promise and Peril

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

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

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

Legendary Paris bookshop reveals reading habits of illustrious clientele

Research finds reading books has surged in the UK during lockdown

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

Coronavirus Shutdowns Weigh on Book Sales 

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

Martin Edwards on the Enduring Popularity of Traditional Mysteries 

25 GREAT INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES IN THE U.S.

    Other Forms of Entertainment

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

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

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

Scrubs: A sitcom that’s actually aged well?

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


Luca Guadagnino to remake Scarface with Coen brothers script

Scarface Hitman Geno Silva Dies of Dementia at 72


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

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


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

New book claims Bill Clinton had an affair with Ghislaine Maxwell

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


    Words of the Month

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

    RIP

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

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

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

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

    Author Events

nope, not yet…

    Links of Interest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 15: Why Do Some Writers Burn Their Work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 19: Do police sketches actually help catch criminals?

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

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

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

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

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

May 22: Loon stabs eagle through heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 27: Roman mosaic floor found under Italian vineyard

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

    Words of the Month

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

    What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

candyfinal

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

IMG_5268

A Murderous Relation – Deanna Raybourn

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

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

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

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

And action, old enemies, and anarchy ensues.

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

Fran

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it will be to you as well.

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

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

JB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 



BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL




April 2020

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      Some Things

Our hearts go out ~

~ to Mary Daheim who lost a daughter. Mary sent this notice out: “…Barbara Daheim Resnick, who passed away Sunday at the age of 53. I also want to thank everyone who has contributed to the Go Fund Me site that Barb’s brother-in-law Paul Webber set up for her children, Flynn and Clara.”

~ to the family of Diana Mayabb, a staunch supporter of SMB for decades. She and her husband Jim were major collectors – though Jim collected mostly science fiction, we didn’t hold it against him and happily ordered those new releases for him – good friends and wonderful, kind and cheerful people. We miss them both terribly, and our thoughts are with Jim now. Dear Diana died early in March

~ to the world of mysteries, who lost Kate  Mattes, of Kate’s Mysteries in Cambridge, MA. Like so many of us, she was forced to close her shop years ago and had been living in Vermont. Her health had not been good and she was taken away by her heart on March 25th.

~ to past colleague Karen who suffered a catastrophic lost due to a flooded basement. Music, art, and her mystery collection, including – prepare yourself – a first edition Nero Wolfe. AAAAAAAAARRRRGGGGG!

And while it shouldn’t come as a surprise, it is still shocking when the virus creeps into your family. We hope everyone in your world is safe and not too bored being housebound. We hope this all might take your mind away from your worries.

It’s a long one, so settle back!

      Local Stories

From local writer J. Kingston Pierce: Seattle: Primed and Ready for Crime Fiction Fame ~Exploring the city’s history and character, through crime novels

      And some great news after a month of horror stories:

Powell’s Books rehires over 100 employees after surge of online orders

Love and labor rights in the time of COVID-19: The Book Workers Union forms at Capitol Hill’s Elliott Bay Book Company 

      Serious Stuff

Nazi name lists in Argentina may reveal loot in Swiss bank

Birmingham’s “Fifth Girl” survived a notorious hate crime. Now she wants resitution.

      Words of the Month

virus (n). late 14th C., “poisonous substance,” from Latin virus “poison, sap of plants, slimy liquid, a potent juice,” from Proto-Italic *weis-o-(s-) “poison,” which is probably from a Proto-Info-Eutoprsm root *ueis-, perhaps originally meaning “to melt away, to flow,” used of foul or malodorous fluids, but with specialization in some languages to “poisonous fluid” (source also of Sanskrit visam “venom, poison,” visah “poisonous;” Avestan vish “poison;” Latin viscum “sticky substance, birdlime;” Greek ios “poison,” ixos “mistletoe, birdlime;” Old Church Slavonic višnja “cherry;” Old Irish fi “poison;” Welsh gwy “poison”). The meaning “agent that causes infectious disease” is recorded by 1728 (in reference to venereal disease); the modern scientific use dates to the 1880s. The computer sense is from 1972. [thanks to etymonine]


JB admits he sometimes scans headlines too rapidly, and perhaps this was tinted by the times in which we live, but he thought “In case you’re stockpiling books this month, here are some gems you may have missed from February. | Lit Hub” said “some germs you may have missed…”


      Awards, etc.

Here are the finalists for this year’s PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

      Book Stuff

David Goodis’ Bleak, Beautiful Vision of Humanity 

‘Freshly cut grass – or bile-infused Exorcist vomit?’: how crime books embraced lurid green

Simon & Schuster is for sale because it is not videos.

In 1899, Arthur Conan Doyle Took Dictation for His Dying Friend’s Mystery Novel

From ‘Wuhan-400’, the deadly virus invented by Dean Koontz in 1981, to the plague unleashed in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, novelists have long been fascinated by pandemics


The new documentary “The Booksellers” looks at the esoteric world of the antiquarian trade, and the passionate, eclectic and endangered characters who make it hum. 

Breathing New Life into Old Books


Woody Allen got a book deal. Staff at his new publisher have walked out in protest. 

Sixteen of the Most Perfect Murders in Crime Fiction 

The Fraught and Risky Business of Spotting a Historical Fake

Carolyn Wells, in the Library, with a Revolver: How a prolific mystery author with a penchant for collecting rare books helped to create the ‘biblio-mystery’ genre

8 Great Novels Where Things Disappear 

Stockholm, Are You Listening?Why Don DeLillo deserves the Nobel

The Complicated Literature of Daughters and Mothers

How Bookshops Are Helping With Isolation 

Dolly Parton is going to read us all bedtime stories.

       Other Forms of Fun

March 1: Star Trek: Picard borrows an unexpected concept from Sherlock Holmes

March 2: A new site for headline-inspired fiction launches today with stories by Carmen Maria Machado, Colum McCann, and more.

March 2: New HBO Doc Centers on the Atlanta Child Murders, Reopening of Case

March 3: Christopher and Bobby From ‘The Sopranos’ Are Starting a Podcast About the Show

March 4: Bond movie ‘No Time to Die’ pushed back to November

March 6: Robert B. Parker’s (and Ace Atkins’) Spenser returns to TV in a Netflix movie starring Mark Wahlberg


March 6: Zodiac – The Most Dangerous Animal of All

March 6: The Zodiac Killer has been a mystery for 50 years – but one man thinks he’s solved it


March 10: ‘Briarpatch’ May Just Be the Coolest Show on TV

March 17: How Pretty Woman Erased Sex From Its Story

March 19: Coronavirus: Hallmark Channel plans feelgood Christmas movie marathon

March 25: The Artist Who Captured America’s Most Dramatic Courtroom Moments—And Was Hounded by the FBI

March 26: Remember Annie’s anti-book-banning speech in Field of Dreams?

March 27: Read a Deleted Scene From ‘Get Out’

March 27: The Crime Cinema Renaissance of 1990

March 31: Houseparty offers $1m reward for proof of sabotage

      Words of the Month

quarantine (n): 1660s, “period a ship suspected of carrying disease is kept in isolation,” from Italian quarantina giorni, literally “space of forty days,” from quaranta “forty,” from Latin quadraginta “forty,” which is related to quattuor “four” (from Proto-Indo-European root *kwetwer “four”). So called from the Venetian policy (first enforced in 1377) of keeping ships from plague-stricken countries waiting off its port for 40 days to assure that no latent cases were aboard. Also see lazaretto. The extended sense of “any period of forced isolation” is from 1670s. Earlier in English the word meant “period of 40 days in which a widow has the right to remain in her dead husband’s house” (1520s), and, as quarentyne (15th C.), “desert in which Christ fasted for 40 days,” from Latin quadraginta “forty.” [thanks to etymonine]

      Links of Interest

February 20: The Hollywood Con Queen -She tormented studio executives, actors, makeup artists, security guys, photographers, screenwriters, athletes, even bobsledders and scuba divers for years—until corporate investigator Nicoletta Kotsianas was put on the case.

February 28: Ireland has a secret tree carved with famous literary autographs.

March 2: Man Fined for Engineering Without a License Was Right All Along

March 2: Stolen hearse with body inside leads police on wild chase

March 3: Double Indemnity Isn’t About Bad People – It’s About Redemption

March 4: How J. Edgar Hoover Used the Power of Libraries for Evil

March 4: Online Sleuths, Cold Cases, and The Early Days of a Very Particular Hobby

March 4: WeeGee: Photos of a seedy Underworld

March 6: The Art of Letting Your Heroes Get Beat Up Now and Again

March 8: Can you really hire a hit man on the dark web?

March 11: The Poison Pen Letter: The Early 20th Century’s Strangest Crime Wave

March 11: Dr. Lise Meitner: The Mystery of the Disappearing Physicist

March 11: Making a killing: what can novels teach us about getting away with murder?

March 12: The playboy Serbian spy who inspired James Bond

March 13: Saviour of the dead: Burying the bodies India forgets

March 16: ‘GoldenEye’: Why Timothy Dalton Didn’t Return For James Bond 17

March 17: U.S. Museum of the Bible’s Dead Sea Scroll Fragments Turn Out to Be Elaborate Fakes

March 17: In the Emergency Room, Doctors Need Detective Skills—And Empathy

March 18: Linda Fairstein Is Suing Netflix and Ava Duvernay For How She Was Depicted in ‘When They See Us’

March 18: Oldest bird fossil discovered, nicknamed ‘wonderchicken’

March 18: Your pictures on the theme of ‘reading’

March 19: ‘Roughing It’ on Seattle’s waterfront with Mark Twain

March 19: Harlan Coben Believes ‘PLANET OF THE APES’ is the Best Twist Ending in History

March 20: How Bad Times Bring Out the Best in People

March 20: Celebrating the 80th Anniversary of Batman’s Sidekick, Robin

March 21: Victor Olaiya: Nigeria’s ‘evil genius’ trumpeter who influenced Fela Kuti

March 22: Cigarette leads police to Florida cold case murder suspect

March 23: Book retrieval effort gives grad student welcome relief

March 24: ‘The Laughing Killer’: The Bay Area serial killer who wasn’t

March 26: The Evolution—and the Future—of the Private Eye

March 27 (an old article but one we don’t remember): The Mobster Who Bought His Son a Hockey Team ~ A tale of goons, no-show jobs, and a legendary minor-league franchise that helped land its owner in prison

March 27: The Long Tradition of Writers Needing Ritual

March 29: Serial Killer Lonnie Franklin, Known As The Grim Sleeper, Has Died In Prison

March 30: Van Gogh painting ‘Spring Garden’ stolen from Dutch museum

March 31: Alpine ice sheds light on medieval murder

March 31: Bob Dylan’s New JFK Assassination Epic Couldn’t Be More Prescient

      Words of the Month

brigand (n): c. 1400, also brigaunt, “lightly armed irregular foot-soldier,” from Old French brigand (14th C.), from Italian brigante “trooper, skirmisher, foot soldier,” from brigare “to brawl, fight” (see brigade). Sense of “robber, freebooter, one who lives by pillaging” is earlier in English (late 14th C.), reflecting the lack of distinction between professional mercenary armies and armed, organized criminals.

brigandage (n): “highway robbery by organized gangs,” c. 1600, from French brigandage, from brigand. [hypothetically, as an example, oh let’s say Senators who dumped stock after a briefing on a pandemic before the public had the same info – you know, insider trading! – us] thanks to etymonline

      R.I.P.

March 1: Laura Cauldwell, attorney, activist, and novelist

March 2: James Lipton, writer, actor, host of the wonderful “Inside the Actor’s Studio”, dead at 93

March 7: BarbaraNeely died after a short illness at 79

March 9: Max Von Sydow: The Exorcist and The Seventh Seal actor dies aged 90

March 13: Andreas Brown, Longtime Owner of Gotham Book Mart, Dies at 86

March 17: Stuart Whitman, prolific film and TV actor, dies at 92

      What We’ve Been Up To

    Amber

goodrealjpg

Finder Of Lost Things

I AM NEARLY DONE WRITING SEASON 2! HUZZA!!!

I’ve got two scenes to go – then I start editing, uploading and photographing for the posts! (But the writing takes far more time than these three steps.) So Season 2 will be on its way shortly? Well, sooner rather than later…then it’s on to writing Season 3!

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The Greek Coffin Mystery – Ellery Queen

The Greek Coffin Mystery is the fourth novel in the overall series of Ellery Queen. Still a fledgling in the art of detection, this novel features a critical episode which informs all of Ellery’s later investigations, according to the man himself, which I won’t spoil by elucidating here!

This, I must admit, is one of the more unique classic mysteries I have ever read, from Ellery’s numerous brilliant yet incorrect solutions to his challenge at the end of chapter thirty.

What’s the challenge you ask? Well, Ellery, as the author of the mystery as well as being the detective within, breaks the fourth wall and addresses his readers directly;

“…ungentle reader, you now have in your possession all the facts pertinent to the only correct solution of the trinitarian problem…”

Now, Agatha Christie came a hairsbreadth away from breaking the fourth wall on occasion with Ariadne Oliver. Who’s memorable tirade on the frustration of inadvertently tying her writing career to her Finnish detective, Sven Hjerson – when she knew nothing or had any interest in Finland. But she never actually laid down an out and out, rather cheeky, challenge the way our author Ellery Queen does.

However, this feature, along with the clever mystery, and our intrepid sleuth combine together to create a page-turning and exciting book – I would recommend to anyone looking for an excellent classic mystery.

Though one note when reading if like me, you identify as female. The men in here are written as they were at the time of its original publication – 1932. Nothing inappropriate happens. But the way in which a few, but by no means, all, refer to or speak to women did have me doing a double-take. But it is such a small percentage of words within the book, other than rankling; it didn’t detract from the deductions taking place on the page.

    Fran

I had a dream about being a bookseller again. However, this time the shop was owned by Stephen King – yes, THAT Stephen King – and no one would let me ring them up. Only Mr. King could make the sale. I was allowed to put things in  bags. But the store was packed, so there’s that.

Meanwhile, Amber was stuffing books into somebody’s hands, JB was explaining to another person how the book they were describing wasn’t the book they were thinking of but another book altogether, and Adele was at the door to let customers in and out, and keep the zombies outside because they stank up the place. And wouldn’t buy anything.


I had planned all along to write this review for this month. I love this trilogy and wanted to share it with you.

But it starts with a worldwide pandemic. Yeah. Not the flu, exactly, and certainly not COVID 19, but still, I wondered if I should.

And decided yes, because while terrible things happen in The Chronicles of the One by Nora Roberts, much good and hope happens too.9781250122971

Okay, hang on now, don’t be shaking your head like that. What, you think I can’t hear you? “Oh, Nora Roberts. I thought it might be something serious.” You’re assuming it’s three books about heaving and steamy and brainless, aren’t you? Boy, are you ever wrong!

There is, however, magick. Not prestidigitation but actual magick. People develop Uncanny talents and traits, and many of them are flat-out evil. You see, in Year One, on a New Year’s Eve in Scotland, a very nice man stumbles and bleeds into a strange little rock circle. It’s innocuous and no big deal, and he along with his very nice family have a very nice New Year’s Eve. Except he unwittingly releases a plague that decimates the Earth, and survivors are as often as not changed, physically changed into otherworldly creatures. Not everyone; there are plenty of ordinary humans left, but enough so that there’s a deep schism. Not between human and Uncanny, although that happens, but between Dark and Light.

The trilogy is called The Chronicles of The One, because there is one leading figure who can truly challenge the Darkness, and the books tell her story, so it’s about Fallon Swift and what she can accomplish.

9781250123008The second book, Of Blood and Bone, is her coming-of-age book, and it is at times painful reading, but absolutely perfect.

And if I thought the last book, The Rise of the Magicks, was a bit too rushed, perhaps it’s because I didn’t want to lose touch with these people I’ve come to love and admire.9781250123039

If anyone’s read the JD Robb books, you know that Nora Roberts can be absolutely vicious, bloody, and brutal to her characters, and that’s certainly true here. Very, very bad things happen, and the good guys don’t always win. The comparison to Stephen King’s The Stand are inevitable because the trope is the same one – good versus evil – but these authors are completely different, and so is their approach. Both are excellent, mind you. Just variations on a theme.

As always, it’s the people who captured me, and I still think about them. Relationships change, and under pressure, we find out who we really are.

And that’s why I decided to go ahead and review a pandemic series. Granted, none of us are sprouting wings or are able to create burning swords, which is kind of a shame, but we all have the resiliency that Nora Roberts brings to life, along with the need to help one another out, even when we’re afraid.

Besides, they’re seriously good stories!


Fran found out – her and JB’s delight – that John Connolly will be releasing a new Charlie Parker story in increments on his website. “But I did feel bad that publication of The Dirty South was postponed due to the current unpleasantness, and some editions in translation have also been affected. I also wanted to offer readers some small distraction over the coming weeks and months, because if you’re a writer, the only thing you can really do for those who enjoy your work is to write.” Starting April 2nd, “The Sisters Strange” will be posted daily as he writes it. “‘The Sisters Strange,’ by contrast, will involve letting readers see something like a work-in-progress as it’s being produced, and once I’ve committed to posting an extract, I won’t be able to rewrite it. In addition, you and I will be uncovering the nature of the story and the characters more or less at the same time.”

Thanks, John ~ we can’t wait!


      JB

Earlier in March I had a dream that was very rambling. I don’t remember much now but Bill and his wife BJo were both in it. I think we were all in a big shop, a bookshop? Not sure. But they looked like they did when the shop first opened, spry and happy, and it was a gas to see them again!

On the morning of the 23rd I dreamt that I’d been away from the shop for a long time. No reason from the dream that I remember. I got back and found that the place was jammed with used paperbacks that were not only not needed but jammed in the shelves in odd places and out of the authors’ places. I had to run out to do something and passed Bill on my way back in. He was dressed in his usual all-tan outfit and smiled a goodbye. Back in the shop, I went into the office and Tammy followed me in. In the way that dreams make no sense, the office was my grandparents’ library, but there was crap all over the place, piles of books, junk on the floor. Tammy was drinking coffee and I don’t recall how the dream ended.

If you never knew her, Tammy was hired by Bill back in ’92 while I was on paternity leave (yes, Bill was just that hip!). Tammy had been one of his earliest book reps but was then unemployed. The three of us ran the place and she was a key member of the staff. The weekly newzines were her idea, for instance. The photo of the crow on the outdoor sign was her shot. But she and her family went through some tough times and she got sick of Seattle and they left town about a decade ago. We’ve had zero contact since, so it is very odd that she’d turn up in a dream out of nowhere. But wait – –

On the morning of the 31st, I dreamt that I was in a bookshop with a cafe. Maybe like an Elliot Bay but it wasn’t clear. I took in a stack of paperbacks to trade and handed them to this blonde woman. While she was looking at them, I got into a conversation with a couple of other booksellers, a very tall, skinny man and a shorter woman, and we commiserated about how hard it was for booksellers these days. I could see that the woman with my books was ready to talk but then my phone rang. It was Tammy. She wanted her job back. Evidently, she hadn’t heard that SMB had closed and we then got into a long conversation about how bad things were, how high rents were, and how impossible that seemed for a bookshop to be able to make it. We hung up and I went to the counter to find the woman with my books. She handed me a crumpled up piece of paper with the notes about the books. As I was trying to smooth it out, the booksellers from before called to me to join them at their table by the window. Then the blond woman shrilly whistled to get my attention – and her whistle ended the dream…..

9780307957009James Ellroy’s This Storm is the second volume in his projected new quartet. It follows closely on the heels of Perfidia, 9780307946676which took place between the attack on Pearl Harbor and New Year’s Eve, 1941.

This Storm continues to follow that cast into uniform and into new schemes and cons during the first three months of 1942, while adding to the cast. Mendacity, violence, and lust are the order of the day while a few of the less-crooked characters actually try to solve a web of crimes instead of simply getting rich. At the center is a load of gold stolen from a train in 1931 and an LA fire in ’33. Overlording it all is Dudley Liam Smith, LAPD sergeant and now Army Major. We’re only halfway through this quartet and I already think I need to go back and re-read Clandestine and the first quartet, starting with The Black Dahlia. Considering how thick the books are, I would have all of my reading planned out for the decade. But considering that I first read the start of the quartet about 30 years ago, it’s hard to recall how this Dudley fits into that Dudley.

But think of the audacity! Clandestine unnamedis the first book in which Dudley appears, 1982. The Black Dahlia was published in ’87. He’s got to make what is happening in books written now fit into what he wrote 38 and 33 years ago. No small feat! And re-reading it all would be daunting. I mean – that’s seven and a half inches of Ellroy!

Needless to say, This Storm is brilliant and utterly scandalous. There’s not an iota of political correctness in the story. It’s violent. It’s abrupt. It’s sexy. It’s evil. It’s a drug-induced romp.

NOT TO BE MISSED

 

this storm, this savaging disaster”, attributed to W.H. Auden, surely a title for our times.




During this ongoing nightmare, it is even more crucial to support your neighbors and friends by shopping with small businesses. 

SUPPORT SMALL, SAVE SMALL

November’s Newzine

Wideer turkey jpeg

      Serious Stuff

My Family Story of Love, the Mob, and Government Surveillance 

Samuel Little: FBI confirms ‘most prolific’ US serial killer

How Did a Serial Killer Escape Notice? His Victims Were Vulnerable and Overlooked

The Green River Killer and Me

The British Spy Who Tried to Stop the Iraq War 

Cameron’s Books & Magazines, a Portland institution since 1938, is closing

New York’s infamous Rikers Island jail is to close 

Seattle hosts true crime event hunting for fresh clues in decade-old murder case 

Appeals Court Set To Weigh In On Request To Access Testimony From 1946 Lynching Cold Case. Can and Should Grand Jury Material ever be Made Public?

Famed NYC ME Baden Says Examination of Jeffrey Epstein Death Points to Murder

      Words of the Month

myrmidon (n): One of a warlike people of ancient Thessaly, legendarily ruled by Achilles and accompanying him to Troy, c. 1400, from Latin Myrmidones (plural), from Greek Myrmidones, Thessalian tribe led by Achilles to the Trojan War, fabled to have been ants changed into men, and often derived from Greek myrmex “ant” (from Proto-Indo-European *morwi (see Formica (2)), but Watkins does not connect them and Klein’s sources suggest a connection to Greek mormos “dread, terror.” Transferred sense of “faithful unquestioning follower,” often with a suggestion of unscrupulousness, is from c. 1600. (thanks to etymonline)

      Book Stuff

The Global War on Books, Redux: Governments are spending a remarkable amount of resources attacking books — because their supposed limitations are beginning to look like ageless strengths.

Author Jenny Lawson Aims to Create a Sanctuary With Nowhere Bookshop

Ancient Greek Scroll’s Hidden Contents Revealed Through Infrared Imaging 

Light Billions of Times Brighter Than the Sun Used to Read Charred Scrolls From Herculaneum

Diary of a small town sensation: how the Wimpy Kid author built his dream bookshop

“Me Before You” Author Jojo Moyes Has Been Accused Of Publishing A Novel With “Alarming Similarities” To Another Author’s Book

From The Crime Hub – Some of the Best Legal Thriller Writers

Australia’s First Published Dictionary Was Dedicated to ‘Convict Slang’

Home on the Range ~ Craig Johnson – ‘Land of Wolves’ author moseys between stacks at the ranch 

Celebrating Elmore Leonard’s “Rules for Writing”

“My Ties to England have Loosened”: John LeCarré on Britain, Boris and Brexit 

John le Carré: ‘Politicians love chaos – it gives them authority’

Every Child Can Become a Lover of Books 

When True Crime Gets Personal 

Removing the Mystery From Mystery Writing: 13 Tricks Used by Acclaimed Novelists 

Tana French Is Our Best Living Mystery Writer 

One Neat Trick to Writing Great Mystery Plots (in which Charles Finch raves about Tana French)

The 20 essential L.A. crime books

New Hunger Games prequel gets a compelling title, book cover  

Oxford University professor accused of selling ancient Bible fragments 

The Booksellers is a fascinating look into the world of rare book dealers 

Writer Nicholas Meyer on the Inspiration Behind His Latest Sherlock Holmes Tale

How to Write Hercule Poirot in 2019 

Learning to Write Mysteries the Mystic River Way

The Crimes Never End: A Guide to Mystery’s Biggest and Longest-Lasting Book Franchises

What It’s Like to Build and Operate a Tiny Traveling Bookshop

Diaries Expose “Strong Brew’ of Ripley Novelist Patricia Highsmith’s Dark Thoughts

The State of the Crime Novel: A Roundtable Discussion with Crime Authors

The Hunt for Shakespeare’s Library: I Couldn’t Stop Looking If I Wanted To

      Words of the Month

Calliope : 1. the Greek Muse of heroic poetry 2. a keyboard musical instrument resembling an organ and consisting of a series of whistles sounded by steam or compressed air

With a name literally meaning “beautiful-voiced” (from kallos, meaning “beauty,” and ops, meaning “voice”), Calliope was the most prominent of the Muses—the nine sister goddesses who in Greek mythology presided over poetry, song, and the arts and sciences. She is represented in art as holding an epic poem in one hand and a trumpet in the other. The musical instrument invented and patented in the 1850s, played by forcing steam or compressed air through a series of whistles, was named after the goddess. Because its sound could be heard for miles around, the calliope was effective in luring patrons to river showboats, circuses, and carnivals, which is why the instrument continues its association with such attractions today.

(Thanks to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary for the definition)

      Other Forms of Fun

ABC’s Stumptown is the scuzzy private-eye show we need right now  (it’s also ‘set’ in Portland)

Knives Out director Rian Johnson explains how to build a great whodunnit mystery

Kenneth Branagh’s Death On The Nile Starts Filming With An All-Star Cast

Nancy Drew and the Mystery of Her Enduring Relavence 

Nancy Drew Is Not Who You Remember ~ The girl detective gets a CW reboot, but is she more than endlessly recyclable intellectual property?

The Seductive Power of the Femme Fatale

Is the time finally right for a “Friends” reboot?

Sesame Street to cover addiction with new muppet Karli

Marvel Comics at 80: From bankruptcy threat to billions at the box office 

Motherless Brooklyn Is a Warning About the Dangers of Unchecked Political Power 

true love meets true crime

      This ‘N’ That

Japan ninja student gets top marks for writing essay in invisible ink

JUNIE B. JONES: NIGHTMARE CHILD OR FEMINIST ICON

       Author Events

November 1: Ann Cleeves, UBooks at University Temple United Methodist, 7pm

November 6: Curt Colbert (with Jake Rossiter!), Third Place/LFP, 6pm

Noveber 13: Warren C. Easley, Powell’s 7pm

November 13: Clyde Ford, Third Place/LFP, 7pm

November 15: Daniel H. Wilson (and the Andromeda Strain), Powell’s, 7:30pm

November 16: Clyde Ford, Village Books, 4pm

November 16: Rick E. George, Village Books, 7pm

November 23: Ace Atkins (with Spenser), Third Place/LFP, 6pm

      Words of the Month

Triskaidekaphobia: fear of the number 13

It’s impossible to say just how or when the number thirteen got its bad reputation. There are a number of theories, of course. Some say it comes from the Last Supper because Jesus was betrayed afterwards by one among the thirteen present. Others trace the source of the superstition back to ancient Hindu beliefs or Norse mythology. But if written references are any indication, the phenomenon isn’t all that old (at least, not among English speakers). Known mention of fear of thirteen in print dates back only to the late 1800s. By circa 1911, however, it was prevalent enough to merit a name, which was formed by attaching the Greek word for “thirteen”—treiskaideka (dropping that first “e”)—to phobia (“fear of”).

(Thanks to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary for the definition)

      Links of Interest

September 26: Sold ~ Charles Dickens’s Liquor Log

September 30: Piece of missing L.A. Library sculpture found in Arizona. Where are the other two?

October 1: The Messy Consequences of the Golden State Killer Case

October 1: Japan’s last pagers beep for the final time

October 3: How Mary Roberts Rinehart, Queen of the Mystery Novel, Was Very Nearly Murdered  (And don’t miss Amber’s write up further along!)

October 3: Gandhi’s ashes stolen and photo defaced on 150th birthday

October 4: ‘Object, matrimony’: The forgotten tale of the West Coast’s first serial bride killer

October 4: Herculaneum scroll: Shining a light on 2,000-year-old secrets

October 5: Playing Catch a Killer With a Room Full of Sleuths – At a forensic conference in California, law enforcement officials grappled with how to avoid destroying one of the field’s biggest innovations in decades.

October 5: John Dillinger: US gangster’s body set to be exhumed

October 6: The peculiar bathroom habits of Westerners

October 7: The Comic That Explains Where Joker Went Wrong

October 7: Paul McCartney’s psychedelic Wings tour bus rediscovered

October 7: Saturn overtakes Jupiter as planet with most moons

October 8: Rube Goldberg: celebrating a remarkable life of cartoons and Creations

October 8: Here Are All the Aston Martins Confirmed for James Bond’s “No Time to Die”

October 8: Inside the abandoned Soviet base the Cold War left behind

October 8: See How The Foremost ‘50s Pulp Fiction Illustrator Anticipated Fake News In This Unusual Museum Show

October 10: Harry Potter first edition sells for £46,000 at auction

October 12: How to protect your books with medieval curses

October 14: After years searching, I found my sister next door

October 15: Blooming fakes: Amsterdam tourists hit by tulip scam

October 16: The art of doing makeup on a dead body

October 16: Would You Buy Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy’s Property?

October 16: Egypt archaeologists find 20 ancient coffins near Luxor

October 16: For Sale: Jane Austen’s Wince-Inducing Descriptions of 19th-Century Dentistry

October 16: The mysterious ‘inverted tower’ steeped in Templar myth

October 17: Why is Banksy vetting the customers of his online store?

October 17: Leonardo da Vinci feud: The ‘earlier’ Mona Lisa mystery

October 18: Fierce Australian dust storm turns day to night in seconds

October 18: Fearless, free and feminist: the enduring appeal of Jack Reacher

October 20: Longtime Universal boss Ron Meyer sues art dealer over ‘forged’ Mark Rothko painting

October 21: Australian newspapers black out front pages in ‘secrecy’ protest

October 21: Why Do We Rewatch Our Favorite Films?

October 21: Franco exhumation: Why is Spain moving a dictator’s remains?

October 24: Roy DeCarava’s photos of jazz greats

10/26: Defying the Cosa Nostra: The Man who Accidentally Bought a Mafia Stronghold

October 27: Kurt Cobain cardigan sells at auction for $334,000

October 27: Cimabue painting found in French kitchen sets auction record

October 28: Mystery of the skeleton hijacked by Nazis and Soviets

October 26: Ted Bundy Said an Entity Made Him Murder. These Ghost Hunters Went Searching for It

Oct 28: Want free barbecue for life? Help catch the burglars who stole from this restaurant

October 30: Australian police freeze multi-million dollar properties in Chinese crime link probe

      Words of the Month

Scaramouch: 1.  a stock character in the Italian commedia dell’arte that burlesques the Spanish don and is characterized by boastfulness and cowardliness 2a cowardly buffoon

In the commedia dell’arte, Scaramouch was a stock character who was constantly being cudgeled by Harlequin, which may explain why his name is based on an Italian word meaning “skirmish,” or “a minor fight.” The character was made popular in England during the late 1600s by the clever acting of Tiberio Fiurelli. During that time, the name “Scaramouch” also gained notoriety as a derogatory word for “a cowardly buffoon” or “rascal.”

Today not many people use the word (which can also be spelled “scaramouche”), but you will encounter it while listening to Queen’s ubiquitous rock song “Bohemian Rhapsody,” in the lyric “I see a little silhouetto of a man / Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the fandango?”

(Thanks to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary for the definition)

      R.I.P.

October 7: Rip Taylor Was In On The Joke

October 12: Robert Forster, Oscar-Nominated ‘Jackie Brown’ Actor, Dead at 78

October 13: Hitchhiker’s actor Stephen Moore dies aged 81

October 21: Nick Tosches, writer of great variety, dies at 69

October 28: Robert Evans, Chinatown producer, dies at 89

      What We’ve Been Up To

   Amber

Squirrel jpeg

Today on Finder of Lost Things...Beatrice stuns Little Ben with a compliment of sorts, Phoebe gives him some much needed advice all before dinner arrives at their table!

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Miss Pinkerton – Mary Roberts Rinehart

When you start this mystery, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

One, Miss Pinkerton reads differently than most modern mysteries. Due in large part to the had-I-but-known writing device, Rinehart is credited with founding. Meaning? Sprinkled here and then in the narrative are tantalizing hints of what’s to come — placed there by Rinehart to keep her readers turning the page late into the night.

By today’s standards, this method of storytelling is considered old fashioned. But it makes sense as most of Rinehart’s work was initially serialized in magazines, so she used this style of foreshadowing to hook her readers into buying the next edition of said publication. Initially, until I read enough to understand her style, it felt very staccato. But now that you’ve been forewarned, this shouldn’t be a problem for you!

(I didn’t find out any of this background information until after I finished the book – because I don’t read introductions until I finish said story, due to the shocking number I’ve read which contained inadvertent spoilers for veteran readers.)

Second, Rinehart not only was a novelist but a trained nurse as well. This hands-on experience allows Rinehart to infuse nurse Hilda Adams with some real depth, allowing our amateur detective to rise above her cookie-cutter counterparts in other mysteries of a similar vintage.

Not unlike Agatha Christie’s Superintendent Battle, who uses his police uniform to dupe the unsuspecting into thinking him dull and slightly stupid. Miss Adams uses her crisp white uniform to fade seamlessly into the background of a household to become a police detective’s ‘man on the inside’ and help solve a murder or two.

Third, similar to Georgette Heyer mysteries, Rinehart adds several different types of love/romantic entanglements to her story. Each fitting well into the narrative, they add extra layers to the story and the characters.

This touch of romance didn’t bother me in the least as Rinehart wove it into the text seamlessly. However, I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so I’m letting you know. (BTW – it isn’t sappy and provides motive – so if you’re on the fence never fear it only adds layers.)

Overall I enjoyed reading this book.

In fact, the byplay between Miss Adams and her police counterpart intrigued me enough I’m going to hunt down the rest of the Miss Pinkerton mysteries! Because I’d really like to know where Miss Adams’ story started and where it ends since Rinehart provided just enough hints to make me want to find out.

   Fran

9781501998096I know, I know, you’re going to say, “Oh look, Fran’s touting a book by William Kent Krueger. So what? She always does.” It’s true. I do.

But wait, hear me out! STOP SCROLLING, DARN IT!

Desolation Mountain (Atria) is somewhat different from the rest of the Cork O’Connor books, and in an intriguing – if dark – way. Now I’ll grant you, I’ve spent several years poking around the North Country with Cork and his family, so in the first chapter I knew who the two people talking were even before I read the names. And what’s exciting about Desolation Mountain is it taps into something Kent is really good at: coming-of-age stories.

Go re-read  Ordinary Grace and tell me I’m wrong.

Stephen is really growing up, and I can see him eventually taking Cork’s place as an investigator, even though that’s not his path. But in addition to becoming a Mide, Stephen has a powerful need to know, to understand. And he has to learn who he is first, hence the coming-of-age bit. Granted, he’s 20 now, but sometimes I still think he’s 6. It’s been a delight watching Stephen grow up under William Kent Krueger’s skillful hands, and he’s becoming a powerful character on his own, which is fantastic.

But the other seriously cool aspect to Desolation Mountain is that Kent brought in a character from his stand-alone book, The Devil’s Bed. Bo Thorsen is involved in the same investigation as Cork and Stephen, but he’s not necessarily their ally. It makes for some off-the-charts tension.

So yeah, I’m pushing a book by William Kent Krueger, and it’s not a surprise, but the book itself, Desolation Mountain, really is! And if you haven’t read any others and pick this one up to start with, like my wife did, you’re gonna want to go back to the beginning and start with Iron Lake.

*************************************

Note from the real crime world – I’ve been reading a lot of police reports in my job, and I can now definitively say that every crime, every last one, is made infinitely worse when you read, “The suspect was wearing a clown suit.”

     JB

Blowout came from an interesting question. 9780525575474

Rachel Maddow wondered why Putin would risk messing with the 2016 US election. In hindsight, we know they did and, to some point, it was worth it – but it clearly wouldn’t have been a sure  bet. Had Clinton won, the full weight of the US government would’ve been pointed at Russia in retribution. So why the risk? It is an interesting question.

“The meek may inherit the earth, but the bold could certainly screw it up in the interim.”

And that’s where the book goes. Along with way, she provides a succinct and entertaining history of the oil industry and the birth of fracking. She overlays it with the growth of Exxon/Mobil, the corporate rise of Tillerson, the political rise of Putin, the growth of Russia’s kleptocractic state, and the economic pit Putin drilled for himself and his country.

And the center of it all is Ukraine. The Ukraine of Crimea, and Manafort, and the crippling sanctions affixed by the Obama administration due to Russia’s interference in Ukraine and its elections, and their military incursions. Ukraine remains in the center of things, now thanks to Drumpf and his quid pro quo, Giuliani and his buddies, and, of course, Putin’s schemes. Power, money, oil, natural gas, and more power.

“Putin and his techno-warriors figured out what differences and disagreements and prejudices were corroding the health and cohesion of American society. They found the most ragged faults and fissures in our democracy: immigration, race, religion, economic injustice, mass shootings. Then they poured infectious waste into them.” Putin just hack America. She adroitly shows he fracked us.

It’s a book with a broad topic but written with confidence and comedy – that which makes no sense is not spared her wit and scorn. What is or was farce is clearly shown to be. You hear her voice in her words as clearly as if she was sitting at your side reading it to you.

Blowout is a gusher of info and a barrel of fun. It is also a serious work.

9780982565087A while ago, I wrote a couple of posts about a trip to San Francisco and taking the Dashiell Hammett Walking Tour. It took me a couple of weeks but I hunted down a copy of Don Herron’s out-of-print book about it. It is great fun. It provides an entertaining and informative biography of Hammett as the tour proceeds around the city, telling you what he did when he lived at this address or that address, why this building or that building is mentioned in The Maltese Falcon and what the support of that conclusion is (the late PI and crime writer Joe Gores plays a hefty part in the opinions), and includes photos and maps of the routes. If you find a copy, and it is the 30th Anniversary edition with forwards by Hammett’s daughter Jo and by crime writer Charles Willeford, snag it.

 

Lastly ~ My Latest Seattle Mystery Bookshop Dream!

Bill Farley and I were some kind of contractors, doing painting in someone home (certainly affected by my current work in a hardware store). We walked into the bookshop – which was in a dingy area of town but not on Cherry St, I don’t think, the street was level – and it was clear it had just moved into this smaller space. Empty bookshelves were stacked to the left side of the door in front of a big window. There were also some that were jammed with books – I think it was the beginning of the alphabet. There were shelves lining the walls and Amber was busy loading books into them. There weren’t very many people in the shop at that moment but more began to come in. I stepped behind the register to ring someone up and there was suddenly a long line of people plus a cranky old woman who wanted to ask question NOW. Then the space was much smaller and it was hard to move around the shelves that cluttered the space. and the jam of customers.

Once again, Fran wasn’t in the dream. Not sure what that means…

But it was nice to spend time with Bill again!



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