October 2022

SEATTLE ANTIQUARIAN BOOKFAIR ~ October 8th & 9th You don’t have to buy but it’s great to look!

Floppy disks in Japan: Minister declares war on old-fashioned technology

A shipment of baby wipes turns out to be $11.8 million worth of cocaine

Bigfoot Believers Uncovered a Lost Manuscript About the ‘Soviet Sasquatch’

Today’s hero: the 82-year-old Egyptian man who has collected 15,000 books for his community.

Sorry, Batman, This Luxury Lifestyle Brand Is All About Bruce Wayne

Longest single-volume book in the world goes on sale – and is impossible to read (at 21,450-pages – – – )

Attention, phonies: a rare signed edition of The Catcher in the Rye is up for sale.

The Enduring Wisdom of ‘Goodnight Moon’

Words of the Month

lucubration (n): a piece of writing, typically a pedantic or over-elaborate one.

Serious Stuff

A new ransomware gang is starting to ramp up its operations — and its exploits focus on a programming language that makes it harder for researchers to crack.

Here Is the Manual for the Mass Surveillance Tool Cops Use to Track Phones

Facebook Engineers Admit They Don’t Know What They Do With Your Data

A Different Heatwave Warning: Online Hate—Like Violent Crime—Soars With High Temperatures, Study Suggests

Google and Oxford Scientists Publish Paper Claiming AI Will “Likely” Annihilate Humankind [Skynet, anyone??]

FBI tracked Aretha Franklin’s civil rights activism, declassified file shows

The Sinaloa Cartel Is Controlling Water in Drought-Stricken Mexico

A Hotter, More Violent World

Screaming in Secret: Dahlia Lithwick on the Women Who Work Within the Legal System

Incel Communities Are Reportedly Engaged in a ‘Brothers-in-Arms’ War Against Women

Louisiana’s Infamous Angola Prison Will Now Lock Up Children

New report reveals ‘devastating scale’ of harassment and discrimination in the music industry

Cybersecurity firm Mandiant uncovers sophisticated espionage campaign

Researchers Say the CIA’s Amateurish Websites Led to the Exposure of Critical Assets

Censorship

Oklahoma Wants to Revoke License of Teacher Who Shared ‘Books Unbanned’ QR Code

Teens Are Fighting Back Against LGBTQ Book Bans

SLJ Survey Shows That Censorship Will Have Long-Term Effect on School Libraries

A Lot More Censorship Is Coming to a School Near You

Arizona Zine Shop Counters Book Bans With Inclusive Offerings

Book Bans Impact Over 4 Million Students: PEN America’s Sobering New Report

Overwhelming Majority of American Voters Strongly Oppose Book Banning According to National Poll

A Colorado Library Board Has Voted to Ban Book Bans

Jenny Holzer Unveils Massive Outdoor Installation at the Rockefeller Center ~ Text-based artwork that comes to the aid of writers and journalists in the midst of rising censorship around the world.

How to beat a book ban: students, parents and librarians fight back

40 Years of Banned Book Week: The ‘dangerous’ books too powerful to read

City of Chicago and Chicago Public Library Declare Themselves Book Sanctuaries

More than 1,600 books banned during 2021-22 school year, report finds

Democrats introduce ‘book ban’ resolution amid nationwide censorship movement

Brooklyn’s library moves to slip books through red state bans

Pennsylvania school district accused of banning Girls Who Code book series

The Long and Gruesome History of the Battle Over American Textbooks

Canadian Right-Wing Book Banning Groups Don’t Know How School Boards Work

Words of the Month

caconym (n.) “a name rejected for linguistic reasons, bad nomenclature in botany or biology,” 1888, from caco- “bad, ill, poor” + -onym “name” (from PIE root *no-men- “name”). (etymonline)

Local Stuff

Why Seattle libraries had 130-plus closures this summer

New Black-owned Central District bookstore celebrates Black culture

‘Riverdale’ actor Ryan Grantham gets life in prison for killing his mother

High-level gangster vanishes while on parole in B.C.

Walls of Books fills the bookstore-shaped hole in the hearts of Issaquah readers

How a Powell’s Books outpost ended up in Condon, population 760

Odd Stuff

James Patterson’s ‘Blowback’ asks, ‘What if we elected a psychopath?’

Food Delivery Robot Casually Drives Under Police Tape, Through Active Crime Scene

Five Ways to Break Up, According to Michael Mann’s Films

The Mystery of the Headless Goats in the Chattahoochee

Words of the Month

threap (n): An argument or disagreement, often un-resolvable. (Says You!, #1016)

SPECTRE

Amazon keeps growing, and so does its cache of data on you

Amazon’s eastern Oregon expansion sends carbon emissions soaring

California sues Amazon, alleging antitrust law violations

Speedreaders Lose, Authors Win in New Amazon Ebook Policy Change

Words of the Month.

opisthography (n.) “the practice of writing on the back of anything,” 1715, from Greek opisthographos “written on the back,” from graphos “writing” (from graphein“to write” (see -graphy) + opisthen “behind, from behind, at the back,” from opi, a variant of epi “on it, at it” (see epi-). (etymonline)

Awards

The Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize named 11 recipients this year, awarding a total of $1.1 million.

The Griffin Poetry Prize has created the largest international prize for a book of poetry.

Here are the finalists for the 2022 Kirkus Prize, one of the world’s richest literary awards

Here are the bookies’ odds for the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature

Words of the Month

scrawl (v.) From the 1610s, “write or draw awkwardly and untidily,” a word of uncertain origin, perhaps from a specific use of Middle English scrawlen “spread out the limbs, sprawl” (early 15c.), which might be an alteration of sprawlen (see sprawl (v.)) or crawl (v.). Some sources suggest a contraction of scrabble. Related: Scrawled; scrawling.

The noun in the sense of “piece of unskilled or inelegant writing” is by 1690s, from the verb; the meaning “bad style of handwriting” is by 1710. (etymonline)

Book Stuff

Books at One expands to Dublin; Murder One and Capital Crime launch; Colm Tóibín premiere

A Conservative Publisher Wants to Be the Answer to Liberal Children’s Books. There’s Just One Problem. “The books aren’t bad, necessarily. They’re just not for kids.”

Books newsletter: Proust in Dublin; Culture Night; Catholicism debate; Yeats sculpture unveiled

New UK PM Truss urged to invest in libraries and abolish tax on audiobooks

Is climate-change making it too hot for many of the nation’s libraries?

The Shopkeeper Sleuth: Cozy Mysteries Featuring Crime-Solving Business Owners

Impossible Murders In Crime Fiction

Deanna Raybourn: On Writers and (Characters) of a Certain Age

The New James Bond Novels Are Fun, Progressive, and Totally Thrilling

What Women Mystery Writers and Female Sleuths Owe to Nancy Drew

A publisher abruptly recalled the ‘2,000 Mules’ election denial book. NPR got a copy.

Laurie R. King On Returning to Her San Francisco Roots During Lockdown

Boerne book festival kicks off spooky season with monsters and mysteries

A Deep Dive Into the History of Bibliomysteries

The State of the Crime Novel: A Roundtable Discussion with Crime Authors – part 1, part 2

S. A. Cosby: Interview and Cover Reveal

A recent episode of NPR’s Marketplace, reported on the continuing difficulties publishers are having getting books manufactured

Tom Hanks announces ‘wildly ambitious’ first novel

10 Shadowy Meetings of Crime and the Occult

Horror Fiction In The Age of Covid: A Roundtable Discussion

The Unstoppable, Fearsome, Delicious Allure of the Witch

On Theda Bara and the Origins of the Vamp

Miss Christie!

Rhys Bowen: Miss Marple is Agatha Christie’s best character. A new book reminds us why.

Agatha Christie by Lucy Worsley review – in search of the elusive author

Author Events (in person)

Tues, Oct 18: Candace Robb signs her new Owen Archer, A Fox in the Fold: Third Place/Ravenna, 7pm

Other Forms of Entertainment

Library Sitcom ‘SHELVED’ Could Be The Show We Need

Indiana Jones 5: Is it really over for Harrison Ford as an action star?

Scenes from a Marriage: Watching the “Thin Man” Movies as a Set

James Bond Producers Are Focused on Figuring Out a Villain Before Casting the Next 007

Porfirio Rubirosa: the Dominican man who inspired James Bond

When Hollywood Was Punished for Its Anti-Nazism

Yes, There’s a Wonderful New ‘Fletch’ Movie Starring Jon Hamm. Not That You’d Know It Exists

8 True Crime Podcasts You Need to Listen to This Fall

The Many Crime Stories of Robert De Niro

Words of the Month

chirography (n.) “handwriting, the art of writing,” 1650s, from chiro “the hand”+ graphy “writing.” Chirograph “formal written legal document” is attested from late 13c. in Anglo-French, from Latin chirographum, from Greek kheirographia “written testimony.” Related: Chirographer; chirographic. (etymonline)

RIP

Sept. 3: Award-Winning Underground Comics Writer/Artist Diane Noomin Dies at 75

Sept. 4: Sterling Lord Dies – Literary Agent For Jack Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’ Was 102

Sept. 7: Best-selling horror writer Peter Straub has died at 79

Sept. 11: Spanish novelist Javier Marías dies in Madrid hospital aged 70

Sept. 12: NSA analyst jailed for life for selling US secrets to Soviets dies aged 80

Sept. 13: Ken Starr, the prosecutor on the Clinton Whitewater investigation, has died at 76

Sept. 14: Earl Silbert, first prosecutor in the Watergate case, dies at 86

Sept. 14: Irene Papas, celebrated Greek actress from ‘Guns of Navarone’, ‘Zorba’ to ‘Iphigenia,’ and ‘Z’, has died at 96

Sept. 16: Henry Silva, Bad Guy in ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ and Many Other Movies, Dies at 95

Sept. 17: Maximilian Lerner, Whose Espionage Skills Helped Win a War, Dies at 98

Sept. 19: Lily Renée Phillips, Pioneering Comic Book Artist, Dies at 101

Sept. 21: John Train, Paris Review Co-Founder and Cold War Operative, Dies at 94

Sept. 23: Wolf Hall author Hilary Mantel dies aged 70

Sept. 23: Louise Fletcher, Oscar Winner for ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ Dies at 88

Sept. 29: Leonard Cole, Who Detailed Secret Army Germ Tests, Dies at 89

Links of Interest

Sept. 1: The nation’s poorest state used welfare money to pay Brett Favre for speeches he never made

Sept. 1: A Gang Called Drug Rich Is Robbing Celebrities All Over Atlanta

Sept. 1: What Canada’s Largest Art Heist Reveals about the Art World’s Shady Side

Sept. 4: The Fiery Godmother Who Avenged Her Husband With 29 Bullets

Sept. 5: Man Headed to Prison for Dumping Toxic Pollution Into Ocean

Sept. 6: How Eliot Ness Wound Up Hunting a Serial Killer in Cleveland

Sept.7: Suspect Nabbed in Half-Century-Old Cold Case Killing of Maryland Cop

Sept.7: Police Arrest Woman Who Faked Her Own Kidnapping to Extort Her Mom—for the Fourth Time

Sept. 8: County Official’s DNA Found at Site of Vegas Journalist’s Grisly Slaying

Sept. 8: MAGA Pastor Settles After Being Accused of Scamming Old Lady

Sept. 8: How Murdered Journalist Jeff German’s Colleagues Hunted Down His Alleged Killer

Sept. 9: CT Scans Reveal Gnarly, 1,000-Year-Old Mummies Were Murdered

Sept. 13: Looted coin worth $1m returned to Israel after years-long hunt

Sept. 13: A Sensational Murder Trial in the Newly Founded New Yorker

$ept. 14: ‘Santa came today’: Brett Favre texts show his role in Mississippi welfare scandal

Sept: 14: Arnold Rothstein: New York’s First Criminal Genius

Sept. 14: Missing people, buried bones at center of Oklahoma mystery

Sept. 15: Was This Letter Written by Sherlock Holmes?

Sept. 15: He Killed a Stranger He Thought Was a Werewolf. A Judge Just Banned Him From Social Media

Sept. 1`6: The Treasures Within the World’s Greatest Wine Library

Sept. 16: What Do We Really Know About the History of the Printing Press?

Sept. 19: 4 Library Collections Filled With Culinary Treasures

Sept. 20: Adnan Syed: Conviction overturned in Serial podcast murder case

Sept. 20: U.S. charges ‘brazen’ theft of $250 million from pandemic food program

Sept. 20: Prosecutors allege an inside job. The target? Rare bourbon

Sept. 22: Can Science Solve the Mystery of the Concrete Book?

Sept. 22: How Leopold and Loeb Ended up with the Country’s Most Famous Lawyer

Sept. 24: How a suburban St. Louis detective broke a 30-year-old serial killer case wide open

$ept. 24: Brett Favre pressed for facility funding despite being told legality in question, court filing says

Sept. 25: Author makes case for most compelling Zodiac Killer suspect in decades

Sept. 26: One Man’s Search for the First Hebrew-Lettered Cookbook

$ept. 27: Brett Favre is the face of a scandal, but Mississippi’s issues go deeper

Sept. 28: Kandinsky painting returned to Jewish family as Netherlands shifts approach to looted art

Sept. 28: The Evils of Larry Ray: A Creepy Dad Who Started a Sex Cult at Sarah Lawrence College

Sept. 28: Hollywood-Beloved Espionage Author Ben MacIntyre on What Truly Motivates Spies

Sept. 28: RFK assassin Sirhan asks to go home to live ‘in peace’

$ept. 28: Brett Favre’s foundation, aimed at helping children and cancer patients, gave funds to USM athletics

Sept. 29: Man Pays $75 for Medieval Text That Could Be Worth $10,000

Sept. 30: The Lindisfarne Gospels: ‘everyone should see this show at least once’

Words of the Month

cacoethes (n.) “itch for doing something,” 1560s, from Latinized form of Greek kakoēthēs “ill-habit, wickedness, itch for doing (something),” from kakos “bad” (from PIE root *kakka- “to defecate”) + ēthē- “disposition, character” (see ethos). Most famously, in Juvenal’s insanabile scribendi cacoethes “incurable passion for writing.” (etymonline)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Deanna Raybourn – Killers of a Certain Age

Ready to retire, four women (of a certain age) are treated to a boat cruise by their former employers as a reward for their exemplary service. A vacation which they enjoy right up until one of the group spots a former colleague on the same boat. 

The only problem — Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie’s former job title: Assassin.

Deanna Rabourn’s tale is a rollercoaster ride of the first water! Blending together the librarians from Gunpowder Milkshake, the general premise of Burn Notice, and Lana’s origin story from Archer — you’ve now got an inkling of the wild ride between the covers of Killer’s of a Certain Age.

Seriously, I couldn’t put Killers of a Certain Age down. 

I’d recommend this book to anyone who needs a fantastic, fast-paced read for the bath or a holiday. Seriously, I love how these women outwit, outmaneuver, and outshine their pursuers using experience their younger counterparts don’t yet possess…

Plus, it was just lovely to sit down for a few hours and read a book from cover to cover — especially when Raybourn penned such a satisfying ending! 

Fran

Keep an open mind

I had just finished watching the series “Madam Secretary” when I picked up State of Terror. Now, if you were going to write a thriller involving the Secretary of State, and you wanted a fast-paced, well plotted book with intriguing characters, who would you have author it? Be fair, be honest, who knows their stuff?

Hillary Rodham Clinton knows the ins and outs of being Secretary of State. Whatever you may think of her, she knows her stuff.

Louise Penny has proved time and again that she can write a gripping novel filled with real people.

Together, they created State of Terror, and honestly, now is the time to read it.

I want to sit down and talk about this book with you face to face so you can see my enthusiasm. But it’s good that I can’t, because I’d give away spoilers. For our plot purposes here, let me just say that Ellen Adams was a harsh critic of now President Doug Williams during her media mogul days, so it was a huge surprise when he appointed her Secretary of State. Adams handed off her media empire to her daughter and accepted the position, where her first assignment failed miserably. Let’s just say this did not displease President Williams.

But when bus bombs happen in a couple of European cities, Adams and Williams have to work together to figure out where the next target is. One of Secretary Adams’ people in the Pakistan office gets a clue, and the race is on.

“The most amazing thing that has happened in my lifetime is neither putting a man on the moon nor Facebook having 2.8 billion monthly active users. It is that in the 75 years, 7 months, and 13 days since Nagasaki, a nuclear bomb has not been detonated.” – Tom Peters

The more I read this book, knowing HRC‘s insider knowledge of Washington politics and its back door dealings, combined with Louise Penny’s astonishing ability to put you right in the heart of the story, the more terrifying it became. And watching current news cycles both in the US and around the world, this book becomes more relevant every day. I had no idea.

Which is not to say it doesn’t have moments of levity. Some of the characters will jump right into your heart. Betsy Jameson, Secretary Adams’ good friend and counselor is one of them. She’s the “Mrs. Cleaver” below, because she looks so ordinary and friendly.

“Steve Kowalski, Ellen’s head of Diplomatic Security, a longtime veteran of the service, turned in the front seat to look at Mrs. Cleaver as she combined and conjugated words that should never, really, have conjugal relations. The ensuing progeny was both grotesque and hilarious, as she turned nouns into verbs, and verbs into something else entirely. It was a display of linguistic gymnastics the agent hadn’t thought possible. And he’d been a Marine.”

You’ll get chills, and it’s possible that your sleep will be disrupted by this novel – and remember, it is just a novel – and with good reason. The possibilities given here are far too plausible not to be considered, and when a power team like this presents it to you, you pay attention.

Also, it’s a great thriller! Trust me, you want to read State of Terror now.

JB


I was thrilled to find that Rinker Buck had a new book coming out. The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey was one of the best books I read when it came out in 2016. I’ve given away at least a half-dozen copies. In it he builds a canastoga wagon and set off, powered by three mules, across the Oregon Trail. It is an outstanding book, jammed with history and interesting tidbits, and I was ready for a new adventure.

Life on the Mississippi: An Epic American Adventure mirrors that earlier book but this involves first building a flatboat – the sort first used to navigate the Father of Waters – and then float it from the start of the Ohio River and down to New Orleans. Nearly everyone he discusses this plan with tells him he’s going to die. They’re all quiet serious. Perhaps it is hubris, or his own native mule-headedness, but he plunges on. It’s a daunting plan but you know he survived ’cause you’re reading the book.

Along the way you accumulate a flowing history of how the commerce and settlement of the country was enhanced by European-Americans moving West and following the waters. Of course, the current river is nothing like the unfettered highway of 200 years ago – just as the Oregon Trail no longer exists as it was when first blazzed. Buck is aghast at the garbage and trash (it often was, he says sadly, a “floating junkyard”). “And the river has been so contained and shaped so as to stay within it’s bounds that is in no way as wild as it once once. That’s not to say it isn’t dangerous; big storms along any of the rivers that feed it can make it swell and churn, and the commercial traffic is astonishing. Then, too, there are the weekend fools.

Like the junk that float by, so too does the awful history of our country – Buck does not shy from explaining the ways the waters helped to decimate the natives that had ruled and helped to spread slavery further into the landscape. Truly, life on the Mississippi is both a grand tale of human progress corrupted because of the costs that it charges on all who used it.

??????????????????????????????????

All Haunting is Regret

Don’t worry if you start Hell and Back and can’t figure out what is going on. Neither can Walt. Craig Johnson puts all of us – readers and characters – in a place that defies explanation and populates it with people who can’t possibly there. In fact, there are so many people from Walt’s past that I stopped reading the new book and re-read the previously three and it helped. It is a book overflowing with mystery and mysticism. It is a book unlike any of the previous Longmires, yet is is easily experienced as another in a long line of Absaroka County stories that are unique and comforting. Because at the center is Walt Longmire and he is trustworthy to all.

“Words are important, no matter what the language – they are perhaps one of the most powerful things we have. Words can preserve life or invoke death and should be handled with the same care as any deadly weapon.” Those are Virgil’s words, but the truth is Craig’s.

Boy Howdy…

=================================

Pulitzer-nominated investigative reporter Howard Blum‘s brand new book is astonishing. The Spy Who Knew Too Much: An Ex-CIA Officer’s Quest Through A Legacy of Betrayal begins with a boat sailing itself into the shore of the Chesapeake Bay and gets strange from there.

So starts an entertaining and convoluted story of the hunt for a Soviet mole in the CIA. Scads of books have been written about this hunt, the suspects, the battles over which Russian turncoat to believe, and the destruction and devastation the hunt caused to US intelligence. Blum’s book follows the investigation of Tennent “Pete” Bagley, a retired American spook who lived through that destruction and suffered from it. The circumstances of the mystery sail boat brings him back to the hunt and it unfolds like a well crafted whodunnit. Clues, red herrings, and blind alleys abound and, along the way, you see the Cold War games of both sides of the spy landscape.

If you’re interested in American history, Cold War history, CIA history – or even if you don’t think you are – pick up the books. It’s a great mystery, but all true.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Next up: a book that was released in Feb. but that I just discovered near the end of Sept – Fran has been yelling at me for years to read Joe Ide. So far I haven’t but I will now. To my knowledge, this is the third book the Chandler estate has engaged current authors to pen a new Philip Marlowe novel. First, in 2014, there was Benjamin (John Banville) Black’s The Black-Eyed Blonde, a follow-up to The Long Goodbye. In 2018, Only to Sleep by Lawrence Osbourne was released. In that, Marlowe is 72 and living in Mexico.

It’s one thing to search for new books by a favorite author. I’m not sure how you search for new books about a favorite character!

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

June 2022

The deadliest school massacre in US history took place 95 years ago

Odd Stuff

Baroness Mone: first lady of lingerie embroiled in criminal investigation over £200m PPE contract

Russia Pretends It Didn’t Accidentally Show Bonnie and Clyde During Victory Day Parade

Ben Franklin Put an Abortion Recipe in His Math Textbook

Nikola Tesla told him: “Bury your Findings until Humanity is Ready”

Trolling’s Surprising Origins in Fishing

‘Grandfather of Goth’: fans campaign for US stamp honoring Edward Gorey

When Julia Child worked for a spy agency fighting sharks

Bringing order to the chaos of reality… Jarvis Cocker interviews six collectors

Lost’ Picasso spotted in Imelda Marcos’s home after son’s election win

Letters from the Loneliest Post Office in the World

Bird-watcher wrongfully accused in Central Park video gets a bird-watching TV show

Utah Hunting Guide Facing Felony for Rigging Don Jr.’s Bear Hunt

A ‘Jawsactor is named police chief in the town where the iconic movie was filmed

Burn-proof edition of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ up for auction

Evil twinks and gay gangsters: why we need to remember history’s horrid homosexuals

In Pictures: See Gilded Manuscripts That Span 1,500 Years in a New London Exhibition About Gold and the Written Word

For shame: Bram Stoker was a serial defiler of library books.

A 17th-century book about the existence of aliens has been found in England.

Words of the Month

Bug (n): An “insect, beetle,” 1620s (earliest reference is to bedbugs), of unknown origin, probably (but not certainly) from or influenced by Middle English bugge “something frightening, scarecrow” (late 14th C.), a meaning obsolete since the “insect” sense arose except in bugbear (1570s) and bugaboo (q.v.).

Serious Stuff

*In the battle over books, Nashville library’s response? ‘I read banned books’ cards

*Upset by book bans, teen starts forbidden book club in small Pa. town

*How a Debut Graphic Memoir Became the Most Banned Book in the Country

*An Idaho school district has permanently banned 24 books, including The Handmaid’s Tale.

*Courageous Afghan teenagers help start an underground book club in defiance of Taliban

*Miami Herald Editorial Board: Florida’s book rejection frenzy has right-wing kookiness written all over it

By Carl Hiaasen: Want to understand Miami? Read these 10 books, says Mitchell Kaplan of Books & Books

*Florida’s shopping for social studies textbooks. No social justice content allowed

*Subscribe to this banned books club—and help provide families with free books!

*Va. Republicans seek to limit sale of 2 books in Barnes & Noble for ‘obscenity’

*Video captures vandal removing $1,000 in LGBTQ books from roadside library

*Belarus has banned the sale of 1984.

*Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ Shows Why Book Bans Are So Futile

A bloodstain expert’s testimony helped put him in prison. But can forensic science be trusted?

>Ukrainian Officials Accuse Russian Forces of Looting Thousands of Priceless Gold Artifacts and Works of Art

>Russian internet users downloading VPNs by the millions in challenge to Putin

>Russian sentenced to life in Ukraine’s 1st war crimes trial

Paraguay drugs prosecutor killed on honeymoon on Colombian beach

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to give books to refugee children

On the Way the Criminal Justice System Fails Our Poor Communities

Startup raises $17 million to develop smart gun

A 17-year-old boy died by suicide hours after being scammed. The FBI says it’s part of a troubling increase in ‘sextortion’ cases.

FBI says it foiled Islamic State sympathizer’s plot to kill George W Bush

Local Stuff

New red dress artwork inspired by Sarah de Vries, one of serial killer Pickton’s victims

WA woman, serving 90 years for planting poisoned pills, seeks release from prison

This summer, Blue Kettle Books will drive Seattle’s newest and smallest bookstore to you

Whistler Writers Festival spring series set to inspire and entertain

Joshua Freed, former Bothell mayor and GOP gubernatorial candidate, accused of misleading real estate investors

After 10 years on the run, couple pleads guilty in Federal Way scuba diver’s death

Words of the Month

bug (v.1) “to bulge, protrude,” 1872, originally of eyes, perhaps from a humorous or dialect mispronunciation of bulge (v.). Related: Bugged; bugging. As an adjective, bug-eyed recorded from 1872; so commonly used of space creatures in mid-20th C. science fiction that the initialism (acronym) BEM for bug-eyed monster was current by 1953. (etymonline)

Awards

2022 Pulitzer Prize winners

Patricia Lockwood has won the £20,000 Dylan Thomas Prize

PEN America honors activists, artists and dissidents

Stephen Colbert Presents Peabody Institutional Award to ‘Fresh Air’’s Terry Gross

Here are the finalists for CLMP’s Firecracker Awards (or, a perfect indie reading list).

French author Alice Zeniter has won the eye-popping €100,000 Dublin Literary Award.

Book Stuff

Independent book stores aren’t just points of purchase but points of contact for communities

When You Learn Your Mother Was a Serious Writer Only After She’s Gone

Author’s essay about why she plagiarized chunks of her debut novel about a young, black pregnant woman is pulled after it’s found she copied that AS WELL

Five Writers Weigh in on the Weird Shame of Publishing a Book

5 Non-Fiction Titles That Are So Vibrant They Read Like Fiction

10 Reasons Why Victorian England Is the Perfect Setting for Murder

John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee Novels, Ranked

Phoebe Atwood Taylor: Prolific Mystery Novelist and Creator of “The Codfish Sherlock”

A Brutal—and True—Piece of Writing Advice from Toni Morrison

Revisiting Gary Indiana’s Bewildering, Haunting True Crime Trilogy

Tracing the Romance Genre’s Radical Roots, from Derided “Sex Novels” to Bridgerton

On My Love of Libraries: Lessons From My Father

Bestselling novelist Don Winslow pivots from writing to politics

John Grisham: ‘Non-lawyers who write legal thrillers often get things so wrong’

How Do You Decolonize the Golden Age Mystery? Read More Historical Fiction!

Get Lit(erary) at Burning Man Publishing’s Launch Party

The Obscure London Library Where Famous Writers Go for Books

In-Person Author Events

June 6: David Duchovny signs The Reservoir, Powell’s, 6pm

June 9: David Duchovny signs The Reservoir, Seattle Town Hall, 7:30pm

June 29: Jess Walter signs The Angel of Rome and Other Stories, FolioSeattle, 6pm

Other Forms of Entertainment

Michael Keaton to direct and star in hitman-with-dementia movie

Two friends facing off resulted in the greatest Columbo episode eve

How ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ Took On Murder and the Mormon ChurchWords of the Month

Black and White and Noir All Over: A Brief History of Vintage Newspaper Crime Comic Strips

What are these serial killer subplots doing in Nora Ephron movies?

The Staircase Uncovers New Questions Within Tired True-Crime Theories

For ‘The Lincoln Lawyer,’ Manuel Garcia-Rulfo Climbs in the Front Seat

Armie Hammer Special Among New True Crime Slate at ID and Discovery+

A New Biography of Michael Cimino Is as Fascinating and Melancholy as the Filmmaker Himself [Don’t forget Thunderbolt and Lightfoot!]

Words of the Month

bug (v.2): “to annoy, irritate,” 1949, perhaps first in swing music slang, probably from bug (n.) and a reference to insect pests. Related: Bugged; bugging. (etymonline)

RIP

May 1: Kathy Boudin, Radical Imprisoned in a Fatal Robbery, Dies at 78

May 5: Alfred Baldwin, chief Watergate eavesdropper and lookout, is dead at 83

May 9: Jack Kehler, Actor in ‘The Big Lebowski,’ ‘The Man in the High Castle,’ Dies at 75

May 10: James R. Olson, ‘Andromeda Strain,’ ‘Rachel, Rachel’ Star, Dies at 91

May 12: Randy Weaver, white separatist involved in Ruby Ridge standoff with FBI, dies at 74

May 13: Robert C. McFarlane, Top Reagan Aide in Iran-Contra Affair, Dies at 84

May 13: Fred Ward Dies – ‘The Right Stuff’, ‘Tremors’ & ‘Remo Williams’ Actor Was 79

May 20: John Aylward, prominent Seattle theater, ‘ER’and ‘West Wing’ actor, dies at 75

May 20: Remembering Roger Angell, New Yorker editor and Hall of Fame baseball writer

May 26: Ray Liotta, Actor in ‘GoodFellas,’ Dies at 67

Words of the Month

bug (v.3) “to scram, skedaddle,” 1953, of uncertain origin, perhaps related to bug (v.2), and compare bug off. Bug out (n.) “precipitous retreat” (1951) is from the Korean War. (etymonline)

Links of Interest

April 29: The Prosecutor Who Put John Gotti Away Explains How He Did It

May 1: The Gonzo Brothel Owner Who Stole $550 Million from the US Government

May 2: CIA Spook Who Admitted Raping Unconscious Women Does a U-Turn: I’m Impotent!

May 4: The Long Island Cops Who Schemed To Take Over the District Attorney’s Office

May 3: Drought reveals human remains in barrel at Lake Mead

May 5: AI Identifies 160 Possible ‘Crews’ of Criminal Cops in Chicago

May 7: A Crime Beyond Belief : A Harvard-trained lawyer was convicted of committing bizarre home invasions. Psychosis may have compelled him to do it. But in a case that became a public sensation, he wasn’t the only one who seemed to lose touch with reality.

May 7: Fugitive Hitman Dies in Mysterious Canadian Plane Crash

May 7: How 5 Convicted Murderers Banded Together to Get Out of Prison

May 7: Mystery of phone in North Sea could hold key to ‘Wagatha Christie’ case

May 7: Meet the YouTube Scuba Divers Solving Cold Cases – – and Racking Up Views

May 9: MI5 asked police to spy on political activities of children in 1975, inquiry hears

May 10: Guilty! Two-Timing Hubby Is Undone by Murdered Wife’s Fitbit

May 11: Man dies from heart attack after strangling his girlfriend to death and burying her in the backyard

May 12: How ‘Leonardo DiCaprio’ Scammed a Houston Widow Out of $800K

May 12: Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre sued by state of Mississippi

May 12: On the Trail of the Shenandoah Murders at the American Investigative Society of Cold Cases

May 12: Daughter’s Hair May Help Reveal Who Poisoned Her Dad—Twice

May 17: Writing History When the Crime Is Stranger Than Fiction

May 17: When You’re This Hated, Everyone’s a Suspect

May 18: True crime tourism: The good, the bad and the Bundy

May 19: “Criminal profiling has been fooling us all.”

May 20: ‘Casanova Scammer’ Pleads Guilty to Defrauding More Than 30 Women

May 23: The most audacious Confederate spies — and how they got away with it

May 24: Pediatrician Accused of Trying to Whack Ex-Hubby Asked Her Staff for Hitman Contacts

May 25: The Most Famous NFT Artist Got Hacked, Ripping Off His Followers

May 25: See video of jewelry store employees fight off robbers

May 25: On the Radical, Popular Creator of the First Female Superhero

May 26: Former head of Louvre charged in Egyptian artefacts trafficking case

May 30: A Dead Hamster Just Helped a Man Get Off Death Row

Words of the Month

bug (v.4) “equip with a concealed microphone,” 1949, earlier “equip with an alarm system,” 1919, underworld slang, probably a reference to bug (n.1). Bug (n.) “concealed microphone” is from 1946. Related: Bugged; bugging. (etymonline)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Are you looking for a good book? Do you enjoy reading about poison? If you do, I’ve got an entertaining title for you: A Taste For Poison by Neil Bradbury, Ph.D.

The premise of the book is this: “….a chemical is not intrinsically good or bad, it’s just a chemical. What differs is the intent with which the chemical is used: either to preserve life — or to take it.” (pg.7)

Bradbury forwards this Shakespearean inspired theme (from Hamlet‘s line: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”) by detailing the beneficial and lethal qualities of each of the eleven chemicals included in A Taste For Poison. By describing the underlying science of how said chemical kills on a cellular level, he conversely covers the knowledge we’ve reaped from sussing out their methods.

Now, don’t let the science scare you off. Bradbury’s explanations are clear, concise, and easily understood. (Even with fuzzy recollections of high school biology classes.)

Augmenting the science are true crime cases featuring said substances. While a number of the crimes covered are quite famous, due to A Taste For Poison‘s firm focus on the chemical itself, these well canvassed cases find new life (so to speak). Thereby making the book a pleasure to read.

Balancing out this chilling subject matter is Bradbury’s sly sense of humor. Which not only generates wry observations, it keeps the book moving smoothly onward and from sinking into its own morbidness.

Seriously, A Taste For Poison is a fascinating read. One I would recommend to any mystery reader with a curious mind as it celebrates neither crime nor criminal. Rather, it demonstrates how these substances have been misused by a few and have helped the many.

JB

First off, I highly recommend the new Netflix series “The Lincoln Lawyer”. Yes, there was a 2011 Matthew McConaughey movie by that name, but while it is about the same character, this series is a whole, new deal. Mickey Haller is an LA defense attorney who works mostly out of his car (hence his nickname). But this new 10-episode series comes from The Brass Verdict, the second book in the series by Michael Connelly. And, no – Bosch is not in the series due to SPECTRE having those rights. [Come to think of it, is the reason McConaughey does Lincoln car commercials because he was in The Lincoln Lawyer? Just occurred to me…]

Second off (I know that isn’t what you say but why not??”), I highly recommend “The Offer”, a series about the making of The Godfather. Great cast with a story told by mixing in famous lines from the movie, reminiscent of how Shakespeare in Love used motifs from the theatre. The series is on Paramount+.

Third off, if you want to get a true history of what Ukraine has been through in its past, and if you have a strong soul, read Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands. It is NOT an easy read. Be warned that there will be times you have to put it down. It covers the years 1930 – 45 and what happened in the territory that now encompasses Poland, Ukraine, and the Baltic states, and the 14 MILLION humans murdered by Stalin and Hitler. Strong stuff and important stuff to know.

Last off, everyone should read Michael Lewis’s The Premonition. All of his books are gems. I started with Moneyball. The Premonition deals with the disparate people who were pulled together by events to fight pandemics in the US and what happened when The Big One (covid) hit. It’s a fascinating story of smart people trying to do the best thing constantly thwarted by people in power who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, understand. And while I’m at it, I’d recommend his podcast ” Against the Rules”. Like his books, he focuses on the “referees” (ie people with power) in the world who don’t know what they’re doing. A particularly stand-out episode is “The Overconfidence Game”, about idiot men explaining things they don’t understand to women who do. Sad and funny...

One of the shop’s great old (length of time, not chronological age) customers was a Pat, a gentleman collector with a vast, VAST collection of books, mostly paperbacks. He kept track of them all with a notebook that had grid paper marked up to note what he had, what he needed to upgrade in quality, and where the holes in the collection were. Here are some photos he sent me of just four of the groups. If you think you have too many books, rest easy…

These are his Ace paperbacks
These are the Ballentines
These are the Gold Medals
And these are the digests from different publishers – middle left of the shot you can see Avon’s “Murder Mystery Monthly” in numerical order, of course!

Many Thanks to Pat for sharing some views of his impressive collection.

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

May Day May Day ~ 2022

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

Words of the Month

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

Watch for this new documentary, “Hello, Bookstore”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Earliest evidence of Maya calendar found inside Guatemalan pyramid

Scientists find earliest record of aurora in ancient Chinese chronicle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Words of the Month

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

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

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

Serious Stuff

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

Waterstones launches scheme to raise £1m for Ukraine

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

:US Government Disrupts Botnet Controlled by Russian Government Hackers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>New York Public Library makes banned books available for free

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

>Banned Books Are About to Be the New Pussy Hats

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

>Censorship battles’ new frontier: Your public library

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

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

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

>Llano County faces federal lawsuit over censorship in library system

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

>GOP Tennessee lawmaker suggests burning inappropriate books

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

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

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

The Female Spies Who Helped Win World War II

Two men arrested after targeting Secret Service agents in influence operation

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

What We Get Dangerously Wrong About Psychopaths

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Local Stuff

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vancouver’s Black Dog Video closing for good

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

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

Very Oregonized Crimes ~An atlas of Oregon crime fiction.

My First Thriller: Robert Dugoni

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

Words of the Month

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

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

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

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

Odd Stuff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He Created the First Known Movie. Then He Vanished.

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

The Business of Fake Martian Dirt Is Blasting Off

A New Electronic Nose May Help Sniff Out Counterfeit Whiskey

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

Two Charged After Pet Duck Helps Solve Murder Mystery

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

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

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

Words of the Month

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

SPECTRE

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

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

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

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

>Amazon seeks to undo Staten Island union victory

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

Working at an Amazon Warehouse Got Even More Dangerous in 2021

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

How Barnes & Noble Went From Villain to Hero

What You Don’t Know About Amazon

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

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

Words of the Month

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

Awards

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

Announcing the winners of the 2022 Whiting Awards.

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

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

Vancouver poet makes short list for top Griffin poetry prize

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

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

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

Lauren Groff has won the 2022 Joyce Carol Oates Prize.

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

Women’s Prize for Literature Shortlist showcases global talent

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

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

Book Stuff

Remembrance of Bookstores Past

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

The Library Ends Late Fees, and the Treasures Roll In

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ebook Services Are Bringing Unhinged Conspiracy Books into Public Libraries

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

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

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

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

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

Lost Charlotte Brontë Manuscript Sells for $1.25 Million

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

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

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

Waterstones launches scheme to raise £1m for Ukraine

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

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

Library of Congress Acquires Neil Simon’s Papers and Manuscripts

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

Why is the second hand book business booming?

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

Why the Mystery Novel Is a Perfect Literary Form

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

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

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

6 Thrillers That Will Fool the Most Seasoned Readers

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

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

Famous first lines, rewritten with a thesaurus.

Find books set in your hometown with this neat tool

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

In-Person Author Events

May 3: Seanan McGuire, University Bookstore, 6pm

May 4: : Paul Holes, Powell’s, 7pm

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

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

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

Other Forms of Entertainment

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

Mugshots of the Real Peaky Blinders

Bruce Willis’s Minimalist Star Power

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

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

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

My streaming gem: why you should watch Scarlet Street

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

Operation Mincemeat’: The Welsh drifter who helped end WW2

Harrison Ford Didn’t Do It

Serial-Killer Clown John Wayne Gacy Speaks in New Docuseries

~Peter Berg on Being Linda Fiorentino’s Sex Toy

~Kathleen Turner Made the Modern Femme Fatale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The True Story Behind ‘The Untouchables’

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

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

Words of the Month

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

RIP

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

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

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

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

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

April 10: Bestselling author Jack Higgins dead at 92

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

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

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

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

Links of Interest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 5: Hackers Hijacked Crypto Wallets With Stolen MailChimp Data

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 15: How Cryptocurrency Gave Birth to the Ransomware Epidemic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 28: Meta Found Snooping on Student Aid Applicants

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

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

Words of the Month

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

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

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

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

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

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

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

Then there are the maps.

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

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

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

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

Fran

A Touch of Home

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

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

View from my front door.

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

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

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

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

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

The Hanged Man

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

JB

National Portrait Gallery exhibition looks at Watergate 50 years later

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

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October 2021

Seriously Scary Stuff

Gabby Petito’s disappearance, and why it was absolutely everywhere, explained

Gabby Petito’s Family Asks ‘Amazing’ Social Media Sleuths to Help More Missing Persons

Femicides in the US: the silent epidemic few dare to name

Craig Johnson on Spirituality, the West, and the Plight of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: From the introduction to Craig’s new Longmire:

“The plight of missing an murdered indigenous women is so great that I had to reassure my publisher that the statistics contained in this novel are accurate. The numbers are staggering, and they speak for themselves. What if I were to tell you that that the chances of a Native woman being murdered is ten times the national average, or that murder is the third leading cause of death for indigenous women? What if I told you that four out of five Native women have experienced societal violence, with having experienced sexual violence as well. Half of Native women have been stalked in their lifetime, and they are two times as likely to experience violence and rape than their Anglo counterparts. Heartbreakingly, the majority of these Native women’s murders are by non-Natives on Native owned land.

“The violence is being addressed, but there is so much more to do. Jurisdictional issues and a lack of communication among agencies make the investigative process difficult. Underreporting, racial misclassification, and underwhelming media coverage [emphasis from us] minimize the incredible damage that is being done to the Native communities as a whole.

There are a number of wonderful organizations that are attempting to make a difference, the nearest to me being the Native Indigenous Women’s Resource Center in Lame Deer, Montana.”

Please join us in donating.

Seasonal Stuff

Remember the creepy house from The Silence of the Lambs? Now it’s a vacation rental

Company Apologizes for Sending Clowns to Schools and Terrifying Parents

Words of the Season

rougarou (n.): “Rougarou” represents a variant pronunciation and spelling of the original French loup-garou. According to Barry Jean Ancelet, an academic expert on Cajun folklore and professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in America, the tale of the rougarou is a common legend across French Louisiana. Both words are used interchangeably in southern Louisiana. Some people call the monster rougarou; others refer to it as the loup-garou. The rougarou legend has been spread for many generations, either directly from French settlers to Louisiana (New France) or via the French Canadian immigrants centuries ago. In the Cajun legends, the creature is said to prowl the swamps around Acadiana and Greater New Orleans, and the sugar cane fields and woodlands of the regions. The rougarou most often is described as a creature with a human body and the head of a wolf or dog, similar to the werewolf legend. (wikipedia)

Something for Bill: Detroit Crime Fiction: A Literary Tradition Like No Other (but he’d fidget that Rob Kantner and Jon A. Jackson weren’t included…)

Cool Stuff

Anthony Sinclair’s “Goldfinger Suit” lets you dress like Bond – with stitch-perfect authenticity

Don’t despair: LeVar Burton has designs on his own book-themed game show

James Patterson and Scholastic are joining forces to mitigate illiteracy

Bookseller of Kabul vows to stay open despite only two customers since the rise of the Taliban

Serious Stuff

So Sally Rooney’s racist? Only if you choose to confuse fiction with fact

Biles: FBI turned ‘blind eye’ to reports of gymnasts’ abuse

They Follow You on Instagram, Then Use Your Face To Make Deepfake Porn in This Sex Extortion Scam

Three former U.S. intelligence operatives admit to working as ‘hackers-for-hire’ for UAE

There Are Too Many Underemployed Former Spies Running Around Selling Their Services to the Highest Bidder

Stephen King has released a new short story, with profits going to support the ACLU

Long-Secret FBI Report Reveals New Connections Between 9/11 Hijackers and Saudi Religious Officials in U.S.

After student protests, a Pennsylvania school district has reversed its ban on diverse books

In 1865, thousands of Black South Carolinians signed a 54-foot-long freedom petition

She bought her dream home; a ‘sovereign citizen’ changed the locks

CIA Reportedly Considered Kidnapping, Assassinating Julian Assange

Paper shortage hits American retailers when they need it most

Everything you need to know about the current book supply-chain issues—and how you can help.

How can independent bookstores begin to pay their booksellers a fair and living wage?

America Is Having a Violence Wave, Not a Crime Wave

Local Stuff

More fallout from how we’re defunding Seattle police backward, this time in Pioneer Square

Portland Cop Who Was Caught on Video Bashing the Head of a Protest Medic Won’t Be Charged With a Crime

Bitcoin uses as much electricity as Washington State. How is that possible?

Proud Boy Shot While Chasing Anti-Fascists as City Fears More Violence

Huge hack reveals embarrassing details of who’s behind Proud Boys and other far-right websites

This was the worst slaughter of Native Americans in U.S. history. Few remember it.

Joie Des Livres brings life and culture to Tiny Seabrook

Odd Stuff

30 delightful puns from the Victorian Era

When Ray Bradbury Asked John F. Kennedy if He Could Help with the Space Race

Bart’s Books, an Ojai landmark, is a Central California destination unlike anything you’ve ever seen

Mom and Daughter Killed Adult Film Actress With Backyard Butt Implants, Cops Say

Accused cannibal gets prison time for botched castration in remote cabin

New Zealand Covid: Men caught smuggling KFC into lockdown-hit Auckland

Far-Right Group Wants to Ban Books About MLK, Male Seahorses

Read Herman Melville’s embarrassingly short, typo-marred obituary.

Awards

Washington State Book Awards 2021 winners announced (congratulation to Jess Walter!)

Here are the finalists for the 2021 Kirkus Prize

Read the short story that won this year’s Moth Short Story Prize

Here are the recipients of the 2021 American Poets Prizes.

Analysis: the 2021 Booker shortlist tunes in to the worries of our age

Here’s the longlist for the 2021 National Book Award for Fiction

Announcing the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 honorees

Here’s the longlist for the 2021 National Book Award for Translated Literature

Here are this year’s Dayton Literary Peace Prize honorees

Words of the Season

soucouyant (n.): The soucouyant is a shapeshifting Caribbean folklore character who appears as a reclusive old woman by day. By night, she strips off her wrinkled skin and puts it in a mortar. In her true form, as a fireball she flies across the dark sky in search of a victim. The soucouyant can enter the home of her victim through any sized hole like cracks, crevices and keyholes. Soucouyants suck people’s blood from their arms, legs and soft parts while they sleep leaving blue-black marks on the body in the morning. If the soucouyant draws too much blood, it is believed that the victim will either die and become a soucouyant or perish entirely, leaving her killer to assume her skin. The soucouyant practices black magic. Soucouyants trade their victims’ blood for evil powers with Bazil, the demon who resides in the silk cotton tree. To expose a soucouyant, one should heap rice around the house or at the village cross roads as the creature will be obligated to gather every grain, grain by grain (a herculean task to do before dawn) so that she can be caught in the act. To destroy her, coarse salt must be placed in the mortar containing her skin so she perishes, unable to put the skin back on. Belief in soucouyants is still preserved to an extent in Guyana, Suriname and some Caribbean islands, including Dominica, Haiti and Trinidad. The skin of the soucouyant is considered valuable, and is used when practicing black magic. Many Caribbean islands have plays about the Soucouyant and many other folklore characters. Some of these include Trinidad Grenada and Barbados. Soucouyants belong to a class of spirits called jumbies. Some believe that soucouyants were brought to the Caribbean from European countries in the form of French vampire-myths. These beliefs intermingled with those of enslaved Africans. (wikipedia)

Book Stuff

Bristol manuscript fragments of the famous Merlin legend among the oldest of their kind

Beautiful, Decorative, and Sometimes Crude: Illuminated Manuscripts and Marginalia

S.A. Cosby, a Writer of Violent Noirs, Claims the Rural South as His Own

Michael Connelly Can’t Stop Chasing Leads

Why William Gibson Is a Literary Genius

My First Thriller: James Grady

This Gemlike Library Put America on the Architectural Map

Top 10 books about lies and liars

Newly discovered Tennessee Williams story published for the first time

Women Crime Writers Discuss Violence, Women, and What Readers Will and Won’t Accept

What Is Crime in a Country Built on It?

Peek inside Waseda University’s brand new Haruki Murakami library

Ken Follett Returns to Espionage Thrillers

Zibby Owens to publish books using a company-wide profit-sharing model

Lena Waithe, Gillian Flynn to Start Book Imprints

Sara Gran Talks Publishing, Sex Magic, and Ownership for Authors

A Brief History of Giallo Fiction and the Italian Anti-Detective Novel

This new vending machine will provide New Yorkers with short stories on the go

Love in the Bookshop: A Mystery Writer’s Ode to Bookstore Romances

Democracy is Cheap, but the Constitution Expected to Fetch at least $15M at Auction

He Taught Ancient Texts at Oxford. Now He Is Accused of Stealing Some

Edwin Torres’ Way

This year’s literary MacArthur fellows on the best writing advice they’ve received (and more)

They’ve Seen the Future And They Don’t Like It: The Year’s Best Scifi Noir (So Far)

The Real-Life Political Scandal That Inspired Jean-Patrick Manchette’s First Thriller

Other Forms of Entertainment

Vince Vaughn to star in film version of Hiaasen’s Bad Monkey

Hillary and Chelsea Clinton’s HiddenLight Options Maisie Dobbs Series of Novels

Quentin Tarantino: ‘There’s a lot of feet in a lot of good directors’ movies’

30 Things We Learned from Quentin Tarantino’s ‘True Romance’ Commentary

How British Crime Dramas Became Appointment TV

David Chase Chose Journey for ‘Sopranos’ Finale Because Song Was Hated by Crew

Michael Gandolfini and the Riddle of Tony Soprano

Narcos: Mexico’ to End With Season 3 at Netflix

Ray Liotta Says Iconic ‘Goodfellas’ Tracking Shot Take Was Ruined by Line Flub

Here’s the tantalizing first trailer for Denzel Washington’s Macbeth

No Time To Die: The Inside Story Of Daniel Craig’s Final Hurrah

Why the world still loves 1970s detective show “Columbo”

Apple bags rights of Brad Pitt, George Clooney’s new thriller

Words of the Season

manananggal (n.) The manananggal is described as scary, often hideous, usually depicted as female, and always capable of severing its upper torso and sprouting huge bat-like wings to fly into the night in search of its victims. The word manananggal comes from the Tagalog word tanggal, which means “to remove” or “to separate”, which literally translates as “remover” or “separator”. In this case, “one who separates itself”. The name also originates from an expression used for a severed torso. The manananggal is said to favor preying on sleeping, pregnant women, using an elongated proboscis-like tongue to suck the hearts of fetuses, or the blood of someone who is sleeping. It also haunts newlyweds or couples in love. Due to being left at the altar, grooms-to-be are one of its main targets.The severed lower torso is left standing, and is the more vulnerable of the two halves. Sprinkling salt, smearing crushed garlic or ash on top of the standing torso is fatal to the creature. The upper torso then would not be able to rejoin itself and would perish by sunrise. The myth of the manananggal is popular in the Visayan regions of the Philippines, especially in the western provinces of Capiz, Iloilo, Bohol and Antique. There are varying accounts of the features of a manananggal. Like vampires, Visayan folklore creatures, and aswangs, manananggals are also said to abhor garlic, salt and holy water. They were also known to avoid daggers, light, vinegar, spices and the tail of a stingray, which can be fashioned as a whip. Folklore of similar creatures can be found in the neighbouring nations of Indonesia and Malaysia. The province of Capiz is the subject or focus of many manananggal stories, as with the stories of other types of mythical creatures, such as ghosts, goblins, ghouls generically referred to as aswangs. Sightings are purported here, and certain local folk are said to believe in their existence despite modernization. The manananggal shares some features with the vampire of Balkan folklore, such as its dislike of garlic, salt, and vulnerability to sunlight. (wikipedia)

Links of Interest

Sept 1: How Ireland’s First “Assassination Society”–The Invincibles–Was Formed

Sept 3: All I Really Need to Know I Learned Covering Homicides

Sept 7: Why some people think this photo of JFK’s killer is fake

Sept 8: A Cop Killed Another Cop. A Woman Was Charged Instead

Sept 9: Georgia DA Already Charged for Parking Lot Donuts Now Accused of Trying to Frame Man for Murder

Sept 10: Spider-Man beats Superman in record $3.6m comic sale

Sept 10: Italy seizes 500 fake Francis Bacon works

Sept 10: Books, churches, what will Canadians burn next?

Sept 11: ‘Every message was copied to the police’: the inside story of the most daring surveillance sting in history

Sept 11: Louis Armstrong and Spy: How the CIA Used him as a “Trojan Horse” in Congo

Sept 11: Lead FBI Agent in Whitmer Kidnap Plot Is Fired After Swingers Party Incident

Sept 12: The Terror and Agony of Being a Mexican Hitman’s Son

Sept 13: Why Use a Dictionary in the Age of Internet Search?

Sept 13: Capitol Police Suspect Something Amiss With Swastika-Covered Nightmare Truck, Find Driver With Machete

Sept 14: 14 Defendants Indicted, Including the Entire Administration of the Colombo Organized Crime Family

Sept 14: Austin Funeral Homes Regularly Pour Blood and Embalming Fluid Down the Drain

Sept 14: Monkey Thieves, Drunk Elephants — Mary Roach Reveals A Weird World Of Animal ‘Crime’

Sept 15: A Bonkers South Carolina Crime Saga Has Taken Another Bonkers Twist

Sept 15: Fred West: Future victim searches need strong justification, say police

Sept 17: Denmark moves to bar some prisoners from meeting new lovers after submarine killer romance controversy

Sept 19: FBI says fortune seized in Beverly Hills raid was criminals’ loot. Owners say: Where’s the proof?

Sept 20: Police Arrest 106 Tied to Mafia-Connected Cybercrime Group

Sept 21: Caril Ann Fugate and the Presumption of Guilt

Sept 21: Two Cops Are Accused of Hiring Hitmen to Take Out Their Enemies

Sept 21: Gilgamesh Dream Tablet to be formally handed back to Iraq

Sept 21: Salisbury poisonings: Third man faces charges for Novichok attack

Sept 22: Joshua Melville’s Search for the Truth About His Radical Bomber Father, Sam Melville

Sept 22: Carlos the Jackal seeks to reduce life sentence for deadly 1974 grenade attack

Sept 23: JetBlue Passenger Storms Cockpit, Strangles Flight Attendant, Breaks Out of Restraints

Sept 24: Snapchat Is Fueling Britain’s Teen Murder Epidemic

Sept 24: The Heist of the Century: Who Cracked the Manhattan Savings And Loan Safe?

Sept 24: Mexico’s Soccer League Colluded to Cap Women’s Salaries, Regulator Says

Sept 24: Mississippi woman Clara Birdlong likely Samuel Little victim

Sept 24: How Chippendales’ Male-Stripping Empire Ended in Bloody Murder

Sept 27: Judge orders ‘unconditional release’ for Reagan shooter Hinckley

Sept 28: Texas nurse faces capital murder trial for 4 patient deaths

Sept 29: For $84,000, An Artist Returned Two Blank Canvasses Titled ‘Take The Money And Run’

Sept 30: Afghans artists bury paintings, hide books out of fear of Taliban crackdown on arts and culture

Sept 30: Yale Says Its Vinland Map, Once Called a Medieval Treasure, Is Fake

RIP

Sept 6: Michael K. Williams, ‘The Wire’ Star, Dies at 54 [Joe R. Lansdale Remembers The Genesis of Hap and Leonard and Pays Tribute to Michael K. Williams]

Sept 22: Melvin Van Peebles, Godfather of Black Cinema, Dies at 89

Words of the Season

Chonchon (n.) The Chonchon is the magical transformation of a kalku (Mapuche sorcerer). It is said only the most powerful kalkus can aspire to master the secret of becoming this feared creature. The kalku or sorcerer would carry out the transformation into a Chonchon by an act of will and being anointed by a magical cream in the throat that eases the removal of the head from the rest of the body, with the removed head then becoming the creature. The Chonchon has the shape of a human head with feathers and talons; its ears, which are extremely large, serve as wings for its flight on moonless nights. Chonchons are supposed to be endowed with all the magic powers of, and can only be seen by, other kalkus, or by wizards that want this power. Sorcerers take the form of the chonchon to better carry out their wicked activities, and the transformation would provide them with other abilities, such as drinking the blood of ill or sleeping people. Although the fearsome appearance of a chonchon would be invisible to the uninitiated, they would still be able to hear its characteristic cry of “tue tue tue”, which is considered to be an extremely ill omen, usually predicting the death of a loved one. (wikipedia)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village – Maureen Johnson & Jay Cooper

Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village is exactly what it claims to be – a guide. Elucidating all the things a tourist needs to know about a quiet English village in order to navigate it and the inevitable undercurrents successfully (i.e. not get murdered).

Its’ also one of the funniest books I’ve ever read.

Aimed at the lovers of classic manor house and/or English village mysteries (think the Queens of Crime, Georgette Heyer, Francis Duncan, Patricia Wentworth) it takes the stock characters, architecture, and events found within those pages and gives them an irreverent, rib-tickling, and on the nose descriptions.

There’s even a quiz at the end to test your prowess.

I died twice…on the same page.

What I love even more – is how many of the people, places, and things Johnson describes in Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered that I recognize either from reading them or from watching tv shows like Father Brown, Death In Paradise, and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves classic mysteries and has a very good sense of humor – Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered will not let you down!

Fran

This is not a political post, but the book I’m talking about has its roots in politics, specifically the 2016 election. When the results were tallied, many people were upset, and out of that visceral reaction a new publishing house was born, Nasty Woman Press, the Creative Resistance.

Spearheaded by the glorious Kelli Stanley, Nasty Woman Press, a 501(c)(4) non-profit, decided to use literary creativity to bring awareness and aid to those who are struggling. To quote Kelli, “Our plan is to publish anthologies of captivating fiction and thought-provoking non-fiction, each built around a general theme – the theme itself tying in to the non-profit for which the book is raising money.”

That’s right. The profits from the sale of each book go to a cause. In the case of the the debut anthology, Shattering Glass, the theme is empowered women, and the profits go to Planned Parenthood.

Now, I know that a lot of you don’t like short stories, but here’s where you trust me. The fiction is amazing, and not all the authors are female. Anyone who says that men can’t write accurately about women needs to read some of these stories. Men can and do understand women, and know how to write them as believable characters.

But it’s not just the stories. One of the essays, written by Jacqueline Winspear about women firefighters, has stayed with me since I read it, and even as I type this, California is on fire, and I want to sit down with Jackie over a pot of tea and listen to her, because she knows her stuff.

The opening essay by Valerie Plame – yes, THAT Valerie Plame, outed CIA spy turned politician and novelist – is definitely thought provoking and erudite. I’ve read it a couple of times now.

But in the end, you’re going to love this anthology and come back to it. Parts of it will leave you aching, sometimes you’ll be so pissed you want to throw things, and at other times, you’re going to laugh out loud at the audacity. You will not remain unmoved. And that’s because these people can Write.

Who, you might ask? Well, I don’t want to spoil surprises, but if you like the writing of people like Cara Black, Catriona McPherson, Anne Lamott, Joe Clifford, Senator Barbara Boxer, Jess Lourey, and Seanan McGuire, you’re in for a treat.

Trust me.

JB

Pickup up a copy of Scott Turow’s The Last Trial. It’s one of those many books by favorite authors that I missed after the shop closed. It’s all that you’d expect from Turow – no one else plots such stunning and sinuous legal thrillers. But the wonderful part of the book, for me, was spending time with defense attorney Sandy Stern. While the lawyer is described differently, it’s impossible for me to not picture and hear Raul Julia as him, and since it is likely to be the last book with Stern and Julia’s sadly dead, it was so nice to be in their company one last time.

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There are words authors use that are too fancy for the stories they’re telling. In a way, it’s showy. It’s proving you have a large vocabulary. “Verdant” is one. It is almost always out of place. And, please – PLEASE – can we retire “plethora”!

But, having blurted that out of my head, I am here to HIGHLY RECOMMEND Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby. A new book is out now in hardcover. It’s getting high praise. I thought I’d go back and start with his first and – man – the guy can not only write beautifully but plot a tight, thrilling story.

“That was the things about his mother. She could be emotionally manipulative one minute then making you laugh the next. It was like getting hit in the face with a pie that had a padlock in it.”

Beau is a young guy whose stuck in a thicket of bills – mortgage on his garage, his dying mother’s healthcare is a mess, his youngest daughter needs money for starting college. He’s turned his back on his past livelihood – get-away-driver. His father was a noted driver and Beau doesn’t want to follow that path. “But when it came to handling his responsibilities we both know Anthony Montage was about a useful as a white crayon, don’t we?”

But the bills are demanding and off we roar into a series of sharp turns and dead ends that threaten everything he cherishes. Danger is his passenger and worse follows. “Reggie jumped like a demon had spoken to him.”

This is great noir, a great crime novel. I believe it is a stand-alone. I don’t think his books are connected. And I look forward to reading more. Cosby writes with a fluid, memorable style. How can you not want to read an author who comes up with a line like this: “She was wearing a tank top and shorts so tight they would become a thong is she sneezed.”

Here’s a great interview with Cosby. And a piece he wrote about his philosophy of writing.

Bought his new hardcover.

But it’ll have to wait ’til I finish the new Longmire.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The new James Ellroy, Widespread Panic, is everything you’d expect from an Ellroy book – literately lurid, speedily sleazy, and full of film faces. The narrator is real-life reprobate Fred Otash, a former cop, LA fixer, and all-around asshole. He’s into everything, everyone and everywhere. The book takes the form or a sort of memoir, a look back on a set of years in the 1950s. Naughty and nefarious nostalgia.

As with any Ellroy, when finishes, it is difficult to remember if there were any good people in the story. As with any Ellroy, the story is stocked with actual people. How does he get away with it without being sued out of his bowtie? Elizabeth Taylor in a three-way romp? James Dean, Nick Adams, Nicholas Ray and many others as reprehensible souls involved in rampant raids, reprobates riding roughshod over rights! None are alive now, but….

You enjoy Ellroy? Dig it!

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SEPTEMBER 2021

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

A bloody shame: Britons find a new favourite swearword

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

Serious Stuff

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

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

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

Tech Firms Pledge Billions to Bolster Cybersecurity after Biden Meeting

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

Local Stuff

Oregon High School Janitor Stockpiled Weapons for Mass Shooting: Cops

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

More meth, cocaine contamination found at Washington state toxicology lab

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

Read a previously unpublished Ursula K. Le Guin poem

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

Seattle Public Library to reopen all branches by later this fall

Words of the Month

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

Odd Stuff

Here’s why poisonous animals don’t poison themselves

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

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

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

What Do CIA Analysts and Investigative Journalists Have In Common?

Words of the Month

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

SPECTRE Stuff

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

Awards

The Barry Award Winners 2021

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

Book Stuff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hachette Book Group Will Acquire Workman Publishing for $240 Million

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

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

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

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

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

how publishers are approaching new releases this fall

The Joys and Difficulties of Writing a Faithful Sherlock Holmes Novel

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

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

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

Other Forms of Entertainment

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

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

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

A Rumination on DCI Jane Tennison

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

Words of the Month

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

RIP

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links of Interest

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

July 28: In Session with Lorraine Bracco at MobMovieCon

July 28: Revisiting “The Year of the Spy”

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

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

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

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

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

August 10: Piecing Together the History of Stasi Spying

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 29: French Woman Arrested for Stealing Jewelry Off Corpses

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

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

Words of the Month

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

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

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

A Noodle Shop Mystery (series) by Vivien Chien

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

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

I reveled in every word I read.

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

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

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

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

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

Fran

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

Amber Here!

A Resolution At Midnight – Shelley Noble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Resolution At Midnight is no exception. 

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

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

You’re going to get tired of hearing this.

Fran Here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now I want a Parisian pastry.

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

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!

IMG_8327

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

Let’s Play A Game!

Okay, here we go. Are you ready?

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

Here we go:

David Corbett                                            Black Cow

Nick Feldman                                             Dirty Work

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

Linda Joffe Hull                                         Green Earrings

R. T. Lawton                                                Haitian Divorce

Cornelia Read                                            Harley Quinn is Dead

Stacy Robinson                                          Home at Last

David Schlosser                                         Josie

Brian Thornton                                         On Your Knees Tomorrow

Sam Wiebe                                                  Pretzel Logic

Simon Wood                                               Show Biz Kids

James W. Ziskin                                         Your Gold Teeth

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

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

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