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!

SHOP SMALL ~ BUY SMALL

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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!

The Queen of Suspense

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was a woman who could not be stopped.th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

th2

December’s Newzine

sky final

JB would like to say how delightful it was to have Elaine W. wander into where he works. She was a long-time customer at SMB, really more of a family member. She’d been with us so long it is impossible to say how long. It was wonderful to see her!

      Awards!

The 2019 Shamus Awards were announced at the beginning of November at the annual Blouchercon, this year held in Dallas. Here are the lists of those nominated in four categories, with the winners in bright, bloody red. Congratulations to all!

Likewise, here are the 2019 Anthony Awards, nominees and winners, also announced at Bouchercon.

Donald Trump To Award National Medal of Arts To Jon Voight, Alison Krauss, James Patterson

Jack the Ripper victims’ biography wins book prize

Staunch Book Prize: Should writers ditch female victims? 

‘Mouthful by mouthful’: the 2019 Bad Sex Award in quotes

      Serious Stuff

Part 1: ‘Men without faces’ led teen girls down ‘primrose path to hell’ in 1950s Portland prostitution scandal, Part 2: Revenge of Portland’s ‘blonde babe’: Teen prostitute told all about reform-school lesbians during 1959 vice scandal 

Thirty years after the Berlin Wall fell, a Stasi spy puzzle remains unsolved 

Privacy Issues Surrounding Popular DNA and Ancestry Tests

US domestic abuse victim pretends to order pizza to alert 911

      Words of the Month

miser (n): From the 1540s, “miserable person, wretch,” from Latin miser (adj.) “unhappy, wretched, pitiable, in distress,” a word for which “no acceptable Proto-Indo-Eeuropean pedigree has been found” [de Vaan]. The oldest English sense now is obsolete; the main modern meaning of “money-hoarding person” (“one who in wealth conducts himself as one afflicted with poverty” – Century Dictionary) is recorded by 1560s, from the presumed unhappiness of such people. The older sense is preserved in miserable, misery, etc. Besides general wretchedness, the Latin word connoted also “intense erotic love” (compare slang got it bad “deeply infatuated”) and hence was a favorite word of Catullus. In Greek a miser was kyminopristes, literally “a cumin seed splitter.” In Modern Greek, he might be called hekentabelones, literally “one who has sixty needles.” The German word, filz, literally “felt,” preserves the image of the felt slippers which the miser often wore in caricatures. Lettish mantrausis “miser” is literally “money-raker.”

      Books, Writing and Publishing

In 2018, Otto Penzler (owner of The Mysterious Bookshop in NYC, publisher of the late, lamented Mysterious Press, and publisher of various presses still working) put his personal collection up for auction. See the photo below, and commence drooling.
58ef5a29-9bf0-46af-8923-c5f2ce803511

He now has a memoir about his years of collecting, Mysterious Obsession: Memoirs of a Compulsive Collector. At this link, you can read more about Otto and the collection.  At the far end of the lower floor, you can see a desk. On it, at the far corner by the window, you can see a Maltese Falcon statuette. ON the floor, leaning against the desk is what we assume to be the original art for the dust jacket of James Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia – published by Mysterious Press.

Oh to have had an afternoon to wander the shelves, look at the spines, and to possibly hold some of these books, the finest copies of legendary crime and mystery novels.

Garry Disher ~ Being a crime writer doesn’t mean I condone murder. Do I even have to say it? 

America’s First Banned Book Really Ticked Off the Plymouth Puritans


New Library Is a $41.5 Million Masterpiece. But About Those Stairs  

AND

The $41 Million Hunters Point Library Now Has A Leak Problem


Here’s Why You Should Preorder All of Books from Independent Bookstores 

Dublin Murders Makes a Murky Mess of Tana French’s Lyrical Crime Novels

Whodunnit in the Library: Someone Keeps Hiding the Anti-Trump Books 

‘Extraordinary’ letters between Ian Fleming and wife to be sold 

Dean Koontz reveals 6 new thrillers — and why you won’t find them in bookstores 

How the salacious double murder of a minister and a choir member in 1922 inspired one of the earliest legal thrillers. 

Why Penny Dreadfuls Scandalized Victorian Society—But Flew off the Shelves 

Martha Grimes Has Plenty of Style 

26 Years Later, Nicholas Meyer Is Returning to Sherlock Holmes. Why Now? 

Judi Dench appeals for public help to bring rare Brontë book to UK as auction looms 

Miniature Manuscript Penned by Teenaged Charlotte Brontë Will Return to Author’s Childhood Home

The Uncertain Future of the World’s Largest Secondhand Book Market 

After moving ‘about 20 feet,’ Burien’s Page 2 Books is reconnecting with its community

Shakespeare & Co. at 100 years 

Lin-Manuel Miranda Is Officially A Bookstore Owner After Purchasing The Drama Book Shop In New York City

12 Books Like ‘Knives Out’ For Fans Of Family Sagas, Murder, & Knitwear

Louisa May Alcott’s Forgotten Thrillers Are Revolutionary Examples of Early Feminism

Interview with an Archivist: Randal Brandt on Berkeley’s Legendary Detective Fiction Collection

The Rise of E-Books:The Last Decade Has Been Tumultuous For The Publishing Industry

      Other Forms of Fun

American Icons: The tales of Edgar Allan Poe

Jack Goldsmith discusses his book, “In Hoffa’s Shadow”, at Politics and Prose.

Serial didn’t invent true crime, but it did legitimize it 

The case for spoilers. Some people avoid them at all costs. I seek them out — and I’m not alone.

7 International True Crime Podcasts You Should Be Listening To 

Noah Hawley and Billy Bob Thornton Look Back at the First Season of Fargo 

Where does fake movie money come from? 

Shedunnit – how Agatha Christie became cinema hot property

Dutch police podcast unearths clues to decades-old murder  

Did you know about this deleted subplot in You’ve Got Mail featuring a creepy author?

‘Your throat hurts. Your brain hurts’: the secret life of the audiobook star

      Author Events

December 4: Warren C. Easley, Third Place/LFP, 7pm

December 7: Tamara Berry in conversation with M.J. Beaufrand, University Books, 3pm

      Words of the Month

polysemous (adj) 1884, from Medieval Latin polysemus, from Greek polysemos “of many sides” etymonline

polysemy (n) a condition in which a single word, phrase, or concept has more than one meaning or connotation. dictionary.com

      Links of Interest

November 1: Indiana woman found dead with python wrapped around neck

November 3: Musician Stephen Morris’ shock as lost £250,000 violin returned

November 3: Olivia Newton-John’s Grease outfit fetches $405,700 at auction

November 3: Kazimir Malevich: A mystery painting, either masterpiece or fake, puzzles experts

November 4: The World’s Oldest Recipes Decoded

November 7: Mystery of Napoleon’s missing general solved in Russian discovery

November 7: What is Collins Dictionary’s 2019 word of the year?

November 8: 75 books from university presses that will help you understand the world

November 9: Leonardo da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks

November 10: Sesame Street at 50: Five defining moments

November 12: Lady in a Fur Wrap: Mystery of Glasgow painting revealed

November 13: ‘The Soprano’s’ Lorraine Bracco Shares Memories Of James Gandolfini: ‘I Have A Profound Love For Him’

November 13: HUNTER: Sementilli murder an echo of 1944 film noir classic?

November 14: ‘The Preppy Murder’ Has a Very Different Take on Linda Fairstein’s Legacy

November 14: Rembrandt theft foiled at Dulwich Picture Gallery

November 14: Switzerland’s plan to stop stockpiling coffee proves hard to swallow

November 15: ‘One in a million’ three-antler deer spotted in US

November 18: Police break up archeological crime gang in Italy 

November 18: The Secret Life of Plants as Murder Weapons

November 19: Professor who is expert on corruption charged with laundering money

November 20: What can 200-year-old DNA tell us about a murdered French revolutionary?

November 20: Marco Polo parchment sheds light on last year of his life in Venice

November 20: Film Noir Perfectly Captures the Mass Torment and Paranoia of the Mid-Twentieth Century

November 20: Owner reunited with cat found 1,200 miles from Portland home

November 21: Aya de Leon on ‘Hustlers’, social justice, and the complicated intersection of feminism and crime.

November 21: Detectorists stole Viking hoard that ‘rewrites history’

November 21: Cambridge’s ‘Pink Floyd’ pub Flying Pig saved from demolition

November 23: Egypt animal mummies showcased at Saqqara near Cairo

November 24: Don Johnson: ‘I didn’t expect to live to 30, so it’s all been gravy’

November 25: Dresden Green Vault robbery: Priceless diamonds stolen

      R.I.P.

November 4: Yvette Lundy, French resistance heroine, dies aged 103

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November 15: Remembering Russell Chatham, landscape painter and writer.

From what we remember, the story on Chatham’s Clark City Press was such that if he chose to publish an author, they got to pick which of Chatham’s paintings that would grace the cover   of the trade paperback. And then they got that painting as a gift. The one we remember was the only novel by noted PNW poet Richard Hugo (he memorialized in the name The Hugo House) which was the outstanding mystery,  Death and the Good Life. The current edition of the book has a different cover but I remember when we had this one in the shop. It was lovely. ~ JB

November 15: Inventor of the famed ‘Sourtoe Cocktail’ dies

November 20: Walter J. Minton, Putnam Publisher Who Defied Censors, Dead at 96

November 22: Michael J. Pollard Dies: Oscar-Nominated ‘Bonnie And Clyde’ Actor Was 80

November 22: Gahan Wilson, Vividly Macabre Cartoonist, Dies at 89

November 22: Jane Galloway Heitz dies aged 78

November 26: Soviet Spy who Foiled Nazi Plot to Kill Allied Leaders Dies, Aged 93

      Words of the Month

evagation (n.): The “action of wandering,” 1650s, from French évagation, from Latin evagationem (nominative evagatio), noun of action from past participle stem of evagari, from assimilated form of ex “out, out of” (see ex-) + vagari, from vagus “roving, wandering” (see vague).

      What We’ve Been Up To

   Amber

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Last week on Finder of Lost Things…Marshmallows and music distract Phoebe from realizing something important is happening in Nevermore….

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Gail Carriger – Reticence

Weddings and funerals.

The two events which bring together friends, family, and tangentially attached relations together in one place then ply them with alcohol. What could go wrong? Add in werewolves, vampires, were-lioness, intelligencers, and inventors you’ve got the makings of a smashing party or a brawl.

Or both.

However, Reticence actually starts with a job interview and the hiring of a new doctor for the Spotted Custard. Then we segue seamlessly into a wedding.

It makes sense when you read it.

However.

For one to fully understand and appreciate Reticence, you need to have read the other three Custard Protocol books – plus the Parasol Protectorate & Finishing School series. As many, many of the main players from each of these other series pop up in this installment.

It’s what happens at weddings, everyone turns up to wine, dine, and dance to the happy couple.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Perhaps it felt a hair rushed at the end – however – Carriger does a beautiful job of winding up the series in an elegant and humorous way. Leaving herself just enough wiggle room, should the whim seize her, she could continue to write of Rue and her crew’s adventures. Or start an entirely new series set in the same universe.

Either way, Reticence won’t leave you disappointed. I know I wasn’t.

(And if you haven’t started reading Ms. Carriger’s books, you should! They are lovely, full of whimsy, tea cakes, supernatural creatures, the occasionally soulless, complicated inventors, steampunk, politics, and hats.)

Fran

November was kinda sucky for me. Let’s just say that I need two new knees, and our beloved but aged cat died.

I tend to read David Eddings when I’m down, 9780451488558but I found a “Death on Demand” book by Carolyn Hart I hadn’t read: Walking on my Grave (Berkley). It was the perfect read.

Okay, so I figured out who did it early on, and the big twist wasn’t really a surprise. But you know how it is when you visit old friends; sometimes you just need time in their company, listening to the old stories. Walking on my Grave reminded me of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, in the very best ways.

Granted, I still didn’t get the paintings at the end right, and I love that she always surprises me there. I’ll be Amber would have gotten them, though.

Oh, and be sure to read the chap-books at the end!

   JB

Shop dream: the shop was small, cramped, and we were running around looking for the Xmas books. Oddly, none of the usual ones were on the shelves. Authors’ books were missing those titles. Behind a bunch of movable displays, I saw that there was an alcove with a bunch of tables. The books on those tables badly needed to be returned. They were old and had dust on the jackets (so they were doing their jobs!).  Again, Amber was in the dream but not Fran. I really don’t understand why Fran isn’t in the dreams but the last couple have had the need to do returns, which probably goes back to trying to keep the place afloat.

Fran here – Yeah, why is that? I could help return books (after I snag the ones I want to keep, that is!)


Fran and I have had an on-going discussion about the cosmology in John Connolly‘s Charlie Parker series. Certainly, there’s a great deal of spirituality. There are figures of good and figures of great evil. There are actual spirits or should they be called ghosts? There are beings that are more – or worse – than human, whose lives are longer than those of normal humans. The figures of evil lay out their schemes and keep track of Parker. It is pretty clear that by now they’re afraid of him. Is it because he’s dangerous, or because he’s a figure of “good” who seems indestructible? There are “bad” gods, something unseen but referred to as The Buried God. Does that mean there’s a corollary Good God? I’m not a fan or a believer in organized religion but there’s a battle going on in these books between the destroyers and those who are out to stop them. I’m not ready to say that Parker, as well as Louis and Angel, are avenging angels in the classic, halo-wearing sense, but they certainly scare the shit out of the bad guys. And that is a great thing.

A Book of Bones is the 17th novel in the series. 9781982127510Fran and I would urge you to read them if you like lyrical prose and characters who are not all black or white. There’s lots of blood, sure, but gentle humor between friends as well as ribald laughs springing from the oddities of the human race. These are not books for the squeamish, but for readers who appreciate a challenge. If you do start the series, read them in order. That’s the best way to see the story lines unfold. If you do, you’re lucky, for you have a long line of books to consume. For us who have been following the series all these years, we have to endure the wait for next year’s book and pray it is a Parker book, not something else. Lord have mercy if we have to wait two years. Especially now, as  this latest book’s very last sentence is a twist you can’t see coming. It’s a game changer. Can’t wait to see where John takes us next!


Movie Review: The Irishman

I admit that I had high hopes for the new Scorsese movie. The cast would be stellar, the story interesting and, after all, it’d be a Scorsese mobster movie. The cast was great – Pacino as Hoffa was outstanding, Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino had a stunning stillness, Harvey Keitel appeared in a few scenes with a quiet menace, and De Niro was, well, DeNiro (I’ve always been a fan but just seems to be doing the same thing film after film – his expressions never change). But I must say it was a let down. It fizzled to it’s end and all you could say was “huh”. It is no Goodfellas.


Don’t judge a book by its cover. This cover is wrong. Don’t recall any trees in the entire story. This cover says “spooky”, even haunted”. Maybe so. But the spook is a good guy.

Evidently unsettled, too, by Reacher’s gaze, which was steady, and calm, and slightly amused, but also undeniably predatory, and even a little unhinged.”

Things are the usual with this book. Even normal. Except when they’re not. Reacher gets off a bus. He helps an old guy. He’s drawn into trouble. He gives better than he gets. Bad guys go down. There are some differences.

First, this reads like an homage to Red Harvest. Two rival gangs rule a town. They’re set against one another. Second, Reacher gathers a little team with whom he does his damage. Third, he talks about knowing someday he won’t win. Says he knows he’s old but not that old.  Lastly, he asks the woman to leave town with him. 9780399593543

Blue Moon – the title is as nonsensical as the cover art – but ignore it. This is one of the best Reachers in years. Good, hard, mean fun. It even touches on current issues. An easy triple. Maybe even an in-the-park homer.

But you should look up the meaning of “gamine”.


Shop dream: it was near the end of the month and I suddenly realized that the newsletter hadn’t been proofed, it wasn’t in the format for the printer and there was little time to get it done before it had to be mailed out… Did it have to do with needing to finish up this edition of the newzine as we near the end of November? WHO KNOWS!


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Another Review!

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Home Sweet Homicide – Craig Rice

Amber’s Review: So here’s the thing, I’ve never read a Craig Rice mystery, well other than Home Sweet Homicide. So in preparation for writing this review, I did some research on Rice and her writing style.

This is where things got interesting.

Well more interesting, as her book was entirely engrossing.

At first blush Home Sweet Homicide doesn’t appear to be a typical Craig Rice novel. Her primary detectives are three kids, ages 14, 12 and 10. There isn’t a drop of alcohol anywhere to in the pages which, according to my reference books, is unusual. As Rice’s detectives typically spend an inordinate time throwing the sauce back. In addition, the kids work loosely with the police, which her hard-boiled detectives rarely consider a worthwhile option.

However.

Digging further into her other mysteries, I began to glimpse Rice’s genius for the absurd and her flair for recycling old tropes into fresh plot devices.

Need an example of her absurd literary recycling? When short of the necessary pocket change, our junior detectives in Home Sweet Homicide would hit up the owner of the soda fountain for a malt on credit. Then pay off their debt when they managed to get two nickels to rub together. Archie, Dinah, and April were also not above hustling an unsuspecting mark to obtain a free malt or two or three.

This complicated relationship with the soda fountain, its owner and malts – bears all the hallmarks of Rice’s most famous detective of John J. Malone. Who favors whiskey over malts and Angel’s City Hall Bar over the dimestore on the corner.

And it works!

Another intriguing facet of this work is Archie, Dinah and April’s mother Marian Carstairs.

Marian Carstairs is considered by most an imperfect self-portrait of Craig Rice herself. Both were at one point crime reporters, freelance writers, and mystery novelists – who published under several nom de plumes. Even more telling? Their writing style. Both women simply rolled a blank sheet of paper into their typewriters and started typing. Neither woman constructed outlines, character lists, the major plot points, or even the solution until they punched it out. They just sat down at the typewriter and typed until they reached the end!

(btw- I’d be lost without an outline.)

This mystery was witty, smart, and fun to read.

I would recommend this zany mystery to anyone who could enjoy a plot which at one point or another – rests of a band of grubby boys, a mother’s day present and an impromptu dance party.

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P.S. – The picture, above my review, is of a Rue Morgue edition I bought at the shop years ago and is unfortunately out of print now.

But never fear! Otto Penzler has reissued this great mystery in his American Mystery Classic series. So you click on the green cover above the postscript to go to Otto’s site and grab yourself a copy of this great book!

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P.P.S. – Don’t forget to check out this week’s edition of Finder of Lost Things – Penny In The Air!

Both Wood and Orin come clean about the shenanigans they both pulled on Phoebe this evening!