Agatha Award Winners

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This year’s Agatha Awards winners have been announced! Grats to all the winners!

Best Contemporary Novel

Mardi Gras Murder – Ellen Byron 
Beyond the Truth – Bruce Robert Coffin
Cry Wolf – Annette Dashofy
Kingdom of the Blind – Louise Penny
Trust Me – Hank Phillippi Ryan

Best Historical Novel

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding – Rhys Bowen
The Gold Pawn – LA Chandlar
The Widows of Malabar Hill – Sujata Massey 
Turning the Tide – Edith Maxwell
Murder on Union Square – Victoria Thompson

Best First Novel – This year there was a tie!

A Ladies Guide to Etiquette and Murder – Dianne Freeman 
Little Comfort – Edwin Hill
What Doesn’t Kill You – Aimee Hix
Deadly Solution – Keenan Powell
Curses Boiled Again – Shari Randall 

Best Short Story – This year there was a tie!

“All God’s Sparrows” – Leslie Budewitz 
“A Postcard for the Dead” – Susanna Calkins in Florida Happens
“Bug Appetit” – Barb Goffman
“The Case of the Vanishing Professor” – Tara Laskowski 
“English 398: Fiction Workshop” – Art Taylor

Best Young Adult Mystery

Potion Problems (Just Add Magic) – Cindy Callaghan 
Winterhouse – Ben Guterson
A Side of Sabotage – C.M. Surrisi

Best Nonfiction

Mastering Plot Twists – Jane Cleland
Writing the Cozy Mystery – Nancy J Cohen
Conan Doyle for the Defense – Margalit Fox
Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life – Laura Thompson
Wicked Women of Ohio – Jane Ann Turzillo

May Newzine

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This came to our attention through a posting by Kat Richardson:

Column: Sure, you could buy that book online for $15. But here’s what that book really costs us.

It still resonates with us even though the shop has been long closed. The echoes, we assume, come from the many posts we put up about the economics of bookselling, from 2011 through 2017. Here’s where we started (scroll down to the bottom) and you can move forward clicking on the tiny arrows at the bottom of the pages.

At that time, we still hoped against hope that we could make a difference and save the shop…


Two former Amazon employees open a Seattle bookstore. The tiny new Madison Books will be powered by personal connections.

Want to save small businesses? Fix WA’s tax code

      Odds N Ends

The 2019 Thriller Award Nominations are out. Here are the nominees for all categories. The winners will be announced on July 13, 2019 at the annual convention.

From the Washington Post, a podcast about Frank Hamer, the former Texas Ranger who lead the hunt for Bonnie & Clyde. At just shy of 7 minutes, it isn’t a big commitment.

From LA: Working as a librarian gave me post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms 

You can buy advance tickets online to the bigger Spy Museum, which opens May 12 

‘Killing Eve’ asks women what they want in a crime drama — or who they want to see killed


Part spy thriller, part Game of Thrones with footnotes: A book critic reviews the Mueller report as literature.

A Book Critic’s Take on the Mueller Report


      Words for the Month

collusion (n.): “secret agreement for fraudulent or harmful purposes,” late 14th C., from Old French collusion and directly from Latin collusionem (nominative collusio) “act of colluding,” from colludere, from assimilated form of com “with, together” (see com-) + ludere “to play” (see ludicrous). “The notion of fraud or underhandedness is essential to collusion” [Fowler].

ludicrous (adj.): From the 1610s, “pertaining to play or sport” (a sense now obsolete), from Latin ludicrus “sportive” (source of Old French ludicre), from ludicrum “amusement, game, toy, source of amusement, joke,” from ludere “to play.”

This verb, along with Latin ludus “a game, play,” is from the Proto-Indo-Eurpean root *leid- or *loid “to play,” perhaps literally “to let go frequently” [de Vaan], which is the source also of Middle Irish laidid “impels;” Greek lindesthai “to contend,” lizei “plays;” Albanian lind “gives birth,” lindet “is born;” Old Lithuanian leidmi “I let,” Lithuanian leisti “to let,” laidyti “to throw,” Latvian laist “let, publish, set in motion.”

Sense of “ridiculous, apt to evoke ridicule or jest” is attested from 1782.

(thanks to etymonline.com)

      Author Events

May 4: Seanan McGuire, Third Place/LFP, 6pm

May 6: May 4: Seanan McGuire, Powells,6pm

May 7: Patricia Briggs, University Books, 7pm

May 14: Jeffery Deaver, Powell’s, 7pm

      Links of Interest

March 25: Harlan Coben on why even bestselling authors get those self-loathing writer blues

March 26: Waterstones says it can’t pay living wage, as 1,300 authors support staff appeal

March 26: The Yorkshire Ripper Files ~ a Very British Crime Story review: A strong case for why the 1970s police force failed

March 31: When America’s most famous actor went on trial for a San Francisco cop’s murder By David Curran

April 1: Justice for the Lyon Sisters ~ How a determined squad of detectives finally solved a notorious crime after 40 years

April 1: DNA Is Solving Dozens of Cold Cases. Sometimes It’s Too Late for Justice.

April 1: ‘My mission to make news less sad’

April 1: Harry Potter books burned by Polish priests alarmed by magic

April 2: What’s the new weapon against money laundering gangsters?

April 3: Malory Towers play: Why we give a fig for boarding school stories

April 3: Boy, 8, found after leaving home to ‘travel the world’

April 3: “Coffee Snobs” Who Don’t Live In Seattle…

April 4: The Cold-War Drink That Rivals Cola

April 4: Microsoft’s eBook store: When this closes, your books disappear too

April 5: Corpse found at Oregon home of missing Disney Mouseketeer

April 6: WW2 codebreaking machine reconstructed

April 9: How Accurate Is ‘The Highwaymen’? The Historical Netflix Film Doesn’t Glamorize Bonnie & Clyde

April 9: Belgian twins freed by court amid confusion over identity

April 10: Archaeological dig of early whisky distillery

April 11: Computer Analysis Says ‘Beowulf’ Is the Work of a Single Author

April 11: “Book of Lost Books Discovered in Danish Archive. The index is part of the Libro de los Epítomes, an effort by Christopher Columbus’ illegitimate son to create a searchable index of the world’s knowledge”

April 12: The Battle For SPECTRE – The Rights War That Complicated James Bond For Decades

April 12: Why is brown snow falling in the US Midwest?

April 12: Ai Weiwei unveils Lego portraits of missing Mexico students

April 12: Dozier School for Boys: Dozens more suspected graves found

April 13: Shakespeare home in London, where he wrote ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ found by historian

April 14: GCHQ cracks Frank Sidebottom’s secret codes

April 15: The Beatles in New York: Police logs detail band’s first US visit

April 15: Dog rescued 220km from Thai coast by rig workers

April 15: Crime fiction: Revisiting the tale of Lizzie Borden

April 16: Pulitzers: Capital Gazette wins for coverage of newsroom massacre

April 16: What would Florence Nightingale make of big data?

April 17: Notre-Dame fire: Booksellers urge Hunchback publishers to donate

April 17: Why I write fake online reviews’

April 17: George Lucas names Jar Jar Binks as his favorite character

April 17: Charlotte Brontë’s hair found in ring on Antiques Roadshow, say experts

April 18: Spider named after The Very Hungry Caterpillar author Eric Carle

April 18: ‘Giant lion’ fossil found in Kenya museum drawer

April 18: A tale of 2 bookstores that proves Portland isn’t going away

April 18: Poems by Daphne du Maurier Found in Photograph Frame

April 20: CIA warns Britain over Huawei spying

April 20: CIA spy Virginia Hall is about to become everyone’s next favorite historical hero

April 20: Helvetica, The Iconic Font Both Loved And Loathed, Gets Its 1st Redesign In 36 Years

April 22: Lost’ book of exquisite scientific drawings rediscovered after 190 years

April 22: The Making of the White City Devil: How H.H. Holmes Became a Serial Killer Legend

April 23: del Toro and DiCaprio will team to remake Film Noir Classic, “Nightmare Alley”

April 24: Hollywood Cops ~ On Sunset Boulevard, a lunch break isn’t much of one at all

April 25: Robert Durst’s HBO confession wasn’t what it seemed

April 25 : A Horrorshow Find: – ‘Clockwork Orange’ Follow-up Surfaces After Decades Unseen

April 25: Nora Roberts files ‘multi-plagiarism’ lawsuit alleging writer copied more than 40 authors

April 25: Australia’s Daily Telegraph prints rival’s pages by mistake

April 26: The Story of Writing in 12 Objects

April 27: 18 Bookcases That Make Us Feel All Warm And Fuzzy Inside

April 27: Denise Mina: ‘I don’t think there’s any such thing as an apolitical writer’

April 29: Fraudster poses as Jason Statham to steal victim’s money

April 29: In Classic Children’s Books, a Window to Childhood in Past Centuries

April 30: Writer Jonathan Metzl on the moment Neo-Nazis invaded his booksigning and discussion of “whiteness”

      Words for the Month

hilding (n): A mean, worthless person; a base, menial wretch. Cowardly; spiritless; base: as, a hilding fellow. (thanks to wordnik.com)

      RIP

April 1: Tania Mallet, Goldfinger actress, dies aged 77

April 5: So not exactly a mysterious but…Dan Robbins: Paint-by-numbers inventor dies 

April 9: Seymour Cassel: Character actor dies aged 84

April 10: Charles Van Doren, a Quiz Show Whiz Who Wasn’t, Dies at 93

April 16: Georgia Engel: Mary Tyler Moore Show actress dies aged 70

April 16: Warren Adler, who examined family dysfunction in ‘The War of the Roses,’ dies at 91

April 18: “James W. McCord Jr., a security expert who led a band of burglars into the shambles of the Watergate scandal and was the first to expose the White House crimes and cover-ups that precipitated the downfall of the Nixon administration in 1974, died on June 15, 2017, at his home in Douglassville, Pa. He was 93.

The death went unreported by local and national news organizations at the time. It was apparently first reported by the London-based writer and filmmaker Shane O’Sullivan in his book “Dirty Tricks: Nixon, Watergate, and the CIA,” published last year. The news of the death surfaced again on March 31 on the website Kennedys and King.”

April 21: David Picker, Studio Chief Who Acquired James Bond Novels for UA, Dies at 87

April 24: Dallas TV star Ken Kercheval dies aged 83

April 29: John Singleton: A Cinematic Gunfighter

      Words for the Month

baffoon (n): From the 1540s, “type of pantomime dance;” 1580s, “professional comic fool;” 1590s in the general sense “a clown, a joker;” from Middle French bouffon (16th C.), from Italian buffone “jester,” from buffa “joke, jest, pleasantry,” from buffare “to puff out the cheeks,” a comic gesture, of echoic origin. (thanks to etymonline.com)

      What We’ve Been Doing

   Amber

Don’t Forget to check out my blog – Finder of Lost Things!

Last week Phoebe ended up in the doghouse for trying to run up Pumpkin Mountain….This Friday she encounters morning people before her first cup of coffee!

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Death Wears A Mask & A Most Novel Revenge – Ashley Weaver

Have I told you about the Amory Ames Mysteries yet?

They are absolutely fantastic! Death Wears A Mask starts with a small, simple theft of a broach which quickly escalates into a high profile murder. A Most Novel Revenge finds Amory’s embroiled in a murder mystery rooted in another death seven years prior. A murder in retrospect you might say, a very Christie kind of plot, and yet Weaver still managed to surprise me in the end!

Both of these mysteries feature very classic English country house mystery themes, and yet Weaver still manages to breath new life into them. Weaver’s reworking of the plots accompanied by interesting details and a clever heroine all help to make these well-loved plots regain some of their luster.

But the best part of these books is the backdrop of Amory’s marriage to Milo. Unlike most duos, due to Milo’s infidelity, Amory has some serious trust issues with her partner (to the point she accused him of committing murder). However, these marital problems rather than distracting from the mystery (which is the point of the book) adds to the narrative. These problems make Amory relatable, never sounds whiny.

The unfolding of these problems and the slow evolution of Milo and Amory’s relationship help add an element of growth to these books as they are never in precisely the same spot (so far) in each story. Which helps add depth to the plot.

I would recommend this series to anyone looking for a new 1930’s historical mystery (it’s set between WWI and WWII as I’ve read so far). I cannot say how much I’ve enjoyed reading them so far and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book!

   Fran

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“What made the Little Crocodiles different was their founder Professor Geoffrey Wheatcroft, DD, DPhil, FSW, and fully qualified wizard. The FSW is the giveaway. It stands for Fellow of the Society of the Wise, otherwise known as The Folly – the official home of British wizardry since 1775. And if this is coming as a shock you might want to consider doing some background reading before you continue.”

This is the warning Peter Grant (as written by Ben Aaronovitch in the latest of the “Rivers of London” series, Lies Sleeping, hardback only at this point) given at the beginning of his latest adventure, and he’s serious. I figured, since I’ve read the previous 6 books at least three times now, I’d be fine just jumping in.

Nope. Not even a little. So I went back, snagged Midnight Riot, and went through them all again. And, as I have from the beginning, I picked up something new in each book. Ben Aaronovitch is just that good. Believe Peter and believe me, a refresher doesn’t hurt, and the series is great anyway.

All I’m going to say plot-wise is that this book is simply jam-packed with all kinds of interesting people, including a River we haven’t met before, and you’re gonna love Foxglove. You get the feeling all the way through this is going to be the showdown between Nightingale and the Faceless Man, and there are certainly fireworks. Let’s just say that Peter’s habit of damage to the structure of London continues unabated. And there are all kinds of incredibly funny observations and asides, and I’m absolutely positive some of the pop culture references went right over my head. I’m okay with that.

It’s a must read if you’re into this series, which is wickedly intelligent, funny as hell, and a minor treatise on architecture and history that I fin fascinating. My only grump – and it’s a fairly major one – is that if I’m paying for a hardback, then I bloody well want a proofreader to have done more than smile at it. There are egregious typos in there that drove me nuts. Seriously, DAW, step up your game here!

Otherwise, start with Midnight Riot, and when you’ve finished Lies Sleeping, let’s talk. I wanna know what you think is coming next!

   JB

I should’ve been doing this all along but I don’t know that anyone else would care.

Since the shop closed, I’ve been having regular dreams about the shop. No real surprise since it was a central part of my life for nearly thirty years. I’ve often related them to Amber and Fran. Sometimes they’re about moving the shop, sometimes they’re about re-opening the shop (one was about Amber and Fran reopening it without me, and it had a grand circular staircase from the area of library tables in the basement to the sales floor – they did a very nice job on the place!), sometimes they’re in new spaces, one was that we’d decided to reopen it but 117 Cherry was no longer vacant… So it goes.

In early April I had one in which I was trying to teach two new people how to triage books for a signing. [That’s the term we borrowed from medical emergencies to mean culling through a shipment to find the hardcovers in the best condition for collectors, the copies that were fine for readers, and to see if any were damaged beyond putting out for sale.] Neither Fran or Amber were in the dream, which is why I was trying to teach it to others. I couldn’t get the guy to understand what was and was not a copy for a collector and it was so important to get it right as this was going to be a big signing, and our last, so I had to keep going back over the piles of books to find the best copies…

I’ll try to note future shop dreams. They’re always strange, vivid, and somewhat sad.


Support Individuality, Neighborhoods & People

Shop Small Businesses…


 

April Newzine

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      Odds ‘N’ Ends

This Week in True-Crime Podcasts: Going Deeper on Netflix’s The Keepers


JB stumbled on this site in early March. There are interesting articles going back months. This’ll be a site we’ll keep an eye on for future links. Under “Culture”, he found this:

March 1st: Fingerprinting: How Studying These Unique Patterns Forever Changed History ~A cousin of evolution theorist Charles Darwin created the first fingerprint classification system.

Next, under “Action”, then “Crime”, he found a long list of interesting pieces, from the Lufthansa Heist to the strange story of Sir Henry Whitecliffe. Lots to poke through!


Here’s a new one for us. We’ve all heard scathing reviews by critics of movies before they open. But have you ever heard a scathing review of a movie poster before the movie opens? Here’s your chance: NPR’s Ailsa Chang talks with film critic William Bibbiani about the role movie posters play today, following the release of the poster for Quentin Tarantino’s, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

      Words of the Month

fossick: From 1850–55; compare dial. fossick troublesome person, fussick to bustle about, apparently fuss + -ick, variant of -ock. As a verb (used without object): Mining , to undermine another’s digging; search for waste gold in relinquished workings, washing places, etc., to search for any object by which to make gain: to fossick for clients. As a verb (used with object), to hunt; seek; ferret out.(thanks to dictionary.com)

      Book Events

April 1: Dana Haynes, Powell’s, 7pm

April 2: Jeffrey Siger, Third Place Books/LFP 7pm

April 8: Harlan Coben, Third Place Books/LFP 7pm

April 9: J.A. Jance, Third Place Books/LFP 7pm

April 9: Jacqueline Winspear, Elliot Bay 7pm

April 11: Mary Daheim & Candace Robb, Third Place Books, 7pm (postponed from Feb due to SNOW)

April 13: J.A. Jance, Village Books, 7pm

April 17: J.A. Jance, University Books, 7pm

April 18: Alafair Burke, Powell’s 7:30

      Links of Interest

March 1: Hallie Rubenhold: ‘Jack the Ripper’s victims have just become corpses. Can’t we do better?’

March 2: How the N.Y. Public Library Fills Its Shelves (and Why Some Books Don’t Make the Cut)

March 5: Nobel prize in literature to be awarded twice this year

March 5: The Who’s Pete Townshend announces debut novel, The Age of Anxiety

March 5: Crusader skull stolen from Dublin church recovered

March 6: The boldness factor: Here’s how to distinguish a psychopath from a ‘shy-chopath’

March 7: By the Book: Donna Leon

March 7: World Book Day features Welsh-language titles in Braille

March 7: Meet the Real Estate Appraiser of the World’s Most Gruesome Murder Sites

March 7: Penn and Teller and Mischief Theatre to produce Magic Goes Wrong

March 8: 5 New International Series Visit 5 Far-Flung Crime Scenes

March 9: Mobster Carmine Persico dies after serving 33 of 139-year sentence

March 10: 3 Billboards In Baltimore: How One Woman Is Trying To Find Her Sister’s Killer

March 10: Great Escape hero’s journal of getaway plot uncovered

March 11: Will Seattle save WA’s only Black-Owned Bookstore?

March 12: Nurse from Cornwall told of own death in pension letter

March 12: Wild goats flock into town in bad weather

March 13: Chickens ‘gang up’ to kill intruder

March 14: Crime author: Life and death on Bradford’s ‘forgotten’ streets

March 14: Stolen masterpiece was switched with fake in police sting

March 14: Frank Cali, of New York’s Gambino family, is shot dead in New York

March 15: The Wild Story of the Real-Life Mobster Who Starred in ‘The Godfather’

March 16: Charles Manson, Rose Bird, Caryl Chessman and California’s wrenching death penalty debate

March 17: An app called Citizen promises “awareness” of nearby danger. What it provides is more complicated.

March 18: What Not to Do After Robbing a Bank: Put the Money Right Back

March 20: Edible Book Festivals Are for Pun and Food Lovers

March 21: The police sex scandal that ‘rocked’ 1929 Portland – and might be tied to a notorious unsolved murder

March 21: Mount Everest: Melting glaciers expose dead bodies

March 22: How a bookshop wolf handles awkward customers

March 25: The amateur sleuth who searched for a body – and found one

March 26: A Dutchman known as the “Indiana Jones of the art world” has found a Picasso painting that was stolen 20 years ago.

March 26: Vatican women editors resign from women’s magazine

March 26: Paul McCartney’s school book sold for £46k after bidding war

March 26: Sir Edward Elgar manuscript found in autograph book

March 27: Egyptian coffin art in ‘pop-up’ show in pub

March 27: Could A Novel Lead Someone To Kill? ‘Murder By The Book’ Explores The Notion

March 28: Garfield phones beach mystery finally solved after 35 years

March 28: ‘Fake’ Botticelli painting is from artist’s studio

March 28: Super-rare Harry Potter book with title misspelling sells at auction

      Words of the Month

claque (n.): A “band of subservient followers,” 1860, from French claque “band of claqueurs” (a set of men distributed through an audience and hired to applaud the performance or the actors), agent noun from claquer “to clap” (16c.), echoic (compare clap (v.)). Modern sense of “band of political followers” is transferred from that of “organized applause at theater.” Claqueur “audience member who gives pre-arranged responses in a theater performance” is in English from 1837.

This method of aiding the success of public performances is very ancient; but it first became a permanent system, openly organized and controlled by the claquers themselves, in Paris at the beginning of the nineteenth century. [Century Dictionary]

Thanks to Says You!, episode #134

      R.I.P.

February 10 – (but no one knew until March) Jan-Michael Vincent, star of Airwolf and The Winds of War, dies at 74

March 1: Charles McCarry, master of American espionage fiction, died at 88. “There is simply no other way to say it,” Otto Penzler, a leading expert on crime and espionage fiction, wrote in the New York Sun in 2004. “Just the straightforward, inarguable truth: Charles McCarry is the greatest espionage writer that America has ever produced.”

March 4: Luke Perry of Beverly Hills, 90210 and Riverdale dies at 52

      Words of the Month

toady (n.): A “servile parasite,” from 1826, apparently shortened from toad-eater “fawning flatterer” (1742), originally (1620s) “the assistant of a charlatan,” who ate a toad (believed to be poisonous) to enable his master to display his skill in expelling the poison. The verb is recorded from 1827. Related: Toadied; toadying.

      What We’ve Been Doing

    Amber

Don’t forget! Check out my mystery blog!  Finder Of Lost Things

This week we discover Beatrice has an arch nemesis…much to everyone’s amusement!

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Deanna Raybourn – A Dangerous Collaboration

Veronica Speedwell is back! Woot! After the last fantastic installment, A Treacherous Curse, Victoria was left with a bit of a conundrum, i.e., her feelings for Stoker.

So what does she do? The only sensible thing…run away!

When she finally returns, six months later, she barely has time to unpack her bags before Stoker’s brother Lorde Templeton-Vane whisks her off to a remote island in Cornwell. Where nothing is exactly as it seems…

I don’t know how Deanna Raybourn does it – but the Veronica Speedwell Mysteries get better and better with every installment! And I’m not the only one who thinks so, as she is in the current class of Edgar Award nominees – for Best Novel. Not Best Historical Mystery – but Best Novel – the bluest of blue ribbons of the Edgars.

Somehow in this book, she manages to take a traditional country house mystery and gently twist it into something far more interesting than the original cloth it’s cut from. From changing up the setting from a manor house to a creaky old castle (with its own poison garden) to altering the typical countryside setting to a windswept island (full of superstition) each of the traditional features were there – but so artfully arranged that it wasn’t until I finished the book that I realized the style Rayborn had chosen.

And I read a lot of country house mysteries.

However, what Raybourn deftly handles in this book are the tangled feelings Veronica holds for Stoker (and vice versa). Never once did I roll my eyes or skip ahead because the words written on the page we so syrupy sweet or maudlin that they pushed the bounds of credulity. Raybourn did a seriously good job layering them into the narrative in just the right amount!

While this particular style, is usually bloodless, Raybourn is able to add a tremendous sense of urgency & horror in the solution, never fear. Even better? She plays by The Rules! Everything the reader needs to solve the mystery along with Veronica & Stoker is laid out before you. However, in true author form, you aren’t quite sure you’re correct until the crucial moment, which is a wonderful feeling!

If you can’t tell, I loved this book! It was an exciting and fast-paced read which didn’t disappoint!

Now you don’t have to read the rest of the books to read this one – but I highly suggest you at least read A Treacherous Curse first – as there will be large swaths which won’t make as much sense without knowledge of Veronica, Stokers and Lord Templeton-Vane’s backstories. (But seriously all the books are great and well worth your time – and they’re in paperback now – so why not give one a go?)

If you enjoy historical mysteries, you will not find this book or series wanting!

    Fran

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I took a quick break in my Christine Feehan binge because the new Anne Bishop “Others” novel is out, and, well…Anne Bishop. The Others. They’re my Kryptonite. Okay, one of many, but still.

If you haven’t read them, you absolutely have to start with Written in Red. The world she’s created is only somewhat similar to ours, so you need your feet firmly under you before you tackle Wild Country (Ace). You most especially need to have the fifth in the “Lakeside Courtyard” series, Etched in Bone, firmly in your mind before you tackle this one.

Wild Country takes place not long after the Great Predation, when everything is still very much in flux between the Others and the humans. The formerly human controlled town of Bennett is beginning a mixed species experiment, to see if this time it can work if the Others are in charge instead of the humans.

Bennett is very much an Old West frontier-type town, a boom town as long as humans remember who surrounds them, not just in the wild country but their neighbors. Anyone with any power is Other. Humans can build their businesses, as long as the Others – in this case the Sanguinati – approve.

But, as with our Old West, where there’s boomtown, there’s trouble.

I re-read Lake Silence, the first of the Others novels that wasn’t a Lakeside Courtyard novel, just to remind myself of the world. Lake Silence is a much lighter-hearted book. Not that what happens to Vicki isn’t dark, but between the Sproingers and Yorick’s Vigorous Appendage, Lake Silence was a fun read.

Wild Country hearkens back to Written in Red in many ways. It’s very dark, bad things happen to good people with no one able to stop it, and honestly, I think it’s some of Anne Bishop’s finest writing. But you have to have your feet firmly entrenched in the events that happen in Etched in Bone, not only to understand the severity of what happens, but also because some of the Lakeside Courtyard folks are involved in this story.

I was up until 3:44 in the morning finishing this.  And I think I’ll have to go back and re-read it, because I was tearing through to find out what happened so quickly that I’m sure I missed bits.

What an amazing series. In fact, I may just go back and re-read the whole thing, but reverse the order of the last two books, so that I get that hard one-two punch, followed by life in Sproing, which is decidedly less dramatic, despite the eyeball in the wave-cooker.

Woof. I’m exhausted. But in a really good way. Thank you, Ms. Bishop!

    JB

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Magnificent, stunning, a massive and major work, an epic journey into our contemporary heart of darkness.

 

 

 

 

 

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I have to believe that this really is the end of the saga due to the way the story arcs across the three books. Winslow said that he was done after The Power of the Dog.

 

 

 

 

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Then he swore he was done after the sequel, The Cartel.

But The Border really must be it – or he continues with secondary characters… which he is capable of doing.

If you are at all interested in his new book, you must start with Power of the Dog. The Cartel begins soon afterward, as then does The Border. These are not really three books, these are three sections of one massive story.

 

Its a commitment, yes. It would be a marathon, yes. But if we’re in a time in which folks will binge hours upon hours of a TV series, it is nothing to commit to binging this set of books.

So do it.


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Individuality, Neighborhoods & People

Shop Small Businesses

Saturday, April 27th ~ Independent Bookstore Day!

February’s Newzine!

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      Podcasts

LeVar Burton Reads: The Best Short Fiction, Handpicked by the World’s Greatest Storyteller – Literally LeVar Burton (of Reading Rainbow & Star Trek fame) reading short stories (all kinds) to you!

Netflix has released a new series that IS interesting and certainly IS grisly: Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.  It is also full of period film of Seattle in the 70s.

      Word of the Month

supergrass (n): supergrass is a British slang term for an informant who turns Queen’s evidence, often in return for protection and immunity from prosecution. In the British criminal world, police informants have been called “grasses” since the late 1930s, and the “super” prefix was coined by journalists in the early 1970s to describe those who witnessed against fellow criminals in a series of high-profile mass trials at the time…

The first known use of “grass” in that context is Arthur Gardner’s crime novel Tinker’s Kitchen, published in 1932, in which a “grass” is defined as “an informer”. The origin of the term “grass” being used as signifying a traitor, a person who informs on people he or she knows intimately, ostensibly can be traced to the expression “snake in the grass”, which has a similar meaning. The phrase derives from the writings of Virgil (in Latin, latet anguis in herba) and has been known in the English language, meaning “traitor”, since the late 17th century.

An alternative claim is made for the term originating from rhyming slang, whereby “grasshopper” is defined as “copper”, meaning “policeman”. The rhyming slang version was supported in 1950 by lexicographer Paul Tempest. (wikipedia)

      Book Events

February 4: April Henry, 7pm Powell’s

February 9: Mike Lawson, 1pm Barnes & Noble, Silverdale

February 14: Mary Daheim AND Candace Robb, 7pm Third Place/LFP

February 16: Mike Lawson, 3pm, Magnolia Bookstore

February 24: Jasper Fforde, 6pm Third Place/LFP

      Links of Interest

January 1: Books are good for your brain. These techniques will help you read more.

January 2: Australian police respond to spider death threats

January 3: Can An Auto-Immune Disease Explain The Salem Witch Trials?

January 4: Manson family murderer Robert Beausoleil recommended for parole

January 5: ‘Kidnapper’ chased out of North Carolina karate studio

January 6 (from the UK): Independent bookshops grow for second year after 20-year decline

January 7: ‘The Sopranos’ at 20: How did the show change TV — and us?

January 7: David Chase on ‘The Sopranos,’ Trump and, Yes, That Ending

January 8: A woman’s murder in Peking and a literary feud

January 8: How true-crime podcasts find clues the police miss

January 9: ‘The Millions’ Will Live on, But the Indie Book Blog Is Dead

January 10: Woman fined after bragging about illegal hunt on dating app

January 11: Some Dos and Don’ts from Famous Authors

January 11: ‘Hugely heavy’ hippo sculpture stolen

January 11: Can Romance Novels Save Heterosexual Sex?

January 11: British sarcasm ‘lost on Americans’

January 12: Can a fugitive remain on the run forever?

January 13: True Detective’: Three Real-Life Cases Behind the Show’s Central Mystery

January 13: After Stephen King Tweeted at a Maine Paper for Cutting Book Reviews, It Gave Readers a ‘Scary Good’ Offer

January 14: The Hunt for the Nazi Loot Still Sitting on Library Shelves

January 15: The Homeless Man Who Set Up A Book Club

January 15: ‘Most famous’ banned book to be sold

January 16: TV series based on Portland writer Chelsea Cain’s novel premieres on WGN America

January 16: The Villainous Bitch Has Become the Most Boring Trend in Literature

January 17: The Library Of Forbidden Books

January 17: New York’s Secret Travel Club

January 17: Nancy Drew is Still Influencing – Well the covers are at any rate

January 17: Sherrilyn Kenyon~Bestselling author accuses husband of poisoning her in ‘Shakespearean plot’

January 18: Earliest Fragments of the English Language Revealed

January 21: How ‘Sherlock’ went from super-sleuth to the Baker Street Men Behaving Badly

January 22: ‘Sopranos’ Prequel Film Finds Young Tony: Michael Gandolfini Is Chip Off Old Block

January 23: An infamous mobster’s home was up for sale in Vegas. Buyers made an offer. Who could refuse?

January 23: ‘Buffy’ returns with a modern comic book reboot

January 23: Guillermo del Toro leads drive to save horror bookshop Dark Delicacies

January 23: San Francisco’s Aardvark Bookstore Closes after 40 Years

January 23: ~ If I Hate Violence So Much, Why Do I Love Writing About It?

January 23: Don Winslow ~ I Write Fiction About Border Crime, But Unlike Trump I Tell the Truth.

January 23: A week in the life of a London murder detective

January 24: Medieval book coffer shows appetite for mobile reading ‘is nothing new’

January 24: Times reporter pens book about mystery of missing Skelton brothers

January 24: 7-year-old’s book accepted into Library of Congress

January 24: Amanda Knox ~ European court orders Italy to pay damages

January 25: Penguin Random House Closes the Prestigious Imprint Spiegel & Grau

January 27: Booker Prize Looses Sponsor

January 27: The Knotty Nostalgia of the Hardy Boys Series

January 28: The tiny library bringing books to remote villages

January 28: Book explores old murder mysteries in Lorain County

      Word of the Month – Continued

croodle (v): To cower or cuddle together, as from fear or cold; to lie close and snug together, as pigs in straw. (thanks to wordfinder)

      R.I.P.

December 29: June Whitfield – The wonderful voice of Miss Marple on BBC Radio

We say farewell to Ed Kennedy, a customer who went back to the early daysimage-69068_20190102 of the shop. He’d bop in with a big smile and a friendly “Hey, Man!” He bought books for himself, mysteries and special orders for himself and relatives. Ed had a deep, smooth voice and would often be on his way to or from a session of taping a book for the Washington Talking Book. This seemed to be one of his great pleasures, reading a book aloud for those who couldn’t read themselves. With that voice he must’ve been one of their stars.

Thanks, Ed. Vios con dios!

January 4: Edgar Winner Brian Garfield, dead at 79

January 20: Tony Mendez, Mastermind of the Rescue of the US Hostages in Iran

January 31: Dick Miller, Gremlins and Terminator actor, dies aged 90

      Word of the Month – Lastly

Rivulose – adjective – marked with irregular, narrow, sinuous, crooked lines or furrows resembling rivers marked on a map.

While they may use this word primarily to describe the irregular, surfaces of bugs, fishes, and mushrooms (for purposes entomological, ichthyological, and mycological), you can apply it as you wish. It can, for example, do the job of describing the wrinkles on your typical lexicographer’s shirt. The word is Latin in origin, tracing back to rivulus, meaning “rivulet,” and the English suffix –ose, meaning “possessing the qualities of.” Something that is rivulose is marked with lines reminiscent of those made by a rivulet—that is, a small stream—as viewed from far above.

(thank-you to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary)

      What We’ve Been Doing

    Amber

Don’t forget! Check out my mystery blog!

 Finder Of Lost Things

After an eventful night which included a mysterious FLYT fare, the discovery of Little Ben’s ill conceived pet cemetery plans and getting chewed out by Joseph at Nevermore. Phoebe’s on her way home for a quiet snack and then bed…

But her night’s not quite over yet!

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No Wind Of Blame by Georgette Heyer

So this mystery is a bit of a conundrum.

Because, for one reason or another, until the murder of Wally Carter I disliked every character Heyer introduced into the narrative. Since the deed wasn’t done until page one-hundred-and-thirty-one…well let’s just say it took me a while to work my through the cast’s hysterics, dramatics, whining, and martyrdom to the meat of the matter.

But two things kept me from shelving the book permanently, neither Heyer nor her foil, Inspector Hemingway has ever let me down.

And as you’ve guessed, (since I’m writing a review) my patience was rewarded, because the last half of the book was excellent.

Even better?

Through Hemingway’s investigation, observations, and dry wit, you come to understand exactly who these people are and their motivations, which shed an entirely new light on the first half of the book, making it infinitely more interesting – and well worth a reread.

Perhaps not the best of Heyer’s mysteries (it is definitely not the worst), the solution straining the boundary of credulity, it is still a satisfying read.

You just need to stick with it!

BTW – Source Books has reissued all of Georgette Heyer’s mysteries! So if you couldn’t find them previously, they are easy to find now! And I highly recommend a read thru of her mysteries, if you enjoy classic 1930s-1950s British mysteries!

My favorites: Death In The Stocks & Why Shoot A Butler?

    Fran

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Okay, let me just say up front that I adore Amber and trust her implicitly. Therefore you have to understand the sorrow with which I tell you, Amber lied.

Amber lied BIG TIME.

Okay, first of all, go back and read her review of Brandon Sanderson‘s book, LEGION. It’s okay, we’ve got time. I’ll wait. It’s back in December, so you won’t have to scroll far.

Done? Groovy.

I’m not going to recap the synopsis; you just read it. But what you’re not getting is how BADLY SHE UNDERSELLS THIS BOOK!

Holy cats.

Granted, if you’re looking for Sanderson’s telltale fantasy story, you’ll be disappointed, but only briefly because the writing is incredible! It’s a suspense story, yes, and it’s told in three parts, but once again, it’s the characters that make it. And Stephen Leeds’ “aspects” are so fully formed, so incredibly wonderful, that you can’t help but get involved with them.

And if you have an artistic friend, perhaps a writer, this helps you understand how complex characters can be created.

I’ll be re-reading it, I have no doubt. It’s the kind of story that is multi-layered, and psychologically complex.

And I do wish we were still working together because Amber would have had me read this much sooner than I did, and that would have been wonderful. So now, listen to her, listen to me, and go read Brandon Sanderson’s LEGION!

Why are you still here? Go!

    JB

Coming in April is a fascinating history of the Allies’ use of women to work with the Resistance during World War II in preparation for the invasion of Europe.

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Sarah Rose’s D-Day Girls is a heady mix of mission and personality as you get to know these women – Rose takes pain to note that the women involved did refer to themselves as “girls” – the men in charge of the missions in London, and the men hunting them in France.

Rose details the resistance within the Allies to allowing women to have a role in the fight, partly due to the usual, age-old sexism that women can’t or shouldn’t go into battle, partly due to racism (one woman was Jewish and could she be trusted!!), and partly due to real qualms about possible sexual torture if captured. There’s a pageant of humanity in this story – fear and courage, hope and frustration, passion and fury, good and evil – all told with a lively writing style that is somewhere in-between Ben McIntyre, Eric Larson, and Alan Furst.

In one of those strange quirks of history, the man in charge of these heroes was Captain Selwyn Jepson. It was his job to find people to insert into France and it seemed only logical to him that if men were in short supply send women. Jepson was a well-known mystery novelist and screenwriter before and after the war.

It’s a fascinating story with details and dates. I guess I’d always thought that the French Resistance took place throughout the war but Rose shows that the Resistance as a nation-wide organization really only started in 1943, with the women spending ’42 being trained in tradecraft. It was due to the approach of the invasion that the Allies used the Resistance to bedevil the Nazis so that they couldn’t respond well to an invasion. Luckily for us all it worked well enough to allow Normandy to succeed.

Thank god the men got out of the way and let these women do their jobs!

The author notes that the indignities these women went through before going into enemy territory didn’t end then. After the war, they were not awarded to the same extent as the men who did the same thing, their medals were of lesser levels. And then, of course, they were ignored by historians for the last sixty years.

I’m glad Sarah Rose has stepped in to redress this contemptuous treatment.

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Edgar Nominees Announced!

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The 2019 Edgar Nominees have been announced!

Even more exciting? Some old friends of the shop & favorite authors were singled out for their outstanding writing this year!

Congrats to one and all! And good luck!

   Best Novel

The Liar’s Girl – Catherine Ryan Howard
House Witness – Mike Lawson
A Gambler’s Jury – Victor Methos
Down the River Unto the Sea – Walter Mosley
Only to Sleep – Lawrence Osborne
A Treacherous Curse – Deanna Raybourn

   Best First Novel

A Knife in the Fog – Bradley Harper
The Captives – Debra Jo Immergut
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy – Nova Jacobs
Bearskin – James A. McLaughlin
Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

   Best Paperback Original

If I Die Tonight – Alison Gaylin
Hiroshima Boy – Naomi Hirahara
Under a Dark Sky – Lori Rader-Day
The Perfect Nanny – Leila Slimani

Under My Skin – Lisa Unger

   Best Critical/Biography

The Metaphysical Mysteries of G.K. Chesterton: A Critical Study of the Father Brown Stories and Other Detective Fiction – Laird R. Blackwell
Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession – Alice Bolin
Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920s – Leslie S. Klinger
Mark X: Who Killed Huck Finn’s Father? – Yasuhiro Takeuchi
Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life – Laura Thompson

   Mary Higgins Clark

A Death of No Importance – Mariah Fredericks
A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder – Dianne Freeman
Bone on Bone – Julia Keller
The Widows of Malabar Hill – Sujata Massey
A Borrowing of Bones – Paula Munier

For the full list of nominees click here!

January Newzine


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HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL! WELCOME TO 2019!

      Awards!

2018 Nero Award Winner Announced:

Winner: Stephen Mack Jones, August Snow  (Soho Crime)

The 2018 Nero Finalists:

Warren C. Easley, Blood for Wine  (Poisoned Pen Press)
Loren D. Estelman, The Lioness is the Hunter  (Forge)
Matt Goldman, Gone to Dust  (Forge)
Kathleen Kent, The Dime (Mulholland Books/Little, Brown)

November 27: MWA Announces 2019 Special Edgar Awards – Grand Master, Raven and Ellery Queen Award Recipients

      Podcasts

Michael Connelly is starting a podcast called Murder Book. Sounds like fun! It starts January 28th.

      Word of the Month

nick-fidge: a child who is always getting scolded  (thanks to Says You, episode #815)

      Book Events

January 9: Christopher Sandford, Third Place Books/SP

January 11-20: Tasveer South Asian Literary Festival

January 12 and Jan. 16.: Jayne Ann Krentz

January 18: Lindsay Faye, Powell’s

January 18: Gail Carriger, UBooks

January 29: Ian Rankin in conversation with Phillip Margolin, Powell’s

      Links of Interest

November 30: Powell’s Books CEO reflects on her career, reading habits and why she loves books

November 30: Books are back: Indigo CEO talks the future of book stores, new Robson Street store

December 2: When he feared communists were infiltrating America, Congressman Larry McDonald took extreme measures — building his own intelligence-gathering arm.

December 2: Jeeves And Wooster, But Make It A Modern Spy Novel

December 2: Is Your Holiday Gift Spying On You?\

December 3: In Love With Teen Lit: Remembering The ‘Paperback Crush’ Of The ’80s And ’90s

December 3: Spoiler Alert! The Psychology Of Surprise Endings


December 3: 2018 Bad Sex Writing

~ Bad Sex in Fiction Award: James Frey ‘honoured’ to win 2018 title for novel ‘Katerina’

~ Bad Sex in Fiction Award: Haruki Murakami, James Frey and Gerard Woodward among all-male shortlist

~ Bad Sex awards: 20 of the worst shortlisted extracts from Morrissey to Stephen King


December 5: Former Guild Theatre in downtown Portland will become home to Japanese bookstore

December 6: How We Got Hooked On Grisly True Crime Murders

December 6: Val McDermid’s ‘Broken Ground’ Balances Location, Character And Props In Perfect Proportion

December 6: What Kind of Monster Tears the Pages Out of Books? Aquaman!

December 7: The worst things about working in shops at Christmas

December 7: The Paper Publishing a Holiday Books Guide since 1851

December 8: Is Listening to a Book the Same Thing as Reading It?

December 9The Man Making Art From Government Surveillance

December 10: Starving The Watchdog: Who Foots The Bill When Newspapers Disappear?

December 10: John le Carré’s Next Novel to Land in 2019

December 11: Mystery Blast Sank The USS San Diego in 1918. New Report Reveals What Happened

December 11: Brazilian Booksellers Face Wave of Closures That Leave Sector in Crisis

December 11: What’s eating this 400-year-old painting?

December 12: Chocolate meltdown closes German road

December 12: 25 Movies Added To National Film Registry

December 12: James Patterson made $86 million in 2018, topping the list of the world’s highest-paid authors

December 12: When out-of-date code causes chaos

December 13: Roald Dahl’s war medals finally arrive, 73 years on

December 13: New Zealand anger over Google naming murder suspect

December 13: New York Times London crime Twitter appeal backfires

December 14: The inside story: How police and the FBI found one of the country’s worst serial killers

December 15: Oregon library halts book-discard effort after list revealed

December 17: Amazon faces boycott ahead of holidays as public discontent grows

December 18: She swiped her co-worker’s Coke can. Police say it cracked a 28-year-old murder case.

December 18: “Making a Murderer” detective sues Netflix for defamation

December 18: Cate Blanchett Disappears in the Trailer for “Where’d You Go, Bernadette”

December 19: Lee Child on HARDtalk

December 20: Third of rare Scotch whiskies tested found to be fake

December 21: Why this Tokyo book shop is charging customers an entry fee

December 22: True-life treasure hunt that turned into a comic book

December 23: Bottleneck at Printers Has Derailed Some Holiday Book Sales

December 27: James Lee Burke ~ By the Book

December 28: This American Life ~ The Room of Requirement: “Libraries aren’t just for books. They’re often spaces that transform into what you need them to be: a classroom, a cyber café, a place to find answers, a quiet spot to be alone. It’s actually kind of magical. This week, we have stories of people who roam the stacks and find unexpected things that just happen to be exactly what they required.”

December 28: Notes from the Book Review Archive: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Thought Sherlock Holmes Was ‘a Lower Stratum of Literary Achievement’

December 28: How paperback redesigns give publishers a second chance at winning readers

December 28: Glasgow’s LGBT book shop a ‘wonderful success’

December 28:  Josephine Baker’s secret life as a World War II spy

December 29: The Krull House by Georges Simenon review – a dark masterpiece

December 29: New Life for Old Classics, as Their Copyrights Run Out

December 30: Tell Us 5 Things About Your Book: A Deep Dive Back Into ‘The Sopranos’

      Word of the Month – Continued

Murdermongress – (nonce-word) A female writer of murder stories.

Origin: From murdermonger + -ess. Earliest use found in Ogden Nash’s (1902–1971) description of Agatha Christie in a 1957 work.

Pronunciation: /ˌməːdəmʌŋɡəˈrɛs//ˈməːdəˌmʌŋɡ(ə)rɪs/

(Thanks to Oxford English Dictionary)

      R.I.P.

December 14: Sondra Locke: Any Which Way You Can actress dies aged 74

December 18: Penny Marshall: US TV star and director dies aged 75

December 27: Seattle loses its chronicler of vice: journalist Rick Anderson6a00d8341e589c53ef0134896f4661970c-500wi This is a photo from our old blog: “Journalist, columnist and all-around-writer Rick Anderson was in to sign ‘Seattle Vice’. The sub-title says it well: ‘Strippers, Prosititution, Dirty Money and Crooked Cops in the Emerald City’. 11.20.10”

      Word of the Month – Lastly

scot-free (adj.) Old English scotfreo “exempt from royal tax,” from scot “royal tax,” from Old Norse skot “contribution,” literally “a shooting, shot; thing shot, missile” (from Proto-Indo-European root *skeud- “to shoot, chase, throw;” the Old Norse verb form, skjota, has a secondary sense of “transfer to another; pay”) + freo (see free (adj.)). First element related to Old English sceotan “to pay, contribute,” Dutch schot, German Schoß “tax, contribution.” French écot “share” (Old French escot) is from Germanic. (thanks to etymonline)

      What We’ve Been Doing

    Amber

Don’t forget to check out my original mystery! Finder Of Lost Things

This Friday Phoebe meets her mystery during an unexpected FLYT fare!

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Murder At The Brightwell by Ashley Weaver

Murder At The Brightwell is a rare treat, a contemporaneously written mystery which feels as if it were penned during the nineteen-thirties. A closed caste of characters, subtle violence, and with the very glamorous upper-crust class of English society – all of which are hallmarks of the era (of writing).

What I find fascinating is the author’s ability to slip in complex emotional ties without ever detracting from the story: the not-so-subtle marital issues, the love triangles and a finely illustrated double standard applied to husbands & wives of the period – all of which concern, in one way or another, our band of vacationers. But Weaver does such an excellent job of using these same motives in a variety of ways it adds to the underlying tension without ever once becoming monotonous.

I loved it.

Her styles reminds me a bit if you crossed Georgette Heyer’s mysteries with Agatha Christie’s. Not romance as such portrayed on the page, but the detailing of complex relationships shared by people which can give rise to all kinds of unresolved or unexpressed feelings which in turn can lead to happy endings if hammered out or dangerous, dark emotions if left to fester.

This understated attention to the interpersonal relationships and social mores makes for fascinating and rich reading.

Because our detectives are suffering the woes of marital strife, much of the book feels a touch melancholy. Which is not usually my cup of tea, but because the mystery and the people are so interesting, for once this didn’t bother me. Which is a huge tribute to the author, because the prose never tipped into the trap over overstated sadness or despair – or having the heroine witter on about what a bad wife she thinks she is (taking on blame that isn’t her own trying to justify her husband’s bad behavior is an irritating read, in my opinion).

In any case, I would recommend this first in series to anyone who enjoys reading a great classic/historical mystery set in England!

    Fran

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If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember Mr. Peabody and Sherman, and Mr. Peabody’s WABAC machine. Of course, I always thought of it as “Way Back” machine, but it did make history interesting.

Fun Fact (before I actually start talking books): For a long time, nobody knew what WABAC meant, just that computers of that period generally ended in AC – ENIAC, UNIVAC, which lead to “brainiac”, where AC stood for Analog Computer – so of course WABAC had to end in “AC”. It was theorized at one point that WABAC stood for “Wormhole Activating & Bridging Automatic Computer”, but in 2014, DreamWorks created the “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” movie, and they announced that WABAC actually stands for “Wavelength Acceleration Bidirectional Asynchronous Controller”. So now you know.

Anyway, we hop into the WABAC machine, and we head to the 1970’s, which is farther back than I’d prefer to remember it being, and the sentence that always led to brainiac exercises was, “How do you justify your existence?”

That was the question that was asked of guests at every meeting of the Black Widower Society, a fictional monthly meeting of men who were based on the real life society Isaac Asimov belonged to at the time, although the cast was never based on his compatriots.

Tales of the Black Widowers and More Tales of the Black Widowers are frequently overlooked by both science fiction and mystery lovers, which is unfortunate because they are some fabulous little mysteries. At each meeting of the Black Widowers, a puzzle is presented, whether deliberately or not, and all of the wildly intelligent members of the Black Widowers takes a turn at trying to solve it. In the end, it’s the waiter, Henry, who comes through, because he sees things simply and straightforwardly.

Okay, before someone starts shouting at me about sexism and whatnot, remember the time this was written. Yes, it’s sexist. Not necessarily misogynistic, but definitely sexist. My response is that’s the time it was written, it’s a period piece – you’ll notice no one has cell phones either – and just enjoy the puzzles. The personalities of each of the characters is well-defined, and as a treat, in one of the stories in the sequel, Asimov inserts himself as a guest, although he uses the pseudonym “Mortimer Stellar”.

Seriously, take a trip back to the mid 70’s and have a few evenings with the Black Widowers, if you can. The books are largely out of print, to the best of my knowledge, so you have the added delight of tracking them down, like the detective you know you are!

(BTW: Amber Here – I read all these short stories at Fran’s urging and she’s right – as always – these are Fine mysteries! Which are well worth the extra effort of tracking down!)

    JB

I’ve read most of the books by Ben MacIntyre. I missed the book on the formation of soldiers during WW2 of what would become the SIS. That came out when the shop was closing and I just didn’t get to it. His newest is The Spy and the Traitor. It’s a very timely book as it deals with Soviet espionage and the Russian spy who became an important double agent for the West at the end of the Cold War. 9781101904190

It’s full of Soviet aims and Soviet skills, as well as the mixed efforts of their side. For every die-hard Soviet agent intent on defeating the West there was one who didn’t care and worked more for themselves. This story of Oleg Gordievsky is illuminating because he was from a KGB father and had accepted the entire Soviet line about the decadent West. While he did see as much decadence in the West as in his own country, he was staggered by the freedoms, the art, the music, and the happiness of the West.

In an age where Russia seems to be turning back to Soviet life under Putin, MacIntyre lays out the fruitlessness of this. It’s all about control at the top and power and those who suffer are those ordinary citizens, not the elite. In this, the mirror is held up to the West these days and we have to ask where we are going.

The truly alarming section of the book deals with the Andropov era and how he steered the Soviet world into a concrete belief that the West under Reagan was about to preemptively launch a nuclear attack against the Warsaw Pact and orders were sent out to be alert for certain signs that the attack was near – signs that largely were of everyday actions and policies of the West that had no part of an attack. It’s a chilling account that I had not heard about before.

I highly recommend this book, indeed, any book by Ben MacIntyre. You can’t call them “true crime” but fascinating history told well they are.

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