November 2018

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VOTE!  VOTE!!  VOTE!!!




      Word of the Month

infra dig: “beneath one’s dignity, unbecoming to one’s position in society,” 1824, colloquial abbreviation of Latin infra dignitatem “beneath the dignity of.” See infra- + dignity. (thanks to etymonline.com)


Opening this month is Widows, a heist movie. It’s got a stellar cast (Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Daniel Kaluuya, Carrie Coon, Colin Farrell, Liam Neeson, and Robert Duvall to name a few). It’s directed by Steve McQueen and it is based on a 1985 Lynda LaPlante TV series (“Prime Suspect” was 1991) of the same name. Besides all of this, we mention it because of the co-writer of the screen play with Steve McQueen – Gillian Flynn. Gonna have to see it now!


      Links of Interest

October 2nd: Disney ‘graffiti drone’ tags walls

October 2nd: Bottle of whisky sold for world record

October 2nd: Thieves steal entire vineyard

October 2nd: Like Noir? Like Horror? Have You Met Sandman Slim? (this is an author that Fran and Amber both adore!)

October 4th: George Pelecanos and the Prison Librarian

October 4th: The Last Big Bookstore

October 4th: Cottingley Fairies photographs make £20,000 at auction

October 4th: Fitbit data used to charge US man with murder

October 5th: Girl, 8, pulls a 1,500-year-old sword from a lake

October 5th: Washington Post blanks out missing Saudi writer’s column

October 6th: The Reykjavik Confessions

October 7th: Library hours across England slashed by austerity

October 7th: Jogger in Netherlands finds lion cub

October 8th: Spy agencies are worst at learning from past, say experts

October 10th: Tour de France trophy stolen

October 10th: Mexico’s Morgues Are Overflowing As Its Murder Rate Rises

October 10th: Stephen Carter’s Book Tells How His Grandmother Helped Convict A Mob Boss

October 10th: Growing up in a house full of books is major boost to literacy and numeracy, study finds

October 12th: 5,000 Rare bird eggs found in hoarder’s house

October 12th: How the Secret Service Foiled an Assassination Plot Against Trump by ISIS

October 13th: The Wild History of Poison Rings

October 14th: New Bond 26 Rumor Say Barbara Broccoli And Co. May Have Found New Bond

October 15th: Was Gary Hart Set Up? (the Nixon crew termed it “ratfucking”…)

October 15th: 12 Authors Write about the Libraries They Love

October 16: Missing pianist believed to be buried by wrong family

October 17th: A Former CIA Officer’s Tips for Avoiding Death, Prison, and Hospital While You Travel

October 17th: Columnist and novelist David Ignatius on holding Saudi Arabia accountable

October 18th: The One Writing Skill You Must Master

October 20th: Trust no one: how Le Carré’s Little Drummer Girl predicted our dangerous world

October 20th: Not My Job: Legal Thriller Author John Grisham Gets Quizzed On (Men’s) Briefs

October 22nd: Inside the bookshops and libraries of Scotland

October 23rd: Dutchman’s ‘pure shock’ after winning Cardigan bookshop

October 24th: Why author Judy Blume’s classic novel still inspires fans

October 24th: What’s fact and fiction about working as a British spy?

October 25th: Did one novel written in 1839 inspire a lurid murder and an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria? 

October 25th: Searching For the Truth About the Actual Murderer in The Exorcist

October 29th: Tiny Books Fit in One Hand. Will They Change How We Read?

October 29th: Southampton bookshop enlists human chain to move to new store

October 31st: Halloween Surprise at the Vatican: Bones Discovered in Backyard

October 31st: Edward Gorey was Eerily Precient

VOTE!  ⇔ VOTE!! ⇔ VOTE!!!

      Signings

November 7th: Suzanne M. Wolfe, 7pm, Third Place Books/Ravenna

November 14th: Warren C. Easley, 7pm, Third Place Books/ LFP

November 16th: Martin Limón, 6pm, Third Place Books/ LFP

November 19th: Joe Ide, 7:30pm, Powells

November 30th: Jonathan Lethem, 1pm, Third Place Books/Ravenna

      Word of the Month – Continued

dignity (n.): Circa 1200, “state of being worthy,” from Old French dignite “dignity, privilege, honor,” from Latin dignitatem (nominative dignitas) “worthiness,” from dignus “worth (n.), worthy, proper, fitting,” from Proto-Indo-European *dek-no-, suffixed form of root *dek- “to take, accept.”

From circa 1300 as “an elevated office, civil or ecclesiastical,” also “honorable place or elevated rank.” From late 14th C. as “gravity of countenance.”

(thanks, again, to etymonline.com)

      R.I.P.

October 3rd: Juan Romero, The busboy who tried to help a wounded Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 dies. His life was haunted by the violence

October 7th: Scott Wilson – In Cold Blood, GI Jane, “Walking Dead” – dies at 76

Oct 27th: Victor Marchetti, disillusioned CIA officer who challenged secrecy rules, dies at 88

October 30th: James “Whitey” Bolger, who hated to be called “Whitey” and was a proven ghoul, was murdered in prison. Whitey was the Irish crime lord of Boston and had, in return for ratting out other criminals,  Whitey suborned FBI agents into telling him who his enemies were. If you’re interested in the whole, lurid story, JB recommends T.J. English’s Where the Bodies Were Buried. And, of course, there was Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Whitey in Black Mass, supported by a stellar cast.

VOTE!  VOTE!!  VOTE!!!

If you were a fan of the Netflix series, “The Keepers”, the story is being continued in a podcast called “Out of the Shadows”. On of the main women “investigators” of the TV series is part of the duo doing the podcast. There are seven episodes so far and there’s much new info, and it is still all heartbreaking and infuriating. JB recommends.

      Word of the Month – Lastly

imprecation (n.): Mid-15c., “a curse, cursing,” from Latin imprecationem (nominative imprecatio) “an invoking of evil,” noun of action from past participle stem of imprecari “invoke, pray, call down upon,” from assimilated form of in- “into, in, within” (from Proto-Indo-European root *en “in”) + precari “to pray, ask, beg, request” (from PIE root *prek- “to ask, entreat”). “Current limited sense is characteristic of human nature” [Weekley]. (thanks to etymonline.com)

       What We’ve Been Doing

    Amber

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

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Francis Duncan – In At The Death

Chief Inspector Jonathan Boyce of Scotland Yard has given Mordecai Tremaine his heart’s desire – Mordecai will shadow his friend on his next murder investigation (with the strict understanding that Mordecai is to stay under the radar). While Mordecai may be an amateur, our favorite retired tobacconist has proven his skill to the Inspector and his boss.

So when the phone rings summoning Inspector Boyce to Bridgton, to discover who murdered a local doctor, he makes sure his murder bag is packed, and Mordecai is seated next to him.

Thrilled that he’s no longer an outsider in the investigation, Mordecai throws his not inconsiderable knowledge of human nature into discovering the secrets of the Doctor’s life which lead to his death. Starting with why the good doctor was carrying a gun in his Gladstone bag the night of his death…

Do you enjoy reading classic mysteries? Do you enjoy reading from an amateur detectives point of view? Did you enjoy reading Miss Marple?

Then I think you’d enjoy reading the Mordecai Tremaine mysteries (in many ways he’s Miss Marple’s male counterpart)!

He is a man of a certain age, retired from running his shop, who’s now able to focus on his not so secret passion, murder and the solving of it (Mordecai’s actual secret passion, which isn’t as secret as he’d like, is his weakness for “the heart-stirring fiction” supplied by the magazine Romantic Stories). Something else which I also find endearing about Mordecai is the fact, that while he finds a certain amount of zest from tracking a murder to ground, he never loses sight of the heinous act they’ve committed.

With that said I must encourage you to read this series, starting with A Murder For Christmas (which is set during the Yuletide season, with the trimmings of the season but isn’t a cloyingly saccharine holiday affair, I assure you) thru to this latest installment. Though it isn’t strictly necessary to read them in order, I think in this case you get more out of the books if you do! There’s one last book releasing in January, and I can’t wait! Seriously I finished In At The Death the same day I bought it – much to the amusement of my husband – who suggested I not to inhale it in one sitting. Silly husband.

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Barbara Cleverly – Fall of Angels

Detective Inspector John Redfyre is a rare creature – he’s the fourth (and therefore penniless) son of an aristocratic family, with a good university education and a clear sense of service. What makes him rare jewel in the eyes of his superiors? He’s a Detective Inspector who can rub shoulders with the Cambridge’s elite or pub thugs with equal ease.

This ability to skate between worlds comes in handy when Redfyre literally has front row seats to an attempted murder on the University campus! A female musician is pushed down the stairs following her performance (which was very controversial since it’s 1923 and she’s playing the trumpet – an instrument deemed only fit for male musicians) and lands pretty much in his lap (Redfyre’s Aunt had given him tickets to the performance). This piece of skullduggery is quickly followed by an actual murder which unexpectedly dovetails with the previous evening’s sabotage, much to Redfyre’s surprise.

With no shortage of suspects, it’s up to Detective Inspector Redfyre to suss out the motive behind these callous crimes before the murderer strikes again!

So, on the whole, I really enjoyed this book, I’d give it four out of five stars. The murder mystery, the Detective Inspector and the characters were all lovely and well constructed. In fact, the last two-thirds of the book was an excellent read…The problem with this book is the central red herring, which is a hair overcomplicated (or overexplained – I can’t decide – because Cleverly gave voice to simply everyone’s views at some point), which muddies up the narrative until the Detective Inspector unravels it.

That being said this mystery is well worth your time (because while the first bit might have been overly done – I never once entertained the thought of putting it down!). The mystery itself is well thought out, well executed and has a climatic conclusion.

FYI – don’t let the cover fool you, the crimes happen to occur during Christmas time, but this book is not a holiday-themed mystery. There is no syrupy sweetness to be found anywhere between the covers, I promise!

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical mysteries sprinkled with strong (opinionated) characters!

    Fran

“You find that kernel of madness at an early age, and if you’re lucky you start building up a 9780525522478callus around it, a tough layer of humanity that holds it at bay, because it’s just too dangerous to allow to escape. Your family can’t ever see it, your friends can’t ever see it, no one must ever see it – but it’s there, waiting to burn the protective covering away that has taken a lifetime to build and burst open like a volcanic canker of maniacal emotion.”

JB wrote up Craig Johnson’s latest Longmire novel, Depth of Winter, last month but of course I have to add my two cents. Depth of Winter may go down as one of Craig Johnson’s best.

It wasn’t an easy read for me, but it was brilliant. Oh sure, it had the trademark Walt observations and humor, and it’s a page-turner extraordinaire, but it’s also bleak and grim and violent and sad. You see, Cady’s been kidnapped by Bidarte and has been taken into the wilds of Mexico. It’s a trap – you know it, we know it, Walt knows it, hell, the federal government knows it – but that doesn’t matter. Cady’s down there, so Walt is going after her.

Part of what’s unsettling about Depth of Winter is that we don’t have our usual complement of characters backing Walt up. No Vic, no Lucian, no Henry. It’s weird and feels wrong somehow. And yet…if they were there, we might not meet the fantastic people Walt gets to know: the Seer, Alonzo, Bianca, Buck Guzman, Isidro. I’ve gotta say, I smiled at the idea of Henry and Isidro teaming up. They’d be damned near unstoppable.

But Depth of Winter is a defining book for Walt Longmire, and I can’t see how things are going to play out once he’s back home. It’ll be interesting and of course I can’t wait, but something changed with the telling of this tale, and I’m not sure how the pieces will come back together again, what picture will emerge.

And I can’t wait!

9780451458506Anne Bishop wrote a trilogy (that has stayed a trilogy, oddly enough) called “The World of the Fae” or the “Tir Alainn” series – The Pillars of the World, Shadows and Light, and The House of Gaian.

Okay, this is straight-up fantasy, nothing urban about it. It has nothing Earth-based except concepts, but those very concepts are what made me write this. They’re oh so relevant today, even though she wrote the series back at the turn of the century (and let me tell you, typing that was fun!).  

I don’t want to get into too much detail, mainly because there’s SO MUCH in it, but the basic gist is that the human world is linked to Tir Alainn, the Fae world, but those links are vanishing, and no one knows what happens to the Fae when the links are broken. But the links seem to be tied in some way to witches, who tend to keep low profiles because they’re often misunderstood. And it’s just their way.

And there’s the Witch’s Hammer, a man who devoutly believes all witches must die, although he does consider himself to be a humane man, and leaves time for repentance. 
The characters are myriad and well defined, obviously, because that’s one of my major criterion, as you know, and because Anne Bishop is incredibly talented. But the sense of impending doom, the incredible time crunch, and the beautiful interactions make this trilogy fantastic. I do think the ending was a bit rushed, and I think she still could expand on this world, but even if she never does, this is a series well worth reading!

    JB

New Reacher: Past Tense9780399593512

Author: Lee Child

Plot: Reacher hitchhikes into town. Something hinky is going on. Everyone underestimates Reacher. Bad guys want Reacher to go away. He Doesn’t. Reacher defeats bad guys.

Great fun. Can’t stop reading. Gotta get to the end. Please leave me alone. Do I have to go to work?

Reacher leaves town.

Sound familiar?

 




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They go away if you don’t…

September

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    A Couple of Things

~ We’re not trying to blow our own horns but it seems as if there are far, far fewer signings by mystery and crime writers since we closed. And if we miss including any authors, it may be that, having been out of the book biz for some time, we don’t recognize their names. We no longer have the knowledge or time to be as comprehensive as we’d like. We’re doing the best we can.

~ You may have noticed over the years that in our Links of Interest section that there are many more entries from the UK than from the US. That’s because outfits like the NYTimes or Washington Post allow only a certain number of clicks to articles each month before you have to pay. So we favor those who don’t require subscription in order to search for the good stuff that we include. We’re not snobs – we’re cheap.

~ September 30th will mark one year since the shop ceased operation. Hard to believe, seems like just yesterday… Which leads us to – – –

    Word of the Month

gliffing(n): “a flash of time, a moment, an instant…”  (thanks to Says You!, #1101)

    Finder Of Lost Things

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Amber here! So with a fair bit of trepidation and nervousness, I am ready (as I will ever be) to present what I’ve been working on!

When SMB closed last year, I decided to fall back and do something else I loved – blogging. After working on the My 52 Weeks With Christie blog for the shop a few years back – I discovered I enjoyed creating those weekly posts. When I finished my year with Christie, I was completely surprised at how much I missed all the writing and researching they required!

With a bit of time on my hands last September, I decided to follow in the footsteps of the old penny dreadfuls (hopefully without actually being dreadful), and I wrote my own weekly mystery series!

So here it is – Finder Of Lost Things – my mystery blog which will release a new installment every Friday morning! It’ll have accompanying photos, 99% of which were taken by me. There will be funnies, misunderstandings, shenanigans, pirates, and food! I sincerely hope you have as much fun reading it as I did working on it!

Here’s the overview from the site:

“My name is Phoebe Arden, and I used to be the Caretaker of Nevermore Cemetery.

My job is more than just mowing lawns, digging graves and thwarting vandals. The problem is my boss doesn’t understand what exactly my job entailed (or in fact any of my duties).

Now I am on the outside looking in, and I still need to protect Nevermore from my boss’s schemes, internal decay, and corrosive outside influences.

This is going to require coffee. Lots and lots of coffee…and maybe an egg roll.”

FRAN HERE – I’ve read a lot of it already and you’re going to love it! Pinky-swear!

    Ngaio Marsh Awards

The winners  to be announced at special event on September 1st 2018 as part of the WORD Christchurch Festival.

  Best Crime Novel

Marlborough Man by Alan Carter (Fremantle Press)

See You in September by Charity Norman (Allen & Unwin)

Tess by Kirsten McDougall (VUP)

The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell (Mary Egan Publishing)

A Killer Harvest by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press)

The Hidden Room by Stella Duffy (Virago)

  Best First Novel

The Floating Basin by Carolyn Hawes

Broken Silence by Helen Vivienne Fletcher (HVF Publishing)

All Our Secrets by Jennifer Lane (Rosa Mira Books)

The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell (Mary Egan Publishing)

Nothing Bad Happens Here by Nikki Crutchley (Oak House Press)

    Signings

Tues, Sept 4, 7pm: Seanan McGuire, University Books

Mon, Sept 10, 7pm: Craig Johnson, Powell’s

Tues, Sept 11, 7pm: Craig Johnson, Third Place/LFP

Wed, Sept 12, 7pm: John Straley, Powell’s

Fri, Sept 14, 7pm: John Straley, Third Place/Ravenna

Wed, Sept 19, 7:30: Amy Stewart, Powell’s

Tues, Sept 25, 7pm: Amy Stewart, Third Place/LFP

         Links of Interest

Vulture, July 31st: When Crime Comes for the Crime Writer by Laura Lippman

CNN, August 1st: Swedish Crown Jewels Stolen by Thieves Who Fled by Speedboat

New York Times, August 2nd: Sophie Hannah: By the Book

The Daily Beast, August 3rd: The Golden State Killer Suspect’s Chilling Warning Signs: Tantrums, Flirtations, and Poisoned Dogs

The Guardian, August 6th: The new tool in the art of spotting forgeries: artificial intelligence

The Guardian, August 7th: UKIP suspends three members over socialist bookshop attack [UKIP stands for the UK Independence Party. They wear hats saying Make  Britain Great Again.]

Entertainment Weekly, August 7th: Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series celebrates its 25th anniversary

BBC, August 8th: The Murderer Turned Author Who Published Clues To His Crimes

BBC August 8th: How digital publishers are ‘shaking up’ the industry

BBC August 9th: Looted 5,000-year-old artefacts to be returned to Iraq

BBC, August 10th: German police save man from baby squirrel terror

NY Times, August 10th: All the World’s a Crime: Thrillers from Around the Globe

BBC, August 10th: Can you read at superhuman speeds?

Salon, August 10th: Finding Tom Thomson’s body: The mysterious death of a famous Canadian artist

BBC, August 11th: France’s 25-year treasure hunt for a golden owl

NY Times, August 12th: As Barnes & Noble Struggles to Find Footing, Founder Takes     Heat

The Guardian, August 13th: How Wilkie Collins found sensation in ordinary life

The Guardian, August 13th: Family claims win in high court challenge to Northants library cuts

Salon, August 14th: “Dead Air” and the true crime boom: What happens when amateurs investigate murder?

The Guardian, August 15th: Sorry to break it to you, far-righters: James Bond is not on your team

The Daily Beast, August 18th: I Grew Up in the Shadow of a Neighborhood Killer. He May Have Finally Been Caught

The Seattle Times, August 19th: Sunday Best – a weekly look at looks

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CNN, August 21st: Mom Reveals Her Secret Spy Life to Kids

The Guardian, August 22nd: Malibu residents fear serial attacker is stalking their scenic enclave

The Guardian, August 22nd: Direct another day: who should replace Danny Boyle on Bond 25?

Daily Herald, August 25th: New Versions of Hercule Poirot Keep Coming, and That’s a Good Thing, by Sophie Hannah

Sunday Seattle Times, August 26:

Crime fiction: 2 witty new novels and a Northwest gem – from Adam Woog

Meet the UW Libraries’ keeper of rare books and artifacts

Northwest book festivals to attend this fall, in Seattle, Vancouver, B.C., and Portland

The Washington Post, August 26th: George Pelecanos has helped make TV great again. His new book reminds us why.

The Courier, August 30st: Police: Thieves stole over $40,000 in rare insects, reptiles

    RIP

In early August we lost a treasured member of the SMB family. Gina Rembeisa died unexpectedly on August 7th. She’d been one of our key customers for as long as we can remember. By key, we mean foundational – she was one of those few crucial customers who bought enough books in the early years to help us to survive and succeed. But that also meant that we got to know one another well. 

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Gina read voraciously. She’d call when a new newsletter got to her and give us a list that would fill a sheet from a legal pad. Then she’d go over what had not come in from supplemental lists. She’d try someone new and have to have every earlier book. She had countless cards in our Future File system, cards for authors from whom she’d want every new book. She would take signed copies but they weren’t necessary. She was a reader, not a collector. She’d stop in on a Saturday morning and chat with Bill or whichever one of us was there, then take her heavy bag of books out.

In the last couple of years of the shop, she’d had difficulty walking and we’d mail her books to her, which meant we saw her less and less but she’d call and say “Hello, dear,  how are you?” – and she really wanted answers.

A psychotherapist for 40 years and a lover of books for much longer, her dream was to retire one day and volunteer the Seattle Mystery Bookshop to be with all of her dear friends, human & books alike. Her husband, Tom, donated 69 boxes of Gina’s books to the Friends of the Library Foundation in her honor. She often told Tom, “You never give away your friends.” Gina was a woman of great spirit, determination, humor, and love.

Our best to her husband Tom.

Rest in Peace, dear. We miss your calls.

August 16th, Moranga King, jazz singer and actress (Mama Corleone in The Godfather)

August 19th:  John Calder, British Publisher Who Fought Censorship, Dies at 91

    What We’ve Been Doing

   Amber

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Theodora Goss – The Strange Case of The Alchemist’s Daughter

Our heroine’s story begins with a funeral. Mary’s mother finally succumbed to the madness which had threatened to overwhelm her for years. Beyond just losing her mother Mary Jekyll (yes, the daughter of that Mr. Jekyll), she also lost her income. Meaning? While Mary still has a house to live in, she has virtually no money to keep body and soul together, much less run a household.

Her prospects are slim indeed until her mother’s solicitor gives her a sheaf of papers which hint at the location of the notorious murderer, Mr. Hyde. Unsure whether the reward for his capture is still viable, Mary consults Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The one hundred pound reward would be a great stopgap measure until she worksed out a more permanent solution for her money woes.

The only problem? Her mother’s information doesn’t lead them to Mr. Hyde but to his daughter.

And that’s when Mary’s real adventure begins.

This is a fantastically fun book! Seriously. If you enjoy reading a mystery populated by all the best characters from old gothic novels (and one of the greatest literary detectives of all time), you’ll love this book!

What I loved is how Goss was able to take the titans of the gothic/horror canon and twist them slightly into something new – while keeping true to their fictional roots. Plus, it is ever so much fun reading about beloved characters through another author’s eyes and how they interpreted these classic stories. By using the daughters of well-known mad scientists, she’s able to breath new life into these stories making them into something new without significantly deviating from the original novels from whence they spring!

Now here’s the thing – you have to be able to suspend a bit of disbelief while reading this book – mainly because coincidences are a tad thick. Not unbelievable mind you, they are well explained and plausible, but just rather prevalent. But, honestly, if you can read from the POV of the daughters of Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, Dr. Frankenstein, Dr. Moreau and Dr. Rappaccini (an evil scientist from a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne), I think you can handle a slight overabundance of coincidences. Plus if I am honest, they keep the book moving at a breakneck speed which is a whole lotta fun to read!

So I guess the above is more of a heads up than a warning…

I would recommend this series to anyone who enjoyed reading Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series or classic gothic novels! I devoured The Strange Case Of The Alchemist’s Daughter in two sittings, and I look forward to rereading it again very soon.

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Rhys Bowen – Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding

The latest installment of the Royal Spyness Mysteries was released this month!

And I loved it!

In Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding, we find Georgie & Darcy making all the decisions one needs to when planning a wedding. Which only get more complicated when the King and Queen invite themselves, their kids, half of the nobility of Europe, and ask if the princesses can be her bridesmaids!

One bright note? Georgie’s godfather offered her an early wedding present – his home! Since Georgie is Sir Hubert’s only heir and he’s away so often climbing mountains, he thinks it would be wonderful if she could be the mistress of Eynsleigh! This prospect positively delights Georgie, the real estate pickings in London are slim indeed, unless you enjoy basements, attics, or a view of a brick wall. Deciding to get the estate back in ship shape before Darcy comes to join her, Georgie leaves immediately for her new digs.

The only fly in the ointment? Sir Hubert thinks things might not be running smoothly in his absence and when Georgie arrives, she agrees. Something is rotten in the Eynsleigh estate!

Once again Bowen delivers a beautiful installment in the Royal Spyness series! She’s filled it with hope under the looming cloud of the impending war, the King’s death, and his son’s abdication. This series does a great job of giving a very human side of the Great Depression and the historical context of the period – without ever  losing Georgie’s voice or the fact she’s investigating one mystery or another!

In all seriousness, I love this series and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a slightly lighter read! Or enjoys historical aspects in their mysteries!

*Just for those who may have read her in the past – there are no ghosts or supernatural elements in this mystery! So pick it up and read with wild abandon! I promise you will love it!

   Fran

Stories from work. The spelling is mine, but the all-caps are hers.

Gal came to turn herself in to go to jail. She’d been using, was being up-front about it, and it’s the weekend, so why not? We gave her a form to fill out, telling us what she used, and why.

“What did you use?” Crystal Meth, Alcohol, Heroin, and CIGARETTES.

Why did you use these? USA FREEDOM

Um…okay.

9780374265922SO LUCKY (MCDxFSG), but the story being told has little to do with murder, and much to do with mayhem, especially the mayhem created when your body fails you.Mara Tagarelli is at the top of her game, CEO of a multi-million dollar AIDS foundation, happily married, martial arts teacher. And it all comes crashing down.

In one week, her wife asks for a divorce, Mara is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and she loses her job. When things crash, they crash hard.

The story is fiction, make no mistake, but the sentiments are raw and real. Nicola Griffith captures the pain and fury – indeed, incandescent rage – that engulfs someone when their life changes and there is nothing to be done to stop what’s happening, when all you can control are symptoms. When you go from self-reliant to needing the help of strangers.

This is a fast, fast read – you’ll do it in a day if only because you cannot stop turning the pages! Nicola Griffith is always a master wordsmith; she’s put her heart into SO LUCKY, and it shows.

I asked one of my friends who also has MS to read the book, tell me whether or not it resonated for him. His response: Around the MS angle, it resonated to the point that I will hand this book to those curious about the disease as it speaks of my experiences in ways I can rarely muster.

Read it for the joy of reading Nicola Griffith’s work. The fact that you’ll be profoundly moved is an incredible bonus.

 

I was trying to decide which of two books I was going to read next when the Beatles came on the radio, talking about Lucy in the sky, and my decision was made. 9780062412843 David Handler’s THE GIRL WITH KALEIDOSCOPE EYES (Wm. Morrow) it was.

I have deliberately not read Handler’s “Stewart Hoag” mysteries because I know myself. When I love one series by an author, I generally don’t love another. I’m weird that way, and I own it. I adore Carolyn Hart’s “Death on Demand” series and while I enjoy “Henrie O”, Annie Darling has my heart. I can read Nora Roberts, but for me it’s J. D. Robb all the way. And, because I’m weird in my own special way, Laurie R. King’s “Kate Martinelli” series calls to me more than her “Mary Russell” stories.

When it comes to David Handler, I’m a “Berger and Mitry” fan to my bones. I adore that mis-matched duo with a profound devotion. Start with The Cold Blue Blood if you can find it, and go from there. But because I am who I am, I didn’t want to read the “Stewart Hoag (Hoagy)” series, because it couldn’t possibly live up to Mitch Berger and Desiree Mitry.

I hadn’t counted on Lulu.

Stewart Hoag (known as Hoagy, after the sandwich not Carmichael) is a literary genius who has written one hugely acclaimed critical masterpiece, crashed and burned, and now is reduced to ghostwriting celebrity bios, at which he excels. Unfortunately, celebrities attract trouble and Hoagy can’t just let things go. He has to know the truth, hence the series of murder mysteries.

In THE GIRL WITH KALEIDOSCOPE EYES, it’s 1992, and Hoagy and his intrepid sidekick Lulu – his mackerel munching  basset hound – are specially requested to write a tell-all for the famous Monette Aintree, brand-name celebrity. That would just be an ordinary day’s work, except Hoagy was once head over heels in love with Monette’s sister, Reggie. And their long-lost father, Richard Aintree, wrote a book that’s known to everyone, is read in every school, and who has vanished after his wife, the girls’ mother, committed suicide.

It’s been 20 years since David Handler has written a Hoagy and Lulu mystery, and now I’ve read two of them. He absolutely has the same voice in the latest as he had in the earlier one, which is a testament to his talent, since that kind of hiatus can change things beyond recognition. And I can see why people have been clamoring for more.

At first, I was a bit put off by the amount of name dropping Hoagy does, but then the gentle cynicism he represents hooked me, and now I find it charming. In both the books I’ve read, it’s Mr. Handler’s ability to create characters that sucks me in. You know me, characters are key.

Generally I advocate beginning a series from the beginning, but I haven’t seen a copy of The Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald since the shop closed, and it was rare there. I’m slowly gathering them, but it’s a delight to have a new hunt for treasure.  If you start with THE GIRL WITH KALEIDOSCOPE EYES, you’ll feel right at home.

Go, find it, enjoy!

   JB

Observation from work: cashiering at a hardware store is the first job I’ve had were people coming at you with knives, pitchforks, sledgehammers, and axes is not a bad thing. It means they want to buy them, not make you the body in a book…

Back in early 2006, I picked up a debut novel. She was a complete unknown, as debut authors are by definition. The author was from my hometown and I was curious. The premise of the book sounded interesting so, what the hell, I’d give it a shot.

That was Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. 9780525575757My review in that Friday’s newzine a dozen years ago started with “WOW”.

My opinion of her work has only increased.

With the HBO adaptation that we’ve been watching, I haven’t been able to remember the nitty-gritty of the book and how they compare. So, I decided to re-read it. This is what has stood out to me:

#1 – It’s very well cast

#2 – The show downplays how active Camille’s scars are and how her feelings at any moment cause different words she’s carved into her skin to buzz. Not sure how they could adequately do it without a narration, to be fair. Still, something is lost in the translation.

#3 – Amma is toned down in the show, not being a super-bitch as in the book.

#4 – No rollerskating in the book, but it is a great visual in the show.

#5 – As always, no adaptation from book to screen can capture that beauty of the author’s writing. Even with a narrator, it can’t be done because you can’t be startled by the words and go back to re-read and re-appreciate them.

“Crisp clean clothes to make us forget all the drips and dank smells that come from our bodies. I was in college by the time I realized I like the smell of sex. I came into my friend’s bedroom one morning after a boy darted past me, smiling sideways and tucking his socks into his back pocket. She was lazing in bed, splotchy and naked, with one bare leg dangling out from under the sheets. That sweet muddy smell was purely animal, like the deepest corner of a bear’s cave. It was almost foreign to me, this lived-in overnight odor. My most evocative childhood scent was bleach.”

That’s why I appreciate and adore Gillian Flynn’s writing. Her words are evocative and her sentences circle around with surprising bite.

Now if we could just get her back to writing novels…

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~-Until October-~

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August

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      Presents

If it hadn’t been for Seattle Mystery Bookshop, I would never have met Jonathan Santlofer (whose memoir THE WIDOWER’S NOTEBOOK just went on sale, complete with his original art illustrating it – you want it, you really, truly do!), and who just sent me a print of his original drawing of Anthony Bourdain.

Thank you, Jonathan! It’s amazing!

Santlofer's Bourdain

Jonathan's signature

Jonathan's inscription

~ Fran

        Special News from Hard Case Crime!

Friends —hard-case-crime-logo

Over the years, many of you have asked us if you could get posters or prints of Hard Case Crime covers. The answer has always been no — until now. We’ve just teamed up with the incredibly talented Paul Suntup who produces gorgeous, hand-crafted special editions of classic books and comparably gorgeous art prints of classic book covers. Together, we selected 14 of our favorite covers — by Robert McGinnis, Glen Orbik, and Gregory Manchess — and Paul has put all his enormous skill behind reproducing these covers at poster size (16.5″x24″) as giclee prints on acid-free art paper.

My jaw dropped when I saw just how beautiful these look, and I think you’ll be really pleased too. If you want to see for yourself and maybe order some to decorate your walls or for your Hard Case Crime collection, visit Paul’s website:
https://shop.suntup.press/collections/hard-case-crime. And if there are covers we haven’t done yet that you wish you could order, feel free to email me to let me know: editor@hardcasecrime.com.

But for now: please check out Paul’s beautiful prints. You won’t be sorry you did.

Best regards,
Charles
———–
Charles Ardai
Editor, Hard Case Crime

           New Book from an Old Friend!

Every now and then, one of the shop’s long-time customers let us know that they have published a book. We used to tell such folks “get it published and we’ll give you a signing”. We can no longer offer that but we can still give ’em a plug.

Henry Berman was one of those long-time customers. He’d come in and we’d talk mysteries and he and JB would talk baseball. Recently, he wandered into the hardware store where JB now works – to the delight of both, we think – and mentioned he had written a book. JB offered to mention it in the next newzine, so here’s the info. It’s not a mystery, but it sounds interesting:

Teens and Their Doctors: The Story of the Development of Adolescent Medicine, by Henry Berman, MD, and Hannah Dashefsky, BSN, RN, traces the development of the field from the first program, opened by Ros Gallagher at Boston Children’s Hospital, in 1951, to the creation of the Society for Adolescent Medicine (SAM), in 1968.

The book describes the growth of the specialty in those two decades, including how it was influenced by changes in society, and how practitioners responded to social change with approaches created to care for alienated youth, such as free clinics, mobile medical vans, and teen hotlines. The core of the book is composed of interviews with more than
eighty specialists in adolescent medicine, all of whom were trained by the pioneers of the field.

It also tackles the question asked of specialists in adolescent medicine: “What is adolescent medicine, anyway?” No simple answer is proposed, but the role these physicians play in caring for teens, and the characteristics of those who choose the field, are dramatized by scores of stories—from the humorous, to the poignant, to the heart-breaking.

Henry Berman is a board-certified pediatrician who has been practicing adolescent medicine since 1972. He is a Clinical Professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine and is on the staff of Seattle Children’s Hospital. [and he likes reading mysteries and the Seattle Mariners!]

        Author Signings

August 2nd, 7pm: Heather Redmond, Third Place/Lake Forrest Park

August 2nd, 7pm: Owen Hill (one of the authors of The Annotated Big Sleep – see JB’s write- up) University Books

August 7th, 7pm: Laurel K. Hamilton, University Books

August 15th, 7pm: Carola Dunn, Powell’s

        Words of the Month

squalid (adj): From the 1590s, from Middle French squalide and directly from Latin squalidus “rough, coated with dirt, filthy,” related to squales “filth,” squalus “filthy,” squalare “be covered with a rough, stiff layer, be coated with dirt, be filthy,” of uncertain origin. Related: Squalidly; squalidness; squalidity.

squalor (n) : from the 1620s, “state or condition of being miserable and dirty,” from Latin squalor “roughness, dirtiness, filthiness,” from squalere “be filthy”.

thanks to etymonline.com

        Links of Interest

The Daily Beast, February 27, 2016: My Lunch with ‘The Spider’ Who Nearly Wrecked the CIA

The Guardian, June 29th: Robert Harris: I’m Not Sure You Can be the World’s Superpower and Remain a Superpower

The Daily Beast, June 30th: The Kenyan Beach Town Malindi Is a Tropical Paradise—With a Mafia Problem

The Guardian, July 2nd: Alternative Nobel literature prize planned in Sweden

Seattle Times, July 2nd: Lit Life: Three true-crime stories that are stranger than fiction

Seattle Times, July 2nd: Adam Woog – Two new crime-fiction novels draw from real events

The Guardian, July 4th: Top Ten Books About Gangsters

AtlasObsucra, July 6th: Send Us the Greatest Note You’ve Found Written in an Old Book

The Guardian, July 6th: Gillian Flynn: Books That Made Me (“Agatha Christie blew my mind. Every character was evil”)

BBC, July 9th: How ‘Vertigo’ foreshadowed catfishing, AI and #METOO

Slate, July 9th: Raymond Chandler in the Age of #METOO by Megan Abbott

BBC, July 10th: The Ancient Library Where the Books are Under Lock and Key

BBC, July 10th: Original 1926 Winnie-the-Pooh map sells for record £430,000

BBC, July 11th: Joaquin Phoenix becomes the latest Joker

The Guardian, July 12th: Die Hard at 30: how it remains the quintessential American action movie

Live Science, July 13th: Possible Oldest Fragment of Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ Discovered in Greece

Seattle Times, July 15th: A Book Lover’s Lasting Legacy: 5,000 Books Given to Yakima Valley Libraries

NWNewsNetwork, July 16th: We Might Have Been Looking For D.B. Cooper In Wrong Place For All These Years

King 5 News, July 18th: Seattle is home to the Northwest’s first “death museum”

New York Times, July 19th,  : Karin Slaughter: By the Book

LA Times, July 19th: Lawrence Osborne does Raymond Chandler quite well, thank you

Bustle, July 21st: Reading True Crime Makes Me Feel Less Anxious — And I Think I Know Why

KNKX, July 21st: Pinball In Seattle Had Corrupt And Violent Beginnings

Seattle Times, Sunday, July 22nd:

Adam Woog – Three New Crime Fiction Novels by Northwest Authors

Lit Life: Climb Above the Chaos of the Pike Place Market into a Book-Lined Oasis of Calm

  Megan Abbott Talks TV Projects, Raymond Chandler, and Women-Centered Crime Fiction

Washington Post, July 24th: A modern twist on a classic Agatha Christie novel

The Independent, July 24th: The Book List: The titles in ex-Talking Head David Byrne’s private library[this is a weekly column and past lists can be seen here.]

Bustle, July 25th: In The Era Of #MeToo, I’ve Realized Just How Rebellious ‘Gone Girl’ Really Was

BBC, July 26th: Sean Connery Co-Wrote a Bond Film That was Never Made

Bustle, July 27th: Thrillers Have Always Been A Feminist Battleground — We’re Just Finally Noticing It Again

The Daily Beast, July 27th: Inside the Fiery Massacre at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesen Estate

The Guardian, July 27th: ‘Dire statistics’ show YA fiction is becoming less diverse, warns report

BBC, July 29th: Tsundoku – the Art of Buying Books and Never Reading Them

Bustle, July 30: Books From Thomas Jefferson’s Personal Library Were Discovered In A Dumpster — But The Man Who Found Them Didn’t Realize It Until It Was Too Late

The Guardian, July 30th: Accidents at Amazon: Workers Left to Suffer After Warehouse Injuries

The Guardian, July 31st: ‘Spectacular’ ancient public library discovered in Germany

        R.I.P.

The Guardian, July 7th: Spider-Man Co-Creator Steve Ditko Dies Aged 90 (JB is heartbroken…)

Vulture, July 13th: Stan Lee Remembers Steve Ditko: ‘His Talent Was Indescribable’

 

        What We’ve Been Up to

    Amber

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So my least favorite time of year is upon us – sticky, sweaty heat filled long July & August days. Other than giving me something to look forward to (i.e., September and October) I struggle this time of year…However the one positive thing which comes out of me turning into an immovable lump of Amber on hot days is I read to distract myself!

My current fixation is Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series, yes I know I’ve written about them before, but I think they are wonderful so I’m reviewing them again! I absolutely adore these witty, smart mysteries and right now I can’t get enough of them! And I believe anyone who likes an excellent light classic mystery should check these books out – post haste!

The series is set in and around Egypt (a place hotter than where I currently reside). Each features some kind of archeological (occasionally straying into anthropological) endeavor. But Peters’ doesn’t limit herself to just Egyptian history, she also adds in the build-up of WWI and WWII and how these events impact Peabody, her family and their activities in Egypt. With so many layers of history in these books, you might assume that they would be dry and dull affairs…

Let me dissuade you of this very erroneous notion!

While Peters does a fine job with the history, she never lost sight of the fact she was penning mysteries. They are hilarious, adventurous and clever in their construction. While not necessarily always playing fair with the reader her solutions never come out of left field and still make sense. She adds and subtracts characters from her narratives at will, so they never become stale – even main characters who we grow to love aren’t always safe. Which makes (me at least) need to read each book carefully – but rapidly – to make sure my favorites are still breathing at the end!

One other thing I appreciate about these books, which other double-digit-length-series should emulate, Peters never repeats the same introduction to her characters from book to book. She found inventive ways to introduce new readers to her well-established cast without her longtime readers skipping the whole first chapter because she cut-and-pasted the same intro from one book to the next.

You can pick up the series anywhere and start reading – Peters herself skips around in time when she wrote them – but I would recommend you read The Crocodile In The Sandbank first. It will give you the essentials, after that you can read the rest of the books at will.

In that way, Peters reminds me of Agatha Christie’s Poirot (though don’t read them thinking Peabody is like Poirot, you will be sorely disappointed) after you read the first, you can skip around. Neither author is particularly bloody, but I would not place them in the cozy range – there’s too much meat in their mysteries for that categorization. In my mind, both writers created classic detectives and puzzles for them to solve.

Now to segue into another historical adjacent mystery…

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Meaning? The history isn’t particularly accurate – being steampunk in nature with a side of vampires, werelioness, and a ghost inhabiting a dirigible. While perhaps not the most accurate in its’ historical essentials the characters possess such wit coupled with impeccable manners you can skate right over any other irregularities.

What I am trying to say is that Gail Carriger finally came out with the third book, Competence, in her Custard Protocol series!!

The Spotted Custard (the aforementioned dirigible) and her crew are back and on a brand new adventure! This time they find themselves in South America on a mission to save the last remaining Peruvian vampires. On said mission of mercy, they will navigate unknown currents, pirates and the local’s mistaken notion that several of the Custard’s crew are Nuns working for the Spanish Inquisition!

While Competence never loses sight of the fact that it’s an adventure story, the most interesting storylines occur amongst the ship’s crew. Trying to ethically reform Rue’s soulless cousin (so he doesn’t murder everyone on the ship). Percy Tunstell’s shocking discovery that he’s actually having a rather good time floating around the globe. And finally, Primrose Tunstell must figure out where her heart lies – with her fiancee back in England or with the werelioness courting her.

I could not put this book down! I loved reading about the Spotted Custard’s adventures (mainly) from Primrose and Percy’s point of view! It was refreshing! Their roles on the dirigible, personalities, and sensibilities are very different from Rue’s. This extra attention allowed for a higher amount of character development for the twins than occurred than in the first two installments.

Plus from start to finish this book was all go! There literally was never a dull moment! I had a tough time putting it down! I just had to know what happened next. I cannot wait for the last book of the series, Reticence to come out next year, to see where this self-proclaimed band of misfits winds up!

    Fran

9781633884397I’ve always maintained that Kat Richardson is one of the most intelligent writers I know, and that statement still holds true. Writing as K. R. Richardson, her new novel, Blood Orbit (Pyr tpo, $18.00) is thought-provoking, dynamic, complex, and a hell of a lot of fun.

Unfolding her world deliciously slowly, Kat introduces us to a world that is basically run by the Gattis Corporation, and where rookie cop Eric Matheson and his training officer, Santos, run into a nightclub, a jasso, with seventeen murder victims inside. Almost immediately, Matheson is assigned to assist Chief Investigating Forensic Officer J. P. Dillal, and they’re given a very tight timeline to figure out what happened. Otherwise, in this Company town, the Gattis Corporation will come up with a solution that will suit its own ends, regardless of the truth.

And if that isn’t enough pressure, CIFO Dillal has been cybernetically altered, but the modifications are new, untested, and in fact, not completely healed. And he’s disturbing to look at, which makes him unsuited for undercover work.

The world created by K. R. Richardson is so layered, so complete, and so alien that it will take several books, I suspect, to really get a grasp on it, but it is well worth the effort – and I promise you, it’s an easy effort! Her writing is so smooth, so well narrated that you’ll find yourself learning about the various people, the races, the government, the corporation, all of it without really trying. It just seeps into your brain until you can see the world.

And her people! Oh man, I love her people! For one of the races she’s developed a patois that I desperately want to hear spoken! I suspect it’s beautiful, and strange, and I find myself using some of the language, which gets me the odd head tilt. I’m good with that.

Make no mistake, Blood Orbit is a police procedural, and it’s noir. Very bad things happen to those we care about, and events unfold in complicated and dark ways, but the truth is out there, if Matheson and Dillal (and you with them) are willing to do what it takes to find it.

I absolutely have to re-read this book because I know I missed a lot of nuance in my rush to find out what happened, and I’m already vibrating in anticipation of a sequel.

Keep writing, Kat! We need more of this!

    JB

I’ve been reading James Lee Burke since I joined the staff of SMB in 1990. I was struck by Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell on an almost visceral level. There’s something about those two that resonated with me, both through Dave’s narration and Burke’s words, and the actions of the “Bobbsey Twins from Homicide”. I’ve had my criticisms of the series: how many goombas did Dave go to school with in this smaller Louisiana town, and weren’t these best friends getting a bit too old to be pulling the shit they were doing if they were in ‘Nam in the early years? I’ve been willing to ignore those quibbles because I loved these guys so much. But it started to feel as if it was time to retire the series, really, and I thought that the end of Light of the World would’ve been the great way to do it:

“I placed my arm around his waist, and together we limped up the slope, a couple of vintage low-riders left over from another era in the season the Indians called the moon of popping cherries, in the magical land that charmed and beguiled the sense and made one wonder if divinity did not indeed hide just on the other side of the tangible world.”

9781501176845But then came Robicheaux last January and of course I’m going to read it. There’s no way to NOT read a book about Dave and Clete. But I have to say this is an odd book. It is jumbled with Dave doing and saying things that Clete would normally say, and vice versa. Dave’s fictional daughter Alafair has become even more a depiction of Burke’s real daughter, the wonderful writer Alafair Burke. A noted, local, fictional novelist in this book is said to have thought his best book is one that got little notice, White Doves at Morning – which is a wonderful Civil War novel that James Lee Burke published in 2002. There’s continual reference to a series of murders and there’s a bit about them in the Author’s Notes at the front of the book, but there’s nothing in this book that really addresses those crimes and those references just seem misleading. Dave feels lost and makes comments to Clete about their ages. And though I enjoyed the sheer pleasure of Burke’s writing I finished the book not really understanding who did what and why they did it.

Oh well. At least I got over 400 pages of Dave and Clete, Alafair and Helen, and that alone is well worth the time.

Killing King by Stuart Wexler and Larry Hancock continues the recent books and research on the assassination of Dr. King by filling in our knowledge of how organized and active what most of us have thought of as the KKK in the 1960s and showing the national efforts and range of these “humans”. The Klan was just one element of this crowd and, indeed, many of actors in this story were not members of the clan. They didn’t need it, they thought it too soft. Imagine that. The Klan just targeted blacks. These guys wanted the Jews targeted as much, if not more. They’re truly creepy.

The subtitle tells a great deal; “Racial Terrorists, James Earl Ray, and the Plot to 9781619029194Assassinate Martin Luther King Jr.” Do they say who fired the shot? I’m not sure. It’s a fascinating book but not for what it says about that horrifying day in Memphis but for what it says about the Southern white racists.

In light of Charlottesville, the recent press given to neo-Nazis, and the “alt-right”, this book shows once again how active these “people” have been all along and we who are humans and people have been fooled into thinking they’d gone away. But they’ve never gone away. They’ve been an ugly part of the American quilt all long. I don’t think I was naive about this but Killing King powerfully details their plots and plans, and makes it show in a different light.

One of the central ogres in the story is Wesley Swift, a preacher of hate and racial genocide whose rants had wide-ranging effects mainly due to tapes of his “church”. He and his followers were hoping to nudge the country into racial violence and, eventually they hoped, into a race war that would cleanse the continent. If you thought Charlie Manson was far out with Helter Skelter, the Caucasian monsters in this book were well ahead of Charlie.

What kept coming to me as I read this history was the racial terrorism that has continued since: Richard Butler and the Aryan Nations in Idaho; Robert Matthews, the guy who robbed the bank at Northgate and who split off to form The Order; what prison story or movie doesn’t mention the Aryan Brotherhood? Christian Identity, domestic terrorists – it all stinks of narrow-mindedness and a blood-thirsty belief that “we’re right, they’re wrong so they can die”… Where does it end?

Guess it doesn’t.

Lastly, I have to say something about Megan Abbott and Raymond Chandler and all of teeth-gnashing over are his books acceptable in the days of #METOO.

The new Annotated Big Sleep is a great deal of fun – mostly. 9780804168885It provides no end of local color to Chandler and LA at the time the book was written and published and does a great job explaining and showing how he cannibalized his short stories to be elements of his novels – in the case of The Big Sleep they do it nearly line by line. There are lingo explanations and word derivations. There are photos and illustrations – the original book on the left and the annotations on the right. As Otto Penzler is quoted on the back of the trade paper original, “What a great excuse to read this masterpiece again! The annotations are addictively fascinating, educational, and almost as compulsively readable as the novel.”

One complaint I have about the annotating authors is that they are far too PC. They’re putting today’s views onto an author who wrote this book 80 years ago!

Deciding who to read or not read now based on what and how they wrote 50 or 500 years ago is inane. Yes, in the hardboiled fiction of the early 1900s, women were demeaned and slapped around and viewed as dames and femme fatales. Some were portrayed as weak and some as praying mantises. Deciding to stop reading the authors now because they don’t measure up to our current political correctness or #METOOishness is as pointless as the arguments a few years ago to stop reading Mark Twain because he wrote the “n-word”. Guess that would ban Blazing Saddles, too… There’s a movie that couldn’t be made today and more’s the pity.

In no small way this is censorship.

Certainly we can take the authors’ time and atmosphere into account when we read their words but mature adults do that anyway, don’t we? We don’t think Shakespeare was anti-women because he manipulated Othello into murdering his wife, nor do we think it because Lady Macbeth was such a blood-thirsty femme fatale. Should “Hamlet” never again be taught or staged because he made Ophelia a “frail” who was so weak a woman that she drowned herself? 

The point is to not overlay our present views on the artists of the past because it isn’t fair to them or useful to us. “Present views” are continually changing like the width of ties or the height of hemlines. The shop once had a customer who actually professed that they’d never read a book in which the characters smoked. Imagine that! Let your mind wander and consider all that such a rule would eliminate from your culture. Isn’t there smoking in Some Like it Hot, West Side Story? There’s probably some in Mary Poppins! Egad!

Read Raymond Chandler for the beauty of his words, for the way he constructs a sentence, for the sparkle of his art because that’s what it is. Who really gives a damn who killed Owen Taylor? I never have and it’s never stopped me from loving the book. Let the things that make you cringe slide off to the side, don’t let them bother you, and slip into his pages.

“What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that.”

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July’s Newzine

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2018 Nero Finalists Have Been Announced!

The “Nero” is an annual award presented to an author for literary excellence in the mystery genre. The award is presented at the Black Orchid Banquet, which is traditionally held on the first Saturday in December in New York City; this year the banquet will be on Saturday, December 1, 2018.

This year, the finalists are:

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

This year’s nominees join a procession of fine writers including Lee Child,
Walter Mosley, and Linda Fairstein, all of whom have been honored with the
prestigious “Nero.”

Congratulations to all!

Stephannie, Nero Award Chair (NeroAwardChair@nerowolfe.org)
Jane K. Cleland, Black Orchid Novella Award Chair (BlackOrchidAward@nerowolfe.org)

     Signings

Linda Castillo, Third Place Books, July 19th, 7pm

Carola Dunn, Third Place Books, July 20th, 6pm

Kevin O’Brien, Elliot Bay Books, July 31st, 7pm

Megan Abbott, Third Place Books, July 30th, 7pm

Megan Abbott, Powell’s, July 31st, 7pm

     Word of the Month

fredo: cold and passionless, a direction in music, (thanks to Says You, #1014) or, political commentary…

     Links of Interest

Here is a two-part story about a murder and the man imprisoned for the crime. It is very much in the vein of the series that have been on podcast or cable: “Blood Will Tell”, Part 1, Part 2

Daily Beast, June 1st: MH379 Didn’t Just Disappear, It was Caught in a Swamp of Corruption

Seattle Times, June 2nd: The Soviets Secretly Mapped Seattle

The Guardian, June 2nd: A Story of Survival: New York’s Last Remaining Independent Bookshops

WRAL, June 2nd: Listen Carefully, Book Lovers: Top Authors Are Skipping Print (yes, they’re going instead to audio – and to whom? Audible… aka SPECTRE! Seems they’re not yet done raiding the crippled world of publishing.)

Daily Beast, June 2nd: How Cuba Helped Make Venezuela a Mafia State

The Independent, June 3rd: James Bond producers want Helena Bonham Carter to play a villain

Newser, June 4th: What May Be ‘Most Famous Map in English Lit’ Up for Grabs – 1926 EH Shepard sketch of Hundred Acre Wood appears in AA Milne’s ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’

The Guardian, June 5th: Editorial: The Guardian view on Amazon: not a normal monopoly 

The Guardian, June 6th: A queer, diverse Nancy Drew: is this how to keep children’s classics alive?

The Oregonian, June 6th: Portland(ia) Feminist Bookstore, In Other Words, is Closing 

BBC June 10th: Serial poopers: What makes people poo in public places?

The Guardian, June 12th: Tim Miller Can Find Almost  Anyone. Can He Find His Daughter’s Killer?

BBC, June 12th: Demolished Londonderry house still receives post

BBC, June 12th: A plan to use pupils to run school libraries

The Washington Post, June 13th: Years ago I wandered into a used book store and a man named X handed me this gem [ JB agrees – these books are jewels!]

BBC, June 13th: Daredevil raccoon’s Minnesota skyscraper climb

The Guardian, June 13th: “Conan Doyle for the Defence” by Margalit Fox review – a case worthy of Sherlock Holmes

The Guardian, June 13th: Morality clauses: are publishers right to police writers?

The Guardian, June 19th: Oxford English Dictionary extends hunt for regional words around the world

BBC, June 21st: Why Hitchcock’s “Kaleidoscope” Was Too Shocking to be Made

Vox, June 22nd: Water rights, freeways, and Hollywood gossip: the secret history of LA, in 3 detective movies 

Atlas Obscura, June 22nd: Why Medieval Monasteries Branded Their Books

The Guardian, June 23rd: How alleged Toronto serial killer Bruce McArthur went unnoticed

The Guardian, June 23rd: How Well Do You Know Your Fictional Bookshops?

The Washington Post, June 25th: Supreme Court won’t hear the case of Brendan Dassey, sentenced to life as a teen and featured in ‘Making a Murderer’

BBC, June 26th: My best friend’s killer got away – until I made police try again

The Guardian, June 27th: Publishers are paying writers a pittance, say bestselling authors

The Atlantic, June 27th: What Is “The Staircase” Trying to Do?

The Guardian, June 30th: All the Pieces Matter review – the inside story of “The Wire”

Vox, June 30th: You can rent a room above this bookstore by the sea and run the shop

          RIP

BBC, June 6th: Jerry Maren: Last Wizard of Oz Munchkin dies aged 98

BBC, June 8th: Anthony Bourdain

BBC, June 9th: The first Bond girl, Eunice Grayson, dies at 90

LA Times, June 28th: Celebrity admirers bid farewell to Harlan Ellison, a ‘great author and cautionary tale’

Miami Herald, June 29th: Rob Hiaasen, journalist killed in Maryland newsroom shooting, had deep South Florida ties  (our best to his brother Carl)

                    What We’ve Been Doing

     Amber

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Georgette Heyer – The Unfinished Clue

Put one – gold-digger & jealous husband, amused spinster, nervy wife & her would-be-lover, a tyrant, a self-absorbed dancer & a sap, a snake charmer, old friend, a vicar & a gossip under the same roof for an entire weekend and you’re bound to have a murder!

No one was particularly sad to see Sir Arthur Billington-Smith go toes up at the end of the weekend; the only real complaint they had was his lousy timing! They were all still residents when he got himself murdered.

Even worse?

None of the partiers (aka suspects) can leave until the culprit is caught!

I enjoyed this mystery. You have a house stuffed to the gills with great suspects, a bevy of motives and a couple of red herrings! There are only three characters in the entire book I liked, Finch (the butler), Dinah (the victim’s sister-in-law) and Inspector Harding (from Scotland Yard). The rest of the cast of characters are so abominable in their own unique way I could hardly wait to see what they would do next!

Then there’s Georgette Heyer’s use of language – words like “highfalutin” and “nincompoop” are used conversationally. Her vocabulary taken with her singular turn of phrase make this book a joy to read!

Shakespeare’s Hamlet tells us that “Brevity is the soul of wit,” in Heyer’s case, this is true. The Unfinished Clue is by far the shortest mystery I’ve read by her – and it works. At no point did I feel like this book dragged on – between the arguments, accusations, hysterics, and murder – this book never stops chugging along.

If you can overlook one or two outmoded ways of thinking which make this book feel a bit dated ( a touch of misogyny and the horror of a “nice you man” falling into the clutches of a dancer) – this is a fantastic mystery. One I would recommend to most mystery readers who relish a delightful English country house mystery.

     Fran

I’ve added my reviews separately (because of course I did) so let’s see if I can come up with an anecdote from work.

We have folks who go FTR – Failure To Report – rather a lot, as you’d suspect. If you’re a mystery writer, let me clue you in on something. Vengeful ex-girlfriends (generally our culprits are guys, so I’m not stereotyping much here) are a real thing.

We get calls all the time from ladies scorned who know more about how (and when) to find their ex-guys than any PI ever written. They put bill collectors and student loan repayers to shame. I can’t tell you how many calls we’ve gotten from women saying, “You wanna know where to find the sonofabitch? Let me tell you, he’ll be walking into 1234 Main Street, Apt. 56, at 1:34 a.m. with that SKANK, and by 1:45 they’ll be asleep because he sucks in bed!”

You want top-of-the-line surveillance? Get an ex on the job!

You know how you say that once you retire, you’ll read all those books you’ve been buying but never got around to? Or hope to contract some disease that can only be cured by reading books so you can finally attack the piles towering around you?

Well, since I’m not getting fabulous new ARCs every day any more (small sob), I decided to do just that – read something I’ve been meaning to read. Something I was told years ago to read, by Janine and Adele and Tammy in this case.

I picked up Tim Maleeny’s STEALING THE DRAGON (Midnight Ink). And of course I love it. THEY TOLD ME I WOULD! And they were right, and I should have years ago, but I’ve come to my senses now.

Trust me, if these three tell you to read something, don’t put it off. Otherwise you’ll miss out on characters like Cape Weathers, Tim’s protagonist who’s been a lot of things in his disreputable past but is now a private investigator in San Francisco.

You’d think that idea would have been worked to death, that there couldn’t be anything new or different about a PI in Frisco, and, like me, you’d be wrong. Tim Maleeny is smart, funny, wickedly sharp, twisty and wonderful.

In STEALING THE DRAGON, you meet Cape who is an old friend to you by page three. And the premise here is that a cargo ship filled with illegal Chinese immigrants crashes into Alcatraz, which has nothing to do with Cape until it’s brought to his attention that just about the only person who could have done what happened on that ship is his best friend and protector, Sally.

As the story progresses, we see things unfolding in Cape’s investigation, but we also see how Sally became to be who she is, and she’s amazing and magnificent.

So take the advice of those wiser than I am and do yourself a favor. Go to your local indie bookshop (because duh!) and order STEALING THE DRAGON, BEATING THE BABUSHKA, and GREASING THE PINATA, and enjoy yourself. Do not make the mistake I did of reading the first one without the other two close at hand.

Seriously – learn from my mistakes here and enjoy yourself immensely in the process!

     JB

I’ve been a fan of Chandler and Marlowe for decades – no secret there. So I was thrilled to read in the Seattle Times about a new Philip Marlowe novel coming out in July. I was able to secure an advanced reader copy, Lawrence Osborne’s Only to Sleep, from the publisher. It’s an odd book, but then most of Chandler’s novels were, too, when you think about it. Sometimes they don’t make sense, you don’t always know who did what, and behind the wondrous prose is gauzy world of Marlowe and the rich and poor of Chandler’s imagination, not necessarily of the real LA.

In Osborne’s novel, a 72 year-old Marlowe has retired and is living simply on Mexican coast. He uses a cane due to a broken foot from a decade ago but still seems to get around. The cane has a sword in it and that’s his only weapon. No shoulder holster under his coat, no Luger in a hidden compartment in the car. He seems to be a puzzled old man trying to figure out what his did with his life and what it was all about. Then he gets a chance have one more case.

Like most of his cases, its pretty banal. An insurance company wants him to check to see if someone who is supposed to be dead really is before they pay out the policy. And why not? “There was, I thought, something calling to me from out in the dark. It came out int he tempest, even from the lights of the fishing boats a mile out to sea. You can be called to a last effort, a final heroic statement, because I doubt you can call yourself to leave comforts and certainties for an open road. But the call is inside your own head. It’s a sad summons from the depths of your own wasted past. You could call it the imperative to go out with full-tilt trumpets and gunshots instead of the quietly desperate sound of a hospital ventilator.” Right there, on page 10, you can feel that Osborne has captured the mind-set of Marlowe, a sense of nobility swirled with fatalistic boredom.

On the way, Marlowe will meet a raft of people as well as the dame in the center of the case. Is she a grieving widow or a femme fatale? It’s 1988. Surely they’ve not gone extinct? “So I skipped that question and just enjoyed her presence. She was the only thread I was handling as I groped my way through the dark on my small and wind-swept odyssey. A thread as soft as silk, shiny and mysterious, or, if you want to put it another way, a dance partner that is different with every step. Count me as one of those who knows that life is unbearable not because it’s a tragedy but because it’s a romance.”

That’s Chandleresque.

This is the second new Marlowe novel the estate has commissioned, not counting the Robert B. Parker works. The first was Benjamin Black’s The Black-Eyed Blonde. I hope and expect them to continue. I would just ask that they speed up the publications.

From Third Place/Ravenna, I have on order the newly released The Annotated Big Sleep, which Adam Woog profiled in his recent Seattle Times column.

Then there’s the used hardcover of Frank Nitti: The True Story of Chicago’s Notorious “Enforcer” by Ronald D. Humble. I thought I’d known a lot about Nitti but from this book I have a far greater understanding of his power and reach. It’s a book with a great deal of information but is unfortunately presented with haphazard organization and wooden writing. Wish he’d had a better editor…

Lastly, if you’re into podcasts, there are three I’d recommend:

~ One has been out awhile – Shit*town is a wild and strange trip into the head and heart of a brilliant man who loathes his small hometown. The story begins with an accusation of murder and then spins off into weirdness.

~ Slate has just released a series of episodes on Watergate called Slow Burn. It’s well done, interesting and very, very timely. Again, thought I knew a lot about that era but I’m learning more with each episode.

~ The last and newest is The RFK Tapes, which re-examines the Robert Kennedy assassination. There are three episodes out so far. Not sure how many there will be. Again, well done, interesting and very very timely.

 

That’s It Until August.

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