November 2021

My Poor Ass’: Michelangelo Wrote a Poem About How Much He Hated Painting the Sistine Chapel

Have Sumatran fishing crews found the fabled Island of Gold?

A Kansas City fashion icon was kidnapped for ransom. How the mafia helped save her

Catch These 5 Incredible Finds—From Ian Fleming’s Annotated James Bond Draft, and Chandler’s inscribed hardcover to Fleming, to a Rare Tolkien Trove—at Firsts, London’s Rare Book Fair

A super-rare first folio fragment of Shakespeare’s Henry IV is up for auction.

How to Flirt Effectively, According to Michael Mann Movies

Ten books from The Simpsons Library I would like to read.

How One Unexpected Phone Call Led to the Rescue of the Last Diving Horse in America

A Scientific Explanation for Your Urge to Sniff Old Books

We Added New Words to the Dictionary for October 2021

Boy, if there’s a Word of the Month that fits us it is this:

gallimaufry (n.)“a medley, hash, hodge-podge,” 1550s, from French galimafrée “hash, ragout, dish made of odds and ends,” from Old French galimafree, calimafree “sauce made of mustard, ginger, and vinegar; a stew of carp” (14th C.), which is of unknown origin. Perhaps from Old French galer “to make merry, live well” (see gallant) + Old North French mafrer “to eat much,” from Middle Dutch maffelen [Klein]. Weekley sees in the second element the proper name Maufré. Hence, figuratively, “any inconsistent or absurd medley.” (etymonline)

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

‘The beginning of the snowball:’ Supply-chain snarls delay books (with local views)

Supply chain issues are slowing the production of books ahead of the holidays (the reporter also talks about how the sale of e-books has fallen)

Serious Stuff

Pandora papers: biggest ever leak of offshore data exposes financial secrets of rich and powerful

Global hunt for looted treasures leads to offshore trusts

The United States of Dirty Money

State of Emergency Declared Over Crime Spike and Cocaine Boom in Ecuador

The Long American History of “Missing White Woman Syndrome”

What happens to crime where recreational marijuana is legal? Here’s what we know

Opinion | Journalists bungled coverage of the Attica uprising. 50 years later, the consequences remain

Drawing a line from Cold War brainwashing to the misinformation age

We Finally Know How 43 Students on a Bus Vanished Into Thin Air

50 Years Later, Looking Back at the Real-Life Crime Network That Inspired The French Connection

How The French Connection Reinvented (and Exploded) the Police Procedural

In secret tapes, palm oil execs disclose corruption, brutality

A Black family got their beach back — and inspired others to fight against land theft

A Black 10-Year-Old Drew an ‘Offensive Sketch.’ She Was Handcuffed by Cops.

A Drug Cartel Sent a Severed Head to Tijuana’s New Police Chief on His First Day

When the Family Legacy Is Murder

Secret recording reveals Texas teachers told to counter Holocaust books with ‘opposing’ views

This lady is trying to ban Toni Morrison’s books from schools for being “pornographic.”

Kenosha police accused of ‘deputizing’ militia vigilantes during Jacob Blake protests

White House Once Again Delays Release of JFK Assassination Documents

Was He Framed for Killing Black Kids to Get the Klan off the Hook?

There is a consistency to the debate over book censorship: Distress about change

A Union Scandal Landed Hundreds of NYPD Officers on a Secret Watchlist. That Hasn’t Stopped Some From Jeopardizing Cases

The Secret History of Latin America’s Female Cartel Bosses

Local Stuff

1927 Murderer’s Row program turns up in East Vancouver, BC

20 years after unsolved killing of federal prosecutor Thomas Wales in Seattle, details emerge about the FBI’s theory

Reward for info in murder of Seattle prosecutor climbs to $2.5 million decades after death

The Case of Perry Mason’s Courtroom Cousin

Seattle police arrest Pike Place Market store owner suspected of trafficking stolen Lego sets

Amanda Knox was exonerated. That doesn’t mean she’s free

Fremont’s Outsider Comics is the inclusive home base for a new generation of Seattle nerds

Ursula K. Le Guin always wanted Powell’s Books to be a proud union shop.

An ode to the glorious ’70s cover art of the books of Ursula K. Le Guin.

Cops Solve Mystery of Alaska Serial Killer Victim Known as ‘Horseshoe Harriet’

Words of the Month

absurd (n): “plainly illogical,” 1550s, from French absurde (16th C.), from Latin absurdus “out of tune, discordant;” figuratively “incongruous, foolish, silly, senseless,” from ab– “off, away from,” here perhaps an intensive prefix, + surdus “dull, deaf, mute,” which is possibly from an imitative PIE root meaning “to buzz, whisper” (see susurration). Thus the basic sense is perhaps “out of tune,” but de Vaan writes, “Since ‘deaf’ often has two semantic sides, viz. ‘who cannot hear’ and ‘who is not heard,’ ab-surdus can be explained as ‘which is unheard of’ …” The modern English sense is the Latin figurative one, perhaps “out of harmony with reason or propriety.” Related: Absurdly; absurdness. (etymonline)

Odd Stuff

On the mysterious obscenity scribbled on John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath manuscript

The Socialite Gangster Who Charmed the New York Literati

From Pen Stroke to Key Stroke: On Slander in Suspense ~ Poisoned pen letters were a staple of Golden Age crime fiction. Now, writers are using new technologies continue the tradition.

Lord of the Rings orc was modeled after Harvey Weinstein, Elijah Wood reveals

Dodgers Fan Thought to Be Most-Wanted Fugitive Just a Dodgers Fan, U.S. Marshals Determine

5 historic codes yet to be cracked

Eighty years after his death, weapons experts now say expressionist painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s suicide may have been murder

Who was Agent 355? The Mystery of America’s First Female Spy

Australian Court to Deliberate the World’s Most Expensive Apostrophe

The Reason Some Are Convinced Paul McCartney Is A Clone

Dormice favoured by Italian mafia seized in drugs raid

He’s a poet and the FBI know it: how John Giorno’s Dial-a-Poem alarmed the Feds

The Bizarre History of the Many, Many Bond Imitators of 60s and 70s Pop Culture

A recent auction of the Al Capone’s mementos testifies to his enduring appeal—and the thorny nature of collecting items owned by criminals

Missouri Man Won’t Sell Back Murder Victim’s Wedding Ring

Egypt detains artist robot Ai-Da before historic pyramid show; Sculpture and its futuristic creator held for 10 days, possibly in fear she is part of spying plot

This Former Crime Scene Cleaner Is Now a Go-To COVID Slayer

Dressed to kill: Why gangster and fashion films have a lot in common

10 Years of Rituals – Inside an exorcist’s diary

When a cobra became a murder weapon in India

Words of the Month

paradox (n): From t he 1530s, “a statement contrary to common belief or expectation,” from French paradoxe (14th C.) and directly from Latin paradoxum “paradox, statement seemingly absurd yet really true,” from Greek paradoxon “incredible statement or opinion,” noun use of neuter of adjective paradoxos “contrary to expectation, incredible,” from para- “contrary to” (see para- (1)) + doxa “opinion,” from dokein “to appear, seem, think” (from PIE root *dek- “to take, accept”).

Originally with notions of “absurd, fantastic.” Meaning “statement that is seemingly self-contradictory yet not illogical or obviously untrue” is from 1560s. Specifically in logic, “a statement or proposition from an acceptable premise and following sound reasoning that yet leads to an illogical conclusion,” by 1903. (etymonline)

Awards

Here are the 2021 National Book Award Finalists

Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah has won the Nobel Prize in Literature

Baillie Gifford prize reveals ‘outstanding storytelling’ on 2021 shortlist

A woman won a million-euro Spanish literary prize. It turned out that ‘she’ was actually three men

Here’s the shortlist for the 2021 T.S. Eliot Prize

A new literary prize in honor of Ursula K. Le Guin will recognize “realists of a larger reality.”

Here are the finalists for the 2021 Cundill History Prize

Here are the 2021 Kirkus Prize winners

Book Stuff

Publishing Is a Nightmare: 31 Horror Films about Writing, Reading, and the Book Business

How to Deal with Rejection (and Get Revenge) Like Edgar Allan Poe

Handwritten manuscript of The Grapes of Wrath to be published for the first time

The Books Briefing: The Essential Qualities of a Book

Lee Child on the Invention of Fiction

Stephen Fry on the enduring appeal of Georgette Heyer

Hanif Abdurraqib on What It Was Like to Work at a Chain Bookstore

9 very niche bookstores for your very specific interests

Steph Cha on Choosing the Best of Mystery and Suspense Stories During an Unprecedented and Harrowing Year

State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny review – politics and patriotism

Fictional Detectives, Real Hobbies: Appreciating the Leisure Activities of Fiction’s Greatest Sleuths

John Grisham on Judges, Innocence and the Judgments He Ignores

Murder in the Stacks: Mysteries That Take Place In Bookstores

The Unheralded Women Scribes Who Brought Medieval Manuscripts to Life

On the Various, Multipurposed Manuscripts of Canterbury Tales

Interview: ‘My life in the mafia’s shadow’: Italy’s most hunted author, Roberto Saviano

Solange Launches Free Library of Rare, Out-of-print Books by Black Authors

Amelia Earhart’s long-hidden poems reveal an enigma’s inner thoughts

The Detection Club and the Mid-Century Fight over “Fair Play” in Crime Fiction

Inside the Real-Life Succession Battle at Scholastic

How Being a Firefighter Prepares You to Write Crime Fiction (nope, the author’s last name isn’t Emerson)

Why is Baseball the Most Literary of Sports?

A Murder Mystery That Refuses to be Solved

How to Have Sex in Crime Fiction

Not Everything We Watch Has to Be “Meaningful.” This Series Proves It

Redemption for Doctor Watson

Other Forms of Entertainment

True Crime Fans Are Obsessed With This Forensic Psychology YouTube Channel

‘The Many Saints of Newark’ Led Michael Imperioli to Depressing Realization About His ‘Sopranos’ Character

Netflix Orders Edgar Allen Poe Classic From ‘Midnight Mass’ Team

Sue Grafton’s alphabet series will be adapted for TV—despite her family’s “blood oath.”

One Good Thing: Only Murders in the Building plays like a Nora Ephron murder mystery

This new Broadway play doesn’t have a script — but it does have a transcript

He Read All 27,000 Marvel Comic Books and Lived to Tell the Tale

Brusque cops and femmes fatales: discovering Gilles Grangier’s forgotten noir gem

Corbin Bernsen to Reprise ‘L.A. Law’ Role in ABC Update

The Curious, Astounding Collection of the Magician Ricky Jay

Sopranos‘ Star Steve Schirripa Says Significant Bobby Baccalieri Moment Was an Accident

You Don’t Understand What This Is Doing to Me:” In the age of anti-heroes Tony Soprano reigned supreme. In a new book, we take a look at the toll the character took on James Gandolfini

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is curating a series of classic works by Black playwrights.

‘North by Northwest’ is Basically a James Bond Movie as Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Netflix Tracks Korea’s Most Notorious Serial Killer Yoo Young-chul—Who Targeted the Rich, Then Prostitutes

Re-entering the Void with the Best Episode of ‘True Detective’

Who will play Norman Mailer in this new true crime series?

If you find yourself in mortal danger this weekend, remember the last words of these famous writers.

Elizabeth Banks and Margot Robbie are making a live-action The Paper Bag Princess movie.

Words of the Month

preposterous (adj.): 1540s, “contrary to nature, reason, or common sense,” from Latin praeposterus “absurd, contrary to nature, inverted, perverted, in reverse order,” literally “before-behind” (compare topsy-turvy,cart before the horse), from prae “before” (see pre-) + posterus “subsequent, coming after,” from post “after” (see post-).

The sense gradually shaded into “foolish, ridiculous, stupid, absurd.” The literal meaning “reversed in order or arrangement, having that last which ought to be first” (1550s) is now obsolete in English. In 17th C. English also had a verb preposterate “to make preposterous, pervert, invert.” (etymonline)

RIP

Oct 8: ICON LOST ~ Robert Grossman dead at 88 – Famed neurosurgeon who examined assassinated President John F Kennedy passes away

Oct 21: Julie Green, who painted plates with the last meals of death row inmates

Oct 27: The comedian and satirist Mort Sahl, who has died aged 94, was a combination of Lenny Bruce and Bob Hope – with a little Will Rogers thrown in.

Oct 29: Val Bisoglio Dies: Character Actor Who Played Father In ‘Saturday Night Fever’, Appeared On ‘Quincy, M.E.’ & ‘Sopranos’ Was 95

Links of Interest

Oct 2: The mafia killed her mother. Now she wants to take them on as mayor of Naples

Oct 2: Woodlawn Jane Doe: How scraps of DNA and a genealogy website solved a 45-year-old mystery

Oct 2: Jeffrey Wright: ‘There’s a relentless, grotesque debasement of language in the US’

Oct 2: ‘It will be found’: search for MH370 continues with experts and amateurs still sleuthing

Oct 3: How a Tip to Obituaries Breathed New Life Into a Decades-Old Mystery

Oct 6: It’s Time to Learn About the Lives of John Wayne Gacy’s Victims—And Not Just the Labels Hung on Them

Oct 7: The Boone Family, the Struggle for Kentucky, and the Kidnapping That Rocked Colonial America

Oct 7: The Birth of the CIA—And the Soviet Mole Who Had a Hand in Everything

Oct 8: Case of the Zodiac killer takes another twist – but police say it isn’t solved

Oct 9: How JFK used James Bond to fight the Cold War

Oct 9: How The Mob Controlled The Jukebox Industry

Oct 12: A new film explores the life of Odessa Madre, the ‘queen’ of D.C.’s underworld

Oct 12: Reclaiming the Legacy of Nora May French, the Pioneering Poet Made Into a Femme Fatale by Mediocre Men and California Mythology

Oct 12: You Can Now Rent the Villa Where ‘James Bond’ Was Created on Airbnb

Oct 12: An American Outrage: Journalism, Race, and the Clinton Avenue Five

Oct 13: Florida Police Arrest Woman for Allegedly Tampering With Flight School Computers

Oct 14: Robert Durst: US millionaire sentenced to life for murder

Oct 14: Lake District mysterious abandoned tea-for-two found in woodland

Oct 15: City is taking its official wizard off the payroll after over 2 decades

Oct 16: Nike Jordan boss reveals he murdered an 18-year-old in 1965

Oct 16: Australian Police Make Record $104M Heroin Seizure

Oct 17: Spies next door? The suburban US couple accused of espionage

Oct 17: As Japan’s yakuza mob weakens, former gangsters struggle to find a role outside crime

Oct 19: Romance scams cost consumers a record $304 million as more people searched for love online during the pandemic

Oct 19: Mexican Gangster Rapper ‘El Millonario’ Just Got Arrested on Murder Charges

Oct 19: Edith Carlson, a single librarian with a small income, was excited to work with Frank Lloyd Wright—at first.

Oct 22: Tragic Alec Baldwin Prop Gun Shooting Isn’t the First Movie-Set Death

Oct 22: How Gun Deaths Happen On Film Sets

Oct 22: Rocker Randy Bachman’s guitar was stolen 45 years ago. A fan tracked it down

Oct 22: Ransomware Gang Says the Real Ransomware Gang Is the Federal Government

Oct 22: The house from the movie ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ is up for sale

Oct 23: She Picked Up Her Husband From Jail and Was Never Seen Again

Oct 24: Rollercoaster fan takes 6,000th ride after pandemic delays

Oct 25: Family of Newly Identified Gacy Victim Never Knew He Was Dead

Oct 26: Feds: Embassy Staffer Who Drugged, Molested Women Was in CIA

Oct 26: MAGA, the CIA, and Silvercorp: The Bizarre Backstory of the World’s Most Disastrous Coup

Oct 26: The Forgotten Story of a Polish Spy Whose Los Angeles Trial Was a Cold War Flashpoint

Oct 27: Post photographer Matt McClain on the trail of Edgar Allan Poe

Oct 29: Instagram Model Allegedly Helped Break Mom Out of Prison by Distracting Guard

Words of the Month

canard (n.): An “absurd or fabricated story intended as an imposition,” 1851, perhaps 1843, from French canard “a hoax,” literally “a duck” (from Old French quanart, probably echoic of a duck’s quack); said by Littré to be from the phrase vendre un canard à moitié “to half-sell a duck,” thus, perhaps from some long-forgotten joke, “to cheat.” But also compare quack (n.1). (etymonline)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Mango, Mambo, and Murder – Raquel V. Reyes

Until I cracked the spine of Mango, Mambo, and Murder – I hadn’t realized how very long it’s been since I’ve started a new series. Or, in fact, a series that didn’t feature a mystery writer, bookshop owner, or librarian as the sleuth. So why you ask, are these careers important? Reading about true or fictional crime does generally give bookish detectives a leg up in their investigations.

However, in Mango, Mambo, and Murder, our investigator is Dr. Miriam Quinones-Smith, a Food Anthropologist, mother of one, and the newest resident of Coral Shores, Miami. All outstanding life achievements – but not ones that prepared her for investigating a murder. However, this is precisely what Miriam needs to do when her best friend Alma is accused of murder.

And she makes mistakes. Lots of mistakes. Because she’s quite literally an amateur sleuth trying to solve her first case – the first one I’ve read in a very long time.

Even better?

She did a good job.

However, the cream of the first book in A Caribbean Kitchen Mystery series is how Reyes (our author) seamlessly works food into her mystery. The dishes Miriam cooks add layers and nuance to the book without detracting from the unfolding story because food is the cornerstone upon which Mirium’s life is built, therefore making it a cornerstone of the book.

But it’s still very much a mystery…with delicious sounding Cuban food on the side.

The one and only criticism I have for the Mango, Mambo, and Murder is that the very last chapter is just a hair overly sweet. But as it is a first novel – which gives a slightly unusual but satisfying wrap -up the murder mystery – I can forgive this very small foible.

Overall, I would recommend this mystery to anyone who enjoys reading cozy mysteries, culinary mysteries, and/or culturally diverse mysteries. Raquel V. Reyes did a great job creating a new exciting character, who I am looking forward to meeting again.

(BTW – Thanks to JB who emailed me about this great book!)

JB

Craig Johnson’s new Longmire, Daughter of the Morning Star is a puzzler. I don’t mean that due to it’s mystery and crime and whodunnit elements. I mean it from the point of view of “where is this going”?

Walt spends the book up in Montana, helping the locals search for a missing Indian woman. The issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women is a real and frightening problem but Walt is the sheriff of the largest county in WY, he doesn’t have a huge staff (is the Powder River annex still manned? Was it rebuilt after it was torched? Has his Basque deputy been replaced?) Who’s running the place? While the hunt for the missing girl is the plot, the story is more about Walt’s continued brush with Native American spirituality, what it means to him, how he deals with it – or not – and how the Spirits deal with Walt. There are a number of Mallo wrappers in the story and if you’ve been reading the books you understand their significance.

There’s a lot of basketball, not enough Vic, and the oddity of Dog shying away from Walt after a Spirit encounter but then everything is normal between them with no explanation.

Felt, again, like a bridge book – taking the series somewhere but not going very fast. Still, anytime with Walt and Henry is time well spent.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

After becoming frustrated with the commercials during BBC’s airing of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I turned off the TV and started re-reading the book. It has to be at least 20 years since I first read it. I was struck – again – by how well crafted it is as a mystery/thriller/crime novel, how assured it was as a first time work of fiction, and how serious Stieg Larsson was about addressing the violence done to women. Re-read all three. Great trilogy!

SHOP SMALL ~ BUY SMALL

SUPPORT SMALL