There just isn’t pleasing some people. The trick is to stop trying.
~ Robert Mitchum
Our congratulations to one of our favorite authors. Nicola Griffith has been nominated for the 2019 Washington State Book Award in the fiction category for So Lucky. Fran’s review was in our September 2018 newzine (scroll down towards the end).
Local writer Clyde Ford – he of the maritime private eye series set in Bellingham – has a new book out in September. Think Black is the story of his father being the first black software engineer hired by IBM. Another local mystery writer, Jon Talton, wrote about the father and son: At Big Blue, America’s First Black Software Engineer Blazed a Trail but Pail a Heavy Price
NEWS BULLETIN! No need to feel guilty about the pleasures of mystery books (aren’t you relieved???)
Here’s a site that one of us stumbled upon: Literary Hub. Got there by following a link to this story~ Interview with a Bookstore: Bluestockings. They’ve got many pages. This one’s devoted to Bookstores and Libraries!
From Douglas Preston: Online book-selling scams steal a living from writers
Crime writers react with fury to claim their books hinder rape trials: “Novelists have condemned the Staunch prize – for thrillers without violence against women – as a ‘gagging order’, after organisers said the genre could bias jurors.” [The gist seems to be that Dame Agatha could not have been nominated if any women were murdered in her books…]
From Uber driving to huge book deal: Adrian McKinty’s life-changing phone call: “Recent reports have highlighted just how hard it can be to make a living as a “midlist” author – one whose books are judged good enough to publish, but not good enough to support with any significant marketing budget. In the UK, writers’ earnings have fallen by 42% in real terms since 2005, according to the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, with median earnings now at under £10,500 a year – well below the minimum wage. The worldwide picture is similarly disheartening.”
Lastly, for Bill: The Weird, Wild, Inimitable Noir of Donald E. Westlake
Words for the Month
Definition: 1.Fib 2. Pretentious nonsense
The true origin of taradiddle is unknown, but that doesn’t mean you won’t encounter a lot of balderdash about its history. Some folks try to connect it to the verb diddle (meaning “to cheat”), but that hasn’t been proven and may turn out to be poppycock. You may hear some tommyrot about it coming from the Old English verb didrian, which meant “to deceive,” but that couldn’t be true unless didrian was somehow suddenly revived after eight or nine centuries of disuse. No one even knows when taradiddle was first used. It must have been long before it showed up in a 1796 dictionary of colloquial speech (where it was defined as a synonym of fib), but if we claimed we knew who said it first, we’d be dishing out pure applesauce.
Podcast Live Event! Criminal (a brilliant & addictive true crime podcast) is coming to Seattle in September! Buy tickets now they are going fast!
For Your Viewing Pleasure
Anyone is a fan of “Killing Eve” needs to start watching “Jett” on Cinemax. It stars Carla Gugino as a professional thief just released from prison. Hoping to go straight, she’s quickly reminded that she still owes some favors to old colleagues. Great writing and unexpected zigs and swerves. ~ JB
This Autumn (which, really, is coming at us at a frightful rate), we’ll get to see The Irishman, Martin Scorsese’s new crime film staring Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Anna Paquin, and Harvey Keitel.
Mid-August gifts us with the second season of “Mindhunter”, the outstanding Netlix series about the establishment of the FBI’s study of killers. This season, the killers will include Richard Speck, David Berkowitz, Wayne Williams, and Charlie Manson (played by the same actor as in the new Tarantino film).
Speaking of the Tarantino – JB highly recommends Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood. It’s got a great sense of the era, great acting, and the usual lunatic touches we expect from a Tatantino film.
This ‘n’ That
I ran across a surprise the other day. Tooling around on the internet looking for stories for this newzine, I found this headline: We’re already excited about Jessica Chastain’s spy thriller. That itself was interesting. Interesting as well was that she refers to the folks doing it as a “studio”. About time women in Hollywood formed their own studios to vie with the dumb ol’ white-man outfits that have run the movie biz since it’s inception. But the surprise for me was the next to last line: “Theresa Rebeck penned the script for the movie…” Theresa is an Edgar-winning writer of TV, movies, novels and plays, as well as a director. She’s brilliant, funny and, most importantly to me, married to one of my oldest friends. (She once let me pick up her Edgar, which she got for an episode of “NYPD Blue”). So cool, far out, groovy and neat-o all around! Can’t wait to see the movie!! ~ JB
Words for the Month
Definition: Used to express surprise or chagrin.
Who doesn’t love crumbs? Most people, actually. And when we ask the question ‘where does the interjection crumbs come from,’ we have a wide range of possibilities to choose from. Is it a shortened form of crumbs-in-the-bed? No. Is it an abbreviation of the 19th century Cornwall dialect word crum-a-grackle (defined by Joseph Wright in his English Dialect Dictionary as “a mess, difficulty, bother”)? Probably not, although this is a word we should all consider adopting in everyday use. Might it simply be a variant of the phrase “By crum!” in which crum was employed as a mild oath of uncertain provenance? That is the least satisfying answer, which of course means that it is the most likely to be true.
Aug 2: Heather Redmond, 6pm, UBooks/MC
Aug 15: Rhys Bowen, 7pm, Third Place/LFP
Aug 20: Steve Cavanaugh, 7pm, Third Place/LFP
Aug 29: Karin Slaughter, 7pm, Third Place/LFP
Aug 30: Louise Penny, 7pm, Village Books
Links Of Interest
July 10: Inside One of the Most Spectacular and Dangerous Bank Heists in U.S. History ~ An excerpt from Peter Houlahan’s thrilling new book, “Norco ’80”
July 21: The Best Fantasy Novels Of All Time
July 11: Jim Bouton dies at 80 ~ All-Star MLB pitcher, former Seattle Pilot, author of Ball Four, and actor in Robert Altman’s film of Chandler’s The Long Goodbye. In the movie, he played Marlowe’s friend Terry Lennox, around whom the story orbits.
July 23: MHB Conant was a long-time customer. She was a huge fan of Thomas Perry as well as a number of other writers. She’d bounce in and get copies to give to friends. If we had more than one copy of Vanishing Act or The Butcher’s Boy, she’d take two. Early on she’d ask to have them individually gift wrapped which, to be honest, wasn’t always something we had the time to do – but that’s what you do for long-time customers. Yet though someone is a familiar face, you don’t necessarily know much about them, and that’s true with MHB. (We didn’t even know what the initial stood for!) She was a teacher, singer, and founder of a program to encourage reading around the world. She lead a remarkable life. She was 77 at the time of her death.
Words for the Month
Definition: 1. a relish or dessert made of apples stewed to a pulp and sweetened 2. slang : BUNKUM, NONSENSE
English offers a smorgasbord of words for nonsense, some of which are better known as words for food. We have baloney, spinach, rhubarb, and toffee, not to mention full of beans. And if none of those offerings are to your taste, you can say that’s pure banana oil! Seemingly innocuous applesauce was first introduced to this menu back in the early 20th century. Back then, there may have been some bias against the real stuff. Poet Wallace Stevens’s turn-of-the-century description of a meal consisting of “some unnameable smathering of greasy fritters . . . and of course the inevictable applesauce” shows a lack of respect that must have been shared by others.
What We’ve Been Up To
Don’t forget to check out my other penny dreadful style blog! This Wee Phoebe and the crew are heading into Nevermore to help dissuade Little Ben from making a grave mistake…Oh, and Wood decide’s this is the perfect time to settle up on an old bet with Phoebe! (click on my pic above to go to the blog!)
A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder – Dianne Freeman
Freeman’s follow-up to last year’s Agatha Award winning novel, A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder is an absolute gas to read!
Francis Wynn, or for those who aren’t on a first-name basis the Countess of Hareligh, is back and is finally feeling like she’s on firm ground. The only canker in her hedge? It’s summertime in London, and everyone’s fled to the country!
Well, all most everyone.
Only the diehards, those of more modest means or those unable to secure an invitation to a friend’s estate – remain in the city. Unfortunately, since Francis occupies the second of those three categories, her household’s stuck with a very open social schedule.
Their unfettered social diary does prove fortuitous for Francis’s little sister Lily. Despite Francis’s reservations on the subject and irregardless of the limited guest list, Lily and her shiny new fiance are determined to throw a huge bash to announce their engagement.
Francis’s dance card fills out further when she’s pulled into another murder investigation on behalf of her favorite bumbling cousin – a cousin who she both introduced to the victim and inadvertently cast suspicion on with the police.
The only upside? Francis no longer needs to worry about how to entertain her household during the month of August anymore. And, even better, she gets to spend some more quality time with her handsome neighbor Mr. George Hazelton…
Effervescent, lively, and light I loved reading every page mystery.
What I love about A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder is it reminds me vaguely of a Jane Austen novel (only set about eighty-ish years after Austen’s books). The vocabulary, manners, and (the mostly) meticulous observance of social conventions calls to mind that earlier era.
But… (There’s always a but.)
Freeman blends these classic features with a bold and slightly irreverent hand. Creating two books where our heroine not only knows her own mind but follows up her thoughts with decisive action. It doesn’t hurt that Francis Wynn has more latitude to act as a widow than married or single women do during this period. But still, living on her own – with her Aunt, daughter, sister, housekeeper, maid, kitchen boy and debutant – without a man in the house? It’s still slightly scandalous for the times. And heaven only knows what society would say if they knew about the private garden path linking her and Mr. Hazelton’s homes…And it’s that bit of ridiculousness which Freeman exploits, to great effect, in both her books.
Seriously if you’re looking for a fun historical beach book, I would highly recommend A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder.
Though I must caution you, I think you’d enjoy Gossip & Murder better if you read her award-winning Etiquette & Murder, first as there are several story threads which deftly bind the first and second books together.
Even better? Etiquette & Murder is in paperback!
Okay, I’m gonna be honest here. I don’t have anything new to review, but here’s why.
I’m still traveling through life with Inspector Gamache. YES, I BLAME LOUISE PENNY! And I’m thrilled she’s going to be in town this month, as you saw above. You must not go. I want her all to myself. So there.
In fact, I’ve been loving her writing so much that I got Lillian hooked on the series, and now she’s not talking to me, but only because she’s off in Three Pines as well. We read non-spoiler snippets to each other.
Also in my defense, we got a dog.
Her name is Shadow, and she’s a 2-year-old Lab mix. High energy and a goofball, but a delight. However, she does take up a great deal of time, what with cuddles and walks and playing.
So I’m a little slower getting through the Inspector Gamache series than I should be, but you know what? I’m okay with that. Not only is Shadow a fun dog, but that means I have to slow down in my reading, so I can savor them, enjoy them. And I’m glad there are so many, but I’m still reaching the end of what’s currently printed, and honestly, I don’t know how all you veteran Penny readers have been able to stand the wait between books. You must be saints!
Around the 4th, I had two bookshop dreams:
The first started with a former employee telling me about someone’s reaction to the newzine. Apparently, we were still mailing out the printed version. I was getting the latest one ready to mail and was informed that one of our best customers was mad because she hadn’t been getting her copies….
The second started with me working across and down Cherry from the shop. Something or someone reminded me that the 117 location would be closing and what was left would be moved to a different location. So I went to Bakeman’s to get chocolate chip cookies for Amber but she wasn’t there. As I walked in, she was heading out the side/back door with an armload of boxes. Fran wasn’t in this dream. I started loading my own books that I hadn’t yet taken home into bags and started trying to get a hold of my wife to get her to come pick them up and to get me so I could get something to eat before coming back down to Pioneer Square to begin dismantling the shelves and counters and I remember thinking that the carport would once again be choked with wood. I was mad I couldn’t get ahold of her, mad about the work ahead, and mad – again – about the closure of SMB. Then I woke up.
On the 12th, I woke up after one where I was still trying to empty the space – though it wasn’t the actual SMB space (surely others have dreams where the places aren’t the right places or people aren’t the same people?). Most of the shelves were empty but there were still some things to pack. One shelf behind the empty counter was of thick black binders. When I took the one on the far right down it was filled with Bill’s financial records. There was even a section of the red rear receipts from credit card slips. But then I realized I didn’t have enough large boxes. John C. was here helping and offered to go get some but I said I’d go. For some reason, I was driving a battered early 60s Chevrolet, dirty grey or white, the kind with wings that my parents used to have. I got mired in a endless maze of alleys and one-way streets and finally made it out onto a street up by I-5 in order to head south to buy boxes – when I realized I was late to have dinner with friends. It was already early evening and I knew Gretchen would be mad when I called to say I wouldn’t be there for hours…. It went on from there and I never got back to the shop before I woke up EXHAUSTED...
Just before this was posted, I had another dream that is shop related. All I remember is that the lunch special at Bakeman’s was lasagna…
Journalist Tom O’Neill’s Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties is a wild, wild ride. As he relates, he began his journey as a job to right a story about the 20th Anniversary of the Tate-LaBianca murders and his investigation grew into a decades-long pursuit that consumed his life. And we’re enlightened for it.
He begins by relating some points in Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter that never quite made sense to him. From there comes a complete re-investigation of the crimes. From the end-notes, you can see that he talked to everyone who would talk about the era, LA at that time, the victims, the original investigation as well as members of Manson’s family. You get stories of the parties at Cielo Drive, parties at Beach Boy Dennis Wilson’s place, and how Charlie formed his family in the hay-day of Haight/Ashbury before relocating to the LA basin. How did he achieve such complete control over those in his clutches and get a bunch of peaceful hippies to slaughter on command?
What’s it all got to do with the CIA? Ever heard of MKULTRA, the CIA’s program to effect mind-control? Doctors in San Francisco were working on it. Ever heard of the FBI’s COINTELPRO, the program to infiltrate and undermine the leftist challenge to the status quo? Turns out CHAOS was the CIA’s program to do the same – even though the CIA’s own rules prohibit them from working within the US.
What’s it got to do with the Manson Family? Read the book. How many did they really kill? Why aren’t more files being released? Why didn’t the cops investigating the Tate-LaBianca deaths believe the Helter Skelter story? Read the book.
“It’s when someone claims that I’ve ‘found the truth’ that I get anxious. I haven’t found the truth, much as I wish I could say I have. My goal isn’t to say what did happen – it’s to prove that the official story didn’t. I’ve learned to accept the ambiguity. I had to, I realized, if I ever wanted to finish this book. For every chapter here, there are a dozen I’ve left out. There’s more, there’s always more.”
The book includes photos of his house and the mass of binders and stacks of papers that went into the book. He presents a wealth of information that’s never been released before and rails against the refusal of official offices to release what he knows they have – recording, documents, files, and case notes. He relates showing documents to the original cops or the original prosecutors and they’re shocked at seeing these things for the first time. Let’s get it all out in the open. I sure hope someone agrees to fund his further research and investigation. I sincerely hope his wild ride continues!