May 2023

Two Brain Networks Are Activated While Reading

New James Bond Story ‘On His Majesty’s Secret Service’ Commissioned to Celebrate King Charles’ Coronation [more 007 ahead ~ 007=’]

Watch the only remaining footage of the very first film adaptation of The Great Gatsby.

Baroque, Purple, and Beautiful: In Praise of the Long, Complicated Sentence

‘Explicitly queer and trans’: the 1580s play that inspired Shakespeare’s cross-dressing love plots

Artist Constructs Portraits of Famous Faces by Stacking Thousands of Books

Head of Russia’s ‘Fancy Bear’ Hackers Inundated With Sex Toys, FBI Memorabilia

The Great American Poet Who Was Named After a Slave Ship

The Most Creative and Unique Bookmobiles from Around the World

What we can learn from the Midwestern war against the Klan 100 years ago

>Report shows ‘astonishing’ depravity in sexual abuse of more than 600 in Baltimore’s Catholic archdiocese [if you can’t open that report, try the ones below. the story has ties to the Netflix series “The Keepers”]

>Report details ‘staggering’ church sex abuse in Maryland

>Baltimore’s Catholic Clergy Sexually Abused More Than 600 Children, AG’s Report Finds

Inside the international sting operation to catch North Korean crypto hackers

Horror in Winnipeg as another Indigenous woman’s body found in landfill: ‘It keeps happening’

The Real Scandal Behind the Pentagon Leaks

Why did the US take so long to notice the classified document leak?

Meet the Viral Sheriff Who Took on Florida Nazis

FBI arrests 2 on charges tied to Chinese outpost in New York City

The Rise of ‘Gas Station Heroin’

Water Theft Proves Lucrative in a Dangerously Dry World

They Saw the Horrific Aftermath of a Mass Shooting. Should We? [this is a brutal examination of the effects of the Sandy Hook massacre on those responsible for dealing with the crime scene. it is not an easy read but it’s important to understand the breadth of the trauma in these events that just keep happening.]

agowilt (n): a sudden, sickening and unnecessary fear (Says You!, #701)

This local author’s new novel was inspired by a real Seattle crime incident

True-crime fans seized on the Idaho killings. Their accusations derailed lives.

Seattle’s Couth Buzzard Books saved from closure, for now

Richland restaurant vandalized before drag brunch event

Car crashes into Ballard public library

Capitol Hill synagogue vandalized on eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day

Swastikas, Nazi flag on home upset neighbors in La Center

In Secret Recording, a Top City Library Official Calls Alaska Natives “Woke” and “Racists”

Sex, Lies, and LSD: The CIA’s Untold Story of Operation Midnight Climax

Original ‘Tetris’ Creators Reveal the Game’s Wild Espionage Origin Story

Jorge Luis Borges’ estate belongs to ~no one~, says attorney.

Hemingway’s letters to a ‘co-ed’ are going to auction

What’s going on with all the empty author signing pics?

The Buffalo-Bone Cane Mystery: Did It Really Belong to Wyatt Earp?

Inside Harlan Crow’s ‘Garden of Evil’ and his collection from Washington to Monet

Inside the ‘Gateway Process,’ the CIA’s Quest to Decode Consciousness and Unlock Time Travel

Are celebrity publishing imprints the new celebrity vodka?

French publisher arrested in London for “terrorist acts” in the form of *checks notes* lawful protests.

Matthew McConaughey says Woody Harrelson could be his half-brother

A Snapshot of the Many and Various Criminals Aboard the Titanic

Where Does the Cardigan-Wearing Librarian Stereotype Come From?

Murdoch Newsroom Melts Down Over Alleged Chocolate Heist

funk (n.1) “depression, ill-humor,” perhaps from earlier sense “cowering state of fear” (1743), identified in OED as originally Oxford slang, probably from Scottish and Northern English verb funk “become afraid, shrink through fear, fail through panic,” (1737), of unknown origin. Perhaps from Flemish fonck “perturbation, agitation, distress,” which is possibly related to Old French funicle “wild, mad.”

Gone With the Wind Novel Slapped With Trigger Warning

Here’s How One Angry Parent Got All Graphic Novels Pulled From a School District

Federal Judge Sends Books Dubiously Deemed ‘Pornographic’ Back to Texas Library Shelves

Ruby Bridges: how a 90s Disney movie about racism caused a culture war

‘Propaganda to infect children’s minds’: Climate misinformation textbook mailed to 8,000 US science teachers

How teachers and librarians are subverting book bans in the US

Florida removes book about Anne Frank from school libraries

In Kanye Academy, there are no Black history books

Book banning is the worst eighties throwback, says Judy Blume

As Classic Novels Get Revised for Today’s Readers, a Debate About Where to Draw the Line

Texas Officials Would Rather Close Library Than Stock Books They Don’t Like

Missouri Republicans threaten to defund public libraries in stunning move over book bans

Scholastic wanted to license her children’s book — if she cut a part about ‘racism’

“There Needs To Be Some Book Burning:” Montana Senate Debates Obscenity Bill

Anti-Book Ban Billboard Burned in Louisiana; Fundraiser, Protest Planned

Bolshoi ballet about Nureyev dropped due to ban on ‘LGBT propaganda’

Third of UK librarians asked to censor or remove books, research reveals

Idaho Library Removes Books Based on Bill That Was Vetoed

Judge OKs Restraining Order Against Reporter Probing Far-Right Arizona Sen. Wendy Rogers

Chinese Censorship Is Quietly Rewriting the Covid-19 Story

Opinion: Florida wants to bar schools from talking about menstruation. What would Judy Blume say?

Tennessee Bill Would Punish Publishers for “Obscene” Material

He Couldn’t Teach ‘Slavery Was Wrong.’ So He Quit.

ALA: Number of unique book titles challenged jumped nearly 40% in 2022

Amazon closing beloved bookstore accidentally gets phrase

tied to JFK assassination trending during Trump arraignment

After 3 years, The Riveter’s Amy Nelson still fighting Amazon and DOJ

Amazon looks to grow diamonds in bid to boost computer networks

Amazon plans to reduce stock awards for employees as of 2025

Amazon Vow to Stop Seller Squeeze Was Fake, California Says

“Amazon Doesn’t Care About Books’: How Barnes & Nobel Bounced Back

Amazon’s new fee calls into question the era of free online returns

Google and Apple Are Reportedly Miffed About All the Porn on Amazon Kindle

Lydia Davis refuses to sell her next book on Amazon

funk (n.2) “bad smell,” 1620s, probably from the verb funk in the sense “blow smoke upon; stifle with offensive vapor” (though this is not recorded until later 17th C.). It is from dialectal French funkière “to smoke,” from Old French fungier “give off smoke; fill with smoke,” from Latin fumigare “to smoke” (see fume (n.)).

Not considered to be related to obsolete funk (n.) “a spark,” mid-14c., fonke, a general Germanic word (compare Dutch vonk, Old High German funcho, German Funke. The Middle English word is probably from Low German or from an unrecorded Old English form.

In reference to a style of music felt to have a strong, earthy quality, it is attested by 1959, a back-formation from funky (q.v.).

Here is the shortlist for the 2023 Carol Shields Prize.

Here are the winners of the 2023 Windham-Campbell Prizes.

Here are the 2023 ‘5 Under 35’ honorees from The National Book Foundation.

Here are the winners of the 2023 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award

Here is the Granta 2023 Best of British Novelists list

Here is the 2023 International Booker Prize shortlist.

Author James Patterson accuses New York Times of ‘cooking’ its Best Sellers list in blistering letter to the editor they refused to publish: ‘It’s bonkers

The Unbearable Costs of Becoming a Writer

Jacqueline Winspear Considers the Art of Historical Fiction

Rare manuscript that paved way for British monarchy’s return up for auction

Five Nonfiction Books That Mix True Crime and History

Bay Area Book Festival founder to step down

Five Speculative Novels Set In Worlds Full of Books

Mystery, Magic and Misdirection: Illusionists in Crime Fiction

Student’s library book has been due since 1967. They just mailed it back with surprise

Teton Verse returns for an evening of reading, open mic poetry

Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers

5 Deliciously Dark Novels that Explore the Sinister Side of Marriage

Don Winslow on the Aeneid, Hollywood, and Reaching the End of His Career as a Novelist

“I’m Going to Pick a Fight”: Don Winslow, High Priest of Crime Fiction, Wants to Write Trump Out of the Story

The Backlist: Revisiting Ruth Rendell’s ‘Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter’ with Kate White

UK publishing industry reports record-breaking year in 2022

Curators solve mysteries of ‘poisonous’ 19th-century portrait album

Hundreds of years after the first try, we can finally read a Ptolemy text

Strange Marks Began to Appear on a 600-Year-Old Leonardo da Vinci Codex. Now, Scientists Have an Answer

Top 10 Espionage Novels Centering Women’s Stories: Kim Sherwood, the first woman to take on the mantel of writing 007, lists her favorite spy fiction.

May 2: Cory Docturow signs Red Team Blues, Powell’s, 7pm

May 8: Jeff Ayers of International Thriller Writers and Taylor Adams, author of Hairpin Bridge and No Exit, will be discussing Jeff’s latest book The Last Word, UBooks, 6pm

May 10: Dave Barry signs Swamp Story, Elliot Bay/Town Hall, 7:30

May 22: Joe Ide signs Fixit: an IQ Novel, Third Place/LFP, 7pm

May 23: M.P. Woodward & Boyd Morrison sign Dead Drop, UBooks, 6pm

The 25 most dangerous femme fatales in film noir

Out of the Past: Duplicity and Doomed Romance

Why You Should Care That Hollywood Writers Are Poised to Strike

15 Best Heist Movies Where The Thieves Get Away With The Cash [great list of great movies but the author is WRONG about some of them being successful heists – and he leaves off The Getaway!]

‘True Detective: Night Country’ Trailer: Jodie Foster Solves Bone-Chilling Alaskan Mystery

Why Christopher Nolan Should Remake One Of His Own Movies

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Killers Of The Flower Moon Is One Of Longest Movies Since Gone With The Wind

Chris Chalk, the Conflicted Heart of Perry Mason, on Stealing Scenes and Playing a Cop

The 25 best neo-noir films [what about Zodiac?]

The 20 most blood-curdling portrays of real-life killers

The Funniest Mobster Comedies Ever Shot

How to Blow Up a Pipeline‘: FBI Sends Terrorism Warning

Martin Scorsese Producing a Film Adaptation of the Mystery Novel WHAT HAPPENS AT NIGHT

Writer Neil Gaiman debuts his first music album with an Australian string quartet

Welcome to Wrexham: Second series of Welcome to Wrexham announced

It’s a licence to thrill as James Bond turns 70 – and faces a different era ~ 007 began his dazzling undercover career through the pages of Ian Fleming’s debut novel Casino Royale on April 13, 1953

Every Unmade Timothy Dalton Bond (& Why They Didn’t Happen)

How Ian Fleming Wrote Casino Royale and Changed Spy Fiction Forever

Next James Bond reboot should embrace 1950s world of Ian Fleming’s books – warts and all

James Bond star was real-life secret agent who lived double life, family claim after his death

funky (adj.) 1784, “old, musty,” in reference to cheeses, then “repulsive,” from funk (n.2) + -y (2). It began to develop an approving sense in jazz slang c. 1900, probably on the notion of “earthy, strong, deeply felt.” Funky also was used early 20th C. by white [racist] writers in reference to body odor allegedly peculiar to blacks. The word reached wider popularity c. 1954 (it was defined in “Time” magazine, Nov. 8, 1954) and in the 1960s acquired a broad slang sense of “fine, stylish, excellent.”

April 1: Sharon Acker, Actress in ‘Point Blank’ and ‘Perry Mason,’ Dies at 87

April 7: Billy Waugh, veteran who tracked Carlos the Jackal for CIA and hunted bin Laden, dies at 93

April 9: Michael Lerner, Actor in ‘Barton Fink,’ ‘Harlem Nights’ and ‘Eight Men Out,’ Dies at 81

April 10: Al Jaffee, Trailblazing ‘Mad’ Magazine Cartoonist, Dies at 102

April 11: Man suspected of being Stakeknife, Britain’s top spy in IRA, dies

April 12: Anne Perry, Crime Writer With Her Own Dark Tale, Dies at 84

April 20: Michael Denneny, a dean of gay publishing, dies at 80

April 3: Small Town Horror Story: Roberta Elder, The Black Woman Serial Killer

April 3: Texas Man Used AirTag to Track and Kill Suspected Truck Thief

*April 3: A Brief History of the Mug Shot

*April 4: History’s most famous mug shots: Trump doesn’t join the lineup

April 5: $250 million up in flames: The infamous crime that scarred California’s Wine Country

April 6: The Demise of Genesis Market, Which Sold Stolen Identities, Continues the Dark Web’s Losing Streak

April 6: How a note linked a burned body in Missouri to a 32-year-old Kansas City disappearance

April 6: Punk rock fan uncovers six-year scam that sold $1.6 million worth of counterfeit vinyl records to collectors

April 8: Who Killed This Millionaire Ex-Playboy Bunny?

April 8: Two moms drove their adopted children off a cliff. And everyone started asking the wrong questions.

April 10: Jascha Heifetz in the Case of the Violinist and the Fanatical Doorman

April 11: Here’s How Cadaver Dogs Are Trained To Find Dead Bodies

April 11: Sheriff Tried to Double Her Salary With Money Meant for Hiring New Staff

April 11: The Case of the Fake Sherlock ~Richard Walter was hailed as a genius criminal profiler. How did he get away with his fraud for so long?

April 14: Unresolved Questions About Boston Marathon Bombing Suspects

April 15: Son of ‘Sally Daz’ sentenced for 2018 execution of mobster dad in McDonald’s drive-thru

April 16: Man who once modeled for romance novels gets prison in Jan. 6 attack

April 17: FBI arrests guardsman who applied for job on

April 19: Swiss bank accused of impeding hunt for accounts linked to Nazis

April 20: Iowa teens plead guilty to beating Spanish teacher to death over grade

April 20: Crooks’ Mistaken Bet on Encrypted Phones

April 20: Feds Charge Another in Welfare Scheme Tied to Brett Favre

April 21: El Chapo’s sons fed enemies to tigers and used chiles for torture: DOJ

April 21: Third Suspect Arrested for Threats Against Anti-Hate Florida Sheriff

April 23: This ‘Disney Dad’ Pastor Is Now FBI’s Most Wanted

April 26: LA Prosecutors Charge Man With Falsely Claiming To Be A Doctor For Years. They’re Asking Patients To Come Forward

April 27: A fisherman went missing in 1998. Now his remains at Lake Mead have been identified

April 27: Thai woman accused of murdering 12 friends in cyanide poisonings

April 29: Andy Warhol portrait of OJ Simpson to be auctioned in New York

April 29: What’s white, fluffy and has 10,000 legs?

flunk (v.): 1823, American English college slang, original meaning “to back out, give up, fail,” of obscure origin, traditionally said to be an alteration of British university slang funk “to be frightened, shrink from” (see funk (n.1)). Meaning “cause to fail, give a failing mark to” is from 1843. Related: Flunked; flunking.

Last Seen Wearing — Hillary Waugh

Originally published in 1952, Last Seen Wearing is one of the first police procedurals that gave readers a realistic portrayal of both the police people and the methods they employ to clear cases. Which, in this instance, is the disappearance of college freshman Lowell Mitchell. 

Waugh, a pioneer of the police procedural subgenera, follows the case from start to finish — showing there are no shortcuts when solving a case. Unlike Holmes’s specialized knowledge or the leaps Poirot’s little grey cells make — Police Chief Frank Ford relies on his thirty-three years of experience as a cop and the leg work of his men to run down every lead, blind alley, and dead-end so they leave no stone unturned in their search for Lowell Mitchell, a girl who doesn’t seem to have an enemy in the world. 

Unique at the time, Waugh shows all the ephemeral leads Ford’s men run to ground, the tedious leg work done to verify every piece of information, and the politics that inevitably creep into the case thanks to the pressure exerted by the press, family, and district attorney who’ve all got a stake in getting the crime solved…by yesterday preferably.

All these small and large details helped create a slow burning plot, which turns into a raging inferno by the time you reach the last page. Seriously, I couldn’t put it down as Chief Frank Ford, right-hand man Burt Cameron, and his officers closed in on their suspect.

Another interesting tidbit about this particular mystery is that it’s loosely based on the actual real-life disappearance of Paula Jean Welden. Who, on December 1, 1946, decided to hike the Long Trail (as it’s called) a few miles away from her college in Vermont. Unable to persuade anyone to go with her, she set out alone. Several people met her on and during her journey, however, none saw her leaving. When she didn’t turn up by the next morning, as her roommate thought she was studying elsewhere on campus that night, the search was on. 

Paula, or more gruesomely her body, was never found.

In an odd twist of events, Paula wasn’t the first to go missing in this area. One year earlier, Middie Rivers, a local man familiar with the area and an experienced outdoorsman, disappeared without a trace whilst hunting with four other people. Exactly three years later, on December 1, 1949, a military veteran went missing whilst traveling by bus through the area. Ten months later, an eight-year-old boy Paul Jepson, vanished into thin air while waiting for his mother to finish feeding some pigs. It’s rumored that bloodhounds tracked him to nearly the exact spot where Paula Welden was last seen four years earlier. Sixteen days after Paul went missing, Frieda Langer disappeared while hiking with friends. Of the five people who vanished from the area over five years, Frieda’s body was the only one ever found.

And not one of the quintet of mysteries was ever solved. 

This string of people going missing from the same general location earned the area the moniker — The Bennington Triangle. 

To be clear, Last Seen Wearing only details Paula’s missing person case. Using elements of the search for her and her family life in the book, the conclusion (obviously) is Waugh’s alone. Nevertheless, it’s a mystery I’d highly recommend to anyone looking for a police procedural, which is a classic and surprisingly bloodless!

Back in the day, Amber and I speculated about the possibility that Nora Roberts farmed out her J. D. Robb series because, aside from a well-crafted mystery, you never knew what you were gonna get. Cozy? Noir? Humorous? It didn’t matter because it was going to be good, but man, you just never knew. 

Of course we were wrong, and she writes it all. Have you heard about her writing schedule? It’s her job, and she treats it like a day job, writing in the morning at a set time, breaks for lunch, then writes until 5:00 or so, then quits for the day. Now THAT is discipline! So of course she’s prolific. 

And it explains why, every time you pick up a J. D. Robb title, you don’t know what flavor it’s going to be. For her own sanity, she’s gotta mix it up. All you know is that it’s going to be good, and you’re going to get to spend time with characters you know and love. 

Amber noted last month that this book, the 55th in the series (!), might need a trigger warning because it deals with graphic and brutal topics, namely the sex trafficking of children. You may think that Nora Roberts writes sweet romantic stuff, and she does, but do not ever doubt that she can hit hard and be brutal as well. As J. D. Robb, she gives it a futuristic twist, but that’s window dressing. The heart of the story is always solid. 

What gives Desperation in Death the nuances it has, and part of the impact, comes from being a long-time fan of the series. Without spoilers, knowing Eve Dallas’s background informs and influences the storyline in ways that only a skilled writer can bring to a tale. 

So take a deep breath, brace yourself, and jump into an action packed murder mystery, filled with all the feelings you get when you read a really good story, and take a deep breath, because if you’re a fan of the series, you’ll know what I mean when I say Jenkinson’s tie is yet again a real topic of discussion. 

I won’t have it finished when this needs to post but I’m confident that what I think now of the book will carry through to the last page.

Timothy Egan is a local writer of note. His Pulitzer-winning reporting has been featured in the NYTimes, and we stocked his book Breaking Blue at the shop. That’s an account of a notorious Depression-era crime in Eastern Washington.

His latest is A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan’s Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman Who Stopped Them. It’s an astonishingly brilliant and rich account of the rise of the Klan in Northern states and it’s leaders’ heartless moves to grow their craven ideals. I’m old enough to have witnessed the Civil Rights movement firsthand through the TV tube of my suburban home. I knew of an earlier White Power movement, though that of the South. His book is a revelation.

Egan’s portrait is cleaner, clearer, and that much more damning about the race relations in our country. If you think that the weak-minded racists of today are bad, that evil is more public than ever before… well, read this book. It shows the truth that White Power has been a threat to democracy all along, and is ever present, and, if not openly walking the streets in sheets, it has never gone away.

Egan’s book is crucial, critical, and a cold-eyed look at white supremacy in middle-America.

If you appreciate what we do, please spread the word!


February 2020


Every now and then we lose a member of the SMB family and, though they are perhaps not well known to you, we want to note their passing –

Jim Norman recently died. Hard to say exactly when he moved into the orbit of the shop but it certainly was way back in the days of our Jance events at The Doghouse. Jim was a HUGE Jance fan and he and his first wife Carol created and gave a J.A. Jance tour to show other fans places where key events in Judy’s books occurred. Carol was killed in a collision with a drunk driver and the tours ended.

Jim was a loyal customer for at least a couple of decades and was always ready with a large smile to match his big frame and followed it with caring questions in his deep, soft voice. We got to know his second wife, Lynne, at later Jance signings and when she’d stop by to pick up books for him after he retired to the Olympic Peninsula.

Jim had a big life. He was in law enforcement in California, and owned a bookshop at one point. That gave him a special fondness for Bill’s bookshop, and sympathy when we were having a hard time.

Our hope is that Jim and Bill have found one another and are sharing laughs and a meal in a booth at The Doghouse in the sky.

      Serious Stuff

On the Antifascist Activists Who Fought in the Streets Long Before Antifa ~ The Rich American History of Nazi-Punching 

Jo Nesbø: ‘We should talk about violence against women’ 

Satan, the FBI, the Mob—and the Forgotten Plot to Kill Ted Kennedy

Soul Assassin: The Brief Life and Death of Jerome Johnson. In 1971, somebody hired a young Black man to assassinate an Italian mafia boss. Five decades later, the mystery continues.

True Crime Podcast, “The Murder Squad”, Leads to Arrest in 40-Year-Old Cold Case 

Smorgasbords Don’t Have Bottoms – Publishing in the 2010s (obviously written before the news of the downtown B&N closed)

Rural Montana Had Already Lost Too Many Native Women. Then Selena Disappeared. 

New app created by Clyde Ford’s company aims to reduce number of missing and murdered Native women

Bombs and blood feuds: the wave of explosions rocking Sweden’s cities

A New Missouri Bill Proposes Jailing Librarians Who Provide Children with “Age-Inappropriate” Books


Lee Child Announced as One of the Judges for the Booker Prize

Romance Writers of America Cancels Awards Program 

John le Carré wins $100,000 prize, donates the money to charity.

      Words of the Month

auld lang syne : the good old times

From “Auld Lang Syne”:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Robert Burns never actually claimed to coin the phrase “Auld Lang Syne”—he said it was a fragment of an old song he’d discovered—but scholars credit him with the song we hear every New Year’s.

(Thanks to Merriam-Webster for the definition!)

      Book Stuff

From the Book of Genesis to contemporary crime writing, a look at why “trouble is always the most interesting element in any story.”

Fiction’s Most Manipulative Masterminds

Chuck Palahniuk on His Childhood Love of Ellery Queen and Writing in a Good Mood

The Noir Poetry and Doomed Romanticism of Cornell Woolrich 

Reviving the Traditional Mystery for a 21st Century Audience 

The case of the Encyclopedia Brown mystery that makes no sense 

Walter Mosley: ‘Everyone Can Write a Book.’ 

Graham Greene and Dorothy Glover’s Amazing Collection of Victorian Detective Fiction 

The Strange Cinematic Afterlife of ‘Red Harvest’

A library found it was missing $8 million of its rarest items. Nearly three years later, a man on the inside admitted to selling the items to a local bookstore 

How One Librarian Tried to Squash Goodnight Moon. There’s a reason this classic is missing from the New York Public Library’s list of the 10 most-checked-out books of all time.

Why Philosophers could transform your 2020 

Sold: Pierre de Coubertin’s Blueprint for the Olympics. The 14-page speech is now the world’s most expensive piece of sports memorabilia.

Shakespeare’s First Folio: Rare 1623 collection expected to fetch $6m at auction

The Making of a Harlequin Romance Cover

How a Book Cover Gets Made: Nicole Caputo on Belletrist’s Studio Sessions hopes to play Rebel Alliance to Amazon’s Empire (not sure how this is not a repeat of Indiebound, but more power to ’em!)

Dutch Art Sleuth Finds Rare Stolen Copy Of ‘Prince Of Persian Poets’

Real Book Lovers Aren’t Afraid to Cut Them in Half

Feminist Zines Have Have Been Around Longer Than You Thought—Here’s Where One Began

Anne Brontë is the least famous Brontë sister. But she might have been the most radical.

“The Third Rainbow Girl” author on the true story of a double murder she didn’t set out to write

HAPPY 120TH BIRTHDAY UNIVERSITY BOOKSTORE! Here are some things you might not have known about it.

Nourishing ‘long roots’: In a year, Madison Books has forged an essential role in one of Seattle’s oldest communities 

Exclusive: watch the trailer for The Booksellers, a new documentary about rare book dealers.

      Other Forms of Fun

The Year in Sherlock Holmes A Sherlockian Review of 2019

The Most Anticipated Crime Shows of 2020

Brad Pitt Reveals The Reaction To Se7en‘s Twist Ending Was Not What He Expected 

Season Four ‘Fargo’ Trailer: Chris Rock’s Loy Cannon Battles Mafia to Control Kansas City 

‘Silence of the Lambs’ Sequel ‘Clarice’ Gets Series Commitment at CBS

Ross Thomas’s Edgar-Winning Novel Briarpatch coming to USA Network Feb. 2nd

Marvel to get first transgender superhero

      Author Events

February 3: Clyde Ford, Powells 7:30pm

February 12: Joe Ide,  Third Place/LFP, 7pm

February 13: Joe Ide, Powell’s 7:30pm

February 27: Charles Finch, Powell’s, 7pm

February 28: Charles Finch in conversation with Mary Anne Gwinn, UBooks, 6pm

      Words of the Month

Apricity: the warmth of the sun in winter

This word provides us with evidence that even if you come up with a really great word, and tell all of your friends that they should start using it, there is a very small chance that it will catch on. Apricity appears to have entered our language in 1623, when Henry Cockeram recorded (or possibly invented) it for his dictionary The English Dictionary; or, An Interpreter of Hard English Words. Despite the fact that it is a delightful word for a delightful thing it never quite caught on.

(Thanks to Merriam-Webster for the definition!)

      Links of Interest

January 3: “One Last Job, Then I’m Out…”: Broken Resolutions in Classic Crime Films A brief history of broken promises in noir.

January 4: ‘The ghost of Manzanar’: Japanese WW2 internee’s body found

January 7: Alpacas dine out on donated Christmas tree feast

January 8: Why We Love Untranslatable Words

January 9: Burglar cooks snack in Taco Bell then falls asleep

January 9: Did The Trojan War Really Happen?

January 12: Night rider: 21 years sleeping on a London bus

January 13: The True Crime Story That Changed My Life

January 14: My decade as a fugitive: ‘I felt I could be killed at any moment’

January 14: Billie Eilish to sing the new James Bond theme

January 14: The teenage Dutch girls who seduced and killed Nazis

January 14: ‘The Irishman’ tells us who killed Jimmy Hoffa; a lawyer with a secret trove of documents says the movie got it wrong

January 15: James Bond’s greatest hits – and biggest misses

January 15: The accidental Singer sewing machine revolution

January 16: Golden Age Hollywood was Full of Ex-Cons

January 16: Meet the NASA intern who discovered a new planet on his third day

January 17: Textbooks are pricey. So students are getting creative.

January 16: Spain billionaire guilty of trying to smuggle a Picasso

January 22: Burglar traps himself in Vancouver store

January 22: The art heists that shook the world – in pictures

January 24: The secret life of Yakuza women

January 24: Mummy returns: Voice of 3,000-year-old Egyptian priest brought to life

January 27: Philip Pullman calls for boycott of Brexit 50p coin over ‘missing’ Oxford comma. Critics fume over the omission of Oxford comma from phrase ‘Peace, prosperity and friendship’ as new coin enters circulation

January 27: Me and the G-Man. A crime writer’s research sparks an unlikely
friendship with an FBI agent

January 27: Man Sentenced to Probation Despite Stealing More than $1 Million From Dr Pepper (JB swears it wasn’t him…)

January 28: What Authors Can Learn from the Greatest Long Takes in Movie History

January 28: Tesco cat Pumpkin defies Norwich supermarket ‘ban’

January 29: Ken Harmon’s “Fatman: A Tale of North Pole Noir” to come to the screen (One of Amber’s favorite comic mysteries!)

Food Fights

January 8: How New York’s Bagel Union Fought — and Beat — a Mafia Takeover. The mob saw an opportunity. Local 338 had other ideas.

January 17: In 1930s New York, the Mayor Took on the Mafia by Banning Artichokes


Buck Henry, comedy icon beloved for The Graduate and ‘Get Smart,’ dies at 89 

Edd Byrnes, Who Played ‘Kookie’ in ’77 Sunset Strip,’ Dies at 87

Stan Kirsch: Highlander and Friends actor dies aged 51

Forensic Artist Betty Pat Gatliff, Whose Facial Reconstructions Helped Solve Crimes, Dies at 89

Former Seattle Attorney Egil Krogh, Nixon ‘plumber’ who authorized a pre-Watergate break-in, dies at 80

Terry Jones: Monty Python stars pay tribute to comedy great

‘First Middle-earth scholar’ Christopher Tolkien dies

      Words of the Month

forensic (adj.) “pertaining to or suitable for courts of law,” 1650s, with -ic + stem of Latin forensis “of a forum, place of assembly,” related to forum “public place” (see forum). Later used especially in sense of “pertaining to legal trials,” as in forensic medicine (1845). Related: Forensical (1580s). [thanks to etymoline]

      What We’ve Been Up To


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Finder of Lost Things – I am furiously working on the end of season two! So please be patient!!!! On the upside you’ve now got time to catch up if you’ve fallen behind!


Shelley Noble – Tell Me No Lies

Lady Dunbridge is back, and her second stab at detection doesn’t disappoint! Her reputation for being of assistance in a crisis is growing. So much so, that when a man is found murdered (and ignobly shoved into a laundry shute) after a debutante’s ball – the host comes to Phil (our Lady Dunbridge) for help.

One of the best things about these books (so far) is how seamlessly Noble has taken the traditional English Manor House mystery and plunked it down in historic NY City amongst; the Great Stock Market Crash of 1907, Teddy Roosevelt’s recent departure as the head of NY Police Commissioner’s Board (thus leaving a vacuum and allowing dirty cops free reign again), and the Gilded Age of the NY City elite (partying in full swing).

Well, those who didn’t lose their shirts in the aforementioned crash…

Another reason why I enjoy this burgeoning series is the number of mysteries Nobel packed betwixt the cover of her books!

Not only do we have the murder at hand to enjoy watching Lady Dunbrige solve…We also have the continuing mystery of Phil’s maid Lily. To whom Phil hasn’t a clue what her real name is, where she comes from or her history. What she does know is Lily keeps a stiletto strapped to her ankle at all times, knows her way around locks, and speaks several languages.

Lily’s worked hard under the supervision of Phil’s butler Preswick learning her new trade as a lady’s maid – but the question is, can Phil really trust Lily?

Then there’s MR. X, a man who Phil possesses even less data on than Lily (including what he looks like). However, it’s his motivations that are the true mystery. Why is he footing the bill for her year-long lease at the Plaza? Why does he want her at the ready should he need her talents (social position, connections, and brains) to help solve murders (so far…)? Even more important are they working on the same side of the law?

Both of these carried over questions, which Noble does a great job of dropping bread crumbs to keep her readers following her questionable characters, are only the tip of the iceberg of curious people and tangled motivates present in her two books.

If you enjoy nearly bloodless, fast-paced, smart, witty historical mysteries, you’ll find the Lady Dunbrige Mysteries well worth your time.

Though, as my colleague below has pointed out – you need to start with the first book first! Ask Me No Questions. Otherwise, the second installment won’t have nearly the depth of flavor!


Now onto a Television Show Review!

If you perused our Best of the Decade book lists we compiled and published in January, then you know The Rook by Daniel O’Malley was at the top of my pile. So let me tell you I was really excited when I learned, back in May, STARZ had optioned it into a television series! (Unfortunately, because I’m disinclined to sign up for yet another streaming service, I had to wait until January before it became available on iTunes. Hence why I am reviewing it now.)

Here’s the thing.

(There’s always a thing with adaptations.)

When I first started watching The Rook, I needed to squint my eyes and look at it sideways to see the original text on the screen.

Not only does the show delete several beloved (well maybe not beloved but definitely interesting) Court members.

If you’re looking to see the Chevaliers Eckhart & Gubbins (metal manipulation & contortionist extraordinaire), Bishop Alrich (vampire) or Lord Wattleman (who sunk a submarine while naked in WWII and never had his powers really explained – that I recall) striding across the screen – you’ll be in for a disappointment.

It’s also missing the incidents with the purple spores & all the chanting, the cube of flesh bent on absorbing people, The Greek Woman, the dragon, a rabbit, and well quite a bit more besides.

The screen writes also futzed, which is a rather tame word for utterly reworked, the plot. Oh’ there’s still plenty of intrigues, infighting, and backstabbing – never fear.

But the villains of the piece have shifted dramatically.

To say the on-screen adaptation bears only a passing resemblance to the book and lacks much of the original wit and whimsy is an accurate assessment.


This is the thing.

If you think of books, television, movies, plays, and musicals as different universes – creating an artistic multiverse if you will – then it should be accepted that what happens in a book won’t translate exactly onto a television screen.

This is what happened with The Rook.

Both versions occupy different parts of the multiverse, and both versions contain strengths and flaws…

…and I love them both.

Much of what I love about the book is utterly impractical for a television (or computer) screen. If they’d tried, I fear we would’ve end up with something like The Hobbit. Where Peter Jackson used so much CGI, the movie felt more like a cartoon and lost a lot of the charm the original Lord of the Rings trilogy contained.

So the writers needed to edit, manipulate, and rework the plot.

And where they ended up is not only relevant, it shines a bright light on an under-addressed problem in the world today – Human Trafficking.

The specter haunting the Chequy employees isn’t the Grafters and their flesh manipulation techniques… But Vultures, like Peter Van Suoc, who hunt down and kidnap EVA’s (acronym for Extreme Variant Abilities). Then take them to the Lugate organization to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

It makes sense. It’s compelling. It moves the story along. It is different.

Our other narrative mover and shaker Myfanwy Thomas – still wakes up in the rain surrounded by people wearing latex gloves, she still loses her memory, she still has a choice between the red & blue keys, she still writes her new self letters and she still pursues the questions of who she is & who stole her memory.

Perhaps the television version is bleaker than its counterpart in the book universe – but is that such a bad thing? The adaptation strays much farther into grey areas than the book ever did. Mainly by asking the question – what really separates the Vultures & Lugate from the Chequy at the end of the day?

So if you can wrap your mind around an artistic multiverse, I would highly suggest watching The Rook. Not only is the story compelling – but watching the treatment Gestalt received at the hands of both the writers and the actors – is brilliant.



I’ve been deep in series-itis for as long as I can remember, and I’ve told you about these three before, so I’m not going to go into plot details because either you know already or I might reveal spoilers, so I’m just going to talk about them kind of generally.

Mind you, I LOVE THESE SERIES, so I’ll also remind you which is the first one in case you’ve been looking for a new series to read. They’re best read in series order, although with the first two, if you pick up the one I’m talking about, it’ll stand on its own, but won’t have the impact you’ll get if you read them in order.

Read them in order, dammit.

9781250207173First off, J.D. Robb’s Vendetta in Death.

Eve Dallas and company are back chasing a serial killer who is dealing out her perception of vengeance against men who have done awful things to the women who love them. She goes by the name “Lady Justice”, and her method of handing out said justice is brutal.

I know a lot of people dismiss Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb since she’s primarily known as a “romance” writer, but there’s quality in what she does.

I was witness to grace and strength, and for some reason it scraped me raw.” That one sentence sums up so much.

Start with Naked in Death.

Secondly, Ian Hamilton’s latest Ava Lee novel,

Mountain Master of Sha Tin knocks it right out of the park. Hamilton’s come up with the most off-the-wall protagonist in a long time in Ava Lee. Who expected a Chinese-Canadian lesbian forensic accountant to be the star of a thriller series? And yet, here we are.

I really recommend having read all the books before this, because Mountain Master of Sha Tin kicks you in the gut, especially if you’re as invested in these folks as I am. And Ava Lee in love is much more vulnerable than you might think. Besides, you won’t necessarily understand all the triad position names unless you do.

And you won’t be as excited as I am to know that Ian Hamilton’s started a series that tells Uncle’s back story!

Start with The Water Rat of Wanchai.

And now for the hat trick.

John Connolly. Charlie Parker. A Book of Bones. That’s really all I should have to say, honestly.

9781982127510This world, Quayle said, would continue almost exactly as before, except for those who understood where, and how, to look. They would see shadows where no shadows should be, and forms shifting at the periphery of their vision. As for the rest, they would watch the rise of intolerance, and the subjugation of the weak by the powerful. They would witness inequality, despotism, and environmental ruination. They would be told by the ignorant and self-interested that this was the natural order of things.

But in their hearts they would know better, and feel afraid.

A Book of Bones is, in many ways, the showdown we’ve been waiting for, and we are not disappointed. It almost feels like things are wrapping up.

And then John Connolly ends the book with a twist that had me staring blankly into space, calling him a right bastard, and admiring the brilliance of the twist.

This series you have to read in order; you can’t just pick up A Book of Bones and hope to know what’s going on. Besides, you don’t want to miss the dynamics between Louis and Angel. Trust me here. For hardened killers, they’ll steal your heart, as will Charlie’s daughters, but for quite different reasons.

Start with Every Dead Thing.

We’ll talk again after you’ve caught up, say about the time Golden in Death, The Diamond Queen of Singapore, and The Dirty South are out and devoured. Honestly, I can’t wait!


Two bookshop dreams:

First one is harder to recall but I was trying to reassemble bookshelves. Can’t remember why they were unassembled but it was crazy trying to fit bolts into boards and match the holes so that nuts could go onto the bolts, I’m on my knees with my nose about four inches from the floor, my glasses were falling off, I was trying to dodge the feet of customers…

The second one was that I was expecting one of my old sales reps to come over so we could have lunch. David was one of our reps for Random House. But the guy who showed up was a young rep, a new rep, and he was expecting to take an order for books in a new set of catalogues! He didn’t know that the shop was no longer active. He walked back to his car and then I realized that I needed those catalogues so that I could finish the next newsletter… To make it weirder, the house were all of this took place was the house I grew up in, not my current home. I think these newsletter dreams happen when it is getting closer to posting these newzines.

Three shows to recommend:

On Netflix, “The Confession Killer”, a documentary about Henry Lee Lucas and his confessions to hundreds of murders. At that time, back in the late 70s and early 80s, he was thought to be the serial killer with the most victims. Then it all fell apart. This documentary is more about the way it all fell apart – the internal warfare within law enforcement – than the murders. Very well done.

Also on Netflix, “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez”, a three-part look at this man who was such a talented athlete but whose internal monsters – whatever their source – drove him to destroy it all. Very well done.

Lastly, from HBO: “The Outsider”, an adaptation of a Steven King novel about an awful murder and the people who are destroyed by it – and then it gets weird. Very well done.