September 2020

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A little something different in this months Words of the Month

Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity. The sentiment has been attributed to many other minds. (thanks to Says You!, episode 2412)

    Odd Stuff

The shop’s e-mail filter has snagged a number of messages as nefarious. They’re supposedly from US sources and the subject lines say something like “Only The U.S. Presidential Team Will Save United States from Doomsday Ahead” or “The Exceptional Benefits of The United States Presidential Team”. Makes me wonder if these are attempts by “outside actors” to influence the election. Usually, we just get sunglasses brags or Nigerian princes’ pleas in Spanish…

Was Tony Soprano’s Therapist Good at Her Job?

Improve your relationships – with advice from counter-terrorism experts

Complete your pandemic aesthetic with this bookcase that converts into a coffin.  

Frans Hals painting ‘Two Laughing Boys’ stolen for a third time

The Art of Upsetting People 

Was The Graduate Inspired by a Brontë Family Scandal?

Don’t feel bad: even Danielle Steel, author of 179 books, couldn’t write under lockdown.

    Nice Stuff

Add a Tart Twist to Your Summer Reading List With These Cocktail Themed Mysteries

Is this the greatest TV commercial ever made for a public library?

How Dashiell Hammett’s Contintental Op Became a Depression-Era Icon 

“The Easiest Eighty Thousand Words Ever Put Together”: The Story Behind the Story of David Dodge’s To Catch a Thief 

A Bruce Lee Hong Kong sightseeing tour – visit where the martial arts icon lived, filmed, trained and went to school with this DIY guide 

One Twitter Account’s Quest to Proofread The New York Times 

Did you know that Truman Capote discovered Ray Bradbury? (Well, sort of.)

Words we think we know, but can’t pronounce: the curse of the avid reader

Poetry magazine will skip its September issue to address its “deep-seated white supremacy.”

Check out this gorgeous illustrated map of Black-owned bookshops across the country.

    Serious Stuff

Agency: Nearly 87,000 bogus unemployment claims filed in Washington state

Murders of California Indigenous Women 7 times less likely to be solved, report finds

“The Con,” a new five-part docuseries, examines the 2007-08 global financial crisis and the greedy bankers and politicians who got away with (figurative) murder. 

How a Russian Defector Became a Warning from Moscow to London

Alan Dershowitz claims a fictional lawyer defamed him. The implications for novelists are very real


Bookseller, writer, and publisher organizations want congress to go after Amazon.

Portland’s Powell’s Books says it ‘must take a stand’ and will stop selling books through Amazon

(Amazon owned)Whole Foods managers told to talk up donations while enforcing BLM ban


The Real Criminal Masterminds in America Aren’t Working the System—They Created It 

3 of the World’s Deadliest Serial Killers Come From the Same Place: Why?

‘History Is Corrected’: An Interview with Civil Rights journalist Jerry Mitchell 

Sex Offender Registries Often Fail Those They Are Designed To Protect

New York rejects 11th parole bid of John Lennon’s killer 

Global Raid Targets Major TV and Movie Piracy Group 

Writers Against Trump wants to mobilize the literary community in advance of the election. 

Fact Checking Is the Core of Nonfiction Writing. Why Do So Many Publishers Refuse to Do It?  

Independent bookstores struggle under national security law in Hong Kong

    Local Stuff

Half a century after 4 murders rocked a community and a courtroom, ‘Seattle’s Forgotten Serial Killer’ explores the case of Gary Gene Grant

    Words of the Month

Benfor’s Law: The louder the voice, the weaker the argument. Passion is inversely proportional to the amount of real information available. (thanks to Says You!, episode 2412)

      Awards

Marieke Lucas Rijneveld wins International Booker for The Discomfort of Evening 

J.K. Rowling Returns Kennedy Human Rights Award After RFK Daughter Calls Author “Transphobic”

    Book Stuff

In turbulent times, culling my book collection gave me the illusion of control. Then the dilemmas began multiplying. 

Personal Space: Laura Lippman Dares to Focus on Herself

Hundreds of errors found in Hemingway’s works, mostly made by editors and typesetters

Elena Ferrante’s Master Class on Deceit: Her latest novel frames lying as a creative act.

Weird Women: The Forgotten Female Horror Writers of the 19th Century and Beyond 

What to Do About William Faulkner: A white man of the Jim Crow South, he couldn’t escape the burden of race, yet derived creative force from it. 

The Book in the Cathedral by Christopher de Hamel – adventures of a manuscript sleuth 

True Crime’s Messy, Interactive Renaissance 

The Lost Classics of One of the 20th Century’s Great Hard-boiled Writers 

The World of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser and the Birth of the 1970’s Private Detective

Middlemarch and other works by women reissued under their real names


My Pandemic Master Class with The Silence of the Lambs 

The Silence of the Lambs: The Seminal Serial Killer Novel, and Still the Best


My First Thriller: David Morrell

I prefer a more domestic murder‘: the thrilling nastiness of PD James

Surprising secrets of writers’ first book drafts

People want to support their local bookstores. They might be hurting them instead.


Vivian Stephens Helped Turn Romance Writing Into a Billion-Dollar Industry. Then She Got Pushed Out.

‘We Need People Within Our Publishing Houses Who Reflect What Our Country Looks Like’ Book publisher Lisa Lucas reflects on her career and how the literary world still isn’t diverse enough


The way you pull your favorite books off the shelf is probably ruining them.

On Repetition As a Powerful Literary Tool

    Author Events

Events, yes – signings, no

    Words of the Month

Sturgeon’s Law: “ninety percent of everything is crap.” wikipedia

    Other Forms of Entertainment

 

The 35 Most Iconic Caper Movies, Ranked

The Agony of Liam Neeson, Action Star

The Crime is Up: A hybrid podcast featuring original crime fiction and film noir appreciations.

The greatest femme fatale ever? 

What I Learned About Myself While Tallying The Body Count of Ozark’s First Season

Watch the steamy first trailer for Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile.

The Sherlock Holmes group The Baker Street Irregulars have a video podcast now, The Fortnightly Dispatch.

Otto Penzler finished his list of Greatest Crime Films of All Time

This One Line From Gone Baby Gone Plays on a Loop in My Head

    RIP

August 1: James Silberman, Editor Who Nurtured Literary Careers, Dies at 93

August 2: Wilford Brimley, Star of “The China Syndrome” and “The Natural” Dies At 85

August 4:  Pete Hamill, Quintessential New York Journalist, and Novelist, Dies at 85

August 4: Reni Santoni, Dirty Harry Actor and Seinfeld’s Poppie, Dead at 81

August 18: Ben Cross, British actor in Chariots of Fire and Sarek in Star Trek films, dead at 72

August 28: ‘Black Panther’ Star Chadwick Boseman Dies of Cancer at 43

    Words of the Month

Gibson’s Law: “For every PhD there is an equal and opposite PhD.”

    Links of Interest

July 30: Doubting Gauguin ~An amateur detective takes on the National Gallery, and the art world

August 2: He’s probably been in more movies than any actor in history (hint: he’s in “Chinatown”)

August  2: ‘Murder capital of the world’: The terrifying years when multiple serial killers stalked Santa Cruz

August 3: “I’m Going To Be Honest With You,” The Grandfather Told Police. “I Killed A Lot.”

August 4: This woman hunts for photos and other treasures left in used books — then returns them

August 5: Coups, lies, dirty tricks: The Police’s Stewart Copeland on his CIA agent father

August 5: Russia’s ‘Red Penguins’ Had Mobsters, Strippers, Beer-Chugging Bears—and Some Hockey

August 5: Whatever Happened to Eliot Ness After Prohibition?

August 5: The unusual new species of stingray found in a jar

August 6: My Life in True Crime ~ Kim Powers’ life has been spent writing about crime. But the suspicions about his own mother’s death were kept secret

August 6: The Spy Messages No Computer Can Decode

August 6: Medieval ‘wine windows’ are reopening, reviving Italian plague tradition

August 7: Tennis star, fashion designer, integration advocate . . . spy?

August 7: Cheeky boar leaves nudist grunting in laptop chase

August 9: Cavorting in Hot Springs, Ark., During Its Sin-Soaked Heyday

August 9: Gandhi’s glasses left in Bristol auctioneer’s letterbox

August 10: Thirty-year-old corpse discovered in cellar of €35m Paris mansion

August 17: Two men charged with 2002 murder of Run-DMC DJ Jam Master Jay

August 18: How a Fake CIA Spy Fooled Everyone and Swindled Millions

August 18: The Last Seduction: The greatest femme fatale ever?

August 19: The Bloody Benders: America’s First Family of Serial Killers

August 20: Jack Reacher and The Grand Unified Theory of Thrillers

August 23: Frank Sinatra Slept Here, and So Can You ~ In New York and across the country, the former homes of famous writers, musicians and film stars are available as short-term rentals

August 23: Assassins in stockings and stilettos: is it time movies killed off hitwoman cliches?

August 23: Tel Aviv covers over Peeping Toms beach mural

August 24: Kuwaiti writers welcome change to book censorship laws

August 24: Israeli youths unearth 1,100-year-old gold coins from Abbasid era

August 25: Discovery of scholar’s notes shine light on race to decipher Rosetta Stone

August 25: How Do Celebrity Conspiracy Theorists Become Who They Are?

August 25: What the Mythology of El Chapo Guzmán Tells Us About the Reality of Drug Trafficking in the Americas

August 25: Kevin Costner on ‘Dangerous’ Trump, a ‘Bodyguard’ Sequel With Princess Diana, and American ‘Amnesia’

August 27: Memories of a Coroner’s Daughter

August 28: My Top Five Female Detectives, Real and Imagined

August 28: Driven to Abstraction: the inside story of a $60m art forgery hoax

August 28: Forensics on Trial: America’s First Blood Test Expert

August 29: Denise Mina: ‘I couldn’t read until I was about nine’

     Words of the Month

Doctorow’s Law: “Anytime someone puts a lock on something you own, against your wishes, and doesn’t give you the key, they’re not doing it for your benefit.”

    What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

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Don’t forget to check out one of my other blogs – Finder of Lost Things! A serial mystery set in and around Nevermore Cemetery!

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Now due to the slowness of the mail recently all my new books were delayed in arriving, so I’ve not had a chance to read them yet. So instead, here’s a review of a Lego build I finished of a….

Bookshop!!!!!

This is probably one of the most fun (only surpassed by the detective’s agency) and detailed builds I’ve finished so far in Lego’s mains street builds. With trees, flowers, a backyard garden and books – what more can you ask for?

Lego categorizes this as an Creator Expert build – so unless you have a kid with large builds under their belt or can follow instructions well – I’d work up to this set.

However, it is totally worth practicing for!

Speaking of Lego – Here’s a funny story: Lego hand comes out of boy’s nose after two years

JB


I put this article here, rather in the Book Stuff section, ’cause Dave and Clete are two of my favorite people – no matter that they’re fiction: The Evolution of Dave Robicheaux and the Incredible Career of James Lee Burke

And then this appeared the next day: James Lee Burke on Art, Fascism, and the Hijacking of American Christianity


Charles Leerhsen‘s new biography, Butch Cassidy, 9781501117480was great fun. It’s full of interesting details – Etta’s first name was really Ethel but a typo in the Pinkerton’s file has forever changed that, and Sundance played the guitar well – who knew? I had not heard that Sundance’s mother’s maiden name was Place and that’s likely where Etta/Ethel got it.  In fact, it may be we really don’t know her birth name.

I had not heard of the collapse of beef prices during the blizzard called the The Big Die-Up of 1886-87 (a 15-inch snowflake still holds the world record for size from that storm) and that massive affect on the Old West. I had not realized the size of hauls the Wild Bunch got from banks and trains, and, as staggering as those numbers are, it is astonishing how they were always out of money. “You could go broke in the Wild West being a bandit.” And I had not realized just how far and how often they’d travel, whether by horseback or, one assumes, train.

What Leerhsen does best it draw portraits of the outlaws and juxtaposes those against what we all expect from the famed movie. Indeed, while haunted and hunted by the law, they still did quite a bit of straight work – cowboying on ranches all along the eastern Rockies. He does a similar job relating their years in South America. Again, I had not understood how long they were there. Hollywood, again. But Leerhsen points all of that out, even to the degree which screenwriter William Goldman purposefully didn’t research Cassidy and Sundance and still he got their personalities and era right.

With a light and amusing style, he sets down things that you know about in a new way. About the massive explosion in the train heist in Wilcox, WY – so well destroyed a second time in the movie, the author tells us: “When Woodcock came to, he was pleased to realize wilcoxthat the crimson splotches all over his clothes came from a shipment of raspberries that the blast had turned into flying jam. The red stuff now coated everything in sight – and would later make the stolen bank notes and coins easier to identify”. Later, one of the gang would be arrested after spending one of the stained notes.

 

There are many, many amusing passages in the book. Wish I’d kept better track of them!

But there are a few flaws to the book. For one, it’d’ve been a great help to have a map of their locations in the Eastern Rockies and in South America. Much more useful than the usual photos that are not new. They road hundreds of miles, worked at this ranch or that ranch, circled back to this one – where was that one again? He also remarks often about how Butch’s fame as an outlaw grew but he doesn’t match that but noting how many bank or train robberies there were. From what he includes, Butch seems to be an occasional outlaw, not a desperado with a national reputation.

But that leads to one glaring fault of the book. Maybe he didn’t feel the need to present anything comprehensive due to the large number of books about Butch. Indeed, time and again he mentions the authoritative or exhausting book that Richard Patterson or Kerry Ross Boren, or the work of Daniel Buck and Anne Meadows. Maybe the helpful maps are in one of those books…

At any rate, I highly recommend this book. There’s lots about the time period and what their Old Wild West was really like and, best of all, as Leerhsen seems to agree, there are no intrusive, annnoying Burt Bacharach songs.

 

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

A Couple of Ideas!

Amber Here!

So in times like these – when you’re spending an inordinate amount of time at home – the key to not going crazy…is to keep both your mind and body active.

Now there isn’t much advice I can give for the latter, but the former I’ve got a couple of ideas. Not the least of which, for those of you out there with a Rainy Day Craft Stash – I think now is the time to peer into its depths and see what you can find!

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(See what I did here – Crafting with Christie! Here’s a link to the great people who made the kit I stitched for this pic!)

Now, if you don’t own your body weight in yarn, embroidery floss, and fabric, I’ve got another idea!

Books, which honestly isn’t a surprise, but hey, it’s got to be said! There is a plethora of great ones out there right now just waiting to be snapped up!

Now I know a lot of the bookshops out there have shut their doors temporarily – but not all of them have. I promise! One of my favorites is in Moscow, Id. and it’s called Bookpeople Of Moscow. The owner is lovely and in her beats the heart of a real book lover!

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(I didn’t take a picture of the bookshop or apparently of downtown Moscow – so have a picture of a Quail right around the corner from the shops!)

Now, if you’d like to stay a whole lot closer to home with your purchases, I’ve found these four indie bookshops who are still open – in one form or another – so you can get your books without needing to resort to THOSE OTHER GUYS.

Magnolia Bookstore

Book Larder (they only do cookbooks)

Queen Anne Book Company

Magnus Books

Now, if you’re tired of reading, though how that could happen, I’m not sure (other than eye strain), I’ve got another idea for you…

LEGO!

Not the little kits that you received as a kid, but the giant expert sets with over 10,000 pieces and 250+ pages of detailed instructions! (I am not kidding.) They are a great way of passing the time while listening to the TV, which is heading rapidly towards repeats, so the plot doesn’t need 100% of your attention!

Plus, if you’re anything like me, the warm glow of nostalgia of snapping together the pieces is wonderful!

For inspiration, here’s a build I completed that was fun & forever-taking!

Now if none of this helps and you’re still either bored, depressed or experiencing a huge case of the stir-crazies….Here’s a pic of a mama duck and her ducklings that will hopefully help – if only a little!

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Need A Mother’s Day Gift Idea?

      Amber Here

Do you have a mother who enjoyed playing Lego’s with you as a kid?

Or a mom with a sense of humor, who appreciates you gifting her with a set to reminisce over – i.e. stepping on your missing brick, with bare feet, in the middle of the night?

I have just the set for you – a Pop-Up Book!

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Complete with two different stories – Little Red Riding Hood or Jack And The Bean Stalk! (Jack’s not pictured here. I like Red better.)

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Will Red save Grandma from the Wolf? Depends on the story!

(They didn’t include a Huntsman or his knife – perhaps Lego felt it was a bit to bloody?)

      Review

This is a way easy build (so long as Mom follows the instructions) by comparison to the other buildings I’ve shared with you! I finished in a hour or two watching MLS soccer a few Saturdays ago, so it shouldn’t eat up to much time out of your Mom’s day – especially if you build it together.

The final fairytale tome fits easily on a bookshelf (it’s about the size of a hefty hardback). The only downside is the Red, Grandma and the Wolf  don’t fit inside when the book is closed. So there’s a slight risk of them getting loose and straying under her foot…again.

But that will bring back fond memories of your youth and remind her how much you’ve grown and what a fine job she did raising you…Right? Definitely won’t have her cursing your name…

      P.S.

Don’t forget to check out my other blog: Finder of Lost Things!

This week Wood and Phoebe get confused by a conversational wizard!

A Gift Idea

Amber Here!

With December in full swing, most of my spare time is taken up with shopping, crafting or baking commitments. Leaving me very little time for reading and reviewing books for you guys.

However, back in the beginning of November while killing some time in Bellevue Square I ran across a toy I think any mystery lover would enjoy!

Lego’s Detective’s Office !

With a suspicious barbershop (which has a secret exit), hoods playing pool & drinking beer in the Highlander and a femme fatal, this Lego set answers the question: Does Lego Town contain a seedy side? And the answer is yes!

(Though it is a kids toy so it’s rather tame.)

So if you are looking for a gift idea for someone who already has enough mysteries to read (like that’s even possible) and enjoyed Legos as a kid, I highly suggest this build!

BTW the finished product is nowhere close to the size of the box all the pieces come in, I promise! It fits comfortably on an IKEA bookshelf!

One other thing, it takes 2,262 bits and pieces to build and if you’re great at following instructions, then you shouldn’t find this build to intimidating (even if you haven’t played with Legos for over thirty years). However, younger less patient builders may find the set frustrating if assembling it on their own – so I’d recommend building it with them.

Seriously I forgot how much I enjoyed playing with Legos as a kid until I picked up this Lego set and assembled it over several weekends while watching football. It even inspired me to purchase another set, the Ninjago City, which reminds me of the cityscapes in Total Recall (the new version), Firefly and Bladerunner.

I cannot wait to start putting it together!

My Other Blog:

And don’t forget to check out my weekly penny dreadful – Finder Of Lost Things!

This week the crew’s recounting unfortunate roommates over pizza and Phoebe discovers she might not be the oddest one in the house!