January Newzine ~ 2021!

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Serious Stuff

Why being kind to others is good for your health

Zodiac Killer: Code-breakers solve San Francisco killer’s cipher

Is this what we’re becoming?’: Anne Frank memorial in Idaho, the only one in US, defaced with swastika stickers

Roald Dahl Family Apologizes For Children’s Author’s Anti-Semitism

Op-Ed Urging Jill Biden To Drop The ‘Dr.’ Sparks Outrage Online

Feds to delay seeking legal protection for monarch butterfly

Lockerbie bombing: New suspect soon to be charged

French Police Barred From Drone Use in Protests

What a History of Book-Burning Can Tell Us About Preserving Knowledge Today

Washington’s Secret to the Perfect Zoom Bookshelf? Buy It Wholesale.

When “Normal” People Snap: The Unnervingly Universal Potential for Violence

How state marijuana legalization became a boon for corruption

On the Matter of SPECTRE

Can Shopify Compete With Amazon Without Becoming Amazon?

Life Without Amazon (Well, Almost)For concerned customers, avoiding one of the world’s largest retailers and web service providers is proving harder than expected.

Local Stuff

Tattooist, Muralist, Author: Seattle’s Kyler Martz redefines what being an ‘artist’ means

Bill Gates’ Holiday Book Recommendations for A Lousy Year

Ex-Seattle man who owned cadaver business arrested for allegedly dumping body parts in remote Arizona

Words of the Month

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Snow-Bones: They’re the lines of snow or ice left at the sides of roads after the rest of the snow has melted. Which will probably be around June.

-Thanks to Mental Floss & Internet Archive for this word!

Awards

A Dog Pissing At The Edge of a Path wins prize for oddest book title of the year

PW’s 2020 Person of the Year: The Book Business Worker

The 2020 Stocking Stuffer of the Year Award

Book Stuff

This Little Free Library at the South Pole is the First in Antarctica

How modern mathematics emerged from a lost Islamic library

Denver’s Tattered Cover Becomes Nation’s Largest Black-Owned Indie Bookstore

THE STRANGE STORY OF RICHARD WRIGHT’S LOST CRIME NOVEL, SAVAGE HOLIDAY

Tome raiders: solving the great book heist

Library Books: A Small Antidote to a Life of Perpetual Dissatisfaction

Crime by Committee: 8 Novels Featuring Group Misdeeds

Publishing saw upheaval in 2020, but ‘books are resilient’

Career-improvement books and e-learning courses are gifts that keep on giving

The book of love: 400-year-old tome of John Donne’s poems is unveiled

Will Dean: ‘The whole book came to me between midnight and 6am

The Girl Detective Disappears: On Searching for Nancy Drew, and Finding Myself

Why on Earth Is Someone Stealing Unpublished Book Manuscripts?

The Strange Experience of Reading a Book Series in the Wrong Order

How Many of the Greatest Crime Books of All-Time Have You Read? (Wait, Which Books?)

Every Dark Tower Book Ranked From Worst To Best

Many Bookstores Still Raising Cash on GoFundMe

Virtual Guadalajara Book Fair Attracted Big Audiences

The Lost Art of the “Cast of Characters” Lists That Opened Midcentury Mystery Novels

The World’s Most Valuable Scientific Manuscripts

These are the books New Yorkers checked out from the library most this year.

The Smallest Children’s Book In The Library Of Congress

The Most Scathing Book Reviews of 2020

Unemployed and Underemployed Booksellers Choose Their Favorite Books of the Year

Here Are The Most Beautiful Book Covers Of 2020

Surprise Ending for Publishers: In 2020, Business Was Good

BOOK PORN: One of the 21st Century’s Greatest Buildings Is a Library in Mexico

Other Forms of Entertainment

“Fargo” season 4 has spun a complex, compelling American fable of race and crime

Chadwick Boseman will not be replaced in Black Panther 2

Revenge of the secretaries: The protest movement that inspired the film 9 to 5

Thirty Years Later, Is Goodfellas The Greatest Mob Movie Ever Made?

Harrison Ford returns as Indiana Jones for fifth and final episode

Lost Muppet Christmas Carol song rediscovered

No More Mr. Nice Guy: Hugh Grant Embraces The ‘Blessed Relief’ Of Darker Roles

Say ‘what’s up, Doc?’ to Eric Bauza — the Canadian now voicing Bugs Bunny

The Sims launches 100 new skin tones thanks to the advocacy of Black players

The Most Wonderful Time For Christmas Songs Turned Out To Be … In July?

These Artists Will Change Your Mind About Winter

Successful, Sentimental And Satirized, ‘Love Story’ Celebrates 50th Anniversary

The Glasgow artist inspired by what she finds in the fridge

Lawsuit over ‘warmer’ Sherlock depicted in Enola Holmes dismissed

The Most Iconic Crime Movies Set During Christmas

On the Weird Little Essays That Inspired A Christmas Story

Why The Sopranos Has Become a Zoomer Touchstone

The Skills We Gained — Or Tried To — In 2020

Words of the Month

Piblokto:  a condition among the Inuit that is characterized by attacks of disturbed behavior (as screaming and crying) and that occurs chiefly in winter

No one is entirely certain what causes piblokto (and some scholars in recent decades have expressed doubts that it actually exists at all), but what is fairly certain is that it sounds like a nasty way to spend the winter. Imagine if you had not only to perform through your normal routine of shoveling the walk outside your house and navigating the many additional layers of clothing that winter necessitates, but in addition had to do all this while in a state of hysteria. 

“When an Eskimo is attacked with piblokto indoors, nobody pays much attention, unless the sufferer should reach for a knife or attempt to injure some one.” Robert Edwin Peary, The North Pole, 1910

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A picture of Robert Edwin Peary in his, “North Pole Costume

Thanks to Merriam-Webster’s Blog Words at Play!

Links of Interest

November 29: The ‘Robin Hood’ policemen who stole from the Nazis

November 29: California Governor Again Denies Parole for Manson Family Member Leslie Van Houten

December 1: Grünten statue: Mystery over missing phallic landmark

December 1: The Literary Life Behind America’s Favorite Girl Spy

December 4: Sir Ian McKellen backs bid to buy JRR Tolkien house

December 4: Video: Arecibo Observatory Telescope Collapses

December 4: Why We See Rainbows

December 7: Ikea scraps traditional catalogue after 70 years

December 7: The day a Picasso statue vanished in Toronto

December 9: David Lew: Artist sues Los Angeles museum after work thrown out

December 9: Deer Santa strolls through downtown Invermere sporting holiday cheer

December 9: Bad Sex in Fiction Award Canceled Because We’ve All Suffered Enough

December 10: Spain Evicts Francisco Franco’s Heirs From Late Dictator’s Summer Palace

December 11: What’s Fauci Reading? We Take Another Look at Celebrity Bookshelves

December 11: Pennsylvania Turns To Man’s Best Friend To Sniff Out Spotted Lanternfly Infestation

December 11: Future-proofing Highgate Cemetery for climate change

December 13: Rare ‘Harry Potter’ book sold for $84,500 after sitting on woman’s shelf for 17 years

December 14: To Unlock Sublime Flavor, Cook Like A Scientist

December 14: Toledo Zoo Discovers Tasmanian Devils That Glow

December 15: Japan ‘Twitter killer’ Takahiro Shiraishi sentenced to death

December 15: Pup took van for a spin, police say

December 17: Woman discovers ‘thrill’ of wildlife photography in lockdown up for award

December 17: Italians Read More During the Pandemic

December 17: Long Lost 5,000-Year-Old Egyptian Artifact Found in Cigar Box

December 18: US couple find 100-year-old whisky bottles hidden in walls of home

December 18: Thieves steal 2,400 cases of whisky from trailer

December 18: The John Jovino Gun Shop: The Closing of a Noir Landmark in Downtown New York

December 19: Police in hunt for twice-lost rare whale skull

December 20: Meet Beave, The Internet’s Most Famous Beaver

December 20: 24 Inventions by Women You Might Not Be Aware Of

December 21: Viking hoard secrets ‘unwrapped’ by £1m research

December 22: Hawaii Reboots Depression-Era Conservation Corps

December 22: War Pigeons: The Humble Heroes Behind His Majesty’s Secret Service

December 23: The Night Jacqueline Winspear Helped Her Father Steal a Christmas Tree

December 26: Scientists ID potential biomarkers to peg time of death for submerged corpses

December 26: Russian historian jailed for dismembering partner

December 27: Has Thomas Becket’s treasured ‘little book’ been found?

December 27: Model Train Company Makes Comeback In Quarantine

December 30: Jonathan Pollard: Israel spy greeted by Netanyahu after flying to Tel Aviv

December 30: Kim Philby – new revelations about spy emerge in secret files

Words of the Month

Northern Nanny: A cold storm of hail and wind from the north in England. Many northern nannies hit the UK in the 17th and 18th century, during a period known as the Little Ice Age. This led to the Thames freezing over on several occasions, and when the ice was thick enough, as in 1620, giant carnivals called ‘frost fairs’ were held on the river.

-Thanks to Collins Language Lover Blog for this term!

RIP

December 3: Mad Max star Hugh Keays-Byrne dies aged 73

December 7: William Kittredge, honored for his books about the rural West, has died at age 88

December 11: Thomas ‘Tiny’ Lister Jr.

December 13: Carol Sutton, New Orleans Star Known For Role In ‘Steel Magnolias,’ Dies At 76

December 14: Ella Augusta Johnson Dinkins, Champion Of Zora Neale Hurston’s Hometown, Dies At 102

December 18: Star Wars’ Boba Fett actor Jeremy Bulloch dies aged 75

December 26: George Blake – Soviet Cold War spy and former MI6 officer dies in Russia

December 26: Barry Lopez, award-winning and influential Oregon author, dies at 75

December 30: Deadliest serial killer in American history dies at 80, with police still searching for his victims

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Agatha Christie News:

INTRODUCING AGATHA CHRISTIE’S SVEN HJERSON

Six destinations every Agatha Christie fan should visit

Explore the World of Agatha Christie on PBS Jan. 17 & 24

It’s no secret that I love a well-written pastiche, and in Leonard Goldberg’s The Art of Deception, you’ve got just that – a well-executed pastiche….sorta. 

The sorta is on account of the fact these mysteries are based upon the canon of Sherlock Holmes. However, the man himself is absent, as he passed away many years before these tales – leaving behind Dr. Watson, Ms. Hudson, his methods….and a daughter. 

Who is just as bright, clever, and quick-witted as her father.

But here’s what I love about this series, Goldberg blends the familiar features of the original text into his new narrative with such a deft hand you’re able to recognize them for what they are, but they don’t feel crammed in. Even better? He doesn’t splice them in very often. Just enough to give flavor, but not so much he dilutes the current mystery Sherlock’s daughter, Dr. Watson, and his son are investigating.

Speaking of which, the case under investigation in The Art of Deception… 

A madman, for reasons unknown, is stalking and slashing Renaissance paintings – exclusively of women. When the madman decides terrorizing galleries in the West End isn’t enough and breaks into the home of man fifth in line for the throne…well, Lestrade calls on Sherlock’s daughter, Dr. Watson, and Dr. Watson for help.

The Art of Deception is a great book. One I, unfortunately, managed to polish off in two days. (I am absolutely terrible at putting a book down when I’m enjoying it. In fact, I would’ve finished it off faster, but work, sleep, and packing got in the way!)

If you’re looking for a solid, fun and fast mystery with a Sherlockian in feel, I’d recommend you read The Art of Deception

(BTW, you don’t need to read them in order to understand what’s happening in this book – Goldberg does an effortless job of catching the reader up.)

Don’t forget to check out Season 2!

Fran

Trust Me.

Some of you might have been put off by the fact that a good part of Emily St. John Mandel’s novel, Station Eleven, was presented as a dystopian novel, and I suspect in these days, knowing that the world collapses in this instance is because of what is known as the “Georgia Flu” won’t help. But Station Eleven is much, much more than that, and if you ask anyone else who’s read it, they’ll agree.

Also, don’t be off-put when I tell you that it delves into the realm of Literature, because that sounds pretentious, and Emily St. John Mandel has managed to avoid pretentiousness by telling a fast-paced action story. The fact that it has solid literary worth is cleverly disguised.

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Although I grant you, you’ll get more out of it if you’re familiar with Shakespeare’s King Lear. And Shakespeare in general, come to that.

Briefly, we begin on the eve of the Georgia Flu hitting the world (and this time the virus comes out of Russia instead of China, so see, that’s already one difference between fiction and reality. Aren’t you relieved?), with the collapse of legendary actor Arthur Leander onstage while he’s performing King Lear. The flu hits and within days, civilization as we know it is a thing of the past.

Station Eleven bounces back and forth between Arthur’s past and the future where one of the survivors of that fateful performance is now part of a traveling troupe of musicians and actors navigating the dangers of a new world littered with remnants and memories of the old one. And there are dangers aplenty, make no mistake.

Part of the deceptive charm of Station Eleven is that Emily St. John Mandel sucks you completely into her world, and you don’t see the power of her writing because it’s so beautifully understated. I finished it feeling like I’d been thumped over the head with a hammer that was lovingly encased in gorgeous velvet.

Oh, I know, I’m not making a lot of sense, which is why Station Eleven is a Trust Me book. Despite the dystopia and the flu, which I know sounds pretty awful to a lot of people right now, this is a book that should be on everyone’s TBR list, and honestly, I think it should be added to college level reading lists because Emily St. John Mandel’s weaving of stories is brilliant.

And it’s a page-turner too, with fabulous and complex people. And a dog. Trust me.

JB

In response to the year we’re leaving, and in hopes for the year we’re entering, I’ll leave it to this line from a great series we watched in November, “The Queen’s Gambit” ~ MY TRANQUILITY NEEDS TO BE REFURBISHED

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

July

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I’ve written this to her a number of times but thought it was time to do it publicly: Amber does a great job creating a header for each month’s newzine. All Hail Amber! ~ JB

      Odds~n~Ends

When I moved out to the PNW for grad school, one of my teachers was a great artist named Frank Okada. I got to know him very well. He kindly allowed me to borrow records from his vast jazz collection to tape. He also loaned me a copy of his late brother’s book, No-No Boy, a novel about a Japanese boy who joins the army in WWII. It’s a great book.

It’s now become the center of controversy as it was believed to be under copyright but it is now to be released by Penguin/Randomhouse. Here’s a story from the Seattle Times about the situation. I would recommend the novel to anyone but I would urge that they buy the University of Washington Press edition as it includes material from his siblings and the estate gets the royalties. As of now, PenguinHouse gives the family nothing.  ~ JB

Hard to know what this portends: Barnes & Noble Set To Be Sold To Elliott Management For About $683 Million 

Sellers in Amazon’s bookstore feel beaten up by counterfeit Wild West

“Since 1944, the mystery of how Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince, went missing remained unsolved for decades. That was until the chance discovery of a bracelet by a fisherman began to unravel what had happened”. BBC.com

Here’s one for Adele: What Really Happened to Malaysia’s Missing Airplane?

Pistol that Van Gogh ‘used to shoot himself’ sells for £115,000 at Paris auction 

‘I Really Thought He Was Going to Kill Me and Bury My Body’ Sherrilyn Kenyon accused her husband of poisoning her. Was it her wildest fiction yet?

       Podcasts!

There isn’t really much crime or mystery – as defined classically – in this podcast but it sure is an interesting take on modern America: Michael Lewis is probably most widely known for his book Moneyball (its a great book and was a good movie, too). His podcast is called Against the Rules and deals with the erosion, if not elimination, of referees in our lives. And by referees, he means those neutral people who used to be in the middle of disagreements and who would dispassionately follow the rules to settle the dispute. It is not just about umpires!

      Words for the Month

idioticon (n): “a dictionary of a dialect,” 1842, via German, from Latinized form of idiotikon, neuter of Greek idiotikos, from idioma (see idiom). [thanks to etymonline]

Not at all what you expected, right?

      Author Events

July 1: Deborah Harkness, Third Place/LFK, 7pm

July 8: Brad Holden, Elliot Bay, 7pm

July 9: Julie Weston, Third Place/LFP, 7pm

July 24: Daniel Nieh, Powell’s, 7:30pm

July 30: Kevin O’Brien, Elliot Bay, 7pm

      Words for the Month

gore (n.): A “triangular piece of ground,” Old English gara “corner, point of land, cape, promontory,” from Proto-Germanic *gaizon- (source also of Old Frisian gare “a gore of cloth; a garment,” Dutch geer, German gehre “a wedge, a gore”), from Proto-Indo-European *ghaiso- “a stick, spear” (see gar). The connecting sense is “triangularity.” Hence also the senses “front of a skirt” (mid-13th C.), and “triangular piece of cloth” (early 14th C.). In New England, the word applied to a strip of land left out of any property by an error when tracts are surveyed (1640s). Only later comes –

gore (n.): “thick, clotted blood,” Old English gor “dirt, dung, filth, shit,” a Germanic word (cognates: Middle Dutch goor “filth, mud;” Old Norse gor “cud;” Old High German gor “animal dung”), of uncertain origin. Sense of “clotted blood” (especially shed in battle) developed by 1560s (gore-blood is from 1550s). [thanks to etymonline]

      Links

May 23: Reading a ridiculously long book might seem like a chore, but it offers an unexpected reward

May 30: VICE LITTLE EARNER- Bawdy guide to London’s secret brothels in 1840s sells for £4k at auction

May 30: James Bond still a strong ‘recruitment sergeant’ for MI6, says expert

May 30: The Curious Origins of the Dollar Symbol

June 1: There are floating library boats in Sweden

June 1: House used as Tony Soprano’s is on the Market

June 1: So you want to be a novelist? A New York literary agent, editor and author reveal how bestsellers are born

June 2: James Ellroy says film adaptation of LA Confidential was ‘as deep as a tortilla’

June 2: Jodie Comer: “Mum and Dad took my BAFTA on a pub crawl”

June 3: ‘When They See Us’ Sparked a Boycott Against Central Park Five Prosecutor Linda Fairstein

June 3: Long-lost Lewis Chessman found in Edinburgh family’s drawer

June 4: Manson Family Member Leslie Van Houten Denied Parole by California Governor

June 4: Tin House magazine ends a 20-year run that helped make Portland’s literary reputation

June 5: Tourist’s lucky guess cracks safe code on first try

June 5: James Bond set ‘explosion’ at Pinewood Studios injures one

June 7: Linda Fairstein, Former ‘Central Park 5’ Prosecutor, Dropped By Her Publisher

June 7: “Langdon”, based on the Dan Brown books, is headed to NBC TV

June 7: George Orwell’s 1984: Why it still matters

June 7: The Intimacy of Crime Scene Photos in Belle Epoque Paris

June 9: A telephone for grief after the Japanese tsunami

June 10: New knees and tourist selfies: OJ Simpson on life post-prison in Las Vegas

June 10: The story of Australia’s oldest LGBTI bookstore

June 10: The First Murder Case to Use Family Tree Forensics Goes to Trial

June 11: Restaurant Temporarily Closed After Decomposing Body Leaked Through Its Ceiling

June 11: People Who Pay People to Kill People

June 12: Kim Goldman’s crusade: Make O.J. Simpson pay and never forget

June 12: A Very Happy 50th Birthday To ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’

June 12: Nirvana and Eminem music ‘lost in fire’

June 12: This Archive Captures Centuries of British Crime, From Cheese Theft to Murder

June 13: ‘Making a Murderer’ Brings Call to Abolish Actual Malice in Libel Suits

June 13: Trove of English Court Records Reveal Stories of Murder, Witchcraft, Cheese Theft

June 13: Lost Miles Davis album, Rubberband, to be released in September

June 13: Narnia creator CS Lewis’s letters to children go on sale

June 13: When Pepsi was swapped for Soviet warships

June 13: D.B. Cooper boat tour will offer insight into famous case during trip to sandbar where skyjacker’s money found

June 14: Leonard Cohen love letters fetch $876,000 at auction

June 14: Disappeared Argentina activists’ son finds family after 40 years

June 15: Kate Atkinson: ‘I live to entertain. I don’t live to teach or to be political’

June 15: Why would a nurse become a serial killer?

June 16: Babe Ruth jersey fetches record-breaking $5.64m at auction

June 17: North Carolina suspect fought off by boy with machete due in court

June 18: Mobster’s son behind dad’s murder at McDonald’s drive-thru: feds

June 18: A Prison Death, A Mysterious Autopsy, and Official Silence

June 18: NPR Identifies 4th Attacker In Civil Rights-Era Cold Case

June 20: Faber & Faber: by Toby Faber review – the untold story of a publishing giant

June 21: A Library Thrives, Quietly, in One of Pakistan’s Gun Markets

June 21: DC Comics shutters its legendary Vertigo imprint in reorganization

June 22: ‘Building over history’: the prison graveyard buried under a Texas suburb

June 22: Rogue slug blamed for Japanese railway chaos

June 23: Timeless Literary Feuds

June23: By the Book: Greg Iles

June 24: The Chilling Story of Three Women Haunted by the Same Rapist—And How the Law Failed Them 

June 24: How Amazon benefits from counterfeit books

June 25: Death in Ice Valley – New clues in Isdal Woman mystery

June 25: Stan Lee’s ‘first novel for adults’ to be published this autumn

June 25: Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul spark “Breaking Bad” reunion buzz with cryptic “Soon” messages

June 26: Target Pulls New Thread in Bikini Yarn

June 26: MOST STOLEN BOOKS 2018–2019 SCHOOL YEAR

June 27: ‘The Books Will Stop Working’: How The Microsoft Store Is Retiring Its Books Category

June 27: ‘Harry Potter’ Book With Daniel Radcliffe’s ‘First’ Autograph Sold For Over $3,000

June 28: MacKenzie Lueck murder suspect apparently wrote book involving burning bodies

June 28: No need to feel guilty about the pleasures of mystery books

June 29: Romance novelists speak out on the harassment they face online

June 29: Book details British cop’s impressions of Detroit crime

June 29: Five Examples of Steve Englehart’s Love of Obscure Comic Book History

      R.I.P.

June 1: Frank Lucas, Dies at 88; Drug Kingpin Depicted in American Gangster

June 8: Anthony Price, espionage fiction master and respected reviewer, dead at 90

June 8: Nicky Barnes, ‘Mr. Untouchable’ of Heroin Dealers, Is Dead at 78

June 12: Sylvia Miles, Scene-Stealer in ‘Midnight Cowboy’ and ‘Farewell, My Lovely,’

June 13: Bill Wittliff, ‘Lonesome Dove’ Screenwriter, Dies at 79

June 15: Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli dies at 96

June 23: Judith Krantz, Whose Tales of Sex and Shopping Sold Millions, Dies at 91

June 24: Billy Drago, who machine-gunned Sean Connery in “The Untouchables, Dies at 73

June 27: Max Wright: Star of Alf and Buffalo Bill dies aged 75

      Words of the Month

vulgate (n.): Latin translation of the Bible, especially that completed in 405 by St. Jerome (c.340-420), c. 1600, from Medieval Latin Vulgata, from Late Latin vulgata “common, general, ordinary, popular” (in vulgata editio “popular edition”), from Latin vulgata, feminine past participle of vulgare “make common or public, spread among the multitude,” from vulgus “the common people” (see vulgar). So called because the translations made the book accessible to the common people of ancient Rome.

vulgar (adj.): From the late 14th C., “common, ordinary,” from Latin vulgaris, volgaris “of or pertaining to the common people, common, vulgar, low, mean,” from vulgus “the common people, multitude, crowd, throng,” perhaps from a Proto-Indo-European root *wel- “to crowd, throng” (source also of Sanskrit vargah “division, group,” Greek eilein “to press, throng,” Middle Breton gwal’ch “abundance,” Welsh gwala “sufficiency, enough”) [not in Watkins]. Meaning “coarse, low, ill-bred” is first recorded 1640s, probably from earlier use (with reference to people) with meaning “belonging to the ordinary class” (1530). Related: Vulgarly.

What we have added to human depravity is again a thoroughly Roman quality, perhaps even a Roman invention: vulgarity. That word means the mind of the herd, and specifically the herd in the city, the gutter, and the tavern. [Guy Davenport, “Wheel Ruts”]

vulgarian (n.): A “rich person of vulgar manners,” 1804, from vulgar (adj.) + -ian.

      What We’ve Been Doing

   Amber

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Finder Of Lost Things: 

Last Friday – Phoebe mails off her anonymous tip to Ranger Lade about The Woman In White, Beatrice gets an epic stomach ache, and Ms. Hettie voices her displeasure.

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The Disappearance of Alistair Ainsworth – Leonard Goldberg

So here’s the thing – my local book store only had the new volume of the Daughter of Sherlock Holmes series on the shelves…

However, the title & summary of the new book intrigued me. Holmes’s daughter, 221b Baker Street, two Watsons, German spies, and a missing cryptographer – how could I resist such a combination?

So, not so shockingly, I went ahead and bought the book – and even less shockingly since I’m writing this review – I was rewarded for my out of order reading.

The Disappearance of Alistair Ainsworth is an intriguing, intelligent, and well-plotted mystery. While Joanna (Sherlock’s daughter), Dr. Watson and Dr. Watson Jr. depend on the Sherlockian method, they are not bogged down or bound by the minutia of the original stories. Goldberg cleverly works in select slices of the Doyle mysteries but reworks them, so they feel natural and unwilted.

Even better? Goldberg doesn’t spoil the mysteries which came before The Disappearance of Alistair Ainsworth, so you can start with the third book without knowing the solutions to the previous installments! Now, this doesn’t mean you aren’t left wondering what exactly happened to Sherlock, what happened to Joanna’s first husband or how she came to marry Dr. Watson Jr. – it means you need to go back and read the other two books to find the answers!

Even if you aren’t knowledgeable of Sherlock Holmes’s exploits, this book won’t leave you scratching your head. It is very grounded in 1914 London, the First World War, and the mystery at hand. I think anyone who enjoys historical mysteries, which just happened to feature well-known detectives, will find this book an enjoyable read!

I know I did!

   Fran

In my experience, there are three types of people who are late to the party. Spoiler alert, I know this from experience.

You’ve got the genuinely late, genuinely remorseful types. (rushes in wailing, “I’m so sorry! Traffic (or whatever)….)”

Then there are the fabulously late. (swanning in, “I’m here, let’s get this party started!”)

And the guiltily late. (sneaks in, hides in a corner, pretending to have been there all along, says nothing).

In this particular scenario, I’m the last one. I mean, I’m owning it and all, and I’m genuinely sorry about not having attended this party sooner, but…yeah. I should have been here earlier and I’m absolutely and most sincerely remorseful that I haven’t been. Because boy, have I been missing out.

I finally read Louise Penny.9781250068736

I know! I know! And yes, you’re right, and yes, I should have begun the journey with Inspector Gamache back when Adele told me to, but since the Pennys seemed to sell themselves, and no one can match Adele’s brightness and delight when talking about them, I figured I’d get around to them one of these days. That day arrived, and I’ve blasted through Still Life and A Fatal Grace almost without taking a breath.

Except I had to stop and let you all know that while I may be late to this particular party, I’m about to jump out of the corner and start dancing with everyone else.

At least until I get my hands on The Cruelest Month  (which I just did). Then I’m going back to ignoring all y’all. I’ll be needed in Three Pines. And yes, I want to live there too, even if it does give intimations of being the Quebecois version of Cabot Cove or Midsomer. I don’t care. I love these people!

Let’s Party!

   JB

It is my pattern, my want, my curse, that whenever I get interested in something, I have MV5BNTEyYmIzMDUtNWMwNC00Y2Q1LWIyZTgtMGY1YzUxOTAwYTAwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjIyMTc0ODQ@to search out info about it until I feel “full”. As soon as HBO began to air promos for “Chernobyl”, I was sold on watching it and looked forward to it. That desire was rewarded, I felt, by it being terrific TV – compulsively watchable, vivid, dynamic, truthful in is presentation, and honest. After the first episode I began to look for information about the show and the accident itself.

While I remember the accident happening at the end of April of 1986 (the month we got the keys to our house) there was much I didn’t recall clearly. Just the scale of the accident. The series was very good in presenting the accident, what lead up to it, how it unfolded. I understood going in that there were liberties taken by the creators with some of the characters – it’s HOLLYWOOD for heaven’s sake! – in order to present the story. Some shortcuts, some composite characters, some details of the massive story have to be curtailed in order to tell the larger story and have it make sense in five hour increments.

In my readings about show, I found out that there was podcast going on to accompany the series. It was a joint effort of Peter Sagal (from NPR’s “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me”) and the writer and producer of the series, Craig Mazin. Each episode of the show is discussed and dissected and Mazin is clear to explain what was done to make the show work. If you’ve watched the show but not listened to the podcast, I urge you to. If you’ve not watched the show, you must.

I got it through Apple’s podcast system. Should be easy to find on any system. Never once does Mazin claim his show is a complete recitation of the accident. He’s very clear that his interest was in not only portraying the accident and what it did to people but to also show the grim dangers of secrecy and lies.

Because the drive of the show is how hiding the truth is dangerous. While the men running the reactor that night made mistakes, the Soviet system set it up to happen eventually. If you’re too young to remember the USSR and the Cold War, the events and circumstances of the Chernobyl catastrophe will be an mind-blower. And in our time, when truth and science are dismissed and spat upon, the is a real-life cautionary tale whose end will not be written for thousands of years.

9781501134616And somewhere in my reading, I ran across a book that had just been published – Adam Higginbotham’s Midnight in Chernobyl. It was being touted as the definitive account of the entire, horrific affair – and it was. It’s dramatic and heroic in scope, you get the details and numbers in a smooth, flowing narration, and portrait he provides is staggering in its breadth and honesty. It’s got maps, and diagrams, and photos. About the only thing it lacks is the distinct smell of radiation – like ozone we’re told.

He puts you into the danger, telling you that radiation pops off your eyeballs with the sensation of a spray of water. You read how much went into building the first sarcophagus over the ruined reactor and how the second structure is big enough to hold three of the St. Peter’s Basilica.

It’s a staggering story. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Now the question is, have I learned enough to satisfy the craving?

For now, perhaps – now it is back to the Mueller report!

 


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