February’s Newzine!

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      Podcasts

LeVar Burton Reads: The Best Short Fiction, Handpicked by the World’s Greatest Storyteller – Literally LeVar Burton (of Reading Rainbow & Star Trek fame) reading short stories (all kinds) to you!

Netflix has released a new series that IS interesting and certainly IS grisly: Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.  It is also full of period film of Seattle in the 70s.

      Word of the Month

supergrass (n): supergrass is a British slang term for an informant who turns Queen’s evidence, often in return for protection and immunity from prosecution. In the British criminal world, police informants have been called “grasses” since the late 1930s, and the “super” prefix was coined by journalists in the early 1970s to describe those who witnessed against fellow criminals in a series of high-profile mass trials at the time…

The first known use of “grass” in that context is Arthur Gardner’s crime novel Tinker’s Kitchen, published in 1932, in which a “grass” is defined as “an informer”. The origin of the term “grass” being used as signifying a traitor, a person who informs on people he or she knows intimately, ostensibly can be traced to the expression “snake in the grass”, which has a similar meaning. The phrase derives from the writings of Virgil (in Latin, latet anguis in herba) and has been known in the English language, meaning “traitor”, since the late 17th century.

An alternative claim is made for the term originating from rhyming slang, whereby “grasshopper” is defined as “copper”, meaning “policeman”. The rhyming slang version was supported in 1950 by lexicographer Paul Tempest. (wikipedia)

      Book Events

February 4: April Henry, 7pm Powell’s

February 9: Mike Lawson, 1pm Barnes & Noble, Silverdale

February 14: Mary Daheim AND Candace Robb, 7pm Third Place/LFP

February 16: Mike Lawson, 3pm, Magnolia Bookstore

February 24: Jasper Fforde, 6pm Third Place/LFP

      Links of Interest

January 1: Books are good for your brain. These techniques will help you read more.

January 2: Australian police respond to spider death threats

January 3: Can An Auto-Immune Disease Explain The Salem Witch Trials?

January 4: Manson family murderer Robert Beausoleil recommended for parole

January 5: ‘Kidnapper’ chased out of North Carolina karate studio

January 6 (from the UK): Independent bookshops grow for second year after 20-year decline

January 7: ‘The Sopranos’ at 20: How did the show change TV — and us?

January 7: David Chase on ‘The Sopranos,’ Trump and, Yes, That Ending

January 8: A woman’s murder in Peking and a literary feud

January 8: How true-crime podcasts find clues the police miss

January 9: ‘The Millions’ Will Live on, But the Indie Book Blog Is Dead

January 10: Woman fined after bragging about illegal hunt on dating app

January 11: Some Dos and Don’ts from Famous Authors

January 11: ‘Hugely heavy’ hippo sculpture stolen

January 11: Can Romance Novels Save Heterosexual Sex?

January 11: British sarcasm ‘lost on Americans’

January 12: Can a fugitive remain on the run forever?

January 13: True Detective’: Three Real-Life Cases Behind the Show’s Central Mystery

January 13: After Stephen King Tweeted at a Maine Paper for Cutting Book Reviews, It Gave Readers a ‘Scary Good’ Offer

January 14: The Hunt for the Nazi Loot Still Sitting on Library Shelves

January 15: The Homeless Man Who Set Up A Book Club

January 15: ‘Most famous’ banned book to be sold

January 16: TV series based on Portland writer Chelsea Cain’s novel premieres on WGN America

January 16: The Villainous Bitch Has Become the Most Boring Trend in Literature

January 17: The Library Of Forbidden Books

January 17: New York’s Secret Travel Club

January 17: Nancy Drew is Still Influencing – Well the covers are at any rate

January 17: Sherrilyn Kenyon~Bestselling author accuses husband of poisoning her in ‘Shakespearean plot’

January 18: Earliest Fragments of the English Language Revealed

January 21: How ‘Sherlock’ went from super-sleuth to the Baker Street Men Behaving Badly

January 22: ‘Sopranos’ Prequel Film Finds Young Tony: Michael Gandolfini Is Chip Off Old Block

January 23: An infamous mobster’s home was up for sale in Vegas. Buyers made an offer. Who could refuse?

January 23: ‘Buffy’ returns with a modern comic book reboot

January 23: Guillermo del Toro leads drive to save horror bookshop Dark Delicacies

January 23: San Francisco’s Aardvark Bookstore Closes after 40 Years

January 23: ~ If I Hate Violence So Much, Why Do I Love Writing About It?

January 23: Don Winslow ~ I Write Fiction About Border Crime, But Unlike Trump I Tell the Truth.

January 23: A week in the life of a London murder detective

January 24: Medieval book coffer shows appetite for mobile reading ‘is nothing new’

January 24: Times reporter pens book about mystery of missing Skelton brothers

January 24: 7-year-old’s book accepted into Library of Congress

January 24: Amanda Knox ~ European court orders Italy to pay damages

January 25: Penguin Random House Closes the Prestigious Imprint Spiegel & Grau

January 27: Booker Prize Looses Sponsor

January 27: The Knotty Nostalgia of the Hardy Boys Series

January 28: The tiny library bringing books to remote villages

January 28: Book explores old murder mysteries in Lorain County

      Word of the Month – Continued

croodle (v): To cower or cuddle together, as from fear or cold; to lie close and snug together, as pigs in straw. (thanks to wordfinder)

      R.I.P.

December 29: June Whitfield – The wonderful voice of Miss Marple on BBC Radio

We say farewell to Ed Kennedy, a customer who went back to the early daysimage-69068_20190102 of the shop. He’d bop in with a big smile and a friendly “Hey, Man!” He bought books for himself, mysteries and special orders for himself and relatives. Ed had a deep, smooth voice and would often be on his way to or from a session of taping a book for the Washington Talking Book. This seemed to be one of his great pleasures, reading a book aloud for those who couldn’t read themselves. With that voice he must’ve been one of their stars.

Thanks, Ed. Vios con dios!

January 4: Edgar Winner Brian Garfield, dead at 79

January 20: Tony Mendez, Mastermind of the Rescue of the US Hostages in Iran

January 31: Dick Miller, Gremlins and Terminator actor, dies aged 90

      Word of the Month – Lastly

Rivulose – adjective – marked with irregular, narrow, sinuous, crooked lines or furrows resembling rivers marked on a map.

While they may use this word primarily to describe the irregular, surfaces of bugs, fishes, and mushrooms (for purposes entomological, ichthyological, and mycological), you can apply it as you wish. It can, for example, do the job of describing the wrinkles on your typical lexicographer’s shirt. The word is Latin in origin, tracing back to rivulus, meaning “rivulet,” and the English suffix –ose, meaning “possessing the qualities of.” Something that is rivulose is marked with lines reminiscent of those made by a rivulet—that is, a small stream—as viewed from far above.

(thank-you to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary)

      What We’ve Been Doing

    Amber

Don’t forget! Check out my mystery blog!

 Finder Of Lost Things

After an eventful night which included a mysterious FLYT fare, the discovery of Little Ben’s ill conceived pet cemetery plans and getting chewed out by Joseph at Nevermore. Phoebe’s on her way home for a quiet snack and then bed…

But her night’s not quite over yet!

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No Wind Of Blame by Georgette Heyer

So this mystery is a bit of a conundrum.

Because, for one reason or another, until the murder of Wally Carter I disliked every character Heyer introduced into the narrative. Since the deed wasn’t done until page one-hundred-and-thirty-one…well let’s just say it took me a while to work my through the cast’s hysterics, dramatics, whining, and martyrdom to the meat of the matter.

But two things kept me from shelving the book permanently, neither Heyer nor her foil, Inspector Hemingway has ever let me down.

And as you’ve guessed, (since I’m writing a review) my patience was rewarded, because the last half of the book was excellent.

Even better?

Through Hemingway’s investigation, observations, and dry wit, you come to understand exactly who these people are and their motivations, which shed an entirely new light on the first half of the book, making it infinitely more interesting – and well worth a reread.

Perhaps not the best of Heyer’s mysteries (it is definitely not the worst), the solution straining the boundary of credulity, it is still a satisfying read.

You just need to stick with it!

BTW – Source Books has reissued all of Georgette Heyer’s mysteries! So if you couldn’t find them previously, they are easy to find now! And I highly recommend a read thru of her mysteries, if you enjoy classic 1930s-1950s British mysteries!

My favorites: Death In The Stocks & Why Shoot A Butler?

    Fran

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Okay, let me just say up front that I adore Amber and trust her implicitly. Therefore you have to understand the sorrow with which I tell you, Amber lied.

Amber lied BIG TIME.

Okay, first of all, go back and read her review of Brandon Sanderson‘s book, LEGION. It’s okay, we’ve got time. I’ll wait. It’s back in December, so you won’t have to scroll far.

Done? Groovy.

I’m not going to recap the synopsis; you just read it. But what you’re not getting is how BADLY SHE UNDERSELLS THIS BOOK!

Holy cats.

Granted, if you’re looking for Sanderson’s telltale fantasy story, you’ll be disappointed, but only briefly because the writing is incredible! It’s a suspense story, yes, and it’s told in three parts, but once again, it’s the characters that make it. And Stephen Leeds’ “aspects” are so fully formed, so incredibly wonderful, that you can’t help but get involved with them.

And if you have an artistic friend, perhaps a writer, this helps you understand how complex characters can be created.

I’ll be re-reading it, I have no doubt. It’s the kind of story that is multi-layered, and psychologically complex.

And I do wish we were still working together because Amber would have had me read this much sooner than I did, and that would have been wonderful. So now, listen to her, listen to me, and go read Brandon Sanderson’s LEGION!

Why are you still here? Go!

    JB

Coming in April is a fascinating history of the Allies’ use of women to work with the Resistance during World War II in preparation for the invasion of Europe.

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Sarah Rose’s D-Day Girls is a heady mix of mission and personality as you get to know these women – Rose takes pain to note that the women involved did refer to themselves as “girls” – the men in charge of the missions in London, and the men hunting them in France.

Rose details the resistance within the Allies to allowing women to have a role in the fight, partly due to the usual, age-old sexism that women can’t or shouldn’t go into battle, partly due to racism (one woman was Jewish and could she be trusted!!), and partly due to real qualms about possible sexual torture if captured. There’s a pageant of humanity in this story – fear and courage, hope and frustration, passion and fury, good and evil – all told with a lively writing style that is somewhere in-between Ben McIntyre, Eric Larson, and Alan Furst.

In one of those strange quirks of history, the man in charge of these heroes was Captain Selwyn Jepson. It was his job to find people to insert into France and it seemed only logical to him that if men were in short supply send women. Jepson was a well-known mystery novelist and screenwriter before and after the war.

It’s a fascinating story with details and dates. I guess I’d always thought that the French Resistance took place throughout the war but Rose shows that the Resistance as a nation-wide organization really only started in 1943, with the women spending ’42 being trained in tradecraft. It was due to the approach of the invasion that the Allies used the Resistance to bedevil the Nazis so that they couldn’t respond well to an invasion. Luckily for us all it worked well enough to allow Normandy to succeed.

Thank god the men got out of the way and let these women do their jobs!

The author notes that the indignities these women went through before going into enemy territory didn’t end then. After the war, they were not awarded to the same extent as the men who did the same thing, their medals were of lesser levels. And then, of course, they were ignored by historians for the last sixty years.

I’m glad Sarah Rose has stepped in to redress this contemptuous treatment.

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January Newzine


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HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL! WELCOME TO 2019!

      Awards!

2018 Nero Award Winner Announced:

Winner: Stephen Mack Jones, August Snow  (Soho Crime)

The 2018 Nero Finalists:

Warren C. Easley, Blood for Wine  (Poisoned Pen Press)
Loren D. Estelman, The Lioness is the Hunter  (Forge)
Matt Goldman, Gone to Dust  (Forge)
Kathleen Kent, The Dime (Mulholland Books/Little, Brown)

November 27: MWA Announces 2019 Special Edgar Awards – Grand Master, Raven and Ellery Queen Award Recipients

      Podcasts

Michael Connelly is starting a podcast called Murder Book. Sounds like fun! It starts January 28th.

      Word of the Month

nick-fidge: a child who is always getting scolded  (thanks to Says You, episode #815)

      Book Events

January 9: Christopher Sandford, Third Place Books/SP

January 11-20: Tasveer South Asian Literary Festival

January 12 and Jan. 16.: Jayne Ann Krentz

January 18: Lindsay Faye, Powell’s

January 18: Gail Carriger, UBooks

January 29: Ian Rankin in conversation with Phillip Margolin, Powell’s

      Links of Interest

November 30: Powell’s Books CEO reflects on her career, reading habits and why she loves books

November 30: Books are back: Indigo CEO talks the future of book stores, new Robson Street store

December 2: When he feared communists were infiltrating America, Congressman Larry McDonald took extreme measures — building his own intelligence-gathering arm.

December 2: Jeeves And Wooster, But Make It A Modern Spy Novel

December 2: Is Your Holiday Gift Spying On You?\

December 3: In Love With Teen Lit: Remembering The ‘Paperback Crush’ Of The ’80s And ’90s

December 3: Spoiler Alert! The Psychology Of Surprise Endings


December 3: 2018 Bad Sex Writing

~ Bad Sex in Fiction Award: James Frey ‘honoured’ to win 2018 title for novel ‘Katerina’

~ Bad Sex in Fiction Award: Haruki Murakami, James Frey and Gerard Woodward among all-male shortlist

~ Bad Sex awards: 20 of the worst shortlisted extracts from Morrissey to Stephen King


December 5: Former Guild Theatre in downtown Portland will become home to Japanese bookstore

December 6: How We Got Hooked On Grisly True Crime Murders

December 6: Val McDermid’s ‘Broken Ground’ Balances Location, Character And Props In Perfect Proportion

December 6: What Kind of Monster Tears the Pages Out of Books? Aquaman!

December 7: The worst things about working in shops at Christmas

December 7: The Paper Publishing a Holiday Books Guide since 1851

December 8: Is Listening to a Book the Same Thing as Reading It?

December 9The Man Making Art From Government Surveillance

December 10: Starving The Watchdog: Who Foots The Bill When Newspapers Disappear?

December 10: John le Carré’s Next Novel to Land in 2019

December 11: Mystery Blast Sank The USS San Diego in 1918. New Report Reveals What Happened

December 11: Brazilian Booksellers Face Wave of Closures That Leave Sector in Crisis

December 11: What’s eating this 400-year-old painting?

December 12: Chocolate meltdown closes German road

December 12: 25 Movies Added To National Film Registry

December 12: James Patterson made $86 million in 2018, topping the list of the world’s highest-paid authors

December 12: When out-of-date code causes chaos

December 13: Roald Dahl’s war medals finally arrive, 73 years on

December 13: New Zealand anger over Google naming murder suspect

December 13: New York Times London crime Twitter appeal backfires

December 14: The inside story: How police and the FBI found one of the country’s worst serial killers

December 15: Oregon library halts book-discard effort after list revealed

December 17: Amazon faces boycott ahead of holidays as public discontent grows

December 18: She swiped her co-worker’s Coke can. Police say it cracked a 28-year-old murder case.

December 18: “Making a Murderer” detective sues Netflix for defamation

December 18: Cate Blanchett Disappears in the Trailer for “Where’d You Go, Bernadette”

December 19: Lee Child on HARDtalk

December 20: Third of rare Scotch whiskies tested found to be fake

December 21: Why this Tokyo book shop is charging customers an entry fee

December 22: True-life treasure hunt that turned into a comic book

December 23: Bottleneck at Printers Has Derailed Some Holiday Book Sales

December 27: James Lee Burke ~ By the Book

December 28: This American Life ~ The Room of Requirement: “Libraries aren’t just for books. They’re often spaces that transform into what you need them to be: a classroom, a cyber café, a place to find answers, a quiet spot to be alone. It’s actually kind of magical. This week, we have stories of people who roam the stacks and find unexpected things that just happen to be exactly what they required.”

December 28: Notes from the Book Review Archive: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Thought Sherlock Holmes Was ‘a Lower Stratum of Literary Achievement’

December 28: How paperback redesigns give publishers a second chance at winning readers

December 28: Glasgow’s LGBT book shop a ‘wonderful success’

December 28:  Josephine Baker’s secret life as a World War II spy

December 29: The Krull House by Georges Simenon review – a dark masterpiece

December 29: New Life for Old Classics, as Their Copyrights Run Out

December 30: Tell Us 5 Things About Your Book: A Deep Dive Back Into ‘The Sopranos’

      Word of the Month – Continued

Murdermongress – (nonce-word) A female writer of murder stories.

Origin: From murdermonger + -ess. Earliest use found in Ogden Nash’s (1902–1971) description of Agatha Christie in a 1957 work.

Pronunciation: /ˌməːdəmʌŋɡəˈrɛs//ˈməːdəˌmʌŋɡ(ə)rɪs/

(Thanks to Oxford English Dictionary)

      R.I.P.

December 14: Sondra Locke: Any Which Way You Can actress dies aged 74

December 18: Penny Marshall: US TV star and director dies aged 75

December 27: Seattle loses its chronicler of vice: journalist Rick Anderson6a00d8341e589c53ef0134896f4661970c-500wi This is a photo from our old blog: “Journalist, columnist and all-around-writer Rick Anderson was in to sign ‘Seattle Vice’. The sub-title says it well: ‘Strippers, Prosititution, Dirty Money and Crooked Cops in the Emerald City’. 11.20.10”

      Word of the Month – Lastly

scot-free (adj.) Old English scotfreo “exempt from royal tax,” from scot “royal tax,” from Old Norse skot “contribution,” literally “a shooting, shot; thing shot, missile” (from Proto-Indo-European root *skeud- “to shoot, chase, throw;” the Old Norse verb form, skjota, has a secondary sense of “transfer to another; pay”) + freo (see free (adj.)). First element related to Old English sceotan “to pay, contribute,” Dutch schot, German Schoß “tax, contribution.” French écot “share” (Old French escot) is from Germanic. (thanks to etymonline)

      What We’ve Been Doing

    Amber

Don’t forget to check out my original mystery! Finder Of Lost Things

This Friday Phoebe meets her mystery during an unexpected FLYT fare!

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Murder At The Brightwell by Ashley Weaver

Murder At The Brightwell is a rare treat, a contemporaneously written mystery which feels as if it were penned during the nineteen-thirties. A closed caste of characters, subtle violence, and with the very glamorous upper-crust class of English society – all of which are hallmarks of the era (of writing).

What I find fascinating is the author’s ability to slip in complex emotional ties without ever detracting from the story: the not-so-subtle marital issues, the love triangles and a finely illustrated double standard applied to husbands & wives of the period – all of which concern, in one way or another, our band of vacationers. But Weaver does such an excellent job of using these same motives in a variety of ways it adds to the underlying tension without ever once becoming monotonous.

I loved it.

Her styles reminds me a bit if you crossed Georgette Heyer’s mysteries with Agatha Christie’s. Not romance as such portrayed on the page, but the detailing of complex relationships shared by people which can give rise to all kinds of unresolved or unexpressed feelings which in turn can lead to happy endings if hammered out or dangerous, dark emotions if left to fester.

This understated attention to the interpersonal relationships and social mores makes for fascinating and rich reading.

Because our detectives are suffering the woes of marital strife, much of the book feels a touch melancholy. Which is not usually my cup of tea, but because the mystery and the people are so interesting, for once this didn’t bother me. Which is a huge tribute to the author, because the prose never tipped into the trap over overstated sadness or despair – or having the heroine witter on about what a bad wife she thinks she is (taking on blame that isn’t her own trying to justify her husband’s bad behavior is an irritating read, in my opinion).

In any case, I would recommend this first in series to anyone who enjoys reading a great classic/historical mystery set in England!

    Fran

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If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember Mr. Peabody and Sherman, and Mr. Peabody’s WABAC machine. Of course, I always thought of it as “Way Back” machine, but it did make history interesting.

Fun Fact (before I actually start talking books): For a long time, nobody knew what WABAC meant, just that computers of that period generally ended in AC – ENIAC, UNIVAC, which lead to “brainiac”, where AC stood for Analog Computer – so of course WABAC had to end in “AC”. It was theorized at one point that WABAC stood for “Wormhole Activating & Bridging Automatic Computer”, but in 2014, DreamWorks created the “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” movie, and they announced that WABAC actually stands for “Wavelength Acceleration Bidirectional Asynchronous Controller”. So now you know.

Anyway, we hop into the WABAC machine, and we head to the 1970’s, which is farther back than I’d prefer to remember it being, and the sentence that always led to brainiac exercises was, “How do you justify your existence?”

That was the question that was asked of guests at every meeting of the Black Widower Society, a fictional monthly meeting of men who were based on the real life society Isaac Asimov belonged to at the time, although the cast was never based on his compatriots.

Tales of the Black Widowers and More Tales of the Black Widowers are frequently overlooked by both science fiction and mystery lovers, which is unfortunate because they are some fabulous little mysteries. At each meeting of the Black Widowers, a puzzle is presented, whether deliberately or not, and all of the wildly intelligent members of the Black Widowers takes a turn at trying to solve it. In the end, it’s the waiter, Henry, who comes through, because he sees things simply and straightforwardly.

Okay, before someone starts shouting at me about sexism and whatnot, remember the time this was written. Yes, it’s sexist. Not necessarily misogynistic, but definitely sexist. My response is that’s the time it was written, it’s a period piece – you’ll notice no one has cell phones either – and just enjoy the puzzles. The personalities of each of the characters is well-defined, and as a treat, in one of the stories in the sequel, Asimov inserts himself as a guest, although he uses the pseudonym “Mortimer Stellar”.

Seriously, take a trip back to the mid 70’s and have a few evenings with the Black Widowers, if you can. The books are largely out of print, to the best of my knowledge, so you have the added delight of tracking them down, like the detective you know you are!

(BTW: Amber Here – I read all these short stories at Fran’s urging and she’s right – as always – these are Fine mysteries! Which are well worth the extra effort of tracking down!)

    JB

I’ve read most of the books by Ben MacIntyre. I missed the book on the formation of soldiers during WW2 of what would become the SIS. That came out when the shop was closing and I just didn’t get to it. His newest is The Spy and the Traitor. It’s a very timely book as it deals with Soviet espionage and the Russian spy who became an important double agent for the West at the end of the Cold War. 9781101904190

It’s full of Soviet aims and Soviet skills, as well as the mixed efforts of their side. For every die-hard Soviet agent intent on defeating the West there was one who didn’t care and worked more for themselves. This story of Oleg Gordievsky is illuminating because he was from a KGB father and had accepted the entire Soviet line about the decadent West. While he did see as much decadence in the West as in his own country, he was staggered by the freedoms, the art, the music, and the happiness of the West.

In an age where Russia seems to be turning back to Soviet life under Putin, MacIntyre lays out the fruitlessness of this. It’s all about control at the top and power and those who suffer are those ordinary citizens, not the elite. In this, the mirror is held up to the West these days and we have to ask where we are going.

The truly alarming section of the book deals with the Andropov era and how he steered the Soviet world into a concrete belief that the West under Reagan was about to preemptively launch a nuclear attack against the Warsaw Pact and orders were sent out to be alert for certain signs that the attack was near – signs that largely were of everyday actions and policies of the West that had no part of an attack. It’s a chilling account that I had not heard about before.

I highly recommend this book, indeed, any book by Ben MacIntyre. You can’t call them “true crime” but fascinating history told well they are.

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They go away …

December Newzine

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Dictionary.com contends that the Word of the Year, 2018, is misinformation. Our point of view is why should there be only one?

      Stan Lee

As you’ve no doubt heard, American Master Stan Lee died on November 12th. While much has been written about his impact and accomplishments, we ran across this that we’d not heard about when it was originally printed. From November 2007 issue of The Atlantic, this is Stan Lee’s “powerful definition of the American idea”. Take a moment to read this: America is a Dream.

      Awards!

It’s that time of year again, award season for books! Announced on October 27th (we are a hair late) are the CWA Dagger Award Winners. Grats to one and all!

The CWA Diamond Dagger:Michael Connelly

The CWA Gold Dagger: Steve Cavanagh – THE LIAR

The Ian Fleming Steel Dagger: Attica Locke – BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD

The John Creasey Debut Dagger: Melissa Scrivner Love – LOLA

The CWA ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction: Thomas Harding – BLOOD ON THE PAGE

The CWA Historical Dagger: Rory Clements – NUCLEUS

The CWA Short Story Dagger: Denise Mina – “NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT”, BLOODY SCOTLAND

The International Dagger: Henning Mankell – AFTER THE FIRE 

The CWA Debut Dagger: Bill Crotty – THE ETERNAL LIFE OF EZRA BEN SIMEON

Highly Commended: Joseph James – RIVERINE BLOOD

The CWA Dagger in the Library: Martin Edwards.

November 15th: National Book Award Winners

      Word of the Month

Bunyip (noun – plural -s – bun·​yip | \ˈbənˌyip\) – impostor, phony

Bunyip comes to us from Australia, where the word originally had the meaning “a legendary wild animal usually described as a monstrous swamp-dwelling man-eater.” Bunyip comes from an Aboriginal language, and began appearing in print in the 1840s.

The “impostor” meaning came shortly thereafter, appearing the following decade.

“…and they one and all recognized the bone and picture as belonging to the “Bunyip,” repeating the name without variation.”

              — Geelong Advertiser and Squatters’ Advocate (Victoria, Aus.), 2 Jul. 1845

Thanks to Merriam-Webster website for the word & definition

      Links of Interest

October 31st: Judge’s copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover fetches £56K at auction

October 31st: The Scottish writer who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula

November 1st: Medieval ‘Porpoise grave’ remains a mystery

November 1st: Gunpowder Plot: 1605 Thomas Percy link found in archives

November 1st: Portland’s Rose City Book Pub, a bookstore and bar, now open

November 1st: Pride and Passion: Jane Austen novels the Brazilian way

November 1st: Killing Eve: How the hit BBC show’s killer soundtrack was made

November 2nd: West Side Story’s gangs get new moves after 60 years

November 3rd: Ian Rankin Interview ‘I couldn’t get on with War and Peace’

November 3rd: ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ to Release Campaign Setting Book in 2019

December Issue: Jack Reacher Still Won’t Quit, 23 Books Later

November 4th: Murdered mob boss gave stolen Boston art to IRA, says former Met detective

November 5th: Booksellers show unprecedented act of solidarity

November 5th: Morbid exhibits of UCL’s Pathology Museum

November 6th: Why a Book Tour Is More Brutal Than a Political Campaign

November 6th: How Stan Lee led the 1960s superhero revolution

November 7th: Drowning cow saved by ‘mermaid’ on a swim

November 7th: Collection of ‘obscene’ books on display at Oxford University

November 10th: How Edgar Allan Poe Got Kicked out of the U.S. Army

November 12th: Enigma code veteran to take secrets ‘to end of my days’

November 12th: ‘A pas de deux of sex and violence’: a poet’s guide to film noir

November 12th: Amazon asked to share Echo data in US murder case

November 13th: Arrest in hunt for ‘Ross from Friends’ lookalike

November 14th: Reusable coffee mugs that can be borrowed like library books

November 14th: The Birth, Death, and Long Afterlife of The Gashlycrumb Tinies

November 14th: Too short’ Tom Cruise to be replaced for Jack Reacher reboot – Maybe they’ll get it right this time?

November 15th: John Sandford: By the Book

November 15th: Lost Disney ‘Oswald’ film found in Japan

November 15th: Megan Abbott’s Work Diary –‘My Psychiatrist Notes How Tired I Look, Which Is Great’

November 15th: Seattle high-school teacher shares ‘the wonder of books’ with students on a different kind of field trip

November 16th: Mark Twains Complicated Relationship with the Typewriter

November17th:Elite library sorters race to process books in cutthroat competition. Also: Aaron Sorkin talks To Kill a Mockingbird, a fanfic writer talks going pro, and the rest of the week’s best writing on books and related subjects.

November 18th: 4am Starts and Spinach Smoothies – Dan Brown on How to Write a Bestseller

November 18th: Dan Brown on Trump – “Reality Has Surpassed Fiction”

November 18th: Bookstore’s Tweet On The Sale Of A Children’s Book After 27 Years Goes Viral

November 19th: The Birth, Death, and Long Afterlife of The Gashlycrumb Tinies ~E is for Edward who wrote a gory masterpiece.


September 15th: French bookshops revolt after prize selects novel self-published on Amazon ~ Booksellers refuse to ‘jump into the wolf’s mouth’ and order Marco Koskas’ Renaudot-longlisted novel online

November 19th: Canadian literary prize suspended after finalists object to Amazon sponsorship


November 20th: How Agatha Christie hides her plot secrets in plain sight

November 20th: NYTimes ~ 100 Notable Books of 2018

November 23rd: Stop Thief! An otter on the loose is eating koi from a formal garden

November 23rd: Laura Lippman ~ Books That Made Me

November 26th: The isolated Albanian artillery base hidden in a cliff

November 28th: Margaret Atwood to write Handmaid’s Tale sequel

November 28th: Harry Potter are endless tie-ins diluting the magic?



      Word of the Month – Continued

phony (adj.): also phoney, “not genuine,” 1899, perhaps an alteration of fawney “gilt brass ring used by swindlers.”

His most successful swindle was selling “painted” or “phony” diamonds. He had a plan of taking cheap stones, and by “doctoring” them make them have a brilliant and high class appearance. His confederates would then take the diamonds to other pawnbrokers and dispose of them. [“The Jewelers Review,” New York, April 5, 1899]

The noun meaning “phony person or thing” is attested from 1902.

thanks to etymonline

      R.I.P.

November 2nd: Raymond Chow: Film mogul who discovered Bruce Lee dies at 91

November 7th: Kitty O’Neil: Wonder Woman stuntwoman dies at 72

November 7th: Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, Long-Serving Times Book Critic, Dies at 84

November 12th: Douglas Rain: Actor who voiced Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey dies

November 12th: Stan Lee

November 25th: magician, author, and actor Ricky Jay (he was in a terrific crime movie filmed here in Seattle, David Mamet’s House of Games)

      Word of the Month – Lastly

huckster (n): circa 1200, “petty merchant, peddler” (often contemptuous), from Middle Dutch hokester “peddler,” from hoken “to peddle” (see hawk (v.1)) + agent suffix -ster (which was typically feminine in English, but not in Low German). Specific sense of “advertising salesman” is from 1946 novel by Frederick Wakeman. As a verb from 1590s. Related: Huckstered; huckstering. (thanks to etymonline)

       What We’ve Been Doing

    Amber

Don’t forget to check out my original mystery! Finder Of Lost Things

Jenn McKinlay – Hitting The Books

IMG_1506Lindsey Norris, Library Director of Briar Creek Library, didn’t seek out trouble this time. She just gazed out the window during the weekly crafternoon meeting, when she witnessed the hit-and-run of one her patrons. The weird thing? Lindsey is pretty sure the car sped up and swerved into Theresa Huston. But who would want to hurt the former tennis pro? When the driver turns up dead in the car with a stack of library materials in the passenger’s seat – Lindsey can’t help but do her own investigating…

I am so glad I stuck with this series! This installment is an excellent read! The mystery itself is engaging, and the variety of subplots (which are woven in flawlessly) are hilarious. I also enjoy how McKinlay is able to keep her library angle fresh and interesting for her readers.

I would recommend this book (which you can start with, provided you know going in that this installment isn’t close to being the first-in-series) to anyone looking for a fun fastpaced cozy read! Seriously this book moved at a quick clip from cover to cover!

Brandon Sanderson – Legion

Stephen Leeds is a genius.IMG_1472

Kinda.

Stephen can learn any new skill in a matter of hours, has a photographic memory and is considered the smartest man on the planet. But unlike Sherlock, who utilizes his mind palace to recall information from the depths of his psyche, Stephen speaks with his aspects.

What’s an aspect? Glad you asked…An aspect is how his brain outsources its knowledge. Stephen only has access to the information when that particular hallucination is advising him. A new aspect pops into existence each time Stephen acquires a new skill, like learning Hebrew or astrophysics. Each aspect (or hallucination, but most of them don’t like this term) comes complete with their own name, unique physical features and is nutty as a fruitcake in their own unique way. Stephen has forty-seven aspects and counting.

Having gotten tired of being studied by people with strings of letters after their names (which made him rich), Stephen and his team of imaginary experts now solve mysteries; such as locating a missing scientist and his revolutionary prototype or figuring out who stole a dead body and why.

Perfectly ordinary cases, well except for the teleporting cat…

Stephan Leeds is one of the most unique characters I have read in a very long time, and I’m kinda bummed that Sanderson only wrote these three novellas featuring this extraordinary detective!

While this novel is composed of three individual components – it doesn’t feel that way. There’s an overarching mystery which helps to marry the three together. Plus Stephen Leeds’ (as well as his aspect’s) voice is consistent thru the entire book, which also helps keep the continuity.

Then there’s Stephen himself who provides a fascinating point of view to read from. He’s quirky (not crazy as he repeatedly tells us), but all of his aspects are mad as March hares – which causes no end of hilarity! Plus watching how he’s learned how to cope with the nuances of his own mind is inspiring (for those of us still trying to master our own).

Then there are the mysteries themselves, which Sanderson jampacks with action, levity, and depth. Skin Deep’s (the second novella) resolution contains one of the comical twist endings I’ve read in a long while.

Overall I think anyone who enjoys mysteries with a splash of strangeness will enjoy reading Legion and I cannot wait to badger Fran into reading this book! (Which, BTW, is much harder now that we don’t see each other five days a week – perhaps a letter writing campaign? Everyone likes getting mail that isn’t a bill…Right?)

Seriously if the shop was still open I’d be putting this book into your hands and telling you to trust me – you’re going to love it!

    Fran

9781616957759-1-400x600Okay, I know you don’t like short stories. I get it, I do.

(Not you. You love short stories, and you probably already have this anthology. Just have my back, ‘kay?)

But I’m asking for a leap of faith here – this is a “trust me” moment.

Last year, Soho Press put out a Christmas/Holiday anthology called The Usual Santas. Eighteen short stories, all holiday themed although not necessarily Christmas themed. And you must read this book.

I’m not kidding! Holy cats, is it FUN! Dark in many ways, laugh-out-loud funny in others, compelling no matter what. Stash it in the car so you can read while you’re waiting in line. Tuck it into your jacket for when you’re on the bus. Hell, put it in the bathroom, and read the occasional story there.

This is a holiday buffet that simply can’t be beat. And see, just look at all the authors – Martin Limón, Peter Lovesey, Helene Tursten, Stuart Neville, Cara Black, Colin Cotterill, and James Benn, whose quote about the anthology,  “The Usual Santas: a very good example of that kind of thing.” is perfect.

Oh, and fair warning. When I get older, I’m changing my name to Maud.

You’ve been warned.

    JB

I have stacks of books around here that I had gathered during my decades at the bookshop that I never allowed myself enough time 9780671869205to read. I have one pile of biographies of jazz masters, or painting masters, of history and biography and I am now getting to some of them. Starting in early October, I picked up David McCullough’s Truman. While the President and I come from the same area, and I knew the basics of his life, I have to say I really knew very little about HST’s life.  This thousand-page book won McCullaugh the Pulitzer Prize and every page shows why. It has been worth every moment of the nearly two months it took to read it!

I did take a couple of breaks. One was to read the latest Lee Child (great news they’re going to find someone LARGER to play Reacher) and Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers (disappointingly thin on detail in comparison to the Truman tome…).

From page 947-8 of the McCullough:

“The opening installment of the Memoirs, titles ‘The Most Momentous First 18 Days’ appeared in the September 25th issue of Life, with a cover photograph of the former President and the First Lady standing in front of their Independence home.  Doubleday’s publication of Volume One, called Year of Decisions, followed five weeks later, with an author’s autographing party in the grand ballroom of the Muehlbach, on Tuesday, November 2, 1955.

“To the delight of the publisher, Truman had agreed to sign books for all who came. ‘I expect to use, probably, a couple of $1.75 fountain pens that I bought at the Twenty-five Cent Store, along with a half dozen others that I happen to have, and I don’t want any advertising stunt [for the pens] whatever,’ Truman had written to Samuel Vaughan, Doubleday’s advertising manager. ‘I will go along with any party arrangements which you make for Doubleday, but don’t get me into any advertising for pens, cakes or anything, because I won’t do it.’

“Arriving in Kansas City a few days in advance to make arrangements, Vaughan was distressed to hear people asking why they would want to come to such an occasion for Truman, ‘when we see him all the time anyway.’ Greatly concerned, Vaughan worked to line up Battery D {Truman’s WWI comrades} veterans, the Boy Scouts, anyone he could think of, to be sure there was a crowd. But he need not have bothered. More than three hundred people were already in line waiting before the party began.

“‘Hand Firm to the End’ was the headline in the next morning’s paper.

“It was almost unbelievable. ‘I had no idea it would be anything like this,’ Truman said as he saw the crowds grow, the people still coming, hour after hour. His hand fairly flew as he signed books, until he was doing six to eight autographs a minute. If there ever was a demonstration of his extraordinary vitality, this was it. He kept going hour after hour, not only signing his name but greeting people. ‘There, that one’s all slicked up,’ he would say with satisfaction, finishing his signature and handing over the book.

“By the end of the first session, he had signed over a thousand copies. In all, incredibly, he turned out four thousand autographs in just five and a half hours. Reporters on hand, his publishers, watched in amazement. Earlier, when Ken McCormick of Doubleday has suggested to Truman that perhaps he might prefer to have the autographs done by a machine, Truman had replied, ‘I will autograph as many as I can. I am not an expert with a machine, and I would rather do it by hand.'”

Truman turned 77 six months later on May 8th.

So what to read next????????

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THANKS FOR STAYING WITH US!

~ UNTIL NEXT YEAR ~




Shop Small Independent Businesses 

This Holiday Season.

They go away if you don’t…

August

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      Presents

If it hadn’t been for Seattle Mystery Bookshop, I would never have met Jonathan Santlofer (whose memoir THE WIDOWER’S NOTEBOOK just went on sale, complete with his original art illustrating it – you want it, you really, truly do!), and who just sent me a print of his original drawing of Anthony Bourdain.

Thank you, Jonathan! It’s amazing!

Santlofer's Bourdain

Jonathan's signature

Jonathan's inscription

~ Fran

        Special News from Hard Case Crime!

Friends —hard-case-crime-logo

Over the years, many of you have asked us if you could get posters or prints of Hard Case Crime covers. The answer has always been no — until now. We’ve just teamed up with the incredibly talented Paul Suntup who produces gorgeous, hand-crafted special editions of classic books and comparably gorgeous art prints of classic book covers. Together, we selected 14 of our favorite covers — by Robert McGinnis, Glen Orbik, and Gregory Manchess — and Paul has put all his enormous skill behind reproducing these covers at poster size (16.5″x24″) as giclee prints on acid-free art paper.

My jaw dropped when I saw just how beautiful these look, and I think you’ll be really pleased too. If you want to see for yourself and maybe order some to decorate your walls or for your Hard Case Crime collection, visit Paul’s website:
https://shop.suntup.press/collections/hard-case-crime. And if there are covers we haven’t done yet that you wish you could order, feel free to email me to let me know: editor@hardcasecrime.com.

But for now: please check out Paul’s beautiful prints. You won’t be sorry you did.

Best regards,
Charles
———–
Charles Ardai
Editor, Hard Case Crime

           New Book from an Old Friend!

Every now and then, one of the shop’s long-time customers let us know that they have published a book. We used to tell such folks “get it published and we’ll give you a signing”. We can no longer offer that but we can still give ’em a plug.

Henry Berman was one of those long-time customers. He’d come in and we’d talk mysteries and he and JB would talk baseball. Recently, he wandered into the hardware store where JB now works – to the delight of both, we think – and mentioned he had written a book. JB offered to mention it in the next newzine, so here’s the info. It’s not a mystery, but it sounds interesting:

Teens and Their Doctors: The Story of the Development of Adolescent Medicine, by Henry Berman, MD, and Hannah Dashefsky, BSN, RN, traces the development of the field from the first program, opened by Ros Gallagher at Boston Children’s Hospital, in 1951, to the creation of the Society for Adolescent Medicine (SAM), in 1968.

The book describes the growth of the specialty in those two decades, including how it was influenced by changes in society, and how practitioners responded to social change with approaches created to care for alienated youth, such as free clinics, mobile medical vans, and teen hotlines. The core of the book is composed of interviews with more than
eighty specialists in adolescent medicine, all of whom were trained by the pioneers of the field.

It also tackles the question asked of specialists in adolescent medicine: “What is adolescent medicine, anyway?” No simple answer is proposed, but the role these physicians play in caring for teens, and the characteristics of those who choose the field, are dramatized by scores of stories—from the humorous, to the poignant, to the heart-breaking.

Henry Berman is a board-certified pediatrician who has been practicing adolescent medicine since 1972. He is a Clinical Professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine and is on the staff of Seattle Children’s Hospital. [and he likes reading mysteries and the Seattle Mariners!]

        Author Signings

August 2nd, 7pm: Heather Redmond, Third Place/Lake Forrest Park

August 2nd, 7pm: Owen Hill (one of the authors of The Annotated Big Sleep – see JB’s write- up) University Books

August 7th, 7pm: Laurel K. Hamilton, University Books

August 15th, 7pm: Carola Dunn, Powell’s

        Words of the Month

squalid (adj): From the 1590s, from Middle French squalide and directly from Latin squalidus “rough, coated with dirt, filthy,” related to squales “filth,” squalus “filthy,” squalare “be covered with a rough, stiff layer, be coated with dirt, be filthy,” of uncertain origin. Related: Squalidly; squalidness; squalidity.

squalor (n) : from the 1620s, “state or condition of being miserable and dirty,” from Latin squalor “roughness, dirtiness, filthiness,” from squalere “be filthy”.

thanks to etymonline.com

        Links of Interest

The Daily Beast, February 27, 2016: My Lunch with ‘The Spider’ Who Nearly Wrecked the CIA

The Guardian, June 29th: Robert Harris: I’m Not Sure You Can be the World’s Superpower and Remain a Superpower

The Daily Beast, June 30th: The Kenyan Beach Town Malindi Is a Tropical Paradise—With a Mafia Problem

The Guardian, July 2nd: Alternative Nobel literature prize planned in Sweden

Seattle Times, July 2nd: Lit Life: Three true-crime stories that are stranger than fiction

Seattle Times, July 2nd: Adam Woog – Two new crime-fiction novels draw from real events

The Guardian, July 4th: Top Ten Books About Gangsters

AtlasObsucra, July 6th: Send Us the Greatest Note You’ve Found Written in an Old Book

The Guardian, July 6th: Gillian Flynn: Books That Made Me (“Agatha Christie blew my mind. Every character was evil”)

BBC, July 9th: How ‘Vertigo’ foreshadowed catfishing, AI and #METOO

Slate, July 9th: Raymond Chandler in the Age of #METOO by Megan Abbott

BBC, July 10th: The Ancient Library Where the Books are Under Lock and Key

BBC, July 10th: Original 1926 Winnie-the-Pooh map sells for record £430,000

BBC, July 11th: Joaquin Phoenix becomes the latest Joker

The Guardian, July 12th: Die Hard at 30: how it remains the quintessential American action movie

Live Science, July 13th: Possible Oldest Fragment of Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ Discovered in Greece

Seattle Times, July 15th: A Book Lover’s Lasting Legacy: 5,000 Books Given to Yakima Valley Libraries

NWNewsNetwork, July 16th: We Might Have Been Looking For D.B. Cooper In Wrong Place For All These Years

King 5 News, July 18th: Seattle is home to the Northwest’s first “death museum”

New York Times, July 19th,  : Karin Slaughter: By the Book

LA Times, July 19th: Lawrence Osborne does Raymond Chandler quite well, thank you

Bustle, July 21st: Reading True Crime Makes Me Feel Less Anxious — And I Think I Know Why

KNKX, July 21st: Pinball In Seattle Had Corrupt And Violent Beginnings

Seattle Times, Sunday, July 22nd:

Adam Woog – Three New Crime Fiction Novels by Northwest Authors

Lit Life: Climb Above the Chaos of the Pike Place Market into a Book-Lined Oasis of Calm

  Megan Abbott Talks TV Projects, Raymond Chandler, and Women-Centered Crime Fiction

Washington Post, July 24th: A modern twist on a classic Agatha Christie novel

The Independent, July 24th: The Book List: The titles in ex-Talking Head David Byrne’s private library[this is a weekly column and past lists can be seen here.]

Bustle, July 25th: In The Era Of #MeToo, I’ve Realized Just How Rebellious ‘Gone Girl’ Really Was

BBC, July 26th: Sean Connery Co-Wrote a Bond Film That was Never Made

Bustle, July 27th: Thrillers Have Always Been A Feminist Battleground — We’re Just Finally Noticing It Again

The Daily Beast, July 27th: Inside the Fiery Massacre at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesen Estate

The Guardian, July 27th: ‘Dire statistics’ show YA fiction is becoming less diverse, warns report

BBC, July 29th: Tsundoku – the Art of Buying Books and Never Reading Them

Bustle, July 30: Books From Thomas Jefferson’s Personal Library Were Discovered In A Dumpster — But The Man Who Found Them Didn’t Realize It Until It Was Too Late

The Guardian, July 30th: Accidents at Amazon: Workers Left to Suffer After Warehouse Injuries

The Guardian, July 31st: ‘Spectacular’ ancient public library discovered in Germany

        R.I.P.

The Guardian, July 7th: Spider-Man Co-Creator Steve Ditko Dies Aged 90 (JB is heartbroken…)

Vulture, July 13th: Stan Lee Remembers Steve Ditko: ‘His Talent Was Indescribable’

 

        What We’ve Been Up to

    Amber

IMG_9841

So my least favorite time of year is upon us – sticky, sweaty heat filled long July & August days. Other than giving me something to look forward to (i.e., September and October) I struggle this time of year…However the one positive thing which comes out of me turning into an immovable lump of Amber on hot days is I read to distract myself!

My current fixation is Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series, yes I know I’ve written about them before, but I think they are wonderful so I’m reviewing them again! I absolutely adore these witty, smart mysteries and right now I can’t get enough of them! And I believe anyone who likes an excellent light classic mystery should check these books out – post haste!

The series is set in and around Egypt (a place hotter than where I currently reside). Each features some kind of archeological (occasionally straying into anthropological) endeavor. But Peters’ doesn’t limit herself to just Egyptian history, she also adds in the build-up of WWI and WWII and how these events impact Peabody, her family and their activities in Egypt. With so many layers of history in these books, you might assume that they would be dry and dull affairs…

Let me dissuade you of this very erroneous notion!

While Peters does a fine job with the history, she never lost sight of the fact she was penning mysteries. They are hilarious, adventurous and clever in their construction. While not necessarily always playing fair with the reader her solutions never come out of left field and still make sense. She adds and subtracts characters from her narratives at will, so they never become stale – even main characters who we grow to love aren’t always safe. Which makes (me at least) need to read each book carefully – but rapidly – to make sure my favorites are still breathing at the end!

One other thing I appreciate about these books, which other double-digit-length-series should emulate, Peters never repeats the same introduction to her characters from book to book. She found inventive ways to introduce new readers to her well-established cast without her longtime readers skipping the whole first chapter because she cut-and-pasted the same intro from one book to the next.

You can pick up the series anywhere and start reading – Peters herself skips around in time when she wrote them – but I would recommend you read The Crocodile In The Sandbank first. It will give you the essentials, after that you can read the rest of the books at will.

In that way, Peters reminds me of Agatha Christie’s Poirot (though don’t read them thinking Peabody is like Poirot, you will be sorely disappointed) after you read the first, you can skip around. Neither author is particularly bloody, but I would not place them in the cozy range – there’s too much meat in their mysteries for that categorization. In my mind, both writers created classic detectives and puzzles for them to solve.

Now to segue into another historical adjacent mystery…

IMG_9854

Meaning? The history isn’t particularly accurate – being steampunk in nature with a side of vampires, werelioness, and a ghost inhabiting a dirigible. While perhaps not the most accurate in its’ historical essentials the characters possess such wit coupled with impeccable manners you can skate right over any other irregularities.

What I am trying to say is that Gail Carriger finally came out with the third book, Competence, in her Custard Protocol series!!

The Spotted Custard (the aforementioned dirigible) and her crew are back and on a brand new adventure! This time they find themselves in South America on a mission to save the last remaining Peruvian vampires. On said mission of mercy, they will navigate unknown currents, pirates and the local’s mistaken notion that several of the Custard’s crew are Nuns working for the Spanish Inquisition!

While Competence never loses sight of the fact that it’s an adventure story, the most interesting storylines occur amongst the ship’s crew. Trying to ethically reform Rue’s soulless cousin (so he doesn’t murder everyone on the ship). Percy Tunstell’s shocking discovery that he’s actually having a rather good time floating around the globe. And finally, Primrose Tunstell must figure out where her heart lies – with her fiancee back in England or with the werelioness courting her.

I could not put this book down! I loved reading about the Spotted Custard’s adventures (mainly) from Primrose and Percy’s point of view! It was refreshing! Their roles on the dirigible, personalities, and sensibilities are very different from Rue’s. This extra attention allowed for a higher amount of character development for the twins than occurred than in the first two installments.

Plus from start to finish this book was all go! There literally was never a dull moment! I had a tough time putting it down! I just had to know what happened next. I cannot wait for the last book of the series, Reticence to come out next year, to see where this self-proclaimed band of misfits winds up!

    Fran

9781633884397I’ve always maintained that Kat Richardson is one of the most intelligent writers I know, and that statement still holds true. Writing as K. R. Richardson, her new novel, Blood Orbit (Pyr tpo, $18.00) is thought-provoking, dynamic, complex, and a hell of a lot of fun.

Unfolding her world deliciously slowly, Kat introduces us to a world that is basically run by the Gattis Corporation, and where rookie cop Eric Matheson and his training officer, Santos, run into a nightclub, a jasso, with seventeen murder victims inside. Almost immediately, Matheson is assigned to assist Chief Investigating Forensic Officer J. P. Dillal, and they’re given a very tight timeline to figure out what happened. Otherwise, in this Company town, the Gattis Corporation will come up with a solution that will suit its own ends, regardless of the truth.

And if that isn’t enough pressure, CIFO Dillal has been cybernetically altered, but the modifications are new, untested, and in fact, not completely healed. And he’s disturbing to look at, which makes him unsuited for undercover work.

The world created by K. R. Richardson is so layered, so complete, and so alien that it will take several books, I suspect, to really get a grasp on it, but it is well worth the effort – and I promise you, it’s an easy effort! Her writing is so smooth, so well narrated that you’ll find yourself learning about the various people, the races, the government, the corporation, all of it without really trying. It just seeps into your brain until you can see the world.

And her people! Oh man, I love her people! For one of the races she’s developed a patois that I desperately want to hear spoken! I suspect it’s beautiful, and strange, and I find myself using some of the language, which gets me the odd head tilt. I’m good with that.

Make no mistake, Blood Orbit is a police procedural, and it’s noir. Very bad things happen to those we care about, and events unfold in complicated and dark ways, but the truth is out there, if Matheson and Dillal (and you with them) are willing to do what it takes to find it.

I absolutely have to re-read this book because I know I missed a lot of nuance in my rush to find out what happened, and I’m already vibrating in anticipation of a sequel.

Keep writing, Kat! We need more of this!

    JB

I’ve been reading James Lee Burke since I joined the staff of SMB in 1990. I was struck by Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell on an almost visceral level. There’s something about those two that resonated with me, both through Dave’s narration and Burke’s words, and the actions of the “Bobbsey Twins from Homicide”. I’ve had my criticisms of the series: how many goombas did Dave go to school with in this smaller Louisiana town, and weren’t these best friends getting a bit too old to be pulling the shit they were doing if they were in ‘Nam in the early years? I’ve been willing to ignore those quibbles because I loved these guys so much. But it started to feel as if it was time to retire the series, really, and I thought that the end of Light of the World would’ve been the great way to do it:

“I placed my arm around his waist, and together we limped up the slope, a couple of vintage low-riders left over from another era in the season the Indians called the moon of popping cherries, in the magical land that charmed and beguiled the sense and made one wonder if divinity did not indeed hide just on the other side of the tangible world.”

9781501176845But then came Robicheaux last January and of course I’m going to read it. There’s no way to NOT read a book about Dave and Clete. But I have to say this is an odd book. It is jumbled with Dave doing and saying things that Clete would normally say, and vice versa. Dave’s fictional daughter Alafair has become even more a depiction of Burke’s real daughter, the wonderful writer Alafair Burke. A noted, local, fictional novelist in this book is said to have thought his best book is one that got little notice, White Doves at Morning – which is a wonderful Civil War novel that James Lee Burke published in 2002. There’s continual reference to a series of murders and there’s a bit about them in the Author’s Notes at the front of the book, but there’s nothing in this book that really addresses those crimes and those references just seem misleading. Dave feels lost and makes comments to Clete about their ages. And though I enjoyed the sheer pleasure of Burke’s writing I finished the book not really understanding who did what and why they did it.

Oh well. At least I got over 400 pages of Dave and Clete, Alafair and Helen, and that alone is well worth the time.

Killing King by Stuart Wexler and Larry Hancock continues the recent books and research on the assassination of Dr. King by filling in our knowledge of how organized and active what most of us have thought of as the KKK in the 1960s and showing the national efforts and range of these “humans”. The Klan was just one element of this crowd and, indeed, many of actors in this story were not members of the clan. They didn’t need it, they thought it too soft. Imagine that. The Klan just targeted blacks. These guys wanted the Jews targeted as much, if not more. They’re truly creepy.

The subtitle tells a great deal; “Racial Terrorists, James Earl Ray, and the Plot to 9781619029194Assassinate Martin Luther King Jr.” Do they say who fired the shot? I’m not sure. It’s a fascinating book but not for what it says about that horrifying day in Memphis but for what it says about the Southern white racists.

In light of Charlottesville, the recent press given to neo-Nazis, and the “alt-right”, this book shows once again how active these “people” have been all along and we who are humans and people have been fooled into thinking they’d gone away. But they’ve never gone away. They’ve been an ugly part of the American quilt all long. I don’t think I was naive about this but Killing King powerfully details their plots and plans, and makes it show in a different light.

One of the central ogres in the story is Wesley Swift, a preacher of hate and racial genocide whose rants had wide-ranging effects mainly due to tapes of his “church”. He and his followers were hoping to nudge the country into racial violence and, eventually they hoped, into a race war that would cleanse the continent. If you thought Charlie Manson was far out with Helter Skelter, the Caucasian monsters in this book were well ahead of Charlie.

What kept coming to me as I read this history was the racial terrorism that has continued since: Richard Butler and the Aryan Nations in Idaho; Robert Matthews, the guy who robbed the bank at Northgate and who split off to form The Order; what prison story or movie doesn’t mention the Aryan Brotherhood? Christian Identity, domestic terrorists – it all stinks of narrow-mindedness and a blood-thirsty belief that “we’re right, they’re wrong so they can die”… Where does it end?

Guess it doesn’t.

Lastly, I have to say something about Megan Abbott and Raymond Chandler and all of teeth-gnashing over are his books acceptable in the days of #METOO.

The new Annotated Big Sleep is a great deal of fun – mostly. 9780804168885It provides no end of local color to Chandler and LA at the time the book was written and published and does a great job explaining and showing how he cannibalized his short stories to be elements of his novels – in the case of The Big Sleep they do it nearly line by line. There are lingo explanations and word derivations. There are photos and illustrations – the original book on the left and the annotations on the right. As Otto Penzler is quoted on the back of the trade paper original, “What a great excuse to read this masterpiece again! The annotations are addictively fascinating, educational, and almost as compulsively readable as the novel.”

One complaint I have about the annotating authors is that they are far too PC. They’re putting today’s views onto an author who wrote this book 80 years ago!

Deciding who to read or not read now based on what and how they wrote 50 or 500 years ago is inane. Yes, in the hardboiled fiction of the early 1900s, women were demeaned and slapped around and viewed as dames and femme fatales. Some were portrayed as weak and some as praying mantises. Deciding to stop reading the authors now because they don’t measure up to our current political correctness or #METOOishness is as pointless as the arguments a few years ago to stop reading Mark Twain because he wrote the “n-word”. Guess that would ban Blazing Saddles, too… There’s a movie that couldn’t be made today and more’s the pity.

In no small way this is censorship.

Certainly we can take the authors’ time and atmosphere into account when we read their words but mature adults do that anyway, don’t we? We don’t think Shakespeare was anti-women because he manipulated Othello into murdering his wife, nor do we think it because Lady Macbeth was such a blood-thirsty femme fatale. Should “Hamlet” never again be taught or staged because he made Ophelia a “frail” who was so weak a woman that she drowned herself? 

The point is to not overlay our present views on the artists of the past because it isn’t fair to them or useful to us. “Present views” are continually changing like the width of ties or the height of hemlines. The shop once had a customer who actually professed that they’d never read a book in which the characters smoked. Imagine that! Let your mind wander and consider all that such a rule would eliminate from your culture. Isn’t there smoking in Some Like it Hot, West Side Story? There’s probably some in Mary Poppins! Egad!

Read Raymond Chandler for the beauty of his words, for the way he constructs a sentence, for the sparkle of his art because that’s what it is. Who really gives a damn who killed Owen Taylor? I never have and it’s never stopped me from loving the book. Let the things that make you cringe slide off to the side, don’t let them bother you, and slip into his pages.

“What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that.”

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