January 2022

The stuffed toys that inspired A.A. Milne’s “Winnie-the-Pooh.”

NYC Public Library’s Cabinet of Wonders Opens Wide

Words for the Month

pilpul (n.) A pointless argument. (Says You! #919)

HUH? Stuff

A first edition of Harry Potter is now the most expensive modern work of fiction ever sold.

On the Murder Mystery Movie Written by Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins

The Underappreciated Genius of William Lindsay Gresham’s Nightmare Alley [the remake by Benicio Del Toro comes out soon]

See the Real Live Man Who Grew Up in a Carnival

Nuclear Experts: Hey, So, Those Anti-5G Radiation Necklaces Are Actually Radioactive

Wait, is ‘Die Hard’ a remake of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life?’

Can you solve the very first published crossword puzzle?

Indiana Jones’ Rabbi Thought He Found the Ark of the Covenant and Nearly Started a War

The Most Scathing Book Reviews of 2021

Did Philip K. Dick discover the real-life Matrix in 1977?

Serious Stuff

Retail Theft Has Gotten Very Organized

Israeli spyware was used against US diplomats in Uganda

The CIA Is Deep Into Cryptocurrency, Director Reveals

10 Books Texas Officials Want to Ban From Schools

Crime Prediction Software Promised to Be Free of Biases. New Data Shows It Perpetuates Them

To Investigate Serial Killers with the FBI, First She Had to Pass the Test

The FBI’s Legendary Mindhunter Wonders, Did He Get It Right?

‘JFK’ at 30: Oliver Stone and the lasting impact of America’s most dangerous movie

Inside the Disastrous Conspiracy Roadshow That Likely Killed a COVID-Denying Ex-CIA Agent

The meaning of words: Orwell, Didion, Trump and the death of language

Local Stuff

‘You don’t know how to grieve’: Loved ones of missing Federal Way teen gather 24 years later

Cold case detective, forensic DNA scientist hope to inspire others after solving infamous Spokane crime

Oregon-based Dark Horse Comics sold to Swedish video game company

Rethinking mugshots: Online era means they live forever so states, including Oregon, are moving to limit release

Words for the Month

oojah (n.) An object whose name one can’t remember. (Says You !#916)

Odd Stuff

Unmasked: the Penguin saves world from Covid in Danny DeVito’s Batman story

How the CIA Took Over a Florida Island

Hackers Are Spamming Businesses’ Receipt Printers With ‘Antiwork’ Manifestos

TikTok isn’t just for tearjerkers—it’s also for obscure 1930s literary puzzles, apparently.

Who Owns a Recipe? A Plagiarism Claim Has Cookbook Authors Asking

The ‘Home Alone’ house could be yours for a night

Ransomware Jerks Helped Cause the Cream Cheese Shortage

Ohio police ask for help finding thieves who stole entire bridge

He was close by for three presidential assassinations. Including his dad’s.

Man Who Tried to Kill the Queen With a Crossbow Made Darth Vader Terror Video Before Breaking into Palace

9 Spine-Tingling True Crime Relics Sold in 2021

SPECTRE

Amazon’s Dark Secret: It Has Failed to Protect Your Data

What Happened to Amazon’s Bookstore?

Complaint to FTC: Amazon search results full of potentially deceiving ads

Most of Amazon’s Pollution-Spewing Warehouses Are Built In Communities of Color

This Amazon program has funneled thousands to anti-vax activists during the pandemic

Amazon Delivery Workers Threatened With Firing, Told to Keep Driving During Tornadoes

Words of the Month

cumberground (n.) Totally worthless object or person; something that is just in the way. (fishofgold.net)

Awards

Here are the winners of the 2021 Hugo Awards.

Hugo Awards Host DisCon III Apologizes for Taking Money From Defense Company

Martha Wells continues run of female Hugo award winners

Survey says: the Booker is the most important literary prize in the world.

Book Stuff

Emma Straub on Opening Her Bookstore, Books Are Magic

Millions of followers? For book sales, ‘it’s unreliable.’

Feminist retelling of Nineteen Eighty-Four approved by Orwell’s estate

Library audio and ebook loans in 2021 reveal unexpected stars

Chris Cuomo’s Upcoming Book Pulled by HarperCollins

Penguin Random House Defends Effort to Buy Simon & Schuster

Lawrence Block: The Thrill of Discovering the Novels of Fredric Brown

Co-founder of independent bookstore in Hong Kong, Jisaam Books, shares why she continues even if it makes no profit

True Crime Is Changing (And That’s A Good Thing)

Nothing Like a Mad Woman: 11 Unexpected Thrillers About Female Rage

The New Outliers: How Creative Nonfiction Became a Legitimate, Serious Genre

Writing Sex Scenes in the Realm of Mystery

‘Don’t start a sex scene when your mother-in-law is visiting’: how I wrote a novel in a month

The Books Briefing: The Quiet Skill of Mass-Market Novels

Lost library of literary treasures saved for UK after charity raises £15m

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Salem: A Town with a Dark History of Brutality and Murder

Poor, Black and in Real Trouble: The Baltimore Noir of Jerome Dyson Wright

One of world’s smallest books sold at auction for £3,500

How Many Books Does It Take to Make a Place Feel Like Home?

Inside Yu and Me Books, Manhattan’s first Asian American woman-owned bookstore/café.

Politics and Prose employees moved to unionize—then the store owners hired an anti-union law firm.

This village was a book capital. What happens when people stop buying so many books?

Other Forms of Entertainment

8 True Crime Podcasts You Need to Listen to This Winter

‘I’ve healed. I don’t want to be the badass’ – Noomi Rapace on beating her Dragon Tattoo trauma

How HBO’s Love Life addresses the whiteness of the publishing industry

James Bond: acclaimed writers explain how they would reinvent 007

Sylvester Stallone to Star in Taylor Sheridan/Terence Winter Contemporary Kansas City Mob Drama for Paramount+

Mannix Was Vintage TV’s Perfect Savvy PI

Our 15 Favorite Underrated Film Noirs

The Real Story Behind ‘Casablanca’

The Best Crime Movies of 2021

Dirty Harry at 50: Clint Eastwood’s seminal, troubling 70s antihero

Vincent D’Onofrio on Wilson Fisk’s Hawkeye Return: “He Wants His City Back”

Rat Pack Crime Cinema

Spectre Cut Twist Would Have Revealed Ralph Fiennes’ M As Blofeld

The Black Neo-noirs of the ’90s

10 Best Neo-Noir Thrillers To Watch Like Nightmare Alley

Words of the Month

vada (n.) Damp or moist (Says You #1025)

RIP

Dec 1: Here’s our tribute to G.M. Ford

Dec 1: Philip B. Heymann, 89, Dies; Prosecuted Watergate and Abscam

Dec 5: Martha De Laurentiis, Producer on ‘Hannibal’ and ‘Red Dragon,’ Dies at 67

Dec 11: Anne Rice, who spun gothic tales of vampires, dies at 80

Dec 15: Trailblazing feminist author, critic and activist bell hooks has died at 69

Dec 23: Joan Didion has died at 87

Dec 27: Sarah Weddington, attorney who won Roe v Wade abortion case, dies aged 76

Dec 27: Andrew Vachss died at 79. At this time we have no details

Dec 29: David Wagoner, prolific poet of the Northwest, is dead at 96

Dec 30: Assunta Maresca, first female boss in Camorra mafia, dies aged 86: Maresca, known as Pupetta, or ‘Little Doll’, found fame when she shot dead her husband’s killer in Naples at the age of 18

Links of Interest

Nov 30: Inside the FBI’s Unlikely Undercover Operation Infiltrating a Radical Militia in Kansas

Dec 1: Serial killer’s confessions have LA detectives chasing ghosts

Dec 1: Dickens letter brings Victorian dinner drama to life

Dec 2: A Prolific Art Thief Got an Incredible Sentence

Dec 3: The Ponzi of Paris: The Greatest, Wildest Confidence Artist in French History

Dec 4: Police may have discovered source of the “bags and bags” of money in wall of Joel Osteen’s church

Dec 7: Hedge Fund Billionaire Surrenders $70 Million in Looted Art

Dec 9: Encrypted Phone Company Backdoored by FBI Will Lead to ‘Years’ of Arrests

Dec 9: Mom Charged for Telling Daughter to Punch Opponent in High School Basketball Game

Dec 9: The Tragic Misfit Behind “Harriet the Spy”

Dec 11: Secret Customs and Border Protection Unit Snooped on Journalists, Gov’t Officials

Dec 14: N.Y. Ethics Board Tells Former Gov. Cuomo to Return Book Money

Dec 14: Mysterious 40-Year-Old Remains ID’d as Member of Soul Outfit the O’Jays

Dec 14: OJ Simpson a ‘completely free man’ after parole ends in Nevada

Dec 15: Meet MS-13’s ‘Black Widow’ Who Tricked Men Into Marriage and Killed Them

Dec 16: The lawyer who tried faking his death, and the writer exposing his crime dynasty

Dec 26: 6 of the Biggest Crypto-Heists of 2021 – Gizmodo

Words of the Month

ultracrepidarian (adj.) Noting or pertaining to a person who criticizes, judges, or gives advice outside the area of his or her expertise. (fishofgold.net)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Liz Ireland – Mrs. Claus and the Halloween Homicide

What do you get when you take Christmas, Halloween, murder, and whiz it up in a blender?

This book.

Okay – now you need to trust me on this one.

April Claus married into one of the most famous families in the world, which initially didn’t impact her life a whole lot – as her husband was heir to the mantle of Santa Claus. Sadly, thru a series of unfortunate and murderous events, both she and her husband were thrust into the roles of Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus on a strictly interim basis. (The details of how this came about are detailed Mrs. Claus and the Santaland Slayings.)

Now having a whole year of Mrs. Claus duties under her belt and being the new blood of the clan April is keen on introducing the elves of Christmastown to another holiday, her (previous) favorite Halloween, an idea which proves somewhat controversial in a town dedicated to all things Christmas.

A small but vocal contingent of elves believes Christmastown should remain a single celebration city. The most vocal critic of All Hallows Eve is Tiny Sparkletoes – who unfortunately – is found dead not long after a greenhouse full of pumpkins is vandalized…

Now I picked up this book based on the mash-up of holidays promised in the title – and it did not let me down. In fact, it utterly beat my expectations! The setting of Christmas town, the entertaining character names, and the reindeer (oh, the reindeer!) are treated so off-handedly that it successfully neutralizes the sweetness that could’ve crept into this narrative. April Claus just happens to live at the North Pole with her husband in Kringle Castle.

No big deal.

It also helps that April finds herself hip-deep in investigating a case of vandalism but a potential murder. Then there’s the problem of her best friend’s creepy boyfriend, drunk reindeer, and a mother-in-law who isn’t ready to cede her status as the numero uno – Mrs. Claus.

Seriously, Mrs. Claus and the Halloween Homicide is a well-paced and surprisingly nuanced themed mystery that will have you turning the pages quicker and quicker to find out whodunit!

Fran

HAPPY MERRY JOLLY!

So, how was your holiday season? We spent ours being all trendy, having the newly fashionable COVID Christmas, and it was just as spectacular as you might imagine.

I hope you didn’t participate, and if you did, I hope you’re feeling much better. We are, thank you for asking. That’s very sweet of you, but we’re vaccinated and boosted, so we were just unhappy, not in danger. Mostly we were blearily waiting for Barnaby to solve the Midsomer crime of the day. He’s reliable, is Barnaby. We needed that. Thank you, Caroline Graham!

I didn’t read a lot during this time. Brain fog is a real thing, hence the need for Barnaby to solve the cases. But I did read a YA book that was tons of fun, and perfectly suited my mood – Maureen Johnson’s Devilish.

While I never attended a religious prep school on the East Coast, any high school student will be able to relate to the issues facing Jane Jarvis, who doesn’t quite fit in, is too smart for her own good, and is worried about her bestie, Allison Concord. See, Ally’s changed, and while on the surface it seems to be a good thing, Jane is concerned because the changes in Ally are so radical. I mean, who gets a scholarship that pays for you to go shopping? To change your entire personality and become the Cool Kid? Something is suspicious, and Jane is going to find out what.

What I love about Maureen Johnson’s writing is how very relatable all her people are. While I’ve never been in the circumstances Jane finds herself in – and I’m grateful for that, by the way! – I know her, and Ally, and Owen, and Elton, and even the nuns.

Devilish is a quick read, which is perfect for this time of year, and definitely worth your while. If, however, you decide to save it for a summer beach read, I totally understand. The important thing is that you read it. Which you will, right?

BEST OF THE NEW YEAR TO ALL!

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

December 2021

A Word for the Wet November

obnubilate (v.): “to darken, cloud, overcloud,” 1580s, from Latin obnibulatus, past participle of obnubilare “to cover with clouds or fog,” from ob “in front of, against” (see ob-) + verb from Latin nubes “cloud,” from PIE *sneudh– “fog” (see nuance). Related: Obnubilated; obnubilating. Middle English had obnubilous “obscure, indistinct” (early 15th C.). (etymonline.com)

10 Perfectly Plotted Murder Mysteries That Take Place During Christmas [she missed Criss Cross by Tom Kakonis]

10 Thrillers You Forgot Take Place During Christmas [left out was Lethal Weapon!]

Is your Christmas present spying on you? How to assess gifts’ privacy risks

Engraved on a tombstone almost 2000 years ago, this is music’s oldest surviving composition

Remember when the Grateful Dead did a 12-minute freestyle based on “The Raven”?

Murder Isn’t Easy: The Forensics of Agatha Christie by Carla Valentine review – science and skullduggery

Who will buy the extremely rare concept art book for Jorodowsky’s unproduced Dune?

Rare Einstein Papers Containing Early Relativity Calculations Fetch $13 Million At Auction

Bishop Who Left Clergy for Erotica Writer Accused of Being ‘Possessed’

Dubbing ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ to spread the Navajo language

Huge Roman Mosaic Depicting Scenes From the ‘Iliad’ Found Beneath U.K. Field

On the only mystery novel written by A.A. Milne, creator of Winnie-the-Pooh

obloquy (n.): From the mid-15th C., obloquie, “evil speaking, slander, calumny, derogatory remarks,” from Medieval Latin obloquium “speaking against, contradiction,” from Latin obloqui “to speak against, contradict,” from ob “against” (see ob-) + loqui “to speak,” from PIE root *tolkw- “to speak.” Related: Obloquious. (etymonline.com)

Serious Stuff

What is the ‘international’ hand signal to indicate you are in danger and where does it come from?

A parent wants to criminally prosecute librarians for sharing a book about a genderqueer kid.

Conservatives Are Just Openly Endorsing Book Burning Now

Burning books: 6 outrageous, tragic and weird examples in history

We’re Preparing For a Long Battle.’ Librarians Grapple With Conservatives’ Latest Efforts to Ban Books

Fairfax schools will return 2 books to shelves after reviewing complaints over content

A woman murdered every month: is this Greece’s moment of reckoning on femicide?

Two men convicted in assassination of Malcolm X to be exonerated

Denver area worst in U.S. for porch pirates, study suggests

Local Stuff

The Monsters of Maple Falls

‘Case of the century’: Lawyers, judges and journalists reflect on case of Kevin Coe, Spokane South Hill rapist, 40 years later

Powell’s Books survived Amazon. Can it reinvent itself after the pandemic?

What About Ann Rule? An ode to the original queen of true crime, who focused on victims, not perpetrators; lessons, not details; and loss, not violence.

Seattle pair charged with stealing $1 million in jobless benefits, small business loans

Nancy Pearl, Seattle’s most famous librarian, looks back on a lifetime of books

In a Confessional Book, a Nike Exec Omits the Name of the Man He Murdered

Omak Library may close if anti-mask aggression continues

BookTree in Kirkland entices with new and used books; here’s what its customers are reading

The 10 Weirdest Revelations from the FBI Files on D.B. Cooper for the 50th Anniversary of His Escape

Odd Stuff

Is Superman Circumcised? favourite to win Oddest book title of the year

‘Plastic and Lies’: Murder Charges Expose Vast Underground Butt-Injection Operation

Michael Corleone, Role Model

Quentin Tarantino is selling Pulp Fiction all over again – this time as art

Of Course True Crime Fans Are Guilty: For Fyodor Dostoevsky, that was the point.

SPECTRE

[seriously, we were honest in our belief that it wasn’t worth including stories about Amazon. We’ve waged a war against the behemoth for 20 years and few have paid attention. But the stories keep piling up, sooo…..]

Bookshops thrive as France moves to protect sellers from Amazon

Interview: The Every is about an all-powerful monopoly that seeks to eliminate competition’: why Dave Eggers won’t sell his new hardback on US Amazon

Elizabeth Warren’s concerns over COVID book sold on Amazon draw Seattle lawsuit

In the supply chain battle of 2021, small businesses are losing out to Walmart and Amazon

Amazon takes its war to get products to our door to the high seas

Amazon push for lower prices could be bad for shoppers everywhere

Tom Morello Signs Open Letter Denouncing Amazon’s Palm-Scanning Concert Tech

Forget Amazon. The Best Gifts Are Closer Than You Think

Amazon Will Face Black Friday Strikes and Protests in 20 Countries

Amazon agrees to pay $2.5M to settle pesticide sales lawsuit

How Amazon may change America’s chicken economy

Higher prices on Amazon cause a retail ripple effect

Words of the Month

obscurantism (n.): “opposition to the advancement and diffusion of knowledge, a desire to prevent inquiry or enlightenment,” 1801, from German obscurantism, obscurantismus (by 1798); see obscurant + -ism. (etymonline.com)

Awards

Here are the winners of the 2021 National Book Awards

National Book awards: Jason Mott wins US literary prize for ‘masterful’ novel Hell of a Book

Book Stuff

Texas School District Tells GOP Rep to Shove His Silly Book Burning Crusade

Justice Dept. Sues Penguin Random House Over Simon & Schuster Deal

Authors Guild calls for DoJ to block Bertelsmann’s S&S purchase

The Century-Old Russian Novel Said to Have Inspired ‘1984

James Bond: Kim Sherwood to write trilogy as first female 007 author

Sally Rooney novels pulled from Israeli bookstores after translation boycott

Paul Newman Will Tell His Own Story, 14 Years After His Death

What Agatha Christie’s Novels—And Life—Have to Teach Today’s Crime Writers

Lisa Lutz, Author and Secret Sharer

Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen on the History of Libraries

Hollywood Loves Books… And authors are cashing in big-time

Code Blue: Ballard, Bosch and a City in Crisis in Michael Connelly’s The Dark Hours

In the Middle of Infrastructure Talks, Joe Manchin Has Pursued a Book Deal

Bob Eckstein Illustrates New and Renovated Bookstores and Libraries from Around the Country

A Case for Football as the Most Literary of American Sports (Baseball Has Reigned Long Enough, Says Corey Sobel)

WATCH: Bill Fitzhugh on Finding Satire in the Serious

Getting It Wrong: How Thomas Perry Learned to Live With His Books’ Errors

Luis Soriano Had a Dream, Two Donkeys, and a Lot of Books

When the Heart of a Beach Town Is an Indie Bookstore

How a Cairo bookshop beat the odds to write its own story

Persephone Books: Finding Space for Women Writers For Two Decades

Making Good out of Murder: On Gwen Bristow and Bruce Manning, Crime Reporters and Crime Writers

Neal Stephenson recommends 6 books on information manipulation

Ann Patchett on Creating the Work Space You Need

Inside story: the first pandemic novels have arrived, but are we ready for them?

It was a call to arms’: Jodi Picoult and Karin Slaughter on writing Covid-19 into novels

UK officials still blocking Peter Wright’s ‘embarrassing’ Spycatcher files

Other Forms of Entertainment

Alan Cumming Answers Every Question We Have about Goldeneye

It’s a wonderful life? The darker side of James Stewart’s screen persona

Blaxploitation Considered Anew In Exhibition at Poster House New York

Dexter Always Gets His Man. Even When It’s Michael C. Hall.

Please Stop Asking How I Wound Up in Fargo

Columbo’s First Case: How One of TV’s Most Iconic Detectives Got His Start

Why ‘Narcos: Mexico’ Is Ending With Season 3

When The Mob Gets a Podcast

A New ‘Thing’ Comic by Walter Mosley Should Inspire ‘The Fantastic Four’

10 Underappreciated American Noirs of the Late 1950s and the 1960s

Nice Heists: Movies Where the Big Score Basically Goes According to Plan

Sopranos Lorraine Bracco Disliked Dr. Melfi’s Final Exit

Yellow, Stranger: The Color Theory of Zodiac

‘No Way Out’ and the Best of “Social Message” Film Noir

Words of the Month

obreption (n.): “the obtaining or trying to obtain something by craft or deception,” 1610s, from Latin obreptionem (nominative obreptio)  “a creeping or stealing on,” noun of action from past-participle stem of obrepere “to creep on, creep up to,” from ob “on, to” (see ob-) + repere “to creep” (see reptile). Opposed to subreption, which is to obtain something by suppression of the truth. Related: Obreptious.

RIP

Oct 28: Peggy York dies; first woman LAPD deputy chief, inspiration for TV’s ‘Cagney & Lacey’

Nov 5: JoAnna Cameron, an Early Female Superhero on TV, Is Dead at 73

Nov 9: Dean Stockwell, “Quantum Leap” and Blue Velvet actor, dies aged 85

Nov 14: Wilbur Smith dead: International bestselling author dies aged 88

Nov 15: NPR books editor Petra Mayer has died at 42

Links of Interest

Nov. 2: The Manhattan ‘Madam’ Who Hobnobbed With the City’s Elite

Nov 3: Locusta of Gaul: Rome’s Imperial Poisoner and Possibly the World’s First Serial Killer

Nov 3: A Painting Stolen in East Germany’s Biggest Art Heist May be an Unknown Rembrandt

Nov 4: Bones in the Backyard: How Police Cracked a Grisly Cold Case

Nov 7: Italian Mafia: ‘Ndrangheta members convicted as Italy begins huge trial

Nov 9: What lies beneath: the secrets of France’s top serial killer expert

Nov 10: The Great Age of the Celebrity Crime Reporter

Nov 10: A solar firm owner is sentenced to 30 years over a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme

Nov 10: Fate of Al Capone’s former home uncertain after new owner hires an architect

Nov 11: Father and Daughter Tortured and Killed Over Valuable Stradivarius Violins, Prosecutor Says

Nov 11: The Rise of the London Police and the 1877 Scandal That Nearly Shut Down Scotland Yard

Nov 11: The Never-Ending Hawaiian Lawsuit and the Search for Yamashita’s Gold

Nov 12: The Real Stories That Inspired ‘Casino Royale’

Nov 14: After a 52-year chase, authorities ID the man behind an infamous Ohio bank heist

Nov 14: How the Mob Made Pinball Public Enemy #1 in the 1940s

Nov 14: The Story of Espionage Is (Often) the Story of Incompetence

Nov 15: A Utah company says it revolutionized truth-telling technology. Experts are highly skeptical.

Nov 16: New York ethics board rescinds approval for Cuomo’s book deal

Nov 17: The Story of the Jonestown Massacre Is About Much More Than Jim Jones. We’ve Been Fighting to Tell It for Decades

Nov 17: Wikipedia and Google Identified Wrong Man as a Serial Killer for Years

Nov 18: Tiny Gold Book Found in English Field May Have Ties to Richard III

Nov 18: ‘Everybody’s Absolutely Horrified’: High Society Is Bracing Itself for Ghislaine Maxwell’s Trial

Nov 19: The Mark Twain House Is America’s Best House Museum

Nov 19: Rare First Printing of the U.S. Constitution Is the Most Expensive Text Ever Sold at Auction

Nov 20: South Carolina Residents Find Elderly Neighbor Dead—Then Learn He’s One of FBI’s 15 Most Wanted Fugitives

Nov 20: Two hundred years later, a long-lost document sheds light on the purchase of Liberia

Nov 20: Candy Rogers Was Murdered in 1959. Cops Finally Know Who Did It.

Nov 20: A Woman’s Quest to Solve Her Grandma’s 40-Year-Old Motel Murder

Nov 21: California Nordstrom Pillaged in 1 Minute by Gang of Thieves

Nov 22: What Bob Dylan Does—Or Doesn’t—Know About the Assassination of JFK

Nov 22: Crime Fiction Is Ridiculous. We Might As Well Have Fun With It.

Nov 23: Man detained more than 2 years because of mistaken identity sues Hawaii

Nov 23: Doctors Declared This Man Dead. He Came Out Alive From a Freezer 6 Hours Later

Nov 24: After 40 years, the man wrongfully convicted of Alice Sebold’s rape has been exonerated

Nov 25: Teen Accused of Rigging School Contest Faces Decades in Jail

Nov 26: ‘Zodiac Killer’ Gary Francis Poste led posse of ‘thrill kill’ assassins

Nov 29: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Detection Dogs

Words of the Month

subreption (n.): “act of obtaining a favor by fraudulent suppression of facts,” c. 1600, from Latin subreptionem (nominative subreptio), noun of action from past-participle stem of subripere, surripere (see surreptitious). Related: Subreptitious. (etymonline.com)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

The Box In The Woods – Maureen Johnson

The Box In The Woods is probably one of the finest transitional books I’ve read – period. 

A bold statement, to be sure, but I think an accurate one nonetheless.

The Box in the Woods is a continuation of Johnson’s Truly Devious series. 

In that, a brand new cold case reunites Stevie and company during their summer vacation. Even better, if you’ve skipped reading the Truly Devious series and aren’t sure you want to sink in the extra time reading the trilogy (though you really should, they’re great), you don’t need to. Johnson brilliantly catches you up – without ruining the first three books! 

Seriously, you don’t know how rare this is.

For some insane reason, mystery writers (or I suspect their editors as the more likely culprit) love revealing the ending of a previous mystery in newer installments! A feature that is fantastically frustrating if you accidentally start in the middle of the series. Thankfully, Johnson neatly sidesteps this common transgression. 

But I digress.

Another reason why I enjoyed reading this book is Johnson makes use of two very well-known tropes and cunningly freshens them up. 

Trope One: The horrors of summer camp as popularized by the Friday the 13th franchise. 

Set a month or two after Stevie solved the Truly Devious case, Stevie’s hired to investigate the notorious Camp Wonder Falls murders, a cold case from 1978 where four camp counselors sneak out to hang out one summer night and are found murdered the following morning. Amplifying the horror of the crime is the fact neither the Sherriff nor State Police solved the crime. Leaving Barlow Corners, where Camp Wonder Falls and all four victims called home, in a state of animated suspension.

Amplifying this trope: Stevie and friends are hired as counselors to the newly revitalized (and renamed) summer camp as cover for said detecting. 

While writing this review, I began to wonder: Does this trope have any real-world roots, or is it a purely fictional construct?

The answer sent me down an hours-long rabbit hole.

More specifically, I discovered an unsettling case dubbed the Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders. In 1977, Michele Heather Guse (9), Lori Lee Farmer (8), and Doris Denise Milner (10) were raped and murdered during a thunderstorm while attending Camp Scott (which was later shut down).

The Sherriff honed in on an escaped felon and convicted rapist who grew up in the area as his prime suspect. Gene Leroy Hart, said offender, was found not guilty of the girl’s murder in 1979. Other suspects have surfaced over the years, but no convictions have come about. Nor has DNA testing helped, as the biological material has deteriorated enough over the years that finding usable samples has become increasingly difficult.

Hauntingly, two months prior to the three little girl’s murder, a room was ransacked during a counselor’s training session. The perpetrator left a note stating, “We are on a mission to kill three little girls in Tent One.”. 

The note, deemed a prank, was unfortunately tossed out. 

(Click here if you’re interested in reading Tulsa World’s coverage of the tragedy. Or here for an alternate suspect theory.)

But back to The Box In The Woods.

The second trope Johnson used is one I’ve read at least a dozen times before – yet Johnson disguised it so cleverly I didn’t see it coming. Which I think is the mark of a great author and an excellent book.

Unfortunately, I can’t explain the trope any further. Otherwise, I will ruin the book for you. This is one where you need to trust me – the trope’s there, and it’s well-executed.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA detectives (though it is only YA due to the ages of the sleuths and a few hormones) and/or those who enjoy Agatha Christie-esque mysteries. 

Honestly, I can’t say enough good things about The Box In The Woods!

The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death – Essay & Photography by Corinne May Botz

Interestingly, the review of the Nutshell Studies is directly linked to The Box In The Woods. When Stevie is first approached about investigating the cold case at Wonder Falls, she knows her folks won’t be keen on the idea, as they don’t understand or entirely approve of her fascination with true crime. So Stevie devises a strategy – which involves using a book filled with photos of the Nutshell Studies – to secure her parent’s permission to become a counselor at the notorious camp.

Intrigued by Johnson’s description, I found the book Stevie was reading.

Whereupon I discovered I’d seen homages to these scaled works in Elementry, CSI: Las Vegas, and Father Brown.

Created by Frances Glessner Lee, the mother of forensic science in the United States, these dioramas are intended to help train investigators on how to approach and analyze crime scenes.

Each scene is a 1-foot to 1-inch scale replica of crime scenes Lee either read about or visited. And much like Dragnet, Lee altered the specifics of each case she used, lest the detectives already know the solution. Though small, these gruesome dollhouses are fully immersive crime scenes where only one of three outcomes were acceptable – accident, suicide, or murder.

Brining us to Botz’s book.

Botz’s photography of these tiny worlds is both haunting, eerily lovely and acquaints her readers with the specter at the feast. All the while keeping true to Lee’s goal for the Nutshell Studies.

And this is where my criticism of this book lies.

Authors and Readers don’t always have the same agenda when beginning a book. And that’s okay. However, it is the duty of the author to set a clear message for their audience – particularly when dealing with such a tantalizing and fascinating subject like the Nutshell Studies.

Because, much like Stevie in The Box In The Woods, I wanted to hone my own critical thinking skills and eye on dioramas meant to do just that.

And this is where the rub of the book lies.

Botz waited until page 220 of 223 in a footnote, no less, to inform her readers she only included the solution to five out of twenty Nutshell Studies. (And one other tiny pet peeve the few provided solutions aren’t listed in the order the cases were presented in the previous chapter.) In any case, the reason for this purposeful omission is due to the fact law enforcement still use the Nutshell Studies as training tools. So they asked Botz not to reveal three-quarters of the solutions.

Which is entirely understandable and isn’t the basis of my quibble.

My objection lies in waiting until the last four pages to finally elucidate this crucial detail – Botz could’ve just as easily placed the footnote in her prologue (which would’ve avoided a great deal of frustration and annoyance).

Admittedly, in Botz’s preface, she does allude to this contentious detail. Stating she set out to photograph the Nutshell Studies, “With the resolve of an investigator at the scene of a crime (yet with no interest in solving it)…” (pg. 12). Additionally, Botz felt a kinship with Lee – which meant Botz kept true to Lee’s intent for the Nutshells, “…they were not supposed to treat the Nutshells as ‘whodunnits’…they are, rather, designed as exercises in observing and evaluating indirect evidence…” (pg. 29).

This obfuscation of information continues with the photographs, as Botz only gives the audience small slices of these miniatures to study. Now, these slices are spectacular in their incredible detail, meticulous craftsmanship, and atmospheric perspective – but they do not afford the same opportunity for the reader as they do investigators.

Happily, Botz does include the background info written by Lee for each diorama. Then provides a crime scene diagram of each overall scene where Botz highlights investigative features, the personal quirks Lee buried within the rooms or just general fun facts. They draw the reader’s eye hither, thither, and yon much like a red herring in a mystery novel.

Now, with all this being said – and I know my criticism is rather long – I would still highly recommend reading this book. Although, with the caveat, the cases may leave you a bit frustrated with not knowing the answers…In any case, the sheer precision and accuracy of Lee’s dioramas is astonishing, and Botz’s photography elevates the Nutshell Studies to a whole new level. Making Botz’s book The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death deserving of your time and energy. Because I bought this book several months back, and I still find something new each and every time I reread it.

BEST OF THE NEW YEAR TO ALL

MAY WE ALL HAVE THE

HOLIDAYS WE DESERVE

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

November 2021

My Poor Ass’: Michelangelo Wrote a Poem About How Much He Hated Painting the Sistine Chapel

Have Sumatran fishing crews found the fabled Island of Gold?

A Kansas City fashion icon was kidnapped for ransom. How the mafia helped save her

Catch These 5 Incredible Finds—From Ian Fleming’s Annotated James Bond Draft, and Chandler’s inscribed hardcover to Fleming, to a Rare Tolkien Trove—at Firsts, London’s Rare Book Fair

A super-rare first folio fragment of Shakespeare’s Henry IV is up for auction.

How to Flirt Effectively, According to Michael Mann Movies

Ten books from The Simpsons Library I would like to read.

How One Unexpected Phone Call Led to the Rescue of the Last Diving Horse in America

A Scientific Explanation for Your Urge to Sniff Old Books

We Added New Words to the Dictionary for October 2021

Boy, if there’s a Word of the Month that fits us it is this:

gallimaufry (n.)“a medley, hash, hodge-podge,” 1550s, from French galimafrée “hash, ragout, dish made of odds and ends,” from Old French galimafree, calimafree “sauce made of mustard, ginger, and vinegar; a stew of carp” (14th C.), which is of unknown origin. Perhaps from Old French galer “to make merry, live well” (see gallant) + Old North French mafrer “to eat much,” from Middle Dutch maffelen [Klein]. Weekley sees in the second element the proper name Maufré. Hence, figuratively, “any inconsistent or absurd medley.” (etymonline)

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‘The beginning of the snowball:’ Supply-chain snarls delay books (with local views)

Supply chain issues are slowing the production of books ahead of the holidays (the reporter also talks about how the sale of e-books has fallen)

Serious Stuff

Pandora papers: biggest ever leak of offshore data exposes financial secrets of rich and powerful

Global hunt for looted treasures leads to offshore trusts

The United States of Dirty Money

State of Emergency Declared Over Crime Spike and Cocaine Boom in Ecuador

The Long American History of “Missing White Woman Syndrome”

What happens to crime where recreational marijuana is legal? Here’s what we know

Opinion | Journalists bungled coverage of the Attica uprising. 50 years later, the consequences remain

Drawing a line from Cold War brainwashing to the misinformation age

We Finally Know How 43 Students on a Bus Vanished Into Thin Air

50 Years Later, Looking Back at the Real-Life Crime Network That Inspired The French Connection

How The French Connection Reinvented (and Exploded) the Police Procedural

In secret tapes, palm oil execs disclose corruption, brutality

A Black family got their beach back — and inspired others to fight against land theft

A Black 10-Year-Old Drew an ‘Offensive Sketch.’ She Was Handcuffed by Cops.

A Drug Cartel Sent a Severed Head to Tijuana’s New Police Chief on His First Day

When the Family Legacy Is Murder

Secret recording reveals Texas teachers told to counter Holocaust books with ‘opposing’ views

This lady is trying to ban Toni Morrison’s books from schools for being “pornographic.”

Kenosha police accused of ‘deputizing’ militia vigilantes during Jacob Blake protests

White House Once Again Delays Release of JFK Assassination Documents

Was He Framed for Killing Black Kids to Get the Klan off the Hook?

There is a consistency to the debate over book censorship: Distress about change

A Union Scandal Landed Hundreds of NYPD Officers on a Secret Watchlist. That Hasn’t Stopped Some From Jeopardizing Cases

The Secret History of Latin America’s Female Cartel Bosses

Local Stuff

1927 Murderer’s Row program turns up in East Vancouver, BC

20 years after unsolved killing of federal prosecutor Thomas Wales in Seattle, details emerge about the FBI’s theory

Reward for info in murder of Seattle prosecutor climbs to $2.5 million decades after death

The Case of Perry Mason’s Courtroom Cousin

Seattle police arrest Pike Place Market store owner suspected of trafficking stolen Lego sets

Amanda Knox was exonerated. That doesn’t mean she’s free

Fremont’s Outsider Comics is the inclusive home base for a new generation of Seattle nerds

Ursula K. Le Guin always wanted Powell’s Books to be a proud union shop.

An ode to the glorious ’70s cover art of the books of Ursula K. Le Guin.

Cops Solve Mystery of Alaska Serial Killer Victim Known as ‘Horseshoe Harriet’

Words of the Month

absurd (n): “plainly illogical,” 1550s, from French absurde (16th C.), from Latin absurdus “out of tune, discordant;” figuratively “incongruous, foolish, silly, senseless,” from ab– “off, away from,” here perhaps an intensive prefix, + surdus “dull, deaf, mute,” which is possibly from an imitative PIE root meaning “to buzz, whisper” (see susurration). Thus the basic sense is perhaps “out of tune,” but de Vaan writes, “Since ‘deaf’ often has two semantic sides, viz. ‘who cannot hear’ and ‘who is not heard,’ ab-surdus can be explained as ‘which is unheard of’ …” The modern English sense is the Latin figurative one, perhaps “out of harmony with reason or propriety.” Related: Absurdly; absurdness. (etymonline)

Odd Stuff

On the mysterious obscenity scribbled on John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath manuscript

The Socialite Gangster Who Charmed the New York Literati

From Pen Stroke to Key Stroke: On Slander in Suspense ~ Poisoned pen letters were a staple of Golden Age crime fiction. Now, writers are using new technologies continue the tradition.

Lord of the Rings orc was modeled after Harvey Weinstein, Elijah Wood reveals

Dodgers Fan Thought to Be Most-Wanted Fugitive Just a Dodgers Fan, U.S. Marshals Determine

5 historic codes yet to be cracked

Eighty years after his death, weapons experts now say expressionist painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s suicide may have been murder

Who was Agent 355? The Mystery of America’s First Female Spy

Australian Court to Deliberate the World’s Most Expensive Apostrophe

The Reason Some Are Convinced Paul McCartney Is A Clone

Dormice favoured by Italian mafia seized in drugs raid

He’s a poet and the FBI know it: how John Giorno’s Dial-a-Poem alarmed the Feds

The Bizarre History of the Many, Many Bond Imitators of 60s and 70s Pop Culture

A recent auction of the Al Capone’s mementos testifies to his enduring appeal—and the thorny nature of collecting items owned by criminals

Missouri Man Won’t Sell Back Murder Victim’s Wedding Ring

Egypt detains artist robot Ai-Da before historic pyramid show; Sculpture and its futuristic creator held for 10 days, possibly in fear she is part of spying plot

This Former Crime Scene Cleaner Is Now a Go-To COVID Slayer

Dressed to kill: Why gangster and fashion films have a lot in common

10 Years of Rituals – Inside an exorcist’s diary

When a cobra became a murder weapon in India

Words of the Month

paradox (n): From t he 1530s, “a statement contrary to common belief or expectation,” from French paradoxe (14th C.) and directly from Latin paradoxum “paradox, statement seemingly absurd yet really true,” from Greek paradoxon “incredible statement or opinion,” noun use of neuter of adjective paradoxos “contrary to expectation, incredible,” from para- “contrary to” (see para- (1)) + doxa “opinion,” from dokein “to appear, seem, think” (from PIE root *dek- “to take, accept”).

Originally with notions of “absurd, fantastic.” Meaning “statement that is seemingly self-contradictory yet not illogical or obviously untrue” is from 1560s. Specifically in logic, “a statement or proposition from an acceptable premise and following sound reasoning that yet leads to an illogical conclusion,” by 1903. (etymonline)

Awards

Here are the 2021 National Book Award Finalists

Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah has won the Nobel Prize in Literature

Baillie Gifford prize reveals ‘outstanding storytelling’ on 2021 shortlist

A woman won a million-euro Spanish literary prize. It turned out that ‘she’ was actually three men

Here’s the shortlist for the 2021 T.S. Eliot Prize

A new literary prize in honor of Ursula K. Le Guin will recognize “realists of a larger reality.”

Here are the finalists for the 2021 Cundill History Prize

Here are the 2021 Kirkus Prize winners

Book Stuff

Publishing Is a Nightmare: 31 Horror Films about Writing, Reading, and the Book Business

How to Deal with Rejection (and Get Revenge) Like Edgar Allan Poe

Handwritten manuscript of The Grapes of Wrath to be published for the first time

The Books Briefing: The Essential Qualities of a Book

Lee Child on the Invention of Fiction

Stephen Fry on the enduring appeal of Georgette Heyer

Hanif Abdurraqib on What It Was Like to Work at a Chain Bookstore

9 very niche bookstores for your very specific interests

Steph Cha on Choosing the Best of Mystery and Suspense Stories During an Unprecedented and Harrowing Year

State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny review – politics and patriotism

Fictional Detectives, Real Hobbies: Appreciating the Leisure Activities of Fiction’s Greatest Sleuths

John Grisham on Judges, Innocence and the Judgments He Ignores

Murder in the Stacks: Mysteries That Take Place In Bookstores

The Unheralded Women Scribes Who Brought Medieval Manuscripts to Life

On the Various, Multipurposed Manuscripts of Canterbury Tales

Interview: ‘My life in the mafia’s shadow’: Italy’s most hunted author, Roberto Saviano

Solange Launches Free Library of Rare, Out-of-print Books by Black Authors

Amelia Earhart’s long-hidden poems reveal an enigma’s inner thoughts

The Detection Club and the Mid-Century Fight over “Fair Play” in Crime Fiction

Inside the Real-Life Succession Battle at Scholastic

How Being a Firefighter Prepares You to Write Crime Fiction (nope, the author’s last name isn’t Emerson)

Why is Baseball the Most Literary of Sports?

A Murder Mystery That Refuses to be Solved

How to Have Sex in Crime Fiction

Not Everything We Watch Has to Be “Meaningful.” This Series Proves It

Redemption for Doctor Watson

Other Forms of Entertainment

True Crime Fans Are Obsessed With This Forensic Psychology YouTube Channel

‘The Many Saints of Newark’ Led Michael Imperioli to Depressing Realization About His ‘Sopranos’ Character

Netflix Orders Edgar Allen Poe Classic From ‘Midnight Mass’ Team

Sue Grafton’s alphabet series will be adapted for TV—despite her family’s “blood oath.”

One Good Thing: Only Murders in the Building plays like a Nora Ephron murder mystery

This new Broadway play doesn’t have a script — but it does have a transcript

He Read All 27,000 Marvel Comic Books and Lived to Tell the Tale

Brusque cops and femmes fatales: discovering Gilles Grangier’s forgotten noir gem

Corbin Bernsen to Reprise ‘L.A. Law’ Role in ABC Update

The Curious, Astounding Collection of the Magician Ricky Jay

Sopranos‘ Star Steve Schirripa Says Significant Bobby Baccalieri Moment Was an Accident

You Don’t Understand What This Is Doing to Me:” In the age of anti-heroes Tony Soprano reigned supreme. In a new book, we take a look at the toll the character took on James Gandolfini

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is curating a series of classic works by Black playwrights.

‘North by Northwest’ is Basically a James Bond Movie as Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Netflix Tracks Korea’s Most Notorious Serial Killer Yoo Young-chul—Who Targeted the Rich, Then Prostitutes

Re-entering the Void with the Best Episode of ‘True Detective’

Who will play Norman Mailer in this new true crime series?

If you find yourself in mortal danger this weekend, remember the last words of these famous writers.

Elizabeth Banks and Margot Robbie are making a live-action The Paper Bag Princess movie.

Words of the Month

preposterous (adj.): 1540s, “contrary to nature, reason, or common sense,” from Latin praeposterus “absurd, contrary to nature, inverted, perverted, in reverse order,” literally “before-behind” (compare topsy-turvy,cart before the horse), from prae “before” (see pre-) + posterus “subsequent, coming after,” from post “after” (see post-).

The sense gradually shaded into “foolish, ridiculous, stupid, absurd.” The literal meaning “reversed in order or arrangement, having that last which ought to be first” (1550s) is now obsolete in English. In 17th C. English also had a verb preposterate “to make preposterous, pervert, invert.” (etymonline)

RIP

Oct 8: ICON LOST ~ Robert Grossman dead at 88 – Famed neurosurgeon who examined assassinated President John F Kennedy passes away

Oct 21: Julie Green, who painted plates with the last meals of death row inmates

Oct 27: The comedian and satirist Mort Sahl, who has died aged 94, was a combination of Lenny Bruce and Bob Hope – with a little Will Rogers thrown in.

Oct 29: Val Bisoglio Dies: Character Actor Who Played Father In ‘Saturday Night Fever’, Appeared On ‘Quincy, M.E.’ & ‘Sopranos’ Was 95

Links of Interest

Oct 2: The mafia killed her mother. Now she wants to take them on as mayor of Naples

Oct 2: Woodlawn Jane Doe: How scraps of DNA and a genealogy website solved a 45-year-old mystery

Oct 2: Jeffrey Wright: ‘There’s a relentless, grotesque debasement of language in the US’

Oct 2: ‘It will be found’: search for MH370 continues with experts and amateurs still sleuthing

Oct 3: How a Tip to Obituaries Breathed New Life Into a Decades-Old Mystery

Oct 6: It’s Time to Learn About the Lives of John Wayne Gacy’s Victims—And Not Just the Labels Hung on Them

Oct 7: The Boone Family, the Struggle for Kentucky, and the Kidnapping That Rocked Colonial America

Oct 7: The Birth of the CIA—And the Soviet Mole Who Had a Hand in Everything

Oct 8: Case of the Zodiac killer takes another twist – but police say it isn’t solved

Oct 9: How JFK used James Bond to fight the Cold War

Oct 9: How The Mob Controlled The Jukebox Industry

Oct 12: A new film explores the life of Odessa Madre, the ‘queen’ of D.C.’s underworld

Oct 12: Reclaiming the Legacy of Nora May French, the Pioneering Poet Made Into a Femme Fatale by Mediocre Men and California Mythology

Oct 12: You Can Now Rent the Villa Where ‘James Bond’ Was Created on Airbnb

Oct 12: An American Outrage: Journalism, Race, and the Clinton Avenue Five

Oct 13: Florida Police Arrest Woman for Allegedly Tampering With Flight School Computers

Oct 14: Robert Durst: US millionaire sentenced to life for murder

Oct 14: Lake District mysterious abandoned tea-for-two found in woodland

Oct 15: City is taking its official wizard off the payroll after over 2 decades

Oct 16: Nike Jordan boss reveals he murdered an 18-year-old in 1965

Oct 16: Australian Police Make Record $104M Heroin Seizure

Oct 17: Spies next door? The suburban US couple accused of espionage

Oct 17: As Japan’s yakuza mob weakens, former gangsters struggle to find a role outside crime

Oct 19: Romance scams cost consumers a record $304 million as more people searched for love online during the pandemic

Oct 19: Mexican Gangster Rapper ‘El Millonario’ Just Got Arrested on Murder Charges

Oct 19: Edith Carlson, a single librarian with a small income, was excited to work with Frank Lloyd Wright—at first.

Oct 22: Tragic Alec Baldwin Prop Gun Shooting Isn’t the First Movie-Set Death

Oct 22: How Gun Deaths Happen On Film Sets

Oct 22: Rocker Randy Bachman’s guitar was stolen 45 years ago. A fan tracked it down

Oct 22: Ransomware Gang Says the Real Ransomware Gang Is the Federal Government

Oct 22: The house from the movie ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ is up for sale

Oct 23: She Picked Up Her Husband From Jail and Was Never Seen Again

Oct 24: Rollercoaster fan takes 6,000th ride after pandemic delays

Oct 25: Family of Newly Identified Gacy Victim Never Knew He Was Dead

Oct 26: Feds: Embassy Staffer Who Drugged, Molested Women Was in CIA

Oct 26: MAGA, the CIA, and Silvercorp: The Bizarre Backstory of the World’s Most Disastrous Coup

Oct 26: The Forgotten Story of a Polish Spy Whose Los Angeles Trial Was a Cold War Flashpoint

Oct 27: Post photographer Matt McClain on the trail of Edgar Allan Poe

Oct 29: Instagram Model Allegedly Helped Break Mom Out of Prison by Distracting Guard

Words of the Month

canard (n.): An “absurd or fabricated story intended as an imposition,” 1851, perhaps 1843, from French canard “a hoax,” literally “a duck” (from Old French quanart, probably echoic of a duck’s quack); said by Littré to be from the phrase vendre un canard à moitié “to half-sell a duck,” thus, perhaps from some long-forgotten joke, “to cheat.” But also compare quack (n.1). (etymonline)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Mango, Mambo, and Murder – Raquel V. Reyes

Until I cracked the spine of Mango, Mambo, and Murder – I hadn’t realized how very long it’s been since I’ve started a new series. Or, in fact, a series that didn’t feature a mystery writer, bookshop owner, or librarian as the sleuth. So why you ask, are these careers important? Reading about true or fictional crime does generally give bookish detectives a leg up in their investigations.

However, in Mango, Mambo, and Murder, our investigator is Dr. Miriam Quinones-Smith, a Food Anthropologist, mother of one, and the newest resident of Coral Shores, Miami. All outstanding life achievements – but not ones that prepared her for investigating a murder. However, this is precisely what Miriam needs to do when her best friend Alma is accused of murder.

And she makes mistakes. Lots of mistakes. Because she’s quite literally an amateur sleuth trying to solve her first case – the first one I’ve read in a very long time.

Even better?

She did a good job.

However, the cream of the first book in A Caribbean Kitchen Mystery series is how Reyes (our author) seamlessly works food into her mystery. The dishes Miriam cooks add layers and nuance to the book without detracting from the unfolding story because food is the cornerstone upon which Mirium’s life is built, therefore making it a cornerstone of the book.

But it’s still very much a mystery…with delicious sounding Cuban food on the side.

The one and only criticism I have for the Mango, Mambo, and Murder is that the very last chapter is just a hair overly sweet. But as it is a first novel – which gives a slightly unusual but satisfying wrap -up the murder mystery – I can forgive this very small foible.

Overall, I would recommend this mystery to anyone who enjoys reading cozy mysteries, culinary mysteries, and/or culturally diverse mysteries. Raquel V. Reyes did a great job creating a new exciting character, who I am looking forward to meeting again.

(BTW – Thanks to JB who emailed me about this great book!)

JB

Craig Johnson’s new Longmire, Daughter of the Morning Star is a puzzler. I don’t mean that due to it’s mystery and crime and whodunnit elements. I mean it from the point of view of “where is this going”?

Walt spends the book up in Montana, helping the locals search for a missing Indian woman. The issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women is a real and frightening problem but Walt is the sheriff of the largest county in WY, he doesn’t have a huge staff (is the Powder River annex still manned? Was it rebuilt after it was torched? Has his Basque deputy been replaced?) Who’s running the place? While the hunt for the missing girl is the plot, the story is more about Walt’s continued brush with Native American spirituality, what it means to him, how he deals with it – or not – and how the Spirits deal with Walt. There are a number of Mallo wrappers in the story and if you’ve been reading the books you understand their significance.

There’s a lot of basketball, not enough Vic, and the oddity of Dog shying away from Walt after a Spirit encounter but then everything is normal between them with no explanation.

Felt, again, like a bridge book – taking the series somewhere but not going very fast. Still, anytime with Walt and Henry is time well spent.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

After becoming frustrated with the commercials during BBC’s airing of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I turned off the TV and started re-reading the book. It has to be at least 20 years since I first read it. I was struck – again – by how well crafted it is as a mystery/thriller/crime novel, how assured it was as a first time work of fiction, and how serious Stieg Larsson was about addressing the violence done to women. Re-read all three. Great trilogy!

SHOP SMALL ~ BUY SMALL

SUPPORT SMALL

October 2021

Seriously Scary Stuff

Gabby Petito’s disappearance, and why it was absolutely everywhere, explained

Gabby Petito’s Family Asks ‘Amazing’ Social Media Sleuths to Help More Missing Persons

Femicides in the US: the silent epidemic few dare to name

Craig Johnson on Spirituality, the West, and the Plight of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: From the introduction to Craig’s new Longmire:

“The plight of missing an murdered indigenous women is so great that I had to reassure my publisher that the statistics contained in this novel are accurate. The numbers are staggering, and they speak for themselves. What if I were to tell you that that the chances of a Native woman being murdered is ten times the national average, or that murder is the third leading cause of death for indigenous women? What if I told you that four out of five Native women have experienced societal violence, with having experienced sexual violence as well. Half of Native women have been stalked in their lifetime, and they are two times as likely to experience violence and rape than their Anglo counterparts. Heartbreakingly, the majority of these Native women’s murders are by non-Natives on Native owned land.

“The violence is being addressed, but there is so much more to do. Jurisdictional issues and a lack of communication among agencies make the investigative process difficult. Underreporting, racial misclassification, and underwhelming media coverage [emphasis from us] minimize the incredible damage that is being done to the Native communities as a whole.

There are a number of wonderful organizations that are attempting to make a difference, the nearest to me being the Native Indigenous Women’s Resource Center in Lame Deer, Montana.”

Please join us in donating.

Seasonal Stuff

Remember the creepy house from The Silence of the Lambs? Now it’s a vacation rental

Company Apologizes for Sending Clowns to Schools and Terrifying Parents

Words of the Season

rougarou (n.): “Rougarou” represents a variant pronunciation and spelling of the original French loup-garou. According to Barry Jean Ancelet, an academic expert on Cajun folklore and professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in America, the tale of the rougarou is a common legend across French Louisiana. Both words are used interchangeably in southern Louisiana. Some people call the monster rougarou; others refer to it as the loup-garou. The rougarou legend has been spread for many generations, either directly from French settlers to Louisiana (New France) or via the French Canadian immigrants centuries ago. In the Cajun legends, the creature is said to prowl the swamps around Acadiana and Greater New Orleans, and the sugar cane fields and woodlands of the regions. The rougarou most often is described as a creature with a human body and the head of a wolf or dog, similar to the werewolf legend. (wikipedia)

Something for Bill: Detroit Crime Fiction: A Literary Tradition Like No Other (but he’d fidget that Rob Kantner and Jon A. Jackson weren’t included…)

Cool Stuff

Anthony Sinclair’s “Goldfinger Suit” lets you dress like Bond – with stitch-perfect authenticity

Don’t despair: LeVar Burton has designs on his own book-themed game show

James Patterson and Scholastic are joining forces to mitigate illiteracy

Bookseller of Kabul vows to stay open despite only two customers since the rise of the Taliban

Serious Stuff

So Sally Rooney’s racist? Only if you choose to confuse fiction with fact

Biles: FBI turned ‘blind eye’ to reports of gymnasts’ abuse

They Follow You on Instagram, Then Use Your Face To Make Deepfake Porn in This Sex Extortion Scam

Three former U.S. intelligence operatives admit to working as ‘hackers-for-hire’ for UAE

There Are Too Many Underemployed Former Spies Running Around Selling Their Services to the Highest Bidder

Stephen King has released a new short story, with profits going to support the ACLU

Long-Secret FBI Report Reveals New Connections Between 9/11 Hijackers and Saudi Religious Officials in U.S.

After student protests, a Pennsylvania school district has reversed its ban on diverse books

In 1865, thousands of Black South Carolinians signed a 54-foot-long freedom petition

She bought her dream home; a ‘sovereign citizen’ changed the locks

CIA Reportedly Considered Kidnapping, Assassinating Julian Assange

Paper shortage hits American retailers when they need it most

Everything you need to know about the current book supply-chain issues—and how you can help.

How can independent bookstores begin to pay their booksellers a fair and living wage?

America Is Having a Violence Wave, Not a Crime Wave

Local Stuff

More fallout from how we’re defunding Seattle police backward, this time in Pioneer Square

Portland Cop Who Was Caught on Video Bashing the Head of a Protest Medic Won’t Be Charged With a Crime

Bitcoin uses as much electricity as Washington State. How is that possible?

Proud Boy Shot While Chasing Anti-Fascists as City Fears More Violence

Huge hack reveals embarrassing details of who’s behind Proud Boys and other far-right websites

This was the worst slaughter of Native Americans in U.S. history. Few remember it.

Joie Des Livres brings life and culture to Tiny Seabrook

Odd Stuff

30 delightful puns from the Victorian Era

When Ray Bradbury Asked John F. Kennedy if He Could Help with the Space Race

Bart’s Books, an Ojai landmark, is a Central California destination unlike anything you’ve ever seen

Mom and Daughter Killed Adult Film Actress With Backyard Butt Implants, Cops Say

Accused cannibal gets prison time for botched castration in remote cabin

New Zealand Covid: Men caught smuggling KFC into lockdown-hit Auckland

Far-Right Group Wants to Ban Books About MLK, Male Seahorses

Read Herman Melville’s embarrassingly short, typo-marred obituary.

Awards

Washington State Book Awards 2021 winners announced (congratulation to Jess Walter!)

Here are the finalists for the 2021 Kirkus Prize

Read the short story that won this year’s Moth Short Story Prize

Here are the recipients of the 2021 American Poets Prizes.

Analysis: the 2021 Booker shortlist tunes in to the worries of our age

Here’s the longlist for the 2021 National Book Award for Fiction

Announcing the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 honorees

Here’s the longlist for the 2021 National Book Award for Translated Literature

Here are this year’s Dayton Literary Peace Prize honorees

Words of the Season

soucouyant (n.): The soucouyant is a shapeshifting Caribbean folklore character who appears as a reclusive old woman by day. By night, she strips off her wrinkled skin and puts it in a mortar. In her true form, as a fireball she flies across the dark sky in search of a victim. The soucouyant can enter the home of her victim through any sized hole like cracks, crevices and keyholes. Soucouyants suck people’s blood from their arms, legs and soft parts while they sleep leaving blue-black marks on the body in the morning. If the soucouyant draws too much blood, it is believed that the victim will either die and become a soucouyant or perish entirely, leaving her killer to assume her skin. The soucouyant practices black magic. Soucouyants trade their victims’ blood for evil powers with Bazil, the demon who resides in the silk cotton tree. To expose a soucouyant, one should heap rice around the house or at the village cross roads as the creature will be obligated to gather every grain, grain by grain (a herculean task to do before dawn) so that she can be caught in the act. To destroy her, coarse salt must be placed in the mortar containing her skin so she perishes, unable to put the skin back on. Belief in soucouyants is still preserved to an extent in Guyana, Suriname and some Caribbean islands, including Dominica, Haiti and Trinidad. The skin of the soucouyant is considered valuable, and is used when practicing black magic. Many Caribbean islands have plays about the Soucouyant and many other folklore characters. Some of these include Trinidad Grenada and Barbados. Soucouyants belong to a class of spirits called jumbies. Some believe that soucouyants were brought to the Caribbean from European countries in the form of French vampire-myths. These beliefs intermingled with those of enslaved Africans. (wikipedia)

Book Stuff

Bristol manuscript fragments of the famous Merlin legend among the oldest of their kind

Beautiful, Decorative, and Sometimes Crude: Illuminated Manuscripts and Marginalia

S.A. Cosby, a Writer of Violent Noirs, Claims the Rural South as His Own

Michael Connelly Can’t Stop Chasing Leads

Why William Gibson Is a Literary Genius

My First Thriller: James Grady

This Gemlike Library Put America on the Architectural Map

Top 10 books about lies and liars

Newly discovered Tennessee Williams story published for the first time

Women Crime Writers Discuss Violence, Women, and What Readers Will and Won’t Accept

What Is Crime in a Country Built on It?

Peek inside Waseda University’s brand new Haruki Murakami library

Ken Follett Returns to Espionage Thrillers

Zibby Owens to publish books using a company-wide profit-sharing model

Lena Waithe, Gillian Flynn to Start Book Imprints

Sara Gran Talks Publishing, Sex Magic, and Ownership for Authors

A Brief History of Giallo Fiction and the Italian Anti-Detective Novel

This new vending machine will provide New Yorkers with short stories on the go

Love in the Bookshop: A Mystery Writer’s Ode to Bookstore Romances

Democracy is Cheap, but the Constitution Expected to Fetch at least $15M at Auction

He Taught Ancient Texts at Oxford. Now He Is Accused of Stealing Some

Edwin Torres’ Way

This year’s literary MacArthur fellows on the best writing advice they’ve received (and more)

They’ve Seen the Future And They Don’t Like It: The Year’s Best Scifi Noir (So Far)

The Real-Life Political Scandal That Inspired Jean-Patrick Manchette’s First Thriller

Other Forms of Entertainment

Vince Vaughn to star in film version of Hiaasen’s Bad Monkey

Hillary and Chelsea Clinton’s HiddenLight Options Maisie Dobbs Series of Novels

Quentin Tarantino: ‘There’s a lot of feet in a lot of good directors’ movies’

30 Things We Learned from Quentin Tarantino’s ‘True Romance’ Commentary

How British Crime Dramas Became Appointment TV

David Chase Chose Journey for ‘Sopranos’ Finale Because Song Was Hated by Crew

Michael Gandolfini and the Riddle of Tony Soprano

Narcos: Mexico’ to End With Season 3 at Netflix

Ray Liotta Says Iconic ‘Goodfellas’ Tracking Shot Take Was Ruined by Line Flub

Here’s the tantalizing first trailer for Denzel Washington’s Macbeth

No Time To Die: The Inside Story Of Daniel Craig’s Final Hurrah

Why the world still loves 1970s detective show “Columbo”

Apple bags rights of Brad Pitt, George Clooney’s new thriller

Words of the Season

manananggal (n.) The manananggal is described as scary, often hideous, usually depicted as female, and always capable of severing its upper torso and sprouting huge bat-like wings to fly into the night in search of its victims. The word manananggal comes from the Tagalog word tanggal, which means “to remove” or “to separate”, which literally translates as “remover” or “separator”. In this case, “one who separates itself”. The name also originates from an expression used for a severed torso. The manananggal is said to favor preying on sleeping, pregnant women, using an elongated proboscis-like tongue to suck the hearts of fetuses, or the blood of someone who is sleeping. It also haunts newlyweds or couples in love. Due to being left at the altar, grooms-to-be are one of its main targets.The severed lower torso is left standing, and is the more vulnerable of the two halves. Sprinkling salt, smearing crushed garlic or ash on top of the standing torso is fatal to the creature. The upper torso then would not be able to rejoin itself and would perish by sunrise. The myth of the manananggal is popular in the Visayan regions of the Philippines, especially in the western provinces of Capiz, Iloilo, Bohol and Antique. There are varying accounts of the features of a manananggal. Like vampires, Visayan folklore creatures, and aswangs, manananggals are also said to abhor garlic, salt and holy water. They were also known to avoid daggers, light, vinegar, spices and the tail of a stingray, which can be fashioned as a whip. Folklore of similar creatures can be found in the neighbouring nations of Indonesia and Malaysia. The province of Capiz is the subject or focus of many manananggal stories, as with the stories of other types of mythical creatures, such as ghosts, goblins, ghouls generically referred to as aswangs. Sightings are purported here, and certain local folk are said to believe in their existence despite modernization. The manananggal shares some features with the vampire of Balkan folklore, such as its dislike of garlic, salt, and vulnerability to sunlight. (wikipedia)

Links of Interest

Sept 1: How Ireland’s First “Assassination Society”–The Invincibles–Was Formed

Sept 3: All I Really Need to Know I Learned Covering Homicides

Sept 7: Why some people think this photo of JFK’s killer is fake

Sept 8: A Cop Killed Another Cop. A Woman Was Charged Instead

Sept 9: Georgia DA Already Charged for Parking Lot Donuts Now Accused of Trying to Frame Man for Murder

Sept 10: Spider-Man beats Superman in record $3.6m comic sale

Sept 10: Italy seizes 500 fake Francis Bacon works

Sept 10: Books, churches, what will Canadians burn next?

Sept 11: ‘Every message was copied to the police’: the inside story of the most daring surveillance sting in history

Sept 11: Louis Armstrong and Spy: How the CIA Used him as a “Trojan Horse” in Congo

Sept 11: Lead FBI Agent in Whitmer Kidnap Plot Is Fired After Swingers Party Incident

Sept 12: The Terror and Agony of Being a Mexican Hitman’s Son

Sept 13: Why Use a Dictionary in the Age of Internet Search?

Sept 13: Capitol Police Suspect Something Amiss With Swastika-Covered Nightmare Truck, Find Driver With Machete

Sept 14: 14 Defendants Indicted, Including the Entire Administration of the Colombo Organized Crime Family

Sept 14: Austin Funeral Homes Regularly Pour Blood and Embalming Fluid Down the Drain

Sept 14: Monkey Thieves, Drunk Elephants — Mary Roach Reveals A Weird World Of Animal ‘Crime’

Sept 15: A Bonkers South Carolina Crime Saga Has Taken Another Bonkers Twist

Sept 15: Fred West: Future victim searches need strong justification, say police

Sept 17: Denmark moves to bar some prisoners from meeting new lovers after submarine killer romance controversy

Sept 19: FBI says fortune seized in Beverly Hills raid was criminals’ loot. Owners say: Where’s the proof?

Sept 20: Police Arrest 106 Tied to Mafia-Connected Cybercrime Group

Sept 21: Caril Ann Fugate and the Presumption of Guilt

Sept 21: Two Cops Are Accused of Hiring Hitmen to Take Out Their Enemies

Sept 21: Gilgamesh Dream Tablet to be formally handed back to Iraq

Sept 21: Salisbury poisonings: Third man faces charges for Novichok attack

Sept 22: Joshua Melville’s Search for the Truth About His Radical Bomber Father, Sam Melville

Sept 22: Carlos the Jackal seeks to reduce life sentence for deadly 1974 grenade attack

Sept 23: JetBlue Passenger Storms Cockpit, Strangles Flight Attendant, Breaks Out of Restraints

Sept 24: Snapchat Is Fueling Britain’s Teen Murder Epidemic

Sept 24: The Heist of the Century: Who Cracked the Manhattan Savings And Loan Safe?

Sept 24: Mexico’s Soccer League Colluded to Cap Women’s Salaries, Regulator Says

Sept 24: Mississippi woman Clara Birdlong likely Samuel Little victim

Sept 24: How Chippendales’ Male-Stripping Empire Ended in Bloody Murder

Sept 27: Judge orders ‘unconditional release’ for Reagan shooter Hinckley

Sept 28: Texas nurse faces capital murder trial for 4 patient deaths

Sept 29: For $84,000, An Artist Returned Two Blank Canvasses Titled ‘Take The Money And Run’

Sept 30: Afghans artists bury paintings, hide books out of fear of Taliban crackdown on arts and culture

Sept 30: Yale Says Its Vinland Map, Once Called a Medieval Treasure, Is Fake

RIP

Sept 6: Michael K. Williams, ‘The Wire’ Star, Dies at 54 [Joe R. Lansdale Remembers The Genesis of Hap and Leonard and Pays Tribute to Michael K. Williams]

Sept 22: Melvin Van Peebles, Godfather of Black Cinema, Dies at 89

Words of the Season

Chonchon (n.) The Chonchon is the magical transformation of a kalku (Mapuche sorcerer). It is said only the most powerful kalkus can aspire to master the secret of becoming this feared creature. The kalku or sorcerer would carry out the transformation into a Chonchon by an act of will and being anointed by a magical cream in the throat that eases the removal of the head from the rest of the body, with the removed head then becoming the creature. The Chonchon has the shape of a human head with feathers and talons; its ears, which are extremely large, serve as wings for its flight on moonless nights. Chonchons are supposed to be endowed with all the magic powers of, and can only be seen by, other kalkus, or by wizards that want this power. Sorcerers take the form of the chonchon to better carry out their wicked activities, and the transformation would provide them with other abilities, such as drinking the blood of ill or sleeping people. Although the fearsome appearance of a chonchon would be invisible to the uninitiated, they would still be able to hear its characteristic cry of “tue tue tue”, which is considered to be an extremely ill omen, usually predicting the death of a loved one. (wikipedia)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village – Maureen Johnson & Jay Cooper

Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village is exactly what it claims to be – a guide. Elucidating all the things a tourist needs to know about a quiet English village in order to navigate it and the inevitable undercurrents successfully (i.e. not get murdered).

Its’ also one of the funniest books I’ve ever read.

Aimed at the lovers of classic manor house and/or English village mysteries (think the Queens of Crime, Georgette Heyer, Francis Duncan, Patricia Wentworth) it takes the stock characters, architecture, and events found within those pages and gives them an irreverent, rib-tickling, and on the nose descriptions.

There’s even a quiz at the end to test your prowess.

I died twice…on the same page.

What I love even more – is how many of the people, places, and things Johnson describes in Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered that I recognize either from reading them or from watching tv shows like Father Brown, Death In Paradise, and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves classic mysteries and has a very good sense of humor – Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered will not let you down!

Fran

This is not a political post, but the book I’m talking about has its roots in politics, specifically the 2016 election. When the results were tallied, many people were upset, and out of that visceral reaction a new publishing house was born, Nasty Woman Press, the Creative Resistance.

Spearheaded by the glorious Kelli Stanley, Nasty Woman Press, a 501(c)(4) non-profit, decided to use literary creativity to bring awareness and aid to those who are struggling. To quote Kelli, “Our plan is to publish anthologies of captivating fiction and thought-provoking non-fiction, each built around a general theme – the theme itself tying in to the non-profit for which the book is raising money.”

That’s right. The profits from the sale of each book go to a cause. In the case of the the debut anthology, Shattering Glass, the theme is empowered women, and the profits go to Planned Parenthood.

Now, I know that a lot of you don’t like short stories, but here’s where you trust me. The fiction is amazing, and not all the authors are female. Anyone who says that men can’t write accurately about women needs to read some of these stories. Men can and do understand women, and know how to write them as believable characters.

But it’s not just the stories. One of the essays, written by Jacqueline Winspear about women firefighters, has stayed with me since I read it, and even as I type this, California is on fire, and I want to sit down with Jackie over a pot of tea and listen to her, because she knows her stuff.

The opening essay by Valerie Plame – yes, THAT Valerie Plame, outed CIA spy turned politician and novelist – is definitely thought provoking and erudite. I’ve read it a couple of times now.

But in the end, you’re going to love this anthology and come back to it. Parts of it will leave you aching, sometimes you’ll be so pissed you want to throw things, and at other times, you’re going to laugh out loud at the audacity. You will not remain unmoved. And that’s because these people can Write.

Who, you might ask? Well, I don’t want to spoil surprises, but if you like the writing of people like Cara Black, Catriona McPherson, Anne Lamott, Joe Clifford, Senator Barbara Boxer, Jess Lourey, and Seanan McGuire, you’re in for a treat.

Trust me.

JB

Pickup up a copy of Scott Turow’s The Last Trial. It’s one of those many books by favorite authors that I missed after the shop closed. It’s all that you’d expect from Turow – no one else plots such stunning and sinuous legal thrillers. But the wonderful part of the book, for me, was spending time with defense attorney Sandy Stern. While the lawyer is described differently, it’s impossible for me to not picture and hear Raul Julia as him, and since it is likely to be the last book with Stern and Julia’s sadly dead, it was so nice to be in their company one last time.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

There are words authors use that are too fancy for the stories they’re telling. In a way, it’s showy. It’s proving you have a large vocabulary. “Verdant” is one. It is almost always out of place. And, please – PLEASE – can we retire “plethora”!

But, having blurted that out of my head, I am here to HIGHLY RECOMMEND Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby. A new book is out now in hardcover. It’s getting high praise. I thought I’d go back and start with his first and – man – the guy can not only write beautifully but plot a tight, thrilling story.

“That was the things about his mother. She could be emotionally manipulative one minute then making you laugh the next. It was like getting hit in the face with a pie that had a padlock in it.”

Beau is a young guy whose stuck in a thicket of bills – mortgage on his garage, his dying mother’s healthcare is a mess, his youngest daughter needs money for starting college. He’s turned his back on his past livelihood – get-away-driver. His father was a noted driver and Beau doesn’t want to follow that path. “But when it came to handling his responsibilities we both know Anthony Montage was about a useful as a white crayon, don’t we?”

But the bills are demanding and off we roar into a series of sharp turns and dead ends that threaten everything he cherishes. Danger is his passenger and worse follows. “Reggie jumped like a demon had spoken to him.”

This is great noir, a great crime novel. I believe it is a stand-alone. I don’t think his books are connected. And I look forward to reading more. Cosby writes with a fluid, memorable style. How can you not want to read an author who comes up with a line like this: “She was wearing a tank top and shorts so tight they would become a thong is she sneezed.”

Here’s a great interview with Cosby. And a piece he wrote about his philosophy of writing.

Bought his new hardcover.

But it’ll have to wait ’til I finish the new Longmire.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The new James Ellroy, Widespread Panic, is everything you’d expect from an Ellroy book – literately lurid, speedily sleazy, and full of film faces. The narrator is real-life reprobate Fred Otash, a former cop, LA fixer, and all-around asshole. He’s into everything, everyone and everywhere. The book takes the form or a sort of memoir, a look back on a set of years in the 1950s. Naughty and nefarious nostalgia.

As with any Ellroy, when finishes, it is difficult to remember if there were any good people in the story. As with any Ellroy, the story is stocked with actual people. How does he get away with it without being sued out of his bowtie? Elizabeth Taylor in a three-way romp? James Dean, Nick Adams, Nicholas Ray and many others as reprehensible souls involved in rampant raids, reprobates riding roughshod over rights! None are alive now, but….

You enjoy Ellroy? Dig it!

SHOP SMALL ~ BUY SMALL

SUPPORT SMALL

SEPTEMBER 2021

Big Study About Honesty Turns out to be Based on Fake Data

A bloody shame: Britons find a new favourite swearword

Female Octopuses Throw Things at Male Harassers (GOOD FOR THEM!!)

Serious Stuff

The White Christian Nationalism Behind the Worst Terrorist Attack in American History

The rightwing US textbooks that teach slavery as ‘black immigration ‘

Downtown Seattle courthouse safety issues are keeping jurors away, judges say

Tech Firms Pledge Billions to Bolster Cybersecurity after Biden Meeting

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History displays a bullet-riddled sign that documented Emmett Till’s brutal murder

Local Stuff

Oregon High School Janitor Stockpiled Weapons for Mass Shooting: Cops

Crime historian digs for DB Cooper case evidence: ‘Authorities looked in wrong area’

More meth, cocaine contamination found at Washington state toxicology lab

High Schoolers in Seattle Build a Tiny Library That Makes Room for Everyone

Read a previously unpublished Ursula K. Le Guin poem

A naked baby helped Nirvana sell millions of records. Now 30, he’s suing the band and alleging child porn

Seattle Public Library to reopen all branches by later this fall

Words of the Month

sucker (n.) A “young mammal before it is weaned,” late 14th C., agent noun from suck. Slang meaning “person who is easily deceived” is first attested 1836, American English, on notion of naivete; but another theory traces the slang meaning to the fish called a sucker (1753), on the notion of being easy to catch in their annual migrations (the fish so called from the shape of its mouth). As a type of candy from 1823; especially “lollipop” by 1907. Meaning “shoot from the base of a tree or plant” is from 1570s. Also the old name of inhabitants of Illinois. (etymonline)

Odd Stuff

Here’s why poisonous animals don’t poison themselves

A $100,000 Chicken McNugget Triggered a Child-Sex-Trafficking Conspiracy Theory

Robert Durst Reflects on Decision to Appear in ‘The Jinx’: A ‘Very, Very, Very Big Mistake’

75 Arrests, 134 Marathons & 1 Stabbing: Kansas City Superman

What Do CIA Analysts and Investigative Journalists Have In Common?

Words of the Month

folly (n.): From the early 13th C., “mental weakness; foolish behavior or character; unwise conduct” (in Middle English including wickedness, lewdness, madness), from Old French folie “folly, madness, stupidity” (12th C.), from fol (see fool (n.)). From c. 1300 as “an example of foolishness;” sense of “costly structure considered to have shown folly in the builder” is attested from 1650s. But used much earlier, since Middle English, in place names, especially country estates, probably as a form of Old French folie in its meaning “delight.” (etymonline)

SPECTRE Stuff

We’re eliminating this section of the newzine. What’s the point? They are into everything and will soon own everything. The windmill has won…

Awards

The Barry Award Winners 2021

Amanda Gorman and PRH have established a $10,000 prize for public high school poets.

Book Stuff

After a month of major controversies, the American Booksellers Association has responded

Dolly Parton Teams With Bestselling Author James Patterson To Pen First Novel ‘Run, Rose, Run’

The summer of writing scams continues with a series of Goodreads ransom notes.

In Praise of the Info Dump: A Literary Case for Hard Science Fiction

An Original Graphic Novel about Ed Gein, The Serial Killer Who Haunted America and Inspired Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Silence of the Lambs

Advance copies of Sally Rooney’s unpublished book sold for hundreds of dollars

By the Book: The Crime Novelist William Kent Krueger Still Loves Sherlock Holmes

James Lee Burke on Organized Labor, Corporate Evils, and the Plot to Dumb Down America

Hachette Book Group Will Acquire Workman Publishing for $240 Million

Want to be a bookseller? This chicken-coop-turned-bookstore is up for grabs

Mexican Noir: Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Velvet Was the Night is a thrillingly fresh take on a hard-boiled classic

Megan Abbott Discusses How to Create an Atmosphere of Dread, Anxiety, and Obsession

New York’s Legendary Literary Hangouts: Where Writers Gathered, Gossiped, Danced and Drank in NYC

Browse over one million newly digitized images from Yale’s Beinecke Library

how publishers are approaching new releases this fall

The Joys and Difficulties of Writing a Faithful Sherlock Holmes Novel

The Storyteller’s Promise: William Kent Krueger on the power of fiction and the profound experience of offering readers a little hope

Miss Marple back on the case in stories by Naomi Alderman, Ruth Ware and more

Interview with Paula Hawkins: ‘I wasn’t interested in writing the same book again’

Other Forms of Entertainment

Kate Winslet Says Mare of Easttown’s Creator Has “Very Cool Ideas” for Season 2

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Luis Guzmán to Play Morticia and Gomez Addams on Tim Burton’s Wednesday [Cara mia!]

We’re not robots’: Film-makers buckle under relentless appetite for Danish TV

A Rumination on DCI Jane Tennison

How a tragic unsolved murder and a public housing crisis led to Candyman

Words of the Month

rube (n.): From 1896, reub, from shortened form of masculine proper name Reuben (q.v.), which is attested from 1804 as a conventional type of name for a country man… As a typical name of a farmer, rustic, or country bumpkin, from 1804. The Reuben sandwich of corned beef, sauerkraut, etc., on rye bread, an American specialty (1956) is the same name but “Not obviously connected” with the “country bumpkin” sense in rube [OED], but is possibly from Reuben’s restaurant, a popular spot in New York’s Lower East Side. Various other Reubens have been proposed as the originator. (etymonline)

RIP

August 7: Nach Waxman, Founder of a Bookstore Where Foodies Flock, Dies at 84

August 9: Markie Post, veteran TV actor on ‘Night Court,’ dies at 70

August 11: Patricia Hitchcock O’Connell, actor and daughter of Alfred Hitchcock, dies at 93

August 12: Una Stubbs, ‘Till Death Us Do Part’ and ‘Sherlock’ actress dies aged 84

August 28: Caroline Todd (half of the Charles Todd team) RIP

August 29: Ed Asner, the Iconic Lou Grant on Two Acclaimed TV Series, Dies at 91 [Asner was born in Kansas City and his brother Ben owned a record store just across state line in Missouri called Caper’s Corners. It was the place we all went to get concert tickets and buy LPs. Later it was revealed that Ben Asner was one of the biggest fences in the city.]

Links of Interest

July 26: Co-Owner of Shady Beverly Hills Vault Business Accused of ‘Extensive’ Criminal Empire

July 28: In Session with Lorraine Bracco at MobMovieCon

July 28: Revisiting “The Year of the Spy”

August 4: The True Crime Junkies and the Curious Case of a Missing Husband

August 5: Tycoon Arrested After Allegedly Blabbing About His $100 Million Fraud Over Email

August 5: Investigation reopened into death of tobacco heiress Doris Duke’s assistant after paperboy comes forward

August 8: Barris Kustom Industries Car Shop For Sale, In Danger Of Closing. The legendary Hollywood shop was responsible for the iconic Batmobile

August 9: How the case of the kidnapped paperboys accelerated the “stranger danger” panic of the 1980s

August 10: Piecing Together the History of Stasi Spying

August 11: A History of Serial Killers Who Went Quiet Before Being Caught

August 12: A Lawyer’s Deathbed Confession About a Sensational 1975 Kidnapping

August 13: A Brief History of the CIA’s Efforts to Infiltrate Africa by Funding an Elaborate Network of Nonprofit Goodwill Organizations

August 15: British man accused of spying for Russia will not be extradited from Germany

August 16: Dallas Police Dept Loses 8 Terabytes of Crime Data, Throwing Court Cases Into Chaos

August 16: Gunshots Were Fired at a Dutch Museum as Two Thieves Tried to Steal a Monet Painting—and Then Dropped It on the Way Out

August 19: Police Just Found Nearly 10 Tons of Cocaine Behind a Fake Wall in Ecuador

August 22: The artist, the mafia and the Italian job: is heist mystery about to be solved?

August 24: Al Capone’s granddaughters to auction his estate, including Papa’s ‘favorite’ pistol

August 24: Mexico May Free the Cartel ‘Godfather’ Behind a DEA Agent’s Murder

August 25: Sirhan Sirhan, convicted of Robert F. Kennedy assassination, seeks parole with no opposition from prosecutors

August 27: When Comic Books Were America’s Secret Superpower – The cheaply produced, easily digestible stories were once the perfect cover for state-produced propaganda

August 29: French Woman Arrested for Stealing Jewelry Off Corpses

August 30: COVID Troll Alex Berenson Implies He’ll Sue to Get Twitter Access Restored

August 31: Doctor Accused of Trying to Hire Hells Angel to Get Rid of Witness at His Oxy Fraud Trial

Words of the Month

con (adj.): “swindling,” 1889 (in con man), American English, from confidence man (1849), from the many scams in which the victim is induced to hand over money as a token of confidence. Confidence with a sense of “assurance based on insufficient grounds” dates from 1590s. Con artist is attested by 1910.

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Due to events – mainly moving house and then painting the entire house (inside and out) I’ve fallen behind on my writing! Season 3 is on its way – but it will be a bit before I’ve got it finished, polished, and photographed…But hey, if you’ve fallen behind this is a great opportunity to catch up…right?

A Noodle Shop Mystery (series) by Vivien Chien

One of the pitfalls of no longer working in a bookshop is that one occasionally falls behind in a series. Which I must confess – I don’t really mind. Why? Because when I eventually recall the temporarily neglected author, I’ve a backlog to zip my way thru! Thus allowing me to dive headlong and immerse myself in the world of an old friend and catch up with them…

This awkward phenomenon occurred most recently with Vivien Chien’s Noodle Shop Mystery series. Where over a week, I devoured Fatal Fried Rice – where Lana’s cooking instructor winds up dead and lands Lana in very hot water. Killer Kung Pao – where the sourest business owner in the Asian Village is accused of murder, and her sister asks Lana to clear her name. And Egg Drop Dead – during Noodle House’s first catering gig, for the owner of the Asian Village, one of the owner’s staff ends up dead, and Lana’s detective skills are pressed into service.

I reveled in every word I read.

Here’s what I love about this series: Chien does a great job in varying motives, methods, investigative techniques (as Lana learns or stumbles onto new strategies), and culprits. Thus giving each of her books a sense of freshness, variety, and surprise – a feature often missing from other cozy mysteries. Another reason I enjoy this series is the fact the book’s solutions make sense. As in, I don’t need to suspend my disbelief in thinking an amateur sleuth could stumble onto the truth. Which, again, is a nice change of pace.

Above and beyond these aforementioned attributes – these books are witty, fun, and intelligent reads.

Okay, so the titles are punny – but I can assure you that’s where the cloying coziness ends. Lana just happens to manage her family’s noodle shop – it is the backdrop for the books, not the central theme. I promise.

I would recommend this series to anyone looking for a new cozy-ish series to immerse themselves in.

(BTW – I did make an entry in my phone’s calendar to remind me Chien’s new book, Hot and Sour Suspects, is out in January 2022 – so I didn’t accidentally forget again….)

Fran

Dorothy Uhnak was a real police detective in New York in the Sixties, when being a female detective was only marginally accepted. She turned her experiences into stories, several of which were turned into movies.

Victims wasn’t made into a movie, but it should have been, and honestly, still should be. Loosely based on the brutal murder of Kitty Genovese (you remember her, right? She was murdered and over 30 people heard it but did nothing), Victims follows the investigation into the murder of a young woman while people in the neighborhood watched but did nothing because they all thought it was “the Spanish girl”.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is victims.jpg

Victims is set in the 80’s – which, sadly, I’ve lately heard called “vintage”, which I find appalling because it was just yesterday, dammit – but the only thing that differentiates the setting between then and now are cell phones and digital capabilities. It’s a solid police procedural, but with a twist.

As Miranda Torres investigates the murder of Anna Grace, journalist Mike Stein investigates the lack of response by the neighbors with an eye to a searing expose of the witnesses. Technically, they are not at cross-purposes, and for some reason, Stein has been allowed access to all of NYPD’s findings. Torres is meticulous, observant, and wickedly smart.

Between them, the two find out a great deal, but since their final goals aren’t the same, neither are their investigations.

Dorothy Uhnak brilliantly captures the delicate and pervasive racism, favoritism, back-room dealing, and political chicanery that invades all areas of society, and she makes it personal. I’ve always been a fan of her Christie Opera series, and you should read them, but Victims hits home with a gut punch that lingers.

When you finish it, if you aren’t mad as hell, you haven’t been paying attention!

JB

There are series that I’ve read more than once, and there are series that I’ve read many times, six or more. This series I have read, I think, twice, and some of the books more than that. I like re-reading. It’s time spend with favorite characters, favorite voices. And now and then I still read a sentence that stands out. I’m not sure how I’ve not noticed it before. Maybe I did but this time it captured my eyes. “My thoughts struggled in my brain like exhausted swimmers.”

Maybe it locked me because it is how I’m feeling these days. I find myself having difficulty focusing on things – long books, long movies, even a ball game. It’s not those things, it’s my concentration. That’s when re-reading comes in handy. I don’t have to worry too much about tuning into the pages as I’ve been there before. That’s another reason why that line hooked me; I wasn’t looking for something remarkable and new, and it fit my present self.

By the way, it was from Lawrence Block’s Eight Million Ways to Die.

Kennedy’s Avenger: Assassination, Conspiracy, and the Forgotten Trial of Jack Ruby by Dan Abrams and David Fisher was a compete waste of $27.99. I knew it from the first few pages when the authors started from the position that Oswald was the lone assassin. While Melvin Belli’s defense tactics were amusing, I quit reading before 50 pages. A waste of paper, printer’s ink, shipping, human efforts and, as I said, money.

I bought James Lee Burke’s A Private Cathedral the week it appeared in hardcover in the Summer of 2020. Just got to it now – and now it is in trade paper. I can’t quite explain why the long wait as I love the Robicheaux series. Doesn’t matter, really.

This is an odd one on two fronts. On one, it is set in the past, as if it makes any difference to Dave and Clete. Alafair is still in college and Helen isn’t the chief of police until the end, so maybe a ten, fifteen years? The other oddity is that this one deals more with the “electric mist” and it isn’t just Dave seeing figures out of time. It is almost fair to call this one a ghost story. Certainly the main characters are spooked by what they experience.

Still, for these differences, it was a great book.

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

AUGUST 2021

Sculptures that make novel use of books – in pictures

Oof, Y’all, Dictionary.com Just Added Over 300 New Words And Definitions

Sleeping or Dead? and other hilarious “practical books for librarians” in pulp classic form. [do yourself a favor and loot at them all!]

Serious Stuff

Famed Crime Reporter Shot in Head After Leaving Amsterdam TV Studio

Inside the Rash of Unexplained Deaths at Fort Hood

How the Banning of Joyce’s Ulysses Led to “The Grandest Obscenity Case in the History of Law and Literature”

Booksellers at Hong Kong’s book fair are being forced to self-censor their selections.

A Reporter’s Fight to Expose Epstein’s Crimes — and Earn a Living

Two men charged in alleged plot to firebomb California Democratic Party headquarters

Private Israeli spyware used to hack cellphones of journalists, activists worldwide

Local Stuff

Attorneys for woman accused of lying to grand jury in Thomas Wales killing want indictment dismissed

Powell’s Books is celebrating its 50-year anniversary with a curated collection of 50 books

Alaska’s libraries are facing devastating funding cuts

Portland literary icon Ursula K. Le Guin gets a Forever stamp

The days are getting shorter. Embrace the dark with 4 mystery and crime novels

SPECTRE

Fired by bot at Amazon: ‘It’s you against the machine’

Investigating Amazon, the Employer

Amazon Transformed Seattle. Now, Its Workers Are Poised to Take It Back.

Amazon Is Selling a Bogus ‘Plandemic’ COVID Conspiracy Book in Its ‘Science’ Section

FTC Launches Investigation Into Amazon’s MGM Acquisition: Report

Amazon tells bosses to conceal when employees are on a performance management plan

Amazon Denied a Worker Pregnancy Accommodations. Then She Miscarried.

Amazon sued by U.S. product-safety agency over dangerous items

Rumored to Accept Bitcoin by End of 2021 and Develop Own Currency by 2022: Report

EU regulator hits Amazon with record $887 million fine for data protection violations

Odd Stuff

Woman Joined International Drug Syndicate to be Closer to Her Son, Court Hears

Now you can buy the glorious mansion where Mark Twain died

Cops Ignored Threat Posed by Menacing Clowns

The Scary Story Behind The Most Haunted Painting In History

Words of the Month

dreadnought (n.): Literally (one who or that which) “fears nothing,” from the verbal phrase (drede ich nawiht is attested from c. 1200); see dread (v.) + nought (n.). As a synonym for “battleship” (1916) it is from a specific ship’s name. Dreadnought is mentioned as the name of a ship in the Royal Navy as early as c. 1596, but the modern generic sense is from the name of the first of a new class of British battleships, based on the “all big-gun” principle (armed with 10 big guns rather than 4 large guns and a battery of smaller ones), launched Feb. 18, 1906. (etymonline)

Awards

Here are the dark and twisty nominees for the 2020 Shirley Jackson Awards

2021 Agatha Award Winners

The 2021 Booker Prize Nominees

Book Stuff

Significant Edward Lear poems discovered

J.P. Morgan’s Personal Librarian Was A Black Woman. This Is Her Story

For the first time, Patricia Highsmith’s diaries will be available to the public.

A nun just unearthed a previously unknown Dante manuscript

Two Editors Who Showed What Publishing Should Be

One Good Thing: An incredible true crime book about the problems with true crime books

10 Crime Novels Full of Style, Plot, and Dark Humor

Booksellers Association Apologizes for Including Anti-Trans Book in Member Pack [morons...]

How to Write a Memorable Hit Man: A Conversation Among Connoisseurs

Octavia Butler’s 1979 bio is an object lesson in writing author bios

Bookstore’s Viral TikTok Calls Out Shoppers Who Turn Around LGBTQ+ Books To Hide Covers

Tess Gerritsen Still Prefers to Read Books the Old-Fashioned Way, on Paper

Meg Tilly on the Crossover Between Acting in Thrillers and Writing Them

A new start after 60: ‘I handed in my notice – and opened my dream bookshop’

Shawshank Redemption is actually about the power of libraries

Revisiting Raymond Chandler’s most iconic lines

Other Forms of Entertainment

Five Great Movies Based on Patricia Highsmith Books (That Aren’t the Ripley Adaptations)

The fascinating, horrifying history behind Steven Soderbergh’s new heist movie

Remembering Miss Fury – the world’s first great superheroine [here’s a cover]

Danny Trejo opens up about being typecast — and a close call with the Mexican Mafia

“Scarface” Startles Anew on the Criterion Channel

Murder Is My Business: In the true crime genre’s latest iteration, writers, reporters, bloggers, documentary filmmakers, and podcast hosts have taken a soiled brand and turned it into a collective exercise in retributive justice, recording and correcting the history of sexual violence.

The Real Story Behind ‘The Monster of Florence’

The Many Saints of Newark’ is Not the Story of Young Tony Soprano

The Strange Story of Orson Welles’ Lost Film, Mr. Arkadin

Mad Men’s John Slattery and Jon Hamm Reunite for Confess, Fletch

Graham Roland, Robert Redford, George R.R. Martin Making Hilleman’s ‘Dark Winds’ Series Starring Zahn McClarnon

The Decades-Long Road Behind AMC’s ‘Dark Winds’ Native American Drama Series

Cannes Review: Oliver Stone’s ‘JFK Revisited: Through The Looking Glass’

Mark Millar Returning to Spy World With Graphic Novel ‘King of Spies’

Karls Monzon Organized One of The Biggest Heists in Florida History. Here’s Where He is Today.

Antonio Banderas Is Indiana Jones 5‘s Latest Wild Acquisition

The 33 Sexiest Erotic Thrillers

8 True Crime Podcasts You Need to Listen to this Summer

Let’s Talk About Sneakers, the Most Charming, Baffling Espionage/Heist Movie
of the 1990s

1980s Noir Films Are Better Than 1940s Noir Films: Discuss

Words of the Month

daredevil (n.): 1794, “recklessly daring person, one who fears nothing and will attempt anything,” from dare (v.) + devil (n.). The devil might refer to the person, or the sense might be “one who dares the devil.” Compare scarecrow, killjoy, dreadnought, pickpocket (n.), cutthroat, also fear-babe a 16th C. word for “something that frightens children;” kill-devil “bad rum.” As an adjective, “characteristic of a daredevil, reckless,” by 1832. (etymonline) [The Marvel superhero first appeared in April, 1964.]

RIP

July 1: Robert Sacchi, Who Played Bogart Again and Again, Dies at 89

July 2: Jack Downing, Cold War spy who came out of retirement to help CIA, dies at 80

July 5: ‘Superman,’ ‘Lethal Weapon’ director Richard Donner dies at 91

July 9: William Smith, Action Actor and Star of ‘Laredo’ and ‘Rich Man, Poor Man,’ Dies at 88. The 6-foot-2 Smith, who was a champion discus thrower at UCLA, an arm-wrestling champion and a black belt in the martial arts, had 18-inch biceps and could do 5,100 continuous sit-ups and reverse curl 163 pounds. As prolific as he was strong, he had a whopping 289 credits on IMDb, seemingly in everything from the ’60s onward.

July 12: Charlie Robinson, ‘Night Court’ Star, Dies at 75

July 24: James Polk, Pulitzer winner for Watergate reporting, dies at 83

July 28: ‘Extraordinary’ crime writer Mo Hayder dies at 59

July 30: Jerry Granelli, drummer behind ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ and former Cornish instructor, dies at 80

Links of Interest

July 6: The baffling persistence of plagiarism in the internet era

July 6: Constructing the Perfect Villain: The Bad Contractor

July 7: Inside the Fiction Group in a Maximum-Security Psychiatric Hospital

July 7: Shirley Jackson’s Love Letters

July 8: Charlotte Philby Remembers Her Paradoxical Grandfather, Kim Philby

July 9: Setting a Murder Mystery in the Real Hollywood Canteen Required Piercing a Veil of Myth and Nostalgia

July 12: Take this soothing room-by-room virtual tour of Jane Austen’s house

July 15: Cocaine stash worth €9m lands on roof of home in Sardinia

July 15: In Victorian London, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream Was a New Kind of Killer

July 15: For One Writer, Rediscovering the Novels of Dick Francis Was the Answer to a Personal Crisis and a Mysterious Illness

July 16: The Louvre’s Art Sleuth Is on the Hunt for Looted Paintings

July 19: Repentant thieves return Big Bird costume with a note: ‘Sorry to be such a big birden’

July 19: Tablet Reveals Babylonians Studied Trigonometry Before the Greeks

July 19: The Internet Made Crime Public. That’s When Things Got Complicated.

July 20: Thomas Gilbert and the Murder That Brought Down One of New York’s Most Privileged Families

July 20: Fragments of Ancient Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead’ Reunited After Centuries

July 20: The Story of 18th Century England’s Booming Graverobbing Industry, and the Man Who Inspired ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’

July 20: Defections and Detections: How a Sprawling Soviet Atomic Spy Network Was First Exposed

July 22: How Detective Fiction Helps A Forensic Psychiatrist in Her Work With Violent Offenders

July 22: Why Has Jeffrey Dahmer Become A Household Name, While The Names of His Victims Are Forgotten?

July 23: House of horror: Bath opens the world’s first museum dedicated to Mary Shelley

July 23: There is no National crime – all crime is local

July 23: Elvis’s annotated copy of The Prophet, gifted to his bodyguard and close friend, is on sale now

July 24: Who Killed the Nazi on Campus?

July 25: Some people just don’t get it. Cultural references, I mean

July 25: Buried in concrete: how the mafia made a killing from the destruction of Italy’s south

July 25: A Utah arrest shows the danger of laws that let government enforcers chill speech that they don’t like

July 26: How an 18th-Century Cookbook Offers Glimpses of Jane Austen’s Domestic Life

July 26: A Cozy Mystery Writer on the History of Class and Tea

July 27: Hobby Lobby Gives Up Stolen 3,500-Year-Old ‘Gilgamesh Dream Tablet’

July 27: A Margaret Keane ‘Big Eyes’ Painting Stolen Decades Ago Has Been Recovered

July 27: This Story About a KKK Prison Guard’s Murder Plot Is Flat Out Astonishing

July 29: Erik Larson Has a Scary Story He’d Like You to Hear

July 29: “Brother, you’ve got a fan now!” Read a letter from Nina Simone to Langston Hughes

July 29: Does ‘The Da Vinci Code’ Writer Have a Secret?

July 30: The first bestselling paperback original in the US was a work of lesbian pulp fiction

July 30: He Hired 2 Men to Kidnap His Wife. They Ended Up Drowning

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Chloe Neill – Shadowed Steel

The third installment of the Heirs of Chicagoland was a fast, fun and enjoyable read!

I mean, what’s not to love when you’ve got vampires, werewolves and everything in-between? Even better, Shadowed Steel finally sees our heroes and heroines emerge from their legendary parent’s shadows (and plot lines) to explore the mysteries and problems facing their Chicago.

(If you’re not acquainted with the series – the characters in Heirs are the kids of the original series – Chicagoland Vampires. You don’t have to read the original series to understand the new one – but I highly recommend it as they’re brilliant and add extra layers of nuance and fun to the newer books!)

Fran

It’s the writing, you see

I’ve mentioned before how much I love Rennie Airth’s writing, and if you’ve read his work, I know you get it.

If you haven’t, start with River of Darkness, and just keep going with John Madden’s investigations. You’ll be immersed in post-WWI life, and all the repercussions of the Great War.

I just finished The Decent Inn of Death, and it’s got some lovely surprises. Not whodunnit, at least not for me. But like every book by Rennie Airth, it’s not the surprise at the end but the whole journey. And here he takes us to visit Agatha Christie. Not literally, but The Decent Inn of Death definitely reminded me of Mousetrap.

One of the surprises is that, for the most part, the story doesn’t follow John Madden. Instead, we’re following his old chief and friend, former Chief Inspector Angus Sinclair, who goes to visit friends while the Maddens are away, and who gets caught up both in a mystery and a snowstorm, where there’s definitely something suspicious going on. And Angus has a murder to solve, but his health isn’t good, and these are stressful times.

It occurred to me while I was reading The Decent Inn of Death that I really like how Rennie Airth writes women. They’re strong, opinionated, forceful, and each woman is an individual character. They’re never cookie-cutter. And often, they’re surprising.

For example, Lucy Madden, John and Helen’s daughter, says this about marriage:

‘The trouble is I can’t see myself tied to any one man.’ She sighed. ‘The shine wears off so quickly. What I’d really like is to be one of those sultans who had scores of wives and kept them in a harem. I could probably manage with four or five – husbands, I mean. It would be so nice to be able to say, I’ll have you today…No, not you…you.’

‘You’re joking, of course.’

‘Am I?’ She sent a sly glance his way.

There are several women whom you will meet during your visit at The Decent Inn of Death, and each one is unique and, in her own way, perfect, although they have all manner of flaws. But you won’t become confused as to who is whom; Rennie Airth really does write women well!

JB

Bill Farley always said that they weren’t Stouts but it was always nice spending time with old friends. Robert Goldsborough’s Trouble at the Brownstone keeps up that trend. In his latest Nero Wolfe novel, the group on West 35th is disturbed when master gardener Theodore Horstmann is found nearly beaten to death. Only recently had he moved out of the brownstone into his own apartment and so the questions of where and how it happened are multiplied. All hands are called in to help and even Insp. Cramer is working with them – grousing a bit, of course, but everyone is working hard to find the culprit even as Horstmann remains in a coma. The solution may be unsurprising but is still satisfactory.

Stephen Hunter moves into a new world with Basil’s War. The book is set during WWII, the central character is an upper-class, cheeky and glib Brit, and the action is as speedy as the plot is convoluted. It is all about getting a clue to who is the Soviet spy in British intelligence not to expose them but so that information can be slipped to them that will convince Stalin to do what the Brits need him to do. They’re certain that if they just ask, he’ll think it is a devious plot and refuse, so they concoct this elaborate scheme to nudge him. Got it? Don’t worry, you’ll see once Basil’s carried out his mission. It’s a delightful book – none are exactly who you assume them to be…well, maybe van Boch of the SS. It is a very different turn from Hunter but its every bit as imaginative and serious as any of his other books, but this one is topped with a deceptive icing of nonchalant, even sporty, wit.

Respected independent scholar Jonathan Marshall is also an award-winning journalist. The reviews of his new book, Dark Quadrant: Organized Crime, Big Business, and the Corruption of American Democracy piqued my interest. It’s a fascinating book, beginning with FDR and moving forward through the growth of the Federal government, the Mob, the military-industrial complex (we really need to use Eisenhower’s original choice of “military-industrial-congressional-complex” all the time), and the parasites who affix themselves to all concerned. He brings it forward into the Trump administration and few come out of the book not covered with filth. Many of the names you’ll know – Roy Cohn, Howard Hughes, Tommy the Cork, Robert Maheu, Joseph McCarthy, Meyer Lansky, J. Edgar Hoover, Sam Giancana, Richard Nixon, on and on. Congressmen, Senators, CEOs and appointees. It’s all about greed and power, without an ounce of loyalty or civic responsibility. Talk about a shadow government… The depth and scholarship of his indictment is staggering. It’s simply staggering.

Granted, his tale is takes up nearly a century, and the players weave themselves deep into the country’s government and fabric, surfacing here and there through the decades and, following the money, entwine themselves with a variety of public figures from different facets of power. But it was disarming to continually run into his notes of “See chapter X” throughout the book, from the beginning chapters to the final ones. It gives the book a disjointed feeling, as if you’re to stop in chapter 2 to go to chapter 9 or go back from chapter 10 to chapter 5. Don’t, just keep plowing through sordid history of disgusting muck. It is an infuriating read due to subject and due to his scholarship. It’s an important subject and therefore an important book.

Finally, we’ve run into “issues” with WordPress. They’ve changed the way the program works making it less user friendly. To top it off, there was some sort of glitch and I lost reviews and links that I’d added. It’s been very frustrating. If this newzine seems thinner and less packed with goodies, that’s why.

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July 2021

Seriously Cool

Inside Lin-Manuel Miranda’s New NYC Bookstore That Takes Design Cues From Broadway

You Won’t Find the Hardcover of Dave Eggers’s Next Novel on Amazon. “The Every,” a follow-up to his hit book “The Circle,” will be available in independent bookstores in October. The paperback will arrive just six weeks later, but the hardcover will remain exclusive to independent stores.

The People Have Spoken: Jeff Bezos Should Go to Space and Stay There

If even superheroes can’t have fun sex, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Why bother organizing your books? A messy personal library is proof of life

The Early, Wild, Exploited, and Sometimes Radical Days of the Comic Book Industry in America

Did you know that Daryl Hannah created best literary board game of all time?

Attention: LeVar Burton wants to read your short stories.

The Surprisingly Fun Story of How the Popsicle Was Invented by an 11-Year-Old Boy

Serious Stuff

Whatever Happened to Elise De Viane? On The Mystery Woman in Dashiell Hammett’s 1931 Sexual Assault Case

How the Father of Modern Policing ‘Abolished’ the Police

Is Poe the most influential American writer? A new book offers evidence

Jack Ruby Is the Key to the Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy Theories. So Why Have We Forgotten About His Trial?

The D.C. crime lab is in trouble — again

‘If publishers become afraid, we’re in trouble’: publishing’s cancel culture debate boils over

Inside the UK’s top secret ‘Increment’: Unit of real-life James Bonds is so classified, the British government won’t admit they exist

Why the US government murdered Fred Hampton

Narco Hitmen on Jet Skis Sprayed a Cancun Beach With Bullets, Killing Two People

Investigators Find Remains of 17 Victims Under A Suspected Serial Killer’s House

Maine tries to shift some costs of recycling onto companies instead of taxpayers

The Federal Writers’ Project created jobs, built trust, and invigorated American literature. We should try it again.

Florida Republican Threatened to Call in Hit Squad to Make Rival ‘Disappear’

Why Have Local Newspapers Collapsed? Blame Readers.

Tell Us If You Know More About These Financial Crimes Investigated By the SEC

How Our Investigation Into Untested DNA Evidence Helped Solve a 1983 Murder

How the Banning of Joyce’s Ulysses Led to “The Grandest Obscenity Case in the History of Law and Literature”

‘The Mafia Was Behind This’: Why Are Politicians Ignoring a Climate Activist’s Murder?

In a Muffled Hong Kong, Bookstores Offer Freedom of Thought

Ex-Marine and Neo-Nazi Told Followers How to Shoot Truckers to Dismantle Supply Chain

Right-Wing Death Squad’: Active-Duty Marine Plotted to Bomb DNC, Murder Black People, Feds Say

Bill Cosby Walks Free From Prison After Conviction Is Tossed

Local Stuff

A key witness was scared to testify in a murder trial. Days later, his tavern burned down and he vanished

Two Girls Were Snatched From a Tiny Logging Town. Is This Man Responsible?

Here’s when Seattle and King and Snohomish counties plan to open all their library branches

Goodbye to Reckless Video, Seattle’s next-to-last video store

From a new location in Pioneer Square, Arundel Books is in the business of selling dreams

A UW student with a 2-book deal and more from this week in Seattle Times books coverage

Price Gougers Rip Off Pacific Northwest Heatwave Victims

Words of the Month

screwball (n): crazy, insane, odd or eccentric, predates the “screwball comedy” of Hollywood. From baseball, a pitch that breaks the other way from a curve ball, invented in the 1890s. (Says You! #1523)

SPECTRE

Amazon Worker Who Won $1 Million Delighted He Can Now Pay His Bills

Amazon’s Cost Saving Routing Algorithm Makes Drivers Walk Into Traffic

Amazon provides $100 million to build affordable housing near Sound Transit stations

Amazon files 13 lawsuits against alleged counterfeiters

Amazon’s not so secret problem: bogus product reviews

Amazon Workers Call for Strike on Prime Day in Germany

Internal Amazon documents shed light on how company pressures out 6% of office workers

Amazon is said to be in talks to buy stake in self-driving truck startup Plus

Footage of Amazon destroying thousands of unsold items in Britain prompts calls for official investigation

Amazon faces MPs’ scrutiny after destroying laptops, tablets and books

Amazon is destroying thousands of unsold books

Amazon Acquires Encrypted Messaging App Wickr

Lessons of a self-published writer: independent bookstores are good, Amazon not so much.

Black and Brown Amazon Drivers Face Guns, Racial Slurs, and Dog Bites on the Job

Amazon delivery contractors quit Portland routes, citing ‘unsafe’ work expectations

It’s Finally Clear Why Amazon Bought Whole Foods

Oo7=’dd Stuff

This is, of course, all fiction – fictional characters in fictional movies. But the work and care that went into creating this theory makes it worth the read ~ JB

Wild Fan Theory That Sean Connery’s Character In ‘The Rock’ Is Actually James Bond Is Hard To Deny

Words of the Month

blockhead (n.): 1540s, also block-head – a “stupid person,” someone whose head is impenetrable, from the head-shaped oaken block used by wig-makers and hat-makers, though the insulting sense is equally old.

Awards

David Diop’s At Night All Blood is Black has won the 2021 International Booker Prize

Here are the winners of this year’s Pulitzer Prize

Here are the winners of the 2021 Orwell Prizes

Hilary Mantel has won the Walter Scott Prize . . . again

The shortlist for this year’s Arthur C. Clarke Award is all debuts

Joy Williams has won the 2021 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction

The Macavity Award BALLOT 2021your chance to vote!

Words of the Month

nincompoop (n.) 1670s, nicompoop; modern form from 1713. Despite similarity [noted by Johnson] to Latin legal phrase non compos mentis “insane, mentally incompetent” (c. 1600), the connection is denied by the OED’s etymologists because the earliest forms lack the second -n-. Weekley thinks first element may be a proper name, and cites Nicodemus, which he says was used in French for “a fool,” or Nicholas. Klein says it is probably an invented word. Century Dictionary has no objection to the non compos mentis theory. (etymonline)

Book Stuff

The Conservative Publishing Industry Has a Joe Biden Problem

The Literature of the Con: Great Books About Grifters and Swindlers

A Translator Considers the Joys of Crime Fiction

James Lee Burke Goes Time Traveling

How to Write an Effective Villain

How America’s Weirdest Guidebooks Were Funded by the Government

The Shadow Was Pulp Fiction’s Original Pop Culture Phenomenon. Now, He’s Mostly Forgotten. What Happened?

The Conservative Publishing Industry Has a Joe Biden Problem

New Publisher Says It Welcomes Conservative Writers Rejected Elsewhere

Trump’s Memoir Is Bringing Publishers to a Long-Overdue Reckoning With Truth

Brontë Auction Is on Hold as Group Tries to Keep Library Intact

A Brief History of the Rise—and Evolution—of True Crime Books

What Makes a Killer Plot Twist?

Queer Crime Fiction: A Roundtable Discussion

On the destruction by fire of the greatest library in the world you’ve never heard of

How Elizabeth Bowen’s Big Houses Laid the Groundwork for Irish Domestic Noir

The Man Rewriting Prison from Inside

Deadpool Creator Fabian Nicieza on (Finally) Finishing His Novel

Stealing Science-Fiction: Why the Heist Works so Well in in Sci-Fi

Donna Leon: A Crime Reader’s Guide to the Classics

Archivists Find Vincent Van Gogh Sketches Used as a Bookmark

Parul Khakhar: The Indian stay-at-home mum trolled for poem on Covid dead

The clever folds that kept letters secret

‘Most of Australia’s literary heritage is out of print’: the fight to rescue a nation’s lost books

Mystery book-lover at Waterstones Yarm gives £100 of vouchers to shoppers

Cozy Mysteries for Gardeners

The Hot-Spot Library Was Born In Two Shipping Containers In A Cape Town Slum

The Crime Books Top Authors Read Twice Because They’re Just That Good   

The PI of Color: When It’s About More Than the Crime

A Flight Attendant Drafted Her Novel on Cocktail Napkins. It Took Off.

Seven Mystery Novels Where the Crimes Are Motivated by Books

Author Events – with the country opening up, maybe we’ll see the return of in-person signings? We’ll start watching!

Other Forms of Entertainment

Jamie Lee Curtis’ Blumhouse Adapting Series Based on Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta Books

Listen, There’s This Charade Remake Where Mark Wahlberg Speaks French and I Really Want To Tell You About It

‘Lupin’ Took the World by Stealth. Part 2 Can’t Be So Sneaky

The Curious Case of “Herlock Sholmès”: When the creators of Lupin and Sherlock got into a copyright dispute, the solution was as inelegant as it was hilarious.

For Heaven’s Sake Makes True Crime Feel Cozy

Trump wanted Justice Department to stop SNL from making fun of him, report says

Harrison Ford Injured While Filming ‘Indiana Jones 5’

Michael Connelly Says Bosch Is Just Like Batman …

‘The Limey’: How Steven Soderbergh Subverted the Classic Revenge Film

Soderbergh, Cheadle return to Detroit in ‘No Sudden Move’

Steven Soderbergh Is Thinking About An Ocean’s 14 Says Don Cheadle

Every Unmade Alfred Hitchcock Movie Explained

Words of the Month

sucker (n): someone not weened, innocent and gullible to the ways of the world. 1600s. (Says You! #1523)

R.I.P.

June 2: Dan Frank, Adventurous Pantheon Book Editor, Is Dead at 67

June 3: F. Lee Bailey, tenacious defense lawyer for the famous and infamous, dies at 87

June 6: Clarence Williams III, ‘Mod Squad’, American Gangster, and Prince’s dad in ‘Purple Rain,’ dies at 81

June 7: Richard Robinson, who turned Scholastic into a children’s book giant, dies at 84

June 13: Ned Beatty, actor Known for ‘Network’ and ‘Deliverance,’ Dies at 83

June 14: Richard Baron, Who Published Baldwin and Mailer, Dies at 98

June 18: Frank Bonner, who played Herb Tarlek on ‘WKRP in Cincinnati,’ dies at 79

June 19: Vance Trimble, who won Pulitzer Prize by exposing congressional corruption, dies at 107

June 21: Robert Quackenbush, Creator of Animal Detective Stories, Dies at 91

June 27: ‘Cops’ Creator John Langley Dead at 78

June 28: Robert Keppel, who spent his life chasing serial killers including Ted Bundy and the Green River killer, dies at 76 [We had the pleasure, the honor, to host Bob a couple of times for signings. His Signature Killers is fascinating. Beyond that, he’d often stop in when in downtown Seattle just to say hello and chat. He was a nice man. Do yourself a favor and read the obituary if you don’t know about him. He led an impressive and important life. ~ eds.]

Links of Interest

May 31: The Somerton man died alone on a beach in 1948. Now Australian scientists are close to solving the mystery

June 1: An Inside Look at One Woman’s Life in the FBI Academy

June 1: An Apple Detective Rediscovered 7 Kinds Of Apples Thought To Be Extinct

June 1: How Frigid Conditions and a Failed Execution in 17th Century England Pointed the Way To a Scientific Breakthrough

June 2: How Forensic Anthropologists Read the Skeletons of the Dead For Clues

June 2: From prison, a convicted drug dealer designed a board game. It challenges players to go legit

June 3: Hollywood Flashback – Zoot Suit Riots Rocked L.A. in the Summer of 1943

June 3: 1914 Babe Ruth trading card valued at record $6 million

June 4: The man who uncovered Lou Gehrig’s letters

June 7: Australia’s Most Wanted Crime Bosses May Have Infiltrated Its Biggest Airline to Traffic Drugs

June 9: The Scottish Anthropologist Who Inspired Dracula

June 10: Get away from it all with a trip to this Japanese book hotel

June 11: Kerry Greenwood’s Life In Crime

June 11: A Very Memorable Monster: Fictional Serial Killers You Can’t Forget

June 11: Edgar Allan Poe’s Other Obsession

June 12: Detectives Just Used DNA To Solve A 1956 Double Homicide. They May Have Made History

June 15: How the FBI’s National Stolen Art File Reunites Lost Works With Their Rightful Owners

June 15: Rare orchids found in City of London bank’s rooftop garden

June 16: California Woman Steals Car With Baby Inside—Then Tries to Give Kid to Stranger: Police

June 15: “They Wanted Something for Nothing”: The Many Cons of the Yellow Kid

June 16: The Balloon-Hoax of Edgar Allan Poe and Early New York Grifters

June 16: British Woman Guilty of Killing Sleeping Hubby With Boiling Sugar Water

June 17: A Former Cop Has Confessed to Being a Serial Killer

June 17: Police Ask Public to Be ‘Vigilant’ After Body Parts Found in Multiple Locations

June 18: Criminals Are Sending Malicious Hardware Wallets to Steal People’s Crypto

June 18: We Talked to the Realtor Who Sold the Infamous Manson Family Murder House

June 18: Husband Confesses to Murdering Wife As Smartwatch Data Exposes His Cover-up

June 18: The Case of the Stolen Watch Detective

June 19: The Rosenbergs were executed for spying in 1953. Can their sons reveal the truth?

June 19: As Money Launderers Buy Dalís, U.S. Looks at Lifting the Veil on Art Sales

June 19: When a grifter gets swindled: Former GOP chairman accused of stealing from Paul Manafort’s PAC

June 19: Scottish Man Who Faked His Death in California Is Jailed for Rape

June 20: Enthusiastic Amateurs Advance Science As They Hunt For Exotic Mushrooms

June 21: California man arrested over theft of 42,000lbs of pistachios

June 22: Murder accused ‘thought family was hoarding gold hidden from Nazis’

June 22: The Book Smugglers Who Defied the Nazis — Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum’s New Exhibit Chronicles a Stunning True Story

June 22: I’ve Cracked Zodiac, a French Engineer Says. Online Sleuths Are Skeptical

June 23: ‘Redneck Rave’ Descends Into Throat Slashing, Impalements, and Mass Arrests

June 23: AI helps restore Rembrandt’s Night Watch masterpiece

June 24: No one knows why Ambrose Bierce disappeared, but here are some theories

June 24: Which writers have the best tombstone inscriptions?

June 25: Letter From ‘Father of Vaccination’ Edward Jenner Sold at Auction

June 25: Police Swapped a Cocaine Shipment with Icing Sugar – and Ruined Their Own Case

June 26: ‘At first I thought, this is crazy’: the real-life plan to use novels to predict the next war

June 28: The FBI searched cave for Civil War gold, fearing Pa. officials would seize it, new court documents

June 28: A Maryland attic hid a priceless trove of Black history. Historians and activists saved it from auction

June 28: Turkey’s mysterious ‘portal to the underworld’

June 29: Picasso painting found as builder arrested over art heist

Words of the Month

whackjob (n): one whose beliefs are not based in reality, first used in Elmore Leonard’s 1992 Rum Punch. (Says You! #1523)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

The Broken Spine – Dorothy St. James

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this mystery. 

Tru, our librarian heroine, spoke to the not-so-secret rebellious streak housed in my heart of hearts. By not only saving hundreds of books – that her town’s leading lights consigned to the dump for being “obsolete” – then used said books to open a secret lending library! (Can it get any better?) As the aforementioned leading lights, decided to transform Tru’s beloved library into a bookless technology center. 

But no good deed goes unpunished.

Just as Tru and her cohorts are spit polishing the brass for the secret opening of their clandestine reading room – one of the driving forces behind this abominable shift in biblio-philosophies is found crushed beneath a shelf of DVDs. And Tru, who didn’t mince any words about his bookless library scheme, is suspect numero uno.

So now, unless she’s willing to rat-out her secret project (Which isn’t going to happen even if it gives her an iron-clad alibi) Tru must figure out who actually did the deed to save her own bacon!

While this is a cozy mystery, it’s not a cute one, and it’s a fine first in series. St. James does a good job in adding layers to her characters and nuance to her plot. If you enjoy reading biblio mysteries, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with The Broken Spine.

Oh, and did I mention there’s a cat named Dewey that has his paws all over things?

Fran

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is swallows.jpg



It’s summertime, vacation time, time away from school. So let me drag you back to high school via the inestimable Lisa Lutz. Trust me, even if you’ve been to boarding school, you haven’t been to Stonebridge Academy, a New England prep school with a terrible secret.

Alexandra Witt didn’t really want to teach at Stonebridge, but her famous author dad knew she needed a job after things went sideways at her last teaching gig, and he got her a place at the Academy. Alex takes the job, but with serious reservations; she and her father have a difficult past.

It doesn’t take Alex long to figure out the usual issues: teens with issues and egos, teachers with issues and egos, and an eccentric curriculum designed to allow students freedom of expression, which doesn’t always bring out the best in, well, anybody

But there’s something else going on, and because of Alex’s unorthodox teaching methods, she is soon privy to information she didn’t want to have. With strong-willed students going their own ways, Alex is caught up in a really ugly situation, and getting out of it could be incredibly difficult. And dangerous

The Swallows is Lisa Lutz at her best. It’s dark, true, but her trademark humor is liberally sprinkled throughout the novel, and her pacing is breathtaking Told from several points of view, not just Alex’s, you get a good look at what goes on at Stonebridge Academy, and it’s a testament to Lisa’s talent that each voice is unique. There’s never any doubt as to who is talking.

If I have a complaint, it’s that there are so many people – not narrators, but characters in general – that there were times when, having put the book down because stupid life dragged me away, that I had to figure out who was whom again. But then, I’m getting older. These things happen.

The mere fact that The Swallows is a Lisa Lutz novel should be enough to recommend it to you, if you’ve read her other work. If you haven’t, then by all means, grab it and dive in. Oh, you’re in for quite a ride, even if you’re back in school during summer vacation!

JB

Around the time the shop was closing, the second novel by Andy Weir was set to be published. I’d loved both the book and the movie The Martian, and had high hopes for this new one Artemis. Over three years later I picked up a copy and have to say it was a disappointment. The science that underlies the fiction, as with The Martian, gives it the foundation of believablility. But the voice of the central character is annoying. The story would’ve been better, sleeker, had it been written in third person. But there you go. If you want a crime story set in the first settlement on the moon, and what the science and physics of it would be, give it a try.

MONDAY, JUNE 28, 2021, 4:35PM IN JB’S YARD

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

June 2021

Can You Play the Word FART in Scrabble?

Florida High School Gives Refunds After Editing 80 Student Yearbook Pics to Be ‘More Modest’

MI5 reveals letters from children who want to be next James Bond

Finally, it will come as no secret that we are no fans of Amazon. In fact, for years we’ve referred to them as SPECTRE due to what we feel is their nefarious practices. Now, with the news that Amazon is in talks to buy MGM for $9Billion, the circle comes around. MGM is the owner of the James Bond movies. If Amazon does buy the entertainment behemoth, SPECTRE will own SPECTRE…

Serious Stuff

In The Ransomware Battle, Cybercriminals Have The Upper Hand

“This Was Devastating to Everybody”: Inside the New York Post’s Blowup Over a Bogus Story at the Border

The Enduring Mystery of H.H. Holmes, America’s ‘First’ Serial Killer

More than two dozen AR-15 rifles from the Miami Police Department are ‘unaccounted for’

Crime without punishment—why are so many murders in America going unsolved?

This legislator is trying to limit the “enormous economic and social power” of . . . fact-checkers.

The Worsening Massachusetts Crime Lab Scandal Is Just the Beginning

A new fellowship will provide unrestricted $25,000 grants to Puerto Rican writers

Russian Show ‘Fake News’ Wages Lone Battle Against The Kremlin’s TV Propaganda

The dangerous secrets inside the Secret Service, and how the agency has been shortchanged

Gaza’s largest bookstore has been destroyed.

How to Actually Prosecute the Financial Crimes of the Very Rich

How Hacking Became a Professional Service in Russia

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley resigns over mishandling of MOVE bombing remains

Sacco and Vanzetti’s Trial of the Century Exposed Injustice in 1920s America

Did Paying a Ransom for a Stolen Magritte Painting Inadvertently Fund Terrorism?

How McCarthyism, the Rise of Tabloids, and J. Edgar Hoover’s Quest to Prove Himself “Manly” Led to a Surveillance State

If our counting is right, there were 52 mass shootings in April, 2021. In May – and the month isn’t over as this is typed – there have been 65, more than 2 a day. If it feels as if they’re happening all the time it is because they are.

Local Stuff

Former Vancouver tour operator sentenced to one-year jail term for ticket scam in New Orleans

East Vancouver parents launch diversity book drive

Tacoma Public Library joins the trend, opting to permanently end fines for overdue items

Vancouver: Books and Murder in Terminal City Crime and the City visits the rain-soaked mean streets of Vancouver for a look at the latest in Canadian crime writing.

Meet Three Trees Books, the tiny bookstore that makes a big impact on its Burien community

Mia Zapata: Man Convicted of Murdering Gits singer Died in Prison

A new Barnes & Noble opens in Kirkland, showing how the bookstore chain is changing

J.D. Chandler, prolific chronicler of Portland murder and corruption, dies at 60

Florida man arrested on [Portland] TriMet bus with guns, ammunition and other weapons

Odd Stuff

What 8 of the World’s Most Famous Books and Texts Smell Like, According to Science

4,000-Year-Old Ancient Egyptian Writing Board Shows Student’s Spelling Mistakes

FBI Releases Long-Withheld File on Kurt Cobain

German ‘dead fraudster’ exposed by pet poodle in Majorca

Florida Bank Robbery Suspect Used Taxicab as Getaway Car

Ohio Man Allegedly Posed as CIA, FBI, and DEA in Single Traffic Stop

Philly DA Candidate Forced to Address Paralegal Found Dead in His Mansion

Man Legally Changes Name To James Bond Villain Before Allegedly Plotting With His Mom To Kill Dad Over Inheritance

Evelyn Waugh’s twelve-bedroom house—complete with party barn—is now for sale.

VOTER FRAUD: ‘I Wanted Trump to Win’: Husband Charged in Wife’s Murder Also Used Her Name to Vote

Fun fact: Courtney Love read Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy” for her Mickey Mouse Club audition.

A New Crazy Conspiracy on the Right Has People Filming Wood

The Persistent Mystery of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Name

Cracking the Code of Letterlocking

Apparently the Brontës all died so early because they spent their lives drinking graveyard water.

Here’s a wild story about a publishing scam that includes Morgan Freeman and 9/11

Denise Mina: ‘Edgar Allan Poe is so good I feel sick with jealousy’

77 Strange, Funny, and Magnificent Book Titles You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

John Steinbeck’s estate urged to let the world read his shunned werewolf novel

Somerton man: Body exhumed in bid to solve Australian mystery

Lost village emerges from Italian lake

From James Grady (Six Days of the Condor): The Time I Watched Norman Mailer Try to Fight G. Gordon Liddy in the Street

QAnon Crowd Convinced UFOs Are a Diversion From Voter Fraud

Death Row Inmates In Wyoming Played Baseball To Decide Their Fate

​Man Miraculously Survived Execution By Firing Squad

Poe’s Best-Selling Book During His Lifetime Was a Guide to Seashells

The Untold Story of Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard’s Secret Pact With Nazi Propagandist Leni Riefenstahl

Words of the Month

Why is it that “slim chance” and “fat chance” mean the same thing?

SPECTRE

California Appeals Court Rules Amazon Can Be Held Liable for Third-Party Sellers’ Faulty Products

Amazon had a big year, but paid no tax to Luxembourg, its European headquarters

Why I am deleting Goodreads and maybe you should, too …

Employee Charges Amazon With Violating Labor Law at NYC Union Drive

Amazon Hoping to Invoke the Power of Positive Affirmations To Reduce Workplace Injuries

Amazon hit with antitrust lawsuit. D.C. attorney general says it drives prices up

Bernie Sanders Is Fighting a Massive ‘Bailout’ to Jeff Bezos’ Space Company

Amazon Workers Are Petitioning the Company to Bring Its Pollution to Zero By 2030

Here’s a Question: Why does Amazon even bother with the entertainment? – Commentary from the NY Times

Words of the Month

fast can mean to stay in place (“hold fast”) or to move quickly

Awards

Here are the winners of Publishing Triangle’s 33rd annual Triangle Awards.

Trevor Shikaze is the winner of n+1’s inaugural Anthony Veasna So Prize.

The Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses has split its prize money among the longlist

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi and Patrice Lawrence have won the Jhalak prize for writers of color.

Book Stuff

‘Once-in-a-Generation’ Rare Books Auction at Christie’s Brings in $12.4 M.

Why Len Deighton’s spy stories are set to thrill a new generation

Why literary novels about wrenching events are taking more and more cues from crime writing

My First Thriller: Harlan Coben

The Crime Novelist Who Wrote His Own Death Scene

Books become free speech battleground

How Much Do Authors Make Per Book?

B. Traven: Fiction’s Forgotten Radical

This surreal seaside library will transport you into the clouds

St. Louis’ Over-the-Top Library with a Secret Treasure

Early Medieval English literature was a sordid swamp of wanton plagiarism!

Highway of Darkness: A Mystery Reader’s Road Trip Up California’s Highway 99

The Enduring Mystery of Mary Roberts Rinehart, America’s Answer to Agatha Christie

How an Irish Barman Created a Home for New York’s Literary Elite

The language of blurbs, decoded

This American Monk Travels the World to Rescue Ancient Documents From Oblivion

“Get in, get out. Don’t linger. Go on.” Read Raymond Carver’s greatest writing advice

Other Forms of Entertainment

The Son of Sam Murders Never Really Added Up. There’s Evidence David Berkowitz Wasn’t Working Alone.

Netflix Is Serving Up Girlpower, and Gunpowder Milkshake This Summer

James Bond: Why Dali’s Tarot Cards Were Cut From Live and Let Die

Indiana Jones 5 Script Is Everything Mads Mikkelsen Wished It To Be

Hitman convicted of murdering T2 Trainspotting actor Bradley Welsh

Discovery+ Orders Ghislaine Maxwell Docuseries From James Patterson

Book Nook: Eternal by Lisa Scottoline: Vick Mickunas’ interview with Lisa Scottoline

The Sopranos‘ Greatest Episode: How ‘Pine Barrens’ Was Made

Gabagool and Malpropisms: Dialogue Lessons from ‘The Sopranos

New Jersey Man Killed Outside Strip Club Immortalized on ‘The Sopranos’

Alec Baldwin Asked to Play Character Who Whacked Tony Soprano

Westlake’s Memory to Adapted to the Big Screen

How ‘Mare of Easttown’ Is Breaking New Ground for HBO and the Prestige Crime Series

HBO Announces New Episode of True Crime Docuseries ‘I’ll Be Gone in the Dark’

Book Nook: A Lot Can Happen in the Middle of Nowhere: The Untold Story of the Making of Fargo by Todd Melby

John Ridley to Write the Next Volume of Black Panther Comics

A Brief History of the Serial Killer Movie That Was Supposed to Be David Fincher’s Follow-Up to ‘Zodiac’

The Best TV Crime Dramas, as Recommended By TV Crime Drama Creators

Back to the Movies: ‘Mission: Impossible 7’ Will Remind Us Why We Need Movie Theaters

‘Nightmare Alley’: A Restoration to Dream About

Podcast: Library of Mistakes

Bluffs, Tells, and Martinis: An Analysis of the ‘Casino Royale’ Poker Scene

Words of the Month

to dust can mean both to remove dust and to add dust

RIP

May 13: Norman Lloyd, ‘St. Elsewhere’ Actor & Hitchcock Colleague, Dies At 106

May 13: Spencer Silver, an inventor of Post-it Notes, is dead at 80

May 19: Charles Grodin, ‘Midnight Run,’ ‘Heartbreak Kid’ star, dies at 86 [see also A Love Letter to the Late, Great Charles Grodin]

May 26: Eric Carle, Creator Of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar,’ Has Died

May 29: B.J. Thomas, Oscar-winner for Butch Cassidy song, dies at 78

May 29: Gavin McLeod – “Mary Tyler Moore Show”, Kelly’s Heroes, “Hawaii 5-0” actor – dead at 90

May 31: RIP Paul Soles, the Original Voice of Spider-Man

May 31: Buddy Van Horn, Clint Eastwood’s Stunt Double and Director, Dies at 92

Links of Interest

May 1: Alaska’s first CSI takes on blood and burglaries in sub-zero weather

May 1: Tattoo Artist Myra Brodsky On Craftsmanship, Magic And Film Noir

May 2: Fortune Teller Plots Brutal Murder Of A 70-Year-Old War Vet For His Coin Collection

May 3: Canadian sign war captivates the internet

May 4: The Tragic True Story Of Hawaii’s Massie Trial

May 4: Feds Say Accused Swindler Lied About Money, Trump, Cancer

May 4: How the ‘Queen of Thieves’ Conned French Riviera Wealthy

May 4: Belgian farmer accidentally moves French border

May 5: ‘We go after them like pitbulls’ – the art detective who hunts stolen Picassos and lost Matisses

May 5: Was the Story of ‘Catch Me If You Can’ Frank Abagnale Jr.’s Greatest Con?

May 6: ‘I couldn’t be with someone who liked Jack Reacher’: can our taste in books help us find love?

May 8: The Time When Sir David Attenborough Helped Solve A Murder

May 8: Duck Tales: Man Uses Naval Skills To Get 11 Ducklings Down 9 Stories

May 10: The Louvre’s Looted Renaissance Masterpiece: New Book Explores the Plundering of a Veronese Painting

May 10: ‘Ogre of the Ardennes’ serial killer dies in French prison hospital

May 11: Noir and Neon: A Match Made in San Francisco

May 11: The “Three-Dimensional Game-Board” of Agatha Christie’s Country Houses

May 12: An Archive of Images from San Quentin State Prison

May 12: NFL-quality QB Colin Kaepernick’s first book as editor comes out October 12

May 13: U.S. Marshal Framed Ex-GF as Rape Predator, Had Her Jailed for Months: Docs

May 13: Amateur sleuths traced stolen Cortés papers to U.S. auctions. Mexico wants them back

May 13: A new digital library in Rome lets commuters read unlimited e-books for free.

May 14: Pride and Property: on the Homes of Jane Austen

May 15: Neo-Nazi Dumps 3 Bodies at New Mexico Hospital and Runs: FBI

May 17: The Passenger: Lost German novel makes UK bestseller list 83 years on

May 17: Master Lock Has Had a Hold on the Industry for 100 Years

May 18: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Publishing Your Work in a Literary Magazine

May 18: Galapagos Islands: Erosion fells Darwin’s Arch

May 18: After flunking out of service training, this dog is now helping solve arson cases

May 18: Restitution of Franz Marc Painting Sets New Precedent for Art Sold Under Nazi Duress

May 18: A Revelatory Exhibition Traces the Poet Dante’s Path Through Exile in Italy, and the Artworks He Likely Encountered—See Images Here

May 19: Infrared technology shows how a 15th-century French ruler erased his deceased wife from art history

May 20: Hidden Inscriptions Discovered in Anne Boleyn’s Execution Prayer Book

May 21: Researchers Discover Hidden Portrait in 15th-Century Duchess’ Prayer Book

May 21: Russian police find buried trove of jewellery from World Cup heist

May 21: Safecrackers in Fact and Fiction

May 21: Albert Einstein letter with E=mc2 equation in his own hand sells for $1.2m

May 24: Body of missing man found in Spanish dinosaur statue

May 24: Rosary Beads Owned by Mary, Queen of Scots, Stolen in Heist at English Castle

May 25: Emily Brontë’s handwritten poems are highlight of ‘lost library’ auction

May 25: The Life and Legacy of Philip Agee, the CIA’s First Defector and Most Committed Dissident

May 25: You can now buy E.L. Doctorow’s gorgeous Manhattan home, for just $2.1 million

May 25: A plane spotted his ‘SOS’ and saved him in 1982. It was the same night he killed two women, police

May 26: Is the 300-year search for one of Shakespeare’s actual books over?

May 26: An Insurance Startup Bragged It Uses AI to Detect Fraud. It Didn’t Go Well

May 26: Mother Arrested After Asking Cops What to Do About Her Son’s Rotting Corpse

May 26: The Real Story of All Those Crazy Recording Devices Nixon Insisted on Installing in the White House

May 26: A dealer moved cocaine, heroin around the U.K. A photo showing his ‘love of Stilton cheese’ brought him down

May 26: Central Park ‘Exonerated 5’ Member Reflects On Freedom And Forgiveness

May 26: LAX Cargo Handlers Allegedly Carried Out Bungled $200K Gold Bar Heist

May 27: Australian spy novelist Yang Hengjun faces China espionage trial

May 28: Gothic Tea ~ A Dark History of Tea in Fiction and Real Life

May 28: Plunder of Pompeii: how art police turned tide on tomb raiders

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

A Taste For Honey – H.F. Heard

Ever wonder what Winnie-the-Pooh would do if he found himself embroiled in a mystery? I believe H.F. Heard inadvertently gave us the answer in a Taste For Honey

Admittedly, H.F. Heard didn’t intend to write an A.A. Milne pastiche. Heard intended A Taste For Honey to enter the Sherlockian canon of works. The driving force within the novel is a mysterious beekeeper who owns a surprising amount of knowledge in a diverse number of fields. And I concede Mr. Mycroft and his bees are intriguing.

HELPFUL HINT if you decide to pick up this title… If you know nothing about this book other than this review and the blurb on the back, I advise you NOT TO READ Otto Penzler’s introduction. 

Until after you’ve finished the book. 

Unfortunately, within those roman numeral pages, Mr. Penzler unintentionally spoils the biggest mystery in the book and its’ ending by making one fundamental assumption – the reader already knows how A Taste For Honey wraps up. Granted, it’s a reasonable assumption – as A Taste For Honey‘s original publication date was eighty years ago (1941) and is apparently well known in Sherlockian circles. However, if, like me, you’d never heard of this book prior to picking it up – take my advice read the introduction last.

In any case, back to Sydney Silchester – the reluctant companion pressed into service by Mr. Mycroft – who reminded me of that famous yellow bear. 

Not only because his singular love of honey put him in the path of both a murderer and a detective. But because of his love of long walks, nature, his own company, and his overall reluctance to get involved with other people. And really, Sydney is a man of very little brains who (if it weren’t for Mr. Mycroft) would’ve become the villain’s second victim.

Undoubtedly, Heard didn’t intend for me to liken his narrator to Edward Bear. However, once it dawned on me, I couldn’t shake the notion! It added an extra layer of humor to an already excellent mystery I’d happily recommend to anyone who enjoys British and/or Sherlockian-style mystery.

(BTW – I’ve no evidence that even hints that Heard intended to mash together Winnie-the-Pooh and Sherlockiana. Though chronologically speaking, Pooh appeared in print (1926) well before A Taste For Honey was written. Additionally, Milne did pen a well-received locked-room mystery in 1922, The Red House Mystery – thereby getting on the radar of mystery readers and writers….so it’s possible, though not probable…right?)

Fran

Of course I want you to read the latest Joshilyn Jackson novel. I want you to read ALL of her work, so it’s no surprise that I want you to read this one, and the core reasons are just as compelling.

Can she create complex and believable characters? If anything, they only get better.

Can she tell an amazing and gripping story? Oh my goodness yes, and again, they just get better.

Will you find something to relate to? That’s her special gift.

Bree Cabbat was not raised in wealth. Her single mom firmly believed that the world was dangerous and a deeply scary place. However, Bree has found comfort and happiness in her marriage to Trey, and their two daughters are beautiful and headstrong and as challenging as pre-teens can be. Right now, though, Bree’s six-month-old baby, Robert, is the center of her world.

She figures she imagined the woman looking into her window, but is disturbed when that same strange lady appears in a parking lot, watching her.

And then Robert vanishes. It only takes the turn of a head, a few precious seconds, and Bree’s baby is gone. But Robert hasn’t been taken by some woman who longs for a child. No, Robert is being held hostage, not for money but for Bree to complete one simple task, along with her silence.

Here’s where my foggy brain caught up to my history of reading Joshilyn Jackson’s books. She tells one helluva tale, that’s indisputable. But what I hadn’t realized until Mother May I is that she shines a powerful spotlight on social issues. The thing is, she does it in such a personal way that it’s easy to overlook how compelling and clever she is because you’re caught up in the sweep of the story.

If you need to have an issue addressed, look at one of Joshilyn Jackson’s books. From racism to privilege to domestic violence to dysfunctional families, she’s got it covered, and in a way that makes it personal but never preachy. She’s brilliant.

So yes, read Mother May I, and anything else by Joshilyn Jackson that you can get your hands on. Do it now.

JB

“It was common for Negro Leaguers – especially those reared in the Southern states – to cherish the unfettered citizenship that Mexico offered them. Its perks were famously articulated by [Willie] Wells, the Devil himself (fondly regarded across the Spanish-speaking nation as El Diablo, which is inscribed on his Texas tombstone), who observed to Wendell Smith of the Pittsburgh Courier that ‘we live in the best hotels, eat in the best restaurants, and can go anyplace we care to. We don’t enjoy such privileges in the United States. We have everything first-class, plus the fact that the people here are much more considerate than the American baseball fan.’ … Monte Irvin, the future Hall of Famer, played only one season in Mexico before he was called away to World War II, but that season made a profound impression. ‘It was the first time in my life that I felt free.’” Irvin was 23 when drafted.

While it was way past time last year for Major League Baseball to incorporate the records of Negro League players into the statistics of those there were not allowed to play with, Lonnie Wheeler‘s new biography of the man reported by all who saw him play – black and white – to have been the fasted man who ever played baseball, points out the problems doing that .

“‘That Cool Papa Bell,’ recalled [Art] Pennington, speaking to Brent Kelley in Voices from the Negro Leagues, ‘I thought I could outrun him. I was young (Bell’s junior by twenty-one years), and Taylor would have us get out and run the hundred-yard dash. We would run, but all at once Cool Papa would walk on by me. And I thought I could fly in those days.'”

Black baseball was never covered with the specificity of white ball. The white papers rarely covered Negro League games and no papers devoted time or space to reliable box scores. Reconstructing Bell’s or any other player’s stats is a fruitless pursuit. So by not being allowed into the Major Leagues, their abilities were not documented as the white players had been, so it is now impossible to do side-by-side comparisons. They were robbed of playing time and then robbed of the proof that baseball uses to measure a player. Wheeler’s title points to this: The Bona Fide Legend of Cool Papa Bell. There are some newspaper stories, the recorded testaments of his contemporaries, and still pictures, but no film of him flying around the bases. Bell scoring from first on a simple base hit was not odd, nor was stealing his was around the diamond. It is a crime that blackball was treated so poorly, but it isn’t a surprise.

Besides the racist cruelty and hatred they had to withstand, they were also relegated to inferior ballparks (one section of the book relates how one ballpark had tracks running through the outfield and play would be suspended for the trains to pass), uncomfortable travel means, and the indignity of outplaying white players in the off season but not being allowed to outplay them in the regular season. And nothing about this is different from what jazz musicians or any other black person confronted then – or now. But through it all, by all accounts, Bell kept his dignity, kept his attire fine, and was a roll model for all who came in contact with him. He loved the game and was not shy or reluctant to freely give pointers to anyone, whether it was on base running or drag bunting. As Wheeler points out as well, when the major leagues were finally ready to accept black players, those who were too old to be brought “up” worked to ensure the younger players’ statistics were stellar. These veteran players held themselves back while playing so as to highlight the younger players stats, and ensure they’d be taken by the white teams. Stylish and selfless that was Bell.

Wheeler’s book is a lively story, told with spirit and no small amount of sadness for what might have been had the black ball players been allowed to play in the major leagues, had their accomplishments been recorded objectively, had America not been so mean and foolish. But then, that’s the story of American, a lively tale mixed with sadness for how great it should’ve been and what was missed. It’s a great baseball book and an honest American tale.

[and this brings us to our last word twister: in baseball, the foul pole is fair…]

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

MAY 2021

In the market for an illuminated manuscript? Got £8 million?

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a stratospheric $3.25-million record sale of rare Superman comic

Got £2.75 million to spare? Now you can buy Agatha Christie’s house.

New York bookstore figures out the perfect sideline: pickles

Grammar-Nerd Heaven: A new exhibit showcases the surprisingly contentious history of English grammar books

Imagine your ideal artist’s retreat in this breathtakingly beautiful forest library

Of course Vladimir Nabokov imagined emoticons over a decade before they were invented

Words of the Month

griff (n.): Slang, an accurate account. Also, inside information. (Says You! #720)

Serious Stuff

The Pandemic’s Wrongest Man: In a crowded field of wrongness, one person stands out ~ Alex Berenson.

Banned Books: Books by Steinbeck, Alexie among most objected to in 2020

Surprise: the ALA’s 2020 list of most challenged books shows an uptick in antiracist texts.

He Led Hitler’s Secret Police in Austria. Then He Spied for the West.

Climate change is a major threat to stability, spy agencies say

The Women of the OSS: On The Pioneering American Spies of WWII

Cuomo staffers were (illegally) asked to work on Cuomo’s memoir as part of their government jobs

‘Out of Control’ Cape Town Fire Destroys Historic University Library, Students Evacuated

Sinn Féin president apologizes for murder of Lord Mountbatten

Here’s what QAnon documentaries reveal about how conspiracies flourish

How the Kremlin provides a safe harbor for ransomware

Mexico cartel used explosive drones to attack police

Publishers Are Using E-books to Extort Schools & Libraries

For the 1st time in history an Air Force general will face court-martial

Spanish Police Raided a 3D Printed Gun Workshop And Found Nazi Symbols

Remains Of Black Children Killed in MOVE Bombing Cannot Be Located

U.S. Federal Investigators Are Reportedly Looking Into Codecov Security Breach, Undetected for Months

Tool Links Email Addresses to Facebook Accounts in Bulk

False Memories and Manufactured Myths: Growing Up in a Conspiracy Theory Household

Hackers Say They Stole 250GB of Internal Documents From DC Police

Towards A New Understanding of Psychosis and Violence

Feds Raid Giuliani’s NYC Apartment in Ukraine Probe

Murder Cover-Up: Man Allegedly Set Deadly Wildfire to Hide His Crime

From Canada ~ Last Publisher Left Standing: Why Books Are Facing a Bleak Future

What Abusive Partners, Corrupt Cops and Authoritarian Leaders Have in Common – A VICE News podcast about power and control

Extremists find a financial lifeline on Twitch

The Incredible Rise of North Korea’s Hacking Army

SPECTRE Stuff

Amazon Intended Its Army of Paid Twitter Sycophants to Be ‘Authentic,’ Have a ‘Great Sense of Humor’

What on Earth Is Amazon Doing? The company’s social-media aggression is shocking. It shouldn’t be.

How Amazon and America’s one-click obsession are warping the future of work

Malls that buckled due to e-commerce or suffered during the pandemic are being given new life by the very entity that precipitated their decline — Amazon.

Texas Man Charged In Plot To Bomb Amazon Web Services Data Center “The suspect’s goal was to allegedly ‘kill off about 70% of the internet.’”

‘There’s a Very Human Cost to Convenience’

Amazon internet program Project Kuiper will launch first satellites with Boeing joint venture

Amazon Launches Another Union-Busting Campaign

Amazon employees say you should be skeptical of Jeff Bezos’s worker satisfaction stat

Amazon profit more than triples as pandemic shopping boom persists

Local Stuff

Investigators hope new DNA-enhanced sketch of ‘Bones 17’ gives Green River victim a name

Powell’s says laid-off workers will have to apply for their jobs amid dispute with union

Seattle Independent Bookstore Day is back this year — with a twist

How Brick & Mortar Books has become a pillar of the Redmond community

Hacker Steals Info of Thousands of Gay Dating App Users/“’attacker’ gained access to the passwords, usernames, and emails of more than 7,700 users living in Washington State

How a journalist unraveled a gory founding myth of the Pacific Northwest

An Oregon Woman Says a Police Officer Raped Her. She Was the One Arrested

Words of the Month

Isn’t it irenic? It’s time to bring back beautiful words we have lost

Odd Stuff

John le Carré, chronicler of Englishness, died Irish, son reveals. Author was so opposed to Brexit that he took Irish citizenship to remain European

Flat Earther Busted in Freemason Arson Spree

Literature’s Most Curious Creations – A new book takes readers into collector Edward Brooke-Hitching’s “madman’s library”

People Are Stealing Legos. Here’s Why

The $50 Million Art Swindle on BBC

15 Scams People Almost Pulled Off That Will Leave You Impressed And Appalled

“Nobody ever made fun of him, but I did.” Orson Welles on his friendship with Hemingway.

Can you tell when someone is lying?

Found: Page 25 of the CIA’s Gateway Report on Astral Projection

Has anybody seen some loose ceremonial swords? The Truman Presidential Library wants them back

Trove of Treasures, From Gold Skull Ring to Tudor Coins, Unearthed in Wales

These 17th-Century Skull Watches Open Up to Reveal Time as It Passes Us By

Mom busted after cops reportedly find cocaine on son’s Dr. Seuss book

Soon you’ll be able to vacation at Jane Austen’s country estate . . . in a cowshed.

California Gold Rush town votes to remove noose from its logo

I’m obsessed with Liu Ye’s gorgeous, photorealistic paintings of books.

Bang & Olufsen’s Book-Shaped Bookshelf Speaker Will Disappear Into a Shelf Full of Books

Accusations of spying and sabotage plunge Russian-Czech relations into the deep freeze

Author’s killer ‘thought victim was working with Putin to spread Covid’

Fraud and Spiritualism Between the Wars: A Study of Two Hoaxes

Sasquatch Director Joshua Rofé on Chasing After Murder Mysteries and Monsters

This bucolic 1946 newsreel about Daphne Du Maurier could also be the beginning of a horror film

Man Murders Housemate Over Bad Internet Connection

Baby Doctor Charged With Insane Dark Web Kidnapping Plot

Awards

Here are the 35 finalists for the 2021 Oregon Book Awards

Here are the literary Guggenheim Fellows of 2021.

2021 Hugo Award Finalists Announced

Announcing the winners of the 2021 Whiting Awards.

A scammer just stole £30k of literary prize money—and is trying to steal more.

A Look at Your 2021 ITW Thriller Awards Nominees

The State of the Crime Novel in 2021: A Roundtable With the Edgar Awards Nominees

The State of the Crime Novel in 2021, Part 2: Writing During the Pandemic

Congratulations to the Winners of the 2021 Edgar Awards

Book Stuff

A Pop-up Bookstore Honors a Man Who Intended to Give It All Away

A Groundbreaking Lesbian Book Is Back in Print

Readers on the bookshops they miss most: ‘I can’t wait to take my lockdown baby!’

How A Humble Bookseller Helped Give Rise To The Renaissance

How Substack Revealed the Real Value of Writers’ Unfiltered Thoughts

Who engages with books, and how? Portland State University study tells new story about consumer behavior

John Grisham Leaves the Courtroom for Basketball, and Sudan

The Story of Richard Wright’s Lost Novel

Publisher halts Philip Roth book amid sexual abuse claims against biographer

“Bailey is the story now, but Roth still looms over it all. This fiasco has tendrils reaching into every level of media and publishing.” Jo Livingstone considers the industry-wide implications of the allegations against Blake Bailey.

What Snoop Dogg’s success says about the book industry

Despite protests from employees, Simon & Schuster still plans to publish Mike Pence’s book.

Hundreds of Simon & Schuster Employees Demand No Book Deals for Authors Tied to Trump Admin

As the subject of no fewer than three biographies since her death in 1995, the popular Patricia Highsmith writer lived a complicated, if fascinating, life. What was she really like?

‘Never stupid to ask questions’: Rare Raymond Chandler essay gives writing, office tips

Remembering one of the first woman-owned bookshops in America, which Publishers Weekly, in 1916, called “something old-worldly, yet startlingly new.”

Outcry over book ‘censorship’ reveals how online retailers choose books — or don’t

A Secret Feminist History of the Oxford English Dictionary

‘Bill and I got pretty friendly’: James Patterson on writing with Clinton and clashing with Trump

An original Robert Frost manuscript is up for auction.

How the Darker Side of the Fight for Women’s Suffrage Inspired One Historical Mystery Novelist

The Revenge Novel and the Art of Getting Even

Honoring the Legacy of Eleanor Taylor Bland: A Roundtable Discussion

“Write as if you were dying.” Read Annie Dillard’s greatest writing advice.

Other Forms of Entertainment

The Last Good Friday remembered at 40 by those involved

Hippie Murderer Charles Sobhraj’s Story Is Stranger Than What’s In The Serpent 

‘The Sons of Sam’ Trailer: New Docuseries Challenges Official Narrative of Infamous Seventies Killing Spree

the 100 best, worst, and strangest Sherlock Holmes portrayals of all time

Drawing on Their Escapes From the Nazis, These Artists Became Celebrated Cartoonists

9 True Crime Podcasts You Should Be Listening to Now

All the Information You Need for the LA Book Festival

The killer question: are true-crime podcasts exploitative?

One of the bloodiest anti-Asian massacres in U.S. history, now a podcast

Lynda La Plant: The hit crime writer changed the face of television with her groundbreaking female DCI Jane Tennison, who was played by Helen Mirren. But, she tells Charlotte Cripps, the TV production companies wanted nothing to do with the show at first

Hitchcock, The Voyeur: Why Rear Window Remains the Director’s Definitive Film

The most prolific serial killer in U.S. history got away with it for almost 50 years. A new docuseries exposes how a biased system failed his victims, and fostered a murderer.

The Best True Crime Documentaries You Haven’t Binged Yet

James Ellroy Is Going to Host a Podcast About Los Angeles Crime—Seriously

Hercule Poirot’s First Appearances on Television and RadioWords of the Month

A Ruthless Ranking Of The 25 Best Muppets, According To Listeners

Netflix’s Why Did You Kill Me? Shows How One Mother Solved Her Daughter’s Murder With Social Media

The 10 Greatest Movies Adapted from Crime Novels—According to a Producer and Novelist

Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet: Film Noir’s Greatest Odd Couple

Words for the Month

buttle (v.) to act or serve as a butler (Says You! #720)

RIP

April 6: Paul Ritter dies at 54

April 8: Richard Rush, subversive film director fascinated by the counterculture who won critical acclaim for The Stunt Man, dead at 91

April 10: Ramsey Clark, attorney general who became a critic of U.S. policies, dies at 93

April 10: Giorgos Karaivaz: Veteran crime journalist shot dead in Greece

April 12: Joseph Siravo: ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘Jersey Boys’ star dies aged 64

April 14: Bernie Madoff, Financier Behind Notorious Ponzi Scheme, Dies At 82 [eds. – no rest for you, you bastard!]

April 28: Daniel Kaminsky, 42, found key flaw in internet’s basic plumbing

April 29: Jason Matthews, spy novelist who drew on his experience in the CIA dies at 69

Links of Interest

March 29: The Doodler: The Truth About The Unidentified Serial Killer

April 1: Arabian coins found in US may unlock 17th-century pirate mystery

April 1: Nazi-Looted Poussin Painting Found in Italy, Returned to Owners

April 1: A Swindler Almost Sold These Forged ‘Masterpieces’ for $14.7 Million

April 2: Australia: Geologist beaten up by ‘angriest octopus’ on beach

April 4: Gay, communist, female: why MI5 blacklisted the poet Valentine Ackland

April 6: Dutch Man Arrested in Connection with High-Profile Heists of van Gogh, Hals Works

April 6: Why Murder Mysteries Are a Lot Like Science, According to a Neuroscientist and Novelist

April 6: Decrypted Messages Lead to Seizure of 27 Tons of Cocaine in Europe

April 6: A Former IRA Bank Robber On Writing A Heist Novel Based on a Long-Unsolved Crime

April 7: Feds Allege Tech CEO Designed ‘Parasitic Narco Sub’ for Drug Cartels

April 9: ‘Lost golden city’ found in Egypt reveals lives of ancient pharaohs

April 10: Heinz Promises To Catch Up To Americans’ Demand Amid Ketchup Packet Shortage

April 12: SportsTrouble in Titletown ~ Georgia’s Valdosta High School, a longtime football powerhouse, is awash in a scandal involving race, funny money, allegations of improper recruiting and a one-armed booster named Nub.

April 13: The Crusade Against Pornhub Is Going to Get Someone Killed

April 13: 1st Century Roman Statue, Looted A Decade Ago, Found In Belgium By Off-Duty Police

April 14: Japan’s Most Notorious Kidnapping Is Still Unsolved

April 14: How Gilded Age Corruption Produced the Biggest, Maddest Gold Rush in History

April 15: Inspecting the NYPD “Puzzle Palace”

April 15: A Kidnapping Gone Very Wrong

April 15: NC High School Basketball Coach Killed Trying to Rob Notorious Mexican Drug Cartel

April 15: Maila Nurmi’s Oregon upbringing led to sexy horror icon Vampira; new book captures her intense, tragic life

April 15: Mystery tree beast turns out to be croissant

April 16: Pottery Shard May Be ‘Missing Link’ in the Alphabet’s Development

April 16: The Florida Resort That Played an Unlikely Role in the Bay of Pigs Fiasco

April 17: He Was Yoga’s First Star Guru. Then He Ended Up in Jail.

April 20: 7 Unsolved Mysteries of the Art World

April 21: Toronto Gallery Robbed of Almost $300,000 Worth of Art in Heist

April 21: The Crazy Way $30M Was Stolen From Safe Deposit Boxes

April 22: AI unlocks ancient Dead Sea Scrolls mystery

April 22: Italian hospital employee accused of skipping work for 15 years

April 23: Human Skeleton Found Lying on Couch in Abandoned House

April 23: The Secret Mission To Unearth Part Of A 142-Year-Old Experiment

April 23: Billionaire Mukesh Ambani Buys Golf Club Featured In James Bond Film ‘Goldfinger’ For $79 Million

April 23: A rising actor, fake HBO deals and one of Hollywood’s most audacious Ponzi schemes

April 24: Enterprise Password Manager Passwordstate Hacked, Exposing Users’ Passwords for 28 Hours

April 24: Everything We Know About The Unsolved Icebox Murders

April 24: National Spelling Bee adds vocabulary and lightning-round tiebreaker for 2021

April 24: Did Argentina rob art from its own museum to fund the Falklands War? Military junta stole £1.8m of paintings from Buenos Aires gallery to buy arms from Taiwan, new book claims

April 25: MI6 takes inspiration from James Bond with hunt for ‘new Q’ to lead high-tech team

April 26: Josh fight: Hundreds join friendly battle for naming rights

April 26: Is This Man the Evil Genius Behind the Old-Master Forgery Spree Called the ‘Crime of the Century’? We Paid Him a Visit to Find Out

April 26: Could H.H. Holmes And Jack The Ripper Be The Same Person?

April 26: She Escaped Charles Manson’s Murderous Sex Cult

April 27: The Secrets of the World’s Greatest Jailbreak Artist

April 28: How an Ex-Cop Linked to the Murder of a DEA Agent Walked Free From a Life Sentence

April 29: The Bizarre Story Of The Serial Killer Who Tried To Prevent Earthquakes

April 30: Why People Don’t Believe Son Of Sam Killed Alone

Words for the Month

eggcorn (n.) “an idiosyncratic substitution of a word or phrase for a word or words that sound similar or identical in the speaker’s dialect. The new phrase introduces a meaning that is different from the original but plausible in the same context… eggcorns are sometimes also referred to ‘oronyms’… The term eggcorn, as used to refer to this kind of substitution, was coined by professor of linguistics Geoffrey Pullum in September 2003 in response to an article by Mark Liberman on the website Language Log, a group blog for linguists.[2] Liberman discussed the case of a woman who substitutes the phrase egg corn for the word acorn, and he argued that the precise phenomenon lacked a name. Pullum suggested using eggcorn itself as a label… An eggcorn is similar to, but differs from, folk etymology, malapropism, mondegreens or puns.” (Wikipedia)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Do you need a new addiction? I’m sure you do. On the upside, this habit’s less problematic than Sherlock’s 7% solution. However, it isn’t without cost.

What am I prattling on about, you ask? 

The Deadbolt Mystery Society.

A subscription box that sends you a mystery to solve every month! 

So far, I’ve unmasked a stalker, solved a decades-old cold case, foiled a kidnaper, resolved an art heist, and unraveled several murders in Valley Falls. (The small town where these cases are set. You work for a P.I. firm that takes on all kinds of clients.) 

One of the best things about each Deadbolt Mystery Society box, beyond the variety of crimes, is the wildly different types of evidence they supply, kinds of puzzles to solve, and suspects/witnesses/victims you meet. 

Just part of the clues for one box!

The puzzles of which I write are sometimes sneaky, always challenging, and require a vast array of skills to solve. One time I created a comprehensive timeline in order to cross-reference events against alibis—another time, I widdled down a massive list of addresses to locate a suspect’s abode and played a board game. On top of the logic & math problems, pictograms, cryptograms…The Deadbolt Mystery Society uses such a wide assortment of puzzles across all their boxes; it keeps them from becoming predictable and your wits sharp!

If you haven’t guessed – I’m a fan. 

They remind me vaguely of online hidden-object games like the Enigmatis series (I loved them), Yuletide Legends (an excellent holiday-themed game), or Dreamwalker (another I enjoyed playing). In so far as, no matter how urgent your case, you need to solve each and every puzzle provided to move closer to the penultimate solution. 

However, unlike the hidden-object games, which use short animated clips to move the story along – Deadbolt Mystery Society employs QR codes.

More often than not, these QR codes send you to password-protected web pages, which require you to input the solution from one of the aforementioned puzzles in order to obtain the next clue! Keeping the investigator honest – as you can’t just guess the answers – you need to know them.

One of the QR codes in this box tells you when to open the next packet – with more new puzzles to solve – SQUEE!!!

But once you surmount each hurtle, you are rewarded with a witness statement, diary entries, cryptic phone messages, eerie songs…the list goes on, and you never know what you’re going to uncover next – which is great fun! 

(BTW – you need either a smartphone or tablet with a camera to solve each case. Otherwise, you’re dead in the water.)

Deadbolt Mystery Society says each case takes anywhere between 2-6 hours to solve, depending on your skill level and the number of people working together. I take my time and usually solve them in a week or two – depending on how much free time I can carve out (unlike books – I don’t rush thru these). I would recommend these for adults or teens working in tandem with an adult, as most of the puzzles are pretty tricky (by design).

Not sure you’re ready to sign up? The Deadbolt Mystery Society also sells individual boxes – if you want to try it out before committing to a subscription!

FYI: While the web pages, photos, and packets don’t explicitly show any gore, the scenarios themselves can have a high body count (this last month featured a serial killer) together with the puzzle difficulty level… I’m not sure I’d be comfortable gifting a subscription to any of my nieces or nephews under fifteen or sixteen.

Fran

A Walk on the Dark Side

I haven’t been reading a lot of noir lately, because things are noir enough in real life, even though I have puppies to help liven things up. Oh, and they do!

But as I was unpacking books, I ran into Lono Waiwaiole’s “Wiley” series. Well, the first two anyway. I haven’t unearthed the third one yet. The thing is, I have them, but I never read them. I like Lono as a person, JB and Bill raved about the books, so I knew I’d like them. I just never got around to it.

Until now.

I just finished Wiley’s Lament. WHY DID I NOT READ THIS EARLIER? Holy cats.

Wiley is just kinda drifting through life. He’s living in a house owned by his old buddy, Leon, and he gambles to pay the rent. When he comes up short, Wiley leaves his home environs of Portland, OR, and wanders up to Seattle, where he robs drug dealers. He has nothing to lose, as far as he’s concerned.

“When I lose, I go to Seattle and find a drug dealer to rip off.”

“Isn’t that dangerous?”

“I like the symmetry of it. Either I get the money, or it blows up in my face and I don’t need any money.”

“It sounds like you don’t really care which one it is.”

“I don’t,” I said. “That’s the key to the whole thing.”


But when Wiley’s estranged daughter is murdered, his interest in things comes sharply into focus. He blames his buddy, Leon, for Lizzie’s death, but it turns out things are much, much more complicated than what Wiley initially thought, and that drive to find out just what happened puts both Wiley and Leon on a dark and dangerous path.

It’s brilliant.

Lono Waiwaiole‘s writing is dark, visceral, and deeply, profoundly human. Wiley and Leon and their associates are not the guys in white hats. They’re flawed and emotionally scarred, and it takes some looking to see the solid and faithful hearts beating underneath. But it’s there, and you care. Deeply.

And of all the characters I wish I could be, among a whole lot of wonderful and memorable people, I want to be Elmer. He’s a total delight to me. Granted, I want to be faster. Maybe I just want his wisdom.

I’m so sorry I took this long to read Wiley’s Lament, and I’ve got Wiley’s Shuffle close to hand. If you haven’t read them, now is a good time.

JB

Mike Lawson’s books have an subtle thrum to them, a smooth motion that seems to me to hum. They are the finest example of thrillers as, once they start, they don’t slow down. And though DeMarco is a classic reluctant hero, he never fails to see the case finished, even if he has to cut corners.

House Standoff is a departure for Lawson, this time playing with the strict rules of a whodunnit. Someone close to DeMarco has been murdered in a distant setting, and he’s not going to rest, as he warns the people he bangs into, until he finds out who pulled the trigger. Mike provides a number of suspects and seeds the stories with red herrings. The book works like a Manor House mystery, set in a small town in the Far West. And then he has the audacity of upend the rules. It is a stunning piece of work.

He buffaloed me. I was sure I’d fingered the killer, but …

There are many series I have re-read many times. I think it is time to start the DeMarcos at the beginning. Sounds like as much fun as can be had between the covers of a paperback. Keep me occupied til he next new Lawson book.

And I can’t wait for this: James Ellroy Gets to the Scene of the Crime

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

APRIL 2021

~ For Your Amazement ~

How were the small words in English created?

When in Need of the Right Word, Great Writers Simply Make Them Up

Why Is Tower Records Coming Back Now, of All Times?

Dave Barry: Hiaasen’s retirement is good news for sleazeballs nationwide

clinomania: the excessive desire to stay in bed

Serious Stuff

Dr. Seuss Books Are Pulled, and a ‘Cancel Culture’ Controversy Erupts

A Dr. Seuss Expert Cuts Through the Noise on the Cancel Culture Controversy

Ransomware Gang Fully Doxes Bank Employees in Extortion Attempt

The Silent Trial of the Century

Opinion: Book sales are up, but bookstores are struggling. It matters where you shop.

Conspiracy Theories and the Problem of Disbelief – The Atlantic

New piece of Dead Sea Scrolls jigsaw discovered after 60 years

How Would the Publishing World Respond to Lolita Today?

Operation finds 150 missing children in Tennessee

Ransomwared Bank Tells Customers It Lost Their SSNs

Steph Cha: The Atlanta shooting is another reminder the cops are not our friends

Hiding in Plain Sight: How Criminals Use Public Perception to Commit Crimes

Michael Albrecht Was There When John Wayne Gacy Confessed. He Saw Through the Serial Killer’s Charm. (from Peacock’s new original docuseries John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise)

Ballistics work at D.C.’s crime lab criticized by forensic experts

True crime shows spotlight women as victims — but don’t help improve women’s safety

U.S. Special Operations Command Paid $500,000 to Secretive Location Data Firm

The big spike in murders in 2020, explained in 600 words

‘We have your porn collection’: The rise of extortionware

PNW Stuff

Portland underworld scandal in 1950s pitted gangsters against Hollywood; B-movie reshoots compare city then and now

One dead, five wounded in stabbing at Vancouver library, suspect in custody

For 10 years, Book Larder has thrived by mixing 2 of Seattle’s great loves: books and food

Convicted serial killer Joseph Duncan dies on death row

Adam Wood Reviews: 3 new crime novels transport readers across the world and back in time

Clyde Ford: How we should deal with Dr. Seuss books and cancel culture

Odd Stuff

Read a previously unpublished (New Yorker-rejected) poem about Superman… by Vladimir Nabokov.

Storied and Sordid: The History of Jeffrey Epstein’s Just-Sold Mansion

Back in 1986, the Castros helped retrieve Hemingway’s stolen Nobel Prize.

Philadelphia Is a Secret Spy Mecca

The Macabre Mystery of a British Family’s Skull-Topped Spoons

Take a look inside this rare, self-published Andy Warhol cookbook.

Octavia Butler is now officially on Mars.

Scientists Have Unlocked the Secrets of the Ancient ‘Antikythera Mechanism’

Murder Tourism in Middle America: The World of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood

The Mariko Aoki Phenomenon: When You Need To Poop After Entering A Book Store

That Time Scientists Discovered a Creature in Loch Ness and Then Realized It Was a Sunken Prop from The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes

Rare sneakers. Bots. Insider connections. This scandal has it all

Globe Trotter James Bond Sticker Collection ~ ONLY  $340

“Howl”: illuminating draft of Allen Ginsberg’s seminal poem found

Japanese Man Scales Building to Steal Pokémon Cards, Gets Arrested

I’m Alone: How One Canadian Rumrunner Defied the U.S. Coast Guard and Sparked an International Scandal

Ten Savage Insults From Literary Icons

Mafia fugitive caught after posting cooking show on YouTube

Vincent D’Onofrio wrote a book, and it looks insane and wonderful.

Words of the Month

lachschlaganfall (n): a medical term for when a person laughs so much that they fall unconscious. (thanks to Ripley’s Believe it or Not!)

Department of SPECTRE

Activists sue big French retailer over Amazon forest damage

Amazon merchant kicked off website spent $200,000 to get justice

Amazon Has Become a Prime Revolving-Door Destination in Washington

A Kansas Bookshop’s Fight with Amazon Is About More Than the Price of Books

Want to borrow that e-book from the library? Sorry, Amazon won’t let you.

Worker says Amazon hung anti-union signs in bathroom stalls

Amazon, contractors settle wage-theft lawsuit by Seattle-area drivers for $8.2 million

Amazon Illegally Interrogated Worker Who Led First COVID-19 Strikes, NLRB Says

Amazon Called out for Denying Workers are Forced to Pee in Bottles

The Amazon Union Vote Is Ending in Bessemer. Workers Are Already Preparing for the Next Fight.

Dear Amazon: Why can’t we sell our ebook on your platform?

Amazon started a Twitter war because Jeff Bezos was pissed

‘Fake’ Amazon workers defend company on Twitter

Twitter Is Banning Amazon ‘Ambassadors’ and It’s a Total Mess -The real Amazon ambassadors are fake too.

Chicago bookseller proposes class action lawsuit against Amazon over pricing (the law firm handling the suit is based in Seattle)

Awards

Here are the finalists for the 2020-21 L.A. Times Book Prize.

2021 The National Book Critics Circle Awards

Writers from 4 continents up for International Booker Prize

Book Stuff

Sara Paretsky on Dorothy B. Hughes and the Meaning of ‘Noir’

New Orleans is looking toward a hopeful future. A new bookstore is lighting the way.

Here’s the best writing advice from Colson Whitehead’s 60 Minutes interview.

My First Thriller: Tom Straw

How Kurt Wolff Transformed Pantheon into a 20th-Century Publishing Powerhouse

To Really Understand Agatha Christie, You Need to Know About Poisons

Books Hold The Key To Elly Griffith’s The Postscript Murders

My father was famous as John le Carré. My mother was his crucial, covert collaborator

The Best Books for Starting an Occult Library

Harlan Coben, 75 million books in print, and a new one coming out

Stephen Fry backs Sherlock Holmes museum campaign in Portsmouth

Scholastic Book Fairs Have Another Tough Quarter

Betrayal Is Timeless: The Evolution of George Smiley 

Dean Koontz: ‘Life is one long suspense novel’

On the Vast and Multitudinous Worlds of the Library

Authors fear the worst if Penguin owner takes over Simon & Schuster

Amanda Gorman brings the representation debate to the small world of book translation

Douglas Adams’ note to self reveals author found writing torture

‘Captain Underpants’ book pulled for ‘passive racism’ against Asians

HarperCollins will acquire the trade division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for $349 million.

New Yorker staffers vote to authorize strike amid tensions with Condé Nast

Jacqueline Winspear: How I Became A Mystery Writer While Breaking Every Rule

The Joys of Evaluating Books on Whether Their Plot Twists Are Surprising, Shocking, or Just Plain Bonkers

Other Forms of Entertainment

Mark Hofmann’s Deadly Web of Master Forgery Is at the Center of Murder Among the Mormons

Golden State Killer Investigator Joins ‘America’s Most Wanted’ Reboot

HBO’s true crime drama ‘The Investigation’ is slow and frustrating on purpose (and JB recommends the series!)

‘The Sopranos’: David Chase and mobster Johnny Sack on how they made a TV classic

David Simon headed back to Baltimore, HBO for new police corruption miniseries

Peter Falk’s ‘Columbo’: The TV Detective’s 1st Name, How It Surfaced in a Lawsuit, and What the Star Had to Say (there are a number of Columbo stories at this site this month)

Memento at 20: Christopher Nolan’s memory thriller is hard to forget

The Criminal Minds of Jim and Tim: The Clemente brothers went from the FBI to Hollywood murder consultants. Now they’re rebooting America’s Most Wanted.

Fifty Years Later, Get Carter Is Still the Iconic British Gangster Film

Why Are We Obsessed With Psychopaths?

Why the Coen Brothers’ Cinematic Sleight of Hand is So Good

Cutter and Bone: Two Masterpieces Deserve Their Proper Due

Inside the Twisted Making of Basic Instinct

Revisiting The Anderson Tapes, Sidney Lumet’s Wisely Paranoid Heist Film, 50 Years Later (JB recommends the original book AND the movie)

Hitchcock Presents: A Brief History of the Weird, Wild Hitchcock Shows That Once Dominated TV

Thief at 40: Michael Mann’s confident debut sent a message

Comfort in the Uncomfortable: How Christopher Nolan Uses Noir to Get Weird

Words of the Month

bad penny (n): This proverb has lived long in the language. It derives from the notion that some coins were ‘bad’, that is, they were debased or counterfeit.

The ‘clipping’ of coins was rife in the Middle Ages, long before standardisation of the coinage was reliably enforced. This example from the reign of Edward I shows the degree of ‘badness’ that pennies then endured.

The term ‘bad penny’ was established enough in English by the late 14th century for it to have been used in William Langland’s famous prose poem The vision of William concerning Piers Plowman, 1370-90: “Men may lykne letterid men… to a badde peny.”

thanks to phrases.org.uk

Links of Interest

March 2: I-5 Strangler Killed in Prison

March 3: A breakthrough technology allows researchers to see inside sealed centuries-old letters.

March 3: My Babysitter, the Serial Killer

March 5: My Novel Reopened A Cold Case. My True Crime Book Puts Ghosts To Rest.

March 5: Napoleon Has Always Fascinated Novelists, But His Life Really Was Fit for a Thriller

March 7: Wife’s Body Dug Up in Florida Backyard After Hubby Made Chilling Taunts

March 8: I Was Hired to Assassinate Pablo Escobar

March 8: Behind Enemy Lines: Women in Combat During World War II

March 9: Researchers Uncover Remains of Polish Nuns Murdered by Soviets During WWII

March 10: DNA study of 6,200-year-old massacre victims raises more questions than answers

March 12: Scientists unlock mysteries of world’s oldest ‘computer’

March 15: French Government to Seek Return of Klimt Painting Sold Under Duress During World War II

March 15: Mother ‘used deepfake to frame cheerleading rivals’

March 19: Greek bull figurine unearthed after heavy downpour

March 21: The Most Shocking True Crime Revelations, Every Year Since 1999

March 23: She had a ‘cool’ childhood babysitter. Four decades later, she learnt he was a serial killer

March 24: Israeli Spy Pollard Betrays America Yet Again

March 25 : The Murder That Stunned Gangland Philadelphia

March 25: The Actress, the Steward and the Ocean Liner: What Really Happened in Cabin 126?

March 28: True-crime fanatics on the hunt: inside the world of amateur detectives

March 28: A Biblical Mystery and a Reporting Odyssey

Words of the Month

to coin a phrase : Coining, in the sense of creating, derives from the coining of money by stamping metal with a die. Coins – also variously spelled coynes, coigns, coignes or quoins – were the blank, usually circular, disks from which money was minted. This usage derived from an earlier 14th century meaning of coin, which meant wedge. The wedge-shaped dies which were used to stamp the blanks were called coins and the metal blanks and the subsequent ‘coined’ money took their name from them.

Coining later began to be associated with inventiveness in language. In the 16th century the ‘coining’ of words and phrases was often referred to. By that time the monetary coinage was often debased or counterfeit and the coining of words was often associated with spurious linguistic inventions; for example, in George Puttenham’s The arte of English poesie, 1589: “Young schollers not halfe well studied… will seeme to coigne fine wordes out of the Latin.”

Shakespeare, the greatest coiner of them all, also referred to the coining of language in Coriolanus, 1607: “So shall my Lungs Coine words till their decay.”

Quoin has been retained as the name of the wedge-shaped keystones or corner blocks of buildings. Printers also use the term as the name for the expandable wedges that are used to hold lines of type in place in a press. This has provoked some to suggest that ‘coin a phrase’ derives from the process of quoining (wedging) phrases in a printing press. That is not so. ‘Quoin a phrase’ is recorded nowhere and ‘coining’ meant ‘creating’ from before the invention of printing in 1440. Co-incidentally, printing does provide us with a genuine derivation that links printing with linguistic banality – cliché. This derives from the French cliquer, from the clicking sound of the stamp used to make metal typefaces.

‘Coin a phrase’ itself arises much later than the invention of printing – the 19th century in fact. It appears to be American in origin – it certainly appears in publications there long before any can be found from any other parts of the world. The earliest use of the term that I have found is in the Wisconsin newspaper The Southport American, July 1848: “Had we to find… a name which should at once convey the enthusiasm of our feelings towards her, we would coin a phrase combining the extreme of admiration and horror and term her the Angel of Assassination.”

thanks to phrases.org.uk

RIP

February 23: Edgar-winner Margaret Maron dead at 82

March 3: Marie Tippet, Widow of Dallas officer slain by Lee Harvey Oswald, dies

March 6: Lou Ottens, Inventor of the Audio Cassette Tape, Dead at 94

March 7: Judith Van Gieson: R.I.P.

March 7: Remembering Allan McDonald: He Refused To Approve Challenger Launch, Exposed Cover-Up

March 8: The Phantom Tollbooth Author Norton Juster Dies At 91

March 9: Roger Mudd, probing TV journalist and network news anchor, dies at 93

March 9: ‘Phantom Tollbooth’ Author Norton Juster Dies At 91

March 15: Yaphet Kotto, Bond Villain and ‘Alien’ Star, Dies at 81

March 16: Ronald DeFeo, Killer Who Inspired ‘The Amityville Horror,’ Dead at 69

March 19: Henry Darrow, ‘High Chaparral’ actor who fought to expand roles for Latinos, dies

March 23: George Segal, Leading Man of Lighthearted Comedies, Dies at 87

March 25: Jessica Walter, Play Misty for Me and beloved ‘Arrested Development’ star with a long resume, dies at 80

March 26: Children’s Author Beverly Cleary, Creator Of Ramona Quimby, Dies At 104

March 26: Larry McMurtry, bookseller and award-winning novelist who pierced myths of his native Texas dies at 84

March 29: Brian Rohan, San Francisco attorney for Ken Kesey, Grateful Dead and the counterculture, Dies at 84

March 31: G. Gordon Liddy, Watergate mastermind, dead at 90

Words of the Month

shot in the dark: The term ‘shot’ has been slang for an attempt since the middle of the 19th century; for example, this piece from Joseph Hewlett’s comic work Peter Priggins, the college scout, 1841: “After waiting for a little while, Ninny… made a shot, and went so near the mark.”

‘A shot in the dark’ is simply a hopeful attempt to hit an enemy that you can’t see.

George Bernard Shaw seems to have been the first to use it metaphorically, in The Saturday Review, February 1895: “Never did man make a worse shot in the dark.”

thanks to phrases.org.uk

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Ashley Weaver – A Deception At Thornecrest

Change is a tricky thing. Often uncomfortable, awkward, unsightly, and a difficult thing to manage gracefully. Whether it’s moving to a new house in a new city, purchasing a new car, or adopting a new pet, unexpected complications always seem to creep into the proceedings.

Books series are no different. 

Any author worth their salt, who endeavors for a successful string of books knows – eventually – they will need to change things up. Otherwise, the series stales and stalls. 

Elizabeth Peter’s efficiently handled this problem by sending Amelia Peabody to a different location in Egypt (generally speaking) for each installment. Patricia Moyes employed a similar tactic by sending her husband & wife team on vacation all over the world. J.K. Rowling sends her famous wizard off to school (or to defeat dark wizards every year.

In the case of Ashley Weaver’s A Deception At Thornecrest, she does the reverse – she sends Amory Ames and her husband Milo home.

And it works beautifully.

Over the past six books, neither member of our dynamic duo has spent much time at Thorncrest – so it’s the perfect place for Weaver to set her transition mystery. By mixing a bit of old with a bit of new, Weaver is all set to send our heroine into new and exciting directions in future books. Even better? She accomplishes this aim with such flawless skill it makes A Deception At Thornecrest a joy to read.

One of the most significant changes in Amory’s life? She’s about to become a first-time mother! A fact which both she and Milo are over the moon about, in their understated way. The only hitch in the giddy-up? During the annual Springtide festival, a stable hand is murdered…Amory, our remarkable amateur sleuth, is discouraged at every turn from investigating because of her “delicate condition”.

Fortunately for Lady Justice and us readers, Amory has zero interest in heeding their unsolicited opinions. 

A Deception At Thornecrest was a compelling historical mystery, one which I thoroughly enjoyed reading from beginning to end. Even better, if you’re not interested in reading the previous exploited of our heroine and her husband (but I would highly suggest you do as they are lovely), you don’t have to! Because this is a transitional book, so long as you aren’t starting with numero uno, you can start with this installment and be alright.

Honestly, I cannot say enough good things about A Deception At Thornecrest

Fran

It’s not her latest, but it’s the most recent one I’ve read, and holy cats, does J.T. Ellison have a twisty mind! Just one more reason to love her, honestly, just like you’re going to love Good Girls Lie.

The Goode School is an Ivy League feeder boarding school in Virginia, and there’s a long waiting list of girls hoping to be chosen. The Goode School accepts only 50 girls for each grade level, and each girl is properly and thoroughly vetted before acceptance. You know what I mean, right?

Ash Carlisle is a bit of an exception. She’s British, for starters. She was being considered before her parent suddenly died, and no one can say that the Goode School is without compassion.

However, Ash’s new classmates don’t take to her that well, and Ash has secrets, so she doesn’t want to make a fuss. The resulting dynamic of mean girls, vulnerable girls, and a certain amount of looking the other way by staff members leaves Ash in a precarious position.

Then things start to get really ugly. Even deadly.

J.T. Ellison attended a similar school, although it wasn’t as perilous, so her insights and knowledge about this setting give Good Girls Lie an added edge that, combined with J.T.’s fabulous writing, makes this novel deeply disturbing. And did I mention it’s twisty as all get out? You get to see events through multiple viewpoints, and very little of what everyone sees on the surface is real. Just like most social interactions, I suspect.

You don’t have to have attended a posh boarding school to appreciate Good Girls Lie, although if you have, I bet you’ll recognize some of the people. You’re in for a treat!

JB

The title alone gave me hope that the book would answer some of my questions about why there have been so many serial killers in the last decade. Peter Vronsky is a Canadian with a PhD in criminal justice history. I saw that he’d written a couple of other books on the subject and this new one, American Serial Killers: The Epidemic Years 1950-2000, seems the most promising to address my curiosity.

Why so many? Why now? Why do many not fit the profile we’re always told about? And most strangely, why do some seem to quit?

Vronsky carefully explains what he sees as the roots – fathers who came back damaged from WWI, the great number of desertions by fathers during the Depression, and those effects on families and sons specifically. There were women who really should never have been mothers due to domineering personalities or mental health issues, the frequent element of head injuries and you have a pool ready for the birth of trouble. As youngsters, they were subjected to the social traumas of WWII, the revelations of horrors of the Holocaust, the dawn of the atomic age, and the movement of the population from the smaller towns where everyone was known to one another to the large cities and their anonymity, and evil can erupt. Mix in the interstate highway system… OK, so far I understand.

But he then begins to mix in the proliferation of true crime magazines in the 40s and 50s – when they’d begun in the 20s. I understand that many of the killers in the 60s, 70s and 80s mention them as formative with their lurid imagery. But I don’t see that had there not been these magazines, things would’ve been far different. It strikes me as a cheap target, like Bundy saying it all started with pornography.

Similarly, Vronsky puts blame on film noir and the pessimism and corruption they portrayed. He neatly glides by the fact that film noir was a direct outgrowth of the crime novels of the 20s, 30s and 40s. He doesn’t attempt a connection that the fiends were reading novels about sex and death, just looking at images of it. Municipal corruption was a massive menace well before the killers of the last half of the 20th C., but he gives little attention to the first half. I can make a couple of guesses as to why: killers could still travel around by jumping trains but the journalism may’ve lacked the ability to connect murders in different locales. He often points to the problem with killers crossing jurisdictions and police from one town/city/county/state not communicating with one another. Indeed, it still seems to be a problem – not every facet of law enforcement knew what was going on at the Capitol on January 6th, or 9/11.

Odder still, he spends an unnecessary amount of time and gory detail on crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer while mentioning that many others have been ignored in the study of serial killers. If we’ve never heard of them, he’s missed his chance to inform us.

But I could also guess that many killers in the century from 1850 to 1950 had easy outlets for their murderous ways – they had the Civil War where murder could easily be disguised as warfare, they had the Wild West where murder was cheap and easy, and they had the growth of Organized Crime where there were always opportunities for hired killers.

Over all, the book was interesting but frustrating. For an academic, he was flippant at time, snarky at others, and those instances felt out of place. It is one thing to be casual and entertaining. It is another to sound off key.

My largest question – why do some seem to stop – was answered in one quick paragraph about Gary Ridgeway: the thrill was gone. Really? That doesn’t feel adequate to explain why a monster who killed dozens of women would simply cease doing it. I hope to get an answer to that some day from a future author.


“This whole arduous process began with a monumental failure by the keepers of the public memory – the government and the press. Their failure remains with us. Over the past half century, this case has been filled with bitter arguments and wild conspiracy theories; government bodies papering over significant failures; junk science and ’eminence-based’ conclusions; sober, tenacious research and trumpeting blowhards. But over these same decades and despite many mistakes and reverses, a partial truth has been brought to light. That truth, however, leaves open many of the questions that should have been answered fifty years ago and in all likelihood cannot be answered now. Principally…who did it, and why?”

Another book that had great promise yet fell slightly short was Josiah Thompson‘s Last Second in Dallas. The philosophy professor who left academia to become a private eye in San Francisco had released one of the seminal books on the JFK assassination in 1967, Six Seconds in Dallas. It’s always been hailed as a scholarly work on the shooting and, while he stayed connected tangentially with the case, he’d published nothing else in the nearly 55 years since.

His new book is in the form of a re-examination and memoir. He situates his arguments amongst the developments in his life and the assassination evidence that has come out over the decades. He admits when he had something wrong and corrects it. It’s a fascinating thing to track.

Thompson has always focused on the evidence, the “what” of the case, not the “who” of the case. As the titles say, he’s focused on the seconds of gunfire in Dealy Plaza, not those who organized the crossfire or pulled the triggers. This narrow view allows him to delve deeply into what is known and can be proved and he does a masterful job of it.

“There is, however, one fact about assassination that has not changed in fifty years. It is its most obvious feature – the brutal effectiveness of crime… In this whole narrative, what was clear in 1966 is even clearer now. This was a highly sophisticated, devastatingly effective assassination: who bullets to the head and one to the back. Its very audacity is the most compelling feature. And speculation as to who did it and why must at least start with that fact.”

However, within those seconds of shots, he does allow some questions to go unanswered. He’s got four shots being fired. What accounts for that shallow wound in Kennedy’s back that didn’t penetrate far? The Dallas doctors could feel the end of the tract with their little fingers. What of the bullet or fragment or chip of cement that nicked James Tague? Tague and his wound are not mentioned by Thompson even as he has bullet fragments bouncing around the inside of the limo. Other than the gunman behind the picket fence, he’s non-committal about the location of the other shooters – one in the depository, the other… perhaps, like the identity of the participants, he’s leaving those questions to others. He also condescendingly dismisses the Garrison investigation, which was, after all, about the “who”s. That sounded unfair, tone-deaf, and short-sighted.

Still, Last Second in Dallas is a fascinating book and a worthy addition to my shelves of books on the assassination.

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