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Read a previously unpublished Ursula K. Le Guin poem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

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

February Newzine

Let’s start with some great news: Independent bookshops defy expectations during the Covid-19 pandemic with hundreds of new stores opening

Self-soothe with this video of a 120-year-old book of fairy tales being restored.

This Turkish library is shaped like a shelf of giant books.

What Fiction Can Teach Journalists: A Reading List From Maurice Chammah

Stating the obvious: Every Mystery Writer Knows, You Can Kill Anyone But The Dog

My Nudist, Holocaust-Survivor Grandma Spied on the Nazis

Suspect in Kim Kardashian’s Paris Robbery Writes Book … About Robbing Kim Kardashian

And something new and ridiculous: the final Daniel Craig 007 movie may have to have some re-shoots due to delays making product placement deals problematic!

Serious Stuff

Pharmacist Arrested, Accused Of Destroying More Than 500 Moderna Vaccine Doses

The 1954 Attack On The Capitol And The Woman Who Led It

How Online Sleuths Identified Rioters At The Capitol

A Serial Rapist Terrified a Black Sorority for a Decade. Police Just Cracked the Case.

Netflix’s Night Stalker Doc Details the Hunt For Richard Ramirez. But There’s More to the Story.

How a Whistleblower Helped Launch a Landmark Prosecution in the Battle Against the Opioid Epidemic

‘The Internet Is a Crime Scene’

A Vast Web of Vengeance: Outrageous lies destroyed Guy Babcock’s online reputation. When he went hunting for their source, what he discovered was worse than he could have imagined.

A Scoop About the Pentagon Papers, 50 Years Later

On the banned German novelist who disappeared herself from the Nazis.

Local Stuff

Saving Seattle’s National Archives will take a team effort

In Netflix’s ‘Cobra Kai,’ Seattle restaurateur Yuji Okumoto reprises a role — and a life — he thought he’d left behind

Melinda Gates has donated $250,000 to the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction.

Powell’s Books says Andy Ngo’s book will not be in store

Mossback’s Northwest: The Washington outlaw who couldn’t be caught

[and we include this just for fun: Mossback’s Northwest: The Palouse cowboy who inspired John Wayne]

Orca Post-Mortems Tell the Story of a Population Facing Numerous Threats

DNA puts a name to one of the last unidentified victims of the Green River Killer

Meet Book the Future founder Andrea Liao, a Bellevue high schooler honored for her work in the literacy field

Multnomah County Library saw record 4 million digital checkouts in 2020; here are the most popular titles

Judge orders DOJ attorneys to testify about improper questioning of witness in Thomas Wales investigation

Department of SPECTRE

Amazon and major publishers colluded to keep e-book prices high, lawsuit says

Amazon Is Helping to Fund a Militia That Stormed the Capitol

UW study:Amazon algorithms promote vaccine misinformation

Amazon seeks to block shareholder proposals on hate speech, diversity, workplace conditions and surveillance tech

Words of the Month

CHANTAGE – the extortion of money by threats of scandalous revelations aka Blackmail. French, from chanter to yield to extortion, be compliant, literally, to sing + -age

This word is first recorded in the period 1870–75. Other words that entered English at around the same time include: Mafiafifth wheelgiveawayimmobilizeupgrade

Awards

ALA Youth Media Awards (Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King, and many more!)

Mystery Writers of America Announces 2021 Edgar Allan Poe Award Nominations

3 books by Oregon authors win Pacific Northwest Book Awards

Book Stuff

The Great Gatsby and All Your Favorite Works from 1925 Have Now Entered the Public Domain

Shelf Life: Tana French:the famed mystery writer takes our literary survey.

American Dirt: How one of publishing’s most hyped books became its biggest horror story — and still ended up a best seller.

My First Thriller: Lawrence Block

The Life and Wild Times of O. Henry

You’re using the term ‘Orwellian’ wrong. Here’s what George Orwell was actually writing about

‘Invisible Men’ chronicles pioneering Black artists of the early comic book industry

At the Library: Spare some time for the overlooked books

Ernest Cline Was ‘Raised by Screens.’ Look How Well He Turned Out!

Penny dreadfuls were the true crime podcasts of their time

The Thrill of Researching Your Crime Novel

The dramatic — and embellished — life of Graham Greene

Closure of an iconic Paris bookshop alarms French bibliophiles

Why do books have prices printed on them?

Open letter calls for publishing boycott of Trump administration memoirs

How Teaching Writing Makes Jonathan Lethem’s Own Writing Better

Patricia Highsmith – Jan 19, 1921

~ Patricia Highsmith at 100: the best film adaptations

~ Patricia Highsmith: the ‘Jew-hater’ who took Jewish women as lovers

~ Upgrade your writing soundtrack with Patricia Highsmith’s favorite songs.

Exploring the People of Middle-earth: Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, an Unexpected Hero

Indie bookstore to open a block away from recently shuttered Barnes & Noble

Rare Devon fabric book found in London archives

Here’s what you need to know about the book club service that just raised $40 million.

This new indie bookstore categorizes books by emotion.

Merriam-Webster just added 520 new words to the lexicon, but these are the best ones.

Paul Yamazaki on Fifty Years of Bookselling at City Lights

Today in cool internet passion projects: the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction.

John le Carré Offered a Piece of Advice to a Struggling Novelist. She’ll Never Forget It.

It Takes a Village To Keep a Book In Print: A Chat with the Collins Crime Club

My First Thriller: Randy Wayne White

Other Forms of Entertainment

Sex and the City: New series announced but Kim Cattrall won’t return

The secret artists creating miniature buildings for street mice

His Vaccine Story Inspired His Father To Write A Disney Classic

The people who want to send smells through your TV

Don’t Toss Your Christmas Tree Yet! Here’s How You Can Cook With It

‘Where Are The Women?’: Uncovering The Lost Works Of Female Renaissance Artists [When JB was in college, he took an art history class entitled “Women in Art”, taught by Dr. Jeanne Stump. It was one of the first such classes in the US and he’s thrilled the painters he studied over 40 years ago are finally getting the attention they have always deserved.]

The True Story Behind Why the Original ‘The Twilight Zone’ Got Canceled

John Bishop Boards the TARDIS for Season 13 of Doctor Who 

Car Concerts Offer Choirs A Way To Rehearse And Perform

PI Storytelling Through the Ages: Books, Blogs and Podcasts by Real Private Eyes

‘The Umbrella Academy’ Season 3 Unveils Cast For Sparrow Academy Which Includes… A Telekinetic Cube?

Hollywoodland: The Best Neo-Noir You Probably Haven’t Seen

Kevin Feige Confirms ‘Deadpool 3’ Is an MCU Movie

“Lincoln Lawyer” Series Lands at Netflix, Starring Manuel Garcia-Rulfo — Find Out Which Book It Will Cover

Evil Incarnate: The Aesthetics of On-Screen Villainy

What Happened To Michael Peterson From The Staircase?

Classic bands accused of crowding out new music on streaming services

Radiohead: School band demo up for auction

‘SNL’ And ‘Second City’ Announce Scholarships For Diverse, Emerging Comic Talent

‘Artists, Weirdos, Hellriders And Homies:’ Thrasher Magazine Turns 40

Timothy Dalton had Three Unmade James Bond Movies That Influenced the 007 Franchise After He Left

Words of the Month

RUB BUBBERS (OR CLANK NAPPERS) – A dexterous person/people who steal silver tankards from inns and taverns.

Thanks BBC America

Links of Interest

December 31: Serial squirrel: Neighbors keep eye out for fierce rodent

January 4: Inside the U.S. Army’s Warehouse Full of Nazi Art

January 4: Sherlock Holmes and the case of toxic masculinity: what is behind the detective’s appeal?

January 5: HG Wells fans spot numerous errors on Royal Mint’s new £2 coin

January 5: Hemingway’s Politics Were No Secret—Just Read His Only Crime Novel

January 5: Sword Taken 4 Decades Ago Is Returned To Mass. Community

January 5: Fishermen rescue naked fugitive from Australian tree

January 6: Irving “Gangi” Cohen: The Man Who Escaped Murder, Inc. and Hid Out in the Movies

January 9: The mystery at heart of Milky Way: Astronomers are still arguing after 70 years over mushroom clouds at centre of galaxy… so were they caused by exploding stars or a black hole swallowing a gas cloud? 

January 10: Split in two ~ magicians to celebrate 100 years of sawing people in half

January 11: Megalodons gave birth to large newborns that likely grew by eating unhatched eggs in womb

January 11: A level results: Why algorithms aren’t making the grade

January 13: Gurlitt’s last Nazi-looted work returned to owners

January 13: Tower of London’s ‘queen’ raven Merlina missing

January 13: Italy ‘Ndrangheta group: Biggest mafia trial in decades opens

January 13: For Sale: Papers From the Planning of the 1963 March on Washington

January 14: Lizzie Borden’s House Is Up For Sale

January 15: A productivity tool company has solved writing by . . . reinventing the typewriter.

January 18: Man found ‘living in airport for three months’ over Covid fears

January 19: Stolen 500-year-old painting found in Naples cupboard

January 19: Those Guillotines are awfully close to your neck

January 27: Marie Dean Arrington: The Woman Who Fled From a Florida Electric Chair

January 27: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Murder: A Roadside Killing and The Novel That Captured an Era

Words of the Month

MASK OF SANITY – Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy—these serial killers were famous not only for their crimes, but their deceptively charming dispositions. This is what crime experts refer to as the Mask of Sanity. Coined by psychiatrist Hervey M. Cleckley in his 1941 book, this describes the phenomena of psychopaths easily blending in with their peers because they don’t typically suffer from more noticeable mental symptoms like hallucinations and delusions.

Thanks to MentalFloss

RIP

December 29: ‘Columbo,’ ‘Murder, She Wrote’ co-creator William Link dies

January 8: Michael Apted, Director Of The ‘Up’ Documentary Series, Dies At 79

January 8: Legendary Dodgers Manager Tommy Lasorda Dies At 93

January 9: Remembering Journalist And Friend Neil Sheehan

January 9: Marion Ramsey: Police Academy and Broadway star dies at 73

January 14: Siegfried Fischbacher: Member of magic duo Siegfried and Roy dies

January 17: Phil Spector, famed music producer convicted of murder, dies at 81 after contracting COVID-19

January 23: ‘Barney Miller,’ ‘Sanford and Son’ actor Gregory Sierra dies at 83

January 26: Cloris Leachman, Oscar-winning actress and prolific TV star, dies at 94

January 28: Cicely Tyson, Who Brought Grace And Gravitas To The Screen, Has Died At 96

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

While working the shelves of Seattle Mystery Bookshop, several series caused me no end of dismay when trying to space them out, so they looked pretty for you all! 

Agatha Christie often clogged the classics section with the sheer variety of sizes publishers used to reprint her mysteries. Earle Stanley Gardner also had his moments of causing classic section consternation due to the sheer volume of books he wrote – 82 in the Perry Mason series alone! 

M.C. Beaton and Alexander McCall Smith (in the general mysteries) eventually got their own sections due to the ever-expanding series. 

However, there’s one writer who often lead me to tear my hair out – J.D. Robb. 

Due to Robb’s overwhelming popularity, we needed to keep the majority of the In Death Series on hand at all times. Meaning? When Robb released a new book or we received a batch of used mysteries…We often needed to move entire rows & sections of books around, so Eve and her cohorts didn’t scrunch, encroach, or simply dominate the neighboring authors!

Now that Robb’s hit book number 51 in her In Death series, I shudder to think how we’d struggle to fit her prodigious output on the shelves! 

Speaking of book 51, Shadows in Death…Robb delivers yet another page-turning, read-late-into-the-night thriller you can devour in a single (long) sitting. One that will leave Eve & Roarke fans with a pleasant taste in their mouths; as we learn more about Roarke’s past, watch Eve work with her team and visit Ireland!

Feeney had stars in his eyes.

Perhaps, just perhaps, the mystery’s culmination teetered on the edge of sensationalism. But really, it only ever teetered, but Robb never actually jumped the shark, so we’re still fine!

Did you know the Western tradition of a bride wearing white didn’t come about until Queen Victoria wore a white dress to her wedding in 1840? The trend soon caught on amongst the elite across Europe as it became a symbol, not of the bride’s ‘purity’ but her family’s wealth. (i.e., they could afford to purchase an easily ruined dress.) Prior to this point, brides wore all kinds of colors – red being a particular favorite. 

It wasn’t until prosperity hit the middle classes after WWII, helped along by the silver screen, that white wedding gowns became commonplace across the US and Europe.

In 1981 the tradition received a significant boost when soon-to-be Princess Diana walked down the aisle in a stunning ivory dress which sported 10,000 pearls, a 25 ft train, and a 153-yard tulle veil. As one-in-six people around the entire world watched the wedding – her gown inspired generations of brides. 

Beyond the fact, it undoubtedly took some serious spine and determination to pull the weight of the dress down the aisle. The train and veil caused one wedding day hiccup. The designers failed to consider the size of the glass coach Princess Diana would ride in to St. Paul’s Cathedral. So, despite the bride’s best efforts, the dress became badly wrinkled on the ride over.

I know a few wrinkles in a dress doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but I know from experience, trying to create a perfect day – something like this can easily spin one out.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your view, Lindsey Norris doesn’t need to wait until the big day for something to go wrong! Not only did the guest list accidentally triple overnight – she and Sully find their officiant washed up on the beach of their wedding venue…dead!

So it’s a race against time as Lindsey & Sully work to solve a friend’s murder, find a new officiant, and expand their wedding venue – all before the big day! 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading One For The Books

The murder and the practicalities behind throwing a wedding provide an excellent counterpoint to well – the wedding. An event, which handled by a less deft mystery author, can edge towards the overly sweet – a trap McKinlay, thankfully, never falls into!

In addition, the possible motives of our cast of suspects are, for lack of a better word – intriguing. As no one, not even our victim, is innocent. It’s this tangled set of relationships, ones that neither Lindsey nor Sully ever suspected, and their revelations that make this mystery.

Then there’s The Lemon, Ms. Cole, who since announcing her aim to become Briar Creek’s next mayor – is endeavoring to loosen up and smile more….neither of which is precisely in her wheelhouse – thus adding an extra layer of sharp mirth to an already engaging read. 

All in all, One For The Books was a fun, fast-paced, and diverting book I would recommend to anyone looking for a biblio-mystery or a fun way to escape an afternoon or two!

Don’t Forget to Check out my other Blog – Finder of Lost Things!

This last week we’ve met Squiddy, The Brownie Stealing Bench and Phoebe’s Silver City Operative!

Fran

One of the questions we routinely got at the bookshop was, “Have you read every book here?” It was generally accompanied with a laugh, although sometimes it was a serious question.

We always grinned and responded that there was no way to read all of them, and that we all had areas of specialty. The fact is, of course, that not only could we not have read all 10,000+ titles, but we honestly had so many new titles coming in every week, we didn’t even pretend to try.

That didn’t mean we couldn’t sell books we hadn’t read. A good working knowledge of the standards and classics worked well, and the quality of writing helped several series sell themselves.

That’s why I was pleased to finally get around to reading my first book by Charles Todd. I prefer to start at the beginning of a series, and I should have begun with A Test of Wills, but it turns out that I had an Advance Reader Copy of The Red Door, so that’s what I read.

It was obvious there were ongoing things I would have gotten had I started at the beginning, and I will enjoy filling in the backstory, but the delight of Charles Todd is that each story stands by itself. So I got to meet Ian Rutledge and his internal companion, Hamish, and I’m thoroughly hooked.

The Red Door has two inquiries, one concerning a street thief who attacked Rutledge on a bridge, and escapes. However the thief, known as Billy, becomes more aggressive, and it’s up to Rutledge to stop him.

But a missing person case takes precedence, since the Talley family is very important, and finding Walter Talley is deemed to be of utmost importance. Rutledge is given the assignment to find Talley, and to keep news of his disappearance out of the press, to protect the family’s privacy. What Rutledge finds in his investigation will leave death and sorrow as secrets are revealed.

The combined talents that comprise Charles Todd are wonderful, and I am looking forward to reading them all. The depth of understanding they bring to our shell-shocked hero steeped in the times and turmoil of Great Britain in the wake of the Great War makes this book, and I can only assume all the rest, absolutely compelling.

Have we read them all? Not even hardly, but it’s great to start in on some of the ones I know I missed!

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

Amber Here!

A Resolution At Midnight – Shelley Noble

People around the world have different traditions concerning New Year’s. 

Creating New Year’s resolutions, banging pots & pans outside at midnight (hopefully your neighbors do the same), kissing your sweetheart, or jumping off a chair at the very second the hands strike twelve – are all popular.

One particular interesting tradition that features a bit of divination, favored by Germans around the turn of the century, was placing walnut shells in a punchbowl and watching them zip around to figure out how the following 365 days will go. 

However, one of the most recognized and well-known traditions is the NYC ball drop in Times Square. Which, if you didn’t already know, first started its duties by marking the end of 1907 and the beginning of 1908. And this is when A Resolution At Midnight comes to a thrilling conclusion (it’s in the title, after all). 

(Fun Fact: The ball’s only failed to mark the occasion twice – in 1942 & 1943 – when the threat of air raids kept it, and the rest of New York, dark.)

Now you know where A Resolution At Midnight ends, lets got back to the beginning – ten days before Christmas, when Lady Dunbridge arrives home from gift hunting and finds a short note from Mr. X requesting a meeting at a nickelodeon…in just over thirty minutes! Even in 1907, New York traffic is still thick. So Phil, much to her annoyance, arrives late to her meeting…whereupon she discovers a man with his throat slit! 

Here’s what I love about this series: Shelley Noble never loses sight of the fact she’s writing a mystery. Yes, she incorporates the very first NYC ball drop, the NY Times, the seedy underbelly of NY politics, and the slow slide of the NYPD back into its bad ways after Roosevelt moved on…but Noble never succumbs to the temptation of historical pontification. Rather, Noble seamlessly weaves just enough detail of these fascinating facts to flesh out her mystery without Without ever detracting, derailing, or slowing the pace of her storyline. Yet, she manages to give her audience enough detail to do a bit of historical sleuthing on their own – if they so choose.

A Resolution At Midnight is no exception. 

Honestly, I loved every second of this book. Noble festoons her mystery with just enough of both winter holidays to give the reader a taste of the season and – not unlike Christie – counterbalances it with a nice bloody murder. Which happily sops up all the saccharine that often saturates stories set during this time of the year. 

Seriously, I would recommend A Resolution At Midnight to anyone who likes strong female leads and historical mysteries. 

You’re going to get tired of hearing this.

Fran Here!

I know, I know, but Louise Penny is great!

At least half of you are skipping this, aren’t you? Either you’ve already read it or you’re not a convert yet. Ha!

If you’ve never read Louise Penny, starting with her latest, ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE, actually isn’t a bad place to begin. Granted, you won’t have the emotional ties that come with being in love with the series, but don’t worry. Once you’re hooked (and you will be), you’ll go back and start with STILL LIVES, and you’ll catch up.

ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE takes place in Paris rather than Three Pines, which is part of what makes it okay to begin here. Also, you get a lot of family history, which will help you understand some of the cloudiness about Gamache’s relationship with his son, Daniel.

There is a lot going on in this book. Armand’s relationship with Daniel, Armand’s relationship with his godfather, Daniel’s relationship with Jean-Guy. And we spend a lot more time with Reine-Marie, which is lovely.

Oh, and there’s murder. And attempted murder, and theft and burglary and corporate shenanigans. Everything you expect from Louise Penny.

Now, let me be frank. This is not my favorite of her books. I think the ending was rushed, and I’m not entirely sure her new editor gets Louise’s vibe. At times it felt a little clunky.

That being said, I still skipped all my chores to race to the ending, which quite literally haunted my dreams. I woke up from a nightmare about being in the middle of the final conflict. She’s that good. So when I say it felt clunky, understand that it’s still much, much better than many other authors’ work! It just felt rushed.

So there you go, yet another endorsement for Louise Penny, and yes, you absolutely should read ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE. And don’t worry, you’ll still be in touch with the Three Pines crew. I think you’re gonna love the ending, by the way. *wink*

Now I want a Parisian pastry.

January Newzine ~ 2021!

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Serious Stuff

Why being kind to others is good for your health

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

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

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

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

Feds to delay seeking legal protection for monarch butterfly

Lockerbie bombing: New suspect soon to be charged

French Police Barred From Drone Use in Protests

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

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

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

How state marijuana legalization became a boon for corruption

On the Matter of SPECTRE

Can Shopify Compete With Amazon Without Becoming Amazon?

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

Local Stuff

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

Bill Gates’ Holiday Book Recommendations for A Lousy Year

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

Words of the Month

Screen Shot 2020-12-14 at 9.09.23 AM

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

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

Awards

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

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

The 2020 Stocking Stuffer of the Year Award

Book Stuff

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

How modern mathematics emerged from a lost Islamic library

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

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

Tome raiders: solving the great book heist

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

Crime by Committee: 8 Novels Featuring Group Misdeeds

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

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

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

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

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

Why on Earth Is Someone Stealing Unpublished Book Manuscripts?

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

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

Every Dark Tower Book Ranked From Worst To Best

Many Bookstores Still Raising Cash on GoFundMe

Virtual Guadalajara Book Fair Attracted Big Audiences

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

The World’s Most Valuable Scientific Manuscripts

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

The Smallest Children’s Book In The Library Of Congress

The Most Scathing Book Reviews of 2020

Unemployed and Underemployed Booksellers Choose Their Favorite Books of the Year

Here Are The Most Beautiful Book Covers Of 2020

Surprise Ending for Publishers: In 2020, Business Was Good

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

Other Forms of Entertainment

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

Chadwick Boseman will not be replaced in Black Panther 2

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

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

Harrison Ford returns as Indiana Jones for fifth and final episode

Lost Muppet Christmas Carol song rediscovered

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

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

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

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

These Artists Will Change Your Mind About Winter

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

The Glasgow artist inspired by what she finds in the fridge

Lawsuit over ‘warmer’ Sherlock depicted in Enola Holmes dismissed

The Most Iconic Crime Movies Set During Christmas

On the Weird Little Essays That Inspired A Christmas Story

Why The Sopranos Has Become a Zoomer Touchstone

The Skills We Gained — Or Tried To — In 2020

Words of the Month

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

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

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

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

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

Links of Interest

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

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

December 1: Grünten statue: Mystery over missing phallic landmark

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

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

December 4: Video: Arecibo Observatory Telescope Collapses

December 4: Why We See Rainbows

December 7: Ikea scraps traditional catalogue after 70 years

December 7: The day a Picasso statue vanished in Toronto

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 11: Future-proofing Highgate Cemetery for climate change

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

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

December 14: Toledo Zoo Discovers Tasmanian Devils That Glow

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

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

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

December 17: Italians Read More During the Pandemic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 22: Hawaii Reboots Depression-Era Conservation Corps

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

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

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

December 26: Russian historian jailed for dismembering partner

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

December 27: Model Train Company Makes Comeback In Quarantine

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

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

Words of the Month

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

-Thanks to Collins Language Lover Blog for this term!

RIP

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

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

December 11: Thomas ‘Tiny’ Lister Jr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Agatha Christie News:

INTRODUCING AGATHA CHRISTIE’S SVEN HJERSON

Six destinations every Agatha Christie fan should visit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t forget to check out Season 2!

Fran

Trust Me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JB

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

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

Amber Here!

So I’ve got two great historical mysteries for you: Dianne Freeman’s A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder & Rhys Bowen’s The Last Mrs. Summers!

ALGT: Mischief and Murder first!

The Countess of Harleigh is back in a new mystery! (Woot!) And life, after her last murder inquiry, is going splendidly. There’s only one small hiccup, her sister Lily and her fiancee jumped the gun a bit…and they’re now expecting! 

Now, this isn’t the first or last time such an event has occurred, but that doesn’t make it any less distressing. Especially since it means Frances will need to find a new venue, plan a country wedding, and tell her mother of the change of plans. 

It’s that last bit which both Frances and Lily are dreading.

Even worse? When they do find and arrive at the new venue, a series of accidents start befalling both staff and guests alike! 

The Last Mrs. Summers next.

Georgie is at loose ends – Darcy’s off on a secret jaunt, her Granddad is busy, and her mother’s rushed off to Germany. Happily, thanks to the unexpected appearance of her bestie Belinda Warburton-Stoke, Georgie is able to set aside the loneliness threatening to overwhelm her.

Even better? Belinda has good news! Which leads them on an adventure down the Cornish coast – where Belinda finds herself accused of murder! And of course, Georgie can’t just leave her friend in a pickle, especially since the police aren’t willing to look beyond Belinda for another suspect…

ALGT: Mischief and Murder is a witty murder mystery – with a relatable backdrop of family and relationship hiccups. Plus, reading about an American, who’s been plunked down in English high society, is an exciting twist on the usual norm for this style of historical novel. 

In The Last Mrs. Summers, Bowen does a beautiful job of melding a gothic atmosphere within her mystery and pacing it in such a way you want to keep turning the pages. While also subtly furthering the overall story arch of the oncoming specter of WWII looming at the series’s edge. 

Perhaps The Last Mrs. Summers is a bit understated in its wit and humor, and ALGT: Mischief and Murder is bubblier – but both are excellent historical mysteries (set during different eras). And I would heartily recommend both books to anyone looking for a historical mystery with a strong female lead that treads on the lighter side of murder. I know I relished each and every minute I was ensconced within their respective worlds!

(And BTW – what’s with all the blue covers this season?)

December 2020

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Serious Stuff

‘Get the Hell Out of Here and Get Something to Shoot With’ The political machine in McMinn County, Tennessee, had spent Election Day intimidating voters, encouraging fraud and holding poll watchers at gunpoint. That’s when a group of World War II veterans decided to revolt.

The Unsettled Legacy of the Bloodiest Election in American History

A vaccine heist in 1959 set off a frantic search to recover the serum before it spoiled

University staff urge probe into e-book pricing ‘scandal’

Censorettes: The Women Wartime Censors Who Kept The Allies Safe And Uncovered A Nest of Spies in Brooklyn

What Ozark Gets Wrong: The Latest Tricks in International Money Laundering

Buying a baby on Nairobi’s black market

Read Walter Mosley’s Incredible Speech From Last Night’s National Book Awards

Why Writing About Cults—and People Who Join Them—Is Never Easy

Two Darwin Notebooks Quietly Went Missing 20 Years Ago. Were They Stolen?

Penguin Random House to Buy Simon & Schuster

On SPECTRE

Do you really want Amazon’s new drugstore knowing your medical condition?

Secret Amazon Reports Expose the Company’s Surveillance of Labor and Environmental Groups

“Amazon’s unchecked growth is a threat to everyone’s rights.”

Audible bows to pressure and changes returns policy

On Serial Killers and the Extremely Violent

‘They were not born evil’: inside a troubling film on why people kill

The psychiatrist, who is the subject of HBO’s new documentary Crazy Not Insane, tells us what she saw during her decades interviewing and assessing serial murders

Samuel Little, America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer, Confesses to Murder That Sent Innocent Man to Prison

Watch the Chilling Trailer For Netflix’s New True-Crime Docuseries, “The Ripper”

Art Crime

Amateur Art Sleuths Are Invited to Share Their Theories on the Whereabouts of Lost Art for a New Show About Missing Masterpieces

Inside Rome’s Secure Vault for Stolen Art

Art thriller ‘The Last Vermeer’ tells the engrossing true story of an ingenious fraud

The True Story of Rose Dugdale, The Woman Who Stole Vermeer

Want to own an art book on the Sistine Chapel? That’ll be $22,000—and you can’t return it.

Words of the Month

scruple (n.) A”moral misgiving, pang of conscience,” late 14th C., from Old French scrupule (14th C.), from Latin scrupulus “uneasiness, anxiety, pricking of conscience,” literally “small sharp stone,” diminutive of scrupus “sharp stone or pebble,” used figuratively by Cicero for a cause of uneasiness or anxiety, probably from the notion of having a pebble in one’s shoe. The word in the more literal Latin sense of “small unit of weight or measurement” is attested in English from late 14c. (etymonline)

Local Stuff

A Mysterious Pacific Northwest Road Trip

UNDETERMINED: A suspicious death at Green Lake, an investigation’s limits

Strange Stuff

The Most Unusual Murder Weapons in Crime Fiction

In the Footprints of the Hound: Why The Hound of the Baskervilles Still Haunts

‘Bullets for Dead Hoods’ salvages encyclopedia of 1930s mobsters

Powell’s by Powell’s fragrance offers smell of beloved Portland bookstore in one-ounce bottle

He Once Scouted Jamaican Beaches for Dr. No. Now, His 007 Rum Will Appear in No Time to Die.

Students discover hidden 15th-century text on medieval manuscripts

What Jack the Ripper’s Victims Can Teach Us About Digital Privacy

Words of the Month

As Donald Trump refuses to concede: the etymology of ‘coup’

Awards

Here are the winners of the 2020 World Fantasy Awards.

Douglas Stuart wins Booker prize for debut Shuggie Bain

Here are the winners of the 2020 National Book Awards.

Here is the shortlist for the 2020 Costa Book Awards.

Book Stuff

France’s independent bookshops struggle to survive a second lockdown

French bookworms denied their fix in lockdown

Want to Own a Beloved Book? Toni Morrison’s Book Collection Is for Sale

My First Thriller: Scott Turow

Vatican Library Enlists Artificial Intelligence to Protect Its Digitized Treasures

Review: Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops by Shaun Bythell – virtuosic venting

A Collection of Rare Ian Fleming Books & Manuscripts Heads to Auction

Harlan Ellison’s The Last Dangerous Visions may finally be published, after five-decade wait

The Fleshly School: Sex writing in recent fiction

A comedian has just solved “the world’s most difficult literary puzzle.”

Beloved arts facility Poets House suspends operations

The Evolution of Espionage Fiction

A letter in which Beethoven literally just asks for some sheet music back has sold for $275k

The art of a short story

Unseen JRR Tolkien essays on Middle-earth coming in 2021

This museum is dedicated to the most famous Irish writers in history.  

Has Greed Fallen Behind as a Motive for Murder in Modern Crime Fiction?

Love and Murder with Jo Nesbø

The untold truth of the Hardy Boys

Arthur Conan Doyle and the Mutineers

Penguin Random House Staff Confront Publisher About New Jordan Peterson Book

‘Queen of crime’ Agatha Christie goes to Bollywood

Other Forms of Entertainment

How Sean Connery, an Unlikely Choice to Play Bond, Defined 007’s Style

15 Essential Conspiracy Theory Movies

Brooke Smith Answers Every Question We Have About The Silence of the Lambs

Val McDermid: The award-winning crime writer on how the plot of the novel that became ITV’s hit series Wire in the Blood arrived, fully formed, while she was driving on the M6

The secrets of TV’s greatest thriller-writer

This Week on Unlikeable Female Characters Podcast: Let’s Explore a Complicated Thriller Archetype: The Femme Fatale

This cryptic corner in downtown San Francisco is a movie treasure

C.J. Box on Big Sky, Big Twists, and Bringing a New Western Thriller to Montana

A forgotten female Sherlock Holmes gets her due in this audio play (with physical clues)

The Enduring Noir Legacy of John Cassavetes

31 Things We Learned from Michael Mann’s ‘Collateral’ Commentary

10 International True Crime Podcasts You Should Be Listening To Now

Misery at 30: a terrifying look at the toxicity of fandom

Out of the Shadows: Scoring ‘Double Indemnity’

‘Daredevil’ fans want Marvel to revive the show now that they have the rights again

‘Luther’ creator Neil Cross says there won’t be a season six but new project is coming soon

~ on The Godfather ~

Francis Ford Coppola announces new cut of ‘The Godfather III’

Oscar Isaac and Jake Gyllenhaal to star in ‘The Godfather’ making-of movie

Watch the dramatic trailer for Francis Ford Coppola’s new ‘Godfather III’ cut

Diane Keaton says watching recut ‘Godfather: Part III’ was “one of the best moments of my life”

Words of the Month

fustigate (v.)”to cudgel, to beat,” 1650s, back-formation from Fustication (1560s) or from Latin fusticatus, past participle of fusticare “to cudgel” (to death), from fustis “cudgel, club, staff, stick of wood,” of unknown origin. De Vaan writes that “The most obvious connection would be with Latin -futare” “to beat,” but there are evolutionary difficulties. (etymonline)

RIP

October 20: Jill Paton Walsh, writer of many genres, died at 84

November 6: Obituary: Geoffrey Palmer

November 8: Long-time customer Jim Mohundro died at 82

November 10: Scooby-Doo co-creator Ken Spears dies aged 82

November 29: Darth Vader actor Dave Prowse dies aged 85

Links of Interest

November 4: Inside the Early Days of The Crime of the Century

November 5: High Life: The Carnegie Deli Murders

November 9: Why the funniest books are also the most serious

November 10: Owners’ joy as rare £2.5m books stolen in London heist returned

November 12: The instrument that ‘aided espionage’

November 12: Newton’s Daunting Masterpiece Had a Surprisingly Wide Audience, Historians Find

November 12: 200 more copies of Newton’s ‘Principia’ masterpiece found in Europe by scholar sleuths

November 12: Cognitive Load Theory: Explaining our fight for focus

November 13: Yorkshire Ripper death: Force apology over victim descriptions

November 14: Egypt: More than 100 intact sarcophagi unearthed near Cairo

November 18: My Mother, The Mystery Writer

November 19: Theodore Roosevelt and The Frontier Lawman

November 20: War, heroism and sex: Pulp magazines & the messages they perpetuated

November 20: Berlin police hold ‘cannibal’ after bones found in park

November 22: Unknown Constables found hidden for 200 years in family scrapbook

November 22: Decades of Alan Rickman’s diaries will be published as a book in 2022.

November 24: Linda Millar’s brief life was full of tragedy. Her secrets found their way into novels thanks to her celebrated parents, Ross Macdonald and Margaret Millar. It’s time to see who she really was.

November 24: Metal monolith found by helicopter crew in Utah desert

Words of the Month

cantankerous (adj.) “marked by ill-tempered contradiction or opposition,” 1772, said by Grose to be “a Wiltshire word,” conjectured to be from an alteration (influenced perhaps by raucous) of a dialectal survival of Middle English contakour “troublemaker” (c. 1300), from Anglo-French contec “discord, strife,” from Old French contechier (Old North French contekier), from con- “with” + teche, related to atachier “hold fast” (see attach). With -ous. Related: Cantankerously; cantankerousness. (etymoline)

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

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Still love Christie….I am still writing! So check out Finder of Lost Things!

I am presently killing my hands painting the interior of my husband and I’s new house…and have literally packed every single one of my books in preparation for moving (which is killing me as a bibliophile). So I haven’t had much spare time to read…I know excuses, excuses!

Fran

You’re going to get tired of hearing this.

I know, I know, but Louise Penny is great!

At least half of you are skipping this, aren’t you? Either you’ve already read it or you’re not a convert yet. Ha!

If you’ve never read Louise Penny, starting with her latest, ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE, actually isn’t a bad place to begin. Granted, you won’t have the emotional ties that come with being in love with the series, but don’t worry. Once you’re hooked (and you will be), you’ll go back and start with STILL LIVES, and you’ll catch up.

ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE takes place in Paris rather than Three Pines, which is part of what makes it okay to begin here. Also, you get a lot of family history, which will help you understand some of the cloudiness about Gamache’s relationship with his son, Daniel.

There is a lot going on in this book. Armand’s relationship with Daniel, Armand’s relationship with his godfather, Daniel’s relationship with Jean-Guy. And we spend a lot more time with Reine-Marie, which is lovely.

Oh, and there’s murder. And attempted murder, and theft and burglary and corporate shenanigans. Everything you expect from Louise Penny.

Now, let me be frank. This is not my favorite of her books. I think the ending was rushed, and I’m not entirely sure her new editor gets Louise’s vibe. At times it felt a little clunky.

That being said, I still skipped all my chores to race to the ending, which quite literally haunted my dreams. I woke up from a nightmare about being in the middle of the final conflict. She’s that good. So when I say it felt clunky, understand that it’s still much, much better than many other authors’ work! It just felt rushed.

So there you go, yet another endorsement for Louise Penny, and yes, you absolutely should read ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE. And don’t worry, you’ll still be in touch with the Three Pines crew. I think you’re gonna love the ending, by the way. *wink*

Now I want a Parisian pastry.

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