September Newzine

biggest      This ‘n’ That

From the LA Times: We have studied every mass shooting since 1966. Here’s what we’ve learned about the shooters

Michael Chabon Will Showrun Star Trek: Picard 

She fights every ‘troll, psycho and perv’ she can find – and uses the law to do it 

How to Cancel Your Amazon Prime Membership (and Why You Should): Here’s how to stop financially supporting a monopoly.

Paging Big Brother: In Amazon’s Bookstore, Orwell Gets a Rewrite

Not a murder in the story – so far as they know – but a fascinating one from National Geographic: DNA Study Deepens Mystery of Lake Full of Skeletons

Nineteen years ago, Tom Wales was shot dead as he worked at his computer in the lower floor of his Queen Anne house. This is notable for two reasons – first, he was and is the only Assistant United States Attorney to be murdered in office and, second, until Aug. 21 there had been no indictments. There’s a podcast which covers the case: somebody somewhere. The entire first season 12 episodes, covers the case.

NASA Said to be Investigating First Allegation of a Crime in Space

The Great Seattle Pot Heist

The ‘Breaking Bad’ Movie is Coming To Netflix In October and The Trailer Is Here

The Case of the Missing $7 Million Car and the Car Detective on the Hunt

       Words of the Month

jabber (v.)”talk rapidly and indistinctly,” 1650s, spelling variant of Middle English jablen (c. 1400), also javeren, jaberen, chaveren, jawin; probably ultimately echoic. Related: Jabbered; jabbering. The noun, “rapid, unintelligible talk” is 1727, from the verb. Related: Jabberment (Milton). [thanks to etymonline]

Foyles Sets Up Libraries for High-End Retirement Homes

Can Britain’s Top Bookseller Save Barnes & Noble?

JD Salinger: novels finally to be published as ebooks

Who needs bookshops anyway? Libraries Are Telling People How Much Money They Save by Not Buying Books 

The Tale of Genji: The world’s first novel? 

Why are women obsessed with true crime? Rachel Monroe has some answers

Ever Thought About Pursuing a Book Deal? Here’s How to Get Started

10 Great Books that Defy All Genres (thanks to Kat Richardson for this post)

Top Publishers Sue Audible (aka Amazon, aka SPECTRE), Alleging Encroachment On Text Territory

Why Beatrix Potter self-published Peter Rabbit

Parnassus Books Cares About Us. Does Amazon? [Thanks to Steve for passing this to us!]

Ringing the changes: how Britain’s red phone boxes are being given new life 

A California Type Foundry Is Keeping Vintage Printing Alive

      Manson: The 50th Anniversary

The Manson Family murders, and their complicated legacy, explained

How many more did Manson family kill? LAPD investigating 12 unsolved murders 

A ‘Mindhunter’ Fan Put the Charles Manson Scene Side-By-Side With an Actual 1981 Interview

      The Second Season of “Manhunter”

This one scene explains what makes Netflix’s “Mindhunter” so scary

Mothers cry out for justice as Mindhunter introduces the Atlanta Child Murders

The real Mindhunters: why ‘serial killer whisperers’ do more harm than good

Mindhunter star Holt McCallany: ‘I met Manson Family murderer Bobby Beausoleil – I’d bet my life he wouldn’t kill again’

      Words of the Month

gibberish (N) “rapid and inarticulate speech; talk in no known language,” 1550s, imitative of the sound of chatter, probably influenced by jabber. Used early 17th C. of the language of rogues and gypsies. (thanks to etymonline)

       Author Events

Sept 17 ~ Candace Robb (& Owen Archer!), 7pm, Third Place/LFP

September 17 ~ April Henry, 7pm, Powell’s/Cedar Hills

September 20 ~ Craig Johnson, 7pm, Powell’s/Cedar Hills

Sept 23 ~ J.A. Jance,  7pm, Third Place/LFP

September 23 ~ Amy Stewart, 7:30pm, Powell’s

September 27 ~ J.A. Jance, 7pm, UBooks/Mill Creek

September 28 ~ J.A. Jance, 4pm, Village Books

       Links of Interest

August 1: John Dillinger’s Relatives Say They Have ‘Evidence’ The Buried Body May Not Be His

August 1: The Fruitcake Prison Break That Reshaped Irish History

August 2: How a Group of Gamers Tracked Down a Quadruple Murder Suspect

August 2: Philadelpha Phillies Sue To Keep Beloved ‘Phanatic’ Mascot From Free Agency

August 3: Watergate Salad: A Fluffy Green Bite Of Washington, D.C.’s Past

August 3: Belfast City Cemetery: 150 years of buried stories

August 3: Concrete Carmel ‘Pueblo’ has a great view and a hidden room behind a bookcase – a steal at only $9.8 Million!

August 5: Red Sea Diving Resort: The holiday village run by spies


August 7: The Lies of the Irishman ~ Netflix and Martin Scorsese are making their biggest bets ever on the confessions of a mafia “hitman.” The guy made it all up.

August 16: The Publisher of I Heard You Paint Houses Responds to “The Lies of the Irishman”


August 7: Franz Kafka papers lost in Europe but reunited in Jerusalem

August 7: Scientists Discover Prehistoric Giant ‘Squawkzilla’ Parrot, As Big As Small Child

August 9: The Classic Novel That Is Most Often Abandoned By Readers

August 10: How death cafes are de-stigmatizing death

August 11: Interview with Martin Freeman ~ ‘The Detective’s Moral Dilemma Drew Me In’

August 12: Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard ‘done with zombies’

August 12: Pompeii archaeologists uncover ‘sorcerer’s treasure trove’

August 12: The Subversive Messages in the Wizard of Oz

August 12: A Novel Concept: Silent Book Clubs Offer Introverts A Space To Socialize

August 13: Long overdue: Five library books returned a few decades late

August 13: DREAMY CLOSET LIBRARY IDEAS TO ADD TO YOUR HOME

August 13: The Women Who Tasted Hitler’s Food

August 13: Is the bystander effect a myth?

August 14: Letter from Africa: The power of an apostrophe

August 15: Leonardo da Vinci’s abandoned and hidden artwork reveals its secrets

August 15: Self-Proclaimed “Dobby’s Freedom Keeper” Regularly Replaces House Elf Headstone

August 16: 5 HISTORICAL MYSTERIES THAT COMBINE REAL HISTORY WITH WHODUNNIT

August 16: THE ANATOMY OF THE BOOK

August 17: “Lincoln’s Spies”: Elizabeth Van Lew, southern sexism and the winning of a secret war

August 17: Sherlock Season 5: Martin Freeman updates fans on chance of new episodes

August 18: ‘Is that bum trap missing a flesh-bag?’: a guide to Australia’s convict slang

August 19: ‘Murder She Wrote’ & Me

August 20: The mystery photos of a 1957 gay wedding

August 20: “No Time to Die” ~ What the new 007 title might mean

August 20: Film props from The Shining, Star Wars, Jurassic Park and more go up for auction

August 21: The Cold War spy technology which we all use

August 22: GREAT BOOKS ABOUT TRUE CRIMES

August 22: Physicists discover hidden text in what was thought to be blank Egyptian papyri

August 24: The Russian spy who posed as a Canadian for more than 20 years

 

       R.I.P

August 6: Toni Morrison: Nobel Prize-winning author dies at 88

August 9: Comic Book Creator Ernie Colón Dies at 88

August 16: Peter Fonda, star of ‘Easy Rider’ and scion of Hollywood royalty, dies at 79

August 17: Richard Williams, ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ animator, dies at 86

August 20: We learned this day of the death of a long-time customer, Alison Moore.

Fran Here: I spoke with Alison on the phone frequently, and while it took a little learning to translate her Liverpudlian accent to American, she was an absolute delight. Because she was wheelchair-bound, and later bedridden, we shipped to her all the time.

But Alison wasn’t just an avid reader. She’d have us send books to friends of hers all across the US! Not necessarily mysteries – as you know, we would order anything in print – but always for birthdays and Christmas. It was interesting getting to know her friends. And they, in turn, would call to order gift certificates for her to use when she called to order for  herself. If was one of those sad souls who let us know she’d passed.

There were times after the shop closed when Alison would call me at home, just to see how I was holding up. And then we’d talk about how things were going with her. She never really recovered after her husband died, but she was feisty all the way. Home Health tried to insist she keep her husband’s hospital bed, but he was almost 6′ tall, and she barely hit 5′. She said she kept slipping off it. She won, of course.

We at the shop are sorry to hear of her passing, and it’s a personal loss to me. I’ll miss hearing the, “Hey, Fran, how’re ya doin’?” followed by “What’cha been readin’?” Wherever you are now, Alison, I hope there’s a HUGE library!

August 27: Richard Booth, self-styled King of Hay, who put the market town on the map by establishing it as a centre for the secondhand book trade

August 30: James R Leavelle, detective handcuffed to Lee Harvey Oswald when he was shot, dies aged 99

       Words of the Month

polysemy (n) A condition in which a single word, phrase, or concept has more than one meaning or connotation. dictionary.com

polysemous (adj) 1884, from Medieval Latin polysemus, from Greek polysemos “of many sides” etymonline

       What We’ve Been Up To

   AmberFinder

Last Friday In Finder of Lost Things the Resident’s come to Phoebe’s aid since her crew took their pirate costumes entirely to much to heart – and imbibed in too much spiced rum!

This coming Friday Phoebe, Wood, Beatrice and Laney run for their freedom across the last stretch of Nevermore – trying to stay ahead of Little Ben and security!

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Rhys Bowen – Love and Death Among the Cheetahs

Georgie is off on a surprise honeymoon safari Darcy has arranged for them… Which they can only afford because Darcy accepted an assignment from his mysterious employers. Of course, Darcy attempts to keep Georgie in the dark about the arrangement, but his new wife has solved her fair share of mysteries. So his secret isn’t a secret for very long.

Plus Georgi has her little task to complete for the Queen.

One thing I love about the Royal Spyness series is how Bowen creates a subtle sort of anxiety within the pages of her book. By sticking relatively close to historical events, Bowen establishes a sense of tension within her series – a worry which grows in each installment as we creep inevitably closer to WWII.

This worry is in no small part due to Darcy’s secret overseas work, which in the coming conflict will place him directly in harm’s way. And by extension Georgie, who is keen to prove her deductive prowess to her new husband (who wasn’t always privy to all her previous investigations).

In Love And Death Among The Cheetahs amongst the exotic animals and even wilder Happy Valley set Georgie proved her worth right away. By helping both solve a murder and uncovering a spy within their midsts!

However, it’s not Hitler whom I theorize will affect Georgie’s immediate future. But her cousin David, that dreadful American woman (as she’s known) and the King’s declining health. What will happen upon the King’s death? How will the chaos, created by David’s unwillingness to give up his American divorcee and his political leanings, effect Georgie, her family, and England?

And when he abdicates will that be the last we hear of David?

Or his disapproving mother and sending Georgie to the continent to extract her errant son from trouble? Or will the new King look to her for help?

Only time will tell.

But until the next book, I will fret over the safety and well being of Georgie’s grandfather, Queenie, Zou Zou, her erratic mother, Binky, Fig, and everyone else. Because of the aforementioned cleverness of Bowen’s storytelling, I know what’s coming. Even if Georgie and Darcy only see the hints of Hitler’s plans right now.

However, I am still very excited to see where Bowen takes her Royal Spyness series next!

Especially since Georgie finally feels secure enough to reveal the steely spine she inherited from her Great-Grandmother Queen Victoria. Showing not only Fig she’s done with her backhanded compliments, but allowed her to deftly deal with an old bully, a determined letch, and a belligerent detective. All in one book!

I would recommend Love and Death Among the Cheetahs if you are looking for a country house style mystery. Well, country house adjacent. As Love And Death Among The Cheetahs is set in Kenya, not the United Kingdom. And rather than the fox hunting, horse-loving aristocratic set routinely featured in the style of book. We meet the wanton, dissolute and libertine set of Happy Valley expats. Who enjoy sex, drugs, and safaris instead.

(BTW – Georgie is utterly shocked at their antics!)

In point of fact, I would highly recommend this entire series to anyone looking for a lighter, historically mystery series. If you don’t want to start all the way back at the beginning, never fear! So long as you’re aware you aren’t starting with the first in series, you will do just fine!

One Last Note!

My other blog My 52 Weeks With Christie – in which I kept posting my original photos to and re-blogging other Agatha Christie enthusiast pictures, TV clips and other ephemera on – reached a milestone!

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I’ve posted a total of 8,000 items and counting! Which I’m told is quite something – since it was originally only suppose to have a total of 52 posts!

   Fran

You know my fondness for Joshilyn Jackson. It’s no secret, and hasn’t been since gods in Alabama. 9780446178167She’s always remarkable, taking on some really tough topics in that genteel Southern way she has.

With her latest one, Never Have I Ever (Wm. Morrow), she takes off the gloves. Always a Southern lady, mind you, but in this new book, Joshilyn Jackson comes out swinging! It’s a much, much darker books than any of her others, and yes, I’m including Between, Georgia in that. For those of you who haven’t read it, partway through I was muttering, “Trust Joshilyn, trust Joshilyn, she’ll make it right!”

9780062855312Never Have I Ever is much darker than a body dumped in kudzu or an airport gypsy explaining that murder is the best solution.  Amy Whey’s life starts unraveling in the first chapter. Are you familiar with the game “Never Have I Ever”? It’s kind of a middle school game, like Three Truths and a Lie, that can be adapted to an adult game quite easily. Someone says, “Never have I ever (fill in the blank with something you’ve never done)” and anyone who HAS done it has to drink. Kind of embarrassing but fun, right?

It’s a blast. You should play. It’s like Never Have I Ever, but for grown-ups. We skip the coy denials and go right to confession. You start by telling everyone the worst thing you did today.”

When Roux crashes the monthly book club meeting, takes over, plies most of the women with alcohol and gets them to tell their secrets, Amy knows she could have stopped her, but she didn’t. Like watching a car crash, she just let it happen.

Sure, I’ll play,” I said quietly, to Roux alone. “The worst thing I did today was let you get this pack of harpies drunk in my house.”

However, Amy has a serious secret. One her neighbors, her friends, even her husband have no idea about. Things are about to go badly for everyone.

Make no mistake, this is still the Joshilyn Jackson we know and love, and her trademark humor is still present. There were times when I snorfled so loudly I startled the dog. But this is, at its heart, a much darker novel than we’ve seen before.

And it’s about time. Joshilyn Jackson is becoming one of the great literary voices of our time; she’s a storyteller of exceptional depth and quality. You’re going to love Never Have I Ever, even when you’re not entirely sure you can like Amy, and that juxtaposition is what will keep you eagerly turning pages.

Never Have I Ever lied to you about reading Joshilyn Jackson. You won’t be disappointed.

   JB

Aug 8th gave me another shop dream. I’d been away for some weeks for some reason and the “shop” was small, narrow place with shelves around the walls and the new release paperback table taking up most of the floor space. The table was a mess. Titles that should’ve been removed weeks ago were not only still on but had been re-ordered. Some single paperbacks were spine up between stacks of others. Duplicate copies were stacked randomly on a shelf near the door and Amber and Fran were desperately trying to get it squared away. I started trying to work out what should be removed AND returned AND sorted by publisher, but people were in the way and where was I going to be able to do all of this… It was a dream of chaos.

I’ve been weaving back and forth from this book to another for several months. Still
haven’t finished the Mueller Report, or 9th Street Women, or the second-to-last Philip Kerr. Guess I’ve been a restless reader. Something new crops up – such as the O’Neil book on the 60s – and it is easy to set down what I’m in to go to something else. But there are other reasons, too. Most of what I’ve been reading for the last few months have been thick and heavy hardcovers. For the trip to San Francisco, I wanted smaller and lighter. So I picked up a couple of mass market books I’d meant to read for, well, decades, and they were as great as I expected. Both were used paperbacks I’d brought home when the shop closed.

U8ayPh3U2P8COne was Donald Westlake’s Lemons Never Lie, one of his Grofield books published in 1971 as by Richard Stark. Grofield first appeared in one of Stark’s Parker books. I’ve read all of them and loved them but somehow never got to these. Mistake. This one is the last of the four separate books and now I’ll have to track the other three down. As with the Parker books, this one was a finely-crafted story of a professional thief with a highly developed sense of how his world should work. Unfortunately, Grofield violates his own rules a number of times and pays for his errors. But gets his justice at the end. It seems odd to talk about “honor” and “justice” with a crime novel about a thief…but that’s the world we’ve picked for our entertainment.

The other was Timothy Hallinan’s final Simeon Grist novel, The Bone Polisher. Early shop colleague Tammy had gotten me into these back in the mid-90s. I immediately loved them. Grist is an LA private eye who never got a college degree though he’s studied many different fields – this allows Hallinan to have him be erudite and literate and amusing without him coming off as pedantic. This last one I’d salted away because I’d never wanted the series “to end”. But it was time and it was a thrill.

And as to that trip to that Big Bay to the south, there are two posts about it, #1 and #2. Check them out should you be curious – – – – – – —


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July’s Newzine

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2018 Nero Finalists Have Been Announced!

The “Nero” is an annual award presented to an author for literary excellence in the mystery genre. The award is presented at the Black Orchid Banquet, which is traditionally held on the first Saturday in December in New York City; this year the banquet will be on Saturday, December 1, 2018.

This year, the finalists are:

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

This year’s nominees join a procession of fine writers including Lee Child,
Walter Mosley, and Linda Fairstein, all of whom have been honored with the
prestigious “Nero.”

Congratulations to all!

Stephannie, Nero Award Chair (NeroAwardChair@nerowolfe.org)
Jane K. Cleland, Black Orchid Novella Award Chair (BlackOrchidAward@nerowolfe.org)

     Signings

Linda Castillo, Third Place Books, July 19th, 7pm

Carola Dunn, Third Place Books, July 20th, 6pm

Kevin O’Brien, Elliot Bay Books, July 31st, 7pm

Megan Abbott, Third Place Books, July 30th, 7pm

Megan Abbott, Powell’s, July 31st, 7pm

     Word of the Month

fredo: cold and passionless, a direction in music, (thanks to Says You, #1014) or, political commentary…

     Links of Interest

Here is a two-part story about a murder and the man imprisoned for the crime. It is very much in the vein of the series that have been on podcast or cable: “Blood Will Tell”, Part 1, Part 2

Daily Beast, June 1st: MH379 Didn’t Just Disappear, It was Caught in a Swamp of Corruption

Seattle Times, June 2nd: The Soviets Secretly Mapped Seattle

The Guardian, June 2nd: A Story of Survival: New York’s Last Remaining Independent Bookshops

WRAL, June 2nd: Listen Carefully, Book Lovers: Top Authors Are Skipping Print (yes, they’re going instead to audio – and to whom? Audible… aka SPECTRE! Seems they’re not yet done raiding the crippled world of publishing.)

Daily Beast, June 2nd: How Cuba Helped Make Venezuela a Mafia State

The Independent, June 3rd: James Bond producers want Helena Bonham Carter to play a villain

Newser, June 4th: What May Be ‘Most Famous Map in English Lit’ Up for Grabs – 1926 EH Shepard sketch of Hundred Acre Wood appears in AA Milne’s ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’

The Guardian, June 5th: Editorial: The Guardian view on Amazon: not a normal monopoly 

The Guardian, June 6th: A queer, diverse Nancy Drew: is this how to keep children’s classics alive?

The Oregonian, June 6th: Portland(ia) Feminist Bookstore, In Other Words, is Closing 

BBC June 10th: Serial poopers: What makes people poo in public places?

The Guardian, June 12th: Tim Miller Can Find Almost  Anyone. Can He Find His Daughter’s Killer?

BBC, June 12th: Demolished Londonderry house still receives post

BBC, June 12th: A plan to use pupils to run school libraries

The Washington Post, June 13th: Years ago I wandered into a used book store and a man named X handed me this gem [ JB agrees – these books are jewels!]

BBC, June 13th: Daredevil raccoon’s Minnesota skyscraper climb

The Guardian, June 13th: “Conan Doyle for the Defence” by Margalit Fox review – a case worthy of Sherlock Holmes

The Guardian, June 13th: Morality clauses: are publishers right to police writers?

The Guardian, June 19th: Oxford English Dictionary extends hunt for regional words around the world

BBC, June 21st: Why Hitchcock’s “Kaleidoscope” Was Too Shocking to be Made

Vox, June 22nd: Water rights, freeways, and Hollywood gossip: the secret history of LA, in 3 detective movies 

Atlas Obscura, June 22nd: Why Medieval Monasteries Branded Their Books

The Guardian, June 23rd: How alleged Toronto serial killer Bruce McArthur went unnoticed

The Guardian, June 23rd: How Well Do You Know Your Fictional Bookshops?

The Washington Post, June 25th: Supreme Court won’t hear the case of Brendan Dassey, sentenced to life as a teen and featured in ‘Making a Murderer’

BBC, June 26th: My best friend’s killer got away – until I made police try again

The Guardian, June 27th: Publishers are paying writers a pittance, say bestselling authors

The Atlantic, June 27th: What Is “The Staircase” Trying to Do?

The Guardian, June 30th: All the Pieces Matter review – the inside story of “The Wire”

Vox, June 30th: You can rent a room above this bookstore by the sea and run the shop

          RIP

BBC, June 6th: Jerry Maren: Last Wizard of Oz Munchkin dies aged 98

BBC, June 8th: Anthony Bourdain

BBC, June 9th: The first Bond girl, Eunice Grayson, dies at 90

LA Times, June 28th: Celebrity admirers bid farewell to Harlan Ellison, a ‘great author and cautionary tale’

Miami Herald, June 29th: Rob Hiaasen, journalist killed in Maryland newsroom shooting, had deep South Florida ties  (our best to his brother Carl)

                    What We’ve Been Doing

     Amber

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Georgette Heyer – The Unfinished Clue

Put one – gold-digger & jealous husband, amused spinster, nervy wife & her would-be-lover, a tyrant, a self-absorbed dancer & a sap, a snake charmer, old friend, a vicar & a gossip under the same roof for an entire weekend and you’re bound to have a murder!

No one was particularly sad to see Sir Arthur Billington-Smith go toes up at the end of the weekend; the only real complaint they had was his lousy timing! They were all still residents when he got himself murdered.

Even worse?

None of the partiers (aka suspects) can leave until the culprit is caught!

I enjoyed this mystery. You have a house stuffed to the gills with great suspects, a bevy of motives and a couple of red herrings! There are only three characters in the entire book I liked, Finch (the butler), Dinah (the victim’s sister-in-law) and Inspector Harding (from Scotland Yard). The rest of the cast of characters are so abominable in their own unique way I could hardly wait to see what they would do next!

Then there’s Georgette Heyer’s use of language – words like “highfalutin” and “nincompoop” are used conversationally. Her vocabulary taken with her singular turn of phrase make this book a joy to read!

Shakespeare’s Hamlet tells us that “Brevity is the soul of wit,” in Heyer’s case, this is true. The Unfinished Clue is by far the shortest mystery I’ve read by her – and it works. At no point did I feel like this book dragged on – between the arguments, accusations, hysterics, and murder – this book never stops chugging along.

If you can overlook one or two outmoded ways of thinking which make this book feel a bit dated ( a touch of misogyny and the horror of a “nice you man” falling into the clutches of a dancer) – this is a fantastic mystery. One I would recommend to most mystery readers who relish a delightful English country house mystery.

     Fran

I’ve added my reviews separately (because of course I did) so let’s see if I can come up with an anecdote from work.

We have folks who go FTR – Failure To Report – rather a lot, as you’d suspect. If you’re a mystery writer, let me clue you in on something. Vengeful ex-girlfriends (generally our culprits are guys, so I’m not stereotyping much here) are a real thing.

We get calls all the time from ladies scorned who know more about how (and when) to find their ex-guys than any PI ever written. They put bill collectors and student loan repayers to shame. I can’t tell you how many calls we’ve gotten from women saying, “You wanna know where to find the sonofabitch? Let me tell you, he’ll be walking into 1234 Main Street, Apt. 56, at 1:34 a.m. with that SKANK, and by 1:45 they’ll be asleep because he sucks in bed!”

You want top-of-the-line surveillance? Get an ex on the job!

You know how you say that once you retire, you’ll read all those books you’ve been buying but never got around to? Or hope to contract some disease that can only be cured by reading books so you can finally attack the piles towering around you?

Well, since I’m not getting fabulous new ARCs every day any more (small sob), I decided to do just that – read something I’ve been meaning to read. Something I was told years ago to read, by Janine and Adele and Tammy in this case.

I picked up Tim Maleeny’s STEALING THE DRAGON (Midnight Ink). And of course I love it. THEY TOLD ME I WOULD! And they were right, and I should have years ago, but I’ve come to my senses now.

Trust me, if these three tell you to read something, don’t put it off. Otherwise you’ll miss out on characters like Cape Weathers, Tim’s protagonist who’s been a lot of things in his disreputable past but is now a private investigator in San Francisco.

You’d think that idea would have been worked to death, that there couldn’t be anything new or different about a PI in Frisco, and, like me, you’d be wrong. Tim Maleeny is smart, funny, wickedly sharp, twisty and wonderful.

In STEALING THE DRAGON, you meet Cape who is an old friend to you by page three. And the premise here is that a cargo ship filled with illegal Chinese immigrants crashes into Alcatraz, which has nothing to do with Cape until it’s brought to his attention that just about the only person who could have done what happened on that ship is his best friend and protector, Sally.

As the story progresses, we see things unfolding in Cape’s investigation, but we also see how Sally became to be who she is, and she’s amazing and magnificent.

So take the advice of those wiser than I am and do yourself a favor. Go to your local indie bookshop (because duh!) and order STEALING THE DRAGON, BEATING THE BABUSHKA, and GREASING THE PINATA, and enjoy yourself. Do not make the mistake I did of reading the first one without the other two close at hand.

Seriously – learn from my mistakes here and enjoy yourself immensely in the process!

     JB

I’ve been a fan of Chandler and Marlowe for decades – no secret there. So I was thrilled to read in the Seattle Times about a new Philip Marlowe novel coming out in July. I was able to secure an advanced reader copy, Lawrence Osborne’s Only to Sleep, from the publisher. It’s an odd book, but then most of Chandler’s novels were, too, when you think about it. Sometimes they don’t make sense, you don’t always know who did what, and behind the wondrous prose is gauzy world of Marlowe and the rich and poor of Chandler’s imagination, not necessarily of the real LA.

In Osborne’s novel, a 72 year-old Marlowe has retired and is living simply on Mexican coast. He uses a cane due to a broken foot from a decade ago but still seems to get around. The cane has a sword in it and that’s his only weapon. No shoulder holster under his coat, no Luger in a hidden compartment in the car. He seems to be a puzzled old man trying to figure out what his did with his life and what it was all about. Then he gets a chance have one more case.

Like most of his cases, its pretty banal. An insurance company wants him to check to see if someone who is supposed to be dead really is before they pay out the policy. And why not? “There was, I thought, something calling to me from out in the dark. It came out int he tempest, even from the lights of the fishing boats a mile out to sea. You can be called to a last effort, a final heroic statement, because I doubt you can call yourself to leave comforts and certainties for an open road. But the call is inside your own head. It’s a sad summons from the depths of your own wasted past. You could call it the imperative to go out with full-tilt trumpets and gunshots instead of the quietly desperate sound of a hospital ventilator.” Right there, on page 10, you can feel that Osborne has captured the mind-set of Marlowe, a sense of nobility swirled with fatalistic boredom.

On the way, Marlowe will meet a raft of people as well as the dame in the center of the case. Is she a grieving widow or a femme fatale? It’s 1988. Surely they’ve not gone extinct? “So I skipped that question and just enjoyed her presence. She was the only thread I was handling as I groped my way through the dark on my small and wind-swept odyssey. A thread as soft as silk, shiny and mysterious, or, if you want to put it another way, a dance partner that is different with every step. Count me as one of those who knows that life is unbearable not because it’s a tragedy but because it’s a romance.”

That’s Chandleresque.

This is the second new Marlowe novel the estate has commissioned, not counting the Robert B. Parker works. The first was Benjamin Black’s The Black-Eyed Blonde. I hope and expect them to continue. I would just ask that they speed up the publications.

From Third Place/Ravenna, I have on order the newly released The Annotated Big Sleep, which Adam Woog profiled in his recent Seattle Times column.

Then there’s the used hardcover of Frank Nitti: The True Story of Chicago’s Notorious “Enforcer” by Ronald D. Humble. I thought I’d known a lot about Nitti but from this book I have a far greater understanding of his power and reach. It’s a book with a great deal of information but is unfortunately presented with haphazard organization and wooden writing. Wish he’d had a better editor…

Lastly, if you’re into podcasts, there are three I’d recommend:

~ One has been out awhile – Shit*town is a wild and strange trip into the head and heart of a brilliant man who loathes his small hometown. The story begins with an accusation of murder and then spins off into weirdness.

~ Slate has just released a series of episodes on Watergate called Slow Burn. It’s well done, interesting and very, very timely. Again, thought I knew a lot about that era but I’m learning more with each episode.

~ The last and newest is The RFK Tapes, which re-examines the Robert Kennedy assassination. There are three episodes out so far. Not sure how many there will be. Again, well done, interesting and very very timely.

 

That’s It Until August.

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