A Murder Mystery With Clothes to Die For
Codebreakers crack secrets of the lost letters of Mary, Queen of Scots
Wienermobile hit by catalytic converter thieves, stranding it in Las Vegas. ‘No way’
Take a video tour of the astonishing Walker Library of The History of Human Imagination
Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson is back.
Some of the Best Stories from a Century of Weird Tales (That You Can Read Online)
A Sci-Fi Magazine Stopped Letting Anyone Submit Stories After Being Flooded With AI-Written Content [but shouldn’t a sci-fi magazine welcome fiction from robots??]
Man facing jail over theft of almost 200,000 Cadbury Creme Eggs
Words of the Month
steal (n.): 1825, “act or case of theft,” from steal (v.). Meaning “a bargain” is attested by 1942, American English colloquial. Baseball sense of “a stolen base” is from 1867. (etymonline)
FBI wants more ransomware victims to report attacks
Can Community Programs Help Slow the Rise in Violence?
Is It Forensics or Is It Junk Science?
Native American Women Keep Turning Up Dead. Why Is Nothing Being Done?
‘The Nazi Conspiracy’ uncovers a little known WWII Nazi plot
Developers Created AI to Generate Police Sketches. Experts Are Horrified
Security News This Week: North Korean Hackers Are Attacking US Hospitals
Malcolm X’s family is suing the CIA, FBI and NYPD
Here Are Some of the Most Hacked States in America
Hackers breach U.S. Marshals system with sensitive personal data
Neo-Nazi Lovers Charged in Plot to Nuke Baltimore Power Grid
Pennsylvania school librarian ordered to remove Holocaust survivor’s quote from the wall
Wikipedia ban in Pakistan over alleged blasphemous content lifted
Florida school district pulls children’s book on Roberto Clemente over passage that he faced racism
The ignorance is the point. Kids books about Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente get censored | Opinion
DeSantis Now Says Teachers Are Shelving Books to Make Him Look Bad
Critics reject changes to Roald Dahl books as censorship
James Bond Books Undergo Edit to Remove ‘Offensive’ Language
A Cappella Group Says Concert at Florida Christian College Canceled Over Member’s ‘Lifestyle’
Florida teacher who posted video showing empty bookshelves in school library gets fired
Jane Smiley: Why I’m Thrilled My Pulitzer-Winning Book Has Been Banned
Neo-Nazi Homeschoolers Defend Their ‘Wholesome’ Pro-Hitler Network
School District Pays Legal Fees After Banning Mothers From Reading Sexually Graphic Passages at Meetings
Art Exhibit Canceled After Florida College Demands Diversity References be Scrubbed
The Far Right Is Calling for the Execution of Teachers and Doctors
Jimmy Kimmel hits back over report that Trump White House pressured Disney to censor his jokes
Words of the Month
swipe (v.): 1825, “strike with a sweeping motion,” from swipe (n.). The slang sense of “steal, pilfer” appeared 1885, American English; earliest use in prison jargon:
The blokes in the next cell, little Charley Ames and the Sheeney Kid, they was hot to try it, and swiped enough shoe-lining out of shop No. 5, where they worked, to make us all breeches to the stripes. [Lippincott’s Magazine, vol. xxxv, June 1885]etymonline
Inside the hunt for a serial kidnapper, and a bloody finale
Erika Christensen on why ‘Will Trent’ is unlike other police procedural shows [based on novels by Karin Slaughter]
The books we love: Seattle’s reading habits reflect city’s diversity
From Mike Lawson: The Great, Always Bizarre Florida Crime Fiction Tradition
This Seattle bookstore draws design aficionados from around the globe
Calling Lucian Connally:
Timeline of Oregon Bourbon Scandal
OLCC Director Steve Marks Resigns amid Oregon Bourbon Scandal
Oregon Liquor Officials Are Accused of Hoarding Rare Bourbon
The gadgets spies used before James Bond was even born: Concealed weapons and escape items used by British operatives in WW2 – from bladed coins to a dagger hidden in a Gillette razor – go up for auction
Photos of Obsessive Collectors With Their Collections
How fingerprints get their unique whorls
Spoken Latin Is Making a Comeback
Want to own a prison? Well good news — this one is for sale in Missouri. Check it out
Amazon is taking half of each sale from its merchants
Town can’t refuse Amazon offer despite Robert Duvall opposition
FTC won’t challenge Amazon’s $3.49B One Medical deal
Jeff Bezos receives highest French honor in private ceremony
Amazon Is Already Selling Tons of Books Written by AI
Hundreds of AI-written books flood Amazon
Amazon has a donkey meat problem
As investigations mount, Kent worker describes Amazon’s ‘outrageous’ toll
Words of the Month
caper (n.2): by 1590s, “a playful leap or jump, a skip or spring as in dancing,” from caper (v.). The meaning “prank” is from 1840 via notion of “sportive action;” that of “crime” is from 1926. To “cut capers” dance in a frolicsome way” is from c. 1600, from cut (v.) in the sense of “perform, execute.” (etymonline)
Finalists for the Gotham Prize Are Revealed
All Shirley Jackson Award finalists get stoned.
Vote now for the new name of the Booker Prize trophy (Iris, obvs).
The Best Crime Novels of 2022 (yeah, we’re late including this…)
A.I. uncovers unknown play by Spanish great in library archive
Want to be a writer? This bleak but buoyant guide says to get used to rejection
Famous poet Pablo Neruda was poisoned after a coup, according to a new report
Ancient Hebrew Bible May Fetch $50 Million, Becoming Priciest Book Ever Sold
An Author’s Guide to Stealing from the Books You Love by Stephen Hunter
The Strange Real-Life Mystery Behind Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat”
Why Does the Mystery of Edgar Allan Poe’s Death Still Haunt Us?
X Marks the Spot: Literary Treasure Hunts
The Life and Legacy of James Ellroy
Marcia Muller: A Crime Reader’s Guide to the Classics
Why So Many Journalists Turn to Careers in Crime Fiction
The Year Ian Fleming Finally Started Writing His Novel
British independent publishers thrive despite Brexit and Covid pandemic
Book Stalls and Back Rooms: Traveling the World in Search of Literary Serendipity
How Failure Defines the Writing Life
World’s Oldest Near-Complete Hebrew Bible Goes to Auction
What Is It That Makes Used Bookstores So Wonderful?
William Kotzwinkle could never become a monk. So he created one in crime fiction instead.
New imaging tool confirms female scribe etched her name in medieval manuscript
The Best Plot Twists in Mystery
The Odd Career of the World’s Most Upsetting Book
Chip Gaines bought Larry McMurtry’s legendary bookstore to… fix up, we hope?
How the Armed Services Editions Created a Nation of Readers
X Marks the Spot: Literary Treasure Hunts
Penguin Random House Announces New Leadership After a Turbulent Period
Vicki Hendricks, Miami Purity, and the Making of a Neo-Noir Classic [when Vicki came into the shop to sign her debut, she was wearing a custom-made leather dress that matched her book’s dustjacket!]
Author Events (in person)
Mar. 6: Rupert Holmes signs Kill Your Employer, Powell’s, 7pm
Mar. 26: J.A. Jance signs Collateral Damage, Third Place/LFP 4pm
Mar. 28: Cara Black signs Night Flight to Paris, Third Place/LFP, 7pm
Mar. 29: Cara Black signs Night Flight to Paris, Powell’s 7pm
Words of the Month
rip-off (n):”an act of fraud, a swindle,” 1969, from verbal phrase rip off “to steal or rob” (c. 1967) in African-American vernacular, from rip (v.) + off (adv.). Rip was prison slang for “to steal” since 1904, and was also used in this sense in 12th C. The specific meaning “an exploitative imitation” is from 1971, also “a plagiarism.” Related: Ripped-off. (etymonline)
Other Forms of Entertainment
‘Columbo’ is the Ultimate ‘Rich People are Weird’ Show
Guns have been in motion pictures since the start. ‘Rust’ is only the latest to have a gun death
Over 100 Pieces of Rare James Bond Film Memorabilia Can Now Be Yours for $450,000
J.J. Abrams, Warner Bros. Team for Adaptation of Stephen King Crime Novel ‘Billy Summers’
Marcel Proust on What Writing Is
Gregory Peck’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Script Goes to Auction
‘Murder in Big Horn’ Directors on Why “Colonization Is the True Crime” in Their Docuseries
Harry Dean Stanton is the Hero of Every Noir
The story of Caril Ann Fugate and Charles Starkweather was painted as a teen couple on a murder spree but docuseries ‘The 12th Victim’ shows that wasn’t all (JB recommends)
A trailblazer who brought a Black woman’s voice to comics
Liam Neeson says his late wife Natasha Richardson refused to marry him if he played James Bond
60 years later, ‘The Boston Strangler’ podcast revisits the murders
The New Serial Podcast Is a Return to Their Roots. It’s Going to Make Listeners Angry.
Netflix’s Murdaugh Murders Team Say They’ve Uncovered New Crimes
The FBI’s Persecution of Sidney Poitier
Words of the Month
heist (v.): 1943 (implied in heisted; heister “shoplifter, thief” is from 1927), American English slang, probably a dialectal alteration of hoist (v.) “to lift” in its slang sense of “shoplift,” and/or its older British slang sense “to lift another on one’s shoulders to help him break in.” As a noun from 1930. (etymonline)
Jan. 31: Carin Goldberg, 69, Who Transformed Book and Album Cover Design, Dies
Feb. 1: Allan A. Ryan, Dogged Pursuer of Nazi Collaborators, Dies at 77
Feb. 9: Marianne Mantell, Who Helped Pave the Way for Audiobooks, Dies at 93
Feb. 15: Raquel Welch, Star of Fantastic Voyage, Lady in Cement, The Three Musketeers, and One Million Years B.C., Dies at 82
Feb. 17: Donald Spoto, Biographer of Hitchcock and Many More, Dies at 81
Feb. 17: Stella Stevens, ‘The Ballad of Cable Hogue,’ ‘Too Late Blues,’ ‘The Poseidon Adventure,’ and ‘Nutty Professor’ Actress, Dies at 84
Feb. 19: Richard Belzer, Extraordinarily Smart-Ass as a Comic, Author, and a TV Cop, Dies at 78
Feb. 20: Barbara Bosson, Emmy-Nominated Actress on ‘Hill Street Blues,’ Dies at 83
Feb. 22: Simone Segouin, French Resistance fighter, dies at 97
Feb. 23: John Macrae III, Eclectic Publisher and Rights Champion, Dies at 91
Feb. 25: Walter Mirisch, Former Academy President and ‘In the Heat of the Night’ Producer, Dies at 101
Words of the Month
pilfer (v.): “to steal in small quantities” (intrans.); “to steal or gain by petty theft” (trans.), 1540s, from pilfer (n.) “spoils, booty,” c. 1400, from Old French pelfre “booty, spoils” (11th C.), a word of unknown origin, possibly related to pelf. Related: Pilfered; pilfering. Pulfrour “a thief” is attested from mid-14th C., implying earlier use.
pelf (n.): late 14th C., “stolen goods, forfeited property,” from Anglo-French pelf, Old French pelfre “booty, spoils” (11th C.), a word of unknown origin.Meaning “money, property, riches,” with a pejorative or contemptuous overtone, also is recorded from late 14th C. It has no plural. (etymonline)
Links of Interest
Jan. 31: YouTube’s ‘Penis Enlargement’ Grifter Suffers Bloody Death in Thailand
Feb. 2: How a Champion Surfer Became a Notorious Jewel Thief and Murderer
Feb. 3: The Apache, the Irish Catholic Priest, and a 40-Year-Old Miscarriage of Justice
Feb. 3: Italian mobster, 16 years on the lam, is found working at a pizzeria
Feb. 3: “They just weren’t the kind of people for that”: The 1934 Smith Family Massacre in Demopolis, Alabama
Feb. 4: The Great Gatsby of Gold Took Their Millions—and Vanished
Feb. 8: What’s a Japanese Mobster to Do in Retirement? Join a Softball Team.
Feb. 10: ‘Furry little bandit’ causes destruction in Oklahoma Department of Libraries building
Feb. 13: Podcast sleuths hope remains in plastic bag will solve 50-year-old Swedish cold case
Feb. 14: Forensic study finds Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was poisoned
Feb. 15: Crime of the Centuries: Tomb raiders, crooked art dealers, and museum curators fed Michael Steinhardt’s addiction to antiquities. Many were also stolen.
Feb. 15: Ex-Mexico drug czar’s defense says accusers have ‘motives to lie’
Feb. 17: Who Corrupted a Top FBI Spyhunter?
Feb. 17: Spanish police nab art thieves, recover 100-year old Dali drawings
Feb. 18: How an Alleged Con Man Tore Apart One of the Nineties’ Biggest Bands
Feb. 19: As $1.6 million in rare photos vanished, the excuses piled up
Feb. 19: Guns, Grift, and Gore: The Life and Times of an Arms-Dealing Hustler
Feb. 22: The Unsettling History of Serial Killers in Colorado
Feb. 26: Elon Musk accuses media of racism after newspapers drop ‘Dilbert’ cartoon
Feb. 27: Hundreds of newspapers drop ‘Dilbert’ comic strip after racist tirade from creator Scott Adams
Feb. 27: The Con Artist and the American Dream
Words of the Month
shenanigan (n.): “nonsense; deceit, humbug,” 1855, American English slang, of uncertain origin. Earliest records of it are in California (San Francisco and Sacramento) [from that area’s Gold Rush? – eds]. Suggestions include Spanish chanada, a shortened form of charranada “trick, deceit;” or, less likely, German Schenigelei, peddler’s argot for “work, craft,” or the related German slang verb schinäglen. Another guess centers on Irish sionnach “fox,” and the form is perhaps conformed to an Irish surname. (etymonline)
What We’ve Been Up To
Round-up review of things I’ve loved watching/reading recently but are so popular they practically sell themselves!
First Up: The Glass Onion
The second installment in the Knives Out universe is absolutely awesome. Though I must admit, I was worried when I first started watching it. Very, very worried. All the cameos of well-known actors felt a bit gratuitous…but I’d looked forward to the movie for months — so I stuck with it, and boy, was my patients rewarded. The cameos enhance the feel of the billionaire jet set cast of suspects we are watching and make complete sense by the end of the movie. An end that I gotta say is one of the very best I’ve seen in a whodunnit…. since the original Knives Out movie.
Second: Desperation In Death by J.D. Robb
A page-turning, ripped-from-the-headlines thriller didn’t disappoint. Action packed from the first page to the last, if you’re looking for a good vacation read, you won’t go wrong with this installment. Though there is a trigger warning I must warn other readers about — the plot revolves around human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women and young girls. While Robb does a good job of balancing the horror of the subject matter with the mystery (without getting overly graphic), if this is something that you struggle with, I’d skip this installment and wait for Encore In Death which is out now.
Third: The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton
Jane Austen meets pirates meets magical flying houses — this is the best summary I can give. An amusing read full of action, swashbuckling, betrayal, and books, The Wisteria Society was a fun read. Though, if you’re well versed in steam-punk and fantasy, it’s not quite the groundbreaking book the New York Times made it out to be.
A Netflix original that expands the Addams Family universe — is an exceptional show. Of course, all the traditional elements of an Addams Family story are present. Still, the writers have done a singular job of sprinkling them through the series and keeping them fresh (rather than simply regurgitating them in a cringe worthy fashion). Full of secrets, multiple mysteries, and interesting characters, this show is well worth your viewing time.
So, here’s the deal
I sometimes suffer from depression, the real deal, not just the blues or feeling down. If any of you follow Jenny Lawson, a/k/a The Bloggess, you know what I’m talking about: unable to move, almost literally, a deep fog, an endless circle of “why bother”, well, either you know or you don’t.
So I wasn’t reading because why bother, but I had to get out of bed and onto the couch because Lillian and Mazikeen insisted. Although it’s possible that Maz had ulterior motives.
Still, I wasn’t interested in much, although I did manage to lose myself in my writing, but that’s because I could think of plot pieces while doing physical therapy on my knee, which is healing better than expected, so there’s that.
But the point is, I was lethargic, so when Lillian turned on a Mexican series that’s on Netflix, I kinda shrugged and went with it.
It was great.
The series is based on books written by Paco Ignatio Taibo II, whom you might remember from our Bookshop days.
This is set in the 70’s, and it’s an homage to the classic noir stories. There is grit, there is backstabbing and double-dealing, there’s the possibility of romance, and there’s a lot of straight-up, laugh-out-loud humor. It’s captivating.
At first, I was shaking my head, thinking, “Oh no, it’s over the top and it’s just plain silly”, but it didn’t take me long to get hooked. Yeah, there are some wild things, but let’s face it, a lot of noir stories rely on head shaking moments.
Did Belascoaran lift me out of my depression? No. Only time can do that. But it helped. And it’s well worth your time, pinkie swear.
Movie Review: I know the critics have been nasty about Neil Jordan’s Marlowe, I enjoyed it. I would imagine most of the critics never read a Chandler book, much less the Benjamin Black (John Banville) novel on which the film was based (The Black-Eyed Blonde, now republished as a tie-in with the title of the movie, just to confuse everyone…). I’ve gotten the sense that they were expecting an ACTION movie, where as a 1940ish private eye movie was always one of plot, menace, femme fatales and a slow unraveling of whodunnit. They went in expecting a different movie and blamed the movie.
Marlowe unfolds like any good private eye novel – steadily, with dead ends and red herrings, thumps on the head and, of course, south-of-the border intrigue. While the book was a sequel, of sorts, to The Long Goodbye, the movie drops those connections to make it a stand-alone story and it functions well. Liam Neeson is a fine Marlowe [the 8th? – D. Powell, Bogart, R. Montgomery, Mitchum (twice), Gould, Garner, B. Powers (on HBO) before him] . Jessica Lange is startling as one of the blondes; watch her eyes during her lunch with Neeson. All of the acting is great, the faces and fashion spot on and, though not filmed in LA, Catalonia provides the warmth and colors to make you think you’re in that time.
Two carps: Marlowe is given a secretary, for some reason. Gittes and Spade had one, but Marlowe made enough to keep him in cigarettes, not employees, and Neeson’s fake hair color is a distraction, it looked spray painted. Marlowe can show gray, but dull brown was a mistake.
See Marlowe. Go in expecting a good, noirish private eye story and you’ll have a grand time. I did. And keep an eye and ear open for all of the sly references to crime movies from the past. I call ’em homages. The youngsters say Easter Eggs…
Of the four other books about Watergate that I’ve read, one name kept cropping up as the writer to whom all others owe a great debt: Jim Hougan. His 1984 history of the affair, Secret Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat, and the CIA was the first to provide a counter history to what everyone had been exposed: that the break-in, arrests, and it’s exposure was not the focus of the White House “plumbers”; rather, there was a CIA operation to gather intelligence and the plumbers efforts were sabotaged in order to hide that operation. Indeed, did the plumbers really know what the point was?
The book, whether you want to buy his arguments, is a fascinating and
detailed account of the burglaries and the oddities that have always surrounded them. If nothing else, he makes clear how far and deeply the CIA had penetrated DC. Case in point: John Paisley was a career-long CIA agent who worked in the counter-intelligence wing of the Company. He “died” under odd circumstances (some theorize that the body said to be his hid his defection to the Soviets) and one recent book, Howard Blum’s The Spy Who Knew too Much argues he was the Great Soviet Mole at the heart of the CIA. Hougan writes that Paisley was the CIA’s connection to the plumbers. No other Watergate history even lists Paisley in the index.
Besides the oddities of the burglaries, it has never been historically agreed to what exactly the June 17th break-in was to accomplish. Hougan has his theory and gives details to support it. Again, believe him or not, his story is worth the time. Watergate is another Great American Historical Mystery that just keeps giving.
Once again, Mike Lawson has given us a smooth suspense novel, crackling with solid characters and a plot that has two major twists that are wholly unexpected. He’s also infused it with a poignancy that demands tears.
He’s also broken away from the “House” titles of earlier DeMarco books. Alligator Alley takes place mostly in Florida and has DeMarco and Emma trying to find out what happened to a Department of Justice worker, a young woman too eager to find out what the bad guys are up to. They’re asked by one of the most honored figures in DC to get the answers and Emma will stop at nothing to get them. DeMarco, of course, would rather be playing golf, but he adds important plans to their work proving he isn’t the dope he sounds to be.
And again, Mike ties the story to recent headlines with millions in Medicare fraud. Answers are found, the villains get what they deserve, but the cost is great, even if those paying the bill are at peace with it. That’s what is poignant and warrants the graveside tears.
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