January Newzine


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HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL! WELCOME TO 2019!

      Awards!

2018 Nero Award Winner Announced:

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

The 2018 Nero Finalists:

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

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

      Podcasts

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

      Word of the Month

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

      Book Events

January 9: Christopher Sandford, Third Place Books/SP

January 11-20: Tasveer South Asian Literary Festival

January 12 and Jan. 16.: Jayne Ann Krentz

January 18: Lindsay Faye, Powell’s

January 18: Gail Carriger, UBooks

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

      Links of Interest

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 3: Spoiler Alert! The Psychology Of Surprise Endings


December 3: 2018 Bad Sex Writing

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 9The Man Making Art From Government Surveillance

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

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

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

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

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

December 12: Chocolate meltdown closes German road

December 12: 25 Movies Added To National Film Registry

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

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

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

December 13: New Zealand anger over Google naming murder suspect

December 13: New York Times London crime Twitter appeal backfires

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 19: Lee Child on HARDtalk

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

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

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

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

December 27: James Lee Burke ~ By the Book

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Word of the Month – Continued

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

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

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

(Thanks to Oxford English Dictionary)

      R.I.P.

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

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

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

      Word of the Month – Lastly

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

      What We’ve Been Doing

    Amber

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

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

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Murder At The Brightwell by Ashley Weaver

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

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

I loved it.

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

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

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

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

    Fran

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    JB

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

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

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

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

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

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They go away …

December Newzine

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

      Stan Lee

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

      Awards!

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

The CWA Diamond Dagger:Michael Connelly

The CWA Gold Dagger: Steve Cavanagh – THE LIAR

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

The John Creasey Debut Dagger: Melissa Scrivner Love – LOLA

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

The CWA Historical Dagger: Rory Clements – NUCLEUS

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

The International Dagger: Henning Mankell – AFTER THE FIRE 

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

Highly Commended: Joseph James – RIVERINE BLOOD

The CWA Dagger in the Library: Martin Edwards.

November 15th: National Book Award Winners

      Word of the Month

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Merriam-Webster website for the word & definition

      Links of Interest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 5th: Booksellers show unprecedented act of solidarity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 15th: John Sandford: By the Book

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

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

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

November 16th: Mark Twains Complicated Relationship with the Typewriter

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

November 20th: NYTimes ~ 100 Notable Books of 2018

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

November 23rd: Laura Lippman ~ Books That Made Me

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

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

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



      Word of the Month – Continued

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

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

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

thanks to etymonline

      R.I.P.

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

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

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

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

November 12th: Stan Lee

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

      Word of the Month – Lastly

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

       What We’ve Been Doing

    Amber

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

Jenn McKinlay – Hitting The Books

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

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

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

Brandon Sanderson – Legion

Stephen Leeds is a genius.IMG_1472

Kinda.

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

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

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

Perfectly ordinary cases, well except for the teleporting cat…

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Fran

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’ve been warned.

    JB

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

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

From page 947-8 of the McCullough:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Truman turned 77 six months later on May 8th.

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

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THANKS FOR STAYING WITH US!

~ UNTIL NEXT YEAR ~




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This Holiday Season.

They go away if you don’t…

September

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    A Couple of Things

~ We’re not trying to blow our own horns but it seems as if there are far, far fewer signings by mystery and crime writers since we closed. And if we miss including any authors, it may be that, having been out of the book biz for some time, we don’t recognize their names. We no longer have the knowledge or time to be as comprehensive as we’d like. We’re doing the best we can.

~ You may have noticed over the years that in our Links of Interest section that there are many more entries from the UK than from the US. That’s because outfits like the NYTimes or Washington Post allow only a certain number of clicks to articles each month before you have to pay. So we favor those who don’t require subscription in order to search for the good stuff that we include. We’re not snobs – we’re cheap.

~ September 30th will mark one year since the shop ceased operation. Hard to believe, seems like just yesterday… Which leads us to – – –

    Word of the Month

gliffing(n): “a flash of time, a moment, an instant…”  (thanks to Says You!, #1101)

    Finder Of Lost Things

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Amber here! So with a fair bit of trepidation and nervousness, I am ready (as I will ever be) to present what I’ve been working on!

When SMB closed last year, I decided to fall back and do something else I loved – blogging. After working on the My 52 Weeks With Christie blog for the shop a few years back – I discovered I enjoyed creating those weekly posts. When I finished my year with Christie, I was completely surprised at how much I missed all the writing and researching they required!

With a bit of time on my hands last September, I decided to follow in the footsteps of the old penny dreadfuls (hopefully without actually being dreadful), and I wrote my own weekly mystery series!

So here it is – Finder Of Lost Things – my mystery blog which will release a new installment every Friday morning! It’ll have accompanying photos, 99% of which were taken by me. There will be funnies, misunderstandings, shenanigans, pirates, and food! I sincerely hope you have as much fun reading it as I did working on it!

Here’s the overview from the site:

“My name is Phoebe Arden, and I used to be the Caretaker of Nevermore Cemetery.

My job is more than just mowing lawns, digging graves and thwarting vandals. The problem is my boss doesn’t understand what exactly my job entailed (or in fact any of my duties).

Now I am on the outside looking in, and I still need to protect Nevermore from my boss’s schemes, internal decay, and corrosive outside influences.

This is going to require coffee. Lots and lots of coffee…and maybe an egg roll.”

FRAN HERE – I’ve read a lot of it already and you’re going to love it! Pinky-swear!

    Ngaio Marsh Awards

The winners  to be announced at special event on September 1st 2018 as part of the WORD Christchurch Festival.

  Best Crime Novel

Marlborough Man by Alan Carter (Fremantle Press)

See You in September by Charity Norman (Allen & Unwin)

Tess by Kirsten McDougall (VUP)

The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell (Mary Egan Publishing)

A Killer Harvest by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press)

The Hidden Room by Stella Duffy (Virago)

  Best First Novel

The Floating Basin by Carolyn Hawes

Broken Silence by Helen Vivienne Fletcher (HVF Publishing)

All Our Secrets by Jennifer Lane (Rosa Mira Books)

The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell (Mary Egan Publishing)

Nothing Bad Happens Here by Nikki Crutchley (Oak House Press)

    Signings

Tues, Sept 4, 7pm: Seanan McGuire, University Books

Mon, Sept 10, 7pm: Craig Johnson, Powell’s

Tues, Sept 11, 7pm: Craig Johnson, Third Place/LFP

Wed, Sept 12, 7pm: John Straley, Powell’s

Fri, Sept 14, 7pm: John Straley, Third Place/Ravenna

Wed, Sept 19, 7:30: Amy Stewart, Powell’s

Tues, Sept 25, 7pm: Amy Stewart, Third Place/LFP

         Links of Interest

Vulture, July 31st: When Crime Comes for the Crime Writer by Laura Lippman

CNN, August 1st: Swedish Crown Jewels Stolen by Thieves Who Fled by Speedboat

New York Times, August 2nd: Sophie Hannah: By the Book

The Daily Beast, August 3rd: The Golden State Killer Suspect’s Chilling Warning Signs: Tantrums, Flirtations, and Poisoned Dogs

The Guardian, August 6th: The new tool in the art of spotting forgeries: artificial intelligence

The Guardian, August 7th: UKIP suspends three members over socialist bookshop attack [UKIP stands for the UK Independence Party. They wear hats saying Make  Britain Great Again.]

Entertainment Weekly, August 7th: Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series celebrates its 25th anniversary

BBC, August 8th: The Murderer Turned Author Who Published Clues To His Crimes

BBC August 8th: How digital publishers are ‘shaking up’ the industry

BBC August 9th: Looted 5,000-year-old artefacts to be returned to Iraq

BBC, August 10th: German police save man from baby squirrel terror

NY Times, August 10th: All the World’s a Crime: Thrillers from Around the Globe

BBC, August 10th: Can you read at superhuman speeds?

Salon, August 10th: Finding Tom Thomson’s body: The mysterious death of a famous Canadian artist

BBC, August 11th: France’s 25-year treasure hunt for a golden owl

NY Times, August 12th: As Barnes & Noble Struggles to Find Footing, Founder Takes     Heat

The Guardian, August 13th: How Wilkie Collins found sensation in ordinary life

The Guardian, August 13th: Family claims win in high court challenge to Northants library cuts

Salon, August 14th: “Dead Air” and the true crime boom: What happens when amateurs investigate murder?

The Guardian, August 15th: Sorry to break it to you, far-righters: James Bond is not on your team

The Daily Beast, August 18th: I Grew Up in the Shadow of a Neighborhood Killer. He May Have Finally Been Caught

The Seattle Times, August 19th: Sunday Best – a weekly look at looks

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CNN, August 21st: Mom Reveals Her Secret Spy Life to Kids

The Guardian, August 22nd: Malibu residents fear serial attacker is stalking their scenic enclave

The Guardian, August 22nd: Direct another day: who should replace Danny Boyle on Bond 25?

Daily Herald, August 25th: New Versions of Hercule Poirot Keep Coming, and That’s a Good Thing, by Sophie Hannah

Sunday Seattle Times, August 26:

Crime fiction: 2 witty new novels and a Northwest gem – from Adam Woog

Meet the UW Libraries’ keeper of rare books and artifacts

Northwest book festivals to attend this fall, in Seattle, Vancouver, B.C., and Portland

The Washington Post, August 26th: George Pelecanos has helped make TV great again. His new book reminds us why.

The Courier, August 30st: Police: Thieves stole over $40,000 in rare insects, reptiles

    RIP

In early August we lost a treasured member of the SMB family. Gina Rembeisa died unexpectedly on August 7th. She’d been one of our key customers for as long as we can remember. By key, we mean foundational – she was one of those few crucial customers who bought enough books in the early years to help us to survive and succeed. But that also meant that we got to know one another well. 

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Gina read voraciously. She’d call when a new newsletter got to her and give us a list that would fill a sheet from a legal pad. Then she’d go over what had not come in from supplemental lists. She’d try someone new and have to have every earlier book. She had countless cards in our Future File system, cards for authors from whom she’d want every new book. She would take signed copies but they weren’t necessary. She was a reader, not a collector. She’d stop in on a Saturday morning and chat with Bill or whichever one of us was there, then take her heavy bag of books out.

In the last couple of years of the shop, she’d had difficulty walking and we’d mail her books to her, which meant we saw her less and less but she’d call and say “Hello, dear,  how are you?” – and she really wanted answers.

A psychotherapist for 40 years and a lover of books for much longer, her dream was to retire one day and volunteer the Seattle Mystery Bookshop to be with all of her dear friends, human & books alike. Her husband, Tom, donated 69 boxes of Gina’s books to the Friends of the Library Foundation in her honor. She often told Tom, “You never give away your friends.” Gina was a woman of great spirit, determination, humor, and love.

Our best to her husband Tom.

Rest in Peace, dear. We miss your calls.

August 16th, Moranga King, jazz singer and actress (Mama Corleone in The Godfather)

August 19th:  John Calder, British Publisher Who Fought Censorship, Dies at 91

    What We’ve Been Doing

   Amber

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Theodora Goss – The Strange Case of The Alchemist’s Daughter

Our heroine’s story begins with a funeral. Mary’s mother finally succumbed to the madness which had threatened to overwhelm her for years. Beyond just losing her mother Mary Jekyll (yes, the daughter of that Mr. Jekyll), she also lost her income. Meaning? While Mary still has a house to live in, she has virtually no money to keep body and soul together, much less run a household.

Her prospects are slim indeed until her mother’s solicitor gives her a sheaf of papers which hint at the location of the notorious murderer, Mr. Hyde. Unsure whether the reward for his capture is still viable, Mary consults Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The one hundred pound reward would be a great stopgap measure until she worksed out a more permanent solution for her money woes.

The only problem? Her mother’s information doesn’t lead them to Mr. Hyde but to his daughter.

And that’s when Mary’s real adventure begins.

This is a fantastically fun book! Seriously. If you enjoy reading a mystery populated by all the best characters from old gothic novels (and one of the greatest literary detectives of all time), you’ll love this book!

What I loved is how Goss was able to take the titans of the gothic/horror canon and twist them slightly into something new – while keeping true to their fictional roots. Plus, it is ever so much fun reading about beloved characters through another author’s eyes and how they interpreted these classic stories. By using the daughters of well-known mad scientists, she’s able to breath new life into these stories making them into something new without significantly deviating from the original novels from whence they spring!

Now here’s the thing – you have to be able to suspend a bit of disbelief while reading this book – mainly because coincidences are a tad thick. Not unbelievable mind you, they are well explained and plausible, but just rather prevalent. But, honestly, if you can read from the POV of the daughters of Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, Dr. Frankenstein, Dr. Moreau and Dr. Rappaccini (an evil scientist from a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne), I think you can handle a slight overabundance of coincidences. Plus if I am honest, they keep the book moving at a breakneck speed which is a whole lotta fun to read!

So I guess the above is more of a heads up than a warning…

I would recommend this series to anyone who enjoyed reading Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series or classic gothic novels! I devoured The Strange Case Of The Alchemist’s Daughter in two sittings, and I look forward to rereading it again very soon.

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Rhys Bowen – Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding

The latest installment of the Royal Spyness Mysteries was released this month!

And I loved it!

In Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding, we find Georgie & Darcy making all the decisions one needs to when planning a wedding. Which only get more complicated when the King and Queen invite themselves, their kids, half of the nobility of Europe, and ask if the princesses can be her bridesmaids!

One bright note? Georgie’s godfather offered her an early wedding present – his home! Since Georgie is Sir Hubert’s only heir and he’s away so often climbing mountains, he thinks it would be wonderful if she could be the mistress of Eynsleigh! This prospect positively delights Georgie, the real estate pickings in London are slim indeed, unless you enjoy basements, attics, or a view of a brick wall. Deciding to get the estate back in ship shape before Darcy comes to join her, Georgie leaves immediately for her new digs.

The only fly in the ointment? Sir Hubert thinks things might not be running smoothly in his absence and when Georgie arrives, she agrees. Something is rotten in the Eynsleigh estate!

Once again Bowen delivers a beautiful installment in the Royal Spyness series! She’s filled it with hope under the looming cloud of the impending war, the King’s death, and his son’s abdication. This series does a great job of giving a very human side of the Great Depression and the historical context of the period – without ever  losing Georgie’s voice or the fact she’s investigating one mystery or another!

In all seriousness, I love this series and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a slightly lighter read! Or enjoys historical aspects in their mysteries!

*Just for those who may have read her in the past – there are no ghosts or supernatural elements in this mystery! So pick it up and read with wild abandon! I promise you will love it!

   Fran

Stories from work. The spelling is mine, but the all-caps are hers.

Gal came to turn herself in to go to jail. She’d been using, was being up-front about it, and it’s the weekend, so why not? We gave her a form to fill out, telling us what she used, and why.

“What did you use?” Crystal Meth, Alcohol, Heroin, and CIGARETTES.

Why did you use these? USA FREEDOM

Um…okay.

9780374265922SO LUCKY (MCDxFSG), but the story being told has little to do with murder, and much to do with mayhem, especially the mayhem created when your body fails you.Mara Tagarelli is at the top of her game, CEO of a multi-million dollar AIDS foundation, happily married, martial arts teacher. And it all comes crashing down.

In one week, her wife asks for a divorce, Mara is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and she loses her job. When things crash, they crash hard.

The story is fiction, make no mistake, but the sentiments are raw and real. Nicola Griffith captures the pain and fury – indeed, incandescent rage – that engulfs someone when their life changes and there is nothing to be done to stop what’s happening, when all you can control are symptoms. When you go from self-reliant to needing the help of strangers.

This is a fast, fast read – you’ll do it in a day if only because you cannot stop turning the pages! Nicola Griffith is always a master wordsmith; she’s put her heart into SO LUCKY, and it shows.

I asked one of my friends who also has MS to read the book, tell me whether or not it resonated for him. His response: Around the MS angle, it resonated to the point that I will hand this book to those curious about the disease as it speaks of my experiences in ways I can rarely muster.

Read it for the joy of reading Nicola Griffith’s work. The fact that you’ll be profoundly moved is an incredible bonus.

 

I was trying to decide which of two books I was going to read next when the Beatles came on the radio, talking about Lucy in the sky, and my decision was made. 9780062412843 David Handler’s THE GIRL WITH KALEIDOSCOPE EYES (Wm. Morrow) it was.

I have deliberately not read Handler’s “Stewart Hoag” mysteries because I know myself. When I love one series by an author, I generally don’t love another. I’m weird that way, and I own it. I adore Carolyn Hart’s “Death on Demand” series and while I enjoy “Henrie O”, Annie Darling has my heart. I can read Nora Roberts, but for me it’s J. D. Robb all the way. And, because I’m weird in my own special way, Laurie R. King’s “Kate Martinelli” series calls to me more than her “Mary Russell” stories.

When it comes to David Handler, I’m a “Berger and Mitry” fan to my bones. I adore that mis-matched duo with a profound devotion. Start with The Cold Blue Blood if you can find it, and go from there. But because I am who I am, I didn’t want to read the “Stewart Hoag (Hoagy)” series, because it couldn’t possibly live up to Mitch Berger and Desiree Mitry.

I hadn’t counted on Lulu.

Stewart Hoag (known as Hoagy, after the sandwich not Carmichael) is a literary genius who has written one hugely acclaimed critical masterpiece, crashed and burned, and now is reduced to ghostwriting celebrity bios, at which he excels. Unfortunately, celebrities attract trouble and Hoagy can’t just let things go. He has to know the truth, hence the series of murder mysteries.

In THE GIRL WITH KALEIDOSCOPE EYES, it’s 1992, and Hoagy and his intrepid sidekick Lulu – his mackerel munching  basset hound – are specially requested to write a tell-all for the famous Monette Aintree, brand-name celebrity. That would just be an ordinary day’s work, except Hoagy was once head over heels in love with Monette’s sister, Reggie. And their long-lost father, Richard Aintree, wrote a book that’s known to everyone, is read in every school, and who has vanished after his wife, the girls’ mother, committed suicide.

It’s been 20 years since David Handler has written a Hoagy and Lulu mystery, and now I’ve read two of them. He absolutely has the same voice in the latest as he had in the earlier one, which is a testament to his talent, since that kind of hiatus can change things beyond recognition. And I can see why people have been clamoring for more.

At first, I was a bit put off by the amount of name dropping Hoagy does, but then the gentle cynicism he represents hooked me, and now I find it charming. In both the books I’ve read, it’s Mr. Handler’s ability to create characters that sucks me in. You know me, characters are key.

Generally I advocate beginning a series from the beginning, but I haven’t seen a copy of The Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald since the shop closed, and it was rare there. I’m slowly gathering them, but it’s a delight to have a new hunt for treasure.  If you start with THE GIRL WITH KALEIDOSCOPE EYES, you’ll feel right at home.

Go, find it, enjoy!

   JB

Observation from work: cashiering at a hardware store is the first job I’ve had were people coming at you with knives, pitchforks, sledgehammers, and axes is not a bad thing. It means they want to buy them, not make you the body in a book…

Back in early 2006, I picked up a debut novel. She was a complete unknown, as debut authors are by definition. The author was from my hometown and I was curious. The premise of the book sounded interesting so, what the hell, I’d give it a shot.

That was Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. 9780525575757My review in that Friday’s newzine a dozen years ago started with “WOW”.

My opinion of her work has only increased.

With the HBO adaptation that we’ve been watching, I haven’t been able to remember the nitty-gritty of the book and how they compare. So, I decided to re-read it. This is what has stood out to me:

#1 – It’s very well cast

#2 – The show downplays how active Camille’s scars are and how her feelings at any moment cause different words she’s carved into her skin to buzz. Not sure how they could adequately do it without a narration, to be fair. Still, something is lost in the translation.

#3 – Amma is toned down in the show, not being a super-bitch as in the book.

#4 – No rollerskating in the book, but it is a great visual in the show.

#5 – As always, no adaptation from book to screen can capture that beauty of the author’s writing. Even with a narrator, it can’t be done because you can’t be startled by the words and go back to re-read and re-appreciate them.

“Crisp clean clothes to make us forget all the drips and dank smells that come from our bodies. I was in college by the time I realized I like the smell of sex. I came into my friend’s bedroom one morning after a boy darted past me, smiling sideways and tucking his socks into his back pocket. She was lazing in bed, splotchy and naked, with one bare leg dangling out from under the sheets. That sweet muddy smell was purely animal, like the deepest corner of a bear’s cave. It was almost foreign to me, this lived-in overnight odor. My most evocative childhood scent was bleach.”

That’s why I appreciate and adore Gillian Flynn’s writing. Her words are evocative and her sentences circle around with surprising bite.

Now if we could just get her back to writing novels…

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~-Until October-~

Support Small Businesses 

If You Don’t, They Go Away…

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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From Me To You…

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Things I learned while working at SMB:

1. It is okay to not finish a book if you aren’t enjoying it.
2. How to write book reviews and blogs
3. How to manage a website.
4. That Agatha Christie, Elizabeth Daly and Georgette Heyer are some of my absolutely favorite authors.
5. How to defend highly formed opinions on Young Adult fiction and censorship
6. That enthusiasm and sincerity can bamboozle even the most jaded author into a smile.
7. I got to meet Jasper Fforde and Sophie Hannah! (While this isn’t strictly learning something, it was REALLY exciting!)

Who I met at SMB:

Working at SMB I met my friends JB and Fran, who over the past ten years have provided inspiration, guidance and a kick in the pants – when needed. Without them I never would have read Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Rex Stout, Carol O’Connel, Alan Bradley, Ellis Peters and the list just keeps going on. These two great people helped me work up the confidence to write My 52 Weeks With Christie (of which I am still very proud). With JB and Fran I experienced the absolutely weirdest job interview ever (which still blows my mind).

Then….

1. Ernie Cline let me check out a gull-wing DeLorean with an authentic-looking flux capacitor (thanks Ernie)
2. I got to talk soccer with Ian Rankin and a score of European authors
3. Startled Helen Tursten with my enthusiasm over her books
4. Laughed with Gail Carriger
4. Learn a totally new fist bump from Seanan McGuire
5. And I got to meet Jasper Fforde and Sophie Hannah! (have I mentioned that this was REALLY exciting!)

Even better? I met all of you guys. Readers who I got to know over the past ten years (can you believe it?). All of our great readers who recommended books that I never would have tried otherwise. Readers who when I placed a book in their hands and told them they “had to read it” they believed me and did. Maybe I didn’t always remember your names (it was a universal flaw), but my faulty memory aside – I will miss all of you.

Even better I got to bake approximately 1,000,000,000 cookies for you all!

It is still hard to believe I won’t see you almost every day. Even when I drive JB & Fran crazy and vise versa (I am sure they will not miss my penchant for organization & cleaning), they gave me the courage to try look towards the future with hope and enthusiasm. Our Readers, authors and friends helped me try some things both new and a bit scary, a little awesome and slightly twisted. When I remember The Shop, Bill, JB, Fran and you all – I will try to remember the best advise Dr. Seuss ever gave: Don’t Cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.

Until then keep reading.

Amber