February 2020

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Every now and then we lose a member of the SMB family and, though they are perhaps not well known to you, we want to note their passing –

Jim Norman recently died. Hard to say exactly when he moved into the orbit of the shop but it certainly was way back in the days of our Jance events at The Doghouse. Jim was a HUGE Jance fan and he and his first wife Carol created and gave a J.A. Jance tour to show other fans places where key events in Judy’s books occurred. Carol was killed in a collision with a drunk driver and the tours ended.

Jim was a loyal customer for at least a couple of decades and was always ready with a large smile to match his big frame and followed it with caring questions in his deep, soft voice. We got to know his second wife, Lynne, at later Jance signings and when she’d stop by to pick up books for him after he retired to the Olympic Peninsula.

Jim had a big life. He was in law enforcement in California, and owned a bookshop at one point. That gave him a special fondness for Bill’s bookshop, and sympathy when we were having a hard time.

Our hope is that Jim and Bill have found one another and are sharing laughs and a meal in a booth at The Doghouse in the sky.

      Serious Stuff

On the Antifascist Activists Who Fought in the Streets Long Before Antifa ~ The Rich American History of Nazi-Punching 

Jo Nesbø: ‘We should talk about violence against women’ 

Satan, the FBI, the Mob—and the Forgotten Plot to Kill Ted Kennedy

Soul Assassin: The Brief Life and Death of Jerome Johnson. In 1971, somebody hired a young Black man to assassinate an Italian mafia boss. Five decades later, the mystery continues.

True Crime Podcast, “The Murder Squad”, Leads to Arrest in 40-Year-Old Cold Case 

Smorgasbords Don’t Have Bottoms – Publishing in the 2010s (obviously written before the news of the downtown B&N closed)


Rural Montana Had Already Lost Too Many Native Women. Then Selena Disappeared. 

New app created by Clyde Ford’s company aims to reduce number of missing and murdered Native women


Bombs and blood feuds: the wave of explosions rocking Sweden’s cities

A New Missouri Bill Proposes Jailing Librarians Who Provide Children with “Age-Inappropriate” Books

      Awards

Lee Child Announced as One of the Judges for the Booker Prize

Romance Writers of America Cancels Awards Program 

John le Carré wins $100,000 prize, donates the money to charity.

      Words of the Month

auld lang syne : the good old times

From “Auld Lang Syne”:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Robert Burns never actually claimed to coin the phrase “Auld Lang Syne”—he said it was a fragment of an old song he’d discovered—but scholars credit him with the song we hear every New Year’s.

(Thanks to Merriam-Webster for the definition!)

      Book Stuff

From the Book of Genesis to contemporary crime writing, a look at why “trouble is always the most interesting element in any story.”

Fiction’s Most Manipulative Masterminds

Chuck Palahniuk on His Childhood Love of Ellery Queen and Writing in a Good Mood

The Noir Poetry and Doomed Romanticism of Cornell Woolrich 

Reviving the Traditional Mystery for a 21st Century Audience 

The case of the Encyclopedia Brown mystery that makes no sense 

Walter Mosley: ‘Everyone Can Write a Book.’ 

Graham Greene and Dorothy Glover’s Amazing Collection of Victorian Detective Fiction 

The Strange Cinematic Afterlife of ‘Red Harvest’

A library found it was missing $8 million of its rarest items. Nearly three years later, a man on the inside admitted to selling the items to a local bookstore 

How One Librarian Tried to Squash Goodnight Moon. There’s a reason this classic is missing from the New York Public Library’s list of the 10 most-checked-out books of all time.

Why Philosophers could transform your 2020 

Sold: Pierre de Coubertin’s Blueprint for the Olympics. The 14-page speech is now the world’s most expensive piece of sports memorabilia.

Shakespeare’s First Folio: Rare 1623 collection expected to fetch $6m at auction

The Making of a Harlequin Romance Cover

How a Book Cover Gets Made: Nicole Caputo on Belletrist’s Studio Sessions

Bookshop.org hopes to play Rebel Alliance to Amazon’s Empire (not sure how this is not a repeat of Indiebound, but more power to ’em!)

Dutch Art Sleuth Finds Rare Stolen Copy Of ‘Prince Of Persian Poets’

Real Book Lovers Aren’t Afraid to Cut Them in Half

Feminist Zines Have Have Been Around Longer Than You Thought—Here’s Where One Began

Anne Brontë is the least famous Brontë sister. But she might have been the most radical.

“The Third Rainbow Girl” author on the true story of a double murder she didn’t set out to write

HAPPY 120TH BIRTHDAY UNIVERSITY BOOKSTORE! Here are some things you might not have known about it.

Nourishing ‘long roots’: In a year, Madison Books has forged an essential role in one of Seattle’s oldest communities 

Exclusive: watch the trailer for The Booksellers, a new documentary about rare book dealers.

      Other Forms of Fun

The Year in Sherlock Holmes A Sherlockian Review of 2019

The Most Anticipated Crime Shows of 2020

Brad Pitt Reveals The Reaction To Se7en‘s Twist Ending Was Not What He Expected 

Season Four ‘Fargo’ Trailer: Chris Rock’s Loy Cannon Battles Mafia to Control Kansas City 

‘Silence of the Lambs’ Sequel ‘Clarice’ Gets Series Commitment at CBS

Ross Thomas’s Edgar-Winning Novel Briarpatch coming to USA Network Feb. 2nd

Marvel to get first transgender superhero

      Author Events

February 3: Clyde Ford, Powells 7:30pm

February 12: Joe Ide,  Third Place/LFP, 7pm

February 13: Joe Ide, Powell’s 7:30pm

February 27: Charles Finch, Powell’s, 7pm

February 28: Charles Finch in conversation with Mary Anne Gwinn, UBooks, 6pm

      Words of the Month

Apricity: the warmth of the sun in winter

This word provides us with evidence that even if you come up with a really great word, and tell all of your friends that they should start using it, there is a very small chance that it will catch on. Apricity appears to have entered our language in 1623, when Henry Cockeram recorded (or possibly invented) it for his dictionary The English Dictionary; or, An Interpreter of Hard English Words. Despite the fact that it is a delightful word for a delightful thing it never quite caught on.

(Thanks to Merriam-Webster for the definition!)

      Links of Interest

January 3: “One Last Job, Then I’m Out…”: Broken Resolutions in Classic Crime Films A brief history of broken promises in noir.

January 4: ‘The ghost of Manzanar’: Japanese WW2 internee’s body found

January 7: Alpacas dine out on donated Christmas tree feast

January 8: Why We Love Untranslatable Words

January 9: Burglar cooks snack in Taco Bell then falls asleep

January 9: Did The Trojan War Really Happen?

January 12: Night rider: 21 years sleeping on a London bus

January 13: The True Crime Story That Changed My Life

January 14: My decade as a fugitive: ‘I felt I could be killed at any moment’

January 14: Billie Eilish to sing the new James Bond theme

January 14: The teenage Dutch girls who seduced and killed Nazis

January 14: ‘The Irishman’ tells us who killed Jimmy Hoffa; a lawyer with a secret trove of documents says the movie got it wrong

January 15: James Bond’s greatest hits – and biggest misses

January 15: The accidental Singer sewing machine revolution

January 16: Golden Age Hollywood was Full of Ex-Cons

January 16: Meet the NASA intern who discovered a new planet on his third day

January 17: Textbooks are pricey. So students are getting creative.

January 16: Spain billionaire guilty of trying to smuggle a Picasso

January 22: Burglar traps himself in Vancouver store

January 22: The art heists that shook the world – in pictures

January 24: The secret life of Yakuza women

January 24: Mummy returns: Voice of 3,000-year-old Egyptian priest brought to life

January 27: Philip Pullman calls for boycott of Brexit 50p coin over ‘missing’ Oxford comma. Critics fume over the omission of Oxford comma from phrase ‘Peace, prosperity and friendship’ as new coin enters circulation

January 27: Me and the G-Man. A crime writer’s research sparks an unlikely
friendship with an FBI agent

January 27: Man Sentenced to Probation Despite Stealing More than $1 Million From Dr Pepper (JB swears it wasn’t him…)

January 28: What Authors Can Learn from the Greatest Long Takes in Movie History

January 28: Tesco cat Pumpkin defies Norwich supermarket ‘ban’

January 29: Ken Harmon’s “Fatman: A Tale of North Pole Noir” to come to the screen (One of Amber’s favorite comic mysteries!)


Food Fights

January 8: How New York’s Bagel Union Fought — and Beat — a Mafia Takeover. The mob saw an opportunity. Local 338 had other ideas.

January 17: In 1930s New York, the Mayor Took on the Mafia by Banning Artichokes


      R.I.P.

Buck Henry, comedy icon beloved for The Graduate and ‘Get Smart,’ dies at 89 

Edd Byrnes, Who Played ‘Kookie’ in ’77 Sunset Strip,’ Dies at 87

Stan Kirsch: Highlander and Friends actor dies aged 51

Forensic Artist Betty Pat Gatliff, Whose Facial Reconstructions Helped Solve Crimes, Dies at 89

Former Seattle Attorney Egil Krogh, Nixon ‘plumber’ who authorized a pre-Watergate break-in, dies at 80

Terry Jones: Monty Python stars pay tribute to comedy great

‘First Middle-earth scholar’ Christopher Tolkien dies

      Words of the Month

forensic (adj.) “pertaining to or suitable for courts of law,” 1650s, with -ic + stem of Latin forensis “of a forum, place of assembly,” related to forum “public place” (see forum). Later used especially in sense of “pertaining to legal trials,” as in forensic medicine (1845). Related: Forensical (1580s). [thanks to etymoline]

      What We’ve Been Up To

   Amber

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Finder of Lost Things – I am furiously working on the end of season two! So please be patient!!!! On the upside you’ve now got time to catch up if you’ve fallen behind!

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Shelley Noble – Tell Me No Lies

Lady Dunbridge is back, and her second stab at detection doesn’t disappoint! Her reputation for being of assistance in a crisis is growing. So much so, that when a man is found murdered (and ignobly shoved into a laundry shute) after a debutante’s ball – the host comes to Phil (our Lady Dunbridge) for help.

One of the best things about these books (so far) is how seamlessly Noble has taken the traditional English Manor House mystery and plunked it down in historic NY City amongst; the Great Stock Market Crash of 1907, Teddy Roosevelt’s recent departure as the head of NY Police Commissioner’s Board (thus leaving a vacuum and allowing dirty cops free reign again), and the Gilded Age of the NY City elite (partying in full swing).

Well, those who didn’t lose their shirts in the aforementioned crash…

Another reason why I enjoy this burgeoning series is the number of mysteries Nobel packed betwixt the cover of her books!

Not only do we have the murder at hand to enjoy watching Lady Dunbrige solve…We also have the continuing mystery of Phil’s maid Lily. To whom Phil hasn’t a clue what her real name is, where she comes from or her history. What she does know is Lily keeps a stiletto strapped to her ankle at all times, knows her way around locks, and speaks several languages.

Lily’s worked hard under the supervision of Phil’s butler Preswick learning her new trade as a lady’s maid – but the question is, can Phil really trust Lily?

Then there’s MR. X, a man who Phil possesses even less data on than Lily (including what he looks like). However, it’s his motivations that are the true mystery. Why is he footing the bill for her year-long lease at the Plaza? Why does he want her at the ready should he need her talents (social position, connections, and brains) to help solve murders (so far…)? Even more important are they working on the same side of the law?

Both of these carried over questions, which Noble does a great job of dropping bread crumbs to keep her readers following her questionable characters, are only the tip of the iceberg of curious people and tangled motivates present in her two books.

If you enjoy nearly bloodless, fast-paced, smart, witty historical mysteries, you’ll find the Lady Dunbrige Mysteries well worth your time.

Though, as my colleague below has pointed out – you need to start with the first book first! Ask Me No Questions. Otherwise, the second installment won’t have nearly the depth of flavor!

the-rook

Now onto a Television Show Review!

If you perused our Best of the Decade book lists we compiled and published in January, then you know The Rook by Daniel O’Malley was at the top of my pile. So let me tell you I was really excited when I learned, back in May, STARZ had optioned it into a television series! (Unfortunately, because I’m disinclined to sign up for yet another streaming service, I had to wait until January before it became available on iTunes. Hence why I am reviewing it now.)

Here’s the thing.

(There’s always a thing with adaptations.)

When I first started watching The Rook, I needed to squint my eyes and look at it sideways to see the original text on the screen.

Not only does the show delete several beloved (well maybe not beloved but definitely interesting) Court members.

If you’re looking to see the Chevaliers Eckhart & Gubbins (metal manipulation & contortionist extraordinaire), Bishop Alrich (vampire) or Lord Wattleman (who sunk a submarine while naked in WWII and never had his powers really explained – that I recall) striding across the screen – you’ll be in for a disappointment.

It’s also missing the incidents with the purple spores & all the chanting, the cube of flesh bent on absorbing people, The Greek Woman, the dragon, a rabbit, and well quite a bit more besides.

The screen writes also futzed, which is a rather tame word for utterly reworked, the plot. Oh’ there’s still plenty of intrigues, infighting, and backstabbing – never fear.

But the villains of the piece have shifted dramatically.

To say the on-screen adaptation bears only a passing resemblance to the book and lacks much of the original wit and whimsy is an accurate assessment.

HOWEVER.

This is the thing.

If you think of books, television, movies, plays, and musicals as different universes – creating an artistic multiverse if you will – then it should be accepted that what happens in a book won’t translate exactly onto a television screen.

This is what happened with The Rook.

Both versions occupy different parts of the multiverse, and both versions contain strengths and flaws…

…and I love them both.

Much of what I love about the book is utterly impractical for a television (or computer) screen. If they’d tried, I fear we would’ve end up with something like The Hobbit. Where Peter Jackson used so much CGI, the movie felt more like a cartoon and lost a lot of the charm the original Lord of the Rings trilogy contained.

So the writers needed to edit, manipulate, and rework the plot.

And where they ended up is not only relevant, it shines a bright light on an under-addressed problem in the world today – Human Trafficking.

The specter haunting the Chequy employees isn’t the Grafters and their flesh manipulation techniques… But Vultures, like Peter Van Suoc, who hunt down and kidnap EVA’s (acronym for Extreme Variant Abilities). Then take them to the Lugate organization to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

It makes sense. It’s compelling. It moves the story along. It is different.

Our other narrative mover and shaker Myfanwy Thomas – still wakes up in the rain surrounded by people wearing latex gloves, she still loses her memory, she still has a choice between the red & blue keys, she still writes her new self letters and she still pursues the questions of who she is & who stole her memory.

Perhaps the television version is bleaker than its counterpart in the book universe – but is that such a bad thing? The adaptation strays much farther into grey areas than the book ever did. Mainly by asking the question – what really separates the Vultures & Lugate from the Chequy at the end of the day?

So if you can wrap your mind around an artistic multiverse, I would highly suggest watching The Rook. Not only is the story compelling – but watching the treatment Gestalt received at the hands of both the writers and the actors – is brilliant.

Seriously.

   Fran

I’ve been deep in series-itis for as long as I can remember, and I’ve told you about these three before, so I’m not going to go into plot details because either you know already or I might reveal spoilers, so I’m just going to talk about them kind of generally.

Mind you, I LOVE THESE SERIES, so I’ll also remind you which is the first one in case you’ve been looking for a new series to read. They’re best read in series order, although with the first two, if you pick up the one I’m talking about, it’ll stand on its own, but won’t have the impact you’ll get if you read them in order.

Read them in order, dammit.

9781250207173First off, J.D. Robb’s Vendetta in Death.

Eve Dallas and company are back chasing a serial killer who is dealing out her perception of vengeance against men who have done awful things to the women who love them. She goes by the name “Lady Justice”, and her method of handing out said justice is brutal.

I know a lot of people dismiss Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb since she’s primarily known as a “romance” writer, but there’s quality in what she does.

I was witness to grace and strength, and for some reason it scraped me raw.” That one sentence sums up so much.

Start with Naked in Death.

Secondly, Ian Hamilton’s latest Ava Lee novel,
9781487002039

Mountain Master of Sha Tin knocks it right out of the park. Hamilton’s come up with the most off-the-wall protagonist in a long time in Ava Lee. Who expected a Chinese-Canadian lesbian forensic accountant to be the star of a thriller series? And yet, here we are.

I really recommend having read all the books before this, because Mountain Master of Sha Tin kicks you in the gut, especially if you’re as invested in these folks as I am. And Ava Lee in love is much more vulnerable than you might think. Besides, you won’t necessarily understand all the triad position names unless you do.

And you won’t be as excited as I am to know that Ian Hamilton’s started a series that tells Uncle’s back story!

Start with The Water Rat of Wanchai.

And now for the hat trick.

John Connolly. Charlie Parker. A Book of Bones. That’s really all I should have to say, honestly.

9781982127510This world, Quayle said, would continue almost exactly as before, except for those who understood where, and how, to look. They would see shadows where no shadows should be, and forms shifting at the periphery of their vision. As for the rest, they would watch the rise of intolerance, and the subjugation of the weak by the powerful. They would witness inequality, despotism, and environmental ruination. They would be told by the ignorant and self-interested that this was the natural order of things.

But in their hearts they would know better, and feel afraid.

A Book of Bones is, in many ways, the showdown we’ve been waiting for, and we are not disappointed. It almost feels like things are wrapping up.

And then John Connolly ends the book with a twist that had me staring blankly into space, calling him a right bastard, and admiring the brilliance of the twist.

This series you have to read in order; you can’t just pick up A Book of Bones and hope to know what’s going on. Besides, you don’t want to miss the dynamics between Louis and Angel. Trust me here. For hardened killers, they’ll steal your heart, as will Charlie’s daughters, but for quite different reasons.

Start with Every Dead Thing.

We’ll talk again after you’ve caught up, say about the time Golden in Death, The Diamond Queen of Singapore, and The Dirty South are out and devoured. Honestly, I can’t wait!

   JB

Two bookshop dreams:

First one is harder to recall but I was trying to reassemble bookshelves. Can’t remember why they were unassembled but it was crazy trying to fit bolts into boards and match the holes so that nuts could go onto the bolts, I’m on my knees with my nose about four inches from the floor, my glasses were falling off, I was trying to dodge the feet of customers…

The second one was that I was expecting one of my old sales reps to come over so we could have lunch. David was one of our reps for Random House. But the guy who showed up was a young rep, a new rep, and he was expecting to take an order for books in a new set of catalogues! He didn’t know that the shop was no longer active. He walked back to his car and then I realized that I needed those catalogues so that I could finish the next newsletter… To make it weirder, the house were all of this took place was the house I grew up in, not my current home. I think these newsletter dreams happen when it is getting closer to posting these newzines.

Three shows to recommend:

On Netflix, “The Confession Killer”, a documentary about Henry Lee Lucas and his confessions to hundreds of murders. At that time, back in the late 70s and early 80s, he was thought to be the serial killer with the most victims. Then it all fell apart. This documentary is more about the way it all fell apart – the internal warfare within law enforcement – than the murders. Very well done.

Also on Netflix, “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez”, a three-part look at this man who was such a talented athlete but whose internal monsters – whatever their source – drove him to destroy it all. Very well done.

Lastly, from HBO: “The Outsider”, an adaptation of a Steven King novel about an awful murder and the people who are destroyed by it – and then it gets weird. Very well done.



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January 2020

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WELCOME TO A NEW YEAR

WELCOME TO A NEW DECADE

We’ve recently learned that Sandy, the creator and original editor of our quarterly newsletter and one-time bookkeeper, has moved back to town.

Welcome Back! We hope to see you soon.

‘It’s really flattering’: Obama picks Spokane’s Jess Walter for favorite books of the year list

Extra! Extra! Pike Place Market newsstand to close after 40 years

      Serious Stuff

Bone-Marrow Transplants Alter Genetic IDs, Complicating DNA-Based Criminal Analysis

Henry Lee Lucas Was Considered America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer. But He Was Really a Serial Liar.

Evidence Scandal In Orange County Stirs Conflict Within Law Enforcement 

How This Con Man’s Wild Testimony Sent Dozens to Jail, and 4 to Death Row

Is this cave painting humanity’s oldest story? 

Stop Believing in Free Shipping 

Prime Leverage: How Amazon Wields Power in the Technology World ~ Software start-ups have a phrase for what Amazon is doing to them: ‘strip-mining’ them of their innovations. 

New Research Identifies Possible Mass Graves From 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre


From The Guardian’s Editor’s Best Stories of 2019: ‘Blood on their hands’: the intelligence officer whose warning over white supremacy was ignored

This Is America: Eleven years after Obama’s election, and three years into the Trump presidency, the threat of domestic terrorism can’t be ignored.


A group of self-taught investigators is confronting the limits of using DNA and genetic genealogy to identify victims.

      Words of the Month

vade-mecum (n.) “a pocket manual, handbook,” 1620s, Latin, literally “go with me;” from imperative of vadere “to go” (see vamoose) + me “me” + cum “with.” 

      Book Stuff

An Algorithm Can Tell Us How Much Shakespeare Was Actually Written by Shakespeare

In Greenwich Village, the Perfect New York Bookstore Lives On

Latin Dictionary’s Journey: A to Zythum in 125 Years (and Counting)

Janet Evanovich wins big with Stephanie Plum series and TV deals 

Alaska: Northern Noir ~ Crime fiction has found a strange home in the cold wilds of Alaska. (have to say these people are way behind the curve if they think this is new…)

Couth Buzzard Books, celebrating a milestone anniversary, has become the ‘Cheers’ of Greenwood

The Ferrante Effect’: In Italy, Women Writers Are Ascendant ~“My Brilliant Friend” and Elena Ferrante’s other best-selling books are inspiring female novelists and shaking up the country’s male-dominated literary establishment.

New book claims Albert Camus was murdered by the KGB 

7 Things Crime Readers Will No Longer Tolerate by Christopher Fowler

Get Radcliff!: The Search for Black Pulp’s Forgotten Author. Gary Phillips on the trail of Roosevelt Mallory, who helped revolutionize 1970s pulp fiction, then disappeared.

From Gar Anthony Haywood: I Wrote the Kind of Character I Wanted Most to Read About

The Elements of the Haunted House: A Primer or, How to Build a Haunted House Mystery from the Ground Up 

Jeff Lindsay Has a New Anti-Hero ~ The Dexter Author Talks Craft, Character, and Cannibalism 

Peter Pan’s dark side emerges with release of original manuscript 

George RR Martin opens bookshop next to his cinema in Santa Fe 

America 2019: Area man steals rare books in order to pay for cancer treatment. 

How Do Some Authors “Lose Control” of Their Characters?

The (Quiet) Death of a Legendary Parisian Bookstore

These are the 10 Best-Selling Books of the Decade

From Portland, another bookshop closes: Another Read Through is leaving Mississippi Avenue

Do apostrophes still matter?

The tricks that can turn you into a speed reader

Booksellers get holiday bonuses from James Patterson  

Rediscovering Dorothy B. Hughes’ Brutal Hollywood Take-Down, Dread Journey 

A Romance Novelist Spoke out about Racism. An Uproar Ensued

Here are the most popular books checked out of the Seattle Public Library in 2019

       Author Events

January 11 – Candace Robb and Kim Zarins, 4pm, UBooks

January 21 – Chad Dundas, 7:30pm, Powell’s

January 29 – Mary Wingate, 7pm, Village Books

January 30 – Russell Rowland, 7:30pm, Powell’s

      Other Forms of Fun

Motherless Brooklyn: Ed Norton on the film it took him 20 years to make 

How Olga Kurylenko Won ‘Bond’ and Narrowly Lost ‘Wonder Woman’

The Evolution of the Femme Fatale in Film Noir

The Bone Collector, Jeffery Deaver’s first book with forensic anthropologist Lincoln Rhyme, was made into a 1999 film staring Denzel Washington as Rhyme and Angelina Jolie as the young cop who becomes his “legman”. Rhyme is a quadraplegic and needs Amelia Sachs to visit the crime scenes. The books are a true updating of the armchair detective story – it’s a great series. Now, starting Friday, Jan. 10, the book comes to the smaller screen when ‘Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector’ debuts on NBC. As they say, check your local listings!

The Most Underrated Crime Films of the Decade

Coming in February: ‘Narcos: Mexico’: Scoot McNairy Hunts Diego Luna in Season 2 First Look 

From “Making a Murderer” to “Don’t F**k with Cats,” the evolution of true crime this decade

BioShock returns for more gene-enhanced gaming

      Words of the Month

Ignis fatuus: a light that sometimes appears in the night over marshy ground and is often attributable to the combustion of gas from decomposed organic matter or a deceptive goal or hope.

Ignis fatuus is a Latin term meaning, literally, “foolish fire.” In English, it has come to designate a hovering or flitting light that sometimes appears in the night over marshy ground that is attributable to the combustion of gas from decomposed organic matter. Other names for this light are jack-o’-lantern and will-o’-the-wisp—both of which are connected to folklore about mysterious men, Jack and Will, who carry a lantern or a wisp of light at night. A Scottish name for ignis fatuus is spunkie, from spunk, meaning “spark” or “a small fire.” It has also been told that ignes fatui (the Latin plural form) are roaming souls. No doubt these stories spooked listeners by candlelight, but in time, advancements in science not only gave us electricity to dispel the darkness but proved ignis fatuus to be a visible exhalation of gas from the ground, which is rarely seen today.

‘But thou art altogether given over, / and wert indeed, but for the light in thy face, the son of utter / darkness. When thou ran’st up Gadshill in the night to catch my / horse, if I did not think thou hadst been an ignis fatuus or a / ball of wildfire, there’s no purchase in money. O, thou art a / perpetual triumph, an everlasting bonfire-light! ‘

— William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1, ca. 1597

(Thanks to Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

       Links of Interest

November 26: Lee Child: How Jack Reacher Fits Into a Long History of Folk Heroes

December 2: Great Film Composers: The Music of the Movies: How the rise of the Nazis gave us the best film noir music

December 2: Judge tosses $71-million verdict against NBC Universal over ‘Columbo’ profits

December 2: ‘The Irishman’ Left Out the Full Story of the Disastrous Angelo Bruno and Frank Sidone Murders

December 3: ‘He Had It Coming’ looks back on the ‘Murderess Row’ that inspired ‘Chicago’

December 4: Five ‘hot mic’ moments that got leaders in trouble

December 5: The murdered ‘handsome’ priest with a decades-long secret

December 5: Spassky vs Fischer: How the chess battle became a theatre event

December 6: How to conquer work paralysis like Ernest Hemingway

December 9: Perfect’ Scotch whisky collection could be worth £8m

December 10: Failed plot to steal domain name at gunpoint brings 14-year prison term

December 11: “Portrait of a Lady” ~ Stolen Klimt mystery ‘solved’ by gardener in Italy

December 11: Art Forgery Is Easier Than Ever, and It’s a Great Way to Launder Money

December 11: Buyer returns Grease jacket to Olivia Newton-John after auction

December 12: The CIA’s Former Chief of Disguise Drops Her Mask

December 13: Hosting an Orgy? This 1970s Cookbook Has You Covered

December 13: Octopus and eagle square off at Canadian fish farm

December 16: Christopher Reeve’s ‘Superman’ Cape Sells at Auction, Sets Record

December 16: Mice watching film noir show the surprising complexity of vision cells

December 16: Babe Ruth: Baseball player’s landmark home run bat fetches $1m\

December 16: Meet a Bad Man Who Became a Truly Great Spy

December 16: Grave of top Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich opened in Berlin

December 17: A New Way of Looking at ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

December 17: Judge rules in favor of US effort to take Snowden book money

December 19: James Blake uses unseen Planet Earth footage in new video

December 19: Is the Netherlands becoming a narco-state?

December 20: Democratic lawmakers pushed Spy Museum to alter CIA torture exhibit\

December 21: Police department finds furry culprit behind toy theft

December 22: Take a look behind the ‘small doors to imaginary spaces’ within bookshelves

December 22: The night Samuel Beckett was nearly stabbed to death by a pimp

December 23: LS Lowry: Lost painting to go on sale after 70 years

December 23: I was a teenage code-breaker at Bletchley Park

December 23: Daniel Craig Wanted to Resign as Bond After ‘Spectre’. Here’s the Real Reason He Returned For ‘No Time to Die’

December 27: Sriracha hot sauce recall over ‘exploding’ bottle fears

December 31: Lawyers: Robert Durst Wrote Incriminating ‘Cadaver’ Note

December 31: Human remains found in Idaho cave identified as outlaw who died over 100 years ago

      Words of the Month

terroir: the combination of factors including soil, climate, and sunlight that gives wine grapes their distinctive character. First known use was in 1863. From Old French tieroir, from Vulgar Latin *terratorium, alteration of Latin territorium. (thanks to Merriam-Webster) [what a difference and “i” makes…]

      R.I.P.

December 3: D.C. Fontana, famed writer for Star Trek, dies at 80

December 7: Friends actor Ron Leibman dies at the age of 82

December 8:  Winston Lawson, Secret Service agent with JFK in Dallas, dies at 91

December 8: Caroll Spinney: Sesame Street’s Big Bird puppeteer dies

December 9: Overlooked No More: Rose Mackenberg, Houdini’s Secret ‘Ghost-Buster’

December 9: Battle of Britain pilot Maurice Mounsdon dies aged 101

December 10: George Laurer, an Inventor of the Modern Bar Code, Dies at 94

December 11: Jeanne Guillemin, pioneering researcher who uncovered a Cold War secret, dies at 76

December 13: Danny Aiello, beloved character actor and Oscar nominee for ‘Do the Right Thing,’ dies at 86

December 13: Elisabeth Sifton, editor and tamer of literary lions, dies at 80

December 16: Nicky Henson: Stage and screen actor 

December 20: Claudine Auger: French actress known for Thunderball role dies aged 78

December 20: Acclaimed Author and Journalist Ward Just Dead at 84

December 25: Allee Willis: ‘Friends’ theme songwriter

December 26: Sue Lyon, teenage star of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Lolita,’ is dead at 73

December 31: Sonny Mehta, visionary editor and head of Alfred A. Knopf, dies at 77

December 31: M. C. BEATON: R.I.P.

      Words of The Month

vamoose (v.): “to decamp, be off,” 1834, from Spanish vamos “let us go,” from Latin vadamus, first person plural indicative of vadere “to go, to walk, go hastily,” from Proto-Indo-European root *wadh- (2) “to go” (source also of Old English wadan “to go,” Latin vadum “ford;” see wade (v.)). (thanks to etymonline)

      What We’ve Been Up To

   Amber

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Finder of Lost Things

This coming Friday we come to the last post for series one! Can you believe it? And we will see how Phoebe and Joseph cope with the after effects of the Woman In White’s attack.

Series Two – will drop in about two-ish months. I will give you guys plenty of warning when I’m going to start posting! Though on the upside if you haven’t started reading my story yet – this is the perfect time to catch up!

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Chloe Neill – Wicked Hour

The second book in the Heirs of Chicagoland series is a fun, fast-paced romp that is stronger than its predecessor by a factor of five. While a few of the original cast make their presence felt, they only enter into the narrative when necessary. Rather than making gratuitous and/or distracting appearances – which is really lovely.

The mystery presented in the second installment is also solid. Part of the Pack living in Northern Michigan is experiencing problems…and that’s putting it mildly. So Connor Keene, heir apparent to his father’s position as Apex, is sent to figure out what exactly is going on.

What he finds is a hornet’s nest.

Into this mess of resentment, issues, and anger Conner’s also brought, Elisa Sullivan. Because if things aren’t already stressful enough, let’s bring along the girl you’re more than just a little interested in and see how the pack reacts.

Elisa is more than capable of staring down a few shifters – katana in hand.

Then we get to the murder…and the other murder…and bad magic.

Seriously this book was a whole lotta fun to read. Neill introduced us to a quasi-new character named Alexei Breckenridge – who next to Lulu and Elisa’s cat Eleanor of Aquitaine (who will exact revenge if called by anything less than her full title) – is my favorite thus far. Mostly due to his dry sense of humor, the fact he enjoys needling Elisa by continuing to sneak up on her and the fact you never know where any of his sentences will take you.

If you are looking for a new-ish shifter/sorcerer/vampire mystery series to read, without needing to go back and read the original Chicagoland series (which honestly you should because it was great), you should start with Wicked Hour!

   Fran

I’ve been trying to figure out how to sell M. R. Carey‘s post-apocalyptic thriller THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS (Orbit) to myself, if I was still selling books. Because on the surface, I’d have turned it down, despite the whole post-apocalyptic thing. I guess it’s a “Trust me” book.

9780316334754See, it’s written in present tense, and we all know how weird I am about that. But worse, it’s about zombies. I really don’t like zombies. Bleah. I know lots of people do love them, and they’ll jump all over this book, but I find them boring.

However, I really do like the TV series “Lucifer”, and M. R. Carey is the writer behind that. He creates amazing, three dimensional and compelling characters, and I’m a sucker for great characters! And twisty, well told stories. He does those brilliantly.

Oh, short synopsis, yeah. In this devastated future in a military base in England, children are strapped into wheelchairs, arms, legs and heads. Then they’re wheeled into classrooms where they’re taught all the things school children learn. Melanie is about ten years old, and her favorite teacher is Miss Justineau. Miss Justineau makes learning fun, and she really interacts with the children. Melanie loves Miss Justineau, the other teachers not so much.

However, outside the base, things are  bleak. A fungus, Ophiocordyceps, has mutated – or has been mutated – so that it no longer just infects ants, and has taken over mankind. Well, most of mankind. And the fungal infection moves quickly, thoroughly, no chance of recovery ever, and makes  the new hosts mindless and hungry.

I don’t want to say too much more because THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS takes off at breakneck speed, and it really doesn’t slow down. M. R. Carey understands timing and plot and tension, but he also understands how complicated people are, and how powerful love can be.

So yeah, this is a “Trust me” book, but I really do want you to trust me on it! The science is disturbingly cool (I kind of want to watch the David Attenborough documentary about the ants, but I’m afraid it’ll just creep me out), the story revolves around a teacher and her pupil, and the writing is simply brilliant.

Trust me.

   JB

Shop dream on the morning of Xmas Eve: what I remember was looking into a box of books, a shipment all jumbled together, and realizing that reserves hadn’t been pulled so I was digging through the books and flipping pages in the reserve book, trying to match up authors to lists of customers who wanted a copy. The books in the box were in no special order, so I was flipping back and forth in the reserve book as I fished out a hardcover, for some reason not taking all the books out first and organizing them… Where do these dreams come from !

Could there be a better way to end the year, and to relax over a few days away, that to catch up on a 9780802129307.jpg favorite author’s book you’d missed???? I doubt it, I really do.

I had ordered what I thought was his latest book last Spring to take on a trip back to KC but it ended up being the story from the year before. What the hell – I read it again on the trip, the books are that good. So it had always stuck in some shadowed part of my brain that there must’ve been a DeMarco from this year that I’d not read. Finally, I started to wonder when there’d a be a new one next year and that’s when I finally cleared to mush from my cabasa and got a copy of House Arrest.

It’s a very different DeMarco story, even while it is another great DeMarco story.

Arrested for the murder of a congressman in the Capital, DeMarco sits in jail with a target on his forehead. In many ways, this is Emma’s book, as she swings into action to prove he was framed. To do that, she’s gotta provide the FBI with the real killer. So she relies on her years of training and work and those she’s gotten to know to save DeMarco. Why? She abhors his love of baseball and golf, thinks his wardrobe is ridiculous, and is pained to know he works for a man she detests but, really, Emma likes DeMarco. She appreciates his spirit, his ethic, and his willingness to put himself in the line of fire to help someone – as he has with Emma a couple of times.

There are big changes in DeMarco’s life mandated by publicity of the arrest and I have no idea where Mike will put him. It could be the end of the series – any of books could – but I think he has freed DeMarco to do other things.

And I can’t wait.


Fridays in January ~ Our Best of the Decade Lists



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November’s Newzine

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      Serious Stuff

My Family Story of Love, the Mob, and Government Surveillance 

Samuel Little: FBI confirms ‘most prolific’ US serial killer

How Did a Serial Killer Escape Notice? His Victims Were Vulnerable and Overlooked

The Green River Killer and Me

The British Spy Who Tried to Stop the Iraq War 

Cameron’s Books & Magazines, a Portland institution since 1938, is closing

New York’s infamous Rikers Island jail is to close 

Seattle hosts true crime event hunting for fresh clues in decade-old murder case 

Appeals Court Set To Weigh In On Request To Access Testimony From 1946 Lynching Cold Case. Can and Should Grand Jury Material ever be Made Public?

Famed NYC ME Baden Says Examination of Jeffrey Epstein Death Points to Murder

      Words of the Month

myrmidon (n): One of a warlike people of ancient Thessaly, legendarily ruled by Achilles and accompanying him to Troy, c. 1400, from Latin Myrmidones (plural), from Greek Myrmidones, Thessalian tribe led by Achilles to the Trojan War, fabled to have been ants changed into men, and often derived from Greek myrmex “ant” (from Proto-Indo-European *morwi (see Formica (2)), but Watkins does not connect them and Klein’s sources suggest a connection to Greek mormos “dread, terror.” Transferred sense of “faithful unquestioning follower,” often with a suggestion of unscrupulousness, is from c. 1600. (thanks to etymonline)

      Book Stuff

The Global War on Books, Redux: Governments are spending a remarkable amount of resources attacking books — because their supposed limitations are beginning to look like ageless strengths.

Author Jenny Lawson Aims to Create a Sanctuary With Nowhere Bookshop

Ancient Greek Scroll’s Hidden Contents Revealed Through Infrared Imaging 

Light Billions of Times Brighter Than the Sun Used to Read Charred Scrolls From Herculaneum

Diary of a small town sensation: how the Wimpy Kid author built his dream bookshop

“Me Before You” Author Jojo Moyes Has Been Accused Of Publishing A Novel With “Alarming Similarities” To Another Author’s Book

From The Crime Hub – Some of the Best Legal Thriller Writers

Australia’s First Published Dictionary Was Dedicated to ‘Convict Slang’

Home on the Range ~ Craig Johnson – ‘Land of Wolves’ author moseys between stacks at the ranch 

Celebrating Elmore Leonard’s “Rules for Writing”

“My Ties to England have Loosened”: John LeCarré on Britain, Boris and Brexit 

John le Carré: ‘Politicians love chaos – it gives them authority’

Every Child Can Become a Lover of Books 

When True Crime Gets Personal 

Removing the Mystery From Mystery Writing: 13 Tricks Used by Acclaimed Novelists 

Tana French Is Our Best Living Mystery Writer 

One Neat Trick to Writing Great Mystery Plots (in which Charles Finch raves about Tana French)

The 20 essential L.A. crime books

New Hunger Games prequel gets a compelling title, book cover  

Oxford University professor accused of selling ancient Bible fragments 

The Booksellers is a fascinating look into the world of rare book dealers 

Writer Nicholas Meyer on the Inspiration Behind His Latest Sherlock Holmes Tale

How to Write Hercule Poirot in 2019 

Learning to Write Mysteries the Mystic River Way

The Crimes Never End: A Guide to Mystery’s Biggest and Longest-Lasting Book Franchises

What It’s Like to Build and Operate a Tiny Traveling Bookshop

Diaries Expose “Strong Brew’ of Ripley Novelist Patricia Highsmith’s Dark Thoughts

The State of the Crime Novel: A Roundtable Discussion with Crime Authors

The Hunt for Shakespeare’s Library: I Couldn’t Stop Looking If I Wanted To

      Words of the Month

Calliope : 1. the Greek Muse of heroic poetry 2. a keyboard musical instrument resembling an organ and consisting of a series of whistles sounded by steam or compressed air

With a name literally meaning “beautiful-voiced” (from kallos, meaning “beauty,” and ops, meaning “voice”), Calliope was the most prominent of the Muses—the nine sister goddesses who in Greek mythology presided over poetry, song, and the arts and sciences. She is represented in art as holding an epic poem in one hand and a trumpet in the other. The musical instrument invented and patented in the 1850s, played by forcing steam or compressed air through a series of whistles, was named after the goddess. Because its sound could be heard for miles around, the calliope was effective in luring patrons to river showboats, circuses, and carnivals, which is why the instrument continues its association with such attractions today.

(Thanks to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary for the definition)

      Other Forms of Fun

ABC’s Stumptown is the scuzzy private-eye show we need right now  (it’s also ‘set’ in Portland)

Knives Out director Rian Johnson explains how to build a great whodunnit mystery

Kenneth Branagh’s Death On The Nile Starts Filming With An All-Star Cast

Nancy Drew and the Mystery of Her Enduring Relavence 

Nancy Drew Is Not Who You Remember ~ The girl detective gets a CW reboot, but is she more than endlessly recyclable intellectual property?

The Seductive Power of the Femme Fatale

Is the time finally right for a “Friends” reboot?

Sesame Street to cover addiction with new muppet Karli

Marvel Comics at 80: From bankruptcy threat to billions at the box office 

Motherless Brooklyn Is a Warning About the Dangers of Unchecked Political Power 

true love meets true crime

      This ‘N’ That

Japan ninja student gets top marks for writing essay in invisible ink

JUNIE B. JONES: NIGHTMARE CHILD OR FEMINIST ICON

       Author Events

November 1: Ann Cleeves, UBooks at University Temple United Methodist, 7pm

November 6: Curt Colbert (with Jake Rossiter!), Third Place/LFP, 6pm

Noveber 13: Warren C. Easley, Powell’s 7pm

November 13: Clyde Ford, Third Place/LFP, 7pm

November 15: Daniel H. Wilson (and the Andromeda Strain), Powell’s, 7:30pm

November 16: Clyde Ford, Village Books, 4pm

November 16: Rick E. George, Village Books, 7pm

November 23: Ace Atkins (with Spenser), Third Place/LFP, 6pm

      Words of the Month

Triskaidekaphobia: fear of the number 13

It’s impossible to say just how or when the number thirteen got its bad reputation. There are a number of theories, of course. Some say it comes from the Last Supper because Jesus was betrayed afterwards by one among the thirteen present. Others trace the source of the superstition back to ancient Hindu beliefs or Norse mythology. But if written references are any indication, the phenomenon isn’t all that old (at least, not among English speakers). Known mention of fear of thirteen in print dates back only to the late 1800s. By circa 1911, however, it was prevalent enough to merit a name, which was formed by attaching the Greek word for “thirteen”—treiskaideka (dropping that first “e”)—to phobia (“fear of”).

(Thanks to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary for the definition)

      Links of Interest

September 26: Sold ~ Charles Dickens’s Liquor Log

September 30: Piece of missing L.A. Library sculpture found in Arizona. Where are the other two?

October 1: The Messy Consequences of the Golden State Killer Case

October 1: Japan’s last pagers beep for the final time

October 3: How Mary Roberts Rinehart, Queen of the Mystery Novel, Was Very Nearly Murdered  (And don’t miss Amber’s write up further along!)

October 3: Gandhi’s ashes stolen and photo defaced on 150th birthday

October 4: ‘Object, matrimony’: The forgotten tale of the West Coast’s first serial bride killer

October 4: Herculaneum scroll: Shining a light on 2,000-year-old secrets

October 5: Playing Catch a Killer With a Room Full of Sleuths – At a forensic conference in California, law enforcement officials grappled with how to avoid destroying one of the field’s biggest innovations in decades.

October 5: John Dillinger: US gangster’s body set to be exhumed

October 6: The peculiar bathroom habits of Westerners

October 7: The Comic That Explains Where Joker Went Wrong

October 7: Paul McCartney’s psychedelic Wings tour bus rediscovered

October 7: Saturn overtakes Jupiter as planet with most moons

October 8: Rube Goldberg: celebrating a remarkable life of cartoons and Creations

October 8: Here Are All the Aston Martins Confirmed for James Bond’s “No Time to Die”

October 8: Inside the abandoned Soviet base the Cold War left behind

October 8: See How The Foremost ‘50s Pulp Fiction Illustrator Anticipated Fake News In This Unusual Museum Show

October 10: Harry Potter first edition sells for £46,000 at auction

October 12: How to protect your books with medieval curses

October 14: After years searching, I found my sister next door

October 15: Blooming fakes: Amsterdam tourists hit by tulip scam

October 16: The art of doing makeup on a dead body

October 16: Would You Buy Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy’s Property?

October 16: Egypt archaeologists find 20 ancient coffins near Luxor

October 16: For Sale: Jane Austen’s Wince-Inducing Descriptions of 19th-Century Dentistry

October 16: The mysterious ‘inverted tower’ steeped in Templar myth

October 17: Why is Banksy vetting the customers of his online store?

October 17: Leonardo da Vinci feud: The ‘earlier’ Mona Lisa mystery

October 18: Fierce Australian dust storm turns day to night in seconds

October 18: Fearless, free and feminist: the enduring appeal of Jack Reacher

October 20: Longtime Universal boss Ron Meyer sues art dealer over ‘forged’ Mark Rothko painting

October 21: Australian newspapers black out front pages in ‘secrecy’ protest

October 21: Why Do We Rewatch Our Favorite Films?

October 21: Franco exhumation: Why is Spain moving a dictator’s remains?

October 24: Roy DeCarava’s photos of jazz greats

10/26: Defying the Cosa Nostra: The Man who Accidentally Bought a Mafia Stronghold

October 27: Kurt Cobain cardigan sells at auction for $334,000

October 27: Cimabue painting found in French kitchen sets auction record

October 28: Mystery of the skeleton hijacked by Nazis and Soviets

October 26: Ted Bundy Said an Entity Made Him Murder. These Ghost Hunters Went Searching for It

Oct 28: Want free barbecue for life? Help catch the burglars who stole from this restaurant

October 30: Australian police freeze multi-million dollar properties in Chinese crime link probe

      Words of the Month

Scaramouch: 1.  a stock character in the Italian commedia dell’arte that burlesques the Spanish don and is characterized by boastfulness and cowardliness 2a cowardly buffoon

In the commedia dell’arte, Scaramouch was a stock character who was constantly being cudgeled by Harlequin, which may explain why his name is based on an Italian word meaning “skirmish,” or “a minor fight.” The character was made popular in England during the late 1600s by the clever acting of Tiberio Fiurelli. During that time, the name “Scaramouch” also gained notoriety as a derogatory word for “a cowardly buffoon” or “rascal.”

Today not many people use the word (which can also be spelled “scaramouche”), but you will encounter it while listening to Queen’s ubiquitous rock song “Bohemian Rhapsody,” in the lyric “I see a little silhouetto of a man / Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the fandango?”

(Thanks to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary for the definition)

      R.I.P.

October 7: Rip Taylor Was In On The Joke

October 12: Robert Forster, Oscar-Nominated ‘Jackie Brown’ Actor, Dead at 78

October 13: Hitchhiker’s actor Stephen Moore dies aged 81

October 21: Nick Tosches, writer of great variety, dies at 69

October 28: Robert Evans, Chinatown producer, dies at 89

      What We’ve Been Up To

   Amber

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Today on Finder of Lost Things...Beatrice stuns Little Ben with a compliment of sorts, Phoebe gives him some much needed advice all before dinner arrives at their table!

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Miss Pinkerton – Mary Roberts Rinehart

When you start this mystery, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

One, Miss Pinkerton reads differently than most modern mysteries. Due in large part to the had-I-but-known writing device, Rinehart is credited with founding. Meaning? Sprinkled here and then in the narrative are tantalizing hints of what’s to come — placed there by Rinehart to keep her readers turning the page late into the night.

By today’s standards, this method of storytelling is considered old fashioned. But it makes sense as most of Rinehart’s work was initially serialized in magazines, so she used this style of foreshadowing to hook her readers into buying the next edition of said publication. Initially, until I read enough to understand her style, it felt very staccato. But now that you’ve been forewarned, this shouldn’t be a problem for you!

(I didn’t find out any of this background information until after I finished the book – because I don’t read introductions until I finish said story, due to the shocking number I’ve read which contained inadvertent spoilers for veteran readers.)

Second, Rinehart not only was a novelist but a trained nurse as well. This hands-on experience allows Rinehart to infuse nurse Hilda Adams with some real depth, allowing our amateur detective to rise above her cookie-cutter counterparts in other mysteries of a similar vintage.

Not unlike Agatha Christie’s Superintendent Battle, who uses his police uniform to dupe the unsuspecting into thinking him dull and slightly stupid. Miss Adams uses her crisp white uniform to fade seamlessly into the background of a household to become a police detective’s ‘man on the inside’ and help solve a murder or two.

Third, similar to Georgette Heyer mysteries, Rinehart adds several different types of love/romantic entanglements to her story. Each fitting well into the narrative, they add extra layers to the story and the characters.

This touch of romance didn’t bother me in the least as Rinehart wove it into the text seamlessly. However, I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so I’m letting you know. (BTW – it isn’t sappy and provides motive – so if you’re on the fence never fear it only adds layers.)

Overall I enjoyed reading this book.

In fact, the byplay between Miss Adams and her police counterpart intrigued me enough I’m going to hunt down the rest of the Miss Pinkerton mysteries! Because I’d really like to know where Miss Adams’ story started and where it ends since Rinehart provided just enough hints to make me want to find out.

   Fran

9781501998096I know, I know, you’re going to say, “Oh look, Fran’s touting a book by William Kent Krueger. So what? She always does.” It’s true. I do.

But wait, hear me out! STOP SCROLLING, DARN IT!

Desolation Mountain (Atria) is somewhat different from the rest of the Cork O’Connor books, and in an intriguing – if dark – way. Now I’ll grant you, I’ve spent several years poking around the North Country with Cork and his family, so in the first chapter I knew who the two people talking were even before I read the names. And what’s exciting about Desolation Mountain is it taps into something Kent is really good at: coming-of-age stories.

Go re-read  Ordinary Grace and tell me I’m wrong.

Stephen is really growing up, and I can see him eventually taking Cork’s place as an investigator, even though that’s not his path. But in addition to becoming a Mide, Stephen has a powerful need to know, to understand. And he has to learn who he is first, hence the coming-of-age bit. Granted, he’s 20 now, but sometimes I still think he’s 6. It’s been a delight watching Stephen grow up under William Kent Krueger’s skillful hands, and he’s becoming a powerful character on his own, which is fantastic.

But the other seriously cool aspect to Desolation Mountain is that Kent brought in a character from his stand-alone book, The Devil’s Bed. Bo Thorsen is involved in the same investigation as Cork and Stephen, but he’s not necessarily their ally. It makes for some off-the-charts tension.

So yeah, I’m pushing a book by William Kent Krueger, and it’s not a surprise, but the book itself, Desolation Mountain, really is! And if you haven’t read any others and pick this one up to start with, like my wife did, you’re gonna want to go back to the beginning and start with Iron Lake.

*************************************

Note from the real crime world – I’ve been reading a lot of police reports in my job, and I can now definitively say that every crime, every last one, is made infinitely worse when you read, “The suspect was wearing a clown suit.”

     JB

Blowout came from an interesting question. 9780525575474

Rachel Maddow wondered why Putin would risk messing with the 2016 US election. In hindsight, we know they did and, to some point, it was worth it – but it clearly wouldn’t have been a sure  bet. Had Clinton won, the full weight of the US government would’ve been pointed at Russia in retribution. So why the risk? It is an interesting question.

“The meek may inherit the earth, but the bold could certainly screw it up in the interim.”

And that’s where the book goes. Along with way, she provides a succinct and entertaining history of the oil industry and the birth of fracking. She overlays it with the growth of Exxon/Mobil, the corporate rise of Tillerson, the political rise of Putin, the growth of Russia’s kleptocractic state, and the economic pit Putin drilled for himself and his country.

And the center of it all is Ukraine. The Ukraine of Crimea, and Manafort, and the crippling sanctions affixed by the Obama administration due to Russia’s interference in Ukraine and its elections, and their military incursions. Ukraine remains in the center of things, now thanks to Drumpf and his quid pro quo, Giuliani and his buddies, and, of course, Putin’s schemes. Power, money, oil, natural gas, and more power.

“Putin and his techno-warriors figured out what differences and disagreements and prejudices were corroding the health and cohesion of American society. They found the most ragged faults and fissures in our democracy: immigration, race, religion, economic injustice, mass shootings. Then they poured infectious waste into them.” Putin just hack America. She adroitly shows he fracked us.

It’s a book with a broad topic but written with confidence and comedy – that which makes no sense is not spared her wit and scorn. What is or was farce is clearly shown to be. You hear her voice in her words as clearly as if she was sitting at your side reading it to you.

Blowout is a gusher of info and a barrel of fun. It is also a serious work.

9780982565087A while ago, I wrote a couple of posts about a trip to San Francisco and taking the Dashiell Hammett Walking Tour. It took me a couple of weeks but I hunted down a copy of Don Herron’s out-of-print book about it. It is great fun. It provides an entertaining and informative biography of Hammett as the tour proceeds around the city, telling you what he did when he lived at this address or that address, why this building or that building is mentioned in The Maltese Falcon and what the support of that conclusion is (the late PI and crime writer Joe Gores plays a hefty part in the opinions), and includes photos and maps of the routes. If you find a copy, and it is the 30th Anniversary edition with forwards by Hammett’s daughter Jo and by crime writer Charles Willeford, snag it.

 

Lastly ~ My Latest Seattle Mystery Bookshop Dream!

Bill Farley and I were some kind of contractors, doing painting in someone home (certainly affected by my current work in a hardware store). We walked into the bookshop – which was in a dingy area of town but not on Cherry St, I don’t think, the street was level – and it was clear it had just moved into this smaller space. Empty bookshelves were stacked to the left side of the door in front of a big window. There were also some that were jammed with books – I think it was the beginning of the alphabet. There were shelves lining the walls and Amber was busy loading books into them. There weren’t very many people in the shop at that moment but more began to come in. I stepped behind the register to ring someone up and there was suddenly a long line of people plus a cranky old woman who wanted to ask question NOW. Then the space was much smaller and it was hard to move around the shelves that cluttered the space. and the jam of customers.

Once again, Fran wasn’t in the dream. Not sure what that means…

But it was nice to spend time with Bill again!



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Agatha Award Winners

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This year’s Agatha Awards winners have been announced! Grats to all the winners!

Best Contemporary Novel

Mardi Gras Murder – Ellen Byron 
Beyond the Truth – Bruce Robert Coffin
Cry Wolf – Annette Dashofy
Kingdom of the Blind – Louise Penny
Trust Me – Hank Phillippi Ryan

Best Historical Novel

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding – Rhys Bowen
The Gold Pawn – LA Chandlar
The Widows of Malabar Hill – Sujata Massey 
Turning the Tide – Edith Maxwell
Murder on Union Square – Victoria Thompson

Best First Novel – This year there was a tie!

A Ladies Guide to Etiquette and Murder – Dianne Freeman 
Little Comfort – Edwin Hill
What Doesn’t Kill You – Aimee Hix
Deadly Solution – Keenan Powell
Curses Boiled Again – Shari Randall 

Best Short Story – This year there was a tie!

“All God’s Sparrows” – Leslie Budewitz 
“A Postcard for the Dead” – Susanna Calkins in Florida Happens
“Bug Appetit” – Barb Goffman
“The Case of the Vanishing Professor” – Tara Laskowski 
“English 398: Fiction Workshop” – Art Taylor

Best Young Adult Mystery

Potion Problems (Just Add Magic) – Cindy Callaghan 
Winterhouse – Ben Guterson
A Side of Sabotage – C.M. Surrisi

Best Nonfiction

Mastering Plot Twists – Jane Cleland
Writing the Cozy Mystery – Nancy J Cohen
Conan Doyle for the Defense – Margalit Fox
Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life – Laura Thompson
Wicked Women of Ohio – Jane Ann Turzillo

Need A Mother’s Day Gift Idea?

      Amber Here

Do you have a mother who enjoyed playing Lego’s with you as a kid?

Or a mom with a sense of humor, who appreciates you gifting her with a set to reminisce over – i.e. stepping on your missing brick, with bare feet, in the middle of the night?

I have just the set for you – a Pop-Up Book!

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Complete with two different stories – Little Red Riding Hood or Jack And The Bean Stalk! (Jack’s not pictured here. I like Red better.)

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Will Red save Grandma from the Wolf? Depends on the story!

(They didn’t include a Huntsman or his knife – perhaps Lego felt it was a bit to bloody?)

      Review

This is a way easy build (so long as Mom follows the instructions) by comparison to the other buildings I’ve shared with you! I finished in a hour or two watching MLS soccer a few Saturdays ago, so it shouldn’t eat up to much time out of your Mom’s day – especially if you build it together.

The final fairytale tome fits easily on a bookshelf (it’s about the size of a hefty hardback). The only downside is the Red, Grandma and the Wolf  don’t fit inside when the book is closed. So there’s a slight risk of them getting loose and straying under her foot…again.

But that will bring back fond memories of your youth and remind her how much you’ve grown and what a fine job she did raising you…Right? Definitely won’t have her cursing your name…

      P.S.

Don’t forget to check out my other blog: Finder of Lost Things!

This week Wood and Phoebe get confused by a conversational wizard!

Edgar Award Winners!

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Congrats to last night’s winner!

Best Novel

The Liar’s Girl – Catherine Ryan Howard
House Witness – Mike Lawson
A Gambler’s Jury – Victor Methos
Down the River Unto the Sea – Walter Mosley
Only to Sleep – Lawrence Osborne
A Treacherous Curse – Deanna Raybourn

Best First Novel

A Knife in the Fog – Bradley Harper
The Captives – Debra Jo Immergut
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy – Nova Jacobs
Bearskin – James A. McLaughlin
Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

Best Paperback Original

If I Die Tonight – Alison Gaylin
Hiroshima Boy – Naomi Hirahara
Under a Dark Sky – Lori Rader-Day
The Perfect Nanny – Leila Slimani
Under My Skin – Lisa Unger

Best Fact Crime

Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation by Robert W. Fieseler

Best Critical/Biographical

Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920s by Leslie S. Klinger

Mary Higgins Clark

The Widows of Malabar Hill – Sujata Massey

The G.P. Putnam’s Sons Sue Grafton Memorial Awards

 Shell Game – Sara Paretsky

For the Full List Click Here!

Crime In Bricktown….

      Amber Here

Remember way back in December when I posted pictures of the seedier side of Lego’s “Modular Building Sets” (I dubbed it Bricktown just now as it’s easier to type)? The main attraction for SMB was the fact it had a Private Detective’s Agency on the second floor!

As it turns out there was a bit more intrigue to be found next door to the PI’s Office…

(Which of course is a separate build….)

The Brick Bank located next door to the PI’s office is getting robbed!

(Which incidentally is why my brother bought the set for me, he thought it was hilarious and the perfect compliment to my first set!)

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Here’s our Bank Robber preparing to enter the air duct which is conveniently is bereft of security features.

No one in the building suspects that a heist is happing right now! Not the staffer sitting next to the air shaft; nor the lady in the laundromat on the other side of the vault; even the bank teller is unaware of what’s happening a few short paces away!

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Our thief is positively giddy at the sight of his new found loot! All he needs to do now is make a clean get away – thru the secret passage way of the barbershop next door…

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Unfortunately our sleuth missed his opportunity to catch the thief in the act, as he was solving another puzzle (The Case of the Missing Tuna Sandwich).

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But he’ll be hot on the thief’s trail soon…

      Review

This build was perhaps a bit easier than the PI’s Office. Due to the fact you weren’t required to build so many secret nooks, exits and hidden holes. And while those made the PI’s office more difficult to build – it also made it more entertaining.

The Bank build was more straight forward. It contained a complicated aspects, such as the chandelier and the working vault door, it did grab me the same way the previous or my next build has.

(Though, to clarify it is still an Expert build – kids who are either veteran Lego build masters or kids able to follow step by step instructions without frustration or a combo of kids/older kids/adults working together to complete – should tackle this build.)

However, it does complete a great story and for that I found The Brick Bank build worth my time!

      P.S.

Don’t forget to check out my other blog: Finder Of Lost Things!

I promise it has nothing to do with Legos! And everything to do with murder.

Though in tomorrow’s episode Phoebe will enter Wood’s doghouse after a disturbing idea strikes her!