eggcorn (n.) “an idiosyncratic substitution of a word or phrase for a word or words that sound similar or identical in the speaker’s dialect. The new phrase introduces a meaning that is different from the original but plausible in the same context… eggcorns are sometimes also referred to ‘oronyms’… The term eggcorn, as used to refer to this kind of substitution, was coined by professor of linguistics Geoffrey Pullum in September 2003 in response to an article by Mark Liberman on the website Language Log, a group blog for linguists. Liberman discussed the case of a woman who substitutes the phrase egg corn for the word acorn, and he argued that the precise phenomenon lacked a name. Pullum suggested using eggcorn itself as a label… An eggcorn is similar to, but differs from, folk etymology, malapropism, mondegreens or puns.” (Wikipedia)
What We’ve Been Up To
Do you need a new addiction? I’m sure you do. On the upside, this habit’s less problematic than Sherlock’s 7% solution. However, it isn’t without cost.
A subscription box that sends you a mystery to solve every month!
So far, I’ve unmasked a stalker, solved a decades-old cold case, foiled a kidnaper, resolved an art heist, and unraveled several murders in Valley Falls. (The small town where these cases are set. You work for a P.I. firm that takes on all kinds of clients.)
One of the best things about each Deadbolt Mystery Society box, beyond the variety of crimes, is the wildly different types of evidence they supply, kinds of puzzles to solve, and suspects/witnesses/victims you meet.
The puzzles of which I write are sometimes sneaky, always challenging, and require a vast array of skills to solve. One time I created a comprehensive timeline in order to cross-reference events against alibis—another time, I widdled down a massive list of addresses to locate a suspect’s abode and played a board game. On top of the logic & math problems, pictograms, cryptograms…The Deadbolt Mystery Society uses such a wide assortment of puzzles across all their boxes; it keeps them from becoming predictable and your wits sharp!
If you haven’t guessed – I’m a fan.
They remind me vaguely of online hidden-object games like the Enigmatis series (I loved them), Yuletide Legends (an excellent holiday-themed game), or Dreamwalker (another I enjoyed playing). In so far as, no matter how urgent your case, you need to solve each and every puzzle provided to move closer to the penultimate solution.
However, unlike the hidden-object games, which use short animated clips to move the story along – Deadbolt Mystery Society employs QR codes.
More often than not, these QR codes send you to password-protected web pages, which require you to input the solution from one of the aforementioned puzzles in order to obtain the next clue! Keeping the investigator honest – as you can’t just guess the answers – you need to know them.
But once you surmount each hurtle, you are rewarded with a witness statement, diary entries, cryptic phone messages, eerie songs…the list goes on, and you never know what you’re going to uncover next – which is great fun!
(BTW – you need either a smartphone or tablet with a camera to solve each case. Otherwise, you’re dead in the water.)
Deadbolt Mystery Society says each case takes anywhere between 2-6 hours to solve, depending on your skill level and the number of people working together. I take my time and usually solve them in a week or two – depending on how much free time I can carve out (unlike books – I don’t rush thru these). I would recommend these for adults or teens working in tandem with an adult, as most of the puzzles are pretty tricky (by design).
Not sure you’re ready to sign up? The Deadbolt Mystery Society also sells individual boxes – if you want to try it out before committing to a subscription!
FYI: While the web pages, photos, and packets don’t explicitly show any gore, the scenarios themselves can have a high body count (this last month featured a serial killer) together with the puzzle difficulty level… I’m not sure I’d be comfortable gifting a subscription to any of my nieces or nephews under fifteen or sixteen.
A Walk on the Dark Side
I haven’t been reading a lot of noir lately, because things are noir enough in real life, even though I have puppies to help liven things up. Oh, and they do!
But as I was unpacking books, I ran into Lono Waiwaiole’s “Wiley” series. Well, the first two anyway. I haven’t unearthed the third one yet. The thing is, I have them, but I never read them. I like Lono as a person, JB and Bill raved about the books, so I knew I’d like them. I just never got around to it.
I just finished Wiley’s Lament. WHY DID I NOT READ THIS EARLIER? Holy cats.
Wiley is just kinda drifting through life. He’s living in a house owned by his old buddy, Leon, and he gambles to pay the rent. When he comes up short, Wiley leaves his home environs of Portland, OR, and wanders up to Seattle, where he robs drug dealers. He has nothing to lose, as far as he’s concerned.
“When I lose, I go to Seattle and find a drug dealer to rip off.”
“Isn’t that dangerous?”
“I like the symmetry of it. Either I get the money, or it blows up in my face and I don’t need any money.”
“It sounds like you don’t really care which one it is.”
“I don’t,” I said. “That’s the key to the whole thing.”
But when Wiley’s estranged daughter is murdered, his interest in things comes sharply into focus. He blames his buddy, Leon, for Lizzie’s death, but it turns out things are much, much more complicated than what Wiley initially thought, and that drive to find out just what happened puts both Wiley and Leon on a dark and dangerous path.
Lono Waiwaiole‘s writing is dark, visceral, and deeply, profoundly human. Wiley and Leon and their associates are not the guys in white hats. They’re flawed and emotionally scarred, and it takes some looking to see the solid and faithful hearts beating underneath. But it’s there, and you care. Deeply.
And of all the characters I wish I could be, among a whole lot of wonderful and memorable people, I want to be Elmer. He’s a total delight to me. Granted, I want to be faster. Maybe I just want his wisdom.
I’m so sorry I took this long to read Wiley’s Lament, and I’ve got Wiley’s Shuffleclose to hand. If you haven’t read them, now is a good time.
Mike Lawson’s books have an subtle thrum to them, a smooth motion that seems to me to hum. They are the finest example of thrillers as, once they start, they don’t slow down. And though DeMarco is a classic reluctant hero, he never fails to see the case finished, even if he has to cut corners.
House Standoffis a departure for Lawson, this time playing with the strict rules of a whodunnit. Someone close to DeMarco has been murdered in a distant setting, and he’s not going to rest, as he warns the people he bangs into, until he finds out who pulled the trigger. Mike provides a number of suspects and seeds the stories with red herrings. The book works like a Manor House mystery, set in a small town in the Far West. And then he has the audacity of upend the rules. It is a stunning piece of work.
He buffaloed me. I was sure I’d fingered the killer, but …
There are many series I have re-read many times. I think it is time to start the DeMarcos at the beginning. Sounds like as much fun as can be had between the covers of a paperback. Keep me occupied til he next new Lawson book.
bad penny (n): This proverb has lived long in the language. It derives from the notion that some coins were ‘bad’, that is, they were debased or counterfeit.
The ‘clipping’ of coins was rife in the Middle Ages, long before standardisation of the coinage was reliably enforced. This example from the reign of Edward I shows the degree of ‘badness’ that pennies then endured.
The term ‘bad penny’ was established enough in English by the late 14th century for it to have been used in William Langland’s famous prose poem The vision of William concerning Piers Plowman, 1370-90: “Men may lykne letterid men… to a badde peny.”
to coin a phrase : Coining, in the sense of creating, derives from the coining of money by stamping metal with a die. Coins – also variously spelled coynes, coigns, coignes or quoins – were the blank, usually circular, disks from which money was minted. This usage derived from an earlier 14th century meaning of coin, which meant wedge. The wedge-shaped dies which were used to stamp the blanks were called coins and the metal blanks and the subsequent ‘coined’ money took their name from them.
Coining later began to be associated with inventiveness in language. In the 16th century the ‘coining’ of words and phrases was often referred to. By that time the monetary coinage was often debased or counterfeit and the coining of words was often associated with spurious linguistic inventions; for example, in George Puttenham’s The arte of English poesie, 1589: “Young schollers not halfe well studied… will seeme to coigne fine wordes out of the Latin.”
Shakespeare, the greatest coiner of them all, also referred to the coining of language in Coriolanus, 1607: “So shall my Lungs Coine words till their decay.”
Quoin has been retained as the name of the wedge-shaped keystones or corner blocks of buildings. Printers also use the term as the name for the expandable wedges that are used to hold lines of type in place in a press. This has provoked some to suggest that ‘coin a phrase’ derives from the process of quoining (wedging) phrases in a printing press. That is not so. ‘Quoin a phrase’ is recorded nowhere and ‘coining’ meant ‘creating’ from before the invention of printing in 1440. Co-incidentally, printing does provide us with a genuine derivation that links printing with linguistic banality – cliché. This derives from the French cliquer, from the clicking sound of the stamp used to make metal typefaces.
‘Coin a phrase’ itself arises much later than the invention of printing – the 19th century in fact. It appears to be American in origin – it certainly appears in publications there long before any can be found from any other parts of the world. The earliest use of the term that I have found is in the Wisconsin newspaper The Southport American, July 1848: “Had we to find… a name which should at once convey the enthusiasm of our feelings towards her, we would coin a phrase combining the extreme of admiration and horror and term her the Angel of Assassination.”
shot in the dark: The term ‘shot’ has been slang for an attempt since the middle of the 19th century; for example, this piece from Joseph Hewlett’s comic work Peter Priggins, the college scout, 1841: “After waiting for a little while, Ninny… made a shot, and went so near the mark.”
‘A shot in the dark’ is simply a hopeful attempt to hit an enemy that you can’t see.
George Bernard Shaw seems to have been the first to use it metaphorically, in The Saturday Review, February 1895: “Never did man make a worse shot in the dark.”
Change is a tricky thing. Often uncomfortable, awkward, unsightly, and a difficult thing to manage gracefully. Whether it’s moving to a new house in a new city, purchasing a new car, or adopting a new pet, unexpected complications always seem to creep into the proceedings.
Books series are no different.
Any author worth their salt, who endeavors for a successful string of books knows – eventually – they will need to change things up. Otherwise, the series stales and stalls.
Elizabeth Peter’s efficiently handled this problem by sending Amelia Peabody to a different location in Egypt (generally speaking) for each installment. Patricia Moyes employed a similar tactic by sending her husband & wife team on vacation all over the world. J.K. Rowling sends her famous wizard off to school (or to defeat dark wizards every year.
In the case of Ashley Weaver’s A Deception At Thornecrest, she does the reverse – she sends Amory Ames and her husband Milo home.
And it works beautifully.
Over the past six books, neither member of our dynamic duo has spent much time at Thorncrest – so it’s the perfect place for Weaver to set her transition mystery. By mixing a bit of old with a bit of new, Weaver is all set to send our heroine into new and exciting directions in future books. Even better? She accomplishes this aim with such flawless skill it makes A Deception At Thornecrest a joy to read.
One of the most significant changes in Amory’s life? She’s about to become a first-time mother! A fact which both she and Milo are over the moon about, in their understated way. The only hitch in the giddy-up? During the annual Springtide festival, a stable hand is murdered…Amory, our remarkable amateur sleuth, is discouraged at every turn from investigating because of her “delicate condition”.
Fortunately for Lady Justice and us readers, Amory has zero interest in heeding their unsolicited opinions.
A Deception At Thornecrest was a compelling historical mystery, one which I thoroughly enjoyed reading from beginning to end. Even better, if you’re not interested in reading the previous exploited of our heroine and her husband (but I would highly suggest you do as they are lovely), you don’t have to! Because this is a transitional book, so long as you aren’t starting with numero uno, you can start with this installment and be alright.
Honestly, I cannot say enough good things about A Deception At Thornecrest.
It’s not her latest, but it’s the most recent one I’ve read, and holy cats, does J.T. Ellison have a twisty mind! Just one more reason to love her, honestly, just like you’re going to love Good Girls Lie.
The Goode School is an Ivy League feeder boarding school in Virginia, and there’s a long waiting list of girls hoping to be chosen. The Goode School accepts only 50 girls for each grade level, and each girl is properly and thoroughly vetted before acceptance. You know what I mean, right?
Ash Carlisle is a bit of an exception. She’s British, for starters. She was being considered before her parent suddenly died, and no one can say that the Goode School is without compassion.
However, Ash’s new classmates don’t take to her that well, and Ash has secrets, so she doesn’t want to make a fuss. The resulting dynamic of mean girls, vulnerable girls, and a certain amount of looking the other way by staff members leaves Ash in a precarious position.
Then things start to get really ugly. Even deadly.
J.T. Ellison attended a similar school, although it wasn’t as perilous, so her insights and knowledge about this setting give Good Girls Lie an added edge that, combined with J.T.’s fabulous writing, makes this novel deeply disturbing. And did I mention it’s twisty as all get out? You get to see events through multiple viewpoints, and very little of what everyone sees on the surface is real. Just like most social interactions, I suspect.
You don’t have to have attended a posh boarding school to appreciate Good Girls Lie, although if you have, I bet you’ll recognize some of the people. You’re in for a treat!
The title alone gave me hope that the book would answer some of my questions about why there have been so many serial killers in the last decade. Peter Vronsky is a Canadian with a PhD in criminal justice history. I saw that he’d written a couple of other books on the subject and this new one, American Serial Killers: The Epidemic Years 1950-2000, seems the most promising to address my curiosity.
Why so many? Why now? Why do many not fit the profile we’re always told about? And most strangely, why do some seem to quit?
Vronsky carefully explains what he sees as the roots – fathers who came back damaged from WWI, the great number of desertions by fathers during the Depression, and those effects on families and sons specifically. There were women who really should never have been mothers due to domineering personalities or mental health issues, the frequent element of head injuries and you have a pool ready for the birth of trouble. As youngsters, they were subjected to the social traumas of WWII, the revelations of horrors of the Holocaust, the dawn of the atomic age, and the movement of the population from the smaller towns where everyone was known to one another to the large cities and their anonymity, and evil can erupt. Mix in the interstate highway system… OK, so far I understand.
But he then begins to mix in the proliferation of true crime magazines in the 40s and 50s – when they’d begun in the 20s. I understand that many of the killers in the 60s, 70s and 80s mention them as formative with their lurid imagery. But I don’t see that had there not been these magazines, things would’ve been far different. It strikes me as a cheap target, like Bundy saying it all started with pornography.
Similarly, Vronsky puts blame on film noir and the pessimism and corruption they portrayed. He neatly glides by the fact that film noir was a direct outgrowth of the crime novels of the 20s, 30s and 40s. He doesn’t attempt a connection that the fiends were reading novels about sex and death, just looking at images of it. Municipal corruption was a massive menace well before the killers of the last half of the 20th C., but he gives little attention to the first half. I can make a couple of guesses as to why: killers could still travel around by jumping trains but the journalism may’ve lacked the ability to connect murders in different locales. He often points to the problem with killers crossing jurisdictions and police from one town/city/county/state not communicating with one another. Indeed, it still seems to be a problem – not every facet of law enforcement knew what was going on at the Capitol on January 6th, or 9/11.
Odder still, he spends an unnecessary amount of time and gory detail on crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer while mentioning that many others have been ignored in the study of serial killers. If we’ve never heard of them, he’s missed his chance to inform us.
But I could also guess that many killers in the century from 1850 to 1950 had easy outlets for their murderous ways – they had the Civil War where murder could easily be disguised as warfare, they had the Wild West where murder was cheap and easy, and they had the growth of Organized Crime where there were always opportunities for hired killers.
Over all, the book was interesting but frustrating. For an academic, he was flippant at time, snarky at others, and those instances felt out of place. It is one thing to be casual and entertaining. It is another to sound off key.
My largest question – why do some seem to stop – was answered in one quick paragraph about Gary Ridgeway: the thrill was gone. Really? That doesn’t feel adequate to explain why a monster who killed dozens of women would simply cease doing it. I hope to get an answer to that some day from a future author.
“This whole arduous process began with a monumental failure by the keepers of the public memory – the government and the press. Their failure remains with us. Over the past half century, this case has been filled with bitter arguments and wild conspiracy theories; government bodies papering over significant failures; junk science and ’eminence-based’ conclusions; sober, tenacious research and trumpeting blowhards. But over these same decades and despite many mistakes and reverses, a partial truth has been brought to light. That truth, however, leaves open many of the questions that should have been answered fifty years ago and in all likelihood cannot be answered now. Principally…who did it, and why?”
Another book that had great promise yet fell slightly short was Josiah Thompson‘sLast Second in Dallas. The philosophy professor who left academia to become a private eye in San Francisco had released one of the seminal books on the JFK assassination in 1967, Six Seconds in Dallas. It’s always been hailed as a scholarly work on the shooting and, while he stayed connected tangentially with the case, he’d published nothing else in the nearly 55 years since.
His new book is in the form of a re-examination and memoir. He situates his arguments amongst the developments in his life and the assassination evidence that has come out over the decades. He admits when he had something wrong and corrects it. It’s a fascinating thing to track.
Thompson has always focused on the evidence, the “what” of the case, not the “who” of the case. As the titles say, he’s focused on the seconds of gunfire in Dealy Plaza, not those who organized the crossfire or pulled the triggers. This narrow view allows him to delve deeply into what is known and can be proved and he does a masterful job of it.
“There is, however, one fact about assassination that has not changed in fifty years. It is its most obvious feature – the brutal effectiveness of crime… In this whole narrative, what was clear in 1966 is even clearer now. This was a highly sophisticated, devastatingly effective assassination: who bullets to the head and one to the back. Its very audacity is the most compelling feature. And speculation as to who did it and why must at least start with that fact.”
However, within those seconds of shots, he does allow some questions to go unanswered. He’s got four shots being fired. What accounts for that shallow wound in Kennedy’s back that didn’t penetrate far? The Dallas doctors could feel the end of the tract with their little fingers. What of the bullet or fragment or chip of cement that nicked James Tague? Tague and his wound are not mentioned by Thompson even as he has bullet fragments bouncing around the inside of the limo. Other than the gunman behind the picket fence, he’s non-committal about the location of the other shooters – one in the depository, the other… perhaps, like the identity of the participants, he’s leaving those questions to others. He also condescendingly dismisses the Garrison investigation, which was, after all, about the “who”s. That sounded unfair, tone-deaf, and short-sighted.
Still, Last Second in Dallas is a fascinating book and a worthy addition to my shelves of books on the assassination.
MASK OF SANITY – Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy—these serial killers were famous not only for their crimes, but their deceptively charming dispositions. This is what crime experts refer to as the Mask of Sanity. Coined by psychiatrist Hervey M. Cleckley in his 1941 book, this describes the phenomena of psychopaths easily blending in with their peers because they don’t typically suffer from more noticeable mental symptoms like hallucinations and delusions.
While working the shelves of Seattle Mystery Bookshop, several series caused me no end of dismay when trying to space them out, so they looked pretty for you all!
Agatha Christie often clogged the classics section with the sheer variety of sizes publishers used to reprint her mysteries. Earle Stanley Gardner also had his moments of causing classic section consternation due to the sheer volume of books he wrote – 82 in the Perry Mason series alone!
M.C. Beaton and Alexander McCall Smith (in the general mysteries) eventually got their own sections due to the ever-expanding series.
However, there’s one writer who often lead me to tear my hair out – J.D. Robb.
Due to Robb’s overwhelming popularity, we needed to keep the majority of the In Death Series on hand at all times. Meaning? When Robb released a new book or we received a batch of used mysteries…We often needed to move entire rows & sections of books around, so Eve and her cohorts didn’t scrunch, encroach, or simply dominate the neighboring authors!
Now that Robb’s hit book number 51 in her In Death series, I shudder to think how we’d struggle to fit her prodigious output on the shelves!
Speaking of book 51, Shadows in Death…Robb delivers yet another page-turning, read-late-into-the-night thriller you can devour in a single (long) sitting. One that will leave Eve & Roarke fans with a pleasant taste in their mouths; as we learn more about Roarke’s past, watch Eve work with her team and visit Ireland!
Feeney had stars in his eyes.
Perhaps, just perhaps, the mystery’s culmination teetered on the edge of sensationalism. But really, it only ever teetered, but Robb never actually jumped the shark, so we’re still fine!
Did you know the Western tradition of a bride wearing white didn’t come about until Queen Victoria wore a white dress to her wedding in 1840? The trend soon caught on amongst the elite across Europe as it became a symbol, not of the bride’s ‘purity’ but her family’s wealth. (i.e., they could afford to purchase an easily ruined dress.) Prior to this point, brides wore all kinds of colors – red being a particular favorite.
It wasn’t until prosperity hit the middle classes after WWII, helped along by the silver screen, that white wedding gowns became commonplace across the US and Europe.
In 1981 the tradition received a significant boost when soon-to-be Princess Diana walked down the aisle in a stunning ivory dress which sported 10,000 pearls, a 25 ft train, and a 153-yard tulle veil. As one-in-six people around the entire world watched the wedding – her gown inspired generations of brides.
Beyond the fact, it undoubtedly took some serious spine and determination to pull the weight of the dress down the aisle. The train and veil caused one wedding day hiccup. The designers failed to consider the size of the glass coach Princess Diana would ride in to St. Paul’s Cathedral. So, despite the bride’s best efforts, the dress became badly wrinkled on the ride over.
I know a few wrinkles in a dress doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but I know from experience, trying to create a perfect day – something like this can easily spin one out.
Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your view, Lindsey Norris doesn’t need to wait until the big day for something to go wrong! Not only did the guest list accidentally triple overnight – she and Sully find their officiant washed up on the beach of their wedding venue…dead!
So it’s a race against time as Lindsey & Sully work to solve a friend’s murder, find a new officiant, and expand their wedding venue – all before the big day!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading One For The Books.
The murder and the practicalities behind throwing a wedding provide an excellent counterpoint to well – the wedding. An event, which handled by a less deft mystery author, can edge towards the overly sweet – a trap McKinlay, thankfully, never falls into!
In addition, the possible motives of our cast of suspects are, for lack of a better word – intriguing. As no one, not even our victim, is innocent. It’s this tangled set of relationships, ones that neither Lindsey nor Sully ever suspected, and their revelations that make this mystery.
Then there’s The Lemon, Ms. Cole, who since announcing her aim to become Briar Creek’s next mayor – is endeavoring to loosen up and smile more….neither of which is precisely in her wheelhouse – thus adding an extra layer of sharp mirth to an already engaging read.
All in all, One For The Books was a fun, fast-paced, and diverting book I would recommend to anyone looking for a biblio-mystery or a fun way to escape an afternoon or two!
This last week we’ve met Squiddy, The Brownie Stealing Bench and Phoebe’s Silver City Operative!
One of the questions we routinely got at the bookshop was, “Have you read every book here?” It was generally accompanied with a laugh, although sometimes it was a serious question.
We always grinned and responded that there was no way to read all of them, and that we all had areas of specialty. The fact is, of course, that not only could we not have read all 10,000+ titles, but we honestly had so many new titles coming in every week, we didn’t even pretend to try.
That didn’t mean we couldn’t sell books we hadn’t read. A good working knowledge of the standards and classics worked well, and the quality of writing helped several series sell themselves.
That’s why I was pleased to finally get around to reading my first book by Charles Todd. I prefer to start at the beginning of a series, and I should have begun with A Test of Wills, but it turns out that I had an Advance Reader Copy of The Red Door, so that’s what I read.
It was obvious there were ongoing things I would have gotten had I started at the beginning, and I will enjoy filling in the backstory, but the delight of Charles Todd is that each story stands by itself. So I got to meet Ian Rutledge and his internal companion, Hamish, and I’m thoroughly hooked.
The Red Doorhas two inquiries, one concerning a street thief who attacked Rutledge on a bridge, and escapes. However the thief, known as Billy, becomes more aggressive, and it’s up to Rutledge to stop him.
But a missing person case takes precedence, since the Talley family is very important, and finding Walter Talley is deemed to be of utmost importance. Rutledge is given the assignment to find Talley, and to keep news of his disappearance out of the press, to protect the family’s privacy. What Rutledge finds in his investigation will leave death and sorrow as secrets are revealed.
The combined talents that comprise Charles Todd are wonderful, and I am looking forward to reading them all. The depth of understanding they bring to our shell-shocked hero steeped in the times and turmoil of Great Britain in the wake of the Great War makes this book, and I can only assume all the rest, absolutely compelling.
Have we read them all? Not even hardly, but it’s great to start in on some of the ones I know I missed!
Piblokto: a condition among the Inuit that is characterized by attacks of disturbed behavior (as screaming and crying) and that occurs chiefly in winter
No one is entirely certain what causes piblokto (and some scholars in recent decades have expressed doubts that it actually exists at all), but what is fairly certain is that it sounds like a nasty way to spend the winter. Imagine if you had not only to perform through your normal routine of shoveling the walk outside your house and navigating the many additional layers of clothing that winter necessitates, but in addition had to do all this while in a state of hysteria.
“When an Eskimo is attacked with piblokto indoors, nobody pays much attention, unless the sufferer should reach for a knife or attempt to injure some one.” Robert Edwin Peary, The North Pole, 1910
Northern Nanny: A cold storm of hail and wind from the north in England. Many northern nannies hit the UK in the 17th and 18th century, during a period known as the Little Ice Age. This led to the Thames freezing over on several occasions, and when the ice was thick enough, as in 1620, giant carnivals called ‘frost fairs’ were held on the river.
It’s no secret that I love a well-written pastiche, and in Leonard Goldberg’s The Art of Deception, you’ve got just that – a well-executed pastiche….sorta.
The sorta is on account of the fact these mysteries are based upon the canon of Sherlock Holmes. However, the man himself is absent, as he passed away many years before these tales – leaving behind Dr. Watson, Ms. Hudson, his methods….and a daughter.
Who is just as bright, clever, and quick-witted as her father.
But here’s what I love about this series, Goldberg blends the familiar features of the original text into his new narrative with such a deft hand you’re able to recognize them for what they are, but they don’t feel crammed in. Even better? He doesn’t splice them in very often. Just enough to give flavor, but not so much he dilutes the current mystery Sherlock’s daughter, Dr. Watson, and his son are investigating.
Speaking of which, the case under investigation in The Art of Deception…
A madman, for reasons unknown, is stalking and slashing Renaissance paintings – exclusively of women. When the madman decides terrorizing galleries in the West End isn’t enough and breaks into the home of man fifth in line for the throne…well, Lestrade calls on Sherlock’s daughter, Dr. Watson, and Dr. Watson for help.
The Art of Deception is a great book. One I, unfortunately, managed to polish off in two days. (I am absolutely terrible at putting a book down when I’m enjoying it. In fact, I would’ve finished it off faster, but work, sleep, and packing got in the way!)
If you’re looking for a solid, fun and fast mystery with a Sherlockian in feel, I’d recommend you read The Art of Deception!
(BTW, you don’t need to read them in order to understand what’s happening in this book – Goldberg does an effortless job of catching the reader up.)
Some of you might have been put off by the fact that a good part of Emily St. John Mandel’s novel, Station Eleven, was presented as a dystopian novel, and I suspect in these days, knowing that the world collapses in this instance is because of what is known as the “Georgia Flu” won’t help. But Station Eleven is much, much more than that, and if you ask anyone else who’s read it, they’ll agree.
Also, don’t be off-put when I tell you that it delves into the realm of Literature, because that sounds pretentious, and Emily St. John Mandel has managed to avoid pretentiousness by telling a fast-paced action story. The fact that it has solid literary worth is cleverly disguised.
Although I grant you, you’ll get more out of it if you’re familiar with Shakespeare’s King Lear. And Shakespeare in general, come to that.
Briefly, we begin on the eve of the Georgia Flu hitting the world (and this time the virus comes out of Russia instead of China, so see, that’s already one difference between fiction and reality. Aren’t you relieved?), with the collapse of legendary actor Arthur Leander onstage while he’s performing King Lear. The flu hits and within days, civilization as we know it is a thing of the past.
Station Eleven bounces back and forth between Arthur’s past and the future where one of the survivors of that fateful performance is now part of a traveling troupe of musicians and actors navigating the dangers of a new world littered with remnants and memories of the old one. And there are dangers aplenty, make no mistake.
Part of the deceptive charm of Station Eleven is that Emily St. John Mandel sucks you completely into her world, and you don’t see the power of her writing because it’s so beautifully understated. I finished it feeling like I’d been thumped over the head with a hammer that was lovingly encased in gorgeous velvet.
Oh, I know, I’m not making a lot of sense, which is why Station Eleven is a Trust Me book. Despite the dystopia and the flu, which I know sounds pretty awful to a lot of people right now, this is a book that should be on everyone’s TBR list, and honestly, I think it should be added to college level reading lists because Emily St. John Mandel’s weaving of stories is brilliant.
And it’s a page-turner too, with fabulous and complex people. And a dog. Trust me.
In response to the year we’re leaving, and in hopes for the year we’re entering, I’ll leave it to this line from a great series we watched in November, “The Queen’s Gambit” ~ MY TRANQUILITY NEEDS TO BE REFURBISHED
scruple (n.) A”moral misgiving, pang of conscience,” late 14th C., from Old French scrupule (14th C.), from Latin scrupulus “uneasiness, anxiety, pricking of conscience,” literally “small sharp stone,” diminutive of scrupus “sharp stone or pebble,” used figuratively by Cicero for a cause of uneasiness or anxiety, probably from the notion of having a pebble in one’s shoe. The word in the more literal Latin sense of “small unit of weight or measurement” is attested in English from late 14c. (etymonline)
fustigate (v.)”to cudgel, to beat,” 1650s, back-formation from Fustication (1560s) or from Latin fusticatus, past participle of fusticare “to cudgel” (to death), from fustis “cudgel, club, staff, stick of wood,” of unknown origin. De Vaan writes that “The most obvious connection would be with Latin -futare” “to beat,” but there are evolutionary difficulties. (etymonline)
cantankerous (adj.) “marked by ill-tempered contradiction or opposition,” 1772, said by Grose to be “a Wiltshire word,” conjectured to be from an alteration (influenced perhaps by raucous) of a dialectal survival of Middle English contakour “troublemaker” (c. 1300), from Anglo-French contec “discord, strife,” from Old French contechier (Old North French contekier), from con- “with” + teche, related to atachier “hold fast” (see attach). With -ous. Related: Cantankerously; cantankerousness. (etymoline)
I am presently killing my hands painting the interior of my husband and I’s new house…and have literally packed every single one of my books in preparation for moving (which is killing me as a bibliophile). So I haven’t had much spare time to read…I know excuses, excuses!
You’re going to get tired of hearing this.
I know, I know, but Louise Penny is great!
At least half of you are skipping this, aren’t you? Either you’ve already read it or you’re not a convert yet. Ha!
If you’ve never read Louise Penny, starting with her latest, ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE, actually isn’t a bad place to begin. Granted, you won’t have the emotional ties that come with being in love with the series, but don’t worry. Once you’re hooked (and you will be), you’ll go back and start with STILL LIVES, and you’ll catch up.
ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE takes place in Paris rather than Three Pines, which is part of what makes it okay to begin here. Also, you get a lot of family history, which will help you understand some of the cloudiness about Gamache’s relationship with his son, Daniel.
There is a lot going on in this book. Armand’s relationship with Daniel, Armand’s relationship with his godfather, Daniel’s relationship with Jean-Guy. And we spend a lot more time with Reine-Marie, which is lovely.
Oh, and there’s murder. And attempted murder, and theft and burglary and corporate shenanigans. Everything you expect from Louise Penny.
Now, let me be frank. This is not my favorite of her books. I think the ending was rushed, and I’m not entirely sure her new editor gets Louise’s vibe. At times it felt a little clunky.
That being said, I still skipped all my chores to race to the ending, which quite literally haunted my dreams. I woke up from a nightmare about being in the middle of the final conflict. She’s that good. So when I say it felt clunky, understand that it’s still much, much better than many other authors’ work! It just felt rushed.
So there you go, yet another endorsement for Louise Penny, and yes, you absolutely should read ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE. And don’t worry, you’ll still be in touch with the Three Pines crew. I think you’re gonna love the ending, by the way. *wink*
foe (n): Old English gefea, gefa“foe, enemy, adversary in a blood feud” (the prefix denotes “mutuality”), from adjective fah “at feud, hostile,” also “guilty, criminal,” from Proto-Germanic *faihaz (source also of Old High German fehan “to hate,” Gothic faih “deception”), perhaps from the same Proto-Indo-European source that yielded Sanskrit pisunah “malicious,” picacah “demon;” Lithuanian piktas “wicked, angry,” peikti “to blame.” Weaker sense of “adversary” is first recorded c. 1600. (etymonline.com)
zombie (n.) From 1871, of West African origin (compare Kikongo zumbi “fetish;” Kimbundu nzambi “god”), originally the name of a snake god, later with meaning “reanimated corpse” in voodoo cult. But perhaps also from Louisiana creole word meaning “phantom, ghost,” from Spanish sombra “shade, ghost.” Sense “slow-witted person” is recorded from 1936. (thanks to etymonline)
bellicose (adj.) from the early 15th C., “inclined to fighting,” from Latin bellicosus“warlike, valorous, given to fighting,” from bellicus “of war,” from bellum “war” (Old Latin duellum, dvellum), which is of uncertain origin. (thanks to etymonline)
fear (n.) From Middle English fere, from Old English fær “calamity, sudden danger, peril, sudden attack,” from Proto-Germanic *feraz “danger” (source also of Old Saxon far “ambush,” Old Norse far“harm, distress, deception,” Dutch gevaar, German Gefahr “danger”), from PIE *pēr-, a lengthened form of the verbal root *per- (3) “to try, risk.”
Sense of “state of being afraid, uneasiness caused by possible danger” developed by late 12th C. Some Old English words for “fear” as we now use it were fyrhto, fyrhto; as a verb, ondrædan. Meaning “feeling of dread and reverence for God” is from c. 1400. To put the fear of God (into someone) “intimidate, cause to cower” is by 1888, from the common religious phrase; the extended use was often at first in colonial contexts:
“Thus then we seek to pu ‘the fear of God’ into the natives at the point of the bayonet, and excuse ourselves for the bloody work on the plea of the benefits which we intend to confer afterwards.” – Felix Adler, The Religion of Duty, 1950
I’m so sorry about last month. We’re moving from Washington State to New Mexico, which would be hectic at any time, but during COVID has been especially challenging. I can’t even begin to discuss the sheer volume of paperwork!
But my 60 boxes of books are packed, so there’s that. And I unearthed books from my To Be Read pile that honestly I’d forgotten about, which brings me to Kate Morton’s The Clockmaker’s Daughter. It came out in 2018. I may be behind but I’m sincere in my efforts.
The Clockmaker’s Daughter spans time from about 1850 to 2017, with stops along the way. Our narrator is Birdie, also sometimes known as Lily Millington. She’s been around for a very long time. The other person we’re following mostly is Elodie Winslow, in 2017. Obviously their paths intertwine, but it’s how and why that is so fascinating.
Birdie, as Lily, was the model for an up and coming painter in the late 1800’s, Edward Radcliffe. She was and is a highly intelligent and curious and free-spirited young lady, with a shady past. Elodie archives records and memorabilia surrounding a different 1800’s person, James Stratton, as well as dodges her soon-to-be mother-in-law whenever possible.
How these two women’s lives overlap, along with so very many other people, is at the heart of the story, but make no mistake, this is a murder mystery. Frances Brown was murdered at Edward Radcliffe’s house in 1862, and everyone believes they know what happened.
They’re wrong. Almost no one does. And finding out what happened will keep you reading, I promise. Kate Morton is an accomplished author, and she manages the different voices skillfully and deftly. This is an absolutely lush novel, and I think it would be a gorgeous movie, but no film could ever capture the depth, the insights, the myriad layers of personality and history that are encompassed in this book.
As the weather darkens and the year winds down, I really do recommend The Clockmaker’s Daughter as a great fireside read on a blustery day!
While he’s written a ton a great books, I’ve always thought The Poet is Michael Connelly‘s best book. Granted, I’ve not read it in a couple of decades but it has stuck with me as singular – and I plan to re-read it very soon.
So I was excited to learn that his newest book, Fair Warning, brings back reporter Jack McEvoy and eager to read it.
While the plot is, as always, original and interesting, this was a boring read. A dud. (Even the cover is bad – his publisher put a raven on it and there is zero plot connection to the earlier McEvoy novels.) The writing was flat and uninteresting, McEvoy struggles with and inability to make intimate relationships work with women – as most of Connelly’s male characters do – and I finished it just to see how it’d end. I hadn’t read any Connelly books in years and I should’ve kept it that way. A sad comment about a favorite author and nice guy.
On the other hand – – –
“It was rampaging imbecility, and possibly unstoppable.”
“The boy looked up from the canal bank to see what he’d snagged, dialed 911, cut his
line with a knife, and walked away. It was the third dead body he’s found while fishing, but such was the reality of a childhood spent outdoors in Florida. It was a testament to the teen’s passion for angling that he’d never considered getting a new hobby”. Fiction or memory?
Not only is this about the usual insanity of Hiaasen’s Florida home state, it’s the insanity of the current year: covid, the election, the current occupants of the White House, MAGA fans who call themselves the Potussies (because these decadently wealthy women find “POTUS pussies” might risk their cherished places on the social registry), stripper poles in beach cabanas, tanning beds that must be test run, record-length pythons, violent texts about immigrants and howling mobs, and even a certain ex-governor. Oh, and fabulously expensive conch pearls.
“The whole place smelled like the exhaust vent at a Burger King”
The winter White House on Palm Beach island – Hiaasen has dubbed it “Casa Bellicosa” – is the scene of most of the action after Kiki Pew Fitzsimmons vanishes from a fundraiser. Soon we’re into a hunt for her involving the Secret Service, the local chief of police and a young woman who removes creatures from buildings and returns them to the wild. Angie used to be a wildlife agent but was sent to prison for feeding the hand of a poacher to an alligator. The only regret she had was that the poor alligator had to be shot.
Hiaasen does not lower himself to use the actual names of the President and First Lady – he used Secret Service code names of “Mastodon” and “Mockingbird” but he is otherwise scathing in his portrayal of the recognizable Leader of the Free World. As you might imagine. “Up on the TV screen, Mastodon wearing a vast beet-colored golf shirt that hung on his upper frame like an Orkin termite tent. His long-billed cap had been yanked down tight to keep his hairpiece moored to its Velcro moonbase during gusts of wind.”
The First Lady is treated with respect – though he gives her a fondness for a “a specific massage oil – eucalyptus and bacon mint”. She actually comes off as the only sane one in family. She may’ve even found true love!
I frankly didn’t care if the other passengers on the plane looked oddly at me for laughing out loud while consuming the book. How could you not?
sibylline (adj.): From the 1570s, from Latin sibyllinus, from sibylla (see sibyl: “woman supposed to possess powers of prophecy, female soothsayer,” c. 1200, from Old French sibile, from Latin Sibylla, from Greek Sibylla, name for any of several prophetesses consulted by ancient Greeks and Romans, of uncertain origin. Said to be from Doric Siobolla, from Attic Theoboule “divine wish.”) thanks to etymonline
“Las Vegas was better off when it was run by the mob.” Mobbed Up: The Fight for Las Vegas, an 11-part true-crime podcast series produced by the Las Vegas Review-Journal in partnership with The Mob Museum, chronicles the mob’s rise and fall in Las Vegas through the eyes of those who lived it: ex-mobsters, law enforcement officials, politicians and journalists. [JB recommends]
July 16: Homicide at Rough Point: In the fall of 1966, billionaire Doris Duke killed a close confidant in tony Newport, Rhode Island. Local police ruled the incident “an unfortunate accident.” Half a century later, compelling evidence suggests that the mercurial, vindictive tobacco heiress got away with murder.
Need a good summertime read that will take you back to all the awkward moments of childhood? No? How about a book that takes you back to some of your best memories as a kid?
Sounds better right?
Remembering all those good times you had with your best friend at skating parties, talking on the phone for hours about nothing, summer vacations, or that one time you needed to exorcise a demon from your best friend’s soul? Yeah…not something everyone can relate to…but that’s precisely what Abby needs to do to save her best friend…
This book is an intensely fun read.
While it’s occasionally awkward and cringe-worthy (but in the best possible way), this uncomfortableness generated by the author adds a whole other layer to the horror/mystery/friendship story unfolding on the page. Seriously, I don’t know how Grady Hendrix did it – but episodes (minus the exorcism, demon, and animal sacrifice) feel as if he pulled them from my own experience – both the terrific and the embarrassing.
If you’re looking for a book to read under the covers with a flashlight, in the middle of the night – that will on occasion make the familiar nightly squeaks, creaks, and groans of your home sound new and strange… My Best Friend’s Exorcism is the book you’re looking for!
(P.S. Did I forget to mention it’s set in the eighties? In all, it’s spectacular Madonna influenced glory…)
Do you like getting mail? Do you relish writing letters? Do you enjoy mysteries? Have you ever dreamed of being an armchair detective? Now’s your chance! With a mail-based mystery series called Dear Holmes.
I’ll let Mr. Holmes explain your new employment (as he’s more succinct than I):
It is my pleasure to welcome you to Dear Holmes, and your new career as a consulting detective.
For the next few months, I will be handing some of my most challenging cases to you. My associates from around the world will write you each month with a challenging new mystery in need of solving.
Every week you will receive another letter with new details on the present mystery, bringing you closer and closer to the solution. I or Dr. Watson will receive the same letters, and reach out to the client to ask probing questions on your behalf.
Since we tend to receive some more peculiar cases, I will also make the knowledge of my network of experts available to you at times, to help shed light on some of the more perplexing details of the cases we encounter.
Your challenge is to solve the mystery before I do. Once I solve the case (at the end of the month), I will write you to share how I solved it. I sincerely hope you beat me to the task.
Are you ready to put your deductive skills to the test?
The game is afoot!”
Now you can email the solution to Mr. Holmes for his perusal – but in the monthly Featured Detective contest – people who post their solutions thru the mail are given extra points! (Plus it gives you an excuse to purchase some top drawer stationary!)
This is a fun and creative game that tests not only your deductive powers but your critical reading skills and the knowledge, you as a reader, have acquired of the era from which Holmes & Watson sprung.
I’ve only been a consulting detective for a month and I’m already hooked!
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.
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.
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
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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,
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!
John Connolly. Charlie Parker. A Book of Bones. That’s really all I should have to say, honestly.
“This 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.
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!
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.
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!
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 ora 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! ‘
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…]
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
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!
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!
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.
See, 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.
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 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.