April 2023

People were always amazed at our ability to recognize books that they’d read but couldn’t remember. Our joke, when working with such questions, was that someone would inevitably come in and ask about a book they read 30 years ago, the cover was red and it had murder in the title and could we tell them what it was? It was amazing that with the right clues we often could figure out what the book was.

Well, case in point: Marian emailed to ask the following – “I bought a book from your store somewhere in the early 2010s that I think Fran recommended to me. It was a red paperback and it was the first book this author had written. The story was wonderful and started off with a woman who had no memory of who she was. She had written letters to herself throughout the course of the book discovered more about her identity and the identity of the person who’d removed her memory. She was in an agency within the British Parliament and essentially dealt with paranormal type topics.” She’d lent out the book and never got it back. Could we possibly tell her what it was??

Fran and Amber had the answer in no time: Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook

Another satisfied customer!! Nice job ladies!!! They still got tha magic!

And just to be clear, this was not one of our old April Fool pranks. It happened on March 21st. Really! Seriously! No joke!! Don’t believe me!?!?!? Guess we can’t blame you…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Words of the Month

fool (v.): Mid-14th C., “to be foolish, act the fool,” from fool (n.1). The transitive meaning “make a fool of” is recorded from 1590s. Sense of “beguile, cheat” is from 1640s. Also as a verb 16th C.-17th C. was foolify. Related: Fooled; fooling. Fool around is 1875 in the sense of “pass time idly,” 1970s in sense of “have sexual adventures.”

Overlooked No More: Dilys Winn, Who Brought Murder and Mystery to Manhattan

Why Bill insisted we keep politics out of author events: ‘He’s a Tyrant’: Trumpers Fume After Being Booted From DeSantis Book Event

Judy Blume asks that you stop being so weird about what your kid reads.

The Real Star of North by Northwest is Cary Grant’s Suit

When handling rare books, experts say that bare, just-cleaned hands are best. Why won’t the public believe them?

Lost in translation: 4 perfect words that have no English equivalent

$250K offered to decode ancient Roman scrolls

A new $1,500 book offers never-seen ‘Shining’ ephemera. Are you obsessed enough?

An Ancient Document Breakthrough Could Reveal Untold Secrets of the Past

In “All the Knowledge in the World,” Simon Garfield recounts the history of the encyclopedia — a tale of ambitious effort, numerous errors and lots of paper.

LeVar Burton Is Still Championing Literacy In The Right to Read

A Rare Collection of Shakespeare Folios Is on Sale for $10.5 Million

Go Inside the Emily Dickinson House, Vibrantly Restored in Amherst, Mass.

For Decades, Cartographers Have Been Hiding Covert Illustrations Inside of Switzerland’s Official Maps

Serious Stuff

Ezra Klein: This Changes Everything (AI and how the creators don’t know what is coming…fiction and term papers aren’t his worry)

Former acting Met commissioner allegedly called bulk of rape complaints ‘regretful sex’

Books by female authors studied by just 2% of GCSE pupils, finds study

Hackers steal sensitive law enforcement data in a breach of the U.S. Marshals Service

A former TikTok employee tells Congress the app is lying about Chinese spying

Sensitive Personal Data of US House and Senate Members Hacked, Offered for Sale

Roald Dahl is the last thing we should worry about on World Book Day

Inside the “Private and Confidential” Conservative Group That Promises to “Crush Liberal Dominance”

He was with Emmett Till the night he was murdered. The horror haunts him still

Mauritania’s Ancient Libraries Could be Lost tot he Expanding Desert

Secret trove offers rare look into Russian cyberwar ambitions

‘Vulkan files’ leak reveals Putin’s global and domestic cyberwarfare tactics

Words of the Month

foolocracy (n.): 1832, from fool (n.) + -ocracy (word-forming element forming nouns meaning “rule or government by,” from French -cratie or directly from Medieval Latin -cratia, from Greek -kratia “power, might; rule, sway; power over; a power, authority,” from kratos “strength,” from PIE *kre-tes– “power, strength,” suffixed form of root *kar “hard.” The connective -o- has come to be viewed as part of it. Productive in English from c. 1800.)


Culture war in the stacks: Librarians marshal against rising book bans

A partial Malcolm X quote that sparked protest is removed from a university building

A New Bill Could Legalize Kidnapping Trans Kids by Their Parents

The Right Wants to Boycott Hershey’s Because a Trans Woman Was in Its Ad

Self-Censorship on College Campuses Is Widespread and Getting Worse

Idaho College Pulls 6 Abortion-Related Artworks from Exhibit, Citing State Law

A Man Accused Of Spray-Painting “Groomer” On Libraries Has Now Been Charged With Possessing Child Sex Abuse Materials

First they came for drag storytime… Then they came for James Patterson?

Censored and then forgotten, Anatoly Kuznetsov’s Babi Yar, about the Nazi occupation of Kyiv, is again painfully relevant.

Kirk Cameron Gets Tennessee Library Director Fired

Are Literary Agents Seeing Changes in Publishing with Increased Book Bans (A Survey): Book Censorship News, March 24, 2023

The Librarians Are Not Okay

Tallahassee principal is forced to resign after parents complained that Michelangelo’s statue of David is ‘pornographic’ and shouldn’t be shown to sixth grade art history class

MO lawmakers strip library funding over book ban lawsuit

Agatha Christie Novels Stripped of Slurs, References to Ethnicity

Plot twist: Activists skirt book bans with guerrilla giveaways and pop-up libraries

Shameful: ‘Ruby Bridges’ Film Banned from School Because White Parents Feeling Some Kind of Way

Spotsylvania to remove 14 books from school libraries for explicit content

Heroic DC library staff trolls all-star conservative story hour with LGBTQ display.

Opinion A new book-ban fiasco in Florida reveals the monster DeSantis created

Words of the Month

folly (n.): Early 13th C., “mental weakness; foolish behavior or character; unwise conduct” (in Middle English including wickedness, lewdness, madness), from Old French folie “folly, madness, stupidity” (12th C.), from fol (see fool (n.)). From c. 1300 as “an example of foolishness;” sense of “costly structure considered to have shown folly in the builder” is attested from 1650s. But used much earlier, since Middle English, in place names, especially country estates, probably as a form of Old French folie in its meaning “delight.”

Local Stuff

Two WA artists plead guilty to faking Native American heritage

Duck hunter finds human remains 43 years ago in WA, officials say. DNA identifies them

72 Hours in Seattle: Where to Eat, Drink, and Visit During AWP 2023~Hot Tips From Local Writers

How police pursued Idaho slaying suspect

J.A. Jance on Creating Believable Characters

Shoreline Community College Website Hacked in Apparent Ransomware Attack

Odd Stuff

Wine vocabulary is Eurocentric. It’s time to change that.

Magic: the Gathering fans ‘heartbroken’ as $100,000 worth of cards found in Texas landfill

Man Busted With 600 Year Old Mummified “Girlfriend” [Shades of Norman Bates…]

A Murdaugh family death in 1940 was also suspicious — and eerily similar

Novelist William Kennedy bought the Albany home where Jack “Legs” Diamond was gunned down. Nearly 40 years later, he’s selling the landmark for $499,000

Neuroscience Explains Why Bill Gates’ Weird Reading Trick Is So Effective

Pssst! Wanna buy an Oscar? The mysterious case of the missing Academy Awards

My neighbor found Lincoln’s hair in his basement. I found a mystery.

Did voter fraud kill Edgar Allan Poe?

How to spot the Trump and Pope AI fakes

Words of the Month

muggins (n.): A “fool, simpleton,” 1855, of unknown origin, apparently from the surname and perhaps influenced by slang mug “dupe, fool” (1851; see mug (n.2)). It also was the name of simple card game (1855) and the word each player tried to call out before the other in the game when two cards matched. The name turns up frequently in humor magazines, “comic almanacks,” etc. in 1840s and 1850s.


Amazon Driver Says AI Is Tracking Their Every Move, Even Beard Scratching

Group of businesses unite to battle Amazon

Uh oh, trouble in Amazon-headquarters-town.

Amazon’s belt-tightening affects towns across the U.S.

Seattle court to Amazon: Time to improve safety at Kent warehouse

It Sure Seems Like Amazon Is Making a New Web Browser

Amazon’s Pricey Stock Is Getting Harder to Justify

Amazon Sellers Disguised Banned Gun Parts as Bike Handlebars

‘Three Pines’ Canceled, Author Louise Penny ‘Shocked and Upset’ Prime Video Series Won’t Return

Amazon delivery firms say racial bias skews customer reviews

Amazon Is Considering a Surprising New Acquisition

Amazon fights Oregon data center clean energy bill

Amazon flags “frequently returned” items to warn customers

Amazon consultant admits to bribing employees to help sellers

Words of the Month

mome (n.): A “buffoon, fool, stupid person,” 1550s, from Old French mome “a mask. Related Momish. The adjective introduced by “Lewis Carroll” is an unrelated nonsense word.


Here are the winners of the 2023 PEN America Literary Awards

Author receives young author award for novel about the legacy of male violence

2023 Lambda Award Shortlist Finalists Announced

The winner of The Story Prize in 2023 is Ling Ma for Bliss Montage.

Here are the finalists for the 2023 Dylan Thomas Prize.

The 2023 National Book Critics Circle Awards

Here are the 2023 Whiting Award winners.

Book Stuff

R. W. Green reflects on carrying on his beloved friend M. C. Beaton’s long-running series.

The Brave Women Who Saved the Collected Texts of Hildegard of Bingen

Mysteries Featuring Anonymous Notes As Catalysts

Rupert Holmes Can’t Read While Music Is Playing

How Barnes & Noble turned a page, expanding for the first time in years

A book collector’s memoir: Pradeep Sebastian on the joys of discovering and collecting fine books

Turns out that America’s most “recession-proof” business is . . . bookstores.

8 Books That the Authors Regretted Writing

The FBI is spying on a Chicago bookstore because it’s hosting “extremists.”

Ashes in the Aspic: Elisabeth Sanxay Holding’s Life and Short Crime Fiction

Stranger Than Fiction: Crime in the Library

>Filippo Bernardini has been accused by the government of stealing over 1,000 book manuscripts. In court filings, he said he was motivated not by money but by a love of reading.

>Manuscript Thief of 1,000 Unpublished Books Will Not Receive Prison Time

Why More Men Should Read Romance

Blurred Lines: When a Novel’s Author Is Also Its Narrator

Top 10 books about corruption

Espionage Book Recommendations From a Former CIA Spy

What Murder Mysteries Get Wrong About The Food Industry

Downtown SF’s Death Spiral Continues as Independent Bookstore Shutters

Houston’s local bookstores thrive by being more collaborative than competitive

Why Are Audiences So Captivated by Locked-Room Mysteries?

50 Years of ‘The Long Goodbye’ [the movie, the book marks 70 years this year]

Why 1973 Was the Year Sidney Lumet Took on Police Corruption

Is 1973 actually crime film’s greatest year?

New Mystery: Remembering Nebraska’s forgotten “whodunit queen”

In defense of fan fiction, and ignoring the ‘pretensions of polish’

What I Buy and Why: Bibliophile Pom Harrington on His Original Roald Dahl Book Illustration, and the Accessible Beauty of Picasso’s Prints

The Joy of the Bad Decision in Crime Fiction

Harlan Coben’s Top Tip for Book Touring: Appreciate Crowds

Literary baby names ranked from least to most cringey.

Inside the revolutionary Free Black Women’s Library in Brooklyn

The 11 Best Book Covers of March

8 Novels Featuring Artificial Intelligence

How about a Cuppa and a Good Mystery?

What’s The Difference Between Suspense and Mystery?

Author Events

April 4: Timothy Egan signs A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan’s Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman Who Stopped Them, Elliot Bay/Town Hall, 7:30

April 18: Matt Ruff signs The Destroyer of Worlds, a sequel to Lovecraft Country, Powell’s, 7pm

April 20: Don Winslow signs City of Dreams, Powell’s, 7pm

Other Forms of Entertainment

Paul Newman’s Reflection on Noir: The 25th Anniversary of Twilight

‘Devil in the White City’ Dead at Hulu (Erik Larson’s book was published in 2003!)

The Real Los Angeles History Behind ‘Perry Mason’ Season Two

Oscar Isaac will play Kurt Vonnegut in a new crime series

FX Reviving ‘Justified’ Starring Timothy Olyphant for New Limited Series

Netflix Wins Defamation Suit Over ‘Making a Murderer’

The 50 best true-crime documentaries you can stream right now

You’ve Probably Already Heard, but Monk is Coming Back

We Need More Female-Driven Revenge Movies

The 25 Greatest Revenge Movies of All Time

Wild Things: Why this steamy 1998 film is an underrated noir classic

Netflix Exposes the Pedophile Cult Leader Who Went to War With the FBI

Alex Mar and Sarah Weinman Discuss True Crime and Criminal Justice Storytelling

A Remake Of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo Is In The Works, And Robert Downey Jr. Is Involved

Three ways Robert Downey Jr’s Vertigo might not be Hollywood’s stupidest ever idea

Thriller writer Harlan Coben on his latest Netflix series with Joanna Lumley

The 18 Scruffiest Detectives in Crime Film and TV

Words of the Month

jobbard (n.): A “fool, stupid man,” mid-15th Cc., jobard, probably from French jobard (but this is not attested before 16th C.), from jobe “silly.” Earlier jobet (c. 1300).


Feb. 28: Ricou Browning, the Gill-Man in ‘Creature From the Black Lagoon,’ choreographed the final scuba-battle in ‘Thunderball’, and co-wrote the movie ‘Flipper’,Dies at 93

Mar. 1: Linda Kasabian, Former Manson Family Member Who Helped Take Down Its Leader, Dies at 73

Mar. 3: Bryant & May novelist Christopher Fowler has died aged 69

Mar. 3: Tom Sizemore, ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ ‘Heat’ and ‘Natural Born Killers’ Actor, Dies at 61

Mar. 8: Ian Falconer, creator of Olivia the precocious piglet, dies at 63

Mar. 9: Robert Blake, Combustible Star of ‘In Cold Blood’ and ‘Baretta,’ Dies at 89

Mar. 14: John Jakes, Author of the Miniseries-Spawning ‘North and South’ Trilogy, Dies at 90 (before he his the historical goldmine, he was a presence in the early crime pulps)

Mar. 17: Lance Reddick, ‘The Wire’ and ‘John Wick’ Star, Dies at 60

Mar. 17: Jim Mellen, an Original Member of the Militant Weathermen, Dies at 87

Mar. 17: Jim Gordon, rock drummer (co-writer on “Layla” who played the piano section) who later killed mother, dies at 77

Mar. 22: Gordon T. Dawson, Peckinpah Protégé and ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ Writer and Producer, Dies at 84

Mar. 29: Julie Anne Peters, Whose Young-Adult Books Caused a Stir, Dies at 71

Mar. 29: George Nassar, 86, killer who heard confession in Boston Strangler Case, is dead

Words of the Year (for Tammy, who used this all the time)

wacky (adj.): “crazy, eccentric,” 1935, variant of whacky (n.) “fool,” late 1800s British slang, probably ultimately from whack “a blow, stroke,” from the notion of being whacked on the head one too many times.

Links of Interest

Mar. 2: Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg diagnosed with terminal cancer

Mar. 2: Two U.S. Citizens Arrested for Illegally Exporting Technology to Russia

Mar. 3: Roe v. Wade Case Documents Fetch Over $600K at Auction

Mar. 3: Hiding in plain sight: Why are wanted Sicilian mafia bosses often found so close to home?

Mar. 8: The Invention of the Polygraph, and Law Enforcement’s Long Search for a ‘Lie Detector’

Mar. 17: Teen’s Body to Be Exhumed After Murdaugh Conviction

Mar. 17: 4Chan Troll Living With His Mom Arrested for Threatening Anti-Nazi Sheriff

Mar. 22: Ex-Florida Lawmaker Who Sponsored ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Pleads Guilty in Covid Fraud Case

Mar. 22: Poisons are a potent tool for murder in fiction: A toxicologist explains how some dangerous chemicals kill

Mar. 22: The SEC charges Lindsay Lohan, Jake Paul and others with illegally promoting crypto

Mar. 22: How a Team of Ambitious Crooks in 1960s Montreal Planned the Biggest Bank Heist Anyone Had Ever Seen

Mar. 27: Everybody Panic: 5 Strange and Sinister Cases of Crime and Mass Hysteria

Mar. 27: Murder in the Air? The Mysterious Death of Stunt Pilot B.H. DeLay

Mar. 27: Man falsely convicted of raping writer Alice Sebold settles lawsuit against New York

Mar. 28: Pardon Sought in 1908 Execution That Was Really a Lynching

Mar. 29: Maryland court reinstates murder conviction of ‘Serial’ subject Adnan Syed

Mar. 29: ‘To Die For’ inspiration Pamela Smart will stay in prison after losing final appeal at Supreme Court

Mar. 29: The Evolution and Art of the Big Con

Mar. 31: Oscar Pistorius denied parole over killing of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

Mar. 31: The Gangster Who Died Twice

Words of the Month

gawp (n.): A “fool, simpleton,” 1825, perhaps from gawp (v.) “to yawn, gape” (as in astonishment), which is attested from 1680s, a dialectal survival of galp (c. 1300), which is related to yelp or gape and perhaps confused with or influenced by gawk.

What We’ve Been Up To


Once upon a time, when I worked as a bookseller, the founder of our shop wrote a list of the five best mysteries (in his estimation) of all time. Rex Stout’s Fer de Lance, of course, topped the list. (Bill was a huge Nero & Archie fan — as those of you who knew him well remember.) However, at that point, I hadn’t started My 52 Weeks With Christie blog nor begun reading my way through the classics section. So, on an academic level, I found Bill’s list interesting but not one I felt compelled to read my way through.

Fast forward one decade.

Whilst perusing the shelves of my local bookstore, I chance upon a copy of The Poison Chocolates Case, and it sparked a memory. I don’t recall its exact position on it, but for whatever reason (probably the word chocolates), I recollected its inclusion in Bill’s esteemed list. 

So I picked it up.

And my oh my, do I agree with our late great founder of SMB.

Based loosely on the Detection Club, which Anthony Berkeley helped found, the story’s Crime Circle gets together regularly to discuss all things, “….connected with murder, poisons and sudden death.” (pg. 11). (Similar to the Real Murders Club from Charlaine Harris’s Aurora Teagarden mysteries and the Hallmark Movies.) In any case, believing a group of amateur sleuths/criminologists unequal to the task of finding a solution to a rapidly cooling case, which stumped Scotland Yard’s best, Chief Inspector Moresby presents the evidence and theories to the Club’s six members. 

These six members have one week to form and prove their theories before presenting them to the group — and no solution is off limits.

Berkeley does a masterful job of presenting the same case seven times, with seven VERY different solutions — each ratcheting up the tension just a little further until landing on an ending that somehow I didn’t see coming!

Another aspect of this book I enjoyed is the fact the members of the Crime Circle draw parallels with real true crime cases and their own theories. Their commentary on said cases is fascinating and contains enough detail, you can research them on your own. 

Should you be so inclined.

Now, I’ve read variations on this style of mystery before — Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie, written seven-ish years after The Poisoned Chocolates Case, pits four detectives against four murderers in order to solve a single crime. Asimov’s Black Widowers short stories (based on Asimov’s own experience with the Trap Door Spiders — an arguing/dinner society of noted sci-fi figures AND a favorite of Fran’s!) reminds me of Berkeley’s Crime Circle as well. Unfortunately, while reminiscent of Berkeley’s work and brilliant in their own right, neither Christie nor Asimov captures the same slow burn or surprise Berkeley manages to cram into this masterpiece.

Seriously, if you’re looking for an outstanding mystery, I highly suggest, just as Bill did before me, you pick yourself a copy of The Poisoned Chocolates Case — you won’t be sorry.


As I may have mentioned, I’ve been depressed lately, and it’s had an effect on my reading, in that I haven’t been doing much. 

However, JB is smart, and JB knows I love Mike Lawson’s books, and JB knows I have a crush on his character Emma in the DeMarco books, so JB sent me an inscribed copy of Alligator Alley, the 16th DeMarco book. 

Sneaky man. But he knows me because man, did it ever work!

It’s an established fact that I adore Joe DeMarco and Emma and Mahoney and the entire ensemble that Mike Lawson has created. In fact, I’m so fond of Emma that my wife is a little jealous. She told Mike, who just grinned. 

So knowing that Alligator Alley strongly featured Emma was an additional draw for me, and I dove in. Well, not entirely, because it’s set in Florida, mostly, and like DeMarco, I’m not a huge fan of gators except in a safely distanced way. But alligators don’t hold a candle to Emma, so I was sucked right in. 

Andie Moore is a young member of the DOJ’s Inspector General staff, and she’s been sent to Florida to look into a money laundering case, just do research and learn. But she’s enthusiastic, and idealistic, so she goes above and beyond. Things do not go well.

Back in DC, Henry Cantor, who ran the DOJ’s Oversight Division and who was Andie’s supervisor, turns to John Mahoney when Andie is killed, asking for a favor. Mahoney might – and often did – lie to the President about doing favors, but if Henry Cantor asked for something, Mahoney will move heaven and earth to make it happen. What Henry wants is for Mahoney’s fixer, Joe DeMarco, and the enigmatic Emma to look into Andie’s murder. 

Mahoney’s not the only one who would do anything for Henry, and DeMarco doesn’t stand a chance with Emma onboard. And so the investigation begins.

Why would they do so much for this man? Read the book. Once again, Mike Lawson has excelled at creating wonderful and memorable characters in Alligator Alley. They’re flawed and passionate and absolutely real, and I’m head over heels in love with them. 

Especially Emma. But don’t tell my wife; she already knows and doesn’t wanna talk about it. 


I truly wish Bill had been able to read Loren D. Estleman’s Black and White Ball, the 27th in his classic hardboiled series with Detroit PI Amos Walker. He enjoyed anything Estleman wrote but was especially fond of Walker and hitman Peter Macklin. In this entry in the series, we get both. In fact, it’s a story told from four views. Macklin hires Walker to guard his soon-to-be ex-wife from an anonymous threat. Sections are told from Walker’s perspective, from Macklin, and also Laurie Macklin. If that wasn’t enough, the fourth view is from the stalker. We get a full view of all the actors and get a deeper view of Walker than ever before.

We also get Estleman’s homage to Chandler’s opening to “Red Wind”: But things are the same no matter whether it’s Kokomo or Katmandu: The kindly old gentleman who runs the hobby shop has images on his computer that could get him twenty years in stir, the devoted couple celebrate their golden anniversary with a butcher knife and a .44, the kids with the paper route throws an a Baggie willed with white powder for the house on the corner. Noxious weeks grown in all kinds of soil.

It’s just a comfort to spend time with Loren D. Estleman.

Stephen Hunter returns to Earl Swagger in The Bullet Garden. As always, Hunter’s fiction is overlaid on an historical frame. It’s a fact that the Allies were hindered in their post-DDay advance due to Nazi snipers. Hunter ingeniously inserts Earl into the fight to stop their attacks. We’re treated to Earl’s efforts to understand how they’re able to shoot at will without leaving a trace of their ghastly work. From that he knows he’ll be able to track them and end their slaughter.

No one in London is sure what to the new Major Swagger, but there are elements afoot to stop him. Hunter is sly in steering you to and away from characters and events to keep you following the action. If you’re like me, you can’t glide over the meticulous details of the weaponry. I find it slows the flow but I understand that he writes for a variety of audiences.

The solution to the snipers’ methods is fascinating. Is that how it was done on the 1944 farmland the GIs called “the bullet garden’? Who cares! Swagger has a plan and it is WWII fiction at it’s best ~ Where Eagles Dare, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Von Ryan’s Express, The Eagle Has Landed, to name great books made into great movies – and it’s in that company.


And if you’re looking for a movie recommendation, if you have access to Hulu, I’d urge you to watch The Boston Strangler. Yes, it takes some liberties with people and events – as did Zodiac – but I thought it was the equal of Zodiac: moody, tense, well-rounded characters frustrated by what they face and played well by the actors, and a well-established sense of time and place.

Words of the Month

nugatory (adj.): “trifling, of no value; invalid, futile,” c. 1600, from Latin nugatorius “worthless, trifling, futile,” from nugator “jester, trifler, braggart,” from nugatus, past participle of nugari “to trifle, jest, play the fool,” from nugæ “jokes, jests, trifles,” a word of unknown origin.

If what we do entertains you, spread the word!



Man Who Accidentally Got Paid 330x His Salary Quits, Disappears

Hip, Woke, Cool: It’s All Fodder For the Oxford Dictionary of African American English

Love the Smell of Old Books? This Bookseller Would Like You to Leave.

Drool over the personal bookplates of 18 famous writers.

The Secrets of a Long-Overlooked Cipher Linked to Catherine of Aragon

After a local bookstore was scammed out of $35K their Detroit neighbors stepped in to save it

The Crypto Revolution Wants to Reimagine Books

Oakland librarian reflects on nearly 10 years of chronicling found objects

Mystery of Australia’s ‘Somerton Man’ solved after 70 years, researcher says

Rare 1952 Mickey Mantle baseball card going up for auction

After Selling for $43 million, Rare Copy of the Constitution Goes on Display

Teens who mostly read paper books are better readers, a recent study says.

Books and bouncy houses: How the Uvalde library is helping a broken community heal

Words of the Month

nonsense (n.) “that which is lacking in sense, language or words without meaning or conveying absurd or ridiculous ideas,” 1610s, from non “not” + sense (n.); perhaps influenced by French nonsens. Since mid-20th C., non-sense, with the hyphen, has been used to distinguish the meaning “that which is not sense, that which is different from sense,” not implying absurdity.

Serious Stuff

>Police Department Used Images of Black Men Holding Guns as Target Practice

*How To Directly Impact Democracy: Book Censorship News, July 1, 2022

*Who Controls What Books You Can Read?

*Pathetic Proud Boys Ruin Another Pride Month Event for Kids at Indiana Library

*Battle Over Sex and Gender in Books Divides a Texas Town

*All the Little Things You Lose in the Culture War

*Oklahoma Threatens Librarians: ‘Don’t Use the Word Abortion’

*School District Enacts One of ‘Strictest’ Book Bans Yet After Raucous Meeting

People Are Using AI to Generate Disturbing Kids’ Bedtime Stories

An Old Waterpark Could Be Mexico’s Largest Narco Mass Grave

Six Reasons the Murder Clearance Rate Is at an All-Time Low

Two men jailed for Molotov cocktail attack on Dutch journalist’s home

>Emmett Till’s Accuser Wrote A Secret Memoir!

>Emmett Till’s Chicago Home Will Be Preserved

>MS Police Chief Boasted “Shot That N-Word 119 Times,’ According To Leaked Recording

>Co-defendant in Central Park Five case to be exonerated

A Hacker Explains How to Shoplift

Rare medical book collection tracks tangled history of women’s health

28 Incarcerated Women Allege That Guards Allowed Male Inmates to Rape Them for $1000

Local Stuff

Do you recognize this woman? Mounties renew appeal to help ID woman found dead in Richmond marina (Vancouver Sun)

Lucinda Turner, who worked to combat illicit trade in Indigenous art, has died at 63

Planes, parachutes and armed robbery: Netflix take on the master criminal who became a folk hero (D.B. Cooper documentary)

From books to weddings and memorials, Island Books has served Mercer Island for nearly 50 years

D.B. Cooper, the changing nature of hijackings and the foundation for today’s airport security

The Outsider Journalist: The Story Behind a 70 Year Old Cold Case Murder and the Push for Alaska’s Statehood

Shelf Talkers: What Booksellers Are Reading at Third Place Book

Portland’s Books With Pictures named best comic shop in the world

Words of the Month

hooey (n.)“nonsense, foolishness,” 1922, American English slang, of unknown origin.

Odd Stuff

How TikTok Became a Bestseller Machine

As Watergate simmered, Nixon buckled down on a sportswriting project

Feds Nab Woman Who Tried to Rent a Hitman on RentAHitman.Com.

Dressed to Kill: A True Crime Collection of Criminal Clothing

A Judge Pulled a Gun in the Courtroom—and Then It Got Weird

How an Unqualified Sex Worker Allegedly Infiltrated a Top Air Force Lab

Million-Dollar Wine Heist Ends With Mexican Beauty Queen Arrested in Europe

The YouTuber making millions from true crime and make-up

FBI Comes Up Empty-Handed in Search for Jimmy Hoffa in New Jersey Landfill

How a Dick Pic Helped Detectives Crack a $30M Celebrity Diamond Heist

Alabama Officials Tell Reporter Her Skirt Is Too Short to View Inmate’s Execution

The Sinaloa Cartel Is Now Selling Tesla and Prada Branded Cocaine

Eadweard Muybridge: The Eccentric English Bookseller Who Created the First ‘Motion Picture’ Was Also a Murderer

The Collected Works of the Zodiac: Was the 1960s serial killer a frustrated author, desperate for his voice to be heard?

Codebreakers Find ‘Sexts,’ Arctic Dispatches in 200-Year-Old Encrypted Newspaper Ads

Literary-themed cruises with famous writers are apparently a thing now.

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul Unveil Bronze Statues of ‘Breaking Bad’ Characters in Albuquerque

Words of the Month

twaddle (n.)“silly talk, prosy nonsense,” 1782, probably from twattle (1550s), of obscure origin.


Security News This Week: Amazon Handed Ring Videos to Cops Without Warrants

Amazon Gave Ring Doorbell Videos to US Police 11 Times Without Permission

Fake online reviews lead shoppers to overpay, new study says

Amazon wants to be your doctor now, too

Amazon’s Dangerous Ambition to Dominate Healthcare [Time Magazine, no less]

Words of the Month

guff (n.)“empty talk, nonsense,” 1888, from earlier sense of “puff of air” (1825), of imitative origin.


Mick Herron wins crime novel of the year award for Slough House

Booker prize unveils book club challenge

2022 Booker prize longlist of 13 writers aged 20 to 87 announced

These 24 debuts just made the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize longlist.

Here’s the shortlist for the first Ursula K. Le Guin Fiction Prize.

Book Stuff

Writer’s Digest Best Writing Advice Websites For Writers 2022

Iowa City Public Library eliminates fines for overdue materials

HarperCollins Union Has Voted To Strike

Sotheby’s To Bring A Most Rare Shakespeare First Folio Under The Hammer In New York On July 21

PS: Rare original copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio sells for £2m ($2.4M US)

Irish writers dropped from UK school curriculum in move to increase diversity

Daphne du Maurier: Novelist who traced past to a French debtors’ jail

The New York Public Library Opens a ‘Virtual Branch’ on Instagram and Launches a Reading Recommendation Project Using Augmented Reality Technology

‘First modern novel – oldest language’: Sanskrit translation of Don Quixote rescued from oblivion

Collecting first-edition Beatrix Potter books

The Cult Classic That Captures the Grind of Dead-End Jobs

News From Nowhere: Inside Liverpool’s iconic radical bookshop

His First Novel Was a Critical Hit. Two Decades Later, He Rewrote It.

The Great Locked Room Mystery: My Top 10 Impossible Crimes

Tess Gerritsen: ‘There’s always comfort in Sherlock Holmes’

My First Thriller: Laura Lippman

Dana Canedy, Publisher of Simon & Schuster’s Flagship Imprint, Has Left the Job

London and the Long, Dark shadow of Charles Dickens

A copyright lawsuit threatens to kill free access to Internet Archive’s library of books

This Website Makes It Easy for You to Support Local Bookstores

Writer Gets Locked Out of Novel Draft by Chinese Word Processor for Illegal Content

From Mo Hayder: The Desert Brings Danger and Mystery in This First Look at The Book of Sand

The Bookseller Who Helped Transform Oxford, Mississippi

Little Essays on Sherlock Holmes: “The Engineer’s Thumb”

Book review by Joseph Kanon: A (dubious) suicide, a (possible) mole and an enduring CIA mystery

Ian Flemings ’13 Rules for life’ notebook sells for $52,500 [“Rule 13. Live until your dead.“]

A historic lesbian-owned queer bookstore is fighting to stay open.

21 Independent Bookstores to Browse in the DC Area 

Attention ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ fans: Rare Dr. Seuss collection coming to Columbia

With Violence All Around Us, What Does It Actually Mean For a Book To Be a Crime Novel?

Artist Barbara Bloom and Writer Ben Lerner Invent a New Kind of Book

How do you organize your books? 9 authors share their favorite shelves.

Vintage Typewriters Are Taken Apart and Reassembled Into Movable Bird Sculptures

How a Book Is Made – Ink, Paper and a 200,000-Pound Printer

Milton Propper: Scion and Imitator of the Golden Age Mystery, Pioneer of the Procedural

We Need to Reckon with the Rot at the Core of Publishing

Meet the People Behind Some of Today’s Best Small Publishers Specializing in Crime Fiction

From Duluth to Decatur these bookstores are helping in the fight for reproductive justice.

The Search for the Funniest Crime Novel Ever Written

Author Events

Aug. 3: Deborah Cuyle signs Murder and Mayhem in Spokane, Auntie’s 7pm

Aug. 4: Leah Sottile signs her Idaho true crime book, When the Moon Turns to Blood, Elliot Bay Books, 7pm

Aug. 9: Mercer Island author Mark Pawlosky signs Hack, Island Books 6pm

Aug. 13: 2 OR authors sign their new cozies from Kensington ~ Angela M. Sanders and Emmeline Duncan, University Books, 2pm

Aug. 19: Beverly Hodgins signs Mercy and Madness: Dr. Mary Archard Latham’s Tragic Fall From Female Physician to Felon!, Auntie’s 7pm

Aug. 23: Patricia Briggs signs her new Mercy Thompson, University Books 6pm

Aug. 23: Peter Blecha and Brad Holden sign Lost Roadhouses of Seattle, Third Place/Ravenna 7pm

An Interesting List That Mixes Books and Film

The 50 Greatest Fictional Deaths of All Time

Other Forms of Entertainment

True crime psychologist sharing insights with Central Illinois library-goers

‘Dark Winds’ Renewed for Season 2 at AMC

+Michael Mann Plans To Turn His Heat 2 Novel Into ‘One Large Movie’

+Why Marxist Heist Masterpiece ‘Thief’ Was James Caan’s Finest Work

+Inside Tokyo Vice, the Flat-Out Coolest Show of the Year

Daredevil’s Darker Tone Called For A Different Kind Of Superhero Costume

The 25 Best True-Crime Podcasts of All Time

7 Movies Depicting a “Perfect” Murder

Girl in the Picture review – the scale of the true-crime monstrosity will leave you reeling

All Agents Defect: Espionage in the Films of David Cronenberg

‘Almost mythical’ Michael Flatley thriller Blackbird gets September release; Lord of the Dance star ‘thrilled’ self-financed film finally being released four years after premiere

The ‘Butcher of Delhi’ Was One of the Most Savage Serial Killers in History. A New Netflix Series Dives Into His Twisted Mind.

‘Noir Alley’ host celebrates cinema’s double crosses and doomed characters

Tony Sirico Used to Direct His Sopranos Castmates, Whether They Liked It or Not

Is Christopher Nolan’s ‘Insomnia’ a Successful Remake?

Two Drivers Shooting at Each Other Crash Into Chicago Set of FX’s ‘Justified: City Primeval’

8 International Podcasts To Listen to This Summer

The HBO True Crime Series That Starts With an Exoneration—Then Gets Really Interesting

Five of the Best Unexpected Crime Movies of All-Time

Your Guide to the Best Crime Shows Coming Out This Month [published at the very end of July]

Deliverance at 50: a violent battle between urban and rural America

Jonathan Banks of ‘Better Call Saul’ explains Mike’s saving grace

Words of the Month

fiddlestick (n.): 15 C., originally “the bow of a fiddle,” from fiddle (n.) and stick (n.). Meaning “nonsense” (usually fiddlesticks) is from 1620s. As an exclamation, c. 1600.


July 1: Joe Turkel, the Bartender in ‘The Shining,’ Dies at 94

July 3: Novelist and former Guardian journalist Susie Steiner dies at 51

July 7: James Caan, Macho Leading Man of Hollywood, Dies at 82 [here’s a link to what we put up on the day of his death]

July 8: Tony Sirico, ‘The Sopranos’ Actor, Dies at 79

July 8: Larry Storch, Corporal Randolph Agarn on ‘F Troop,’ Dies at 99

July 9: L.Q. Jones, ‘Wild Bunch’ Actor and Member of Peckinpah’s Posse, Dies at 94

July 11: Bond theme composer Monty Norman dies aged 94

July 12: Frederick Nolan, thriller writer and publisher who became an authority on the American old west and Billy the Kid, was 91

July 21: Taurean Blacque, Det. Neal Washington on ‘Hill Street Blues,’ Dies at 82 [let’s be careful out there!]

July 23: William Richert, Writer-Director of ‘Winter Kills,’ Dies at 79

July 24: Bob Rafelson, Director of ‘Five Easy Pieces’ and Co-Creator of ‘The Monkees,’ Dies at 89

July 25: David Warner, Convincing Big-Screen Villain in ‘Time Bandits,’ ‘TRON’ and ‘Time After Time,’ investigator in ‘The Omen’, Dies at 80

July 25: Paul Sorvino, Actor in ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘That Championship Season,’ Dies at 83

July 27: Faye Marlowe, Actress in the Film Noir Classic ‘Hangover Square,’ Dies at 95

July 27: Stone Barrington novelist Stuart Woods dies at 84

July 28: Mary Alice, Actress in ‘Fences,’ ‘Sparkle’ and The Matrix Revolutions, Dies at 85

Links of Interest

July 3: Long-Lost Alexander Hamilton Letter to Marquis de Lafayette Discovered

July 5: Top secret D-Day map of Omaha Beach goes to Library of Congress.

July 9: Where Is Pete Panto? A union leader on the Brooklyn docks disappeared 81 years ago, presumably murdered by the mob.

July 12: Bombs, blackmail and wire-taps: how I spent my childhood on the run from the FBI

July 13: Prisoners of their own device? Men accused over theft of Hotel California manuscript

July 14: Man exonerated in Malcom X murder sues New York City for $40m

July 14: Roman Polanski rape case testimony can be unsealed, prosecutor says

July 14: ExCIA Hacker Convicted for ‘One of the Most Damaging Acts of Espionage in American History’

July 15: Mexico Captures Drug Lord Rafael Caro Quintero, Portrayed on ‘Narcos: Mexico’

July 15: New Report Shows Criminals Are Mixing Crypto Streams to Conceal Revenue

July 16: Crypto Founders Say It’s Not Their Fault They’re Enabling Ponzi Schemes

July 17: Millions in jewels stolen from armored truck outside LA

July 18: FBI Warns Fake Crypto Apps Are Stealing Millions

July 18: Inside the Stringer Bell Bandit’s Bank Heist Spree

July 19: Rhino Horns, Tiger Teeth and 6 Tonnes of Ivory Seized in $18M Record Bust

July 19: Italian police thwart illegal sale of Artemisia Gentileschi painting

July 19: ‘Law & Order: Organized Crime’ Crew Member Shot & Killed On Set Of NBC Drama

July 20: A discarded coffee cup may have just helped crack this decades-old murder case

July 20: How Professor Maynard Burned Down – The criminologist on trial for serial arson.

July 20: Delia Owens, author of Where the Crawdads Sing, wanted for questioning over real-life killing

July 21: Thieves stole ‘Precious Blood’ relic. It reemerged at detective’s door.

?July 22: Rays’ Wander Franco Has $650K Worth of Jewelry Stolen from Car in Hotel Parking Lot [pardon the editorializing, but who needs that much jewelry, and who is dumb enough to leave it in a car?!?!?!]

July 22: Three Picasso artworks discovered in three months

July 22: A German Woman Turned Herself in for a Brazen Art Theft, but Claims She Lost the Painting

July 23: Woman sentenced to prison for collecting $400,000 in viral GoFundMe scam

July 25: Former GOP Congressman Made Hundreds of Thousands Off Insider Trading Scheme, Feds Say

July 25: She seemed like an elderly Sacramento landlady. Dorothea Puente was actually a serial killer.

July 25: French Authorities Detain Two Archaeologists, Including a Louvre Curator, as Part of an Ongoing International Art-Trafficking Dragnet

?July 25: NYPD: Preacher, Wife Robbed of $1M in Jewelry During Sermon [see July 22 – same questions]

July 27: KGB Photo Deepens Mystery of Texas Couple Who Stole Dead Babies’ Identities, Feds Say

July 27: Anti-Vaxxers Looking for Love Had Their Data Exposed

July 27: Third set of human remains found at Lake Mead amid drought, National Park Service says

July 28: Father of JonBenet Ramsey is pushing for new DNA testing

?July 29: Brooklyn Pastor Robbed of $1 Million in Jewelry Accused of Plundering Congregant’s $90,000 Retirement Fund [now watch – the crime reader in us wonders if he staged the robbery to collect on the insurance?]

July 29: California court upholds death penalty for notorious serial killer Charles Ng

Words of the Month

falderol (n.)also falderal, falderall, folderol, etc., 18th C. nonsense words from refrains of songs; meaning “gewgaw, trifle” is attested from 1820.

What We’ve Been Up To


A Bride’s Guide to Marriage and Murder — Dianne Freeman

Familiarity breeds contempt…and when it’s your family?


Things can get explosive.

And explode they do (though not literally). When a murder, accusations of infidelity, thugs, and rivalries all come to a head at and after France and George’s much-anticipated wedding.

Seriously, if your looking for a light-hearted historical murder mystery that never takes itself too seriously — the Countess of Harleigh Mystery series is the one for you! Freeman does an excellent job of blending the time period, manners, and societal rules into an excessively readable mystery.

What I love the most about the Countess of Harleigh Mysteries (BTW – Frances is said Countess) is their funny. Not a slap you on the back hardy-har-har kind but wry, sly, and observational humor that one can relate to – especially if you’ve ever tried planning a wedding with the “help” of your family and/or in-laws.

Now, you don’t need to read them in order….However, there are only four predecessors, so starting at numero uno, A Lady’s Guide To Etiquette and Murder isn’t too much of a stretch, and hopefully, you’ll laugh (or at least smile) as much as I did whilst turning the pages.


Okay, so hear me out

I don’t have a review, but I have a really good explanation. A couple of ’em, if I’m being honest. And one is legit book stuff!

The mother of a dear friend of mine passed away, and she lived near me. Her son and his wife, both of whom are great friends of mine, asked me to assess her books to see if there was anything worthwhile in there. We all figured probably not, but hey, you never know, right? And she was a pack rat, as was her late husband, so treasures were possible.

There were a couple of catches. One was that she lived near where we had originally moved to in New Mexico, which is now an hour away from where I now live, but is certainly much closer than the five hours away where Bill and Kate live. I have time and am certainly willing to help, so that was just a minor thing.

The bigger issue is that, while I’m pretty good at mysteries, I’m not so well versed at Southwestern history.

Like not at all. And it’s been educational.

There have been books, and pamphlets, and cookbooks, and all manner of things. Including Hillermans and Jances, which were easy enough. But mostly it was Southwestern stuff.

Boxes and boxes of books. It’s kept me busy, and it’s been immense fun.

But that’s why I haven’t reviewed anything.

Well, that and the fact that I’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. But that’s not really a good reason. Assessing books, however, really is.

I’m going to try to have a review next month, but I’m planning on putting these books up for sale, and honestly, that may take a lot of time, so we’ll see what next month brings.

Oh, but it’s exciting!


After catching up on my Haller, Bosch, and Ballard, I picked up another from my always growing To Be Read Pile – Stephen Hunter’s Game of Snipers from 2019. Burned through it in two days, as one does with a thriller of this quality (please note I chose to not writer “of this calibre”. Swagger books are reliable fun. I don’t know about anyone else, but I skip over the nitty-gritty details of the guns in play and stick with the action. This one is as if one put the Day of the Jackal in the US with Swagger part of the team hunting the sniper. And thanks to David G. for keeping me supplied!

We’ve been watching a number of series that I’d recommend: “Dark Wind”, the adaptation of Tony Hillerman’s The Listening Woman, “Reservation Dogs”, “Obi-Wan Kenobi” with a wonderfully guilt-ridden Obi-Wan, “DB Cooper Where Are You”, and “Under the Banner of Heaven”. After watching that, I bought a copy of Jon Krakauer’s book on which it was based and burned through it. First of all, the series is quite accurate when it says “inspired” by the book. While the series is a good police procedural, it is largely fiction. Written in 2003, it is a deep dive into the Mormon faith and the fundamentalist offshoots. True it does center around a vicious double murder but it really is about people blinded by their faith and incapable or unwilling to look at the real world before them. While Krakauer does make a few faint parallels to Isis and other foreign “tribes”, the book felt more relevant to me when matched to Trumpism, and the true believers who know that they know to be truth and everyone else is just wrong.

This being the 50th Anniversary year of Watergate, I’ve read four books on that “event”- that period is better. In 2012, Lamar Waldron released his mammoth, 808 page Watergate: The Hidden History. It’s a deep dive into the subject. Then, in 2013 came Phil Stanford’s slim trade paperback White House Call Girl: The Real Watergate Story. Earlier this year, Garrett M. Graff’s Watergate: A New History was released. It was just under the page count of Waldron’s. I wrote about both of those in an earlier newzine. [If you want to read just one, read Waldron’s. And then read Graff’s!]

Now, what I expect to be the last “major” book on Watergate (at least this year) is out: Jefferson Morley’s Scorpion’s Dance. I’d looked forward to this, as I thought his book on James Jesus Angleton, The Ghost, was quite good. But I found this book focusing on the lethal dance between President Nixon and CIA Chief Richard Helms to be oddly light. I suppose I was expecting something of the heft of Waldron’s or Graff’s and I found it short on depth. For instance, during the heat of August 1973, he glides over the details of the Saturday Night Massacre in one small paragraph and doesn’t use that weighted term. I certainly followed along because I knew the details and was hoping for new revelations. There was little of it. I would not recommend this to someone not familiar with that crucial and sordid history.

Yet there were a few bits new to me that I found interesting:

~ After his arrest, James McCord directed his wife and a neighbor, who was also a CIA officer, to burn papers and copies of transcripts of the DNC wiretaps. The damper in the fire place was closed, they filled the house with smoke, and had to explain what was going on to the fire department.

~ He never points to a specific rationale for the Watergate break-ins, but does repeatedly write about the salacious recordings that the bugs provided. It is the supposition of some – like Stanford – that a call girl ring was being run out of the DNC office and the bugs were to get dirt on the Dems. Indeed, the office of Larry O’Brien, the head of the DNC, never was bugged.

~Helms quoted a Nixonian threat as having a “devious, hard-nosed smell”

~ Sometimes it is just the way he phrases things: “In this perilous situation, Helms had one advantage that Nixon did not. For the president, it was illegal to conceal of destroy material evidence, suborn witnesses, or dissemble to law enforcement. Helms, not so much… As CIA director, Helms had discretion to hide certain activities from law enforcement. As the duly sworn president, Nixon did not. And that would make all the difference in determining who would fall first.”

~ I had not known that like JFK, LBJ, and Nixon, Helms had recording equipment in his office. Those recordings and transcripts were destroyed damn fast. Likewise, the day after Nixon’s resignation, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had been recording and transcribing their meetings since the end of WWII, destroyed all of those records.

~ After his fall, Helms was stunned by how Washington had deserted him. “‘ It was unthinkable that the Establishment would turn against Dick Helms’… He could not understand with all these powerful friends and with all these connections and with all these people who he had helped and become socially close to them and that retained positions of influence and power, that this could nonetheless be done to him…” This brought to mind the disbelief in the intelligence world after Philby defected to the Soviets. He was one of them, he was from their schools, they socialized and ate dinner and drank in the same clubs – this “Old Boy” network was the rot at the center of the post-war Free World. Those who belonged to it were deluded and took us down with them.

~ At Helms’ sentencing, the judge threw down the wrath of the bench at him: “If public officials embark deliberately on a course to disobey and ignore the laws of our land because of some misguided and ill-conceived notion and belief that there are earlier commitments and considerations which they must first observe, the future of our country is in jeopardy.”

What would that Judge, Barrington Parker, an African-American Republican appointed by Nixon, think of January 6th and The Big Lie that won’t die????



Sculptures that make novel use of books – in pictures

Oof, Y’all, Dictionary.com Just Added Over 300 New Words And Definitions

Sleeping or Dead? and other hilarious “practical books for librarians” in pulp classic form. [do yourself a favor and loot at them all!]

Serious Stuff

Famed Crime Reporter Shot in Head After Leaving Amsterdam TV Studio

Inside the Rash of Unexplained Deaths at Fort Hood

How the Banning of Joyce’s Ulysses Led to “The Grandest Obscenity Case in the History of Law and Literature”

Booksellers at Hong Kong’s book fair are being forced to self-censor their selections.

A Reporter’s Fight to Expose Epstein’s Crimes — and Earn a Living

Two men charged in alleged plot to firebomb California Democratic Party headquarters

Private Israeli spyware used to hack cellphones of journalists, activists worldwide

Local Stuff

Attorneys for woman accused of lying to grand jury in Thomas Wales killing want indictment dismissed

Powell’s Books is celebrating its 50-year anniversary with a curated collection of 50 books

Alaska’s libraries are facing devastating funding cuts

Portland literary icon Ursula K. Le Guin gets a Forever stamp

The days are getting shorter. Embrace the dark with 4 mystery and crime novels


Fired by bot at Amazon: ‘It’s you against the machine’

Investigating Amazon, the Employer

Amazon Transformed Seattle. Now, Its Workers Are Poised to Take It Back.

Amazon Is Selling a Bogus ‘Plandemic’ COVID Conspiracy Book in Its ‘Science’ Section

FTC Launches Investigation Into Amazon’s MGM Acquisition: Report

Amazon tells bosses to conceal when employees are on a performance management plan

Amazon Denied a Worker Pregnancy Accommodations. Then She Miscarried.

Amazon sued by U.S. product-safety agency over dangerous items

Rumored to Accept Bitcoin by End of 2021 and Develop Own Currency by 2022: Report

EU regulator hits Amazon with record $887 million fine for data protection violations

Odd Stuff

Woman Joined International Drug Syndicate to be Closer to Her Son, Court Hears

Now you can buy the glorious mansion where Mark Twain died

Cops Ignored Threat Posed by Menacing Clowns

The Scary Story Behind The Most Haunted Painting In History

Words of the Month

dreadnought (n.): Literally (one who or that which) “fears nothing,” from the verbal phrase (drede ich nawiht is attested from c. 1200); see dread (v.) + nought (n.). As a synonym for “battleship” (1916) it is from a specific ship’s name. Dreadnought is mentioned as the name of a ship in the Royal Navy as early as c. 1596, but the modern generic sense is from the name of the first of a new class of British battleships, based on the “all big-gun” principle (armed with 10 big guns rather than 4 large guns and a battery of smaller ones), launched Feb. 18, 1906. (etymonline)


Here are the dark and twisty nominees for the 2020 Shirley Jackson Awards

2021 Agatha Award Winners

The 2021 Booker Prize Nominees

Book Stuff

Significant Edward Lear poems discovered

J.P. Morgan’s Personal Librarian Was A Black Woman. This Is Her Story

For the first time, Patricia Highsmith’s diaries will be available to the public.

A nun just unearthed a previously unknown Dante manuscript

Two Editors Who Showed What Publishing Should Be

One Good Thing: An incredible true crime book about the problems with true crime books

10 Crime Novels Full of Style, Plot, and Dark Humor

Booksellers Association Apologizes for Including Anti-Trans Book in Member Pack [morons...]

How to Write a Memorable Hit Man: A Conversation Among Connoisseurs

Octavia Butler’s 1979 bio is an object lesson in writing author bios

Bookstore’s Viral TikTok Calls Out Shoppers Who Turn Around LGBTQ+ Books To Hide Covers

Tess Gerritsen Still Prefers to Read Books the Old-Fashioned Way, on Paper

Meg Tilly on the Crossover Between Acting in Thrillers and Writing Them

A new start after 60: ‘I handed in my notice – and opened my dream bookshop’

Shawshank Redemption is actually about the power of libraries

Revisiting Raymond Chandler’s most iconic lines

Other Forms of Entertainment

Five Great Movies Based on Patricia Highsmith Books (That Aren’t the Ripley Adaptations)

The fascinating, horrifying history behind Steven Soderbergh’s new heist movie

Remembering Miss Fury – the world’s first great superheroine [here’s a cover]

Danny Trejo opens up about being typecast — and a close call with the Mexican Mafia

“Scarface” Startles Anew on the Criterion Channel

Murder Is My Business: In the true crime genre’s latest iteration, writers, reporters, bloggers, documentary filmmakers, and podcast hosts have taken a soiled brand and turned it into a collective exercise in retributive justice, recording and correcting the history of sexual violence.

The Real Story Behind ‘The Monster of Florence’

The Many Saints of Newark’ is Not the Story of Young Tony Soprano

The Strange Story of Orson Welles’ Lost Film, Mr. Arkadin

Mad Men’s John Slattery and Jon Hamm Reunite for Confess, Fletch

Graham Roland, Robert Redford, George R.R. Martin Making Hilleman’s ‘Dark Winds’ Series Starring Zahn McClarnon

The Decades-Long Road Behind AMC’s ‘Dark Winds’ Native American Drama Series

Cannes Review: Oliver Stone’s ‘JFK Revisited: Through The Looking Glass’

Mark Millar Returning to Spy World With Graphic Novel ‘King of Spies’

Karls Monzon Organized One of The Biggest Heists in Florida History. Here’s Where He is Today.

Antonio Banderas Is Indiana Jones 5‘s Latest Wild Acquisition

The 33 Sexiest Erotic Thrillers

8 True Crime Podcasts You Need to Listen to this Summer

Let’s Talk About Sneakers, the Most Charming, Baffling Espionage/Heist Movie
of the 1990s

1980s Noir Films Are Better Than 1940s Noir Films: Discuss

Words of the Month

daredevil (n.): 1794, “recklessly daring person, one who fears nothing and will attempt anything,” from dare (v.) + devil (n.). The devil might refer to the person, or the sense might be “one who dares the devil.” Compare scarecrow, killjoy, dreadnought, pickpocket (n.), cutthroat, also fear-babe a 16th C. word for “something that frightens children;” kill-devil “bad rum.” As an adjective, “characteristic of a daredevil, reckless,” by 1832. (etymonline) [The Marvel superhero first appeared in April, 1964.]


July 1: Robert Sacchi, Who Played Bogart Again and Again, Dies at 89

July 2: Jack Downing, Cold War spy who came out of retirement to help CIA, dies at 80

July 5: ‘Superman,’ ‘Lethal Weapon’ director Richard Donner dies at 91

July 9: William Smith, Action Actor and Star of ‘Laredo’ and ‘Rich Man, Poor Man,’ Dies at 88. The 6-foot-2 Smith, who was a champion discus thrower at UCLA, an arm-wrestling champion and a black belt in the martial arts, had 18-inch biceps and could do 5,100 continuous sit-ups and reverse curl 163 pounds. As prolific as he was strong, he had a whopping 289 credits on IMDb, seemingly in everything from the ’60s onward.

July 12: Charlie Robinson, ‘Night Court’ Star, Dies at 75

July 24: James Polk, Pulitzer winner for Watergate reporting, dies at 83

July 28: ‘Extraordinary’ crime writer Mo Hayder dies at 59

July 30: Jerry Granelli, drummer behind ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ and former Cornish instructor, dies at 80

Links of Interest

July 6: The baffling persistence of plagiarism in the internet era

July 6: Constructing the Perfect Villain: The Bad Contractor

July 7: Inside the Fiction Group in a Maximum-Security Psychiatric Hospital

July 7: Shirley Jackson’s Love Letters

July 8: Charlotte Philby Remembers Her Paradoxical Grandfather, Kim Philby

July 9: Setting a Murder Mystery in the Real Hollywood Canteen Required Piercing a Veil of Myth and Nostalgia

July 12: Take this soothing room-by-room virtual tour of Jane Austen’s house

July 15: Cocaine stash worth €9m lands on roof of home in Sardinia

July 15: In Victorian London, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream Was a New Kind of Killer

July 15: For One Writer, Rediscovering the Novels of Dick Francis Was the Answer to a Personal Crisis and a Mysterious Illness

July 16: The Louvre’s Art Sleuth Is on the Hunt for Looted Paintings

July 19: Repentant thieves return Big Bird costume with a note: ‘Sorry to be such a big birden’

July 19: Tablet Reveals Babylonians Studied Trigonometry Before the Greeks

July 19: The Internet Made Crime Public. That’s When Things Got Complicated.

July 20: Thomas Gilbert and the Murder That Brought Down One of New York’s Most Privileged Families

July 20: Fragments of Ancient Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead’ Reunited After Centuries

July 20: The Story of 18th Century England’s Booming Graverobbing Industry, and the Man Who Inspired ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’

July 20: Defections and Detections: How a Sprawling Soviet Atomic Spy Network Was First Exposed

July 22: How Detective Fiction Helps A Forensic Psychiatrist in Her Work With Violent Offenders

July 22: Why Has Jeffrey Dahmer Become A Household Name, While The Names of His Victims Are Forgotten?

July 23: House of horror: Bath opens the world’s first museum dedicated to Mary Shelley

July 23: There is no National crime – all crime is local

July 23: Elvis’s annotated copy of The Prophet, gifted to his bodyguard and close friend, is on sale now

July 24: Who Killed the Nazi on Campus?

July 25: Some people just don’t get it. Cultural references, I mean

July 25: Buried in concrete: how the mafia made a killing from the destruction of Italy’s south

July 25: A Utah arrest shows the danger of laws that let government enforcers chill speech that they don’t like

July 26: How an 18th-Century Cookbook Offers Glimpses of Jane Austen’s Domestic Life

July 26: A Cozy Mystery Writer on the History of Class and Tea

July 27: Hobby Lobby Gives Up Stolen 3,500-Year-Old ‘Gilgamesh Dream Tablet’

July 27: A Margaret Keane ‘Big Eyes’ Painting Stolen Decades Ago Has Been Recovered

July 27: This Story About a KKK Prison Guard’s Murder Plot Is Flat Out Astonishing

July 29: Erik Larson Has a Scary Story He’d Like You to Hear

July 29: “Brother, you’ve got a fan now!” Read a letter from Nina Simone to Langston Hughes

July 29: Does ‘The Da Vinci Code’ Writer Have a Secret?

July 30: The first bestselling paperback original in the US was a work of lesbian pulp fiction

July 30: He Hired 2 Men to Kidnap His Wife. They Ended Up Drowning

What We’ve Been Up To


Chloe Neill – Shadowed Steel

The third installment of the Heirs of Chicagoland was a fast, fun and enjoyable read!

I mean, what’s not to love when you’ve got vampires, werewolves and everything in-between? Even better, Shadowed Steel finally sees our heroes and heroines emerge from their legendary parent’s shadows (and plot lines) to explore the mysteries and problems facing their Chicago.

(If you’re not acquainted with the series – the characters in Heirs are the kids of the original series – Chicagoland Vampires. You don’t have to read the original series to understand the new one – but I highly recommend it as they’re brilliant and add extra layers of nuance and fun to the newer books!)


It’s the writing, you see

I’ve mentioned before how much I love Rennie Airth’s writing, and if you’ve read his work, I know you get it.

If you haven’t, start with River of Darkness, and just keep going with John Madden’s investigations. You’ll be immersed in post-WWI life, and all the repercussions of the Great War.

I just finished The Decent Inn of Death, and it’s got some lovely surprises. Not whodunnit, at least not for me. But like every book by Rennie Airth, it’s not the surprise at the end but the whole journey. And here he takes us to visit Agatha Christie. Not literally, but The Decent Inn of Death definitely reminded me of Mousetrap.

One of the surprises is that, for the most part, the story doesn’t follow John Madden. Instead, we’re following his old chief and friend, former Chief Inspector Angus Sinclair, who goes to visit friends while the Maddens are away, and who gets caught up both in a mystery and a snowstorm, where there’s definitely something suspicious going on. And Angus has a murder to solve, but his health isn’t good, and these are stressful times.

It occurred to me while I was reading The Decent Inn of Death that I really like how Rennie Airth writes women. They’re strong, opinionated, forceful, and each woman is an individual character. They’re never cookie-cutter. And often, they’re surprising.

For example, Lucy Madden, John and Helen’s daughter, says this about marriage:

‘The trouble is I can’t see myself tied to any one man.’ She sighed. ‘The shine wears off so quickly. What I’d really like is to be one of those sultans who had scores of wives and kept them in a harem. I could probably manage with four or five – husbands, I mean. It would be so nice to be able to say, I’ll have you today…No, not you…you.’

‘You’re joking, of course.’

‘Am I?’ She sent a sly glance his way.

There are several women whom you will meet during your visit at The Decent Inn of Death, and each one is unique and, in her own way, perfect, although they have all manner of flaws. But you won’t become confused as to who is whom; Rennie Airth really does write women well!


Bill Farley always said that they weren’t Stouts but it was always nice spending time with old friends. Robert Goldsborough’s Trouble at the Brownstone keeps up that trend. In his latest Nero Wolfe novel, the group on West 35th is disturbed when master gardener Theodore Horstmann is found nearly beaten to death. Only recently had he moved out of the brownstone into his own apartment and so the questions of where and how it happened are multiplied. All hands are called in to help and even Insp. Cramer is working with them – grousing a bit, of course, but everyone is working hard to find the culprit even as Horstmann remains in a coma. The solution may be unsurprising but is still satisfactory.

Stephen Hunter moves into a new world with Basil’s War. The book is set during WWII, the central character is an upper-class, cheeky and glib Brit, and the action is as speedy as the plot is convoluted. It is all about getting a clue to who is the Soviet spy in British intelligence not to expose them but so that information can be slipped to them that will convince Stalin to do what the Brits need him to do. They’re certain that if they just ask, he’ll think it is a devious plot and refuse, so they concoct this elaborate scheme to nudge him. Got it? Don’t worry, you’ll see once Basil’s carried out his mission. It’s a delightful book – none are exactly who you assume them to be…well, maybe van Boch of the SS. It is a very different turn from Hunter but its every bit as imaginative and serious as any of his other books, but this one is topped with a deceptive icing of nonchalant, even sporty, wit.

Respected independent scholar Jonathan Marshall is also an award-winning journalist. The reviews of his new book, Dark Quadrant: Organized Crime, Big Business, and the Corruption of American Democracy piqued my interest. It’s a fascinating book, beginning with FDR and moving forward through the growth of the Federal government, the Mob, the military-industrial complex (we really need to use Eisenhower’s original choice of “military-industrial-congressional-complex” all the time), and the parasites who affix themselves to all concerned. He brings it forward into the Trump administration and few come out of the book not covered with filth. Many of the names you’ll know – Roy Cohn, Howard Hughes, Tommy the Cork, Robert Maheu, Joseph McCarthy, Meyer Lansky, J. Edgar Hoover, Sam Giancana, Richard Nixon, on and on. Congressmen, Senators, CEOs and appointees. It’s all about greed and power, without an ounce of loyalty or civic responsibility. Talk about a shadow government… The depth and scholarship of his indictment is staggering. It’s simply staggering.

Granted, his tale is takes up nearly a century, and the players weave themselves deep into the country’s government and fabric, surfacing here and there through the decades and, following the money, entwine themselves with a variety of public figures from different facets of power. But it was disarming to continually run into his notes of “See chapter X” throughout the book, from the beginning chapters to the final ones. It gives the book a disjointed feeling, as if you’re to stop in chapter 2 to go to chapter 9 or go back from chapter 10 to chapter 5. Don’t, just keep plowing through sordid history of disgusting muck. It is an infuriating read due to subject and due to his scholarship. It’s an important subject and therefore an important book.

Finally, we’ve run into “issues” with WordPress. They’ve changed the way the program works making it less user friendly. To top it off, there was some sort of glitch and I lost reviews and links that I’d added. It’s been very frustrating. If this newzine seems thinner and less packed with goodies, that’s why.

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