May 2020

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“Print culture will come back from all this. Books always survive, and anyone who thinks otherwise has probably never read one.” — Warren Ellis

Italy allows bookstores to reopen as an ‘essential good’

Bookshop hits $1 million raised for independent bookstores.

World Economic Forum: Book Sales Surge During Lockdown

      Serious Stuff

Annie Dookhan’s Drug Lab Crimes Compromised More Than 20,000 Criminal Convictions 

Daniel Pearl murder: Pakistani court overturns death sentence of accused 

In ‘Unprecedented’ Move, the U.S. Just Named a Bunch of Neo-Nazis a Terrorist Organization

The Hate Store: Amazon’s Self-Publishing Arm Is a Haven for White Supremacists

Alexander McCall Smith: ‘I hope the coronavirus makes us realise the ways we have abused the world’

The most dangerous active serial killer in 2020 

Inside Netflix’s “Innocence Files”: “The system is set up to attain convictions”

Here Are the Questions the Right’s Favorite Coronavirus Truther Isn’t Willing to Answer: John Berenson under the spotlight

A Good Journalist Understands That Fascism Can Happen Anywhere, Anytime

Crows Aren’t Bad Omens (But They May Be The Criminal Masterminds of the Bird World)

       Local Stuff

New book ‘Nature Obscura’ shows where Mother Nature is hidden in Seattle

‘We sent out an SOS.’ Seattle’s Stranger in the fight of its life

      Words of the Month

recumbentibus (n.)  A knock-out punch, either physical or verbal. (thanks to Says You!, episode #820)

      Awards

And the winner of the 2020 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction is…

And the winner of the $35,000 Aspen Words Literary Prize is…

Coronavirus is topic one among newly announced L.A. Times Book Prize winners 

Here’s the shortlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

ELLERY QUEEN MYSTERY MAGAZINE READERS AWARDS


2020 Edgar Allan Poe Award Winners

The State of Crime Writing in 2020: Part 1


      Book Stuff

Woody Allen’s Memoir Is Shrouded in Secrecy. Why?  

Vidocq and the Birth of the Fictional Detective 

Border Stories: A Guide to the Novels of Don Winslow

Books Briefing: If Your Attention Span Is Shrinking, Read Poetry 

Filth in a time of handwashing: why lockdown erotica is the hottest trend in publishing 

Our new lockdown game: judging famous people by their bookshelves in their posts

Suing Hollywood: Author Tess Gerritsen took on a Hollywood studio for screenplay theft. It was just the start of a long, strange journey.

Brian De Palma and Susan Lehman Talk Noir, Scandals, and Pulpy Cover Art 

The 12 Darkest Endings in the History of Noir Fiction 

Elmore Leonard, Florida Man

We Owe More to Our Young Writers: On the Relevance of the Workshop

The Women Who Edited Crime Fiction

This Is the Book That Outsold Dracula in 1897

10 Must-Read Crime-Fighting Duos

Thanks to Bookshop, There Is No Reason to Buy Books on Amazon Anymore

What Personal Letters Reveal About Human Struggles

‘Everything collapsed like dominos’: How the literary world is adapting to survive lockdown

The 30 Best One-Star Amazon Reviews of . . . The Dictionary

What can we learn from Robinson Crusoe writer’s 1722 plague book?

Three May “Webinars” from Sisters in Crime! 

Majority of authors ‘hear’ their characters speak, finds study  

Barnes & Noble workers say warehouse is unsafe. 

Online Auction to Aid Comic-Book Shops Raises Over $430,000

Left-wing indie publishers have formed a coalition to support each other during the pandemic.

      Words of the Month

verbiculture (n) The “the production of words,” 1873, from Latin verbum “word” (see verb) + ending from agriculture, etc. Coined by Fitzedward Hall, in “Modern English.” He was scolded for it in the “Edinburgh Review.” (thanks to etymonline)

      Entertainments of other sorts

1971: Richard Burton and Liz Taylor on the set of Villain – in pictures 

‘It’s pure rock’n’roll’: how Money Heist became Netflix’s biggest global hit 

The Rise of Australian True Crime Podcasts

Don Cheadle on His Career and His Movies

The Showrunner of Murder House Flip on Why He Wanted to Flip Murder Houses


10 of the Greatest Con Artist Movies of All-Time 

Seven Fictional Con Artists and the Communities They Swindled

A Notorious Grifter Bought an Entire Restaurant With a Fake $400,000 Check


The movie role Dwayne Johnson lost to Tom Cruise (you can guess which one…)

HBO’s Latest True-Crime Documentary – Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered –  is Driven More by Twists Than the Truth

“Killing Eve” is back, with consequences

Here’s the first trailer for the new HBO series “Perry Mason”

Coronavirus: Banksy makes ‘bathroom’ lockdown art

Sunset Bloulevard Turns 70: Nancy Olson on Wilder, Holden and Why She Walked Away From Stardom 

Ross Thomas, the criminally neglected spy-caper author behind “Briarpatch” (an Edgar-winning novel and one of Bill’s all-time favorites!)


You Can’t Say American Psycho Didn’t Warn Us 

In Conversation: Mary Harron ~On almost losing American Psycho, fighting to cast Christian Bale, and why the movie’s reception reminds her of Joker.


My streaming gem: why you should watch The Killing of America 

Barry Sonnenfeld: On Making Blood Simple with the Coen Brothers

      Words of the Month

verbal (adj.) From the early 15th C., “dealing with words” (especially in contrast to things or realities), from Old French verbal (14th C.) and directly from Late Latin verbalis “consisting of words, relating to verbs,” from Latin verbum “word” (see verb). Related: Verbally. Verbal conditioning is recorded from 1954. Colloquial verbal diarrhea is recorded from 1823. A verbal noun is a noun derived from a verb and sharing in its senses and constructions. (thanks to etymonline)

      Links of Interest

March 31: ‘Stealing Home’ revisits Dodger Stadium’s nefarious origins

April 1: Portland comic book industry faces double challenge: social distancing and no new product

April 1: The Forgotten Kidnapping Epidemic That Shook Depression-Era America

April 2: The Writing Conference That Ended in a Russian Police Station

April 2: The Fallout of a Medieval Archbishop’s Murder Is Recorded in Alpine Ice

April 3: MI6: World War Two workers in rare ‘forbidden’ footage

April 3: Matt Lucas reveals the strange way he was hired for Bake-Off

April 9: Very rare’ handwritten ‘Hey Jude’ lyrics sell for £732,000 at auction 

April 9: Escape Into These Fantastical, Imaginary Maps

April 13: Donna Leon on Italian Culture, Environmentalism, and Her Long-Running Series

April 15: A Bookstore in Boulder Pivots to Bike Delivery of ‘Mystery Bags’

April 16: 500 Years of True Crime

April 17: The Mystery of a Medieval Blue Ink Has Been Solved

April 17: Gilded Age Women Who Got Away With Murder

April 20: Elliot Gould ~ The star of M*A*S*H, The Long Goodbye – and more recently, ‘Friends’ – talks about drugs, his fiery marriage to Barbra Streisand and getting his best reviews from Groucho Marx and Muhammad Ali

April 20: ‘Bored’ kookaburra bird in daily lockdown walk


April 20: Pierce Brosnan, the James Bond actor, recounted a table-pounding, martini-fueled chat with the “Pulp Fiction” director about making a James Bond movie together.

April 20: For your eyes only: Terry O’Neill’s unseen shots of James Bond – in pictures

April 21: Cary Fukunaga’s Original Idea for James Bond Sounds Like a Trippy 007 We’ve Never Seen Before


April 21: How a Mossad Agent and a Band of Survivors Hunted Down the Butcher of Latvia

April 24: Captain Tom tops the charts at the age of 99

April 24: Shakespeare Day 2020: Dame Judi Dench reads from Richard II

April 25: Dancer uses bin night to perform for neighbours

April 25: First edition of Roald Dahl book Gremlins up for auction

April 25: HK bookseller who defied China opens shop in Taiwan

April 25: Why the Mafia are taking care of everyone’s business

April 27: The Long, Winding History of Sexton Blake, the Adamantly British Crime Fighter. He was Britain’s most popular detective. Then he all but disappeared from the pop culture. Or did he?

April 28: Meet Nancy Wake ~ Socialite, Spy, and The Most Decorated Heroine of WWII

April 28: Why the FBI Almost Shut Down the Unabomber Investigation Before He Was Caught

April 29: The Valentine’s Day snake puzzle

April 30: The Bizarre Newspaper Hoax That Nearly Ruined Lizzie Borden

April 30: How Spider-Man Cracked the Comic Book Code

      Words of the Month

verbarian (n.) A “word-coiner,” 1873, from Latin verbum “word” (see verb) + -arian. Coleridge (or the friend he was quoting) had used it earlier as an adjective, and with a different sense, in wishing for: “a verbarian Attorney-General, authorised to bring informations ex officio against the writer or editor of any work in extensive circulation, who, after due notice issued, should persevere in misusing a word” (1830). (thanks to etymonline)

      Author Events?

nope…….not yet

      R.I.P.

April 6: Honor Blackman, star of “The Avengers” and Goldfinger, Dead at 94 

April 9: Mort Drucker, Master of the Mad Caricature, Is Dead at 91

April 15: Brian Dennehy, veteran stage and screen actor, dies aged 81 of natural causes

April 20: Richard Wadani: Austrian Nazi deserter dies aged 97

April 20: Sheila Connolly died in her beloved Ireland at age 70

April 29: Jill Gascoine ~ Pioneering British actress dies at 83

April 29: Irrfan Khan ~ a seductive actor capable of exquisite gentleness

April 29: Maj Sjöwall: ‘Nordic noir’ pioneer, author of the Martin Beck series, dies aged 84.   “The couple who invented Nordic Noir”.

      What We’ve Been Up To

   Amber

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Ben Aaronovitch – False Value

Okay, I must confess…

I’ve fallen behind in the ‘Rivers Of London’ series. Not because of the writing, but due to the space between my ears and I’ve only recently been able to start reading books set after the 1950s.

And, for reasons beyond my ken, I decided to pick the series back up after missing the last two books. Yeah, I know. However, I think its the sign of a good author that the reader can restart a series – after missing one or two installments – and not be confused about what’s going on.

And Ben Aaronovitch is an excellent author.

I can admit, I was a hair confused for the first three chapters – but I think it was more out of concern for Peter Grant than the writing itself. I should’ve had more faith in my author and resisted the urge to check the last page or two to see if my faves were together again!

That being said – this was a great book! Peter Grant providing security for a tech company? I mean, he gets distracted enough without a bevy of unique vending machines to sample his way thru, board games to play, and killer drones to deal with!

This book is one of the most interesting transition books I’ve read in a long time, giving you hints, crumbs of new allies? New Baddies? And inklings of new stresses coming soon to his home life…

If you’ve never read the ‘Rivers of London’ Series before, I think you can start with False Value and be alright – keeping in mind, there are a number of books that come before it. (However, I would suggest going back and starting with number 1 – because who doesn’t enjoy a police procedural with magic?)

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Nancy Drew

Question, have you ever tried going back a rereading a series you loved and adored as a child? Only to find your adult eyes can’t see past some glaring flaws your younger self missed? This same thing happened to me when I tried going back and reread Nancy Drew. I did manage to wade my way through my favorites, but the vast majority I needed to set aside, so my memory and love of them wouldn’t tarnish.

The preponderance of coincidences abounding in the mysteries was my biggest problem with the books. My second was the seemingly flawless nature of Nancy herself, and because she’s written as the quintessential daughter/friend/sleuth, she lacks the nuance I crave as an adult.

All this being said – I still couldn’t help myself from watching the first episode of the new television show.

I mean its Nancy Drew, how could I not?

So I watched the first episode – and found myself tilting my head going, “Ummm…..Guys? Are you sure this is what you really meant to do?”

But in the name of research, I download episode number 2….then 3….and 4…..by the 5th I was hooked and bought the whole series.

Why? Because the show’s clever in how it skirts around my two biggest grievances of the books. First, the writers added a supernatural element. Ghosts, spirits, and corporally challenged beings roam Horseshoe Bay. Which doesn’t sound like it ought to work – but it does. This supernatural element takes away our sleuth’s reliance on coincidences and happenstance to solve crimes. Instead it gives Nancy and her friends a different, eerier, avenue of investigation which they use. (After they start believing that supernatural beings are in fact in play.)

My other issue, the lack of depth, is also addressed – because neither Nancy or any of her friends are flawless in this adaptation. For example, Nancy’s mother dies less than a year before the series begins. It’s at this point we meet Nancy Drew. Still angry. Still grieving. Still in a tailspin that’s trashed not only chance at a college career but created a deep rift dividing her and her father, Carson Drew.

Nancy’s life is complicated, messy, and her need to expose the truth costs Nancy dearly – but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

The tv show itself isn’t without its issues. Owing mainly to the fact the majority (but by no means all) of characters are around eighteen – you get a fair bit of interpersonal drama. Which did, in the beginning, have me rolling my eyes saying, dude is this really necessary for the plot?

Turns out, yes, yes it is. So roll your eyes, throw popcorn at the tv – but keep watching! Because there are so many delicious layers to this show, so many reveals to be made – I promise you will get hooked!

   Fran

You know that John Connolly is an excellent writer with great characters, an incredible52771340._SX318_SY475_ story, and that fine balance between sadness and humor that his writing is addictive. Of course you know this.

But it wasn’t until I was partway through his latest Charlie Parker novel, THE DIRTY SOUTH (Atria, publication postponed to October 20!), the 18th of Parker’s travels, it finally struck me how easily John Connolly manipulates his readers. Well, me anyway.

See, he understands psychology and human nature, and how obsessive and irrational people can be. And by irrational, I mean that whole “just one more chapter” thing. You do it. You know you do.

So what John does is he throws in a couple of seriously short chapters, just paragraphs really, and you say to yourself in a dismissive tone, “Well, that didn’t really count as a chapter, and look, the next one’s short too, so I’ll just read a couple of short ones,” and the next thing you know, you’re caught up in his diabolical web, it’s 3:00 in the morning and the book just drops from your nerveless fingers. Just evil.

And he’s setting us up from the very beginning of THE DIRTY SOUTH with:

“Mr. Parker?”

“Yes.”

“This is-“

“I know. It’s been a long time.”

“It has. I hoped we’d never have to speak of this again. I’m sure you felt the same way.”

Parker did not reply and the man continued.

“I thought you should know,” he said. “They pulled a body from the Karagol.”

And then we’re swept back in time to when Parker’s wife and daughter are newly dead, when Parker’s beginning his long journey, and when things are barely beginning to unfold. This is the story of how Parker started to define the man we now know.

We meet the people in Burdon County, Arkansas, and they are  troubled and  complex, generally getting by, but someone’s been killing young women. Parker chances through, and becomes a catalyst. You know how that goes.

But this isn’t your typical Charlie Parker novel, and you’re going to be sucked into it, and the tensions between the people, and remembering the times. Oh, you’re in for a treat, I promise.

Also, John Connolly gets to play with language a lot in this one, and it’s beyond delightful!

Pre-order it from your favorite indie now. You don’t want to miss a moment of THE DIRTY SOUTH!

   JB

I AM SO JEALOUS THAT FRAN GOT AN ADVANCE COPY OF THE NEW PARKER NOVEL!!!

I am so glad she hadn’t told me she had it. I might have driven down to her house and burgled it!

So I have tried – tried, I say – to be satisfied with John’s on-going project, “The Sisters Strange”, his novella being written and posted daily. We mentioned it in the March newzine. It’s worth the wait. Each day.

“I once met a writer who believed some men were so morally corrupt that their depravity found a physical expression; in other words, their moral disfigurement manifested itself as an alteration to feature or form.  It was, I felt, a variation on phrenology or physiognomy, the discredited pseudoscientific convictions that the shape of a skull or face might disclose essential traits of character.  Were it true, the job of law enforcement would be made significantly easier: we could simply jail all the ugly people.”

That’s from the 15th section. Is that a chapter, or a part, or installment? Don’t know or care but the numbers give you a way to locate parts. As with his novels, Connolly is dealing with large-scale issues: good and evil, weird and normal, violence and the quest for peace. And, as with the novels, he’s introduced a number of memorable figures to populate Parker’s world: Ambar Strange and her older sister Dolors Strange, and the main menace of the tale (at least, so far) Raum Buker, who lives at the Braycroft Arms. Where does he get these names? I like to think in abandoned graveyards in the woods of Maine.  And then there is the odd and disturbing Mr. Kepler. Yesh.

” But evil – true evil, not the mundane human wickedness born of fear, envy, wrath, or greed – is adept at concealment, because it wishes to survive and persist.  Only when it’s ready, or is forced to do so, does it reveal itself.  Not even evil is free from the rule of nature.” [#15]

It’s exhilarating to follow this, to know John knows no more of what’s coming that we do. As a high-wire act, it’s something to behold. And a treat.

Come on, John – where’re we going?

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