Friday, September 22, 2017

Kristine Kathryn Rusch: Business Musings: I Spent Decades Developing My IP (Contracts/Dealbreakers)

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Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: An Insider's View of the Publishing Business

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The Short Mystery Fiction Society Blog: SMFS Members Published in Where Crime Never Sleeps...

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QUARTZ: Amazon has laid out exactly how to game its self-publishing platform

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Gravetapping: Mystery Scene: Issue No. 151

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Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Bake-Off by Beth Kendrick

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Mystery Fanfare: Shamus Award Winners 2017

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FFB Review: OH, MURDERER MINE by Norbert Davis -- Reviewed by Barry Ergang

Barry’s review previously appeared on FFB on November 4, 2011. Make sure you check out the full list over at Todd Mason's blog. Whether you are reading to relax or as research in order to get away with the crime, there are plenty of good books suggested to you each week.


OH, MURDERER MINE (1946)
by Norbert Davis

Reviewed by Barry Ergang


In the course of an arduous trek through a sluggish mystery novel, I took a break and tore through this little gem, the third and—alas!—final novel about the unlikely team of Doan and Carstairs (the other two are The Mouse in the Mountain and  Sally's in the Alley). Doan is a chubby, pleasant-faced private detective; Carstairs is the regal, haughty Great Dane he won in a crap game and who disapproves of him.



Doan is hired by 54-year-old cosmetics magnate Heloise of Hollywood to bodyguard her husband, 26-year-old meteorologist Eric Trent—a.k.a. "Handsome Lover Boy" in Heloise's magazine ads. Heloise, though still quite attractive herself, is afraid younger women will hit on Eric and wants Doan to supply the necessary discouragement.


Things get going when Melissa Gregory, an anthropology instructor at Breckenbridge University, is incensed by Trent's usurpation of her office, as sanctioned by T. Ballard Bestwyck, the university president. She confronts Trent about it, but her impetrations have no effect. Trent is arrogant and stubborn. Melissa learns he might even be taking over the apartment she maintains on campus.


That night, Melissa returns home after a date with assistant English professor Frank Ames to find an intruder in her apartment. The intruder knocks her out and flees, but not before Melissa has had time to scream. Hearing her, Doan and Carstairs investigate, and in the course of their pursuit, Doan is shot at and barely missed by the assailant. He subsequently discovers Frank Ames's body in a trashcan. Ames's throat has been sliced open.


It's only the beginning. More bodies remain to be discovered before Doan wraps things up. I won't go on—the book is only 128 pages long—except to say that the chapter in which Carstairs runs amuck in Heloise's salon is worth the price of the book. I recommend this one and its predecessors, along with the out-of-print The Adventures of Max Latin from The Mysterious Press (five novelettes originally published in Dime Detective), as wonderful examples of the screwball comedy school of mystery a la Jonathan Latimer and Craig Rice. Forget about realism, thematic explorations, or character depth—although some of Davis's characters are memorably wacky. This is storytelling as pure entertainment. Davis could and did write stories as hardboiled as those of Dashiell Hammett, Frederick Nebel, and Raymond Chandler, but his best work features an off-the-wall comic perspective on the tough detective story.


Oh, Murderer Mine is available in a trade paperback edition from Rue Morgue Press (http://www.ruemorguepress.com/catalog/davis_ohmurderer.html) and in e-book formats (for free) at ManyBooks (http://www.manybooks.net/titles/davisnother07Oh_Murderer_Mine.html#)


For more on Norbert Davis, see http://www.blackmaskmagazine.com/norbertdavis.html


Barry Ergang ©2009, 2011, 2017


Some of Derringer Award-winner Barry Ergang’s work is available at Amazon and Smashwords.com

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Finally Home

As expected, Sandi had to have two units of blood and a unit of platelets. Her blood numbers were very low today and all were surprised she was not in worse shape. They think that all the other issues I was seeing were due to the blood issues. Since the platelets made her sick Monday night they also gave her a small amount of steroids before they started doing the transfusion.

Tonight she feels a little better and is in a little bit less pain than she has been these past few days. She is awake and alert tonight and is way better than she has been the last two days. She is not right, but she is better, and that is a very good thing.

Doctor Today

By the time this post appears, I will be at the doctor with Sandi. She has not been doing at all well the last couple of days. Not sure what is going on. I am worried that there is a new issue with her. I expect the blood work will tell us she definitely needs more blood. My concern is with another  infection problem as well as a couple of other things. I am pretty sure something is going on.....just don't know what now.

Even if I am wrong about other things, if they do blood, it is going to be a long day there. Will update when I am back home.

Review: Gardening In The South by Mark Weathington


Defining “The South” in Gardening In The South comes up early in the book as it should. Author Mark Weathington defines the area from Northern Florida up thru North Carolina and to the Virginias and then back to the west through Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana and over into most of East Texas. In Texas, the area comes almost to the Dallas/Fort Worth area and stretches down to the Texas coast where it bends along the coastline after encompassing Houston and goes as far as Galveston. Heat and humidity mean longer growing seasons as compared to much of the country as well as other factors that make things a bit different.

After a short discussion of geography, type of soils across the region, and seasons, it is on to “Design Inspirations” starting on pages 23-24. This is when you have to know the type of soil you are working with, what your needs are in terms of what you want in your landscape, your own limitations (start small and work up), and numerous other factors. A lot of this is aimed at the type of garden/landscape and how it might be created for your own particular needs. Through text and photographs of lush areas that will take years to come anywhere close to, the author inspires the reader with numerous possibilities.

A little over twenty pages later, “A Southeast Plant Palette” begins on page 46 with a close up picture of a flowering “Hartlage Wine.” A hybrid plant, it offers large glossy leaves and burgundy flowers and is flat out gorgeous. This chapter takes readers through various plant types such as annuals and tropicals, grasses, trees, vines, and others including “planets for problem spots.” Each section has numerous plants listed by their Latin and their common name along with their details in terms of hardiness, height, when they bloom (if they do), need for sunlight, and many other factors. In this colorful section, there are also tips for using containers, the differences between an aggressive and an invasive plant, and many other items of interest.

Beginning on pages 284-285, it is time to learn about “Southeast Gardening Practices. “ This is where you learn how to figure out what soil you have and how to make it better, compost (and all that entails), planting correctly, and maintaining things while dealing with pests such as deer, rabbits, armadillos, Japanese beetles, and more including giant and small mosquitoes. Also covered in this section are various plant diseases, how to plant to avoid them as you can use some pants to protect other plants, and dealing with weeds when flamethrowers are not an option.

The book comes to a close with a list of recommended reading resources as well as a general list of resources for plants and supplies, and a two page list of places to go see beautiful landscapes. Not only is the Dallas Arboretum not listed, the Tyler Rose Festival is also not listed. In fact, Texas is totally and completely ignored in the listing.

Despite that major omission from a book that includes East Texas as part of its defined area, Gardening In The South by Mark Weathington is a good book. Filled with an informative text that includes plenty of side bar topics, pictures on every page, and more, the book serves as a good resource as you consider your landscape and the changes you would like to make for next year. 


Gardening In The South
Mark Weathington
Timber Press
May 2017
ISBN# 978-1-60469-591-5
Paperback
320 Pages
$24.95


Material supplied by the good folks of the Dallas Public Library System.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2017

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Mystery Fanfare: Crime Fiction during the Days of Awe: Rosh Hashana...

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Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Mississippi, Mortuaries, and Mysteries...

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Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Bonus FFB on Wednesday: The Winter Is Past -- Harry Whittington

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WELCOME TO HELL ~ by Glenn Walker: F is for Family

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TEXAS BOOK LOVER: Author Interview: THE DAY THE ANGELS FELL by Shawn...

TEXAS BOOK LOVER: Author Interview: THE DAY THE ANGELS FELL by Shawn...: THE DAY THE ANGELS FELL by SHAWN SMUCKER   Genre: Psychological Fiction / Christian Publisher: Revell Date of Publication: S...

Guest Post: Jeanne and Treadmill Books: Witch City Mysteries by Carol J. Perry

Please welcome back Jeanne of the Bookblog of the Bristol Library as she is here with her latest review….


Treadmill Books:  Witch City Mysteries by Carol J. Perry


In Caught Dead Handed, Lee Barrett returns to Salem, the town where she grew up.  Now she’s a young widow in town for a job interview at the local TV station, much to the delight of her Aunt Ibby, a long time Salem resident who raised Lee after the deaths of her parents.  Lee realizes very quickly that she’s not going to be hired for the reporter’s job—that position is going to go to the shiny young man—but another job opportunity soon appears.  Ariel Constellation, a self-proclaimed psychic who hosts the weekly horror movie, is found dead (by Lee, of course) and the station manager takes Lee on a trial basis to fill in. 

It isn’t long before Lee has some unnerving encounters of her own, leading her to believe that Ariel’s killer might strike again.  Aided by reference librarian Aunt Ibby and O’Ryan, Ariel’s cat who seems to be more than an ordinary tabby, she sets out to unveil a murderer.

So goes the plot of Caught Dead Handed, the first in the Witch City Mystery series.  I was drawn in easily because of the likeable characters, especially Lee and Aunt Ibby.  Lee is an independent woman, capable of making her own decisions, which I like. While she inherited money from her parents and from her late husband, but doesn’t flaunt her wealth other than the odd extravagance; and she has a strong work ethic, which means that even though she doesn’t have to have a job, she wants to be employed.  She’s attracted to Pete, the local police detective but isn’t rushing into anything, nor does she pester him to reveal information he shouldn’t.  Pete, for his part, doesn’t continually admonish Lee to be careful or not to meddle.  Same for Aunt Ibby.  There’s just a lot of mutual respect between the characters, trusting each other to behave like adults. 


I also like the way the supernatural elements are handled.  Lee has experienced some things in the past that are inexplicable by rational standards, but she doesn’t immediately buy into the idea that, say, Ariel Constellation was anything but clever at reading people and giving plausible answers.  I like the balance between skeptic and believer, and feel that the author manages it well.  I confess I get tired of the lady protesting too much in some books; if it’s a supernatural mystery, then at some point, a character needs to buy into the idea and stop whining that it’s impossible.  I don’t mind a little resistance to the idea, but to have it go on book after book gets tiresome.  The supernatural clues that Lee gets are appropriately vague, giving Lee and the reader hints rather than solutions.  I expect that the supernatural elements will strength as the series continues.

Of course, one of my favorite parts is O’Ryan, Ariel’s cat who sometimes seems to point out clues.  He’s adorable and very cat-like (not all cozy mystery cats are).  He has a habit of sitting in front of the door just before someone comes, knowing either from supernatural means or very good hearing.  Some of my cats do the same thing. There are occasions when he goes beyond the expected, usually when Lee is in extreme danger but for the most part he seems like my orange cat—well, maybe not as Tommy isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.  More like Flora whom I suspect of masterminding a good bit of the mischief around the house.

I also enjoy some of the behind the scenes sorts of things, such as how a TV station works or how to prepare for a job on camera.  Lee has an eye for vintage furniture and fast cars, and tidbits of information about both are dropped during various books.

Besides interesting, well developed characters, Perry gives us a good sense of place.  Some scenes in the series take place in an old fashioned department store which is being repurposed for a school.  The store layout is described in lovely detail, bringing back memories of one I remember—not the modern versions, but ones with their own lunch counters and styling salons, where large signs or cut outs proclaimed that the store was a purveyor of Buster Brown shoes or Evening in Paris perfume. The rest of the town also has a presence, depending on the book; I like when authors use unique settings to good advantage rather than the generic Everytown, U.S.A.

Finally, Aunt Ibby and Lee love old movies, so there’s always a sprinkling of nostalgic titles or quotations to make me smile. 

I’m in the middle of Look Both Ways, the third book in the series, and enjoying it as much as I did the first two.  If there’s a weakness in the books, it’s that Lee doesn’t always make connections that I think are fairly obvious or follow up on certain clues.  I give her a bit of a pass because most of this arises from the supernatural visions which she doesn’t trust. Failure to follow up on clues can be a pet peeve, but in this case Lee is otherwise so likeable and sensible that I find it doesn’t annoy me too much.

This series is a definite treadmill win! I’ve already bought copies of the rest of the series including the just-released Grave Errors. The sixth in the series is scheduled to be out in 2018.

In order:

1.      Caught Dead Handed
2.      Tails, You Lose
3.      Look Both Ways
4.      Murder Go Round
5.      Grave Errors


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Non-Gamer's Gamer's Blog: Adventures in Electronics

The Non-Gamer's Gamer's Blog: Adventures in Electronics: Folks who come here often might notice I haven't been here lately.  I have been pretty busy since moving to Florida last year. And mo...

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Review: Dead, To Begin With: A Dan Rhodes Mystery by Bill Crider

After a problem at the nearby beauty shop resolved, Sheriff Dan Rhodes learns of a far more serious problem as Dead, To Begin With begins. Jake Marley has been found dead on the stage at the Clearview Opera House. The building dates back to the oil boom days in the early 1900s and, like the rest of the former bustling downtown area, has seen hard times and disrepair. That was going to change thanks to Jake Marley. 

Grandson of one of the local men that had gotten very rich during the oil boom all those decades ago, Jake Marley suddenly took an interest in the Clearview Opera House. Known as an eccentric recluse for years, he lived a life of isolation until he suddenly bought the place and started renovations. Suddenly, he was active in the community and that was a good thing, as his money would really help the town of Clearview and the surrounding area. Nobody wanted to ask him about his reasons or his plans as just about everybody was afraid he would change his mind and take his money away. All anyone has known these past few weeks is that he planned to restore the opera house to its full glory and establish some kind of community theater. The theater’s first performance was to be some sort of Texas based vision of the classic, A Christmas Carol.

What the death of Jake Marley means for the local economy is one thing and not something that Sheriff Rhodes can do anything about at all. Mr. Marley is very much dead and Sheriff Rhodes can’t change that either. What concerns Sheriff Rhodes is the fact that there are some signs that Mr. Marley had some help shuffling off this mortal coil.

Found by real estate agent Aubrey Hamilton, who had been summoned to a meeting by the deceased, she doesn’t know what happened or why he wanted her to come by this morning. She assumed it was a real estate issue of some type considering the nature of their business relationship. While the Sheriff has heard rumors about Jake and Aubrey, she denies all of it. According to her, beyond the age difference between the two of them that would be a huge hindrance, they were not even friends, and only had a business relationship.

Maybe he did just fall from the overhead grid deck above the stage. That obviously could have happened. However, if he did that, it would not explain every detail of the scene. Seepy Benton may believe the theater is haunted, but Rhodes does not think supernatural forces were involved either. Sheriff Rhodes has plenty of questions as his investigation begins in Dead, To Begin With.

The latest in the long running series featuring Sheriff Dan Rhodes and a host of characters is another good one. As usual, the secondary characters, the humor, the observations of small town life in Texas, are just part of an overarching mystery. Dead, To Begin With first and foremost is another solidly good mystery filled with plenty of misdirection, intrigue, and a few clues. Another very good read by Bill Crider who simply can’t write a weak book. If it isn’t already clear, Dead, To Begin With is a highly recommended read. 


Dead, To Begin With: A Dan Rhodes Mystery
Bill Crider
A Thomas Dunne Book (Minotaur Books)
August 8, 2015
ISBN #978-1250078537
Hardback (also available in e-book form)
272 Pages
$25.99



ARC was provided by the author in exchange for an objective review.


Kevin R. Tipple ©2017


Monday, September 18, 2017

WELCOME TO HELL ~ by Glenn Walker: Fleabag

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In Reference To Murder Blog: Media Murder for Monday 9/18/17

In Reference To Murder Blog: Media Murder for Monday 9/18/17

Do Some Damage: Monday Review: SKULL MEAT by Tom Leins

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Writers Who Kill: Of Books, Politics, and Privilege

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Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Less Than a Treason by Dana Stabenow

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Sandi Update

Sandi is now back home after blood work at Texas Oncology that determined she absolutely had to have platelets today. We have been warned to expect to be the hospital into the evening after her doc and lab appointments on Thursday as they expect she will have to have another unit of platelets as well as two units of blood.

Other than that she is doing okay.

TEXAS BOOK LOVER: Monday Roundup: TEXAS LITERARY CALENDAR 9/18-24

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Aubrey Hamilton Reviews: A Dead Liberty by Catherine Aird

A Dead Liberty by Catherine Aird (Collins, 1986) is the 12th book in the long-running British detective series featuring Inspector Christopher Dennis Sloan of the fictional Berebury CID department in West Calleshire, England. Known as “C.D.” which invariably is pronounced “Seedy”, Sloan is generally accompanied by a clueless constable named Crosby. Sloan reports to Superintendent Leeyes, who is irritable and often demanding. He frequents the local Adult Education classes and is prone to quoting odd bits of information from the latest class that may or may not be relevant to the subject at hand. 

In this outing what should have been an open-and-shut case turned out to be anything but. Lucy Durmast was accused of poisoning an employee of her father’s. He had just become engaged to his hometown girlfriend and jealousy was thought to be the motive for the murder. The meal she prepared for him was the only food he’d taken that day that wasn’t shared with others, making her the obvious and sole suspect. The first indication that things would not go as expected was when Lucy refused to speak at her arrest and interrogation. She declined to talk when the judge asked for her plea, and she wouldn’t say a word when she was consequently imprisoned for contempt of court. She politely listened to everything said to her but she would not respond. This extraordinary behavior puzzled and worried everyone, including her friends, the police, the prosecutor, and the judge.

Then the original investigating officer was injured in an accident and Inspector Sloan was assigned to wrap the case up for the prosecutor to present at trial. When the college friend of the victim disappeared and another person known to the accused was killed, Inspector Sloan started from the beginning and conducted a brand-new investigation to get to the bottom of a situation that everyone was beginning to see was not what it appeared to be.

Catherine Aird, who won the Crime Writers’ Association Diamond Dagger Award in 2015, has been on my TBR list for years. Through Open Media’s Early Bird Books list of discounted Kindle titles I acquired three that I read in short order. While observing the conventions of the classic British detective story, Aird delivers original characters and innovative plots via immensely readable narratives.  I did not guess the perpetrator or the motive in any of the three, which is always a plus for me. These books are not long, they seem to run less than 250 pages, an advantage for anyone who binge reads and a big change from the current tendency toward doorstopper tomes. I am looking forward to finding the rest of the books in the series and reading them as fast as possible.

  • ISBN-13: 9780002314978
  • ISBN: 0002314975
  • Print Length: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Collins Crime Club
  • Publication Date: 27 May 1986
  • Book Type: Hardcover



Aubrey Hamilton © 2017
 
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal IT projects by day and reads mysteries at night.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Rap Sheet: Revue of Reviewers for 9/17/17

The Rap Sheet:  Revue of Reviewers for 9/17/17

Yet More Sunday Afternoon Humor


More Sunday Afternoon Humor


Sunday Afternoon Humor


Sunday Morning Humor


The Short Mystery Fiction Society Blog: SMFS Members Published in EQMM: September/October 2017 ...

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The Pot Is On

...as it is most mornings ....


Awake Far Too Early

Despite staying up and watching Texas eventually lose to USC (heck of a game) so I did not end up in bed until after midnight, I have been awake the last two hours. My mind seems to have locked on in warp drive. So, as lucky other folks slumber on here, I am up and not very willingly facing the day.