Thursday, December 09, 2021

Lesa's Book Critiques: WHAT ARE YOU READING?

 Lesa's Book Critiques: WHAT ARE YOU READING?

Want To Be A Guest?

You could be and the process is as easy as I can make it. The open days are currently Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. I usually run excerpts from published or about to be published works on Sundays as they seem to work best on those days.


Topic--pretty much anything goes. While my blog is mainly aimed towards items of interest for readers and writers of mystery and crime fiction, I am open to pretty much anything. I do ask that folks avoid the topics of religion and politics unless either or both directly relate to the work being discussed or promoted.


Before contacting me, please have an actual idea in mind. I do not assign topics. This is your opportunity to write what you want to write about. You know your books, your expertise in topics, etc. I do not. Your idea does not have to be set in stone. It does need to have some detail. Have at least a couple of things that you know you want to have in your piece and tell me that in your pitch.


Word Count: Totally up to you. I do not set a maximum or a minimum word count.


This is, as always, a non paying opportunity. Yes, I value your work. I also have no income other than SSD (and that is just a few hundred each month) and am supporting myself, my adult son, and this old house on what little I inherited when my Mom passed.


While I have no funds to pay you, I can promise to promote the heck out of your appearance. You will be seen. I can not promise a certain number of sales, but most guests do see a spike in their sales. Guests who are on the blog on a semi regular basis do far better than one off appearances, but everyone does see an impact.


Questions/ pitches should be sent to me at Kevinrtipple AT

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Frank Zafiro's Write Place, Write Crime: Open & Shut with Kevin Tipple (Podcast)

It was a privilege and an honor to be invited to participate on Frank Zafiro's long running podcast. The deal today was recorded about a month or so ago. We talked books, reviewing, short stories, and a lot more. Hope you give it a listen. It is slightly more than a half hour.



The Reading Room: The Midnight Hour (The Brighton Mysteries #6) by Elly Griffiths: Reading Room Review

The Reading Room: The Midnight Hour (The Brighton Mysteries #6) by E...:   When the Brighton series by Elly Griffiths began in 2015 with The Zig Zag Girl , it was also called The Magic Men or Stephens and Mephist...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Summons, Crossroads, Bewilderment, The...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Summons, Crossroads, Bewilderment, The...:   Reported by Kristin Tried and true, John Grisham made another appearance at Nevermore with The Summons . A story of fathers and sons, ...

Patti Abbott: Short Story Wednesday: THE SWIMMER, John Cheever

 Patti Abbott: Short Story Wednesday: THE SWIMMER, John Cheever

Jerry's House of Everything: SHORT STORY WEDNESDAY: THE STRIDING PLACE by Gertrude Atherton

Jerry's House of Everything: SHORT STORY WEDNESDAY: THE STRIDING PLACE:   The Striding Place  by Gertrude Atherton  (originlly published in The Speaker , June 20, 1896, as "The Speaker;" reprinted in th...

Little Big Crimes Review: Two Birds, One Todd by Karen Harrington

Little Big Crimes: Two Birds, One Todd, by Karen Harrington:   "Two Birds, One Todd," by Karen Harrington, in Shotgun Honey. This is the second appearance by Harrington in my column this yea...

Short Story Wednesday Review: Black Cat Mystery Magazine #10

After a brief introduction by editor Michael Bracken, Black Cat Mystery Magazine #10 opens with “The Last Gasp” by H.K. Slade. With the department short staffed and three gang related shootings that morning, Senior Detective Ambrose Broyhill is out in the heat at a murder scene that hardly has any police presence. Once officer, who looks to be the same age as his young grandson, is out on the street and a second officer is the house with the suspect and the dead body. The officer inside is Friday Hampton, daughter of the department legend, Tony Hampton. She’s young, smart, and has a gut feeling that the Broyhill believes is important. She just has not put all the clues together yet.


“Spook” by Emilio DeGrazia comes next where the narrator is pretty sure that they saw Rondel Collins on Sunday night just outside of Chisolm. Problem is that allegedly he was not in Minnesota Sunday night as he was killed by police in Alabama Saturday night. This happened just a few hours after he supposedly killed Ginny Gunderson. The police there said he was barricaded in a stall inside a barn. He would not come out. So, since they had no idea what weapon or weapons he had, they shot him dead in self-defense. That means that, somehow, a black outsider originally from Detroit with no car, killed a local gal, and then a few hours later and more than a thousand miles away, dies in a barn in Alabama. Does not make sense at all and that is not the only local weird thing going on.


Getting dumped the week before Thanksgiving hit her hard in “Out of a Fog” by Barb Goffman. It takes her some time to plan after she realizes the depths of his betrayal. She has the time to plan since she does not have a boyfriend anymore. One way or another, he’s going to get his.


Captain Ernesto Guillén hates the new posting, but when you embarrass a major businessman and political donor to the mayor, you get yourself banished to the hinterlands. In his case, he was sent to Manglaralto, a tiny Ecuadorian fishing village where it is too damn hot and humid and his clothing constantly itches and scratches because of it. Everything combines to irritate his senses as does the increasingly vocal villagers clustered outside the small station. They are demanding the police release the suspected killer to them so they can deal with him directly. That is not going to happen and not just because Captain Ernesto Guillén is sure that the arrested suspect did not do the crime in “El Pescador Zurdo” by Tom Larsen.


Rebecca Sweeney had it coming for what she did. That means Allison has a problem in “A Blue Umbrella Sky” by R.S. Morgan. Part of her problem is guilt and embarrassment. Part of her problem is that she is going to have to talk to the Kentucky State Police. It is karma at work, after all.


“Death Will Give you A Reason” by Elizabeth Zelvin is next and death certainly explains why Cindy had to cancel her dinner plans. A floater found by professional dog walkers who compromised the scene is the first of several problems with the case. Her sobriety is going to be tested in a new way as the floater is Shane Dougherty and a man she knew long ago when they were kids. She intends to find out why he wound up in the river and then on a morgue table in New York City.


Marc is in hiding somewhere in the very northern reaches of New England. He has been sent to see Woody at a house at the end of a winding dirt road that does not show up on any maps. It is a sanctuary, in a sense, in “The Mannequin Graveyard” by Gregory L. Norris.


“Saving the Indiana Dae” by Vicki Weisfeld comes next where Bruce Pritchard loves his new get away home. It used to be the schooner Indiana Dae before the ship was thrown on to land during a storm in the late 1880s. The old ship had eventually become a tourist attraction by the sixties and then had fallen into considerable disrepair. In the here and now, Mr. Pritchard spent a lot of money fixing it up to be livable and a cozy weekend getaway. He isn’t the only one invested in the old schooner and things are about to take a strange turn.


While the past was a major piece of the preceding tale, the future and what can be done with technology is a major piece of the story. Securing the border so effectively means that the local economy cratered and what crime there is mainly involves the personnel working out of the security towers. Most of the staff has computer chips installed in their earlobes. The fact the body is missing both ears thanks to clean cuts that no predator could duplicate means that the dead person is probably somebody on staff. That makes it his case in “The Control Tower” by Janice Law.


Many of us suffered the hunt for X in algebra and very well understand why Tiffany hates it all so much. Algebra certainly does nothing to help her ADHD. Her inability to understand algebra and her ADHD are two of several things her Dad does not understand in “Slow Down” by Steve Liskow. He also does not understand how music is a such a great help to her at all times and especially when she is stressed.


Competitive eating is a thing these days, thanks to ESPN and other outlets. The national media folks may not have made it to “Burnin Butt, Texas” for the jalapeno eating contest yet, but they might next year. A murder at the contest gets the attention of a lot of folks in this tale by Mark Troy.


The issue closes with “The Affair of Lamson’s Cook” by Charles Felton Pidgin and Jim Taylor. The tale originally appeared in The Chronicles of Quincy Adams Sawyer, Detective back in 1912. In this case, Quincy has not been having a lot to do lately so his reserves, mentally and physically, are in good shape when Herbert Lamson shows up in his touring car looking for him. Lamson wants him to take a ride out to his country home where his cook has been found dead that morning. Her name was Mrs. Elizabeth Buck. Known to be a shrew when not cooking, Lansom has no idea who would killer her.


Edited by Michael Bracken, Black Cat Mystery Magazine #10 is another solidly good read. The twelve mystery tales included in the new issue showcase a wide range in author styles, time periods, and mystery flavors. Some are cozy style while others have a slightly harder edge. Once again, some folks deserved their killing. Suitable for readers of nearly all age groups, Black Cat Mystery Magazine #10 is another comfortable and fun mystery read.



I purchased this in eBook format last month after I received an Amazon gift card from an online friend for my birthday.


Kevin R. Tipple ©2021

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: The New York Times Wants Your Personal Essays - Paying Market

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: The New York Times Wants Your Personal Essays - Pa...: Every once in a while a major publisher opens up to writers, offering professional payment. But the payment, while much appreciated, pales i...



The First Two Pages: “The Jollof Rice and Crayfish Mystery” by Stella Oni

 The First Two Pages: “The Jollof Rice and Crayfish Mystery” by Stella Oni

Review: The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly

Detectives Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch return in The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly. It is New Year’s Eve and as 2020 ends LAPD Detective Renée Ballard and Detective Lisa Moore of the Hollywood Division Sexual Assault Unit are unhappily partnered together and parked under the concrete lanes of the Cahuenga overpass. Moore is grumbling, but Ballard has been on tactical alert for NYE before and knows parking under this overpass is one of the safest places to be as celebratory gunfire rains down.


After the fireworks and the gunfire finally ends, they get a call to respond to a nearby shooting near the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Gower Street. Back in the day, it was where day labors were picked up to work as extras in Westerns. These days, a faded shopping plaza sits on the spot with walled off studio lots nearby. Across the street is a string of auto repair shops and aging apartment complexes. It is the gang territory of Las Palmas 13 and they will soon learn that their victim was once in the Las Palmas 13.


Many years ago, Javier Raffa, bought his way out of the gang. In the here and now, he was owner of an auto body shop. Each year for NYE, he would throw a neighborhood party and put out a keg for all. The headshot he took this night means he won’t be around to host another. The headshot was also clearly not because of a round coming back to earth.


Somebody executed Raffa at close range and did it while everyone else in the crowd was looking skyward. Even more interesting, the bullet involved traces back to a cold case of one Detective Harry Bosch. While he is even more of a hot potato due to his recent actions, there is no option but to reach out to Bosch and discuss the situation. She needs his help and has to get it as quietly as possible in order not to totally destroy her own career.


At the same time, it is also clear that Moore is going to be zero help, at best, and a definite hindrance at worst. The two are paired as part of the hunt for a pair of serial rapists known as the “Midnight Men.” The horrible attitude expressed in so many ways by Moore reflects the ongoing malaise affecting many in the LAPD. Moral is in the toilet that to the protests, the pandemic, and various other factors that getting Moore and many other officers to do more than the minimum is problematic. So, basically, Ballard is on her own on the rape case and is pretty much on her own on the murder case because using Bosch comes with limits and severe consequences.


But, like Bosch, Ballard only knows one way to do the job. Screw the politics, build cases, and get the bad folks off the street. What follows is an intense police procedural that works by the way of several different storylines. Multiple cases and other matters are slowly brought together in a read with a powerful ending. One would expect nothing else from the author and he more than delivers in The Dark Hours.


The Dark Hours

Michael Connelly

Little, Brown and Company

November 2021

ISBN# 978-0-316-48564-7

Hardback (also currently available in audio and eBook formats)

400 Pages


My reading copy came from the Downtown Branch of the Dallas Public Library System. 


Kevin R. Tipple ©2021

Monday, December 06, 2021

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Hours Before Dawn by Celia Fremlin

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Hours Before Dawn by Celia Fremlin:   Reviewed by Christy             First published in 1959, The Hours Before Dawn tells the story of a young mother named Louise who is ...

The Rap Sheet: A Double Loss: Ford and Waterman

 The Rap Sheet: A Double Loss: Ford and Waterman



SleuthSayers: No Longer the Golden (Age) Standard... by Steve Liskow

SleuthSayers: No Longer the Golden (Age) Standard...: A few days ago, I read the newest issue of Black Cat Mystery Magazine and realized something I've been aware of for some time but never...

In Reference To Murder: Media Murder for Monday for 12/6/2021

 In Reference To Murder: Media Murder for Monday for 12/6/2021

Markets and Jobs for Writers for 12/6/2021

 Markets and Jobs for Writers for 12/6/2021

Aubrey Nye Hamilton Reviews: Misjudged by James Chandler

Misjudged by James Chandler (Severn River Publishing, 2020) is the first book in a new legal thriller series with Sam Johnstone as the lead character. Chandler is the pseudonym of Paul Phillips, a retired career Army officer who now is a circuit court judge in Wyoming. Johnstone is a disabled veteran who loves to fish and who has a great reverence for the law. His untreated PTSD has left him unable to hold steady employment on the East Coast, and he accepts the last-chance offer of an old law school friend to join his small law practice in Custer, Wyoming.

The effects of PTSD on Sam, even years after the precipitating event, are wrenching. When an easel falls over in the courtroom, Sam has a flashback and screams “Incoming!” as he dives under a table, disrupting judicial proceedings. The only place Sam finds peace is fishing alone in the scenic mountain lakes and streams. Sam accepts the help he’s declined for years during the story in a strong effort by the author to show veterans the impact of the hard years of middle Eastern conflict can be reduced.

The town of Custer is a far cry from the law practices of Georgetown in Washington, DC, where Sam has been working. The lawyers in town are often uncomfortably cozy with the two judges who hold sway over the courthouse, and the janitors often know as much about cases being tried as the participants. To get along, lawyers go along, sometimes at the expense of the equitable application of the law. I’ll never trust a small-town lawyer again after reading this book. The degree of wheeling and dealing and under the table arrangements is staggering, especially considering the size of Custer.

The caliber of cases is depressingly mundane. Custer has a severe substance abuse problem and most crimes can be traced to alcohol, prescription drugs, or illegally manufactured ones. Soon after Sam’s arrival, another alcoholic veteran with PTSD is arrested for a particularly gory murder, and Sam feels compelled to take the case to ensure the man is treated fairly. Since a conviction would be convenient for everyone but the defendant, Sam finds himself battling powerful forces. How he prevails is a well-organized and immersive story with memorable characters in an atypical setting for a legal thriller. Highly recommended.


·         Publisher:  Severn River Publishing (November 10, 2020)

·         Language:  English

·         Hardcover:  364 pages

·         ISBN-10:  1648750354

·         ISBN-13:  978-1648750359 


Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2021

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

Sunday, December 05, 2021

Bit Too Real


Beneath the Stains of Time: Mom Meets Her Maker (1990) by James Yaffe

Beneath the Stains of Time: Mom Meets Her Maker (1990) by James Yaffe: James Yaffe was an American professor of English and mystery writer who debuted aged 15 with " D.I.C. " in the July, 1943, issue ...

The Reading Room: The Corpse with the Granite Heart by Cathy Ace: Reading Room Review

The Reading Room: The Corpse with the Granite Heart by Cathy Ace: Re...:   I used to be a real stickler for reading a series in order, start with #1 and proceed, and I still prefer that. However, with age comes le...

Dru's Book Musings New Releases: Week of December 5, 2021

 Dru's Book Musings New Releases: Week of December 5, 2021



Sample Sunday: Excerpt: Under An Outlaw Moon: A Novel by Dietrich Kalteis

Please welcome back Dietrich Kalteis back to the blog today with an excerpt from his new book, Under An Outlaw Moon: A Novel.


. . . one


June 12, 1937

In the eyes of men I am not just

But in your eyes, O life, I see justification

You have taught me that my path is right if I am true to you.


Sixteen, huh? Well, I might’ve guessed older.” Flashing her the honest blue eyes.

“Well, maybe you’d’a been wrong then, huh?” Said her name was Stella Mae Redenbaugh, looking at him like she saw something underneath his smile, this guy with the wavy hair, skating around the roller rink, looking at her now and then, finally coming over when she was alone next to the boards. Making a fast stop and showing his moves.

Stella knowing her friend Liz and the other girls were looking over from the concession stand, whispering and giggling to each other. Made her feel good, lying to him that she was sixteen.

“Well, I been wrong a time or two,” he said, “but still, I guess you’d pass for older.”

“Older, like how much?” Crinkling her nose — Stella guessed it looked cute like when she practiced it in the mirror — smiling at him, liking the way this Johnny O’Malley was flirting with her, something no boy had done before. Not feeling that unease she often felt around men. Been that way since her real father just walked off, Stella thinking good riddance, happy her mother wouldn’t get hit and bruised anymore. Her stepfather, Lester, being made of better stuff, a quiet man working hard for the family. Maybe dull in that way, but at least the man didn’t leave those awful bruises on her mother.

Fifteen and Stella wasn’t sure what the look meant that Johnny D. O’Malley was putting on her, but she was thinking maybe she wouldn’t mind finding out.

“I don’t know, let’s see . . . eighteen maybe.” Johnny grinned, saying, “Guess I ain’t saying it right.”

“Well, I think you’re saying it just fine.” She liked the way his cheeks flushed then, yeah, starting to feel easier with him. Not tall, but a nice build and good looking with the blue eyes and wavy hair. Older by a mile, even if she had been eighteen. Stella liking the way Liz was watching from the refreshment stand, talking to some boys, the rest of the girls gone home.


Bennie Dickson had been feeding lines to the pretty blonde, this Stella Mae. Now he was getting caught up in it. Laid it on pretty thick, saying he was a prize fighter in training. That part was true, and Johnny O’Malley was the name he used when he stepped through the ropes.

Not sure why he used the name on her, the name the promotor had come up with, telling Bennie it gave him the Irish edge, a young fighter showing promise, along with a punishing right hook, something they could build on.

Bennie didn’t tell her anything about the trouble he’d been in, the stuff he got into back when his old man told him he was acting more loser than winner, anything but a Dickson man. Strike one coming for the stolen car, doing time in that reformatory and shaming the family. Bad Bennie not learning life the easy way, then taking a second swing when he got mixed up in the Missouri bank job, giving up six more hard years in the Missouri pen, same place they kept Pretty Boy Floyd, the place inmates called The Walls on account of that high gray limestone surrounding the place. Life’s lessons kicking Bennie hard that time. Working in the prison library and learning to box while inside. Finally convincing the parole board he got the message and wasn’t going to make the same mistakes, released into his father’s custody. Just turned twenty-six, and Bennie swore to go straight this time.

Might have been partly why he was feeling more Johnny than Bad Bennie right then, telling this girl about the job he just took driving a cab, the money he made allowing him to sweat and work the bag in the Hard Rock gym. Then switching the focus, telling her she skated like a pro.

“You been watching me, huh?”

“Admit I was.” From over by the boards, betting all the boys looked her way. From the corner of his eye now, he caught the three mutts eyeing him from over by the food stand, the ones chatting to Stella’s friend. The looks meant they guessed who he was and knew about the time he served. Thinking they were better and wanting to prove it. Bennie feeling glad his older brother Spencer had showed up at the rink today, two years older and born on the same day, the two of them of the same blood. Spencer known around town as a tough customer. And although the oldest of the three wasn’t there that day, the same went for Darwin, a reputation for watching out for his brothers, likely the main reasons the mutts were keeping their distance. Still, they had that look, like they had something to prove.


“Me, pffft, nobody sees me. Just a place I meet Liz and the girls and have a few laughs, is all.” Stella Mae thinking who had money for roller skating, a nickel just to get in the place, wondering again if Johnny meant what he said, that she looked eighteen, maybe older. Could be on account of the way she’d pulled her hair back that day, not wanting it in her eyes when she skated around, the sweater showing the promise of changes coming, and the ruby lipstick from her mother’s dressing table completing the picture. Liked her lips red like that, Stella doing it more these days when her mother was out of the house. Always wiped it off before she went back home. “How you like it, the music?” Johnny asked. Not sure what the number was piping from the speaker cone. Admitting to her he had a tin ear.

“This one’s Lionel Hampton, called ‘Hot Mallets.’ They play it all the time, everybody skating to it. One the girls like to dance to.”

“That right? Well, lucky for Lionel, how about it then, let’s see you do it. Dance or skate, either one.”

“Just ’cause you say so, huh?” Stella acting indifferent, the smile letting him know she was playing too.

“Just like to watch you move.” The blush in his cheeks betrayed him, and he pushed off the boards and skated around the rink, turning and going backwards, moving faster between and around the couples and singles, pretending he was doing it to the music, moving his hips and clowning, looking her way, smiling from across the rink. He swished around and grabbed hold of the boards next to her, saying, “So, come on, girl, catch up if you’re any good.” And he was off again, going around and looking to see that she was watching. “I’ve Got a Pocketful of Dreams,” coming through the speakers now. The three mutts over at refreshments watching him too.

Standing with a hand against the boards, Stella glanced over at Liz still talking to the boys, likely saying something dumb. Pushing off, she windmilled her arms to gain her balance, half the rink between them.

Johnny coming around and past her, calling out, “Hey, slowpoke.”

Picking up speed on the rented skates, she ducked and went under a couple with joined hands, nearly ended on her butt as she bumped them apart. Johnny slowed and let her catch up, holding out his hand, then catching her again from falling, the two of them moving around the rink, holding hands now. Going around two more times, he stopped over by Spencer and introduced her, asking how old Spencer guessed she was, mouthing eighteen behind her back. Also pointed at himself and mouthed to call him Johnny.

Spencer said, “It ain’t right to guess a lady’s age.” Smiling at her, offering his hand.

Stella liking this older brother calling her a lady, told him it was nice to meet him.

Taking her hand again, Bennie did it like it was a natural thing. Stella not pulling away, thinking maybe he did it to keep her from falling, but she liked the way her friend Liz kept looking, the three boys looking too. And she lost track how many times she skated around with him, talking about where they went to school, places around town they both knew. Bennie saying he was serious about his boxing, and driving a cab too. Then asking about her, where she lived, how she liked the school she went to, getting to know her.

Letting him buy her a soda after, the two of them just kept talking, not running out of things. Playing at being eighteen, she pushed away thoughts of her mother worrying about her being out as the afternoon gave way to evening. Then realizing Liz had gone home, Stella told him she’d better get on home too.

“Well, I got my car, can give you a lift if you want?”

Wanting to trust him, but knowing her mother’s rule about getting in cars with boys. Saying, “I’m okay, I can walk.”

“Well, I’m just offering is all.”

They stood talking a few more minutes. Bennie didn’t push it, offering to return her skates to the rental desk, asking, “So, how do I see you again?”

“Well, you come next Saturday and maybe you will.” Smiling, she let him take the skates.

“Not the brush-off, I hope — I mean, you’re gonna show, right?”

“Guess you’re gonna find out.” Smiling, she started walking, knowing he was watching her, not sure how she’d get another nickel, but she’d get it, and she’d be here next Saturday alright.


Excerpted from Under an Outlaw Moon by Dietrich Kalteis. © 2021 by Dietrich Kalteis. All rights reserved. Published by ECW Press Ltd.


Dietrich Kalteis ©2021 

Dietrich Kalteis is the award-winning author of Ride the Lightning (bronze medal winner, 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards, for best regional fiction), The Deadbeat Club, Triggerfish, House of Blazes (silver medal winner, 2017 Independent Publisher Book Awards, for best historical fiction), Zero Avenue, Poughkeepsie Shuffle, Call Down the Thunder, Cradle of the Deep, and Under an Outlaw Moon. His novel The Deadbeat Club has been translated to German, entitled Shootout, and 50 of his short stories have also been published internationally. He lives with his family on Canada’s West Coast. More info at

Saturday, December 04, 2021

Judy Penz Sheluk: Let’s Talk About Writing: Associations

 Judy Penz Sheluk: Let’s Talk About Writing: Associations

KRL This Week Update for 12/4/2021

Up in KRL this morning a review and giveaway of "It's a Wonderful Woof" by Spencer Quinn

And a review and giveaway of another Christmas mystery "Mrs. Jeffries and the Midwinter Murders" by Emily Brightwell along with a bonus giveaway of audiobook copies of 2 more Mrs. Jeffries Christmas mysteries!

We also have a review and giveaway of "An Eggnog to Die For" by Amy Pershing along with an interesting interview with Amy

And reviews and giveaways of 2 more Christmas mysteries-"Christmas Candy Corpse": A Courtney Archer Mystery by Rosemarie Ross & "Murder at the Mistletoe Ball": A Ferrara Family Mystery by J.D. Griffo

We also have reviews of 2 more Acorn TV mystery shows-"Suspects" and "The Silence"

Up during the week we posted another special midweek guest post, this one by mystery author Lucy Burdette about switching things up with her new suspense novel "Unsafe Haven"

And another special midweek guest post, this one by mystery author Jacqueline Vick about making animal communication realistic in her books. You can also enter to win a copy of the latest book in her series "A Scaly Tail of Murder"

Up on KRL News and Reviews this week a review and giveaway of "Midnight Hour" A Chilling Anthology of Crime Fiction from 20 authors of color, Edited by Abby L. Vandiver

And a review and ebook giveaway of the Christmas novella "Have a Holly, Haunted Christmas" by Lynn Cahoon

And a review of "The Alchemist of Fire and Fortune" by Gigi Pandian along with a giveaway of a set of Accidental Alchemist recipe cards

Happy holidays

SleuthSayers: The Z-Files by John Floyd

SleuthSayers: The Z-Files:    We've seen a lot of recent posts at this blog about mystery short-story markets--their editors, content, guidelines, response times, ...


SHOTSMAG CONFIDENTIAL: Announcing Reacher:   It has been announce that REACHER will hit TV screens around the world on 4th February in an 8 part series based on the first Jack Reacher...

Scott's Take: Pocket Apocalypse (InCryptid Book 4) by Seanan McGuire

Pocket Apocalypse by Seanan McGuire is the fourth Incryptid novel and readers are back in the world of Alex Price. Everything is going well until his girlfriend Shelby Tanner asks him to go to Australia and help her and her family with a problem. Australia is a dangerous place because of the wildlife as it is, but these days they also have an outbreak of werewolves threating the fragile ecosystem. Since werewolves are not native to Australia, the Tanner family has no experience dealing with werewolves. Alex does and it was not an experience he particularly enjoyed. But, this is Shelby asking for help. So, Alex reluctantly joins his girlfriend on her trip back to her native country.


This book is full of action, humor, and plenty of Australian monsters. There is plenty of family drama in this novel because the Tanner family is more focused on their family problems than the fact that there are werewolves spreading across the country infecting and eating people.


The Aeslin Mice remain one of my favorite parts of this series. Aeslin Mice, for those who are not familiar with this series are religious mice that can talk and make funny observations that delight this reader. I highly recommend Pocket Apocalypse by Seanan McGuire for those who are interested in a fun book. The fifth book, Chaos Choreography, changes the main character back to Verity Price who was the heroine of the first two books.


Pocket Apocalypse (InCryptid Book 4)

Seanan McGuire

DAW Books, Inc. (Penguin)

March 2015

ISBN# 0756408121

Paperback (available in audio and eBook formats)

368 Pages 


My copy came from the Central/Downtown Branch of the Dallas Public Library System. 


Scott A. Tipple ©2021

Friday, December 03, 2021

Beneath the Stains of Time: Here Be Dragons: "The Donnington Affair" (1914) by G.K. Chesterton and Max Pemberton

Beneath the Stains of Time: Here Be Dragons: "The Donnington Affair" (1914) by...: I've commented before that the size and scope of the traditional detective story never ceases to amaze me. Every time you think you know...

Writers & Publishers Network: The Publisher Perspective: December 2021

 Writers & Publishers Network: The Publisher Perspective: December 2021

Something Is Going To Happen: To Girlfriend or Not To Girlfriend by Andrew Welsh-Huggins

 Something Is Going To Happen: To Girlfriend or Not To Girlfriend by Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Unkindness of Ravens by M.E. Hilliard

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Unkindness of Ravens by M.E. Hilliard:   Reviewed by Jeanne   Librarian Greer Hogan has moved to the town of Raven Hill to make a fresh start after the violent death of her hu...

Jerry's House of Everything: FORGOTTEN BOOK: OF WORLDS BEYOND: The Science of Science Fiction Writing -- A Symposium

Jerry's House of Everything: FORGOTTEN BOOK: OF WORLDS BEYOND:   Of Worlds Beyond:  The Science of Science Fiction Writing -- A Symposium , edited by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach  (1947) Lloyd Arthur Eshbach (19...



Barry Ergang's FFB Review: MR. MONK AND THE TWO ASSISTANTS (2007) by Lee Goldberg


Hardcore “Monk” fans know the back story: Adrian Monk’s photojournalist wife Trudy was murdered in a car bombing by person or persons unknown. Devastated, Monk was nearly catatonic for the next three years. When he was released from the hospital, it was in the care of a nurse named Sharona Fleming, who functioned as both his nurse and assistant for the next several years. When Sharona remarried Trevor, the husband she’d previously divorced, and moved from San Francisco back to New Jersey, Monk hired Natalie Teeger as his new assistant.


So when, in Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants, Natalie’s daughter Julie breaks her wrist during a soccer game, necessitating a trip to the emergency room, both Natalie and Monk are stunned to see Sharona working there. Monk is ecstatic as he imagines both women in his life; Natalie feels threatened by the prospect of losing her job to Sharona.


It turns out that Trevor moved to Los Angeles after buying a landscaping company, and is now in jail, charged with murdering one of his clients. Convinced he’s guilty, Sharona would be happy to let him languish while she resumes working for Monk. Natalie wants Monk to prove Trevor innocent so Sharona will get back together with him, thus solidifying Natalie’s position as Monk’s sole assistant.


After Natalie takes it upon herself to visit Trevor, she persuades Monk to investigate. She, Sharona and Monk drive to L.A., a place Monk quickly learns to fear, to begin their probe of the events. There they meet, among others, bestselling mystery novelist Ian Ludlow, who frequently acts as a consultant to the LAPD.


When they return to San Francisco, Captain Stottlemeyer tells Monk, who’s a paid consultant to the SFPD, that he needs his help in the murder—on a nude beach, to Monk‘s chagrined horror—of one Ronald Webster, a shoe store clerk.


Eventually it becomes clear that the two apparently disparate cases are connected, and any veteran mystery reader will easily guess the identity of the culprit. Proving said culprit’s guilt is another matter entirely, because that person has cleverly and convincingly developed seemingly airtight cases against Sharona and Natalie as the perpetrators of the two murders.


This is the fourth of Lee Goldberg’s Monk novels that I’ve read. I’ve enjoyed all of them, but this one is the best to date, in no small measure because of its fairly-clued solution. The clue, I might point out, is kept in front of the reader throughout the book, but is nevertheless elusive—a sign of excellent authorial misdirection.


Recommended without reservations.


Barry Ergang © 2008, 2021


Derringer Award-winner Barry Ergang’s written work has appeared in numerous publications, print and electronic. Some of it is available at Amazon and at Smashwords. His website is