Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sandi Tonight

It will be a week tomorrow since her most recent surgery and I have nothing at all new to report.  She is still the same.  

We also have not heard back on the pathology results.  Waiting is no fun.

January 2013 Reads and Reviews

January was been a brutal month with health stuff including Sandi’s major surgery deal of last week. We are still awaiting word from pathology. So, there were not as many books read and reviewed due to the obvious reasons. Below is the list of the books that were read and reviewed for January 2013. My sincere thanks again to Barry Ergang and Patrick Ohl for their contributions and friendship.

“Death of Jezebel” by Christina Brand---FFB Review by Patrick Ohl

“The Last Horseman: A Sandy Banks Novel” by Frank Zafiro

“The Girl With The Long Green Heart” by Lawrence Block---FFB Review by Barry Ergang

“Eat More of Way You Love: Over 200 Brand- New Recipes Low in Sugar, Fat, and Calories” by Marlene Koch

“The Minnesota Crime Wave Presents: Fifteen Tales of Murder, Mayhem, and Malice from the land of Minnesota Nice” by the Minnesota Crime Wave

“Deadly Beloved” by Max Allan Collins---FFB Review

“Blood Of My Blood: A Smokey Annicelli Mystery” by Ralph Pezzullo

“The Black Box” by Michael Connelly

“The Case With Nine Solutions” by J. J. Connington---FFB Review by Patrick Ohl


Amazon Reviews

Those of us who review on Amazon often get funny comments on our reviews. Yesterday, my detailed review of the PROTECTORS anthology generated this posted comment from a fellow Amazon reviewer....

"Review too long. Boring."

Considering this person writes three and four sentence reviews--2 at current count---all I could do was laugh and move on.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013


has been in very short supply around here the way things have been lately. Saw this and thought it was funny......

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sandi Tuesday Evening

A small update--- everything is as you would expect after this deal. She is in a lot of pain and having a hard time finding any position that hurts a little less than another. She is very tired, but seems a little better today than yesterday.

I am still playing catchup on my e-mail. Between taking care of her and my own issues, the going is slow. I am doing what I can when I can.

Thank you again everyone for your support. As soon as we hear anything on the various test results we will certainly pass it on.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sandi Now Home

Just got her home with pain and other meds. Now we wait for the MRI and pathology results.

Sandi says thank you one and all for your prayers, thoughts, and support. We really appreciate it.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sandi Sunday Evening

Okay, I just talked to Sandi a few minutes ago and there has been a change in plans. She will not be getting out tonight. At this point, we are not really sure what the new timeline is on her coming home.

They are now going to do an MRI on her as soon as possible to evaluate some things. They also are not happy with her very low blood pressure and a couple of other things so she is staying in a little while longer. They hope to do the MRI tomorrow. If they can't and can get it done on Tuesday they plan now on keeping her in till that is done then.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Sandi Update

First and foremost, I want to say thank you to all the people who have commented here and elsewhere, as well as in e-mails to me expressing their thoughts and prayers for Sandi and her health as well as us in general. It means so much--- you have no idea. We both are very grateful for the support.

Sandi had surgery yesterday morning and it was hard day for her, me, and everyone involved. This third time  the thing they have been chasing was easily found because it has undergone "explosive growth." It currently is in her heart sac and goes over to the bottom of her right lung where it is in the bottom of the lung along with severe and extensive scar tissue from her pleurisy back in November 2011 that started her down the cancer highway. It extends into and through her esophagus and goes downward into and through her diaphragm and down into her liver. The thing has grown considerably and has branched out extensively.

Because of the way it is, the thing can' be removed. It is inoperable though if it is cancer--as everyone expects--they would not try to remove it anyway surgically as that would spread it and cause new issues. Samples of the thing were obtained and at this point, they can rule out one of the two cancers she had before. They don't think it is the other cancer she had either, but that quickie test result in the OR for that was not conclusive like the first one. The results from pathology probably will not be back for a week to ten days.

She also had some sort of atrial fibrillation during surgery that was finally stopped with enough medicines.  Apparently it was fairly severe and clearly concerned the surgeon when he told me about it afterwards. Whether it happed becuase he had to press on her heart or for some other reason he did not know. But, with her history of heart attack and stroke, it was a major concern.

She remains in ICU tonight where they were trying earlier today to gradually wean her off the machines and oxygen. I just talked to her minutes ago before they turned off her phone and all that has now stopped. Apparently, just after dinner, her oxygen level started dropping a little bit. When it continued to slide, they decided to put her back all the way on oxygen to get her numbers back up. Her BP remains steady according to her  and I have been told not to panic and to stay home. Apparently this sort of thing happens from time to time. She is doing better now that they bumped the oxygen back up to where it was right after surgery.

They were going to give her pain meds when I called so we didn't talk long. They were going to do that and then change several of her bandages as it was time again for that.

So, that is where we are this Saturday evening. I apologize for not being able to update everyone sooner. I was absolutely exhausted by the time I got home last night. I am so unstable on my feet these days I don't dare run the risk of trying to take my laptop with me to the hospital as I did last year. I don't have the money to replace it if I were to fall and break it. When the valet guy offers to walk me to my car, or one of the patient transport people offers to walk me to her room, both happen everyday, you know I am not projecting the best image walking wise.

Again, thank you one and all for your prayers, thoughts, best wishes and support. Sandi says thank you as well and to make sure I tell everyone that she is not beaten yet.

Friday, January 25, 2013

FFB Review: "The Case With Nine Solutions"

In addition to cardiac surgery for Sandi this morning, Friday means Friday's Forgotten Books. Please welcome back Patrick Ohl to the blog. For the complete list of books, authors, and reviewers, please surf over to Patti Abbott's excellent blog........

Most men, they'll tell you a story straight through. It won't be complicated, but it won't be interesting either.
—Ed Bloom, Big Fish (2003)

Alfred Walter Stewart had a long career as a professor in chemistry and a university lecturer in Glasgow and Belfast, but more importantly for the purpose of this review, he also wrote detective novels under the name “J. J. Connington”. He was a well-regarded figure in his day, and John Dickson Carr gave him some praise in his famous essay The Grandest Game in the World. One of Dorothy L. Sayers’ better novels, The Five Red Herrings, is in part an homage to his book The Two Ticket Puzzle.

Unfortunately, academic disinterest and snobbery levelled against the Golden Age of Detective Fiction have seriously harmed Connington’s reputation. If you hear about him at all nowadays, it will be classed alongside the similarly-maligned John Rhode, Freeman Wills Crofts, Henry Wade, or R. Austin Freeman. (None of these writers were mentioned by P. D. James in Talking About Detective Fiction, and Julian Symons mentions some of these authors only in passing.) He will be called an ingenious technical writer but someone who couldn’t entertain a drunken fish— a Humdrum, in other words. After reading his book The Case With Nine Solutions, I can propose two explanations to explain this nonsense. Either Connington and his fellow Humdrums have been unfairly attacked, or I need to start hanging around drunken fish more often.

The first explanation seems more likely, because unlike, say, Freeman Wills Crofts, Connington succeeds admirably in bringing his characters to life and making them seem like real people with real emotions. Not only that, he manages to throw in social commentary that would confound anti-Golden Age snobs if they bothered to read his books, and he combines it with a brilliantly-clued puzzle and some small asides about chemistry that make me wish he was my lecturer in university.

But I’m really getting ahead of myself here. Let’s tackle the plot first and foremost. Dr. Ringwood is sitting comfortably at home when a colleague, Dr. Trevor Markfield, drops in to visit. The social call is short-lived, however, as the maid of the SIlverdales telephones: a fellow maid is seriously ill and she requires Dr. Ringwood’s help. The fog outside is intense, so Dr. Markfield kindly offers to pilot Ringwood to the correct street, but Ringwood manages to get muddled up and drives up to the wrong house. He enters, suspecting something is amiss, and inside, he finds a young man who has been shot twice in the lung. He spurts out a mysterious cryptic dying message and expires.

There’s no phone in the house, so Dr. Ringwood goes next door, to the correct house this time, and diagnoses a case of scarletina before calling up Sir Clinton Driffield to ask for help. He decides to wait at the house, since he can do nothing for the ill maid, and when the police arrives, Sir Clinton makes some excellent deductions to prove that the murder took place elsewhere. They then head to the Silverdale residence, but nobody answers the doorbell. This is because the maid has been strangled in the interim, and the other girl has only escaped with her life due to her illness…

Thus begins a hunt for a particularly unlikeable killer, who seems to have murdered three people when the corpse of Mrs. Silverdale is discovered. The dead man next door turns out to be her potential lover, Hassendean, and he seems to have been universally disliked: a nasty bit of goods whose only advantage in life was his connections. But is this a case of double murder? An accident? A suicide pact gone wrong? What are the titular nine solutions?

Well, The Case With Nine Solutions is an impressive title, but a more appropriate one might be The Case With Nine Possibilities. This is because the book focuses on the deaths of Mrs. Silverdale and Hassendean, and the nine solutions are the nine possible combinations when you consider that every unnatural death must be the result of accident, suicide, or murder (unless you’re in a John Rhode novel, but that’s a discussion for another day). This is the only thing that comes close to a disappointment in the entire book— everything else weaves itself into a complex web of cryptograms, anonymous messages, footprints in the soil, alibis, deceptions, love affairs, and disguises. The solution turns out to be a simple one, and the final chapter consists of entries in Sir Clinton’s notebook, with some clues so ingenious I never spotted them, and my jaw dropped in surprise and admiration when I read the clue that was the key to Mrs. Silverdale’s death. The solution is not mind-blowingly original – the publisher is not the killer, if that’s what you were betting on— but it’s excellently constructed. The clues slip right under your nose.

Sir Clinton’s deductions are truly admirable— take note in particular of his opening scene, where he deduces just why Hassendean was murdered elsewhere, and the reconstruction of the maid’s murder in Chapter 4 is a particularly impressive passage. (It’s little wonder Carr thought highly of Connington’s work— you can see some influence on Carr’s own work, particularly the impressive reconstructions of Dr. Gideon Fell.)

So the plot is a triumph, and that makes the engaging characters and social commentary interesting extras to an already superb book. Golden Age authors are much maligned for not striving towards literary ends, and Connington indirectly thows his two cents into the argument early on:

All three of them were experts in death, and among them there was no need to waste time in polite lamentations. None of them had ever set eyes on the victim before that night, and there was no object in becoming sentimental over him.

Critics like P. D. James love taking authors to task for their supposed upper-class worship— you’d get the idea that every amateur detective was a Philo Vance or Lord Peter Wimsey clone! But this is an outrageous lie invented by people who have no idea what they’re talking about—take a look at this unflattering portrait of an upper class character, an influential relative of the dead man:

Dr. Ringwood, watching the change in the situation, reflected sardonically to himself that a title had its uses when one came to deal with a snob.
“That old bounder was rude to the Inspector on principle; but when Sir Clinton Driffield asks precisely the same question, he’s quite amenable,” he thought to himself. “What a type!”

If that wasn’t enough, you even get some social commentary in the opening pages, after Dr. Ringwood complains at length about the difficult life of a medical practitioner:

“Still got the notion that human life’s valuable? The war knocked that on the head,” Markfield commented, rubbing his hands together to warm them. “Human life’s the cheapest thing there is. It’s a blessing I went over to the scientific side, instead of going in for physicking. I’d never have acquired a good sympathetic bedside manner.”

And then there are some great side-lectures on chemistry, which are interesting, clearly explained, and not too long. In Chapter 8, for instance, Sir Clinton lectures about the purpose of taking a mixed-melting point. It is an informative and clearly-worded passage, and I just love asides like this from people who knew what they were talking about. Connington wasn’t some fellow who pulled the first complex-sounding term out of a chemistry textbook to artificially inflate his level of intelligence—he was a lecturer in the subject and dealt with this kind of stuff daily. When these explanations are given, they sound like a professor is having a one-on-one with a student who’s having trouble understanding the course material.

Overall, The Case With Nine Solutions is a triumph, and I’d argue a masterpiece in the genre. Connington keeps a firm grasp on all his plot threads and the resolution is most satisfactory. It’s a must-read for fans of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, and it’s a good book from an unfairly maligned author. It shows creativity in its set-up and pure ingenuity with its clues, and that’s a quality that can’t be scientifically quantified. An author either has that magic or hasn’t got it— and Connington puts on a grand performance that proves he’s definitely got it. It’s combined with skilful writing that makes this an unadulterated pleasure to read. I highly recommend it.

But where can you find this masterpiece? The good folks at The Murder Room have got you covered. A Kindle edition of the book has been released, and it is a bargain, especially when you consider how much sellers ask for copies of the old hardcover. You can find the Kindle edition here. For a list of the currently available books by Connington (more are apparently due in February if The Book Depository is to be believed) visit The Murder Room’s website.

Patrick Ohl ©2013

The 19-year-old Patrick Ohl spends his spare time writing controversial reviews in order to expel his bitterness at the world. For this reason, he was awarded a multimillion dollar contract to publish his memoirs, entitled I Can’t Stand Postmodernism. Unfortunately, after signing on the dotted line, he woke up and has been unable to return to the dream since to see if the book was a success. However, that doesn’t faze him, and he still intends to make millions of dollars and use his international fame and influence to bring some well-deserved attention to forgotten authors like this one. His reviews can be found on his blog, At the Scene of the Crime.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Interesting Reading Elsewhere--- Thomas Pluck's Books and Blog

If you are not already reading stuff from Thomas Pluck you should be.  Especially today as he has Jenny Milchman as a guest on the blog talking about her new book COVER OF SNOW. Sounds like a really good book and I am not surprised since Jenny is one of the best people I know. Check the interview out here.

Review: "The Black Box" by Michael Connelly

“He knew that occurrences of twenty years ago or longer were now coming together at an undeniable speed. The hand of the past was reaching up through the ground, and there was no telling who or what it would grab and pull down when it finally broke through the surface of the earth.” (Page 434--Large Print Version)

As Los Angeles burned in 1992 Detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch and Detective Jerry Edgar, along with two police officers as protection, were sent from one location to another as the bodies dropped.  With the city in chaos and the National Guard as backup, little could be done at each body besides the briefest of investigation and detailing the scene.  It was a war zone in south central and latest casualty is a woman in an alley.

By the time Bosch and Edgar get to the dead woman it is clear that she died a number of hours to a full day ago. It is also clear she was shot through the head and died right there so the debris filled alley is the crime scene. It is also a crime scene that they will have only minutes to work before moving on to the next one.

It will be twenty long years before the case of Anneke Jespersen, foreign correspondent, makes it to Bosch’s desk in the Open-Unsolved Unit.  That happened because the Police Chief, always thinking of the media and politics, ordered a new look at all the open cases from 1992. Labeled as the “Snow White” case, Bosch wanted it back because he didn’t have a chance to do right by her the first time. He isn’t going to let it go wrong again despite the efforts of others within and outside the Los Angeles Police Department.

Michael Connelly’s twenty-fifth book and the latest one in the Harry Bosch series is another good one. A series that began with The Black Echo continues here in a novel that again features Bosch’s quest for justice running head on into politics and agendas of others. Harry doesn’t see race as he sees victims and their families. Families that need answers regardless of the politics involved.

Politics, race, moneyed interests, and more Michael Connelly staples are all here in The Black Box.  So too is Harry Bosch, the dad and the detective, trying to do the best he can at work and at home. The result is a complex and very human mystery that works on all levels to provide yet another satisfying read in this series.

The Black Box
Michael Connelly
Little, Brown and Company (Hatchette Book Group)
November 2012
ISBN# 978-0-316-06942-7
Large Print Hardback (also available as e-book, audio, regular type hardback)
550 Pages

Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pretty Cool

when a review I did gets mentioned elsewhere. Just found this tonight at the Max Allan Collins site. Scroll down a bit and there is the mention of the "nice review."

Sandi's Surgery

is now planned for Friday morning. Hopefully, the third time is the charm and they can get to the tumor on her heart. Assuming they can and can get a pathology sample, it probably will be a week to ten days before the results are back and chemo and other treatment can start.

Food Stamps

Did the phone interview this morning. It will be mid February at the earliest before we see anything as we have to fill out some additional paperwork and provide duplicate copies again of things they already have.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Review: "Blood Of My Blood: A Smokey Annicelli Mystery" by Ralph Pezzullo

Tony “Smokey” Annicelli still knows people on the NYPD even though it has been quite a few years since he wore the uniform. When Luke, his best friend on the force, calls him and says that he better get over the fourth floor of a building at Two-forty-seven West Twenty-Ninth Street, Smoky doesn’t ask a lot of questions. Despite the urgency in Luke’s call, he is made to wait with his questions unanswered.

Finally, Detective Donnelly, after dragging him around awhile talking to people, takes him to the bloody mess of a body for identification.  An identification Donnelly seems to have already made, but wants Smokey to see the dead person to cause Smokey pain. Mission accomplished as the deceased was/is Ricky Bravere, the son of Smokey’s best friend, Evan.  The same son who was also Smokey’s godson. The same godson he had sworn to protect all those years ago as his friend lay dying in the hospital.

Guilt over the past haunts Smokey as he investigates the death of his godson. Not just the guilt over a godson that he lost track of over the years and failed to protect, but guilt as well over a horrifying incident that happened long ago when Smokey was young. It changed him forever and the death of his godson will bring that and other painful episodes to light in brutal ways. That guilt over the past he feels so deeply in so many ways will have a huge toll and yet also serve as a motivator in this often nightmarish and very complex mystery published by Zumaya Enigma. A mystery that is so complex, to say more would create potential spoilers for readers and thus ruin a very good and often violent book.

Readers are strongly cautioned that Blood Of My Blood: A Smokey Annicelli Mystery and sequel to Eve Missing features explicit language, graphic violence, and various adult activities. As such, this is an adult novel aimed to adult mystery readers who have no issues with language or content. Those readers that prefer their bad guys to say, “Gosh darn” and the like instead of string of obscenities are strongly encouraged to skip this title and pick something else. This is a hard edged book that tells a compelling dark tale filled with violence, drugs, unredeemable criminals, rock and roll, and more and is a very good read. It just isn’t a book for everyone.

Blood Of My Blood: A Smokey Annicelli Mystery
Ralph Pezzullo
Zumaya Enigma (division of Zumaya Publishing)
June 2012
ISBN# 978-1-61271-059-4
Paperback (available as e-book)
202 Pages

Material supplied by publicist PJ Nunn owner of BreakThrough Promotions in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2013

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Treating the Disease

Still can do the slap part, but the running is not happening....

Today's Prediction--Results

I was right about the teams that won. Just not how it happened as the Ravens/Patriots game was not the tight one I expected and the 49ers did not blow out the Falcons. Brady was mediocre again in the big game giving Ray Lewis the chance to go out as a SuperBowl champion.

Should be a heck of a game. The hype over HARBOWL should be something.

We also now know that CBS field microphones work really well considering how many times the F bomb in various ways made it on the air.

Amazon Reviews

I review on Amazon and am very well aware that, in general, Amazon reviews are seriously losing credibility among readers. Recent changes in response to sock puppetry did not help matters in my opinion. The changes that Amazon instituted did nothing to improve the quality of the reviews.

The changes also did nothing to address the growing problem of attack reviews as detailed  in this  piece from the New York Times today.

Very True

This would cuase an issue as would all the reference books I have on the shelves......

Today's Prediction

and remember no wagering. Especially using my picks with my track record. Still....I think today shakes out this way....

49ers win and Ravens win.

I will add that I think the 49ers win easily going away and the Ravens will be in a real fight to the end.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Thought This Was Funny

Been there and done that.....more than once......

Review Queries

While you are welcome to query, I remain pretty much closed to review requests at this time. I am still making the occasional exception for authors I have read and enjoyed before, and will make exceptions on a case by case basis for books that directly relate to my review column at Senior News.  However, those are rare exceptions.

I remain buried with several hundred books going back years and don't expect to catch up anytime soon. That fact, and the situations with my own health issues and Sandi's cancer, mean that just isn't possible for me to continue to accept books as I explained a few weeks back. It isn't like this is a paid review site either as I don't make any money reviewing books. I am just one guy doing the level best that he can.

So, that is the way it is. I kept telling people yes I would read their stuff a very long time ago when I should not have been agreeing to things. The backlog is huge and not going anywhere. Our situation is dire on many fronts and is not getting better.

Cussing me out for saying no to a review copy, as was done last night by one self published (indie) author by telling me that it is no wonder Sandi's cancer is back because I am such a selfish bastard just makes you look stupid and foolish.


FFB Links

If you missed the reviews yesterday, head on over to Evan Lewis' blog and check them out. Those links and the blog itself are well worth your time. I'd say more, but Evan is waving his gun telling me to shut up and move along.

Friday, January 18, 2013

FFB Review: "Deadly Beloved" by Max Allan Collins

Friday means Friday's Forgotten Books. For the complete list of books, authors, and reviewers, please surf over to Patti Abbott's excellent blog..........

Billed on the cover as “The First Ever Ms. Tree Novel!” the book opens with Ms. Tree describing a dream she has had while reclining on the couch of her psychiatrist, Dr. Cassel. In her dream she is attacked by a figure who is revealed eventually to be her late husband. As her dream goes on she is forced to kill him to save her own life. What her dream represents is unclear and something the Dr. would like to pursue. Moreover, since she missed the last two sessions and she is the last patient of the day, the Dr. is willing to stay late and listen as Ms. Tree explains the events of the past week or so.

His willingness to stay is a good thing because, in direct contrast to her current state on his couch, Ms. Tree has been on the move and very active on a number of fronts. She is directly involved in a recent murder case that has made tabloid type headlines in the news media.  Marcy Addwater, who has a history of mental instability, without question gunned down her husband and a hooker he was with in a motel room. The cops see the incident as twin murders committed by an angry and crazed wife fed up with her husband’s chronic infidelity. Bernie Levine, who also happens to be Ms. Tree’s attorney, sees a defense strategy and wants Ms. Tree’s help. After meeting her, Ms. Tree sees a vulnerable woman at the brink that needs help in every sense of the word and quickly agrees to help.

Over the next 203 pages (including author afterword which goes into extensive detail about the graphic novel history of Ms. Tree) Ms. Tree works the case as well as other issues while trying to keep her husband’s legacy, the detective agency, afloat. Her skills, while considerable and clearly evident, are constantly in question by others in the agency and elsewhere who are supposed to be helping her and not causing problems. Much of her energy is spent dealing with subtle and not so subtle sexism in her world. While set in current times there is a constant undercut of sexism throughout the work as if the novel was written forty or fifty years ago. This could be due to the graphic novel history of the character dating back to 1980, the inspirations for the character which go back considerably further, and the attempt to go back to the beginnings of the character as a sort of setup for the graphic novels. Or, it could be just another stylistic choice by the author seeking to build character development.

Told throughout the novel in the format of her telling the psychiatrist all that has happened the book quickly pulls the reader into her world. When the real world has fallen away in favor of the reader living through the character and experiencing the character the author has succeeded at what he or she is trying to do. That certainly is the case here and is done very well through the technique of a patient and her doctor. The choice of story technique is in direct contrast to the action nature of the work. A pace that, at times, is clearly and with reason broken by frequent interruptions for the patient and Dr. to converse on a minor issue. By doing so, the reader is reminded of the setup and point of view while at the same time reinforcing the point that Ms. Tree is working her way verbally to a point in her tale. The questions are where the tale will lead and what the point will be?

The case is complex, the characters real and very interesting, and the action plentiful while, like the reader, Ms. Tree is reclining. This is a very good book and another excellent offering from Hard Case Crime.

Deadly Beloved
By Max Allan Collins
Hard Case Crime
December 2007
ISBN# 0-8439-5778-6
203 Pages (including author afterword)

Kevin R. Tipple © 2007, 2013

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ben LeRoy Has A Deal For You!

Ben has a neat offer for you over on his blog. I have read and reviewed Delta Blues and it is a good one.  Check out Ben's offer and spread the word.

Review: "The Minnesota Crime Wave Presents: Fifteen Tales of Murder, Mayhem, and Malice from a land of Minnesota Nice"

After a brief introduction to the anthology written by Pete Hautman, The Minnesota Crime Wave Presents: Fifteen Tales of Murder, Mayhem and Malice from the land of Minnesota Nice opens with “This Old House” by Marilyn Victor. Esther spends her days in a nursing home while Justine spends her days deep in bitterness. When she visits Esther in the home their meetings are of the past, family secrets, and debts to be paid in this mystery where sibling rivalry follows to the grave.

“The Dark Under the Bed” by Richard A. Thompson tells the ultimately harrowing tale of a patient at VA Hospital trying to survive.  Odysseus G. Boosalis, known as “Oddie” to all, is firmly convinced, for good reason, that sleeping under the bed is the only way to prevent them from making him disappear during the night.  Something that has happened to others and it has to be stopped.

As everyone should intuitively know, it is a bad thing when the getaway car won’t start. Sappo and Dwayne figure that out pretty fast in “Desperados” by Michael Allan Mallory. Getting away on foot with the money is going to be way harder than either one ever thought.

Being allergic to certain things means eating something can kill you in a manner of minutes. It does in “Death by Potato Salad” by Jess Lourey. How it happens is just a small part of this entertaining tale featuring Mrs. Berns, a church related weekend retreat, and her quest for some male companionship.

Poetry makes an appearance by way of two poems by Mary Logue. “Murder” considers the reverberations for survivors of murder while “Crossing” talks about writing and the ultimate journey we all face.

It took the creep fifteen years to come up with his extortion plot for past misdeeds. Now Margo and Jan have hatched a plan to deal with the problem in “An Age Old Solution” by Lori L. Lake.  Both of them properly acting old is just one of the problems they will face in this tale.

William Kent Krueger comes next with his dark and compelling tale “Woman in Ice”. Otto Krakauer did the only thing he could think of when he found the woman encased in ice. He drug with his mule the block of ice containing the woman to the village. He went right through and didn’t stop until he got to the church. Fortunately, the priest has ideas on what to do as well as how to take care of his people.

 ”A Turn of the Card” by David Housewright features Mr. G. and his quest for truth. He isn’t happy that others, including his wife, think he is having an affair. He isn’t and having one is the last thing on his mind. But, they can’t know the truth as what he is doing could easily get him killed.

Maren Nielsen is convinced her sister’s ex-husband had a role in her sudden death.  Harper is dead and Marin plans to prove he did it in “Overstuffed” by Ellen Hart. Even from beyond the grave Harper is still there for her.

The play is the thing in “The Butler Didn’t” by Elizabeth Gunn. The butler, or more correctly, the guy playing the role of the butler in the play “The Importance of Being Earnest” is dead and he certainly didn’t commit suicide. That makes everyone in the small production company a suspect where, because they are actors and actresses, being convincingly deceitful is an art form.

Howard T. Crandall is very particular and obsessed with routines in all aspects of his life. The fact that his sub shop is out of honey oat rolls on a Friday is just one sign things are going badly in “Iced” by Lois Greiman. Another one is that his boss wants to see him after lunch.

Adeline fears the dreaded mother-in-law visit in “Minnesota Iced” by Pat Dennis. It isn’t just a simple visit. Apparently four time divorcee Dorothy Nordskov wants to move in for the winter months. Not just the rest of this winter, but for all winters to come. Something has to be done.

Finally a personal character favorite of mine, Sean No-Middle-Initial Sean, the diminutive detective makes an appearance. In “The Horse He Rode In On” by Carl Brookins the detective investigates the death of Mr. Tom Springfield. The councilmember rode out alone only to ride back in hours later dead and on a different horse.

Kate and Anna were friends since kindergarten when Kate rescued Anna from a bully. The years have passed in “Stone Arch Bridge” by Judith Yates Borger and now Kate has to rescue her again. One way or another she intends to do because Anna clearly needs help.

The disturbing “Blue-Eyed Mary” by Joel Arnold concludes the anthology. A long ago pregnancy, an adopted baby, and other family secrets are just some of the elements in this twisting and good tale.

Featuring 14 stories and two poems the fifteen authors here all work with the concept of Minnesota residents seen as being nice in a variety of ways. While the tales are nicely done the actions of the characters involved are rarely nice. Humor and romance are also often in short supply in this book where getting even or solving an ongoing potential problem is the order of the day.

As many characters in these stories find out, they are not the only one planning deceit and treachery. Agendas and motives abound in The Minnesota Crime Wave Presents: Fifteen Tales of Murder, Mayhem, and Malice from the land of Minnesota Nice resulting in very good short story reading with often dark overtones.

The Minnesota Crime Wave Presents: Fifteen Tales of Murder, Mayhem, and Malice from the land of Minnesota Nice
Minnesota Crime Wave
Nodin Press
October 2012
ISBN# 978-1-935666-43-1
176 Pages

Material supplied by author Carl Brookins in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2013