Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Crime Scene

"The yolk got it with one blow. No weapon present on scene and the fact the shell was not shattered means this was not self inflicted. Yes, what we clearly have here is an Eggicide."

(The 50 something detecive sporting a large cowboy belt buckle on his comfortable jeans and more than a few extra pounds slips on stylish sunglasses and turns towards the setting sun reflecting off the Dallas skyline with a no nonsense expression on his ruggedly handsome face)

"This is an active crime scene and we have witnesses, people, so let's get to work...."
 (cue the cool  music and action video montage)

Contest Alert from Lesa Holstine

This came through earlier today....... 

This week, I'm giving away an ARC of Alan Bradley's Flavia book, Speaking from Among the Bones and a copy of Kris Neri's latest Tracy Eaton mystery, Revenge on Route 66. Details on my blog, Entries from the U.S. only, please.

-- Lesa Holstine  

Happy Easter

Drive carefully......


Saturday, March 30, 2013


Also applies to being poor......

Review: "The Good Cop" by Brad Parks

The death of a police officer is always a tragedy. The fact that it is being described as a suicide and then wouldn’t be covered in any depth by the Newark Eagle- Examiner is something that reporter Carter Ross does not know when he goes off to interview the widow. Noemi Kipps is a formidable woman who thought that the happy family would soon be going to Disney World. Instead, she has to plan the funeral of her husband and somehow raise their 7 year old daughter and 5 month old son alone.

Police Officer Darius Kipps was an outstanding police officer, a devoted father, and a class act human being.  There was absolutely no reason for him the Sargent and Detective to commit suicide. According to his fellow officers that is exactly what he did in the bathroom at a precinct in Newark. It is something both the widow and, as he learns more, reporter Carter Ross can’t believe or accept.

The series that began so strongly with Faces Of The Gone continues here in another complex and interesting read. The Good Cop is the fourth novel in the series by award winning author Brad Parks. Flashes of humor and cynicism do not get in the way of a complex story involving the search for truth and justice amidst the shifting agendas of politicians, religious figures and others. As always in this series, the role of reporters and newspapers play a major role in the book, as do the evolution of relationships between Carter Ross and others in a business where getting the story correct and in detail should matter far more than getting it first.

While The Good Cop could be read as a stand-alone, those who have not read the series and take the time to do so before reading this book will appreciate this book far more than those who just grab this one. Fans of Cater Ross and his creator Brad Parks will find much to enjoy in this latest installment of a very good series.

The Good Cop
Brad Parks
Minotaur Books (St. Martin’s Publishing Group)
ISBN# 978-1-250-00552-6
Hardback (also available as an audio book and an e-book)
324 Pages

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

Kevin R. Tipple ©2013

My review of  FACES OF THE GONE can be found here. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Sandi and Blood Work Today

I'm finally home after dropping off Sandi a while ago and then going back out to get her meds. She was out of the antibiotic they have her on as well as the nausea pills and two other drugs she needed. Nausea remains the biggest compliant she has and it seems to have gotten worse the last couple of days. As has the pain she gets after chemo. This is about ten days out and this is the point when she starts feeling like her bones are breaking.  Sandi isn't one to complain, but, when her whole body hurts like it has the last two days now it does a number on her. She says it is like having bad flu times ten.

The blood work does not reflect how she feels today and that is a good thing. Everything in the various things they look at looked okay. The only concern is the fact that she is very anemic again. There was some discussion about doing a blood transfusion today with the decision made to hold off to Tuesday when she has blood work and a doctor visit. If it does not get any better or, gets worse, she will absolutely have to have a blood transfusion Tuesday. Neither one of us is thrilled with that idea considering how things worked out with that the last time they did it.

Not to mention the fact it is an all day affair. Something I definitely did not need today. Truth be told, I am not doing well. With all the daily necessary driving and everything else I have done the past two weeks I have really over done things. My entire left leg is swollen and painful like it gets when I have been up on it too much. Then there is the fact I have had several hard falls the past couple of days in public and at home.  Last night, while making dinner, I had several instances of blasts of severe pain on my left side that caused me to stumble in the kitchen and caused my left hand to go weak with no muscle strength. I couldn't keep my hand closed as it would spontaneously open whether I was hold ing anything or not. In addition to dropping silverware and plastic glasses, I dropped plates and managed to break two of them in separate incidents.

So, with the doctor deal and meds done, the thing to do is go lie down and rest. Hopefully by tonight I can sit up for a bit and play catchup on the e-mail. If not, it will be tomorrow-- I hope.

FFB Review: Six Shooter Showdown by William Colt Macdonald

This is Friday and that means Friday’s Forgotten Books. Patrick Ohl returns today with his review of SIX SHOOTER SHOWDOWN by William Colt Macdonald. More reviews and great books to read suggestions can be found over at Patti’s blog.

Throughout my history as a blogger I have eagerly taken advantage of any opportunity to discuss Westerns. Although I’m miles from being an expert (my knowledge of the genre is superficial at best), I really do admire it and love watching old Westerns on TV, especially starring John Wayne. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is one of my all-time favourite films. I highly enjoy Steve Hockensmith’s Holmes on the Range tales, and I love the two novels William DeAndrea lived to write about Lobo Blacke and Quinn Booker. But how else can I sneak a Western in a blog devoted to mysteries? Why, by finding an example of the genres crossing over, that’s how!

William Colt Macdonald’s Six Shooter Showdown begins with ranch owner Alex Bishop making a hefty withdrawal of sorts—he is borrowing seven thousand dollars in gold from the bank, but since the bank hasn’t got that kind of cash lying around in the open, the banker asks his brother in the city to lend Bishop the money. Well, all goes smoothly—in fact, the lender, Gibson Haynes, is almost paranoid in the precautions he takes. He counts out the money himself, as does his secretary, as does Bishop. Then they roll it up into newspaper so it doesn’t clink and stuff it into a sack. Then, the sack is tied up and sealed with wax, with an imprint made by Bishop’s ring. From that moment on, the sack is never out of Bishop’s sight. On the train ride, he sits with his feet resting on the sack. So that by the time he reaches town, he’s got the same sack as he started off with.

Suddenly, gunshots sound! Some crazy hombre stages a hold-up, shooting Bishop twice in the arm and riding off with the sack of gold before being shot down by a witness, Matt Kaiser. He stumbles into an alleyway and dies there, with the sack of gold nearby. The sack is whisked off to the bank, where it is opened… and to the shock of everyone present, the sack hasn’t got gold anymore, but silver coins worth only a fraction of the original seven grand!

Enter Rainbow Rhodes and his trusty pard, Frosty Ferguson, who just happen to be riding by. Rainbow Rhodes is the Sherlock Holmes of the bunch, and I admire the way the Great Detective has been Westernised through his character. He can be tough when he has to be (which happens fairly frequently). He can wisecrack with the best of ‘em, right alongside the likes of Archie Goodwin. He can handle a six-shooter and as if that weren’t enough, he can beat anybody in that noble pastime of chess.

The events onto which Rainbow and Frosty have stumbled are intriguing… but to be perfectly honest, the Western elements beat out the mystery elements any day. Let’s start with the good stuff: it’s a good story. There are plenty of villains, a lot of nasty characters and double-crossers who need to be taught a lesson. There’s nobody approaching the sheer memorability of Liberty Valance, but then again, few villains do.

But the main reason the Western elements beat out the mystery elements is this: the mystery elements are terrible! The solution to the impossible substitution hasn’t got one ounce of inspiration behind it. It’s terribly mechanical and routine. The witnesses spend 200 pages saying “Goddamit man, I’m telling you all that I know!” before suddenly remembering “Hey, wait-a-minute, you’re right! I was forgetting something!” So you never get a chance to solve the “how” and “who” is obvious very early on. But not only is the solution unfair, it’s uninspired. There’s no cleverness behind this trick. It’s dull, dull, dull, and the two false solutions I came up with on my own time are far better than any solution, real or false, proposed by the author.

Although I don’t regret reading this book, I’m glad I read it via Interlibrary Loan, because I think I would have regretted purchasing it. It’s a solid and enjoyable Western, though apart from its interpretation of a Westernised Great Detective there’s little in it to make it truly memorable. With a decent mystery, it would have simply been an average story. But because the mystery is not very good or inspired, the overall quality of this book seems to me slightly sub-par. It’s not like there’s anything morally objectionable to the book, but there are definitely far better ones to read out there.

Patrick Ohl ©2013
The nineteen-year-old Patrick Ohl really ought to be studying for exams, but instead of that he writes reviews of books he reads on his blog, At the Scene of the Crime. In his spare time he conducts genetic experiments in his top-secret laboratory, hoping to create a creature as terrifying as the Giant Rat of Sumatra in a bid to take over the world. His hobbies include drinking tea and going outside to do a barbecue in -10°C weather.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sandi Update

She is doing okay. Blood work early tomorrow. Depending on how that turns out she will or will not have a doctor visit.

Amazon Buys Goodreads

In case you have not heard, Amazon has bought Goodreads. Having had issues at Shelfari after Amazon bought them which led to my closing my account, I am not thrilled at the news. And as one who has worked for small operations bought by giant competition, I know that what is promised at take over time is rarely in place later. Lots of good things are being promised in the announcement today.

Time will tell if it is true.

At this point, I am taking a wait and see approach. I am not one of those who is shocked/appalled/claiming the world is about to end folks. However, having recently had a review removed from MIND SLICES by Amazon with absolutely no meaningful information as to why and no recourse, I don't believe the argument put forth by some that this is going to help Amazon with their reviews problem. The same things that have been crictcized about some Goodreads reviews and reviewers happen on Amazon on a far larger scale.

I do agree with Chuck Wendig in his post today that opening fire on the Amazon monolith is easier than ever. I think some of that is self inflicted. I also think that there is a genuine fear that Amazon is slowly seizing control over every aspect of publishing. It does make one think.

Time will tell how this shakes out.

Market Call---StoneThreadPublishing Short Fiction Contest III

Courtesy of Jim Harrington .......

For this contest we’re seeking hard-nosed short stories. By hard-nosed,  we mean we want the rough stuff: detective, mystery, thriller,  psychological suspense,police procedural, etc. If it moves the reader to the edge of his chair or makes him shrink back in fear, send it. If it’s so absurd it makes us laugh,albeit nervously, send it. Can it have elements of romance or fantasy orscience fiction? Sure. Anything from  the hard-working gumshoe working homicide in Detroit or Chicago or New York to an interdimensional being tracking a bailjumper through time to your best female sleuth, you know, sleuthing and stuff. Please no gratuitous anything unless the use is obviously intentional, as in hyperbole. With that in mind, send us your best effort.

Contest Rules

·        There is no reading fee or entry fee for this contest.
·        Entry deadline, 30 April 2013 (may be extended if we do not receive enough entries).
·        Previously unpublished short fiction only.
·        1,000 to 10,000 words.
·        Email submission as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf attachment to contestATstonethreadpublishingDOTcom
·        Enter as many stories as you like, one story per email.
·        Name and email address must appear in upper left corner of the first page of the story.
·        Absolutely no present-tense narrative. (Of course, dialogue will be in present tense, as will the unspoken thoughts of characters.)


We will announce the winners by email to all entrants approximately one month after the contest closes. We will also post a list of winners on our website at

We will endeavor to correct any inadvertent errors in a submission (e.g., emailaddress missing from the manuscript) but entries that are  under or over the word-count limits will not be considered for a cash prize.


All winning entries and all honorable mentions will be included in an anthology to be published as an ebook by StoneThread Publishing.

First Place:                        $60plus one copy of the anthology in each eformat

Second Place:                    $50 plus one copy of the anthology in each eformat

Third Place:                       $40 plus one copy of the anthology in each eformat

Fourth Place:                     $30 plus one copy of the anthology in each eformat

Fifth Place:                        $20plus one copy of the anthology  in each eformat

Honorable Mentions:        Publication and one copy of the anthology in each eformat

These are the complete guidelines.

Jim Harrington
Jim's Fiction --
Six Questions For --
Now on Facebook--

Sandi and Social Security Disability Interview

Sandi had her three hour plus interview with a representative of MASH for Social Security Disability this morning. It only covered the last two years of her medical stuff as there is so much to document on that. They will pull the records going back another fifteen years.

This MASH thing is supposed to expedite the process for patients such as Sandi with advanced cancer and other serious conditions. Whether or not this actually saves time as sixty days have already passed since she first filed for all this through the doctor's office, as part of this expetdited process, remains to be seen.

All it seems to have done for sure, at this point, is exhaust her so she has gone back to bed for a nap.

Market Call---King's River Life

This comes from Lorie Ham of KRL......   

The hardest part of running a magazine is finding the right content that our readers want to read--if any of our readers out there have a suggestion for a mystery related article topic that you'd like to read about please let us know. We want to be more than just reviews and author interviews.
Also, we are looking for writers willing to write these articles. If you are interested, even in just a one time thing, let me know. We don't pay, but you do get a bio where you can promote your your website/blog and latest book.

You can check us out at

Senior News--March 2013 Column

For some time now I have been writing a monthly book review column for the Senior News newspaper. The Senior News is aimed to the 50 and over crowd with news relevant to seniors regarding various issues, humor pieces, and my review column among other things. The newspaper is a giveaway at doctor offices, stores, etc. and can be received by mail via a paid subscription. There are multiple editions across the state of Texas and therefore there is some fluctuation in content in each edition.

My column every month focuses on books of interest to the Texas audience. Therefore the books selected for the column, fiction or non-fiction, are written by Texas residents, feature Texans in some way, or would have some other connection to the Texas based readership. At least two books are covered each month in the short space I am given.

Below is/was my March 2013 column with the addition here of the relevant book covers……

Texas Fruit & Vegetable Gardening: Plant, Grow, and Eat the Best Edibles for Texas Gardens
Greg Grant
Cool Springs Press
ISBN# 978-1-59186-531-5
256 Pages

Gardening in Texas with the weather and landscape diversity isn’t easy, but this book is designed to assist any Texas Gardener in the state. It features both container gardening and landscape gardening making this a hand reference guide for both types of gardeners.

The 256 page book is broken into four sections titled “The Garden” (basic information) “Vegetable & Herbs,” “Fruits/ Nuts,” and a final area titled “Need More Help?” After the basic info for any gardener, there are the plants with information on when to plant it, where to plant it, how to take care of it, when you can pull it and eat it, etc. The information is detailed, written in easy to understand language, and extensive on the item discussed.

Published by “Cool Springs Press” Texas Fruit & Vegetable Gardening: Plant, Grow, and Eat the Best Edibles for Texas Gardens is a very well done 256 page gardening book written by Texas native Greg Grant. With its focus on any type of planting and year around opportunities, this is a book any Texan has to have on his or her shelf.

Eat More of What You Love: Over 200 Brand- New Recipes Low in Sugar, Fat, and Calories
Marlene Koch
Running Press Book Publishers
ISBN# 978-0-7624-4589-9
Hardback (also available as e-book)
352 Pages

Most cookbooks don’t offer nutritional information or suggestions on how to cut calories, fats, salt, etc., from the recipes. The books normally don’t have suggestions on how to make healthy versions of the dishes in the book. Eat More of What You Love: Over 200 Brand- New Recipes Low in Sugar, Fat, and Calories by Marlene Koch is not one of those kinds of cookbooks. This is a cookbook designed for those of us who do need to watch what we eat.

Filled with drinks, meals, snacks and more, this book features over 200 recipes and lots of variety. While some recipes do not have a picture of the dish, all have a list of ingredients and instructions and complete detailed information for one serving of each item. Where appropriate there is also nutritional information on the original version at the fast food place or restaurant further highlighting the huge difference between the cookbook version and the original. 
Written by a dietitian, Eat More of What You Love: Over 200 Brand- New Recipes Low in Sugar, Fat, and Calories is a cookbook designed to deliver taste and satisfying cravings. The recipes make this is a cookbook designed to make eating fun and satisfying and healthy too.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Sandi's insurance will not allow her to have a Pet Scan again until after April 8. We don't know why it is this way. That will be about the time for her to be back in the hospital again for the next round of chemo so we hope that maybe they can do the PET SCAN while she is hospitalized.

Sandi--Doctor Update

So far they seem pleased about her numbers overall. Blood sugar is still high, but both the potassium and magnesium are slightly up. Her blood counts continue to slide down again as they head for an expected bottoming out later this week. She has blood work Friday and depending on the results of that she may or may not have to see the doctor.

Next Tuesday would be another blood work and doctor visit deal. they also hope to do a PET SCAN to see if the chemo is doing anything at all to her cancer. they believe it should be doing something, based on the beating her system is taking this go around that is somewhat showing up the blood work, but they really need to see something on the PET SCAN. Hopefully that will be scheduled later today.

In the meantime, I get to lie down and rest for a little while and then get back in the car to eventually pick up Scott.

Review: "Duckweed--A Short Story" by George Wier

Originally published in 2010 in Lone Star Noir, this short story is now available as a stand alone e-book. Carlos McDaniel was minding his own business as the small lake southeast of College Station, Texas when the two men in business suits showed up. Carlos liked going to the family’s small place at the one acre lake
because it was an escape from reality for the real estate salesman. The family rarely came out there and he never had visitors. That is until that fateful summer day when the two men in suits showed up and he had no idea what they wanted with him.

Noir in tone with very little humor, Duckweed--A Short Story, is a bit different than that excellent Bill Travis series by this author. The usual hallmarks of a George Wier story, colorful Texas history coupled with plenty of action featuring numerous interesting characters, are present and in a volatile state waiting for the spark that will change so many lives. From the opening sentence the explosion is underway in a read that absolutely works on all levels.

Duckweed--A Short Story
George Wier
Flagstone Books
December 2011
Kindle E-book
Estimated Length--19 Pages

Material supplied by the author quite some time ago in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2013

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sandi Update

She is doing the same as she has been the last couple of days. Tomorrow she has blood work / doctor visit and that will give us a better idea of where she is on things.

Interesting Reading Elsewhere-- Ellen Larson/ Report: Create Space Webinar on Book Marketing

I saw recently where CreateSpace was offering a free webinar about marketing. Something I am interested in as with the way publishing is going these days I am not at all sure what the future holds. Then, with things here, I completely forgot about it. That is until I saw a message today from Ellen Larson who did make the appointment and was telling all.

You can read the deal for yourself here and you should. The piece is long, detailed, and very well worth your time. Make sure you read the comments too.

Contest Alert From Lesa Holstine

The latest contest she is running for your consideration. I have read GONE MISSING and it is mighty good as is the series.....

This week, I'm giving away thrillers by two bestselling authors, Lisa Gardner's Touch & Go, and Linda Castillo's Gone Missing. Details available on my blog,

Entries from the U.S. only, please.

Lesa Holstine

Interesting Reading Elsewhere--Matt Haig/ The Telegraph

Found out about this via Jason Pinter on Facebook. Author Matt Haig has a list of "30 things that very writer should know." The column is in THE TELEGRAPH and is well worth reading here.

Double Take Book Review: Lake Charles by Ed Lynskey

Every now and then things line up right and Barry and I have read and reviewed the same book. Such is the case here with LAKE CHARLES that I did back in August 2011 and Barry is doing now. When things line up that way readers get the “double take” review. Barry leads off and I follow with mine……    

LAKE CHARLES (2011) by Ed Lynskey

Reviewed by Barry Ergang

The year is 1979. Charged with the murder of Ashleigh Sizemore, with whom he spent a drug- and sex-driven night in a motel, awakening in a haze to find her dead in bed beside him, and at present out on bail and awaiting trial, Brendan Fishback wants nothing more than a relaxing Saturday of fishing on Lake Charles near his hometown of Umpire in Tennessee's Smoky Mountains. With him are his best friend and brother-in-law, Cobb Kuzawa, and his sister Edna, Cobb's wife. The couple has been separated for a while, and whether their marriage will survive is debatable. Brendan hopes that having them together on this outing might move them to reconcile.

The two young men take their bass boats out into the water, and Edna rides her jet ski. She and Cobb continue wrangling until she angrily takes off on the jet ski and roars out of sight. When she doesn't return, Brendan and Cobb begin to search for her. The search results in sudden death and more difficulties and complications for Brendan as he, with the added help of Cobb's Korean War-veteran father Jerry Kuzawa, a man whose attitude is ever shoot first and damn the consequences, tangles with or tries to dodge a variety of individuals. These include a pair of corrupt sheriff's deputies; the operators, enforcers and mules of a grand-scale marijuana-growing operation; DEA agents; a lawyer of dubious character; and Ralph Sizemore, the wealthy, vicious and vengeful father of Ashleigh who is both politically connected and a potential candidate for office. In dreams and reveries, Brendan converses with Ashleigh and gradually pieces together what happened in the motel room that led to her demise.    

Central to the story's action is the man-made Lake Charles, symbol of man-made corruption, violence, evil, darkness and death.

Before I start picking nits, I want to emphasize that I greatly enjoyed and can recommend this tense, hard-charging coming -of-age thriller to readers who aren't easily offended by occasional raw language.

Besides having written several other novels as well as short stories and non-fiction articles, Ed Lynskey's background includes poetry published in prestigious journals and mainstream literary magazines like The Atlantic Monthly. His sense of language shows in Lake Charles which, in an era when a minimalist approach to narrative seems to be the norm, has its own vivid, distinctive style. Lynskey long ago learned that well-chosen action verbs replace the need for too many adjectives and adverbs: "I staggered into the bathroom where its vent fan clanked away. My tingling fingers lay a lit match to a Marlboro. I inhaled, bagged the soothing nicotine, and exhaled smoke. I lived in a nightmare, branded as a killer, but now I was free on bail. The sheriff's deputies could jug me again at any time. My second, deeper puff calmed my jangled nerves. I knew organic causes explained why the dead girl ransacked my dreams."  

Sometimes, however, he gets carried away and certain word choices (taking poetic license?) might, as they did with me, yank the reader out of the story to consider them. Bagged in the preceding example, for instance. Another example is the smoker who doesn't merely light a cigarette, he Zippos it, the lighter's brand-name becoming a verb. Speaking of a former girlfriend named Salem, Brendan says: "But hell, I reasoned, I'd meet a galore of other Salems." Galore is an adjective, not a noun.

Reminiscent of some of the lesser pulp magazine fiction from the Thirties and Forties are overwrought passages like this: "Resentful blood heated by the new rage blasted into my face as I nodded."  Others are unintentionally silly: "As we crested the last knoll, the mansion's glittery windows vaulted into our eyes." The bizarre (and physically impossible) image this conjures up is not the risible effect the author wants, even though the reader understands what he's trying to convey. Then there are the clumsy sentences—e.g., "My walk headed to the spot where he stood." 

Nevertheless, I applaud Lynskey's lexical enthusiasm and his willingness to err on the side of overzealousness over blandness.

He has a couple of verbal quirks I can't help remarking on because they show up frequently throughout the novel and because they once again pulled me out of the story for a beat or two while I thought about them. The first is the use of a construction common enough in narrative and exposition but—at least in my experience—utterly uncommon in dialogue. I can't recall ever having seen it used in fictional dialogue, and I'm sure I've never heard it in real-life conversations. Yet throughout the novel a number of Lynskey's characters employ it frequently when speaking to others. Examples include the lawyer Herzog: "More of a hunting enthusiast, I shun the violence but savor the excitement of the chase"; Brendan: "Actually a little under the weather, Cobb is taking it easy"; Alicia: "Stacking on the pounds, I'll burst apart like a whacked piƱata" and "Strict Catholics, they don't hold with abortion and help girls like me." Unless this usage is a regionalism I'm simply unfamiliar with, I'd call (to alter one of the examples) "Cobb is actually under the weather and taking it easy" a more normal conversational construction. 

The other quirk is the use of to in sentences where of is more common: "The hypnotic thrum to the truck tires eating up the hardtop enticed me into the realm of dreams, an all too familiar terrain." "The mustiness to old books and lemon furniture polish hosed over us."

I was 32 in 1979 so my memory may be faulty, but I can't help thinking some of the expressions Lynskey uses here and there throughout the novel are anachronisms. At the very end of Chapter 21, Herzog says, "That's a no brainer." In one of Brendan's dream moments with Ashleigh, she asks if someone's van isn't "da bomb." In another, Brendan wonders if her mention of a motel is a "booty call." Jerry Kuzawa advises Brendan to "keep it real." Did any or all of these expressions enter the language in or prior to 1979?

In exchange for my objective review, I received a copy of the electronic edition of the novel from the author. I can't speak to the physical edition, but better proofreading is definitely in order for the e-book. There are a multitude of sentences throughout that lack necessary or contain  unnecessary commas. There are also a couple of lines of dialogue that are ungrammatical but shouldn't be because the speakers are not semi-literate individuals: "'How many jurors have Sizemore bought off like he did you?'" and "'I've never took one dime.'"  Ungrammatical narrative passages: "The screen of silver maples hid us rather than our parking at his gate protected by a guardhouse." "Flanked only by the canyons of unread books diverted us on to the kitchen."

There are several places where word choices are wrong or, at the very least, highly suspect—italics mine: "Room 7 at the Chewink Motel in Yellow Snake, Tennessee, sat primed to accommodate cheap rendezvouses and cheaper murders." ("Rendezvous" is both singular and plural.) "Anxiety over Edna's strife diverted me as my sore gaze traveled out to the state road." (What is a "sore" gaze?) "Kuzawa chuckled as an escapee sprung from the lobotomy ward." "Armpit sweat eked a slime trail down my ribcage." "The middle-aged clerk, still slender with prim breasts, seated at a walnut desk was dabbing a piece of sticky Scotch tape to pick the lint off her uniform blazer." (How exactly are breasts "prim"? There should be a comma after "desk," and "sticky" is needless when describing Scotch tape.) "Chatting with Alicia on the drought causing the brush-and-timber fires, Mr. Kuzawa pointed a finger at the cut-off swerving into a deserted, shady wayside." ("On" or "about"? Moreover, I don't think the hypens in "brush and timber" are necessary.)

Redundancies: "Soon after, we soon crested the treed mountains and, with my ears popping, swooped down into the next leafy draw." "Out Mr. Kuzawa's window, the cerise red streaks painted Wednesday's breathtaking sunrise on the indigo horizon." (Italics mine.)

I must now reiterate that despite the preceding cavils, I highly recommend Lake Charles as an exciting, absorbing, and compelling read. Fans of noir thrillers who aren't repelled  by the occasional use of street language will find it somewhat different from the run-of-the-mill, and worth their time.   

Barry Ergang ©2013
Barry Ergang has a lot of books for sale from his personal collection at He'll contribute 20% of the purchase price of the books to our monthly fund, so please have a look at his lists, which have recently been added to in several categories. For links to material he's written that's available online, and fiction that's available for e-readers, see Barry’s webpages.

Ed Lynskey

It is 1979 and Brendan Fishback isn't doing too well in the game called life. Waking up next to a dead woman can cause huge problems. The fact that she, Ashleigh Sizemore, was the daughter of the wealthy and powerfully connected, Ralph Sizemore is a huge problem. Word is old Ralph is going to be a Senator. The fact that drugs were planted in the room is a huge issue. The fact that Brendan keeps having strange dreams and visions where the dead teenage girl talks to him about her murder is a huge problem.

Despite the odds and the nice frame job against him, Brendan Fishback gets out on bail.  Besides avoiding the shyster slime ball lawyer his mother, Mama Jo, hired for him Brendan plans to go fishing with his brother in law and good friend, Cobb Kuzawa. A quiet couple of days at Lake Charles, a local man-made lake created by the Tennessee Valley Authority, will be as good a break as he can get these days.

Like Brandan, the best days seem to have gone by the lake as it and the surrounding area is in bad shape. If trying to detox from all the pot he has done isn't enough, the area flat out reeks and is depressing to look at. Back in the day, it used to be a happening place. Not only is nobody apparently around, but there is the stench of rot and decay at the marina area and large sections of the lake are fouled by algae scum. Not only do they have to get the bass boats through that, Brendon has to listen to his sister Edna and Cobb bicker.

Edna invited herself along and that had not been the plan. What been initially planned as a guy trip has mutated into a cranky family outing. Edna and Cobb fight constantly and both of them are driving him nuts. Clearly, Edna should have never married Cobb and certainly she should never have come on the trip. They are driving each other nuts too and before long Edna rockets away on her jet ski towards the dam area leaving the other two behind on the lake in their boats.

And she never comes back.

The search is soon on and leads Brendan and Cobb into a violent confrontation. The first of many confrontations proving that the lake area is not at all deserted like they thought. Brendan wants his sister back, alive and in one piece, and knows too well they can't get help from the corrupt local police. The trail of the missing Edna leads back and forth across the Lake Charles area and the Tennessee Mountains while Brendan soldiers on getting the answers he seeks. Some of them won't be pretty.

The front cover has a blurb quote from author Ed Gorman, "Lake Charles is going to scorch your soul . . . I loved it."  That pretty much sums up things very well for this very complicated book where everyone has a dark backstory that gradually comes out. A dark and twisted noir tale that starts with a bang and goes in many different ways by use of dreams and flashbacks and forward literary narrative before bringing the whole thing to a surprising conclusion.

Simply put, Lake Charles by Ed Lynskey is a mighty good book and one well worth your time.

Lake Charles
Ed Lynskey
Wildside Press LLC
June 2011
ISBN# 978-1-4344-3046-5
Paperback (also available as e-book)
192 Pages (includes one page of reference sources)

Material supplied by the author in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2011, 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sandi Sunday Evening

So far so good as today, while she has not been in the best of moods, she has not had a nap either or any vision issues. We won't know what her blood work shows until Tuesday as she has her blood work and a doctor appointment. Tuesday is going to be a very long and hard day for this and other reasons. I am not looking forward to it at all.

Sandi has been working on her blog off and on today. I don't know what she is doing or when it will go up, but keep an eye here and you can see it when it appears.

As I have begged before--Please, please consider donating if you can. Things are pretty grim and we do truly desperately need your help.

Twister Time Is Coming...

and some people like to chase them. Steve McCauley of WFFA TV Channel Eight posted the below picture and some information about this deal on Facebook a little while ago. This is at El Centro in Downtown Dallas Wednesday afternoon and is free and open to the public.

Interesting Reading Elsewhere--Glenn Walker interviews Dirk Manning

I am a little late with this as it came in this past week when other events were keeping me very occupied. Over at BIF BAM POP! Glenn Walker interviewed Dirk Manning the force behind WRITE OR WRONG column and much more. While this may primarily have interest for those who wish to create comics, there is plenty of good writing advice that applies to just about any writing project you are doing. You can read this very worthwhile interview here.

While you are there, surf around the site at  Always lots of good stuff.

Review: "The Drifter Detective: A Jack Laramie Beat" by Garnett Elliot

The Drifter Detective: A Jack Laramie Beat by Garnett Elliott is the latest release from Beat To A Pulp and is a very good one. The striking and well done cover only hints at the powerful tale inside as the read takes readers to West Texas and the world of private investigator Jack Laramie. After a clash with a local ranch hand as he closes a case, Jack is happy to get back in his Desoto and head out of Cross Plains, Texas. He doesn’t make it very far down the road before mechanical issues cause him to have to find a garage. His quest for a place to drink and a bed for the night in Clyde, Texas will create new problems in unexpected ways.

Grandson of the legendary US Marshall, Cash Laramie, Jack is a tough WWII vet who has seen the worst the world has to offer. These days he lives out of an empty horse trailer attached to his old Desoto and does the best he can to survive. This novelette of approximately 9k words is a hard hitting read that is excellent and very much well worth your time.

The Drifter Detective: A Jack Laramie Beat
Garnett Elliot
Beat To A Pulp
March 2013
Kindle E-Book
Approximately 37 Pages (includes author bio and ads for other books)

Material supplied by David Cranmer in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R Tipple ©2013

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sandi Update--Saturday Evening

She has had a better than expected day today. Yesterday evening her vision went very bad as happens with the chemo. Usually about four days or a little less after chemo Sandi loses her vision and everything gets blurry at distance and worsens until she can't even see her hands in her lap. That seemed to be happening rapidly late yesterday afternoon and evening and would have been way earlier than normal.

However, when she woke up late this morning, her vision was almost back to normal. She has had a couple of bouts of nausea again today. That also started early as it started yesterday morning. So far the meds have held it off. She is tired like she always is these days, but there have been no signs of the chills or fevers yet. No doubt they are coming, but, they thankfully have not happened yet.

So, all in all, Sandi is doing as well as can be expected. We still have no idea whether or not she has been approved for Texas Medicaid and have no idea how we are going to make my overdue car payment, the rent, or pay anything else including the IRS as we somehow owe 350 bucks when we finally file, as it is almost time to somehow pay for another round of her cancer drugs.

We are hanging in, trying not to freak or think, and hoping that things will somehow work themselves out. And this game really does suck as we have a much, much larger board in our minds.

Being an adult is grossly over rated in so many ways.

Interesting Reading Elsewhere---Chuck Wendig

Earlier today, after I had my latest Senior News column off to the editor and while I was taking a break by surfing around Facebook, I stumbled across this via my man Glenn Walker. Glenn put up the link and warned that while the advice was excellent one had to be aware of the mature language.

True enough. In his piece "25 Things I want To say To So-Called 'Aspiring" Writers" Chuck Wendig lays it out bluntly for all writers. The language is coarse, adult, and the kind of hard kick in the pants a lot of us need. I know I do these days.

You can read it for yourself here and remember the language is for adults. Nothing sugar coated in this piece.

Iinteresting Reading Elsewhere---Books Coilumn at NYTat

In an interesting piece titled "Orders Cut, as Publisher and Retailer Quarrel" reporter Leslie Kaufman chronicles an escalating battle between Simon and Schuster and Barnes and Noble. The piece is here.

Considering both sides have serious economic issues, this seems very stupid in my opinion. Once again the small authors will suffer while the big boys fight. The only outcome of this will be to encourage most authors to self publish through Amazon and other platforms.

Interesting Reading Elsewhere---Do Some Damage Blog

Always good stuff on this blog. Yesterday was no exception as Russel D. McLean considered what Hollywood has done withe the Parker character over the years. The results have not been pretty and are detailed in his piece "The Problem with Parker." You can read it yourself here.

FREE BOOK ALERT---Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Free Today for Kindle

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Free Today for Kindle: Glimpses: The Best Short Stories of Rick Hautala eBook: Rick Hautala, Joe Morey, Glenn Chadbourne: Kindle Store : One of 2012’s ...

Review: "The Beautiful Edible Garden: Design a Stylish Outdoor Space Using Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs" by Leslie Bennett and Stefani Bittner

You want to grow some food, but you don’t want your yard to look like a farm. Or maybe your Home Owner’s Association has rules on that and will freak if they can tell you planted some produce producing plants. Or maybe you have a difficult neighbor who has a tendency to report everything you do to the city inspectors. If you are looking for a way to mix in the edible plants with flowering things The Beautiful Edible Garden: Design a Stylish Outdoor Space Using Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs might be the book you.

Recently released in paperback by Ten Speed Press, the paperback book is broken into six chapters detailed with text and numerous photographs. Designed to take you through design, planting, harvesting, and maintaining your garden there is also information geared toward us apartment dwellers with patios and balcony’s. Colorful and edible is the idea here along with using whatever space you have to maximum effect.

Chapter One “Principles for Successful Edible Garden Design” opens the colorful 200 page book after a very brief introduction. The main theme here is to come up with something that has balance and complements the architecture of the home. By choosing the right height and color plant and considering the ideas of symmetry and asymmetry, among other design ideas, you can achieve something beautiful. The authors take readers visually and by text through these ideas as swell as show how to make the garden work year around with multiple harvests of the same produce. Various styles of landscaping among other topics are covered here.

Chapter Two “Creating Your Beautiful Edible Garden” takes the reader through the author’s five step process to create exactly what the chapter title suggests regardless of the space. They also tell you what to consider regarding your soil, light, water, and other issues.

Starting on page 67 you can start applying what you have learned in “Chapter Three:  The Beautiful Edible Front Yard.”  This is what the neighbors will see the most and there are ways to grow food without the issues noted above. Your only issue may be being sure to plant enough to share when harvest time comes around. Design elements are also a major focus of this chapter as is the problem of unwanted pets in the yard. Front yards can also be a good focal point for containers and they are discussed here.

Once you have done the deal in the front yard you move on to “Chapter Four: The Beautiful Edible Backyard.”  Working off the idea that the vegetable aspect of gardening should be a focal point of the overall landscape, the authors explain in detail how to make things beautiful, productive, and functional. Along the way they go through various options such as if you want to have a large family dining area separate away from the main house,  on a small patio, or something else.  What you can plant intermixed along a walkway and what really needs its own beds (garlic and potatoes) among other topics are covered.

Chapter Five comes into play where your space is limited. “Beautiful Window Boxes, Side Yards, and Other Small Spaces” begins on page 149 and opens with advice on container gardens. Once you gave the right container, you need the right edible plant for it. The authors make numerous detailed suggestions. Window boxes, side yards, and other small spaces are also extensively covered very well in this chapter.

“Chapter Six:  Planting and Maintaining Your Beautiful Edible Garden” is all about just that.  Improving your soil, getting a compost bin going (assuming you can have one), water issues, etc., are just a few of the issues covered here before more information on the various types of seeds and plants. Along with a list of toxic plants that you may wish to avoid if you have small children that put anything and everything in their mouths, there are suggestions regarding tools, planting techniques, mulch, pests, beneficial bugs, and more.

This isn’t just a how to grow book.  Interspersed throughout the book are instructions with pictures on how to assemble wreaths of all types, flower arrangements, and other colorful elements for your home. That carries over into the five page resource list that stars on page 200.  In addition to blog and book suggestions, there are recommendations for composting supplies and materials, nurseries, organic fertilizers, tools and furniture, and more.

The book concludes with a one page acknowledgement page and a one page author/contributor page and a four page index.

The Beautiful Edible Garden: Design a Stylish Outdoor Space Using Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs is one of those colorful gardening books that not only will inspire you to try to duplicate the results, it will show you how to do so in simple step by step detail. Colorful and informative, this paperback works on every level. All you have to do is get out there and get dirty.

The Beautiful Edible Garden: Design a Stylish Outdoor Space Using Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs
Leslie Bennett and Stefani Bittner
Flower Arrangements by Studio Choo
Photographs by David Fenton
Ten Speed Press (Crown Publishing)
February 2013
ISBN# 978-1-60774-233-3
Paperback (also available as e-book)
220 Pages

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

Kevin R. Tipple ©2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

Back Home--Finally

Blood work indicates everything is currently okay with Sandi. We got the normal reminders of what to watch for over the weekend and are scheduled to come do blood work and doctor visit on Tuesday.


I have not read a lot released from BEAT TO A PULP, but, everything I have read I have enjoyed. Not only is there a new novelette out titled THE DRIFTER DETECTIVE (about halfway through and mighty good) there is the short story "THAT DAMMED COYOTE HILL" by Heath Lowrence.

From the Amazon page --- He came to set vengeance down upon the heads of the wicked--but the strange town of Coyote Hill had its own kind of unearthly retribution. From Heath Lowrance, author of the cult novel The Bastard Hand, comes a weird Western tale of revenge, violence, and supernatural evil.

Now, for me, the fact that it is a Western is a major league plus. I do love Westerns. The deal with the supernatural is so not my thing as real life, especially the last couple of years, has provided plenty to be scared about. The same reason I will not watch any medical drama shows as when you are living it first hand one does not need that stuff.

Even though I wasn't sure this read was right for me, I went ahead and picked up a copy as the book is free at Amazon at Today is the last day to get your free copy so get one while you can.


FFB Review: "Of All Sad Words: A Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery" by Bill Crider

This is Friday and that means Friday’s Forgotten Books. Besides my entry below, you can find the complete list of always good reading over Patti’s blog.

Blacklin County, Texas is a fairly, quiet place most of the time which is how Sheriff Dan Rhodes likes it. His idea of a citizens' Sheriff's Academy had seemed like a good idea at the time in that it would teach folks about the department and generate some good publicity. Now he is getting flack over it from some, most notably county judge Jack Parry. Parry is convinced that some who went through the academy recently are vigilantes. There is more to his complaint but it boils down to the universal idea of politics and micromanagement.

Sheriff Dan Rhodes is finally saved from the county judge by a call about a trailer house explosion. The Crawford brothers, who have a bit of a reputation around the area, may have been inside when it blew. There had been accusations that the Crawford's were running a meth lab, something not uncommon these days in the East Texas woods. Rhodes never caught the Crawford's selling anything-not even Amway.

And while one brother has survived the blast, another has not and it quickly becomes clear that it was a murder. A murder that in the minds of some was caused by politics. Murder, that in the eyes of some others was caused by alleged drug dealing. No matter the cause, Sheriff Dan Rhodes intends to find out and isn't gong to let small town politics over a variety of matters stand in his way.

I'm ashamed to admit that this book, which was recommended to me by a friend, is my first Bill Crider novel. It puts me in the mind of the J. W. Jackson series penned by the late and missed Philip R. Craig. True, Sheriff Rhodes doesn't offer any recipes and is clearly not set anywhere near Martha's Vineyard. But, there is that same slow comfortable way of story telling that gradually spins the novel out while detailing the real world characters that live in the Dan Rhodes world. Instead of starting with an abrupt bang, this is the kind of book that slowly begins and allows the reader to get to know the people just a little bit before presenting the problem.

The result is a 265 page read featuring a steady hero who knows his limitations. This is a character, as well as many of the minor characters, that have universal appeal on one hand and are clearly Texan on the other. Dogged in his pursuit of justice Sheriff Dan Rhodes follows a trail with grace under pressure and a reserved calmness most of the time. Along the way, he deals with a variety of events and people from all walks of life who may or may not have his best interests at heart.

And he hooked a new reader.

Of All Sad Words: A Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery
Bill Crider
Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin's Press)
February 2008
ISBN #0-312-34810-X
265 Pages

Review copy provided by the Plano Texas Public Library System

Kevin R. Tipple © 2008, 2013