Friday, February 28, 2014

February 2014 Reads and Reviews

This has been a very hard month around here on so many levels. As you can see below there is not much to the “February 2014 Reads and Reviews.”  If it wasn’t for Barry and Patrick there wouldn’t be much of anything at all review wise on the blog. Thanks again to both for their efforts.

Gracie The Undercover Beagle and Her Sidekick Boston Blackie: The Egg Thief (A Little Book for Little Readers) by Douglas Quinn

REEL STUFF: A LESSOR AND MOORE MYSTERY by Don Bruns

Charles and Hero: Isle of Mists by Douglas Quinn

The Last Refuge by Chris Knopf (FFB Review)

Baby Shark’s Grass Widow Legacy by Robert Fate

Thuglit: Issue Nine Edited by Todd Robinson

The Tattoo Murder Case by Akimitsu Takagi (FFB Review by Patrick Ohl)
Nightzone: The Posadas County Mysteries by Steven F. Havill
The Corpse In The Car by John Rhode (FFB Review by Patrick Ohl)
KIRINYAGA: A FABLE OF UTOPIA by Mike Resnick (FFB Review by Barry Ergang)

Hopefully, March will be a better month……

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: PimPage: An Occasional Feature in Which I Call Att...

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: PimPage: An Occasional Feature in Which I Call Att...: Amazon.com: Get Busy Dying (Roy Ballard Mysteries) eBook: Ben Rehder: Kindle Store : Everyone thinks Boz Gentry died in a fiery traffic ac...

Bruce DeSilva is Seriously Annoyed

Can't say I blame him considering what is going on with Coffee House Press. Details here.

Interesting Reading Elsewhere--- Storyville: Editor Interviews—Needle, Thuglit, and The Big Click

Well worth reading here as what works and what doesn't for these publications among other topics are covered. Get educated and get writing.

Lesa's Latest Contest

As posted elsewhere earlier today....

This week, giving away mysteries set in England, Deborah Crombie's The Sound of Broken Glass and Sam Thomas' The Harlot's Tale. Details on my blog, http://www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

Lesa Holstine  

FFB Review: "KIRINYAGA: A FABLE OF UTOPIA" by Mike Resnick --Reviewed by Barry Ergang

Back before he started contributing reviews for Friday’s Forgetten Books, Barry did a number of reviews for this blog. His review of KIRINYAGA: A FABLE OF UTOPIA by Mike Resnick was one of those reviews. It runs again today as part of FFB. Make sure you check out the list here of other great reads when it comes out later today.


KIRINYAGA: A FABLE OF UTOPIA by Mike Resnick
reviewed by Barry Ergang


Among all of the highly readable, intelligent and well-crafted novels Mike Resnick has written, I have three favorites: Walpurgis III, The Dark Lady, and the book under consideration here: Kirinyaga: A Fable of Utopia (Del Rey/Ballantine, 1998).

Although Resnick considers it a novel, it developed from a short story he was asked to write by Orson Scott Card for an anthology about future Utopian societies. “Because of my love for Africa,” Resnick explains in an afterword, “and my knowledge of East Africa in particular, I chose to write about a Kikuyu Utopia. The story was ‘Kirinyaga,’ and I handed it to Scott at the 1987 World Science Fiction Convention in Brighton, England, where I stopped for a few days on my way down to Kenya for another safari....

“...Even before Scott let me know he was buying it, I took my Kenya safari--and a strange thing happened. Maybe it was because I had just written ‘Kirinyaga’ a couple of weeks earlier and it was still fresh in my mind, maybe it was because my subconscious is a lot smarter than my conscious mind, but whatever the reason, I realized that ‘Kirinyaga’ was not a stand-alone story, but rather the first chapter in a book....

“I decided to write the book a chapter at a time, and to sell each chapter as a short story...but never to lose sight of the fact that these stories were really chapters in a novel, which, when completed, would build to a climax as a novel does, and have a coda after the climax, as so many of my own novels do.”

Spanning the period from 2123 to 2137, Kirinyaga is narrated by Koriba, a man of Kikuyu descent who was educated at Cambridge and Yale, who reveres what Kenya and his culture was and has come to reject what it has become:

“In the beginning, Ngai lived alone atop the mountain called Kirinyaga. In the fullness of time He created three sons, who became the fathers of the Maasai, the Kamba, and the Kikuyu races, and to each son He offered a spear, a bow, and a digging stick. The Maasai chose the spear, and was told to tend herds on the vast savannah. The Kamba chose the bow, and was sent to the dense forests to hunt for game. But Gikuyu, the first Kikuyu, knew that Ngai loved the earth and the seasons, and chose the digging stick. To reward him for this Ngai not only taught him the secrets of the seed and the harvest, but gave him Kirinyaga, with its holy fig tree and rich lands.

“The sons and daughters of Gikuyu remained on Kirinyaga until the white man came and took their lands away, and even when the white man had been banished they did not return, but chose to remain in the cities, wearing Western clothes and using Western machines and living Western lives. Even I, who am a mundumugu--a witch doctor--was born in the city. I have never seen the lion or the elephant or the rhinoceros, for all of them were extinct before my birth; nor have I seen Kirinyaga as Ngai meant it to be seen, for a bustling, overcrowded city of three million inhabitants covers its slopes, every year approaching closer and closer to Ngai’s throne at the summit. Even the Kikuyu have forgotten its true name, and now know it only as Mount Kenya.”


Along with a group of like-minded people, Koriba leaves Earth to live on a chartered, terraformed planetoid called Kirinyaga, where he reverts to the old ways of the Kikuyu. As their mundumugu, he’s the repository of the collected wisdom and customs of the tribe, living alone and apart from the rest but participating daily in their lives, the most feared and venerated among them--feared even by Koinnage, the paramount chief. Only Koriba possesses the computer that allows him to communicate with Maintenance, which can change the orbit of Kirinyaga to maintain or alter climatic conditions. Koriba uses this facility, unknown to his people, to his own advantage, bringing rain or drought as he sees fit, often to fulfill his own prophecies and prayers to Ngai.

Each chapter presents Koriba with a new problem that threatens the Utopia he and the others have created. Invoking tribal laws with a fanatical stringency, he tries to find solutions. Not all of the solutions are happy ones, but Koriba is determined to prevent any change that will corrupt tradition, even if it means bettering his people’s lot--by what he sees as European standards. Ultimately he is forced to realize that change in a society is inevitable, that inherent in the concept of Utopia is stasis and stagnation, and that one man’s idea of perfection can be another’s agony. Resnick’s artistry lies in portraying Koriba’s fanaticism so that the reader is simultaneously repelled by and sympathetic to it. He and the other characters, and the problems that befall them because of the society they’ve created, will resonate in the reader’s mind long after the book has been put down.

Easily Mike Resnick’s finest work, Kirinyaga is, to date, the most honored book in the history of science fiction. Read it, and you’ll understand why.


Originally published in Maelstrom, Vol. II, Issue 2, 1999

Barry Ergang ©2007, 2014

PUN-ishing Tales: The Stuff That Groans Are Made On, Stuffed Shirt, and Dances of the Disaffected are just some of Barry Ergang's e-books available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

WELCOME TO HELL ~ by Glenn Walker: Godzilla!

WELCOME TO HELL ~ by Glenn Walker: Godzilla!: My friends over at Biff Bam Pop! debuted this earlier today. You can check that out here . Godzilla is back, baby! I cannot wa...

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: "Death By Accident" Finally Available as an e-Book!

I have said before you can't go wring with a Bill Crider book.....


Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Finally Available as an e-Book!: Amazon.com: Death By Accident (Dan Rhodes Mysteries) eBook: Bill Crider: Kindle Store : Texas Sheriff Dan Rhodes' cases usually concern ...


If you are inclined you can check out my review from five years ago here.



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Market Closed: Epinions

Back in July 2002 I started writing reviews on Epinions. In fact, I started posting reviews there before I started this blog. Over the years, I slowly built a following while making a lot of social connections. Over many months I started making a few dollars here and there as the site went through some ups and downs.

Over the years I was told by publishers, authors, agents, and others in the industry not to waste my time putting my reviews of works they were involved with up on Epinions because the site was so difficult to search. Books were the forgotten bastard child of the site and it showed. When Google changed their systems to lower the ratings of content mills, such as Associated Content (now Yahoo Voices) and Demand Studios, among others, Epinions took a real hit though it was not a content mill. It was collateral damage.

Awhile back Epinions was bought by eBay and things began to change. Just last fall before the holiday season they disabled the functionality needed for me to request to add books that were not already in their system. I always had to request titles be added over the years, but it got way worse last year. About 90 percent of the books I reviewed, whether they were self published or New York Times bestsellers, were not in the system and had to be added for me to be able to write about them there.

One never has that issue at Amazon.

Not only did they remove that functionality, they also changed things so that no one could add content if it was not tied into the eBay catalog. If the eBay catalog did not list the item it could be be added by any one for any reason. Millions of additional products that were promised for those of us still hanging in at the site to write on never materialized. Because of the actions by management the critical holiday season was totally missed. Instead of fixing glaringly obvious problems there seemed to be a management down attitude of blaming the membership--especially those of us who had been around a very long time and had standards in terms of review quality and expectations regarding site issues.

As the new year dawned they made additional changes which diminished the quality of the reviews. Despite repeated promises by those in charge to fix the search capability for the site, they did  absolutely nothing. The result was a steadily worsening problem as so much new and old did not exist in the database. While I could have written on about ant toothpaste, I could not write on Thuglit: Issue Nine, Baby Sharks Grass Widow Legacy, Archie Solves The Case and many, many other books.

Reviewing books is what I do. I don't review baking mix, toothpaste, deodorant, or shampoo.

Management has finally made their gross incompetence publicly and without question known tonight as they have officially killed the site. I received the below in my e-mail a little while ago and it is also now posted on the site. Epinions is dead and as often the case its demise was solely caused by ongoing managerial stupidity.




Dear Epinions Member,

After a challenging 2013, Epinions will no longer maintain community related operations of its website. We are proud that we were able to serve as a facilitator of shared experiences and thoughtful dialogue over the past 15 years. However, several obstacles, such as declining participation, have deeply affected our business and forced us to make this difficult decision.

We would like to thank each of you for your time and dedication. You have supported us through the good times and the bad. Our community's passion and uniqueness has made our website truly special.

As of February 25, 2014, we will begin to disable the Epinions community features.

Here's what it means for the Epinions community:

    • No new content will be added to the Epinions website as of February 25, 2014.
    • The ability to write a review, comment, and rate will be disabled on February 25, 2014.
    • The last Income Share payment will be issued on March 6, 2014 via PayPal.
    • The option to export all of your Epinions reviews will be made available to you.
    • You will still be able to login to your Epinions account to check your balance and use the Epinions message boards until March 25, 2014.
After March 25, 2014, all Epinions community features will be removed and/or disabled from the Epinions website.

This was not an easy decision to make and we thank you all for your contributions to Epinions. While we must change, we truly hope your desire to connect, write reviews and share experiences with one another stays alive and well.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to reference our FAQ or contact us.

Sincerely,

The Epinions Team


Important Dates:
• March 6, 2014 - February Income Share Payout, Sweepstakes Payouts, and an additional Bonus Payout.
• March 25, 2014 - All Epinions community features removed and login to Epinions site disabled.

Via The Passive Voice--Autharium – An Update

 Interesting update.....

Autharium – An Update

Rough Edges: The Girls of Bunker Pines - Garnett Elliott

 Read this last week while at the hospital with Sandi and have not yet written my review. Suffice it to say for now that it is a good one. So is the review....

Rough Edges: The Girls of Bunker Pines - Garnett Elliott: THE GIRLS OF BUNKER PINES is the third adventure of Jack Laramie, the Drifter Detective, in what has become one of my favorite current pr...

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sandi Update

So far so good as there seems to have been no allergic reaction to the IVIG that she got last Friday. It took until Sunday afternoon before the other drugs they gave her before the deal seemed to clear her system. Up to that point she had been very sleepy and rather out of it. By late Sunday afternoon she suddenly seemed better and more like her normal self.

Or, what is normal these days. Far cry from the old normal, but we take what we can get now as long as we can.

Crime Review-- New issue of Crime Review

As posted elsewhere earlier today....

In our new edition of Crime Review (*www.crimereview.co.uk
*) this week we have sixteen new
reviews (*http://crimereview.co.uk/latest_reviews.php
*), together with Gunnar
Staalesen in the Countdown interview hot seat:
(*http://crimereview.co.uk/page.php/interview/705
*)

 Reviews this week are:

ALL I DID WAS SHOOT MY MAN by Walter Mosley reviewed by John Cleal

Private investigator Leonid McGill helped frame an innocent woman for a
huge robbery at an insurance company. When he regrets his actions and
decides to free her from prison, he sets in motion events which threaten
her, himself and his family.

THE SECRETS OF LIFE AND DEATH by Rebecca Alexander reviewed by Laura Parkin

1585 - Dr John Dee and his assistant Edward Kelley attempt to find a cure
for the Countess Bathory's terrible illness...only to discover a dark
secret. 2013 - Jackdaw Hammond is forced to reveal who she really is to
police consultant Felix Guichard after several girls' bodies are found
covered in occult symbols, and she was the last person to see them alive.

A DEATH IN VALENCIA by Jason Webster reviewed by Chris Roberts

Chief Inspector Max Camera is pulled from the murder of a local
restaurateur when the owner of an abortion clinic is kidnapped.

DARK DAWN by Matt McGuire reviewed by John Cleal

A teenager is found kneecapped and killed in a luxury development on
Belfast's River Lagan. Acting DS John O'Neill faces a wall of silence,
indifference and a hostile senior officer as he enters the world of
violence, drug dealing and corruption that is post-Troubles Belfast.

THE CASE OF THE LOVE COMMANDOS by Tarquin Hall reviewed by Sylvia Wilson

Vish Puri helps the Love Commandos to find a missing untouchable boy who is
in love with a high caste girl. In the process, he investigates the murder
of the boy's mother and uncovers the exploitation of illiterate villagers
by an international DNA company and a tale of political corruption at the
highest level.

STAY ALIVE by Simon Kernick reviewed by Linda Wilson

A family canoeing trip leads to terror for teenager Jess Grainger when she
ends up helping a mysterious woman escape from the men with guns who are
clearly trying to kill her. Jess soon discovers that they'll kill anyone
who gets in their way.

BLACK FRIDAYS by Michael Sears reviewed by Arnold Taylor

Jason Stafford, an outstanding Wall Street trader, has just been released
from prison, having been found guilty of fixing the books. He is
unemployable in his former capacity and is grateful when the head of an
investment firm asks him to look into problems caused by a trader who has
recently died.

JUST ONE EVIL ACT by Elizabeth George reviewed by Sylvia Maughan

One of DS Barbara Haver's neighbours, a child, is abducted and her mother
is also missing. The child's father takes extreme measures to try to
retrieve her while Barbara lets her emotions control her actions.

SOMEONE ELSE'S SKIN by Sarah Hilary reviewed by Sharon Wheeler

DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake are called to a women's refuge where a man
has been stabbed. What they find turns all their expectations upside down
as the violence escalates.

THE DEAD by Howard Lynsky reviewed by John Cleal

Gang boss David Blake is back on top until the arrest of his accountant for
child murder sparks a chain of events which put Blake's empire - and life -
at risk.

HIGH ROLLERS by Jack Bowman reviewed by Linda Wilson

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Tom Patrick is first on
the scene when the engine of an aircraft on the ground at Los Angeles
airport tears itself apart killing three men and injuring six more. And
it's not the only 737 that has problems as the death toll starts to rise.

BARCELONA SHADOWS by Marc Pastor reviewed by Chris Roberts

In early 20th century Barcelona, Inspectors Corvo and Malsano seek the
monster abducting children for the most grisly of purposes.

THE TOY TAKER by Luke Delaney reviewed by Linda Wilson

Someone is taking children from the safety of their houses in the middle of
the night, getting in through locked doors while their parents are
sleeping. It's DI Sean Corrigan's job to find them.

SACRIFICE by Will Jordan reviewed by Linda Wilson

Ryan Drake and his Shepherd team specialize in finding people and bringing
them back. This time they're off to Afghanistan to bring back a senior CIA
operative held by insurgents.

PENANCE by Dan O'Shea reviewed by John Cleal

When an elderly woman is shot dead by a sniper after leaving the
confessional, Chicago detective John Lynch is assigned to investigate and
enters a murky world of political ambition and double cross.

BAGDAD CENTRAL by Elliott Colla reviewed by Chris Roberts

In post-invasion Baghdad, former police inspector Khafaji is seized by the
Americans and pressed into unwilling service.


Best wishes

Sharon
 

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Update on Ebooks in Libraries

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Update on Ebooks in Libraries: JOAN REEVES aka SlingWords: Update on Ebooks in Libraries

RTE Update-- New at RTE this week

As posted elsewhere yesterday....

At RTE this week we have

Fifteen new crime fiction reviews:
http://www.reviewingtheevidence.com

Lou Allin in the 'Sixty seconds with . . .' interview hot seat:

http://www.reviewingtheevidence.com/interviews.html?id=176

New reviews this week:

TITLE                    AUTHOR                REVIEWER

THE HEADMASTER’S WIFE   Thomas Christopher Greene  Sharon Mensing
This is the story of how it happens that the headmaster of a prestigious boarding school is found wandering naked through Central Park and what actually happened to his wife.

THE FIRE DANCE     Helene Tursten    Barbara Fister       
When a dancer is found dead in a burned building, Inspector Irene Huss wonders if the death may be linked to a fire that killed the woman's stepfather years earlier

A KILLING OF ANGELS    Kate Rhodes        P D Crumbaker   
London psychologist Alice Quentin teams up with detective Don Burns once more as they race to stop a serial killer at  work in London’s financial district

RUNNER    Patrick Lee        Anne Corey       
Sam Dryden, ex-special forces, is on the run--he has become the target of a far-reaching government conspiracy as he tries to save a young girl with special powers.

WORTHY BROWN'S DAUGHTER    Phillip Margolin    Yvonne Klein       
Matthew Penny, a young lawyer newly arrived in Portland, Oregon in 1860, defends an ex-slave accused of killing his former owner in a trial held in an atmosphere of racial prejudice and corruption.

MURDER IN THE AFTERNOON    Frances Brody    Meredith Frazier   
Kate Shackleton, Jim Sykes, and Marcus Charles are called in to investigate a missing - possibly murdered - man and find that the mystery is closely tied to Kate herself.

LIFE AFTER LIFE (Audio)    Kate Atkinson        Lourdes Venard   
Ursula Todd, born in 1910, lives her life many times over, each time a bit differently

A KILLING IN THE HILLS (audio)  Julia Keller    Karla Jay   
Acker's Gap, WV, prosecuting attorney Bell Elkins has her hands full finding the murderer of three men in the local diner while she tries to hold back drug traffic.

ALMOST CRIMINAL    E. R. Brown    Jim Napier       
A seventeen-year-old boy is drawn into the world of illicit drugs to support his family, and before long he must find a way to protect himself and his family from conflicts he only dimly understands

THE AMAZING HARVEY     Don Passman    Deb Shoss       
Title character Harvey Kendall needs all his professional magician's skills to solve a murder when all the evidence points to him.

THE RAVEN'S EYE    Barry Maitland    Ben Neal   
Brock & Kolla battle bureaucratic resistance when investigating the death of a young woman who was living under an assumed identity.

DEEP WINTER    Samuel W. Gailey    Sharon Mensing   
A mentally challenged man is framed for a murder, and many more deaths occur before things get sorted out.

NIGHT TERRORS    Dennis Palumbo    Anne Corey       
Dan Rinaldi, a psychotherapist who consults on criminal investigations, is drawn into finding the perpetrator of a series of related murders as well as preventing further killings, risking his own life while doing so .

WHERE MONSTERS DWELL    Jørgen Brekke        Barbara Fister   
When a woman is gruesomely murdered in a university library in Trondheim, Norway and a rare book is stolen, it echoes a crime in the US.

THE EXECUTION    Dick Wolf    Christine Zibas           
The second in the series finds Jeremy Fisk having to join forces with Mexican police as a Mexican drug cartel threatens to bring the drug war to New York City and the UN.


We post more than 900 new reviews a year -- all of them are archived on the site -- as well as a new interview with a top author every issue.

Yvonne Klein
Editor: ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com

Do Some Damage: Quick Notes: Sin-Crazed Psycho Killer, Dead Aim, H...

Do Some Damage: Quick Notes: Sin-Crazed Psycho Killer, Dead Aim, H...: Here's another batch of novella reviews: Sin-Crazed Psycho Killer! Dive! Dive! Dive! by Anthony Neil Smith I've read a coupl...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Edward A. Grainger's Latest Crimminal Element Column

"Max Brand: The Shakespeare of the Western Range" can be found here.

Somebody Else To Read-- Brian Triplett

If you have not been reading Brian's reviews, you should be. He is writing for the Examiner and you can read him here.  GO!

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Dave Zeltserman Interview

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Dave Zeltserman Interview: Dave Zeltserman - LitVote : David Zeltserman lives in the Boston area with his wife, Judy, and is an award winning crime, horror and mystery...

Sample Sunday: Bruce DeSilva

Another Sunday and another author whom I am honored to know and be a part of things here. Author of Rogue Island (reviewed here) and Cliff Walk (reviewed here) I was amazed and absolutely thrilled when he wanted to contribute something in advance of his new novel Providence Rag currently scheduled for release on March 11. Instead of the normal sample from a book, author Bruce DeSilva wanted to do something a little different. I was not about to say no.




Like most newspaper professionals these days, Liam Mulligan, a fictional investigative reporter at The Providence Dispatch, fears the future. 


The paper’s longtime-owners, a group of wealthy Rhode Island families who have controlled the Dispatch since the Civil War, always ran the place as a public service. For decades, they held out against the nationwide trend of local owners selling out to chains, and Mulligan has been grateful for that. But now, after too many years of declining circulation and advertising, the owners have reluctantly put the paper on the market. And the only suitor is a bottom-feeding media conglomerate that cares about nothing but the bottom line.


Mulligan is a wisecracking tough guy. Not much phases him. But he shudders when he thinks about what’s coming. For him, investigative reporting has always been a calling—like the priesthood but without the sex. But he’s in his forties now, and he knows his days as a newspaperman are numbered. He doubts he could ever be any good at anything else.


For where he sits, other metropolitan newspapers aren’t much of an option. Nearly all of them, hemorrhaging readers and revenue, have become mere shells of the vital institutions they once were. And few of them are hiring. They are laying people off. 


Television news and online news websites don’t look like much of an option either. Network television news departments, never all that great to begin with, have shriveled into irrelevance. Twenty-four-hour cable news channels spew endless loops of trivial celebrity gossip, provide soap boxes for blowhards, and poison the public discourse with partisan distortions and misinformation. And the handful of internet news websites striving to be more than propaganda organs for the left and right lack the revenue streams required to cover the news with breadth and depth. 


Mulligan, the protagonist of my Edgar Award-winning series of hardboiled crime novels, sees nothing on the horizon to replace newspapers as honest brokers of information. He’s appalled at how much damage their demise is doing to the American democracy.


If I were younger, I’d be in the same fix Mulligan is in. In recent years, I grew weary of being part of a rear-guard action and dispirited over the inevitability of the journalism’s decline. But I fought the good fight. The last major project I oversaw as a senior Associated Press editor, an investigative series about the exploitation of child gold miners in Africa, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. But five years ago, when the AP offered an early retirement package—part of its own retrenchment in the face of economic pressures—I decided it was time for a second act.


I’m a full-time novelist now, and the third novel in my Mulligan crime series, Providence Rag, will be published in hardcover and e-book editions on March 11.  The book has already received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Booklist


In each Mulligan novel, my protagonist shows his grit by investigating crime and corruption in the state of his birth. In Rogue Island, he investigates an arson spree that is destroying the working class Providence, R.I., neighborhood where he was raised. In Cliff Walk, he investigates political corruption that has allowed the state’s rampant sex trade to thrive. And in Providence Rag, he and the entire state struggle with the ethical dilemma of what to do about a psychopath who is being held in prison on phony charges because he is too dangerous to be set loose. 


I want my novels to be enjoyed as suspenseful entertainment—but they are also about something more. It is my hope that as readers follow the skill and dedication with which Mulligan pursues the truth under increasingly difficult circumstances, they will gain a greater appreciation for what all of us are losing as newspapers fade into history.


Bruce DeSilva ©2014
Bruce DeSilva grew up in a tiny Massachusetts mill town where the mill closed when he was ten. He had an austere childhood bereft of iPods, X-Boxes, and all the other cool stuff that hadn’t been invented yet. I this parochial little town, metaphors and alliteration were also in short supply. Nevertheless, his crime fiction has won the Edgar and Macavity Awards; has been listed as a finalist for the Shamus, Anthony, and Barry Awards; and has been published in ten foreign languages. His short stories have appeared in Akashic Press's award-winning noir anthologies. He has reviewed books for The New York Times Sunday Book Review and Publishers Weekly, and his reviews for The Associated Press have appeared in hundreds of other publications. Previously, he was a journalist for forty years, most recently as writing coach world-wide for AP, editing stories that won nearly every major journalism prize including the Pulitzer. He and his wife, the poet Patricia Smith, live in New Jersey with two enormous dogs named Brady and Rondo.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

I Was Amused

 You might be too....

Mystery Fanfare: Cartoon of the Day: No comment

Ed Gorman's blog: REALLY EXTRAORDINARY PIECE BY DAVE ZELTSERMAN ON TOUCH OF EVIL

More good reading elsewhere and not just this particular piece...

Ed Gorman's blog: REALLY EXTRAORDINARY PIECE BY DAVE ZELTSERMAN ON TOUCH OF EVIL

KRL THIS WEEK-- KRL is packed with reviews & giveaways this week, plus Dick Francis, a mystery short story & the latest Coming Attractions!

As posted elsewhere earlier today.....

Up this morning in Kings River Life Magazine reviews & giveaways of another fun group of Penguin mystery authors-"A Fatal Slip": A Sweet Nothing’s Lingerie Mystery by Meg London "A Tale of Two Biddies": A League of Literary Ladies Mystery by Kylie Logan, "A Tough Nut to Kill": A Nut House Mystery by Elizabeth Lee, "Beewitched": A Queen Bee Mystery by Hannah Reed, and "Poison at the PTA" by Laura Alden http://kingsriverlife.com/02/22/more-february-penguin-mystery-fun/

Also this morning, the latest Coming Attractions column by Sunny Frazier-another one introducing authors who are going to Calamari Crime - Left Coast Crime 2014 http://kingsriverlife.com/02/22/coming-attractions-countdown-to-left-coast-crime-part-3/

We also have this morning an article by Brenda Williamson about mystery author Dick Francis http://kingsriverlife.com/02/22/dick-francis-more-than-just-horses/

Also there is a review & giveaway of "Castle Rock" by Carolyn Hart http://kingsriverlife.com/02/22/castle-rock-by-carolyn-hart/

And we also have a review & giveaway of the latest mystery novel by Frederick Ramsay, "Drowning Barbie", along with a fun interview with Frederick http://kingsriverlife.com/02/22/drowning-barbie-by-frederick-ramsay/

Also, we have a mystery short story by Paul D. Marks http://kingsriverlife.com/02/22/superstition-mystery-short-story/

And for those like me who also love fantasy, we have a review & giveaway of  "Wakeworld" by Kerry Schafer kingsriverlife.com/02/22/wakeworld-by-kerry-schafer/

And "The Sharpest Blade" by Sandy Williams over on KRL Lite http://kingsriverlife.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-sharpest-blade-by-sandy-williams.html

As always, you can find these and much more by going to our home page and scrolling down http://KingsRiverLife.com
Happy reading,
Lorie

--
KRL is now selling advertising & we have special discounts for
mystery authors & bookstores! Ask me about it!
Mystery section in Kings River Life http://KingsRiverLife.com
Check out my own blog at http://mysteryratscloset.blogspot.com/

Via The Passive Voice--- Autharium – The Cover-up

Another important warning that came through yesterday while I was away.....

Autharium – The Cover-up

Lesa's Latest Contest

As posted elsewhere yesterday.....

Just completed a cozy mystery giveaway, and this week I'm giving away two mysteries that are grittier, D.E. Johnson's Detroit Shuffle and Rick Gavin's Nowhere Nice. Details on my blog at http://www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com. Entries from the U.S. only, please.


Lesa Holstine 

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Do You Have Your Copy?

 Go get a copy...good book. Period.

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Do You Have Your Copy?: My book is being featured on Saturday February 22nd 2014 at eBookSoda, a new readers' site where they'll send you ebook recommendat...

The "Double Take Review" of this title by Barry and myself can be found here.

Giant Rats Are Always A Problem

So are nutria for that matter. We have a colony somewhere round here that comes up the creek to feed and do whatever it is they do in the dark hours of the night.

More importantly, Randy Johnson reviews Sherlock Holmes and The Giant Rat of Sumatra by Paul D. Gilbert here.

Writer Beware®: The Blog: Alert: Jane Dowary Agency

 Starting the day with an important warning to writers and others everywhere.....

Writer Beware®: The Blog: Alert: Jane Dowary Agency

Friday, February 21, 2014

Immune System Infusion Completed

Minutes ago we arrived back home and Sandi is already back to sleep as today has not been an easy one. After blood work this morning, they gave her the first dose of IVIG. This is supposed to stabilize her immune system and will be given monthly until the summer. At that point, a session will be skipped and her numbers checked. She tolerated the infusion fairly well and those in charge seemed happy about that.

What was not good news was the fact that her kidney function seems to have taken another major nose dive along with a troubling trend with her protein levels. Both are dropping and that does not help with her worsening swelling in her feet and lower legs. Water and protein shakes are advised for now though if this does not get better more tests will have to be planned to check various major organs.

One hopes that does not become necessary. In the meantime, we are to watch for any sort of allergic reason or anything out of the ordinary. 


FFB Review: "The Corpse in the Car" by John Rhode (Reviewed by Patrick Ohl)

Friday means Friday’s Forgotten Books with Patti Abbott hosted here later today. Patrick Ohl is back and his obsession with the Golden Age continues….

Lady Misterton was a general pain in the derrière to everyone she came into contact with. But on this occasion, she really crossed the limit. While driving through Windsor Great Park, she commanded her chauffeur, William Fitchley, to pull over. She had forgotten her handbag back at her residence, Clandown Towers. However, she orders the chauffeur to walk the three-and-a-half miles back to fetch the bag. Fitchley walks off obediently as Lady Misterton sat down and began to knit, while a portable wireless radio played Saint-Saens’ Danse Macabre. When Fitchley arrived at Clandown Towers, he found out that Lady Misterton had taken her bag with her after all…

Furious, Fitchley decides to dally on the way back and stops at a pub for a “quick one”. Unfortunately, when he exits, he fails to notice an oncoming vehicle. He is hit and hospitalized… But what about Lady Misterton?

Unfortunately, the old broa—er, lady, failed to recognize the signs that she was trapped in a mystery. She was, perhaps, at a slight disadvantage, since Jonathan Creek was not around yet to use Danse Macabre as its theme song. However, that doesn’t change the fact that a few hours later, Lady Misterton was found dead in her car, and the cause of death cannot be determined. This forms the plot of John Rhode’s The Corpse in the Car

Why yes, the book is an impossible crime of sorts, as Dr. Lancelot Priestley is called in to determine how an assassin can strike someone down at will without leaving any traces behind. And what a job Priestley does! The method employed has a diabolical ingenuity underlying it, and the doctor does a bang-up job deducing whodunit, how, and constructing a solid case for the prosecution. Unfortunately, as is often the case with John Rhode, the murderer’s identity is extremely easy to spot. However, that doesn’t change the cleverness demonstrated by the rest of the plot, which had me completely fooled. It also doesn’t hurt that I really like tricks in this general vein.

However, this book contains more than a good plot. I venture to say that it is invaluable for exposing the lie inherent in the idea that Golden Age authors were always romanticizing the upper class. John Rhode is absolutely relentless towards Lady Misterton. She is a genuinely disturbing person at times— she professes herself to be a lover of cats. There’s no harm in that, right? Well… this adoration goes to such lengths that whenever one of her cats dies, she has it stuffed and added to a macabre collection of stuffed cats, of which there are 42 (!!!). While alive, she did her best to distance herself from fellow human beings as much as possible, showing an incredible snobbery that Rhode certainly does not approve of!

Other upper class characters are similarly skewered, particularly Lady Misterton’s brother, Mr. Ormskirk. Nastiness seems to run in the family, as he is only concerned with how he can profit by his sister’s death… now that she’s dead, that is. While she was alive, he was only concerned with what a fool she was being, paying attention to a charming young fellow who professed himself to be a fellow lover of cats. Lady Misterton’s niece, Emily Higson, is portrayed with sympathy— she married a clerk in a legal office who isn’t particularly rich, but they have a decent life together. But Lady Misterton couldn’t stand him, for the simple reason that he didn’t have money. Lady Misterton was able to marry into money, why couldn’t her niece do the same thing?

Then there’s the chauffeur Fitchley, who was hired specifically because his father was a taxidermist and thus, Lady Misterton could continue having her cats stuffed for a meagre 30 shillings a week. Fitchley is ruthlessly exploited by Lady Misterton and he is far more sympathetic— he’s a clever, resourceful fellow who knows how to use his brains. The only reason he’s stuck in her service is because he was desperate for money and there isn’t much of a market for taxidermy any more. The character reminds me of a clever child in Rhode’s Death on Sunday, who is ignored by his mother and disliked by fellow guests at a residential hotel…. But Rhode’s sympathies seem to lie with the child, who is the only person there doing anything really worthwhile!

Overall, John Rhode’s The Corpse in the Car is an excellent book that showcases Rhode’s storytelling talents very well. The plot moves along very rapidly and has several intriguing threads chasing each other, involving the theft of one of the stuffed cats and a potential will that may or may not be missing (assuming it exists). It’s finely-crafted and shows Dr. Priestley at his scientific best, not letting a single anomaly get by him without an explanation. If you’ve never read John Rhode and want a good place to start, this is it.



Patrick Ohl ©2014
Patrick Ohl is a 20-year old Canadian crime fiction aficionado who enjoys hobbies such as taxidermy and runs a dilapidated motel in the middle of nowhere alongside his crazed mother. He enjoys relaxing in his subterranean evil lair while watching his favourite hockey team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and will occasionally make chicken chow mein to die for. His life is accompanied by a soundtrack composed by John Williams, and James Earl Jones provides occasional voice-overs.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

This Should Be Interesting--- Inspector Lewis Returns!

Inspector Lewis is coming back with Kevin Whatley and Laurence Fox both retuning for their roles as Lewis and Hathaway. Interesting details can be found here.

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Free for Kindle For a Limited Time

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Free for Kindle For a Limited Time: Amazon.com: Killing Time eBook: Jack Giles: Kindle Store : Friday The Thirteenth.  Close to midnight.  The Government Agent Willard Dull...

BOOK BEAT BABES: Mystery Author, Jenny Milchman, Addresses the Age-...

 Not just book promotion as she mentions her new book as well........

BOOK BEAT BABES: Mystery Author, Jenny Milchman, Addresses the Age-...: I'm happy to welcome Random House Mystery Author, Jenny Milchman, to Book Beat Babes. She's addressing the hot topic of promotion.  ...

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: "WINNING CAN BE MURDER" Finally Available as an E-Book!

 Football and Sheriff Dan Rhodes.....it don't get much better than this. 


Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Finally Available as an E-Book!: Amazon.com: Winning Can Be Murder (Dan Rhodes Mysteries) eBook: Bill Crider: Kindle Store : It's been a while since Sheriff Dan Rhodes&#...


My review from December 2008 is here.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

KRL This Week-- Kate Collins, Tracy Weber, Sherlock Holmes, Sunny Frazier, mystery short story, giveaways & more in KRL this week

As posted elsewhere Saturday ....

Up in Kings River Life Magazine this morning a review & giveaway of "Throw in the Trowel", the latest flower shop mystery from Kate Collins, along with a fun interview with Kate http://kingsriverlife.com/02/15/throw-in-the-trowel-by-kate-collins/

Also up a review & giveaway of "Murder Strikes A Pose": A Downward Dog Mystery by Tracy Weber along with a guest post from her about animal rescue and special needs dogs, which plays a part in her book http://kingsriverlife.com/02/15/murder-strikes-a-pose-a-downward-dog-mystery-by-tracy-weber/

Also today Deborah Harter Williams compares the 2 popular Sherlock Holmes TV shows, "Elementary" & "Sherlock" http://kingsriverlife.com/02/15/a-tale-of-two-sherlocks/

Also this morning a fun mystery short story by A.B. Emrys http://kingsriverlife.com/02/15/front-deck-mystery-short-story/

And lastly this morning a new Coming Attractions column from Sunny Frazier featuring more of the authors going to Calamari Crime - Left Coast Crime 2014 along with a giveaway of books by 3 authors featured last week- Jill Amadio, Sparkle Abbey & Vinnie Hansen http://kingsriverlife.com/02/15/coming-attractions-countdown-to-left-coast-crime-part-2/

And for those like me who also love fantasy, this morning we have a review of the brand new, not yet released, new book by Kim Harrison, "The Undead Pool", along with a giveaway of the previous book in the series http://kingsriverlife.com/02/15/the-undead-pool-by-kim-harrison/

You can also find all of these & much more by going to our home page and scrolling down http://KingsRiverLife.com

 Happy reading,
Lorie Ham
--
KRL is now selling advertising & we have special discounts for
mystery authors & bookstores! Ask me about it!
Mystery section in Kings River Life http://KingsRiverLife.com
Check out my own blog at http://mysteryratscloset.blogspot.com/

10 Self-Limiting Habits Successful Writers Don’t Have | The Web Writer Spotlight

 My primary violations are numbers 1, 5, 6 (though I would dispute the word contrived) and 9.

10 Self-Limiting Habits Successful Writers Don’t Have | The Web Writer Spotlight

Saw This Elsewhere Today

and thought it was funny......

 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Now Available as an E-Book!

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Now Available as an E-Book!: Amazon.com: Murder Most Fowl (Dan Rhodes Mysteries) eBook: Bill Crider: Kindle Store   Following Booked for a Hanging, Anthony Award-winner ...



You can't go wrong picking up a book written by Bill Crider. This is what I said about MURDER MOST FOWL back in 2008....



Progress has come to Blackstone County, Texas. Hack got his computer at the jail. The computer is nice and all that and though he feelsvindicated he isn't satisfied. They need televisions in the jail. And he wants cameras for the patrol cars. Considering how many times Sheriff Rhodes has had a physical alteration next to his county car, camerasmight be a good thing.

What isn't a good thing in the minds of many is that Wal-Mart has set up right outside Clearview. As has happened across the country in numerous small towns, the arrival of thebig chain has destroyed the small downtown area of Clearview. A once thriving downtown is now vacant and virtually empty of any pedestrian traffic. The arrival of the store has caused the closing of most of theMom and Pop stores as well as driving off some of the smaller chains.Elijah "Lige" Ward used to have a hardware store. These days he chains himself to the front doors of Wal-Mart in protest demanding the store to close.

Of course, Sheriff Rhodes has to go out and deal with that situation. Emus have also come to the county and as a result there are now thefts of Emus instead of cattle. While cattle rustling can be racked and dealt with, Emu theft is a bit trickier. The old standby, chickens, is still around and still being raised to fight by some on the county. You know with all this going on, there will be another murder and Rhodes will soon be working the case, chasing suspects, and dealing with a host of other issues in the county.

At least it is early June and election season is far off. He's going to lose a few votes by finding out all the dirt on his neighbors. Sheriff Dan Rhodes wouldn't have it any other way. Well, he would like not to get in some many brawls with suspects and he probably would like to be home for dinner on a more regular basis.

Released in 1994, this novel takes readers back to Blackstone County for another adventure in an idyllic setting.The recurring characters, except his daughter, Susan return. Ivy makes a couple of appearances to bounce ideas of as well as to provide dietary comedic life. Marrying Ivy has changed the sheriff in many ways, including his pantry. It also seems to have regulated her to a role less on stage which is too bad because she is interesting and a character worth having around.

Another solidly good outing that keeps the series going and provides an interesting case for the good sheriff. Cozies don't get much better then this and it is a good one.

Kevin R. Tipple (c) 2008

Advice from PJ NUNN--OWNER OF BREAKTHROUGH PROMOTIONS

Book publicist PJ Nunn's latest blog posting "What NOT to expect from book publicity" is another good one well worth your time. You can read it here and you should.

EuroCrime Update

As posted elsewhere yesterday...

Here are details of six new reviews added to the Euro Crime website today.

I've begun a new and occasional feature of highlighting books by a theme. The first post was on crime novels set in Norfolk (England). (http://eurocrime.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/the-crime-fiction-of-norfolk-county.html)

NB. You can keep up to date with 'Euro Crime' by following the blog and/or liking the Euro Crime Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/eurocrimewebsite).

New Reviews:

Lynn Harvey reviews Parker Bilal's 'The Ghost Runner', the third in the Makana series set in the Egypt of a few years ago;

Terry Halligan reviews Helen Cadbury's debut 'To Catch a Rabbit' set in Doncaster;

Vera is back in Ann Cleeves's 'Harbour Street' reviewed here by Susan White;

Geoff Jones reviews David Mark's 'Original Skin', the second in the Hull-based DS Aector McAvoy series, which is now out in paperback;

Ardy Renko is back in Martin Cruz Smith's 'Tatiana', reviewed here by Laura Root

and Amanda Gillies reviews David Thorne's debut, 'East of Innocence', set in Essex.

http://www.eurocrime.co.uk/review_list.html or via the blog: http://eurocrime.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/new-reviews-bilal-cadbury-cleeves-mark.html.

Forthcoming titles can be found by author or date or by category, here (http://eurocrime.co.uk/future_releases.html) along with releases by year.

best wishes,
Karen M
@eurocrime

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Check It Out

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Check It Out: Kevin's Corner: Sample Sunday: Excerpt from "The Girl Who Wanted To Be Sherlock Holmes" by Bill Crider

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Free for Kindle For a Limited Time

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Free for Kindle For a Limited Time: Amazon.com: Star Soldiers eBook: Andre Norton: Kindle Store    Andre Norton-Grand Mistress of science fiction-presents a grand tapestry of t...

Earl Staggs Is At It Again

As posted elsewhere...
Have some fun. Read my interview with Tall Chambers.  He's a Jason Bourne who knows exactly who he is, he's less super but more human than Jack Reacher, he's a Clint Eastwood for the 21st Century. 


http://earlwstaggs.wordpress.com

 
Earl Staggs
 

 

Tall Chambers is also in this....



 though not in this.




Good reads all.

Via The Passive Voice-- Money and Control

Been working on my own long neglected writing stuff a bit today. Just took a break to catchup on some e-mail from recent days and came across this. I really like the shirts.... 


Money and Control



This is probably a good time to mention this ....if you would like a walking advertisement for your product and are willing to send me a t-shirt or polo style shirt that is 5X with your ad I will wear it. The shirt ad has to be clean so no naked ladies, obscene gestures, etc. Said shirt would be worn in public to the grocery store, public library, and various doctor and treatment centers as well as wherever else I have to go in and around Plano, Texas.



If you are interested drop me a note and we will talk.

WELCOME TO HELL ~ by Glenn Walker: Flowers in the Attic

Never read it, but like Glenn, I heard a lot about it growing up in the late 70s.....

WELCOME TO HELL ~ by Glenn Walker: Flowers in the Attic: When I was a kid, a coming of age kid in the late 1970s, this was the book (and in rather quick succession, series of books) that not onl...

Sample Sunday: Excerpt from "The Girl Who Wanted To Be Sherlock Holmes" by Bill Crider

This week I am truly honored to have a Sample Sunday piece from Texas author and legend Bill Crider. While primarily known for his Sheriff Dan Rhodes series, Bill does a lot of different things under the writing big top. The excerpt below comes from his humorous young adult novel The Girl Who Wanted to be Sherlock Holmes which is also a suitable read for us adults.

Amazon Synopsis: “Shirley Holmes believes she's a descendant of another Holmes. Sherlock. You say he's a fictional character? Don't try to tell that to Shirley. When there's a murder at her high school, Shirley's determined to find the killer, along with Ralph, her willing "Watson." THE GIRL WHO WANTED TO BE SHERLOCK HOLMES is fast and fun for all ages.”

Available as an e-book, you can pick up your copy here.

                                                                      Chapter 1

            Before I tell you about finding the dead man, I have to tell you about a girl I know.
            Her name's Shirley Holmes, and her name is very important to her.  That's because about a hundred years ago, more or less, there was a famous detective named Sherlock Holmes.
            Shirley Holmes.  Sherlock Holmes.
            You see the connection?  Neither do I, since as I tried to explain to Shirley, Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character, not a real person.
            "He's just a person in stories," is the way I put it.  "He's not real."
            "And just how do you know that, Ralph-o?" she asked, looking down at me.  She's about the same height I am, which is five-seven, but somehow she seems taller.  I don't know how she does it.
            And that's just one of the annoying things about her. Another one is that she never fails to call me The Ralphster, or Ralph-o, or Ralphola, or The Ralphmeister.  It’s not very dignified if you ask me.
            Of course Ralph's my name; I can't deny that, as much as I wish that I could.  If I'd had any say-so in it, I'd have been called Clint, or maybe Thorne, like a guy on the soap opera that my father watches every day.  Maybe you've seen it.  The Bold and the Beautiful.  But of course I didn't have any say-so, and I got named Ralph.  It could be worse, I guess.  I could have been named Fauntleroy, maybe, or Alphonse.
            I can see that I've drifted off the point here, which is something that I'm prone to do, according to Ms. Turkel, my English teacher.  She's always writing crabby little notes in red ink in the margin of my papers, saying things like "This is really very interesting, Ralph, but what does it have to do with your thesis?" 
            She calls me Ralph, naturally.  All the teachers do.  The name's right there on my Permanent Record, so what can I do about it?
            But I was telling you about Shirley.  She has red hair and green eyes and freckles, and the truth is I like the way she looks a whole lot, but I'd never come out and tell her that.  We're both juniors at Harry Whittington High School, and we take a lot of the same classes.
            We've known each other a long time, ever since second grade, but I've only noticed how nice she looks in the last year or so.  I never paid much attention to things like that about girls very much before, but I've started noticing it pretty often since about the ninth grade.  It has a lot to do with hormones, according to Mr. Wilder.  He teaches biology, so he knows what he's talking about.


Bill Crider ©2010

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Free for Kindle For a Limited Time

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Free for Kindle For a Limited Time: Amazon.com: Felony Fists (Fight Card) eBook: Jack Tunney, Paul Bishop, Mel Odom: Kindle Store : Los Angeles 1954  Patrick “Felony” Flynn h...

Review: "Nightzone: The Posadas County Mysteries" by Steven F. Havill

Known for his legendary insomnia it would surprise no one to learn that retired Posadas County sheriff William K. Gastner is out and about somewhere in the county in the long hours of the night. This February night at one in the morning finds him on a rim rock of Cat Mesa wrapped up in a blanket looking at the stars and thinking about Bennett's Trail and his recent discovery of a Colt single action revolver lodged in a nearby crevice. Along with the possible history of a legendary weapon, also on his mind is the upcoming concert by one of the children of Undersheriff  Estelle Reyes Guzman and the fact that his small adobe home is going to serve as the host for the traveling faculty and stage crew in just a few days.

His thoughts are interrupted by two flashes of light far to the south more than at least 20 miles away. Over the next few minutes, Gastner sees what appears to be the start of a prairie wildfire as well as a pair of headlights going north on County Road 14. Whomever is on that stretch of gravel road seems to be fleeing where the building prairie wildfire started. Bill Gastner calls it in and then, like the police officer he was and to a certain extent still is, is drawn to where the action is as things rapidly escalate. Before long, Gastner is being second guessed by those who should know better, is a target of a psycho, and a wealthy rancher wants him for a job. Everybody wants a piece of him while all Gastner wants to do is stay out of it and listen to the music.

Steven F. Havill's latest in the series now branded as The Posadas County Mysteries is another good one. Gastner takes primary stage, as he used to when this series first started with Heartshot, and reminds loyal readers just how good he can be. Much like Sheriff Dan Rhodes as envisioned by Bill Crider or Sheriff Walt Longmire by Craig Johnson, Bill Gastner is an old friend and very much welcome companion.

Nightzone: The Posadas County Mysteries reflects an author at the top of his game in a story that is full throttle from start to finish. Featuring a number of characters long familiar to series readers, the tale is of family just as much as crime. As always, the author's love for the New Mexico landscape depicted in the fictional Posadas County is clear and detailed in yet another simply great read.



Nightzone: The Posadas County Mysteries
Steven F. Havill
Poisoned Pen Press
October 2013
ISBN# 978-1-4642-0069-4
Hardback
305 Pages
$24.95


Material courtesy of the good folks of the Haggard Branch of the Plano Texas Public Library System.

EDITORIAL NOTE: Barry Ergang is reading the first book, Heartshot, and alerted me to the fact that it is William C. Gastner in that book as opposed to the William K. Gastner here. A quick check on Amazon of both books verified the middle name discrepancy. I am not changing it here as I can only go by what the author wrote. No matter the middle name, these are great books and I strongly recommend this series.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2014

Friday, February 14, 2014

Back Home

Back home and Sandi's kidney function has vastly improved which is a huge relief. Other blood work looked okay. Plan is for blood work next Friday with a doctor visit as well as the six hour plus IVIG infusion to hopefully stabalize her immune system.

FFB Review: "The Tattoo Murder Case" by Akimitsu Takagi / Translator Deborah Boehm (Reviewed by Patrick Ohl)

Friday means Friday’s Forgotten Books with Patti Abbott. The list will be here later today. In the meantime, please welcome back  Patrick Ohl…

There is a legend about three powerful sorcerers who once lived in the Nagano prefecture. They were known as Tsunedahime, Jiraiya, and Orochimaru, and have been the subjects of numerous legends, plays … and tattoos. Akimitsu Takagi’s The Tattoo Murder Case involves the story of three such tattoos.


Mysteries in Japan have evolved in a completely different direction than those in the Anglo-Saxon world, at least from what I can gather. I don’t know Japanese, nor am I too familiar with the culture, but the translations we get into English only seem to confirm the idea. It seems that in Japan, the “game” is still highly respected—you give the readers all the clues and you tell a story instead of wallowing in angst and self-pity. In other words, a Japanese detective novel is about a mystery, and not about telling readers how awful society is, vaguely disguising the lecture as a mystery by throwing in a corpse or two and some violence.

So as you can probably tell, I eagerly looked forward to revisiting the Japanese detective story, finally settling on The Tattoo Murder Case. This particular book was originally published in 1948, and was published in English by Soho Press. And much to my delight, I discovered that it involved a locked-room mystery!

In itself, that posed a difficulty, because Japanese-style homes do not lend themselves very well to the locked-room mystery. Takagi finds a way around this, however, and an explanation is given in full. The situation is an intriguing one: a woman, beautifully tattooed, is found in her locked bathroom, murdered. More specifically, her head and limbs are found, because some maniac has carted off the tattooed torso for himself!!!

And thus the plot is set into motion. Steeped in the world of that Japanese art tattoo, The Tattoo Murder Case is a fascinating read. You really get a lot of information on post-WWII Japan, with American GI’s roaming the streets, side-by-side with Japanese citizens who are still getting used to the Emperor’s announcement that he is not, after all, a God. Tattoos are still technically illegal, and the police might choose any time to crack down on them, so a sense of shadiness is embedded right into the plot. When the author talks about these tattoos and the appreciation societies and the mad collectors who literally will decorate their homes with tattooed human skins… the book is at its most fascinating.

There’s also a lot of neat touches of social commentary, all done quite subtly. I’m sort of surprised you could get away with publishing this kind of stuff in 1948… although then again, this was Japan and there was a fifty-year delay in getting it published in the States. Some of this material is rather sickening in fact, such as one point in the story in which several prostitutes are questioned, and one of them is a mere fourteen years old. Then there’s the nearly-sexual fetish one character has for tattoos… And the most disturbingly beautiful art collection I’ve ever read about!

Unfortunately, the plot doesn’t quite live up to its promise. The situation is intriguing and there are several moments with seemingly-supernatural touches. All of this is excellent build-up to a rather anticlimactic finish. Most of the plot’s secrets become fairly obvious by the end, with only one or two surprises left. One of these surprises is how the locked-room trick was worked… but to be honest, I’ve never been a fan of such tricks. All the variations work on the same principle. With merely a few memorably ingenious exceptions, they all seem to boil down to one major mish-mash of a category of locked-room solutions. It’s very underwhelming to say the least. Instead of a gasp of astonishment—“How could I have been so silly as to not see it?”  my reactions was more of an: “Oh, so it was just this type of solution all over again…”

There’s one other major problem with the book, and that is the translation. It’s not a bad translation, let me clear that up, and I’m not blaming anyone here, least of all translator Deborah Boehm. In fact I’d love to see more of this sort of stuff translated. However, there is a lot of explanatory material in the book. Some of it makes sense, but much of it seems out of place—something any Japanese reader at the time would not have needed to be told. That information seems like it was added to help explain things to the Western reader, but to be honest, they tend to interrupt narrative flow. That’s why I prefer the footnote approach personally.

Still, The Tattoo Murder Case is an interesting book overall. It reads like a Japanese S. S. Van Dine without Philo Vance. It’s just as tricky and ingenious… and unfortunately, most of it is just as obvious. The book’s title even fits the pattern of Van Dine’s titles: The [Six Letter Word] Murder Case. It’s a tricky, complex, and delightful read, and it’s pretty well written too… it just doesn’t get that extra push of ingenuity to make it a classic like The Tokyo Zodiac Murders.

Notes: Unfortunately, the publisher seems to have missed out on the whole this-is-a-puzzle-mystery thing. The reviews they choose to quote describe the book in distinctly modern terms: “chilling”, “kinky”, a tale of voyeurism “down the charred streets of bombed-out Tokyo” involving “sexual obsession and perversity”. One review even calls the locked-room mystery one that will outdo John Dickinson Carr!!! The truth is, this is an excellent fair-play puzzle mystery that should be enjoyed by fans of the Golden Age mystery despite its flaws. Don’t be fooled by the rather off-putting reviews.


Patrick Ohl ©2014
Patrick Ohl is a 20-year old Canadian crime fiction aficionado who enjoys hobbies such as taxidermy and runs a dilapidated motel in the middle of nowhere alongside his crazed mother. He enjoys relaxing in his subterranean evil lair while watching his favourite hockey team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and will occasionally make chicken chow mein to die for. His life is accompanied by a soundtrack composed by John Williams, and James Earl Jones provides occasional voice-overs.