Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Writer's Life....Caroline Clemmons: IT'S MY TURN AND THERE'S SORT OF A PARTY!

A Writer's Life....Caroline Clemmons: IT'S MY TURN AND THERE'S SORT OF A PARTY!: Finally, finally, finally! After months of preparation and waiting, my American Mail-Order Bride Series #42, PATIENCE, BRIDE OF WASHINGTON ...

SleuthSayers: Good Cop Story, Bad Cop Story

SleuthSayers: Good Cop Story, Bad Cop Story: by Robert Lopresti I read a lot of short mystery stories. I like them, plus they are market research.  And of course I need them to create...

Sandi's Latest Doc News

Back home from the doc. Sandi is doing okay, but things are starting to get shaky overall. I am not surprised because I could see things happening and she is in a lot of pain. Another drug to deal with her worsening neuropathy issues will be added to the mix, but she has to wait ten days to get AETNA to approve it.

In the meantime, she will have the next round of chemo starting on January 13.

Then, two weeks later, she will go back on the IVIG. This is the immune support drug that takes about three hours to drip into her each time. 

This means that every two weeks we will be there for a number of hours while they run something into her port.  

That is the plan for the next two months and then things will be reassessed based on the PET Scan.

As always, things and plans are subject to change.

History’s Rich With Mysteries with Earl Staggs: JACK RUBY. . .Why Did He Shoot Oswald?

Please welcome back Earl Staggs with his latest installment in his “History’s Rich With Mysteries” blog series….

When I look at the past, I find stories about people which fascinate me, particularly those in which there is a curious mixture of fact, legend, and mysterious uncertainty. In this series of articles, I want to explore some of those stories. I think of them as mysteries swaddled in legend. While truth is always desired in most things, truth easily becomes staid and boring. Legend, on the other hand, forever holds a hint of romanticism and an aura of excitement borne of adventure, imagination and, of course, mystery. 

JACK RUBY. . .Why Did He Shoot Oswald? by Earl Staggs

Say you want to shoot someone.  It’s important to choose the right time and place. You certainly wouldn’t do it:

. . .at a police station.
. . .when you’re surrounded by cops, reporters, and photographers with cameras rolling.
. . .if the man you want to shoot is handcuffed to a cop.

Doesn’t sound very smart, does it? In fact, it sounds like the worst possible way to go about it.

Yet that’s exactly how Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner, shot Lee Harvey Oswald, the man accused of assassinating President John F. Kennedy. I’ve always wondered why Ruby shot Oswald the way he did.

Oswald was arrested on November 22, 1963, a few hours after President Kennedy had been shot. After two days of interrogation at Dallas police headquarters, Oswald was to be transferred to a county jail. As he was being escorted out of the police station into a garage where a car awaited, Ruby stepped out of the crowd of police officers, reporters and photographers and shot him. Ruby was immediately subdued and arrested.

Some researchers and conspiracy theorists contend Ruby was involved with major figures in organized crime, and he killed Oswald as part of an overall plot surrounding the Kennedy assassination. The masterminds behind the assassination didn’t trust Oswald to keep his mouth shut and assigned the task of silencing him to Ruby. A woman who danced at one of Ruby’s clubs lent credence to that theory.  “He had no choice,” she said. “Jack had bosses, just like everyone else. He was instructed on what he needed to do, therefore he did it.”

Variations of that conspiracy theory hold that Ruby was ordered to kill Oswald by Jimmy Hoffa. Another version said the Mafia gave the order. Another had the order coming from Cuba. Still another involves major politicians in our own government.

The plots connecting Ruby to a major conspiracy don’t hold up for two reasons. First, Oswald had been in custody and under interrogation for two days already.  If he had names of co-conspirators to divulge, he probably would have done so by then, and it would have made the news.  Second, everyone who knew him argued that Ruby's connection with gangsters was minimal, and Ruby was not the sort anyone would trust in a high-level conspiracy.[5]

Dallas reporter Tony Zoppi, who knew Ruby well, claims that one "would have to be crazy" to entrust Ruby with anything as important as a high-level plot to kill Kennedy since he “couldn't keep a secret for five minutes. He'd be the worst fellow in the world to be part of a conspiracy, because he just plain talked too much.” Zoppi and others described Ruby as a man who wanted to be friends with people who had power and money, but only succeeding in being a nuisance to them.

Without exception, his family and friends felt the suggestion that Ruby was connected to the mob was ridiculous and that his killing Oswald for them was laughable. 
The Warren Commission, the group given the responsibility of investigating the Kennedy assassination, eventually found no evidence linking Ruby's killing of Oswald with any conspiracy.

There’s also the timeline of the morning Oswald was shot, which makes it clear Ruby’s act was not even premeditated.
Oswald’s being moved from Dallas police headquarters to the county jail was originally scheduled for 10:00 a.m. The press was there waiting before that time. Postal inspector Harry Holmes arrived at police headquarters unannounced and was invited to question the prisoner. Due to this unexpected delay, Oswald was not brought down to the garage until after eleven. He was shot by Ruby at 11:21 a.m. 

Ruby’s day began with errands. He took one of his beloved dogs (or two – both numbers have been stated) along with him. His last stop was the Western Union office across the street from police headquarters. His transaction there was time-stamped by Western Union at 11:17. He left Western Union and walked across the street, probably to say hello to some of his pals in blue at the station. He often visited his friends on the force, so it was not unusual for anyone to see him there. He walked down the ramp to the garage entrance to the building and was surprised to see a crowd waiting. When he saw Oswald being brought out, he pulled his gun and shot. He frequently had large amounts of money on him and always carried his .38 caliber Colt Cobra revolver for protection. 

If he’d planned to kill Oswald that day, he would have been there at 10:00. Also, author Norman Mailer and others found it hard to believe Ruby would have left his beloved dog (or dogs) in his car if he’d planned on killing Oswald. He would only have done that if he’d planned to return shortly.

So if no shadowy figures or big time conspirators ordered him to shoot Oswald, and if he hadn’t gone there to do it, why did he? The only place to look for a motive would be within Jack Ruby himself.

Jacob Leon Rubenstein was born in Chicago on March 25, 1911, the fifth of ten children. He later shortened his name to Jack Ruby. His troubled childhood and adolescence were marked by    time spent in foster homes. His father was a drunk and an abuser, and his mother spent time in a state hospital for mental illness. In his early years, Jack supported himself as a street hustler scalping sports tickets and other activities. He was drafted into the Army in 1943, was discharged in 1946, and moved to Dallas in 1947.

In Dallas, he managed nightclubs and dance halls and eventually owned three clubs of his own, although they weren’t great moneymakers. By 1963, he had been arrested eight times for various misdemeanors and liquor law violations. During that time, he built relationships with local underworld figures as well as a number of Dallas police officers who visited his nightclubs and received free liquor, prostitutes and other favors.

Jack Ruby was foul-mouthed and mean-tempered and didn’t drink or smoke. Although he was violently opposed to drugs, he maintained his high energy level by popping Preludin – a popular “upper” sold as an appetite suppressant.

Shortly after his arrest for shooting Oswald, Ruby told several people he did it so Dallas could “redeem” itself and so that Mrs. Kennedy would be spared the ordeal of coming back to Dallas for Oswald’s trial. In a private note to one of his attorneys, however, Ruby wrote, “Joe, you should know that my first lawyer told me to say I shot Oswald so Caroline and Mrs. Kennedy wouldn’t have to come to Dallas to testify. OK?”

Based on that, the House Select Committee on Assassinations discounted that explanation for the shooting of Oswald as “a fabricated legal ploy." Ruby’s lawyer apparently thought it would buy his client some sympathy from the jury.

Ruby was devastated over the death of Kennedy. His friends, relatives and associates all told how upset he was. He closed his clubs for three days as a mark of respect.

Melvin Belli, who became Ruby's lawyer, wrote, ''There was one weird trait. Unfailingly, at the mention of a member of President Kennedy's family, tears would start to course down his cheeks.”

Ruby's sister, Eva Grant, testified to the emotional turmoil Ruby experienced the weekend of the assassination. ''He was sick to his stomach and looked terrible.” According to his sister, Ruby remarked, “I never felt so bad in all my life even when Ma and Pa died. Someone tore my heart out.''

After the assassination, Ruby visited his synagogue and cried. His brother Hyman said, ''They didn't believe a guy like Jack would ever cry.”

Based on Ruby’s mental state at the time, it’s not hard to conclude that when he accidentally found himself not ten feet from Oswald, he did not think about it at all. His emotions exploded, he brought out his gun and pulled the trigger. He reportedly yelled "You killed the president, you rat!"

Ruby told Assistant D.A. Bill Alexander, ''Well, you guys couldn't do it. Someone had to do it. That son of a bitch killed my President.''

Two other points need to be mentioned. After Ruby died, an autopsy revealed his body was riddled with cancer, including brain tumors. The disease was not diagnosed, but had been eating away inside him for some time and might have warped his common sense and sound judgment.

In addition, Ruby had always wanted to be a hero. James Leavelle, the homicide detective handcuffed to Oswald when he was shot, asked Ruby why he did it. Ruby’s answer was, ''I wanted to be a hero. It looks like I f***ed things up.'' Leavelle also said Ruby told him years before, “I'd like to see two police officers sometime in a death struggle about to lose their lives, and I could jump in there and save them and be a hero.''

It’s possible that in his grief-laden mind where tumors were growing, Ruby thought it was his duty to avenge the death of the President by killing Oswald. It’s possible in those few seconds before he drew his gun and fired, he thought he would be given a medal and cheered as a great American hero. When one of his dancers came to visit him in jail, he told her she needn’t worry and everything would be okay after the first of the year. He believed he would soon be out of jail and running his nightclubs as usual.

After his arrest, he was diagnosed as a ''psychotic depressive.'' He also became obsessive about the treatment of Jews. His family was staunchly Jewish, and while in jail, Jack urged his brother to pack up and go into hiding because another Holocaust was coming.

While awaiting trial, Ruby asked to speak to the Warren Commission but got no response. On March 14, 1964, Ruby was convicted of murder with malice received a death sentence. Finally, three months after the sentencing, Chief Justice Earl Warren and other members of the Commission traveled to Dallas to see him. 

"My life is in danger here,” Ruby said. “I want to tell the truth, and I can't tell it here." Ruby said he wanted to go to Washington so he could convince President Lyndon Johnson that he was not part of any conspiracy to kill Kennedy. Ruby held President Johnson in high esteem and believed him to be an honest and fair man. Warren did not take him to meet with President Johnson.

''In the beginning,'' Attorney Joe Tonahill said, ''Ruby considered himself a hero. He thought he had done a great service for the community. When Mayor Earle Cabell testified that the act brought great disgrace to Dallas, Jack started going downhill very fast. He got more nervous by the day. When they brought in the death penalty, he cracked. Ten days later, he rammed his head into a cell wall. Then he tried to kill himself with an electric light socket. Then he tried to hang himself with sheets.''

The reality of being convicted of murder and sentenced to death instead of being hailed as a hero drove Ruby’s mind even more down the road to delusion. He even became somewhat of a conspiracy theorist himself. In March 1965, a year after his conviction, Ruby said in a televised news conference, “Everything pertaining to what's happening has never come to the surface. The world will never know the true facts of what occurred, my motives. The people who had so much to gain, and had such an ulterior motive for putting me in the position I'm in, will never let the true facts come above board to the world." 

When asked if the people he referred to were in high office, Ruby responded, “Yes.” Apparently, by then, he had changed his mind about President Johnson. He said, “When I mentioned about Adlai Stevenson, if he was vice president there would never have been an assassination of our beloved President Kennedy. Well, the answer is the man in office now.”

It seems Ruby decided that since Johnson would not let explain why he did what he did, he would put the blame for everything on him.

When told he had cancer, he claimed the higher-ups had injected it into him, which was ridiculous. If they wanted to shut him up, they would have chosen a weapon more rapid and efficient than cancer cells.

Eventually, the appellate court ruled that a motion for a change of venue before the original trial court should have been granted. Ruby's conviction and death sentence were overturned. Arrangements were underway for a new trial to be held in February 1967 in Wichita Falls, Texas. On December 9, 1966, however, Ruby was diagnosed with pneumonia and admitted to Parkland Hospital, the same hospital both Kennedy and Oswald had been taken to after being shot. 

According to the Associated Press , Ruby stated from his hospital bed on December 19, 1966, that he alone had been responsible for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald. He said, "There is nothing to hide. There was no one else."

He died on January 3, 1967, three weeks after being hospitalized. An autopsy revealed the brain tumors and massive spread of cancer. A blood clot in his leg finally killed him.

I think his final statement came in a rare moment of clarity during his last days and is close enough to be considered a deathbed confession. Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald completely on his own and for his own reasons because, in his cancer-addled mind, he thought he would be considered a hero.

But Jack Ruby’s legacy goes beyond the shooting of an alleged assassin. There will always be those who believe Oswald did not act alone and that people in high places were involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.  If Oswald had lived, there’s a possibility his trial might have brought out some truths. Jack Ruby obliterated that possibility. Because of what he did, there could be facts about that incident in Dallas that will always be shrouded in mystery.

Earl Staggs ©2015

Earl Staggs earned all Five Star reviews for his novels MEMORY OF A MURDER and JUSTIFIED ACTION and has twice received a Derringer Award for Best Short Story of the Year.  He served as Managing Editor of Futures Mystery Magazine, as President of the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and is a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars. 

He invites any comments via email at
He also invites you to visit his blog site at to learn more about his novels and stories.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

FREE BOOK ALERT--- Two Wrongs: A JJ Stoner short story (The Stoner Series Book 2)

Rowena of Murder Mayhem and More alerted me to the fact this is a free book until December 31.

Amazon Synopsis:  TWO WRONGS starts with great sex: ends in sudden death. US Navy SEAL Stretch McCann believes he’s met the girl of his dreams. Trouble is, she’s married to someone else; another military man not inclined to suffer rivals lightly. When she’s involved in a crippling car crash, Stretch loses much more than just a lover. He and she have been mightily wronged.

Enter an altogether unusual Englishman, JJ Stoner, covert investigator and occasional assassin. Stoner offers Stretch an opportunity for action. Can Stretch set things straight, no matter what the cost? And why, exactly, have the FBI taken a sudden interest in Stoner?

A Newbie's Guide to Publishing: Konrath's New Year's Resolutions for Writers

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Review: "The Crossing: A Bosch Novel" by Michael Connelly

It has been approximately a year since the events of The Burning Room and these days find Bosch retired, suing the LAPD over the retirement and other issues, and spending his time working on restoring his vintage motorcycle. He should be spending his days working homicide cases.

That is exactly what his half-brother Mickey Haller wants him doing. Part of that is by helping Bosch with his lawsuit against the department. Another part of that would be convincing Bosch to work for him as an investigator. Mickey Haller, known to one and all as “The Lincoln Lawyer,” has no idea how strongly Bosch feels about such a move. To do that, to slip over and work for the defense (the dark side), would betray everything Bosch has ever stood for as a detective with his three decades plus with the LAPD.            .

Haller’s client is a man by the name of Da’Quan Foster.  A reformed man, Foster is sitting in jail on a murder charge and Haller is sure he did not do it. Haller is positive that his client is a pillar of the community these days and is willing to deal with the consequences if Bosch proves otherwise. All he wants right now is for Bosch to look over the case and offer an opinion. The problem for Bosch, more than being asked to crossover and work for the defense to help set a man free, is that if Foster is innocent the wrong man is in custody.  The idea that a killer might be out there walking free is a small possibility and the only reason Bosch takes a look. It does not take him long to determine that there are questions and inconsistencies in the prosecution case and, at the very least, some sloppy police investigative work.

The Crossing: A Bosch Novel is another solidly good book from author Michael Connelly who has been doing this a long time. Part police procedural and part mystery, the read moves rapidly as Bosch, working without the legitimacy of the police department, has to finagle and nuance his way through an increasingly complex case. A case that ultimately leads to one of the best climatic endings in this series to date.

While events earlier the series are briefly referenced one could read this first if you are new to the series. If you are, why have you waited so long?

The Crossing: A Bosch Novel
Michael Connelly
Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group)
November 2015
ISBN# 978-0-316-22588-5
Hardback (available in e-book and audio formats)
400 Pages

Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano Public Library System who may or may not have known I would review the book after reading it. They just want the book back intact.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2015

Monday, December 28, 2015

North Texas Tornado Update

As posted earlier today on Facebook by the Fort Worth Office of the National Weather Service ......

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan: Reviewed by Ambrea Isabella, Lady Trent, is famous the world over as a dragon naturalist.   She has helped bring the study of ...

TEXAS BOOK LOVER: MONDAY ROUNDUP: December 28 - January 3!

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Monday With Kaye: "Damaged" by Alex Kava (Reviewed by Kaye George)

For this final Monday of 2015 Kaye George offers a review of a thriller featuring a massive hurricane, body parts, and more……

Damaged by Alex Kava

This thriller is a fast read. Not because it’s short, but because it’s so hard to put down non-stop action. The short chapters, mostly five to six pages long, move the reader through the book like the hurricane sweeps through the story.

Hurricane Isaac is heading straight for Pensacola, Florida. It has already hit Jamaica as a category-4 storm, which means its winds were 131 to 155 miles per hour and caused “devastating” damage, killing dozens of people. It soon picks up to a catagory-5 with winds 156 miles per hour or greater and capable of causing “catastrophic” damage.

Some residents of Pensacola—the ones who rode out the last storm—don’t believe it will hit dead on, but most of the area is evacuating. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Bailey, a twenty-seven-year-old Coast Guard rescue swimmer and veteran of Hurricane Katrina, is part of a team who discovers a floating cooler of horror, full of body parts. They’re not even all from the same body.

Meanwhile…Maggie O’Dell, FBI special agent and profiler, returns from a bloody shootout to be sent by her unfriendly boss into the hurricane’s path to help investigate the discovery. No time to recover.

Meanwhile…Colonel Benjamin Platt, an infectious disease expert and a guy Maggie would like to have as more than a friend, is sent to the same area to see if he can figure out what’s happening to cause some mysterious deaths among military patients.

Meanwhile…a funeral director named Scott, who is Elizabeth Bailey’s brother-in-law, is getting himself involved in something that he knows should make him a lot of money. He doesn’t exactly realize what it is though.

The threads are woven together expertly against the backdrop of the impending storm, which is picking up power and heading straight for all these characters. The climax will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Reviewed by Kaye George, author of Choke for Suspense Magazine

Sunday, December 27, 2015

18th Annual Preditors & Editors™ Readers' Poll IS NOW OPEN!

Again this year Kevin's Corner is listed on the Predators & Editors Poll under review sites.  Last year this blog finished number one in the mystery/thriller realm and fifth best overall behind sites that only do romance and/or horror.  I am hoping that you, the voters, will feel that this blog is worthy of your vote.

If you do think this blog is worthy as a review site, please go to the review page to cast your vote.

To submit your vote you will have to furnish your name and a working e-mail address that will receive a confirmation e-mail from the poll. You will have to respond to that e-mail and click the link for your vote to be counted. If you don't follow the procedure, your vote will not be counted.

Thank you for considering my blog for best review site. I appreciate it.  


Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: A Forgotten Short Story -- And It's a Christmas St...

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: A Forgotten Short Story -- And It's a Christmas St...: Here's my little Christmas gift to all you faithful readers, a reprint of a story of mine that you might not have seen when it was origi...

"Umm, Children, Meth Is Bad, Umkay?" (Apologies to SouthPark)

I Don't Have Near As Much FUN In The Cart

Woman arrested for riding motorized cart through Walmart while eating chicken, drinking wine while on meth

Little Big Crimes: Good Neighbors, by Gary Earl Ross

Little Big Crimes: Good Neighbors, by Gary Earl Ross: "Good Neighbors," by Gary Earl Ross, in Buffalo Noir, edited by Ed Park and Brigid Hughes, Akashic Press, 2015. By the time t...

Review: "Thuglit Presents Cruel Yule" Editor Todd Robinson

Known for their very good bimonthly magazine of crime fiction (often very dark and twisted), the Thuglit folks put together their first themed holiday collection. Thuglit Presents Cruel Yule is an anthology of 11 twisted stories set during the holiday season. If you are have ever considered the idea that Santa Claus was a peeping tom pervert who stalked people long before the NSA decided to track everyone, this is the book for you.

After a very brief introduction from Editor Todd Robinson it is on to the stories. “The Santa Con” by Rob Hart gets things going by way of having some Santas in full costume rob a bank. The robbery has been timed to coincide with SantaCon in New York City where hundreds of folks show up dressed like Saint Nick. A perfect plan destined to fail because this is a Thuglit production. The real question is how spectacularly wrong will it go?

Sometimes one can get nitrous oxide outside of going to the dentist and needing a procedure. If you were lucky and at a certain concert out west--- usually some sort of hippie jam or electronic dance festival---- you might have come across a certain van. Led by a normal seeming guy by the name of Chris who was clearly psycho the more time you spent around him he had connections that would get the nitrous. The group would sell the balloon hits that would give you a buzz. In “Christmas Morning Coming Down” by Jordan Harper things were okay until Jimmy got stabbed and everything went wrong out in the desert that Christmas.

Sexual harassment is the backdrop to “Mistletoe” by Hilary Davidson. The holiday party is just an excuse for Ian Wainwright to go after Sadie. She knew almost from her first day of work what kind of guy he was and had managed to avoid things until now. With few options and no help by way of HR Sadie is a millennial that will have to learn a new life skill.

A child of divorce learns mad skills. Some of those skills in negotiation can make one a very good arbitrator. Such a job can be lucrative as noted early on in “Letters to Santa” by Thomas Puck. There are also consequences in a story that has a touch of the Halloween season in it.

It is Christmas day in 1837 as “Okeechobee” by Ed Kurtz begins. In a swamp of the same name, the 4th infantry regiment of a 1000 men has come to quell the Creek and Seminole. While most of the men have the killing of Indians on their mind, a soldier by the name of Parker Getts has a more personal target in mind. Finally, after eleven long years, Parker Getts is going to get payback. His annual Christmas Day prayer has apparently finally been answered.

Discovered by Johnny Shaw, “Feliz Navidead” by Brace Godfrey tells the tale of the world’s deadliest Mexican. He is also the world’s greatest Mexican lover and a few other things. His name is Chingón and men who go up against him die the most gruesome deaths.  He loves grenades. Women love him and can’t keep their hands off of him. A former member of an elite team known as the Explosioners that had battled and defeated numerous foes including Dr. Pervert’s mutant army of sex ogres, Chingón has determined that it is time to go to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to see the old gang again. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for Chingón, sex and death are on the menu at the reunion.

The usual poker game is in play as “The Brass Coin” by Justin Porter begins. Dre, a writer, is having a hard time of things. His money situation is not helpful to the goal of buying a nice present for his son. Desperate times call for desperate measures including giving up a very special coin.

When a bodyguard by the name of “Krampus” is driving somebody by the name of “Krissy Kringle” around in her Geo Tracker as a story starts, you know things are going to be weird. In “A Very Blacky Christmas” by Angel Luis Colón, Krissy wants a guy named Black Jaguar dead. Christmas, Florida is her small town and Blacky must die. The problem is he is crazier than she is. The town is going to be a war zone when everything is said, burned, fried, blown up, dead, and done.

For the children of Joseph Ketler a hard life is made worse by an abusive father. Kids playing around just before dinner has consequences in “Fork” by Jan Conley. For some of us, this very well done story brings back some hard memories.

No one will hear Roger Cobb sing “O Holy Night” on Christmas morning in “Unholy Night” by Terrence McCauley. There is no one for miles around the abandoned resort deep in the jungle. That also means nobody is around to hear his prisoner scream. It is time for negations to begin.

The cellar was supposed to have a band for Christmas Eve. But, there is no music and the man known to all as “Boo” is not a happy man. He is less happy when Caleb shows up with a lady Boo vaguely knows. Her name is Darla and she should have way better taste in men. Things are about to get messy in “’Twas The Night Before….” by editor and contributor Todd Robinson.

The 11 tales included in Thuglit Presents Cruel Yule are all dark ones that have virtually nothing in common with the idea of goodwill to all men. Instead, bad will to all is often the theme though there are occasional moments of humor. Dark and twisted as one would expect from Thuglit with some mighty good noir style holiday tales.

Hopefully, this is not the last of the themed holiday collections. After all, Valentine’s Day is coming up which is good for a massacre or two. Then after that somebody has to slaughter all those rabbits for Easter. Not to mention the fact that the Fourth of July demands somebody to take an explosive firework up the rear. Heck of a way to rob a bank. There is a lot of dark potential in holidays for Thuglit to mine.

Thuglit Presents Cruel Yule
Editor Todd Robinson
Thuglit Publishing
November 2015
E-Book (Paperback also available)
173 Pages

Kevin R. Tipple ©2015

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Mystery Fanfare: Boxing Day Mysteries

Mystery Fanfare: Boxing Day Mysteries: December 26 is Boxing Day . I've put together a list of over 1500 mysteries that take place at Christmas , and I'm sure there a...

What’s Leaving Netflix in January: The Most Urgent Movies to Watch Over Christmas Weekend (VULTURE.Com)

What’s Leaving Netflix in January: The Most Urgent Movies to Watch Over Christmas Weekend (VULTURE.Com)

Review: "The Crossing Places: A Ruth Galloway Mystery" by Elly Griffiths

Archeologist Ruth Galloway lives alone in a small cottage on the edge of an area known as “the Saltmarsh.” It is a coastal land of desolation where the sky and sea meet. It is a treacherous and dangerous land of stark beauty and one that few people enjoy. She is far from her south London upbringing as well as her parents. Considering her observations about them distance is a very good thing. 

When she isn’t at her small cottage with her cats she is at the University of North Norfolk where she teaches forensic archeology. It is there, thanks to her department chair Phil, she first meets Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson. The inspector wants her to inspect some bones that have been found out near the bird sanctuary in another part of the Saltmarsh.

He hopes that the bones might be a missing child who vanished ten years ago. Her name was Lucy Downey. Since her disappearance a decade ago the inspector has been receiving strange letters from someone. A person who uses quotes from the Bible, Shakespeare, T. S. Eliot, and other sources to taunt the inspector with clues. If Ruth Galloway can verify that the bones are of the missing child, he might just have the first solid piece of evidence to advance the case. 

What follows is a complex and highly atmospheric read as Ruth Galloway gets drawn deeper and deeper in the mystery of the Lucy Downey case. At the same time a bond begins between her and the inspector creating additional stress. It isn’t surprising when Ruth herself becomes a target as the case proceeds. 

Character complexity is at work here from the beginning. In some senses Ruth is the classic clichéd spinster-- overweight, cats as her companions, no romantic interest, and a job that that fills her days. It is her observations on her parents, life, the world around her, and much more that fill the character with depth and meaning. The same is true to a lesser extent with the inspector though most of the book is told from watching Ruth. 

The Crossing Places: A Ruth Galloway Mystery by Elly Griffiths is a solidly good start to what could be a very intriguing series. At least in this book, history, archaeology, and more take prominent roles resulting in the subtle education of the reader as the pages move by. A mystery that encourages the reader to think while also quietly teaching is a book that is very much worth reading. 

The Crossing Places: A Ruth Galloway Mystery
Elly Griffiths
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
January 2010
ISBN# 978-0-547-22989-8
Hardback (also available in paperback, audio, and e-book formats
320 Pages (includes several pages of the next book in the series)

Material was obtained via the Plano Public Library System to read and review.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2015             

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Because It Is Cool.....

on so many levels.

Interrogation—Jochem Vandersteen (S.W. Lauden)

Interrogation—Jochem Vandersteen (S.W. Lauden)

Review: "Fighting Chance" by B. K. Stevens (Reviewed by Kaye George)

Merry Christmas Eve… as a special treat today we have an extra review from Kaye George separate from her Monday posts. Enjoy!

Fighting Chance by B. K. Stevens

This is what you’ve been looking for! If you’re looking for a book for teen boys, you know they’re scarce. This one has enough excitement, twists, and turns to keep them up way too late on a school night, avidly reading.

Not only is it about an appealing group of four, sometimes five kids, who don’t always get along, it’s also about the nice and not-so-nice teachers they share, and about family relationships that are not always ideal. But it’s also about martial arts.

Their coach is facing an opponent as the book opens, but the main character, Matt, thinks something is a bit off about this other guy. His name is Bobby Davis and he’s come from a dojo in Richmond to Ridgecrest for the competition. He neither looks like a fighter nor acts like one, until the moment he crushes Coach Colson’s larynx with a spinning hook kick. Was it intentional or an accident? Most people say the latter. Matt knows they’re wrong.

When he and his friends try to dig deeper and find out who Bobby Davis is and why he wanted to kill the coach, trouble starts happening all around them. They seem to be antagonizing some dangerous people. Matt and his friends, including the intriguing Graciana, join a krav maga class as result of some of their investigating. That’s a good thing, because they’ll need their wits about them and all the martial arts training they have to get through this.

Kaye George ©2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

This Should Have Been On Bill Crider's Blog FIRST!

Police: Woman arrested after fighting with husband who wouldn't stop farting


Remember....the days are going to start getting longer. So, get your killing done now while you have plenty of night time hours to get rid of the bodies. Been warmer than normal which means you can still dig those deep graves out in the woods. Feed the woods...dump a body.

Review: "Never Kill A Cat And Other Stories" by Miles Archer

This short story collection by Miles Archer opens with the signature story “Never Kill A Cat.” Dolores Sorrento is elderly, very lonely, and spends much of her time reading mystery books. When she isn’t reading, she is talking to her many feline companions. That is when she is not dealing with Tommy Cooper and his parents who live across the street. Tommy Cooper is the terror of the neighborhood. Now, he has gone too far and has to pay for this crime.

Renn is supposed to be focused on the live fire exercise at the training grounds. That is a bit difficult since he and Becky had a major fight in the hours preceding. In “Murder In Uniform” Renn does what he needs to do to get through the day.

It is October of 1973 in San Francisco in “Nobody Gets Outa Here Alive.” Freddy Jones has a job he despises, but at least he has one. A routine trip for smokes on his way home turns into the most intense experience of his life. It changes the whole way he considers the world. Fortunately, his job has the tools needs to take the first steps along his new path.

Brian Donovan has lost yet another job as “Eternal Love” begins. He is a good worker, but annoys his coworkers with his attitude. His day is going to get way worse when he gets home.

The next several stories feature Doug Mc Cool over the years. As time passes, Doug McCool gets more and more into the private investigator line of work.  That process starts with “For What It’s Worth” where it is 1972 and McCool has returned from Vietnam. He is in San Francisco spending a lot of time in the VA rehab. While there he spends a lot of time with a guy Johnny White. The same Johnny White who, after discharge from rehab, became heavily involved with the Black Panthers and changed his name to Karim Africanus.

After about a year or so, McCool got a call from an attorney representing Johnny/Karim. There had been an FBI raid and Jonny/Karim was under arrest for the murder of an informer named Perkins. The attorney thinks that maybe McCool could help as some of those involved in the case might be more willing to talk to a white guy instead of the African American lawyer.

Move forward in time a few years and McCool’s latest client is Mrs. Washington in “Hell Hath No Fury.” Her daughter, Noorleen, has been arrested for murder. A criminal defense attorney McCool knows by the name of Peter Tallent told Mrs. Washington to hire McCool to do some leg work, create a report, and he might take the case pro bono. Mr. Tallent is one of the good guys and the case in interesting enough that McCool agrees to do a little digging. It quickly is clear that Norleen is in a bind because of circumstantial evidence. Once they had their suspect in the local jail they quit working the case.

His next client is also in a bind, but not with the cops.  In fact, it is because of the San Francisco cops, specifically one by the name of inspector Harry Stanton, that Mr. Mori is in McCool’s office looking for help. Mr. Mori owns a waste hauling company known as “South Metro Waste.” It operates in the south side of San Francisco in the area formerly known as “Butchertown.”  The meat packers the area is known for are no longer around, but South Metro Waste that was started in 1901 is going strong.

So strong that the mob is trying to take over his business unless he sells out to an outfit known as “United Haulers” based out of Cleveland, bad things will start happening to his family. McCool likes the guy and agrees to poke a little and see if he can figure out a way to get Mori and his family clear of the problem in “The Art of War.”

The beautiful Monica Grant appears in his office doorway in “Il Beso Di Morta.” Married to an investment banker of some type, her husband is apparently in some sort of business deal with a guy known as Dominic Abbruzio. Good old Dominic is deep in the mob and is known by his nickname “Razor.” Mrs. Grant wants McCool to get her husband out of the mess he has gotten himself in to and to do it with our husband having a clue about it.  Good thing she can pay as that hat will be easier said than done.

Author Miles Archer shifts narrator gender with his next story titled “The Miller’s Wife’s Tale.”  Told from the perspective of Barbara Brown, McCool’s everything; she has been left behind to hold the fort while McCool cavorts in Mexico with a certain lady.  She is not happy as her hair needs a touch up, she has a headache and feels bloated, and is about to have her time of the month as well as deal with clients.

One of those clients is Tammy Wingate who wants them to investigate the string of prostitute murders in the city thanks to a serial killer. She is the executive director of COYOTE, a prostitute support organization. She also has connections to the important people in the city of San Francisco. The cops aren’t getting anywhere in their case so Inspector  Dave Toshi sent her their way.

The good Inspector had no idea McCool was in Mexico, but considering Barbara is the real brains of the outfit it should not be a problem. It is one of two cases that she will handle in this story.

The final McCool tale is one of pain titled “The Black Hole.” McCool now lives in a trailer contemplating suicide by bottle or gun. It has been months since he had a client and is not in the shape for one. But, a woman by the name of Susan Sharpe is nothing if not persistent.

She is divorced and very glad to be rid of her ex-husband. While packing up some stuff across she came across a computer disk. Her ex works for a petroleum company and apparently didn’t take it with him. Somebody is making threats over the disk, Susan is scared, and needs McCool’s help. The first thing to do, after he learns what is on it, is return the damn disk. How to do that is a problem not easily solved.

The nine tales that make up Never Kill A Cat And Other Stories are all highly atmospheric and very complicated tales featuring fully developed characters. The McCool tales make up two thirds of the book while providing some very good reading. Those stories frequently play with the classic private detective stereotypes while going off in unconventional tangents. The result is a read recently published by Untreed Reads that is highly entertaining and well worth your time.

Never Kill A Cat And Other Stories
Miles Archer
Untreed Reads
November 2015
181 Pages

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

Kevin R. Tipple ©2015