Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Travels with Kaye: A Writer's Life

Travels with Kaye: A Writer's Life

Guest Post: Treadmill Books: Feral Attraction: A Cat Groomer Mystery by Eileen Watkins

Treadmill Books:  Feral Attraction: A Cat Groomer Mystery by Eileen Watkins


Cat groomer Cassie McGlone is invited to be a guest speaker at a homeowners meeting at The Reserve, an upscale development.  There is a conflict over some feral cats in the area, with some residents wanting them eradicated while others advocate TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) to control the population. One outspoken cat supporter is Sabrina Ward, who feeds the strays and provides shelters. 

It isn’t long before a resident’s dog is poisoned, apparently by food left for the cats. Obviously someone is serious about getting rid of the felines.  Then Sabrina is found dead, possibly from natural causes—but could it have actually been murder?

This is the third in the Cat Groomer Mystery series, and I have enjoyed them all.  Watkins knows her cats, and her subplots impart interesting cat information.  She also isn’t afraid to tackle controversial topics, such as the breeding of exotics, which adds an extra layer of interest as far as I’m concerned. 

Cassie herself is a solid leading character.  She doesn’t rush headlong into situations but neither does she back down.  She’s in a tentative romance with a local veterinarian, both of whom are a bit gun shy after failed relationships; in Cassie’s case, it was also an abusive situation. Interestingly enough, while Cassie has three cats she adores, it’s the cats she boards and cares for who are in the spotlight. It’s another good teaching strategy, as readers learn about unusual breeds such as Bengals or the special needs of Sphinx cats (who are hairless).

I read a lot of mysteries with cats (a comment which would certainly be in the running for Understatement of the Year) and this one stands out because of the cat information.  I’m not a feline expert, but I’ve read a bit about my furry overlords—enough to know that Watkins has done her research.  That’s a feature I love in books: being able to learn something while being entertained. 

I think that these could be read as standalone books without any problem.

I’ll be looking forward to the next in the series, Gone, Kitty, Gone which is scheduled for December 2019. The current titles are The Persian Always Meows Twice, The Bengal Identity, and Feral Attraction.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 55 Fabulous Writing Conferences in June 2019

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 55 Fabulous Writing Conferences in June 2019: Baltimore Book Festival (Wikimedia Commons) June is bustin' out all over. This month there are more than four dozen excellent opport...

Beneath the Stains of Time: The One-Man Police Squad: "The Bizarre Case Expert...

Beneath the Stains of Time: The One-Man Police Squad: "The Bizarre Case Expert...: Dennis Lynds was an American crime writer of many pennames, such as "Michael Collins" and "John Crowe," under which ...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Lost Night by Andrea Bartz

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Lost Night by Andrea Bartz: Reviewed by Christy             Lindsay is a 33 year old magazine fact checker in New York City. She has a couple of close frien...

Monday, May 20, 2019

Gravetapping: GIRL MOST LIKELY by Max Allan Collins

Gravetapping: GIRL MOST LIKELY by Max Allan Collins: Girl Most Likely is the first in a two-book series from Max Allan Collins, featuring chief of police Krista Larson. Krista’s patch is G...

TEXAS BOOK LOVER: Monday Roundup: Texas Literary Calendar May 20-26,...

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Unlawful Acts: Incident Report No. 77

Unlawful Acts: Incident Report No. 77

Monday Markets and Jobs for Writers for 5/20/19

Monday Markets and Jobs for Writers for 5/20/19

Aubrey Hamilton Reviews: First Fix Your Alibi by Bill James


First Fix Your Alibi by Bill James (Crème de la Crime, 2016) is the 33rd book in the British police procedural series featuring Assistant Chief Constable Desmond Iles and his sidekick Detective Chief Superintendent Colin Harpur.

Mansel Shales and Ralph Ember have each established highly profitable illicit drug empires and, to maintain the status quo, they observe each other’s trading space with the appearance of great collegiality. ACC Iles has let them know that he will look the other way while they carry out their illegal trade as long as no violence accompanies their businesses. However, someone is not playing according to the rules: the vehicle carrying the family of Shales is fired on as they are going to school, killing his wife and son. The gunman is killed later before the name of the person who gave him his instructions can be determined. Shales thinks he knows who did and he suggests to Ember that Ember kill the putative traitor in Shales’ organization, a la Strangers on a Train. Shales promises to return the favor whenever Ember has someone who needs to be removed.

Ember is taken aback, as he feels he has moved on from such thuggish practices and is trying hard to establish himself as a legitimate businessman. He is waffling about the murder when a rave takes place in an abandoned hotel, the organizations of Ember and Shales supplying the drugs. A young man is killed in a brawl there. Some think the culprit is obvious, others think a member of the drug-selling troupe contributed to the death, which brings Iles and Harpur hard into the drug barons’ business, as much for self-preservation as anything else. Not everyone in the police hierarchy agrees with Iles’ hands-off stance.

One would think that James would run out of ideas after 30+ books but this title is an astonishingly inventive spin on the traditional police investigation. The end was just as surprising as the rest of the book. Highly recommended. Booklist starred review.



·         Hardcover: 192 Pages
·         Publisher: Crème de la Crime; First World Publication edition (April 1, 2016)
·         Language: English
·         ISBN-10: 1780290829
·         ISBN-13: 978-1780290829


Aubrey Hamilton ©2019

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

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Sweet Freedom: Friday's "Forgotten" Books and More: the links to ...

Sweet Freedom: Friday's "Forgotten" Books and More: the links to ...: This week's books and more, unfairly (or sometimes fairly) neglected, or simply those the reviewers below think you might find of som...

KRL This Week Update for 5/18/19

Up on KRL News and Reviews this week we have a review and giveaway of "A Witch to Remember" by Heather Blake 

And a review and giveaway of "Knit One, Die Two" by Peggy Ehrhart, along with an interesting interview with Peggy

We also have a review and giveaway of "Message in the Mantel" by Kathi Daley

And a review and ebook giveaway of "A Sip Before Dying" by Gemma Halliday along with an interesting interview with Gemma

And a review and giveaway of a signed copy of "Strong as Steel" by Jon Land

And a review and giveaway of "Double Agent" by Gretchen Archer

We also have a review of "Ms. Fisher's Modern Murder Mystery" on Acorn TV

And a mystery short story by Earl Staggs

Happy reading,
Lorie 

Scott's Take: DC Comics Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide To The Characters Of The DC Universe All New Edition


Published in 2016 by Penguin Random House, the DC Comics Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide To The Characters Of The DC Universe All New Edition is edited by Cefn Ridout. Featuring numerous contributors, the 368 page coffee table style book attempts to explain the history of each character a few pages at a time. For the most part, the book fails to accurately reflect character record. I can only recommend this for hardcore DC Universe fans since many pages contradict each other because the book mixes up the Post Crisis, New 52, and Rebirth versions of characters. This results in numerous contradictions regarding various relationships between characters which have been established based on the different versions of each character’s history.  

Three years after publication date, the book is massively out of date. This is especially true with regards to Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman. All three characters have subsequently gone through the “Rebirth” banner and this make a lot of what is in this book no longer the canon for the characters.  Most of the Superman and Wonder Woman New 52 history is now non canon and thus is no longer accurate to their past. These pages are especially confusing for new readers as there are two different Superman characters discussed on the Superman page that are far different and have a very different history or backstory. In the case of Wonder Woman, almost everything that happened in New 52 has now become non-canon because the DC writers thought it was a good idea for her entire story history of the New 52 to be classified as a massive memory lie caused by the Greek Gods to hide her home and the Amazons from her.


Because of the way the book is designed and their effort to cover every character—which is a laudable goal--- most characters get only a page or less to cover their history. Notable exceptions are Batman, Superman, are Wonder Woman who get four pages. For most of the characters in this 368 page book, they have a small piece subtitled “On The Record” that briefly highlights one of the earlier versions of the character.

While the text is frequently out of date and the word choice and sentence structure is often clunky, the artwork in the book is amazing. Colorful with many illustrations, the book is visually interesting. That is especially true of the cover which highlights the major heroes and villains of the massive DC. Universe.


I enjoyed this book, but would imagine any one wishing to dip their toes in to the dc universe would be very confused. This book is also now mostly outdated and massively inaccurate, so it is not a good resource for those wishing to learn about the characters. As it came out in 2016, it does not cover at all well the important new characters such as Jonathan Kent, the young son of Superman and Lois Lane. He plays a huge role in all the new Superman stories over. While the book briefly mentions him as a baby, most stories over the last few years depict him as a ten year old boy who suddenly is seventeen years old thanks to time travel shenanigans. Then there have also been the various DC event crossovers which would further confuse readers looking to understand the backstories that are not accurately covered in this book.

The bottom line is that new readers should just completely ignore DC Comics Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide To The Characters Of The DC Universe All New Edition. All it will do is confuse them. The only folks this book is good for are those hardcore DC Universe fans who will to see a snapshot of the various previous versions of the major characters.



Scott Tipple ©2019

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Rap Sheet: Revue of Reviewers for 5/17/19

The Rap Sheet: Revue of Reviewers for 5/17/19

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: A Beginner’s Guide to Succulent Gardening: A Step-...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: A Beginner’s Guide to Succulent Gardening: A Step-...: Guest reviewer Kevin Tipple is back with his review of a book on succulent gardening.  Check out his blog Kevin's Corner for...

Lesa's Book Critiques: Winners & Humorous Mystery Giveaways

Lesa's Book Critiques: Winners & Humorous Mystery Giveaways

TP&WD: TPWD says ‘Thank You’ to Law Enforcement with New Free Fishing Weekend

TP&WD: TPWD says ‘Thank You’ to Law Enforcement with New Free Fishing Weekend

Beneath the Stains of Time: The Case of the Haven Hotel (1948) by Christopher ...

Beneath the Stains of Time: The Case of the Haven Hotel (1948) by Christopher ...: Christopher Bush 's The Case of the Haven Hotel (1948) is the thirty-third entry in the voluminous Ludovic Travers series, co-starri...

No FFB Today

As you may or may not have noticed, there is no FFB Review today. It would have been another repeat and I just don't see the point. Todd Mason will still have the list today over at his Sweet Freedom blog and you should check it out.

Going forward, I think it may be time to end the participation of this blog in the FFB effort. Just repeating FFB reviews is just not that helpful. Barry and I are the only ones around these days for FFB and neither one of us is reading and writing reviews at the level we used to do.

Like keeping this blog going anymore, I am not sure what to do and will think about it some more. For now, just go check out the list over at Todd Mason's Sweet Freedom blog.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Unlawful Acts Review: Guillotine by Paul Heatley

Unlawful Acts Review: Guillotine by Paul Heatley

A Writer's Life....Caroline Clemmons: LOUISIANA LATTE - CHICK-LIT COMEDY!

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Bitter Tea and Mystery: The Iron Gates: Margaret Millar

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Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good, Ice ...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good, Ice ...: Reported by Ambrea This week, Nevermore started their gathering with An Elderly Lady is up to No Good by Helene Tursten, translat...

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Only days left to win books and more from KRL

Only days left to win a copy of "Mother's Day Mayhem" by Lynn Cahoon

And to win a copy of "Death Waits in the Dark" by Julia Buckley

Also to win a copy of "Silent Bud Deadly" by H.Y. Hanna

And to win a copy of a pair of fun food mysteries-"Murder From Scratch" by Leslie Karst and "The Hidden Corpse" by Debra Sennefelder

And to win a copy of "A Parliament of Bodies" by Marshall Ryan Maresca

Happy reading,
Lorie

Unlawful Acts: Incident Report No. 76

Unlawful Acts: Incident Report No. 76

The Writing Bug: Cards Against Humanity: Writing Prompts for Horrib...

The Writing Bug: Cards Against Humanity: Writing Prompts for Horrib...: By Eleanor Shelton On Shakespeare's 455th birthday the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust released a Trivial Pursuit Shakespe...

Lesa's Book Critiques: Cleaning the Gold by Karin Slaughter and Lee Child

Lesa's Book Critiques: Cleaning the Gold by Karin Slaughter and Lee Child

MAKE MINE MYSTERY: Mystery and Modern Technology by Janis Patterson

MAKE MINE MYSTERY: Mystery and Modern Technology: by Janis Patterson Modern technology is taking a lot of the fun out of mystery writing. I mean, with caller ID, DNA, ...

Guest Post: Treadmill Books: Berried Secrets: A Cranberry Cove Mystery by Peg Cochran

It has been quite some time, but Jeanne is back today with the lateest of her Treadmill Books Reviews.


Treadmill Books: Berried Secrets:  A Cranberry Cove Mystery by Peg Cochran


Monica Albertson is settling into life in Cranberry Cove, Michigan.  She moved to the small town in order to help her half-brother, Jeff, with his (what else?) cranberry farm.  Jeff has recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, only to find the farm in serious financial trouble, possibly due to mismanagement by the caretaker, Sam Culbert, who is also the local mayor.  When Culbert turns up dead at Jeff’s farm, Monica is determined to prove that her brother is innocent.

And yes, recipes are included.

I read a lot of cozy mysteries, so I feel I pretty much have the formula down pat.  Even though there are a certain number of “givens” to a cozy, there are still those books that stand out for one reason or another—or in the case of a very good one, several reasons.  Berried Secrets and the sequel Berry the Hatchet stood out for me because I felt the characters and relationships were less cardboard figures than in some genre books.   While some start out as stock characters—Monica’s blonde, home-wrecking stepmother Gina for instance— several acquire more depth, changing relationships in a believable manner.  The strong supporting cast was definitely a plus, including elderly candy sellers and a handsome bookseller.  Cochran’s willingness to let the characters change and grow over the course of the two books was a definite plus.

Monica herself doesn’t stand out per se; she’s a loving sister, devoted to her younger brother, and determined to help him get his life back on track.  She decides to create cranberry concoctions to sell to help support and publicize the farm (this is where the recipes come in) and to fit in with the locals.  Love of her brother also encourages tolerance of Gina, despite the latter’s dramatic tendencies.

The mystery aspect was well done, too, though I did solve part of the clues before the heroine.
I do have to note that in the second book the victim is also the town mayor, though of course not the same one killed off in book one.  I can’t help but wonder if the mayor’s job is cursed, like the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher’s position in Harry Potter....

The titles in order are Berried Secrets, Berry the Hatchet, Dead and Berried, and Berried at Sea.


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

George R. Martin: Idiocy on the Internet

George R. Martin: Idiocy on the Internet

Author Behaving Badly Files: This is NOT a Review of Hell’s Shadows by Dean Klein

Author Behaving Badly Files: This is NOT a Review of Hell’s Shadows by Dean Klein

Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers: #COOKING WITH CLORIS--GUEST MYSTERY AUTHOR TERRY S...

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Beneath the Stains of Time: The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage (1943) by Enid Bl...

Beneath the Stains of Time: The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage (1943) by Enid Bl...: Last year, I reviewed the eighth title in Enid Blyton's The Five Find-Outers and Dog series, The Mystery of the Invisible Thief (19...

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 16 Recurring Writing Contests - No entry fees

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Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Gothic Suspense—Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel by Da...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Gothic Suspense—Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel by Da...: Reviewed by Kristin Rebecca has been one of my favorite novels since I was a teenager.   “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderle...

Monday, May 13, 2019

Spring 2019 Grade Watch: Official Results

The grades are finalized, in the system, and official. Scott finishes with an A in each class.

This means that he will take two more classes this fall and is on track to have a December 2019 graduation with a Masters in Criminology from The University of Texas at Dallas.

Mystery Fanfare: LINE OF DUTY: Season 5 now on AcornTV

This is a great series....

Mystery Fanfare: LINE OF DUTY: Season 5 now on AcornTV: LINE OF DUTY’ s record-setting Season 5 makes its premiere today, May 13 , been added to Acorn TV. This season remains the highest rated ...

Lesa's Book Critiques: Girl Gone Missing by Marcie R. Rendon

Lesa's Book Critiques: Girl Gone Missing by Marcie R. Rendon

In Reference To Murder: Media Murder for Monday 5/13/19

In Reference To Murder: Media Murder for Monday 5/13/19

Monday Markets and Jobs for Writers for 5/13/19

Monday Markets and Jobs for Writers for 5/13/19

TEXAS BOOK LOVER: Monday Roundup: Texas Literary Calendar May 13-19,...

TEXAS BOOK LOVER: Monday Roundup: Texas Literary Calendar May 13-19,...: Bookish goings-on in Texas for the week of May 13-19, 2019 compiled exclusively for  Lone Star Literary Life  by Texas Book Lover. SP...

Aubrey Hamilton Reviews: The Breakers by Marcia Muller


Marcia Muller released her 35th book about Sharon McCone last year. Sharon is one of the earliest contemporary female private investigators I could find. Of course there was Miss Silver who first appeared in the late 1920s and Honey West, who was a caricature of a PI in the 1960s. But as far as modern realistic attempts to portray a woman earning a living as a private detective, the first seems to have been Cordelia Gray, introduced by P.D. James in An Unsuitable Job for a Woman in 1972. Then came Sharon’s appearance five years later in 1977, followed by Delilah West in 1980 and Maggie Elliot in 1981. The iconic V.I. Warshawski and Kinsey Milhone both saw the light of day in 1982. Shortly afterwards the floodgates opened and readers had any number of women PIs to choose from, including taxi-driving Carlotta Carlyle and bartending Kat Colorado. Sadly enough, of the early arrivals only V.I. and Sharon are still around.
I found this series soon after it began and read each new entry with excitement. I was especially pleased to acquire the short story collections issued by Crippen and Landru. As reading options proliferated, I found it was harder to keep up with Sharon and her friends and, when she became obsessed with flying, I didn’t want to. The books during her flying phase read more like flight manuals than mysteries. Fortunately the emphasis on flying has all but disappeared but I still think I’ve missed a few of the later books because of that.
Sharon continues to operate her successful investigative agency in #35, entitled The Breakers (Grand Central, 2018). Her former neighbors, on vacation out of the country, have asked for help in locating their daughter. Michelle Curley used to feed her cats when Sharon lived next door to them, so Sharon is concerned to hear that Michelle hasn’t called her parents or responded to their phone messages in nearly a week. Michelle has become a house flipper, buying rundown properties and renovating them herself. Her current project is in a questionable neighborhood, known as The Breakers. While it was an upper crust locale at one point in San Francisco’s history, it isn’t now, and its denizens do not inspire trust. Sharon can easily believe that Michelle has run afoul of one of them but does not want to tell her parents that. While Sharon searches for a clue, Michelle’s parents suddenly stop responding to her calls, and the hotel where they are staying is evasive. Sharon is startled to find herself investigating multiple disappearances. In addition, crises within her family and her tight circle of friends demand her attention.
While the plot is competent and there are surprises at the end, what particularly intrigues me about this book, released 42 years after the first one, is the continuity in characterization. Sharon has a number of relatives and many friends, most of whom have been in every book. There may be as many as a dozen supporting characters in this series, yet I did not notice a single inconsistency between the behavior of the supporting cast, compared to earlier books. I don’t know how an author can maintain multiple threads over a significant duration like that, yet Muller does it. Intriguing! Those familiar with the series will not want to miss this one.

Aubrey Hamilton ©2019

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

Sunday, May 12, 2019

From A Long Time Ago...


Sandi and I from seven years ago today on an evening when she was feeling pretty good and we still had hope that everything was going to work out right. This picture always made her laugh, because it caught me with my eyes closed. I miss her so much everyday. Today is one of those supremely hard days and is not any easier for being the second time around without her.

Unlawful Acts: New Releases: Week of May 12

Unlawful Acts: New Releases: Week of May 12

Crime Time : NEW HOPE FOR THE DEAD – Charles Willeford

Crime Time : NEW HOPE FOR THE DEAD – Charles Willeford: Were Hoke Moseley a cop in the rural South it could be said of him, Thet boy’s inna heapa trouble, son (the “son” thrown in just for ...

Lesa's Book Critiques: Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault by Cathy Guisewite

Lesa's Book Critiques: Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault by Cathy Guisewite

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Lesa's Book Critiques: Milwaukee Noir edited by Tim Hennessy

Lesa's Book Critiques: Milwaukee Noir  edited by Tim Hennessy

NL: Fact-checking can’t do much when people’s “dueling facts” are driven by values instead of knowledge

NL: Fact-checking can’t do much when people’s “dueling facts” are driven by values instead of knowledge

KRL This Week Update for 5/11/19

Just up on KRL News and Reviews this week a review and ebook giveaway of "Mother's Day Mayhem" by Lynn Cahoon along with a Mother's Day guest post by Lynn



And a review and giveaway of "Death Waits in the Dark" by Julia Buckley



And a review of the latest Morning Show Mysteries on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel



We also have a review and giveaway of "Silent Bud Deadly" by H.Y. Hanna



And reviews and giveaway of a pair of fun food mysteries-"Murder From Scratch" by Leslie Karst And "The Hidden Corpse" by Debra Sennefelder Author



For those who prefer to listen to Mysteryrat's Maze Podcast directly on our website, you can find the player for the new episode here-the mystery short story "Liquor Store Holdup" by KM Rockwood read by local actor Sean Hopper



For those who enjoy fantasy with their mystery, we have a review and giveaway of "A Parliament of Bodies" by Marshall Ryan Maresca

Happy reading,
Lorie

Scott’s Take: Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1

                                                                                     
Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1 was written by Mathew K. Manning and has art by Jon Sommariva. This graphic novel features Batman from the animated television series in the 1990s teaming up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from the 2012 animated television series. They unite with Bat Girl and Robin to face off against Shredder, Joker, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow and others.

Along with the battles, this funny graphic novel features various hijinks that happen while the heroes interact with each other and deal with how different their worlds are. If you are a fan of either group of characters you should find this most enjoyable. I found it worth reading just to watch Batman eat pizza, which I found funny. The heroes learn to respect each other and interact in the six issues collected in this graphic novel. The “serious” Batman character having to play off the more fun-loving turtles makes any interaction between the heroes groups entertaining. Especially funny was Batgirl’s reaction to Splinter (a talking Ninja Rat) and Ice Cream Kitty (a living kitty made out of ice cream) were especially goofy and entertaining. I enjoyed it.


If you find this collection enjoyable, you should also like Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 1, Volume 2, and the upcoming Volume 3, which all feature different versions of the characters crossing over. Those stories focus on versions of the characters from the DC Rebirth and the current TMNT comic.  Those stories are more mature and also added more characters such as Bane, Alfred, Damian, and others. Having Alfred deal with the Turtles and Batman at the same time made for some interesting interactions. 


Material was obtained from the Lochwood Branch of the Dallas Public Library System. The Dallas System has a far more extensive collection of graphic novels than what I was able to access in the Plano Library System.



Scott Tipple ©2019


Friday, May 10, 2019

Happiness Is A Warm Book: Friday’s Forgotten Book: Corpses in Enderby by George Bellairs

Happiness Is A Warm Book: Friday’s Forgotten Book: Corpses in Enderby by George Bellairs

Kristine Kathryn Rusch: Business Musings: Patreon, Copyright, And Personal Choice

Kristine Kathryn Rusch: Business Musings: Patreon, Copyright, And Personal Choice

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Romance Novel Round Up: Foster, Morgan, and Van D...

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Mystery Fanfare: MOTHER'S DAY MYSTERIES/ MOTHER'S DAY CRIME FICTION...

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Beneath the Stains of Time: An Internal Affair: "Motive" (2000) by Hideo Yokoy...

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Lesa's Book Critiques: Winners and Police Procedural Giveaway

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FFB Review: BEWARE THE CURVES (1956) by A.A. Fair Reviewed by Barry Ergang

Friday once again and today there is another classic review from Barry Ergang. After you read the review and check out the full list of reading suggestions over at Todd Mason’s Sweet Freedom blog, make sure you check out Barry’s new book over on Amazon.


BEWARE THE CURVES (1956) by A.A. Fair

Reviewed by Barry Ergang


Claiming he’s a writer, John Dittmar Ansel hires L.A. private investigators Donald Lam and Bertha Cool to find a man whose first name is Karl, whose last name he can’t remember, and who came from a town called Citrus Grove, a suburb of Santa Ana. Ansel says he met the man in Paris six years earlier, wants to locate him because Karl gave him a terrific idea for a story, and wants to acquire the exclusive rights to it.

They agree to take the job, Lam instinctively knowing but not telling Ansel that he realizes his assertion is false, that there’s more to it than finding someone to obtain a plot for a novel. It takes no time at all for Lam to discover that Karl is one Karl Carver Endicott, who was murdered six years earlier by a person or persons unknown. On the night it happened, however, a cabdriver dropped off a fare at Endicott’s home shortly before the time of death, a fare whose description matches that of Ansel’s.

And so begins a lean, brisk, appropriately-titled mystery novel by Erle Stanley Gardner writing under what is probably his most recognizable pseudonym. The story involves a love affair, revenge, zoning ordinances, political chicanery, and a murder trial resolved by some nifty legal surprises. The biggest difference between this and other books in this and the author’s Perry Mason series is the absence of the typical Gardner whodunit finale: the explanation of how the sleuth(s) deduced who the murderer is from clues shown to the reader.

Observation: the author has a predilection for supplying some of the male characters with middle names and recognizing them throughout—e.g., the aforementioned John Dittmar Ansel and Karl Carver Endicott, along with Cooper Franklin Hale and Charles Franklin Taber. (I wonder if Gardner noticed he gave two different people the same middle name.)

Nitpick (behave, reader, and refraining from supplying a rhyme to this category!): Asked during trial examination how she smuggled a .38 caliber revolver into Endicott’s home on the night of his murder, Helen Manning says, “In my bra.” Seriously? Nobody noticed and questioned that lopsided breast or, if in between the two of them, that strangely-shaped bulge? Or did Colt back in 1956 invent a malleable and easily-concealable .38 revolver?

Maybe it’s just me—it often is—but I was somewhat confused throughout the book because Donald Lam, despite being as “brainy” as Bertha Cool touts him to clients, frequently comes to conclusions about events that prove to be accurate, yet the reader isn’t told how he reached those conclusions. The resultant of “a legal education,” he advises “up-and-coming” defense attorney Barney Quinn how to handle Ansel’s defense. Eventually I gave up fretting about it and just coasted along in the name of fictional license for a very entertaining ride. I recommend that others do the same.



© 2015, 2019 Barry Ergang

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

Thursday, May 09, 2019

In Reference To Murder: Mystery Melange for 5/8/19

In Reference To Murder: Mystery Melange for 5/8/19

In Reference To Murder: Revue of Reviewers for 5/9/19

In Reference To Murder: Revue of Reviewers for 5/9/19

Crime Review Update: New issue of Crime Review

We feature new 20 reviews in each issue of Crime Review (www.crimereview.co.uk), together with a top industry interview. This time it’s publicist Kerry Hood in the Countdown hot seat:


We’re on Twitter at:

Crime Review: @CrimeReviewUK

Linda Wilson: @CrimeReviewer

Sharon Wheeler: @lartonmedia



This week’s reviews are:


THE STRANGER DIARIES by Elly Griffiths, reviewed by Arnold Taylor

Clare, a teacher at Tolgarth High, is discussing a short story called The Stranger with members of a creative writing group. The story is a Gothic horror but Clare has no reason to believe that the school is about to undergo its own horror story.



TO THE LIONS by Holly Watt, reviewed by John Cleal

Reporter Casey Benedict eavesdrops a conversation in a London club and investigates the apparent suicide of a wealthy young man. Her hunt leads her from St Tropez to the Middle Eastern deserts – and the darkest corners of the human mind.



AN ELDERLY LADY IS UP TO NO GOOD by Helene Tursten, reviewed by Ewa Sherman

Maud is nearly 90 years old and lives rent-free in a spacious apartment in Gothenburg. She might be old and seemingly confused but will not allow anyone to upset her peace and quiet.



DEAD MAN’S DAUGHTER by Roz Watkins, reviewed by Linda Wilson

When DI Meg Dalton finds a child in a bloodstained nightdress in woods and the child’s father dead in the house with a cut throat, she doesn’t want to believe the young girl is guilty of murder, but all the evidence seems to point to her.



BERTIE: THE COMPLETE PRINCE OF WALES MYSTERIES by Peter Lovesey, reviewed
by John Cleal

Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII, is a pleasure seeker, searching out the best meals, the most beautiful women, and the most lavish parties. He also fancies himself as an amateur detective and relates his ventures into crime.



MURDER IN THE CROOKED HOUSE by Soji Shimada, reviewed by Chris Roberts

In a strange house built at the isolated northern tip of Japan, guests who’ve gathered for New Year start dying. Renowned detective Kiyosi Mitarai is called in to find out why.



A PRIVATE BUSINESS (audiobook) by Barbara Nadel, reviewed by Linda Wilson

Lee Arnold and his assistant Mumtaz Hakim are hired by former stand-up comedian Maria Peters who wants to know why she’s being targeted by someone determined to make her question her own sanity.



THE AMERICAN AGENT by Jacqueline Winspear, reviewed by John Cleal

Investigator Maisie Dobbs is approached by the British and US governments to help solve the murder of an American war correspondent in London during the Blitz.


GHOSTS OF THE PAST by Marco Vichi, reviewed by Sylvia Maughan

A well-respected Florence citizen is found murdered in his study.  Apart from a fencing foil stuck between his ribs, there are no clues, no fingerprints, nothing except for a beautiful ring found close to the body.



GENTLEMAN JACK by Christina James, reviewed by Arnold Taylor

DC Ricky Macfadyen rescues an agricultural businessman who is being beaten up in the street but who refuses to press charges.  When DI Tim Yates and Macfadyen visit his site they see a quad that might have been stolen, but the investigation soon takes second place when the headless body of a woman is found in a canal.



99 WAYS TO DIE by Ed Lin, reviewed by Chris Roberts

Chan Jing-nan becomes involved when his friend Peggy’s father is kidnapped and threatened with death if he doesn’t hand over a new computer chip.



KICK THE MOON by Muhammed Khan, reviewed by Linda Wilson

Ilyas Mian wants to draw comic book heroes rather than work in his dad’s shop but until he meets Kelly Mathews, Ilyas keeps his ambition to himself. Kelly understands him like no one else, but unfortunately, she’s attracted to Ilyas’ friend Imran, and doesn’t listen to the warnings she’s given about him.



MISS KOPP JUST WON’T QUIT by Amy Stewart, reviewed by John Cleal

Intrepid Deputy Sheriff Constance Kopp’s help for a woman inmate in a mental home sees her targeted as a political football in a key election.



LOLA by Melissa Scrivener Love, reviewed by Chris Roberts

The Crenshaw Six are a minnow amongst the gangs of South Central LA, and war between rival drug cartels provides both an opportunity and a threat. Luckily, they have a smart leader.



THE SECRETARY by Renee Knight, reviewed by Kati Barr-Taylor

Christine Butcher is the perfect secretary until the CEO’s daughter Mina forces her to become the perfect enemy.



THE MAGICK OF MASTER LILLY by Tobsha Learner, reviewed by John Cleal

Master 17th century astrologer and magician William Lilly narrates the story of an England broken by religious and political intolerance as it plunges towards civil war.



LIVES LAID AWAY by Stephen Mack Jones, reviewed by Chris Roberts

Detroit ex-cop August Snow is unimpressed by government action to combat the sexual exploitation and traffic of girls and so takes matters into his own hands.



CLOSE TO THE EDGE by Toby Faber, reviewed by Linda Wilson

When Laurie Bateman sees a man fall to his death in front of a tube train, she has a need to make sense of what happens. The police seem convinced it was suicide, but Laurie is certain that’s not the case, and she becomes determined to carry out her own investigations.



LANNY by Max Porter, reviewed by John Barnbrook

In a quintessential English village primal forces are stirring, incited by a charming, naive and unusual boy.



THE BATTERED BODY BENEATH THE FLAGSTONES AND OTHER VICTORIAN SCANDALS by Michelle Morgan, reviewed by Kim Fleet

A collection of shocking, murderous and bizarre true Victorian tales from the UK and the US.



Best wishes


Sharon