Thursday, February 28, 2019
Beneath the Stains of Time: Final Destination: "The Bus That Went Into the Fog...: My obsessive, unhealthy love affair with the impossible crime story has been well documented on this blog and one of the high spots was une...
Gravetapping: Short Stories Wanted for Bouchercon (Anthology and...: A message from the always relevant Rick Ollerman about a couple items related to this year’s Bouchercon. A short story contest and an an...
Bitter Tea and Mystery: Outrage at Blanco: Bill Crider: Outrage at Blanco is a Western, a crime story, and a tale of revenge with a strong female lead. It is set in 1887 and the action starts ou...
Smashwords: Smashwords Introduces Global Coupons: At Smashwords, we're committed to providing our authors and publishers the greatest possible control over their ebook publishing, dis...
Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 9 Digital Imprints of Major Publishers Accepting S...: Wikimedia Did you know that you can get published by a major publisher without an agent? Under normal circumstances, the doors of major ...
As Texas Sicario by Harry Hunsicker begins, former Texas Ranger Arlo Baines is back in Dallas and now working as head of security for Aztec Bazaar. The bazaar is located in a predominately Hispanic area of the city where the narcotic business is hard at work in seen and unseen ways. The murder of Alejandro Sandoval behind the bar located next to the Bazaar draws the interest of many including Arlo Baines.
Still grief stricken over the loss of his family and now a surrogate parent to a young street kid by the name of Miguel, he doesn’t really want to be involved in the case. He wants to drink, makes a few bucks, and be left alone and in peace as much as his mind and grief will allow. But, he knew Alejandro a little bit from the neighborhood and is bothered by what happened. Then there is the fact that the murder might mean a problem for another friend who is not only his boss but a fellow sufferer as that man’s family was killed back home in Nuevo Laredo. Then there is the fact that stranger who appears to be some sort of high level cartel enforcer has been making sure that Arlo Baines knows he is around.
If that was not enough, everyone knows that the Dallas Police Department has been woefully understaffed for years. A homicide in the area will be written off as some sort drug deal gone wrong regardless of the truth of that. The fact that Texas Ranger Aloysius Throckmorton is on the case is a sign that there is something fairly big going on. Not only is he a public racist and does not care who he offends, he is also the Ranger who pretty much did everything he could to see Arlo quit even after he was cleared of murdering his family.
Arlo’s being involved, even on the edges, has gotten Throckmorton interested. Throckmorton is acting as some sort of go between for the Department of Public Safety and the DEA and he wants Arlo’s help. The murder could be the first indication of a power play with the drug cartels for North Texas. That and the fact that Miguel could be involved in some way drags Arlo Baines into an often violent mess.
Texas Sicario by Harry Hunsicker is another fast paced and often violent read that rips along through the underbelly of Dallas again exposing the rot beneath the city’s façade. Author Harry Hunsicker has a long history of exposing the less glamorous aspects of Dallas in his fiction starting with his very good Lee Henry Oswald Mysteries. While the chamber of commerce types may not appreciate his insights, we locals who have been around for decades certainly do.
While it is not necessary to read the previous book in the series, The Devil’s Country, before reading this one, you really should. You should read Texas Sicario as well. Both books are really good.
Thomas & Mercer
Paperback (also available in audio and eBook formats)
Material supplied by the good folks of the Dallas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2019
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Only days left to win copies of another fun group of mysteries-"A Devious Death": A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mystery by Alyssa Maxwell, "No Escape Claws": A Second Chance Cat Mystery by Sofie Ryan, "Seven Deadly Zins": A Wine Country Mystery by Nancy J. Parra, "Grand Slam Murders": A Bridge to Death Mystery by R. J. Lee, and "Gown With the Wind": A Wedding Planner Mystery by Stephanie Blackmoore
And to win a copy of "After You've Gone" by Kay Kendall and while there check out an interesting interview with Kay
Also to win a copy of “The Gun Also Rises” by Sherry Harris when you check out the latest mystery Coming Attractions
And on KRL News and Reviews only days left to win a copy of "The Alchemist's Illusion" by Gigi Pandian
And to win a copy of "Letters in the Library" by Kathi Daley
Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Little Bookstore, Quiver, Keeper of Lo...: Reported by Kristin Nevermore loves a good mystery, and Nordic noir often tops the list. The Keeper of Lost Causes is the fi...
Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 28 Calls for Submissions in March 2019 - Paying ma...: Henriette Browne, Girl Writing - Wikimedia There are 28 calls for submissions in March 2019. All of these are paying markets, and no...
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Beneath the Stains of Time: The Pleasant Assassin and Other Cases of Dr. Basil...: Helen McCloy 's The Pleasant Assassin and Other Cases of Dr. Basil Willing (2003) is a collection of short stories, originally assem...
TEXAS BOOK LOVER: Excerpt & Giveaway: FATALITY IN F by Alexia Gordon...: FATALITY IN F A Gethsemane Brown Mystery, Volume 4 by Alexia Gordon Genre: Pa...
A Writer's Life....Caroline Clemmons: THE WOMAN AMERICA LOVES A LATTE: Don't miss the Rafflecopter at the end of the post! The Woman America Loves a Latte by Holly Tierney-Bedord Genre: Wo...
Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 53 Writing Contests in March 2019 - No entry fees: Pixabay March is a great month for writing contests. This month there are 53 contests, and none charge entry fees. Prizes range from ten...
ONLY TO SLEEP: A Philip Marlowe Novel (2018) by Lawrence Osborne
Reviewed by Barry Ergang
The time of the story is 1988 and its first-person narrator is a seventy-two-year-old retired private investigator living in a house he bought in 1984 “a few miles north of Ensenada in Baja.” His name happens to be—at least for the sake of the book and this review, if not necessarily by recognized literary standards—Philip Marlowe. The extremely flimsy plot consists of the elderly detective being hired by a pair of representatives from the Pacific Mutual insurance company to look into the drowning death of the supposedly well-to-do—but “profligate” and thus bankrupt and corrupt—seventy-two-year-old real estate developer Donald Zinn, sometimes referred to as “El Donaldo.” (Does Zinn remind anyone of a real-life personage of dubious character who is [unfortunately] active at the time of this review? Did Lawrence Osborne intend it? If yes, it’s one positive I can cite.)
The retiree agrees to the job. What ensues, far from being the kind of hardboiled detective story one might reasonably expect, reads more like a travelogue of Mexico and many of its lesser-known cities, towns and locales, as the detective trails the Zinns hither and thither throughout the country, in the process meeting and becoming smitten with the thirtyish and very attractive Dolores Araya Zinn. His travels result in relatively little more than encountering a somewhat menacing character who likes to spin tops on the bars or tables he’s seated at, and an eventual violent tangle with same. No worries, though, because as he explains early on: “I also carried the cane that has been my constant servant since I broke a foot in 1977, and inside which slept a Japanese blade that a master smith had custom-made for me in Tokyo.”
Seriously? You forgot you legally owned at least one handgun before and after your retirement? More seriously, does like this sound like the Philip Marlowe any reader has ever heard of?
Hardcore fans of the genuine Marlowe novels know that you read Raymond Chandler far more for style, tone and characterization than for plot, the latter element being often rather difficult to make sense of depending on the particular novel. In the confusing ones—i.e., most of them—you simply coast along for the colorful, absorbing, and entertaining ride. But you needn’t concern yourself about a tumultuous journey through Only to Sleep. The ride is sluggish and largely uneventful. Lawrence Osborne reads stylistically and tonally like Chandler about as much as Ernest Hemingway sounds like Geoffrey Chaucer. The plot is practically non-existent, not at all a mystery, and the characterizations are very superficial. The protagonist could as well have been named Tooraloora Birnbaum, considering how little he resembles Philip Marlowe.
What we have here is a considerable distance from the kind of hardboiled private detective novel one expects from a pulp pioneer/master of the genre, let alone most writers’ modern take on the form. Osborne’s is a self-consciously literary approach that includes more extended, descriptive, and philosophical moments than the kinds of crackling scenes and intriguing, well-delineated characters found in the works of Chandler, his finest predecessors and legitimate successors. It reinforces what I said in my review of Benjamin Black’s The Black-Eyed Blonde: authors’ estates and their publishers should stop trying to cash in on inferior products about classic characters from imitators who should stick to their own creations.
One thing is certain: the title of this one is unquestionably appropriate. The Big Snooze would have worked, too, because I truly yawned and fought to stay awake while plodding through its verbal Ambien.
© 2019 Barry Ergang
Derringer Award-winner Barry Ergang’s mystery novelette, along with some of his other works, is available at Amazon and Smashwords. One such work is “Nocturne,” included in Dances of the Disaffected, in case anyone wants to call him out about his take on Marlowe, and the publication of which had nothing to do with a major publisher or Chandler’s estate.
Monday, February 25, 2019
Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Don’t Make Me Pull Over! An Informal History of th...: Reviewed by Kristin Richard Ratay sets out to take readers on a trip across the United States and through his childhood memories...
Mystery Fanfare: The Hammett Prize Nominees 2019: The North American Branch of the International Association of Crime Writers announced the nominees for their annual HAMMETT PRIZE for a...
TEXAS BOOK LOVER: Monday Roundup: Texas Literary Calendar February 2...: Bookish goings-on in Texas for the week of February 25-March 3, 2019: Special Events: 4th Annual World Languages and Literatures Internat...
Broken Ice by Matt Goldman (Forge Books, 2018) is the second book about Nils Shapiro, a former police officer who has joined forces with former police colleague Anders Ellegaard to establish a private detective agency in Minneapolis. Anders brings business sense and marketing know-how to the partnership, and Nils contributes investigative skills and acute intuition. They are both fully realized characters; of the two, I liked Anders more. He is at a loss sometimes as to the moral ambiguity of the situations to which their work leads him. Nils, on the other hand, isn’t especially troubled by such considerations.
Two teenage girls are missing from the area and Nils is retained to find one of them, Linnea Engstrom. The two girls aren’t particular friends but the connection between the two events is unmistakable. While interviewing Linnea’s parents, the other girl is found dead in the St. Paul caves. Feeling increasing pressure to find Linnea quickly, Nils and Anders go to the scene to learn whatever they can that might apply to their search. Standing outside the cave entrance talking to the police, Nils is hit in the shoulder by an arrow. Not just any arrow, but one meant for big game hunting, with lethal razorlike edges. The medical examiner was leaving the cave as he fell and took prompt action to keep him from bleeding to death.
Nils arranges to leave the hospital with a full-time nurse, whom he escapes as soon as possible to continue his investigation, which takes him to a small town near the Canadian border known as the Hockey Capital of the World. Playoff season is in full swing and many of Linnea’s friends are there. Two more people connected to Linnea turn up gruesomely dead, and Nils is constantly on the look-out for the archer to come back to finish him off while he conducts interviews and visits Linnea’s known hangouts.
New information about halfway through suggests a different motive for Linnea’s disappearance than earlier assumed and leads Nils into Canada with an interesting pair of travelling companions. The supporting cast of characters in this book is one of its strong points.
This new series is a pleasant addition to the catalog of fictitious private investigators in general and to the Minnesota collection in particular. (Why is Minnesota so saturated with crime fiction? We don’t hear anything about private investigators in Idaho.) I noticed three or four jarring typos in the book. “Grilled leaks” instead of leeks and “Char road shotgun” instead of rode for instance. Someone used spellcheck instead of an actual proofreader. I expect better from a prominent publisher like Forge.
· Hardcover: 336 pages
· Publisher: Forge Books (June 12, 2018)
· Language: English
· ISBN-10: 0765391317
· ISBN-13: 978-0765391315
Aubrey Hamilton ©2019
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.
Sunday, February 24, 2019
Do Some Damage: A DEADLY TURN in the Right Direction: By Claire Booth It’s finally here. A Deadly Turn hits shelves this Friday. It’s the third in my Sheriff Hank Worth mystery series, ...
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Beneath the Stains of Time: The Affair of the Scarlet Crab (1937) by Clifford ...: Clifford Knight was an American author of more than twenty detective novels, published between 1937 and 1952, whose debut came when he eme...
Up in KRL this morning reviews and giveaways of another fun group of mysteries-"A Devious Death": A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mystery by Alyssa Maxwell, "No Escape Claws": A Second Chance Cat Mystery by Sofie Ryan, "Seven Deadly Zins": A Wine Country Mystery by Nancy J. Parra, "Grand Slam Murders": A Bridge to Death Mystery by R. J. Lee, and "Gown With the Wind": A Wedding Planner Mystery by Stephanie Blackmoore
And a review and giveaway of "After You've Gone" by Kay Kendall and an interesting interview with Kay
We also have the latest mystery Coming Attractions, together with a giveaway of “The Gun Also Rises” by Sherry Harris
And a dark mystery short story called "Killing Beauty" by Dallas Dalyce
For those who prefer to listen to Mysteryrat's Maze podcast directly on KRL, we have the player for the latest one up this morning-"Murder Gone Missing" by Lida Sideris read by Casey Ballard
Up on KRL News and Reviews this week we have a review and giveaway of "The Alchemist's Illusion" by Gigi Pandian
And a review and ebook giveaway of "Letters in the Library" by Kathi Daley
Friday, February 22, 2019
Beneath the Stains of Time: Murder in Texas (1935) by Ada E. Lingo: Ada E. Lingo was a journalist, writer and physician who penned her first of only two detective novels, Murder in Texas (1935), while sh...
10 Best Writing Contests for 2019, And Why You Need Them at All: Whether you're an established writer or a newbie, you're likely eligible for a few of these top writing contests. And they come with numerous benefits for everyone.
Smashwords: 10th Annual Read an Ebook Week Sale Starts March 3...: Mark your calendars! The 10th annual Smashwords Read an Ebook Week sale kicks off Sunday March 3 and runs through Saturday March 9. T...
Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Murder in Her Stocking: A Granny Reid Mystery by G...: Reviewed by Kristin Savannah Reid and her six siblings were raised right by their Southern granny. Granny Reid didn’t take any...
Just over seven years ago this review by Barry Ergang first appeared on the blog as part of FFB. Seemed like a good time to again draw your attention to it. Especially these days when humor is in short supply. For this final Friday of February 2019 make sure you head over to Todd’s blog for more reading suggestions.
GOD SAVE THE MARK (1967) by Donald E. Westlake
Reviewed by Barry Ergang
Fred Fitch is a con artist's wet dream. He seems to radiate an aura of gullibility that any and every grifter can see or sense: "Con men take one look at me, streamline their pitches, and soon go gaily off to steak dinners while poor Fred Fitch sits at home and once again dines on gnawed fingernail." It has been this way for him since his childhood in
returned home from my first day of kindergarten without my trousers. I did have
the rather vague notion they'd been traded to some classmate, but I couldn't
remember what had been given to me in exchange, nor did I seem to have anything
in my possession that hadn't already belonged to me when I'd left for school, a
younger and happier child, at nine that morning. Nor was I sure of the con
infant who had done me in, so that neither he nor my trousers were ever found." Montana
Now thirty-one and living in an apartment in
Fred works as a freelance researcher. Because he's been conned so many times,
he's become a good friend of Bunco Squad detective Jack Reilly. Thus, when he
receives a letter from a lawyer named Goodkind that says he's inherited half a
million dollars (three hundred seventeen thousand after taxes) from his Uncle
Matt, Fred immediately assumes that Goodkind is another scammer working an
angle and calls Reilly to let him know about it. New York City
As it turns out, however, Goodkind is legitimate, and so is Fred's inheritance. He calls his mother and learns that he really did have an Uncle Matthew Grierson, a man who was the black sheep of the family. Jack Reilly tells him that Uncle Matt was a con artist who was known by the monicker Matt "Short Sheet" Gray. After the irony of the situation leaves Fred a little hysterical, Reilly voices concern about what will become of the money if Fred actually gets possession of it because he's afraid it won't remain in his possession for long.
Then he tells Fred that although Uncle Matt had cancer, it wasn't what killed him. A blunt instrument did.
Things begin to happen rapidly and wildly after that, as Fred encounters an array of offbeat characters, among them lovely Karen Smith, who accosts him in the street and asks him to kiss her; Gertie Divine, the Body Secular, a stripper who was Uncle Matt's nurse and companion; Grant and Wilkins, the other two tenants in Fred's building; Homicide cops Steve and Ralph, who come across like comic vaudevillians but who, Gertie says, aren't candidates for sainthood; the elusive Professor Kilroy, Uncle's Matt's former partner; Dr. Osbertson, who goes to a wacky extreme to avoid talking to Fred; Gus Ricovic, who's always willing to trade information for cash; the menacing Coppo brothers, whose father Uncle Matt swindled during the years he lived in Brazil; and former senator Earl Dunbar, who began the Citizens Against Crime Organization.
Fred may be gullible, but he's not stupid. He realizes that he's suddenly become Mr. Sought-After now that he has money. When someone trails and then takes some potshots at him, and after he discovers another murder victim, he questions whether he can trust anyone, even the police, as he tries to decide what to do with the money, how to avoid being murdered himself, and how to determine who is behind all of the chaos.
Written relatively early in a long and illustrious career, God Save the Mark is a fine example of why Donald E. Westlake is generally acknowledged as the all-time-greatest writer of comical crime stories. A well-plotted tale, its situations develop primarily from its delightful cast of idiosyncratic characters. I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy a brief and breezy page-turner that will keep them smiling and sometimes chuckling aloud.
Barry Ergang ©2012, 2019
Formerly the Managing Editor of Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine and First Senior Editor of Mysterical-E, winner of the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s Derringer Award for the best flash fiction story of 2006, his written work has appeared in numerous publications, print and electronic. For links to material available online, and fiction available for e-readers, see Barry’s webpages.
Thursday, February 21, 2019
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 author Paul Hardisty in the Countdown hot seat:
We’re on Twitter at:
Crime Review: @CrimeReviewUK
Linda Wilson: @CrimeReviewer
Sharon Wheeler: @lartonmedia
This week’s reviews are:
RIVERS OF LONDON: WATER WEED by Andrew Cartmel and Ben Aaronovitch,
reviewed by Linda Wilson
Drug dealing on the River Thames takes on an added dimension when a pair of
river goddesses get involved.
THE STONE CIRCLE by Elly Griffiths, reviewed by Sharon Wheeler
Archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway and DCI Harry Nelson encounter some unwelcome echoes from the past when bones are discovered on an ancient Norfolk site.
THE WANDERER by Michael Ridpath, reviewed by Ewa Sherman
Magnus Jonson is an American Icelander newly returned to the Reykjavik police force. He’s called to investigate the murder of a young Italian tourist found at a sacred church in northern Iceland.
MAIGRET AND THE GOOD PEOPLE OF MONTPARNASSE by George Simenon, reviewed by Arnold Taylor
René Josselin is a retired businessman living a comfortable life and generally regarded as a good man. It comes as a great shock when he is found one evening shot dead in his armchair.
BLACK LILY by Philippa Stockley, reviewed by John Cleal
Two strong women, one black, one white, fight to survive amid the depravity, prejudice and constraints of Jacobean London.
BAIT, GRIST & SECURITY by Mike Hodges, reviewed by Chris Roberts
Three novellas combined in a single volume give a very penetrating examination of the worlds of book writers, the cinema, and personal improvement courses.
SMOKING KILLS by Antoine Laurain, reviewed by Kati Barr-Taylor
Fabrice Valentine’s new relationship with cigarettes is about to make him a killer.
HOW IT HAPPENED by Michael Koryta, reviewed by Linda Wilson
FBI agent Rob Barrett is brought in to help interview a woman who has confessed to being involved with the disappearance and murder of a woman and her boyfriend. Everyone else thinks she’s an attention-seeking liar, but Barrett believes her – and stakes his career on his judgment.
FATAL INHERITANCE by Rachel Rhys, reviewed by Arnold Taylor
Eve Forrester feels herself ensnared in a loveless marriage. She sees no way out of it and is resigned to living in a gloomy house, with no friends to brighten her existence. A letter from a firm of solicitors brings unexpected changes.
OVERKILL by Vanda Symon, reviewed by Ewa Sherman
Sam Shepard, the only policewoman in the small rural town of Mataura, New Zealand, investigates the death of a young mother. Apparent suicide was in fact a murder, and the victim was married to Sam’s ex-boyfriend. Sam finds herself the main suspect and suspended from duty but decides to find the killer anyway and clear her name.
UNDER THE ICE by Rachael Blok, reviewed by John Cleal
A girl’s body is found in a frozen lake. As the police investigation struggles, neighbours in a close-knit community turn against each other – and a young mother’s strange visions may hold the key.
THE FRENCH GIRL by Lexie Elliott, reviewed by Kati Barr-Taylor
When they find a girl’s body ten years after she disappeared, Kate Channing’s memories and friendships unravel in a dark place.
THE JANUS RUN by Douglas Skelton, reviewed by Chris Roberts
Coleman Lang awakes to find his girlfriend dead on the bed next to him. When autopsy results show she has been murdered, the police like him for the crime.
A LETHAL FROST by Danny Miller, reviewed by Linda Wilson
When a local bookmaker is shot in the head and seriously injured, Denton copper DI Jack Frost is under pressure from his boss to find the culprit as well as having to pacify his landlords by tracking down an escaped parrot.
RUSSIAN ROULETTE by Sara Sheridan, reviewed by John Cleal
Upper-class debt collector and amateur detective Mirabelle Bevan becomes involved with a brutal murder and must cut through an iron curtain of call girls and high stakes gambling to find the truth.
BABY’S FIRST FELONY by John Straley, reviewed by Chris Roberts
Criminal defence investigator Cecil Younger’s favour for a client gets him into bad trouble. And when his daughter is kidnapped, he has to take extraordinary measures.
A CLEAN CANVAS by Elizabeth Mundy, reviewed by Linda Wilson
When a valuable painting goes missing from a London gallery, suspicion falls on Lena’s cousin Sarika, but Lena is determined to clear her name and find the real culprit.
GUNMETAL GRAY by Mark Greaney, reviewed by John Cleal
Court Gentry is back with the CIA and his first mission is to find a defecting Chinese cyber-expert and bring him or his knowledge back to the US.
DIRTY JOHN AND OTHER TRUE STORIES OF OUTLAWS AND OUTSIDERS by Christopher Goffard, reviewed by Chris Roberts
Fifteen true stories from a Los Angeles Times staff writer sympathetically exploring the lives of people whose experience has been touched by crime or stress.
THAT’S NOT WHAT HAPPENED by Kody Keplinger, reviewed by Linda Wilson
Three years ago, a massacre at Virgil County High School left six traumatised teens struggling to make sense of what happened. Now survivor Lee Bauer wants the truth to be told. But the truth is not always welcomed with open arms.