PAST TENSE by Lee Child,
reviewed by Sylvia Maughan
Jack Reacher happens upon
the home town of his long-deceased father. Patty and Shorty’s car breaks down
near an isolated motel in the same area. After a long, eventful time for all
concerned they separately arrive at the same place – a dark, isolated forest.
THE BODY IN THE CASTLE WELL
by Martin Walker, reviewed by Linda Wilson
When the body of a rich and
well-connected American art student is found down a well in the grounds of a
castle, Bruno, Chief of Police, must work out whether she fell or was pushed.
THE ELEPHANT OF SURPRISE by
Joe R Lansdale, reviewed by Chris Roberts
Crime-fighters Hap and
Leonard rescue a girl targeted by the Dixie Mafia and battle to protect her in
the middle of one of the worst storms seen in East Texas for years.
THE LIBRARIAN OF AUSCHWITZ
by Antonio Iturbe, reviewed by John Cleal
story of Czech-Jewish schoolgirl Dita Polachova who spent years in the horror
of Auschwitz-Birkenau where she administered a small library of smuggled books
in the world’s strangest school.
ELEVATION by Stephen King,
reviewed by Madeleine Marsh
A man in the small town of
Castle Rock is losing weight but not mass.
WOLF PACK by CJ Box,
reviewed by Chris Roberts
Joe Pickett is re-installed
as game warden for Wyoming’s Twelve Sleep County, and takes action against a
drone operator, which brings him into conflict with the FBI and a team of killers
known as the Wolf Pack.
THE SCANDAL by Mari Hannah,
reviewed by Linda Wilson
A stabbing in Newcastle
city centre comes as a shock to DS Frankie Oliver when the victim turns out to
be someone she knows.
THE TRUTH WAITS by Susanna
Beard, reviewed by Kati Barr-Taylor
When Anna discovers the
body of a young girl on a deserted beach in Lithuania, her perfect life begins
BELGRAVIA by Lynn Britney, reviewed by John Cleal
dissolute Irish aristocrat is stabbed in his own bedroom. His wife refuses to
talk to a male officer. Chief Inspector Peter Beech and his specially-formed
team must sift the criminal underworld of World War 1 London to find the truth.
PREY by John Sandford, reviewed by Chris Roberts
Congressman Porter Smalls’ car is forced off the road, local law enforcement
are not persuaded it was intentional. But Smalls knows Lucas Davenport, who he
trusts to find the truth.
CALLED JUSTICE by Elly Griffiths, reviewed by Linda Wilson
Justice Jones arrives at her new boarding school, she fully expects to hate it,
but then she discovers there’s a murder to get her teeth into, and suddenly
things don’t seem quite so grim.
MISSING by Lina Bengtsdotter, reviewed by Ewa Sherman
Inspector Charlie Lager is sent from Stockholm to investigate the disappearance
of teenager Annabelle in Gullspång. She dreads being back in her small home
town, full of quiet despondence and ghosts from the dark past but must deal
with the case and her own anxiety.
by Nancy Bilyeau, reviewed by John Cleal
Genevieve Planché longs to be an artist but is sent to become a porcelain
decorator and becomes involved with industrial espionage that may aid England’s
RHYTHM SECTION by Mark Burnell, reviewed by Arnold Taylor
Patrick loses almost all her family – father, mother, brother and sister – to a
terrorist bomb on an aircraft. Her entire life disintegrates and she becomes a
prostitute. When she is presented with an opportunity to get her revenge
on the bomber, she is quick to grasp it.
STATE by Ben H Winters, reviewed by John Barnbrook
State the most serious offence is to lie – punishable by exile. Specially-skilled
Speculators are sensitive to lies and seek out liars. Such talents make it
difficult for a Speculator who suspects that the State is lying.
BE PITIED by Jan Newton, reviewed by John Cleal
Kite, settling into her new job in rural Wales, is faced with a murder mystery
which will test her abilities to the full.
CHURCH AND THE SUFFOLK VAMPIRE (audiobook) by MRC Kasasian, reviewed
Betty Church is not pleased to be posted to the sleepy backwater town in
Suffolk where she grew up, but when a murder enlivens Sackwater, Betty is
promptly in her element again.
RUINS by Ausma Zehenat Khan, reviewed by Chris Roberts
policeman Esa Khattak is on holiday in Iran when he receives an unofficial
request to investigate the murder of a political filmmaker.
THE DEAD by CB Hanley, reviewed by John Cleal
Weaver joins the contingent of William de Warenne, earl of Surrey, as it
marches for the Kent coast to prevent the reinforcement of Prince Louis’ invading
French army. When a series of suspicious ‘accidents’ puts the earl’s life in
danger, he soon realises the enemy is closer at hand.
COLOUR OF THE SUN by David Almond, reviewed by Linda Wilson
every day of the summer holidays that you get to see a dead body. And it’s not
every day that you think you know the killer.
Moss isn’t just
found deep in the mountains in some cool, damp place. It can appear on the side
of a brick wall, the edges of pavement, and many other places. Miniature
Moss Gardens: Create Your Own Japanese Container Gardens by Megumi
Oshima and Hideshi Kimura gives the reader the necessary knowledge to recreate
the outdoors inside by way of container gardening.
“Chapter 1: An Introduction to Moss” begins on page 10 and gives
the basics of moss. Classified as “Musci” nearly all of the 20,000 species or
varieties are perennial and evergreen. They need sunlight to survive and
propagate by releasing spores on the wind. There are three types of Moss which
are the Musci, Hepaticae and Anthocerotae. How the leaves and stems grow are
the primary distinguishing aspects of each type.
“Chapter 2: Observation, Discovery, and Gathering” begins on page
17 and is all about tracking down moss. After getting permission from the
property owners and ascertaining the living conditions of the moss you will be
gathering, there are good ways to gather the moss living outside. How to do it
and the gear you need is explained here.
You have identified the moss, gathered the moss (and maybe a
rolling stone or two) and have brought green treasure home. In “Chapter 3: Care
and Maintenance” you are taught what to do and just as importantly what not to
do to maintain your moss. Along with some more information on how to select
moss whether you are buying at a store or getting it from your yard,
neighborhood, etc., maintenance is the major focus of this chapter. There are a
lot of tips on the simple items you will need to maintain your moss as well as
actual care of the moss regarding fertilizer, the proper way to water and or
misting the moss, placement on your patio or inside the home, and diagnosing
issues as they arise. Also included in this section is information on how to
grow more moss by way of seeds, cuttings, and “stretching” it out on a soil
You have your moss, it is thriving, and things are going well. Of
course, you need to show of your moss. Starting on page 41 with “Chapter
4: Making and Displaying Moss Creations” various ways of doing so after you
work through a flowchart that helps you pick out the right type of moss for
your personality and skill level. While the chart on pages 42-43 is interesting
and helpful, it seems a bit late in the book to be presented here.
Though the location here does tie into the following pages. Each
depicted moss fits one of 4 types in ranges from A to D. Once you know the type
of moss that is right for your personality and skill level, then there are
pages that reference that type of moss in a container as well as the other
choices related to that particular type of moss. Also included here is an
explanations of the necessary items needed for moss gardening, soil types, and
more regarding what you do with various types of moss as well as more planting
and care tips.
“Chapter 5: Finding Moss in Cities and Mountains” begins on page
85 and gives far more detail on the finding and harvesting of moss than what
was covered at the beginning of the book. These pages are informative and
helpful and would have been better suited closer to the front of the book. Much
of the pictures in this section come from Japan and not only are close up
pictures of moss, but also scenic shots of various types depicting manmade
structures in their local natural environments. Cultural landmarks are
referenced with details pictures and illustrating the moss found in the area.
“Chapter 6: Moss Identification Guide” begins on page 107 and
details some of the moss types you may encounter outside in your local area.
This is done over several pages and would also have better served readers if
placed earlier in the book. The conditions that each moss type needs to thrive
in the outdoors is also presented here as is info on how to recognize it and
use in your home setting. A “glossary of moss terms” on pages 116-117
follows as does afterword sections from each author and additional close up
pictures of various staged moss settings.
As in any book from Tuttle Publishing, there are plenty of
pictures and textual information. The pictures are always colorful and the
textual information is clear and a lot of depth. There is a paragraph textual
style immersed with small bullet points areas containing additional useful
While all the
information is useful, the placement and flow of the book has issues as noted.
The way things are organized in the chapters as well as the placement of the
chapters themselves does not work to resent the information well for the reader.
Moss Gardens: Create Your Own Japanese Container Gardens by Megumi
Oshima and Hideshi Kimura is an interesting and informative book, it should
have been laid out better for readers. This is especially true for the intended
reader market of those new to the world of gardening with moss.
Gardens: Create Your Own Japanese Container Gardens
Up in KRL
this morning a review and giveaway of "Survival is A Dying Art" by
Neil Plakcy as we continue to feature LGBTQ+ authors and characters for Pride.
Neil also shares with us an interesting article about some of the early mystery
novels featuring gay male protagonists
reviews and giveaways of another great bunch of mysteries-"Murder in Galway":
A Galway Ireland Mystery by Carlene O'Connor, "A Dream of Death": An
Antique Mystery by Connie Berry, "Murder She Wrote, Murder in Red" by
Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land, "Thread on Arrival": A Mainely
by Lea Wait, "The Scent of Murder": A Jazz Ramsey series by Kylie Logan,
and "Antiques Ravin’": A Trash ‘n’ Treasures Mystery by Barbara
Volume 2: Graveyard Of Gods (DC Rebirth) by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV and numerous
artists continues the events depicted in the first graphic novel of this
series. There is a new Justice League and a new Legion of Doom and both have
the same goal of trying to gain control of “The Totality.” This is an energy
source that would allow either group to adjust the arc of the universe. Whoever
controls “The Totality” and understands it can change the universe
Both sides have
cool new bases which mean a new Hall of Justice for the good guys and a new
Doom Base for the bad guys. Some of the
cooler moments in this and the previous volume go into showcasing the new bases
in detail. Doing that highlights the differences between the teams in stark
detail. For example, while the Joker over in the Doom Base has a torture room
that he uses on himself for fun (that dude has issues), Batman has a man cave
with a giant sticker that says KEEP OUT plastered across his reinforced blast
doors. While Superman has an office which even includes a floating dog bed for
Krypto (Superman has a dog that is from Krypton also) and pictures of his wife
and kids, Lex Luthor over in the Doom Base has a trophy room full of things
that could destroy the world. Each thing is sitting in a glass case in his
The good guys want
to usher in a new age of peace and prosperity which they are calling “Justice”
while the Legion seeks to usher in new age under their rule which they call “Doom.”
(Yes, I know. So original.) Lex Luthor
has found religion and now believes fanatically that the universe will always
turn to evil and seeks to accelerate that process alongside the Legion of Doom.
The Justice League for right now has “The Totality.” However, they don’t know
what they are doing and the Legion of Doom understands more about it. Getting
“The Totality” required Batman to blow up the moon with bombs he had hidden in
the moon. Yes, this is not a very realistic take on Batman. This is more of
comic book Batman. In the process of securing “The Totality” bad guy Lex Luthor
broke both of Batman’s legs and arms and Batman is now confined to armored
wheelchair to move around. So, as Justice League Volume 2: Graveyard Of Gods begins,
the moon is gone from our night sky, but we have “The Totality.”
In this issue, The
Legion of Doom unleashes a group of Dark Gods to drown the world with water. If
you touch that water, you become an infected mutant fish monster. So, what we
have here is basically a Water World style deal gone way wrong. While the Justice
League has sent several members offworld to investigate “The Totality,” it is
up to the remaining heroes to fix this problem. So, the focus of this issue is
on Wonder Woman and Aquaman with some appearances by Batman, Superman, Flash,
One of the cool
parts of this current series in my opinion is the fact that several heroes make
cameos during these adventures battling alongside the league. This allows the
world to feel bigger and more connected. For example, seeing several heroes
having lunch together or saving people alongside each other when they usually never
interact reminds the reader that the team is not alone in what they are doing.
This is a very different situation than it is for the villains. Another cool cameo
deal is Jim Gordon trying to save civilians while having no idea what is going.
He makes a comment more than once about how it is just another world ending
event in Gotham again this week and that he is so done with this crap.
The action is good
and several heroes have cool moments. This is mostly a Wonder Woman and Aquaman
focused story, but Batman, the Flash, Mera and Superman have their moments to
shine. The Justice League battle against a Kracken is a fun moment. The Flash
has some of the best jokes in this story while Batman reminds people he has
serious trust issues among other problems. Superman even leads a one man
charge against a space monster that is attacking the Earth and in so doing
sustains an injury to his eye. This injury causes him to wear an eyepatch with
a giant S on it throughout half of the story. That begs the question of where
he got an eyepatch with giant S on it during a world ending event.
The heroes have
their backs against the wall in this story and things are not looking good at
all. The main bad guys in this story are Lex Luthor, Black Manta, Cheetah, and The
Batman Who Laughs. The Batman Who Laughs is evil Batman that is from another
multiverse called “The Dark Multiverse” where all the fears and doubts from the
main universe characters form together to create monsters.
The Batman Who
Laughs is from one of Batman’s worst fears as he is afraid that if he ever
killed the Joker he night become like him. Lex Luthor and The Batman Who Laughs
mostly scheme and discuss their evil plans in this story alongside several
other villains, Grodd and Sinestro, and the Joker of the main universe. Black
Manta and Cheetah remind the readers throughout that they do not care what
happens to the world as long as Wonder Woman and Aquaman die in the process.
The world can end for humanity. They don’t care as long as their foes die.
I really liked this
story, but there are some flaws. The artwork changes so frequently between
issues that it takes the reader out of the story. One of the main ideas of the
story is that we are all connected and that we need to embrace those
connections and not fear them. Great idea, but at times, it comes across as a
little preachy in spots.
I recommend reading
the first volume before reading the second as things would make a lot more
sense that way, but you could start here. Readers new to the series may be
confused by little things that come along. For example, during a lunch scene,
the chef is a Minotaur who is a friend of Wonder Woman. I imagine new readers could
be very confused by a Minotaur cooking lunch for everyone. Then there is also a
monkey at the bar. That monkey’s name is
Detective Chimp. Yes, the DC Universe has a detective who is a monkey. I
personally find that funny. Another surprise for some readers is the deal when
a bat is drinking a soda. That is Man-Bat. He is a villain turned hero and not
to be confused with Batman. So, some of these little moments I enjoyed and for
readers just starting here they might get a bit confused.
I thought it was
kind of funny that the Joker wears Batman merchandise shoes in this story. This
leads to the obvious question of how he got them.Did he, for example, go to Wal-Mart and
commence shoe shopping while everyone was utterly terrified except for the one weird
kid that is always in any store at any hour? Or did some poor guy from Amazon
deliver him a package at his evil lair? This issue is not addressed and should
A thing I did not
like, but this is more of personal preference, is the continued push to replace
Hal Jordan in this series with John Stewart. I prefer Hal Jordan because he has
a more snarky attitude while John Stewart is just flat and rather boring. This
John Stewart should not be at all confused with the John Stewart of Comedy
Central and many other projects. This John Stewart is of African American
descent, a former Marine Sniper who has an architecture degree, and is a
character that dates back to the 60s. He seems to have only two modes: barking
orders or whining about life. In this book, he is whining about having a weird
ring on his finger that he can’t get off. That weird ring has given him new
powers. Because he has been to space frequently, he goes off world with several
other Justice League members to investigate “The Totality” on another planet.
Once they head out early in this volume, we never see them again.
During this issue
they commence rebuilding the moon. As part of that process, Batman pushes to “weaponize”
the moon, but details are sketchy and he loses the argument against the team. I
did not like the fact that the book does not go into exactly what Batman wanted
to do to protect Earth from Alien invasion and never details how he would have
done it. Batman has plans and we are left to wonder what they are as he loses
the argument with the team and readers don’t know the why of any of it.
I liked this story
a lot, but it embraces the current crazy of the DC universe with the “Rebirth”
deal. If you are looking for realistic characters or the traditional cannon, this
is not the place to find it. It is a fun read and it does contain some adult
language. Several people in this book cuss and that includes Superman. Things
are bad when Superman cusses. That will offend some folks and you are warned
that it happens.
Volume 2: Graveyard Of Gods by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV and numerous artists is a fun
read. You should read in order to get the most out of this volume. With the
above issues aside, it is a good one and well worth checking out.
means Friday’s Forgotten Books hosted by Todd Mason on his Sweet Freedom blog. FFB today in
these parts is Barry Ergang’s 2013 review ofThe
Case of the Baker Street Irregulars by Anthony Boucher.
THE CASE OF THE BAKER STREET IRREGULARS (1940) by Anthony Boucher
Reviewed by Barry Ergang
Mystery lovers who haven't
read it will probably find The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars by
Anthony Boucher a lot of fun. It combines bizarre situations, action, humor,
lively and intelligent prose, and the advancement of several plausible
solutions before the actual one is revealed.
Stephen Worth, ex-private
detective turned hardboiled mystery novelist and sometime screenwriter under
contract to Metropolis Pictures, is supposed to write a screen adaptation of
“The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” which will be produced by F.X. Weinberg.
When word of this makes the newspapers, Weinberg starts receiving irate letters
from the Baker Street Irregulars. The want the screenplay entrusted to someone
who reveres the Canon as they do, not a “rat,” as they refer to Worth, who
writes hardboiled fare. For his part, Worth contemptuously dismisses the BSI as
a bunch of “deductionists.” The studio's publicity director, Maureen O'Breen,
who has no liking for Worth, a heavy-drinking lecher and prankster, suggests
that Weinberg simply take him off the film and assign another writer. When
Weinberg tries to persuade Worth to work on a different project, Worth balks at
the idea and points to a contractual clause that effectively prevents him from
being replaced involuntarily. From his position between rock and hard place,
Weinberg hits on a solution and sends letters to each of the five Irregulars
who have written to him, inviting them to Hollywood at his expense to serve as
advisors on the film. When they agree, the studio provides a house for them at
221B Romualdo Drive, complete with a housekeeper named Mrs. Hudson.
To help tout the film, Maureen
plans a party for the press. On the afternoon of the party, Maureen, trying to
coordinate the preparations at 221B, is besieged by mysterious callers,
messages, and telephone calls. Once things are under way, Stephen Worth makes a
drunken, belligerent appearance. When he tries to hit one of the Irregulars,
his wild swing hits instead one of the guests, Lieutenant Jackson of the police
department. Jackson knocks him cold and he and some others carry Worth to a
room upstairs to sleep it off. That ends the party. Later on, Maureen goes
upstairs and finds a still drunk and abusive Worth standing in the doorway of
the room. Moments later she hears a shot, blood blossoms under the hand Worth
claps to his heart, and he falls back into the darkened room. When she bends to
help him, something strikes the back of her head, rendering her unconscious.
One of the Sherlockians carries her downstairs. When she revives and reports what's
happened, Lieutenant Jackson goes to investigate.
There's a lot of blood in the
room. There are other significant things there, too. There just isn't any
corpse. The next day, each of the Irregulars has a peculiar, sometimes
frightening adventure. Each adventure has its roots in a Holmes story, and each
elicits information about another Irregular which he'd prefer not be revealed.
The police and the Sherlockians thus have their hands full trying to unravel
codes and ciphers, interpret the meaning of the adventures, and discover the
whereabouts of Worth's body and the means by which it was removed from the
house. There's a cover blurb from the New York Times Book Review on the
paperback edition I have which reads, “Delightful...offers a surprise on nearly
This brings me to the only
complaint I have about the book—the edition. Mine was published by Carroll
& Graf. I'm not sure about the number of pages containing surprises, but
this particular book must have been proofread by someone whose idea of
intellectual activity is dwarf-tossing. Even by C&G standards, which
generally seem to be abysmal in the typographical error department, this one
qualifies for the Guinness Book of World Records. By all means read the
book. Just avoid the Carroll & Graf edition if you have options.
Among other works, Derringer Award-winner Barry
Ergang's own impossible crime novelette, The Play of Light and Shadow, is
available at Amazon
and Smashwords as is his recently released book
of poetry, Farrago, and other entertaining reads. For more on Barry’s books
as well as his editing services, check out Barry’s
Hardcover Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon (HarperCollins, 1992) is the first in the police procedural mystery series with Guido Brun...
Supporting The Blog
In my wife's memory and honoring a promise I made to Sandi, the blog continues...at least for now. If you would like to make a donation of support, you can do so at the links below. Most of the donated funds go to the purchase of various short story anthologies and collections which eventually are read and reviewed here.