Sunday, June 30, 2019
Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa: Reviewed by Jeanne Nana is a stray, nameless cat when he first notices the friendly young man who seems to (wisely) wish to ma...
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 Muhammad Khan in the Countdown hot seat:
We’re on Twitter at:
Crime Review: @CrimeReviewUK
Linda Wilson: @CrimeReviewer
Sharon Wheeler: @lartonmedia
This week’s reviews are:
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
The part-fictionalised 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 to unravel.
MURDER IN BELGRAVIA by Lynn Britney, reviewed by John Cleal
A 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.
TWISTED PREY by John Sandford, reviewed by Chris Roberts
When US 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.
A GIRL CALLED JUSTICE by Elly Griffiths, reviewed by Linda Wilson
When 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.
FOR THE MISSING by Lina Bengtsdotter, reviewed by Ewa Sherman
Detective 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.
THE BLUE by Nancy Bilyeau, reviewed by John Cleal
Huguenot-descended 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 enemy.
THE RHYTHM SECTION by Mark Burnell, reviewed by Arnold Taylor
Stephanie 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.
GOLDEN STATE by Ben H Winters, reviewed by John Barnbrook
In Golden 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.
RATHER TO BE PITIED by Jan Newton, reviewed by John Cleal
DS Julie Kite, settling into her new job in rural Wales, is faced with a murder mystery which will test her abilities to the full.
BETTY CHURCH AND THE SUFFOLK VAMPIRE (audiobook) by MRC Kasasian, reviewed
by Linda Wilson
Inspector 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.
AMONG THE RUINS by Ausma Zehenat Khan, reviewed by Chris Roberts
Canadian policeman Esa Khattak is on holiday in Iran when he receives an unofficial request to investigate the murder of a political filmmaker.
GIVE UP THE DEAD by CB Hanley, reviewed by John Cleal
Edwin 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.
THE COLOUR OF THE SUN by David Almond, reviewed by Linda Wilson
It’s not 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.
Review: Miniature Moss Gardens: Create Your Own Japanese Container Gardens by Megumi Oshima and Hideshi Kimura
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 bed.
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 information.
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. Miniature 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.
Miniature Moss Gardens: Create Your Own Japanese Container Gardens
Megumi Oshima and Hideshi Kimura
Hardback (also available in digital format)
Material supplied by the good folks of the Dallas Public Library System. My review copy came from the Kleberg-Rylie Branch.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2019
Saturday, June 29, 2019
Gravetapping: Paul Bishop Presents...Pattern of Behavior: Ten Ta...: It’s been far too long since I’ve had a story published, but a few days ago saw my short story, “No Chips, No Bonus”, published in the ex...
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
And 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 Needlepoint
Mystery by Lea Wait, "The Scent of Murder": A Jazz Ramsey series by Kylie Logan, and "Antiques Ravin’": A Trash ‘n’ Treasures Mystery by Barbara
We also have the latest mystery Coming Attractions by Sunny Frazier
And a review of "The Blake Mysteries on BritBoxTV
Up on KRL News and Reviews this week we have a review and giveaway of "A Plain Vanilla Murder" by Susan Wittig Albert
And a review and giveaway of "Bitter Brew" by GA McKevett
Also a review and ebook giveaway of "Lunacy Lake" by Kathi Daley
And a review and giveaway of "The Jean Harlow Bombshell" by Mollie Cox Bryan
And a review and giveaway of "Death by Armoire" by Albert A. Bell Jr.
Angela Crider Neary, Author: Too Late to Die: In 1986, Bill Crider published his first Sheriff Dan Rhodes novel, TOO LATE TO DIE. But did you know that was not the original title he ...
Justice League 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 fundamentally.
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 trophy room.
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, and Mera.
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 have been.
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.
Justice League 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.
Justice League Volume 2: Graveyard Of Gods
Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Paperback (also available in eBook format)
Material supplied by the good folks of the Dallas Public Library System. My particular copy came from the Arcadia Park Branch.
Scott A. Tipple ©2019
Friday, June 28, 2019
Sandra Ruttan's call for short story submissions for the anthology, ILLICIT, has a deadline of June 30th.
A Writer's Life....Caroline Clemmons: DIANTHA BY ZINA ABBOTT: My name is Robyn Echols. Zina Abbott is the pen I use for my historical novels. I’m a member of Women Writing the Wes...
Beneath the Stains of Time: Sorcerer's House (1956) by Gerald Verner: In my previous post, I reviewed John R.S. Pringle's The Royal Flush Murders (1948), published as by " Gerald Verner ," whi...
Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Ward, Adichie, Carter, Kelly, Sides, L...: Reported by Ambrea This week, Nevermore kicked off their meeting with Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. Jojo is thirteen-year...
Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 27 Calls for Submissions in July 2019 - Paying mar...: Wikimedia There are more than two dozen calls for submissions in July. All of these are paying markets, and none charge submission fees....
Mystery Fanfare: SUMMERTIME MYSTERIES // SUMMER CRIME FICTION: Summertime , and the living is easy. Or is it? So many mysteries taking place during Summer are filled with murder and mayhem -- on the B...
FFB Review: THE CASE OF THE BAKER STREET IRREGULARS (1940) by Anthony Boucher Reviewed by Barry Ergang
Friday 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 of The 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 every page.”
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.
Barry Ergang © 2013, 2019
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 website.