Tuesday, December 31, 2019
Beneath the Stains of Time: Framed in Guilt (1947) by John Russell Fearn: John Russell Fearn unexpectedly passed away in 1960, aged 52, when he suffered a heart attack. A fate he unfortunately had to share with...
Writer Beware: BEWARE: WID BASTIAN A.K.A. WIDTSOE T. BASTIAN / GENIUS MEDIA INC. / KAIROS PHOENIX COMPANY
Writer Beware: BEWARE: WID BASTIAN A.K.A. WIDTSOE T. BASTIAN / GENIUS MEDIA INC. / KAIROS PHOENIX COMPANY
Mystery Fanfare: CHAMPAGNE IN CRIME FICTION//MYSTERIES: National Ch...: If you follow this blog or if you know me in real time, you know that I'm a list maker . And, since today is National Champagne...
Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 2020 New Year's Resolution for Writers: Begin: Pxfuel I rarely make personal New Year's resolutions. (The one time I did, in 2018, it backfired so spectacularly, I will never reso...
Purgatory Bay: A Novel by Bryan Gruley continues what began in Bleak Harbor. While not a straight sequel to the prior book, it features the local area and some of the same characters. There are also numerous references, some far more detailed than others, to the prior book and those events. For that reason, those who have read the prior book will get far more out of this read than those who have not.
Jubilee Rathman lives a life of wealth and splendid isolation in her home on Purgatory Bay near Black Harbor. It has been twelve years since the night her family was wiped out by murders. She knew who was responsible as did law enforcement, but when the wealthy and connected are involved, the fight to hold those accountable is often impossible. Long ago she gave up on the legal system and those within it that had so utterly failed her. Those that believe she moved on and managed to put the past behind her would be sadly mistaken.
Instead, she is financing her own very personal quest for justice. She sees it as holding those involved, no matter how far removed, as accountable for their roles in her personal tragedy. Others would see her plan, if they knew of it before things commenced, as nothing more than a revenge list and that many of her targets would be misplaced targets of her rage.
One of the not so obvious targets is a local resident, Ophelia. A renowned artist and a contributor by way of various sculptures around the area, she lost her sight during her teen years. Removing her from the home and making her vanish is a key part of Jubilee Rathman’s plan. She must vanish so that former reporter Michaela “Mikey” Deming can experience just a small beginning taste of what Jubilee Rathman has in store for her and many other folks.
Purgatory Bay: A Novel by Bryan Gruley is very much like the preceding book, Bleak Harbor: A Novel, in that it is another very complicated read filled with multiple storylines, family tragedies, and acts of violence, betrayal, and vengeance. All of the characters involved in the read are flawed and very realistic. While the overall tone is dark for much of the book, there are the occasional flashes of subtle humor which tend to lighten the mood at various times throughout the book. Several of the characters in the read, evolve, and work out their own ways to redemption by way of the violence that is unleashed across the area.
An intense and powerful read, Purgatory Bay: A Novel by Bryan Gruley is one of those book that most likely will be nominated for a slew of awards and collect at least a couple. Simply put, it is very much worth your time.
The read is currently scheduled to be released by Thomas & Mercer in eBook, audio, and print formats on January 14, 2020. You can read my review of the first book, Bleak Harbor, here.
My reading copy came by way of the author with no expectation of a review.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2019
Monday, December 30, 2019
Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 44 Calls for Submissions in January 2020 - Paying ...: Pxfuel T here are more than three dozen calls for submissions in January. All of these are paying markets, and none charge submission fe...
Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Eternal Life by Dara Horn: Reviewed by Ambrea Rachel Azaria cannot die. Since she made a deal to save her firstborn child more than two thousand yea...
TEXAS BOOK LOVER: Monday Roundup: Texas Literary Calendar Dec 30-Jan...: The poets, like the Dude, abide. Bookish goings-on in Texas for the week of December 30-January 5, compiled exclusively for Lone Star Li...
The Last Act by Brad Parks (Dutton, 2019) is a stand-alone thriller from the author of the Carter Ross investigative reporter series. Tommy Jump’s acting career is winding down after a promising start as a child actor. He has aged out of juvenile parts, is too young for character parts, and is too short for dramatic leads. His long-time agent has died and no one else is willing to take him on. His girlfriend on the other hand is a talented painter and has generated a great deal of interest in her work. She seems poised for a huge leap upward in the art world. Tommy is determined to give her enough financial stability to allow her to focus on her work, if he can just figure out how.
While he’s wrestling with this economic quandary, a friend from high school, whom he has not seen for years, approaches him with a request. The friend is with the FBI now and the FBI is looking for an actor to infiltrate a minimum-security prison in West Virginia to become friends with a new inmate, a former accountant to a Mexican drug cartel who holds evidence on money laundering that would effectively shut the cartel down. The FBI is offering $75,000 for Tommy to agree to enter the prison under a fake identity and the same amount again if Tommy learns where the evidence is hidden.
Despite his girlfriend’s and his mother’s reservations, Tommy sees this opportunity as a lifeline to financial security. He memorizes the details of the persona that the FBI has created for him, signs a confession to a bank robbery under the new name, and appears before a judge for sentencing. Before he knows it, he’s actually in prison. While it’s minimum security, it’s still a prison. The food is horrible, he is assigned to work in the prison laundry, and the prison social worker keeps trying to make him sign up for classes. His cellmate is so huge the standard cell bed had to be modified to fit him. He never speaks but Tommy is still terrified of him.
The characters are wonderful. An actor with a family as protagonist is a refreshing change from alcoholic police detectives, military veterans with PTSD, and loner private investigators. Tommy’s girlfriend and his mother are as fully developed as he is; all of them exude ordinariness and normalcy. There are still incredibly violent bits in the scenes with the cartel but Tommy could be the neighbor down the street.
One of the fun details in the book is the prison currency, which is foil packets of tuna, not the usual cigarettes or other contraband. Bribes and favors are paid in tuna. Tommy has to bribe his way into the poker game where the accountant plays every week, so he asks his FBI contacts to provide several cases of tuna. They are mystified but they do. The carefully developed plot has one twist after another. Even the last few pages hold surprises. An excellent read!
Starred review from Library Journal.
· Hardcover: 384 pages
· Publisher: Dutton (March 12, 2019)
· Language: English
· ISBN-10: 1524743534
· ISBN-13: 978-1524743536
Aubrey Hamilton ©2019
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.
Sunday, December 29, 2019
The Eagles win today meant they clinched the NFC East regardless of what the Cowboys did today. Dallas beat the Redskins, which is always a good thing, and finish 8-8.
This was not the season we expected here as Dallas just never did get things going at a consistent rate. I never bought into the Super Bowl hype, but did think they would make a run in the playoffs.
While the news coverage and speculating pundits are sure Jason Garret will be out as Cowboys coach, I am not so sure. I also don't see the point of bringing in another coach unless Jerry is going to step down from his position as GM and constant meddler. That is not going to happen so changing coaches won't mean much.
Mystery Fanfare: NEW YEAR'S MYSTERIES, CRIME FICTION, THRILLERS, AN...: New Year's Mysteries! Mysteries, Crime Fiction, Thrillers and Movies that take place at the New Year. I wish you a safe, health...
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...
At Their Own Game: A SpoCompton Crime Novel by Frank Zafiro revolves around former police officer Jacob Stankovic. He runs a small criminal enterprise using Matt for short range stuff and Brent for long haul gigs. Though he is now on the other side from his former fellow officers of the law, he has worked to keep things relatively clean these past seven years and kept things small time to stay off the radar of everyone. Especially one Detective who got seriously upset over the fact that Jacob, when he was still a cop, spent a lot of time between the sheets with the Detective’s wife.
Who would have thought he would take things so personally?
He has been running things small and tight with no issues. His number one rule was no drugs. Thanks to desperate circumstances, Jacob Stankovic broke that rule and now things are blowing up. The drug deal went sideways though it might still be salvageable. That is one problem. Another one is the fact that minutes after the drug deal went haywire, Matt got picked up by the cops and is in jail with that same Detective leaning on him.
Jacob Stankovic has never had to kill anyone before. If things keep going wrong, he may have to rethink his rule against murders.
At Their Own Game: A SpoCompton Crime Novel is another intense read from the mind of Frank Zafiro. A former officer himself, Frank Zafiro brings a gritty realism to all his characters. These are not super hero cops like you read in other books where the cops are perfect, or nearly perfect, at home and at work. The officers and former officers in Frank Zafiro’s tales are flawed human beings. Some are just way more flawed than others. Under pressure, those circumstances coupled with inner flaws, can and often do become major issues.
Issues that drive action and result in very intense read. Such is the case here in At Their Own Game: A SpoCompton Crime Novel. Another strong read from author Frank Zafiro and like his other books, very much worth your time.
I purchased my eBook copy to read and review back in the middle of October.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2019
Saturday, December 28, 2019
Up in KRL this morning a review and giveaway of "A Catered New Year's Eve" by Isis Crawford, along with a New Year's Eve guest post by Isis
And a review and giveaway of "Fall's Killer Vintage" by Anna Celeste Burke
We also have the latest mystery Coming Attractions from Sunny Frazier along with a giveaway of "Thin Ice" by Paige Shelton
And reviews of the latest seasons of "Shakespeare and Hathaway" and "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries"
We also have a review and giveaway of "Ghosts of Painting Past" by Sybil Johnson published by Henery Press
Kings River Life Magazine https://KingsRiverLife.com
KRL News & Reviews https://www.krlnews.com/
Mysteryrat's Maze Podcast https://mysteryratsmaze.podbean.com/
Avengers Vol 3: War Of The Vampires by Jason Aaron continues the story of the Avengers as they have to deal with various vampire factions that are having a civil war. The Avengers are not used to fighting vampires, but they have help from the best vampire in the vast Marvel Universe, Blade. Alongside the Avengers, Blade fights to keep the vampire war from spreading while dealing with the Winter Guard (Russia’s Avengers that work for a corrupt Russian Administration). For some reason, the Russians think it is a good idea to try to make a deal with Dracula instead of just killing him.
This story features all the Avengers and focuses on Ghost Rider and how much he does not know regarding his status. The Ghost Rider has to face the question of whether or not he is a monster. If he is a monster, how is he doing to deal with it? Will he make the same choice as Blade – be a monster that hunts monsters or try to find a way out?
I enjoyed having Blade in this Avengers team since he is not a character that is featured often, despite the fact that he is one of the cooler supernatural characters. Also fun and present in this issue is Captain America who has experience fighting vampires as he did so in Europe during World War Two. Iron Man also is present and is dealing with more family secrets regarding his adoptive father.
The action filled issue has plenty of other characters such as Dracula, various vampires, and an Evil Demon Dog. Also present is Thori which is a pet dog belonging to Thor. He is a talking, kill happy dog that wishes to be the “best murdering dog” he can be. He is fun.
The action is good and this volume connects very well to the other volumes in this series. The characterization of the characters is better in this book than the earlier ones in the series. I enjoyed Avengers Vol 3: War Of The Vampires by Jason Aaron and I recommend it.
Avengers Vol 3: War Of The Vampires
Material supplied the Grauwyler Park Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.
Scott A. Tipple ©2019
Friday, December 27, 2019
The ebook site Smashwords is running its year-end sale between now and January 1st. Barry Ergang is among the many participants, and is offering his titles at reduced prices (not that they're pricey to begin with), and some of them are freebies. Take advantage of this opportunity to read his work and that of thousands of others. Barry's offerings include but aren't limited to:Barry also hopes that readers who acquire any of his ebooks will, after reading them, post ratings and their honest comments on their site pages.
Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 43 Writing Contests in January 2020 - No entry fee...: Wikipedia January is a wonderful month for writing contests. This month there are more than three dozen contests calling for every genre...
Back a number of years ago, I first heard about The Empty Manager by Bill Crider when Ben Boulden mentioned his 2008 review of the same over on his Gravetapping Blog. It wasn’t available via eBook or at my local library so Bill Crider sent me a copy from his own personal library. I reviewed it here on the blog late December 2014. I mentioned in here again in December 2016. I had planned to read the other novellas in the book and still have not managed to do that. Life tended to laugh and interefer with my plans on this and quite a number of other things. So it goes. Though I have not managed to get the job done, my advice remains the same as it was then—if you can get your hands on the book do so. For this final Friday in 2019, head over to Todd Mason ‘s Sweet Freedom Blog for the full list of reading suggestions.
Sheriff Dan Rhodes can’t remember it ever snowing in Blacklin County on Christmas. It certainly didn’t look like it would happen this year with daytime temperatures in the upper 60’s and low 40’s at night. Typical weather for the area residents of the county located in East Texas, but not conducive to the postcard winter wonderland so many long for at this time of year.
Like a lot of small Texan towns-- and elsewhere for that matter-- the downtown area of Clearview has a number of vacant buildings in various states of disrepair. Some of the vacant buildings are in very bad shape. Shoppers were drawn away to the nearby Wal-Mart or one of the big new grocery stores and local businesses closed leaving the buildings to decay and rot. City council member Jerri Laxton had been pushing plans to restore the grandeur of the downtown area.
One of her ideas was to get some of the local high school students to paint a mural on one of the walls of a downtown building. Some of the local religious leaders convinced all that in the spirit of the season the mural should be of a manger with a brilliant star hanging over it. Somebody else came up with the plan to have members of the local Baptist congregation play the parts of Joseph, Mary, wise men, and the shepherds with a doll standing in for the baby Jesus. After all, the risk with a real baby as part of the outside scene would be too high.
It was a very good thing that a doll was used because, according to Francis Blair, somebody stole baby Jesus. She is very upset that somebody would do that. She might be more upset if she knew there was a dead body in the alley behind the building.
While Rhodes never drinks a Dr Pepper----though he does talk about it---- and he never eats any crackers, he does actively work the cases. Any Rhodes story is a good one and this one is no exception. The novella The Empty Manger by Bill Crider is well worth the effort to get your hands on the book, Murder, Mayhem, And Mistletoe. Crider’s story is one of four novellas in the book that also contains works from Terence Faherty, Aileen Schumacher, and Wendi Lee.
Material supplied by the author so that I could read and review.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2014, 2016, 2019
Thursday, December 26, 2019
Mystery Fanfare: BOXING DAY MYSTERIES // BOXING DAY CRIME FICTION: December 26 is Boxing Day . I've put together a list of over 1400 mysteries that take place at Christmas , and although I'm s...
Sometimes a short story takes on a life of its own and becomes a full sized novel. Such is the case with The Lost Are The Last To Die: A Sonny Burton Novel. This read is a sequel to the very good, A Thousand Falling Crows.
It is October 1934 as this novel begins and Sunny Burton is no longer a Texas Ranger. Drought and the depression have Texas in their two handed grip and men and the land are being crushed alike. Sonny Burton, thanks to the gunshot that ultimately took his right arm, will never be able to do a two handed grip again. His new prosthesis allows him to work the stick on his old model A Ford pickup truck and that makes driving a little easier than it was for a while there though he prefers to stay close to home.
That isn’t to be.
Collingsworth County Sheriff Layton Jones, known to all the locals as “Jonesy” brings word that Billy Bunson has escaped from Huntsville. When Burton was working for the Texas Rangers, he had several encounters with Bunson over the years. The first time was back when Billy was a small child. The last one got the adult Billy put away in Huntsville. Not only is he out, but he took the warden’s pregnant wife with him as a hostage when he left the legendary Texas prison.
Billy He took her because the police grabbed his girlfriend. Donna Del Rey was helping in the escape and now is sitting in the county jail for her efforts. He wants to make a trade-- the warden’s wife for his girlfriend. To make sure he got his point across, he sent a piece of one finger. Everyone understands that if he does not get what he wants, he will keep taking pieces off of her until she is dead as is the baby. The Rangers want Sonny to find him. Billy knows that the Texas Rangers would get Sonny to help as nobody knows Billy better than Sonny. Sonny coming to Hunstville to lead the search would be expected and another piece of Billy’s plan.
Sonny does not have a choice and he knows it. He is going to have to go to Huntsville and find out all he can so that he can stop Billy if at all possible. A man who was passing his days waiting for the end is given a reason to do what he does best. Even if he does not want to admit it to himself that being back on the chase and needed makes him feel alive in ways he has not felt in a very long time.
What follows is a highly atmospheric mystery with a lot going on. Author Larry D. Sweazy uses a current storyline in 1934 as well as numerous flashbacks across various other storylines primarily to weave a complicated tale in terms of Billy and Sonny’s relationship. Those various storylines and flashbacks also serve to illustrate the complicated relationship Sonny had with everyone including his late wife, Martha, his son, Jesse, and the Texas Rangers, and others. More than once these storylines also touch on Billy and illustrate his childhood years and more and how, in some ways, his destiny was always pre-ordained as was the destiny of Sonny to this point. Multiple storylines are at work through the book as is the overarching idea of a sort of new beginning for Sonny who has suffered so much over the years. There is a lot going on in this very complicated read and far more than what is described here in this review.
The Lost Are The Last To Die: A Sonny Burton Novel is one of those rare reads in fiction that make you think long after the book is closed. I suspect author Larry. D. Sweazy and this book will be up for a slew of awards next year. No doubt he will collect more than one for this intense and very good read.
Lesa Holstine very graciously sent me the ARC she had of this for my reading pleasure after she completed her review. You can, and should, read that review here.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2019
Wednesday, December 25, 2019
Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: 127 Hours, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Ch...: Reported by Jeanne Nevermore opened with a report on 127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Halston which details Hals...
Beneath the Stains of Time: Murder in Retrospect: The Best and Worst of 2019: So, here we are again, gathered at the yawning grave of another year that has passed too soon and, before we start shuffling dirt o...
Sweet Freedom: FRIDAY'S "FORGOTTEN" BOOKS AND MORE on Xmas; the l...: famous seasonal novel This week's books and more, unfairly (or sometimes fairly) neglected, or simply those the reviewers below thi...
Tuesday, December 24, 2019
Here in North Texas, when the weather is warm enough to sit outside, you better take advantage of it before you blink and it is 37 and trying to sleet. Today was one of those days as we climbed from 37 around 7 am to 70 by 2 this afternoon. Scott and I spent the afternoon out in the backyard reading. The holidays are very hard and getting outside for a little while helps both of us somewhat as we try to deal with the way things are these days.
While Scott was reading a fantasy book that looks to be about three times the size of one of my print reads, I read and finished PURGATORY BAY by Bryan Gruley. It comes out the middle of next month and is an incredible read. Review coming soon.
This graphic novel biography of Rod Serling opens with Serling on an airplane, talking with a fellow passenger about his life. The moody black and white illustrations are reminiscent of the old Twilight Zone program, as I am sure the author intended.
I was vaguely aware of some of Serling’s background; as a fan of both TZ and later Night Gallery, I felt I had grown up listening to his stories. What I didn’t know, and what Shadmi vividly portrays, is the source material that informed his writing. Serling joined the military in 1943, an undersized Jewish boy who wanted to be a paratrooper and fight the Germans. He was turned down because he was too short, but with the determination—some would say bull-headedness—he persisted until he was sent to training. Many didn’t make the cut; for Serling, failure was not an option.
But no training in the world can really prepare one for war. Serling’s disappointment at being sent to the Pacific instead of Europe was soon shattered as death and destruction became real. The war would haunt his dreams the rest of his life.
Post-war, he went to college and decided he wanted to become a writer, a thing much easier said than accomplished. The subtitle of the book is Rod Serling and the Birth of Television, which is entirely accurate. This was the Golden Age of live dramas, where an infant industry tried to find its footing. Serling wrote script after script, meeting rejection at every turn, until he finally broke through with a teleplay entitled “Patterns.”
But he still hadn’t found the formula that would let him say what he wanted. Sponsors, executives, censors, etc. seemed to be intent on gutting his work, rendering it innocuous. The suggestions to “improve” his script about Emmett Till are jaw-dropping. It was a chance remark that led Serling to a revelation that would revolutionize television.
The book doesn’t stop there, but tells us about Serling’s life post-TZ. I admire Shadmi for showing us Serling warts and all; this book neither idolizes nor demonizes him. It does portray a complicated, haunted man who made an impact on our culture.
This is an excellent resource for anyone interested in either Serling or early television. Shadmi has appended an extensive bibliography. I also enjoyed his afterword, in which he explained how he came to do the book. It’s a fitting book for its subject; I think Serling might have approved.
Monday, December 23, 2019
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Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Portrait of a Murderer: A Christmas Crime Story b...: Reviewed by Jeanne Mystery Scene Magazine has a feature entitled “Intriguing First Lines.” I don’t think they come much better...
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Drowning in Christmas by Judith K. Ivie (Mainly Murder Press, 2010) is the fourth book in the Kate Lawrence mystery series. Kate and her partners Margo and Charlene have shelved their Hartford, Connecticut, real estate business for the present during the lingering recession. Kate accepts a temporary position with a local nonprofit just in time for the organization’s major fundraiser. Held during the height of Christmas celebrations, an auction is staged in the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, the oldest public art museum in the United States, with the attendant wine and hors d’oeuvres.
While coordinating the usual last-minute flurry of activities leading up to the auction, family responsibilities are occupying Kate’s mind. Her old cat is grieving the loss of the other cat a month previously and is refusing to eat. Kate is mourning too and is frantically looking for tidbits to tempt the sad kitty. Her daughter is bringing a new boyfriend to Christmas dinner and wants everything Norman Rockwell perfect. Her ex-husband begs her to host the holiday wedding of his nephew (and Kate’s godson) in her home since his temporary apartment is too small. Kate’s live-in boyfriend is on business travel and not sure if he will return in time to celebrate the day with her. It’s all just about more than she can bear.
Then on the night of the auction, which goes swimmingly up to the point Santa Claus is to appear, the nonprofit’s financial officer, James O’Halloran, slated to serve as Santa Claus, fails to respond to his cue. No one can find him anywhere, so Kate and the nonprofit CEO scramble to smooth over the gaffe. After all the donors have left, a comprehensive search reveals nothing. The local police will not accept a missing person’s report for 48 hours, and Kate and the CEO are at a loss as to where to look for him. Discussion with his wife reveals his black sheep brother has surfaced after an absence of years, no doubt looking for money, and everyone wonders if his appearance has something to do with O’Halloran’s disappearance.
The mystery here is gossamer thin, anemic and waiflike. However, this is a fine Christmas read, full of the scents, sights, and sounds that say Christmas in the contemporary United States, from the music to the food to the rampant consumerism. The scene where Kate stops to listen to the choir practicing to the accompaniment of a huge pipe organ in the nearby cathedral dazzling with extravagant Christmas decorations is a good example. I particularly like the way expectations are nicely tempered with realism throughout. Kate plans a complicated menu that succeeds no better than most, and she tries to accommodate her godson’s wedding plans that go awry. Her children bicker and the family of her friend Charlene all come down with the flu. While nothing goes quite as planned, the outcomes are still satisfying. A good addition to any holiday reading list.
· Hardcover: 234 pages
· Publisher: Mainly Murder Press (October 1, 2010)
· Language: English
· ISBN-10: 0982795254
· ISBN-13: 978-0982795255
Aubrey Hamilton ©2019
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.