Wednesday, June 30, 2021
Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: When Stars Rain Down, Anatomy of an Illness, Living Nations Living Words, Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba
From the massive archive ....
According to the author’s forward, the editor refused to include the short story It Doesn’t Take A Genius in the short story collection Inhuman Condition because of its “graphic subject matter.” For those who read a lot of crime or non-cozy mystery stories, the so called “graphic subject matter” is really not that graphic at all and certainly not at all disturbing. Interestingly enough, the tale was first published in the short story mystery and crime anthology LAndmarked For Murder by Top Press in 2006.
The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is like every other smart place in the world. The students and the faculty are really smart and tend to look down on the support staff that keeps things humming along. Especially a certain middle aged slightly overweight woman who works in payroll and accounting. The only time anyone pays attention to “Miss Dean” is when something is amiss.
That works out well for her during a lunch break from a computer training class. Two guys from another department are also in the class and they tend to stand out. Thanks to the fact they are oblivious of everyone around them and run their mouths it becomes clear that Brian Spain and Tony Brandt have a serious dark interest in the class instructor, Jennifer Pearson. She is in trouble if they really do what are planning and she has no idea of the threat. Miss Dean does, but would anyone believe her?
This is a very good tale that features an intriguing character. There is much that lurks below the surface with Miss Dean and those details gradually become clear in It Doesn’t Take A Genius. While it easily could and should have appeared in the very good collection Inhuman Condition this short story is well worth it as a mystery stand alone.
It Doesn’t Take A Genius
I recently picked this up to read and review using funds in my Amazon Associate account after the author mentioned it on Facebook. I realized I had never read it and wanted to rectify that situation. I am glad I did.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2015, 2021
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
Please welcome Jeanne DuBois to the blog today as she explains the background to her short story, “Moonset” in the recently released anthology, Moonlight & Misadventure: 20 Stories of Mystery and Suspense.
“Moonset”--Some Historical Background
My story “Moonset” is set in Atlantic City in 1921, but notorious gangsters are not its focus. The inspiration came from my grandmother who lost her husband and two children in the flu epidemic of 1918 and never spoke of it. I found out by accident, looking up genealogy stuff on the Internet. By 1921, she was married to my grandfather and on her way to having three more children. What happened to widows who didn’t remarry?
Employment opportunities were opening up for women around that time, I found. Their salaries were lower than a man’s, no surprise. Still, my main character, the widow Loretta, could be a stenographer/typist, a job once closed to women. Scores of business conventions occurred in Atlantic City back then, I discovered. Visitors flocked by the thousands to its white sand beaches and famous Boardwalk, “the only one anywhere that deserves to be spelled with a capital B.”
Prohibition, in effect since January of 1920, was relatively painless in July of 1921, especially in New Jersey, where it went largely unenforced. The law didn’t ban the drinking of alcohol, after all. But I didn’t want my story to be about bootleggers, so I chose Haddon Hall, a Quaker-owned hotel, where alcohol was never allowed, as the scene of the crime. Haddon Hall and its Boardwalk companion, the Chalfonte, began their lives in the late 1860’s as wooden rooming houses, offering guests healthy salt air breezes and salt water baths. By the summer of 1921, the Chalfonte was a “brick-and-iron skyscraper,” Haddon Hall had its Boardwalk addition completed, and plans for a fireproof restructuring were about to commence.
A New Jersey Court Judge made headlines in July of 1921 when he accused the Atlantic City Police Department of being in cahoots with a band of con men working to relieve wealthy vacationers of their money. One of the incidents happened at the Chalfonte. A team of twenty private detectives from Philadelphia, funded by a secret source, descended on the city in mid-July to investigate. One policeman lost his job, but no one was ever arrested. A month later, the founder of that private detective firm was in Washington being sworn in as the new Director of the Bureau of Investigation. Got him out of town quick, didn’t they?
For those who don’t know, the most notable of all Atlantic City conventions occurred in May of 1929. One of its attendees was Al Capone.
Jeanne DuBois ©2021
Jeanne grew up in New Jersey, studied English and history at the University of Michigan and, after twenty-nine inches of snow in twenty-four hours, moved to the Florida Keys where she waited tables, drove the bookmobile, and fished. When her son was six, they headed north. She earned an M.Ed. at the University of Florida and taught elementary school. She lives with two retired greyhounds and still teaches, from time to time.
Monday, June 28, 2021
J. D. Allen is an accomplished writer, having published a number of romances before turning to crime fiction. In addition to contributions to various short story anthologies, her first full-length novel introduced the Sin City Investigations series and Jim Bean, former cop, now private investigator in Las Vegas, in 2018. Bean’s third adventure is Body Zoo, published by Severn River in June 2021. Number Four is scheduled for release in August 2021.
Bean is hired by an insurance company to look into a possible arson involving an old trailer. The trailer park in question has filed two claims already this year, and the insurance company is understandably cynical about a third one. They believe the owner is upgrading her rentals on their dime, but they need proof to deny payment. Bean visits the torched trailer and interviews the arson investigator as well as the owner. He’s struck by the lack of interest in the tenant, who has disappeared. Emilee Beck seems to have evaporated, which worries Bean. A young woman alone should have someone interested in her wellbeing. Bean decides that person is going to be him.
Tracing her associates leads Bean quickly to her boyfriend AJ Ward, son and nephew of a pair of brothers who run a profitable sports, hunting, and taxidermy emporium in the area. AJ disappears soon after Bean starts inquiring about Emilee, and his worried father retains Bean to find him. Everyone assumes that he’s joined Emilee, so locating one will locate both. They learn that Emilee is on the run from a motorcycle gang who kidnapped her as a child and pimped her until someone helped her escape. With a price on her head and strong memories of the abuse she endured, Emilee is desperate to avoid capture.
Alternately told from Bean’s perspective and Emilee’s, the story becomes intense. It is a realistic and grim depiction of a human trafficking survivor, a subject of deep concern to Allen, with good cause. I was shocked to learn a couple of years ago that the county I live in is the fifth most likely locale in the United States for human trafficking and that a nearby shopping center is an ongoing focus of law enforcement investigation because of known criminal trafficking activities there.
The seriousness of the plot is balanced with ingenious settings and offbeat characters. For instance, Bean’s favorite greasy diner converted into a vegan café, but he continues to eat there despite not really caring for the food. His associates are great. My favorite of Bean’s sidekicks is a Vietnam-era veteran who can hack a computer with the best of the teenagers around. Well written, fact based, fast moving, intricately plotted. An absorbing book but may trigger more sensitive readers.
· Publisher: Severn River Publishing (June 8, 2021)
· Language: English
· Paperback: 370 pages
· ISBN-10: 1648750958
· ISBN-13: 978-1648750953
Aubrey Hamilton ©2021
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.
Sunday, June 27, 2021
Saturday, June 26, 2021
In recent weeks, I have read a lot of pieces that indicated that the new series that is currently being filmed would be set around Ballard. The implication of this spoiler filled article is otherwise.
Up in KRL this morning reviews and giveaways of 3 more fun mysteries for your summer reading-"Beyond a Reasonable Donut": A Deputy Donut Mystery by Ginger Bolton, "Independent Bones": A Sarah Booth Delany Mystery by Carolyn Haines, and "Punning with Scissors": A Crossword Puzzle Mystery by Becky Clark (this book is an ebook giveaway the other 2 are print) https://kingsriverlife.com/06/26/end-of-june-mystery-catchup/
As we continue to feature LGBTQ+ authors for Pride this month, up in KRL today we have a review and ebook giveaway of "The Always Anonymous Beast" by Lauren Wright Douglas, along with an interesting interview with Lauren. The book is published by ReQueered Tales https://kingsriverlife.com/06/26/the-always-anonymous-beast-by-lauren-wright-douglas/
We also have the latest mystery Coming Attractions from Sunny Frazier https://kingsriverlife.com/06/26/july-coming-attractions-beat-the-heat-and-go-to-the-beach/
Up during the week we posted another special midweek guest post, this one by mystery author Marilyn Meredith where she talks about her latest book "The Trash Harem." You can also enter to win an ebook copy of the book https://kingsriverlife.com/06/23/its-not-over-until-youre-sure-its-over/
Up on KRL News and Reviews this week we have a review and giveaway of "Pint of No Return" by Dana Mentink https://www.krlnews.com/2021/06/pint-of-no-return-by-dana-mentink.html
And a review and ebook giveaway of "Moonlight & Misadventures" an anthology edited by Judy Penz Sheluk https://www.krlnews.com/2021/06/moonlight-misadventure-20-stories-of.html
And a review and ebook giveaway of "TERF Wars" by Dharma Kelleher https://www.krlnews.com/2021/06/terf-wars-by-dharma-kelleher.html
We also have a review and giveaway of "Phantoms and Felonies" by Lucy Ness, along with a bonus giveaway of the previous book in the series "Haunted Homicide" https://www.krlnews.com/2021/06/phantoms-and-felonies-by-lucy-ness.html
Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 10 Speculative Fiction Magazines Accepting Submissions-NOW - Paying Markets
An Empire Asunder by Evan Currie is the sequel to Heirs of Empire and begins a short time after that first book. As this is a series where one book builds on another, it is impossible to discuss anything in this book without causing some sort of spoiler for the reader. Therefore, the review below does contain some spoilers, but those details are limited as much as possible.
In this novel, the royal twins have moved into new positions as the young prince has joined the Cadre and the young princess has become Empress. The war between The Empire led by the twins vs the Alliance led by General Corian escalates. Mira Desol, after the events of the first novel, took off with the Caleb Star and has been using it and her crew as a self-proclaimed pirate to raid Corian's forces. Corian, who was severely injured, has become increasingly unhinged as he enacts his latest sinister plan to take the throne. On separate paths the young prince and Mira seek to uncover Corian's evil plot.
An Empire Asunder is very much like the first book. If you read it and enjoyed the fast-paced action with strong character relationships and banter, you will probably enjoy this novel. The addition of Matani, a seasoned Cadre member who was retired but has come back to teach young cadre members, was the best new character with his general attitude of world weariness was highly entertaining. Among other duties, he is attempting to turn the young prince into a soldier. Once introduced, he provided many observations and comments that served to move things forward as well as entertain this reader.
The one real change to the previous writing style evidenced in the first book is that in this novel, is that a number of the side characters get a POV perspective while interacting with the main characters. This allows readers to better understand how other characters are reacting to the main characters.
An Empire Asunder by Evan Currie is a good book that continues the events of the first one. Published in 2016, the read is clearly a setup for the next novel in the series, but the author has not announced one at this time.
An Empire Asunder: The Scourwind Legacy Book One
47 North (Amazon)
Paperback (also available in audio and eBook formats)
My reading copy came from the Oak Lawn Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.
Scott A. Tipple ©2021
Friday, June 25, 2021
Writer Beware®: The Blog: Eli Bear Company, Star Alley Press: Two Writer Beware All-Stars Return With New Ventures
Rapture in Death by Judy Robb picks up approximately three weeks after the wedding between Lieutenant Eve Dallas and Roarke in Immortal in Death. After an offworld honeymoon that that fully involved Dallas personally and professionally, Lieutenant Dallas finds her old desk more buried than it was when she left. She has paperwork to do, court hearings to attend and testify at, and soon a murder to solve.
Or, that murder could be a suicide.
NYPD Homicide Lieutenant Eve Dallas does not think so. Just hours after high priced defense attorney S. T. Fitzhugh tried to trash her, her character, and her investigation, in defense of his client, Fitzhugh is found floating dead in his tub in his home. A hand that is hanging over the edge of the clear tub has a gaping wound and has let blood flow out over the titles. More blood is in the water making it clear that there are other injuries as yet unseen. The knife, presumably the tool of choice, is present. It has all the appearances of a suicide though Dallas isn't so sure.
Before long, she is sure a murderer is at work as Fitzhugh isn't the only apparent suicide. Proving that the cases are linked and are actually murders is getting increasingly difficult. Not only due to the pressure coming at her from all sides, but the sheer lack of evidence. Somebody is playing god, she is sure of it, but finding proof and the identity of the person or persons responsible is proving nearly impossible in Rapture in Death.
This is the fourth book in the In Death series written by J. D. Robb. Police procedurals set in the late 2050s, these books feature complicated cases, flashes of humor, and often graphic sex. While all that is fine this reader, I remain annoyed by the abrupt head hopping pov switches through multiple characters in the same paragraph. The writer and editor in me screams when I see them as that is slopping story telling. However, that being said, I must admit that what seems glaring obvious in the first part of these books, fades to the background as the story progresses and I get lost in the read.
These are fun books that serve as a nice break between reads for me. I recognize the flaws while I also recognize that they are highly entertaining. Like any series, one should read in order. However, each book has brief recaps of what went on before and therefore one can pick up any one of the first four to start and have a pretty good idea what has been going on in the series. A fun series that should not be taken too seriously, Rapture in Death is an enjoyable read.
The series to this point and my reviews:
Immortal in Death (Book 3) May 2021
Rapture in Death: Eve Dallas Mysteries (Book 4)
J. D. Robb
Berkley Books (Penguin Random House)
eBook (also available in audio, hardback, and paperback formats)
My copy came via the LibbyApp from the Dallas Public Library System. Big time thanks to my son, Scott, as always for making the technology work for me.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2021
Thursday, June 24, 2021
Sweet Freedom: FRIDAY'S "FORGOTTEN" BOOKS AND MORE: the links to reviews, texts and more: 18 June 2021
by Stacy Abrams
Doubleday (May 11, 2021)
Hardcover : 384 pages, also available in Kindle, Paper, and on Audible
Supreme Court Justice, Howard Wynn, lies “sleeping” in a coma. The first few pages set up the story, how he falls into the sleep, and give us background on his intrepid clerk, the protagonist Avery Keene, who has a family full of problems and no idea that the Justice is about to dump his decision-making power in all areas (health, finance, papers) on her instead of name his wife or son.
While I found the set-up pages a bit slow moving, once into the story, I realized that the complexity of the tale, needed that detail in order for our minds to follow the faster pace at which Abrams skillfully weaves together the tales of family perfidy, political perfidy, and international upset in the world of vaccines into a braid well-worth our time. Plus she adds just a dash or romance, the bow on the braid.
Abrams, while perhaps better known for her political prowess, and stunning non-fiction work on voting rights especially, is no stranger to fiction. Under the pen name, Selena Montgomery, she has written eight romantic suspense novels.
Considering the timeline involved with putting out a work of fiction with a major publisher, Abrams is also eerily prescient in giving us frighteningly realistic negative possibilities of a merger between an American and Indian genetics firm that supposedly is for curing a deadly genetic disease. Her depictions of an evil genius in the White House , willing to commit murder to achieve his aims is also terrifying. However having lived for more than thirty years in the DC playpen seen its workings up close and personal, I have to say, she has created realistic characters on all sides.
I would love to see Avery Keene apply her keen mind (pun intended) to other DC -based mysteries. Maybe a new series is in the works? While Justice Sleeps is an exceptionally good read and deserves five stars.
I was thrilled to have latched on to this book as my local librarian was setting it out.
Find it. Read it. It’s the first fiction she has published under her own name. The book is available on Kindle and at local bookstores.
Joan Leotta ©2021
Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage. Her poetry, essays, cnf, short stories, and articles are widely published. Mysteries are favorite things to read..short and long..and to write.
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: The Premonition, Imperial Woman, A Map of the World, Sold on a Monday
From the massive archive…
There is a legend regarding the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming. The legend has several pieces including a piece involving a highway patrol officer by the name of Bobby Womack who had a complicated career tragically cut short in a fiery crash decades ago. It is a place where strange occurrences are customary, radio communication is still nearly impossible, and very old gold coins appear on the roadway right before major events.
It is according to newly transferred highway patrol officer Rosey Wayman, a place where she can hear “officer needs assistance” radio calls from Bobby Womack. Such a call sends fear and stress through any officer. That response is made worse by the fact these calls come from somebody who can’t possibly be alive and no one else has ever heard the middle of the night calls. Sheriff Walt Longmire knows her to be a good and solid officer and intends to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Others think there is no mystery. Their perception, whether they say it or not, is that Officer Wayman is nuts. Her supervisor wants her to have a psychiatric evaluation. Such an evaluation, even if she would pass the test, certainly isn’t going to help her career prospects. Trying to convince others of what she has heard these last three months is beginning to take a serious toll on the young officer. She needs Sheriff Walt Longmire and the Henry Standing Bear to prove she isn’t crazy.
This is a heavily atmospheric mystery tale that is a really good one. There has always been a hint of the unexplained by in the stories of Sheriff Walt Longmire. It is a much heavier presence in The Highwayman where the mystery has a modern component as well as pieces of what legends are made of. The paranormal or the unexplainable has a strong presence in the tale and has not surprisingly generated quite a few negative reviews on the various review sites. As has the publisher price of this novella which is as high as a full length novel.
Don’t pay any attention to the naysayers. Much of their negative commentary is driven by either failing to understand the storyline or by being annoyed by the price set by the publisher. Either situation has nothing at all to do with the actual read. It is a fast moving novella that that is part mystery and part psychological suspense. Not everything in the world can be easily explained and that is certainly true in The Highwayman: A Longmire Story by Craig Johnson. It is also a very good book.
For another take on the book, please check out Lesa Holstine’s review. While checking that out make sure you also check out the Wind River Canyon on America’s Scenic Byways as well as the tunnels on Bridgehunter.com.
The Highwayman: A Longmire Story
Viking (Penguin Random House LLC)
Hardback (also available in eBook and audio formats)
Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2016, 2021
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Following Trail Justice in Dangerous Trails: Collected Western Adventures by Wayne D. Dundee is Trail Revenge. The second volume of the trilogy, it picks up several days after the violent events of the preceding book. It is late May 1848 and the wagon train is somewhere near California Hill in the Nebraska Territory. In addition to recent events, some in the party are aware that the trail is about to get harder as they cross begin to put the South Platte River behind them and move ever closer to the mountains of the Rockies.
Wagon Master Eugene Healy has these thoughts in mind and others as the wagons slowly move forward. Not only does he need to get his wagon across the river and ensure the safety of his wife, Ingrid, and their son, Donald, he needs to get all of the other wagons and their cargo---families and goods--across safely as well. Fortunately, young Basil St. Irons, the scout, has proven himself capable at every turn. Basil has found a place that should work well even though the snowmelt out of the mountains has made the river running fast and strong.
Finding a good spot to cross is not the only thing Basil has found today. While scouting long distance out in front of the wagon train, he also found a body. Who he was and, more importantly, how he came to be washed up against the riverbank was a question Basil wanted to have answered. It took some time and he thinks he has figured it out. He needs to have a word with Wagon Master Healy in private as soon as possible.
That threat as well as the past catching up to the Healys in a violent way that affects everyone on the wagon train drives this read forward.
Trail Revenge continues the excellent tale begun in Trail Justice. Readers learn more of the backstory of the Healys and several other folks familiar to readers by this point. A solidly good tale with lots of nuance, Trail Revenge is another good read in the Dangerous Trails: Collected Western Adventures.
Dangerous Trails: Collected Western Adventures
Wayne D. Dundee
I picked this up in June 2020 using funds in my Amazon Associate account.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2021
Monday, June 21, 2021
Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Ripped From the Headlines: The Shocking True Stories Behind the Movies' Most Memorable Crimes by Harold Schechter.
Faherty is the author of two mystery series, a fan of old movies, and a fellow
Hoosier. He also has a beautiful signature which he obligingly placed on a few
of my copies of his books when we met at a conference.
He channeled his knowledge of old movies into his series with Scott Elliott. Elliott has something of a love-hate relationship with Hollywood. A promising actor before the war, upon his return no one is returning his calls and he perforce falls back on a job with a second-rate security agency who sweeps up or covers up at the film studios’ behest.
The first in the series Kill Me Again (Simon & Schuster, 1996) opens in 1947 when Hollywood was facing a double crisis: the arrival of the new medium of television, which threatened the film industry’s existence, and the attention of the House Un-American Activities Committee, which altered or ended the careers of more than 300 directors, radio commentators, actors, and screenwriters. Elliott’s company has been retained by Warner Brothers to find out if Bert Kramer, the screenwriter for Warner’s sequel to its World War II blockbuster film, has any Communist connections. That reliable source of information, an anonymous letter, has cast aspersions on Kramer. Warner can’t afford any trouble and is poised to toss Kramer out but wants to salvage his script first.
The problematic Kramer turns up dead shortly thereafter. The police find no shortage of people that Kramer had alienated. But then they wonder if someone at Warner Brothers took a shortcut to its personnel problem or if one of Kramer’s Communist cronies killed him to keep him from outing others. Elliott’s investigation takes him around Hollywood and Los Angeles and east to New York, where some references to Broadway are folded into the story.
A well-written and cerebral look back at old Hollywood. Six more titles follow this one, the second won the 1998 Shamus Award for Best Novel. The fourth and seventh titles were shortlisted for the Shamus Award. Highly recommended for fans of classic movies, post-World War II historical mysteries, and mid-century Los Angeles.
· Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st Edition (May 1, 1996)
· Language: English
· Hardcover: 300 pages
· ISBN-10: 0684826887
· ISBN-13: 978-0684826882
Aubrey Hamilton ©2021
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.