Monday, February 28, 2022
Van Gogh Blues by D. H. Beckwith (independently published, 2020) is the first book in the series about Roscoe Pines, specialist in locating missing artwork. Pines was seriously injured in the past in retrieval attempts so these days he simply locates the stolen paintings or jewelry and leaves the dangerous labor of actually separating the goods from whoever has them to law enforcement. Limiting the danger of his career is not good enough for mega-millionaire Webb Smythe, who has assured his only child Magnolia that he will disinherit her if she marries Pines, which has stymied the progression of their romance.
Pines assumes that the command visit to Smythe’s Fifth Avenue penthouse is yet another attempt to end his relationship with Smythe’s daughter. However, Smythe needs his help. Many years previously Smythe bought three Van Gogh drawings from an old friend and art collector. He did not question their authenticity until he acquired a Van Gogh catalog and found two of the drawings there but not the third. Investigation showed the provenance for the drawing to be an elaborate fraud.
Tracing the provenance proves tricky, as the bankers representing the family who sold the drawings to Smythe raise questions in Pines’ mind about their ethics. Pines also starts looking for practicing forgers who might actually be capable of producing an authentic-looking Van Gogh, which takes him into some skeevy neighborhoods. Then one of the bankers Pines wondered about is shot on the street and the police become involved.
A surprisingly involved and fast-moving story with multiple threads that get tied neatly together. Pines’ chosen field means he deals with the underworld, and the resulting body count is higher than I expected. His sidekick is Pete, who drives limos for a living and interns with Pines to earn his PI credentials. The characters are not always credible, of course this is fiction. Writing is better than many independently published books I have seen; the author seems to have been wise enough to use a professional editor. Detailed information about authenticating art and the world of art forgery is integral to the story line, rather than appearing as a data dump. Lots of detail about New York City, as Pines’ research takes him through the city, and plenty about the local restaurants. Overall, a well-done book. Especially for fans of contemporary private investigator stories, art-related mysteries and of mysteries set in New York.
· ASIN: B08GKWNS98
· Publication date: August 23, 2020
· Language: English
· File size: 1860 KB
· Print length: 336 pages
Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2022
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.
Sunday, February 27, 2022
Please welcome author E. E. Williams back to the blog today. This is not the first time he has discussed his writing process as he did so in this post last July. After you read the post today, make sure you also check out his post from last August which was an excerpt from his book, My Grave is Deep: A Noah Green Mystery.
The Timely Writing Process by E.E. (Gene) Williams
A throng of people has asked me about my writing process.
By throng, I mean, um, me. I ask myself about the process each morning when I look in the mirror and wonder who the heck that old man is? What are all those wrinkles and those suitcases under the eyes and the jowls and the gray hair and all that stuff growing out of that his nose and ears and … ?
Anyway, the ancient dude asks what my writing process is and would I like to share it with others, like those nice folks at the Short Mystery Fiction Society. To which I say, absolutely!
So here goes.
First thing in the morning, I grab my computer, turn it on and go make breakfast. After I finish eating, I sit in my easy chair, place my computer on my lap and turn on the TV. I check Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Prime Video, and PBS for anything worth watching while I write. I find a movie and begin watching. In the meantime, I call up Yahoo and read a couple dozen stories on the computer as the film plays in the background. I miss something important in the movie and rewind. It happens again, and once more I rewind and then figure I might as well start it over because the characters are speaking French and my knowledge of the language extends to Oui, Oui. I finish with Yahoo and move to Collider, followed by Entertainment Weekly, followed by Screenrant, followed by The Hollywood Reporter, and, finally, Movieweb.
Thus mentally stimulated, I type the word IT. Then the word WAS. Then the letter A.
Exhausted, I break for a snack. Two hours later, having consumed two giant chocolate chip cookies, a bag of peanut M&Ms, a tub of Cool Whip, and a 24 vanilla Oreos, I return to the computer. I type DARK … and break for lunch.
I drive to Publix and pick up popcorn chicken and return home. Realize that I forgot to get Diet Coke and return to Publix. Come back home. Realize it slipped my mind that I have a prescription ready at Publix and get back in the car again. Return home. Eat lunch. Sit back down at the computer. Type AND.
Fingers stiff and sore, I put the computer down, watch another movie, this one in Spanish (Si, Si) and fall asleep in my chair. I dream of writing a novel.
When I awake a few hours later, it dawns on me that I haven’t yet done the laundry. More hours later the clothes are washed, dried, folded, and put away.
During this time, my mind has been working furiously, overtime really, to determine the direction of my story. A lightbulb blinks on. I have it. I rush to the computer and type the words, STORMY NIGHT. Add an exclamation point. Add a second. Hit the paragraph return.
And … that’s it. Time to make dinner. After that, find some Scandinavian mystery with subtitles that I haven’t watched before.
At 8:15, it’s time for bed where I’ll dream of writing the next best-selling novel.
It may take some time.
E.E. Williams, aka Gene, is the author of three Noah Greene
mysteries. The fourth Greene novel will be published … sometime.
E. E. Williams ©2021
E.E. Williams is a former journalist who worked at some of the country's best and biggest newspapers. A 1971 graduate of Kent State University, he published in 2002 his first Noah Greene novel, Tears In The Rain. His second novel, Tears of God, was published in 2014. The third Noah Greene thriller, My Grave Is Deep, was published last year.
Saturday, February 26, 2022
Up on KRL News and Reviews this morning a review and giveaway of "Wrongfully Infused" by H.Y. Hanna https://www.krlnews.com/2022/02/wrongfully-infused-oxford-tearoom.html
We also have a review and giveaway of "A Deadly Bone to Pick" by Peggy Rothschild along with an interesting interview with Peggy https://www.krlnews.com/2022/02/a-deadly-bone-to-pick-by-peggy.html
And the latest mystery Coming Attractions from Sunny Frazier https://www.krlnews.com/2022/02/march-coming-attractions-spring-forward.html
And a review of the latest season of "Queens of Mystery" on Acorn TV https://www.krlnews.com/2022/02/queens-of-mystery-documentaries-on.html
For those who prefer to listen to Mysteryrat's Maze Podcast directly on KRL, here is the player for the new episode that went up this week featuring the mystery short story "Pisan Zapra" by Josh Pachter, read by local actor Amelia Ryan https://www.krlnews.com/2022/02/new-mysteryrats-maze-podcast-featuring_01644943871.html
We also have a review and ebook giveaway of "Straight Up" by Cathi Stoler https://www.krlnews.com/2022/02/straight-up-by-cathi-stoler.html
Up during the week we posted another special midweek guest post, this one by mystery author Emilya Naymark about real and fictional crime in New York and about her new book "Behind the Lie", you can also enter to win a copy of the book
The Dark Avengers In: The Patriot List by David Guymer is set in the Marvel Universe during the Dark Reign years in the Marvel Universe. Norman Osborn, aka the Green Goblin, was given control of S.H.I.E.L.D. and turned into the organization called H.A.M.M.E.R. The notorious villain soon has control over most law enforcement and the military and that means he is able to force the heroes into hiding. As part of his plan, he formed a group of villains that pretend to be the heroes he forced into hiding. Publicly, those heroes are referred to as “The Avengers” and they have fans who call them “The Dark Avengers.”
The citizens of the Marvel Universe have no idea that their heroes have been replaced. Somehow, they thought giving Norman Osborn control of most law enforcement and the military was a good idea despite his well-known past as a supervillain. While I used to think this sort of thing was far-fetched, considering the last few years, I no longer think this sort of plot is ridiculous.
The Dark Avengers are Bullseye, Moonstone, Daken (Wolverine’s Son), Mac Gargan (the current Venom at the time), Ares (the Greek God of War), the Sentry, and Norman Osborn who uses the moniker “Iron Patriot” while using stolen Iron Man armor. Out of all these the only hero is the Sentry, who suffers from schizophrenia, severe depression, and other mental illnesses. Normal Osborn manipulates the mental health of the troubled hero into being his nuclear weapon. The Sentry is considered the most powerful person on the planet. As long as Norman Osborn can control him, his team is almost unstoppable. Probably not the best idea to deliberately aggravate the mental illness of a guy with the power of a god.
The Dark Avengers In: The Patriot List is set sometime after the X-Men defeated Norman Osborn using public opinion and created their own nation to keep themselves safe from his tyranny. In this novel, members of the defunct S.H.I.E.L.D. have stolen a list from Norman Osborn that proves his Dark Avengers are supervillains and who their replacements would be should any of the current supervillains died. Norman Osborn wants that list back at any cost.
This book is told from multiple perspectives and features plenty of action and violence. Readers are warned that there are torture scenes, scenes where people are eaten alive, and more. There is extensive discussion of mental illness since many of the main characters suffer from various types. Mental illness plays a major role in this story, especially the deterioration of mental health.
Simply put, The Dark Avengers In: The Patriot List by David Guymer is an adult book about bad people doing a lot of bad things. I very much enjoyed this adult tale. I highly recommend it for Marvel fans who are okay with a look from the bad guy’s perspective.
My reading copy came from the Central or Downtown Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.
Scott Tipple ©2022
Friday, February 25, 2022
Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 16 Speculative Fiction Magazines Open for Submissions NOW - Paying Markets
From the massive archive…
Detective Sergeant Ted Stephens isn't bothered by the heat and humidity of Houston, Texas in the summer of 1969. Known to one and all as "Steve" he is bothered that his Lieutenant is shoving him onto a case assigned to other detectives. Lieutenant Bolce has his reasons and knowing the fact that Detective Wetsel is on the case explains at least part of it. Wetsel isn't one of the best in the Houston Police Department though he thinks he is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
The well kept exterior of a nice home in the River Oaks section of the city hides a nightmare inside. Three adults are dead. Each adult was shot multiple times. Several kids were also in the house and slept through the shootings. That fact allowed them to survive the massacre and they are now safely in the custody of CPS. Before the bodies are removed, investigators already know that at least one of the victims had ties to organized crime. Investigators already know that the grandson had threatened to kill the rest of the family before and that the grandson has a history of drug dealing.
For some the information regarding the grandson makes it a simple case. Steve doesn't agree and begins to turn up other pieces to the puzzle. His investigation increasingly leads elsewhere and is constantly hampered by interdepartmental politics and a chaotic personal life.
Bill Crider and Clyde Wilson have created a steady tale full of interesting characters, plenty of action and a case that is far from simple. Relationships matter in this novel and relationships are what drive most of the events. Whether it is the conflict between Steve and Wetsel, Steve and his wife trying to save their marriage, or Steve and his friend private investigator Clive Watson working together in different and at times conflicting ways to bring a killer to justice, relationships are front and center throughout the novel. Relationships, both friendly and antagonistic, are the primary catalyst behind nearly every action in this enjoyable steady novel and serve to drive the investigation forward in a work that also examines the seedier side of life in as clean and a sterile way as possible.
While some have categorized the novel as a police procedural, I wouldn't. Instead, I would refer to it more as a cozy style novel that is occasionally a little graphic. While there are police procedural elements in it, as well as suspense, elements, romance elements, etc. it really isn't a police procedural. If anything, it could be described more as a "buddy mystery novel" if one had to pin it way down. Suffice it to say that it is a good mystery novel and leave it at that.
Review copy provided by the good folks of the Plano Texas Public Library System
Kevin R. Tipple © 2008, 2012, 2022
Thursday, February 24, 2022
Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Bonk, The Pyramid, Astonishing Color of After, Disappearance of a Scribe
Main Street Nashville: Nashville author Steven Womack brings back popular character after 22-year break
UnHerd: How sensitivity readers corrupt literature: They sullied my memoir to suit their agenda by Kate Clanchy
The new book by author Richard Helms, A Kind And Savage Place is a prequel to Six Mile Creek and others that are part of the Judd Wheeler series. While Judd plays a role in this book that runs from 1942 to 1989, he is not the central character.
Instead, this is a book about how daily interactions, even minor ones, have a major impact. Each contact has a reverberation to it for all involved. Then there are the reverberations of childhood and the random role of dice regarding who are parents are as we enter the world. That childhood, and the families we come from and their legacy, for good or ill, reverberates throughout our lives. Even death, at a young age or after a full life have a reverberation through others on and on. People talk about the fall of a single domino and how that changes everything. They miss all the dominoes that lead up to that single domino being in a certain place at a certain time and thus there to fall.
That idea, all the dominoes that must fall to cause the certain domino to fall in a major way—seen by some and unseen by many others—is the heart of this complex tale that spans generations, families, and decades. While a central act plays a major role and triggers all sorts of events across decades, many minor daily interactions played a role for that event to happen. Life is complex as author Rick Helms beautifully illustrates in A Kind and Savage Place as he illustrates through a number of characters in this complex tale.
One of those daily interactions that was unremarkable at the time and yet put many things into motion was when Arlo Pyle hired Everett Howard to work in his auto shop. Pyle, a while man who had been to Europe and fought the Nazis before coming back home, hired Everett Howard to work in his shop and run errands. Howard was black, a young kid, and had dropped out of the segregated school, which wasn’t much to begin with, as was common at the time in North Carolina and elsewhere. It didn’t help Howard’s educational prospects that he was also a bit slow. He soon proved to Pyle that he was a hard worker.
Despite doing everything he knew to do and doing a job well, that did not stop others from accusing him of misdeeds. The fact that Howard had not done any of things he was accused of never mattered to those who could not see beyond the color of his skin.
An inability to see others as they truly are also played a major role in life as Rennie Poole was able to parlay a humble start as a local businessman, into a political force. Some folks saw him for what he was at the start and avoided him. Many others did not and became part of his world to manipulate. Long before his political career and the creation of his political machine, one of his projects was a local dancehall where teens hung out.
It was there, on a warm Saturday night in May 1954, Coral Pyle, one of four daughters of Arlo Pyle, and Adele Pyle, met Jude Pressley. A recent graduate and QB of considerable talent at the local level, Pressley is currently drifting through life and enjoying the adoration as a county football champion who set more than a dozen records. He also has good looks and has certainly caught the attention of Coral Pyle. That meeting in the dance hall put into motion a series of events that changed their lives forever while also directly and indirectly impacting nearly every character in this wide ranging and complicated book.
Set against the social movements of the various decades with themes of politics, greed, racism, and more, author Rick Helms tells a complicated and engrossing tale. Far more is at work beyond the brief premise. To explain more would create spoilers as things and people are tightly interlocked in this wide ranging and complex read.
Life, death, drama, and a lot more, are at work in A Kind and Savage Place by Rick Helms.
My reading copy was an ARC provided by the author with no expectation of a review.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2022
Wednesday, February 23, 2022
From the massive archive located deep with Casa Tipple and Home Eatery Library…
The Hairy Potter And Other Al Quinn Mystery Stories opens with the signature tale, “The Hairy Potter.” Retired Detective Al Quinn, his brother Maury, and their girlfriends, Fergie and Bonnie, are out in the dark Texas night on a reconnaissance mission. They are trying to sneak onto a property undetected to swipe some possible evidence from a dumpster outside a barn near a certain house. Hopefully, the pottery shards they have recovered will prove their theory.
With Fergie behind the wheel, the driving should be fairly safe and Maury and Bonnie are in the back seat not paying attention to anything but each other. That is until a minivan nearly takes them out in “It’s Raining Money.” The near crash gets everyone to notice the fact there are numerous hundred dollar bills scattered along the rural roadside. Whether it came from the reckless minivan is yet to be determined.
Brethel was right when he said his niece, Verlina, was clearly “The Reluctant Bride.” She obviously does not want to be there the church. The rest of her family also appears to they would much rather not be there including the patriarch, Skeld Hanson. Like the bride, Al Quinn knows the groom, Joey Canfield, as well and thinks that the kid is a decent sort. Something seems to be up with the sudden marriage deal, but the obvious possibilities are easily ruled out.
Maury is sure there is a certain cheater at work in the county’s half marathon for seniors as he has won the past three years in a row. Maury beat him all the time when they were kids decades ago and plans to do it again in “Not To The Swiftest.” Maury wants to do it all on his own and prove Mark Shiner is cheating, but it won’t be long before Al and the others are also involved.
When Al retired, he planned to spend a lot of time out fishing from his boat on the waters of Lake Travis. Life has not, for the most part, has not worked out that way. Al is finally on his boat as “The Last First Time” begins. He zooms around Windy Point and then shuts the boat down so that he can drift into the wide cove where he had been fishing the day before. Thanks to the ongoing drought across all of central Texas, the water line has dropped a little lower and he can easily see the lip of the rusty metal barrel in the lake. He’s surer now that he needs to call his old boss, Sheriff Clayton, and get some help out there to him on Lake Travis. After all, bones in a barrel that was dumped however long ago into the lake is going to be a problem since most likely those bones are human in origin.
Maury got roped into performing some sort of magic deal at the local community theater. The talent show is intended to be a charity fundraiser. Because Maury is involved, he got Bonnie into the deal as part of the act in “Magical Me.” Al is going to be forced to not only watch the rehearsal, but the actual live event.
“Gone Fishing” find Al back on the water though he is not alone as he would prefer. Instead, he is out in the boat with Fergie. It isn’t long before he realizes she is out there only because she wants to talk. The daughter of her best friend is a bind and Fergie wants Al’s help. So much for a relaxing day of fishing.
The day is heating right on up as it does in Texas as “The Troll under The Bridge” begins. Al is working in solitude on his boat while his dog, Tanner, sleeps out on the dock. They are alone until Fergie comes down to the path escorting a stranger. Roy Coddles is his name and wants Al’s help as he claims to have been threatened. Or at least someone in his family has been threatened as an unknown person or persons sent him a message stating that within five days a family member will be dead. Somebody is upset with him and possibly for good reason.
Fergie and Al are out on the lake fishing when Sheriff Clayton calls Al. He needs the retired detective’s help with a problem as somebody is stealing dogs from their owners. The dog owners are upset, it is an election year, the current crop of detectives can’t figure it out, and Sherriff Clayton desperately needs Al’s help. Al has some ideas how to investigate the situation even if he isn’t thrilled with his latest unpaid project in “Dog Ninja.”
Al’s brother, Maury, got around a lot back in the day with many different women. While he is faithful to Bonnie and has been for quite some time, his past is a touchy issue. One of those past situations may have created a son. In “Tomorrow Becomes Your Yesterday” he attempts to answer that question and a few others with Al’s help.
It is early fall in “The Mole People” and Al, Maury, and Al’s dog, tanner are walking through the woods on the edge of Al’s property. That is until they notice something strange going in next door. On its own, what they saw doesn’t mean much. But, other things are going on in the woods and Fergie has noticed.
Maury and Bonnie were supposed to get married, but that plan is in real jeopardy as “The Angry Bride” begins. She left in a fit of rage and hasn’t come back. A phone call from an old girlfriend, who may be a bit crazy, started the issue and things are going downhill.
Al also has girlfriend trouble in the following tale, “A Special Kind Of Hell.” Al woke up to find Tanner making strange sounds and Fergie and her stuff gone. She’s gone and he has no idea why. He needs to find her and find out why she suddenly left.
Using the characters from the novels that began with To Hell And Gone In Texas, author Russ Hall has created an entertaining collection of mystery short stories. Plenty of action, humor, and cases that often border the strange can be found in these thirteen tales. Present too are all the characters that readers know and love. For those new to the books, these short stories are a great introduction. For those of us already familiar with the full-length novels, The Hairy Potter And Other Al Quinn Mystery Stories is a tasty treat as we await the next Al Quinn novel.
Material was picked up to read and review using funds in my Amazon Associate account.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2018, 2022
Tuesday, February 22, 2022
Lana Lee is a little reluctant to host a speed dating event at the Ho-Lee Noodle House, her family’s restaurant, but it is her best friend Megan asking and business has been a little slow, so. . . . The turnout is much better than expected, with even Rina Su, a nearby business owner, turning up. Even more amazing, Rina takes up with one of the men and leaves the restaurant with him, despite Lana expressing misgivings. It could still turn out to be a happy ending—
Except that the guy turns up dead and Rina is the prime suspect.
Feeling guilty, Lana and Megan start to do a little sleuthing and find out pretty quickly that the guy had a reputation as a womanizer who left a trail of angry exes, not to mention some other unsavory dealings. Their investigation is hindered by Rina’s refusal to cooperate, but the women are not discouraged. Not even their sometime friend Kimmy Lee’s over-the-top efforts to help will keep them from finding out the truth.
I started at the beginning with this series and have enjoyed each one. It’s a great treadmill book, with interesting characters, intriguing mentions of food, and decently executed plots. I especially enjoy Lana’s family dynamics, with her over-achieving sister Anna May, her exacting mother, doting father, and the extended family of Asia Village. The Mahjong Matrons are sure to drop by with some interesting bit of gossip, and there are the other employees who form a family as well. Not to mention Lana’s handsome boyfriend. . . .
For me, I really like the glimpses of another culture, especially as seen through the eyes of an Americanized daughter. The narration is light and breezy, and the author keeps the story moving along at a steady pace. No cat in this one—in fact the narrator says she is a dog person through and through—but I made do with Kikkoman the pug. I’ve also enjoyed watching Lana grow in her position, unwanted though it was, and discover that sometimes what you are running from is what you should be running toward.
Books in the series:
Murder Lo Mein
Egg Drop Dead
Killer Kung Pao
Fatal Fried Rice
Hot and Sour Suspects
Monday, February 21, 2022
Harvard graduate Dr. Ian K. Smith has published several books and articles on diet and fitness. His crime fiction novel The Blackbird Papers won the 2005 BCALA fiction Honor Book Award. His first book about Ashe Cayne, a former Chicago police officer and now private investigator, is The Unspoken (Thomas & Mercer, 2020). This new series highlights Smith’s affection for the city of Chicago, politics and all. It’s also a foodie tour, as Cayne and his friends eat out often and their meals are described in glorious detail.
Violet Gerrigan, wife of Randolph Gerrigan, the Chicago real estate mogul, wants Cayne to find their daughter Tinsley. Tinsley left home to visit her BFF but never arrived and no one has seen or heard from her since. The police sent her to Cayne, as Tinsley is 25 years old and, in absence of evidence to the contrary, they have no reason to believe that she did not leave on her own.
Cayne would rather use the few remaining warmish days of the fall to perfect his golf swing, but the Gerrigans are wealthy and influential so it’s in his best interests to help them out. It does not take him long to learn that blonde blue-eyed Tinsley’s serious boyfriend Tariq was a black honors graduate of DePaul University and the nephew of Ice Culpeper, the leader of one of Chicago’s worst gangs. A few days after Cayne’s meeting with Tariq, Tariq is found shot dead in a rundown section of Chicago. Cayne is stunned. He expected to learn that Tinsley was dead, not her boyfriend. The police now have a reason to enter the case and Cayne finds himself working with his former mentor on the force.
The ramifications of angering politically connected and potentially corrupt individuals is never far from Cayne’s mind and makes him acutely conscious of his actions. His sidekick and bodyguard Mechanic is great. Even the minor characters are wonderful, including Cayne’s father who wanted him to become a tennis star and the minister of the small church with security cameras in the right place to help identify the culprit.
This is a fine contemporary private investigator story. However I found a subplot in which Cayne seeks justice for the victims of a pedophile priest unsettling. It’s unnecessary and I don’t see what it does to further the story or characterization. Considering its Stephen King overtones, I am somewhat surprised that an editor did not strike it as superfluous. Otherwise an excellent read. Especially recommended for fans of Chicago crime fiction and private investigator series.
· Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (October 1, 2020)
· Language: English
· Hardcover: 300 pages
· ISBN-10: 1542025273
· ISBN-13: 978-1542025270
Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2022
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.