Current Reading: Turnbull, Barnhill, Priest

fear-of-drowningI’m reading two books concurrently, something I don’t often do, but I’d started one from the TBR shelf when the other came in from the library.

Fear of Drowning by Peter Turnbull is the first in a series featuring Detective Inspector George Hennessey. In this one, a shocking – to the community – double murder results in the police coming up with two pretty obvious suspects, and as the investigation continues both of them look more and more likely for it, but we readers know there will be at least one twist. At the halfway point, I’m waiting for it.

girl-who-drank-the-moonThe library book is The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill (author of the award-winning The Witch’s Boy). This one is aimed at “young readers” as opposed, I suppose, to YA, and sure enough, it’s something I would have liked pretty well at age 8 or so. Well written, but the story not quite interesting enough for me, even as an enjoyer of the occasional YA novel. Would be great for your grade schooler, though.

family-plotBarbara is still reading The Family Plot, by Cherie Priest, which is going slowly due to a lot of time spent on other activities, mostly quilt making. She’ll finish it (the book, not the quilt) this week.

Waiting to be read is Blood Wedding by Pierre Lemaitre. author of the The Commandant Camille Verhoeven Trilogy, Alex, Irene and Camille.

What about you?
What are you reading?

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Fantasy, Mystery | 13 Comments

Friday Forgotten Book – Bodies Are Where You Find Them by Brett Halliday

Bodies Are Where You Find Them by Brett Halliday (Davis Dresser), © Dell 1941 mass market paperback – mystery – Mike Shayne # 5


1941 edition cover by Robert Stanley

Shayne and his wife are about to leave on a trip to New York when the phone rings. You know already it will be bad news, and it is. A woman is on her way to Shayne’s office with important information about a crooked candidate for Mayor, and the election is only two days away.

The woman arrives, but she’s been doped and Shayne leaves her in his office while he takes his wife to the train station and see’s her off to New York (thus allowing the author to clear her out of the story).

When Shayne returns to his office, the woman is there, but she’s been strangled. Thus begins a frame-up that keeps on getting worse, as Mike Shayne fights crooked politicians, gangsters, his nemesis Police Chief Peter Painter and the clock.


1966 edition cover by Robert McGinnis

He must find the murderer, clear his own name and all before the voters go to the polls, or the crooked politician will win the election and Shayne will go to prison for murder one.

With the tight time frame, cast of characters, some of whom Shayne readers have seen in previous books, and the serious threat to Shayne’s freedom, he needs all the help he can get, and finds it in the person of his reporter friend Timothy Rourke. The iron’s in the fire in this one, and when things begin to overheat, it’s all Shayne can do to solve the case.

Good one.

Posted in Friday Forgotten Books, Mystery | Tagged | 8 Comments

New arrival: City of Weird edited by Gigi Little

City of Weird edited by Gigi Little, Forest Avenue Press 2016 trade paper, short story anthology, 30 stories, 310 pages

city-of-weirdAnthology of thirty stories, organized by topical type [From the Deep, From the Skies, To The Dogs, Of The Undead, No Return, Into the Weird], all with Portland, Oregon as a central location, theme or element. Written by local and area authors. Weird, horror, adventure, mystery are all included.

As a local, and recognizing some of the authors, I couldn’t resist. Here’s the list of contributors

Stevan Allred, Jonah Barrett, Doug Chase, Sean Davis, Susan DeFreitas, Rene Denfeld, Dan DeWeese, Art Edwards, Stefanie Freele, Jonathan Hill, Justin Hocking, Jeff Johnson, Leigh Anne Kranz, Kirsten Larson, B. Frayn Masters, Kevin Meyer, Karen Munro, Linda Rand, Brian Reid, Bradley K. Rosen, Nicole Rosevear, Mark Russell, Kevin Sampsell, Jason Squamata, Andrew Stark, Adam Strong, Suzy Vitello, Leslie What, Brigitte Winter, and Leni Zumas.

Posted in Books & Reading | 4 Comments

Current Reading: White, Chandler, O’Connell, Grecian

trouble-is-my-businessI read James White’s Double Contact and though it was slow in the middle it improved towards the last quarter or so. I think it’s one of the weaker, if not the weakest, of the Sector General novels, now that I’ve read them all.

I read a couple of longish short stories by Raymond Chandler, which I enjoyed very much, but realized I wasn’t in the mood to read one of the novels. I read “Red Wind” from The Midnight Raymond Chandler. That story is also in the collection shown, and I read “Trouble is My Business” from it. Also in this one is “Goldfish” that I already recently read for an anthology post, and “Finger Man” which I plan to read next week.

worldmakers-sf-adventures-in-terraformingAfter that, my reading has been a bit of a jumble. I read Graham Oakley’s dry, droll, hilarious Diary of A Church Mouse, a children’s book with wonderful illustrations. More on that one anon. I plucked Skeleton Dance by Aaron Elkins off a stack of not-yet-shelved books from BookSwap, and while I enjoyed it, I found it longer than necessary for the rather thin plot.

I read several short stories from the Gardner Dozois-edited Worldmakers, SF Adventures in Terraforming, which is, so far, a really good anthology. Then I felt like reading a novel, and after Chandler I was thinking hard-boiled and just naturally slid into…

…a Mike Shayne mystery novel, Bodies Are Where You Find Them. I’d barely started it when the power went out. We had a pretty big series of storms come through, not done yet. So I turned to the iPad, and the Kindle For Mac application. Already just started was The Island by Michael Stark, Book One Part One of Fallen Earth. I must have picked it up for free or cheap, and don’t know anything about it, but after about 40 pages I gave it up, at least for now, and went to bed. Next morning, the power back on thankfully, I turned to the first Miss Seaton novel, after reading a very positive review of the series in a recent Forgotten Book Friday. Well, tastes vary, but personally I found the book inane. A little silliness goes a long way, and for me this went too far. So I’ll get back to the Mike Shayne this week.

family-plotBarbara finished The Harvest Man by Alex Grecian, which she liked quite a lot, the cliffhanger ending had her hurrying to the library website to put a hold on the next in the series.

Meanwhile she’s reading The Family Plot, by Cherie Priest, which she started during the power outage, using her headlamp. The Family Plot is a haunted house type novel, part mystery, part supernatural, not her usual thing but just right for the Halloween season.

Waiting at the library is Blood Wedding by Pierre Lemaitre. author of the The Commandant Camille Verhoeven Trilogy, Alex, Irene and CamilleWe both have lots of books lined up. Life is good.

What about you?
What are you reading?

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Mystery | 20 Comments

Friday Special – Mystery Series: Reading, Catching Up, Maybe Finishing?


example: Craig Johnson’s Longmire series

This isn’t exactly about forgotten books, though many listed are forgotten or seldom read. Instead it’s about intentions, and you know what they say about the best of intentions. Still…

It’s a common topic. You see it, hear it, all the time. “I just finished the latest in the __ series.” or “I tried one of the books in the __ series.” or “I really want to try that __ series.

We all do it, because there are a lot of authors writing a lot of books in series, and there have been for quite a while. I have my favorites, so do you. When I say series I’m talking about, in this post, books in a mystery series, though it could be a science fiction or fantasy series. But I’m going to limit these thoughts to mystery fiction.

So, take a moment to think. If you buy and keep books, I’ll bet you have a lot of series books on your shelves. If you get books from the library, I’ll bet you’ve read a lot of books in a series. We all have favorites authors, and likely they write a series that’s also a favorite.

Good so far, but what’s the point? It’s that though I have a lot of favorite mystery authors and series, I can’t say I’ve read all the books in the series. Let me name some I’d like to get caught up on. (alphabetical by author) and don’t be surprised that I haven’t read all these. I read a lot of other things too, including science fiction, fantasy, non-fiction and other mystery stuff. So, series I’d like to read, or read more of, or finish up:

author                                                series

  • Catherine Aird                  Inspector C.D. Sloan
  • Bruce Alexander               Sir John Fielding
  • Margery Allingham         Campion
  • Leo Bruce                           Carolus Deane
  • W.J. Burley                        Chief Superintendent Wycliff
  • Leslie Charteris                The Saint
  • Robert Crais                      Elvis Cole
  • Bill Crider                          Sheriff Rhodes
  • Amanda Cross                   Kate Fansler
  • Erle Stanley Gardner       Perry Mason
  • Colin Dexter                      Inspector Morse (2 to go)
  • Aaron Elkins                     Gideon Oliver (reading Skeleton Dance now) 
  • Christopher Fowler        Bryant & May
  • Sue Grafton                       Kinsey Millhone (I’m at “N”)
  • Robert van Gulik              Judge Dee
  • Brett Halliday                   Mike Shayne
  • Cynthia Harrod-Eagles Bill Slider
  • John Harvey                     Charlie Resnick
  • William Kent Krueger   Cork O’Connor (2 to go)
  • Laura Lippman                Tess Monaghan
  • Ross Macdonald              Lew Archer (yes, I still have a few to read)
  • Edward Marston             Domesday (I’ve read 4)
  • Patricia Moyes                 Chief Superintendent Henri Tibbett (I’m close on this one)
  • Ellis Peters                       Brother Cadfael (I’ve “saved” 2)
  • Richard Prather              Shell Scott (I’ve read 8 or 9, maybe a few more)
  • Bill Pronzini                     Nameless
  • Peter Robinson               Inspector Banks
  • S.J. Rozan                         Bill Smith/Lydia Chin (read just 1 so far)
  • Craig Russell                   Longmire
  • Georges Simenon          Maigret
  • Veronica Stallwood       Kate Ivory
  • Rex Stout                          Nero Wolfe (I think I’ve read them all, but not sure)
  • Ross Thomas                   Padillo & McCorkle
  • Arthur W. Upfield          Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte

I know there are more, those are just many that are sitting on the shelves, waiting. Of course I find out about new-to-me series all the time. Will I ever get caught up? I doubt it. Will I enjoy trying? Yes.

So how about you? Have you read any of these? All of them? Are you all caught up on the mystery series you like? Are there others you’d like to try?

Posted in Books & Reading, Mystery | 37 Comments

tempted, sidetracked, reminded

midnight-raymond-chandlerThis is an example of how it happens. Patti Abbott, author, blogger and friend, posted about sentences on September 21st: What Makes a Sentence Great? she asked. So who was/is a great sentence maker? Well, my first thought was Hemingway, but then I wondered if it was the sentences, or the paragraphs, or what. So I kept thinking.

How about style, and impact?  I had my choice: Raymond Chandler. But what work, what sentence? What came to me then was the opening of his story “Red Wind”. Maybe it’s because I grew up in Southern California and I understand the Santa Ana winds, how they feel, the heat of them, but I’ve thought the opening of that story was perfect. The sentences are perfect.

I had to look it up, read that opening again. Make sure I was remembering it right. So I pulled one of the books the story is in off the shelf (I have a couple). It was The Midnight Raymond Candler, an omnibus that contains four long stories, “Red Wind”, “Trouble Is My Business”, “Blackmailers Don’t Shoot” and “The Pencil” as well as two novels, The Little Sister and The Long Goodbye. It’s a good omnibus.

I read the first few sentences of “Red Wind”. In case you don’t remember, here they are:

“There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husband’s necks.”

Then I read the first few paragraphs. Then, well, you can guess. I read the whole thing. Now I’m thinking of reading the rest of the stories. Maybe the whole omnibus. Chandler is that good, and it’s been a while since I visited these stories and novels. I’m in the middle of reading other things, but heck. That’s how this thing works, this temptation.

Posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Short Stories | 17 Comments

Current Reading: Lescroart, O’Connell, Grecian

I finished Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie, and found it to be sort of BBC Father Brown lite. Enjoyable, but not a series I’ll continue reading.

dead-irishLike hot mud bubbling from the earth, a book has risen to the top of the ToBeRead “pile” and I’ve started reading it. This happens so rarely that it’s noteworthy. There always seems to be something else that needs reading; a book from the library, or a book not in the TBR pile makes it’s voice heard above the general clamor. You see, my TBR is a small 3 shelf bookscase and on top of that are a few books stacked together that are the tip of the iceberg. When something gets moved there, it really is in imminent certainty of being read. Books get there, but sometimes they linger. Case in point, Dead Irish by John Lescroart.

I’ve not read anything by Lescroart before, and I have no idea why, when or where I got this book though it was probably on PaperBack Swap, from the looks of it. It is the first Dismas Hardy novel, so it’s the beginning book in a series which now stretches to fifteen books. It was nominated for both Shamus and Anthony awards, so maybe that’s where I heard of it, though nothing about it is familiar. The blurb told me nothing except the main character is an ex-cop.

So I read it. I found it extremely wordy, bound up with multiple characters and their complicated backstories, the telling of which took the first third of the book. There is much dwelling on the culture of San Francisco in the late Eighties, and in the end not much of a mystery. Disappointing.

blind-sightNow I’m reading a science fiction novel which is also disappointing. Maybe it’s me.

Barbara finished Blind Sight by Carol O’Connell. Her interrupted reading of it (the glued pages episode) slowed it down for her, but she still enjoyed it.

Next is another in the Murder Squad series, The Harvest Man  by Alex Grecian, which she’ll be starting by the time you read this.

What about you?
What are you reading?

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Mystery | 35 Comments


cinnamon-rollsSo what do you do when it’s a dreary, rainy Sunday, and your football team isn’t playing (the Seattle Seahawks, in our case), and you have a little time on your hands?

Make home made cinnamon rolls, that’s what.

Posted in Books & Reading | 7 Comments

Friday Forgotten Book – Superman For All Seasons by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale

Superman For All Seasons by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale © 1999, DC Comics, graphic novel

This may be the finest Superman graphic novel ever done.

I know that’s a big statement, and I realize that fans will all have their own opinions and favorite storylines in the Superman universe published by DC, but this, for me, is tops. The excellent artwork by Tim Sale perfectly compliments the fine writing of Jeph Loeb. The blurb text on the back cover isn’t overblown. Take a look (click, then scroll down to “see full size” and click on that).

This is a simple, gentle story, drawn in a classic illustrative style that works perfectly. Yes, there is conflict, and the usual Superman tropes, but the way the story is told makes every panel, every page worth the reader’s time. Wonderful!

Posted in Friday Forgotten Books, Graphic Novel | 12 Comments

Review: Tales by Charles Todd

talesTales by Charles Todd © 2015, stories originally published 2010- 2014, Harper-Collins, Witness Impulse imprint, 2015 trade paperback
mystery short story collection – Ian Rutledge, Bess Crawford

This thin (159 page) collection features two of Todd’s series characters, Ian Rutledge and Bess Crawford, supplying two stories for each. The stories are each about twenty pages in length, and the book also has a preview of the Crawford mystery, A Pattern of Lies, the next (at the time) novel in that series.

These stories are quite enjoyable, and I found myself wanting more of them. Hopefully, in the future, more will be collected. I found this book to be quite satisfactory, and led me to read the first novel in the Crawford series, A Duty to the Dead, which I enjoyed. Also, I can’t remember if I’ve read the first of the Ian Rutledge books, but it’s on the shelf. So this collection does what any good one does, it makes the reader want more of the author’s work.


  • Introduction
  • “The Kidnapping” (Rutledge)
  • “The Girl on the Beach” (Rutledge)
  • “Cold Comfort” (Crawford)
  • “The Maharani’s Pearls” (Crawford)
  • Excerpt from A Pattern of Lies (Crawford) – chapters 1 and 2.
Posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Short Stories | 5 Comments