We voted

We took our ballots to the library yesterday and put them in the ballot slot, so we’ve now voted. Since Oregon is a mail-in ballot state, it’s always easy and safe, and since Barbara went to the library to pick up stuff yesterday, it was convenient too. Yay for us.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 17 Comments

Short Story Wednesday – “Bug Eater” by Nathan M. Beauchamp

Story from:
Oceans, The Anthology edited Jessica West, Holt Smith 2017 trade paperback, SFF anthology

This is a new idea, proposed by Patti Abbott (here) that people can do a post each Wednesday about a single short story, a collection or an anthology of stories.

I bought this anthology, and a companion one, because of the nice cover. I knew it was an anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories with a theme of ocean, but that’s all I knew.

“Bug Eater”, 12 pages, turns out to be the name, or nickname, of the lead character. A tribe living on the beach is barely subsisting on a radioactive post apocalyptic Earth, mostly by hunting, capturing and consuming any living animals, including humans. Bug Eater is trying to establish animal farming of bugs and small mammals, against the dictates of her tribe. The story includes the drawing of lots, which is “fixed”.

The story stops without an ending, which I find irritating as all get out. I tried several of the other stories in the anthology which did not impress.

Posted in Anthology, At Home in Portland, Books & Reading, Mystery | 10 Comments

FFB: The Constant God

The Constant God by Rufus King, The Sun Dial Press, Garden City, New York; First Edition, January 1, 1937.

I don’t remember when, but at some time in the last few years someone mentioned this or another book by King, in a review sufficiently intriguing that I went to the internet and found this book. I don’t think the review was of this particular book, perhaps it was of just books by King. Regardless, this is what I wound up with, and after a long hiatus on the shelves, or in a box, or somewhere, it came to light and I have now read it.

Blurb: An “upright citizen” thinks he sees a dead man riding in a car, and also links he recognizes the driver. Of course he goes to the police and demands an investigation. Lt. Valcour gets the case, and despite the challenges, succeeds in solving the case.

A blackmailer threatens the daughter of a wealthy tycoon with exposure of mash letters she had written to an actor many years before, when she was a young girl. When she paid the blackmailer for the letters and then didn’t get them back, she committed suicide.

In a later confrontation, the blackmailer is pushed against a table, injuring him fatally. The family, certain he is dead, dispose of the body, but they are seen with the dead man and so must hide their actions from Lt. Valor, who goes from doubting their guilt to being sure of it.

My Take: I’m not sure what I expected, so I wasn’t so much disappointed as bored. Nothing made me eager to read another mystery by King.

Posted in Books & Reading | 13 Comments

Short Story Wednesday – “Diplomat-At-Arms” by Keith Laumer

“Diplomat-At-Arms” by Keith Laumer, from Fantastic, January 1960. Source: Keith Laumer’s Retief (Giants of Sci-Fi Collection Book 4), 2020 Kindle ebook

This ebook collection of Retief stories collects the earliest 16 of Laumer’s stories featuring what will become his most enduring character. Most of the stories originally appeared in Worlds of If magazine, though this one did not

The stories were written soon after Laumer left the Foreign Service.

In this one, Retief is sent to a world in hopes he can end a growing sentiment for war by an Emperor who has recently appeared, supposedly back from exile. It’s clever and fun. I enjoy Laumer’s stories a lot and there’ll be more of them on Short Story Wednesday.

Posted in Anthology, At Home in Portland, Books & Reading, Mystery | 9 Comments

Currently… October 12

The weather turned, and it’s been very windy and we’ve had rain, which is welcome. In addition to helping put out the still-burning wildfires, it’s refreshing, Autumnal, and helps with drought.

Reading: I had been reading Grant by Ron Chernow, the 1,100 + page biography. I got to about page 400 (I’m reading the ebook version, and it has those funny location numbers instead of page numbers), at which point the Civil War is technically over, with all armies of the South surrendering, and Grant in Washington demoing the Army and dealing with, and avoiding if possible the politics, as Andrew Johnson has become President following the assassination of Lincoln.

But that was enough for a while. I’ll get back to it later, but for now I needed a break.

So, I read Rufus King’s The Constant God (review forthcoming) and a few short stories. Some of those will appear in posts I do for Patti Abbott’s Short Story Wednesday.

Music: I’ve been listening to CDs, specifically the music of Sir Arnold Bax. Here’s a sample, if you’re interested.

Pongo: Growing like the proverbial weed, he’s up to 8 pounds (!) and getting big. Just the other day he was a little kitten. Here’s a picture.

Posted in Anthology, At Home in Portland, Books & Reading, Mystery | 12 Comments

FFB: Crime Through Time edited by Miriam Grace Monfredo & Sharan Newman

Crime Through Time by Miriam Grace Monfredo & Sharan Newman, Berkeley Prime Crime 1997 – paperback – historical mystery short story collection

Crime Through Time

Note: this is a slightly edited post originally put up in 2015.

A few years back, I saw a mention of this somewhere and it sounded interesting so I picked up a copy. I had been reading a few historical mysteries and this seemed like just the ticket to discover new authors and read a little more by the names I knew. The collection contains twenty one stories by an impressive list of authors.

The stories are arranged in chronological order, beginning with Lynda S. Robinson’s “Death of a Place-Seeker, featuring Lord Meren, the protagonist of her novels set in Egypt. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading any of these [Murder in the Place of Anubis, Murder at God’s Gate, Murder at the Feast of Rejoicing and Eater of Souls] or if you have wondered if you would like them, this short story will give you an idea of the character and atmosphere of the books. That’s the nice thing about ALL of the stories in this collection, they give an excellent introduction to these authors and their works. I won’t go on at length about each story, but I will list some of the authors: Steven Saylor (Rome), Sharan Newman (1142 France), Edward Marston (Elizabethan England), Leonard Tourney (Elizabethan England – I particularly liked this one), Peter Lovesey (1860 England), Troy Soos (1894 Baltimore), Anne Perry (188? England, another real goodie), Barbara Paul (1917 New York), Michael Pearce (early 1900’s Cairo), Laurie King (1918 England), Edward Hoch (1920 England), Ken Kuhlken (1941 San Diego) and several others.

There was only one story of all these that I didn’t particularly like (I won’t tell you, perhaps you’ll guess when you read the engrossing collection). This will give you a great look at many top historical mystery authors and may turn you into a fan of the subgenre. If you’re already a fan, this will be a real treat! Highly Recommended.

note: there were a second and third collection (Crime Through Time II and III).

Posted in Books & Reading | 11 Comments

Friday Forgotten, sort of, Shelf Shot 14

This post combines a shelf shot and a Friday Forgotten books. It’s the contents that are forgotten, if a few years qualifies as such, certainly in one of these books, though the books themselves maybe don’t. Let’s take a look.

Starting on the left, a book I’ve been eyeing but finally just got,

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards, Poisoned Pen Press 2017 hardcover, first US edition. Non-fiction. 

This book tells the story of crime fiction published in the first half of the 2oth Century. Edwards is a well-known figure from his writing and editorial work with the British Library Crime Classics series. I’m looking forward to reading this one!

Next we have the first three volumes of Neil Clarke’s The Best Science Fiction of the Year anthologies. They cover the years 2015, 2016 and 2017. The fourth volume is available, and the fifth will be published by Night  (as are the Shade Books at the end of October.

I like Clarkesworld, the virtual science fiction magazine Clarke edits, and have read several of the anthologies from it. I think he’s one of the top editors around. So I decided to start buying these Best of anthologies, and it’s nice to be able to start with number one. These are all still in print and available.

Note that what they contain is science fiction and only science fiction; no fantasy or weird. Which is what I wanted. Honestly, I’ve read exactly one story, from the first one, “Today I Am Paul” by Martin L. Shoemaker. I liked it.

Posted in Books & Reading | 6 Comments

Currently… Holmes pastiches

The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part XII: Some Untold Cases (1894-1902 edited by David Marcum, MX Publishing, 2018 trade paper, mystery, Holmes pastiche anthology.

This, and the volume preceding it, collect 33 of the many “untold tales” from the Holmes canon. I picked this one off the shelf for something to read when in the dumps about politics, Covid and wildfire smoke, and as hoped it pulled me, slowly, out of the deepest of my doldrums.

Here’s a nice summary from Goodreads:

“Part XII: 1894-1902 features contributions from C.H. Dye, David Marcum, Thomas Fortenberry, Daniel D. Victor, Nik Morton, Craig Janacek, S. Subramanian, Jim French, Robert Stapleton, Nick Cardillo, Paul D. Gilbert, Mike Hogan, Derrick Belanger, John Linwood Grant, Mark Mower, Jane Rubino, and Arthur Hall, and a poem by “Anon.”

34 new traditional Holmes adventures in two simultaneously published volumes (Parts XI and XII)

“Somewhere in the vaults of the bank of Cox and Co., at Charing Cross, there is a travel-worn and battered tin dispatch box with my name, John H. Watson, M.D., Late Indian Army, painted upon the lid. It is crammed with papers, nearly all of which are records of cases to illustrate the curious problems which Mr. Sherlock Holmes had at various times to examine…” – Dr. John H. Watson

So wrote Dr. Watson in “The Problem of Thor Bridge” – and ever since, Sherlockians have been bringing us new adventures from this legendary tin dispatch box. While his original Literary Agent only edited the pitifully few sixty stories that make up the original Canon, there have since been literally thousands of traditional adventures about the true Sherlock Holmes – and there will never be enough!

Throughout the original Holmes Canon, there were hints and teases of other intriguing cases – The Giant Rat of Sumatra… The Abernetty Tragedy… The Manor House Case. Watson mentions well over one-hundred of these, which have collectively come to be known as The Untold Cases. Now, the latest MX anthologies present thirty-four of those adventures in two simultaneously published volumes, with all royalties going to support the Stepping Stones School at Undershaw, one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s former homes.

Join us as we return to Baker Street and discover more authentic adventures of Sherlock Holmes, described by the estimable Dr. Watson as “the best and wisest… whom I have ever known.”

Each volume contains forwards by Lyndsay Faye, Roger Johnson, Melissa Grigsby, Steve Emecz, and David Marcum.”

I know Holmes pastiches aren’t for everyone, but these are good ones and I like them.

Posted in Anthology, At Home in Portland, Books & Reading, Mystery | 12 Comments

FFB: Settling Scores edited by Martin Edwards

Settling Scores edited by Martin Edwards, Poisoned Pen Press 2020 trade paper, mystery anthology of stories with a sports element, stories originally published from 1940-1975.

I liked this anthology quite a bit. Rather than me blathering on about it though, I’ll direct you to the excellent Cross Examining Crime blog herefor a fine and complete review.

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction by Martin Edwards
  • “The Loss of Sammy Crockett” by Arthur Morrison
  • “The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter” by Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes)
  • “The Double Problem” by F. A. M. Webster
  • “Fisherman’s Luck” by J. Jefferson Farjeon
  • “The Football Photograph” by H. C. Bailey
  • “The Red Golf Ball” by Gerald Verner
  • “The Boat Race Murder” by David Winser
  • “The Swimming Gala” by Gladys Mitchell
  • “The Case of the Man in the Squared Circle
  • “I, Said the Sparrow” by Leo Bruce (Sgt. Beef)
  • “Four to One–Bar One” by Henry Wade
  • “Death at the Wicket” by Bernard Newman
  • “The Wimbledon Mystery” by Julian Symons
  • “The Drop Shot” by Michael Gilbert
  • “Dangerous Sport” by Celia Fremlin
Posted in Anthology, Books & Reading, Mystery | 13 Comments

Ahh. Almost there.

Air quality is just about back to normal.

left: Wednesday – – – – right: today

As you can see, it’s cloudy, but we can see all the way to the Cascades again, and the air smells fresh. Whew. A little more rain, expected next week, and the fires will mostly be out and the air should be good again.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 11 Comments