Current Reading: Krueger, O’Brien, Nesbø

While having computer problems and ultimately buying a new one, then doing all the setup and organizing required to have a working system and LAN, I did less reading, but finished a couple of things.

I decided to get current on William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series prior to the new one coming in August, so I read Manitou Canyon. As always with Krueger, I liked it a lot, and am eager for the next book.

I also read Silver Chief, Dog of the North by Jack O’Brien (illustrated by Kurt Wiese). A couple of years ago I picked up several O’Brien dog books on ABE, and have been reading one now and then as the mood strikes. Silver Chief  is the son of a husky and a wolf, born in the wild. He is extremely mistrustful of humans, but is captured, tamed with kindness and love by Jim Thorne of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

On assignment to bring in a killer, Silver Chief saves his master’s life and brings the assignment to a successful conclusion.  I enjoyed this one quite a bit, and though there are some grim moments all turns out well in the end.

Barbara is finished All the President’s Men and has started The Thirst by Jo Nesbo, a Harry Hole novel.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

Posted in Adventure, Books & Reading, current reading, Mystery | 23 Comments

Friday review: Sidney Chambers and The Shadow of Death by James Runcie

This is the 261st in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie, Bloomsbury Publishing 2012 trade paperback, the first volume in the series of The Grantchester Mysteries


I first became aware of this author, book, and series through an article in Mystery Scene magazine, and then borrowed the book from the library.

The Grantchester Mysteries is a series of books by British author James Runcie, set during the 1950s in Grantchester, a village near Cambridge in England. The books feature the clergyman-detective Canon Sidney Chambers.

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death, is comprised of six short standalone mysteries. This is a short story collection in all but name. The “stories” are just chapters, but each is a separate story. However there is no table of contents showing them and no separate title for each.

The first chapter/story is about a suicide that has a close friend certain it must have been murder. The vicar, Canon Sidney Chambers, decides to poke about and uncovers some interesting discrepancies. The second story involves a missing engagement ring, one that disappeared during a New Years Eve celebration in the home of a popular MP.

I won’t go through all of them, but I think you get the idea. The are gentle, character-driven mysteries with a solution solvable by the man who is able to ask questions and get to the bottom of things. You wouldn’t be far off the mark if you thought of Aird, Allingham or Christie short stories but without the golden age twists in the plot. I was also reminded, in some cases, of the stories of H.R.F. Keating

I enjoyed the book. The character is appealing, I liked the reference to jazz, an important element in one of the stories, and the portrayl of village life. Though it’s a bit lighter than my usual fare, this went quickly and was a nice diversion.

The books were turned in the ITV detective drama Grantchester in the same time and setting  as the books. They feature Anglican vicar Sidney Chambers (James Norton), who develops a sideline in sleuthing with the help of Detective Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green). The first series was based on the six stories from the first book, Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death. A second series was commissioned in late 2014 and broadcast in March and April 2016 and a third series is airing in 2017.

I’ve seen Season 1 and enjoyed it quite a bit. We’re watching Season 2 now.

The books in the series include:

  1. Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death (2012)
  2. Sidney Chambers and The Perils of the Night (2013)
  3. Sidney Chambers and The Problem of Evil (2014)
  4. Sidney Chambers and The Forgiveness of Sins (2015)
  5. Sidney Chambers and The Dangers of Temptation (2016)

A total of six books are planned. The series was inspired by James Runcie’s father, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie.

note: Some of the foregoing information was found on Wikipedia.

Posted in Books & Reading, Mystery, Short Stories | 12 Comments

the Apple Store, and then…

It was cooler Monday, we even had some sprinkles this morning. Blessed relief from the heat! So it seemed a good day to take a drive down to the local Apple Store.

I had all the technical information on my present iMac with me, and the first thing I did was show it to the employee there and discuss my options for upgrading. As I expected, the ten-year-old computer was beyond upgrading. It turns out that it would have cost almost as much to upgrade it so it could run the current Mac OS (Sierra) as buy a new iMac.

So I looked at the new iMac, 27-inch Retina display (an ultra high-resolution display) with plenty of RAM, big hard drive and so forth. Woo-hoo!

A lot of questions were asked, mostly answered, though it’s obvious there will be a great deal of setup, reconfiguring (especially Word, as I customize it a lot) and a learning curve on the new operating system, since I’ll be four or five generations behind.

Apparently “most users” upgrade every 3 years.

I also had to buy an optical (CD/DVD/ROM) drive, as iMacs no longer come with them, as my old one did. Oh, and the connections on the back have changed a lot, so there may be a need for adaptors for my older auxiliary drives and other peripherals.

So it was ordered, paid for and the first packages arrived the next day. The iMac itself will be here today. Meanwhile I have a lot of file clearing and backing up and so forth to do.

Posted in Books & Reading, Fiction, Mystery, New Arrivals | 8 Comments

Just Arrived!

Just arrived yesterday from Illustrated Press is The Life and Art of Bernie Fuchs by David Apatoff.

Fuchs has long been a favorite artist, I first encountered his work in various magazines, most memorably in Sports Illustrated.

If you love illustration art, you’ll want to take a look at this fine volume. The book is in full color and features over 300 illustrations. It is 240 pages long and is filled with Bernie’s beautiful artwork reproduced from the original paintings and drawings, as well as rarely seen tear sheets from vintage magazines, photographs, color studies, and more.

There is an on-line preview of the book HERE

As always with books from Illustrator’s Press, this book is top quality. Highly recommended.

Posted in Books & Reading, Non-fiction | 7 Comments

no forgotten book, current reading, etc.

No book this week, – computer problems. I may have to go to the Apple store tomorrow.

Update: No CURRENT READING either, also, since it was 103.4 yesterday, no trip out to look at a new computer. Posts will be delayed for a while.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 9 Comments

Aging Computer

For the last few months my main computer, the iMac, has been “acting up”. Slow to load programs, unable to access many websites, balking at running larger files, etc. I’ve done some fiddling with it, and haven’t been able to do much. It’s not crashing, I’m not in danger of losing files or any data, it’s just getting old and tired, I think.

But everything on it is set up just the way I like it, all the settings and so forth. So I keep trying to keep it going.

Cranky computers are a pain in the neck. How’s your computer running these days?


Posted in At Home in Portland | 12 Comments

Current Reading: not much, how about you?

I know I read a few short stories in a locked room anthology edited by Martin Edwards, but right now the name of it escapes me. The neighbors are having their 4th loud pool party in a row (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, today). It will stretch into the night like the others, we assume. It’s summer, theirs is the party house of the entire neighborhood, and they live next door to us. So who can read? Not me, I just grind my teeth and take Excedrin™ for my migraines.

Barbara is reading All the President’s Men and enjoying it.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

Posted in current reading | 21 Comments

Forgotten Book: Orbital Decay by Allen Steele

this is the 260th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

Orbital Decay by Allen Steele, Ace Science Fiction 1989 mass market paperback – science fiction – Near Space series, book 1.

I’ve liked the books by Allen Steele that I’ve read, Apollo’s Outcasts (2012) and Avengers of the Moon (2017). Though Steele is probably best known for his Coyote series, I decided to try his Near Space series, and this is the first book in it. Here’s the set:

Near-Space series (also called Rude Astronauts series

  • Orbital Decay (1989)
  • Clarke County, Space (1990)
  • Lunar Descent (1991)
  • Labyrinth of Night (1992)
  • A King of Infinite Space (1997)

By “near space” we’re talking about within the solar system, in this case the book is  set at a space station under construction in Earth orbit. The novel starts out with an unnamed narrator telling us his space suit is soon going to run out of either power or air. He’s not sure which will happen first, but either way, he’ll die. But before that happens, he wants to tell us a story. The rest of the book, with occasional look-ins on our narrator, is that story.

Like any construction gang, the beamjacks on Olympus Station lead a regular life, much of it the same day after day, except that monotony is multiplied by the tight quarters, crowded conditions and the inability to go anywhere. Same white walls, same narrow bunk, little or no privacy, lots and lots of rules and restrictions. Yet they suit up and do the work day after day, having signed up for a 2 year term working for Sky Corp.

Orbital Decay reads a lot like Arthur C. Clarke at his didactic best. That’s fine, but as I read, I wanted a little more action and a bit less exposition.

At about the halfway point, I realized that the work, life and personalities of the beamjacks, and the other personnel on the station are the action, and as pressures slowly build it becomes apparent something’s got to blow. The discovery of a clandestine program called Big Ear, intended to implement eavesdropping on a massive, world-wide scale and to such a fine focus that any conversation on any radio, telephone or electronic device can be identified, monitored, recorded. The heart of this system is to be installed on Andromeda Station, in near orbit to Olympus, and the beamjacks decide they have to do something, anything, to stop it. There’s plenty of action then.

To say more would be to spoil the book, but that action I was waiting for came, and though not space opera battles or alien attacks, it was satisfying, and I liked the ending.

I have the next book in hand and plan to read it soon.

Posted in Friday Forgotten Books, Science Fiction | 20 Comments

Current Reading: Bernstein/Woodward, Deaver

The weather has been nice, the garden looks great, things are fine. I haven’t done a lot of reading, but I finished Orbital Decay by Allen Steele, and liked it better at the end than at the middle point, which does happen sometimes with books. I read Paul Hollywood, a biography by Andrew Dagnell. It’s one of the worst biographies I’ve ever read. Slim on facts, oozing with stories from British scandal sheets and full of repeated information, this one is so bad it went directly into the recycle bin.

Vastly better, of course, is All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. I bought and read this in 1974 when the hardcover was published, but considering events in Washington D.C. these last months I wanted to reread it. I couldn’t find my copy (buried in a box somewhere here) so I got this 40th anniversary edition from the library.

The uncovering of the Watergate scandals. I’d forgotten a lot of the details, but it’s in essence as I remembered, and reading the book brought back to mind the time Watergate and all the fallout was happening. I lived through it, remember reading the newspaper articles, seeing the news, later taking days off work to watch the hearings. Of course I’ve seen the film more than once, but it edits so much out to fit a time frame.

I also have a hold for The Final Days which is the follow-up and should have it from the library in a week or two.

Barbara has just about finished Jeffrey Deaver’s The Burial Hour, the latest Lincoln Rhyme novel.

She’s going to read All the President’s Men next, though she wasn’t as caught up in Watergate as I was, so we’ll see if all the detail is fascinating, as I found it, or overwhelming.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

Posted in current reading, Mystery, Non-fiction | 27 Comments

Incoming – Fredric Brown

Just arrived yesterday, from Haffner Press, these first two volumes of their Fredric Brown Mystery Library.

These beautiful books have taken some time in production, but they are here at last and I must say they are worth the wait.

Volume One is Murder Draws A Crowd and contains the first 39 stories sold by the author to the pulp magazine markets from 1938 to 1942. Brown’s two rare western stories are  included. Plus there are some tales of humor. All this with original illustrations reproduced.

Volume Two is Death In The Dark, which contains 29 stories which appeared in various 1942 pulp magazines. Again, original illustrations are included.

I can hardly wait to dip into volume one, and will do so soon. Here’s the contents:

The Moon for a Nickel, Detective Story Magazine Mar. 38
The Cheese on Stilts, Thrilling Detective Jan. 39
Blood of the Dragon, Variety Detective Feb. 39
There Are Bloodstains in the Alley, Detective Yarns Feb. 39
Murder at 10:15, Clues Detective Stories May 39
The Prehistoric Clue, Ten Detective Aces Jul. 40
Trouble in a Teacup, Detective Fiction Weekly Jul-13-1940
Murder Draws a Crowd, Detective Fiction Weekly Jul-27-1940
Footprints on the Ceiling, Ten Detective Aces Sep. 40
The Little Green Men, The Masked Detective Fall 1940
Town Wanted, Detective Fiction Weekly Sep-7-1940
Herbie Rides His Hunch, Detective Fiction Weekly Oct-19-1940
The Stranger from Trouble Valley, Western Short Stories Nov. 40
The Strange Sisters Strange, Detective Fiction Weekly Dec-28-1940
How Tagrid Got There, unpublished until 1986
Fugitive Imposter, Ten Detective Aces Jan. 41
The King Comes Home, Thrilling Detective Jan. 41
Big-Top Doom, Ten Detective Aces Mar 41
The Discontented Cows, G-Men Detective Mar. 41
Life and Fire, Detective Fiction Weekly Mar-22-1941
Big-League Larceny, Ten Detective Aces Apr. 41 {as by Jack Hobart}
Selling Death Short, Ten Detective Aces Apr. 41
Client Unknown, The Phantom Detective Apr. 41
Your Name in Gold, The Phantom Detective Jun. 41
Here Comes the Hearse, 10-Story Detective Jul. 41 {as by Allen Morse}
Six-Gun Song, 10-Story Detective Jul. 41
Star-Spangled Night, Coronet Jul. 41
Wheels Across the Night, G-Men Detective Jul. 41
Little Boy Lost, Detective Fiction Weekly Aug-2-1941
Bullet for Bullet, Western Short Stories Oct. 41
Listen to the Mocking Bird (NT) G-Men Detective Nov. 41
You’ll End Up Burning!, Ten Detective Aces Nov. 41
Number Bug, Exciting Detective Winter 1941
Thirty Corpses Every Thursday, Detective Tales Dec. 41
Trouble Comes Double, Popular Detective Dec. 41
Clue in Blue, Thrilling Mystery Jan. 42
Death is a White Rabbit, Strange Detective Mysteries Jan. 42
Twenty Gets You Plenty, G-Men Detective Jan. 42
Bloody Murder, Detective Fiction Jan-10-1942

  • Plus the Appendix
    Fredric Brown in Trade Magazines, Part 1
    The “V.O.N. Munchdriller” stories from The Driller
    The “William Z. Williams”” stories from Excavating Engineer

Little Apple Hard to Peel, Detective Tales Feb. 42
Death in the Dark, Dime Mystery Mar. 42
The Incredible Bomber, G-Men Detective Mar. 42
Pardon My Ghoulish Laughter, Strange Detective Mysteries Mar. 42
Twice-Killed Corpse, Ten Detective Aces Mar. 42
A Cat Walks, Detective Story Magazine Apr. 42
Mad Dog!, Detective Book Magazine Spring 1942
Moon Over Murder, The Masked Detective Spring 1942
“Who Did I Murder?”, Detective Short Stories Apr. 42
Murder in Furs, Thrilling Detective May 42
Suite for Flute and Tommy Gun, Detective Story Magazine Jun. 42
Three-Corpse Parlay, Popular Detective Jun. 42
A Date to Die, Strange Detective Mysteries Jul. 42
Red is the Hue of Hell, Strange Detective Mysteries Jul. 42 {as by Felix Graham}
Two Biers for Two, Clues Detective Stories Jul. 42
“You’ll Die Before Dawn”, Mystery Magazine Jul. 42
Get Out of Town, Thrilling Detective Sep. 42
A Little White Lye, Ten Detective Aces Sep. 42
The Men Who Went Nowhere, Dime Mystery Sep. 42
Nothing Sinister, Mystery Magazine Sep. 42
The Numberless Shadows, Detective Story Magazine Sep. 42
Satan’s Search Warrant, 10-Story Detective Sep. 42
Where There’s Smoke, Black Book Detective Sep. 42
Boner, Popular Detective Oct. 42
Legacy of Murder, Exciting Mystery Oct. 42
The Santa Claus Murders, Detective Story Magazine Oct. 42
Double Murder, Thrilling Detective Nov. 42 {as by John S. Endicott}

  • Plus, the Appendix
    Fredric Brown in Trade Magazines, Part 2
    “Willie Skid: Cub Serviceman Says” from Ford Dealer & Service Field
    “Let Colonel Cluck Answer Your Questions” from Independent Salesman
    “Barnyard Bill Says—” from Feedstuffs
Posted in Books & Reading, Fiction, Mystery, New Arrivals | 9 Comments