Saturday, August 30, 2008

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sarah?

I believe a presidential election should not be about gamesmanship. Is it really responsible for John McCain to choose a candidate, who claims to know little about the war and foreign policy, to be his vice-presidential running mate? Especially when he is 72 years old and a two-time cancer patient? My husband just wrote a book about accidental presidents and believe me, it happens. Under the best of circumstances with a highly qualified person, it's a difficult proposition.

If McCain took an assassin's bullet months after taking office (like Reagan did) would this woman be able to step in as the so-called "Leader of the Free World." If McCain contracted a disease on the way to his inauguration, would you feel safe with Sarah Palin in the White House?

If McCain wanted to choose a woman, was this the best one?
Does she reflect in any way the goals of a Hillary Clinton--or of most progressive women? If the PUMA women vote for her en masse, Hillary should feel betrayed? Obviously the only thing that counted for them was Hillary's sex. They weren't listening to her message at all. They'd prefer to take their chances with Supreme Court picks and more foreign intervention. They'd be willing to wipe out the Polar Bear and caribou. Who cares about the freedom to make choices about our own bodies? Just give me a woman.

Or does the sniff of newness, outweigh everything else in American politics? Did picking someone who'd take the limelight off Obama play into this? Does appeasing the far right outflank choosing a good leader?

I am very frightened that our disregard, even contempt, for smart people will lead us down this path again. The New Republicans think anyone can lead because they really believe that lesser lights can be more easily manipulated. We have seen how that works for eight years. They would prefer to have the oil companies, lobbyists and billionaires continue to run this nation.

When a CV prominently mentions high school basketball experience and beauty pageant contestant successes, isn't it perhaps a bit slight to get you this job?

Sorry to go on like this. Thursday was rant day but then this came along.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Summing Up, Friday, August 29, 2008

Thanks so much to these fantastic people (excluding myself, of course). Please join us in September. As the days grow short, this list might too.

Patti Abbott, Some Unknown Person, Sandra Scoppettone
Paul Bishop, Teffen, Lyndon Mallet; Shadow of a Broken Man, George Chesbro
David Cranmer, A Treasurey of Great Mysteries, Vol. 2, Haycraft and Beecroft
Bill Crider, Bridge of Birds, Barry Hughart
Denise Dietz, Shop Talk, Lizzie Hart; Cat Tracks, Gordon Aalborg
Lesa Holstine, The Night She Died, Dorothy Simpson
Randy Johnson, Daybreak 2250 A.D. (Star Man's Song) Andre Norton
Marc Lecard, The Black Path of Fear, Cornell Woolrich
Steve Lewis, Seven Suspects, Michael Innes
Jeffrey Marks, Nine Times Nine, Anthony Boucher
Edward Marston, The Three Coffins, John Dickson Carr
John McFetridge, St. Famous, Jonathan Coe
Patti O'Brien, Happy All the Time, Laurie Colwin
Clea Simon, Those Who Hunt the Night, Barbara Hambly
Kerri Smith, The Double Image, Helen MacInnes
Anthony Rainone, Cop Hater, Ed McBain
James Reasoner, Acapulco GPO, Day Keene
Gerald So, The Complete Poetic Works of Michael Madson
August West, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, George Higgins

Friday's Forgotten Books, August 29, 2008

Patricia Abbott is a short story writer.

Some Unknown Person
by Sandra Scoppettone

In 1977, when Some Unknown Person was first published, taking risks in a novel was apparently a viable option, maybe because genre writing had not become victim to the inflexible vise that it often is today. An author could still write a novel that steered imaginatively between suspense, thriller, historical fiction, noir, and a literary work.
However you define it though, Some Unknow Person is a page-turner, and isn’t that what we all seek to read in the end?

Some Unknown Person tells the true story of Starr Faithfull, a striking young woman who was found dead on the beach in 1931, and juxtaposes it with the fictional tale of a newly married Italian musician/writer with troubles and father issues of his own. How the two parallel narratives will converge is what we wait anxiously to see throughout this novel. And it’s realized brilliantly in the final pages.

Of great interest to me was the historical detail, also evident in Scoppettone’s more recent work (This Dame For Hire and Too Darn Hot) set in the forties. She paints with delicate strokes, never stepping outside the language and ambiance of the times. Some Unknown Person is a riveting read and highly recommended.

Denise [Deni] Dietz is the author of Eye of Newt, Footprints in the Butter, Fifty Cents For Your Soul, and the Ellie Bernstein/Lt. Peter Miller “diet club” mysteries. Her alter-ego, Mary Ellen Dennis, is the author of the “paranormal history-mystery-romance, The Landlord’s Black-Eyed Daughter.

Shop Talk by Lizzie Hart

When Patricia asked me to recommend “forgotten books,” two novels immediately came to mind. Both are not easy to find but well worth the search.

SHOP TALK by Lizzie Hart. “Lizzie Hart” is the only-used-once pseudonym of bestselling author Carolyn Haines, and you know you’re in for a treat when the front cover blurb says, “Lizzie Hart has a biting, satirical eye and she’s funny as hell to boot.”

Shop Talk is, without doubt, one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. It was published in 1998 and just thinking about it makes me smile, giggle, chortle, guffaw. Shop Talk’s quirky characters belong to a group called “Writers of Mississippi Books” (WOMB), and the mystery revolves around Marvin Lovelace, ex-CIA agent, a man with a sordid past and a grim view of the future (which includes a dark plot by the CIA to combine human and alien DNA, and that’s not even a spoiler ). But when the dust settles, only one question remains: Which WOMB book will become a bestseller? The historical romance, Forbidden Words? The cheesecake cookbook, De-Lush-Ous? The S&M novel, Leather and Chains? Or perhaps another offering from the Mississippi sleuths…er, writers?

Book #2 is CAT TRACKS by Gordon Aalborg. Published in 2002, Cat Tracks is subtitled “an epic tale of survival.” The feral cat is perhaps the most successful predator in the Australian bush, and Cat Tracks is the story of such a cat, seen partly through the cat’s eyes and partly through the eyes of an old bushman. The amazing thing about this gem of a book is that the author (who must have been a cat in another life) gets into the minds and souls of his characters: Dave Bates, the bushman, and the cat (no name, just “the cat”). This is not a book about a talking cat, or a sleuthing cat, or even a cute cat. It is more along the lines of The Incredible Journey. Here’s a sample: “The arrival of the first proper summer brought a new and easy food source, although the young cat’s mother wouldn’t have approved. Every weekend of warm weather brought increasing numbers of campers who found the cooling waters of the Cotter and the shady sandbanks at Vanity Crossing a veritable godsend after the mugginess of the city. They came in cars, vans, and on motorcycles, but all had one thing in common—they were unbelievably messy. Their departure left behind a rubble of beer and soft-drink cans, along with paper litter in astonishing amounts. And food! Pieces of charred steak, bones from steaks and chops, discarded sausage ends, unfinished sandwiches. The cat learned that it was wisest to be on the scene as the last human visitor departed; otherwise the semi-tame kookaburras and squawking crows would beat him to the spoils.” Fortunately, in 2005 the book came out in large print and that edition is available.

Marc Lecard is the author of Vinnie's Head.

By Cornell Woolrich (1944)

[warning: one long spoiler]

Titled by Cornell Woolrich with his usual cheerful optimism, The Black Path of Fear is a gem of terror set in prewar Havana. It’s a fine lurid melodrama, with all the little Woolrichian touches that give his stories their unmistakable atmosphere of anxiety and doom.

As the book opens, two lovers arrive at an open-air nightclub in a horse-drawn carriage. It’s not clear to the reader why they’re there, but from their intense, haunted exchanges, it seems they are running away from something or someone. In the crowded nightclub--so crowded that people are pressed up against one another--a roaming photographer stops to take their picture. Just as the flash goes off, the woman collapses. Not sure at first what has happened, the man discovers that the woman has been stabbed to death with a knife with a distinctive handle--a knife he himself had bought earlier that evening.

He is arrested, but talks the cops into taking him to the shop where he had purchased a knife—not the one, he claims, that has done the murder. The shopkeeper remembers it differently, and presents evidence that seems to prove his guilt. The Havana police haul him off.

The man escapes from the cops and flees into Havana’s Chinese quarter. There he encounters a cigar-smoking Cuban girl of the streets who hides him from the police. Holed up in her pitch-black cell of a room, he tells her how he came to be in such a fix:

His name is Bill Scott, a down and outer on the tramp who got a job as a chauffeur with a Miami nightclub owner and crime boss.

One night he is assigned to drive the gangster’s beautiful young wife into town. He is instantly smitten: "I got her by heart between the entrance steps and the car step."

(Only Raymond Chandler throws out so many memorable lines.)

She asks him to stop the car at a spot overlooking the sea:

"She was just looking out there where the water met the sky. That imaginary line that isn’t there when you get to it, but that promises so much to all of us."

Vague but powerful yearnings are erotic in Woolrich; The two fall in love and make plans to run away together--plans that are discovered by the gangster and his henchmen. Closely pursued, the couple manage to board a cruise ship and flee to Havana, one step ahead of the gangsters.

Then the woman is murdered, and Scott blamed for her murder.

Having brought us up to present time, Scott and the Cuban woman figure out that whoever knifed his girlfriend is likely to have been seen--and perhaps even photographed--by the roaming photog in the nightclub.

Scott goes out into the night to find the photographer. But he’s too late--the photographer has been kidnapped. Then Scott and the Cubana figure out (using logic, with a generous assist from Woolrichian coincidence) that the Miami gangster’s connection to Havana must be drug smuggling. Guided by an opium addict who conveniently lives next door, Scott infiltrates an opium den, penetrates to its heart, and discovers that it is run by the Chinese shopkeeper who swore he sold him the murder knife. He is the Miami gangster’s opium supplier.

The bad guys discover Scott, drug him and tie him up, taunting him by revealing how the killing was done. But before the bad guys can escape and dump Scott and the photographer in the Gulf of Mexico, the police raid the opium den (tipped off by the Cubana pickpocket) and rescue him.

In the clear now, Scott is freed on his own recog by the Havana police and returns to Florida, breaks into the gangster’s house at night and, in a long, slow, lovingly detailed scene, strangles him in his bed.

There is no one quite like Woolrich. His doomed characters move like sleepwalkers toward the end they see quite clearly. They talk about it, defy it. but they never flinch, and they never stop. This is pure Gothic melodrama, redeemed by keen psychological insight and a tragic sense of life.

All the elements of a classic Woolrich story are present in Black Path of Fear: doomed characters imbued with fatalism, a frantic sense that your dreams are slipping out of your grasp, a desperate attempt to escape the forces that are crushing you, pursuit by mysterious, malevolent, apparently all-powerful adversaries.

A man undone by grief, in a strange country, unjustly accused of murder. With one night to clear his name and escape.

The book closes with Scott back in the Havana nightclub, toasting his murdered love with a daiquiri and contemplating the future. The last line in the book:

"It was lonely, standing by myself at the bar like that."

The Black Path of Fear went through several editions and remained in print up to 1982 or so, and was performed twice as a radio play, Perhaps not top-shelf Woolrich, Black Path of Fear is nevertheless worth looking up. Woolrich can be uneven, but this is a keeper.

Check out these Forgotten Books. (As usual some will appear later in the day)

August West

Patti O'Brien

John McFetridge

Anthony Rainone

Bill Crider

Lesa Holstine

Gerald So

Kerri Smith

James Reasoner

David Cranmer

Randy Johnson

Jeffrey Marks

Edward Marston

Paul Bishop

Clea Simon

Steve Lewis

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Your Turn to Rant on Any Subject in 75 Words or Less

Your rant doesn't have to be political. I'm open to rants on any subject. All rants are welcome on Rant Thursday.

Here's mine:

Television Networks: Please just run the Democratic Convention in its entirety. Don't assume we'd rather hear your commentary than the speakers on the podium or floor. Don't imagine that the deliveryman from Indiana is less interesting than the 1000th discussion of whether Hillary's speech was conciliatory enough. Or whether it was ego or heart that brought her to the floor with the NY delegation. Let the people speak. Let us decide. We can do it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Forgotten Books Thus Far

With some oddities due to blogger quirks today. Like where did half of the tool bar go.

August 22, 2008
Patrick Shawn Bagley, Cruisers, Craig Nova
Joe Boland, The Sophmore, Barry Spacks
Nathan Cain, Dogs of God, Pinckney Benedict
David Cranmer, A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
Bill Crider, Night Without End, Alistair MacLean
Kent Gowran, Night Dogs, Kent Anderson
Glenn Harper, Edge City, Sin Sorocco
Lesa Holstine, The Merchant's House, Kate Ellis
Randy Johnson, A Flash of Red, Clay Harvey
Patrick Lennon, Jack's Return Home, Ted Lewis
Juri Nummelin, Dumbo, the Flying Elephant
Mary Reed, Some Must Watch, Ethel Lina White
Kerrie Smith, Criminal Conversation, Nicholas Freeling
Susan Smith, Borrowing the Night, Elisabeth Peters
Kelli Stanley, The Blank Wall and The Innocent Mrs. Duff by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
August West, The Wind Chill Factor, Thomas Gifford
James Winter, Ross MacDonald, Tom Nolan

August 15, 2008
David Cranmer, The Long Chance by Max Brand, Ride the Man Down by Luke Short
Bill Crider, Kyd for Hire, Timothy Harris (And go back to Bill's blog to see the British cover)
Anthony Flacco, The Golden Gate Murders, Peter King
Michael Haskins, Uptown, Downtown, Dennis Lynds
Lesa Holstine, King of the Hollyhop, Les Roberts
Kevin Holtsberry, A Day No Pigs Would Die, Robert Newton Peck
Naomi Hirahara, The Wheel on the School, Meindert DeJong, The Best Bad Thing, Yoshito Uchida
Randy Johnson, The Stories of Silver John, Manly Wade Wellman
Brian Lindenmuth, The Brotherhood of Mutiliation, Brian Evenson
Adrian McKinty, Thus Was Adonis Murdered, Sarah Caudwell
Barbara Martin, Caesar: The Life Story of a Panda Leopard, Patrick O'Brien
Terrie F. Moran, The Virginian, Owen Wister
Juri Nummelin, The Hell Bent Kid, Charles O. Locke
Graham Powell, The Charleston Knife is Back in Town, Ralph Dennis
Al Tucher, Hard Rain, Peter Abrahams
James Reasoner, The Blonde in Lower Six, Ed Jenkins

August 8. 2008
Patti Abbott, Beyond the Bedroom Wall, Larry Woiwode
Stephen Blackmoore, The Adventures of Pinocchio, Carlo Collodi
Victoria Blake, The Wasp Factory, Ian Banks
David Cranmer, By Line: Ernest Hemingway, William White
Bill Crider, Stone Angel, Marvin H. Albert
Damon, A Spell for Chameleon's Piers Anthony & The Sleeping Dragon, Joel Rosenberg
Ed Gorman, The Blank Wall, Elizabeth Sanxay Holding
Charles Gramlich, Kyrik, Warlock, Warrier
Lesa Holstine, The Lily Bard Books, Charlaine Harris
Randy Johnson, Conjure Wife, Fritz Leiber
B.V. Lawson, Los Alamos, Joseph Kanon
Brian Lindenmuth, Homicide A Year on the Killing Streets, David Simon
Terrie F. Moran, Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election, John Firling
Steve Mosby, Balling the Jack, Frank Baldwin
Juri Nummelin, Root of Evil, James Cross
Ian Rankin, I Was Dora Suarez, Derek Raymond
Darlene Ryan, The Jessica James Mysteries, Meg O"Brien
Sandra Ruttan, Polly Deacon series, H. Mel Malton
Will Thomas, The Big Bow Mystery, Israel Zangwill
Robert Ward, They Don't Dance Much, James Ross
Sharon Wildwood, Chosen for Death, Kate Flora
Woodstock, Stay of Execution, Stewart Alsop

August 1, 2008
Steve Allan, What Makes Sammy Run, Budd Schulberg
Joe Boland, Meeting Evil, Thomas Berger
Max Allan Collins, The Twisted Thing, Mike Hammer, Mickey Spillane
David Cranmer, Contrary Pleasure, John. D. MacDonald
Bill Cameron, The Mystery of the Witches Bridge, Barbie Oliver Carleton
Bill Crider, The Hereafter Gang. Neal Barrett, Jr.
Clair Dickson, Missing Persons, Fay Faron
Sean Doolittle, Fun with Occasional Music, Jonathan Lethem
Ed Gorman, Earthquake Weather, Terrill Lankford
Timothy Hallinan, Coffins' Got the Dead Guy on the Inside, Keith Snyder
Lesa Holstine, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, Jeffrey Archer
Randy Johnson, Adam Link Robot, Eando Bender
James McGoran, Serenade, James M. Cain
Medora, The Razor's Edge, W. Somerset Maugham
Terrie Farley Moran, One Thousand White Women, Jim Fergus
Derek Nikitas, God is a Bullet, Boston Teran
James Reasoner, Dead Men’s Letters, Erle Stanley Gardner
Matt Beynon Rees, The King Must Die, Mary Renault
James Lincoln Warner, The Three Mulla-Mulgares by Walter de la Mare
James Winter, On the Road, Jack Kerouac

July 25, 2008
Steve Allan, Getting Away With It, Steven Soderbergh
Patrick Shawn Bagley, Gunsights, Elmore Leonard
Joe Boland, Quick Change, Jay Cronley
David Cramner, A Trap for Fools, Amanda Cross
Bill Crider, Assault on Ming, Alan Caillou
Ed Gorman, The Pat Hobby Stories, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Kevin Guilfoile, The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
Lesa Holstine, The Pershing Pickle, Sandra Dallas
Randall Johnson, The Man Who Moved a Mountain, Richard C. Davids
Ed Lynskey, A Feast of Snakes, Harry Crews
John McAuley, The New Centurions, Joseph Wambaugh
Craig McDonald, Death Will Have Your Eyes, James Sallis
Paul McGoran, Deadlier Than the Male, James Gunn
Bill Peschel, Forgotten News, Jack Finney
Robert J. Randisi, The Falling Man, Mark Sadler
James Reasoner, Hopalong Cassidy, Clarence E. Mulford
Stephen Rogers, Death of a Citizen, Donald Hamilton
S.J. Rozan, This Perfect Day, Ira Levin
Andi Shechter, Raising Demons and Life Among the Savages, Shirley Jackson
Jay Tomio, The Last Hot Time, John M. Ford

July 18, 2008
Barbara D'Amato-HMS Ulysses, Alastair MacLean
David Cranmer, A Treasury of Great Mysteries, Haycraft and Belcroft
Bill Crider, Rafferty: Wrong Place, Wrong Time, W. Glenn Duncan
Jack Getze, Sleeping Dogs, Thomas Perry
Ed Gorman, Don't Cry for Me, William Campbell Gault
Lesa Holstine, A Dangerous Road, Kris Nelscott
Charlie Huston, Complicity, Iain Banks
Randy Johnson, Booked to Die, John Dunning
Colman Keene, Paco's Story, Larry Heinemann
Ken, The Anvil of the World, Kage Baker
Larry, Camp Concentration, Thomas Disch
Medora, Kristen Lavranstatter, Sigrid Undset
David Montgomery, Chinaman's Choice, Ross Thomas
Sandy Parshall, We Have Always Lived in a Castle, Shirley Jackson
James Reasoner, The Hangman of Sleepy Valley, David Dresser
Barrie Summy, Crackpot, Adele Wiseman
Jay Tomio Dossier, Stepan Chapman, Black Brillion, Matthew Hughes, Pandora, Holly Hollander, Coelestis, Paul Park, Sarah Canary, Karen Fowler, Brittle Innings, Michael Bishop
Dave White, Honor Among Thieves, Jeffrey Archer

July 11, 2008
Robert Gregory Browne, Control, William Goldman
Bill Crider, Death Tour, David J. Michael
Al Guthrie, Portrait in Smoke, Bill Ballinger
Woody Haut, Hard Rain Falling, Don Carpenter
Lesa Hostine, Bachelor Brother's Bed and Breakfast, Bill Richardson
Randy Johnson, Gone South, Robert McCammon
Claire Lamb, Kate Vaiden, Reynolds Price
Todd Mason, On Wings of Song, Thomas M. Disch
Craig McDonald, Four Corners of Night, Craig Holden
Karen E. Olson, Lockout, Lillian O'Donnell
Barrie Summy, The Sweet Second Season of Kitty Malone, Matt Cohen
Louise Ure, No Human Involved, Barabara Seranella, 2008

July 4, 2008
Kids' Forgotten Books for Friday, July 4, 2008

Patti Abbott-The Return of the Twelves, Pauline Clarke
Steve Allan-Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury
Patrick Shawn Bagley, The Great Brain, John Fitzgerald
David Cranmer, Dig Alley Space Edxplorers' Series by Joseph Green
Bill Crider, The 21 Balloons, William Pene DuBois
Travis Erwin, Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
Lesa Holstine, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Betty MacDonald; Snow Treasure, Marie McSwigan, The Happy Hollisters, Jerry West
Randy Johnson, The Mushroom Series, Eleanor Cameron
Steve Lewis, Don Sturdy on the Desert of Mystery, Victor Appleton
Brian Lindenmuth, The Mouse and His Child, Russell Hoban
Todd Mason, The Loner, Ester Wier
Terrie Farley Moran, The Paperbag Princess, Robert Munsch
James Reasoner, The Rocket's Shadow, John Blaine
Sandra Ruttan, Twenty and Ten, Claire Huchet Bishop and Janet Joly
Susan Smith, The Ghost Next Door, Wylly Folk St. John
Sarah Weinman, The Golden Road, L.M. Montgomery

Adult Forgotten Books

Todd Mason, Signal Through the Flames, Mitch Snyder and America' Homeless, Victoria Rader; The Pleasure Tube, Robert Onopa; The Moon's Wife, A.A. Attanasio
Chuck Nichols, The Real Revolution: The Global Story of American Independence, Marc Armstrong
Mike Ripley, Watcher in the Shadows, Geoffrey Householder
Kirk Russell, Cutter and Bone, Newton Thornberg
Gerald So, The Fifth Profession, David Morrell
Jay Tomio, Black Brillon, Matthew Hughes
Medora, Kristin Lavransdatter, Sigrid Undset

June 27, 2008
Lori Armstrong, Naked in Death, J.D. Robb
Patrick Bagley, The Great Brain, John D. Fitzgerald
Joe Boland, Up in the Air, Walter Kirn
Gerard Brennan, The Salesman, Joesph O'Connor
Tony Broadbent, Funeral in Berlin, Len Deighton
Shannon Clute, New York Trilogy, Paul Auster
Bill Crider, Wolf House, Jack Lynch
Ed Gorman, Dog Soldiers, Robert Stone
Libby Hellman, Briarpatch, Ross Thomas
Lesa Holstine, Charms for the Easy Life, Kay Gibbons
Randy Johnson, The Mushroom Planet series, Eleanor Cameron
J.A. Konrath, Blackburn, Bradley Denton
Steve Lewis, Don Sturdy on the Desert of Mystery, Victor Appletion
Todd Mason, The Loner, Ester Wier
James Reasoner, The Ghosts of Elkhorn, Kerry Newcomb and Frank Schaefer
Peter Rozovsky, Bertie and the Seven Bodies, Peter Lovesey
Barry Summy, The Chrysalids, John Wyndham
Susan, Corpse de Ballet, Lucy Cores
David Thompson, The David Handler Series
Mary Ellen Walsh, Salvation, Lucia Nevai

June 20, 2008
Gerard Brennan, Joseph O'Connor, The Salesman
Lyman Feero, Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
James Reasoner, Lewis B. Patten, Rope Law
Joe Boland, Thomas Perry, Island
Lesa Holstine, Stephen Cannell, King Con
David Corbett, Pete Dexter, God's Pocket
Bill Crider, Henry Kane, Too French and Too Deadly
Ed Gorman, John D. MacDonald, Border Town Girl
Steve Lewis, Donald Hamilton, The Ambushers
Robin Gorman Newman, Patrick McDonnell, The Gift of Nothing
Susan, Todd Borg, Tahoe Deathfall
Todd Mason, William Kotzwinke, The Exile
Lee Gold, Henrik Van Loon, Van Loon's Lives
Jim Ingraham, Kate Chopin, The Awakening

June 13, 2008

Patti Abbott, October Light, John Gardner
Joe Boland, Freak's Amour, Tom DeHaven
Gerard Brennan, Father Music, Dermot Bolger
Steve Brewer, The Tango Briefing, Adam Hall
Mark Coggins, Samurai Boogie, Peter Tasker
Bill Crider, One for Hell, Jada Davis
Deborah, Mother Love, Domini Taylor
Chris Holm, The Elementals, Michael McDowell
Ruth Jordan, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, George V. Higgins
Vince Keenan, Violence, Nudity and Adult Content, Vince Passaro
Larry, The Famished Road, Ben Okri
Steve Lewis, Pangolin, Peter Driscoll
Brian Lindenmuth, Four Kinds of Rain/Red Baker, Robert Ward
Tim Maleeny, Chinaman's Chance, Ross Thomas
Terrie Farley Moran, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
James Reasoner, The Dark Brand, H. A. De Rosso
Rochelle Jewel Shapiro, Jamaica Inn, Daphne DuMaurier
Gerald So, The Spy Who Loved Me, Ian Fleming
Jay Tomio, Sarah Canary, Karen Joy Fowler
Jeri Westerson, The House on the Strand, Daphne DuMaurier

June 6, 2998

Robin Agnew, The Last Witness, K.J. Erickson
Patrick Shawn Bagley, When the River Flows North, Howard Frank Mosher
John Baker, Murphy, Samuel Beckett
Joe Boland, The Art of Losing, Keith Dixon
Julia Buckley, I Don't Kow How She Does It, Allison Pearson
Sean Chercover, Derek Rayond's Factory Series
Bill Crider, Down and Dirty, W.B. Murphy
Travis Erwin, You Never Believe Me: And Other Stories, Davis Grubb
Anne Fraiser, Uther and Igraine and Sorrell and Son, Warwick Deeping
Steve Hockensmith, I Am the Cheese, Robert Cormier
Caroline Leavitt, After Life, Rhian Ellis
Steve Lewis, 57, Chicago, Steve Monroe
Lee Lofland, Postmortem, Patricia Cornwell
Jeff Marks, Home, Sweet Homicide, Craig Rice
Russel McLean, The Shark-Infested Custard, Charles Willeford
Medora, Guard of Honor, James Gould Cozzens
James Reasoner, The Sharpshooters, John Benteen
Clea Simon, Crooked Man, Tony Dunbar
Jay Tomio, Brittle Innings, Michael Bishop 2008

May 30, 2008

Joe Boland, Lightening of the Sun, Robert Bingham
Gerard Brennan, Sacrifice of the Fools, Ian McDonald
Ken Bruen, Michigan Roll, Tom Kakonis
Bill Crider, The Hot-Shot, Fletcher Flora
Deborah (Knit Lady) Brat Farrar, Josephine Tey
Stephen Elliott, (an extensive list: see link from yesterday)
Alison Gaylin, The Dice Man, Luke Reinhart
Charles Gramlich, Desert Dog, Jim Kjelgaard
Lisa Kenney, The Dogs of March, Ernest Hebert
Kristy Kiernan, Into the Road, Adrienne Richard
Steve Lewis, Too Much Poison, Anne Rowe
Brian Lindenmuth, (an extensive list of forgotten Sci-Fi: see link)
Dick Lochte, The Honest Dealer, Frank Gruber
Stuart MacBride, Shooting Dr. Jack, Norman Green, Diamond Dove, Adrian Hyland
Todd Mason, Alfred Hitchcock: Stories to be Read with the Door Locked, edited by Harold Q. Masur
Jason Pinter, The Long Walk, Stephen King
Sandra Seaman, The Quiet Game, Greg Iles
Andi Shechter, Cut to the Quick, Kate Ross
Clea Simon, A Place of Greater Safety, Hilary Mantel
Wallace Stroby, The Rare Coin Score, Richard Stark
Dave Zeltserman, The Captain, Seymour Shubin

May 23, 2008
Dick Adler, When the Sacred Ginmill Closes, Lawrence Block
Steve Allan, Horse Latitudes, Robert Ferrigno
Bookwitch, Home, Sweet Homicide, Craig Rice
Bill Crider, Revenge, Jack Ehrlich
Lonnie Cruse, We Have Always Lived in a Castle, Shirley Jackson
Jenny Davidson, Colors Insulting to Nature, Cintra Wilson
Martin Edwards, Reputation for a Song, Edward Grierson
J.T. Ellison, Songs of Innocence, Richard Aleas (Charles Ardai)
Victor Gischler, Clans of the Alphane Moon, Philip K. Dick
Ed Gorman, Spree, Max Allan Collins
Lynne Hatwell (Dovegreyreader), The Scapegoat, Daphne Du Maurier
Laura Lippman, A Novel Called Heritage, Margaret Dukore
John McFetridge, Cutter and Bone, Newton Thornburg
Todd Mason, Trouble Valley, Lee Hoffman A.R. Pickett
(Woodstock’s Blog) Alas Babylon, Pat Frank
James Reasoner, Day of the Moon, Bill Prozini and Jeffrey Wallman
Linda Richards, Swann, Carol Shield

May 16, 2008

Steve Allan, Splinters of the Mind's Eye, Alan Dean Foster
Baglady, The Crystal Cave, Mary Stewart
Bookwitch, Sapper, Herman Cyril McNeile
Declan Burke, Wild at Heart, Barry Gifford
Bill Crider, The Night Remembers, Ed Gorman
Travis Erwin, The Me I Used to Be, Jennifer Archer
Ed Gorman, The Kidnappers, Robert Bloch and 361 by Donald Westlake
Kirsty, Other Stories and Other Stories, Ali Smith
Todd Mason, The Aleph and Other Stories 1933-1969
Tom Piccirilli, The Hunter, Richard Stark (Donald Westlake)
Sarah Weinman, The Late Man, James Preston Girard
Megan Powell, Cuckoo's Egg, C.J. Cherryh
James Reasoner, The Siamese Twin Mystery, Ellery Queen
Jeff Shelby, The Standoff, Chuck Hogan
Kevin Burton Smith, The January Corpse by Neil Albert
Shauna Sturge, Crossfire, Jeanette Windle
David Terrenoire, Cruddy, Lynda Barry
Sarah Weinman, The Late Man, James Preston Girard

May 9. 2008

Patti Abbott: Roseanna (Sjowal and Wahloo)
Steve Allan: The Giant's House (Elizabeth McCracken)
Stephen Blackmoore: On Strange Tides (Tim Powers)
Declan Burke: Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (Horace McCoy)
Bill Crider: The Assistant (Malamud), Passing Strange (Sale)
Sara Crowley: The Trick is to Keep Breathing (Janice Galloway)
Daniel Hatadi: Gun in Cheek (Bill Prozini)
Jen Jordan: One Man's Chorus (Burgess
Lisa Kenney: A Fine and Private Place (Peter Beagle)
Brian Lindenmuth: Scalped (Jason Aaron)
Todd Mason: The Lively Lives of Crispin Mobey (Gary Jennings
Terrie Farley Moran: The Great Divide (Terkel)
J. Kingston Pierce: The Lunatic Fringe (DeAndrea)
R2: The Criminalist (Izzi)
Keith Raffel: Kolymsky Heights (Davidson)
Peter Rozovsky: Harper and Iles series (Bill James)
Steven Torres: Moony's Road to Hell (Ramas)
Jim Winter: Blunt Darts (Healy)

May 2, 2008

Steve Allan, THE TEMPLE OF GOLD (Goldman)
Jennifer Archer, THE BRONZE HORSEMAN (Pauline Simmons)
William Boyle, FATHER AND SON (Larry Brown)
Declan Burke, THIEVES LIKE US (Anderson)
Clair Dickson, THE WESTING GAME (Raskin)
Ello, SILK (Alessandro Barrico)
Christa Faust, RUN (Douglas Winter)
Angie Johnson-Schmidt, SALLY'S IN THE ALLEY (Norbert Davis)
Katrina Kimble, THE RED TENT (Diamant)
Brian Lindenmuth, GENERATION LOSS ( E. Hand)
James Reasoner,SEVEN FACES (Max Brand)
Sandra Ruttan, THE 50/50 KILLER (Steve Mosley)
Kay Sexton, FRED AND EDIE (Jill Dawson)
Gerald So, SPADEWORK (Prozini) and Collected Poems (Justice)

April 25, 2008

Patti Abbott, Desperate Characters. Paula Fox
Patrick Shawn Bagley, The Dog of the South by Charles Portis
Bill Crider, City, Clifford D. Simak
Josephine Damian, Don't Let's Go to the Dog Tonight, Alexandria Fuller
Clair Dickson, The Lady in the Lake, Raymond Chandler
Ello, When the Elephants Dance, Tess Uriza
Eudamonia, The Price of Salt, Patricia Highsmith
Travis Erwin, The Rock Orchard, Paula Wall
Brian Lindenmuth, The God Files, Frank Turner
Sandra Ruttan, Dust Devils, James Reasoner
A.N. Smith, Scar Lover by Harry Crews
Sandra Scoppettone, Death of the Heart, Elizabeth Bowen

For the Love of Grover

Anyone else have a 20 month old who can't get enough of Grover? The rest of the Gang can go to the dogs. It's Grover he yearns to watch on our computer. Is it Grover's high-pitched voice. Is it that Grover always seesms somewhat mystified? Or does he just like to sit our Poppop's lap and watch Grover all day long?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Instant Replays for Homeruns

Instant replays to substantiate that a home run wasn't really a ground rule double will soon be part of the game. Were that many mistakes being made in calling a HR? Or is there another consideration? Will we soon get another two or three commercial spots during the rewind? Will they stop the game for instant replays even when the ball clears the park? Even when the guy on the roof across from Wrigley field waves his hand.
I used to watch a lot of sports on TV but crimey, I can't stand to watch a game now. I didn't watch five minutes of the Olympics. Every time I turned it on it was either a bio, a commercial, table tennis on a table the size of a handkerchief, or beach blanket volleyball.
Mostly though, I just can't take the endless commercials. If more than 20 of the average 60 minute show is commercials, why not DVR everything?
Maybe sports aren't meant to be viewed live. That's for saps. The day after is looking better and better. But damn those Chinese sure play well on those hankies.

Monday, August 25, 2008

My Town Monday, Detroit: Detroit Institute of Arts

The Detroit Institite of Arts
has one of the largest, most significant art collections in the United States. Many of its pieces came in the era of automobile money. Supporting cultural institutions garnered favorable attention for the auto barons.

In 2003, the DIA ranked as the second largest municipally-owned museum in the U.S. with an art collection valued at more than one billion dollars. With over 100 galleries, it now covers 677,000 square feet, a major renovation and expansion project completed in 2007 added 77,000 sq. ft. This new space allows more of its holdings to be on view and allows more hands-on activity.

The museum building itself is beautiful. The original building, designed by Paul Cret is flanked by north and south wings covered with a white marble exterior. It is part of the city's Cultural Center Historic District, across from the main branch of the Detroit Library, adjacent to the College of Creative Arts and part of the Wayne State University campus. Within a few blocks are the Detroit Science Center, the Detroit Historical Museum and the Museum of African-American History.

The DIAs first painting was donated in 1883 and its collection consists of over 65,000 works. The DIA is an encyclopedic museum, not a specialist one: its collections span the globe from ancient Egyptian works to contemporary art.

Much attentions has been paid to making it of interest to children.

The biggest kid-friendly piece is "Eye Spy!," a sort of DIA scavenger hunt with clues scattered throughout most galleries. Conveniently located at 8-year-old height, each of the 53 "Eye Spy!" labels has a riddle that directs children to a detail on a specific work of art in that very room.

In the Native American galleries, one clue, "I'm shiny and small / With bumps down my back / In the wild I grab flies with my tongue," points children at a gold frog on a tombstone from the Chirique culture in Central America.

There are also things kid can actually get their hands on -- like free-standing globes, rather than boring old maps, and "Please Touch Me!" labels. The latter offer children a chance to see what art materials feel like. Or they can "paint" their own Dutch still life on a Velcro board. Books on tables open magically and by a mere touch you can see related topics.

There are also three self-directed gallery guides aimed at adults and children, the most amusing of which is "Yikes!," which takes kids on a museum-wide tour of sinister art.

(It starts, appropriately, with Henry Fuseli's 1781 creep-out "The Nightmare.")

Other tours include the sports-oriented "Game Day," and a tour of vistas and landscapes through the ages called "Take a Hike."

Friday nights brings families to the museum for hands-on activities, dance, exhibitions and live music. The Detroit Film Theater hosts foreign and independent films in an equisite theater, newly refurbished. Brunch with Bach is another popular feature. The museum is often the site of cultural and civic affairs.
Perhaps the most interesting art for me in the museum are the Rivera murals.

The Detroit Industry fresco cycle in Rivera Court is the finest example of Mexican muralist work in the United States; Rivera considered it the most successful work of his career. In 1932 when Rivera was well known in the United States as one of the leaders of the Mexican muralist movement, he was commissioned by Edsel Ford, president of the Arts Commission as well as of Ford Motor Company, and Dr. William Valentiner, director of the DIA, to create two murals for the museum in its Garden Court.

The north and south walls are devoted to three sets of images: the representation of the races that shape North American culture and make up its work force, the automobile industry, and the other industries of Detroit (medical, pharmaceutical, and chemical). At the bottom of the walls are small panels which depict the sequence of a day in the life of the workers at the Ford River Rouge plant. The central panel of the north wall represents important operations in the production and manufacture of the engine and transmission of the 1932 Ford V8. The major panel of the south wall is devoted to the production of the automobile’s exterior.

(Much of this information comes the DIA website). If you ever visit Detroit, this museum is its number one treasure.

Check out more My Town Monday posts at the wonderful Travis Erwin's blog:

Saturday, August 23, 2008

How Do You See Your Role in Reviewing Books on Your Blog

As more and more book reviewing shifts from print to online, what are the obligations of those who talk about books on their blogs?

This is a subject that makes me uneasy. I often recommend books on this blog, but I've never panned one. Unlike panning a movie, panning a book on a blog feels too personal, especially on collective blog sites like this one. And I don't feel qualified to write a "review."

I think it's appropriate to talk about books I like. The more the better. But to talk about ones I don't like....well, I just wouldn't.

This is new ground for us and begs the questions-what qualifies someone to review books? With the decline of newspaper reviewing, it might be a good time to talk about it.

A newspaper gives a reviewer a platform to speak from and presumably is responsible to the public for views expressed in its pages. It has the means to curtail a reviewer who doesn't act professionally. Newspapers edit their reviews, vet their personnel. There is an organization to hold accountable behind the reviews.

I expect to see critical reviews in newspapers or magazines, but on a blog, it often seems inappropriate because there's no oversight. The blogger may not be held accountable in the same way that newspaper reviewers are.

Am I living in the past to see things this way? Maybe this "Brave New World" has passed me by. What degree of professional training should we expect of a reviewer? Or should we democratize it and say everyone is entitled to their say?

Is it possible someday soon that a site with nasty reviews of books will attract attention the way various radio shows and political blogs do? Amazon reviews, not supervised at all, are often nasty and unfair. Or so favorable that you can't believe them either.

Do you see a time when people will be held responsible for the content of their blog? That lawsuits and legislation might alter free speech on the Internet.

These are questions we need to wrestle with. IMHO.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Summing Up, Friday, August 22, 2008

Thanks so much to the people who took the time to write these reviews.
A special thanks to the people who have done more than one. This would be long gone without you.

Patrick Shawn Bagley, Cruisers, Craig Nova
Joe Boland, The Sophmore, Barry Spacks

Nathan Cain, Dogs of God, Pinckney Benedict
David Cranmer, A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
Bill Crider, Night Without End, Alistair MacLean
Kent Gowran, Night Dogs, Kent Anderson
Glenn Harper, Edge City, Sin Sorocco
Lesa Holstine, The Merchant's House, Kate Ellis
Randy Johnson, A Flash of Red, Clay Harvey
Patrick Lennon, Jack's Return Home, Ted Lewis
Juri Nummelin, Dumbo, the Flying Elephant
Mary Reed, Some Must Watch, Ethel Lina White
Kerrie Smith, Criminal Conversation, Nicholas Freeling
Susan Smith, Borrowing the Night, Elisabeth Peters
Kelli Stanley, The Blank Wall and The Innocent Mrs. Duff by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
August West, The Wind Chill Factor, Thomas Gifford
James Winter, Ross MacDonald, Tom Nolan

Friday's Forgotten Books, August 22, 2008

Kent Gowran talks about crime fiction on sites such as Big Adios and Crimespace.

NIGHT DOGS by Kent Anderson

Back in January 0f 1999, on our first or second date, the woman who would be my bride asked me if I'd read Night Dogs by Kent Anderson. I told her I'd never even heard if it. She told me I had to read it and sent her copy home with me that same night. I read it and, to put it simply, I was floored.

Set in Portland, Oregon in 1975, the novel follows Vietnam veteran Hanson, now a cop, as he works the streets of the North Precinct. The world Hanson navigates is dark and murky, and the line between good and evil is hopelessly blurred. Hanson, a man capable of being both savage and kind, is a character you live with as you read the novel. Some portions of this novel might turn the stomachs of the queasy, might knock over those with "politically correct" leanings, but, really, that's how life is. There's no criminal mastermind, no charming rogue cops, no cute kid to offset the horror (well, there is this dog, Truman...), just hard, blunt reality.

Although this book is tagged as a novel of the mystery and/or thriller genre, Night Dogs has more of a kinship to the novels of James Crumley or Richard Price where character, rather than plot, is the real driving force of the story. It's the kind of novel that I, as a reader, not only enjoy, but also respect, and that's a rare combination

Patrick Lennon is author of the Corn Dolls (2006) and Steel Witches (2008).

Jack's Return Home by Ted Lewis

It might seem perverse to say that this book has been forgotten - it formed the basis of `Get Carter`, one of the best British crime films of all time, and has been published under the film`s title since the 1990`s, its cover featuring the iconic mug of Michael Caine plus shotgun.
But oddly, it has been forgotten as a book - in that almost all readers (including myself) have come to it through the film, and the cinema version is so powerful that it can be hard to let the pages live in the mind.
This is a pity, because the book is a complete and convincing portrait of Northern England at the weird end of the 1960`s - a mix of derelict industry, a collapsing small-town hierarchy, and that Southern, big-city sexual revolution manifesting itself in incest and debasement. In some ways, it is closer to the `kitchen sink`tradition of 10 to 15 years earlier, showing a white working class ill at ease with itself, but its crime positioning allows an almost psychedelic kaleidoscope of betrayal and retribution until its final scene, which almost resembes a pagan, water-borne sacrifice allowing Jack Carter the peace he craves.
If you haven`t seen the film, try the book first.

Kelli Stanley is the author of Nox Dormienda

The Blank Wall and The Innocent Mrs. Duff
by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding

Raymond Chandler called Elisabeth Sanxay Holding (1889-1955) “the top suspense writer of them all.” And he should know … his reading intake was far more prodigious than his writing output, and Chandler made a point of keeping up to date with the genre.

She began as a writer of romance in the Twenties, but ventured into the more (at least then) lucrative arena of detective and suspense fiction when the Great Depression sunk the economy.

Of the eighteen novels she completed before her death, the most famous is probably The Blank Wall. Filmed as The Reckless Moment in ’49, an atmospheric noir starring James Mason and Joan Bennett (and directed by the legendary Max Ophuls), it was remade with a great deal less style and talent (in my opinion) as The Deep End (2001).

Chandler actually persuaded Paramount to purchase another Sanxay novel, The Innocent Mrs. Duff, and worked on its film adaptation in the spring of ’46 before parting ways over its handling … one of those great lost scripts I’d love to unearth from a vault someday.

Now, Chandler is my favorite writer, and I take his recommendations seriously. So I purchased a first edition of The Innocent Mrs. Duff (1946), and found myself wondering why Patricia Highsmith is justly venerated and Sanxay Holding is largely forgotten.

A psychological suspense thriller built on a taut, perfectly structured character study, the novel ticks away like a metronome, building up an unbearable tension. One of Holding’s earlier titles was Miasma (1929), and that eponymous sense of death and decay also informs the later story.

Narrated in the first person by a middle-aged, middle-class alcoholic snob – ambitious, deluded, and utterly narcissistic – the plot and tension are driven by his growing paranoia and suspicions of the title character … his beautiful, newly-married, twenty-one year old second wife.

The book simply grabs you by the throat and won’t let go. Holding can write dread as well or better than any writer … and like Shirley Jackson, her quiet moments and what Chandler calls her “inner calm” fuel a palpable sense of horror.

I’m happy to report that Academy Chicago Publishers has packaged The Blank Wall and The Innocent Mrs. Duff together in an affordable paperback. Stark House Press also offers new editions of several of her titles.

Anthony Boucher, in a New York Times review, wrote: “For subtlety, realistic conviction, incredible economy, she’s in a class by herself.” Sixty years later, Elisabeth Sanxay Holding still is.

Here are some more forgotten books to peruse:
(Thanks, Clair, I finally got what you meant)

Nathan Cain

Glenn Harper

Bill Crider

Lesa Holstine

Mary Reed

Jim Winter

August West

Randy Johnson

David Cranmer

Patrick Shawn Bagley

Joe Boland

Susan Smith

Juri Nummelin

Kerrie Smith

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Happy Birthday, Megan

In Atlantic City tonight.

Wish I were there.

Tropic Thunder v. Pineapple Express

My husband thought that Tropic Thunder was one the funniest movie he's ever seen and I know what he means. The movie is smart, fast, deft, and knowing. I would certainly give it a thumbs up. Great characters, good acting, and even some pretty astute observations on Hollywood and other war movies.

Although we laughed last week too at Pineapple Express, it wasn't in the same league because it's humor was based solely on boys behaving badly. And the last thirty minutes of non-stop warfare was excruciatingly boring.
Big deal, you can blow things up. TT did it too but in far quicker fashion.

But I am yearning for a movie where witty dialog and women take center stage. Comedies with women are always romantic comedies, which is fine, but why? Are women not inherently humorous? Do we only find women funny when they play it crude and mean like Sarah Silverman, Sandra Bernhart or Roseanne Barr?

What's the funniest movie you can name where women played a prominent part? I bet you have to go back twenty years or more. And I bet you can't name many if any that aren't romantic comedies. Is that all women want? Not me.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Where Does the Greatest Satisfaction Lie For You

in your writing? Although I greatly enjoy going back to a section already written and fleshing it out more, adding more detail, editing it, I never feel I am making real progress on the days I do this. I feel like I'm cheating a bit.

Plotting is my greatest hurdle so when I am able to move the story forward, find the next piece in the puzzle, I feel the most productive. Even when I know exactly what's going to happen, getting it down is always a struggle. Whereas going back to page 10 and adding more dialog or describing the place or people a bit more is pure joy. Is it like this for you?

Maybe for some people, the plot comes easiest and it's those details and honing the dialog they dread. What comes easiest for you? Would you rather add three pages at the end of the manuscript or scattered about? Or perhaps any increase in page count amounts to the same thing?

Today, I've got to move forward though. There's only so many ways you can rewrite those first scenes.

Monday, August 18, 2008

And Now a Word About My Husband: Dr. Philip Abbott

I reposted the link which had expired. Sorry.
My husband writes books and articles on the American presidency among other subjects. He doesn't like me to talk about him here (except maybe his garden), but he'll be interviewed on BBC World Radio today about the vice-presidency in American politics. It will be on several times, but here's the link for anyone who likes to listen to political analysis. This is his most recent book.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My Town Monday, Detroit: The Woodward Dream Cruise

The Dream Cruise

In August 1995, Nelson House and a group of volunteers looked to relive and recreate the nostalgic heydays of the 50s and 60s, when youth, music and Motor City steel roamed Woodward Avenue, America’s first highway. That year, 250,000 people participated—nearly ten times the number expected. The event has grown each year.

Today, the Woodward Dream Cruise is the world’s largest automotive event of its kind, drawing 1.5 million people and 40,000 classic cars each year from around the globe. North American cruisers from California, Georgia, Canada and all points in between travel to Detroit to participate in what has become, for many, an annual rite of summer. Cruising starts on Thursday and ends Saturday night, with Saturday being the official day of the cruise.

The route runs a scant eight miles between Detroit and Pontiac, along one of the most well-traveled and historic roads in the area. This was an area that saw the infamous teenage cruising of the fifties and sixties and food served along the route mimics that era as do many of the cars.

Part of the fun, is watching burnouts, a frequent occurrence with vintage cars that travel only a few miles each year. Another large part of the event are the venders selling food, souvenirs and programs along the route.

Controversies abound, given the inconvenience to the local residents who have considerable trouble getting to their house and out for Saturday errands, the waste of gas, the pollution the cruise causes, the police and other personeel needed to supervise it, the demands it makes on local services in several communities.

But it ain't going away anytime soon. It's clearly a Detroit tradition and here to stay. We're all about cars in the Motor City. So sign up to buy a Volt in 2010 and keep us going.

We Missed it Last Night

But how did the candidates do with the evangelist interviewer? My mother, a Democrat, tells me McCain was more likable and to the point. Tell me that isn't true? Please.

Apparently one of the more controversial questions was when the candidates were asked to define "rich." Here's The Monkey Cage's take on it.

What's Rich?

Last night, Rick Warren asked both Barack Obama and John McCain to define the income level that makes someone rich. Neither candidate gave a precise answer. Obama pointed out that families making under $150,000 would benefit from his tax plan, while McCain offered up the absurd figure of $5 million dollars.

This is actually an interesting question since there is widespread confusion (particularly in the media) about the distribution of income in the United States. Here are the facts according to the Census Bureau:

—In 2006, the median household income was $48,201. That means half of all households made less than this amount and half made more.

—For family households, the median was just shy of $60,000. For married couples households, the median was $69,716.

—Households making over $133,000 were in the 90th percentile.Households making over $174,000 were in the 95th percentile. This means that Obama’s line of $150,000 probably hits the top 7-8 percent of household incomes.

—The data on those making above McCain’s line of $5 million dollars aren’t readily available, but those making over $1.6 million are in the top 0.1 percentile (that’s the top one-tenth of one percent). Overall, there are only 146,000 households making over $1.5 million and only 11,000 with incomes over $5.5 million.

I think we can see from this just how out of touch McCain is. And yet these are still the people Republicans would choose to privilege. Rich but not rich enough.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Reading a Forgotten Book: Four Corners of the Night by Craig Holden

This book was recommended by Craig McDonald on "Forgotten Books" a few weeks back and I was drawn to it because I had recently read Holden's story in Detroit Noir and because it is set in Toledo, although the exact locale is never mentioned in the story itself.

Four Corners in the Night
is what I would deem a completely satisfying crime novel. The setting is exquisitely drawn, the crimes are blisteringly real, the central characters are given enough depth to make them interesting and sympathetic beyond the confines of the crimes, the details about police work and life are completely convincing. And the plot--well, the plot is just outstanding.

Holden uses a lot of back story in his novel and tells it in huge swaths, but I never felt it held the story back because it was equally interesting to the action set in the present. It's the story of two cops, childhood friends, who are drawn into several disappearances of teenage girls. The past and present circle each other and many of my early guesses about what had happened were stood on their ear when the full story is finally told.
This is a tense, exciting read. Highly recommended.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Summing Up for Friday, August 15, 2008

I need some volunteers to write about a forgotten book in September. Do it once, do it twice, do it every week. Just email me when and where. Thanks.

David Cranmer, The Long Chance by Max Brand, Ride the Man Down by Luke Short

Bill Crider, Kyd for Hire, Timothy Harris (And go back to Bill's blog to see the British cover)

Anthony Flacco, The Golden Gate Murders, Peter King

Michael Haskins, Uptown, Downtown, Dennis Lynds

Lesa Holstine, King of the Hollyhop, Les Roberts

Kevin Holtsberry, A Day No Pigs Would Die, Robert Newton Peck

Naomi Hirahara, The Wheel on the School, Meindert DeJong, The Best Bad Thing, Yoshito Uchida

Randy Johnson, The Stories of Silver John, Manly Wade Wellman

Brian Lindenmuth, The Brotherhood of Mutiliation, Brian Evenson

Adrian McKinty, Thus Was Adonis Murdered, Sarah Caudwell

Barbara Martin, Caesar: The Life Story of a Panda Leopard, Patrick O'Brien

Terrie F. Moran, The Virginian, Owen Wister

Juri Nummelin, The Hell Bent Kid, Charles O. Locke

Graham Powell, The Charleston Knife is Back in Town, Ralph Dennis

Al Tucher, Hard Rain, Peter Abrahams

James Reasoner, The Blonde in Lower Six, Ed Jenkins

Friday's Forgotten Books, August 15, 2008

Adrian McKinty is the author of The Dead Yard and Bloomsday Dead. His choice:

Thus Was Adonis Murdered

by Sarah Caudwell.

Neither Thus Was Adonis Murdered nor any of Sarah Caudwell's other books are currently in print in the United States. Thus Was Adonis Murdered was the first in her series of four novels about a group of young crime solving barristers at London's Lincoln's Inn.

The story is narrated by legal academic Hilary Tamar who helps solve the mystery. I'm not going to provide any plot spoilers but I will say that the title tells you pretty much all you need to know at this stage.

Sarah Caudwell (1939 - 2000) was herself a lawyer who lived in London, part of the famous English Cockburn clan of journalists, writers and politicians.

There is little blood and violence in Caudwell's books, but they are certainly not cozies. They are far too sly and intelligent and, in their own way, dark for that. She understands people the way few novelists do. She has an almost outsider's perspective, looking with a gentle smile on the foibles of the human race from some benevolent Archimedean point in space.

Perhaps she is out of print because most of her plots involve arcane aspects of trusts, inheritance or tax law (no dont stop reading!) but they are laced through with a light touch and a rich humor that the non specialist will enjoy. If you are a lawyer and you wonder why your life isn't quite like The Pelican Brief, read Sarah Caudwell. She nails the blackletter nitty gritty of what it means to pratice law; the tedium, the lock picking intricacy of a case and the intellectual pleasure that comes from seeing something that no one else has spotted in a judgement or a brief.

Caudwell's prose is like that too. Oh so careful, oh so finely balanced, oh so quietly hilarious. If you like tight plots and clever people and you sometimes wonder why they don't make 'em like His Girl Friday anymore, read Sarah Caudwell and have fun.

Al Tucher writes short fiction for zines such as Muzzleflash. His choice:

Hard Rain by Peter Abrahams

In 1988, when Vietnam was the last war, this tense and intricate thriller satisfied the demands of the genre while ramming home the hideous waste of the war.

Jessie Shapiro, a very appealing protagonist, starts the story sheltered and na├»ve, but she learns fast. That’s good, because when her ex-husband fails to bring her daughter Kate back from a weekend visit, no one else will believe that anything out of the ordinary has happened. Soviet-American espionage rivalries plausibly find their way into the story, and young Kate may pay the price for events that happened before she was born

Hard Rain is a story about bad choices in a time when there weren’t many good ones. I don’t know of many reasons to recommend going back to that era, but this book is one.

Check out more forgotten books:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tell Me What to Do on Facebook?

Okay I joined Facebook and I think it is probably a cool place to hang. But what do you do once you get there? And what are these mobs? Is it some sort of game or just another level of hanging out. Is it related to scrabulous because I am dying to know what that is?

So far everyone I asked to be my friend has agreed, except "the one who I will not name." But reading someone diary once is not the world's greatest crime or is it? Okay, maybe it is.

Anyway, tell me what you do on Facebook and is just another time-sucking activity because I can't resist any of them. Look at me now. Doing this when I should be doing that.