Monday, November 25, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving 2019

                                  Taking a week off here. Hope you all have a good one.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Friday's Forgotten Books, November 22, 2019

TRAP FOR CINDERELLA, Sebastien Japrisot (Patti Abbott)

This is one of those books whose success depends on taking you by surprise and it is difficult to review it without divulging details that will detract from that pleasure. A girl wakes up in a hospital. She has just undergone plastic surgery to fix the burns she sustained in a fire at her house in a French resort. Her friend has died in the blaze. Or is she the friend? She can't remember much, including who she is. A third woman seems to play a role in both scenarios.

The book plays with this idea--who died and who survived. It is a moody, atmospheric
book--reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith. The book won France's most prestigious fiction award. It is short and dark. Read it when you are fully awake and not drowsing in bed or you won't know who is who either.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Monday, November 18, 2019

Things That Are Making Me Happy

In the next week or so, FROM SEA TO STORMY SEA (Lawrence Block) should be available. My story used this painting by Harvey Dunn for inspiration. Can't wait to see the other stories.

Saw MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN and SOUTH PACIFIC this week. The second was at the historic Redford Theater, which plays classics on the weekend.
Couldn't help but wonder how many people in the huge audience at the Redford Theater was getting the message as well as the music of SOUTH PACIFIC.

If Norton was going to change MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN, he needed to explain Robert Moses better and not just in one long speech by him (Alec Baldwin). These were important issues (and still are) and if addressed would be better in a tv series rather than a movie. I am sure the typical movie-goer would not know Jane Jacobson or Moses.

Trying to get into THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 by Ruth Ware.

Watching LINE OF DUTY on Acorn. VG. Finished the first season of SLINGS AND ARROWS and waiting for the second. Have given up on the three network shows I thought might be watchable. EVIL got too woo woo for me.Started THE CROWN. Thought it was a seamless transition to new cast. Wish Phil was here to give me the synopsis on Harold Wilson, Anthony Blunt. Thank goodness I have an iphone.

Hoping it warms up soon. This is too cold for November.


Friday, November 15, 2019

Friday's Forgotten Books

From the archives: Randy Johnson

THE BIG KISSOFF OF 1944, Andrew Bergman

Jacob “Jack” Levine is not your regular fictional private eye. He’s Jewish, middle aged, and bald. He has a lady friend with a “friends with benefits” arrangement. The line goes : “I even took my socks off. In my circles, that’s class.”
Still, he’s not immune to the fairer sex.
So when the leggy blonde came in one morning with a problem, Jack was more than ready to help. She had a bit role in a play on Broadway, just having moved from the chorus line, and her problem was blackmail!
It seems when she was on the west coast trying to make it in the movies and in need of money, she’d had a moment of indiscretion and had made a couple of stag films. Now someone was demanding money and promising to tell the show’s producer and she needed the job so bad!
Jack got a twenty dollar retainer from her and said he’d see what he could do.
He soon finds himself in over his head.
 A dead body turns up, the producer calls and is being blackmailed as well. He knows there’s a girl in the show who’s made stag films, but not who, and wants Jack to make the pay-off, twenty thousand.  Another dead body, his first client disappears and Jack figures out she’s more than she seemed(he knew she’d not told him everything), someone is taking shots at him and sending goons by his home, and politics enter the picture, going all the way to the highest office in the land.
I liked this P.I novel. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

Things That Are Making Me Happy

Went to a lovely Japanese Patisserie this week. Delightful sandwiches as well as pastry but what are all the millennial doing: playing with the laptops and drinking dull coffee. Remember when coffee shops used to be for talking.

Saw PARASITE twice and although I thought it funny, clever and scary, I don't quite get why it is getting so much adulation. Also saw THE LIGHTHOUSE, which was beautiful to look at and well acted but too over the top bonkers for me in the end. How long would it take you to go crazy from cabin fever if there were two of you? More than five weeks, I think.

This is my new favorite thing. There are quite a few episodes, all about 10 minutes. So restful and set in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It is on adult swim but I just googled it. Try it if you need a rest from the world. Because the UP is another world.
Enjoying SLINGS AND ARROWS on Acorn. It is a three season Canaidan show from the early 2000s about a Shakespeare troupe. But more about the off-stage antics than on. Luke Kirby and Rachel McAdams are so young.

Well, I did it. I gave my car to my daughter-in-law. I am now the proud owner of an empty garage.

What about you guys?

Friday, November 08, 2019

12/29/19: DARE ME

FFB: THE ODDS, Stewart O'Nan

Another brilliant novel by the master.

A middle-aged couple, headed for divorce, decides to spend their final weekend together (Valentine's Day) at Niagara Falls, where they spent their first one.

They also decide to take the money left in the bank after some disastrous decisions and see if they can solve some of their troubles at the casino tables. This is not a travelogue of Niagara Falls but one that winds through their past a bit. They seldom leave the hotel, restaurants and casino in this book.

Sad, lovely, romantic, despairing, hopeful--all of these in this portrait of a marriage and what can go wrong and right with it. Just great stuff. There are few better writers for me.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

First Wednesday Book Review: THE BODY IN QUESTION, Jill Ciment

 THE BODY IN QUESTION tells the story of two jurors on a murder trial, sequestered for a three-week period, who begin an affair almost at once.Both jurors are only identified by their jury number (C-2; F-17) during the course of the trial. Although the testimony they hear each day in the jury room is given some attention, the author is more interested in their affair, how it affects the eventual verdict of the jury and how it affects the elderly husband the female juror has left behind. There is a significant age gap between C-2 and her husband, perhaps making it easier to leap into an affair. 

This is a very well-written book. The reader is anxious to see how this affair will impact on the jury decision or if it even will. The jury is small-only six jurors and an alternate and secrets are hard to keep with unlocked doors. We know far less about F-17 because the story is from C-2's pov. I am anxious to look for Jill Ciments previous books after reading this one.

For more reviews, go to Barrie Summy's place, right here.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Things That Are Making Me Happy

Pretty much all about Bouchercon this week. I did a panel with George on the birth of the paperbacks and another one on Writing Short Fiction. I love doing panels, especially if I can ask rather than answer questions. I also attended two of Megan's. One on unlikable women and I don't think a lot of the audience understand a complex character is usually not likable all that much of the time. And if you are not writing a series, this is not a problem.
I enjoyed lots of good food, some a bit spicy for me but delicious. Typically I did not do a good job in meeting new people. I never do. There were a lot of tributes to Bill. And his daughter, Angela had a party for him. Very nice. Bill did himself proud with that one. And her husband is a great guy too.
I attended about ten panels of varying quality. The best ones pick a real subject rather than just allowing the writers to talk about their work.
Very good work by the organizers, especially in having films of early Bouchercons, old posters, book bags, programs. Always something to look at. 
Went to the Book Depository. It was very moving to stand where LHO stood. I still don't quite believe he did it alone. And why didn't he have a place to escape to after the shots. He just seem to run wildly around.
Went to the art district, mostly to eat pie but it looked like a fun area. Dallas was lovely at night with many buildings outlined in various colors. I was impressed. On to Sacramento--but not me probably.

And what about you?