New Arrivals and Current Reading, August 25 – 31, 2014

New ArrivalsThe Long Way Home
Another pre-order I’ve been eagerly anticipating arrived Tuesday, plus I picked up some classical music.

The Long Way Home by Louise Penny [Minotaur Books August 2014, purchased new] – mystery novel. The latest Chief Inspector Gamache novel. I can’t overstate how much I love these!

Holst Cotwolds Symphony, Walt Whitman Overture  Indra, Japanese Suite, A Winter Idyll by Ulster Orchestra, JoAnn Falletta [Naxos 2012 CD 8.572914, purchased new] – classical, English symphonic. I already have another recording of the Cotswolds Symphony, but wanted the other pieces on this one.

Moniuszko Overatures – The Haunted Manor, Paria, Halka, The Fairy Tale Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Antoni Wit [Naxos 2014 CD 8.572716, purchased new] – classical, symphonic. I had none of this composer’s music before purchasing this one.

Respighi Brazil Impressions, La Boutique Fantasque Royal de Leige Philharmonic Orchestra, John Neschling [BIS 2014 super audio CD, purchased new]

Current Reading
I’m still reading the lengthy Inheritance Cycle of four books, Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, Inheritance. As I said last time, these are 500-600 pages so reading the set is no small undertaking. I’ve now finished the first three and am taking a break before starting the last to read the new Louise Penny shown above, which I’m about 100 pages into.

Barbara has read The Heckler by Ed McBain, Target: Tinos and Mykonos After Midnight by Jeffrey Siger. His books are good as always, especially Midnight. She has just started another Lee Child/Reacher series book in an attempt to catch up there as well. Louise Penny’s newest soon.

What new books did you get, and what have you been reading?

Posted in Adventure, Classical Music, Current Reading, mystery, New Arrivals | 10 Comments

Long, Hot Summer, continued

3789711442_22b06f7fe6There’s just no let-up. It’s been in the 90s a lot. The most 90 degree days we usually get here is 11 per summer. We’ve already had 16, and today was another.

Though we keep the thermostat set at 80, the air conditioning has been kicking on at 10:am and it’s still running at 9:pm.

If I have to leave the house, I do it early, then I’m indoors the rest of the day and evening. I really don’t like this weather one bit.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 6 Comments

Brookside fruit-chocolate snacks

In my situation, it’s rare I can have any kind of sweets, but that’s not true of everyone. So I want to share something really delicious. These are incredibly good!

How do I know? Because yes, I have eaten them. On those occasions when my blood sugar runs low, which does happen sometimes, this is my go-to solution. Yes, these have sugars, fats (no trans-fat though) and sodium. Honestly, it seems almost everything has some of those, but these are sweets, after all. Still there is another thing to consider: flavor, which these deliver in abundance. I’m telling you, these are to die for.

I saw the ads on television and decided to have some on hand for a sweet snack when I could have one, and I was delighted with the flavors. Plus Acai berries have healthy properties. Try these, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Here is the Brookside website, though there is little information, and it doesn’t show the clusters.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 8 Comments

New Arrivals and Current Reading, August 18 – 24, 2014

New Arrivals
This was a very good week. Three pre-ordered books all came through the door on Tuesday, things I’ve been looking forward to. Plus, shown after the books, two jazz albums. Goodness!

Windigo Island by William Kent Krueger [Atria Books August 2014 hardcover, purchased new] – mystery novel. The latest Cork O’conner novel. Ex-sherriff O’Conner, now a private eye, takes a case involving the disappearance and subsequent death of a teenage girl. I love Krueger’s books. Can hardly wait to read this.

Sherlock Holmes – The Spirit Box by  George Mann [Titan Books 2014 trade paper, purchased new] – mystery, Holmes pastiche. The next of Mann’s adventures of the famous detective. I enjoyed the first one, The Will of the Dead very much.

Darkness, Darkness by John Harvey [Pegasus Crime 2014 hardcover, purchased new] – mystery novel. Harvey has taken a long break from his Charlie Resnick series, which had seemed to be finished, but now he returns one more time to tell of Resnick’s last case. I couldn’t be happier that Resnick is back.

Also these jazz albums, which I once had on vinyl but never got on CD until now.

The Soothsayer by Wayne Shorter [Blue Note Records 1979] I think this is one of Shorter’s best albums, but then they are all great.

Speak No Evil  by Wayne Shorter [Blue Note Records 1965] This could be his best known album, but he’s so good who can say which is “best”?

Current Reading
My eyes seem better, at least enough for me to launch into a book rather than the occasional short story. If only the rest of my health would also improve! Anyway, I’ve decided to tackle a four book fantasy quartet, Christopher Paolai’s The Inheritance Cycle: Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, Inheritance. These are doorstop-sized books, in the 500-600 page range, so reading the set is no small undertaking. I’ll take breaks between books to read short stories. I’ve now finished Eragon and Eldest. and am about halfway through Brisinger. I had read Eragon when it came out (nearly ten years ago!), but only remembered parts of it.

I’m also eager to read the new books that just came today, so we’ll see. Plus, when the new Louise Penny book arrives in a day or so I’ll drop everything and read that.

Barbara has read three Ed McBain 87th Precinct novels: Doll, Give the Boys a Great Big Hand and Eighty Million Eyes. She also read Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child. She just finished Windigo Island by William Kent Krueger that was noted above, loving it.

What new books did you get, and what have you been reading?

Posted in Adventure, Current Reading, mystery, New Arrivals | 19 Comments

new arrival, etc.

I guess that coffee maker will have to suffice as this week’s New Arrival. No books or other items of interest arrived here except yet another wave of nasty hot weather. It’s hit 90 the last three days here in our corner of Portland, which runs 2-3 degrees hotter in Summer and cooler in Winter than the official temperature downtown. Could hit three digits today.

I haven’t been feeling well, more of the same, and I’m suffering in this weather. Come on, Fall.

As for reading, nothing to report for me. Barbara read some things, but I don’t remember what right now.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 11 Comments

new coffee maker

Bonavita BV1800 8-Cup Coffee Maker with Glass CarafeWe’re coffee drinkers, a cup or two apiece every morning. The faithful Krupp coffee maker I bought about eight years ago finally gave up the ghost last week, so it was time for a replacement.

I’d seen an article in the March issue of Cooks Illustrated magazine with reviews of drip coffee makers, and the winner for price and performance was the Bonavita BV1800 8-Cup Coffee Maker with Glass Carafe. We found it at a good price and bought it. So far we’re quite happy with it. It doesn’t have any bells and whistles – no timer, or brew interrupt feature or such – but it makes darn good coffee and that’s what matters.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 10 Comments

New Arrivals and Current Reading, July 28 – August 10, 2014

Lights in the DeepLights in the Deep by Brad R. Torgersen [Wordfire Press 2013 trade paper, purchased new] – cover art by Bob Eggleton. Essay and science fiction short story collection. An author whose short fiction I’ve been hearing about for the last couple of years. If you’ve not read Torgersen, this collection – his first – is a great place to try his work. It contains stories nominated for or winner of Hugo, Nebula, Analog Reader’s Choice and Writers of the Future awards.

Here’s the table of contents:

Introductions by Stanley Schmidt, Mike Resnick and Allan Cole.

  1. “Outbound” (Analog, Nov 2010)
  2. “Gemini 17″ (Jim Baen Memorial Contest anthology, Baen Books, 2015)
  3. “Influences: Allan Cole & Chris Bunch”
  4. “The Bullfrog Radio Astronomy Project” (Analog, Oct 2011)
  5. “Exiles of Eden” (Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Issue #22)
  6. “Writer Dad: Mike Resnick”
  7. “Footprints” (Licton Springs Review, 2002)
  8. “The Exchange Officers” (Analog, Feb/Mar 2013)
  9. “Essay: On the Growth of Fantasy and the Waning of Science Fiction” (Writers of the Future web site)
  10. “The Chaplain’s Assistant” (Analog, Sept 2011)
  11. “The Chaplain’s Legacy” (Analog, Jul/Aug 2013)
  12. “The Hero’s Tongue: Larry Niven”
  13. “Exanastasis” (Writers and Illustrators of the Future, XXVI)
  14. “Ray of Light” (Analog, Dec 2011)
  15. “Denouement”

Current Reading
I’m trying to get a little bit of reading done and did read a couple of Saint short stories. I’ve listened to another audiobook or two, some more of The Complete Sherlock Holmes audiobook – The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

Barbara read Living Proof by John Harvey, Murder in Retribution by Anne Cleeland, Give the Boys a Great Big Hand by Ed McBain. She has just gotten Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes from the library.

What new books did you get, and what have you been reading?

Posted in Current Reading, New Arrivals, science fiction | 15 Comments

ffb: The Doomsters by Ross Macdonald

this is the 151st in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

The Doomsters by Ross Macdonald, 1958

DoomstersNot too long ago, for a single-author Friday Forgotten Book post, I read Macdonald’s The Zebra-Striped Hearse, which I liked quite a lot. Lately I was in the mood for another Lew Archer novel, so I read this one.

 Like most of Ross Macdonald’s mysteries, The Doomsters presents a dysfunctional family with plenty of secrets. Lew Archer has to explore the past in order to solve a murder in the present. That’s fine, and I’ve come to expect it from Macdonald. It makes for interesting plots and intriguing insights into the characters and the crime solving in the books.

On his blog a few months back George Kelley said about this book:

“Ross Macdonald sprinkles in some Oedipus references, but long-time readers of the Archer series know all about troubled father-son relationships. Along with The ChillThe Galton Case, and Black MoneyThe Doomsters is one of the best books in the series.”

I’m afraid I have to disagree. I’ve read about half of the Lew Archer books, and agree that the other books George names in his review are very good, but I found a lot to dislike in The Doomsters. Without a doubt, this is the most depressing Archer novel I’ve read. In addition, there are lots of loose ends left unaddressed, motives for actions by some of the characters are highly questionable, some very convenient coincidences.

I like Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer series a lot. I’m probably going against the tide here,  but for me, this is a low point in it.

Posted in Friday Forgotten Book, mystery | 16 Comments

Long, Hot Summer

3789711442_22b06f7fe6I don’t do well in hot weather, that’s just one of the reasons I wanted to move from Southern California to the Pacific Northwest. When it’s very hot I stay indoors, don’t sleep well, grumble a good deal and am pretty miserable.

It’s been in the mid-to-high 80s for the last two weeks here, with several days in the 90s. That’s hotter than is normal for this time of year. The forecast for the next week is more of the same, followed by a week with temperatures rising into the 100s.

Like so many other parts of the west, we’re having drought conditions in parts of Oregon and there are many wildfires burning in the state. The air is smoky and hazy. Sure, it’s probably worse elsewhere, but for here, it’s lousy.

Nothing has changed with my health issues, so that’s piled on top of the heat. I’m not enjoying this Summer.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 17 Comments

New Arrivals and Current Reading, July 14 – 27, 2014

Health Update - Still having problems. Things are getting a little better generally, but my sight is not, so far. Hopefully a few more weeks will see some improvement.

New Arrival
Not ordering so much these days, but I had to have this one, as I have the rest of this fine set from NESFA.

 Bicycle Built for BrewA Bicycle Built for Brew – The Collected Short Works of Poul Anderson, Volume 6 edited by Rick Katze [NESFA Press 2014 hardcover, purchased new] – science fiction short works. This collection contains five short novels and three novellas, a length Anderson is very good at.


Short Novels

  • A Bicycle Built for Brew
  • Three Hearts and Three Lions (original magazine version)
  • Silent Victory
  • A Plague of Masters (Dominic Flandry),
  • The Snows of Ganymede


  • “Territory” (Nicholas van Rijn)
  • “Three Cornered Wheel” (David Falkyn)
  • “The Sensitive Man”

Current Reading
I’m not reading. I have listened to some of The Complete Sherlock Holmes audiobook – A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of the Four, and a few of the short stories. It’s well done. I’ve also listened to about half of Changer of Worlds by David Weber. My old headphones were about worn out after many years, so I bought new ones, AudioTechna MTH M50. They are the over the ear type and quite comfortable.

Barbara read Norwegian By Night by Derek Miller, The Burning Wire by Jeffery Deaver,  The Last Policeman and Countdown City both by Ben H. Winters and Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger, which she liked very much.

What new books did you get, and what have you been reading?

Posted in Current Reading, New Arrivals, science fiction | 17 Comments

Current Listening

While I’m unable to read, or watch movies or television, I’m by necessity listening to music and audiobooks. The iPod has come in handy, especially for listening to the many podcasts I have stored up, including Mystery Theater, News from Lake Wobegon, A Way With Words, The Classic Tales Podcast and many others including a good amount of Old Time Radio.

Fred Hersch - Alive at the Vangard

The music album that’s been living in the player for the last few days is exceptionally enjoyable.

The Fred Hersch Trio has done a lot of nice albums, but I’m finding the variety and skill of playing of Hersch and his trio on the 2-CD Alive at the Vanguard especially pleasing.

The group also has a new one out, Floating, which is winging it’s way to me even as I type this.

Track Listing:
CD1: Havana; Tristesse; Segment; Lonely Woman/Nardis; Dream of Monk; Rising, Falling; Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise; Doxy.
CD2: Opener; I Fall in Love Too Easily; Jackalope; The Wind/Moon and Sand; Sartorial; From This Moment On; The Song Is You/Played Twice.

Posted in At Home in Portland, Music | 11 Comments

Off the Netwaves

UPDATE: July 21 – I’m slowly improving, but still have little energy, my meds aren’t settled in yet. My vision is still pretty blurry, but the new glasses expected in a couple of weeks will help that. So it’s progress, but a goodly ways to go. Thanks for the well wishes from you all!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I’ve been having some medical problems lately, and until things get under control I’ll be off the net. Probably a week, maybe two, I hope not more than that! Meanwhile, I’ll be on the South Beach Diet, reading and getting out in the garden in the early mornings before it gets too hot. Behave while I’m gone, okay?

Posted in At Home in Portland | 20 Comments

New Arrivals and Current Reading, June 30 – July 6, 2014

New Arrivals
Not a thing, must be a Summer lull.

Current Reading
As mentioned last time, I went on a Sherlock Holmes pastiche run, reading The Will of the Dead by George Mann, The Stuff of Nightmares and The Gods of War both by James Lovegrove. I followed that up with a book that came in last week, Encounters with Sherlock Holmes edited by George Mann, a short story collection.

I read two books, The Web of Murder by Harry Whittington and The Kiss-Off by Douglas Heyes, a Steve Mallory novel, for next week’s July 11th special Friday Forgotten Book post on the femme fatale, though I’m not sure either one is a good fit for that subject, and sad to say I wasn’t wild about either one. Also, they have both already been reviewed, I come to realize, for FFB in the past. Unless I find something else by tomorrow, it’ll be one of those.

Barbara finished Norwegian By Night by Derek Miller, which was strongly recommended by Todd Mason. She also read Living Proof, a Charlie Resnick Novel by John Harvey. She has now started Evil in All Its Disguises by Hilary Davidson, another book we picked up at Left Coast Crime.


What new books did you get, and what have you been reading?

Posted in Current Reading, mystery, New Arrivals | 10 Comments

ffb: Biblioholism by Tom Raabe

this is the 150th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

 Biblioholism by Tom Raabe, Fulcrum Publishing 1991 – trade paper, nonfiction

“Do you have a bookstore problem?”

776047-LThis book is intended to be humorous – or is it? There is enough truth here to make many of us recognize ourselves and be glad that Raabe is only joking with us… we don’t really have a problem. Right? On the cover of this trade paperback the definition of biblioholism is given thus: “the habitual longing to purchase, read, store, admire and consume books in excess.”

That hits the nail on the head as far as an awful lot of us are concerned, there’s no doubt about it.

Biblioholism is written in the style of a self help book, with tests to determine the level of your illness, hints to help you through the worse symptoms, doses of “hard reality”, encouragement to help you when the siren song of the book store, and the books themselves, sounds loudest in your ears.

I enjoyed this – taken in good humor but with a nod to the reality that many people, myself among them, find books infinitely attractive and to some degree habit-forming. The book has chapters or sub chapters on readers, collectors, those who care very much (and those who care not at all) about books. It’s also filled with interesting quotes, such as the one that opens the book, from The Bibliomania by John Ferriar, (1888):

“What wild desires, what restless torments seize, the hapless man who feels the book disease.”

Really very enjoyable and appropriate for my 150th Friday Forgotten Book.

Posted in Friday Forgotten Book, Humor, Non-fiction | 5 Comments

Half Year Reading Stats

Here’s what I have read through the first two quarters – the half year of 2014. As you can see, mostly mystery and science fiction/fantasy. I’m just about at, but slightly below, my target of two books per week, 104 for the year. I did better than this last year. Must read faster!

read stats

Posted in reading | 19 Comments

New Arrivals and Current Reading, June 23 – 29, 2014

New Arrivals
The year is almost half gone, hard to believe time has gone so quickly. This time, an art book, an old mystery, more Holmes, more Saint.

Encounters with Sherlock Holmes edited by George Mann [Titan Books Febuary 2013 trade paper, purchased new] – mystery short story collection. This is one of two original story collections of Holmes pastiches that Titan Books has published. Titan has a very readable series of Holmes novels and stories in print and I have been enjoying the former. Now to try some of the latter.

Murder Underground by Mavis Doriel Hay [originally published in 1934, this edition British Library Crime Classics, 2014 paperback, purchased new] – mystery. I’m trying to catch up on some of the Golden Age lesser – or less read – women authors.

The Paleoart of Julius Csotonyi by Julius Csotonyi and Steve White [Titan Books May 2014 oversized hardcover, purchased new] – art. When I was a boy, all my friends and I were nuts about dinosaurs. I had and loved the Time-Life book about them and darn near wore it out. I still love them (my wife says I’m still a kid, too) and couldn’t pass this one up. Seems like I’m buying a lot of things published by Titan Books lately.

NOTE: Thomas & Mercer, an imprint of Amazon Publishing, is publishing this new edition of Leslie Charteris’ Saint books. There are currently 20 books available in print in the set. Whatever your “book politics”, this is good news for those who like these stories and would like to have a uniform edition, or for those who would like to try them and don’t want used copies. My only complaint with the following three books is that though they have a foreword and introduction, and even a publication history, there is no table of contents.

Enter The Saint by Leslie Charteris [Thomas & Mercer, 2014 trade paper, purchased new] – mystery short story collection. This was initially published in 1939.

Featuring The Saint by Leslie Charteris [Thomas & Mercer, 2014 trade paper, purchased new] – mystery short story collection. The stories herein were originally published in the early and mid 1930s.

The Saint in London by Leslie Charteris [Thomas & Mercer, 2014 trade paper, purchased new] – mystery short story collection. The stories here were originally published in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Current Reading
After reading three SF novels in a row I wanted someting different so I read Jonathan Latimer’s 1936 novel The Lady in the Morgue which I posted as a Friday Forgotten Book a few days ago. I finished three Sherlock Holmes pastiches, The Will of the Dead by George Mann, The Stuff of Nightmares by , and The Gods of War also by James Lovegrove. Next up will be something for the July 11th special Friday Forgotten Book post on the femme fatale.

Barbara finished Cold Moon by Jeffrey Deaver, a book in the Lincoln Rhyme series that she had missed. She just finished Cop Hater, and says she will read another 87th Precinct novel at some point, but now she is reading Norwegian By Night by Derek Miller, which was strongly recommended by Todd Mason. I’m planning on reading it too.

What new books did you get, and what have you been reading?

Posted in art and illustration, Current Reading, mystery, New Arrivals | 15 Comments

ffb: Tether’s End by Margery Allingham

this is the 150th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

Tether’s End by Margery Allingham, Carroll & Graf 1997 paperback, first published in 1934, featuring Albert Campion, amateur Sleuth

“The arrival of the bus was timed to perfection. Nobody of the slightest importance saw it at all.”

Tether's EndUnlike the larger-than-life master criminal of Mystery Mile or the politically motivated villain in Traitor’s Purse, the subject of the police pursuit, aided by Confidential Investigator Albert Campion, in this book is of a type often found in current mystery fiction: a man of no morals seeking personal gain.

Inspector Luke has a theory that a recent crime may be tied to an old one, farfetched as that may first seem. Campion becomes the sounding board for Luke’s hunch and is dragged into an intriguing case. Though the crimes occurred in the same general location, there doesn’t seem to be any common motive. It is left up to events to reveal the facts.

Annabelle Tassie has come up from the country to stay with a relation at Tether’s End, and her childhood companion Richard Waterfield who works in London has come to meet her. She’s no longer the little girl he remembers and he is struck by her beauty to the extent that he falls in love. When he sees a man coming from the house in which she will be staying, he follows to try and ascertain who he is and what his business might be. Thus begins a day which will end in terror for both Richard and Annabelle while Campion and Scotland Yard begin solving a puzzle with more pieces than expected.

This is an excellent example of Allingham’s mature writing and characterization. Campion isn’t in the least silly in this one, though he does look at events in a different way from his friends at The Yard. It’s a good thing for Annabelle that he does!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

More Friday Forgotten Book posts
can be found at Patti Abbott’s fine blog Pattinase


Posted in Friday Forgotten Book, mystery | Tagged | 11 Comments

Like Pie?

My wife and I go to the Lake Oswego Farmer’s Market most Spring and Summer Saturday mornings. It’s where we get farm-fresh local fruits and vegetables, and there are vendors selling breads, pastries, flowers, juices and hot foods as well. We go early, have a cup at Peet’s Coffee, then wander the Market and buy what we want that week.

BlueRaeven wbpg

note: go to webpage for live links and descriptions

Two weeks ago we spotted the Blue Raeven booth and I bought a small (11 oz. – think pot pie sized) rhubarb pie. It was delicious! The crust, my first standard for judging any pie, is short, buttery, flaky and light. The filling was tart, the way rhubarb pie should be. Last weekend we went back and bought a large apple pie (the one type of fruit pie Barbara likes), and also a small peach-raspberry pie, which I warmed and ate that afternoon, with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. What a pie! I nearly swooned.

That Peach Raspberry was the best pie I’ve had in many, many years. The filling combined the slight tartness of raspberry with generous slices of sweet peaches, flavorful but not over-sugared or overcooked.

Guests ate up almost all of that apple pie. I wanted more. Yesterday it was a beautiful day for a drive. So we decided to drive to Amity, Oregon, about 45 minutes away, to visit Blue Raeven and – of course – buy more pie.

Amity is a small town and the farm stand is a converted 50 year old gas station with a small gravel parking lot, with a few scraggly plants for sale, and some chairs outside the funky little store itself. But inside, there is pie. We talked to one of the owners, were introduced to the two round, rosy-cheeked women who are the principal bakers, who smiled a lot, and took in the cluttered shelves full of syrups, jams, condiments, berries and the baker’s racks full of pies.

Blue Raeven is one of the largest blueberry growers in the state; their acres of berries are  four miles down the road from the pie store. Their pie business has been going for eight years now and besides in Amity the pies are sold at farmer’s markets and some stores in the area. The woman I talked to told me they would like to expand, but they need more ovens to do so. Right now they are a large blueberry grower with a smallish local pie operation.

I like pie, but I’m hard to please. The pies from Blue Raeven are a knockout.

Here’s another review, from Willamette Living.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 14 Comments

New Arrivals and Current Reading, June 16 – 22, 2014

New Arrivals
First a pre-order came, then one for a Friday Forgotten Book post, then…

Cibola Burn by James S. A. Corey (Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) [Orbit June 2014 hardcover, purchased new] – science fiction. This is the fourth novel in The Expanse series. I admit to having only read the first, and part of the second, novels in the series but what I’ve read is exceptional and I just need to set aside the time to settle in with the rest.

Web of Murder by Harry Whittington [Vintage Crime 1993 trade paper, used – Gold Medal paperback shown) – mystery. I’m going to read this for the “femme fatale” Friday Forgotten Book special on July 11th. I think it will fit, but I’m not positive. I picked this up at Powell’s last week.

Sherlock Holmes: The Stuff of Nightmares by James Lovegrove [Titan Books 2013 trade paper, new] – mystery.
Sherlock Holmes: Gods of War by James Lovegrove [Titan Books 2014 trade paper, new] – mystery.
Last week I read the very satisfactory Sherlock Holmes: The Will of the Dead by James Mann. I enjoyed it enough that I wanted to try more of this series, published by Titan Books. These Holmes and Watson pastiches are set in a steampunk version of Victorian London. I was liked Mann’s deftness with the characters and setting, and expect Lovegrove to do the same.

Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life by Marta McDowell [Timber Press June 2014 hardcover, new] – non-fiction, biography / gardening. Since I was a child I loved the stories and especially the illustrations by Beatrix Potter. I’m an enthusiastic gardener. The sub-title of this is “The plants and places that inspired the classic children’s tales“. How could I resist?

Current Reading
After reading three SF novels in a row I wanted someting different so I read Jonathan Latimer’s 1936 novel The Lady in the Morgue which I posted as a Friday Forgotten Book a few days ago. I finished a Sherlock Holmes pastiche, The Will of the Dead by George Mann, which I enjoyed very much. Now I’m about half way through the Potter book.

Barbara finished Cold Moon by Jeffrey Deaver, a book in the Lincoln Rhyme series that she had missed. She has now started Cop Hater, her first try at an 87th Precinct novel by Ed McBain.

What new books did you get, and what have you been reading?

Posted in Current Reading, mystery, New Arrivals, Non-fiction, science fiction | 15 Comments

ffb: The Lady In The Morgue by Jonathan Latimer

this is the 149th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

The Lady in the Morgue by Jonathan Latimer © 1936, Crime Club Inc, Doubleday, Doran & Co. 1936 hardcover, mystery – private detective

Lady in Morgue

I’ve had this – the edition on the left, w/o DJ – on the shelf a long time, having picked it up at a used book store in southern California long ago. Recently browsing my shelves, I plucked it off and read it in a couple of evenings.

Jonathan Latimer began writing fiction in the mid-1930s with his series of novels featuring private eye William (Bill) Crane. The books combine a blend of hardboiled crime fiction with elements of screwball comedy. The Lady In The Morgue is the third book in the series.

Crane is an operative for the New York investigative firm headed by Colonel Black. In Chicago, an unidentified woman is in the morgue, and Crane has been sent to see if he can find out who she is. The client is afraid the woman might be a missing daughter. While Crane and a couple of reporters are at the morgue, the body is stolen, leading to a hunt for the body and efforts to find out who she is and why she has been taken.

Crane and two other operatives manage to trace the woman’s actions to a hotel where she apparently committed suicide, except the suicide isn’t the woman in the morgue. Eventually there are three blondes in the mix, two of them alive, as well as a million dollar inheritance, rival gangsters who both want the missing body, an assistant D.A. who wants to railroad Crane into jail and some jazz musicians who belt gin and smoke marijuana between gigs.

The plot core is everybody thinks Crane knows something – the location of the missing body – which he in fact does not know, and the head-first, blunder straight ahead approach the detective takes to finding out what has happened are clichés now, but in 1936 they were less so. Still, Latimer gives us a tongue-in-cheek look at the hard boiled detective fiction of the day, but with all of the elements solidly in place, including a twist ending.

The William Crane series:

Murder in the Madhouse (1935)
Headed for a Hearse (1935)
The Lady in the Morgue (1936)
The Dead Don’t Care (1938)
Red Gardenias (1939)

 Latimer spent many years in Hollywood, writing screenplays, including:

  • Topper Returns (1941) (original screenplay)
  • The Glass Key (1942) (based on the Dashiell Hammett novel)
  • Nocturne (1946)
  • They Won’t Believe Me (1947) (based on a story by Gordon McDonell)
  • The Big Clock (1948) (based on the Kenneth Fearing novel)
  • Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948) (based on the Cornell Woolrich novel)
  • Plunder of the Sun (1953) (based on the David F. Dodge novel)
  • The Unholy Wife (1957) (co-authored with William Durkee)
  • The Strange Case of the Cosmic Rays (1957) (with Frank Capra)
  • The Unchained Goddess (1958) (with Frank Capra)
  • Several episodes of the Perry Mason television series
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