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 | 9 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
Posted in Friday Forgotten Book, mystery | 13 Comments


I love art and illustration, especially of science fiction subjects. I’ve got prints, some signed, hanging on the walls. In checking the website of Alison Eldred, the artist’s agent for SF artist John Harris a couple of weeks ago, I found some new things had become available. All of Harris’ art is exceptionally well envisioned and executed. There they were, right in front of me, available. The temptation was too great. I bought these two originals:

Alien Emergencies (left)
This 2001 oil painting was commissioned by Irene Gallo at Tor Books for the cover of the book by James White. Harris has produced many covers for White. Gallo tends to give the artist considerable leeway in the image produced. This allows the artist to produce some of his best work, including, I think, this one in particular. Oils on canvas, (20 x 30 in).

Mars Life sketch 2 (right)
This small (7 x 9 in) 2007 pastel is one of three sketches produced for Irene Gallo at Tor Books for the cover of Mars Life by Ben Bova in his Grand Tour series. Pastels on paper.

Though to me it’s extra special to have an original, I love prints too, and while I was shopping, I got these four prints. (sizes shown)

The originals and prints have been taken to a local frame shop, where a goodly amount of time was spent choosing mats and frames. In a few weeks, they’ll be on the wall. I am really friggin’ stoked.

Posted in art and illustration, At Home in Portland, science fiction | 14 Comments

New Arrivals and Current Reading, June 9 – 15, 2014

A special, New Arrivals post goes up on Wednesday. Don’t miss it!

New Arrivals
Reading Alien Emergencies, the second Sector General omnibus of novels by James White (which I showed last week), I decided to get the others.

General Practice by James White [ORB 2003 trade paper, new] – science fiction omnibus containing two novels. James White’s Sector General novels are terrific. More like several long short stories strung together, each is a tale of a medical team working in or from Sector General Hospital, a 841 level inter-species medical facility. Great fun, often with intriguing puzzles. This omnibus contains the 7th and 8th Sector General novels.

Tales of Sector General by James White [Science Fiction Book Club 1999 hardcover, used] – science fiction omnibus containing three novels. This follows the book shown above, with the 9th, 10th and 11th novels.

Current Reading
I finished Alien Emergencies, consisting of three novels: Ambulance Ship , Sector General and Star Healer.  Very enjoyable, and as you have read above I decided to get two more Sector General omnibus volumes. I finished The Saint Overboard (a 1935 novel) by Leslie Charteris. I’m thinking at this point I enjoy the Saint short stories more than this novel. I haven’t decided what to read next, but it will probably be a mystery.

Barbara finished Providence Rag by Bruce DeSilva, which she enjoyed, and has started The Tip of A Bone by local Portland author Christine Finlayson, yet another book we got at Left Coast Crime in February.

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

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

ffb: More Than Honor by David Weber, David Drake & S.M. Stirling

this is the 148th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books 

More Than Honor by David Weber, David Drake, & S.M. Stirling, BAEN Books, 1998 paperback, three science fiction novelettes

“Climbs Quickly scurried up the nearest trunk, then paused at the first cross-branch to clean his sticky true-hands and hand-feet with fastidious care.”

More Than HonorScience Fiction stories about military conflicts are nothing new, going back to E.E. “Doc” Smith‘s 1920 The Skylark of Space and beyond. It has now become a sub-genre of it’s own, continuing to grow in popularity. Each of the three authors write, and write well, in that sub-genre. Weber is the author of ten novels, six of them featuring his most popular character, Honor Harrington.

The first of three novelettes in this book tells the story of how a human girl, Stephanie Harrington, and a treecat, Climbs Quickly, meet and bond. Climbs Quickly is one of The People, a small sentient species of mammal-like beings inhabiting the planet Sphinx. These creatures are later dubbed Sphinxian Treecats by humans, but at the beginning of this story humans are new to the planet, and they don’t know The People exist. Stephanie is only the first of many Harrington women to bond with a treecat, and Stephanie is an ancestor of Honor Harrington, who shares a bond with a Sphinxian treecat named Nimitz. This is in a sense an origin story, and an entertaining one. I just plain like Weber’s writing, and usually read his books as soon as they are available in paperback or at the library.

The second story is by David Drake, who also writes in the science fiction sub-genre of military SF, and was the editor of The Fleet series. This story has no direct connection to Harrington but takes place in “her universe.” The Fourteenth Earl of Greatgap is taking a Grand Tour, but things go awry when they reach the planet Hope. Priceless relics are being scavenged and, worse, a ship limps into orbit after having been attacked by The Peoples Republic of Haven, turning rumors of war into a grim reality. Greatgap uses ingenuity and trickery to turn the tables on his enemies.

S.M. Sterling writes short stories and co-writes a military SF series with David Drake. In this, the shortest work of the three, we go to the planet Haven and look in on some political problems the ruling council is having. Seems the angry mob outside is trying to take over the seat of government by blowing their way into the government building and shooting everyone they find. It should be easy to repel this rabble, except no one can trust anyone else, which makes it hard to tell who’s on your side… I won’t tell you what happens, but it’s a good ending. I enjoyed all three of these, I think you will too.

Posted in books, Friday Forgotten Book, science fiction | Tagged | 12 Comments

New Arrivals and Current Reading, June 2 – 8, 2014

New Arrivals
I guess it’s the little surprises in life that spice things up, but I sure didn’t want to buy a new computer when the old one was working just fine. At least it was working fine until the water from a nearby flower vase spilled and a wave of liquid washed across the thing. **FIZZZT**. The end. After a week of hoping it would “dry out” and start working again (yeah, right), we went to the Apple Store and bought a replacement. Instead of the MacBook Pro with 15 inch screen, Barbara wanted the one with the 13 inch retinal screen.

Now for the books. After reading The Saint in Europe, a short story collection, I decided I’d get some more Saint books. Three came this week, along with a Sherlock Holmes pastiche.

The First Saint Omnibus by Leslie Charteris [Book League of America 1939 hardcover, used] – mystery omnibus. The contains 13 stories drawn from other Saint collections. Since I have none of those, this should work.

The Saint Wanted For Murder by Leslie Charteris [Triangle Books 1943 hardcover, used] – mystery. This contains 6 long stories/novellas.

The Saint – Five Complete Novels by Leslie Charteris [Avenel Books 1983 hardcover, used] – mystery novel omnibus. This contains all the Saint novels I’ll probably ever want to read, along with The Saint Overboard which I already have. It’s the short stories that are the best Saint reading, but I wanted these too.

The Will of the Dead by George Mann [Titan Books 2013 trade paper, new] – mystery, Holmes pastiche. – I like to try a Sherlock Holmes pastiche every now and then, and read a positive review of this on a couple of blogs I respect.

Current Reading
I decided to make a run at finishing The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories. After reading this for nearly a year, I finished it. Alien Emerg cvrIt’s a great anthology, but at nearly 1,100 pages it’s just plain LONG.

I also finished The Memory Garden by Mary Rickert, which I enjoyed. Now I’m reading both The Saint Overboard (1935 novel) by Leslie Charteris and Alien Emergencies, the second omnibus of James White’s Sector General books. White is a favorite author, and the cover art by John Harris is great. However, at just over 600 pages this is another thick book. Hey, I just finished one of those.

Barbara finished Providence Rag by Bruce DeSilva, which she enjoyed, and has started The Tip of A Bone by local Portland author Christine Finlayson, yet another book we got at Left Coast Crime in February.

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

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

no Friday Forgotten Book this week

Due to my computer going down (computer + water = fzzzt) and my scattered reading of recently published books from the library, I have not put together a Friday Forgotten Book post.

We got a new computer yesterday. I’m doing set-up and such. Back to FFB next week. Meanwhile, enjoy Spring.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 4 Comments

New Arrivals and Current Reading, May 26 – June 1, 2014

New Arrivals
I’ve been waiting for this one since I heard it was to be published. Finally, it’s here.

Art of John HarrisThe Art of John Harris – Beyond the Horizon, art by John Harris, foreword by John Scalzi [Titan Books May 2014 oversized hardcover, purchased new] – science fiction art.

I’ve been a fan of science fiction art and illustration since I was a kid, fascinated by the wonderful art on covers of SF paperbacks and enjoying the art on the covers of, and inside, digest magazines like Galaxy, Astounding Science Fiction, Fantasy & Science Fiction and many others.

Naturally I’m drawn to the art of John Harris, whom I regard as the current master of this type of artwork. Buying this book, which I have already gone through twice, was a  must.

Some images from the book:

I might note that Harris’ sketches and pastels are as powerful and striking as his finished oil paintings (as seen in the first image, above), and the book has a nice sampling of them.

Current Reading
I finished the Donald Ransom (Ed Gorman) book The Fugitive Stars which I got after reading a review on Bill Crider’s blog. It was okay, a brief diversion, which is probably exactly what it was intended to be. I also finished Multiverse, the tribute to Poul Anderson. I’m still reading the seemingly everlasting collection, The Big Book of Black Mask Stories, with maybe a fifth of it to go. It’s very good, but very long. I’m also now reading both The Saint Overboard (1935 novel) by Leslie Charteris and The Memory Garden by Mary Rickert, which was suggested by Carl Anderson on his blog Stainless Steel Droppings (here). Both those books are from the library.

Barbara finished Hanging Hill by Mo Hayder and Field of Prey by John Sandford (library). She is currently reading Providence Rag by Bruce DeSilva, picked up at Left Coast Crime this year.

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

Posted in art and illustration, Current Reading, New Arrivals, science fiction | 11 Comments

ffb: Blue Murder by Brett Halliday

this is the 147th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books 

Blue Murder by Brett Halliday, Dell 1973 mass market paperback – mystery – Mike Shayne

Blue MurderDavis Dresser created the pseudonym Brett Halliday and the series character Michael Shayne for the 1939 first novel in the series, Dividend On Death.  After 1958, beginning with Fit to Kill, “Brett Halliday” was a house name used by several authors.  The bulk are written by Robert Terrall, with some written by Ryerson Johnson and Dennis Lynds. Blue Murder is a very late entry in the series of Shayne books, the 64th of about 70 that were written. As you can see, by this time Dell was using photographic covers, instead of the much nicer painted ones used on earlier books in the series.

“Gretchen Tucker, an elegant thin-nosed blonde wearing glasses, very short shorts and a thin sleeveless top, turned out the projection room lights, and the screening began.”

The film Gretchen and producer Armand Baruch are about to watch are the scenes shot earlier that day of an elegant, thin-nosed blonde, wearing glasses, doing things that can only be described as pornographic. The film is to be titled Domestic Relations. Gretchen is the wife of a Congressman who is in turn Mike Shayne’s client.

Shayne has been hired to find Gretchen, who disappeared while Congressman Nick Tucker was in Washington continuing with his work as chair of the House Select Anti-pornography Committee. I think you can see someone’s going to wind up unhappy about this combination of events, and you’re right.

Bankrolling the film is a well-known Miami gangster whom Mike Shayne would dearly love to put behind bars. As he puts it, Frankie Capp is “on my list”. Unfortunately for Frankie, his execution-style murder of a woman was witnessed. Unfortunately for the witness, he thinks perhaps he can make some money from what he saw. If you think this review is jumping around a bit, it’s because that’s what the plot does. Things get very complicated very quickly, and in typical Mike Shayne style there are beatings, car bombings, beautiful women, robberies and a last chapter showdown orchestrated with the help of Shayne’s long time friend, the Miami Chief of Police.

I read one of these every six or eight months, and between readings I forget how much fun they are. They may not be for everyone, but for me they’re pure entertainment. If you haven’t read a Mike Shayne novel, it’s a good time to try one. I recommend one of the earlier ones, from the mid Forties to the late Fifties. A lot of these were printed, and copies are still available in used book stores and on line.

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


Posted in books, Friday Forgotten Book, mystery | Tagged , | 9 Comments

New Arrivals and Current Reading, May 19 – 25, 2014

New Arrivals
I picked up two short story collections this week.

Nebula Awards Showcase 2012  edited by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel [PYR Books 2012 trade paperback, new]
- and -
Nebula Awards Showcase 2013 edited by Catherine Asaro [PYR Books 2013 trade paper, new] - Science fiction and fantasy award winning stories and novel excerpts. I decided to pick these up – on sale – because I’d not tried one before. Seems like there are some good stories here.

Current Reading
I read The Saint in Europe, a short story collection which was the subject of a Friday Forgotten Books post a week or two ago. Enjoyed it very much indeed, enough so that I’ve ordered up, both from the book store and the library, a few more. I’m half way through Multiverse , the tribute to Poul Anderson edited by Greg Bear, which was last week’s new arrival.

Barbara finished Cold Mourning by Brenda Chapman, and has started Mo Hayder’s Hanging Hill.

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

Posted in Current Reading, fantasy, New Arrivals, science fiction | Tagged | 23 Comments

Memorial Day

A day to remember the fallen and departed. May they rest in peace.

the family


note: due to the holiday, my New Arrivals post will be tomorrow.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

ffb: English Country House Murders Thomas Godfrey, Editor

this is the 146th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books 

English Country House Murders, Thomas Godfrey, editor, Mysterious Press, 1989 – paperback, 22 short stories

1721455“There you are, after a day with overripe household bills or baby nappies, fatigued and spent. You retire to a comfortable seat in a secluded corner with a new Country House Mystery. Suddenly you are transported to a splendid baronial manner and teas with Lord and Lady Ferncliffe, who never paid a bill or changed a nappy in their lives.”

- from the Introduction

Country House mysteries are a sub-genre of the cozy sub-genre of the mystery genre. I suppose that means they are sub-sub-genre, but it doesn’t matter what you call it, this type of mystery can be well written, plotted and clever.

The introductory remarks I quoted above make it clear that there is a bias for these to be women’s reading. I don’t hold with this gender-specific fiction idea, so let’s forget that right now. I have always enjoyed cozies; I cut my mystery-reading teeth on Christie.

This book contains twenty-two stories in a nice fat 533 page collection. This is the kind of thing I think of as a “comfort read” and when I was looking for something soothing to read I spotted this on the shelf and let out a little sigh. Perfect.

The first story in the collection is Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Abbey Grange” and the last is “The Worchester Enigma” by James Mills, both featuring Sherlock Holmes. Between these stories lie stories by a who’s who of classic British mystery authors. A very nice collection, recommended for those who – frequently or occasionally – like their mystery fiction on the short and mild side, but still with an intriguing puzzle.

Table of Contents:

The Adventure of the Abbey Grange – Arthur Conan Doyle
A Marriage Tragedy – Wilkie Collins
Lord Chizelrigg’s Missing Fortune – Robert Barr
The Fordwych Castle Mystery – Emmuska, Baroness Orczy
The Blue Scarab – R. Austin Freeman
The Doom Of The Darnaways – G.K. Chesterton
The Shadow On The Glass – Agatha Christie
The Queen’s Square – Dorothy L. Sayers
Death On The Air – Ngaio Marsh
The Same To Us – Margery Allingham
The Hunt Ball – Freeman Wills Crofts
The Incautious Burglar – John Dickson Carr
The Long Shot – Nicholas Blake
Jeeves And The Stolen Venus – P.G. Wodehouse
Death In The Sun – Michael Innes
An Unlocked Window – Ethel Lina White
The Wood-For-The-Trees – Philip Macdonald
The Man On The Roof – Christianna Brand
The Death Of Amy Robsart – Cyril Hare
Fen Hall – Ruth Rendell
A Very Desirable Residence – P.D. James
The Worcester Enigma – James Miles.

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

Posted in books, Friday Forgotten Book | Tagged | 16 Comments