The Blog Has Moved!

Effective February 21, I’ve decided to switch to a new name, new blog sorta thing.

Go to Tip the Wink now.

So the new blog is Tip the Wink. Just about everything will be the same over there except the blog address, which is so please update your blogrolls links pages and the like, and pass the word so everyone gets the message. Thanks. What will happen to Broken Bullhorn? Nothing. It will just sit here, post, images and all. If I figure out a way to transfer all that stuff over to Tip the Wink, I will, but I haven’t figured that out yet.

Go to Tip the Wink now.

Posted in At Home in Portland | Leave a comment

New Arrivals, Feb 18th, 2015

I took 2 large boxes of books to the library used book store and donated them a few days ago. Some were already in a box labeled “donate” and others were just pulled from the shelves. Not much room was gained, I’m afraid, perhaps just enough for this set of new arrivals (click to see them bigger):

Poor, Poor Ophelia by Carolyn Weston – mystery novel. Police procedural that was the inspiration for the television series Streets of San Francisco. I read a Friday Forgotten Book review of it and bought it. To be read soon.

The Risen Empire by Scotto Westerfield – 2003 science fiction novel, first in The Succession series. The second novel, The Killing of Worlds was published later in the same year. Though there have been no further books in the series, I thought I’d try this. It  has 341 pages of small print and narrow margins.

The Living Shadow by Maxwell Grant [Pyramid 1974 paperback, purchased used] – mystery adventure. A Friday, May 7, 2010 post by Evan Lewis at the Davy Crockett’s Almanac blog first brought this to my attention, and a recent mention of it somewhere else reminded me and I found a copy. Should be fun.

The Paper Magician by Charlie Holmberg [47North 2014 ebook] – fantasy, first in series. I read a review of this on SF Signal and decided to try it.

Realms 2 and Clarkesworld Year 3, 4, 5, 6 edited by Neil Clarke & Sean Wallace [Wyrm Publishing, 2013, 2014 trade paper, purchased new] – science fiction short story collections, the stories from the six years of Clarkesworld magazine monthly issues. Neil Clarke should be a hero to any reader who enjoys short science fiction. Each month some of the best writing in the field is published in Clarkesworld, between covers displaying some of the best cover art in the business. I decided to buy these print collections to catch up as I don’t read the magazine in e-format. I also have Realms 1 on order but it has yet to arrive.

Ministry of Thunder by Davide Mana [Archeron Books 2015 ebook, review copy] – adventure/fantasy. It sounds very cool. From the publisher’s blurb:

“Shanghai, 1936 – Felice Sabatini is just a mechanic, working on Italian aircraft in China. He isn’t looking for trouble, much less interested in getting caught up a in a conspiracy against China, Japan, and Germany. Unfortunately for him, that’s exactly what happens. Three different factions are after an ancient artifact and the mystical power it controls. Power that, if it falls into the wrong hands, could end up destroying the very world as we know it. Felice knows nothing of immortals, fox women, ninjas or dragons, never mind the Ministry of Storms. He is a rational man, after all. But before this journey is over he will be called upon to face all of that, never mind the power of ancient Chinese magic and a menace from Beyond Time.”

 And… a print:

first lessonI also picked up this print of a mother and baby dragon titled “First Lesson” by Kerem Beyit, a Turkish digital illustrator. Beyit’s work can be viewed on the Deviant Art website here.

The print is 12″ x 18″ and shows the baby dragon trying it’s wings for the first time. I love it.

It’s at the frame shop now, and when it comes back I’ll have the happy job of deciding where to hang it.




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

Current Reading, February 9 – 15, 2015

watsons choiceI didn’t read as much this last week. I finished the short story collection Lights In the Deep by Brad Torgerson, which I’d been reading for the last few weeks, a story here and there. I rate as just okay. Torgerson has some interesting ideas, but I’m not impressed by his writing. He’s an author I probably won’t read more of. I also finished Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells, which sounded good in reviews but I found unimpressive in reading, with clichéd plot and two dimensional characters.

I’m now reading a few more short stories from various collections and Watson’s Choice by Gladys Mitchell, a book which was discussed on a blog recently, possibly for Friday Forgotten Books. death mesage cvrIt’s a slender classic mystery which I’ll finish in the next few days. Next up is an Inspector Banks novel by Peter Robinson.

Barbara finished reading Ritual by Mo Hayder and is now halfway through another Mark Billingham novel, Death Message. She’s had a pile of things come in from the library, including a recent stand-alone novel by Val McDermid, one of her favorite authors.

What are you reading?

Posted in Current Reading, mystery, short stories | 19 Comments

We’re Having Spring in February




Peris and Hellebore

While a sizable swath of the country is laboring under record cold and snowfall, here in the Pacific Northwest we are having a very early Spring. At least it feels like Spring, with lots of sun and temperatures in the high fifties and even into the sixties every day for the last several weeks. We have Daffodils and Camellias in bloom as I type this on Valentine’s Day.

On our way to the pizza place to get our heart-shaped pizza today, we saw Dogwoods budding out. Our roses have new growth, as do the Flowering Currant bushes. This is crazy! Either this will be the mildest winter in a decade or else we’ll get back to the business of Winter, have a late freeze, and that will wipe out a lot of the garden.


new growth on Roses

Not that we couldn’t use some Winter. Our snow pack is dangerously low here, as are our rain totals. But the weather is mild and the plants think the time for that is past, and they’re coming on like gangbusters.

This is the weather we usually see in late April, if we’re lucky, more likely May, and that’s when we make our first forays to the nursery and garden meets. Confession: I went to the nursery yesterday and bought plants. That’s right, before the middle of February, I bought plants.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 9 Comments

ffb: Behind That Curtain

Behind That Curtain by Earl Derr Biggers, 1928, New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1928 hardcover. My copy: Avenel Books omnibus edition, 1988


This is the third of the five Charlie Chan novels Biggers wrote, and the third I’ve read, because, you see, I’m reading them in order.

After the success of the first two books, House Without A Key and The Chinese Parrot, Chan was a world-wide favorite. The Saturday Evening Post paid Biggers $25,000 to serialize this Chan book, a tidy sum in 1927. Then he was paid by the book publisher, and later he sold the film rights to Fox.

Chan is in San Francisco, about to take a ship back to his home in Hawaii. He is invited to a dinner to meet Sir Frederic Bruce, a famous retired Scotland Yard Inspector and also to hear a lecture and see films by famous explorer  Colonel John Beetham, recently returned from Tibet.

Bruce, in a conversation the previous day, has admitted that though he’s retired, he still has an interest in some cases involving women who disappeared; just walked off into the night and were never heard of again. The most intriguing of these is Eve Durand, who disappeared fifteen years before, in Peshawar, India. He also, it turns out, is trying to discover what became of two other women. Those who just disappear, never to be seen again, hold a fascination for him.

This is a typical mystery for it’s time, and a good Chan mystery. There is, this time, a set group of suspects, who were all in an apartment for a dinner and film showing when the murder takes place, the lights turned low, the way to the murder location open to all. So who had the motive, and means?

Yes, the characters are a bit cardboard, but does it matter if the pieces are paper or jade if they are moved skillfully on the board? The sense of place is good, the situations only as predictable as expected for this type of mystery, and there’s not the silliness of the films. If you haven’t read a Chan novel, I’d start with The House Without A Key but they are all good reading, and good fun.

The Charlie Chan novels are:

The House Without a Key
The Chinese Parrot

Behind That Curtain
The Black Camel
Keeper of the Keys

Posted in Friday Forgotten Book, mystery | 10 Comments

The Romantic Piano Concerto Series

HypLogo40HThe Romantic Piano Concerto Series, Hyperion Records, now at 64 volumes. See listing here.

I love piano concertos, especially written in the “romantic period style”, and unless I want to hear a specific favorite by the big name composers, this is my go-to set of CDs (yes, all of these can also be downloaded in several MP3 formats including lossless).

Hyperion_The_Romantic Piano_Concert_Series2

Hyperion_The_Romantic Piano_Concert_Series

covers of first 50 CDs.

“The concept of The Romantic Piano Concerto series was born at a lunch meeting between Hyperion and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra sometime in 1990. A few months later tentative plans had been made for three recordings, and the first volume, of concertos by Moszkowski and Paderewski, was recorded in June 1991.

In our wildest dreams, none of us involved then could ever have imagined that the series would still be going strong twenty years later, and with over sixty volumes to its credit.”

The first fifty volumes include 131 works for piano and orchestra, 102 of which are titled ‘Concerto’, the remainder being generally shorter single-movement works or sets of variations. Fifty-nine of these works are premiere recordings and many other featured works have only been recorded once before, often in clearly inferior versions and frequently cut.

The sound quality of these recordings is very good, the selection includes many composers and works most listeners will not yet know but it’s all really good. Highly recommended. I’m listening to volume 57 [Wiklund, Piano Concerto No 1, Op 10 and other works] as I type this.


Posted in Classical Music | Tagged | 6 Comments

Current Reading, February 2 – 8, 2015


From the this last library came Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, the book on which was based the current film of the same name. For any who haven’t already heard, it’s about Olympic runner Louis Zamperini, whose B-24 bomber went down in the Pacific during WWII, leading to 40+ days on a small raft, followed by nearly two years in Japanese POW camps. He was beaten, starved and tortured before the war ended and he was freed. It’s a fascinating but at times grim story. I thought the post war section went on too long, but that was the author’s choice. Having read the book, I have no need to see the movie, though it might be interesting to compare them.

I only read three short stories this last week, two from Lights In the Deep by Brad Torgerson, one from Robots and Magic by Lester Del Rey. The Inspector Banks novel by Peter Robinson that I was expecting from the library didn’t materialize, so I’ve started an SF novel instead.

Dinotopia podcast cover world beneath podcast coverI also listened to a couple of audiobooks, really two sets of podcasts, Dinotopia and The World Beneath, both available from ZBS Foundation.



Barbara finished two novels, Deaver’s The Sleeping Doll and Buried by Mark Billingham.

She’s now reading a novel by Mo Hayder, Ritual. Next up is another Mark Billingham, Death Message. Yes, she does like the dark stuff.

What are you reading?

Posted in Adventure, audiobook, Current Reading, mystery, short stories | 21 Comments

ffb: Cons, Grifts and Scams

this is the 165th in my series on forgotten or seldom read books

Cons, Scams And Grifts by Joe Gores, Mysterious Press (Warner), 2001, hardcover, mystery – DKA

cons etc“It was Easter. From his exquisite one-story art deco building in the mid-9100 block of Sunset Boulevard, Victor Marr talked on the scrambler phone with the Yakuza gangster named Kahawa, in Hong Kong on his behalf.”

What do twenty-seven classic cars, a dancing bear pickpocket and a millionaire in Big Sur have in common? They are all in this book, part of Joe Gores’ DKA [Daniel Kerney & Associates] series.

It should be no news to anyone that I like what Joe Gores writes. I find his PI procedurals very entertaining indeed, with good characterization and realistic scenarios, which isn’t surprising considering Gores’ background as a PI himself.

This one picks up where 32 Cadillacs ended and carries the story forward. One thing that adds a special treat in this particular DKA is that I’m in it, as a very unlikable villain. But modesty keeps me from pointing that out. The culture of the gypsy clans continues to fascinate Gores and I find it fascinating as well. The scams run are clever and believable. I enjoyed this and though it’s not my very favorite DKA, they’re all pretty darn good, this one included. 

Posted in Friday Forgotten Book, mystery | 12 Comments

Me and E-books

source: Wired Magazine

image source: Wired Magazine

Sometimes I embrace change and other times, not so much. The “not so much” particularly applies to electronic books. I really prefer ink-on-paper books, and that’s that. I love the feel, the heft, the look, the smell…okay, I’m getting all warm-and-fuzzy about it, but it’s true: I really love physical books. That includes the paper, cover, font…oops, there I go again.

That said, ebooks are getting so ubiquitous it’s nearly impossible not to stumble across one, or mention of one, these days, and I admit it’s good that we can get books unavailable in the physical format. Sometimes, the things are even cheap, or free. Want a novel, a short story collection, novelette or an e-mag? Easy, all available. Want big chunks? Look for bundles, or as Amazon labels them, Megapacks. I show a few below (I only have one of these). [Images clipped from Amazon]

These are but a few of the hundreds of ebook bundles and mega-packs available

I don’t own a dedicated device for reading ebooks. I know lots of people who do, and I understand they like them just fine and find them useful and convenient. Maybe I’ll get one sometime. What I do have is the application Kindle For Mac on my desktop and laptop computers. With that, I have the ability to read ebooks.

So, here and there, I’ve picked up about 60 free, 99 cent, and a few 2.99 books (novels, short story collections and some novelettes) and a couple of e-periodicals. Perhaps the most difficult to resist are the inexpensive bundles, or Megapacks. Yes, I bought some. They’re terrific bargains, and when the day comes that I have an iPad, tablet or some type of e-reader, they’ll provide reading for those times a real book isn’t practical.

So I have all those ebooks. Have I read any? Sure, I have. Three of them, one of which I got from the library. Did I mention you can get free ebooks from the library? You check them out just like other books. Of course, with ebooks, as with any books, it all comes down to taking the time to read what’s between the covers (and why do most ebooks have such inferior cover art? Sheesh.), and I never seem to have enough reading time. Does anyone?

Posted in books | Tagged | 34 Comments

Current Reading, January 26 – February 1, 2015

BehindThatCurtainI read Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan, the second in the Lady Trent series. While I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the first book, I’m looking forward to the third, which will be out in March.

Also this week I read Behind That Curtain by Earl Derr Biggers, the third Charlie Chan novel (published in 1928). I like these novels and was not disappointed in this one.

I’m continuing to read short stories. I’ve already found a couple of the collections to be more enjoyable than the others and am focusing on them, and yet another I stumbled on. I read stories from Lights In the Deep by Brad Torgerson (3), Robots and Magic by Lester Del Rey (2), Grottos of Chinatown by Arthur J. Banks (1) and The Python Pit by George Worts (1).

sleeping dollNext up for me are more short stories and a Peter Robinson Inspector Banks novel I just picked up at the library.

Barbara has been reading a lot of books by two authors lately, Mark Billingham and Jeffrey Deaver. She just finished Deaver’s The Sleeping Doll. In Deaver’s The Cold Moon, with series protagonist Lincoln Rhyme, a new character was introduced, Special Agent Kathryn Dance. Sleeping Doll is Dance’s first solo outing and she has appeared in subsequent novels.

Barbara is now reading Buried by Mark Billingham and there’s yet another Billingham in the wings.

What are you reading?

Posted in Current Reading, mystery, short stories | 23 Comments

ffb: A Six-Letter Word for Death

this is the 164th in my series of forgotten or seldom read book posts

A Six-Letter Word for Death by Patricia Moyes, Henry Holt (Owl), 1983, paperback, mystery, Chief Superintendent Henry Tibbett

Six-Letter Word for DeathEvery time I pick up and begin reading a book by Patricia Moyes – one of her splendid Chief Inspector Henry Tibbett books – I am reminded of two things: how much I like them and that I always wonder why I don’t just sit down and read the lot of them, straight through. Instead I seem to go months, or years, between them. But another book catches my eye, and another, and you know how that goes.

I implore you, read at least one of these.

I’m not managing to read the books in order. Of course I could look up the series order, but I never seem to do it, instead just pulling one off the shelf. No matter. they’re all good. For anyone keeping track, A Six-Letter Word for Death is listed as #16 (of 19).

Though many Moyes books and short stories are “typical” Scotland Yard CID cases, equally as many seem not to be. This tale isn’t actually a case at all, and Tibbett is not the officer in charge of any formal investigation. He gets some cooperation from local police – and some non-cooperation as well – but primarily he investigates this one because he sees something wrong and his curiosity and desire for justice won’t allow him to let it go.

The Guess Who Club is composed of several authors, mystery writers all, who share as their publisher Oppenshaw & Trilby, chaired by Sir Robert Oppenshaw. Each member of the club is an author who writes under a vigorously protected pen name. Each summer these writers are the guests of Sir Robert at his Carnworth Manor on the Isle of Wight. They meet for a week, and on the last Saturday of this time they have a guest speaker, someone to speak for an hour or two on a topic of mutual interest and also to justify writing off the entire week for tax purposes. This summer the guest speaker is Henry Tibbett.

The club decides to twist Tibbett’s tail a bit by creating a crossword puzzle for him to solve, the answers of which will supposedly point to a crime or crimes which he may then solve. This isn’t usual procedure, but it is suggested by one member of the group and the others agree. All in fun, don’t you know.

The fact is, there is little fun after the first hour of Henry’s speech. He has, with the help of a friend’s brother, easily solved the puzzle, and he has done his homework on the answers, but the whole idea falls apart when a young man, betrothed to Sir Robert’s daughter, is killed. It may be an accident, a fall from a cliff onto jagged rocks, possibly thrown from his horse, but there are just one or two things that don’t add up…

Thus we are drawn into a web of personality, history and deceit. Moyes pulls things together with the help of a gentle coincidence or two, but they are adequately justified. The story goes on, the mystery is solved, justice served. I’m not sure what I like best about Moyes books; the writing, the people, the puzzle or the sense of place, but I enjoy them quite a lot. If you haven’t read any of Moyes books, you’re in for a treat.

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

That Reading Feeling

happy readerI read about 100 books a year, and that’s a lot of pages, even if some of the books are thin. My reading is mostly genre fiction; mystery novels and short stories, science fiction, fantasy, adventure, reprinted pulp stories from the 1930s and 1940s and so forth. I also read historical non-fiction, general fiction, an occasional western, spy or young adult book. So, lots of pages, lots of book types over the year.

I enjoy just about everything I read; otherwise I wouldn’t chose to read it, though I do occasionally start a book that disappoints enough that I don’t finish it. But most of the time I do enjoy the book and keep reading to the end. Sometimes I write a short review, sometimes not.

But you know what I really love? It’s when I get what I call that reading feeling. That’s when I enjoy a book so much I hate to stop reading at night, and wake up wanting to start reading with breakfast and just keep going all day or until I (almost always regretfully) finish it. As far as I’m concerned, those are the really good books!

Posted in reading | 18 Comments

Current Reading, January 19 – 25, 2015


I finished A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan. I liked it pretty much, so I got the second in the series, Tropic of Serpents from the library a few days ago. It was also good though I did skim a section in the center which was filled with politics and international squabbles, which I felt padded the book but were of no interest to me. It does show motives, add background and set up what comes after. Others might find that part more interesting than I did. These books are worth a look. Next up is a Charlie Chan novel, Behind That Curtain.

I’m also making yet another try at reading more short stories. I’ve pulled out a few collections and plan, in between novels and whatnot (that whatnot gets me every time) to work through them. A couple are quite fat and will take a long time. I won’t list the collections, but here are the covers, click to see them better.

All-the-Light-no-carsProgress  on reading these will be reported in brief. This week I read seven, 2 from Grottos, 1 each from the others.

Barbara  finished All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and really liked it a lot. She said it was the best book she’s read in a long time.

Now she’s reading another book by Jeffrey Deaver, The Sleeping Doll. Next up will be another novel by Mark Billingham.

What are you reading?

Posted in Current Reading, fantasy, mystery, Pulp, science fiction, short stories | 20 Comments

ffb: Deathworld by Harry Harrison

this is the 163rd in my series of forgotten or seldom read book posts

Deathworld by Harry Harrison (Astounding Science Fiction, 1960, 1964, 1968 – see below), Conde Nast Publications, plus various hardcover and paperback publishers. E-book publication (2009-02-04). Deathworld Wildside Press.

Deathworld“Deathworld” is the name of a series of short science fiction novels by Harry Harrison including the books Deathworld (first published 1960, serialized in Astounding Science Fiction), Deathworld 2 (1964, initially titled The Ethical Engineer and serialized in Analog) and Deathworld 3 (1968, serialized in Analog as The Horse Barbarians), plus the short story “The Mothballed Spaceship” (written as part of a tribute to John W. Campbell). The central hero is Jason dinAult, a gambler who becomes involved with colonists of an extremely hostile planet.

dinAlt is a professional gambler who uses his erratic psionic abilities to tip the odds in his favor. He is challenged – with a hefty incentive – by the ambassador from the planet Pyrrus, to turn a large amount of money into an immense sum by gambling. He succeeds and survives the planetary government’s desperate efforts to steal back the money but winds up on Pyrrus, which, it turns out, is the deadliest world ever colonized by humans.

Pyrrus has a gravity of 2 g; its 42° axial tilt creates severe weather; it is very active tectonically, with frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions; and it possesses two moons each creating its own tides that sometimes combine into huge rises and falls of up to 30 meters, that have been known to flood active volcanoes and create even more violent weather. Finally, there have been numerous supernovae in its vicinity, meaning that planets in the area are rich in radioactive ores. Pyrrus is the only habitable planet in the area, and the only one from which efforts to mine the area’s ores can be sustained, making it a world of incredible potential value.

The down side? Everything, on the planet, plant, insect and animal alike, is predatory, and capable of killing an unwary human instantly. All large animals are strong enough to destroy small vehicles. All small animals have neurotoxic venom. All plants are carnivorous, even if only by default—their victims fertilize their soil. All microorganisms consume insufficiently protected tissue as quickly as acids.

Because of this harsh environment, the settlers are engaged in a ceaseless struggle to survive, which—despite generations of acclimation – they are losing. Restricted to a single settlement, their numbers are less than when the planet was first colonized. The world’s very name is a reference to pyrrhic victory, a success that comes at devastating cost to the victor.

After making a futile attempt at becoming acclimated to this harsh world, dinAlt decides it makes more sense to try to solve the planet’s mysteries instead of fighting the losing battle.

This is great classic science fiction, a lot of fun to read. Available in older paperbacks and an affordable e-book format, it can be just a click away, and you’ll have a ton of enjoyment in return. Highly recommended!

Posted in e-book, Friday Forgotten Book, science fiction | 12 Comments

Walter Baumhofer by David Saunders

Walter Baumhofer flyerWalter Baumhofer cvrLate 2014 was a banner time for books on artist/illustrators with two of the best ever. Last week I posted on the excellent The Art of Robert E. McGinnis [here] and now here’s yet another out-standing book, this time the subject is the very talented Walter Baumhoffer. As it did with it’s volumes on Norman Saunders and H.J. Ward (both sold out, by the way), the The Illustrated Press has produced what I consider to be a landmark book on the life and work of an American illustrator. From the publisher:

“Pulp art historian David Saunders’ latest volume is the consummate reference book on the life and work of illustrator Walter Baumhofer, and features over 300 illustrations, many of which are photographed from the original art, including working drawings, reference photos, a checklist of all published works. The book is 224 pages, 9”x12”, full-color, hardbound with dust jacket, and limited to only 1000 copies.”

Published in November 2014, this volume is the result of a Kickstarter campaign to fund it’s publication. If you have a familiarity with the western, crime and adventure pulps, then you will have seen Baumhofer’s work, whether you know his name or not, and he illustrated much more than just pulp covers. This is great art, and I encourage you to obtain a copy before this book is sold out.

Posted in art and illustration | Tagged | 7 Comments

Current Reading, January 12 – 18, 2015

So I can focus on reading books I have, I’ve put most of my library holds on “freeze”, so I keep my place in line while others move past until I’m ready to read the book.

I finished Enigma by Robert Harris, which was much more spy novel and much less code breaking than I would have preferred. I also read some short stories, one each from three collections.

Now I’m reading A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan. This fantasy novel is written in the manner of a memoir by a woman scientist (Trent) in the natural history field at the end of the Nineteenth Century. The book opens when Trent is a young girl with a deep interest in nature, especially winged things. As she grows up her interest deepens to a scientific obsession about dragons, a little known species. She devotes her life to their study (in asides throughout the book it’s clear she succeeds). I’m about halfway through and enjoying the book, the story itself and both the writing style and the dry wit.

Barbara  finished Jo Nesbo’s Nemesis and is now nearly finished reading The Skin Collector, a Lincoln Rhyme novel by Jeffrey Deaver. Next up for her is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, which comes highly recommended. I may read it too.

Then, also from the library, in one of those rushes of books all at once, is Lifeless by Mark Billingham; she’s trying to catch up on his series, and another book by Jeffrey Deaver.

What are you reading?

Posted in Current Reading, fantasy, mystery | 19 Comments

ffb: Roman Blood

this is the 162nd in my series of forgotten or seldom read book posts

Roman Blood by Steven Saylor, Ballantine 1993, paperback, mystery – 1st Gordianus the Finder

Roman_Blood_coverPerhaps not forgotten, but worthy of renewed attention, this is the first of the acclaimed series, one of the best historical mystery series written today.

This was the first of Saylor’s novels I read, though I had read a short story by him, featuring this character, in the first Crime Through Time anthology. That story was enjoyable enough to prompt me to buy a copy of this and the second in the series, which then languished on the shelf for a considerable period of time until some whim or instinct send me to seek them out.

Gordianus is commissioned by Cicero, a young advocate who has taken the defense of a man accused of patricide, one of the worst crimes a Roman citizen can commit. The facts must be uncovered. Did Sextus Roscius murder his father? Certainly he hated him enough to do the deed, or rather to have it done, for the murder took place in Rome and Sextus was in the country at the time.

Gordianus digs, and travels to the country and digs some more, and visits the murdered man’s haunts in Rome, his brothel, the site of the murder. What role does the young whore Elena play in the puzzle, what role the violent cousins? For that matter what role the beloved ex-slave of the dictator Sulla himself?

Well written, enjoyable, with enough history and description of the city, people and times to inform without becoming didactic, this was an enjoyable read.

[addendum] Since I wrote that original review fourteen or more years ago, I’ve now read all of the series but the latest two, and I’m still pleased with each book. If you like historical mysteries, these are some of the very best.

Posted in Friday Forgotten Book, mystery | 12 Comments

The Art of Robert E. McGinnis by Robert McGinnis & Art Scott

The Art of Robert E. McGinnis by Robert McGinnis (artwork) and Art Scott (text)
Titan Books, November 2014 oversized (9.3 x 0.8 x 12.2 inches), 176 page hardcover. All artwork in color. Also, Limited Edition (1000 copies) in slipcase with signed numbered print.


I ordered the Limited Edition (small image at bottom of post) and it took longer to process through the system. I finally got my copy, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

This is a really beautiful book; the binding is high quality, the paper is thick and allows absolutely top quality reproduction of the artwork. And what artwork!

McGinnis ltd

slipcased, signed numbered Limited Edition

Painter Robert McGinnis has earned international renown as a master artist/illustrator, beginning with magazine work, creating illustrations for major magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post and Good Housekeeping. But his reputation was really made as a  book cover artist, having painted images for approximately 1,400 titles, for the Mike Shayne, Perry Mason series and many books by Carter Brown, John D. MacDonald and many, many others, including crime, historical, romance, westerns, adventure, classics and more.

McGinnis also created poster art for Hollywood, for such movies as Breakfast at Tiffany’s, James Bond films (seven of them), Barbarella (starring Jane Fonda), The Odd Couple, and Cotton Comes to Harlem. Also included, are several stunning McGinnis gallery paintings.

Great job, Art Scott for the authoritative, well written text. Many of the works in this book were shot from original paintings, the reproduction is very high quality. This is a must buy for anyone who appreciates fine art and illustration.


Posted in art and illustration | 11 Comments

Current Reading, January 5 – 11, 2015

I made a short list of books I want to read, most from the TBR, to get this year started. That will be in addition to whatever shows up from the library. I just did it to feel organized (we all know how that sort of thing turns out). But for now…

I finished You Can’t Make This Up by Al Michaels, which was interesting but a typical sports autobiography in most ways. I also finished A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen, which started out fine but dragged in the middle and I ended up doing some skimming before reading the last quarter or so of the book. Just okay. I also read a graphic novel, Triumph and Torment about a team-up with Doctor Doom and Doctor Strange. Interesting, with good artwork.

Now I’ve started Enigma by Robert Harris, a novel about a young mathematician, Tom Jericho, trying to break the Germans’ “Enigma” ciphers during World War II. He is stationed in Bletchley Park, the British cryptologist central office. The book was adapted to film in 2001. I meant to read this years ago and am just now getting around to it. I have no idea what I’ll read next, there are many options including a novel I’ve been wanting to get to and some short stories, since I have many, many collections sitting here.

Barbara  finished Mark burning girlBillingham’s The Burning Girl (from the library), and is now reading Jo Nesbo’s Nemesis. Next up for Barbara is The Skin Collector, a Lincoln Rhyme novel by Jeffrey Deaver, which just came in from the library.

What are you reading?

Posted in Current Reading, graphic novel, mystery | 19 Comments

ffb: Scarlet Riders

this is the 161st in my series of forgotten or seldom read book posts

Scarlet Riders edited by Don Hutchison, Mosiac Press, 1998 – trade paper, pulp stories of the Northwest Mounted

scarlet riders“Fingers had burrowed down in the snow and found Constable Sandy Frost’s throat. He knew that as he awakened.”

A dozen stories of the north, swarming with mosquitoes and black fly in the summer, frozen forty below in the winter, filled with treacherous ice and deadly blizzards. Strong men and women who use their fists and wits to survive. Criminals and their victims and the men in red who track down the killers and thieves.

During the heyday of the 1920s and 1930s stories featuring Mounties maintaining the law of the untamed North, on snowshoes, or horseback, by sled or canoe, were very popular. They appeared in Argosy, Thrilling Adventure, Western Story, Western Trails, Ace-High and others, and eventually spawned pulps devoted specific to them: North-West Stories (later re-titled North-West Romances), the Complete Northwest Novel Magazine and Real Northwest among them. The twelve stories in this 289 page collection come from some of the titles listed above.

I don’t remember now how this first came to my attention, but having loved Sergeant Preston of the Yukon (“On, King! Mush, huskies!”) on the radio as a kid, something clicked and I bought it. It then sat around for a couple of years before I read it the first time, in late 1999. What was I waiting for?? I recently reread it and it’s still great. These well told crime stories are a lot of fun. What’s more, it’s in print. Here’s the table of contents:

Scarlet Riders contains the following stories:

  1. “Deadly Trek to Albertville” by Talmage Powell
    • Originally published in Posse, March 1957
  2. “The Frozen Phantom” by Lester Dent
  3. “Spoilers of the Lost World” by Roger Daniels
  4. “White Water Run” by Hugh B. Cave
  5. “Red Snows” by Harold F. Cruickshank
  6. “The Driving Force” by Murray Leinster
  7. “Snow Ghost” by Lester Dent, featuring The Silver Corporal
  8. “Phantom Fangs” by John Starr
  9. “The Dangerous Dan McGrew” by Ryerson Johnson
  10. “Death Cache” by Lester Dent, featuring The Silver Corporal
    • Previously unpublished
  11. “Doom Ice” by Dan O’Rourke
  12. “The Valley of Wanted Men” by Frederick Nebel
Posted in Adventure, Friday Forgotten Book, mystery | 22 Comments