Friday, December 29, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books, December 29, 2017

Chris Knopf, Dead Anyway (2012), 
(Jeff Meyerson, from the archives)

People always ask (I know, I ask too) how you decide what to read next.  Might as well ask, how do you decide what to read, period?  I have a list of favorite authors whose books I read when they come out but for newer writers or ones I don't know I tend to lean on recommendations from friends, reviews here or on other blogs, plus newspaper and magazine reviews.  If they sound interesting to me, I'll check them out.
Chris Knopf had two earlier series set in the Hamptons but this is the first in a new series.  Apparently Bill Crider reviewed it when it came out last year but somehow his review did not make enough of an impression on my brain until I read his review of the sequel a few weeks ago, linking back to his Dead Anyway review.  Then I thought, this sounds good. And it is.
How's this for starting with a bang?  Arthur Cathcart, an overweight 40ish guy working at home doing market research and other high end computer research, married to a gorgeous woman who owns a real estate firm near their home in Connecticut, comes home from a walk to find his wife sitting on the couch and a man holding a gun on her.  The man insists she answers five questions written on a paper, and to emphasize his seriousness, he shoots her husband in the thigh.  She answers the questions only to have the man, clearly a hired killer, shoot her in the head and kill her.  Then he shoots Cathcart, who somehow doesn't die.
Now you may be able to resist seeing what happens next, but I sure couldn't.  Cathcart is gravely injured and decides (with the help of his physician sister) to stay dead and use his computer skills to discover who killed his wife and why, not easy in the post-9/11 world.  But first he has to recover enough physically and mentally to be able to act.  Along the way he gets some help from a woman named Natsumi Fitzgerald, who throws her lot in with his.
I really enjoyed this one and will be reading the sequel as soon as it comes in to the library.  Definitely recommended.

Yvette Banek, TRAITOR'S PURSE, Margery Allingham Les Blatt, DEATH MAKES A PROPHET, John Bude
Brian Busby, THE GERRARD STREET MYSTERY, John Charles Dent
Martin Edwards, MURDER ON THE SECOND FLOOR, Frank Vosper 
Richard Horton, POINT OF HONOUR, Madeleine Robins
Jerry House, THE MOUSETRAP AND OTHER PLAYS, Agatha Christie
Margot Kinberg, HARRIET SAID, Beryl Bainbridge 
Rob Kitchin, SOLO HAND, Bill Moody 
Evan Lewis, D'ARTAGNAN, H. Bedford Jones
Steve Lewis, "The National Debt" Leslie Charteris 
Neer, LOST HORIZONS, James Hilton 
J.F. Norris, MERRIDREW FOLLOWS THE TRAIL, John Russell Fearn
Matt Paust, NIGHT TRAIN TO LISBON, Pascal Mercier 
James Reasoner, KISS AND KILL, Richard Deming
Gerard Saylor, ALAN'S WAR, Emmanuel Guilbert 
Kevin Tipple, TEXAS VIGILANTE, Bill Crider
TomCat, THE CASE OF THE AMATEUR ACTOR, Christopher Busch 
Prashant Trikannad, DEAD LINE, Stella Rimington

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


This was our holiday haul. How about you?

Lincoln at the Bardo, George Saunders
Prairie Fires, The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Caroline Frasier
Leonardo Da Vinci, Walter Isaacson
Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich, Norman Ohler
Young Man with a Horn, Dorothy Baker
In Love, Alfred Hayes
Book Lust, Nancy Pearl
Manhattan Beach, Jennifer Egan

Friday, December 22, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books, December 22, 2017

Louise Penny is the author of the Armand Gamache mysteries, which began with the award-winning STILL LIFE. (from the archives)

The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey

I'm not totally convinced she's been forgotten - I sure hope she hasn't.
But this is my small contribution to helping spread the word. For many
years my favorite Tey book was the remarkable, The Daughter of Time.
Infact, I was resistant to reading The Franchise Affair - perhaps out of a
misguided sense of fidelity to The Daughter of Time. I didn't want to be
seen playing footsy with another one of Tey's creations. Or, more likely,
it was the ridiculous title. The Franchise Affair? I ask you. It sounds
like love among the french fries, or groping in the donuts.

Instead, when I finally succumbed and read The Franchise Affair I was
treated to what I now believe is the best mystery of all time. My heart was
quite stolen.

There's no body, no murder in The Franchise Affair, though it is based on
the 18th century case of Elizabeth Canning. Like all of Josephine Tey's
books it's about appearances vs reality. Perceptions and manipulation.
Duality. What else drives a really great mystery? Not blood, not a body -
but what's eating away at the marrow. Our deepest selves, hidden, masked.
Then agonizingly revealed.

On the surface The Franchise Affair is about a fresh-faced young woman,
barely more than a girl, who accuses an elderly woman and her spinster
daughter of kidnapping and holding her in their dreary old home on the edge
of the village.

Like all of Tey's works this one is short, almost novella length. And
crystalline in its clarity. It is, in short, brilliant. Disturbing, witty,
insightful. And more horrific than any body count could ever achieve.

Josephine Tey - a pen-name for Elizabeth MacKintosh - wrote all 6 of her
mysteries between 1947 and 1952. Then she died, in her mid-50's. Almost
nothing is known of the woman. No photograph exists of her. Like her
books, she's a mystery. A real woman lurking behind a made-up one. But I
have happily given my heart to her.

Sergio Angelini, ZERO COOL, Michael Crichton
Yvette Banek, THE NOOSE, Philip MacDonald
Les Blatt, BURIED FOR PLEASURE, Edmund Crispin
Elgin Bleecker, MAIGRET'S CHRISTMAS, Georges Simenon
Brian Busby, THE MYSTERY OF THE MUFFLED MAN, Max Braithwaite
Martin Edwards, MISCHIEF, Charlotte Armstrong
Curt Evans, Marion Babson
Charles Gramlich, HAWK OF THE WILDERNESS, William L. Chester
Richard Horton, Carol Emshwiller
Jerry House, ROADS, Seabury Quinn
George Kelley, CRIME FOR CHRISTMAS. ed. Richard Dalby
Margot Kinberg, RED HERRING, Jonothan Cullinane
Rob Kitchin, A COLD RED SUNRISE, Stuary Kaminsky
Evan Lewis, DEAD SOLDIERS, Bill Crider
Steve Lewis, THE CLOCK STRIKES TWELVE, Patricia Wentworth
Barry Malzberg, ANATOMY OF A MURDERER, Peter Rabe
Todd Mason, An Assortment of Reviews 
J.F. Norris, THE CLOCK IN THE HATBOX, Anthony Gilbert
Juri Numellin, HEAD GAMES, Craig Macdonald and Kevin Singles
James Reasoner, THE CHRISTMAS KILL, Nick Carter
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang,, OUTRAGE AT BLANCO 
TomCat, CASE CLOSED, Gosha Aoyama
TracyK, ENVIOUS CASCA, Georgette Heyer

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

My Favorite Movies of 2017

Of course, there are lots still to come. For some reason, Hollywood introduces its Christmas movies in Detroit in mid-January so I cannot include movies that would be sure to be on here.












It was a better year for TV but not bad for movies either.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017


I have always enjoyed movies about food and this is one of the best, Stanley Tucci and Tony Shahloub play brothers running a restaurant struggling to survive. Shaloub's stubborness in what they will servie and how they will serve it is part of the problem. But this movie is much more than that. It creates a world and a relationship between two brothers. I think it is near perfect.

I was reminded of it today when I saw Keely Smith had died. Louis Prima was her singing partner and he plays a big part (or not) in BIG NIGHT. The last scene of the movie is perfect indeed. The film was directed by Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci.


But here is Louis Prima and Keely Smith.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Things That Are Making Me Happy

We lost a longtime colleague last week. And although his sudden death made us sad, what was amazing that was his entire family (maybe 75 people) rented a bus in Minneapolis and came to Detroit for the funeral. Watching them walk down the aisle in the church was wonderful and heartbreaking at the same time. How much this must have buoyed his wife and children and grandchildren. Being surrounded by such love. Few academics live in the state of their birth so weddings and funerals and births are always difficult.

Love LOVELESS on Netflix. Yes, it is violent but there are so many strengths in it. Astounding acting, directing, story. The villain, played by Jeff Daniels, is nuanced and you want to hear his story. Hope there is a second season. I do love Westerns. What some might call cliches, I call tropes and I love seeing the spin GODLESS puts on some of them.

Spending a lot of time with friends this week. They often take the place of family for those of us who have little family around. We have some terrific friends.

Loved Megan's next book, which comes out in July. GIVE ME YOUR HAND.This one is about female scientists working in a lab. Don't know how she learns so much about each subject.

Saw a fabulous show called TOO HOT TO HANDEL, which used the Messiah as a jumping off place for a terrific 2 1/2 hours. Many cities have versions of this. So much fun to see how into music Detroit school children were.

 So grateful for Todd Mason's help with Bill Crider day.And thanks to all of you who participated.
I know some of you posted more than one remembrance. I may have missed some.


Sunday, December 17, 2017

From James Cameron

Bill Crider: We'll Always Have Murder (James Cameron)

For years, checking out Bill Crider’s Pop Culture Magazine has been part of my daily routine. It’s one of the most entertaining sites on the Internet, IMHO. Years ago, I even sent Bill a couple of items that he posted and kindly gave me credit for. I started reading his blog posts because I was already familiar with his work as a mystery writer and figured his posts would be just as good―and I was right. For the past year, he’s been posting about some serious health issues, which seem to have reached a critical point. A bunch of Bill’s friends have decided to dedicate the latest edition of Friday’s Forgotten Books, and this post is my contribution and tribute.
This book is really forgotten―even the author says so, according to this interview: “Thanks to my agent, who got me the job, I also got the chance to write a private-eye novel with Humphrey Bogart as a featured character. It’s one of my better books, though nobody has heard of it—We’ll Always Have Murder is the title.” Subtitled “A Humphrey Bogart Mystery,” the book’s protagonist is Terry Scott, a war veteran and low-rent PI who works for Jack Warner to keep his stars’ peccadilloes out of the limelight, if not out of trouble. In this case, the star is Bogart, who’s been accosted by a sleazier PI for blackmail purposes. Scott meets Bogie, begins investigating with his help, and runs into multiple murders. Crider puts in plenty of apt allusions to and quotations from The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, and The Big Sleep, some of them from Bogart, as this odd couple travels through both the glittery and seamy pockets of late 1940s Hollywood. Both of them come off as real, fallible, but ultimately capable investigators as they deal with Mayo Methot, Bogart’s real life, pre-Bacall wife, and a motley collection of stars, studio execs, wannabes, stunt men, and other movie types.
I really liked this book. I’ve always enjoyed period stories about Tinseltown, like Stuart Kaminsky’s Toby Peters series and Edward Wright’s wonderful John Ray Horn novels. We’ll Always Have Murder provides ample wry humor without caricaturing his Hollywood characters, who were and are bizarre enough in real life; it also adds a few darker strokes that emphasize the seediness beneath that tinsel. My sense is that it was intended to be a series, but apparently that never happened―my only disappointment. I urge you to read We’ll Always Have Murder―there seem to be plenty of used copies to be had from the usual suspects.

As for Bill Crider, I’d like to think that, like his books, he may still have a few more surprises for us before the end, optimist that I am. Whatever happens, Bill, we’ll continue to treasure all of the work you’ve accomplished as a writer and a person―and thanks for the ride.  

Saturday, December 16, 2017

A late one from Eric Beetner and Victoria Kemp

BTW for those who steer clean of Facebook, there are many, many tributes to Bill on there.

Eric Beetner, author

The writing world is paying tribute to Bill Crider today, and a more deserving man I don’t know of. No writer would see such an outpouring of admiration only for their books. Bill is a kind and generous man who is a friend to all who take pen in hand to battle the blank page into submission.
I wish I could say I knew Bill better, but I’m proud to call him a friend. Bill’s been extraordinarily kind to me. From stepping up and donating a signed book for my children’s school auction several years back to more recent favors he’s done, Bill has never said no.
When I asked him to join the ranks for the Unloaded 2 anthology, he said yes. When I started my column for the Film Noir Foundation newsletter all about noir fiction, I knew Bill had to be my first guest and he said yes. When I cornered him in Toronto and recorded him for the podcast, he didn’t hesitate, just said yes.
Bill is always quick with a compliment for another writer. He champions unsung books both contemporary and vintage. He gave me my favorite blurb of all time, completely unsolicited. And I don’t say that now in the face of losing Bill soon to cancer, I said it at the time and beyond the kind words, it was who was behind the words that added to my feelings.
Bill is the kind of writer I aspire to be. A craftsman who isn’t pretentious about it. A prolific wordsmith who keeps his head down and keeps churning out the ideas. A master of multiple genres. He bridges the gap between the classic pulp period and today like his contemporaries Lawrence Block, Ed Gorman, Max Allan Collins. Known as one of the nicest guys in the mystery writing world and that is a tall mountain to sit atop.
So it is sad to say goodbye to Bill, but at least we get the chance to let him know how appreciated he is. My story is not unique. He was good to all of us. I’m just glad I have my own stories to tell about Bill. And I will continue to tell them, and to read his words because with those in the world he will never truly be gone. But we’ll still miss him.

Victoria Kemp on Bill Crider

I've never met Bill Crider. I just read his books and then started following him on Facebook. He posted regularly, both as himself on his personal and on his author page. His author page was a fun amalgam of vintage advertisements; songs of the day; announcements about his writing, including his appearances at various mystery cons around the country, not to mention interviews with all his mystery writing buddies. His personal page was a wonderful glimpse into the life of a man who loved his wife (who died too soon) and his cats, the VBKs, Gilligan, Keanu and Ginger Tom. He wrote prolifically, separate series: Sheriff Dan Rhodes; Truman Smith; Carl Burns and Sally Good, not to mention co-authoring books with Willard Scott and several stand-alone westerns. His writing seemed to me to illustrate who he was as a man, plain-spoken and straight-shooting. 

Cancer sucks. It has taken too many people from my life. And, now, I will lose an author whose writing has taken me places I would never go by myself. 

Fuck cancer.

Victoria Kemp

 Terry (Shaimes) has left a new comment on your post "Bill Crider Day on FFB, December 15, 2017":

Patti, I just found this thread this morning, Saturday, and have enjoyed reading all these reminisces. I have a couple of my own to recount. I met Bill at a conference and found out he lived in Alvin, which was close to where I grew up. We had some chat about it. A couple of years later I started looking for an agent for a book I had written. It seemed daunting and it occurred to me that it might be clever to have a "blurb" to put in the query letter. Since I was writing about an older chief of police in a small town in Texas, I thought of Bill. I wrote and asked him if he would consider reading the book and giving me a blurb for my query letter. In typical Bill Crider fashion, he said he'd be glad to, although he didn't know whether it would be worth much! I knew it was worth gold. And it was. The agent I signed with was drawn in by his blurb.

Fast forward a couple of years and a few books under my belt. I was doing a signing at Murder by the Book in Houston, and who walked in, but Bill! I couldn't stop grinning. I couldn't have been happier. What a hero!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Bill Crider Day on FFB, December 15, 2017

 (Note: I have to leave here at 9:00 am EST and will  not return to mid-afternoon, so latecomers will not be seated until then. Very sorry about this)

                     BILL CRIDER DAY ON Friday's Forgotten Books.

I have known Bill Crider since I began blogging in late 2005. It wasn't long before I stumbled onto his blog and like everyone was charmed by it. Two things drew us closer. He contributed a book review to my idea of looking at forgotten books on Fridays the very first week in 2007. 

I thought this endeavor would last a month or two, but Bill was in for the duration and contributed reviews every Friday for ten years. I asked him from time to time was he tired of doing it and he always said his only worry was he would run out of books to talk about. Of course, he never did. 

The second point of contact was when he was asked to edit a second volume of DAMN NEAR DEAD, put together by David Thompson. I was amazed and delighted when he asked me to contribute a story. This was early on and he was taking a chance, putting me in with far more illustrious writers. But that was the kind of guy he was, giving new writers a place in his world. Always encouraging, always humble.

I have only met Bill about three times and although we never have had a long conversation in person, I think we had them online through the many comments we shared about books and writers. There are few, if any, people in this business more loved than Bill. I hope today will prove that.  How many people could write so many books and still make time to review the books of others, to give a helping hand, to fill our world with jokes, music, musings, TV, movies.

If I had to choose a few words to describe Bill, they would be decent, kind, generous, talented, modest. How proud we all are to know him.  He has made our world a better place.

In Bill's own words for who could say it better. (This is from a few years back, before the VBKs, for instance. 

I was born and brought up in Mexia (that's pronounced Muh-HAY-uh by the natives), Texas. The town's most famous former citizen is Anna Nicole Smith, whom my brother taught in biology class when she was in the ninth grade. I've always lived in small Texas towns, unless you count Austin as a large town.  It wasn't so large when I lived there, though.  I attended The University of Texas at Austin for many, many years.  My wife (the lovely Judy) says that I would never have left grad school if she hadn't forced me to get out and get a real job.  I eventually earned my Ph.D. there, writing a dissertation on the hard-boiled detective novel,  and thereby putting my mystery-reading habit to good use.  Before that, I'd gotten my M.A. at the University of North Texas (in Denton), and afterward I taught English at Howard Payne University for twelve years. Then I moved to scenic Alvin, Texas, where until 2002 I was the Chair of the Division of English and Fine Arts. I retired in August 2002 to become a either a full-time writer or a part-time bum. Take your pick.

What kind of books do I write?  All kinds, but mostly mysteries.  The Sheriff Dan Rhodes series features the adventures of a sheriff in a small Texas county where there are no serial killers, where a naked man hiding in a dumpster is big news, and where the sheriff still has time to investigate the theft of a set of false teeth.  The first book in this series won an Anthony Award for "best first mystery novel" in 1986. The latest book in the series is Murder in Four Parts. (Eight books have followed this one)

I also write about a couple of college English teachers. Carl Burns teaches at a four-year school and is a reluctant amateur sleuth who, according to one reader's complaint, frequently gets beaten up by women.  He works at a small denominational college, and his latest case can be found in . . . a Dangerous Thing.  Sally Good is the chair of the English Department at a community college near the Texas Gulf Coast.  She's also a reluctant amateur sleuth, but nobody beats her up.  Check her out in A Knife in the Back. 

And then there's my private-eye steries.  Truman Smith operates on Galveston Island, not far from Houston.  The first book in the series was nominated for a Shamus Award by the Private-Eye Writers of America, but to date no one has had the wisdom ot publish the books in paperback, and the series is out of print.

But wait!  There's more!  Yes, I write nonseries books, too.  In the mystery field, there's The Texas Capitol Murders in which you get murder, politics, and a bunch of pretty odd characters, some of whom aren't even Texas legislators.  Blood Marks is my venture into serial killerdom, and it's completely different from anything else I've ever written.  It's bloody and violent and the reviewers (even Kirkus!) loved it.  Probably my best-selling book.

And that's not all.  I've even written children's books, including one based on the Wishbone TV show (Muttketeer!) and the award winning Mike Gonzo and the UFO Terror.

And of course there are the westerns, including Outrage at Blanco and Texas Vigilante.

So what do I do in my spare time?  I run five or six days a week. I used to run in the afternoons, but now that I'm retired, I run in the early mornings.  In scenic Alvin, Texas, it doesn't make much difference.  It's always hot, and the humidity is always about like it is around the equator. 

And I listen to music. I have an extensive library of CDs, and I pop in whatever I'm in the mood to hear. Most of this music is from another era, which proves once and for all that I'm an old fogy, but I can't help it. Mostly I listen to New York doo-wop, rockabilly, The Platters, the Coasters, Buddy Holly, Elvis, Dion and the Belmonts, and any group or solo singer from the 1950s that you can think of. There's earlier stuff, too, like Les Paul and Mary Ford and the Ink Spots. I also like the music of the "folk era" of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Lots of that has been reissued on CD recently, and I'm an eager customer. Of course, I don't really hear the music most of the time; I tend to get so involved in the writing that everything around me disappears. But I like to think that the songs have some kind of subliminal effect and maybe even seep into the novel I'm working on. I'd love to write a book that was like a Buddy Holly record, with that same infectious sense of fun, or a book that caught the spirit of the end of the school year like the Jamies' "Summertime, Summertime." I have the five-CD set of Elvis' 1950s' masters and the four-CD Roy Orbison set, not to mention a lot of great stuff by the Everly Brothers, CDs containing all the records of the real Kingston Trio (the one with Dave Guard), the Atlantic "History of Rhythm and Blues" CDs, a double set by Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters, and more wonderful stuff than I can list here.

I'm also a big mystery fan: I've had a letter in every single issue (more than 150 now) of Cap'n Bob Napier's "letterzine," Mystery & Detective Monthly. I also do my own fanzine, Macavity, which appears in DAPA-Em, the only amateur press association devoted to mystery fiction. I haven't missed a mailing in more than twenty years.

And then there are the cats: Three of them. Geri, Speedo, and Sam. All three are different ages, and all three of them just turned up here. I was too soft-hearted to turn them away, so by now they've just about taken over the place. Not that anyone seems to mind.

From Jeff Meyerson

Bill Crider, The Texas Capitol Murders (1992).

It's tough for me to write about Bill Crider, especially under these terrible circumstances.  I've known Bill for 40 years (we met in person first in 1980, but knew each other through DAPA-EM and various mystery publications before that), and I consider him a good friend, so this is definitely not objective.  I've read the large majority of his books and have most of them inscribed by him, and one of the Sheriff Rhodes books was dedicated to me, a real honor.  Sheriff Rhodes would be an obvious choice, especially for someone who has never read one of his books, as to me the Sheriff books is closest to the 'voice' of the author.  But the other mystery series - Carl Burns, Sally Good, Galveston PI Truman Smith - as well as his horror novels (as by Jack MacLane) and westerns are also worth your time, as are the kids' books (like A Vampire Named Fred, an entertaining plea for tolerance for the undead) and short stories (many involving cats).

I thought I'd go with this one however, the one praised by former First Lady (of Texas, then) Laura Bush.  It's historical, it's funny, it's political, and it's great fun.  What more could you want?   A supposedly promiscuous Mexican-American cleaner is found murdered in a dumpster outside the Texas Capitol during its renovations, possibly seen by homeless vagrant Wayne the Wagger, not really a reliable or helpful witness.  Then there is the dumb as dirt, paranoid Governor, the powerful State Senator and his closeted bisexual aide, naive tour guides, lobbyists and drug dealers, and the Texas Ranger called in to solve the murders (yes, there are more than one).

I've never been to Austin or the State Capitol, but those who have done have testified as to the accuracy of the portrayals, and you really can't go wrong here.  I just hope it isn't true that we've seen the last of Bill's books.

From Deb Pfeifer

Unlike many people, I did not come to Patti’s blog through Bill Crider’s but rather the reverse: I found Patti’s blog about eight years ago and from her blog roll discovered many others, including Bill Crider’s Pop Culture Magazine.  I lurked there for a while before I posted a comment, but eventually I joined the fray and never looked back. Patti’s, Bill’s, and George Kelley’s blogs are always the first three I read every morning.

Bill’s obvious intelligence, unfailing good humor, kindness, and decency are apparent in everything he writes. His overwhelming love for Judy and their children shines through in the various essays and remembrances he occasionally posts. His mind is sharp, but never cruel, and he can always be relied on for a gentle, long-term take on events that have me ranting with indignation. His reviews are always on the generous side—he does not like to post negative reviews and always tries to find something positive to say about even the most critically-drubbed movie or book.

I only got to meet Bill in person once, but I’m so glad I had that opportunity: last year in New Orleans at Boucheron (where I also met Jeff & Jackie Meyerson, George & Diane Kelley, and—right as we were taking photos—Art Scott). Although obviously tired from his recent medical treatments, Bill was in good spirits and spent quite some time talking with my husband, John.  (As soon as we got back home, John went to the library and checked out some of Bill’s books. I think right now he’s read more of Bill’s books than I have.)

It’s still hard for me to comprehend that Bill has decided to discontinue his blog. There will be no more posts of the Song of the Day (a reflection of Bill’s wide-ranging and eclectic tastes), Thin Mints Melees, Texas Leading the Way, WBAGNFARB, Stay off His Lawn, Is There A Problem Officer?, and many others.  One of Bill’s frequent tag lines was Yet Another List I’m Not On, but there is a list I’m on, along with a lot of others, and that is people whose lives have been made richer by knowing (no matter how tangentially) Bill Crider.

Sharon Lynch

I was unable to copy from Facebook Sharon Lynch's words about Bill. However she admired him and was hoping to meet him in Toronto, which she did. And was so glad she did. 

MURDER OF A BEAUTY SHOP QUEEN, Bill Crider (Patti Abbott)

Bill Crider makes writing delightful books look easy. In fact, it is not easy to combine a satisfying crime and its solution with great characters, terrific local color, a wry sense of humor., and a style of writing easy to digest. Sheriff Dan Rhoades solves crimes and keeps order (and it is not always simple with a domestic animal population that is as troublesome as their owners, and in the case of feral pigs, no owners) down in Blacklin County, Texas.
In this outing from 2012, Lynn Ashton, a pretty hair stylist has been bashed over the head with a hair dryer. Suspects range from scorned lovers, to jealous wives, to two outsiders who have been scraping the town. Or maybe Lynn saw something she shouldn't have as she waited for a rendezvous with one of her clients. The characters, both new and old, all are the beneficiaries of inventive character development and the conclusion is satisfying and solid.

Yvette Banek, TOO LATE TO DIE 
Paul Bishop
Ben Boulden, TOP OF THE WORLD 
Fleur Bradley
Cap'n Bob
Max Allan Collins,
David Cranmer
Scott Cupp
Martin Edwards. Bill 
Lee Goldberg
Charles Gramlich, BILL CRIDER DAY
Lesa Holstine
George Kelley, GOOD NIGHT, MOOM 
Kate Laity, Bill Crider's Sherlock
B.V. Lawson, Bill Crider
Evan Lewis, The Secrets of Bill Crider's 1990 Bookshelves ; Visual Bibliography
Brian Lindenmuth (Spinetinger Magazine) Interview with Bill 
Richard Lupoff
Todd Mason
Richard Moore
Karin Montin
Scott Parker
The Rap Sheet, THE BLOG (to come)
Reactions in Reading, TOO LATE TO DIE 
James Reasoner, Best Bill 
Richard Robinson, Bill Crider's Holmes Stories
Janet Rudolph
Gerard Saylor, Bill Crider's Novels 
Charlie Stella
Kevin Tipple,  FAST TRACK (with Ed Gorman), THE BLACKIN COUNTY FILES
Dave Zeltserman, PIANO MAN 

 Aubrey Hamilton said...
Many, many years ago I began posting about the books I read to DorothyL and every time I mentioned reading a Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery, Bill Crider wrote to thank me. It was unnecessary but pleased me inordinately, even more so when I did a little research and saw just how many books he'd published. He certainly didn't need me to promote his books. When I heard him speak at a conference, I was entertained because he talked just like I imagined Sheriff Rhodes did. If anything could make me admire him more, it was his rescue of Keneau, the abandoned kitten, and, after everyone urged him to return to the place he found her, he located her siblings, to whom he has given the greatest care. Bill is a rare soul and I am fortunate to have met him.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Ten Years Ago.

My favorite movies of 2007

Some maybe actually 2006 movies. No special order and no real surprises. These were probably on everyone's lists. What were yours?

Painted Veil
Lives of Others
First Snow
51 Birch Street
Away From Her
3:10 to Yuma
Gone Baby Gone
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
Starting Out in the Evening
Sweeney Todd

And I remember most of these pretty well. FIRST SNOW I will have to look up though. A decent if not outstanding year. The ones that stayed with me most are THE LIVES OF OTHER and ZODIAC.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


George Roy Hill directed this odd little movie from 1962. Jane Fonda plays a nurse and Jim Hutton a vet suffering from PTSD. Their marriage is sudden and they end up at the home of his former Army buddy played by Tony Franciosa. Tony has his own problems because he married for wealth,
The key to it is the screenplay was written by Tennessee Williams and all of the themes that show up in his plays get a a look-see here: the impotent male, the trouble with Daddies, the hysterical players. Franciosa gives the best performance of the lot. Perhaps because he doesn't lay on a Southern accent with a trowel. Jane Fonda complained her makeup made her unrecognizable and it did. Maybe it was all for the best though. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Graduation Present on Better Things

Things That Make Me Happy

It would be very much easier to tell you the things that made me unhappy this week. There were quite a few. But who needs that right?

Sunday, a nice brunch with my book group (where you know who dominated the talk) and a nice dinner with eight good friends (same topic).  How can we not talk about what now dominates our life.

 I am going to leave it at this. I am very grateful that I have you, some of you stopping by for many years now. I am happy you are willing to share your lives with me. The books you read, the music you listen to, the movies and TV shows you like, the family you share your lives with, all of them are now part of my life. Thanks for being a friend.

What about you?

Friday, December 08, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books, December 8, 2017

Next Friday will be Bill Crider day on the blog. Please save reviews of work other than Bill's for another time. Remembrances are also welcome. Those without a blog, please send your piece to me and I will post it here.

I can hardly bear to post these reviews without his name on the list. Another friend died from a stroke this week. Bonnie has two major losses. And Kevin has lost his Sandi. Hardly a worse week in memory. And what goes on in Washington just compounds all semblance of a civil society.


Henry Cage is an enigmatic protagonist to say the least. Despite what seem outwardly like a successful life, he is left by his wife, spurned by his son, a stranger to his grandson, forced out of his career, and harassed by a man who knocks into him after a party. Yet none of these things lead him to much self-reflection. He seems unable to give much and is puzzled at the consequent results of his behavior.

This is a book that has been reviewed favorably yet not one of the women in my book group enjoyed it or even thought it a very good novel. These were the reasons they expressed:: they had no more understanding of Henry Cage by the end of the book than at the beginning--oh, yes, he had changed but it was not clear why. There were too many POVs that seemed unnecessary. Sometimes it was hard to sort out whose head we were in. Every character gets moments of reflection. So many in fact that this may have been what kept us from understanding Henry. The book begins with a horrific incident--an incident so horrible that we all dreaded having to go through it again. The author seemed determined to drape every character in tragedy, in fact. 

Having said this, I have thought about this book quite a bit. I wish we had been told more about his childhood, what made him such a inward man, so unreflective and aloof. I know back stories are unpopular nowadays but a character like Henry needs one if we are to have any hope of peering inside his head. What made Henry the man he was?

Sergio Angelini, Ranking the 87th Precinct Books by Ed McBain
Yvette Banek, Three Mystery Series
Les Blatt, SOMEBODY AT THE DOOR, Raymond Postgate
Brian Busby, The Season's Best Books in Review: 1917 
Martin Edwards, THE FILE ON LESTER, Andrew Garve
Curt Evans, LAVENDER HARVEST: IN COLD BLOOD, Armstrong Livingston
Richard Horton, THE AUCTION BLOCK, Rex Beach
Jerry House, TARZAN AND THE MAD MAN, Edgar Rice Burroughs
Margot Kinberg, THE STUDENT BODY, Simon Hyatt
Rob Kitchin, DEATH OF A DOXY, Rex Stout
B.V. Lawson, THE MYNN'S MYSTERY, George Manville Fenn 
Evan Lewis,  RED GARDENIAS, Jonathan Latimer
Steve Lewis, THE GUILTY BYSTANDER, Mike Brett
Todd Mason, MIND FIELDS, Harlan Ellison and Jacek Yerka
Neer, A TIME TO DIE, Hilda Lawrence
J.F. Norris, THIRTY DAYS TO LIVE BY, Anthony Gilbert
Matt Paust, OUR GAME, John LeCarre
James Reasoner, THE EBONY JUJU, Gordon MacCreagh
TomCat, PATTERN OF MURDER, John Russell Fearn
TracyK, LANDED GENTLY, Alan Hunter
Westlake Review, GET REAL, Part 2

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Agatha Christie Night for Selected Shorts

Sorry. The guy is Hugh Dancy (Hannibal). It should turn up on the podcast for Selected Shorts. Or at least I hope so. They each read an Agatha Christie story except Megan who is the host. It was to raise money for Symphony Space.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

First Wednesday Book Review CLub

I could not help but be impressed with the love Louise Penny received in Toronto at Bouchercon. Yvette Banek convinced me to try this one. She felt this was the one I was most likely to enjoy. And I did enjoy it somewhat, admired the writing, was impressed with how much research must have gone into learning about chants, monks, monasteries, the politics of a monastery. It was a book I admired more than liked though.

Briefly,  Gamache and his protege, Beauvoir go to a remote monastery where a monk has been killed. The murderer must be one of their own because it is cloistered. The monastery has recently gained fame for their chants of ancient works. This has caused a chasm between two groups of monks: the ones who feel moving forward is necessary and ones (led by the abbot) who feel their first calling is religious. The monk who is killed represents the progressive group.

My main issues with THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY were: too much of it relied on the reader knowing the events that took place in previous books. Hardly a page went by when these events were not referenced and yet never explained enough for the first-time reader to make sense of.

Secondly, the mystery, although interesting in the abstract, was not all that interesting in the way it played out. Only a few of the monks were sharply drawn and too much time was spent on arcane discussions. It felt at time like information dumps.

I also disliked how Gamache's supervisor was flown in (literally) to add tension to the story because there was so little. I find it hard to believe a police supervisor from a major cityy would take the time to go to this remote place just to torment our protagonist.

I also found little reason for Beauvoir, the second in command, to revert to his addiction to drugs when he is preparing to marry. This whole storyline and especially the ending, didn't work for me at all.

As I write this, I like it even less. And yet, I had no trouble finishing a long book, which I often do. So the beautiful mystery is why I finished it and why it didn't work for me. 

For more reviews, see Barrie Summy right here. 

Bill Crider Day on December 15th on FFB

Friday, December 15 will be Bill Crider Day on Friday Forgotten Books. If you would like to participate, either with a book review of one of his books or a remembrance, or a review of a short story, you can post it on my blog or your own should you have one. If you message me, I will give you my email to send it to. If you can get it to me a day or two before then, that would be great. Even Facebook reviews will work.All reviews are welcome.
Bill Crider was the first person I asked to write a review ten years ago when I began FFB.. I expected him to write one for the first week. Instead he has written over 500 reviews of books, never missing one that I remember. Let's honor Bill and his writing life on Dec, 15th. There is much to honor Bill for, let this be the firs

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Forgotten Movies, THE JAGGED EDGE

I know I saw this movie in the eighties at the theater but surprisingly little of the story stayed with me. Including the twists of which there are several. Jeff Bridges plays a newspaper editor accused of murdering his wife and maid. All of the assets including the business were hers. Motive.
Glenn Close, a former prosecutor, suffering  PTSD from a bad case and now practicing corporate law, reluctantly takes him on. And, of course, a romantic relationship develops. The film suffers from mediocre at best direction and some inconsistent acting, but on the whole, I liked it well enough. It is hard to say more than this without spoilers. All in all, a B- movies for me.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Things That Are Making Me Happy

We have had so many sunny days this week. So unusual for Detroit this time of year. I am very affected by the lack of sun here so yay!

We celebrated Kevin's 11th birthday yesterday. On Thursday night, the day of his birthday, he went with friends to see an illusionist. Seems to have been a great choice of events. Boy, does he have great parents. They make sure he gets to sample a wide range of cultural and popular events.

My favorite TV shows of 2017 all made me happy.


What about you? 

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Saturday Music

Thanks for one of the most original songs I grew up with.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books December 1, 2017

The Stone Diaries (from 2006)

My book club chose The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields to read for October (2006). I read it when it first came out 15 years ago and had a different set of reactions this time. One of the most interesting things for me was the list made by the protagonist near the end of the book of things she never did. Included are items such as oil painting, nude bathing, reading science fiction, oral sex, driving a car. It is a very sad list because so many of the items were ordinary and accessible and the last item was she never heard anyone say they loved her!

Carol Shields, who died too young, was a Canadian writer who was once one of the triumvirate with Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood. And I would include Margaret Laurence as another great Canadian writer.  THE STONE DIARIES takes a character from early in the 1900s to the 1990s and we watch the world change repeatedly over that time.

My "didn't do" list would include smoking pot, diving, learning a magic trick, skating backward, living alone. The woman in my group talked most about the last one. Most of us had never lived alone--going right from our parent's house or a college dorm to living with a husband. We were all born in the late 1940s.. (Ten years later, more of us live alone).

What would your list include if you're old enough to make one?What did you never do?

Sergio Angelini, FIDDLERS, Ed McBain
Mark Baker, VOID MOON, Michael Connelly
Yvette Banek, IT WALKS BY NIGHT, John Dickson Carr
Bill Crider, PRIME SUCKER, Harry Whittington
Martin Edwards, THE  HOUSE OF DOCTOR EDWARDES, Francis Beeding
Richard Horton, THE GREEN QUEEN, Margaret St. Clair/THREE THOUSAND YEARS, Thomas Calvert McClary
Nick Jones, P.M Hubbard short stories in the magazine of FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION 
George Kelley, THE BIG BOOK OF THE CONTINENTAL OP, Dashiell Hammett
Margot Kinberg, DAYS ARE LIKE GRASS, Sue Younger
Rob Kitchin, THE SELLOUT, Paul Beatty
B.V. Lawson, HARD-BOILED DAMES, ed. by Bernard Drew
Steve Lewis.Barry Gardner, CHARLIE'S APPRENTICE, Brian Freemantle 
J.F. Norris, FLASHPOINT, John Russell Fearn
Matt Paust, SINGLE AND SINGLE, John LeCarre
James Reasoner, ON A SILVER DESERT: THE LIFE OF ERNEST HAYCOX, Ernest Haycox, Jr. 
Gerard Saylor, THE BOYS OF '67, Andrew Wiest
TracyK, BANKING ON DEATH, Emma Lathen
Prashant Trikannad, DEAD LINE, Stella Rimington