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We Only Carry Mysteries .... But We Can Order Almost Anything!

 

New Author Signings

Saturday March 7th at Noon – C.S. Harris signs Who Buries the Dead

London, 1813. The vicious decapitation of Stanley Preston, a wealthy, socially ambitious plantation owner, at Bloody Bridge draws Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, into a macabre and increasingly perilous investigation. The discovery near the body of an aged lead coffin strap bearing the inscription King Charles, 1648 suggests a link between this killing and the beheading of the deposed seventeenth-century Stuart monarch. Equally troubling, the victim’s kinship to the current Home Secretary draws the notice of Sebastian’s powerful father-in-law, Lord Jarvis, who will exploit any means to pursue his own clandestine ends.

Working in concert with his fiercely independent wife, Hero, Sebastian finds his inquiries taking him from the wretched back alleys of Fish Street Hill to the glittering ballrooms of Mayfair as he amasses a list of suspects who range from an eccentric Chelsea curiosity collector to the brother of an unassuming but brilliantly observant spinster named Jane Austen. But as one brutal murder follows another, it is the connection between the victims and ruthless former army officer Sinclair, Lord Oliphant, which dramatically raises the stakes. Once, Oliphant nearly destroyed Sebastian in a horrific wartime act of carnage and betrayal. Now the vindictive former colonel might well pose a threat not only to Sebastian but to everything—and everyone—Sebastian holds most dear.

Tuesday March 3rd at Noon - Glen Erik Hamilton signs Past Crimes

Van Shaw broke with his training as a professional thief when he was 18 and became an Army Ranger. He hadn’t had any contact with his grandfather – his teacher – for a decade. Now he’s received a message in Gaelic from his grandfather asking him to come back to Seattle. When he arrives, he finds his grandfather mortally wounded. Though he vowed to stay away from that lawless world, he recognizes that he’ll have to use the skills he learned as a child – and in the military – to find justice. Debut by a man who grew up on the waterfronts of the Pacific Northwest, this is the launch of the tour for the book.

Signed Books! Reserve Your Copy Today!

Craig Johnson - Wait For Signs

12 Longmire stories, including his first appearance, written and published before the first novel. For 11 years, Craig wrote a story as a Christmas present each year. Now they’re collected for the first time in print, with one new story written for this collection. Boy Howdy – they’re a hoot!

What We've Been Reading

Urban Waite - Sometimes The Wolf

Signed Copies Available

Fran Recommends:

Urban Waite’s Sometimes The Wolf is the follow-up to Urban’s critically acclaimed debut, The Terror of Living (Signed Copies in soon, we promise!), but you don’t have to have read The Terror of Living first; Sometimes the Wolf stands on its own. Still, reading them in order is what I’d recommend!

Bobby Drake has lived under the shadow of his father, Patrick’s, conviction for smuggling drugs out of Canada. The fact that Bobby’s dad was sheriff, as Bobby himself is now, adds to the sting, and in a small town, everyone knows everyone else’s business, so there’s no hiding from his family’s history. Now, after twelve years, Patrick is out on parole, which means that Bobby has to confront his own feelings since his dad is going to stay with them – Bobby and his wife, Sheri – until Patrick can get his feet under him.

But to survive in prison, Patrick had to make some unpleasant alliances, and two of them are coming after him. In addition, FBI Agent Driscoll is certain that Patrick was involved in other crimes besides smuggling drugs, and Driscoll is determined to bust Patrick for those past deeds. 

Bobby doesn’t know who to trust, and when his dad runs, everything falls apart, and Bobby has to figure out what is going on, and what he really believes.

I fell for the characters in The Terror of Living, and it’s great to be back with them in Sometimes the Wolf. Getting to know Patrick, to see more of Driscoll and Sheri, to meet the other new characters in this second book, well, it’s coming back to see old friends and meet the new people in their lives. Granted, some of these people are pretty unpleasant, but that’s what makes it interesting.

It’s a tribute to Urban Waite’s talent for storytelling that I can say that his writing style drives the English teacher in me crazy. He uses incomplete sentences with wild abandon, and the staccato style, the short, choppy phrases do, at times, pop me out of the story. But I love the characters he’s created and the events in their lives so much that I can shake it off and dive back in. And I can’t deny that Urban’s style does raise the tension level in the book to incredible heights without sacrificing imagery. If anything, he’s found a way to make the images more vivid.

And one of the reasons I love this taste of Cascade Noir is the fact that everyone, good guys and bad guys alike, are nuanced. Okay, one bad guy is just out-and-out nasty, but everyone else has moments of strength and weaknesses that keep them from being cariactures and land solidly in the realm of real people. It’s one of Urban Waite’s absolute strengths, and why I always look forward to reading his work, choppy sentences and all.

Agatha Christie - They Came To Baghdad

Amber’s project for 2014: My 52 Weeks of Agatha Christie. Here’s her explanation.

Series: Stand Alone

Summary: Victoria Jones lost her job, again. But on the upside, she was given references and a week's pay - so with money in her pocket, Victoria treats herself to lunch in the park. While there, she meets Edward, a rather dashing young man on his way to Baghdad for work. Before Victoria can learn much more about him, he blends into the crowd and is gone. In an instant Victoria decides she must get to Baghdad to see Edward again.

Shortly upon arriving in Baghdad a man, who turns out to be a British agent, dies in her hotel room. His death and last words plunge Victoria into a whole new adventure in the covert world of secrets and spies. A world which, if she doesn’t play her cards right, might just claim her life as well!

Review: This volume is an interesting entry in the Christie canon, as it is not a whodunit or thriller per se. It follows in the footsteps of The Man In The Brown Suit, as it is an adventure novel at its core with political intrigue and mystery thrown in for flavor. I enjoyed reading about Victoria and her over-the-top antics which ultimately save the Western world from tearing itself apart (it was set at the beginning of the Cold War). The book I think just reaches the level of pot roast, adding flavor to the canon and is well worth reading. However it is not quite as brilliant as The Man In The Brown Suit, whose spunky narrator followed a similar adventurous path. I think it just reached the pot roast level due mainly to the fact I don’t see this particular book as being very plausible, entertaining yes, plausible no. But don’t go on just my opinion check out both of them yourself and tell me what you think! 

The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things....

Do you remember the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? Not the Johnny Depp version, but the classic Gene Wilder edition? (If you don’t you should watch the classic version tout suite!) Right now I am hoping you remember the bit where Wonka is expounding on his great idea for nursery room walls, lick-able wallpaper! Where all the fruits, including snozzberries, taste like the real deal. Since then the practical side of my brain has been trying to figure out how to engineer similar wallpaper which wouldn’t turn into a slobbery, disgusting mess over repeated lickings. However I can congratulate Christie in making me rethink this scene in a sinister light since my reading of They Came To Baghdad.

To understand why this movie scene might contain more menacing connotations, and why I can thank Agatha Christie for altering my perception of an innocent film, we need a bit of background. "Scheele’s Green" - ever heard of the stuff? Well neither had I until I read a passage in They Came To Baghdad which mentioned it, “That reminds me, what’s Scheele’s Green?..It’s something in the chemical line.” (pg. 85). Curious about what they were speaking of I looked it up.

Evidently, back in 1775 people were fed up with the green pigments available at the time; they faded and turned awful colors over time (plus they weren’t very bright). Enter a man called Carl Wilhelm Scheele who solved the inherent problems with the color and produced a nice vibrant green. It was called Scheele’s Green (Obviously. Later this pigment was refined & altered slightly and named Paris Green but they were essentially the same animal). The thing is the main ingredient is rather dodgy: arsenic.

This particular pigment had a wide range of uses - dyes, paints, intestinal antiseptic, insecticide and rat poison. I mean what could possible go wrong with using the same compound to dye your dress and kill bugs? Plenty. Over time, people begun gathering empirical data, such as those who wore green clothing seemed to get sick more often. Or when the green paint started getting damp and moldy the people living in those rooms seemed to get sick (and sometimes die) far more readily than people who lived in non-green rooms. We now know that the mold is what caused the issue here; it altered the chemical structure of the green compound and emitted a poisonous fume which slowly weakened (and killed) people. Which is the basis of one theory on Napoleon’s death, since no leader bent on world domination can die without generating at least one conspiracy theory. This one states that while in exile on St. Helena, Napoleon had a favorite room in his home, The Green Room. The Green Room of course was pained Paris Green, and when Napoleon became ill, he spent more and more time indoors and breathing in these poisonous vapors. While his death is official listed as being caused by cancer, some scientists point out that arsenic is also a carcinogen and again could have hastened his death.

However the most common way Sheele’s or Paris Green ended up in a home was through wallpaper. It was all the rage in the UK to have its vibrant color adorn your walls. And you guessed it, the wallpaper had the same problem as the paint when it became damp and started to mold; it emitted a poisonous gas which harmed all those who used the room. Even if you kept the wall paper from molding, if you fancied papering your sitting room with green flocked wallpaper, the dust generated from the flocking was just as deadly when inhaled (since you were breathing arsenic powder). 

So now think back to Willy Wonka’s wallpaper with the knowledge that the greens used for the leaves, grapes and apples may have contained a toxic agent to produce its bright colors. The pigment’s use in paint was only banned in the 1960’s (not sure when the dye was banned). So if Wonka had stockpiled dye which used Scheele’s or Paris green and didn’t pay attention to the outside world very much, he may have inadvertently been poisoning his guests... So this is how Christie bent my perception of a childhood classic through a passing comment made in They Came To Baghdad! And I can’t decide if that’s good or bad.

Favorite Quote: 

“Strangely enough, your capacity to think up a convincing lie quickly is one of your qualifications for the job.” (pg. 131) I suppose each job has its own unique standards!

Cheating: My husband is getting a bit nervous that I might win. And recently he’s started asking me to fill out these pesky passport forms...SO I can’t buckle now!

AmberMiner©2014

New In Paperback!

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Collectible Corner

Jasper Fforde - The Well Of Lost Plots

Book Condition - Very Good - DJ Condition - Fine

New York: Viking Press, 2003. First American edition. Hardcover. 
One slight dent to the top of four pages, slight shelf wear to bottom and tops of boards. Signed “Jasper” on tipped in page as well as being signed and dated “Jasper 24.02.04” on the title page. Publisher’s round, gold “Signed Copy” sticker on front panel of dust jacket, in protective mylar cover.
Also Included:
- Color postcard “Unicorn Sanctuary”, Code: TNU 076. US TN-3, Feb 2004.
- Color postcard “Eject-o-Hat Technical Bulletin”, Code: TNU 078. US TN-3, Feb 2004.
- One US promotional self adhesive bumper sticker with “Thursday Next making the world safe for fiction!” printed across it on a blue background.
- One promotional book mark laid in for the American release of The Eyre Affair on one side and Lost in a Good Book on the other

YA Mysteries!

 

Jasper Fforde - The Eye of Zoltar

Fran Recommends:

One thing you can count on when you begin a Jasper Fforde book is that it will be chock full of memorable characters. And surprises.

The Eye of Zoltar, the third in The Chronicles of Kazam series - following The Last Dragonslayer and The Song of the Quarkbeast - runs off in several directions at once, and they're all fascinating. Jennifer Strange, indentured orphan and manager of Kazam Mystical Arts Management, has already accomplished a great deal, but her skills are put to the test when The Mighty Shandar (who never gives refunds) insists that she find the missing Eye of Zoltar, a powerful magic gem. Of course, no one knows where it is or if it even really exists, but Jennifer must find it or a horrible fate will befall Colin and Feldspar, the last dragons.

I can't say more without giving too much away, except that we get to meet a whole new set of people. Jennifer's only companion is Perkins; the rest of the crew must stay home. But the people that Jennifer and Perkins meet along the way, including a spoiled princess, an intrepid guide, and various hungry beasts, will charm you to no end.

I had been afraid The Eye of Zoltar would complete the series but no, this opens the doorway to an incredible adventure, and I can't wait to see what comes next. My only regret is that there wasn't enough Quarkbeast in it, but I feel confident that in upcoming books, there will be plenty of Quarkbeast action.

If you're looking for a fun, fantastical series, this is it. Ignore the fact that it's considered Young Adult (unless you are a young adult, in which case, carry on), and simply immerse yourself in the fabulous, magical world that Jasper Fforde has created!

Halloween & Horror!

John Connolly - The Gates

Signing November 10th at Noon

Young Samuel Johnson and his dachshund, Boswell, are trying to show initiative by trick-or-treating a full three days before Halloween, which is how they come to witness strange goings-on at 666 Crowley Road. The Abernathys don't mean any harm by their flirtation with the underworld, but when they unknowingly call forth Satan himself, they create a gap in the universe, a gap through which a pair of enormous gates is visible. The gates to Hell. And there are some pretty terrifying beings just itching to get out.... Can one small boy defeat evil? Can he harness the power of science, faith, and love to save the world as we know it?

James Ponti - Blue Moon

Amber Recommends:

So here’s the thing: I am not overly fond of zombie books. Generally I find them mildly boring and/or vaguely gross. This book however has me reconsidering my position on this undead scourge.

Molly is still recovering from her encounter with Marek Blackwell, the Dead City’s mayor. While her broken wrist is healing up nicely, Molly is still mentally reeling. The discovery that her mother is a zombie is a lot to process. The more pressing problem at the moment is the fact her Omega team (an Omega team is made up of students from the Metropolitan Institute of Science and Technology, who know zombies exist and are a sort of police force to keep them in line and at peace with the living world) is on suspension due to their unauthorized zombie hunting activities, ie Marek Blackwell. Their reinstatement looks very shaky, and it isn’t until they are invited to the Baker’s Dozen that things start to turn around.

What’s the Baker’s Dozen? Well, Molly and her team have to figure it out fast, because Manhattan’s zombies have a plan, Operation Blue Moon. A plan to consolidate their power in both living and dead communities, plus a large dollop of revenge thrown in for spice. It is up to Molly and her team to figure out who, what, when, where, and how to stop this Operation, before it is too late.

This is a seriously fun read. James Ponti does a great job in balancing all the plot lines within this book, each one enhancing and adding to the other --- While never becoming jumbled or garbling the story with irrelevant material. In doing so, the book never drags, and you have to pay serious attention to each page, so you don’t miss any pertinent information.

Plus the Molly and the Omega team are really clever in how they uncover the zombies’ plans. Using resources readily available to anyone, it makes their discoveries much more plausible. Plus while they are all a bit above average in their reasoning skills (and smarts) none of them are super geniuses. They have to work together as a team to figure out a solution to the puzzles and plots. Add the fact that each person in the book has their own flaws and talents, this makes for great reading!

While this is a zombie book, and does have the obligatory fight scenes and dismembered body parts, here again Ponti does a great job in being graphic (to a point) without being full out disgusting. Even these scenes hold important information needed to further the plot along.

This is a zombie mystery filled with clues, iffy allies and shady motives. I am highly recommending this book to any female (or open minded male reader, as there are a number of great guys in this book) reader age 9+ looking for a good urban fantasy/zombie book. I would suggest you start with the first book in the series, Dead City, as this second book relies heavily on knowledge from it. I would highly recommend this series

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Carlos Ruiz Zafon - The Shadow Of The Wind

Z is for Zafón. Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in what he finds in the “cemetery of lost books,” a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets--an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.