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

 

New Author Signings

Saturday December 13th at Noon - Waverly Curtis signs The Chihuahua Always Sniffs Twice

4th with PI Geri Sullivan and her talking companion Pepe. The estate of wealthy widow Lucille Carpenter was left entirely to her beloved dogs and now someone is poisoning them. As you might imagine, this makes Pepe caliente under the collar. “Waverly Curtis” is the local writing team of Waverly Fitzgerald and Curt Colbert.

Tuesday January 6th at Noon - Jayne Ann Krentz signs Trust No One

For Grace Elland, finding a vodka bottle next to the lifeless body of her boss, motivational speaker Sprague Witherspoon, is a deliberately terrifying reminder of the horrors of her past. It’s no coincidence, either. Retreating to her hometown, she tries to put everything she’s learned about positive thinking to use, a plan that’s tested by the world’s worst blind date with venture-capitalist Julius Arkwright. She shares nothing with this man who lives to make money, but the intense ex-Marine does have some useful skills—and he’s ideal help when it becomes clear trouble has followed her home.

Saturday January 31st Yasmine Galenorn drops by to sign Panther Prowling

Delilah has reopened her private investigation firm, and her first client turns out to be the sisters’ cousin, Daniel. It turns out that Daniel, who’s a top-flight cat burglar, has stolen a sword, and now he’s being chased. However, his pursuers are not necessarily of this Earth, and the sword is more than just a simple weapon.

Signed Books! In The Shop Now!

Preston & Child - Blue Labyrinth

One of Pendergast’s enemies is found on his front porch. The only oddity is the piece of turquoise found in the dead man’s gut. This small clue will lead Pendergast to a mine on the Salton Sea and into his own family’s secrets.

Daniel Silva - The Heist

Legendary spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon is in Venice repairing an altarpiece by Veronese when he receives an urgent summons from the Italian police. The eccentric London art dealer Julian Isherwood has stumbled upon a chilling murder scene in Lake Como, and is being held as a suspect. To save his friend, Gabriel must track down the real killers and then perform one simple task: find the most famous missing painting in the world.

Sometimes the best way to find a stolen masterpiece is to steal another one. The dead man is a fallen British spy with a secret: he has been trafficking in stolen artworks and selling them to a mysterious collector. Among those paintings is the world's most iconic missing masterpiece: Caravaggio's glorious Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence.

Gabriel embarks on a daring gambit to recover the Caravaggio and learn the identity of the collector. His search will take him on an exhilarating hunt--from the shimmering boulevards of Paris and London to the gritty criminal underworlds of Marseilles and Corsica, and finally to a small private bank in Austria where a dangerous man stands guard over the ill-gotten wealth of a brutal dictator. At his side is a brave young woman who survived one of the worst massacres of the twentieth century. Now, with Gabriel's help, she will be given a chance to strike a blow against a dynasty that destroyed her family.

What We've Been Reading

Lawrence Block - A Walk Among the Tombstones

JB Recommends:

At the time of the release of A Walk Among the Tombstones in the theatres, I thought I should re-read it before I saw it. After all, it’d been a couple of decades since I had.

When I began working with Bill back in 1990, he was forever horrified by the authors I’d not yet read – Loren Estleman, Richard Stark, Jon Jackson, the list was long – but the one that shocked him the most was that I’d never read Lawrence Block. Hard to say he forced me to read a Scudder - let’s say he avidly encouraged me to. He handed me When the Sacred Ginmill Closes and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Ginmill is actually the 6th in his timeless Matt Scudder series. Tombstones is #10. The Scudder series is solidly in the Hammett school of writing – true noir with a smooth narrative drive, without ‘happy endings’ though with justice served. Scudder was a NYC cop for a dozen years but left the force a couple of years before the series begins. He’s left his wife and sons, too, and moved into a cheap hotel near Columbus Circle in Manhattan. Mostly what he does is read the papers and drink bourbon-laced coffee. And he occasionally does favors for people and they pay him for his time. Favors = investigations. He’s not a licensed private eye and he doesn’t do anything normal like writing reports or keep track of expenses. He’s dogged and smart and always figures out what happened and always, somehow, effects justice.

The books are inventive, witty, with a dark, dim view of humanity and life. It isn’t that Scudder has quit living, but he’s scaled back to the very basics. One of his basics is that murder cannot be tolerated. The plots are inventive, quirky, the characters lively and, like Hammet’s, true to life – Elaine, Mick Ballou, Danny Boy.

The first three books were released within the same year. The 4th came out a year or so later. They can be read in any order. But read them before you read the 5th, Eight Million Ways to Die. At the end of that book, Block had gotten Scudder to a point where he thought he had finished the series. Luckily for us, he was wrong. Ginmill is the 6th – that’s the one Bill had me read first and you can, as it is told as a flashback to the days of the earlier books. Past that, though, there are things in Scudder’s life that progress and it would be better to read them in order.

These are thoughtful books, meditative upon the choices and questions of life and justice, fair in that you have all of the clues Scudder has but the way they come together is both logical and surprising. You never know what it is that is going to trip the facts into the right line-up and give Scudder the picture. They’re not particularly bloody but they are, at times, violent. Scudder is a man of his time, as are the stories.  He’s cynical and sedate until moved to action. Hardboiled, sure – but all of the women Scudder meets find him to be a ‘sweet man’.

 It was over 20 years ago that I first read the Scudders. Bill was right, of course, they’re some of the finest myteries every written. Yesterday morning on the bus to work I finished re-reading the 10th straight Scudder book. I can’t say I remembered much of the plots from the first time, so it was like reading them for the first time – a great treat!

By the way, I never did get to see “A Walk Among the Tombstones”. But I will someday.

Agatha Christie - Five Little Pigs

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

Series: Poirot

Summary: Sixteen years after her mother was convicted and executed for her father’s murder, Carla Crale wants Poirot to look into the case. Why? Her mother left her a letter proclaiming her innocence and Caroline knows her mother never lied to her - even when a fib would have made things easier. So she asks Poirot to take up a case to prove to her fiancé (and to the world) that her mother was truly innocent of the charges brought against her.

Review: "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned", we have all heard that saying at least once. But did you know this quote is the boiled down version? The full quotation is, ”Heaven has no rage, like love to hatred turned, Nor a hell a fury, like a woman scorned.”. Surprisingly it wasn't written by Shakespeare, but by another William - William Congreve. 

Congreve coined this phrase in 1697 - about eighty-ish years after the Bard’s death - in his play The Mourning Bride. Congreve penned only five plays during a seven year span in his twenties. Beyond this maxim about vengeful women, Congreve gave us two other famous axioms; “..you must not kiss and tell.” (Love For Love 1695) and “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast” (once again boiled down to - music can soothe the savage beast - from Love For Love). Then the fashion of the theater changed and Congreve’s writing style fell out of favor with audiences and critics alike. After one particularly scathing review by Jeremy Collier, (who sharpened his knife on a number of other writers) Congreve gave up the theater and his career as a dramatist. (Can you imagine if he went on?)

Now what exactly does a quote from a seventeenth century playwright and Christie have in common? Wrath. Both writers described this sharp sensation, bright passion exceptionally well. Each of suspects in Five Little Pigs had a reason to want the victim dead: he angered each and every one of them. Poirot’s job ultimately is to figure out who slipped from ordinary anger into the all consuming flames of wrath. The book, I felt, was a hair too long and convoluted. I was ready to cheer when I reached the point where Poirot revealed who murdered the misogynist. But then I read Poirot's summation of the case and (for the first time in the book) was riveted. The motive and method of the murder was clearly painted for the reader and made the whole build-up worthwhile. Christie’s vivid description of our murderer’s pure and unadulterated wrath was absolutely fascinating. The book is just like a lengthy dinner at your grandmother’s house (not your favorite one either); you have to make your way through the yams, brussels sprouts and beets to reach the long awaited lemon meringue pie (my favorite).

Now I must admit I did not tease this idea of wrath out of the writing when I initially read Five Little Pigs. I focused in on the interwoven plot devices between Five Little Pigs and a couple of Miss Marple mysteries. Five Little Pigs reminded me strongly of Miss Marple’s last case, The Sleeping Murder which was penned about two years before Five Little Pigs - it just wasn’t released until after Christie’s death in 1976. In both,the legendary detectives tackle cases which happened years before, they both have young women who wish to discover the truth, and both are warned that the truth may not be exactly what they are hoping for. In addition, both books feature a quote from the Duchess of Malfi which identifies who the killer in retrospect for the reader (no spoilers here - because I didn’t give you the quote, or the speaker so you should be safe). 

The connections between the two detectives flows in the opposite direction as well. In Five Little Pigs Poirot, “...sat down to review what resources he had in Devonshire.” (pg. 80). Fifteen years later, Miss Marple uses the same tactic (almost word for word) in 4:50 To Paddington, which results in Miss Marple employing  Lucy Eyelesbarrow to be her eyes and ears in the Crackenthorpe household, while she stayed nearby with a former maid. My main take-away from this week's mystery was the observable interconnectedness within the Christie canon of plot devices and detective styles.

It was the publisher that made the broader connection/correlation between the seven deadly sins and seven Christie mysteries. I just happened to discover this and to agree with their selection. In the ABC Murders - pride, Murder Is Announced - envy, Sparkling Cyanide - sloth, At Bertram’s Hotel - gluttony, Endless Night - avarice, Evil Under The Sun - lust. I don’t want to go into detail here; to really show the sin used in each book requires me to tell you at minimum why the sin motivated them, thus giving away who did it, and I didn’t want to be responsible for spoiling the mysteries for you! But if you have already read them, I think you will agree with this list.

I cannot believe I missed the forest for the trees! I completely missed the curious correlation between the Christie canon and the mortal sins. It was’t until I was researching for this post and discovered the 2004 themed omnibus that I clued into it. Whether she intentionally penned the seven sins into her books or not, she captured them all the same (with the number of sources she pulled inspiration from I cannot say for certain; I’ll leave it to the experts). Or perhaps she was just that good.

Favorite Quote: 

“But can one expect pity from radiant youth? It is an older wiser emotion.” (pg. 191)

Cheating: Which of the seven sins would this be...Avarice since I would be trying to gain something through lying. I think, I wasn’t really raised to think about them in those terms - just taught in a general sort of way not to commit them! But in any case my conscience is free of cheating!

Turkey Day Mysteries!

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Collectible Corner

Lawrence Block - After The First Death

Book Condition - Very Good / DJ Condition - Very Good

New York: McMillian, 1969. First printing. Hard Cover.
Signed on the title page. Normal edge wear to board, book slightly cocked. Jacket has small tear at bottom of front panel, top of spine rolled, small tear at top of back panel. Jacket illustration clean and bright, in mylar dust-jacket wrapper, author's elusive second hardcover.

Lawrence Block - When The Sacred Ginmill Closes

Book Condition - Very Good / DJ Condition - Very Good

New York: Arbor House, 1986. First printing. Hardcover.
Signed and inscribed on title page ("For Connie & Paul - Good to see you again!), shelf wear to bottom edges, ends of spine rolled, half-title page has light spot transferred from FFE, some light rubbing to dj, in protective mylar dj cover.

YA Mysteries!

Holly Black - The Darkest Part of the Forest

Fran Recommends:

One of the best things about Young Adult writing today is how very intelligent it is. Punches aren't pulled, bad things happen, and it's not sugar-coated or incredibly sweet. Well, certainly not the best YA writing - you know, the kinds of books that kids actually read, not what their parents think they're reading.

Holly Black's upcoming YA book, The Darkest Part of the Forest (Jan. 13, 2015) takes on all kinds of powerful issues facing teenagers today: racism, isolation, gender identity, parental neglect - and she does it in a compelling, easily readable, highly relateable way.

Teenage siblings, Hazel and her brother, Benjamin, have lived in Fairfold most of their lives. Fairfold is a unique small town in that all the residents, child and adult alike, are aware that the fae are real. There have been fae folk around, well, since Fairfold was established, and there's an unspoken agreement: the fae will leave Fairfold's citizens alone (tourists are fair game) and Fairfold's people will respect the fae, leaving gifts and respecting the fae's rules.

At the heart of the town's tourism trade is a crystal coffin in the woods. Inside is a young man, with ears as pointed as knives and horns curling gently out of his head and curving down behind those pointy ears. He's been there for as long as people can remember. There have been numerous attempts to break the crystal, but all have failed, and the more serious attempts have left those humans who have tried badly injured. Hazel and Ben both love the boy in the coffin, whom they call "their prince".

But the prince in the coffin isn't the only fae they know. Ben's best friend, Jack, is a changeling. He was left in place of a baby named Carter, and when Carter's mother noticed the switch (which was pretty much immediately), she did what was necessary to get Carter back. But instead of returning Jack to his fae mother, Carter's mom defiantly kept both boys, raising them as brothers.

When the crystal coffin is shattered and the horned boy vanishes, everything changes.

Holly Black's books are not for people, young or old alike, who are not willing to look at the darkness that exists in everyone. She understands that everyone has secrets, some more dangerous than others, and that some of the most awful lies are the ones we tell ourselves. When I was a teacher, I often saw the disparity between what parents thought their kids were up to and what said kids actually did; it wasn't always pretty. Holly Black lets us see some of the bleaker sides of being a teenager, and how an inability to communicate easily can make a situation tumble from bad to worse in a heartbeat.

She also challenges her readers to accept situations they may not be comfortable with. Hazel's defiance of gender stereotyping by her need to be the knight, Ben's gayness, Jack's "otherness" that sets him apart, Hazel and Ben's parents' bohemian lifestyle that sounds like fun but had very dark repercussions, and all the messy relationships that happen simply because people are people, these are all the things that Ms. Black handles deftly and compassionately without being condescending or preachy, both of which are unfortunately easy to do.

Last year, Amber and Yasmine Galenorn both insisted that I read Holly Black's book The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, and that got me hooked. Holly Black tells one heck of a good story, and The Darkest Part of the Forest is every bit as good. I know I didn't want it to end!

Beautiful Gift Books!

L. Frank Baum - The Wizard Of Oz

Dorothy thinks she's lost forever when a tornado whirls her and her dog, Toto, into a magical world. To get home, she must find the wonderful wizard in the Emerald City of Oz. On the way she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion. But the Wicked Witch of the West has her own plans for the new arrival--will Dorothy ever see Kansas again?
A new and fun edition of this classic - the cover art is all done with different colored chalks! Affordable and fun for anyone looking to read this wonderful classic!

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More Beautiful Gift Books!

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We Can Order All Most Anything! For Example:

Libby H. O'Connell - The American Plate: A Culinary History In 100 Bites

"Like many miniencyclopedias, this one is studded with often intriguing facts."--Kirkus

From the chief historian at HISTORY(R) comes a rich chronicle of the evolution of American cuisine and culture, from before Columbus's arrival to today.

Did you know that the first graham crackers were designed to reduce sexual desire? Or that Americans have tried fad diets for almost two hundred years? Why do we say things like "buck" for a dollar and "living high on the hog"? How have economics, technology, and social movements changed our tastes? Uncover these and other fascinating aspects of American food traditions in The American Plate.

Dr. Libby H. O'Connell takes readers on a mouth-watering journey through America's culinary evolution into the vibrant array of foods we savor today. In 100 tantalizing bites, ranging from blueberries and bagels to peanut butter, hard cider, and Cracker Jack, O'Connell reveals the astonishing ways that cultures and individuals have shaped our national diet and continue to influence how we cook and eat.

Peppered throughout with recipes, photos, and tidbits on dozens of foods, from the surprising origins of Hershey Bars to the strange delicacies our ancestors enjoyed, such as roast turtle and grilled beaver tail. Inspiring and intensely satisfying, The American Plate shows how we can use the tastes of our shared past to transform our future.