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

 

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Wednesday July 16th - Jacqueline Winspear signs The Care and Management of Lies

A nonmystery novel of The Great War. Kezia and Thea have been best friends nearly all their lives. But the relationship has been tested by Thea’s politicization from the suffrage movement and Kezia’s romance with Thea’s brother. Kezia does marry Tom and they move to the family’s farm in the summer of 1914 as War looms. Tom is soon off to war and the women are left to try to stitch their relationship back together as the world descends into madness and death.

Please Note: This will not be a scheduled time. She’s coming in as a favor to us while on tour.

HIGHLY Recommended - Reserving a copy now so that we know how many copies to have for her to sign and so that you are assured of a copy for later pick-up or to be mailed!

New Author Signings

Saturday August 2nd at Noon - Greg Rucka signs Bravo

Still recovering from the trauma from the amusement park (Alpha), Jad Bell is assigned to bring in the Uzbek, organizer of the attack. Bell will get the scent of a new attack that’s been set in motion. At the center of it are two women, both beautiful, both deadly, and only one of them is on the side of the angels.

Tuesday August 26th at Noon - Jayne Castle signs Hot Zone

The world of Harmony has its wonders, one of them being Rainshadow Island. Just beneath its surface, a maze of catacombs hides a dangerous secret...Halloween--with its tricks and treats--is a dust bunny's dream come true. Just ask Lyle, Sedona Snow's faithful sidekick. But for Sedona, it's a nightmare. Though her new job managing a small hotel and tavern on Rainshadow is helping her move on from her tragic past, a bizarre disaster down in the catacombs has brought a pack of rowdy ghost hunters to her inn.

And now, Sedona's ex has arrived on the island, claiming he wants to get back together, just as a newcomer appears to have a strong interest in her. Cyrus Jones is the new Guild boss in town. He has his own agenda when it comes to Sedona, but even the best-laid plans are no match for the passion that springs up on Rainshadow...

Signed From The Publisher! Reserve Yours Today...


Patricia Cornwell - Flesh And Blood

A complex tale involving a serial sniper who strikes chillingly close to the forensic sleuth herself.It's Dr. Kay Scarpetta's birthday, and she's about to head to Miami for a vacation with Benton Wesley, her FBI profiler husband, when she notices seven pennies on a wall behind their Cambridge house. Is this a kids' game? If so, why are all of the coins dated 1981 and so shiny they could be newly minted? Her cellphone rings, and Detective Pete Marino tells her there's been a homicide five minutes away. A high school music teacher has been shot with uncanny precision as he unloaded groceries from his car. No one has heard or seen a thing. In this 22nd Scarpetta novel, the master forensic sleuth finds herself in the unsettling pursuit of a serial sniper who leaves no incriminating evidence except fragments of copper.

The shots seem impossible, yet they are so perfect they cause instant death. The victims appear to have had nothing in common, and there is no pattern to indicate where the killer will strike next. First New Jersey, then Massachusetts, and then the murky depths off the coast of South Florida, where Scarpetta investigates a shipwreck, looking for answers that only she can discover and analyze. And it is there that she comes face to face with shocking evidence that implicates her techo genius niece, Lucy, Scarpetta's own flesh and blood

What We've Been Reading

 

Rennie Airth - The Reckoning

Fran Recommends:

Rennie Airth isn't a book-a-year writer, which is frustrating for us, his fans, but the trade-off is that, when one arrives, you know you're in for a wonderful read, and his latest book, The Reckoning is just as good as you know it will be.

The year is 1947, John Madden is retired from the Yard and he's quietly content being a farmer and sometimes looking after retired Chief Inspector Angus Sinclair's roses while Sinclair's visiting his sister in Scotland. Then a man named Oswald Gibson is murdered, and among his papers is a letter to Scotland Yard, asking how to find John Madden. Despite Madden's phenomenal memory, he has no recollection of Gibson, and further investigation leads Madden to believe that what's happening now stems from something that happened in the Great War. With Billy Styles taking the lead, Madden is drawn into a race to catch what may be the most ruthless executioner they've ever tracked down.

Full disclosure here, I figured out whodunnit partway through. But the joy of Rennie Airth's writing is that, in a way, it took pressure off me and I could relax and enjoy the seamlessness of his writing, the beautifully crafted story that is compelling and human and a total joy to read. The Reckoning had the enviable and almost impossible to fill position of being an old friend I'd met for the first time.

If you haven't read the John Madden series, you really do need to read them in order. Begin with River of Darkness and continue on through The Blood-Dimmed Tide and The Dead of Winter so that when The Reckoning comes out in August, you'll be ready to spend quality time with wonderful and complex people. I can't recommend this series highly enough!


Connie Archer - A Roux of Revenge
Amber Recommends:
There is something delicious about reading books set in a completely different season than the one you are presently in. Especially when written in your favorite time of year (Autumn) and you read it during your least favorite (Summer)! I have been watching this series for a while now and I kept meaning to get to one of Archer’s books, but never quite managed to find the time, but when A Roux Of Revenge was released, I decided to make time. I am glad I did.

The thing is while I love reading lighter mysteries I am hesitant about culinary mysteries; I have been burned more than once by them. I have read many overly sweet ones who focus more on the food than the mystery itself. I also worried this book would be a bit too soupy - as it is billed as “A Soup Lover’s Mystery”. Fortunately this was not the case, the book is set in a restaurant specializing in soups, which are mentioned but never steal center stage from the main plot lines of the book. Similar to the way Cleo Coyle sets her mysteries in a coffee house, the coffee is in and around the scenes but not the focus. There is soup in and about many scenes in Archer’s book, people gotta eat you know, but it never is the sole focus.

In this installment, we find Lucky Jamieson entangled in several mysteries, the first of which is who was the man killed in the van? And is there any connection to the armored car robbery several years back? And who is the man stalking her waitress at the Spoonful? And last but not least what on earth is going on with Elias (her boyfriend) and his new partner at the clinic? Sounds like a lot of questions but Archer manages to answer them all in a timely and relevant manner!

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a nice pleasant read! I really enjoyed it and will be going back to read the first two books in the series; A Spoonful of Murder and A Broth Of Betrayal!

On a complete side note there is a small reference to Poirot on page 191 which tickled me to read!
  Agatha Christie - N or M?

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

First Published: As an abridged version in the US magazine Redbook in 1941 under the same name.

I Read: N or M. New York, 2012, William Morrow, 1st edition. 

Series: Tommy & Tuppence

Summary: Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, so to speak. British forces are being undermined by bad intelligence. Intelligence officer Grant fears there are Nazi sympathizers and spies working counter-intelligence within the ranks. The problem is distinguishing the traitors from the honest men. Enter Tommy Beresford, a man who worked in the field during the first World War, but is considered past it (because he’s over forty, cue eye roll) now, during the second war. However some remember his past service, and they feel he’s just the man to root out the infamous N and M, highly trusted spies in the Nazi regime who are organizing an information network within Britain. Tommy is the man outside the system; he doesn’t know anyone in the Ministries’ service and they don’t know him - he can be trusted to discover who is friend and foe. The only wrinkle? Tuppence, his wife, is just as clever and accomplished and will not be denied her part in the war effort. 

Review: I was predisposed to enjoy this book - it has a married couple, spies and cleverness. What’s not to like? Unfortunately, I don’t think this book lived up to its potential. This is a spy thriller where Tommy and Tuppence were sent to ferret out traitors, spies and a murderer - meaning there should be a sense of tension throughout the book, which for me was lacking until the last one hundred and twelve pages when I hit the turning point. I will admit before The Point there was plenty of humor, but it just didn’t get up and move the way I thought an espionage mystery should. If I had not been required to finish the book, in all likelihood I would have set it aside unfinished. By comparison, N or M is not nearly as tedious as Murder On The Links with Hastings dithering and wittering on - that was truly painful! In the end I am glad I stuck it out. It was interesting to read about WWII from the perspective (even fictional) of someone living through it at the time (at the time of publication there was still around five years-ish until the end of WWII).

During WWII, enigma machines were used by the German military to encode their communications. For spies working on foreign soil, like N or M, these machines were too risky to possess. If they fell into the Allies' hands it would provide a strategic advantage in the war (btw the Allies did get them by capturing ships/submarines and seizing the machines & documents). So a simple to use but difficult to decrypt cypher was needed for operatives; one which fits the bill is the book cypher (I couldn’t find an origin date for this code, but I suspect it was sometime after the advent of the printing press in 1453). Used in tandem with invisible inks and, say, written between the lines of a letter (or a book - hopefully the agent would be smart enough not to write the code using the same book it was written in, but every field has inept workers), these methods provided clandestine encoded communications which added layers of security. The only hitch in the giddy-up here is what book to use......

If you are reading this blog at home take a look at your book shelves (or if you are at work picture them in your mind's eye. And thank you for choosing my blog for your procrastinating pleasure today!), then think of your libraries or your favorite book shops (hint, hint). This is where the security of the book code centers, the staggering number of books in print, with thousands more being written every day, in hundreds of languages, across the world. Mind boggling isn’t it? The sticky wicket for the book cipher is both the sender and recipient must agree on both the title and edition of the book being used. Otherwise the communique could be completely incomprehensible to the recipient of the message.

Encoding a message can be tedious, since finding the needed word in the text can be challenging depending on the book chosen. Over the years, favorites have emerged; dictionaries and encyclopedias due to their tidy formats and the enormous number of different words used. Another fave is the Bible, due in part to the sheer number of them floating around the globe. Think of every hotel room you’ve been in and the number of Gideon Bibles you have subsequently seen. However, these types of books come at a price - while they make it easier to produce codes, the codes are easier to break.  

The book cypher is relatively straightforward to use: it goes page number, line number, word number. Agreeing beforehand on counting lines from the top or bottom of the page or words from the left or right margins - the variations on this theme are numerous. 

Perhaps N or M should have used the book cipher; it would have rendered their intelligence information more secure. But perhaps Christie thought the use of invisible ink in the story was enough and going beyond it in the mystery would be uninteresting to her readers, I am not sure. It just seems to me an extra level of realism would have been achieved if a book cypher, or a cypher of any type was used on the book.

Since I am not on a first name basis (well, that I know of) with any spies I have to rely on fiction for examples of the book cypher, two readily spring to mind and funnily enough both revolve around Sherlock Holmes. In Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011 with Robert Downey Jr. & Jude Law) Moriarty uses a botanical text to encrypt a personal note book which detailed his plans and financial data. Holmes, being the observant guy he is, figured out Moriarty’s method of note taking. Using this knowledge, Holmes financially cripples his nemesis, providing a metaphorical mortal wound to his enemy on many levels.

In the Sherlock episode called "The Blind Banker" (season 1 episode 2 of the 2010 BBC adaptation) Sherlock and Watson stumble on a smuggling ring who uses a book code to communicate with their mules. I don’t want to give too much away here, spoilers you know, but the episode is absolutely brilliant in showing the audience how the book cypher is used and the pros and cons of this system. I cannot say enough good things about this episode or show!

It is easy to look on this type of code as being antiquated in this age of the computer chip. But even computers have a limit and this type of code provides the cover needed to thwart them through pure overwhelming numbers (seriously there are billions of books out there, finding the correct title an edition is like finding a needle in a haystack or a mint first edition coy of the Velveteen Rabbit at a garage sale - it happens, but very rarely). I would be careful before ruling the book cypher out as a viable method, Sherlock’s "The Blind Banker" (even though it is fiction) shows us how effective and relevant the cypher still is.

Favorite Quote: 

“I don’t mind lying in the least. To be quite honest I get a lot of artistic pleasure out of my lies.” (pg. 61)

Interesting Fact: When Agatha Christie was missing for ten days back in December of 1926 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle took an interest in her disappearance. He provided a discarded glove of Christie’s to a medium so she could try to divine her whereabouts. Since she was discovered by a member of the hotel staff where she was staying, it does not appear his attempt was very successful. (BTW Doyle was not the only mystery author to try sleuthing, Sayers tried her hand at locating Christie as well.)   

Cheating:

183.1.1.    49.29.1    3.22.1   81.11. 8    11.13.5    143.8.9    11.13.7    236.17.7   

216.7.11    183.10.2  178.26.2    6.25.12    179.8.8.    14.24.1    82.23.8   

138.22.4   225.29.5 

(Seriously this short message took me an hour to put together and wine did not play a role here! Finding the correct words in the right tenses was tough - I can see the appeal of the dictionaries and encyclopedias now! Or perhaps I just need more practice....)

AmberMiner©2014

New Paperback Releases!

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Collectible Corner


Michael Connelly - Black Echo

Book Condition - As New

Las Vegas: SCV, 2007. First edition thus. Hardcover.

Leather edition in slip case. Signed and numbered (#67 of 200), signed also by James Lee Burke who provided the introduction. 15th anniversary edition with gold leaf page edges, book came with glassine dust protector within slipcase, matching art work embossed in gold on book and slipcase and ribbon bookmark bound in. 

YA Mysteries!

Garth Nix - Clariel

Clariel is the daughter of one of the most notable families in the Old Kingdom, with blood relations to the Abhorsen and, most important, to the King. She dreams of living a simple life but discovers this is hard to achieve when a dangerous Free Magic creature is loose in the city, her parents want to marry her off to a killer, and there is a plot brewing against the old and withdrawn King Orrikan. When Clariel is drawn into the efforts to find and capture the creature, she finds hidden sorcery within herself, yet it is magic that carries great dangers. Can she rise above the temptation of power, escape the unwanted marriage, and save the King?


Gail Carriger - Waistcoats & Weaponry

Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style--with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what--or who--they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all.

Coming Soon In Mysteries!

Spencer Quinn - Paw And Order

Chet and Bernie pay a visit to Bernie's girlfriend, Suzie Sanchez, a crack reporter living in far-off Washington, DC. She's working on a big story she can't talk about, but when her source, a mysterious Brit with possible intelligence connections, runs into trouble of the worst kind, Bernie suddenly finds himself under arrest.

Meanwhile Chet gets to know a powerful DC operative who may or may not have the goods on an ambitious politician. Soon Chet and Bernie are sucked into an international conspiracy, battling unfamiliar forces under the blinking red eyes of a strange bird that Chet notices from the get-go but seems to have slipped by everybody else. Most menacing of all is Barnum, a guinea pig with the fate of the nation in his tiny paws.

As Harry Truman famously quipped, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." Too bad he didn't get to meet Chet.

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More Mysteries Coming Soon!

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We Can Order Almost Anything!

Roger Zelazny - The Great Book Of Amber

Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber have earned their place as all-time classics of imaginative literature. Now here are all ten novels, together in one magnificent omnibus volume. Witness the titanic battle for supremacy waged on Earth, in the Courts of Chaos, and on a magical world of mystery, adventure, and romance.

Amanda Petrusich - Do Not Sell At Any Price

Before MP3s, CDs, and cassette tapes, even before LPs or 45s, the world listened to music on 78rpm records--those fragile, 10-inch shellac discs. While vinyl records have enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, good 78s are exponentially harder to come by and play. A recent eBay auction for the only known copy of a particular record topped out at $37,100. "Do Not Sell at Any Price "explores the rarified world of the 78rpm record--from the format's heyday to its near extinction--and how collectors and archivists are working frantically to preserve the music before it's lost forever.

Through fascinating historical research and beguiling visits with the most prominent 78 preservers, Amanda Petrusich offers both a singular glimpse of the world of 78 collecting and the lost backwoods blues artists whose 78s from the 1920s and 1930s have yet to be found or heard by modern ears. We follow the author's descent into the oddball fraternity of collectors--including adventures with Joe Bussard, Chris King, John Tefteller, Pete Whelan, and more--who create and follow their own rules, vocabulary, and economics and explore the elemental genres of blues, folk, jazz, and gospel that gave seed to the rock, pop, country, and hip-hop we hear today. From Thomas Edison to Jack White, "Do Not Sell at Any Price "is an untold, intriguing story of preservation, loss, obsession, art, and the evolution of the recording formats that have changed the ways we listen to (and create) music.