Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pulp Fiction Edition

Today's Blog/Website of the Day is the site for Hard Case Crime publishers found at http://www.hardcasecrime.com/. "Hard Case Crime brings you the best in hardboiled crime fiction, ranging from lost noir masterpieces to new novels by today’s most powerful writers, featuring stunning original cover art in the grand pulp style." I believe two are released each month and you can subscribe to receive them at your home. Here are the books they've published thus far:
  • THE CUTIE by Donald E. Westlake
  • 361 by Donald E. Westlake
  • BABY MOLL by John Farris
  • BLACKMAILER by George Axelrod
  • BRANDED WOMAN by Wade Miller
  • BUST by Ken Bruen and Jason Star
  • CASINO MOON by Peter Blauner—coming 5/2009
  • THE COLORADO KID by Stephen King
  • THE CONFESSION by Domenic Stansberry
  • THE CORPSE WORE PASTIES by Jonny Porkpie—coming 12/2009
  • THE CUTIE by Donald E. Westlake
  • DEADLY BELOVED by Max Allan Collins
  • THE DEAD MAN’S BROTHER by Roger Zelazny
  • DEAD STREET by Mickey Spillane
  • A DIET OF TREACLE by Lawrence Block
  • DUTCH UNCLE by Peter Pavia
  • FADE TO BLONDE by Max Phillips
  • FAKE I.D. by Jason Starr—coming 6/2009
  • FIFTY-TO-ONE by Charles Ardai
  • THE FIRST QUARRY by Max Allan Collins
  • FRIGHT by Cornell Woolrich
  • GRAVE DESCEND by John Lange
  • GRIFTER’S GAME by Lawrence Block
  • THE GUNS OF HEAVEN by Pete Hamill
  • GUN WORK by David J. Schow
  • HOME IS THE SAILOR by Day Keene
  • HONEY IN HIS MOUTH by Lester Dent—coming 10/2009
  • HOUSE DICK by E. Howard Hunt—coming 4/2009
  • KILL NOW, PAY LATER by Robert Terrall
  • KILLING CASTRO by Lawrence Block
  • KISS HER GOODBYE by Allan Guthrie
  • THE LAST MATCH by David Dodge
  • THE LAST QUARRY by Max Allan Collins
  • LEMONS NEVER LIE by Richard Stark
  • LITTLE GIRL LOST by Richard Aleas
  • LOSERS LIVE LONGER by Russell Atwood—coming 9/2009
  • LUCKY AT CARDS by Lawrence Block
  • THE MAX by Ken Bruen and Jason Starr
  • MONEY SHOT by Christa Faust
  • THE MURDERER VINE by Shepard Rifkin
  • NIGHT WALKER by Donald Hamilton
  • NO HOUSE LIMIT by Steve Fisher
  • PASSPORT TO PERIL by Robert B. Parker—coming 7/2009
  • THE PEDDLER by Richard S. Prather
  • PLUNDER OF THE SUN by David Dodge
  • QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE by Max Allan Collins—coming 11/2009
  • ROBBIE’S WIFE by Russell Hill
  • SAY IT WITH BULLETS by Richard Powell
  • SLIDE by Ken Bruen and Jason Starr
  • SOMEBODY OWES ME MONEY by Donald E. Westlake
  • SONGS OF INNOCENCE by Richard Aleas
  • STOP THIS MAN! by Peter Rabe—coming 8/2009
  • STRAIGHT CUT by Madison Smartt Bell
  • TOP OF THE HEAP by Erle Stanley Gardner
  • A TOUCH OF DEATH by Charles Williams
  • TWO FOR THE MONEY by Max Allan Collins
  • WITNESS TO MYSELF by Seymour Shubin
  • ZERO COOL by John Lange

In tribute, I've put up some pulp fiction covers that can actually be purchased as posters at www.art.com should you be so inclined. Love the titles, love the art work. :)

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

Monday, March 30, 2009

In which nothing is happening...

Looks like we got about 4-5 inches of snow. Our so-nice neighbor has already plowed the street and our driveway this morning. I should bake something for him again as a thank you. I had some bananas beyond their eating date so I made banana bread yesterday. Been making the Internet rounds; not much going on seemingly.

Haven't really picked anything to read yet. I'm kind of leaning toward the second book in Patricia Wynn's Blue Satan series or the next in series for me by Reginald Hill. I have library books I SHOULD get to but I'm rebelling in that area right now.

Monday night is tv night: Chuck, Paranormal State, and Castle. Oh, I watched the first part of Little Dorrit last night on Masterpiece Theater. One of Charles Dickens' novels, this is a rather strange story, IMHO, with bizarre characters. I might not have stuck with it except for Matthew Macfadyen, one of my favorite actors. Beautiful production values and great acting.

Today's Blog/Website of the Day is Shots - The Crime & Thriller Ezine found at http://www.shotsmag.co.uk/. It has features and interviews.
Well, except for walking Tug, I'm pretty much socked in by the weather. I've got some homework reading to do but otherwise will probably keep cosy ...

Much love,

PK the Bookeemonster

Sunday, March 29, 2009

It was a dark and stormy Sunday...

Indeed, it is dark and stormy out here in Billings today. There's a severe weather advisory until tomorrow noon. Just got back from walking Tug and now I have a mug of tea and meditation music playing on the AOL radio. Tug is now breathing deeply, stretched out next to me.

I finished EXECUTION DOCK by Anne Perry a couple days ago. It was good to visit the world of Monk and Hester again. My only real comment regarding the, er, execution of the novel was that there was a lot of leading up to the finale and the finale feeling rather rushed and ending abruptly at the end, if you know what I mean. I also finished KISSED A SAD GOODBYE by Deborah Crombie. This story has much to do with the older generation of the set of characters and what happened during WWII carrying into actions of the present day. As I progress with this series, one can see Crombie, especially in the previous book and this one, that she's trying to incorporate more depth into her stories.

I'm now auditioning what to read next. It may be a 14-day book from the library, THE LAST DICKENS by Matthew Pearl or one of the many historical mysteries series I'm following: Knight, Sedley, McIntosh, Lake, Wynn, etc. When I choose one, I'll write up the description tomorrow.

Sometimes ideas in stories happen in sets. For instance, a few years ago, suddenly there were a couple crime fiction books featuring "drowned" towns. This year, there is an interest in Charles Dickens' last and unfinished novel, THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD. The Pearl mentioned above and Dan Simmons' DROOD are examples.

Speaking of Dickens, tonight is the first episode on PBS's Masterpiece Theatre of Little Dorrit. This is a must check out for me.

Today's Blog/Website of the Day is Scandalous Women found at http://scandalouswoman.blogspot.com/. Blogger
Elizabeth Kerri Mahon has a wonderful description of her blog's purpose:

"Well-behaved women rarely make history" Laurel Thatcher Ulrich Queens, mistresses, murderers, adventurers, and spies. Settle down with the drink of your choice as I bring you the lives, loves, and sexual adventures of some of the most fascinating women who scandalized the world. From Jezebel, Cleopatra and Nefertiri in the Ancient World to Leona Helmsley and The Mayflower Madam. 2,000 years and more of women who weren't afraid to dare or to stand up for what they believed in. Women who ruled kingdoms and brought men to their knees. You'll find the famous and the infamous, and some you've never heard of. Some of the world's most notorious Bad Girls (and some good girls). Ripped from the headlines and the history books, these are their stories.

Now THAT will make for some interesting reading!

For now, keeping cosy and warm...

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Featured Author: Margaret Frazer

Featured author is Margaret Frazer. She has two historical mystery series; the second is a sort of spin off from the first:

I. Protagonist: Dame Frevisse, a 15th century nun in Oxfordshire, England

  • The Novice’s Tale (1992)

In 1431, the convent of St. Frideswide's peaceful English September is disrupted by the arrival of a familiar but less-than-welcome guest. Lady Ermentrude, great aunt to the saintly novice Thomasine, always enjoys tormenting the timid girl by threatening to find her a husband before Thomasine can take her final vows. This time she's just two weeks away from that great moment. So when Ermentraude dies of poisoning in St. Fridewide's guest hall, after a hard and hasty ride on some mysterious family business, Thomasine - unlikely murderess though she might make - is nevertheless everyone's prime suspect. Everyone's, that is, except Sister Frevisse. Although she has to admit that Thomasine does look guilty, the convent's hosteler looks elsewhere instead of accepting the too-easy answer.

  • The Servant’s Tale (1993) Finalist 1994 Edgar Award for Best Paperback

    It's a very cold Yuletide at St. Frideswide in the 1433. All the sisters are either sick or recovering from colds. Sister Frevisse is also not feeling herself, but she is thrown into another murder investigation when a village lad is found dead. A group of players (actors) bring in a badly injured man. Before long there's another murder and the players are the chief suspects.

  • The Outlaw’s Tale (1994)
  • May 1434. Sister Frevisse and Master Naylor journey with Sister Emma toward her godchild's christening. Their trip is interrupted by Nicholas, Frevisse's cousin, who seeks her assistance in obtaining a pardon for him and his band of outlaws. While Sister Frevisse is waiting for an answer about this pardon she is lodging at the home of one her cousin's business partners and a murder is commmitted.

  • The Bishop’s Tale (1994)

  • Late November, 1434. Frevisse's beloved uncle Thomas Chaucer is dying, which brings her into contact with his old friend Bishop Beaufort for the first time. Attending a funeral dinner at Ewelme Manor, Sister Frevisse and Bishop Beaufort are amazed when querulous Sir Clement Sharpe brazenly challenges God to strike him down and promptly falls down dead. Since other guests have supped on the same meat and wine without ill-effect, all believe the Lord's hand smote Sir Clement. The wily Bishop Beaufort, however, secretly orders Frevisse to snoop from the kitchens to the chapel for an unusual poison.

  • The Boy’s Tale (1995)

  • Summer, 1436. Who could ever want to harm two young boys, ages five and six? When the boys are half brothers to Henry VI, King of England, the list is long and distinguished. A lady in their mother's household flees with the boys to St. Frideswide's and asks for sanctuary. But as attempts are made on the boys' lives inside St. Frideswide's walls, Sister Frevisse realizes that from the ambitious and the wicked, there is no sanctuary...

  • The Murderer’s Tale (1996)

  • Visiting Minister Lovell while on pilgrimage from St. Frideswide, Sister Frevisse suspects that a mentally ill guest, who is prone to violent fits, has been framed for the murder of an innocent man.

  • The Prioress’ Tale (1997) Finalist 1998 Edgar Award for Best Paperback

  • Late October, 1439. When Domina Alys becomes prioress of St. Frideswide, the convent becomes a guest house for her disagreeable and greedy relatives, until a long-standing family feud leads to kidnapping and murder, and it is up to Sister Frevisse to find a killer and rid the convent of its unwelcome guests. Combine this with the contruction of a tower, the kidnapping of a prospective bride, Domina Alys' pettinesses and revenges, the appearance of an old "friend", and the murder seems like just another event.

  • The Maiden’s Tale (1998)

  • November 1439. Sister Frevisse has made an unusual journey to London to meet the new prioress of St. Frideswide's. At the urging of her abbot, she stays with her wealthy cousin Alice, lady wife of the earl of Suffolk. But Frevisse suspects more is involved than a friendly visit - for this London home houses a secret that has turned deadly: Alice is involved in the dangerous political machinations of the Duke of Orleans and King Henry VI. Their private correspondence is being routed through the Suffolk's home. But when one of the messengers dies under mysterious circumstances and Frevisse is asked to carry letters in his place, she finds herself faced with a deadly question: Can she find the traitor before the murderer strikes again when she herself has become the target?

  • The Reeve’s Tale (1999)
  • June 1440. Frevisse is ordered to temporarily take over the duties of Master Naylor, the convent's steward. She finds herself in the middle of a land dispute when Matthew Woderove, a convent serf, is found dead and his widow, Mary, along with her new beau, Tom Holcote, tries to claim his land rights. Disputing the claim is wealthy villein Gilbey Dunn, who wants to add to his hefty holdings. The argument is quickly set aside when Matthew's death turns out to be murder and most of the village children come down with sometimes fatal cases of measles. Aided by a neighboring reeve, Simon Perryn, whose own children are among the sick, Frevisse seeks to untangle the roots of the crime, which grow to claim a second murder victim.

  • The Squire’s Tale (2000)
  • Lent 1442. Robert Fenner married the twice-widowed Lady Blaunche to obtain her properties. The ownership of one of these manors is in dispute. Robert is willing to settle by arbitration, but the greedy Blaunche has other plans. Dame Frevisse and Dame Claire find themselves in the midst of this turmoil when they escort Katherine, one of the household's young women, home from their convent. Conflicting loyalties, secrets, and greed lead to murder, and Dame Frevisse must see that justice is done.

  • The Clerk’s Tale (2002)

  • January 1446. Frevisse accompanies her prioress on a journey to St Mary's nunnery to visit the prioress's dying sister. Upon arrival, Frevisse is immersed in the aftermath of a murder of a much hated local official which occurred on the nunnery grounds. Master Montfort was not particularly liked by anyone in the town of Goring. Even his own wife and clerk despised him. And as royal escheator he was trying to settle a heated dispute between a wealthy woman and her supposed nephew. Now Dame Frevisse must step in and untangle the fortunes and felonies in a rivalry of wealth, family, and politics.

  • The Bastard’s Tale (2003)

  • February 1447. Powerful men from all of England have been summoned to Parliament in the great pilgrimage town of Bury St. Edmunds. Most come to make laws and pass taxes. But a small group of nobles will use this chance to bring down their greatest rival through treachery... From her nunnery, Dame Frevisse is brought into this swirl of politics and plotting by the ambitious Bishop of Winchester. While she is meant to merely observe and report to him what she sees, she is instead drawn into the dangerous maelstrom encircling the throne of England. Also of note is the poignant and amusing relationship between Joliffe and Dame Frevisse.

  • The Hunter’s Tale (2004)

  • Summer 1448. When Sir Ralph Woderove is found murdered near his estate, not even his family mourns. A hard, vicious man of many quarrels, Sir Ralph could have been killed by almost anyone. And though the consensus is that his soul has surely gone to Hell, Sir Ralph will continue to infuriate his heirs in death through the grossly inadequate terms of his estate's settlement. It falls to Dame Frevisse to escort Sir Ralph's widow and daughter back to their manor, when another death occurs under questionable circumstances - making it clear that not all grievances have been laid to rest.

    The Widow’s Tale (2005)

    Spring of 1449, a young widow is brought to St. Frideswide. Accused by her in-laws of being wanton and deranged, the widow, Cristina Helynton, has been sentenced to spend her days at St. Friedeswide's in contrition, the hope being that she will show penitence for her ways and take the veil. Cristina is a woman deeply wronged: kidnapped, falsely charged and imprisoned, Cristina has been torn away from her home and her two daughters because of the greed of her dead husband's cousin, Laurence Helynton. Now, Cristina, torn between fear for her children, grief for her dead husband, and anger at her relatives, waits for her brother, Sir Gerveys, to rescue her and to help her regain her daughters and her former life. For Cristina has one ace up her sleeve: an incriminating letter that the Duke of Suffolk would pay dearly to have in his possession... Sister Frevisse feels caught in a growing storm in which those who know the truth are subject to murder but she realizes if revealed could lead to civil war.

  • The Sempster’s Tale (2006)

  • Summer of 1450. Dame Frevisse of St. Frideswide's nunnery is in London to arrange the funeral vestments for her cousin's murdered husband, the Duke of Suffolk. But she is also charged with secretly recovering - and then conveying to her cousin - the gold the late duke sent out of England shortly before his death. But her duty and their love become more dangerous a rebel army advances on London - and a murdered body is discovered in the crypt of a London church, mutilated with what a Franciscan friar of the Inquisition claims are Hebrew letters.

  • The Traitor’s Tale (2007)

  • Dame Frevisse of St. Frideswide's nunnery is in London to assist her cousin Alice, the widowed Duchess of Suffolk, in burying her husband-but the late Duke was so hated that even being in the presence of his corpse is unsafe. Wandering player Simon Joliffe is also in London, on a mission with vital information for the exiled Duke of York: a list naming the English noblemen who purportedly betrayed their King by conspiring with the French, including some of Suffolk's men, whom Joliffe has been seeking-and now found dead. Joining the player on his search for the men on the list, Frevisse starts to wonder whether or not the list is real-or part of an even greater conspiracy against the crown.

  • The Apostate’s Tale (2008)

As the nuns of St. Frideswide's priory prepare for the welcome end of Lent, their peaceful expectations are overset by the sudden return of long-vanished Sister Cecely. Nine years ago she fled from the nunnery with a man. Now her lover is dead and she has come back, bringing her illegitimate son with her. She claims she is penitent, that she wants only to redeem her sin and find a safe haven for her child. Is she truly interested in repenting for her sins—or is she just in hiding after involvement in schemes that threaten everyone at St. Frideswide?

II. Protagonist: Joliffe, the leader of traveling players in 15th century England
  • A Play of Isaac (2004)

  • The year is 1434, and preparations are under way for the Corpus Christi festival in Oxford, England. Plays are a traditional part of the celebration, and Joliffe and the rest of his troupe are to perform Isaac and Abraham. Until then, their theatrical antics are in demand by a wealthy merchant who offers them an opportunity to ply their trade for room and board. But when the body of a murdered man is found outside the barn door where the troupe is lodging, Joliffe must raise the curtain on the merchant's mysterious past and uncover the startling truth behind a murder most foul...

  • A Play of Dux Moraud (2005)

  • It is the autumn of 1434, and the end-of-harvest reckoning during Michaelmas has been less than plentiful. Fortunately, Joliffe and his fellow players are surviving and thriving under the patronage of Lord Lovell. His grace is sending them to perform at Deneby Manor as a gift for the marriage of Sir Edmund Deneby's daughter, Mariena. But Joliffe has been engaged to play two roles - that of a player and that of a spy. Deneby's daughter was betrothed once before, to a healthy man who fell ill and died before they married, and Lord Lovell fears a similar fate befalling Mariena's newly intended. And as Joliffe uncovers the secrets of the Denebys' sordid history, it becomes clear that this is a wedding celebration destined to end in tragedy...

  • A Play of Knaves (2006)

  • In the spring of 1435, Joliffe and his fellow players are sent to the village of Ashewell not only to stage plays, but to uncover some dark secrets about the town's three wealthy families: the Ashewells, the Medcotes, and the Gosyns. A rivalry has been brewing among the families, entangling the entire town in a web of seduction, deception, and blackmail. Matters go beyond the breaking point when someone turns to murder to settle their grievances. And if one murder is good, why not another? If all the world is a stage, then it's up to Joliffe to bring the curtain down on this tragedy - before another man takes his final curtain call...

  • A Play of Lords (2007)
In the late autumn of 1435, Joliffe and his fellow players are in London to perform for the Bishop Beaufort. But his Eminence has other duties in mind for the company. With the Duke of Bedford's passing, ambitious lords and clergymen are plotting to assume his role as advisor to the young King Henry VI - and the Bishop needs to know what his rivals are planning. Dispatched to entertain - and spy on - England's royals, Joliffe and company encounter intrigue from various factions both within and without the kingdom. And when men who know too much begin to die in violent ways, the players start to fear for their own lives...

About the Author:
Her website can be found at http://www.margaretfrazer.com/. The first six books in the Dame Frevisse series were written by Monica Ferris and Gail Frazer, under the joint pseudonym Margaret Frazer. In 1997 Gail Frazer began writing alone under the pseudonym Margaret Frazer. Her website bio states, "lI'm living in the countryside north of Elk River, Minnesota, with four cats and not enough bookshelves. Over the years I’ve had a rag-tag of various jobs, including librarian, secretary, reseacher for a television station, gift shop manager, and assistant matron at an English girls’ school. Married once upon a time but not anymore, I have two well-grown sons who become uneasy if I read books about poisons at the supper table and refuse to turn their backs on me when I say I want to try something I might use in a story. I write more days than not, and when once I moaned that 'I have to get a life,' my loving family informed me, 'You have one. It’s in the 1400s.' That seems to sum up things rather nicely."

Both are very good series that could be read by any age -- if you're trying to introduce mysteries to a young adult or trying to censor sex and violence from a grandmother. Being from a theatre background, I like the world of Joliffe and the players. And I like Frevisse when she is involved in political intrigue as well as the daily life at St. Frideswide.

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

Friday, March 27, 2009

Forgotten Fridays: Janet Dawson

Janet Dawson

Forgotten Fridays, around the net, showcases books or authors that might have fallen by the wayside but deserve to be remembered. You can find a bunch of links for forgotten books today at Pattinase's blog at www.pattinase.blogspot.com.

I would like to post about crime fiction author Janet Dawson. She wrote a very good private eye series featuring Jeri Howard, a private investigator in Oakland, California from 1991 until 2000. Her books are told in first person POV and combine a smart woman detective with subtle social issues. This information is from www.stopyourekillingme.com, amazon.com, and her website. The books are:

  • Kindred Crimes (1991) - Won the St. Martin's Press/Private Eye Writers of America contest for best first private eye novel, Finalist 1991 Anthony Award for Best First Novel, Finalist 1991 Shamus Award for Best First Novel, Finalist for Best First Novel Macavity

California PI Jeri Howard's new case seems straightforward: find Renee Mills Foster, nee Elizabeth Renee Willis, a wife who packed her bags, left her young son with her mother-in-law, emptied the joint bank account and took off. But the plucky and very resourceful Howard picks up a convoluted trail leading to a double murder committed 15 years earlier--a teenage boy's shooting of his own parents. Mark Willis, having confessed to the murders and served his time, is now trying to blend into a small-town community, an attempt made difficult by his sister's disappearance and Howard's investigation. To solve her case, Howard has to piece together events that led to the murders, determining where Mark's two siblings--Elizabeth and Karen, then 14 and nine, respectively--were when they occurred. Child abuse, adultery and
blackmail are just a few of the sins hidden behind both disappearance and murder.

Chapter One Exerpt:

Man, woman and child posed in front of a thick green Christmas tree, its branches laden with silver tinsel and gold balls. He stood behind her chair, hands resting lightly on her shoulders. Her blonde hair fell in waves past the collar of her red dress. In her lap she held a cherubic toddler. They smiled at the camera, the image of a perfect middle-class nuclear family, caught forever in a five-by-seven glossy.
"When did she leave?" I asked.
"Wednesday morning," he said, his voice tremulous. He cleared his throat. "She left the baby with my mother, said she was going shopping. She never came back."
He was a slender fair-haired man of about thirty, well-dressed, with finely chiseled features. Now he put one hand to his pale face, as though to erase the lines etched by worry and strain. He sighed deeply. I waited for him to continue.
"I got home from work around six. Renee wasn't there, so I called Mom. She and Dad live just a few miles away. Mom told me Jason was there but she hadn't seen Renee since about ten that morning. Of course I was concerned."
He'd waited, an hour, then two, concern giving way to worry, plagued by visions of car accidents and abductions. Finally he called the police. They asked if Mrs. Foster left on her own. Of course she hadn't, he said. Then he looked in the closet, the dresser drawers, the bathroom. Her suitcase was missing. So were clothes, shoes, the things a woman would take with her if she planned to be gone for awhile. The next day the bank called him about a bounced check. Mrs. Foster had emptied the joint account.
"Can you find her, Miss Howard?"
"Are you sure you want me to?"
Philip Foster blinked his puppy brown eyes in surprise. "Of course I want you to find her. Why would you ask a question like that?"
"Your wife apparently left on her own. She may not want to come back." He winced. I felt as though I'd kicked the puppy. But he had to know and I had to tell him. "If I find her I can't make her do anything she doesn't want to do."
"I understand," he said. "But if I could just talk to her... I'm worried about her. I have to know that's she's all right."
I looked him in the eye for a long moment as I thought about this case and whether I should take it. Did Mr. Foster drink, take drugs, beat his wife or child? If that was the reason Mrs. Foster left, why didn't she take the kid? And why did I feel that Philip Foster was holding something back?

  • Till the Old Men Die (1992)

A Filipino-American professor at California State University in Hayward has been murdered, his body found by Jeri's father, a colleague. Now, several months after the funeral, a mystery woman shows up, claiming to be the dead man's widow.

Chapter One Excerpt:

The woman with the scar on her chin had costumed herself for the role of a widow. Her wardrobe included a black silk dress, stylish and expensive, accented by a circular gold brooch and a chic little hat with a veil, anchored to her smooth black chignon by a wicked-looking hatpin. A wide gold band adorned the third finger of her left hand. The manicured fingers of her right hand clutched a single sheet of paper.
Unfortunately for her, she had failed the audition. That's why her brown eyes glared beneath the plucked brows and jade eye shadow, and her full lips, sleek with coral lipstick, twisted with anger. That's why, on this warm Monday morning in May, she stood in the middle of the History Department office of California State University at Hayward, swearing at my father and Dr. Isabel Kovaleski in a mixture of Tagalog and English. I don't understand Tagalog, but the venom behind the words was unmistakable. As for the English, I hadn't heard language that colorful since the last time I visited the Alameda County Jail.
The woman's tirade cut through class-break chatter and caused heads to turn in the corridor, where I stood next to the bulletin board. Professors in nearby offices appeared in their doorways, looking for the source of the racket. I fingered a notice about spring quarter finals and watched the drama in the office, mentally taking notes.
She was Filipina, her English good but accented, her voice throaty, almost guttural. Height five three, I guessed, weight about one ten, and I put her age as mid- to late thirties. I had noticed the scar right away, a thread of white along her left jawline, perhaps three or four inches long. It could have been caused by any number of things but my first thought was that someone had struck her. Otherwise she looked prosperous and well-kept, with a certain hard-eyed, calculating edge, and a high-handed attitude that told me she was used to getting her own way. Maybe that's why she was now angry enough to swear at the people she was trying to convince. She'd gone to a lot of trouble, but no one was buying her act.
She had been waving that sheet of paper under Dr. Kovaleski's nose. Now she shoved it into her black leather clutch purse, whirled and marched out of the office, pushing past me without a glance. Her high heels stacattoed the linoleum as she headed for the stairwell. I followed her.
Outside Mieklejohn Hall, she plowed a path through crowds of students like a battleship at full steam, moving up the hillside steps toward the campus bookstore. Before reaching the store she turned right and crossed the street to a parking lot where a white Thunderbird with California plates straddled the line between two spaces. She unlocked the door, hurled the purse onto the passenger seat, and slid in behind the wheel. The engine roared and she backed the car out with a jerk, narrowly missing a couple of students. One of them yelled something at her. She responded with the raised middle digit of her left hand and gunned the engine. The Thunderbird squealed down a row of cars and exited the parking lot at an entrance.
I wrote down the Thunderbird's license number, then retraced my steps to Meiklejohn Hall. When I got back upstairs Dr. Kovaleski was seated at her desk, a frown on her face and her fingers beating a tattoo on her desk blotter. My father, Dr. Timothy Howard, occupied one of the two chairs opposite her.
"What do you think, Jeri?" Dad asked, crossing one long leg over the other.
"Tell me again how all this started," I said, taking the other chair. Dad had given me bare bones on the phone last night, but I wanted to add some flesh to the skeleton.
"She says her name is Dolores Cruz Manibusan," Dr. Kovaleski said in her mittel-European accent. "She appeared quite suddenly Friday morning, demanding to see the head of the department. I'm acting chair, so I asked if I could help her. She announced that she was Dr. Manibusan's widow and she wanted his papers. That was the word she used-papers. I explained that Dr. Manibusan's office had been cleared out by his next of kin. She became quite angry and shouted at me. She said she was his next of kin and she'd be back today."
"Dr. Manibusan was murdered in January. This is the first week in May. It's been almost four months. Where," I wondered, "has the grieving widow been all this time?"
"Indeed." Isabel Kovaleski's voice was as dry as the sun-tindered grass on the hills surrounding the campus.

  • Take a Number (1993)
    Wife abuse and the psychology of victims are themes. Ruth Raynor, planning to divorce her husband, Navy first-class petty officer Sam Raynor, asks Jeri to look for the $100,000 that she believes Sam has hidden. Although Sam denies the sum's existence, Ruth had seen a bank statement on which it appeared; under California divorce law, she is entitled to half of it. As Jeri follows standard procedures for tracing money--checking bank accounts, looking for aliases, seeking third parties who might be holding the funds--she sees Sam's new girlfriend driving a new, expensive car. After the car is reported stolen and a major insurance claim is filed, Jeri discovers that Sam's past conceals a previously unknown former wife who had divorced him for abuse. Jeri's next task, however, is hunting for evidence to clear Ruth of Sam's murder.

  • Don’t Turn Your Back on the Ocean (1994)
    A week's vacation with her family in Monterey becomes a busman's holiday for Oakland PI Jeri Howard. First, she agrees to help a biologist cousin find out who is mutilating pelicans in the area. Then another cousin becomes a murder suspect when the body of his girlfriend washes up near the coast. Jeri also offers to help her mother, owner of Cafe Marie, discover who is behind recent incidents that are driving business away from the restaurant. Working on all three cases, Jeri learns that nearly everyone, from the dead girl's parents to her mother's new lover, has something to hide. Adrift in a swirl of leads and clues, she calls on her retired mentor, Errol Seville, with whose help she's finally able to link the disparate cases and solve the crimes.

  • Nobody’s Child (1995)

Howard is hired by an alcoholic woman to find out if the body of a young woman recently found in a burned-out home is that of her daughter who had run away three years earlier. Determining that the victim was indeed her client's daughter, the PI also learns that the young woman, who had been living on the streets in Berkeley, had had a young daughter. The client seems uninterested in her grandchild, but the PI feels compelled to search for the little girl. As Christmas approaches, Howard mingles uneasily with the homeless in the cold damp East Bay winter, moving from street markets to a backstage tour of Oakland's historic Paramount Theater as she tracks the murder victim's associations with high-school friends, some kindly "old hippie" benefactors and an enigmatic drug dealer. On the way to the satisfying solution, characters trade observations on homelessness, HIV infection and race relations.

  • A Credible Threat (1996)

A "credible threat" is a term from California's anti-stalking law. Vicki Vernon, Jeri's former stepdaughter and a student at Berkeley, shares a house with half a dozen fellow students. Vicki asks Jeri for help when a series of vaguely menacing phone calls and incidents of petty vandalism plague her housemates. Jeri figures the caller/vandal is probably a spurned boyfriend or practical joker, but when a pipe bomb is thrown through the window of the house, the ante is upped. Jeri begins looking into the backgrounds of Vicki's housemates, and her digging soon reveals that the case is rooted in a years-old unsolved murder that has dangerous repercussions for one of Vicki's friends.

  • Witness to Evil (1997)
    Private investigator Jeri Howard can scarcely believe that someone is actually paying her to go to Paris, even if it is only to fetch a wild teenager home. But the wanderer, eighteen-year-old Darcy, turns out to have a serious reason for her unauthorized jaunt: to visit Holocaust memorials and to meet the French family who sheltered her grandmother as a girl from the Nazis.But back home in California, Darcy stumbles on evidence that Nazism is alive and well in the terrifying present. And Jeri has the deadly work of trying to extricate Darcy from the frightening consequences of her discovery.

  • Where the Bodies Are Buried (1998)
Welcome to Corporate America. Where the CEOs make millions and the peons get squeezed. Where power corrupts and a seven-figure bonus may be worth killing for. When Jeri Howard's new client, Rob Lawter, takes a header through his living room window soon after he's hired her, Jeri is in a quandary. Lawter, a paralegal at Bates, Inc., a food-processing firm, had received a threatening anonymous note, sent because he was about to blow the whistle on some serious corporate cover-up. Since Jeri has already cashed the check, she feels she owes her dead, probably murdered, client his money's worth. So she goes undercover in Bates's legal department, determined to expose Lawter's killer.
  • A Killing at the Track (2000)
Investigator Jeri Howard is fascinated by the beautiful horses and the zealous spectators at stylish Edgewater Downs. But behind the scenes, where the owners, trainers, jockeys, and grooms mingle, life is not so pretty. Someone is terrorizing owner-trainer Molly Torrance with sinister phone threats.
Dawson's website can be found at http://www.janetdawson.com/. She lives in Alameda, California and works as a legal secretary. In past lives she has been a newspaper reporter, as well as both an enlisted journalist and officer in the U.S. Navy. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Private Eye Writers of America, and Mystery Readers International.

Damn, now I want to re-read these. I haven't read these in years and this reminds me of a voice that crime fiction has been missing for a long time. I wish she would write again.

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Just a Thursday

I grew up with music; playing piano, singing in choir and in my darkened bedroom, playing guitar, etc. I enjoy listening to music but for some reason over the past few months I've preferred silence. I don't know why exactly other than I'm comfortable with my own thoughts and don't need a diversion (shrug).

Yesterday, I stopped by a store called Barjons which sells sort of "new age" types of products -- crystals, books, incense, etc. I knew JodyO was getting back in touch with that aspect of herself and I wanted to pick up a card for her when we had lunch and she would do reiki on me. The store owner was playing a CD. It was a woman singing in another language (Lula?) and very upbeat and made me feel I was missing out on international flavors of music.

Then, at JodyO's, she had music playing. Actually two systems playing, one in the living room and one in the family room. It was so soothing and I realized that it creates such an ambiance that was missing from my days. So right now I'm listening to the "meditative" channel on AOL radio. Within that channel there have been some wonderfully diverse types of music playing -- whale songs in one, flute and drums in another, now a guitar is playing softly. I think I need to reintroduce music back.

I've got quite a lot of CD's of music as well as old cassettes and records from library sales. I should pick a few to play throughout the day when I'm not at a computer. Checking out new music, it looks like Diana Krall has a new one available.

Didn't get much reading time in last night so I'm still halfway through EXECUTION DOCK by Anne Perry. We had a snow storm blow through last night so I'll be hunkering down after Tug's walk and nothing on TV for me tonight so I'll probably get it done.

A TV heads up: Masterpiece Theatre this Sunday (at least in my viewing area) is starting the British miniseries Little Dorrit. I've been keeping my eye on this one for a few months. It's been a big hit in the UK, I understand, but mainly it stars one of my newly found favorite actors, Matthew Macfadyen. And it's a Dickens that I haven't read yet so doubly nice.

Today's Blog/Website of the Day is Reactions to Reading found at http://reactionstoreading.wordpress.com/. Lots of book reviews here and I like the rating scale on the side.

So, time to make some soup for lunch and then walk the critter. Have a lovely rest of the day!

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Weather update -- Snow Storm

From one of our newstations. We've got a bit of snow falling now....

Mid week

An extremely interesting day. My friend JodyO is a reiki master but hasn't done any sessions for about four years. She's getting back "in tune" and I volunteered to let her use me as a subject to let her work on someone other than her husband. Basically, she just puts her hands on chakra points of the body and reads the energy and helps the flow. I didn't actually feel much other than her hands got very warm sometimes. The messages she was giving me while doing the session were very interesting. I won't share them but I will be pondering their relevence.

I'm about halfway through EXECUTION DOCK by Anne Perry. It is good to be with Monk, Hester, and Rathbone again. To fulfill a duty to a dead man, Monk has pursued a known child pornographer/killer and gotten him finally to trial. However, the skill of his lawyer and Monk's lack of detailed follow through has allowed the man to be set free. They can't get him for this crime ever again, but they are determined to build a case against him for anything else in order to save lives of young boys.

Steve goes shooting tonight. I have some tv to watch: America's Next Top Model (because I like to see skinny -- size 0 -- beautiful girls being criticized) and Ghost Hunters. Lie To Me isn't on apparently because of American Idol (yuck). So I'll otherwise read or watch the early release only on the Internet of the first episode of the third season of The Tudors or the taping of the last episode of Jon and Kate Plus Eight. Or just do nothing and stare at a wall. :)

Today's Blog/Website of the Day is International Noir Fiction found at http://internationalnoir.blogspot.com/. Yesterday we visited the past with classic crime, now check out the dark side all over the world. :) No, really, it's okay to peek:

Much love,

PK the Bookeemonster

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

EXECUTION DOCK/ Classic Mysteries

I couldn't sleep last night because my sore throat is back so I read KISSED A SAD GOODBYE by Deborah Crombie for a bit. I think I'm halfway through now ... eh, maybe a third.

Jumping the queue, however, I think will be the new Anne Perry, EXECUTION DOCK. This is one of her William Monk books, an amnesiac police inspector in Victorian London, and Hester, a Crimean War nurse. This book is 16th of 16 in series. This is my favorite of all her series and it has been three years I think since the last one, hence my anticipation to read it. Here's a description:

Set in 1864, finds Monk superintendent of the Thames River Police Force. Monk is on the verge of closing the books on Jericho Phillips, a particularly nasty villain who specializes in child pornography. Monk and his team catch Phillips, but what appears to be an airtight murder case springs leaks and ends with the accused's acquittal. Many in authority view the judgment as a rebuke to the river police, whose existence as a separate force is threatened. Convinced that he got the right man, despite the jury's verdict, Monk devotes himself to setting the record straight. Hester, who runs a free clinic for abused women, draws a highly unusual guerrilla force to Monk's cause–a canny ratcatcher, a retired brothel keeper, a fearless street urchin, and a rebellious society lady. To one as criminally minded as Phillips, these folks are mere mosquitoes, to be sure. But as he will soon discover, some mosquitoes can have a deadly sting.

This book has 320 pages. The author's website can be found at http://www.anneperry.net/. Here is an excerpt:

The man balanced on the stern of the flat-bottomed lighter, his wild figure outlined against the glittering water of the Thames, hair whipped in the wind, face sharp, lips drawn back. Then, at the last moment, when the other lighter was almost past him, he crouched and sprang. He only just reached the deck, scrambling to secure his footing. He swayed for a moment, then regained his balance and turned. He waved once in grotesque jubilation, then dropped to his knees out of sight behind the close-packed bales of wool.

Monk smiled grimly as the oarsmen strained to bring the police boat around against the outgoing tide and the wash from barges on their way up to the Pool of London. He would not have given orders to shoot, even were he certain of not hitting anyone else in the teeming river traffic. He wanted Jericho Phillips alive, so he could see him tried and hanged.

In the prow of the boat, Orme swore under his breath. He was a grizzled man in his late fifties, a decade older than the lean and elegant Monk, who had been in the Thames River Police Force only half a year. It was very different from the force ashore, where his experience lay, but more difficult for him was taking over the leadership of men to whom he was an outsider. He had a reputation for brilliance in detection, but also for a nature ruthless and hard to know, or to like.

Monk had changed since then. The accident eight years ago in 1856, which had wiped out his memory, had also given him a chance to begin again. He had learned to know himself through the eyes of others, and it had been bitterly enlightening. Not that he could explain that to anyone else.

They were gaining on the lighter, where Phillips was crouching out of sight, ignored by the man at the helm. Another hundred feet and they would draw level. There were five of them in the police boat. That was more than usual, but a man like Phillips might require the extra strength to take him down. He was wanted for the murder of a boy of thirteen or fourteen, Walter Figgis, known as Fig. He was thin and undersized, which might have been what had kept him alive so long. Phillips's trade was in boys from the age of four or five up to the time when their voices changed and they began to assume some of the physical characteristics of adults, and they were thus of no use in his particular market of pornography.

The police boat's bow sliced through the choppy water. Fifty yards away a pleasure boat went lazily upstream, perhaps eventually towards Kew Gardens. Colored streamers blew in the wind, and there was the sound of laughter mixed with music. Ahead of them nearly a hundred ships from coal barges to tea clippers were anchored in the Upper Pool. Lighters plied back and forth, and stevedores unloaded cargoes brought in from every corner of the earth.

Monk leaned forward a little, drawing in breath to urge the oarsmen to even greater effort, then changed his mind. It would look as if he did not trust them to do their best anyway. But they could not possibly want to catch Phillips as much as he did. It was Monk, not they, who had involved Durban in the Louvain case that had eventually cost him his life. And it was Monk whom Durban had recommended to take his place when he knew he was dying.

Orme had served with Durban for years, but if he resented Monk's command he had never once shown it. He was loyal, diligent, even helpful, but for the most part, impossible to read. However, the longer Monk watched him, the more he realized Orme's respect was necessary to his success, and more than that, he actually wanted it. The thought jarred inside him. He could not remember ever before having cared what a junior thought of him.

The lighter was only twenty feet ahead of them now and slowing as it made way for another lighter crossing its bow, which was laden with casks of raw sugar from a schooner moored fifty yards away. The ship was riding high now with its load almost gone, its huge canvases furled, spars bare and circling gently as it rocked.

The police boat plunged forward and to port as the other lighter crossed to starboard. The first man leapt aboard, then the second, pistols drawn.

When this series first came out in 1990, it was wonderfully different from anything out there. Yes, it was a historical set in Victorian times, but the main character, Monk, woke up with amnesia. A complete blank, he's had to rediscover himself -- not all things to be proud of in himself -- and to reinvent himself. A good series, but start at the beginning and read in order.

Today's Blog/Website of the Day is Classic Mysteries found at http://www.classicmysteries.net/. This features "podcasts and conversations about fine detective stories worth reading and re-reading." Sometimes we get caught up in finding out and getting the latest new thing when there are crime fiction treasures already waiting for us. This could be a source to bookmark to discover some good reads.

Had to pick up Quantum of Solace out on DVD today. I've had a crush on Pierce Brosnan since before Remington Steele (ahhhh, but that's for another post), and wasn't about to like this new blond James Bond. With Casino Royale, I'm a fan of Daniel Craig and love the direction it is now going.

I'm having lunch with JodyO tomorrow at her house. She's going to do a 20 minute reiki session on me; maybe it will help me sleep better. Many have heard of it, but reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by "laying on hands" and is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. JodyO is a certified Reiki master though she hasn't practiced in four years. Now that she's free of the museum, she's getting back to thinks she loves. Maybe it will help rid me of this cold. THAT would be lovely.

Nothing on tv but I have some reading for class to do before the fun stuff. Bah.

Much love,

PK the Bookeemonster

Monday, March 23, 2009

Crombie/ BWOD

Finished the Susanna Gregory last night, THE TARNISHED CHALICE. The whodunnit was who I was suspecting -- no one is an innocent bystander.

Currently reading next in series for me of Deborah Crombie, KISSED A SAD GOODBYE. This is 6th of 13 in series featuring Duncan Kincaid, a Scotland Yard superintendent, and Gemma James, a sergeant, in London. Here is a description from Amazon:

The body of a lovely young woman is found in London's fashionable Docklands area. She turns out to be Annabelle Hammond, the director of an old family firm of tea merchants. She was a woman of tremendous talent and sexual appetite, but also the kind of harsh and abrasive personality that provides plenty of motives for murder. The Hammond family is also historically linked to the self-made property developer Lewis Finch and his son, an activist dropout and street musician. The other suspects include a spineless boyfriend who works at the tea firm, a secretary too loyal to be true, and herrings of various shades of crimson. Kincaid and James have to solve it all, even as their own personal problems threaten to intrude.

It was published in 1998 and has 336 pages. Here's an excerpt of the first paragraphs:

He saw each note as it fell from his clarinet. Smooth, stretched, with a smokey luster that made him think of black pearls against a woman’s translucent white skin. If I Had You, it was called, an old tune with a slow, sweet melodic line. Had he ever played this one for her?

In the beginning she’d stood in the street as he played, watching him, swaying a little
with the music. He’d distrusted her power clothes and her Pre-Raphaelite face. But she’d intrigued him as well. As the months went by, he never knew when she would appear. There seemed no pattern to it, yet whenever he moved, she found him.

It had been a day like this, the first time he’d seen her, a hot summer day with the smell of rain on the threshold of perception. As evening fell, the shadows cooled the hot, still air and the crowds poured out onto the pavements like prisoners released. Restless, jostling, they were flushed with drink and summer’s licence, and he’d played a jazzy little riff on Summertime to suit their mood.

She stood apart, at the back of the crowd, watching him, and at last she turned away without tossing him even a cursory coin. She never paid him, in all the times after that; and she never spoke. It had been he, one night when she had come alone, who called her back as she turned away.

The author's website can be found at http://www.deborahcrombie.com/index.html.

TV night tonight: Chuck, Paranormal State and Castle. So no reading time for me. I didn't get much sleep last night in general but at 2:30 this morning Kona was back on our deck in the back yard. He's the chocolate lab kittykorner behind us who for some reason gets out of his own yard and roams at night but can't make it back to his own house, he comes to whine at ours in the middle of the night. So I took him home -- it had been raining so he was all wet -- and left a note in their mailbox.

Went clothes shopping today. I hate doing it until it's absolutely required and today was the day. I got a couple pairs of jeans (much needed) and dress pants and a couple spring/summer-weight tops. They love me there when I do finally show up because in making up for lost time, they make their daily sales goal. Hrumph. Next stop, I had to get groceries; then I walked Tug. The weather has turned cold again though not as bad as some places I've been hearing about (Gillette WY lotza snow). I couldn't get warm after our walk so I'm having a cup of tea now.

Today's Blog/Website of the day Lesa's Book Critiques at http://lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com/. Chock-a-block full of good book stuff. With all these fantastic websites, do you see why you could spend hours on the Internet just completely enjoying yourself and making lists of good things to read?
And just because I think it's funny:

Much love,

PK the Bookeemonster

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Quiet Sunday

Not much happening today. I've got a little bit of a sore throat so I'm drinking lots of fluids and taking cat naps. Walked Tug a while ago. It's not as warm as yesterday but still nice out.

I'm closing in on the finish of Susanna Gregory's THE TARNISHED CHALICE. As is typical with her Brother Michael/Doctor Bartholomew books, a hundred pages could probably be cut and the story would be stronger but she loves to have the two go about in circles just a bit longer than necessary.

In putting together the featured author in yesterday's post, CJ Sansom, it occurred to me that it would be nice to re-read those books because they're so good. That author is in my top three if not the very top. But I have so many other books to read in first run that I can't take the time right now.

Today's Blog/Website of the Day is of the author group blog Femme Fatales found at http://femmesfatales.typepad.com/. Participating in round robin are authors Donna Andrews, Dana Cameron, Charlaine Harris, Toni L.P. Kelner, Kris Neri, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Mary Saums and Elaine Viets.

Have a super relaxing Sunday...

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Featured Author: C.J. Sansom

I'm starting a new feature. Each week I will showcase an author and his/her works. There will be a listing on the side of each as well as a complete listing of authors further down. First up, is one of my all time favorite historical mysteries:

Protagonist: Matthew Shardlake, a hunchback lawyer in mid-16th century England


Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church and the country is waking up to savage new laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers ever seen. Under the order of Thomas Cromwell, a team of commissioners is sent through the country to investigate the monasteries. There can only be one outcome: the monasteries are to be dissolved. But on the Sussex coast, at the monastery of Scarnsea, events have spiralled out of control. Cromwell's Commissioner Robin Singleton, has been found dead, his head severed from his body. His horrific murder is accompanied by equally sinister acts of sacrilege - a black cockerel sacrificed on the alter, and the disappearance of Scarnsea's Great Relic. Dr Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and long-time supporter of Reform, has been sent by Cromwell into this atmosphere of treachery and death. But Shardlake's investigation soon forces him to question everything he hears, and everything that he intrinsically believes ...

2) DARK FIRE (2004) - 2005 Historical Dagger Award

It is 1540. Matthew Shardlake, believing himself out of favour with Thomas Cromwell, is busy trying to maintain his legal practice and keep a low profile. But his involvement with a murder case, defending a girl accused of brutally murdering her young cousin, brings him once again into contact with the king's chief minister - and a new assignment...The secret of Greek Fire, the legendary substance with which the Byzantines destroyed the Arab navies, has been lost for centuries. Now, an official of the Court of Augmentations has discovered the formula in the library of a dissolved London monastery. When Shardlake is sent to recover it, he finds the official and his alchemist brother brutally murdered - the formula has disappeared. Now, Shardlake must follow the trail of Greek Fire across Tudor London, while trying at the same time to prove his young client's innocence.

3) SOVEREIGN (2006) - Finalist 2007 Barry Award for Best British Novel

It is autumn, 1541. Following the uncovering of a plot against his throne in Yorkshire, King Henry VIII has set out on a spectacular Progress to the North to overawe his rebellious subjects there. Accompanied by a thousand soldiers, the cream of the nobility, and his fifth wife Catherine Howard, the King is to attend an extravagant submission of the local gentry at York. Already in the city are lawyer Matthew Shardlake and his assistant Jack Barak. As well as assisting with legal work processing petitions to the King, Shardlake has reluctantly undertaken a special mission - to ensure the welfare of an important but dangerous conspirator being returned to London for interrogation. But the murder of a local glazier involves Shardlake in deeper mysteries, connected not only to the prisoner in York Castle but to the royal family itself. As the Great Progress arrives in the city, Shardlake and Barak stumble upon a cache of secret papers that holds danger for the King's throne...

4) REVELATION (2008) - Finalist 2008 Historical Dagger Award

Spring, 1543. King Henry VIII is wooing Lady Catherine Parr, whom he wants for his sixth wife. Archbishop Cranmer and the embattled Protestant faction at court are watching keenly, for Lady Catherine is known to have reformist sympathies. Matthew Shardlake, meanwhile, is working on the case of a teenage boy who has been placed in the Bedlam insane asylum, before his terrifying religious mania leads to him being burned as a heretic. When an old friend is horrifically murdered Shardlake vows to bring the killer to justice. His search leads him to Cranmer and Catherine Parr - and to the dark prophecies of the Book of Revelation. As London's Bishop Bonner prepares a purge of Protestants Shardlake, together with his assistant, Jack Barak, and his friend, Guy Malton, investigate a series of horrific murders which are already bringing frenzied talk of witchcraft and demonic possession - for what else would the Tudor mind make of a serial killer ...?

1940: The Spanish Civil War is over, and Madrid lies ruined, its people starving, while the Germans continue their relentless march through Europe. Britain now stands alone while General Franco considers whether to abandon neutrality and enter the war. In a vivid and haunting depiction of wartime Spain, [this] is an intimate and compelling tale which offers a remarkable sense of history unfolding, and the profound impact of impossible choices.

About the Author:
C. J. Sansom was educated at Birmingham University, where he took a BA and then a Ph.D. in history. After working in a variety of jobs, he retrained as a solicitor and practised in Sussex, until becoming a full-time writer. He participates as with the Medieval Murders, a group of historical mystery authors. He lives in Sussex.

Bookeemonster rating: 5 out of 5 stars. *Excellent* historical mystery series.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sisterhood Award/Watchmen

This blog got awarded a Sisterhood award by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise found at http://paradise-mysteries.blogspot.com/. Isn't that cool? Be sure to check out her blog; it's got good info. Here's the rules:

1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate up to 10 blogs which show great attitude and/or gratitude!
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.

So let me do some nominatin':

  1. Author Lynn Viehl at Paperback Writer http://pbackwriter.blogspot.com/ because I read her blog everyday.

  2. Jen at Jen's Book Thoughts http://jensbookthoughts.blogspot.com/ because there's always something to read about.

  3. Katherine at A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore http://agirlwalksintoabookstore.blogspot.com/ because I get great historical book ideas

  4. Sandra Ruttan at On life and other inconveniences http://www.mysterybookspot.com/sandra/ because there's always something thought provoking.

  5. Sarah at Reading the Past http://readingthepast.blogspot.com/ more great historical books

  6. The Smart Bitches at Smart Bitches Trashy Books http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/index.php because they're smart and endlessly entertaining.

  7. LadyPI at Female-Sleuths at http://female-sleuths.blogspot.com/ because she's as addicted as the rest of us.

  8. Author Kelli Stanley, winner of the LCC historical mystery award at Writing in the Dark http://kellistanley.blogspot.com/

  9. Author Jeri Westerson's Getting Medieval http://www.getting-medieval.com/my_weblog/ for being everywhere and a great ambassador for histmyst.

  10. Pattinase at http://pattinase.blogspot.com/ for Friday's Forgotten Books and just a great site.

Thank you one and all for making my cybersurfing so enjoyable.

Well, I didn't get a chance to read GRAVE GOODS by Ariana Franklin last night. We went to see the Watchmen movie. This is a very long movie at almost three hours. Steve is very much a fanboy of the graphic novels, in fact, I remember him trying to introduce them to me when we were dating, what, twelve years ago. So he was going to this movie with expectations of one who loves the story and high expectations and I was going as someone completely new to the work. I loved it. It is definitely extremely graphically violent (I had to close my eyes many times and once plug my ears too) and has sexual content including full frontal male nudity. But the STORY is so complex and multi-layered and the ultimate, the furthest you could go in telling the anti-story of superheroes, it's amazing. I never liked Jackie Earl Haley as a child actor back in the 70s (Bad News Bears, etc.) but his performance is shockly excellent in this movie. That performance deserves many awards. I would highly recommend this movie to any film lover with the caveat that the viewer must accept the extreme violence because it is necessary for the artistic form it is representing, like Sin City or 300. We will definitely be getting the DVD when it comes available.

Oh, and the soundtrack was wonderful, too. I've always loved Leonard Cohen and there's two songs by him, there's Jimi Hendrix, Simon and Garfunkel, 99 Balloons, Billie Holliday, Nat King Cole, Janis Joplin, KC and the Sunshine Band, etc.

So tonight I hope to get in some reading time. I do have Say Yes to the Dress to watch and there is a new half-hour series on Starz premiering tonight by the creator of Veronica Mars called Party On, I think, that I'd like to check out. Steve doesn't have NRA certification classes this week so I believe that we have purposely scheduled NOTHING for this weekend except quiet time which sounds like an excellent plan.

Much love,

PK the Bookeemonster

Thursday, March 19, 2009


GRAVE GOODS by Ariana Franklin arrived while I was walking Tug. This is 3rd of three in The Mistress of the Art of Death series featuring Adelia (Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar of Salerno), a “doctor for the dead” working for King Henry II in 12th century England. Here is a description:
England, 1176. Beautiful, tranquil Glastonbury Abbey— one of England’s holiest sites, and believed by some to be King Arthur’s sacred Isle of Avalon—has been burned almost to the ground. The arsonist remains at large, but the fire has uncovered something even more shocking: two hidden skeletons, a man and a woman. The skeletons’ height and age send rumors flying—are the remains those of Arthur and Guinevere?King Henry II hopes so. Struggling to put down a rebellion in Wales, where the legend of Celtic savior Arthur is particularly strong, Henry wants definitive proof that the bones are Arthur’s. If the rebels are sure that the Once and Future King will not be coming to their aid, Henry can stamp out the insurgence for good. He calls on Adelia Aguilar, Mistress of the Art of Death, to examine the bones.Henry’s summons comes not a moment too soon, for Adelia has worn out her welcome in Cambridge. As word of her healing powers has spread, so have rumors of witchcraft. So Adelia and her household ride to Glastonbury, where the investigation into the abbey fire will be overseen by the Church authorities—in this case, the Bishop of St. Albans, who happens also to be the father of Adelia’s daughter.
The author's website can be found at http://www.arianafranklin.com/. There is an exerpt available. I'll paste a bit here, not the very beginning that is more of a prologue, but this will give you some flavor:

March, a.d. 1176, and a wind hurtling down a ravine in Wales, blowing the haulms of reeds and the flare of torches in the same streaming angle as the hair on the severed heads that topped the line of poles leading up to the Plantagenet tents. It sent grass, leaves, and branches nodding in vehement agreement. With a spike through their Welsh brains, the heads couldn’t nod, though they revolved slightly so that their blank eyes shifted, as if dividing their attention between the bottom of the ravine, where English soldiers were digging burial pits, and a limping mailed figure who was dragging a woman up the steep slope toward the tents.

As she was pulled level with the poles, the woman broke into a wail of Welsh lamentation, peering at each head and calling out what, presumably, were their names.

The mailed man paused, puffing—she was a big lady to haul. “Look,” he said, “they were killed in battle. Battle. Understand? My lads got a bit carried away with their bodies, that’s all. The king doesn’t behead prisoners, at least not often—he’s a good
king. Good.”

But the woman was ignorant of English, no matter how loudly it was emphasized. “Duw, Duw,” she cried, lifting her arms to the sky. The man had to get behind her and push before she’d go farther.

The opening of the bigger tent was lit from inside, outlining the figure of Henry II, who stood at its entrance, also mailed, also shouting—this time at a line of bound men being made to kneel in front of him—while a man-at-arms undid the king’s hauberk
at the back and carefully peeled it off.

“There was no point to this, you stupid bastards. No point.” To the interpreter at his side, the king said, “Tell ’em that. Tell them I’ve made peace with their lord Deheubarth, or however the bugger pronounces it. They won’t have to pay any more taxes with me as their king than they pay him already.” He paused. “Well, not much more.” He pressed a cloth against his left arm to stop the bleeding. “Now look what they’ve done. Tell them I’ve had to mount an expensive campaign to put down their bloody rebellion, I’ve lost good men, they’ve lost good men, I won’t be able to use my shield arm for bloody days, and they’ll be taxed for it until their brains squeak—that’s if they’ve got any and if I don’t gouge them out. Tell ’em that. Tell them Arthur is dead.”

At the sound of the name, the kneeling prisoners raised their heads as one man and a shout of “Bywyd hir Arthur” rippled along the line.

“Arthur live forever,” translated the interpreter, helpfully.

I'll have to set aside the Gregory for a while so I read this one. There's nothing on tv tonight for me so I'll be able to enjoy this for a couple hours.
Today's Blog/Website of the day is Independent Crime found at http://indiecrime.blogspot.com/. This is a blog dedicated to reviewing crime novels published by independent presses everywhere.
Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I got da blahs

Oh, I just feel like hanging around and not doing much....you know, just blah. Not cool enough to have the blues, it's just the blahs...
Oh how sad, Natasha Richardson died. She was a beautiful lady with a wonderful family and only 45. That's just wrong.
I'm feeling better about yesterday's interview in that I did my best and the choice is now out of my hands. I have a thank you card ready to go out tomorrow. It's just frustrating and emotionally taking a toll and it's just a bother. I have to let go of Eeyore and get back to my Tigger-ness. Maybe tomorrow. :)
Here's a couple Winnie the Pooh quotes:

“Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.”

“When late morning rolls around and you're feeling a bit out of sorts, don't worry; you're probably just a little eleven o'clockish.”

Today's Blog/Website of the Day belongs to someone fairly well known in the Mystery-Reading community Gerald So. He has a fun blog at http://geraldso.blogspot.com/. Go see.

Steve has shooting tonight and I have tv shows. Three of them on at the same time, 7pm. So I'll watch America's Next Top Model (because I like to see skinny beautiful girls being criticized) (I should copyright that, eh?), I'll tape Lie to Me and watch it at 8pm, and then I'll watch the re-broadcast of Ghosthunters at 9. Phew. I should just give up television all together. I completely forgot about Castle on Monday night so I had to watch that episode online. Isn't the Internet great?

Tomorrow I should be getting Ariana Franklin's GRAVE GOODS which will then jump the reading queue immediately. That will be lovely and maybe shake up the blahs. I've got the new Laura Lippman waiting for me at the library but I have a week to pick it up so no rush. It's a stand alone called LIFE SENTENCES. She's been getting much praise for her stand alones. We'll see if this one holds up.... but later.

The Susanna Gregory I'm reading now, THE TARNISHED CHALICE, is interesting in that the crime Brother Michael must investigate looks like it has ties to a conspiracy and perhaps mishandling of justice twenty years previous. Hmmmm....

So now, I have an individual pizza to heat up (party of one, anyone?) and go stare at another screen. (yes, I got some activity today, walking Tug for our hour). The blahs don't let you forego that Responsibility of Major Importance. :)

See y'all tomorrow.

Much love,

PK the Bookeemonster