from one of our sales reps - thanks Katie!
And chocolate cupcakes too
Save some for Santa.
Thank you to Jasper Fforde for answering our interview questions (he asked for zany questions, as interviews can be very drab evidentially)!
Want to know more about this fantastic author? Click here to see his awesome site!
1. In the Thursday Next Series, do you think it would be possible for Jurisfiction Agents to jump into alternate realities which also contain the same classics as their plane of existence? (by classics I mean books like Jayne Eyre, Pride & Prejudice or Hamlet for instance)
It's an interesting thought, and here's my take on it: Perhaps books are the only constant in the Multiverse, and by jumping into a book and then jumping out again, one could enter an entirely new plane of existence and/or timeline? I hope to explore this and many other astoundingly diverse and incredible ideas that will tax my reader's patience and imagination when Thursday Next 8: Dark Reading Matter is eventually written. Given my large workload at present, I don't see this happening anytime soon. 2018, perhaps?
2. When I was reading Song of the Quarkbeast and Once Magnificent Boo was explaining the types of quarkbeasts to Jennifer (pg. 173 in the US version) it reminded me strongly of a scene in the 1987 film Roxanne - when Daryl Hannah’s character was explaining what quarks were to Steve Martin’s character. My question is this, did you draw any inspiration from or were you influenced by this movie at all when writing this scene?
Well, I certainly saw the film and greatly enjoyed it - especially the 'twenty nose insults' scene and the 'damn, locked - good job I have the key' one liner, so it's possible. Oddly enough, this happens quite a lot. I was rereading the Moomintroll stories by Tove Jansson to my young daughter, and out popped a line construction I knew that I had used in the Thursday Next series. I didn't know I had, but I had. That's the odd thing about being a writer - it's like having a mind like a drift net that dredges up little snippets of Stuff to use at a later date. Writing is often pretty odd, really. Even the finest exponents of the art are at odds to describe how it all works.
3. Can you tell us anything about your up coming super-secret stand alone novel? Even if it’s just the postcards you might give away with it?
It's a mystery thriller set in a world where humans have always hibernated, November to March. To protect the inviolable sanctity of the sleepstate there exist Sleep Marshalls who ensure that villainy does not prevail. It does, naturally. John Fugue is a probationary marshall stranded over winter in Sector Twelve, an isolated backwater where a half dozen marshalls look after ten thousand or so sleeping residents. It is also the home of Morpheus Industries, the pharmaceutical giant that manufactures Morphenox, a dream suppressant designed to ensure that weightloss during hibernation is kept to a minimum. As a result, no-one in the Morphenoxed overclass dream, and especially not John Fugue. But he does. And other people have been having it too, with fatal results.
4. Have you ever had an idea for a promotional give away which seemed to outlandish to even attempt?
Yes - I had an idea for making flickbooks, but the cost was too prohibitive.
5. Were you influenced by Agatha Christie at all when writing your Nursery Crime series? (since she used several nursery rhymes in her mysteries)
Most certainly. I read tons of Agatha Christies during those lazy afternoons that seem only to exist when a teenager, and one I particularly liked was 'A Pocket full of Rye' in which the victims were bumped off in a manner that suggested they were actually characters from the nursery rhyme: 'Sing a song of Sixpence/ a pocket full of rye/ four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.'. I remember thinking how cool it would be if they really were from the rhyme, but they weren't, of course - it was a Red Herring. The idea clearly stuck with me, as years later I wrote the Nursery Crime series. I didn't use that particular rhyme in any of my books.
6. If you had to spend one year on a desert island with your favorite & least favorite fictional character who would they be?
Tricky one, this, and not with out some precedence in reality. I was stuck in an elevator once with Uriah Heep which was pretty awful, and a long car journey from Des Moines to Pittsburgh with Ishmael was, while initially interesting, repetitive when he went on long digressions about the different types of whale in almost ridiculous (and in some cases erroneous) detail. The last time I undertook an overwinter at the Antarctic research station was one in which Catherine Earnshaw was also present but as what I don't recall. She spent most of the winter banging on about Heathcliffe. A Danish virologist left the station and was never seen again. No-one knew why, but we always thought 'Earny' had something to do with it.
7. What is your favorite spice? And why?
This is a difficult question, but it was pretty much all we were talking about in the late nineties here in the UK. At the time it was probably Sporty Spice as she was the least affected and apparently the most normal, but in retrospect perhaps Ginger Spice, as she seems to have the most interesting insights about what the Spice Girls meant, and the phenomenon of 'Girl Power' and how it relates to ongoing women's issues.
8. Can you explain Cricket in 50 words or less to us Americans?
Of course. There are two teams; one who is IN, and one who is OUT. The team who is OUT has to get the team who is IN, OUT. Once the team who was IN are all OUT, then the team who were OUT are now IN, and they have to get the who is now IN, OUT. There is usually a good tea involved afterwards, and it is expressly forbidden to show appreciation in anything but a reserved clapping of the hands. Cricket also has laws, not rules, and some excellent nomenclature: A 'Googly' is bowling term used to describe a reverse spin leg break ball (that cleared that up) and 'Silly mid on' which is a position on the pitch for a fielder that is really far closer to a man wielding a heavy bat than you'd like to be. Simple, really.
9. Any final words?
Thanks for the questions, and hope to see Seattle in the next US tour - for Early Riser.
Thank you once again for the interview! - Seattle Mystery Bookshop
A hardboiled elf is framed for murder in a North Pole world that plays reindeer games for keeps, and where favorite holiday characters live complex lives beyond December.
Fired from his longtime job as captain of the Coal Patrol, two-foot-three inch 1,300-year-old elf Gumdrop Coal is angry. He's one of Santa's original elves, inspired by the fat man's vision to bring joy to children on that one special day each year. But somewhere along the way things went sour for Gumdrop. Maybe it was delivering one too many lumps of coal for the Naughty List. Maybe it's the conspiracy against Christmas that he's starting to sense down every chimney. Either way, North Pole disillusionment is nothing new: Some elves brood with a bottle of nog, trying to forget their own wish list. Some get better. Some get bitter. Gumdrop Coal wants revenge. Justice is the only thing he knows, and so he decides to give a serious wakeup call to parents who can't keep their vile offspring from landing on the Naughty List. But when one parent winds up dead, his eye shot out with a Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model BB gun, Gumdrop Coal must learn who framed him and why. Along the way he'll escape the life-sucking plants of the Mistletoe Forrest, battle the infamous Tannenbomb Giant, and survive a close encounter with twelve very angry drummers and their violent friends. The horrible truth lurking behind the gingerbread doors of Kringle Town could spell the end of Christmas-and of the fat man himself. Holly Jolly!
[We are once again having e-mail problems. We can receive but cannot send. If those who are supposed to know what they're doing do what we need them to do, we may send this later. Until then, here is the Newzine for today, Friday, Dec 12, 2014.]
Tomorrow is 12/13/14…
(Just seemed like something to point out as the months, days and years won’t line up like that again until 1/2/3003)
Congragulations to David Morrell for being presented the 2014 Nero Award for his novel Murder as a Fine Art. The Nero Award is presented each year to an author for the best American Mystery written in the tradition of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe stories. It is presented at the Black Orchid Banquet, traditionally held on the first Saturday in December in New York City. "The 'Nero' is considered one of the premier awards granted to authors of crime fiction. "
End of the Year Sale!
For the month of December, we are offering 10% off all used hardcovers, including collectibles. Here’s your chance to find something truly special to put under the tree for a booklover on your shopping list!
AND TOO! Even more great reasons to come see us!
We got this notice from our local Pioneer Square Association, designed to entice you to come visit us, and not just on the weekends, either:
“Pioneer Square Retailers,
Through December 31, your customers can get 2-HOURS FREE PARKING at the 1st & Columbia Garage!!! Please share this information with your customers via newsletter, Facebook, Twitter or other ways! Here is the link for you to share: http://www.pioneersquare.org/discover/first-two-hours-free-parking-in-pioneer-square.
How to Get Free Parking:
1. Park at the First and Columbia Garage (721 First Ave).
2. Keep the ticket issued from the garage.
3. Shop, dine, and enjoy holiday events in Pioneer Square (at your establishment!)
4. Go to Milepost 31, the SR 99 tunnel project information center at 211 First Ave S (Hours: Tues-Sat, 11 am- 5 pm), to pick up a free two-hour voucher ticket.
5. After retrieving the vehicle, drive to the exit and put the garage-issued ticket into the machine FIRST for balance, then insert the free parking voucher ticket to apply discount.
The Fine Print:
Valid ONLY at First and Columbia Garage (721 First Ave, Seattle, WA 98104). You may park for two hours for free. After that, posted rates apply. Not valid when special events or gameday rates are in effect. Valid through 12/31/2014. No cash value. Limit one per car per visit. No purchase necessary. While supplies last.
We are very excited about this holiday season and hope this promotion helps to draw additional shoppers to your business.
For future reference, our calendar of holidays and our hours as we head toward the end of the year:
Tues, Dec 16 – Chanukah Begins: Open
Sun, Dec 21 – Winter Solstice: Open
Wed, Dec 24 – Christmas Eve: Closing at 2pm
Thurs, Dec 25 – Christmas Day: Closed
Fri, Dec 26 – Boxing Day, Kwanza Begins: Open
Wed, Dec 31 – New Year’s Eve: Closing at 2pm
Thurs, Jan 1 – New Year’s Day: Closed
Fri Jan 2 – Our Regular Hours will change!
The 5-6pm hour doesn’t see much action – very few sales. So, from Jan 2nd to maybe sometimes in March, if then (depends on tourist season and over-all sales):
Sunday stays the same, noon – 5
Mon – Sat: 10 to 5
If there are people in the shop at 5pm, we won’t kick them out. By the same token, if you can be here by just a few minutes after 5, call and we can see if someone can stay. But Call First!
And the Post Office gives these dates for DOMESTIC Holiday shipping:
Dec 20 is the deadline for First Class to reach its destination by the 24th
Dec 20 is also the deadline for Priority mail to reach its destination by the 24th
Dec 23 is the deadline for Priority Mail Express to reach its destination by the 24th
So that means, if you want us to order something for you, speak now!
They’re available in Whatever Denomination You Want; They Don’t Expire; You can Order Them by Phone, e-mail or through the Website, and we can Mail them directly to the Recipient if you’d like. Perfect for all sorts of occasions. And they make GREAT stocking stuffers!
Links of Interest:
Charles Finch, noted mystery author, tells us which books he’s recommeding!
Val McDermid: Why I Write
While we specialize in mystery and crime books, we can order virtually any new book that you might want, no matter what its topic.
See the calendar of all currently-scheduled events on our website. The website calendar contains plot synopses. At the bottom of it is the updated, complete list of signed copies that we’ll be getting from other sources. Click Here.
Waverly Curtis & Rachel Bukey, Dec 13
Jayne Ann Krentz, Jan 6 –This Event has been Cancelled
Tracy Weber & M.A. Lawson, Jan 10
Jeanne Matthews, Jan 14
Thomas Perry, Jan 16
Pamela Christie, Jan 17
Tessa Arlen, Jan 24
Yasmine Galenorn, Jan 31, drop-by, time uncertain
Burt Weissbourd, Jan 31 at 3:00pm
Cara Black, Mar 2
Glen Erik Hamilton, Mar 3
C.S. Harris, Mar 7
Leslie Budewitz, Mar 17
And there are always more on the way!
Remember, too, that while it is always fun to come in and meet the author in person, that isn’t always possible. So reserve a signed copy to be mailed to you or for you to pick up later. Those who reserve in advance get the copies in the best condition!
We’ve been looking at our Facebook numbers, and we’re considering putting the page on hold – out of over 2000 people who are our friends, the number of people our posts reach are only in the double digits. If you’d like us to keep posting there, let us know. “Liking” and sharing posts are the best ways to boost our numbers. Otherwise at the first of the year, we’ll be cutting back our time there. Thanks!
Wish List: Our website has a Wish List capability. If folks want to know what you’d like for a given holiday or birthday, it is easy to point people to our website. Amber has put together a dandy blog post explaining it and how it works.
Word of the Week: (just to refresh your memories)
cheer (n.) From c.1200, "the face," especially as expressing emotion, from Anglo-French chere "the face," Old French chiere "face, countenance, look, expression," from Late Latin cara "face" (source also of Spanish cara), possibly from Greek kara "head," from PIE root *ker- (1) "head" (see horn (n.)). From mid-13c. as "frame of mind, state of feeling, spirit; mood, humor." By late 14c. the meaning had extended metaphorically to "mood, mental condition," as reflected in the face. This could be in a good or bad sense ("The feend ... beguiled her with treacherye, and brought her into a dreerye cheere," "Merline," c.1500), but a positive sense (probably short for good cheer) has predominated since c.1400. Meaning "shout of encouragement" first recorded 1720, perhaps nautical slang (compare earlier verbal sense, "to encourage by words or deeds," early 15th C.). The antique English greeting what cheer (mid-15th C.) was picked up by Algonquian Indians of southern New England from the Puritans and spread in Indian languages as far as Canada.
cheer (v.) From the late 14c., "to cheer up, humor, console;" c.1400 as "entertain with food or drink," from cheer (n.). Related: Cheered; cheering. Sense of "to encourage by words or deeds" is early 15th C. Which had focused to "salute with shouts of applause" by late 18th C. “Cheer up” (intransitive) first attested 1670s.
(thanks to etymonline.com)
You can browse our collectable and hard-to-find books, as well as signed copies from earlier author events, on Biblio.com. You do not have to place an order through them, especially if you’re a long-time customer and we have your ordering info. Just email us to order.
What We’ve Been Reading:
Amber’s project for 2014: My 52 Weeks of Agatha Christie. Here’s her explanation.
This Week: Problems, Productivity and Alexander Dumas
We have three Tumblr blogs, in addition to our regular shop blog:
Books and Decay, maintained by Amber – interesting photos with literary quotes to match
Hardboiled, maintained by JB – pulp covers, film noir and other images of crime and mystery
On This Date:
Dec 13, 1877 – Dr. Edmond Locard was born in France. A pioneering forensic investigator, he established “Locard’s Exchange Principle”: Every contact leaves a trace. Locard set up the first forensic laboratory in history in Lyon. His lectures were said to have been attended by George Simenon
Dec 13, 1903 - Willis Todhunter Ballard ("W.T." on the title page) was born in Cleveland
Dec 13, 1915 - Kenneth Millar was born in Los Gatos, CA. 34 years later he will start one of the finest series in all of the history of mysteries - the Lew Archer books - with The Moving Target, and become legendary as Ross Macdonald
Dec 13 – three from Hollywood: Christopher Plummer (1929, Toronto) and Steve Buscemi (1957, Brooklyn) and Columbo co-creator William Link (1933, Philadelphia)
Dec 13, 1972 – Peckinpah’s The Getaway premiered
Dec 14, 1914 – future mob boss Joe Columbo was born in Brooklyn
Dec 14, 1934 - $590,000 was stolen from the United States Trust Company – the largest robbery in US history up to that time
Dec 14, 1935, Lee Remick was born in Quincy, MA. In 1959, she starred in the classic courtroom movie Anatomy of a Murder, with Jimmy Stewart, Ben Gazzara and George C. Scott
Dec 14, 2012 – mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT - kindergarteners
Dec 15, 1863 – first confirmed bank robbery in US history as a man stole $5,000 from a Middlesex County, MA bank after shooting the 17 year-old bookkeeper. Other banks were robbed during the Civil War but they are viewed as acts of war and not a civilian crime.
Dec 15, 1937 - Donald Goines was born in Detroit
Dec 15, 1949 – the future Sonny Crocket, Don Johnson, was born in Flat Creek, MO
Dec 16, 1903 – whodunnit writer Clyde B. Clason was born in Boulder
Dec 16, 1927 - Peter Dickinson was born in Livingstone, Zambia. He’s known for penning some of the strangely erudite mysteries you might ever read and has won a number of mystery awards. Thankfully, he’s being reissued by Felony & Mayhem
Dec 16, 1928 – Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago
Dec 16, 1930 – screenwriter Alan Trustman was born in Boston. He wrote The Thomas Crown Affair AND Bullitt
Dec 16, 1935 – actress Thelma Todd was found dead in a car, one of the great unsolved deaths in Hollywood’s history.
Dec 16, 1943 – future creator of “Hill Street Blues”, Steven Bochco, was born in NYC
Dec 16, 1951 – “Dragnet” premiered
Dec 16, 1985 – mob boss “Big Paul” Castellano is shot down outside Sparks Steakhouse in NYC
Dec 17, 1813 – Napoleon signs the decree formally creating the Sûrète Nationale, the French national police
Dec 17th, 1903 – the Wright Brothers make the first flight with man-made power. Immediately afterward, a wagon appeared full of newspapers, candy and gum, toys and gag t-shirts, and paperback books. On-lookers were required to take off their shoes…
Dec 17 – Christianna Brand (1907, Malaya), Charlotte Jay, winner of the 1st Edgar Best Novel Award for Beat Not the Bones (1909, South Australia), pulp writer, novelist, playwright and director Richard Sale (1911, NYC), and William J. Reynolds (1956, Omaha)
Dec 17, 1926 – in what would be perhaps the first of what we know as ‘going postal’, in Australia, fired postal worker James Hannivan shot and killed two workers at the Adelaide General Post Office before killing himself
Dec 17, 1957 - Dorothy L. Sayers died
Dec 17, 1971 – Diamonds are Forever premiered
Dec 17, 1975 – “Rumpole of the Bailey” premiered on the BBC
Dec 18, 1891 – Owney Madden was born in Leeds, England. In NYC he becomes a feared gangster, boxing promoter and manager of the Cotton Club, where Duke Ellington gained fame. In 1935, due to a murder, he left NYC and settled in Hot Springs, AR, and ran it as an ‘open town’ (a safe place for hoodlums and gangsters to hide out when things in their city’s got ‘too hot’) and lived there until his death in 1965. He refused to give up his English accent
Dec 18, 1911 – actor and director Jules Dassin was born in Middletown, CT
Dec 18, 1913 – science fiction and mystery writer (The Demolished Man) Alfred Bester was born in NYC
Dec 18, 1931 – after many attempts, “Legs” Diamond was murdered.
Dec 18, 1946 - Steven Spielberg was born in Cincinnati
Dec 18, 1954 - Ray Liotta was born in Newark. Something Wild, Goodfellas, Cop Land and the wonderfully twisted Smokin’ Aces to name a few
Dec 18, 1963 - Brad Pitt was born in Shawnee, OK. Thelma and Louise, Se7en, Ocean’s 11, Mr. and Mrs. Smith to name a few
Dec 18, 1969 – the first Bond movie without Sean Connery, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, premiered in London and the US (the world premiere was in France on Dec 12)
Dec 19, 1843 - Charles Dickens’A Christmas Carol first published
Dec 19, 1876 – Walter W. Masterman – prolific author of many genres and brother of author and spymaster John C. – was born in Wimbledon
Dec 19 – shop founder Bill Farley was born in Battlecreek, Michigan
Dec 19, 1946 – Robert Urich was born in Toronto
Dec 19, 1969 – Hitchcock’s Topaz premiered
And Have a Relaxing and Book-Filled Weekend!
Passanger To Frankfurt
First Published: 1970
Summary: Sir Stafford Nye is a diplomat whose sense of irony and humor has kept him from reaching his full career potential. Meaning? Sometimes he cannot help but pull the tiger’s tail - not a trait the diplomatic core generally holds in high regard. This same sense of whimsy is why he decided to drink a beer he knew was drugged. Why? A striking woman approached him in the airline bar and told him the most incredible story....
Review: I have spoke before about my theory about the best place for the average Joe to meet a spy - in an airport - since they are always dashing about the globe doing their job. Meeting a spy at Target seems a bit to prosaic to me, but perhaps I am just romanticizing “the life”. This particular theory is based on my weird sense of humor not actual fact (you thought I was going to say wine didn’t you...). It seems that Christie entertained a similar idea forty-four years earlier. The opening of Passenger To Frankfurt features just such an occurrence - Sir Nye encounters a female spy in an airport bar. This mystery woman convinces Nye to allow her to use his passport in order to slip though security unnoticed and loose her pursuers. Reading a version of my theory in the pages of a Christie novel coupled with tension our femme fatale created was fantastic! The opening gambit made me extremely hopeful that the rest of the book would be filled with exotic destinations, intrigues and action. The ending of the book did fulfilled my expectations with clear action and a satisfying resolution. Even the epilogue which is a bit curious, tied the beginning and ending together nicely even if it came a bit out of left field. The problem with this book lies in the 150 pages in the middle, I am sorry to say.
For a bit of background you need to know that for Passenger To Frankfurt Christie recycles an idea used in They Came To Baghdad, a shadowy sinister organization bent on creating a “New Heaven and a New Earth” by destabilizing and destroying the old established institutions. The difference is in Frankfurt the puppeteers target students to further their agenda by arming, agitating and controlling them. It is not Christie’s recycling I find problematic, but the fact she follows the British counterintelligence’s “managers” (ie. politicians, military men & experts) rather than their agent’s actions. Frankfurt would have been far more interesting had Christie shown us how a shadowy group was able to destabilize Europe or South America, how they influence students or followed the “management’s” agents executing their counterintelligence orders. Instead Christie dictating the minutes of several meetings which focused on “what the world was coming too”. In addition each time the “managers” gathered for a meeting it brought the book’s momentum to a complete stop. Which I found frustrating! This book felt like a flickering light bulb, the action would blink on and I’d be all excited, here is where the novel would really take off and then it was snuffed out (again) by a meeting. Making the book feel much longer than it actually was. The thing is the resolution to this novel ends on such a high note it managed to leave a far more favorable impression in my mind than perhaps it should.
It seemed Christie chose to focus more on world politics rather than her plot in Frankfurt. She mentioned Vietnam, Mao, China, Russia, Communism, air plane hijackings and world events of the day. Which is odd because Christie seemed to shy away from such overt references in her prose before this installment ( in fact she edited out all references to WWII in The Sleeping Murder feeling they dated the book before it was published). With all of these factors added together Frankfurt leaves me feeling perplexed, since I cannot in good conscience recommend reading this installment for fun over Christmas Break. However I think there are small slivers which you should be familiar with - if you are like me and like being able to see the interconnectedness of the books in a canon or if you are a completion-ist and need to finish all her works once you start!
In any case Frankfurt marks Christie’s last foray into the realm of the spy novel! Yay! It also marks her 80th book to be published....well according to her publishers. In reality they “massaged” her publication numbers a tiny bit in order to reach this magical threshold. Collins included all of Christie’s regular mysteries up until that point, four short story collections which had only appeared in the U.S. and her six Mary Westmacott novels. Collins Crime Club was keen on creating this angle to help celebrate Christie’s eightieth birthday, 80 book in 80 years, a nice bit of symmetry isn’t it? The title page included the line “an extravaganza” on it, in reference to this achievement. All of this was in addition to the normal pomp surrounding the publication of her books.
While Collins Crime Club may have used a bit of jiggery pokery in order to reach 80 titles, the fact is she did really write that many - they just weren’t strictly her mystery titles or available everywhere. Over the course of her career - including short stories, plays, poems, nonfiction and adaptations - the number of pieces she produced is amazing! Around the two hundred and fifty mark! What I finding it astonishing how she was able to repeatedly and consistently come up with new material to hoodwink her audience. I cannot begin to say how much respect I have for this great lady, even if I wasn’t thrilled by this weeks particular installment...
Her sheer productivity boggles the mind doesn’t it? Translated into average numbers this roughly means she penned around three works a year, from the year she was born until the year she passed at eighty-five. What is even more astonishing? She isn’t even close to being the most prolific author out there, not even the most prolific mystery writer either! George Simenon a Belgian crime writer whose most famous character was Commissaire Maigret a French police detective (happily these books are coming back into print!) penned over five hundred works over his lifetime. In addition he hold the ranking of the #17 most translated author in the world at 2315 times (to put this in perspective Mary Higgins Clark is #40 with 1485, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle places at #14 with 2495 Christie is still holding the #1 spot at 7233 according to UNESCO’s 2013 Translationum Index). A fellow golden age mystery writer John Creasy was no slouch in the output department, he penned over six hundred works under a whole slew of pen names! In addition Creasy founded the Crime Writers’ Association in the UK in 1953 (the organization responsible for the Dagger Awards). Seriously where did they find the time? I struggle to balance work, married life and a weekly blog!
Now if you add Christie, Simenon and Creasy’s output together it is a mere drop in the bucket compared to these two hyper-prolific authors! A Portuguese pulp writer Ryoki Inoue has penned over 1,000 works and he’s still going strong. What I find even more incredible is the fact he didn’t start seriously writing until 1986 when he was forty years old - meaning he’s written all of his books in the last twenty-eight years! This feat in writing is dwarfed by a Spanish romance writer who holds the Guiness World Record for the large number of Spanish books even sold. Maria Socorro Tellado Lopez aka Corin Tellado wrote over 4,000 novels (and yes I got the number of zeros correct)! Can you imagine? Their fingers must actually be ink stained! Or if they used computers to write perhaps they squint? (due to the glare from the monitor...)
While 80 novels in 80 years and 250-ish total works does herald some bragging rights... Christie cannot claim the most prolific author of all time, she isn’t even the most prolific mystery writer. What can she claim (by a very wide margin) is she’s by far the most popular!
Fun Fact: Isaac Asimov is #24 on the translation list, penned over 500 works and is one of the only authors whose works appear in all ten categories of the Dewey Decimal System!
“To hate is a waste of time.” (pg. 131)
“And one can’t help coming to the conclusion that politicians have a felling that they have a kind of divine right to tell lies in a good cause.” (pg. 75)
“All these Ministers insist on coming in and having kittens all over the place.” (pg. 45)
“He found it useful to have a moustache. It concealed moments when he found it difficult to avoid smiling.” (pg. 23)
Radom Fact: Did you know the original premiere of The Nutcracker ballet was a flop? Critics lampooned the music Tchaikovsky wrote, the choreography and the dancers. The ballet’s popularity begun growing soon after when companies begun staging their own adaptations of the work. Meaning they added or subtracted portions of the dancing and music to suit their own vision of what The Nutcracker should be. Interestingly the ballet is based on an adaptation itself! In 1844 Alexander Dumas (pere) reworked E.T.A. Hoffmann’s original 1816 novella The Nutcracker And The Mouse King. It was Dumas’s reimagined version which the famous composer decided to base his ballet on. I knew I enjoyed reading Dumas’s writing The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo are absolutely wonderful. I hadn’t realized that I’d been influenced by him since a young age, even if is was just the spark left at the heart of an enchanting ballet!
While I have not read extensively into the Dumas canon, I didn’t realize how much influence he’d had in the mystery genre! One simple phrase coined in his 1854 detective novel, The Mohicans Of Paris has permeated mysteries ever since it was uttered, cherchez la femme or seek the woman. Christie herself used it several times in her books, most notably in Passenger To Frankfurt. This book contains two femme fatales who are being sought, one of the “management’s” side and the other on the sinister organizations side. Both of whom are what keeps the action going in this novel and what makes it readable. So now you know!
Cheating: With only two and a half weeks to go it would be horrible to blow it now!
My 52 Weeks With Christie: A.Miner©2014
Amos Walker is at low ebb. Just released from a rehab clinic, the Detroit private detective has to marshal his energies to help solve a murder in Iroquois Heights, his least favorite town.
The area is flooded with billboards rented by the widow of Donald Gates, an ordinary suburbanite found shot to death in his basement on New Year’s Eve: “YOU KNOW WHO KILLED ME!” they read, above the number of the sheriff’s tip line. Complicating matters is a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the murderer, offered by an anonymous donor through the dead man’s place of worship.
Initially hired by the sheriff’s department to run down anonymous tips, Walker investigates further. The trail leads to former fellow employee Yuri Yako, a Ukrainian mobster, relocated to the area through the U.S. Marshals’ Witness Protection Program.
Shadowed by government operatives, at odds with the sheriff, and struggling with his addiction, Walker soldiers on, in spite of bodies piling up and the fact that almost everyone involved with the case is lying to him.
1 – Maia Chance - Snow White, Red-Handed (Berkley)
2 – tie
Jenn McKinlay - On Borrowed Time (Berkley)
Anne Bishop - Written in Red (Roc)
Gillian Flynn - Gone Girl (Broadway)
5 – Louise Penny - Still Life (Minotaur)
6 – James W. Hall - Going Dark (St. Martin’s)
7 - tie
M.A. Lawson - Rosarito Beach (Signet)
F. Paul Wilson - Dark City (Tor)
9 – tie
Leslie Budewitz - Death al Dente (Berkley)
Leslie Budewitz - Crime Rib (Berkley)
Yasmine Galenorn - Priestess Dreaming (Jove)
Greg Rucka - A Gentleman’s Game (Bantam)
Dennis Lehane - A Drink Before the War (Harper)
Agatha Christie - And Then There Were None (Harper)
Jo Nesbø - Nemesis (Harper)
Lawrence Block - When the Sacred Ginmill Closes (Avon)
Ali Brandon - Literally Murder (Berkley)
David Rosenfelt - Open and Shut (Grand Central)
Robert Crais - The Monkey’s Raincoat (Bantam)
John Connolly - Every Dead Thing (Pocket)
Preston & Child - Relic (Tor)
F. Paul Wilson - Tomb (Tor)
Shelly Costa - Basil Instinct (Pocket)
First Published: March 1948 - AKA There Is A Tide - both titles taken from a line in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in Act IV.
Summary: Gordon Cloade is the proverbial rich uncle who looks after his entire family, making sure each member has exactly what they need to thrive. The issue is the Cloade family became so reliant on his generosity, they never worried about the future. That is, until he married a silly wisp of a thing and then promptly perished in an air raid without writing a new Will. This turn of events left the Cloade family out in the cold and made a newly minted heiress out of his widow. The thing is, the widow’s first husband may be alive and living in Africa - which would be fortuitous for the Cloade family if he was found. Poirot is approached, however there seems to be little incentive for him to pursue the case...
Review: The holidays are here and we all know what that means....Cookies! Cookies! And More Cookies! And because the holidays means cookies, I feel it fitting I share an “important” theory with you...I speculate that meringues came into being because people needed something creative to do with egg whites after they made spritz cookies - the best recipes only call for the use of egg yolks. Created sometime in the 1500’s, the spritzeback, as the spritz is otherwise known, is a traditional holiday cookie in Scandinavian countries and Germany. Meringue cookies, on the other hand, consist solely of egg whites, sugar of one variety or another, a pinch of salt and perhaps cream of tartar and an extract of some kind (usually almond or vanilla). All ingredients which would be left over if you were baking other cookies, like spritzes!
(great looking spritz cookies, click the pic to got to the recipie and the source of the picture)
The earliest recorded meringue recipe was created in Berkshire, England, around 1604, found in a cookbook written by one Lady Elinor Fettiplace (well, technically a small bound manuscript - nothing like the cookbooks of today with gloss pictures of food held together with glue, laquer and toothpicks). She named her creation "White Basket Bread". In a serendipitous moment in culinary history another woman, Lady Rachel Fane devised a similar recipe at almost the same time in Kent, once again in England, (historians do not believe they knew each other). She called her dainties "Pets". But a rose by any other name would smell like meringue. Both Lady Fane’s and Lady Fettiplcace’s concoctions were meringues, they just lacked their “trade-marked” name. Enter a fancy pants French chef named Francois Massialot, who was Louis XIV’s first chef. Massialot penned his own cookbook in 1692, where he dubbed the earlier known "Pet" and "White Basket Bread" as "meringue" (he also is credited with creating creme brûlée and the innovation of alphabetizing recipes when printing them in a book).
Now I know simple geography is against my theory, since spritzes originated in Germany and meringues in England, but I have some wiggle room here! One simple thing stands out to historians : none of these three cookbooks claim the recipe to be their original creation, leading to speculation meringue’s recipe could be a bit older than 1604. Thus my theory could be plausible, but admittedly unlikely (I have absolutely no facts behind this theory, it is mainly fueled by wine). People could have traveled from England to Germany or vise versa and brought the recipe with them, thus making speculation into fact? It could have happened.....
Here the thing though. While I am a huge fan of spritz cookies, meringues not so much...
Seriously, they are a waste of space on any holiday cookie platter! My advice? When taking a tray of cookies to an office part or neighborhood social, substitute meringues with spritz, chocolate chip or butter cookies. Even the weird creation your five year old made in kindergarten would be better than subjugating people to meringues (unless you don’t like your coworkers/neighbors; then fill an entire platter with the suckers)! The reason why I dislike this rather innocuous little cookie is because it is completely forgettable and without substance. The only lasting impression they make is the weird aftertaste they leave in my mouth, which is the only sensation my memory here to hold onto to prove I didn’t imagine eating this fluffy, crumbling pretender of a confection.
So, what exactly do meringue cookies have to do with Taken At The Flood? I found this book to be utterly forgettable. Just like the meringues, this book didn’t have much flavor or substance and made me wonder if I’d really read a Christie mystery at all. My mind struggles to retain and retrieve facts about this particular title, like it suddenly developed a book-specific worm hole. The plot, while some might call it intricate, I think was just too convoluted and never kept my attention. Christie created a whole host of characters with interesting motives and then left them unexplored. Even Poirot, who usually can provide some substance, doesn’t really appear on the scene until halfway through the book and doesn’t appear frequently enough to provide much depth. This installment left me wanting to read a denser title in her canon like Ackroyd or Nemesis, which is the reading equivalent of eating a spritz cookie to make up for a meringue mistake.
The other significant quality which Taken At The Flood shares with a meringue is the fact both leave a weird aftertaste after they are consumed. Literally in the last two pages of the book, pages 262-263, Christie takes two characters completely off the rails. Lynn, the returning WREN (the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy’s female branch nicknames WREN, I had to look it up) has been engaged to Rowley for several years. However Lynn feels restless after she returns home from the WRENs, missing the travel and the action she’d become accustomed to during her period of service. The problem is Lynn thinks Rowley is far too boring and safe, having never fought in the war, which is the actual impetus behind her trying to break things off with Rowley (there was another man as well, but he was just an excuse in my view). When Rowley hears her rejection he flies into a rage and tries to strangle Lynn, only Poirot’s well timed intervention saves her life.
Here’s what leaves the weird meringuey-like aftertaste, Lynn’s reaction to Rowley trying to murder her, “When you caught hold of me by the throat and said if I wasn’t for you, no one should have me - well- I knew then that I was your woman!....I’ve never, really, cared very much for being safe---“” (pg. 262-263). Seriously?! He tries to murder you and you think the extra pepper this provides is just the thing to keep the excitement alive in your marriage? Really? This scene can make a bit of sense with the background Christie provides throughout the book on Lynn. But then you put the book down and stand back and then the sheer bizarreness of her reaction hits you - would you stay with someone who just a few moments before tried to strangle you? In this case, there is no other abuse mentioned or other extenuating circumstances which we know in real life can factor into a decision of a woman to stay in a relationship which contains an event like this. And the sheer fact that Christie wrote this and thought it was at least all right to publish? Yeah, one of the few scenes I’ve found in her books I didn’t enjoy reading, this book just left a weird taste in my brain.
Incidentally, 1604 - the same year Lady Fettiplace’s created her White Basket Bread - is also the same year Shakespeare’s Othello took the stage for the first time. We know this because scholars found a performance record for the play in the Office of the Revels’ documents. Perhaps since Christie pulled the title, Taken At The Flood, from a line in Julius Caesar she also drew inspiration from Othello, possibly attempting to give Othello and Desdemona a happier ending by timing the revelations of murderous plots in their favor so they could live happily ever after. If this was the case, I think Christie missed the mark.
P.S. - Sorry to the meringue lovers out there (my husband included). I have weirdly strong opinions on the stuff! And btw I don’t like the meringue on lemon meringue pies either, in case you're curious. I flip the top off the pie like a lid.
“Nevertheless reasonableness has never been a quality that appealed to lovers.” (pg. 95)
“What do they wear on their heads? Proper hats? No, a twisted-up bit of stuff, and faces covered with paints and powder...Not only red nails -- but red toe-nails!” (pg. 190) - The sheer scandal at red toes nails made me giggle....
“...You’ll be a leetle suspicious of anything so convenient as a smashed watch. It can be genuine -- but it’s a well-known hoary old trick.” (pg. 120)
Random Fact: In the Christie canon of works, she penned a character who believed to one degree or another in spiritualism, not religion mind you, but in spirits, magic and/or the occult. The Pale Horse, Dumb Witness and Murder Is Easy, just off the top of my head, all contain characters who believe in spiritualism to one degree or another, and Take In The Flood can be added to this list. In this book, Katherine Cloade believes spirits speak to her though a ouija board. In this case it was the spirit telling her that the newly minted widow/heiress’s first husband was really alive and well in Africa, which means her second marriage wouldn’t be legal (thus the Cloade family once again inherits his fortune) which prompted her to seek out Poirot to find the missing first husband.
While it sounds a bit far-fetched now, at this point in time spiritualism and ouija boards were at their height of popularity. Even since an American woman named Pearl Curran claimed to contact a Puritan woman through her board, a new golden age of spiritualism was founded, due to the fact the board removed the middle man from seances. You didn’t need a medium or a group of friends to make contact with the spirit world. You could do it on your own or with another person easily, giving the users a more visceral sense of connection. Pearl Curran is credited with creating the link between the ouija board and the spirit world; before this point it was viewed as a sort of game. Pearl and her spirit "Patience Worth" went on to pen seven books together as well as reams of poetry and short stories. Her first book was hailed by the NY times as a “feat of literary composition” and featured in several poetry anthologies. Pearl was turned into an instant phenomenon, she toured and lectured with he spirit board for many years.
Since then many writers have admitted to receiving a bit of help from a ouija board. William Butler Yeats himself didn’t use a board but did find inspiration in his wife’s (Georgie Hyde-Lees) automatic writing abilities for his 1925 book A Vision. Sylvia Plath found inspiration over a ouija board for many of her poems, most notably Ouija and Dialogue Over A Ouija after her husband Ted Hughes introduced her to it. More recently, Pulitzer Prize winning poet James Merrill used the board extensively when writing his three volume long epic poem The Changing Light At Sandover in 1982. Even Alice Cooper claims his name was derived from a session with a spirit board!
Unlike some mystery authors like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or G. K. Chesterton, I haven’t found anything to indicate whether Christie herself was a believer or not in ouija or spiratulism. Mainly in her writings it seems to be used as a plot device more than anything else. However it was regarded as a harmless parlor game up until Christie’s early twenties so it is possible she encountered it before and after it became a huge fad, thus allowing for her to have a unique view on its use, as she lived in a world before ouija worked itself completely into our public consciousness.
In an interesting twist, while Pearl Curran is credited with the linking of ouija with the spirit world it wasn’t until the 1973 film The Exorcist that Ouija took on the sinister connotations that it has now (since this movie has in large part been incorporated into the fabric of our pop culture). Who knew that a 1890 invention by Elijah Bond would take up such an interesting and unique place in both literature and pop culture?
Cheating: Nope. We’ve had to postpone the London trip until closer to spring (stupid life getting in the way)! But even with the slight delay I am still going strong! No cheating yet! (Did I just write yet? Seriously! I meant not going to happen!)
My 52 Weeks With Christie: A.Miner©2014
1 – Peter May - The Blackhouse (Quercus)
2 – Urban Waite - The Terror of Living (Back Bay)
3 – tie
Craig Johnson - Spirit of Steamboat (Penguin)
Ernest Cline - Ready Player One (Crown)
5 – tie
Bernadette Pajer - The Edison Effect (Poisoned Pen)
Fuminori Nakamura - Evil and the Mask (Soho)
Fred Vargas - The Chalk Circle Man (Penguin)
8 – tie
Burt Weissbourd - Inside Passage (Rare Bird)
Curt Colbert - Seattle Noir (Akashic)
Jussi Adler-Olsen - The Purity of Vengeance (Plume)
Gillian Flynn - Sharp Objects (Broadway)
Alan Bradley - The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Bantam)
Jussi Adler-Olsen - The Keeper of Lost Causes (Plume)
Peter Spiegelman - Thick as Thieves (Vintage)
Barry Lancet - Japantown (Simon & Schuster)
Maurizio De Giovanni - I Will Have Vengeance (Europa)
Saturday December 6th - Blind Date With A Book
Starting this Saturday (and ending when we run out of bags) Blind Date With A Book is back!
The Rules? You must purchase at least $10 in books, one bag per transaction and it is for in shop customers only - does not apply to mail orders. Sorry Guys!
No peeking, trading or opening the bag in the shop!
1 - Michael Connelly - The Burning Room (Little Brown)
2 – Craig Johnson - Wait for Signs (Viking)
3 – John Connolly - The Wolf in Winter (Atria)
4 – Urban Waite - Sometimes the Wolf (Morrow)
5 – F. Paul Wilson - Fear City (Tor)
6 – Preston & Child - Blue Labyrinth (Grand Central)
7 – tie
Timothy Hallinan - For the Dead (Soho)
Louise Penny - The Long Way Home (Minotaur)
9 – Patricia Cornwell - Flesh and Blood (Morrow)
10 – tie
Fuminori Nakamura - Last Winter, We Parted (Soho)
John Grisham - Gray Mountain (Doubleday)
SALE! SALE! SALE!
December 2nd - 31st!
are 10% off!
Had your eye on Dick Francis’s Odds Against, Dennis Lehane’s A Drink Before The War or Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair? Well buy a great gift and save! The majority of our collectable books are listed on Biblio.com (search box is below), for our regular used hardcovers stop by the shop and browse!