Due to an unforeseen health emergency amongst the staff, we at SMB have cancelled the January 6th signing for Jayne Ann Krentz‘s book Trust No One. We think it is only fair to tell you this now so that you can try to make alternate arrangements to get a signed book. Keep an eye on Jayne’s website, Facebook and/or Twitter feed for further event news.
Romain Curtis sneaks into St. George’s Gardens one evening with his date, planning to show her the stars. A centuries-old burial ground, the small, quiet park is the perfect place to be alone. Yet the night takes a chilling turn when the two teenagers spy a strange figure rising from among the tombstones: a corpse emerging from the grave. Suffice it to say that wherever there’s a dead man walking, Bryant and May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit are never far behind.
As the PCU investigates the sighting, a second urgent matter requires their unusual brand of problem-solving. Seven ravens have gone missing from their historic home in the Tower of London, and legend has it that when the ravens disappear, England will fall. Bryant has been tasked with recovering the lost birds, but when Romain is suddenly found dead, the two seemingly separate mysteries start to intertwine and point to a plot more sinister than anyone could ever imagine.
Soon Bryant and May find themselves immersed in London’s darkest lore, from Victorian-era body snatchers, to arcane black magic, to the grisly myth behind Bleeding Heart Yard, a courtyard long associated with murder. And as the body count spikes and more coffins are unearthed, they will have to dig deep to catch a killer and finally lay these cases to rest.
Our Winter 2014/15 Newsletter is done and back from the printers. It will take a little longer than usual to get it up on the website due to extenuating circumstance The PDF is there under “Past Newsletters”. Patience, please! (Amber was on jury duty and then there’s the holiday interuption!)
With the holidays approaching, plan to be here for Small Business Saturday (Nov. 29th). We’re joining in with Pioneer Square to wheel and deal and have great things going on! Extra staff (as in local authors Urban Waite and Jeanne Matthews) will be here to help us sell books, along with Bernadette Pajer, who will be here signing her latest novel – The Edison Effect (Poisoned Pen Press, $14.95), the 4th in her historical series featuring Seattle ProfessorBenjamin Badshaw. The murder vicitm is found in the window of The Bon Marché, an electrician clutching of Edison’s newfangled color Christmas lights.
Also, for the next 4 Saturdays we are offering 10% off all used hardcovers, including collectables.
That’s Nov 29th, Dec 6th, and Dec 13th.
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
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!
Rest In Peace:
We mourn the passing of one of the finest writers of the last sixty years, Phyllis Dorothy James.
James was born on Aug 3, 1920, in Oxford, England. As her father didn't believe in higher education for girls, she ended her schooling at 16 to follow him into civil service. After 3 years, she left that to work as an assistant stage manager for a small theatre. As the war raged, she married army doctor Ernest Connor Bantry White in 1941 and had two daughters before it ended. Her husband returned from the war with mental issues. He was hospitalized and died in 1964. To support them, James studied hospital administration and worked for a hospital board from '49-'68.
With her husband hospitalized and her daughters in boarding school, James had her evenings free. She claimed that she'd always intended to be a writer and spent the '50s honing her craft. In 1962, her first novel was bought by the first publisher to see it. Like many authors who aimed for 'serious literature', she began with detective fiction as an entry into publishing. She had no interest in dealing with her own life in her writing, and she'd always loved detective stories, so it was a perfect fit. She also appreciated the need for order in a mystery novel. “I like structured fiction, with a beginning, a middle, and an end,” she said. “I like a novel to have narrative drive, pace, resolution, which a detective novel has.”
Cover Her Face had as its main character the private and cerebral Adam Dalgliesh, Detective Chief-Inspector, published poet, widower, and a continuation of the British gentleman-detective form. As James' career grew, so did Dalgliesh's. By the time of his last appearance in 2008's The Private Patient, he'd gone from a Cooper Bristol to a Jaguar, and from DCI to the rank of Commander at the Yard, in charge of his own squad which handled sensitive cases. “I gave him the qualities I admire,” James explained in 2001, “because I hoped he might be an enduring character and that being so, I must actually like him.”
1980's Innocent Blood is the book that launched her not only into international fame and bestseller-dom, but also earned her enough money to retire from outside work to write full-time. Strangely enough, it is a stand-alone novel. By that time, she'd published 6 Dalgliesh books, as well as one of the first books with a female private eye, 1972's An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, featuring Cordelia Gray who inherits a ramshackle 'private enquiry' office. (By comparison, Marcia Muller's first Sharon McCone novel arrived in 1977, Sara Paretsky's first Warshashski and Sue Grafton's first Kinsey both in 1982). Some therefore make the case that she pioneered the modern woman private eye novel. There would be just two Gray novels.
James garnered walls full of awards. Mystery Writers of America Grand Master, International Crime Writing Hall of Fame, adaptations into TV series and movies and, in 1991, she was named Baroness James of Holland Park and sat in the House of Lords.
“James’s apprenticeship in crime fiction became a lifelong commitment, as she came to believe ‘it is perfectly possible to remain within the constraints and conventions of the genre and be a serious writer, saying something true about men and women and their relationships and the society in which they live’. To suggest that the formal constraints of crime fiction prevent its practitioners from producing good novels ‘is as foolish as to say that no sonnet can be great poetry since a sonnet is restricted to 14 lines’, she argued.
Speaking in 2001 at the launch of Death in Holy Orders, her 11th Dalgliesh novel, James explained that her success was founded on the belief that plot could never make up for poor writing and that authors should always focus on the reader.
‘At the end of a book, I want to feel, well that’s as good as I can do – not as good, perhaps, as other people can do – but it’s as good as I can do. There are thousands of people who do like, for their recreational reading, a classical detective story, and I think they are entitled to have one which is also a good novel and well written. Those are the people I write for. They don’t want me to adapt to what I think is the popular market. They want a good novel, honestly written and I think they are jolly well entitled to it.’”
This, of course, is a quick overview of P.D. James and her life and work.
P.D. James died peacefully at home on Thursday, November 27th.
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!
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.
Bernadette Pajer, Nov 29
Phillip Margolin, Dec 11
Waverly Curtis & Rachel Bukey, Dec 13
Jayne Ann Krentz, Jan 6
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!
literature (n.) From the late 14th C., from Latin literatura/litteratura "learning, a writing, grammar," originally "writing formed with letters," from litera/littera "letter" (see letter (n.1)). Originally "book learning" (it replaced Old English boccræft), the meaning "literary production or work" is first attested 1779 in Johnson's "Lives of the English Poets" (he didn't include this definition in his dictionary, however); that of "body of writings from a period or people" is first recorded 1812. “Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree.” [Ezra Pound, "ABC of Reading"] Meaning "the whole of the writing on a particular subject" is from 1860; sense of "printed matter generally" is from 1895. The Latin word also is the source of Spanish literatura, Italian letteratura, German Literatur. (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.
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, and
On This Date:
Nov 30 – wow, lots of birthdays: rifle manufacturer Oliver Winchester (1810, Boston), Samuel Clemens (1835, Florida, MO), Geoffrey Household (1900, Bristol), John Dickson Carr (1906 Uniontown, PA), Jacques Barzun (1907, Créteil, France), John Franklin Bardin (1916, Cincinnati), Efrem Zimbalist, Jr (1918, Solvang, CA), G. Gordon Liddy (1930, Brooklyn), Ridley Scott (1937, South Shields) and David Mamet (1947, Chicago, natch)
Nov 30, 2001- Gary Ridgeway was arrested for the Green River Killer murders
Dec 1, 1886 – Grand Master of Mystery Rex Stout was born in Noblesville, IN. His first Nero Wolfe, Fer-de-Lance, was published in 1934 when he was 48
Dec 1, 1919 - Douglas Clark was born in Lincolnshire
Dec 1 – the great character actor Malachi Throne (1928, NYC) and David Doyle (1929, Omaha), Bosley in “Charlie’s Angels”
Dec 1, 1949 – drug lord Pablo Escobar was born
Dec 2, 1914 – the great character actor Ray Walston was born in New Orleans
Dec 2, 1968 – one of the latest Angels and Dr. Joan Watson, Lucy Liu was born in Queens
Dec 3, 1857 – Polish writer Joseph Conrad was born
Dec 3, 1910 – modern neon lighting was demonstrated, leading to all of those colorful and lurid nights along the mean streets of film noir
Dec 3, 1926 – hit man writer Frank McAuliffe was born in NYC
Dec 3, 1926 – Agatha Christie vanished
Dec 3, 1960 – Julianne Moore was born in Fayetteville, NC
Dec 4, 1903 – the reclusive and, well, odd Cornell Woolrich was born in NYC
Dec 4, 1924 – photojournalist and novelist William Diehl was born in Queens
Dec 4, 1927 – Southern mystery writer and poet Anne George was born in Montgomery, AL
Dec 4, 1940 – future career criminal Gary Gilmore was born in McCarney, TX
Dec 4, 1949 – the multi-talented Jeff Bridges was born in LA
Dec 5 – two noted Hollywood directors were born: Fritz Lang (1890, Vienna) and Otto Preminger (1906, Wiznitz, Austria-Hungaria, which is now part of Ukraine)
Dec 5, 1936 – modern master James Lee Burke was born in Houston
Dec 5, 1914 – post-war German crime writer Hans Hellmut Kirst was born in Osterode, East Prussia. His The Night of the Generals would be published in 1963 (Peter O’Toole starred in the movie)
Dec 5, 19?? - local favorite author Stella Cameron was born in Weymouth, Britain – Early Happy Birthday!
Dec 5, 19XX – one of the greatest supporters of this shop was born – an early Happy Birthday to Diana M.!
First Published: Collins Crime Club, September 1958, London.
Series: Stand Alone
Summary: Rachel Argyle was murdered, struck on the back of the head by a fireplace poker; her adopted son Jacko is found guilty of her murder. All through the police investigation and trial Jacko maintained his innocence, but his alibi was thin. Two years after his conviction Dr. Arthur Calgary arrives at Sunny Point, where Rachel’s family still lives, with the most impossible tale. He can corroborate Jacko’s alibi - he was an innocent man. The problem is Jacko died in jail. The only other people in the house at the time were the family, so now the question is who killed Rachel if Jacko didn’t?
Review:Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. This isn’t just an axiom which applies to cutting up shirts into rags when they’ve outlived their lifespan (i.e. stained beyond hope of saving), using bed sheets as fabric for shirts when they accidentally get ripped in the wash (BTW best material I’ve ever worked with) or why I struggle to throw out any scrap of material because I might need it later (as it happens I’ve made some interesting quilts by just using my scrap bin). This particular saying has all kinds of real world applications beyond my sewing stash! Bottles, batteries, bras, soap, wine corks, water filters and crayons all can find a second life somewhere!
As it turns out, writers are avid recyclers as well! Meaning? Writers often reuse their own ideas and depending on the skill of the writer and how good the initial idea was the derivatives sometimes outshine the originals! One of my favorite examples of recycling starts with Beatrice’s speech right after Hero is accused of being unfaithful in Much Ado About Nothing, “O God, That I were a man! I would eat his heart in the market-place.” (act 4, scene 1). This scene is one of my absolute favorites in fiction, the burning frustration of being a woman, the impotence Beatrice felt in her inability to defend her kinswoman from slander is riveting. Then her ability to persuade Benedict to kill his “sworn brother” to right this wrong for her is stunning. A few years later Shakespeare retools this dynamic for Macbeth, in this case furthering a far more sinister ambition, “Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, And fill me from the crown to the toe topple Of direst cruelty!” (act 1, scene 5). Lady MacBeth’s wish to murder Duncan, to take up the dagger and do the deed is strong but is hampered by her gender. Instead she persuades Macbeth to kill Duncan. In both comedy and tragedy Shakespeare made this plot device sing and honestly I cannot say which play I enjoy more!
Christie was keen on recycling as well. The first instance I noticed a reimagined idea was in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Christie overhauled and honed an idea first introduced to her readers in The Man In The Brown Suit to perfection in Ackroyd. Both books I found very enjoyable to read, but Ackroyd I do have to admit is the star of the two due to its sheer audacity. You might think this a mere coincidence, a one-off so to speak, the recycling of plot devices. Every author with a lengthy catalogue at some point usually plucks an underdeveloped idea from a book and explores it further. But it doesn’t happen that often, right?
Well, until I hit her "Murder in Retrospect" quartet, I might have agreed with you. Each of the four books explore the unique factors which allowed a murderer to go unpunished. Essentially Christie created four cold cases for her sleuths to solve. In each book the murderer has been able to get away with their crime for years, until someone takes a closer look. The groupings are like this; Five Little Pigs and The Sleeping Murder start in a similar fashion - two young women who want to find the truth, even after they are warned that the truth may not be pretty. Five Little Pigs, Nemesis and Ordeal By Innocence share the commonality of having someone convicted of the crime who may or may not be innocent. In my opinion these four are wonderful reads (I must say I am a bit partial to the Miss Marples).
While Ordeal can be grouped within the theme of a murder in retrospect, it shares one more link within the Christie canon: And Then There Were None. These two books are tied together by the poisonous fume of suspicion. The entire Argyle family is plunged into suspicion when Dr. Calgary delivers his news of Jacko’s confirmed alibi, thereby fraying the familial relationships since each member had the means, motive and opportunity to murder the family matriarch. In And Then There Were None, suspicion rears its ugly head on the first evening when the record plays and ratchets up the tension when one party member suddenly drops dead. In addition, both groups were assembled by a single person for a singular purpose. In Ordeal, Rachel assembled a family from strangers through marriage, adoption and employment. In None, they assembled to have justice served for unpunished crimes which had been committed. However it was familial ties which kept the Argyles from fracturing the way the victims/villains of Soldier Island did.
Ordeal By Innocence, when you look at it closely, contains very little which is completely unique, we’ve read many of these plot devices before. However, Christie's skill as a writer is what allows something new to be found in gently used devices and themes. I enjoyed reading this book immensely. Even though it is missing much of the sly humor she often injects through wry observations, dandified detectives and twittering women. Unlike None, this book supplies enough clues, if you’re paying attention, to solve the mystery before you naturally come to the end of the book, which is nice to read in what really is more a psychological suspense novel than a mystery.
You might think this post sounds a bit recycled itself (I am not sure you're wrong in this estimation) but the book itself contained so many cobbled together bits I felt the need to make this observation!
“The truth often sounds unconvincing.” (pg. 195)
“That was one of poor Mrs. Argyle’s troubles...The fact was she was nearly always right, that she did know best. If she’d been one of those women who run into debt, lose their keys, miss trains, and do foolish actions that other people have to help them out of, her entire family would have been much fonder of her.” (pg. 109)
Really Random Fact: Ever been on a blind date? On said blind date, did you make sure to meet in a public place to help mitigate any funny business? Did you then make a joke to break the tension about making sure your date wasn't an “axe murderer”? (Because wondering out loud if they are a serial killer or a rapist might seem a tad offensive?) *crickets sounds* Just me with a weird sense of humor?
Did you know at one point in our history, this fear wasn't as far-fetched as it seems now? Nether did I, until I started researching this post. It began with Lizzie Borden, one of the first truly sensationalized murder trials in the United States (a precursor to the frenzied media coverage to OJ Simpson or Fatty Arbuckle trials). Back in 1892 Lizzie's stepmother and father were brutally murdered in their home from repeated blows delivered by an axe. Eleven blows for the father and 18 for Lizzie’s step mother - not the 40 and 41 the rhyme claims (the rhyme was coined and spread by a newspapers to sell more copies). Lizzie quickly became the police’s prime suspect. Later the same year she stood trial for the two brutal murders and was acquitted by a jury in an hour and a half. No further arrests were ever made in this case and it remain unsolved to this day.
Christie refers to the case several times in Ordeal By Innocence, as the suspect pool in both the fictional and real life drama were similar, consisting mainly of long-standing servants and family members present in the house at the time of the murder. In addition, the Borden case illustrates what may have happened to the Argyle family if Rachel’s killer wasn’t unearthed. Lizzie was subjected to severe ostracism by the residents of Fall River, Massachusetts, after she elected to stay in the town after her acquittal. We see the bare beginnings of ostrasism in Ordeal, when Hester’s engagement essentially was called off because her fiance' didn’t believe her when she told him she was innocent.
While Lizzie Borden is by far the most famous of the accused axe murders, her alleged crimes are not unique. On June 9, 1912, in Villisca, Iowa, the Moore family and two of their friends were murdered in their beds by an unknown assailant wielding an axe. Similarly to Lizzie’s case, the suspect pool was small - but there wasn’t any family members on the list - just a tramp, a Reverend, a state senator and two killers (both of whom were later convicted of murdering members of their own families with an axe). Similar to Lizzie Borden, the police in this case honed in on a suspect, The Reverend George Kelly (who in all fairness did confess to the murders but later recanted). Kelly was tried twice by the state for the murders, the first trial resulted in a hung jury and the second acquitted him. Unlike Lizzie Borden, George Kelly left Iowa after the trials, living in Kansas City and New York before passing away.
In New Orleans from 1918-1919, a serial killer called "The Axeman of New Orleans" targeted men and women of Italian descent. He perpetrated at least eight murders over a six month period and then for some inexplicable reason stopped. The real wickedness of this killer (beyond the murders) stems from a single taunting letter that was published in several newspapers. The letter mocked the police and public for their failure in catching him. In addition he threatened the population of New Orleans, placing a collective fear in their hearts, by saying he would be out looking for a new victim on the night of March 19th, fifteen minutes past midnight, and anyone who not playing jazz music could fall victim to his axe. Amateur and professional jazz musicians worked hundreds of parties across New Orleans that night, dance halls were packed to capacity and even a few records played to keep the killer at bay. But not all residents were cowed by his threats; many invited the killer to “visit” their homes and they would be waiting for him. Presumably they were well armed. Incidentally no one was murdered that night, and unfortunately he was never caught.
I do not think I will ever make an axe murder joke again. I had absolutely no idea I’d picked up a joke based on residual public consciousness of gruesome historical fact!
Cheating: Four more to go! Still tempted, but I am to close to the end to fail now!
In the follow-up to the nationally bestselling A Study in Sherlock, a stunning new volume of original stories from award-winning Sherlockians Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger
The Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were recently voted as the top mystery series of all time, and they have enthralled generations of readers-and writers!
Now, Laurie R. King, author of the New York Times-bestselling Mary Russell series (in which Holmes plays a co-starring role), and Leslie S. Klinger, editor of the New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, have assembled a stellar group of contemporary authors from a variety of genres and asked them to create new stories inspired by that canon. Readers will find Holmes in times and places previously unimagined, as well as characters who have themselves been affected by the tales of Sherlock Holmes.
The resulting volume is an absolute delight for Holmes fans both new and old, with contributions from Michael Connelly, Jeffery Deaver, Michael Dirda, Harlan Ellison, Denise Hamilton, Nancy Holder, John Lescroart, Sara Paretsky, Michael Sims, and more. The game is afoot-again!