Monday, June 30, 2008


A Farewell to Legs

By Jeffrey Cohen

Bancroft Press


ISBN: 1890862-29-0

This author needs to dial it down a little. I mean, do we need a joke, a funny line, a pun or a toe-stubber on every page, nay, in every paragraph? Somewhere there is someone involved in our popular culture who is smiling because Cohen’s avatar, one Aaron Tucker, missed cracking wise about him or her, or his project.

Having said that, let me address the substance of the book, that is, the mystery. While attending their twenty-fifth high school reunion, Mr. Tucker and Mr. Mahoney, life-long buddies, discover that their youthful lust object appears to have aged even better than they. In the midst of horny if innocent festivities, the object of their desires, one Stephanie, learns via cell phone (naturally) that her husband is dead. Murdered.

Well, of course, Tucker, a free-lance writer, gets involved. Turns out he’s acquainted with the dead guy and what’s more the dead guy’s widow wants Tucker to investigate, in order, presumably, to cover her assets and avoid incarceration. Then there’s the matter of Mr. Gibson’s politics. Now you, dear reader, may be a conservative, a Democrat, a Progressive an Independent or a liberal. It doesn’t really matter, because your political ox gets gored at some point during this narrative.

Also, Mr. Tucker, being a stay-at-home with a dandy wife who earns more than he does, is involved with their children, the children’s school, and even with some of his wife’s clients, Abby being a defense attorney. Mr. Tucker does some free-lance investigating for the school’s principal, dodges rocks lobbed at him, and deals with many of the usual family matters that occupy a lot of us from time to time.

Therein lies the immense appeal of this book, part of a series. Aaron Tucker embodies elements we all recognize in our neighbors, if not ourselves. But Tucker manages to carry it all off without losing his cool. I like Aaron Tucker a lot. I like the writing, the pace and the dialogue, and I’m pleased to note that this book has been carefully copyedited which reduced grammatical missteps to a bare minimum. Actually I only noticed a single error. Cohen isn’t trying to write great literature. He’s having fun with the genre and doing it so readers can have an enjoyable time with their reading. What’s more, the major mystery is a clever one, well-told. Find Aaron Tucker’s stories. You’ll be glad you did.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Spent a very pleasant couple of hours in the lounge at the Hat Trick, a St. Paul drinking establishment, Friday evening. An Ex-Rocker from the hot 60’s scene, Mandrake Memorial, one of Philadelphia’s top local bands, has surfaced in a new persona. Michael Kac is revisiting the folk music scene solo with his tasteful blend of ballads and up tempo modern songs. He’s an accomplished keyboardist, banjoist and guitar player with a sweet low tenor voice as an added plus. He has a CD with Linda Cohen and also plays with a new group in the Twin Cities called Mill City Band. Catch his act when you can.

Everywhere you look newspapers are cutting back on space for reporting and reviewing the literary scene. Faced with declining ad revenues, newspapers are trying to reinvent themselves, thus pay more attention to reader interests which means less space for book stuff.

I’m gettin’ antsy about the release of my new PI novel in August. “The Case of the Deceiving Don.”

Even before the conventions make their now pro forma selection of presidential candidates the silly season of ads is beginning to sink my interest in television. EXCEPT, of course, for our own cable show.
If the newspapers won’t talk about books, we will. Minnesota Crime Wave Presents seems to be attracting a growing audience. Helps to have two dynamite co-hosts and great guests.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Classical music never fails to amaze me. Recently my wife and I attended a Minnesota Orchestra concert which featured percussionist Colin Currie. That's right, a percussionist, as in drums, gongs, and so on. The piece, by Jennifer Higdon, a young American composer, is called Percussion Concerto. It is dedicated to Currie. During the 24 minute piece the orchestra used crotales, Chinese suspended cymbal, a thin suspended cymbal, bass and snare drums, low bongo, guiro,marimba, rute, large tam-tam, temple blocks.

Currie, with his instrumdents arrayed across the front of the stage, used bongos, bowl, castanet, clave, cowbell, crotales, the Chinese suspended gong, brake drum and snares, Peking Opera gong, marimba, temple blocks, timbales, tom-toms, vibraphone and woodblocks.

Far out! It was an amazing piece. Take it in if it comes to your neck of the woods.

Harper Collins has apparently gone silent for the time on its venture into reshaping the business model of publishing. You remember--no big advances, shared royalties, greater emphasis on Internet sales, few automatic returns from bookstores. Good for H/C. Instead of publically documenting every step and possible misstep, get it started and then announce the gains.

The Minnesota Crime Wave has started a cable television program. With three hosts, Ellen Hart, Kent Krueger, and Carl Brookins, the half-hour programs feature lively discussion of all sorts of topics around publishing and mystery fiction. Each program also incudes a guest, often an author, but not always. Gary Schulze, co-owner of Once Upon A Crime independent mystery bookstore in Minneapolis, author/comedian Lorna Landvik, and National Book Award winner Pete Hautman, have appeared. The program is cablecast weekly to residents in ten northern suburbs of the Tin Cities and segments are available at the MCW website.

Krueger will have a new book, latest entry in his Cork O'Connor series, RED KNIFE, out later this year, and Brookins' second PI novel, THE CASE OF THE DECEIVING DON, is scheduled for release in August.

More, deponeth sayeth not

Monday, June 09, 2008


Call for Short Stories

The Minnesota Crime Wave, which has produced the acclaimed anthologies Silence of the Loons and Resort to Murder, is accepting short stories for a new crime anthology to be titled Murder on a Stick. The focus of the collection will be the Great Minnesota Get-Together: the annual State Fair.

Authors must reside in Minnesota.
Authors must have previously published a work of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or drama.
Stories must incorporate the Minnesota State Fair in a significant way.
Stories must involve the commission of a murder.
Stories must be no more than 7,500 words in length.

Stories must include at least 5 of the following 10 clues or elements:
A pile of manure
A ticket stub with writing on it
A headless stuffed animal
A blue ribbon
A church dining hall
A blood-stained plastic sword
A polka band
A prize-winning pie
The sound of a barker

General Guidelines:

1. Three copies of the manuscript must be submitted in paper form, double spaced, using a standard 12 point font, such as Times New Roman or Courier, and should printed on one side of page only.
2. Each manuscript page should be numbered at the top and include the story title.
3. Manuscript must include a cover page containing author’s real name, address, phone number, email address, and approximate word count. Also include the story title, and a pen name, if using one.
4. At the middle of the first page of the story, type the title in all CAPS; double space twice, and begin the story.
5. Centered on a line at the end of the story, type END.

Deadline for submission is October 1, 2008.
Story copies must be submitted to:

The Minnesota Crime Wave
3090 Mildred Drive
Roseville MN 55113

Authors will be notified of acceptance by December 1, 2008.

Payment for stories will be $100, paid on acceptance.

The anthology is scheduled for release in August 2009.

Questions may be directed to The Minnesota Crime Wave at: