Sunday, December 28, 2008


Christmas is a memory.

I distributed fifteen copies of The Minnesota Crime Wave's audio anthology RESORT TO MURDER AUDIO to friends and family who didn’t yet have it. Unalloyed joy reigned. (yeah, right). I never get books as presents, either Christmas or birthday. People say, “we never know what to buy you.” When I give books, they always come with the proviso that either before or after reading, they should give the book to some deserving soul, or maybe to a retirement home or…”

I often give ARCs to retirement or hospice or hospital reading programs.

Whole wheat bread is rising in the proofing oven at the moment. Bread making when irked or frustrated about something is great therapy. Kneading bread is always a wonderful experience.

One wonders when—if ever—the Senate race in Minnesota will end. It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that whatever the canvassing and other boards decide and certify, there will be a court challenge. It is unsettling to discover that a lot of people who go to vote, don’t take the process seriously. We saw votes for Mickey Mouse, God and several other lesser lights. Voting is not the place for misplaced letters to the skypilot. Disallow all ballots that insert frivolity, say I.

I spent this morning (Sunday) watching and talking with (sort of) Peter May, a fine writer of thrilling mysteries. He was home in France, I was at home in the US. Such is the wonder of the electronic age in which we live. He does an occasional Internet program through the services of something called Mogulus. You can find his live blog here.

He was introducing a world wide audience to his latest Enzo MacLeod story, Blacklight Blue. It’s an excellent third book in his second series. It’s published in the US by Poisoned Pen.

I’ve just been elected to the board of the Midwest chapter of Mystery Writers of America. I think I better pay my dues to Sisters In Crime this week.

There are interesting things happening with the whole e-book universe after years in neutral. Kindle and the new Sony reader seem to be the motivators. I think today any publisher and author ignores e-publishing at their peril.

My new sailing book with Mary Whitney and Michael Tanner, titled DEVILS ISLAND from Echelon is on track for Spring, 2009. Mary has to wrestle with depredations from her ex-husband.

I’ve read some fascinating new mysteries in the past few weeks. Here’s a review of another. It’s called Barbados Heat, by Don Bruns

ISBN 0312304927

St. Martin’s Minotaur, $24.95,

November, 2003

Tock Tock, Tick tock. Like the sound of steel wheels over the gandy dancer’s rail joints, this novel rocks along. A Congressman is dead. He wanted to attack the Hip Hop and Rap music industry. He wanted to join his brother-in-law, the Reverend Joseph Evans in an attempt to rein in bad lyrics, violent lyrics, sexual lyrics. Now the congressman’s son, Nick, is charged with Congressman Shappley’s brutal murder. It’s said he’s in it up to his elbows along with Rap star, Chilli D, who may have been the triggerman. Chilli D’s producer, T-Beau wants to protect his investment so he calls on a music industry star, friend Mick Sever. Mick is already in Washington on the case.

Tick Tock. Time is running on and readers may have the feeling they’re on a fast train going downhill. The whistle screams and the scenery goes by in a blur, leaving out whole pieces. There are complications. Sever, whom we last saw in the author’s debut novel, Jamaica Blue, calls in his divorced wife, Ginny to do research. Tension. Sever once had a childhood friendship with the accused Nick, the Congressman’s son. More tension. There are other family presences, not just in D.C. Tick Tock. Sever’s off to Florida to talk to Nick’s sister, Amber, and then to Barbados, where old wounds still fester.

Page by page Barbados Heat gathers speed. Tock tock. And just when you think you’ve got the characters and their relationships sorted out, even with the missing bits of action, the train roars around a sharp curve and carries you off in a new direction. Author Bruns is evolving a fresh and breathless style of pell mell writing that may be a little short on detail but long on action and thrills. Tick Tock.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


So, another year is almost over. We celebrate holidays based on a strange but workable blend of pagan, ancient and Christian, and other religious traditions and customs. It all seems to go together, at least in Western societies. I’ve lived in a world in which people fought each other over territory, power, economic gain and, for some, even humanitarian reasons. WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Israel and Palestine, Turkey and Greece, Afghanistan and now Iraq. And one in which we celebrate peace and love in hundreds of unique and different ways.

Now our economy is in deep trouble and the Free Marketers in charge don’t seem to know what to do and they appear to have forgotten the ordinary, regular public, those of us who get up and, when we have a job, go work, pay our taxes and keep the country running.

I had the great good fortune to hear a local vocal group called Rose Ensemble recently. They have a marvelous full blend of voices, rare in so small a group. I recommend their CD. Highly.

Had the rare opportunity to interview Julie Kramer on my TV show. She’s the local writer, former television producer, of the popular STALKING SUSAN. Another recommendation. It’s a fine thriller/mystery.

We sent out a lot of Holiday cards this year. And I’m planning to crank up my mailing list. I still haven’t made the complete switch to email, but if you’d like to get information on my new book from Echelon Press, due out in the Spring of ’09, let me know.

Love Is Murder is upcoming in February, if I can find my way to Chicago through the drifts. Yes, it’s snowing heavily as I type this. Nevertheless, LIM is a fine mystery conference worth attending if you are in the area.

Here’s another review of a book I like and recommend.

By Peter May
ISBN; 0-312-34294-2
St. Martins Minotaur from Thomas Dunne
First US edition, September, 2005
Hard Cover, $24.95
353 pages

Dandy, just dandy. And oh so current. Peter May is a fine writer and he pays close attention to what he’s doing in this novel.

Interesting characters. Take Margaret Campbell, an ugly American who learns. She jumps on a chance to go, even unprepared, to China to lecture on criminal forensics. She’s a pathologist fleeing personal troubles back in Chicago. Take Li Yan, an up-and-coming Chinese police lieutenant who so far in his career has lightly walked the fine line of political realities and criminal investigations. They meet when Campbell’s car knocks the police lieutenant off his bicycle on a busy street in Beijing.

He’s a recently promoted detective who suddenly needs her expertise to help him solve the case of a man who apparently has immolated himself in a popular Beijing park. The two are almost immediately at odds, especially since the scientist starts out in a self-centered almost arrogant fugue state. But between them, as they begin to piece together the background of the man who died in the fire, and make their tortuous way through the difficult layers of forensic science and the Chinese political landscape to an diabolical conspiracy, their bond grows. They discover and develop much synchronicity between themselves.

They also discover much danger. This thriller of a novel, while teaching us a great deal about China and cultural relationships, careens pell mell through the story with frightening and exciting twists and turns. An outstanding and unusual novel that deserves a wide audience.