Wednesday, January 17, 2018


When Edie Black’s son, Sam, is arrested for murder, Edie calls her cousin, Marjorie Kane, in Minneapolis. Kane, a former exotic dancer, turns immediately to her partner, fellow independent special investigator, Alan Lockem. The pair are successful unlicensed investigators who specialize in unusual projects that appear to have strange solutions.
In Grand Lac, Sam Black is accused of murdering a member of a small group of investors who have purchased large lots on a mountain outside of town in northern Idaho. One dark night one of the investors, Jack Ketchum, in a drunken rage, climbed aboard a large bulldozer and carved a raw track down the mountainside destroying vegetation on the property of each of the other owners. Days later his body is discovered in a ravine on the mountain, a bullet hole in his chest.
Sam Black is a young local stock day-trader who has stumbled on some shady city officials’ illegal activities. His mother, Edie, believes that may be the real reason Sam has been indicted for Ketchum’s murder. Alan and Marjorie jump feet first into a strange town of guns and civic corruption in a complicated effort to save Sam from prison or worse.

Thursday, January 11, 2018


American Static
Tom Pitts
Down & Out Books, June 2017
ISBN: 978-1-943402-84-7
Trade Paperback

This novel is a long, detailed, twisting trail of a plot. Along the way two
small-town cops, and readers, encounter many characters, nearly all of whom
are consummate criminals in that vibrant, unusual city, Bagdad by the Bay,
San Francisco. It follows the unwanted adventure of a rural California
student, carrying weed from Humboldt County for friends to deliver to
recipients in the city. Robbed and beaten at bus stop, Steven is collected
and succored by one of the most relentlessly evil personalities one is ever
likely to meet in a single story.

The student, Steven, left penniless and beaten in a small northern
California town, is carrying a load of marijuana to people in San Francisco
when he is set upon, viciously beaten and robbed. An interested bystander
offers Steven a ride to` San Francisco with a stop or two along the way.
There is a brief suggestion of connection between the young men who robbed
and beat Steven, and Quinn, driving a stolen vehicle, who dispatches a
prominent winery owner.

Two policemen from Calisto set out to find Quinn who has disappeared into
San Francisco and begins a horrifying series of vendettas against the
employees of a major crime figure in the city. His primary motive is to
find the daughter of the crime figure, a strung-out teenager living on dope
and the streets.

Somehow, Steven, now terrified of Quinn, connects with the girl, Teresa,
and they flee together. The chase is on. Quinn after the teens, a corrupt
cop chasing Quinn, followed by two Calisto cops and everybody under threat
from the crime boss and his killer crew.

Complicated, slick maneuvering and sudden brutal murder is the hallmark of
this well-designed novel. I lost count of the number of murders, shootings,
knifings, beatings and car chase events. Suffice it to write, the novel is
excellently conceived, full of abrupt violent action. I give it a strong
recommendation of type.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018


Beginning a month-long marathon of Tchaikovsky compositions, Minnesota Orchestra wowed a New Years Day afternoon concert with three varied pieces by the composer. First was his very first Symphony, a piece rarely heard these days, unfortunately. It does reveal some of the less mature elements  of the composer's, it wanders a bit, but is still an excellent experience. The listening experience this day was enhanced with the fine presentation of several dancers representing the Minnesota Dance Theatre and its artistic director, Lise Houlton.

The second piece, Tchaikovsky's Serenade in C Major was presented by the string sections of the Orchestra without its director, Osmo Vaneska. With the exception of the cello section,members stood and played with such precision and verve as to bring tears. It reveals the rapid sophisticating of the composer, premiering in 1880, twelve years after his First Symphony.

The final piece, a loud, technically brilliant, piece was the Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-Flat Minor. It sent orchestra, soloist Inon Barnatan, and the audience into paroxysms of delight, as it was meant to. This most famous piano concerto is also a product of Tchaikovsky's youth. The current version is a revision of the original. Because the composer was not an accomplished pianist and refused some insulting pressure to change the piece for many years, one wonders if the original score is still extant. The concerto is long, ranges  from great highs to deep lows and is clearly not in the repertoire of more than a few top-drawer concert pianists.

Once again, the Minnesota Orchestra delivered a fine, instructive and delightful afternoon of classical music.