Tuesday, February 20, 2024

CLASSY CRIME NOVEL-A COLD WHITE SUN

 

A Cold White Sun   

By Vicki Delany

ISBN: 9781464201585

A 20013 hardcover release

From Poisoned Pen Press

A fine, judicious blend of action, mystery, thoughtful introspection and exploration of human conditions and motivations marks this novel. The story is a part of the author’s continuing series about the development of a young constable in the police force of a small community, Trafalgar. The town is located in a prime tourist region of British Columbia. That’s a province of Canada. The mountains offer prime skiing, the streams fishing and the forests hunting of various animals. Tourism is big business but that brings troubles as well.

Moonlight Smith, born of a hippie activist American couple, a near-champion downhill skier, much to her mother’s initial consternation has settled, at least temporarily, for a career as a cop. She’s bright, good-looking and not entirely sure of her life direction. Delaney has set this interesting character up with two bosses. She’s basically a patrol officer in the small department, but because the head of murder investigations, John Winters, recognizes her intelligence, Moonlight—Molly—Smith is frequently tasked to participate in his investigations.

This time the crime is murder. Out for her daily walk, high school English teacher Cathy Lindsay is slain, shot in the back. Subsequent investigation can find no plausible reason. Why was she a target? Was it a mistake?

As the investigation winds through Trafalgar, the author takes the opportunity to examine relationships between her principal characters, their family members, and members of the constabulary. Some of the scenes are loving, some are rife with anger and tension. The pace is good and if the threads occasionally fray and lose a little direction, that’s inevitable. This novel has a lot of thoughtful observations and this reviewer felt enriched. I’d award 4.75 stars if that was possible.

 

Friday, February 09, 2024

SECRETS OF WILLOW LANE REVEALED

Minneapolis native J. L. Anderson wrote an entertaining crime novel about the death of a resident of Willow Lane. In the process of solving the crime, the author has revealed a whole host of interesting facts about the sometimes more that ordinary lives of the residents of this neighborhood.

Add to that a conflicted squad of Minneapolis homicide detectives who seem to spend almost as much energy fighting each other as they do trying to figure out who killed the bee in the neighbor's bonnet. The story moves along, builds clue after clue pointing at different suspects and is resolved in eminently satisfying ways. 

This is not a highly unusual neighborhood--it could be yours--or mine. From all appearances the residents of Willow Lane are nice, well-educated, intelligent people, with an exception or two. But somehow the web of deceit has entangled more than is obvious. The author does a fine job of setting up the reader and then precisely and logically solving the puzzle and revealing  many Secrets of Willow Lane, a 2019 publication by J.L.Anderson from Fuzion Press.

Sunday, February 04, 2024

A MURDER IN PASSING

 

A Murder In Passing             

By Mark De CastriquE

ISBN: 9781464201493

A 2013 release from

Poisoned Pen Press

History, race relations, and persistent attitude are all blended in this fine story. With sensitivity and care the author has developed a believable inter-race relationship story of love and sacrifice. As the title suggests, murder is also part of the mix.

With few clients in hand, Sam Blackman and Nakalya Robertson need some outlet for their energy. Connecting with an outdoor mushroom-searching band, Sam stumbles over a skeleton that appears to be quite old. The discovery sets in motion inquiries by several agencies and since Robertson and Blackman are at loose ends with almost no business, they join the search for answers on an ad hoc basis. Then a potential client shows up asking them to try to locate a photograph, apparently stolen several years earlier.  Even though the picture was made by a well-known photographer, its value doesn’t seem to reach the level where hiring a detective is appropriate. What’s even more intriguing is that the subject of the missing photograph is a small group of children linked to the skeleton discovered by Blackman.

The story unwinds in a very logical and thoughtful manner. The writing is clean and the characters are interesting in their attitudes and development. Everything about this book is of the level we have come to expect from this publisher and its authors.

 

Thursday, February 01, 2024

MINNESOTA NATIONAL GUARD DEPLOYMENT

 This week, 550 National Guard citizens of Minnesota will deploy to Kwait. It's a 10-month assignment into an unsettled area of the world. This is what we do. Salutes to the Guard members  and to their families.

Meanwhile, politicians play their games. Just remember that deployment of service members across the turbulent world is a consequence of our political activities. Be sure you pay attention and vote.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

TRUST BUT VERIFY

 A common and frequent phrase today. Reminds me of something in my past. While as a youngster serving in the US Navy, I was stationed in a building in Virginia, four floors above an enormous library of films, including, but not just, combat films. NBC was in the midst of producing the "Victory At Sea" TV series.  We had been cautioned by the producers that we had to be accurate and could validate the footage we provided. 

A request came for footage of one or more Destroyer Escorts in heavy North Atlantic seas. The producer wanted one or more ships at sea with no land in the background. I easily found film with no or southern or Pacific storms and US ships. It took me two days and a validating phone call. Someone in our office said, "What's the dif? No one can tell where the film was shot."  The NBC producer responded, "we'll know."

A few years later, I was running stories for a local TV news corespondent. I handed in a teletype with an important and exciting event. The primary question became, could we verify the surrounding facts. After several hours, and the newscast time approaching, the newsman sat at his desk with the producer by his side and asked if we could verify the facts. When we could not independently verify anything except the actual event, the lead TV newsman, Harry Reasoner, said "we'll just go with the facts we have, who, what, where and when."

I believed it then, an I believe it now. Nearly all major network reporters and correspondents arereporting the truth!

Friday, January 26, 2024

INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMBRANCE DDAY

 SATURDAY 1/26/24 A day to sadly remind ourselves of the antisemitic slaughter of Jews and what were termed "other undesirables" members of the far-right-wing Nazi German party, under dictator Adolf Hitler and his loyal minions. More than six million citizens of Europe were slaughtered. We Must Never Forget.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY CONCLUDES

Trump won, as expected while Haley ran strong in second. Results from South Carolina may be telling. Or not. Minnesota's Dean Phillips did well as a truly unknown first time candidate, and while he wasn't on the ballot, sitting president Joseph Biden won a majority of democratic votes. 

ScrippsNews did its usual balanced, careful reporting of the results AFTER the polls closed, although one of their commentators has a tendency to use up most of the available interview time with long rambling questions, many of which can be answered by yes or no. When they interview candidates on the air, it gets hard to determine which person is actually running for office.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTE UNDERWAY

 Predictions by the scrambling national media and some social platform users will now begin to pollute our lives for the net 12 to fifteen hours. They'll rant and celebrate and predict and make both dire and celebratory posts. (As am I) So, what do YOU think is the meaning of the results of New Hampshire voting this day (1/21)? Is the result (which we won't know for hours) an important predictor of the next President of the United States? Or, will the result create an outpouring of different voting in November? Time not pundits will tell.


Thursday, January 18, 2024

IOWA CAUCUS, PRESIDENTIAL ELETION

 More and more thoughtful people are questioning the ethics of national news media "calling" the caucus vote even before a lot of Iowans got to vote! If the news media can't control itself, then Congress should step in (IMHO). But here's what we know now. Fewer than 10% of registered Iowa voters chose Trump as their candidate. In fact, fewer than 5% (!) chose "the donald."

VP Kamala Harris chose to subject herself to an hour of quizzing from five really sharp, aware and attention-paying women on THE VIEW Wednesday morning. It was eclectic, interesting intelligent, and even exciting at times. Note that the group of regulars on THE VIEW embrace all political views.

Monday, January 15, 2024

IOWA CAUCUS NIGHT

 Tonight, Iowa Republicans will caucus to discuss, compare and contrast GOP contenders for the Presidential election ballot in November. Unlike voting regs in most states, to caucus you have to be present to vote. With Iowa under an oppressive cold ave, it will be interesting to learn the results and how strong was attendance. 

Multiple court cases are moving, political maneuvering is intensifying, as is some discussion of actual policy considerations both inside the nation and all over the world. One wishes for more attention on fundamental policy considerations and internal problems as opposed to political games.

Of course, our governance structure invites political games. That's something we accept after two hundred plus years, but we could certainly benefit from greater attention to the internal problems the nation faces, instead of what seems to be an ever rising expenditure of funds and energy on politics as separate from governance.

Still, I continue to have faith in the essential goodness of most of our politicians and in their efforts to reverse the persistent downward trend of the political escalator.

May you all be as warm as necessary while this cold blanket over the beginnings of our national political season continues to obsess us.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

WHO READS BOOKS IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA?

 Washington Post recently published a survey of US citizens on our reading habits. It's interesting and I note it does little to change publisher's perceptions of what books are more or less likely to be published. The survey of around 30,000 citizens suggests that reading habits aren't changing very much. 

As new generations grow up, women tend to read crime and thriller fiction more than men, who tend toward business and science-fiction. White readers also are more likely to choose crime genres while Blacks read religious and spirituality books. History apparently attracts more Hispanics. Younger readers seem to favor fantasy over other categories.

E-books and audio books are growing in importance, but still not making serious inroads on the number of people who read in general. Print books still head the line, but nearly half of the population didn't finish even a single book last year.

Reading these results of a single though fairly broad poll, I wonder about geographical differences and about trends. Can, for example, any changes in reading habits be tied to subjects taught in schools and more specifically how reading is taught.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

CONGRESSIONAL HEARING ERUPTS IN TURMOIL

 Hunter Biden intruded on a GOP Oversight Committee hearing, offering to testify in public. GOP refused to let him. Repubs. want to grill Biden in private. Why? What are the members afraid of? Perhaps there is nothing there. Nobody of significance is going to object if the committee hears testimony from Biden and others and decides there is nothing to pursue. Most of us recognize that House committees sometimes pursue willow-the-wisps. Okay! We The People MUST turn laser attention on the members of Congress and the candidates, in order to bolster support for our Constitution.

Tuesday, January 09, 2024

IMMUNITY OR CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR?

 If a president has immunity for his statements and actions, however dangerous and illegal they are, then we no longer have a democratic republic, we have authoritative dictatorship. NO ONE can ever be completely immune to the rule of law. NO ONE can ever totally avoid the consequences of breaking the law of the land. Learn who your candidates are, learn their real positions. Dismiss political labels and VOTE for the person you trust the most to support you and move the republic forward.

Saturday, January 06, 2024

INSURRECTION RECOLLECTIONS AND ACADEMIC TURMOIL

 I watched the whole thing, from his call to arms to sunset, January 6, 2021. I worried. A lot. This had never happened before and while it was pretty clear the rioters were wrong in their assumptions, the lack of organized and overwhelming force to protect Our Capitol (!) was bothersome.

Now, here we are, three years later and there are still a large number of people who, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, believe the attempted coup was justified. 

The facts are that our careful, plodding Department of Justice is continuing to collect evidence against the rioters and to put to bed the often ridiculous clams of corruption and election fraud.

History tells us we have been here before and the Republic survives. We were here in 1861 for a Civil War. we were here in the 1950's and withstood McCarthyism and the Red scare. We watched Richard Nixon resign during the mid 1970's Watergate scandal. And while insurrections and government scandals seem to occur more frequently as time passes, the Republic continues as a world force for good.

Three college presidents, unprepared for doing battle with aggressive Congressfolk, took knockout blows as the year wound down. In academic meetings, absolutes are hard, if not impossible to find. It is clear to me what answer Congresswoman Stefanik was seeking to her question. It was also clear that staff had not adequately prepared their presidents for the bare-knuckle atmosphere that often arises in Congressional hearings. It's too bad that three outstanding women academic leaders have been besmirched by the instantaneous decision-making of the American public and most news media.

We enter a year of decision-making for all of us. It is to be fervently hoped we  voters will do our due diligence, learn who best will serve us in government and then vote for our preferences, leaving in the dust of history political parties and candidates who only serve themselves.

LEARN, CONSIDER AND VOTE!


Friday, January 05, 2024

AN INDEPENDENT VIEW

 I'm not a registered Democrat. OK? Just to be clear, I tend to find out and then vote for those who appear to hold views of certain issues similar to mine. Isn't that how representative democracy is supposed to work? Unfortunately, deep corruption in our political parties has subverted that ideal. I was actually shocked that four Minnesota Representatives are so worried about being re-elected, rather than being worried about the future of the nation, that without even slight hesitation, they bow to the dictatorial authoritarianism of the man who currently leads the Republican presidential polls. 

It has become almost impossible for anyone to be elected to a national office and maintain that position, unless from one of the smallest states and you are exceedingly careful. Our Congress is fast becoming a collection of performers, with few legislators like Betty McCullom and Angie Craig working hard to get actual useful legislation  passed. 

But it is ultimately up to we voters to resist the lure of big money and demand real work to hold honest helpful hearings that illuminate the best legislative roads follow.

 And we Must Vote.

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

TRUTH IN MEDIA WOULD BE AN IMPROVEMENT

I understand the benefits of propaganda. It allows  perpetrators to attempt to influence political attitudes and to solidify one's position. However, I do think we would all be better off if propagandists like Grover Norquist would at least occasionally admit that both Republicans and Democrats and--lo and behold--independents (!) joined in voting for a number of issues that have and are making life  better. The economy is improving day by day. That's a result of collaborations between right and left, regardless of Norquist's biased view as "reported" in the 12/10/23 Star-Tribune. He manages to attribute everything supported  by President Biden and Democrats and others only to the Congressional votes of Conservatives.

It is more and more clear to voters like me whose primary focus is not political but improving our lives, that the political parties, PACs and SuperPACs are becoming more and more a drag on progress. Given the displayed brilliance of the designers of our social media platforms, it is simply ludicrous for those owners to insist they are unable to adequately protect us against most of the lies and distortions they disperse. 

We had this same situation in the early twentieth century when charlatans took over radio to sell dangerous products other scams. In 1932 the Broadcasting Act was passed after only three years of design and editing by a small group of young lawyers. That law, gutted by a Democratic Administration in the 1960s, largely put an end to bad merchandising and political lies. Now we are forced to relive the experience of the Twenties with social media platforms out of control, because Congress won't get its act together. This is not a Political issue, friends, this is an issue or survival of our Republic!

Talk to your Senator and your Representative! Vote. Make your voice heard and demand justice.

Tuesday, January 02, 2024

SYDNEY, MY WATCH CAT

 


SOME STUFF

 It's a new year--2024--and once again I find myself fascinated by a letter from Ms Richardson. Her careful, thoughtful and accurate prose is almost always attention-making. Today's missive once more illustrates the value of studying, or at least reading, history. Presidential candidate N. Haley fumbled a question from a voter about the reason for the Civil War. (also known as The War Between The States) Richardson sets out the rather complicated developments that lead finally to a group of Southern states revolting against the ruling Republican Party of Lincoln and the federal government. As with many events in our history, the Civil War of 1861 was not Just a disagreement over slavery. 

We begin this presidential election year in serious disarray. Some people, in the forlorn belief that our nation is falling apart push candidates who espouse authoritarian rule, not quite dictatorships but trending in that direction. The need for wealth as a measure of success and patriotism continues to grow and define our rules. Voters elect more and more "representatives" who appear to be primarily focused on their personal success to the detriment of good governmental progress. One example will suffice. Our world is vastly more complicated than it was in the 1920s. Yet our Internal Revenue Dept. is unable to modernize  its technical and other operations to more completely and fairly tax our citizens and corporations.

As a result, individual citizens unable to afford elite tax accountants pay greater shares of government while may wealthy individuals and corporations are able to escape most taxes to finance the operation of our government. 

Be well, keep you head up and be alert for kids in the intersection with their attention focused on their eell phones and not on surrounding traffic.