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December 19, 2004 - The Mystery of the Missing Quotes and Other Literary Notes

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Book Wrangler

Sunday, Dece,ber 19, 2004

By Bob Patterson


On Saturday December 11, we went to the Mystery Book Store Christmas party so that we could get some new material for this week’s installment of the Book Wrangler.  We met and talked with a variety of authors.


Casey Dorman’s latest book is I, Carlos ($23.95 Seven Locks Press).  Is it a thought-provoking whodunnit?  It must be because it is getting a review in the Journal of Philosophy.  If a man had a computer implanted in his brain and it told him to do bad things, who is the criminal, the guy or the computer? 


Dorman worked long and hard on the book Cognitive Effects of Early Brain Injury by Casey Dorman, and Bilha Katzir (The Johns Hopkins Series in Psychiatry and Neuroscience).  He said that working on a fictional mystery novel was much quicker and easier to do.


Gail Koger and Sally Smith have collaborated on The Ghost Wore Polyester ($12.95 paperback CrossTIME), which tells about the case a psychic works on after she buys a house in Sedona Arizona and a ghost who sings seventies hits and refuses to leave until the new occupant solves the murder that left him crying (Johnny Rae style?) for justice. 


While the S. J. (Sally Jane) Smith half of the writing team was describing the particulars of the case, one of the folks seeking an autographed copy was S. J. (Sally Jean) Smith author of The Butcher of Beverly Hills due to be published by Broadway Books in July of next Year.


Writer’s Block, by Bruce Kimmel  ($14.95 paperback Authorhouse) a mystery set in New York City in the year 1969, tells the story of murders that occur as a fictional musical, Bus and Truck, prepares to open on Broadway.  The book comes with a CD of the songs for this imaginary production.  The author was in New York hoping to become an actor in that memorable year.  He went on to success in the recording industry and now is combining his experiences in this nostalgic look back at New York City in the past.


False Profits by Patricia Smiley ($23.95 Mysterious Press) tells the story of what happens when a woman, working as a management consultant, finds out more about a company’s shady dealings than she’s supposed to know.  The book’s protagonist Tucker Sinclair lives in Malibu.  The book’s author got her MBA from Pepperdine University in Malibu.


Richard Barre read from his book Wind on the River ($17.95 Capra Press).  The excerpt from the beginning of the novel uses words to spur the reader into conjuring up a picture of the local, the setting, and the principle characters.  Why is it that when good writers do tha, it seems that invariably they disregard the advice that the authors of the “how to write a movie script” books emphasize, such as “no adjectives and no adverbs.”  When Barre’s opening passage is read, even someone not “in the industry” can visualize it as the opening of a John Ford picture staring John Wayne.  What will happen if a good novelist ever writes a “how to” book for would-be scriptwriters?


Mark Haskell Smith told us that his new book Delicious (Atlantic Monthly Press) required him to spend some time in Hawaii researching the facts for this book.  It is due out in the spring.  Mystery genre writers are willing to do things like go to spend several weeks in Hawaii to fact check the details so that their work is credible.  Is that true dedication or not?


When Smith was asked about his next book he replied “Top Secret.”  He did not indicate if that was the title or if it was a literary man’s version of the “no comment” reply politicians give to journalists. 


Going to the Mystery Book Store parties is fun.  To be fair, since we can’t buy one book from every author, we figure that not buying any is the most equitable course of action, but then there is usually one book that manages to break down our resolve.  This time the book that we just could not pass up was Wiseguys Say The Darndest Things: The Quotable Mafia by Jerry Capeci ($14.95 Alpha).   Author Jerry Capeci covered the crime beat for the New York Daily News and the New York Post for a combined total of more than twenty years.  How’s a guy supposed to review a book of quotes when the legal mumbo-jumbo doesn’t give the usual dispensation about using brief quotations in a review?  It just says flat-out that no part of the book may be reproduced in whole or in part.  Is there any other way to review a collection of quotes other than to give some notable examples?  The legal fine print also disavows the book from liability noting that it is not meant as an advice book.  Al Capone said (but not in Capeci’s book, so I can use it here): “A kind word and a gun will get you a lot further than the kind word alone.”  Who could possibly object to common sense advice like that?


Here are some other last minute Christmas gift suggestions for fans of the mystery genre:


The Literary Spy by Charles E. Lathrop ($39.95 Yale University Press).  What Internet pundit wouldn’t like a collection of quotes about spies and the art of espionage? 


A Taste of Murder by Jo Grossman and Robert Weibezall ($19.95 Poisoned Pen Press).  Nothing like a nice murder to make you hungry.



Copyright 2004 – Robert Patterson


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

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