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Archive for April, 2012

Mystery Monday – Dog On It & Thereby Hangs a Tail – A Chet Double Feature!

Monday, April 30th, 2012

 

Reviews by Carole (craftnut)

 

Prepare to fall in love with Chet, a 100-pound canine private investigator  (who flunked out of K-9 police school) in business with his human, Bernie.  Chet narrates the books, but this isn’t a fantasy book, he acts like a normal dog.  He doesn’t speak to Bernie, but he does think, narrating the books in first-dog (like first-person, but with four paws).  He is intensely loyal to Bernie, in ways only dogs can be.  He seems to find out things that take Bernie a while longer.  Chet gets distracted by smells and sounds, loves a good nap and a good stretch, gets confused about things he hears, hates cats, loves to ride shotgun and frequently lets his dog impulses take over when finding the occasional forgotten tidbit, unattended meal or something to chase.  He is full of life, and at times full of himself, helping Bernie solve the case with a lot of humor.  Chet isn’t too clear on things like cash flow, a wild goose chase, and the meaning of a red herring, but he does try.

 

 

Dog On It by Spencer Quinn

 

In the first novel in the series, Chet and Bernie are hired to find a missing girl named Madison, a sullen teenager with divorced parents who are not getting along.  Her father is a real estate developer whose finances are a bit dicey.  Bernie is going through his own troubled divorce.  Chet finds out the truth about Madison’s disappearance when he takes off on high adventure in a moment of impulse.  He then has to figure out how to let Bernie in on what he knows but is quickly forgetting in light of stray burgers, random thoughts, nap times and gourmet dog treats.  A reporter, Susie, wins Chet over quickly and she comes in very handy at just the right time.

The story is told as seen through Chet’s eyes with all the distractions one might expect in a dog like unattended burgers, errant golf balls, his buddy Iggy, and a strange she-bark. The tale has intrigue, bad guys, chase scenes, and all the elements of a great mystery novel, with a fresh unique point of view.

 

 

Thereby Hangs A Tail by Spencer Quinn

 

In the second book in the series, Chet and Bernie get involved in the dog show arena as they are hired and fired as bodyguards for champion Princess and her owner.   When Princess is dog-knapped, they are on the case again.  They investigate a ghost town, and find corruption in local law enforcement.  Separated from Bernie, Chet makes a startling discovery, but then has to find his way back, picking up more clues along the way.  Once again, loyal Chet finds out more facts sooner than Bernie, and helps the investigation.  His distractions are charming.  The reader will really believe that this is the mind of a very smart dog who envisions himself as a crackerjack investigator while he barks in response to the neighbor dog, gets heavy eyelids before a nap, rides shotgun, identifies the bad guys by smell, loves treats and those that give them, and whose tail has a mind of its own.

 

There are three more books in the series, listed below with the publisher’s synopsis.  If you are a true fan of Chet, he has a blog at http://www.chetthedog.com/.  This series is charming, at times hilarious, at times thrilling, with mysteries to solve.  I highly recommend!!

 

 

To Fetch A Thief

Chet has smelled a lot of unusual things in his years as trusted companion and partner to P.I. Bernie Little, but nothing has prepared him for the exotic scents he encounters when an old-fashioned traveling circus comes to town. Bernie scores tickets to this less-than-greatest- show-on-earth because his son Charlie is crazy about elephants. The only problem is that Peanut, the headlining pachyderm of this particular one-ring circus, has gone missing—along with her trainer, Uri DeLeath. Stranger still, no one saw them leave. How does an elephant vanish without a trace?

 

The Dog Who Knew Too Much

Bernie is invited to give the keynote speech at the Great Western Private Eye Convention, but it’s Chet that the bigshot P.I. in charge has secret plans for. Meanwhile Chet and Bernie are hired to find a kid who has gone missing from a wilderness camp in the high country. The boy’s mother thinks the boy’s father—her ex—has snatched the boy, but Chet makes a find that sends the case in a new and dangerous direction. As if that weren’t enough, matters get complicated at home when a stray puppy that looks suspiciously like Chet shows up. Affairs of the heart collide with a job that’s never been tougher, requiring our two intrepid sleuths to depend on each other as never before.

 

A Fistful of Collars – due out in September 2012

Hoping to bring some Hollywood money to the Valley, the mayor lures a movie studio to town to shoot their next major production starring Chad Perry. Known for his bad behavior, Chad needs a babysitter and the mayor hires Chet and Bernie for the job. The money is good, but something smells fishy. When they dig into the details of an old crime, they discover that Chad has links to the Valley that go way back. To complicate matters, for some odd reason, Chad’s cat, Brando, seems hellbent on making trouble for Chet.

 

 

Humor Review – Sacré Bleu

Friday, April 27th, 2012

 

Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art by Christopher Moore

 

Review by Gail (TinkerPirate)

Let me be perfectly clear. I am a HUGE Christopher Moore fan. But, I have to say that I would have enjoyed this book even if I wasn’t a HUGE fan!

In books past, Mr. Moore has taken us on adventures set on exotic islands, in small coastal California villages, and roaming the dark streets of San Francisco. The adventures have take us back to biblical times or reminded us that adventures lurk in the present day or allowed us to find ourselves something in between like the court of King Lear. This time Moore takes us to a magical time and place…if you love art…late 19th century Paris!

There are 4 main characters to the story – a mysterious person known only as The Colorman, who provides artists with the most rare of colors – sacre bleu (the sacred blue…the color of Virgin Mary’s robe); an equally mysterious woman, who is known by many names to many people; Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa, commonly known as Toulouse-Lautrec; and Lucien Lessard, known as…well…Lucien Lessard, who is a baker with the soul of a painter from a long line of bakers with the souls of painters. His father always wanted to paint, but felt he didn’t have the skills to pull it off. Instead, he befriended many of the local struggling artists ensuring they always had bread to eat, a sou or two for paints, and a place to hide when needed. As a result, Mssr. Lessard grew up surrounded by some of my favorite artists – Manet, Monet, Pisarro, Cezanne, Renoir, Van Gogh, etc. These fostered his love for art and desire to paint…if he could just find another muse.

The story starts with the murder…yes, murder not suicide…of Vincent Van Gogh. When word reaches the Parisian art community, there is shock and disbelief. Mssrs. Lessard and Toulouse-Lautrec feel compelled to find out what really happened. The more they look the more they find it to be suspicious, instead of coincidental, that The Colorman seems to be close by at the death of artists or the creation of a master piece. Who is The Colorman? Where does he get his sacre bleu? And, why does this mysterious woman seem to be involved in all of this? Why can’t they keep a maid?

While answering these questions, Mr. Moore takes us to the main streets and back alleys of Paris, the French countryside and country estates, and into the galleries and contests that pit one struggling artist against another. Along the way we are introduced to the sights, sounds, and smells of Paris. We learn about life in the brothels that Mssr. Toulouse-Lautrec frequents…alright, pretty much lives in; life in a French bakery where the doneness of a baguette is tested with a smack to the head; and the absurdities of life when reality and fiction collide.

I will provide 2 caveats about the book –

  1. You don’t need to be an art historian to get caught up in the story, but it does help “get” some of the finer pokes at history. I’ll admit there were moments when I wished I’d paid better attention in my freshman year Art Appreciation class, but – as the French say – c’est la vie.
  2. If you are looking for the typical SNORT-laugh of a Moore book, you won’t find it here. Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of LOL moments and lovably absurd phrases that will stay with you after you put the book down.

One of the things I really enjoyed about the book is reproduction of many of the finest works of this period with quotes from the storyline. Some of them were pretty funny and apropos. And, for those of you who ARE Moore fans, I think you will find Mssr. Toulouse-Lautrec very Biff-like.

 

If you would like to try on a Moore for size, here are some of his books that are actually NOT Wish Listed!

 

Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings

Island of the Sequined Love Nun

You Suck: A Love Story

 

 

 

 

Author Interview with Imogen Robertson

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Interview with Author Imogen Robertson by Jerelyn H. (I-F-Letty)

 

As a lover of books, there is nothing better than finding an author whose writing you can become lost in, such is the case with Imogen Robertson.  My friend in the H/F forum sent me the first book in Ms. Robertson’s Westerman and Crowther series, Instruments of Darkness.  I saw these books described as Georgian CSI, it is partially true, this is when anatomists began to study more openly  the science of body and causes of death be it natural or not. 

One of the things that I have come to love most about PBS is the sharing of information, it seems we cannot help ourselves when we find an author we love; we have to tell people about it. Word of mouth still sells books.  This series has created quite a stir in our little corner of PBS.  They are beautifully written, interesting, and sometimes poignant.  I love them and can’t wait for the next release of Circle of Shadows on April 26, 2012.

I want to thank Ms. Robertson for agreeing to this interview and would like to welcome her to the PBS blog.

Imogen: Thank you for that lovely introduction! Pleasure to be here.

 

Jerelyn: I read that you have always written stories.  But how did you make the leap from television into writing, or did you also write for television?

Imogen: It was a bit of a leap of faith. For several years after I began working in TV I wrote very little but did I learn a great deal about story and structure. At some point I realised the urge to write was still there and I needed to do something about it, so I started going to poetry workshops, writing short fiction and reading a lot about the craft of writing. The ideas for Instruments of Darkness started to take hold and I spent my spare time on research. Things really changed for me when I won a competition in the Daily Telegraph for the first thousand words of a novel. The judges were incredibly encouraging and I’d just had a very good year directing, so I actually had some money on hand. That’s where the leap came. I decided not to look for any more directing work and just wrote the novel instead. That became Instruments of Darkness and Headline in the UK offered me a two-book deal. I’ve been very lucky. There was a moment there when I thought I was going to have to sell my flat and start all over again.

 

Jerelyn:  I always am interested in where an author’s inspiration comes from, so where did Mrs. Westerman and Mr. Crowther come from?

Imogen:  Funny, difficult to reconstruct now. Characters emerge out of the fog of your imagination, observation and research. That said, Crowther felt like he arrived fully formed. I had an image of him working in his study by candlelight in his shirt sleeves, and there he was, utterly himself. Harriet was more difficult. In my first draft she was too good at everything, too reasonable, too wise. I spent a lot of time staring at the Thames in London and wondering what her life would really be like; imagining a woman who had had a glimpse of a wider world and was now feeling confined by the conventions of her day. Then her voice emerged and off she went. Mind you, I’m still finding out about them both; that’s one of the great pleasures of writing a series, watching your characters grow.

 

Jerelyn:  What drew you to the Georgian era?

Imogen:  Short answer – Amanda Vickery’s book, ‘A Gentleman’s Daughter’. Longer answer? I live in London so am surrounded by Georgian architecture, I’m a great fan of baroque and early classical music and for years I just kept picking up biographies and collections of letters from the period. The more I read, the more interested I became. This was a time of enormous change; the industrial revolution was gathering pace, a consumer society was developing, science flourished, literacy rates were climbing and the towns and cities were growing very quickly, but at the same time it was still a world where life could be brutal and short. There was no modern medicine, no police force worth the name, conditions for the poor in the cities were foul, very high child mortality rates and even the wealthy found their money often provided very little protection from tragedy. A world in flux. What writer can resist that?

 

Jerelyn:  I love that there are family and friends and social expectations upon Harriet, it doesn’t seem like much has changed, has it?  Was it your intention to show these parallels to a modern woman’s life?

Imogen:  Yes indeed. Any historical writer is inevitably writing about their own time as well as the one in which they have set their novel. The lot of women had improved drastically in the last two hundred years; we have rights and opportunities now that were undreamed of then, but society still knows how to exert pressure on those within it. The idea of the proper role of women is still with us; more subtle and insidious perhaps in some ways, more blatant in others. Whenever I hear a woman saying ‘I’m not a feminist,’ I hear echoes of women in the 18th century who sneered at the blue stockings or the Anti-suffrage leagues of the early 20th. All opinions are welcome, but we need to keep thinking about these issues and asking questions.

 

Jerelyn:  Did you always see yourself writing mysteries?

Imogen:  You have to write what you love, so yes, I did always want to write crime. I love seeing what characters do under pressure and there is a heritage of superlative writing and story-telling in the genre.

 

Jerelyn:  Do you see yourself branching out into other genres, i.e. straight historical fiction?

Imogen:  Perhaps. I think the genre that pulls me most at the moment is the ghost story. I obviously read too much M R James when I was a child. That would probably be historical too. I hope I’ve got many years of writing left, we’ll just have to see what stories I get snagged on.

 

Jerelyn:  Really good books have to be well researched, is the research something you enjoy?

Imogen:  I love it. There is a great period when I am starting research for a new book when I read very widely and generally, just letting myself suck it all up and only thinking very vaguely about the plot. That’s incredible fun, browsing through the newspapers of the time and picking up nuggets for further investigation. It’s opening your mind up to all the different voices. Very exciting. Then finding the sources with all the small details that make your period come alive is very satisfying; the account books of opera houses, the advertisements for patent remedies…

 

Jerelyn:  What did you find most surprising while researching your novels?

Imogen:  Probably when I was looking at a guidebook to the Lake District from 1782 and found it used to belong to an H Crowther!

 

Jerelyn:  Which of the characters do you identify most strongly with?

Imogen:  I wish I were more like Harriet, she’s braver than I am, though I did give the poor women my vertigo in Island of Bones. I hope I have her curiosity about people. Secretly I’m probably more like Crowther in some ways, every writer needs to have a bit of the hermit in them, the observer.

 

Jerelyn:  I love Crowther and Harriet’s partnership, they kind of complete one another (In a nonromantic way) don’t they?

Imogen:  I hope so. They appreciate each other’s strengths and weaknesses, even if they clash from time to time. I think what they have been through together makes them quite accepting of each other and unusually honest.

 

Jerelyn:  Your write great children characters, are they drawn from the children in your life?

Imogen:  Thanks! I don’t have any children myself but I have six nephews and lots of friends with young children. I’ve always enjoyed their company, it’s fascinating to see how they learn about the world, watching them work it all out, the way they are unique personalities from the very beginning.

 

Jerelyn:  Did you read a great deal as a child? What were your favorite books?

Imogen:  I always had a book with me and read precociously. I was an awkward, rather lonely child and adolescent and spent a lot of time escaping into books. Georgette Heyer was a favourite, I fell madly in love with Natasha from War and Peace, sunk into Dickens and Austen and lots of Dorothy L. Sayers. My favourite children’s books were Ballet Shoes, Secret Garden, Tom’s Midnight Garden and The Phantom Tollbooth. Must have read all of those a dozen times.

 

Jerelyn:  Do you find that you have time for leisure reading?  If so what do you read now?

Imogen:  You have to keep reading. At the moment I’m reading Penelope Lively ‘How it all Began’, just finished ‘Capital’, by John Lanchester, ‘The Psychopath Test’ by Jon Ronson and yesterday when I’d done my words for the day I re-read ‘Off-loading Mrs. Shwartz’ by George Saunders from ‘Civilwarland in Bad Decline’ which is a masterpiece. So it’s an eclectic mix I hope. I read a lot of poetry too: Sarah Gidley, Laura Kasischke and I’m lucky enough to know some great British poets; Roddy Lumsden, Ahren Warner, Sarah Howe…

 

Jerelyn:  When I contacted you about doing this interview, you said that you were busy writing, is it something you can share with us?

Imogen:  Happily. I’m at work on my fifth book at the moment and it’s not part of the Crowther Westerman series, but is a mystery set both in Paris in 1909 / 1910 and in the present day. It’s exciting to be writing about a new period, especially one as rich as the Belle Époque. I’ll be returning to Harriet and Crowther next year though, which I am really looking forward to. I miss them.

 

Jerelyn:  I don’t know if they have a site similar to Paperback Swap in the UK.  What are your feelings about such sites?

Imogen: Anything that encourages reading and sharing recommendations has to be good. Hopefully sites like this are a way for writers to find new readers who might then buy our other books, so it would be short-sighted to worry we are loosing sales. I’ve always lent and borrowed books myself and it’s part of the pleasure of reading. The sites that bother me are the ones that offer illegal downloads of books. Those can really hurt! Though I’m sure no one on this site would dream of using them.

 

Jerelyn:  Are you comfortable with the amount of marketing an author is required to do now days?

Imogen:  This is where the Crowther part of my character becomes a problem! It is great to meet readers and doing interviews like this is fun. I also get a real kick from fan mail. Somebody writing to say they’ve got pleasure from your work can be a real boost at the end of the day. That said, it can be tough sometimes when you feel you have to be out selling yourself at events when you’d rather be in a library or at your desk, but my publishers put a lot of effort into producing and publishing my work. It would be churlish, having been lucky enough to get a deal, not to go out and support your work as much as you can. I am rubbish at the hard sell though.

 

Jerelyn:  How do you feel about e-readers?

Imogen:  I love mine. It’s great to throw a library into my handbag on the rare occasions I leave the house, and it’s lovely to go from ‘I’d like to read that book’ to having it in front of you in a minute. I never feel I really own a book until I have a hard copy on my shelves though, so for me ereaders are a way to spend a fortune because I end up buying things twice! It is tough for the industry to adjust, but publishing is full of smart people working hard so I’m sure they’ll figure it out. In the meantime I just write and read.

 

Jerelyn:  When I putter about the house or I am in the car I love to listen to audio books, I have Instruments of Darkness on audio as well.  Are there plans for the others to be released in this format also?

Imogen:  It’s one of the strange things about being the writer that I don’t really know what plans there are for audio books. I’m sure they’ll appear in time though.

 

Jerelyn:  I would like to thank-you for visiting with us here on the PBS blog, and wish you best of luck with Circle of Shadows which will be out in e-book format on April 26, 2012. Do you have a print release date?

Imogen:  It’s been a pleasure! Circle of Shadows comes out in the UK in hardback on 26th April (Headline Review). Anatomy of Murder is coming out in paperback in the US in September (Penguin), and Island of Bones comes out in hardback in the US in October (Pamela Dorman Books). I don’t have a print release date for the US version of Circle of Shadows yet, but I’ll certainly add it to my website as soon as I know.

 

To read more about Imogen Robertson you can go to her website at, http://imogenrobertson.wordpress.com/  or follow her on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Imogen-Robertson/108977532473638 , but I have yet to enter the world of twitter.  Also there is a wonderful video introduction to, Anatomy of Murder on You Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SLOXpqkt2o

 

 

Book list:

Instruments of Darkness

 


Anatomy of Murder

 


Island of Bones

 


Circle of Shadows

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romance Review – Crystal Gardens

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

 

Crystal Gardens by Amanda Quick

 

Review by Cynthia F. (frazerc)

 

 

Ladies of Lantern Street – book 1

Evangeline has taken a sabbatical from her day job and retired to the country to write her first novel.  Of course, that’s not the only reason – there was that little matter of a violent altercation involving her last case.  And then there is the inspiration to be found for a supernatural novel in the local Roman ruins and the country house known as Crystal Gardens which locals prefer to avoid.  Sadly, after completing four chapters of the novel she is extremely uninspired, suffering both boredom and writer’s block.

Additional inspiration strikes when our heroine flees her cottage for Crystal Gardens pursued by a murderer with a knife and falls almost literally into the arms of Lucas, the new owner of Crystal Gardens.  The carnivorous plants in the Night Garden get the attempted murderer, so Lucas attempts to get to the bottom of the attack by interviewing Evangeline.  Not much is resolved so he returns her to her cottage before anyone sees them together.  [The setting is Victorian so seeing the heroine, dressed only in her wrapper, in the company of the hero would be far more shocking than a contemporary heroine who moonlights as Miss Kitty Galore at the local strip club.  Evangeline now has the cure for her writer’s block and her boredom, she will make the villain of her piece into the hero and model him after the fascinating Lucas!

Lucas sends for an aunt to provide propriety to the situation and has Evangeline move into Crystal Gardens so he can protect her while trying to solve the crime.  To Lucas dismay, more and more family members appear throughout the story adding further complexities to the story line.  Besides solving murders, attempted murders, thefts, and the mystery of the out-of-control gardens; Evangeline deals with Lucas’ stepmother who has dark secrets and a taste for melodrama, the matchmaking aunt and the much-younger and scientifically, but not psychically, inclined siblings.

This is a paranormal romance.  The hero, the heroine, the heroine’s friends, the plants, AND the pool in the garden all possess some sort of psychic power.  Despite the psychic stuff, this is NOT an Arcane Society novel – so don’t spend your time looking around virtual corners expecting them to show up.  They don’t.

This is romantic suspense – it has sexual tension but not a whole lot of sex – and what occurs is not detailed. Krentz is great writer – whether she is in her Amanda Quick, Jayne Ann Krentz, or Jayne Castle mode.  Her characters are fascinating, the dialogue is witty, and the plots are page turning.  Probably because it is a Victorian setting, this book is ‘cooler’ in tone than some of her others.  If you are new to the author you might want to start with one of her earlier novels – Scandal perhaps, or Ravished.  Of course that might be because the Victorian era never was a personal interest of mine but she does make it breathe…

Good read? Yes.  Will there be more in this series?  Undoubtedly.  Will I buy them?  Definitely.  And the ultimate accolade?  My husband liked it also…

 

Our Love Of Books – World Book Night

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

World Book Night Giveaway

by Chris H. (challada)

 

I remember reading a passing comment on that social media site about some kind of world book giveaway.   My first thought was, “hey, I remember those encyclopedias….they sure were heavy”, but then my interest was peaked.   I did some searching and found out there were people giving away books on a certain day in great places and I could be one of them.  I submitted an online application and then put it out of my mind.  Why would they want to pick little ol’ me anyway?

Next thing I know, I’m getting an email saying I’m a World Book Giver and all sorts of details about getting the books and where to get them and who to see.  This was starting to sound complicated.   I persisted, found in the end it was not too complicated at all, and ended up armed with a box of a great books ready to give away.

I should note, as a teacher, I figured I had an inside edge to finding the reluctant readers this was meant for.  Now, however, I have 20 copies of a book and about 150 reluctant readers to give them to.  How would I pick the worthy students?  How would I make sure they weren’t in the garbage can outside the door?  How would I get rid of these books in one day?  The pressure was scaring me.

I decided to go with a system.  I would gather a list of my special education students and then narrow it down to those who are graduating seniors.  This group has fought some difficult odds to get where they are at this point and deserve a gift.   I decided to hunt them down individually and have a meaningful discussion rather than just slip a book in their direction between classes.   In doing this individually, I ended up crossing campus dozens of times, and creating some great conversations.   I didn’t prepare a speech or anything, so I just started talking with each student.  Many of them were so excited as their faces lit up at the prospect of getting this gift, even stating “you mean, this is for ME?” that it was certainly a great energy charge for me.   Of course, I had a few that listened to my reasons, looked at the book and said, “well, I’ll never read it anyway” and hand it back to me, but that gave me a chance to get it out to other students.

The gift of a book is a universal symbol in our world, meant to express a desire to enrich another person’s life.  On World Book Giveaway Night, I found the gift to be so much more than a book.  I was able to give reading to students that have walked a hard road of reading in the past.   I was able to make students who often feel they are not a part of anything feel like they were a part of an important movement across the entire globe.  I was able to convey a message to these students that I believe they will be life-long readers and become World Book Night givers themselves.   More than anything, the gift of hope was renewed in me today, and for that I am ever grateful.

 

 

 

What is World Book Night?

World Book Night is an annual celebration designed to spread a love of reading and books. To be held in the U.S. as well as the U.K. and Ireland on April 23, 2012. It will see tens of thousands of people go out into their communities to spread the joy and love of reading by giving out free World Book Night paperbacks.

World Book Night, through social media and traditional publicity, will also promote the value of reading, of printed books, and of bookstores and libraries to everyone year-round.

Successfully launched in the U.K. in 2011, World Book Night will also be celebrated in the U.S. in 2012, with news of more countries to come in future years.

 

 

You can also read about other members’ experiences with World Book Night, in this thread in our Club Member Thoughts Discussion Forum: LINK

 

 

Mystery Monday – Death and the Pleasant Voices

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

 

Death and the Pleasant Voices by Mary Fitt

 

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

Mary Fitt was the pen-name of Kathleen Freeman (1897 – 1959), a British scholar. She will bring to mind another British professor – J.I.M. Stewart who wrote as Michael Innes – because, though she employs less jocosely recondite vocabulary, she expects readers to keep up with Latin tags, French idioms, and allusions from Euripides to Lewis Carroll. Like Cecil Day-Lewis, who wrote mysteries as Nicholas Blake, she was a professor of classics, so her concepts and themes are accordingly Greek:  character really is destiny and fate is implacable.

In Death and the Pleasant Voices (1946), she focuses not on plot or puzzle, but, as she said in an interview, on “people, their pleasant or queer or sinister possibilities.” This is apparently the tenth book with her series hero Inspector Mallet, but he does nothing beyond questioning people in preparation for the inquest.  We readers walk along with the main character Jake Seaborne as he haltingly makes his way among members of a family driven by greed and animosity. They are wrangling over the inheritance of a large country house. They are none of them admirable and deceptive as carnies that run crooked games.

Fitt sets up the characters of a pair of twins, who expected to inherit but did not; a poor relation who attended the dying days of the twins’ father ; the cranky  and mean Aunt and Uncle; and finally the family doctor who has a thing for one of the twins and alcohol. The murder does not come until half-way through the book, but this balanced by the detailing for the interplay among the characters for the remainder.

Because of the focus on character instead of the puzzle and lack of detection, I can’t regard this mystery as a typical story from the golden age of mysteries.  The interest lies in the surprising characters. I had to finish it to see where they ended up. In fact, the climax seemed inevitable, like a good Greek tragedy should. I’m pretty sure that I won’t rush out and read a stack of Mary Fitt’s novel right away, but surely one day I will pick another one or two.

National Jelly Bean Day!

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

By Linda (Angeleyes)

 

 

What a great day.  I remember as a child digging through my Easter basket every year to find every last one of those morsels of sugary goodness.  These days I go straight for the bag.  And me?  I’m not a jelly bean chewer.  I’m a “let the sugar melt off on my tongue a while then chew” kind of a girl.

 

No one seems to know the exact origins of the jelly bean but most experts believe that the jelly center is a descendent of a Mid-Eastern confection known as Turkish Delight a citrus, honey and rose water jell.  Jelly beans as we know them date back to at least the 1860’s. During the Civil War, Boston confectioner William Schrafft wanted to help support the war effort (and his bottom line) so he suggested sending this treat to Union troops.   However it wasn’t until July 5, 1905 that the mentioning of jelly beans was published in the Chicago Daily News. The advertisement publicized bulk jelly beans sold by volume for nine cents per pound. Jelly beans quickly earned a place among the many glass jars of “penny candy” in general stores where they were sold by weight and taken home in paper bags. It wasn’t until the 1930s, however, that jelly beans became a part of Easter traditions. Because of their egg-like shape, jelly beans became associated with the Easter Bunny, who is believed to deliver eggs as a symbol both spiritual rebirth based on religious beliefs and the upcoming season of spring.

 

Since 1976 and the introduction of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans, there have been two types of jellybeans, gourmet and traditional. The difference you ask?  Both take between 6-10 days to make but gourmet jelly beans tend to be softer and smaller than traditional jelly beans and are flavored in both the shell and the middle while traditional beans typically contain flavor only in the shell.

 

Fun Facts:

For Easter alone, in the United States, there are 16 billion jelly beans manufactured. This could fill a nine story office building that was 60 feet wide.

Jelly Belly beans were the first jelly beans in outer space.  President Reagan sent them on the 1983 flight of the space shuttle Challenger.

On October 15, 1999, the world’s largest jar of jelly beans was unveiled. It weighed 6,050 pounds.

 

 

 


The Jelly Bean Fun Book by Karen Capucilli

 

The Giant Jellybean Jar by Marcie Aboff

 


Eleven Jellybeans for Breakfast by Ellen Wikberg

 


The Jelly-Bean by F. Scott Fitzgerald