Wednesday, March 29, 2017


I have been waiting the THE DRY from my library for months. I am considering buying it but I generally don't buy a book unless I am positive I will like it (know the author from past books) or if I think both Phil and I will read it.

How do you decide what to buy and what to borrow for those of you who do both?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Forgotten Movies: THE PLAYER

A.O. Scott (NYT movie reviewer) was in Detroit over the weekend and the Detroit Film Theater showed two of his favorite films with him introducing them. I loved THE PLAYER when I saw it on its release. It's the story of a Hollywood producer who begins getting threatening postcards from someone who pitched an idea to him and was ignored. But more than that, it's about the Hollywood system of making movies circa 1990.

It didn't hold up very well for me. The dozens of cameos (and I had to remind myself who some of them were) distracted me from ever getting engaged in the movie either as a black comedy or a noir film. Whoopie Goldberg and Lyle Lovett as cops were ridiculous. Tim Robbins didn't seem nearly as engaging as he did 25 years ago. Sure, it has Altmans's signature overlapping dialog and was probably fairly adept at skewering Hollywood, but it had no heart and was not particularly exciting. Phil liked it more than I did. I think 25 years ago, he liked it less.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Stephen Haffner from Haffner Press reminds us that April 5, 2017 will be the 100th birthday of Robert Bloch and invites us to celebrate it by posting about various Bloch works. Anyone who would like to post a piece on my blog on the 5th is very welcome.

Things That Make Me Happy

My book talk at the Grosse Pointe Public Library went very well last week. More than 70 people turned out and I only knew about a dozen of them. They asked wonderful questions about my books, writing, other writers. It lasted nearly 90 minutes. I was so glad it turned out well because Diana Howbert, the librarian that set it up, had really pushed for having me and made all kinds of arrangements to make it a success. She even manged to get the local newspaper to publicize it--a real feat. I love my new side of town, but the GPPL is one of the great institutions of my life.

I am really enjoying my second William Kent Kruger novel, IRON LAKE. I broke my one author-one book rule to read it and am glad I did. I can hardly believe it was a debut novel. The writing is so skilled but not slick. My favorite combo.

There was a lot I didn't like about the movie PERSONAL SHOPPER, but Kristen Stewart, who was in every scene, was not one of them. What a terrific career looms in front of her.

I am so happy that Affordable Health Act is still in place. It may not be perfect but the draconian measures being put forth by Ryan and his band of thieves would have been disastrous. Crossed fingers they can be defeated on their plans for the tax code, the wall, etc.

I am thankful for my wonderful son, his wife, and Kevin who came to my book talk as they have come to all of them. And also to the friends who turned out for the third time. Family and friends, that's what it is all about, right? This was a long trip for all of them.

Loved Fran Lebowitz' BY THE BOOK piece in the NYT which managed to be humble and arrogant at the same time.

We were lucky enough to go to the DSO and hear Branford Marsalis and the DSO play  GABRIEL PROKOFIEV Saxophone Concerto (DSO premiere). Truly a stunning concert with Gabriel's grandfathers's ROMEO AND JULIET suite too. 
Sometimes I forget how many things I have to make me happy.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books, March 24, 2017

(From the archives)
Not exactly a forgotten book since C.J. Box's BLUE HEAVEN won the Edgar in 2009. But I have been meaning to read it and since I did, here is my review. This is a masterful book that manages to tell a fairly complex story in a completely lucid way. There is no fat in the story. It takes place over 48 hours and you can feel those hours ticking by at breakneck speed.
Two kids in northern Idaho watch the murder of a man, see that they've been spotted and are immediately on the run. They are lucky enough to find themselves in the barn of Jess Rawlins, a rancher who is one of the few good men left in his neck of the woods. He is also a hardluck guy who has lost almost everything. But Jess must hide the kids, figure out if their story is true, and determine just who the murderers are and why. Can he trust that what they think they saw really happened. And is it fair to keep the kids away from their worrying mother.
Blue Heaven is a term for the part of northern Idaho that is now a haven for ex-policeman. And some of those ex-policemen have taken over Jess's town for their own purposes. The is an exciting read and a nice introduction to this part of the country. Not a false step in the story and Box creates great villains and great heroes. Not an easy thing to do.

Mark Baker, LA REQUIEM, Robert Crais
Yvette Banek, HEIR TO MURDER, Miles Burton
Joe Barone, A CAST OF VULTURES, Judith Flanders
Brian Busby, PILLAR OF FIRE Gordan Green
Bill Crider, HOMICIDE TRINITY, Rex Stout
Martin Edwards, JOE JENKINS, DETECTIVE, Paul Rosenhayn
Richard Horton,  Flower of Doradil, by John Rackham/A Promising Planet, by Jeremy Strike
Nick Jones, THE FOREVER WAR, Joe Haldeman
George Kelley, ONCE A PULP MAN, Audrey Parente
Margot Kinberg, WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN A CASTLE, Shirley Jackson
B.V. Lawson, DEATH OF A BUSYBODY, Dell Shannon
Evan Lewis, NO ORCHIDS FOR MISS BLANDISH, James Hadley Chase
Steve Lewis/Barry Gardner, ALL SHALL BE WELL, Deborah Crombie
Todd Mason, THE BANTAM STORY, Clarence Peterson
Matt Paust, A VIEW OF THE CHARLES, Con Chapman
James Reasoner, KI-GOR AND THE FORBIDDEN MOUNTAIN, John Peter Drummond
Richard Robinson, IMPOSSIBLE STORIES, Zoran Zivkovic
Gerard Saylor, SNITCH JACKET, Chris Goffard
Kerrie Smith, LUSTRUM, Robert Harris
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang, MR. MONK IN TROUBLE, Lee Goldberg
TracyK, DANCERS IN MOURNING, Margery Allingham

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Books Set in Hotels

A lot of Christie's make great use of hotels but so does mainstream fiction. I  am thinking of MRS. PALFREY AT THE CLAREMOUNT (Elizabeth Taylor) and HOTEL DU LAC by Anita Brookner.
Any more?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My Favorite Movies of 2007

  (Excuse wonky spacing). Can't seem to fix it.

Painted Veil                                                                                                                  Volver                                                                                                                                        Zodiac

Lives of Others
First Snow
51 Birch Street
Away From Her
3:10 to Yuma
Gone Baby Gone
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
Starting Out in the Evening
Sweeney Todd

TODAY: I don't remember FIRST SNOW but I am going to look it up. The rest I still would vote for.