Sunday, December 18, 2011

BOOK IS LOVE LETTER TO LATE JACOBSON'S

For decades, the holiday season in East Lansing always brought thousands of shoppers into town to buy items at Jacobson's, the elegant department store and centerpiece of the city's commercial district.

A new book by architect and historian Bruce Allen Kopytek revisits those days, carefully examining the early beginnings, growth and sad demise of a memorable retail organization.

"Jacobson's: I Miss It So! - The Story of a Michigan Fashion Institution" (History Press, $19.99) is a well organized, detailed account of a major retailer who began business as a small store selling "Fancy Goods" in Reed City in 1868.

Moses Jacobson bought a similar business in Jackson, and renamed it; the store thrived and later expanded to Ann Arbor and Battle Creek.

Nathan Rosenfeld, a Cincinnati department store executive, bought the stores in 1939; joined by his brother Zola, they continued to remodel and expand.

The East Lansing store opened in 1941 at 115 E. Grand River Ave. and grew regularly through the 1950s, eventually taking space around the corner on Abbot Road.

Rosenfeld purchased properties in East Lansing, constructing and opening a deluxe, fashionable 117,000-square-foot building there in 1970.

"Let's Do Lunch" is a chapter that includes information about the fine East Room Restaurant on the top floor of the East Lansing location; recipes and menus are also provided.

Although the East Lansing store is prominently depicted on the cover, most of the book is devoted to the growth of the company into a major business enterprise spanning 30 stores in five states.

Many chapters examine the wide variety of other expansions to the Detroit suburban area and Florida, but there's always a sense of respect for the exceptional business sense, foresight and humor of Nathan Rosenfeld.

This entertaining book includes numerous detailed photographs and drawings of storefronts; there are interior shots of many wonderful retail display areas.

Kopytek has done diligent research, using material from Rosenfeld's son Mark, who was the president of the company until 1997. Other information and photos also came from the Ella Sharp Museum of Art and History in Jackson, where the corporate records are located.

This is a great book that's likely to bring back many fond memories of shopping at Jacobson's, where exceptional customer service reigned and high quality merchandise prevailed.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, has reviewed Michigan books and crime novels regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, December 18, 2011. 

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ESCAPE TO FLORIDA IN 2 NEW NOVELS

With the cold wind blowing and the temperature dropping, maybe it's time get away from it all and escape — in a pair of hot crime novels set in sunny Florida.

Each book is action-packed and full of violence, starring quick-thinking heroes with a background in the military's Special Forces.

"Collateral Damage" by H. Terrell Griffin (Oceanview, $25.95) is the sixth in his popular series starring Matt Royal, a retired lawyer and Vietnam veteran who's relaxing in Florida as a beach bum.

Griffin's latest exciting tale opens with a young man being shot to death by a sniper on a beach on the day after his wedding. Royal gets involved in the case when the dead man turns out to be the son of one of his Special Forces buddies.

A dinner cruise ship nearly collides with Royal's boat; two passengers and the captain are discovered murdered.

Longboat Key Detective J.D. Duncan is doing her best to see if the cases are connected; Royal gets help from former members of his military unit and a hacker.

Griffin offers another enjoyable, carefully crafted tale filled with intriguing characters, nifty plot twists and fast-paced action.

"Thorns on Roses" by Randy Rawls (L & L Dreamspell, $14.95) is a paperback in the same category, but the hero is more twisted and the violence amplified.

Tom Jeffries is a private investigator in Broward County who had worked as a Dallas cop for many years.
He identifies the body of a 17-year-old girl who's been raped and murdered by a local street gang. She's the stepdaughter of Charlie Rogers, his best buddy, who served with him in Vietnam in the Army's Special Forces.

Swearing vengeance, Jeffries stalks and eliminates gang members in the best Charles Bronson style, with
deadly, jaw-dropping scenes.

Rawls has deftly produced a gritty, dark tale with a memorable, flawed vigilante. There's considerable room for a sequel.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime novels and noir thrillers regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, December 11, 2011

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

STATE IS SETTING FOR TWO NEW TALES

Two recent crime novels set in Michigan are highly entertaining, although they occur in vastly different locations and time periods.

"The Chocolate Castle Clue" by Jo Anna Carl (Obsidian, $22.95) is the 11th in her popular "Chocoholic" series set in the small Lake Michigan resort town of Warner Pier.

The carefully crafted, cozy mystery stars Lee McKinney Woodyard, who works as business manager for her aunt's chocolate business.

This time, Lee's following her aunt's instructions to clean out an old storage space at the specialized chocolate factory and retail location.

Lee discovers a dusty trophy that brings back unpleasant old memories for her aunt.

Forty-five years earlier, her aunt's singing group, the Pier-O-Ettes, had won the trophy in a singing contest at the lake's Castle Ballroom.
That was the night the owner of the ballroom was found shot, an apparent suicide. The Pier-O-Ettes are now back for an eventful high school reunion, and the tasty plot thickens when a new murder occurs.

JoAnna Carl, who also writes as Eve K. Sandstrom, offers a delightful, fast-paced tale, complete with interesting chocolate chat and trivia.

"Motor City Shakedown" (St. Martin's Press, $24.99) is considerably different - it's a stylish, atmospheric, action-packed mystery that takes place in urban Detroit in 1911.

The sequel to Johnson's excellent "Detroit Electric Scheme" showcases flawed hero Will Anderson again getting into lots of trouble.

The first chapter sets the pace, with Will discovering the dead body of Carlo Moretti, the driver for Vito Adamo, a local crime boss.

Will goes on the run, afraid he's going to be charged with murder; soon he's caught up in Detroit's first mob war. The rival Gianolla gang threatens violence; more complications arise as the Teamsters attempt to unionize Will's father's electric automobile company.

Will faces more challenges, including his addiction to morphine. His former fiancee, a determined cop and young members of what will become the infamous Purple Gang play a vital part of the action.

Johnson is in fine form as he describes Detroit, a hustling, bustling town full of new immigrants and crooked cops. He throws in cameo appearances by an assortment of automotive pioneers including Ransom E. Olds; Edsel Ford, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison are also involved.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, December 4, 2011.

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MSU ALUM PENS 'MALIBU' E-BOOK

"Malibu Confidential," a quirky new crime novel by Paul-Arthur Weisenfeld, is part of a growing trend in publishing — you're not likely to find it in your local bookshop without special ordering it.

It's primarily available as an e-book on Amazon in the Kindle format for $4.99. If you want it as a fat paperback book for $24.95 (all 565 pages!), you can get it fastest by ordering it through Amazon.

Weisenfeld, an award-winning journalist who attended MSU, has ties to the local community, working as a news broadcaster in the late 1960s and early 1970s for WITL.

His debut novel, set in the late 1990s, showcases private detective Randal Bristol, who only accepts clients on a referral basis.

While this significantly limits his clientele, Bristol likes it that way, working hard to keep media exposure at a minimum.

The fast-paced novel is divided into three subsections, mostly taking place in California. Bristol's initial case involves a highly unusual blackmail scheme, a search for a lost film and the quest for a missing script.

Later segments deal with a clever terrorist who's out to stop a film's production, deadly secrets and a major wildfire.

Stylistically, this new crime novel is easy to read, with more than 180 short chapters and snappy dialogue.
Spurts of unexpected violence towards the end are a bit jolting; some transitions are not as smooth as in the earlier parts of the novel. The conclusion is complicated but satisfying; it's not completely believable but still highly entertaining.

Weisenfeld deftly captures much of the underlying craziness in Hollywood, dealing with a wide assortment of greedy filmmakers, studio executives, worn-out actors and actresses, nasty thugs and wannabe movie stars.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime novels and noir thrillers regularly since 1987.
 
This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, November 27, 2011.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Grisham, Levine Both Score With New Novels

Sleazy lawyers abound in a pair of highly entertaining new novels. With many courtroom shenanigans and unexpected plot twists, these fast-paced tales are likely to keep you up reading all night, rooting for the underdog.


“The Litigators”, by best-selling author John Grisham, (Doubleday, $28.95) is his best book in a few years.

Grisham, the masterful storyteller well known for his excellent legal thrillers, doesn’t disappoint his loyal fans as adds a bit more humor, introducing ambulance-chasing attorneys Oscar Finley and Wally Figg.

The lower level attorneys have been together for over 20 years, operating out of a seedy Chicago office, specializing in quickie divorces and DUI’s.

David Zinc is a smart, young, burned-out attorney who’s tired of 100-hour weeks. He impulsively decides to quit his job at a prestigious law firm, ending up drunk at Finley and Figg’s office.

As unlikely as it seems, he joins the lawyers and soon becomes involved in a class action suit against a major pharmaceutical company.

That’s where the fun begins, as the attorneys try to get statements from people whose family members have either died or been harmed by Krayoxx, a popular cholesterol-reducing drug with possible deadly side effects.

Sleaziness is not limited to the Finley and Figg firm; other attorneys around the country jump on the bandwagon and the huge pharmaceutical firm has its own unscrupulous tactics. Grisham is in fine form with strong, likable characters, lots of courtroom action and a satisfying conclusion.

“Lassiter” by award-winning author Paul Levine (Bantam, $25) marks the gritty return of Jack Lassiter, a former football player who’s earned a reputation as a tough lawyer in Miami’s low rent district.

Beautiful Amy Larkin hires Lassiter to investigate the disappearance of her sister Kristi, eighteen years earlier at a party at a local porn producer’s mansion.

Runaway, underage Kristi had starred in some films, but has vanished; Lassiter was peripherally involved and vows to make amends.

The quirky case gets more complicated when Amy is accused murdering a mobster; the porn producer, now a philanthropist, is trying to stay out of the picture and a dedicated State Attorney is out for blood.

While it’s been 14 years since the last Lassiter novel, Levine, the author of the excellent Solomon/Lord series definitely hasn’t lost his touch.


Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop,
had reviewed crime novels regularly since 1987.


This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, November 20, 2011.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

New Books from Michigan Authors

Here’s a quick look at some interesting books with a Michigan connection that came out earlier this year.

“The Color of Night: by L.C. Timmerman and John H. Timmerman (New Horizon Press $24.95) is a compelling true crime account of the struggle for justice in the murder case of 19-year-old Rachael Timmerman and the disappearance of Shannon, her 3-month-old daughter in Newaygo County.

The fascinating, gritty, highly detailed book opens with the 1997 discovery of Rachel’s body, duct-taped, handcuffed and chained to a cement block, in Oxford Lake.

She and her daughter had disappeared two days before she was to testify against Marvin Gabrion, who she had accused of attacking and raping her. The FBI is called in; eventually he is captured in a small New York town and is a suspect in other murders.

There are many more complications in the case; ironically, the 6th Court of Appeals recently overturned the death sentence on a technicality.

This well-researched book includes courtroom testimony as well as personal insights. It’s co-written by her father, who lives outside of Cedar Springs and her uncle, a professor at Calvin College in Grand Rapids.

“As Life Goes On” by Lansing author Larry Webb (CreateSpace $14.99) is an intriguing tale about Jeremy, a teen-ager whose best friend Scott is killed in a hit-and-run accident.

Jeremy goes to the cemetery, finding Scott and Jeremy’s long-dead dog Mooshy as ghosts, sitting on a mound of dirt.

It gets stranger from there, as the trio tries to unearth what really happened in the moments before Scott’s death.

The helpful spirits discover useful information; soon they assist Jeremy in a search for a missing classmate. Although they face numerous challenges, they are successful – in a way, opening the door for another paperback in the series, “Life Moves On”.

“In Which Brief Stories Are Told” by award-winning poet Phillip Sterling, (Wayne State, $18.95) is a slim, unusual collection of 15 short stories, some only two pages long.

These carefully crafted tales by Sterling are often enigmatic, offering quick slice-of-life glimpses of emotional situations.


It’s akin to reaching your hand into a large glass jar filled with razor blades, marbles and honey - you never know where Sterling’s literate tales will take you. Sterling teaches writing and literature at Ferris State University in Big Rapids.


Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Sop, 
has reviewed Michigan books regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal 
on Sunday,  November 13, 2011.

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

AUTHOR SHARES 14 "BARN STORIES"

"Barn Stories" by Morrice author Larry Neitzert (LWN Press, $14.95) is an amazingly good collection of 14 mesmerizing short stories by one of Michigan's most talented writers.

Neitzert, who gained acclaim with his excellent debut novel, "Maggie's Farm," last year, has self-published an exceptionally entertaining paperback anthology that smoothly delves into a variety of human emotions.

While the central action takes place inside an assortment of Michigan barns, Neitzert covers a lot of territory, beginning with "A Blue Uniform for Jonathon" a thought-provoking story set during the Civil War.

Neitzert's next tale deals with an unusual discovery by four boys in a pile of rubbish on a creek bank. Their journey to the barn and the ultimate resolution is both realistic and hilarious.

"Painted Barn" is similar, dealing with two farmers' wives, their strong beliefs and frustrations; the surprising ending certainly is unexpected.

Other stories offer sobering viewpoints from the wives of farmers or their children, examining the changing role that agriculture or livestock production is having in today's economy.

In the haylofts and in the barns, Neitzert showcases his masterful storytelling talents when dealing with aging, proud farmers who face considerable challenges.

"Retirement for Louise" focuses on a woman who wants to escape the farm life; her stubborn husband has other ideas. Another story deals with rural racism; others explore many generational differences and similarities.

"What to Do With Uncle Paul" is an emotional short story about an elderly relative who grew up on his sister's farm and has problems adjusting when the farm must be sold.

Neitzert's short stories are best absorbed a little at a time. It's almost like taking literary vitamins: one a day should make you feel much better.

The author is an MSU graduate who grew up on a farm in Coldwater and was a classroom teacher and athletic coach for 31 years. He is an adjunct instructor at Baker College of Owosso in social studies, where he teaches history.

Copies of the book can be ordered for $17.95 postpaid from the author at Larry Neitzert, P.O. Box 251, Morrice, MI 48857.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, has reviewed Michigan books regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published in the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, November 6th, 2011.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Curiosities Newsletter for November 2011

Greetings, Curious Readers!

Isn't it about time you brushed up on your American History?

During the month of November, the following sections are 30% OFF:
 
American History
World History
Religion
Rock & Roll Books

New Acquisitions at Curious include a set of Ellery Queen's best mysteries, attractively bound; vintage football programs for Michigan State and University of Michigan spanning from the 1950s to the 1980s; dozens of manga graphic novels; plenty of general fiction bestsellers; hardcover and paperback novels by Terry Pratchett; many religious books; 3 companion sets of Great Books, to be purchased together; paperback series fiction for children, including Michigan Chillers, Barbie, Magic Tree House, Choose Your Own Adventure, American Girl and more!
 
We have also acquired numerious bestselling paperback and hardcover books by authors including Jonathan Franzen, Stephen King, Tom Wolfe, Kurt Vonnegut, D.H. Lawrence, Rebecca West, Margaret Mitchell, Robert Jordan, James Michener and Gabriel Garcia Marquez; a wide variety of Paranormal Romance novels (located on our main floor and in the basement); signed copies of A History of the Red Cedar Neighborhood by Janet L. Hicks Ronk; books about various religions; and many nicely illustrated children's books, perfect to give as gifts to young readers!

Shop News:

Many thanks to everyone who helped us celebrate our 42nd anniversary, last month.
We would LOVE to know of your fond memories and favorite books from Curious.
Please post them on our Facebook page!
 
Ray will be reviewing Barn Stories: A Collection of Michigan Short Stories
by Michigan author Larry Neitzert! Watch for the review in this Sunday's
edition of the Lansing State Journal, or on our blog!
Neitzert will be signing copies of of his latest work at Everybody Reads
( 2019 E. Michigan Ave, Lansing, Mi 48912)
on Wednesday, Nov. 9th, from 7 until 9 pm.

CLASSICON 40 is COMING!
Join us at the University Quality Inn on
November 12, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
(3121 E. Grand River Ave., Lansing, MI)
Admission: $3.00
At Classicon you will find thousands of collectable Pulp Magazines,
Digests, Comics and Paperbacks availbable for sale or trade!
Other items of interest include Calendars, Pinups and Glamour Art;
Original Paperback Artwork from the 1950s and 1960s; Mysteries;
Detective Stories; Westerns; Romance; Science Fiction and other
Classics from the 1920s - 1960s!
For more information, please contact the Curious Book Shop.

 
Shop and Save on GREEN FRIDAY at the Curious Book Shop!
Downtown East Lansing businesses will take part in this big sale day
on Friday, December 2nd, offering stellar discounts on all sorts of
wonderful gift items. EVERYTHING will be at least 25% OFF at Curious!

Did you stop by Curious during the Pumpkin Walk?
We had an estimated 1200 kids (plus parents!) visit the shop last Thursday,
and saw some extra-cool literary themed costumes, including Laura Ingalls Wilder,
Sherlock Holmes, Dorothy, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Winnie the Pooh,
Olivia the Pig, Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter.

Community Happenings:
The Spartans play Minnesota on Saturday, November 5th.
This is a home game, and it begins at noon.
Remember, downtown parking is at a premium on football Saturdays!

The Spartans play their final home game against Indiana
on Saturday, November 19th. Go Green! Go White!
 
Scene Metrospace (110 Charles St., East Lansing)
presents Bedlam, a "visual exploration" by local photographer
Robert Turney, depicting 19th century mental patients and institutions.
This show runs from Nov. 4th until Dec. 11th.
 
The East Lansing Film Festival is November 9 - 17!
Tickets and schedule information is available at www.elff.com,
or by calling (517) 993 - 5444.
 
We will be open on Sundays, from noon until 5 pm,
and there is free parking in East Lansing's city parking lots!
Literary Happenings through History for November:

Ivan Turgenev, born Nov. 9 1818. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. born Nov. 11, 1922.
Herman Melville's Moby Dick first published by Harper and Brothers in
New York on Nov. 14, 1981. Sylvia Beach opened her Parisian book shop,
Shakespeare & Co
., on Nov. 17, 1919. George Eliot born Nov. 22, 1811.
Ray Walsh
, owner and founder of Curious Book Shop, celebrates his
birthday Nov. 25th! Lewis Carroll gave his handwritten manuscript,
Alice's Adventures Underground, to Alice Liddell as an early
Christmas gift on Nov. 26, 1864. John Donne, born Nov. 27 1573.
C.S. Lewis
born Nov. 29, 1898. Oscar Wilde died in Paris, Nov. 30, 1900.

As the holiday season approaches, please consider shopping for gifts at Curious,
You'll find unique, beautiful gift-quality and rare books at affordable prices.
Call or email to set up an appointment with Audrey, our gift-giving guru.
She can help you find just the right item for that special someone - or for yourself!
 
Hours of Operation:
Monday - Saturday, 10 am - 8 pm
Sundays, Noon - 5 pm

As always, we thank you for supporting a local, independently owned book shop!
 - Ray, Mark, Audrey and the rest of the Curious Gang

__________

Curious Books
http://www.curiousbookshop.blogspot.com/
307 East Grand River
East Lansing, MI  48823
(517) 332-0112

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Monday, October 31, 2011

Spooky House Tale Set in State

“Spirits and Wine” by MSU graduate Susan Newhof (University of Michigan Press, $24) is a spooky, unusual book that’s hard to simply classify.

It’s a ghost story, a mystery, a tale of personal growth and more. It showcases John and Anna, a recently married couple, who buy an old farmhouse in Carlston, a small, fictional Western Michigan lakeshore town.

The old house is charming but needs considerable work; that’s only part of the problem. While the couple is initially skeptical, they soon discover that there are unseen, disquieting spirits in the house.

John is in the wine business, which requires him to fly off to service accounts on a regular basis. Anna busies herself with the house restoration, but she is strangely attracted to gardening, which hadn’t interested her before.

She can’t recall her actions for periods of time and has other challenges; John becomes more frustrated as they try to figure out what’s going on.

Their investigation into the past occupants of the house turns up unnerving information. During the Spanish flu influenza of 1918-19, the owners of the house died, but there are still many questions about the younger children in the family.

Anna falls seriously ill; they worry about the spirit’s possessiveness and get unexpected help from a Grand Rapids cafĂ© owner.

The plot gets more convoluted from there, but Newhof spins a highly entertaining tale, told in tandem viewpoints of Anna and John.

In a search for more information, the couple issues a press release; a resulting outstate journey raises other concerns which may change their lives forever.

Newhof notes in a press interview that the intriguing novel took 13 years for her to write. It started when she and her husband bought an old farmhouse in Montague MI. She states “Many of the things that happened in this story are based on events that happened in our lives and based on things that happened in the house.”

While “Spirits and Wine” is only 168 pages long, it is a carefully crafted, compelling tale filled with strong-willed characters and a satisfying conclusion.

This is the first novel for Newhof, the author of the popular guide series “Michigan’s Town and Country Inns”, but she is working on another.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop,
has reviewed Michigan books and crime novels regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the
Lansing State Journal on October 30, 2011.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

AUTHOR SHARES EAST LANSING HISTORY, MEMORIES

Janet Hicks Ronk has seen a lot of changes in East Lansing since she grew up on South Harrison  Road.  It's hard to imagine the now-bustling thoroughfare as a one-track gravel road.

Her grandfather, Stephen Henry Hicks, and his family, originally from St. Johns, bought 160 acres of farmland on Harrison Road in 1911. They proceeded to move from their large home, 30 miles away, to East Lansing, described as "only a collection of little houses right around the corner of Harrison Road and Michigan Avenue."

The Hicks family slowly developed the land, creating the "Flower Pot" area out of their newly named Lilac Lawn Farm.

Ronk, an MSU alumna and a retired faculty emeritus, has written "A History of the Red Cedar Neighborhood in East Lansing, MI," now available in a second printing of a limited edition.

The attractively designed 72-page booklet is filled with fascinating insights and numerous family photos, including images of many early houses that were built as the development grew.

She provides detailed recollections of family members that vividly describe the challenges faced by moving by horse-drawn sleigh into rural East Lansing in the middle of winter.

At the time, Ronks' grandfather noted: "There was a little aggie school not far away with about 700 students, but no one thought much about it."

That school, then known as Michigan Agricultural College, later became Michigan State University.
The family grew and prospered, getting involved in the dairy business and creating apple cider. The Hicks family named the neighborhood streets after flowers; they were actively involved in constructing more than 60 homes in the subdivision.

The insights into the growth of the area include obscure historical tidbits, such as the fact that MSU's Brody dormitory complex originally was the location of the East Lansing dump.

You can get the book for $12.95 postpaid by writing to Books, Box 6400, East Lansing, MI 48824.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, has reviewed Michigan books regularly since 1987.

This review originally appeared in the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, October 23, 2011.

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MICHIGAN JOURNALISTS STAR IN NEW NOVELS

Two recent mysteries feature diligent Michigan journalists trying to solve puzzling crimes.

"Juror 55" by Shepherd author Chris Zimmerman (Joker's Conundrum, $17) again showcases Alma newspaper reporter Derrick Twitchell.

He witnesses the kidnapping of Congressman Floyd Capp from a Town Hall meeting. Capp had voted for a controversial health care bill; angry constituents were there to relay their displeasure.

After the kidnappers get away, Capp is murdered, and Martin Yandle, leader of an ultra-right wing religious group, is sought as the killer.
 
Weeks later, Twitchell stops a deadly attempt by Yandle at an Amish schoolhouse. The reporter gets help from psychologist James Ong while his wife tries to infiltrate the religious group.

The trial in Flint involving the murder case causes serious complications. An Amish juror provides unexpected challenges for Twitchell and Ong as another major crime develops.

"Dead Dogs and Englishmen" by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli (Midnight Ink, $14.95) is the fourth in her paperback series starring Emily Kincaid, a part-time journalist in the small northern Michigan town of Leetsville.

As usual, Kincaid gets into trouble, this time when local deputy Dolly Wakowski takes her to the site where the brutally slain body of a woman has been discovered at an abandoned farmhouse.

The corpse of a dog is also found there; further investigation reveals that bodies of dead dogs have been thrown into the yards of Mexican migrant farm workers.

Kincaid's ex-husband is back on the scene; he provides her with an unusual job offer from Cecil Hawke, an eccentric, wealthy Englishman.

Hawke wants her to edit his manuscript; Kincaid takes the job, only to discover a much darker side of the hopeful author. When another murder occurs, Kincaid and Wakowski are drawn deeper into the case, with deadly results.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, has been reviewing crime novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CURIOUS!

For 42 YEARS the Curious Book Shop 
has happily served the 
East Lansing / Lansing / MSU / LCC community.

Stop by the shop this week 
(Oct. 19 - Oct. 25) 
to take advantage of our 
bigger-and-better-than-ever 
anniversary sale:
All used books and magazines
priced $42.00 and less 
are an astounding 
42% OFF!
All other items are
20% OFF!

This offer is not valid on online sales.

Thank you, to all of our loyal customers.
Here's to the wonderful, book-filled years to come!

Ray Walsh, founder and owner of the Curious Book Shop,
at the 54th Michigan Antiquarian Book and Paper Show.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October Curiosities Newsletter

Hello, from the Curious Book Shop!

You're one of the first to know about our big October Sale:

30% OFF Horror, Humor, Health & Hunting
What do the the Dictionary, the Bible,
the Harry Potter books and The Shining have in common?

They're all banned books!

Come celebrate National Book Month and
Banned Book Week at the Curious Book Shop.
There are dozens banned books on display,
along with information about when, where and why they were banned.

Shop News:
 
New acquisitions include beautiful art and art history books;
many cookbooks; childrens books; history books about ancient Egypt,
Greece, Rome and medieval societies; MSU Football programs (1960s - 1990s);
 a fascinating collection of conspiracy theory texts and new age books;
books about Wilhelm Reich, Freud and Jung; and titles by your favorite
bestselling authors of yesterday and today!

Other new items include vintage issues of Western Horseman,
Cycle (a magazine all about motorcycles), Gleanings in Bee Culture
(bee keeping magazine from the 1930s - 1960s), Southwest Art
and the new issue of Locus, our favorite science fiction & fantasy magazine!

Do you want to be the FIRST to know when something unusual comes into the shop?
We are, admittedly, a bit behind the technological times... but we're on Facebook!
Follow us and watch for new acquisitions, posted almost every day.

Did you attended last month's 54th Michigan Antiquarian Book and Paper Show?
Tell us about your experience!
What were you hoping to find?
What items interested you the most? 
We value your opinions and strive to make each show better than the last.

Mark your Calendar: The 55th show will be held on Sunday, April 1st, 2012!
 

More Local Upcoming Events:
MSU vs UofM The big game is this weekend,
which means parking will be at a premium.
Kickoff is at noon, at Spartan Stadium.
We've restocked our classic MSU football programs,
so stop in and take a walk down memory lane, or
fill in the gaps in your collection.

MSU Homecoming is October 21st and 22nd!
Join us along Grand River Ave. on Friday the 21st for the
annual MSU Homecoming parade, which begins at 6 p.m.
Keep in mind that parking may be quite difficult.

Enjoy beautiful downtown East Lansing before the big
football game (vs. Wisconson, 8 p.m. kickoff).
Be sure to stop in and say hello!

Halloween / Pumpkin Walk at CuriousBring the whole family for one of our favorite nights - the Pumpkin Walk!
Join us on Thursday, Oct. 27th between 5 and 7 p.m. to stock up
on tasty candy, coupons and great books for kids and adults.
This is a wonderful community event that regularly brings
over 1,000 children and parents into our shop.

Our staff will be dressed in literary-related costumes,
so be sure to try and guess which book or character we're celebrating!
Safe Halloween webpage

Classicon 40:
A Collectable Paperback, Pulp, Comic and Glamour Art Show
is coming to Lansing on Saturday, November 12, 2011!
Admission: $3.00. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. at the
University Quality Inn (near Frandor Shopping Center).

Thousands of collectable pulp magazines, comics, digests and
paperbacks will be available for sale or trade, as well as original
art pieces, calendars, pin-up art and many more unusual items.

Interesting in exhibiting? Contact Ray at curiousbooks@gmail.com.

October's Literary Birthdays:
Tim O'Brien (Oct. 1), Wallace Stevens (Oct. 2), Mahatma Gandhi (Oct. 2),
Graham Greene (Oct. 2), Mikhail Lermontov (Oct. 3), Thomas Wolfe (Oct. 3),
James Herriot (Oct. 3), Gore Vidal (Oct. 3), Kazauki Takahashi (Oct. 4),
Anne Rice (Oct. 4), Edward Stratemeyer (Oct. 4), Denis Diderot (Oct. 5),
Frank Herbert (Oct. 8), R.L. Stine (Oct. 8), Elmore Leonard (Oct. 11),
Conrad Richter (Oct. 13), Katherine Mansfield (Oct. 14), e. e. cummings (Oct. 14),
Virgil (Oct. 15), John Kenneth Galbraith (Oct 15.), Arthur Schlesinger (Oct. 15),
Mario Puzo (Oct. 15), Gunter Grass (Oct. 16), Oscar Wilde (Oct. 16),
Noah Webster (Oct. 16), Arthur Miller (Oct. 17), Wendy Wasserstein (Oct. 18),
John Le Carre (Oct. 19), Ursula K. LeGuin (Oct. 21), Doris Lessing (Oct. 22),
Michael Crichton (Oct. 23), Anne Tyler (Oct. 25), Pat Conroy (Oct. 26),
Dylan Thomas (Oct. 27), Sylvia Plath (Oct. 27), Ivan Turgenev (Oct. 28),
John Locke (Oct. 28), Ezra Pound (Oct. 30), Fjodor Dostoevsky (Oct. 30),
John Keats (Oct. 31), Dick Francis (Oct. 31).

If there's a specific book you're looking for, please let us know!
We'd be happy to keep your request on file, or perform a special order.

Thank you for your continued support and interest in the Curious Book Shop.
What do you think of this month's newsletter? We'd love to know your opinions!


Many thanks from Ray, Audrey, Mark and the rest of the Curious Gang

Curious Books
http://www.curiousbooks.com/
www.facebook.com/CuriousBooks
307 East Grand River
East Lansing, MI  48823
(517) 332-0112

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

STANDER HAS NEW ELKINS NOVEL

"Medieval Murders," by Michigan author Aaron Stander (Writers & Editors, $15.95), is the fifth book in his popular series starring Cedar County sheriff Ray Elkins.

This time out, Stander shows Elkins in a different light, exploring a puzzling case that occurred before the dedicated lawman took his job in Northern Michigan.

This prequel to the series begins with Elkins serving as acting director of university police at a major Michigan college.

He's got five days left on the job. He's looking forward to going back to teaching again and returning to his position as chair of the criminal justice department.

Instead, Elkins is called to a crime scene on campus, where the body of medieval studies specialist Sheila Bensen is discovered after falling from the top of the carillon tower.

As an ex-cop in Detroit, Elkins has experience at crime scenes; he decides to dig deeper into the suspicious death.

Elkins gets assistance from Charlene Pascoe, Head of Investigations, a talented former student who has been recruited back to the department.

Further complications arise when a second medievalist dies on campus. The action intensifies more towards the end of the book, when the body of a third department member is discovered.

This is a well-crafted, cerebral police procedural that should easily satisfy fans who've enjoyed reading about Elkins in other books.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime novels Michigan books regularly since 1987.

This review appeared in the Lansing State Journal on October, 9 2011. 

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

NOVEL INCORPORATES SCI-FI AUTHORS

If you're trying to escape reality a bit and want to enjoy an unusual, intriguing, fast-paced novel, the latest book by Paul Malmont should be just about perfect.

"The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown" (Simon & Schuster, $26) will whisk you away to 1943, when America was involved in the middle of World War II.

Malmont, the author of "The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril" and "Jack London in Paradise," offers an exciting tale that features many major science fiction authors as main characters.

Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and L. Sprague de Camp play a central role in this smooth and exceptionally clever literary mixture of fact and fiction.

Heinlein is recruited by the Navy to form a "Kamikaze Group" of writers to work on a special project at the Philadelphia Naval Yard.

The authors are set up in a military laboratory, hired to try to make an assortment of science fiction themes a reality, including the creation of death rays and force fields.

Pulp magazine writer L. Ron Hubbard joins them in a madcap adventure that will take them on unexpected journeys.

As the war tensions increase, the U.S. government is expecting great things from this group of authors as the country struggles to stay ahead of Nazi military innovations.

An interesting plot twist is developed as the heroes investigate the ruins of a mysterious energy facility near Long Island that was created by Nikola Tesla.

There are many well-crafted, intriguing scenes as the group of authors challenges authority on various levels. They are joined by a variety of other pulp-era writers, including Walter Gibson (creator of "The Shadow") and Lester Dent (creator of "Doc Savage).

Malmont delves deep into the lives and relationships of the talented young authors, offering insights into Heinlein's insecurity about his writing skills, Asimov's marriage problems and his fascination with robots, and Hubbard's many unusual experiences during the war.

Cameo appearances by young Ray Bradbury, superfan Forrest Ackerman and even Albert Einstein add to
this highly distinctive, well-plotted adventure novel.

This is ideal reading for anyone who loves pulp magazines, science fiction or historical thrillers. It falls in the same category as the recent Captain America movie - or Michael Chabon's "Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay." It's simply an exciting, nostalgic tale that's great fun.

Malmont, who works in advertising, attended the Interlochen Arts Academy.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, has reviewed books regularly since 1987.

This review originally appeared in the Lansing State Journal on September 18, 2011

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

COLLECTION OF POETRY, PROSE IN ROOTED IN MID-MICHIGAN AREA

"Circle ... Home" by local author Melissa Dey Hasbrook (Femistiza Press, $20) is an intriguing new book  that isn't that easy to categorize.

It's a mixture of contemporary poetry, prose, maps, photographs and artwork, deftly combined to offer a thought-proving volume that's intriguingly different.

The self-published volume is the debut publication of the small press Femistiza; Hasbrook received an emerging-artist grant earlier this year from the Arts Council of Greater Lansing.

The oversize trade paperback features excellent cover art and small line drawings of turtles and spiders by Linda Robinson, which are also scattered throughout the volume.

This is a collection of poetry and prose rooted in mid-Michigan, using journal observations, personal family photographs and prose.

The first part of the book deals with "Stories from a Stone," where Hasbrook uses journal entries and photographs to reflect on the state of the family land that used to be the Kowalk dairy farm on Clark Road in DeWitt.

After offering images of the original 1890s title abstracts to the property, Hasbrook continues with "the land, once called DeWitt," which first appeared as an e-book in 2009.

This section includes poetry, vintage photographs and prose, some dealing with memories, ancestors and future land development. "The Tin Sequence" details the horrors of the introduction of smallpox to American Indians.

Hasbrook continues her skillful storytelling in the next section, offering insights into generations of various family members.

The last part mixes more genealogical poetry with an exploration of the fate of the Mason Esker, an ancient glacial riverbed that flows from DeWitt through the Lansing area to Mason.

Hasbrook's combination of thought-provoking poetry and memorable images is accompanied by notes that explain the relevance of the graphics. She also provides a selected list of sources and inspirational materials.
The author is a local community organizer who began the HerStories Project as a grass-roots program to celebrate stories about women in 2010, expanding the events this year to celebrate gender.

Hasbrook's earlier creative publications include "Echoes of Women (2006), a collaborative chapbook, and "Blame It on Eve" (2007), an e-book on CD of her poems.

Portions of "Circle ... Home" have been published on her website http://www.deyofthephoenix.com/.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, has reviewed books since 1987.

This review was originally published by the 
Lansing State Journal on Sunday, September 11, 2011.

 

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CRIME WRITERS DELIVER THRILLS

Family relationships are of the utmost importance in a pair of compelling page-turners that are likely to keep you reading until the wee hours of the morning.

Each book is written by a best-selling thriller writer and comes complete with unexpected plot twists, lots of violence and a nasty villain.


"The Accident" by Linwood Barclay (Bantam, $25) is a superb, taut thriller by the author of "Never Look Away" and seven other acclaimed novels.

After a brief bloody prologue, Barclay shifts into high gear, introducing Glen Garber, a small town Connecticut contractor struggling in today's tough times.

When his wife fails to come back from a night school class, Garber begins to worry. Soon, his worst fears are realized: his wife is dead in a car accident that claimed two other lives.

Garber's wife is accused of being drunk and responsible for the accident; Garber can't believe it. As he investigates, other facts don't add up. Garber, the father of an 8-year-old girl, faces significantly more challenges and an expensive lawsuit.

Barclay ratchets up the tension with the body count rising. Garber's life gets very complicated and soon a relentless killer makes him a target. If you haven't read any of Barclay's books, you're in for a treat.
"Eyes Wide Open" by Andrew Gross (William Morrow, $25.99) is the fifth novel by an author who's become more famous for co-writing many other thrillers with James Patterson.

Jay Erlich, a wealthy New York State doctor, gets upsetting news that his nephew has been found dead at the bottom of a cliff in California.

Erlich flies out to comfort his older brother Charlie and Charlie's wife Gabrielle. While their son Evan had mental problems, they don't believe he was suicidal.

Jay doesn't either; he investigates and discovers a murder that's possibly related. He unearths deep dark secrets involving his brother and a notorious mass murder that took place decades earlier.

Gross based this tense thriller on a few real life situations - his own nephew died in a suspicious fall off a cliff. The Charles Manson-like character is based on Gross' chance encounter with the real Manson Gross had years ago.

The prologue of this novel is set in Michigan - and the victim's parents were from Lansing.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, has reviewed books since 1987.

This review was originally published by the 
Lansing State Journal on Sunday, September 4, 2011.

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PICTORIAL EMBRACES MICHIGAN HISTORY

There's still a little time left to make a great escape before Labor Day and you don't have to pay for gas!

The latest book by M. Chris Byron and Thomas R. Wilson will whisk you away for a journey into the past, in "Vintage Views Along the West Michigan Pike"(Arbutus Press, $35)

Subtitled "From Sand Trails to US-31" this over-sized pictorial volume covers significant territory and includes a brief introduction from well-known historian Leroy Barnett.

This isn't a dry, scholarly history book with detailed, mostly outdated, heavily footnoted information. Instead, it's a thoughtfully created, attention-grabbing book chock full of memorable images from old photographs and vintage post cards. It's complemented by striking graphics from many colorful advertisements and travel brochures.

The first chapter provides excellent history of the West Michigan Pike, showing how the scenic route was developed, constructed, expanded and promoted. It notes the initial importance of bicyclists and explores further growth from dirt roads to solid pavement.

The trip along Lake Michigan's eastern shoreline begins at Grand Beach and goes all the way to Mackinaw City, with stops at every minor village, sleepy small town and bustling city en route.

Appropriate maps also are offered; areas like Benton Harbor, Saugatuck, Holland, Grand Haven, Ludington, Frankfort, Traverse City, Charlevoix and Petoskey are all well-represented.

Byron and Wilson, longtime collectors of historic Michigan ephemera, postcards and photos, have turned their hobby into a fascinating endeavor.

Their earlier books, "Vintage Views of Leelanau County" and "Vintage Views of the Charlevoix-Petoskey Region", won Michigan Notable Book Awards from the Library of Michigan. Their third book, "Vintage Views of the Mackinac Straits Region" was published in 2007.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, has reviewed books since 1987.

This review was originally published by the
Lansing State Journal on Sunday, August 28 2011.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

There’s still a little time left to make a great escape before the upcoming holiday;
you don’t even have to pay for gas!

The latest book by M. Chris Byron and Thomas R. Wilson will whisk you away for a wonderful journey into the past, in “Vintage Views Along the West Michigan Pike” (Arbutus Press, $35).

Subtitled “From Sand Trails to US-31” this over-sized pictorial volume covers significant territory and includes a brief introduction from well-known historian Leroy Barnett.

This isn’t a dry, boring, scholarly history book with detailed, mostly outdated, heavily footnoted information. Instead, it’s a thoughtfully created, attention-grabbing book that’s chock full of memorable images from old photographs and vintage post cards. It’s complemented by striking graphics from many colorful advertisements and travel brochures.

The first chapter provides excellent background history of the West Michigan Pike, showing how the scenic route was developed, constructed, expanded and promoted. It notes the initial importance of bicyclists and explores further growth from dirt roads to solid pavement.
Classic images abound, including photographs of old gas stations, long departed restaurants and tourist cabins. Unfortunately, many of the buildings shown no longer exist; many sites are long forgotten or barely remembered.

The trip along Lake Michigan’s eastern shoreline begins at Grand Beach and goes all the way up to Mackinaw City, with stops at every minor village, sleepy small town and bustling city en route.

Appropriate maps are also offered; areas like Benton Harbor, Saugatuck, Holland, Grand Haven, Ludington, Frankfort, Traverse City, Charlevoix and Petoskey are all well-represented.

The carefully-researched book also includes a list of illustration credits, a section of bibliography and sources cited and an index. The authors note: “We wanted to portray the sense of adventure and discovery that early motorists experienced along the pike.” They succeed in a grand fashion.

Byron and Wilson, longtime collectors of historic Michigan ephemera, postcards and photos, have turned their hobby into a fascinating endeavor. They have provided an enjoyable and much needed book that’s ideal for tourists, travelers, historians and local libraries.

Their earlier books, “Vintage Views of Leelanau County” and “Vintage Views of the Charlevoix-Petoskey Region”, won Michigan Notable Book Awards from the Library of Michigan. Their third book, “Vintage Views of the Mackinac Straits Region” was published in 2007.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop,
has reviewed Michigan books and crime novels regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the
Lansing State Journal on Sunday, August 21, 2011.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Michigan writers impress

Two recent crime novels by Michigan writers feature hard-working individuals trying to solve puzzling crimes.
One showcases an aging, tough, urban private investigator while the other features a dedicated journalist who’s trying to solve a murder.


“Infernal Angels” by Whitmore Lake, Mich. author  Loren Estleman (Forge, $24.99) is the 21st in his popular series starring Amos Walker, Detroit private eye.

Walker, who’s slow to adjust to modern technology, is hired by Rueben Crossgrain to track down a bunch of HDTV converter boxes that have been stolen. Diligently checking out promising leads, Walker runs into problems when his client’s dead body is discovered.

Walker becomes a suspect, getting the attention of Deputy Marshall Mary Ann Thayer and others in authority who have conflicting ideas on how to deal with him.

The private eye follows a trail of deception and violence, getting help from journalist Barry Stackpole, who’s appeared in other Walker novels.

The case gets considerably more complicated as the real reason behind the theft surfaces – the converter boxes were filled with high-grade heroin and were accidentally shipped to Crossgrain.

Estleman is in fine form, showing the challenges facing an aging private investigator; there’s an unusual and realistic chase scene that’s quite memorable.

This is a great, classic tough guy, private eye tale that’s ideal for hard-boiled crime fiction fans.

“A Case of Hometown Blues” by Jackson Mich. author W.S. Gager (Oak Tree Press, $14.95) is the third in her series about Mitch Malone, who was twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize Investigative Journalism Award.
This oversized paperback is set in the small fictional town of Flatville, Mich. where Malone grew up. He’s returned to give a seminar on investigative journalist techniques.

The seminar is the same weekend as Malone’s high school reunion, but Malone really doesn’t want to participate. Trudy Harrison, the school’s Homecoming Queen, tracks him down in a local bar after the celebration.

She’s sloshed, so Malone decides to drive her home. Big mistake! Trudy’s body is discovered the next day and Malone becomes the prime suspect.

Released from jail, the dedicated journalist digs deeper, discovering many deadly dark secrets of the small town.

While Gager’s highly entertaining tale wraps up a little too neatly, it’s still solid escapism by a promising new talent.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, 
has reviewed crime novels and noir thrillers regularly since 1987.
This review was originally published by the 
Lansing State Journal on Sunday, August 15, 2011.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

New Spenser, Nameless Detective entries are great summer reads

It’s hot outside - and time for easy, relaxing summer reading. If you haven’t discovered Robert Parker or Bill Pronzini, you’re in for a real treat!

Each author has won the Grand Masters Award from the Mystery Writers of America for lifetime achievement and consistent quality. Both are well known for their long-running series starring a hard-working private investigator, but unfortunately Parker died early last year.


“Sixkill” (Putnam, $26.95) is the 39th in his best-selling and exceptionally popular series starring Boston private eye known simply as Spenser.

It’s the last one in the series that Parker completed, although his legacy will live on with other Spenser novels that will be written by Ace Atkins (author of “White Shadow” and “Wicked City”.

Spenser agrees to look into a case for Boston Homicide’s Captain Quirk involving the death of a young woman in the hotel room of Jumbo Nelson, an overweight actor/comedian. Nelson was in Boston filming a new movie; the studio has attorney Rita Fiore hire Spenser to clear Nelson.

Zebulon Sixkill, Nelson’s bodyguard, initially is a suspect; the drunken Cree Indian is fired by Nelson after being beaten up by Spenser.

Although an alliance between Spenser and Sixkill seems unlikely, Parker makes it work, deftly utilizing likable Sixkill as a prominent character.

Spenser’s longtime sidekick Hawk is still off somewhere in Asia, although there are many cameo appearances by others who have appeared in earlier novels.

With his usual snappy dialogue, fast pacing and strong character development, Parker is in fine form; this is one of the best books in a great series.

“Camouflage” by Bill Pronzini (Forge, $24.99) is the 38th in his series featuring San Francisco private eye known only as “the Nameless Detective”.

Business executive David Virden hires Nameless to deliver some papers to his first wife. He tracks her down, but she refuses to sign them.

Virden stops payment and threatens to sue, claiming that the detective hadn’t found the right woman. The case gets more complicate as Virden disappears.

As the Nameless Detective investigates, he unearths unnerving information and exposes a carefully created scheme. The result is totally unexpected and well orchestrated by Pronzini, one of today’s best crime novelists.

A secondary subplot showcasing Jake Runyon, another agency operative, is more personal. He’s looking into allegations that his girlfriend’s young son is being beaten by her ex-husband. There’s a dead woman involved; Runyon struggles to find a devious killer.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop,
has reviewed crime novels and noir thrillers regularly since 1987.
This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, July 24, 2011.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

"Very Bad Men" is one of year's best

Harry Dolan will be talking about his latest novel 
and signing books on Thursday at 7 p.m. at 
Schuler Books and Music, Meridian Mall, 1982 W. Grand River, Okemos.


It’s been about two years since Ann Arbor author Harry Dolan burst on the crime novel scene with his highly acclaimed debut novel “Bad Things Happen”, which introduced David Loogan, editor of “Gray Streets”, a mystery magazine.

The wait’s definitely worthwhile; Dolan’s back with a vengeance – and so is Loogan, in “Very Bad Men” (Amy Einhorn/Putnam, $25.95).

Loogan gets involved in a strange investigation when a manuscript appears outside his office door. It gets his attention right away – it confesses to a murder that just took place – giving unannounced details. Loogan gets more concerned when the manuscript identifies the killer’s next proposed victim.

The journalist calls in his live-in girlfriend, Ann Arbor Police Detective Elizabeth Waishkey; soon the hunt is on to identify and stop the murderer.

Dolan deftly hooks the reader from the opening chapter, where he relays information about the murderer and his plans to kill Terry Dawtrey, a prison inmate in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Dawtrey’s been jailed for his involvement in a bank heist 17 years earlier; the killer, Anthony Lark, is successful, but in an unexpected way. He feels he’s justified and sets his sights on murdering the other two remaining robbers. Lark has more than a few mental problems, but feels up to the challenge, using an amazing assortment of devious methods.

Loogan and Waishkey aren’t just sitting still, they’re running all over the state trying to put together answers, getting both help and hindrance from a young journalist looking for a tabloid feature story.

The case gets considerably more challenging, involving a U.S. Senator, local law enforcement officers, a paralyzed former sheriff and the charismatic daughter of the sheriff, who’s running for election as Michigan’s next senator.

The body count rises as the tension mounts; the complicated plot deals a lot with motives - and the lengths people will go to keep deadly secrets.

Dolan is exceptionally good at keeping the pacing going, using strong well- developed, colorful characters, brisk dialogue and seemingly endless plot twists. It’s easily one of the year’s best mysteries!





Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, 
has reviewed crime novels and noir thrillers regularly since 1987.
This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on July 17, 2011.

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Book Review: Kristina Riggle's Things We Didn't Say

Kristina Riggle will be talking about her latest novel 
and autographing books on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. 
at Schuler Books & Music, 2820 Towne Center Blvd., 
Eastwood Towne Center Lansing.


“Things We Didn’t Say” by Grand Rapids author Kristina Riggle (Morrow, $14.99) offers an intriguing, compelling look at a contemporary dysfunctional family.

Set mostly in a slightly altered Grand Rapids, with flashback scenes in Laingsburg, Riggle’s third novel is not exactly what most people are likely to take to the beach for pleasant summertime reading.

Told through a variety of multiple viewpoints, Riggle explores many different emotional situations, but at least nobody dies.

Edna Leigh Casey (or just Casey), one of the book’s main characters, is frustrated from the beginning, as she’s trying to get out of a somewhat problematic relationship. She’s 26, living with newspaper reporter Michael Turner, and serving as a stepmother to his three children, Angel, Dylan and Jewel.

As a blended family there are numerous confrontations, including unpleasant scenes with Mallory, David’s ex-wife, who’s psychologically unstable and an alcoholic.

Tensions mount when 14-year-old Dylan disappears after being dropped off at school. Riggle skillfully develops the ensuing frantic search, smoothly shifting viewpoints as she explores attitudes and insights while increasing tension.

There are many other challenges; Casey has her own secrets and is a recovering alcoholic. David has issues with his over-bearing, successful father. Mallory is always having emotional issues; the kids find adjustment is difficult and rebel in their own way.

Most of the book seems devoted to arguing, bickering, yelling and sniping, leaving the reader likely to feel that maybe their life isn’t really that bad in comparison.

The novel’s title indicates one of the major difficulties of this extended family – while they do communicate, they don’t listen very well or say what’s really on their mind.

There’s a brief additional section designed for reading or discussion groups, with 15 interesting and thought-provoking questions.


There are no easy answers, but the flawed characters and their assorted problems are likely to linger long after the reader is finished.

Riggle is a freelance journalist, short story writer and co-editor for fiction at the e-zine Literary Mama. Her previous two books, “Real Life and Liars” and “The Life You’ve Imagined” are now available in paperback.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed books regularly since 1987.


This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on July 10, 2011.

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