It’s a Mystery: Hollywood

I have this strange fascination with early Hollywood. Watching an old timey black & white show shot in southern California, wellsir, that’s about as good as it gets. And as we all know, I do love me a mystery. Fortunately, there are plenty of mysteries set in early 20th century Hollywood.

Group1

And the Killer Is … by G. A. McKevett is the 25th and latest entry in the Savannah Reid mysteries series. While not all titles in this collection focus on Hollywood, And the Killer Is… moves between flashbacks to the golden age of Hollywood and the present. In this tale, 90-year-old former silver-screen siren Lucinda Faraday is found murdered, strangled with a pair of vintage stockings, and it’s up to PI Savannah Reid of the Moonlight Magnolia Detective Agency to bring the killer to justice.

Close Up by Amanda Quick is 2020’s addition to the Burning Cove mysteries series. Set near Hollywood in the 1930s resort town of Burning Cove, Close Up finds crime scene photographer Vivian Brazier in danger as she investigates the deadly Dagger Killer. Along with private eye Nick Sundridge, who solves cases with help from his dreams, Vivian is caught in the killer’s crosshairs and must find the murderer before she becomes his next victim.

Script for Scandal by Renee Patrick is the newest arrival in the Lillian Frost and Edith Head series of novels. Yes, that Edith Head. In 1939 Los Angeles, former aspiring actress Lillian Frost discovers herself entangled in the investigation of a 1936 bank robbery that’s been made into a Hollywood script. And her beau, LAPD detective Gene Morrow, the original investigator of the robbery, is a suspect in the subsequent murder of his partner. It’s up to Lillian to clear his name!

Group2

The Impersonator by Mary Miley, an entry in the Roaring Twenties mysteries series, offers a different kind of intrigue. A 14-year-old heiress disappears and is found some years later by her uncle, acting in a vaudeville playhouse. But is this actress actually the heiress? After concluding that she is simply a lookalike, the uncle plots to use her to claim the fortune.

Girl About Town by Adam Shankman & Laura L. Sullivan, the first book in the Lulu Kelly mysteries series, spins the tale of a destitute woman who witnesses a mob murder and, as payment for her silence, is made into a Hollywood star. Along with a New-York-heir-turned-hobo she attempts to clear herself of attempted murder charges.

Velvet on a Tuesday Afternoon by Clive Rosengren, the third book in the Eddie Collins mysteries series, finds former-actor-current-PI Eddie Collins helping an old flame look for her missing brother. Clues point to the brother’s ties to military police and eventually lead to Skid Row. Will Eddie succeed in finding the man as well as rekindling an extinguished romance?

Spot-Lit for September 2020

These titles – from established, new, and emerging authors – are some of the most anticipated new releases of the month, based on advance reviews and book world enthusiasm.

Click here to see all of these titles in the Everett Public Library catalog, where you can read reviews or summaries and place holds. Or click on a book cover below to enlarge it, or to view the covers as a slide show.

Notable New Fiction 2020 (to date) | All On-Order Fiction | 2020 Debuts

A Little Noir For Yar

Noir

As a diehard reader of detective pulp fiction and a connoisseur of comedy, I may have found religion in Noir by Christopher Moore. Not to be confused with the religion I found in Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal.

Lamb

If you’re a fan of Damon Runyon and his unique use of language, Noir might be just the ticket for you.

“He looked like one of those dried-up faces you carve out of an apple in third grade to teach you that time is cruel and we are all just going to shrivel up and die, so there’s no point in getting out of bed.”

Similes and metaphors run wild, like turkeys in search of a barber… Scratch that. Like the Portuguese armada during their defeat in 1588… Well, let’s just say that words are not restrained by the laws of gravity in Moore’s writing.

And speaking of gravity, classy ladies fill the pages of this prestigious tome.

“She had the kind of legs that kept her butt from resting on her shoes — a size eight dame in a size six dress and every mug in the joint was rooting for the two sizes to make a break for it as they watched her wiggle in the door and take a seat at the end of the bar.”

Moore is one of the few contemporary authors who does a credible job of creating Runyonesque prose. Each page is teeming with hoodlums, graft, gats, lookers and betties all ensconced in a miasma of despair and alcohol then rolled in a fine powder of lust and sex.

“It was the kind of kiss that he wanted to wake up to and keep refreshing periodically until he got one long last one, salty with tears, in his casket.”

For my ears, the story is almost inconsequential. Down-on-his-luck guy works in San Francisco as a bartender, is indebted to a gangster, falls for a dame… space aliens ensue, etc. etc. You know the drill, your typical post-war comic sci-fi noir thriller. Moore dots the proverbial i’s with his copious wit, leaving ample opportunity to cross the t’s with abundant atmosphere. It may not be the ride of your life, but Noir is at bare minimum the attempted hitchhike of your youth.

Why, you might even want to read Noir in a book club with your friends, and then orchestrate a moment that echoes a line from the text where:

“…everyone looks up like rats caught in a spotlight eating the brains of a friend dead in a trap.”

Of course, you might choose not to eat your friends’ brains.

So, as pleasant breaks from reality go, Noir is an excellent choice. Perhaps you could even explore Moore’s other writings, all steeped in the same blend of hilarity and repartee, not to mention jocularity. Like a fine Earl Grey tea. Tee hee.

Spot-Lit for August 2020

Spot-Lit didn’t run for a few months due to the coronavirus, the library closure, and disruption in the publishing world, but we’re glad to be back.

These titles – from established, new, and emerging authors – are some of the most anticipated new releases of the month, based on advance reviews and book world enthusiasm.

Click here to see all of these titles in the Everett Public Library catalog, where you can read reviews or summaries and place holds. Or click on a book cover below to enlarge it, or to view the covers as a slide show.

Notable New Fiction 2020 (to date) | All On-Order Fiction | 2020 Debuts

Shell Scott Mysteries

Be it because my brain is so focused on various worries or because I use up all my reading neurons on news, I currently have very little interest in perusing for pleasure. Add to this that I typically don’t like serious stuff or conflict or stress or Nazis or the earth moving closer to the sun but wait it was a dream and it’s actually moving farther from the sun, well, there ain’t a whole lotta words I wanna interact with right now.

But one genre that has stood by me throughout good times and bad is the less-than-hardboiled detective book. And my favorite purveyor of said genre is Richard S. Prather.

Group1

Shell Scott is everything you could want in a detective: physically imposing, young yet experienced, able to outfight your average thug, possessing a tendency to do what’s right and sporting a flair for the fairer s-e-x. He drinks hard, lusts freely and displays a wide streak of goofiness. And while many fictional detectives have an antagonistic relationship with local police, Shell often works with the law.

Prather wrote most of the Shell Scott mysteries in the 1950s and 60s, overlapping James Bond, Mike Hammer and many other spies and detectives. As one might expect, the morés and attitudes of the day permeate the prose, so there’s something to offend everyone I reckon. However, it’s the prose that makes this series stand out.

According to thrillingdetective.com, the Scott stories were “…smirky, outlandish, innuendo-laden, occasionally alcohol-fueled, off-the-wall tours-de-farce that, depending on your point of view, were either a real hoot, or a lot of adolescent, sexist swill and hackwork.” And I am in total agreement with this viewpoint. Fortunately for me, I frequent the adolescent section of the maturity scale, making me the target audience for Prather’s wordsmithing.

But what better way to see what Shell Scott is about than reading a few pithy quotes? First up is a taste of grit:

“The sudden sight of the girl so messily dead had shocked me, and I guess I let my guard down. The hiss of the slug near my head and the crack of the gun seemed simultaneous.”
      ~ from The Kubla Khan Caper

Characters we have previously met frequently die in these tales. Try not to become too attached. Yet the tone is often silly. Scott does not think highly of thugs and he lets the audience know it:

“He had the look of a cat who would wear monogrammed shorts. Or even silk underwear with his whole name printed on it. And maybe his picture. A picture of him in his shorts.” 
     ~ from The Meandering Corpse

 But the floweriest prose generally focuses on descriptions of women:

“She smiled like a woman getting chewed on the neck by Pan. It was a nice smile. I liked it. It went in my eyes and reamed out my arteries and steamed my blood and opened up half a dozen glands like cooked lotus blossoms.”
     ~ from Kill Me Tomorrow

And those descriptions can become downright bizarre:

 “… she didn’t wear one of those bosom contraptions, either – like lifters, expanders, separators, elevators, pushers, poochers, upmashers, tiptilters, squeezers, and aprilfoolers – that have come along since plain old brassieres went out of style, and that are so adorable you almost want to leave the gal home and take her contraption out dancing.”
     ~ from The Meandering Corpse

I guarantee you won’t find that particular sentence anywhere else in literature.

Everett Public Library has a variety of Shell Scott mysteries available as electronic downloads. Perhaps they are just the thing to warm the cockles of your heart in difficult times. I know I’m going to get back to reading one as soon as I do some research on bosom contraptions.

Introducing Books for You

The Everett Public Library is happy to be launching a new service during Phase 2 of the ongoing pandemic. For the past month we have been offering curbside service in which we bring to your vehicle the materials you have requested once they are ready for pick-up.

Now, with our Books for You project we’ll surprise you with 3-5 books that are similar to popular authors or titles you may have liked or that are focused on a variety of popular genres and subjects of interest.

Do you like true crime, or alternate histories, or mysteries featuring amateur sleuths?  We’ve got you covered. Maybe you loved Delia Owens’ bestseller Where the Crawdads Sing – we’ll bring you 3-5 similar books that you might also enjoy. Or say you’re waiting to read Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist or Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility – we’ll bring you some titles that also address racial equity and systemic racism in America.

Take a look through the Books for You categories below and give us a call at 425-257-8000 so we can surprise you with some handpicked read-alikes.

Books for You categories

While you wait for:
How to Be an Antiracist or White Fragility

If you liked:
A Gentleman in Moscow
The Handmaid’s Tale
Little Fires Everywhere
Where the Crawdads Sing

If you like:
Clive Cussler
David Baldacci

If you’re interested in:
Alternate Histories
Amateur Sleuths
Best Sellers from Around the World
The Black American Experience in Fiction
Books set in the Pacific Northwest
Culinary Mysteries
Debut Fiction
Diverse Sci-Fi and Fantasy
Everett History 101
Heartwarming Reads
Inspirational Fiction
The Latinx Experience
Pandemic Apocalypse Fiction
Science Books for Curious Minds
Short (but not so sweet) Stories
Small Press Fiction Sampler
True Crime
What They Didn’t Teach in History Class

Simply give us a call at 425-257-8000 or reach us at Ask a Librarian regarding the Books for You category you are interested in and we’ll contact you when they are ready for curbside pick-up.

Visit epls.org/bfy to see the current list of Books for You categories.

Of course, you’re not limited to the categories above – we’re here to help you discover good reading, whatever your areas of interest, so give us a call.

And for kids materials, click here to browse reading suggestions or to have our Youth Services librarians gather some Personal Picks for you.

We look forward to surprising you with some great reads!

Amazing Alaska Mystery

I’m delighted to report that the new book in the Kate Shugak mystery series by Dana Stabenow, No Fixed Line, was recently published and is now available in the library’s digital collection as an Overdrive MP3 audiobook. This is one of my favorite mystery series – I love the Alaska setting and Kate Shugak is a totally original and absolutely fascinating heroine!

In this book, a major snowstorm has occurred and caused a private plane to crash. Some friends of Kate’s are nearby and rush to the plane to help out before the snow buries it. The only survivors are two small children who don’t speak English. It quickly becomes apparent that the children were kidnapped and have been abused. Who were the adults on this plane and why were they flying in such terrible weather conditions? As always, one thing leads to another and we follow along with Kate on another fascinating investigation.

There’s also a second plot in this book. A very wealthy (and evil) man Kate helped send to prison has died and left her in charge of a foundation he set up. Did he have some sort of personality change and become a completely different person because of his prison time? Or is this an elaborate plan to destroy Kate (who he really, really hated)? Kate chooses to believe the second option and begins investigating this foundation to figure out how she is being set up.

This is an exceptional series. Not only are the books set in Alaska, but Kate Shugak is an Aleut who lives on a 160-acre homestead in a generic national Park in Alaska so these books reveal an Alaska that most people never get to see (even if we visit Alaska as tourists). The supporting cast of characters is also wonderful, especially Kate’s dog, Mutt. At some point in every book, someone asks “Is that a wolf?” Kate replies, “Only half”. She’s completely serious. A lot of bad guys have Mutt’s teeth marks somewhere on their person. Did I mention that Mutt is female?

The author, Dana Stabenow, grew up in Alaska. Her author bio says she “was born in Alaska and raised on a 75-foot fish tender. She knew there was a warmer, drier job out there somewhere and found it in writing”. How cool is that?!

We also have two more books in this mystery series available as e-books if you prefer reading to listening:

Bad Blood and Restless in the Grave

Saint X

Family. Sisters. An undying bond. We all think we know our families, but do we? Do we really?

I found myself asking these questions and more after reading Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin.

Seven-year-old Claire and her big sister Alison are on a family vacation with their parents to a beautiful Caribbean island resort. Alison is on break during her first year of college.

Of course, Claire idolizes her sister but doesn’t understand her aloofness and flirty behavior. Alison sneaks out at night and asks Claire to cover for her. She would do anything for her sister.

When Alison goes missing the family’s last night of vacation, Claire is put in a tough spot… continue to deny she knows anything or tell them she’s been covering for Alison all along. And when Alison is found dead, she is terrified to admit knowledge of anything.

As the mystery of Alison’s death unfolds, we find out about the people she had contact with: Edwin and Clive (Gogo to his friends) working at the resort, the blond boy from the beach on vacation with his family, the locals at Paulette’s bar where she had sneaked off to almost every night.

Fast forward years in the future, and Claire, now going by Emily, is living and working in New York. One-night, Clive (no longer Gogo) is her taxi driver. This opens a flood of memories for Emily and she decides one way or another that she will learn the truth of Alison’s death.

During her journey she realizes she didn’t really know her sister after all. After months of following and then getting to know Clive, she wonders if she wants to get the answers she was looking for, and if it will change anything.

Saint X is a beautifully written story of sisterly love and abandonment. I really enjoyed the path of Claire’s enlightenment and her realizations concerning herself and her sister.

Great New Mysteries

I’m a huge mystery fan and I wanted to let you know about two mystery novels published in January that I particularly enjoyed. I’m sure there were many more good mystery novels published in the same month that I haven’t read yet (the number of books published every month boggles the mind), but I can personally recommend these two.

The Wild One by Nick Petrie

This is the new book in the Peter Ash thriller series. The second book in this series, Burning Bright, is one of my favorite thriller novels of all time so I’m always interested in reading a new book in this series.

In this book, war veteran Peter Ash has flown to Iceland to find and save the young son of a murdered woman. After the murder, the boy’s father fled with him to Iceland where the father has a large, close and mostly criminal family. The boy’s grandmother (his mother’s mother) wants to know that the boy is alive and well, and to have the boy returned to her in the U.S. if all is not well in Iceland.

It’s a thriller, so all is definitely NOT well in Iceland. Peter travels through the harsh Icelandic landscape and weather, battling foes all the way, to find the boy.

I enjoyed this book very much. The setting in Iceland adds a tremendous amount to the fun and interest of this book – I don’t think I’ve ever read a mystery/thriller set in Iceland before. The writing is excellent.

For those of you who have read other books in this series, this book is very similar to the first book in the series, The Drifter, in the way it’s written. If you enjoyed The Drifter, I think you’ll enjoy The Wild One.

The Vanishing by Jayne Ann Krentz

Jayne Ann Krentz is a local author (she lives in Seattle) and an absolute master at writing romantic suspense novels. In all of her novels, the mystery and the love story receive about equal weight (sometimes the mystery gets more emphasis).

For a number of years, she wrote books (both historical and contemporary) about a paranormal society founded in Victorian times called the Arcane Society, run by a family named Jones. The contemporary books followed the descendants of the Jones family in the present day. The Arcane Society sprang from Jayne’s fertile creative mind, but it does have a basis in reality – the Victorians were very big on the paranormal. This is a WONDERFUL series. Jayne has a real passion for writing books that include the paranormal, and her enjoyment in writing these books shows on every page.

Then, unfortunately, her publisher asked her to stop writing the Arcane Society books (I have no idea why). The books she wrote subsequently were still excellent – she’s a remarkable writer – but for me they lacked the spark of magic that the Arcane Society books had.

Well, I’m delighted to report that in her new book, The Vanishing, she returns to the paranormal! This book doesn’t include the Arcane Society, but it does feature a new paranormal organization called the Foundation.

I do miss having a Jones show up, but this book has all the paranormal aspects in a contemporary romantic suspense novel that we Arcane Society fans love. And Jayne has revealed that a Jones may show up in the next book in this series!

Spot-Lit for March 2020

These titles – from established, new, and emerging authors – are some of the most anticipated new releases of the month, based on advance reviews and book world enthusiasm.

Click here to see all of these titles in the Everett Public Library catalog, where you can read reviews or summaries and place holds. Or click on a book cover below to enlarge it, or to view the covers as a slide show.

Notable New Fiction 2020 (to date) | All On-Order Fiction | 2020 Debuts