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Category: iloveamysterynewsletter

Weatherman’s Spring

Good morning bookies! Weatherman’s Spring begins today, the unofficial meteorological beginning of the season of newness and rebirth. Thank God. The paper today said our average high temperature for February was 37.5 degrees, about 8 degrees below normal. I didn’t know it had been that warm.

*** For you mystery lovers out there, the new issue of iloveamysterynewsletter has been posted, better known as ILAM. Quite simply, this is the best mystery review site on the web, because yours truly reviews there. I will tell you in advance that I had quibbles with two reviews in this issue, the new Robert Crais and James Hall books. Neither reviewer seems to have read these authors before, whereas I’ve written every scrap they’ve published and, in the case of Hall, a lot of stuff he hasn’t published. They appear to be clueless about the backlists and that flaws their reviews. Sorry to those authors for my negative review of their reviews, but the reviewer has to review as he or she sees fit.

***Today, we look at a couple of new books about World War II as it affected women. In the first, Why Did I Have to be a Girl?, Gabriele Kopp becomes the very first woman ever to write under how own name about being raped when the Red Army poured into Germany during World War II. No one knows exactly how many women were raped and/or murdered by the Red Army, but the low side estimates are in the 2 million range. The Western Allies, aka England and America, took the view that Germany more or less had it coming, since it attacked the USSR without provocation. Of course, that ignores the fact that the USSR attacked Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Rumania without provocation, but who’s keeping track, right? And as for what a 15 year old girl could have done to ‘deserve’ such treatment…well, that’s not a question the Allies were worried about at the time. Anyway, Kopp survived and went on to have a fine career and has bravely told her story.

*** Our second book about women in World War II is a novel based on history, the history of British women working on farms to feed the country during the war. Known as the British Land Girls a number of their survivors aren’t happy with this book, as it makes them out to be nymphomaniacs, or so they say. Not having read it I can’t comment, and not being overly familiar with the British Land Girls. However, not much has been written about the contribution of women to the war efforts only all sides, so this book fills in a gap, regardless of any flaws. And let’s face it, it’s a novel intended to sell and titillate. Sounds like it did that.

Once a Land Girl by Angela Huth

Bookselling, battleships and bookmen

Good morning bookies! Stand by for news and comment.

*** The new issue of ILAM has posted, the best mystery/thriller review site on the internet, mostly because my reviews are featured there. What’s that you say? Why, yes, it’s true, I am a humble man. Some truly great books are reviewed in this issue and the editor, Sally, does her usual fantastic job, although my photo is still not used as part of the sites’ official logo. Which is probably smart.


*** Okay, I get it. Normal folk don’t get excited by histories of ships that were sunk more than 65 years ago, at Pearl Harbor, no less. But I do. What that says about me I ‘m afraid to ask.

As a boy these sorts of books were coming out all the time, but now, with timing passing, it’s infrequent. So I note the publication of Battleship Oklahoma BB-37 by Jeff Phister with Thomas Hone and Paul Goodyear, University of Oklahoma Press, with excitement and sadness, knowing such books will be unlikely in the future. Oklahoma was docked outboard on December 7, 1941, and rolled over (turned turtle in the parlance of the day) after being torpedoed on her starboard side. Hundreds were trapped below decks, some were rescued by cutting holes in the ship’s bottom, some weren’t. Eventually she was re-floated and was being towed mainland when she sunk in the open ocean.

New history of the USS Oklahoma

*** Laura Bush has signed a book deal to publish her memoirs, including her time in the White House. Whatever you may think of her husband, love him or hate him, Laura was and is one great lady. It is thanks for her that we have the annual Washington D.C. Book Fair, she has always been a friend to readers and writers and I wish her all the best.

Laura signs for the big bucks

*** I don’t know O.J. Brisky, but I have a feeling that I would like him if I met him. He runs my kind of bookstore in my kind of climate: warm and sunny Florida. If I get the chance I’m going to have to drop in and pay him a visit.

A Florida book man

*** We have all been reading about bookstores closing for a while now, and while that is always a sad thing it doesn’t really hit home until it happens to a store we know. And so it’s with ennui that I mention the closing of a London bookstore that I have actually visited, Murder One on Charing Cross Road. The story goes like this:

On our first trip to England our tour group had the world’s most incompetent guide. For a variety of reasons, BBG and Mrs. BBG found themselves wandering London on Holy Saturday. With Easter next day, most shops were closing up. About 4 pm, having absolutely no idea where we were, we exited a tube station at Charing Cross Road and I observed, like a vision from Heaven, shop after shop with the neat little sign ‘Books’ out front. Most were about to close and we were leaving London first thing Sunday morning. Aaaieee!

Frantically shopping at a dead run, the one shop that did NOT close at 5 pm was Murder One. I’ll never forget wandering the shop, marveling at all of the British editions of favorite authors, wondering just how much room I had in my suitcase for books. (In the end, I crammed 56 hardbacks into my two suitcases, both of which weighed about 80 lbs. Fortunately, this was before weight limits and surcharges.) I wound up buying a number of books there and wishing I could afford/carry more.

And now it’s closing. One more life event faded to memory, never to be relived.

Another good one bites the dust

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