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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: detective, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 22 of 22
1. Book Review: ‘Stolen Dreams’ by Christine Amsden (new adult fiction)


StolenDreams_med-193x300I can’t believe this is the last book in the Cassie Scot new adult paranormal mystery series! I really have enjoyed this series a lot.
If you’re new to the series, I advise you to pick up the books in order:
In this the final installment, talented author Christine Amsden brings the infamous Scot vs. Blackwood family feud to a close, but not without filling her story with enough intrigue, mystery, twists and surprises to keep you thinking about the characters for a long time.
And this is, really, the biggest draw in these stories, the characters, especially Cassie and Evan. Cassie has been such a likable protagonist throughout the series, smart and strong and opinionated, yet caring and warm-hearted. Evan –yes, arrogant, condescending and overprotective Evan — has also been the perfect hero. They were school sweethearts…until Evan’s father stole her powers from her and gave them to Evan, thus starting a conflict between them that brought them to the depths of despair, especially for Cassie.
There are many subplots in this book, but the main problem happens when Cassie’s father is killed and she and her family think that Evan’s dad is the one responsible. The primary storyline has to do with finding out if this is true or not and, if not, then who, in fact, is responsible.
There are many surprises in Stolen Dreams, and I enjoyed all of them. Fans of romance will especially enjoy the focus on Cassie and Evan’s relationship. I loved the ending. In sum, this was a wonderful series, and the author delivered a satisfying closure. I wonder what she will come up next? I’m certainly going to be on the lookout for her future books.
My review was previously published in Blogcritics Magazine. 

0 Comments on Book Review: ‘Stolen Dreams’ by Christine Amsden (new adult fiction) as of 6/29/2014 10:07:00 AM
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2. Deductive Detectives

Image

“Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth,” Sherlock Holmes has said about his method of detective work. In Sylvan Dell’s new picture book, Deductive Detective, our hero Detective Duck shows that he’s learned from the best! He dons his best deerstalker hat, his much-too-big magnifying glass, and solves the case of the missing cake with the same methods the pros use!

That is, a style of logical thinking called “deductive reasoning.” In deductive reasoning, someone finds an answer they’re looking for by first finding out what the answer isn’t. When Detective Duck examines the clues and finds out which of his friends couldn’t have stolen the cake, it leads him closer to what really happened!

Of course, you don’t need a weird hat and a magnifying glass to use deductive reasoning. These methods come in handy every day! If you lose a toy, for example (or car keys), you may make your search easier by determining where the item isn’t.

“Oh yeah,” you may say, “I didn’t bring it to my friend’s house; I wasn’t holding it when I walked to the living room, or landed on the moon. I wouldn’t have brought it to my parents’ room or under the ocean or into Mordor.” By deciding where you shouldn’t look, you now have a better idea of where you should.

This kind of logic process happens throughout the day, sometimes without you even being aware of it; you might say your brain is always on the case as much as any detective!

Apply deductive reasoning the next time you’re in the bookstore: subtract the books that don’t meet the highest educational standards, offer pages of activities and facts, offer online supplements, are fun to look at and fun to read! You’ll be left with books by Sylvan Dell like The Deductive Detective!


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3. Let's Talk about Intercourse

You know, the small town in Amish Country, Lancaster PA?

What did you think I meant?

The Defective Amish Detective
Volume 2
The Intercourse Boondogle


The Defective Amish Detective is back. The Fixer with a heart of gold heads to Lancaster County for another case. His friend Eli, the Amish blacksmith with a mysterious past, spots trouble in the town of Intercourse. The name alone sends the Defective Detective on a rant. Outrageousness reigns as these two worlds collide again. Are you ready for a road trip to Amish Country?

It is a special treat to write with a friend. We have a blast putting this story out for you! It is a humorous look at the Amish, but we also make fun of our detective too. If you want something, funny, heart-warming and different, this is for you!

Available on Kindle:

Also on Nook, iTunes and Kobo


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4. SkADaMo Day 7

Watching the detectives.

This is an old illustration that I’ve re-sketched in an effort to hone my new digital pencil skills.

And, yes, I  know, I missed a day. But, come on, yesterday was a pretty big deal! I was distracted.

………………

I’ll try to include the list of sketchers on every one of my SkADaMo posts throughout the month. Otherwise, there are no other rules, regulations, themes, daily words, Facebook pages or anything else resembling organization. Just lots of sketching, commenting back and forth and hopefully lots of inspiration and craft honing!

If I forgot anyone, misspelled anyone’s name or any other heinous act was performed, please let me know and I’ll do my best to correct it.

Carry on sketchers!

SkADaMoers:

Laura

Kevin

Roberta

Kelli

Jennifer

Dana

Julie

Kathryn

Tracy

Deborah

Loni

Lisa

Alison

Brook

Bea


10 Comments on SkADaMo Day 7, last added: 11/10/2012
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5. Me and the G-Man

I have known Giovanni Gelati for quite some time. He's interviewed me more than once on The G-Zone BlogTalkRadio Show. We've written together (A Prince in Trenton, Seriously?). Our latest collaboration is The Defective Amish Detective - Volume 1 - The Whoopie Pie Affair. It is a humorous story, that one might call a cozy mystery. Both of us had the goal of telling a fun story, while holding the Amish with utmost respect. With the "defects" of our main character, it ended up being a story with a lot of heart.

Now for the first time, it is my turn to interview Giovanni. Some of the questions pertain to the story, so if you haven't read it, you can get it here: http://goo.gl/UuI5v

If you haven't, don't worry, there's no spoilers.


MM: How many Hawaiian shirts do you own?

GG: I have yet to buy one, I get them as gifts. As a for instance, we were cleaning up prior to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, I found 6 bags of unopened socks. In layman terms that is 60 pairs of unused socks. One may take pause now and consider that. Basically I reach in the closet, grab one and put it on. I am not sure if I have 60 of them, but I have more than I think.

MM: You have an affinity for the Amish, do you think you may join them sometime in the future? 

GG: I will reference Hurricane Sandy again. We didn’t get the devastating flooding, but we got the wind and rain, our town lost power. We were dark from Monday night to Saturday. I am not going out on a limb here when I say that I enjoy electricity. Ice cream does not taste good without it. I marveled at drinking a cold beverage again, and having the use of light when I went to use the bathroom. It is hard to read in the dark. So for now, me being Amish is not in the cards. Besides that when ones Hawaiian shirt is the brightest thing in the room, it kind of stinks.

MM: What is your favorite flavor of whoopie pie? 

GG: They have me hooked on the chocolate chip outer cookie with the chocolate cream filling. Throw in a sausage log and some deep fried or rotisserie chicken and I am set.

MM: What is your best experience with a farm animal? 

GG: None really, they smell and leave large deposits behind. I am not into the smell, feel or look of muck. I would much prefer a muckless Farm, but I doubt that is in the cards. I much more enjoy them from a distance in the SUV going the speed limit pointing them out to the kids. It is much safer that way all around.

MM: What is in store for the Defective Amish Detective in the upcoming volumes? 

GG: Volume two will be out the week of November 14th , the title is “The Intercourse Boondogle”, and it will involve grifters. Intercourse is a quaint little town in Lancaster with plenty of neat shops. The other 8 stories in the series will involve a series of mysteries that G and Eli try to solve together in various locations in and around Lancaster. 

Giovanni and I will be at the mercy of best-selling Canadian Amish author Murray Pura as he interviews both of us live on November 17th at Noon Eastern - http://www.facebook.com/events/376125555805108/

Also, to stay up-to-date, please visit and like my Author Page - http://www.facebook.com/MarkMillerAuthor



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6. Interview with Author Yvonne Eve Walus

 Super big welcomes to Echelon Author Yvonne Eve Walus! Please enjoy learning more about her and check out her work!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hello and thank you for having me on this blog. My name is Yvonne Walus, and I write murder mysteries set in South Africa. I’m a set of contradictions, really. Originally Polish, I write in English. I’m a mathematician and I write books. I live in New Zealand, yet my heart is in South Africa.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

I was lucky to find Echelon Press when they were still taking new authors and I was equally lucky that the editor wanted to take a chance on my quirky books.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

The criticism is actually a compliment: that the characters in my books are not South African enough. This means, of course, that readers all over the world can relate to them.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Ask yourself why you write: to please yourself, to please the reader, or to make money.

Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?

I write my South African murder mysteries to please myself. Hope you like them as much as I do!

What’s coming soon?

I’ve just spent two days in an absolutely amazing hotel in Cape Town, New Zealand – the Mount Nelson Hotel. Soaked in history and dating back to the 1800s, the hotel is colonial in architecture and modern in conveniences such as aircon and wifi. It is just the absolutely perfect background for a James Bond type of a thriller, and my next book will definitely be set there.

 

FUN QUESTIONS!

Do you have deep dark secret?

Yes.

How about a shallow grey one?

Yes.

What sort of coffee would you order? Simple coffee, complicated soy-non-fat-extra-espresso-half-caff-nightmare?

No milk or sugar. Loose-leaf, preferably earl grey.

Is there any food you refuse to eat? (Other than brussel sprouts because NO ONE likes them)

I’ll eat brussel sprouts. Not my favourite food on earth, but I’ll cope. I’ve eaten bird soup, shark fins and a durian. . Once I even ate mopane worms (http://lodges.safari.co.za/African_Travel_Articles-travel/mopane-worms.html) – after all, I do write about Africa. Won’t eat squirrel or pigeon, though.

If you could live off of chocolate would you? What kind?

My favourite is Lindt chocolate, the light brown kind. I can easily eat 200g or more of it a day… provided that’s not the only thing I eat. I was once touring Europe on a shoestring budget, with only chocolate in my backpack. After 6 days of the exclusive chocolate diet, I lost 3kg. On Day 7, I chose to eat nothing rather than another slab of chocolate.

Have you every done anything really crazy?

Does skydiving count?

Do you regret it?

No. Won’t do it again in a hurry, though.

Do you like making up strange

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7. So what do we think? The End of the Line

End of the Line: A Parker Noble Mystery

 

Manno, Mike (2010) End of the Line: A Parker Noble Mystery. Five Star Publishing of Gale, Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-1594148637. Litland recommends of interest to adults, acceptable for older teens.

 Publisher description:  When former banker R. J. Butler is found murdered on a city transit bus, police take little time making a connection with the embezzlement at his former bank. But is that the motive for his murder? State police detective Sergeant Jerome Stankowski and his persnickety “partner,” Parker Noble, are called to investigate and run into a host of possibilities including a trophy wife on drugs and an ex-wife desperately needing a church annulment R. J. was blocking..

 Our thoughts:

 The second installment of the Parker Noble series, End of the Line, is a fun yet engaging, quick-paced detective mystery. Parker Noble may be the genius who solves the crimes, but it is Detective “Stan” Stankowski’s antics both on and off the job that lighten the story. Truly a man’s man, Stankowski enjoys girl watching while being easily manipulated by his somewhat-girlfriend Buffy the reporter.  He  tries to juggle dating 3 girls at the same time, each end up having a role in solving the mystery. Meanwhile, the contrast of Parker’s rigidly-ordered life to Stan’s adds color, and both humor and clues surface throughout the story just often enough to keep the reader alert. My favorite dialogue pertains to Parker’s dog, Buckwheat Bob the basset hound, who listens to talk radio while Parker is at work:

(Stan) “I take it that the human voice is soothing for him?”…(Parker) ”Not really, he likes to listen to the political talk”…”You don’t think he understands all of that, do you?”…”Don’t know, Stanley. All I can tell you is that he’s turned into quite a Republican.” LOL!

 A cozy mystery written for adults, it would probably have a PG rating if a movie: use of the bird finger; one suspect referred to as tramp, hussy, nude model; Buffy pressuring Stan into taking a vacation together. However, Stan remains chaste in his girl-chasing and the story is focused on the relationships between all the characters, which adds depth, interest and a few chuckles along the way. A fun story available in the Litland.com Bookstore.

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8. The Stone Child Review

Here's a first, I'm reviewing another author's book. Normally, I am working hard to get a reviewer to read my books. Then there's the whole "raising four kids" thing. Rarely do I have time for leisure reading. I literally have a stack of books waiting for me.

So my oldest daughter came home from school (yes, several months ago) carrying a book with the most intriguing cover. It was Dan Poblocki's The Stone Child. She read the thing in two days flat. She said it was the creepiest book she'd ever read and this is coming from an Official Member of the American Chillers Fan Club. After she finished, that cover kept calling to me. Mostly black with a hint of blue light surrounding the statue of a child. She holds out a book, beckoning the reader to peak inside. It wasn't until after I had a few chapters down that I noticed the creatures wrapped around her feet.

This cover pulled me in, much the same as the pendant pulls in the two different authors in the story. For a writer, I am one of the slowest readers you will meet. It took me more like two weeks to finish the book, as opposed to my daughter's two days.

Don't take that the wrong way though. I completely enjoyed The Stone Child. Basic plot: the outsider, Edgar Fennicks, moves to Gatesweed, an unfamiliar world. We get to know Eddie over the first couple chapters as he is set up to be the classic underdog. We get several hints that things are not right in this town and Eddie discovers an unusual book, hand-written in code, by his favorite author, who also happens to have vanished from this very town. The story begins moving once Eddie meets Harris, the son of the quaint, local bookstore owner. Eddie and Harris embark on a quest to unravel the code and hopefully find the missing author. With the help of another outsider, the quirky Maggie, the three junior detectives encounter a menagerie of creative monsters.The Woman in Black is the most effective as her vagaries torment both Eddie and the missing author whether they are awake or falling through a nightmare.

Things that worked for me: The suspense; The monsters; The Lilith mythology; The setting came alive and I could feel Poblocki's passion for the North Eastern countryside, especially when they went to pick apples; And a genui

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9. Showcase #4

Recently, I was invited to join the group Writers of the South (USA). It is a small, but enthusiastic group of authors in every type of genre. The group is aimed at supporting and promoting authors in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and Tennessee.

As we grow, we plan to take several opportunities to showcase the varied and talented people in the group. We will hit it hard over the next couple of days, hopefully gaining some new exposure and introducing you to writings you might not have found otherwise. Looking at the group, there is something for everyone, so be sure to check these posts every day.  The plan is to do this again in a few months.

Today, the spotlight shines on Lisa Alexander Griffin

Lisa Alexander-Griffin began her career as a writer twelve years ago. Multi-published, her titles range from sweet to spicy with elements of fantasy and suspense.

Lisa says, "most days you'll find her weaving tales of heartbreak and betrayal, love lost and found, and happily ever afters."

Check out her books on Amazon. She's also has a great website at lisaalexandergriffin.com

1 Comments on Showcase #4, last added: 7/24/2011
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10. Review: Detective Blue

Little Boy Blue has left his flocks to become a detective. Miss Muffet is missing and Blue is on the case! As Detective Blue searches for the missing Muffet, he interviews a host of his nursery rhyme friends. Has Muffet been a victim of foul play? Click here to read more.

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11. Illustration Friday: “Detective”

Something kinda quick. A revisit of  “Clumsy the Bunny”, who’s a little more refined (style-wise) in this one.

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12. Illustratio Friday .:. Detective

Bad detective

A little late this week, lots of things happening, learning Dreaweaver, working on my portfolio and participating in the Zero2Illo 12 week challenge. But here it is: a really bad detective.

Un poquito tarde esta semana, ando en muchas cosas, aprendiendo dreamweaver, trabajando en mi portafolio y participando en el desafío de 12 semanas en Zero2Illo . Pero aca está: un detective my malo.

add to del.icio.us Digg it add to ma.gnolia Stumble It! add to simpy post to facebook


Filed under: Illustration Friday, ilustracion illustration 10 Comments on Illustratio Friday .:. Detective, last added: 4/22/2010
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13. This looks like a job for…


someone else!

Much like everything else in life, he will find what he’s looking for where he least expects it…

A quick one for this week. I love the film noir era so I wanted to give our little character the same feel. I don’t know what it is but something’s missing…no pun intended..but I didn’t want to add anything else since I don’t want to over complicate it.

P.S. I sooo want an Ipad.

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14. The Adventures of Jack Lime

by James Leck Kids Can Press  2010 A trio of hardboiled detective stories for the upper middle grade set. Jack Lime is a kid people go to when they need to have problems solved.  Problems like cheating boyfriends and missing bikes and gambling rings and kidnapped... hamsters. As with all detective stories, Lime has to wade his way through the sort of half-truths and double-crosses he's

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15. The Brain FInds a Leg

by Martin Chatterton Peachtree Publishers 2009 It's a teen Holmes and Watson Down Under, with a transgendered Bond villain and animals run amok!One day, in a fit of odd behavior, a pod of whales gang up and attack a whale watching boat on Farrago Bay, Australia killing all involved. No one knows why and the mystery was never solved.Two years later, a new kid known as The Brain arrives with an

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16. Toddler Noir

 

Tracer Bullet 5

 

It was a sloppy rainy day, and my diaper was less than fresh.  I was due for a change but I had my focus on my job.  Pretty little Lizzy Lightfoot had crawled onto my play mat with a problem, and a big reward.

 

Seems Lizzy was more than just cute red cheeks and adorable chubby arms… she was THE major candy supplier this side of Halloween, and her stash had gone missin’.

 

I wasn’t a candy fiend like some… Elsie Pike whose fingers and mouth we perpetually stained ruby red or Mikey the Mooch who would sidle up behind at the slightest hint of sweetness.  Sure, I had a lolly now and then to unwind after a long day’s play dates, but I knew when to say when.  In my book, candy was sweet but Peekaboos and This-Little-Piggies where sweeter.

 

So when Lizzy toddles in, snot dribbling from her nose alluringly, and tells me that I has to help I says “What for?”

 

She reached into her diaper and pulled out Miss Daisy, the bright orange playpen ball so shiny it could blind Lady Justice all over again.  Miss Daisy hadn’t been seen around “Lil’ Ones Daycare” for approximately 3 days and therefore, its existence had been completely forgotten.  “You!”  I manage to say after wiping a bubble of saliva from my mouth.

 

Tracer Bullet 4

 

“Me,” she says coyly, batting those eyelashes with only one or two goobers still in them from the afternoon nap.  “And I’m willing to share Miss Daisy with you at play time if you help me retrieve my goods.”

 

“Where are they” I asked, sweating hard to suppress the urge to shove that Golden Orb all the way into my mouth.

 

“Mikey the Mooch swiped ‘em when I was gettin’ a change but he couldn’t keep a lid on it.  Word spread and that’s when Big George showed up.”

 

“I see,” I managed to say, eyes still on Miss Daisy.

 

Lizzy noticed my hungry gaze upon Miss Daisy and put it behind her.  Out of sight, out of mind.  “So you’ll help me?”

 

I nodded, wiped the dribble from the corner of my mouth and set off for The Corner.  Big George spent a lot of time in The Corner when the big people put him in time out.  He figured he’d save everyone time if he just set up camp there.  He popped into this world a brawny 11 pounds and 3 ounces, and he hadn’t stopped there.  He was a full head taller than me and I was no slouch.

 

“Hey, Big George,” I say, wastin’ no time.  “You got somethin’ that don’t belong to ya’, and Lizzy wants it back.”

 

George looked at me with an amused grin, “No can do, Sammy, you know I have a sweet tooth.”

 

Tracer Bullet 6

 

“We all know you haven’t got any teeth,” I say, “and if you did, I’d knock ‘em right out.  Hand over the candy.”  It wasn’t the smartest plan, but I really hadn’t developed the capacity for strategy or consequence judgment yet.

 

Tracer Bullet 8

 

Big George gathered himself up to his full 26 inches and put his huge mitts on the straps of my overalls.  I was a goner for sure, I closed my eyes and prepared to cry, but no blow came.  Big George released me and I was free.  When I opened my eyes, I saw Big George lumbering away lustily towards the beautiful Miss Daisy as she rolled slowly away.

 

Lil’ Lizzy clutched her bag of lollies to her chest and looked me and gave me a wink, “Too bad, Sammy.  Looks like George has your goods now.  And who’s left to help you?”  She giggled and toddled away with her hoard.

 

I saw George slobbering over Miss Daisy, Lil’ Lizzy sucking on a lolly, and felt the squishy wetness in my diaper… and cried my face off. 

 

Tracer Bullet 9

Thanks Bill Waterson for ‘Tracer Bullet’!

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17. Humpty Dumpty Jr: Hardboiled Detective

Case #1: The Case of the Fiendish Flapjack Flop written by Nate Evans and Paul Hindman illustrated by Vince Evans and Nate Evans Sourcebooks / Jabberwocky 2008A hardboiled detective series for the chapter book set is a welcome addition to the... wait. Aren't most chapter book series mysteries of one sort or another? Yes, and with good reason. The mystery story has the opportunity to instantly

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18. Murder Mystery: Mob Boss

15MobBoss1

I've needed to practice drawing characters and faces as they're a huge weakness where my overall drawing is concerned, so when I received a special request to draw some for a Mystery Murder project (more on that later!), I jumped at the chance. I'm a huge fan of detective, criminal investigation and murder mystery stories anyway, whether on paper or on the screen, so this was tons of fun to do!

So here's the first one, the Mob Boss. Once I'd scanned it in I felt it was a bit too light and perhaps had too delicate a touch for the subject matter, so I played with levels and contrast on photoshop and this was my final result:

15MobBoss

Better, I think ... off to work on the next character now :)

Mob Boss cards and products at zazzle.com

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19. The Caldecott Goes Cable

Off the top of your head, name as many Caldecott Award winning picture books that have been turned into children's television shows starting . . . . NOW!

I thought of My Friend Rabbit which Nelvana tv is turning into a show. That's about it, though. Max and his Wild Things never got into syndication. Forget about the Flotsam show (though the movie potential is VAST). And what about the Smoky Night series? Yeah... maybe not.

In other news, there will also be a Mr. Men Show to boot:

Cartoon Network will be the US home for The Mr. Men Show (52x11'), a new sketch animated series From Chorion Ltd , which is slated to launch on the network in January 2008. Additionally, Cartoon Network is also co-producing the series with Chorion. The Mr. Men Show is based on the Mr. Men and Little Miss books created in the 1970s by Roger Hargreaves. The series is written and produced by Kate Boutilier and Eryk Casermiro and animated in the US by Renegade Animation .
Maybe I was just a weird kid, but that Mr. Men series creeped the hell out of me as a kid. I can't explain it. They just did.

Thanks to Cynopsis Kids for the links.

3 Comments on The Caldecott Goes Cable, last added: 4/16/2007
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20. Janice Erlbaum Shows You How To Become A Memoir Detective

"I was vindicated. I'd solved even more of the mystery--Nancy Drew and the Case of the Homeless Girl ... 'I'm glad I found out. Knowledge is power, right?' If I only knew what to do with all this power I had."

That’s Janice Erlbaum writing about a homeless girl she befriended at a New York City shelter. Over the course of a difficult year, Erlbaum struggled to help this girl, uncovering some dark secrets along the way. You can read the results in her new memoir, Have You Found Her.

While fabulists like James Frey give the form a black eye, good memoirs are based on plenty of detective work, both emotionally and physically. Today, Erlbaum explains how she reconstructed the life of this troubled girl named Sam in her new book--helping us become better memoir detectives.

Welcome to my deceptively simple feature, Five Easy Questions. In the spirit of Jack Nicholson’s mad piano player, I run a weekly set of quality conversations with writing pioneers—delivering some practical, unexpected advice about web writing.

Jason Boog:
Your book incorporates letters, speeches, phone messages, and other archived material from Sam. How did you collect all this material and how did you turn it into prose? Any advice for using this kind of research in an active way, so our memoirs don't end up sounding like scholarly papers?

Janice Erlbaum:
Well, I’m hugely sentimental, and a little bit of a pack rat, so I tend to keep things like letters and cards, especially when they’re from someone very dear to me. So I had a manila folder in my files called “SAM,” into which I stuffed all her letters, drawings, and etc; I also had the few emails she’d sent me in an archive.

Continue reading...

 

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21. Review: Blackout. An Inspector Espinosa Mystery.

Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza. NY: Henry Holt and Co., 2008.
ISBN: 978-0-8050-7960-9
ISBN-10: 0-8050-7960-2

Michael Sedano


Blackout is as good a title as any for this mystery set in Rio de Janeiro’s fabled Copacabana and Ipanema neighborhoods. Sadly, the blackout of the title is more a gimmick than a psychological condition experienced by the suspect. In a typical fictional blackout, a character commits a series of acts then loses memory of having performed the actions. The detectives and the character’s loved ones then must unravel clues then assign responsibility.

But in Blackout, the central character does not suffer blackouts. His problem, really, is not a damaged memory nor situational blindness but a profoundly haunting event that so terrifies him that his memory superimposes visions from that long ago upon events at hand. He acts on what he thinks he sees, then lies and covers up when he later discovers the actuality that confronted him. None of this is a blackout, so why that title?

Maybe it’s translation from some Brazilian Portugese word whose closest English equivalent is “blackout”? (I write this without the book in hand and must depend on memory. I do not remember the translator's name, nor is it listed in the publisher's website). At any rate, “blackout” is not what happens to the Aldo, a successful interior decorator married to a beautiful psychologist.

When Aldo was a boy, a neighborhood bully bloodied the boy’s face. Aldo offered no resistance, no defensive posture, only meek submission to the beating. But the beating has a haunting effect on Aldo. He develops a lifelong fear of meeting up again with that bully. Garcia-Roza fails to develop the background of this terror. Instead, the author shows us one event that foreshadows the novel’s central event.

Some time after the beating, Aldo thinks he spots the bully headed in Aldo’s direction. Terrified at the thought of another meeting, another beating, Aldo cowers behind stacks of merchandise in a small shop until the shopkeeper asks if the boy needs help. Shaking with fear, the boy abandons his hiding place to hesitantly peek out the storefront. No bully. One moment he was on the street, the next, an empty street. Who knows what set off the panic, but the reader understands Aldo has been terrorized by a figment of his imagination.

Years later, Aldo is moving his car during a thunderous rainstorm. Suddenly out of the darkness, an apparition appears to Aldo’s eyes. It is the bully. Isn’t it?

The next morning, a one-legged man is discovered dead, shot in the chest at the top of a hill. Now the mystery begins. How, or why, does a one-legged man make the strenuous trek from flatlands to the cul-de-sac at the top of a steep hill? Who killed him? Why? Aldo and others were at the scene around the time of the murder, but they have no obvious connection to the nameless corpse.

Meanwhile, back at the office, Aldo’s assistant is a hot young beauty named Mercedes. She sets her sights on Aldo and it’s only a matter of crooking her little finger and Aldo is in her bed. The triumphant Mercedes begins scheming to take Aldo from his wife and two kids. To this point, Aldo was a semi-likeable character. Now, seeing how easily he falls into adultery, the reader loses any loyalty to Aldo and is willing to sit back and let bad stuff happen to Aldo.

Aldo’s wife is murdered. But not before the reader sees her in therapy sessions with attractive women, and seemingly crossing the boundary between counselor and lover. How sad to witness three people—Aldo, his wife, and Mercedes the assistant--with such comfortable lives discarding all for a fast fling with a good-looking target.

With a cast of such unattractive, even repellent, characters, the reader cares ever more about Espinosa’s sleuthing. With the wife dead, Espinosa discovers the affair between Mercedes and Aldo. Then a clue here, a clue there, and, almost haphazardly, with only a few pages remaining, Espinosa pins their respective crimes on them.

Blackout is an engaging story but I want to know more about the characters. We see Aldo pushed around as a kid, but have no idea why the boy doesn’t fight back, nor what leads him to be such a ninny that Mercedes finds him easy pickings. We don’t get to see connections between Mercedes’ history and her predatory nature, nor what motivates her to such drastic acts.

There may be a method behind this. Although Blackout has much undeveloped territory, the lacunae help the reader understand the milieu that Inspector Espinosa and his staff work in. Since the reader knows only as much as the detectives, as the case unfolds the reader is forced to set aside logic and causality and simply watch the cops do their job. In the process, the reader will enjoy the delight of discovery and the surprises that Garcia-Roza dishes out. Not a bad trade-off, and one worth picking up the novel for.

That's the view from Lincoln Nebraska this week, the third Tuesday of March. Looking forward to being home next week, but reading some good stuff while on this trip to the great plains. Les wachamos.

mvs

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22. Murder Mystery: Mob Boss

15MobBoss1

I've needed to practice drawing characters and faces as they're a huge weakness where my overall drawing is concerned, so when I received a special request to draw some for a Mystery Murder project (more on that later!), I jumped at the chance. I'm a huge fan of detective, criminal investigation and murder mystery stories anyway, whether on paper or on the screen, so this was tons of fun to do!

So here's the first one, the Mob Boss. Once I'd scanned it in I felt it was a bit too light and perhaps had too delicate a touch for the subject matter, so I played with levels and contrast on photoshop and this was my final result:

15MobBoss

Better, I think ... off to work on the next character now :)

Mob Boss cards and products at zazzle.com

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