Bibliographies, Lists & Checklists


   Noted TV journalist and news anchor JIM LEHRER died today at the age of 85. Of his many other accomplishments, which will most assuredly be included in the many obituaries appearing now online and again in tomorrow’s newspapers, he also wrote a good many works of crime fiction, most of which I seem to have missed knowing about for all these years.

   The first series of note are the light-hearted adventures of One-Eyed Mack, Oklahoma’s lieutenant governor, who solves mysteries in his spare time. Lehrer also wrote two books about Charles Avenue Henderson, a former CIA agent who wants nothing more to do but retire in peace and quiet, , but who finds that actually doing so is not as easy as he thought.


      The One-Eyed Mack series —

Kick the Can. Putnam 1988

Crown Oklahoma. Putnam 1989
The Sooner Spy. Putnam 1990
Lost and Found. Putnam 1991
Fine Lines. Random House 1994
Mack to the Rescue. University of Oklahoma Press, 2008.


    The Charlie Henderson series —

Blue Hearts. Random House 1993. ISBN 0-679-42216-1.

Purple Dots. Random House, 1998.


      Crim-related standalone novels include —

The Special Prisoner. Random House, 2000.
The Franklin Affair. Random House, 2003.
Top Down: A Novel of the Kennedy Assassination. Random Houose, 2013.

   W. GLENN DUNCAN passed away on May 7th of last year. He was the author of six books about a PI named Rafferty (no first name known). Rafferty, whose home base was Dallas TX, was definitely in the Spenser tradition, but with a Gold Medal sensibility. if that makes sense. (All of his books were paperback originals published by Fawcett Gold Medal. )

   Rafferty is also known for the set of Rules he lives by, and many of them are quoted throughout his adventures. (See below.)


        The Rafferty series —

Rafferty’s Rules (1987). Film: Cinepix, 1992, as Snake Eater III: His Law.
Last Seen Alive (1987)
Poor Dead Cricket (1988)
Wrong Place, Wrong Time (1989)

Cannon’s Mouth (1990)
Fatal Sisters (1990)

W. GLENN DUNCAN Rafferty


   — By W. Glenn Duncan, Jr.

False Gods (2018)


        Rafferty’s Rules, as compiled by Kevin Burton Smith

2) Be lucky. (Wrong Place, Wrong Time)

3) If you’re going to be stupid, see rule number two. (Wrong Place, Wrong Time)

3) When all else fails, sit on your duff and await good news…

5) If a client can afford it, he — or she — pays top dollar.

6) Don’t forget the money.

7) Anxious clients who smile too much are usually trouble.

8) The client has to say out loud what he wants me to do. (Rafferty’s Rules)

8) When in doubt, raise hell and see who complains about the noise. (Last Seen Alive)

9) Dull won’t balance the checkbook.

11) Don’t worry about what’s right, worry about what’s possible.

11) To feel really dumb, be a smart ass once too often. (Wrong Place, Wrong Time)

12) Selling people is antisocial.

13) Get the money up front.

16) When you can’t tell the bad guys from the good guys, it’s time to get the hell out. (Wrong Place, Wrong Time)

17) Never take a client at face value.

18) Ribs should be eaten naked.

19) When you can’t tell the bad guys from the good guys, it’s time to get the hell out. (Wrong Place, Wrong Time)

20) Any hunch so strong that it hurts just has to be right. (Cannon’s Mouth)

21) Grow up and grow old.

22) Don’t skulk. You can get away with anything if you act like you’re supposed to be doing it.

23) You show me a man who always “fights fair” and I’ll show you a man who loses too often.

27) In one way or another, every client lies. (Even Rafferty isn’t sure if this is #27 or not.)

28) Hot coffee and nudity don’t mix. If you spill, it hurts.

33) Always obey your friend, the police man.

34) Sometimes good luck accomplishes more than hard work. (Rafferty’s Rules)

34) When in doubt, dodge. (Wrong Place, Wrong Time)

34) Clients always hold back something back. (Last Seen Alive)

35) If a client appears to be telling you everything, see rule #34. (Last Seen Alive)

39) Smiting the wicked sounds biblical, but mostly it’s good clean fun.

41) When someone mentions how good something “could” be, they’re really telling me how lousy that something is.

47) Wear steel-toed boots when kicking people on their bony parts.

   Sarah Andrews, her husband Damon and son Duncan died in a plane crash that occurred last July 24th. She was the author of eleven mystery novels featuring forensic geologist Em Hansen. Andrews herself had a BA in geology and an MS in Earth Resources from Colorado State University.


       The Em Hansen series —

1. Tensleep (1994)

2. A Fall in Denver (1995)
3. Mother Nature (1997)
4. Only Flesh and Bones (1998)

5. Bone Hunter (1999)
6. An Eye for Gold (2000)
7. Fault Line (2002)

8. Killer Dust (2003)
9. Earth Colors (2004)
10. Dead Dry (2005)

11. Rock Bottom (2012)

   Plus one additional book in what may have been intended to be the start of another series, this one featuring Val Walker, a master’s student in geology:

In Cold Pursuit (2007)

IT IS PURELY MY OPINION
Reviews by L. J. Roberts


PHILIP DePOY – Sidewalk Saint. CPS officer Foggy Moscowitz #4. Severn House, hardcover, December 2019. Setting: Florida.

First Sentence: It doesn’t take long to wake up when there’s a gun in your face.

   Nelson Roan demands that Child Protective Services agent Foggy Moscowitz find his 11-year-old daughter Etta. He’s not the only one looking for her. It seems Etta has perfect memory and knows something she shouldn’t. How do you convince a bunch of bad guys that not even Etta doesn’t know what that is? It’s up to Foggy to find her and keep her safe until he can figure out how to neutralize the danger to Etta permanently.

   Talk about an effective hook. This is not a book where you read a paragraph for a quick try, planning to sit down with it later. This is a book where you read the first sentence and keep reading. The case is intriguing. One wants to know where it’s going, and the plot twists start very early on.

   DePoy not only captures your attention, but his unique descriptions bring the characters to life– “His skin was grey, and his eyes were the saddest song you ever heard, times ten.” His use of language is wonderful– “The camp seemed to have a life of its own. It wasn’t just the leftover smells, cook fires, swamp herbs and tobacco. It was like an eerie echo was still reverberating around the concrete walls. Like old conversations were still hanging in the air. Like ghosts were wandering free.”

   As for Foggy, DePoy informs readers of who he is, his background, and how he got where he is and eventually, the meaning of the book’s title. Foggy’s philosophy may make one think– “I was always a big believer in is. Not should be, or ought to. Is. That’s very powerful, because it is the only reality. Whatever it is you were doing, that was the only thing that truly existed. Everything else was a fantasy.”

   Foggy also makes an insightful self-observation– “To me that was the weird thing about having a reputation as a good guy. Too many people expected me to be good. Which I wasn’t especially. I was just a guy trying to make up for what he’d done wrong.” A nice explanation of the title helps one to understand Foggy better.

   DePoy’s characters, on both sides of the law, are far from ordinary, which is a large part of the appeal. They are quirky, interesting, capable and surprising. His children are refreshingly smart, capable, and astute– “You know you’re too smart for your own good, right?’ I suggested. ‘Oh, yes,’ she said. That’s my main problem.” He really does write some of the best dialogue.

   There is a nice element of mysticism. It doesn’t overwhelm the plot, but instead, it adds another interesting layer too it. In a way, it balances the bad stuff. The turns this story takes are more dizzying than a state fair teacup ride. Not just any author can come up with a plot point to destroy a mobster and his business via a phone call

   Sidewalk Saint is a fun, twisty book filled with quirky, unique characters. There’s violence, but minimal on-page death, but the story also gives one plenty of ideas to consider.

Rating:   Good Plus.


       The Foggy Moskowitz series —

1. Cold Florida (2015)
2. Three Shot Burst (2016)
3. Icepick (2018)
4. Sidewalk Saint (2019)

REVIEWED BY BARRY GARDNER:


GEORGE P. PELECANOS – Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go. Nick Stefanos #3. St. Martin’s, hardcover, 1995. Back Bay Books, trade paperback,July 2011.

   I started the last Stefanos book, Shoedog, but couldn’t get into it and gave up. I’d forgotten why, though, so I gave this one a shot because of the title.

   Nick Stefanos is a PI and pat-time bartender in Washington, DC, He’s an alcoholic, too. One night he ends up down by the river at the end of M Street, passed out in the weeds. He comes to early the next morning,just enough and in time to hear a black man and a white man execute someone, who turns out to be a young black man.

   It’s not something he can forget or let alone, and he begins a journey that ends with more death, and leaves a trail of empty bottles and shattered lies.

   A few things come quickly about this one. First, it’s a great title. Second, I don’t like “heroes” who are as generally screwed up in the head as Stefanos is. Third, Pelecanos writes a mean, effective, dark brand of prose.

   All of which says, I guess, that he is a very good writer, but I don’t like what and who he writes about. I got awfully tit=red of the gulp-by-gulp, bottle-by-bottle accounts of Stefanos’s drinking, and of his repeated pissing in the street.

   I never had much of a taste for noir fiction, and if this isn’t that, it’s close. Nasty stuff, well done, and I think I’ll pass on the next course, thank you very much.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #19, May 1995.


      The Nick Stefanos series —

A Firing Offens.St. Martin’s 1992.
Nick’s Trip.St. Martin’s 1993.
Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go. St. Martin’s 1995.
The Big Blowdown. St. Martin’s 1996. (*)
King Suckerman. Little 1997. (*)
The Sweet Forever (1998) (*)
Shame the Devil. Dennis McMillan 1999.
Soul Circus (2003) (*)
Hard Revolution (2004) (*)

   (*) May be only cameo appearances.

Mike Resnick, who died yesterday or early today, was primarily known as a science fiction and fantasy author, editor and publisher, accumulating many significant awards over the years, but he wrote in many other categories as well, including mystery fiction.

   Here is his entry in the Revised Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin:

RESNICK, MIKE [i.e., Michael Diamond Resnick] (1942-2019)

Eros at Zenith (n.) Phantasia 1984 [Future]
Santiago (n.) Tor 1986 [Future]
Stalking the Unicorn (n.) Tor 1987
Neutral Ground (ss) The Further Adventures of Batman, ed. Martin H. Greenberg, Bantam 1989 [Batman]
Origins (ss) Dick Tracy: The Secret Files, Max Allan Collins & Martin H. Greenberg, Tor 1990 [Dick Tracy]
Second Contact (n.) Easton 1990 [2065]
Museum Piece (ss) The Further Adventures of the Joker, ed. Martin H. Greenberg, Bantam 1990 [Batman]
Dog in the Manger (n.) Alexander 1995 [Cincinnati, OH]
Sherlock Holmes in Orbit [ed. with Martin H. Greenberg] (oa) DAW 1995 [Sherlock Holmes]
The Adventure of the Pearly Gates (ss) Sherlock Holmes in Orbit, ed. Mike Resnick & Martin H. Greenberg, DAW 1995 [Sherlock Holmes]
-The Widowmaker (n.) Bantam 1996 [Future; Jefferson Nighthawk (The Widowmaker)]
Mrs. Vamberry Takes a Trip (Vamberry the Wine Merchant) (ascribed to J. Thorne Smith) (ss) Resurrected Holmes, ed. Marvin Kaye, St. Martin’s 1996 [Sherlock Holmes]
-The Widowmaker Reborn (n.) Bantam 1997 [Future; Jefferson Nighthawk (The Widowmaker)]
-The Widowmaker Unleashed (n.) Bantam 1998 [Future; Jefferson Nighthawk (The Widowmaker)]

   The dash indicates perhaps only marginal criminous content, but for completeness, there was one additional Widowmaker story:

4. A Gathering Of Widowmakers (2006)

   From the Fantastic Fiction website:

   “The Widowmaker, the consummate bounty hunter-has been frozen for a century in order to defeat a deadly disease. Only now the cost of his care has risen, so the Widowmaker is called out of retirement for one special commission…”

    And two additional private eye Eli Paxton mysteries:

1. Dog in the Manger (1997)
2. The Trojan Colt (2013)
3. Cat on a Cold Tin Roof (2014)

   The following may qualify as criminous in nature:

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
1. The Amulet of Power (2003)

   Anthologies he edited of possible interest to mystery readers include:

Whatdunits (1992)
More Whatdunits (1993)
Alternate Outlaws (1994)
Sherlock Holmes in Orbit (1995) (with Martin H Greenberg)
Down These Dark Spaceways (2005)
Alien Crimes (2007)

   If you’re more familiar with Resnick’s many other novels, anthologies and collections than I, and know of others that qualify as crime or mystery fiction, please tell us about them in the comments.

  JAMES REASONER “War Games.” Novelette. Markham #5. First published in Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, April 1982. Kindle reprint, 2013.

   The lead story in the same issue of Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine was a Mike Shayne novelette by Brett Halliday entitled “Deadly Queen,” which is of note especially because it just so happens that was ghostwritten by the same James Reasoner who wrote “War Games.” Between the two stories almost half of the magazine was work by James, one of a very few authors producing the same wordage today of the most prolific pulp writers of the 1920s and 30s. Over a million words a year? That’s a lot of typing!

   “War Games” the last of five stories he wrote about a PI by the name of Markham (not related to the TV detective of the same name). In it he’s called in by the head of a military academy for teenaged boys to find out who left him a threatening note in his desk in his office.

   There are a number of suspects. Colonel Rutledge is the sort of hard-nosed former military officer who runs a tight ship, to say the least. The most obvious suspects are a couple of boys, one of whom he expelled, the other a boy from own he is friends with, and an English instructor who was dressed down publicly for using the book Catch 22 in class.

   The colonel does not mention his granddaughter, who lives on the grounds, but Markham quickly adds her to his own list, as not surprisingly, she is, shall we say, the rebellious type. The story proceeds from here, and it’s a good one.

   The story is too short to learn much about Markham as a person, except that he’s the kind of person who, when he accepts a job, makes sure he finishes it. I was reminded more of Philip Marlowe than I was Sam Spade, say, if you’d like a couple of other PI’s to to compare him to. Even so, more than Marlowe, Markham is a guy I’d like to sit down and have a beer someday, if ever I could.

   And this is the kind of story that makes you wish there were more than just the five. The good news is that three of them are already available as Kindle ebooks, as indicated by a (*) below. What I’d really like to see, though, is a print collection of all five. Back issues of Mike Shayne magazines have become awfully hard to find in the wild, and that issue of Skullduggery? Impossible.


       The Markham series —

All the Way Home. Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, April 1979
Death and the Dancing Shadows. Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine March 1980 (*)

             

The Man in the Moon. Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, April 1980 (*)
The Double Edge. Skullduggery, Summer 1981
War Games. Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, April 1982 (*)

From Wikipedia:

   Marion Gibbons (née Chesney; 10 June 1936 -30 December 2019) was a Scottish writer of romance and mystery novels since 1979. She wrote numerous successful historical romance novels under a form of her maiden name, Marion Chesney, including the Travelling Matchmaker and Daughters of Mannerling series.

   Using the pseudonym M. C. Beaton, she also wrote many popular mystery novels, most notably the Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth mystery series. Both of these book series have been adapted for TV. She also wrote romance novels under the pseudonyms Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Charlotte Ward, and Sarah Chester.

   In addition to the books below (courtesy of the Fantastic Fiction website), many of her romance novels may have considerable mystery content:


       The Hamish Macbeth Mysteries —

1. Death of a Gossip (1985)

2. Death of a Cad (1987)
3. Death of an Outsider (1988)
4. Death of a Perfect Wife (1989)
5. Death of a Hussy (1990)
6. Death of a Snob (1991)
7. Death of a Prankster (1992)
8. Death of a Glutton (1993)
aka Death of a Greedy Woman
9. Death of a Travelling Man (1993)

10. Death of a Charming Man (1994)
11. Death of a Nag (1995)
12. Death of a Macho Man (1995)
13. Death of a Dentist (1997)
14. Death of a Scriptwriter (1998)
15. Death of an Addict (1999)
15.5. A Highland Christmas (1999)
16. Death of a Dustman (2001)
17. Death of a Celebrity (2001)
18. Death of a Village (2001)
19. Death of a Poison Pen (2004)

20. Death of a Bore (2005)
21. Death of a Dreamer (2006)
22. Death of a Maid (2007)
23. Death of a Gentle Lady (2008)
24. Death of a Witch (2009)
25. Death of a Valentine (2009)
26. Death of a Chimney Sweep (2011)
aka Death of a Sweep
27. Death of a Kingfisher (2012)
28. Death of Yesterday (2013)
29. Death of a Policeman (2012)
30. Death of a Liar (2015)
30.5. Knock, Knock, You’re Dead! (2016)
31. Death of a Nurse (2016)
32. Death of a Ghost (2017)
33. Death of an Honest Man (2018)
34. Death of a Love (2020)


       The Agatha Raisin Mysteries —

1. The Quiche of Death (1992)

2. The Vicious Vet (1993)
3. The Potted Gardener (1994)
4. The Walkers of Dembley (1995)
5. The Murderous Marriage (1996)
6. The Terrible Tourist (1997)
7. The Wellspring of Death (1998)
8. The Wizard of Evesham (1999)
9. The Witch of Wyckhadden (1999)
10. The Fairies of Fryfam (2000)
11. The Love from Hell (2001)

12. The Day the Floods Came (2001)
13. The Case of the Curious Curate (2001)
14. The Haunted House (2003)
15. The Deadly Dance (2004)
16. The Perfect Paragon (2005)
17. Love, Lies and Liquor (2006)
18. Kissing Christmas Goodbye (2007)
19. Agatha Raisin and a Spoonful of Poison (2006)
20. There Goes The Bride (2009)
21. Busy Body (2010)

22. As the Pig Turns (2011)
23. Hiss and Hers (2012)
24. Something Borrowed, Someone Dead (2013)
25. The Blood of an Englishman (2014)
26. Dishing the Dirt (2015)
27. Pushing up Daisies (2016)
28. The Witches’ Tree (2017)
29. The Dead Ringer (2018)
30. Beating About the Bush (2019)
31. Hot to Trot (2020)

   Novellas —

Agatha Raisin and the Christmas Crumble (2012)
Hell’s Bells (2013)
Agatha’s First Case (2015)


       The Edwardian Murder Mysteries —

1. Snobbery with Violence (2003)

2. Hasty Death (2004)
3. Sick of Shadows (2005)
4. Our Lady of Pain (2006

IT IS PURELY MY OPINION
Reviews by L. J. Roberts


GERRY BOYLE – Port City Crossfire. Brandon Blake #3. ePublishing Works, paperback, August 2019. Setting: Portland Maine.

First Sentence: Mid-September, not quite fall but the Maine summer slipping away.

   It’s every policeman’s nightmare. Officer Brandon Blake becomes involved in a foot chase with a suspect known as Thrasher who is wearing a Go-Pro camera and holding a gun. Blake is forced to shoot, but he forgot to turn on his camera and the suspect’s Go-Pro memory stick is gone. Thatch’s wealthy parents and his girlfriend Amanda are out for Blake’s job and his freedom. But being suspended doesn’t stop Brandon from following his instincts as he finds the high-school diary of Danni Moulton which leads him into danger from her boyfriend Clutch.

   This is a first chapter that really works. You meet the principal characters, learn a bit about their life, and, true to the life of a cop, go from low intensity to very high intensity in the blink of an eye realizing just how a bad situation can happen and the reaction afterward. Boyle makes it real and painful.

   One quickly becomes aware of why Boyle’s writing is so good. It’s refreshing to have a police officer who isn’t hardened and cynical, who feels the impact of their action, who doesn’t shrug and walk away but has a very human reaction including self-doubt. And the victim’s parents: Boyle knows how to depict raw emotion.

   Brandon does get himself into situations. An excellent description of him is given–“I know your type, my friend. Once you get on to something, you don’t let go. You ride it into the ground even if you do down with it.”

   All of Boyle’s characters are effective. Kat, Brandon’s partner is a good, strong character and an excellent balance to Brandon as she sees through him and doesn’t pull any punches. His personal partner, Mia, is someone one may particularly come to like. And then there’s Matthew Estusa, the classic gotcha’-style reporter who’ll do whatever it takes for a story is certainly someone who is recognizable.

   Twists and threads: the plot twists are very well done and effective; sometimes shocking. “Friggin’ A, Blake, … Is there anything you don’t wind up in the middle of?” The number of threads counts up to where one finds oneself thinking ‘here is another thread to pull.’

   As the threads begin to weave together, the danger and suspense increase. The plot did seem over-complicated, a twist that was a bit too convenient and a move that, especially for a cop, crept into the realm of being a bit TSTL (too stupid to live). However, those were small things and were easily forgiven in light of there being a great climax and an excellent line toward the end.

   Although the book is listed as A Brandon Black Mystery, Book 1, that’s not strictly accurate as this is the third book in the series following Port City Shakedown and Port City Black and White, both published by Down East Books. It’s worth going back to the beginning.

   Port City Crossfire is a well-done police procedural. It has a tone different from others one might read, and a protagonist who is both complex and compelling. Boyle walks more on the noir side of the street, but in a very restrained way. There is something rather addictive about his writing.

Rating: Good Plus.


       The Brandon Blake series —

Port City Shakedown (2009)
Port City Black and White (2011)
Port City Crossfire (2019)
Port City Rat Trap (2020)

RENNIE AIRTH – The Decent Inn of Death. John Madden & Angus Sinclair #6. Penguin, US, trade paperback, January 2020.

   The first joint adventure of Scotland Yard detectives (recorded in River of Darkness, 1999) took place in 1921. It wasn’t clear in what year The Decent Inn of Deceit happens, but both gentlemen are well settled in retirement., and my sense is that it happens in the early 50s, but I could be wrong about that. It’s certainly post WWII.

   Sinclair appears to be older of the two. They live close by, but Sinclair lives alone and has heart and/or blood pressure problems and is under the medical care of Madden’s wife Helen. He must carry his pills with him at all times, and of course this comes into play later on.

   It begins with a woman with a German background being fond dead in a brook, and in spite of the coroner’s report, her housemate does not think it was an accident. In spite of his age, Sinclair decides to follow up, not exactly believing her, but he knew has a nose for sniffing into things when they just don’t feel right.

   And eventually both he and Madden are trapped in a snowbound house, totally isolated from the rest of the world with a possible murderer, possibly a vicious serial killer, caught in the house with them. The list of those inside includes the owner, a vivacious woman in a wheelchair, her would-be suitor, her chauffeur, her cook, and her personal assistant.

   All of the detective work that gets them into this predicament takes place in the first third of the book. After that it’s an edge-of-seat suspense thriller. If I’m any kind of an example, the last fifty pages or so will fly by in a blur.

   I don’t know if this a book to be read in snowbound New England in January or not. It will only add to the chill. You might want to put off reading this one in the middle of July instead, but read it, I most definitely recommend you do.


      The John Madden & Angus Sinclair series —

1. River of Darkness (1999)
2. The Blood-Dimmed Tide (2004)
3. The Dead of Winter (2009)
4. The Reckoning (2014)
5. The Death of Kings (2017)
6. The Decent Inn of Death (2020)

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