Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Review: Crime Syndicate Magazine: Issue 1 Edited by Eric Beetner and Michael Pool

Crime Syndicate Magazine: Issue 1 certainly delivers on their idea of “A Magazine Of Crime Fiction.” From the distinctive cover to the eight short tales selected by Guest Editor Eric Beetner and Founder/Editior-In-Chief Michael Pool the first issue delivers in all aspects. As these are short stories and therefore it is not possible to say much without creating spoilers, the barebones descriptions below will have to suffice.

After a brief introduction from Michael Pool, the issue opens with “So Close” by Eric Beetner. He knew his wife, Shelly, was having an affair with a neighbor named Robert. Their affair has been going on for awhile now so he isn’t surprised to find them together at the house. He just never thought he would find them like this.

Suppose a family member died because of a crime. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a fully loaded clone ready to resume life and relationships if the worst happened? Reporters and other folks call the idea “victim replacement.” Those who work in sales prefer to call it “Restoration” in the tale of the same name by Art Taylor. No matter what you call it, sometimes customers have to have an additional incentive to make the sale.

One of the drawbacks of social media is that you can find out what others think about you. There are even a website that serves as the “premier consumer review site for mafia thugs, hitman, and muscle. Based in Hoboken, New Jersey the man known as Jackson “Jack the Hammer” Palmer isn’t getting good reviews. For Jack, an online diary helps him vent in “Jack The Hammer’s Online Identity Crisis” by Jeff Bowles.

Marco is always a bit of a jerk when the cards are going his way. For Darius they often don’t and the Berretta next to him isn’t helping with that. The poker game just the latest clash between the two in “On Tilt” by James Queally.

Danny needs a miracle in the form of 10k by next Tuesday or some very bad men are going to come to his airstream camper and do some very bad things to him. Tyler “The Plumber” Anderson is the bookie who most definitely wants his money in “Dee The Friendly Grizzly’s Little Miracle” by Nick Kolakowski.

Zeke is out and now Don and Jackson need to get to work in “God May Forgive You” by Paul Heatley. A score needs to be settled.

The familiar theme of being cheated on is just one small piece of “Tuning The Old Joanna” by Tess Makovesky. Roy just needs to prove it by catching her in the act. To do that is going to require surveillance and that will not be easy.

Trooper Alvin Mags is working undercover in “The Line” by C. J. Edwards. The job is dangerous and that was before things got seriously complicated.

The first issue ends with an interesting interview with Eric Beetner. He talks about writing, upcoming projects, and quite a lot more.

Crime Syndicate Magazine: Issue 1 was a mighty good read. The eight short stories selected are far more complicated than their brief spoiler free explanations above. These are reads of depth that will surprise experienced mystery readers. Notably very funny with “Jack The Hammer’s Online Identity Crisis,” each short tale has quite a lot going on. Simply put, there is not a bad one in the bunch. Crime Syndicate Magazine: Issue 1 is a real treat for mystery and crime fiction readers. 

Crime Syndicate Magazine: Issue 1
Edited by Eric Beetner and Michael Pool
Short Stack Books
December 2015
eBook (paperback available)
79 Pages

I first heard about this in early May after Michael Bracken announced he had a story in the second issue. About that same time, in anticipation of their second issue, those in charge put this first issue temporarily free at Amazon. So, I picked up a copy. I used my funds in my Amazon Associate account to pick up issue two and that very good issue will be reviewed soon. As will the final and very good issue of Thuglit and a few other things. Spending a lot of time each day at the hospital this past month while Sandi got her radiation treatments has meant a lot of stuff has been read so I am way behind on reviews.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2016

Monday, July 25, 2016

Monday Markets for Writers (The Practicing Writer)

 Monday Markets for Writers (The Practicing Writer)

23 Done, 2 More

This morning Sandi has completed her 23rd radiation treatment. We also met with the radiation doctor as we do each Monday. He is very pleased at how well she has done so far.

She has tomorrow and Wednesday treatments to do. After the deal on Wednesday she will be given discharge instructions. Then, the radiation doctor and the main cancer doctor will plan the imagery test that will be needed to see how successful the radiation was for shrinking the tumor.

Monday With Kaye: Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline (Reviewed by Kaye George)

This week it is thriller time with Kaye….

Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline

As this domestic thriller opens, Christine Nilsson is leaving her job as a reading specialist at Nutmeg Hill grade school and her fellow teachers and faculty members are throwing her a shower. She’s leaving because she is finally pregnant, and rejoices in the fact. Only her best friend and her parents know the truth about the baby, that she and her husband Marcus used a sperm donor because of his low count. This was a difficult
decision, but they’re both happy with the way it’s turning out.

They’ve seen pictures of their donor, known only by a number, Donor 3319, and he’s a handsome, intelligent-looking blonde guy, a medical student, who resembles Marcus. As Christine is helping to clean up after the party, she spots a report on TV of a serial killer, a man who has brutally slain several nurses. The man has been caught and he’s shown being put into a police car. He looks straight into the camera. His name is Zachary Jeffcoat, aka the Nurse Murderer, but Christine realizes he’s also Donor 3319.

Marcus isn’t as convinced as his wife is, at first, and the best friend refuses to believe it. But Christine has to know for sure. She can no longer tell if her nausea is morning sickness or is from knowing that the child she carries, that she loves, is most probably fathered by a murderer. Eventually, this innocent unborn child wreaks havoc between her and Marcus and causes her to defy the orders of her husband and their lawyer, putting herself into a dangerous situation, trying to discover the truth and save her marriage—and her child.

What would you do if you were carrying the baby of a serial killer? This is a gut-wrenching, heart-pounding story.

Reviewed by Kaye George, Author of Death in the Time of Ice, for Suspense Magazine

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Making The Wife Freak Out--Again

I share funny and often twisted stuff on Facebook. Just how I roll. Every now and then Sandi comes across one of mine and shrieks in disgust. That victory happened today with this deal that made me laugh...

If you are interested in seeing what I do and also shrieking in disgust, I am here.

“Writing a New Series” (by Dave Zeltserman) at Something Is Going To Happen Blog

“Writing a New Series” (by Dave Zeltserman) at Something Is Going To Happen Blog

Little Big Crimes: A Meter of Murder, by Mark Thielman

Little Big Crimes: A Meter of Murder, by Mark Thielman: "A Meter of Murder," by Mark Thielman, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, July/August 2016. In his first published s...

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Hey, blog fans.  I'm out of the hospital after bei...

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Hey, blog fans.  I'm out of the hospital after bei...: Hey, blog fans.  I'm out of the hospital after being poked, prodded, tested. and humiliated.  I'm in much worse shape than when I we...

And this update on Facebook:

Dear Facebook friends: I've been reading your many posts of love and
support, and I'll admit that sometimes I've had tears in my eyes. I'm
out of the hospital now, having been subjected to more tests and
humiliations than anyone should have to undergo. My condition has not
improved, I'm sorry to say. The VBKs were happy to see me, but they
they're happy to see anyone. Turns out they weren't as lucky as we
thought, though.

I won't be posting anywhere for a while, if
ever, but I want you to know how much I appreciate you and your caring
for me. I'll be trying to get into M. D. Anderson and hoping for a
miracle. Thank you all so much for your continuing to keep me in your
minds and hearts.

Chess, Comics, Crosswords, Books, Music, Cinema: New fiction previews: six mysteries and thrillers

Chess, Comics, Crosswords, Books, Music, Cinema: New fiction previews: six mysteries and thrillers: I'm always curious about intriguing titles and covers of novels I read about online. They often convey little which makes them interest...

My Wink Books Review: Sinatra 100 by Charles Pignone

My Wink Books Review: Sinatra 100 by Charles Pignone

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Market Call: Robbed of Sleep - An Anthology of the Horribly Strange & the Strangely Horrible: Submissions

Robbed of Sleep - An Anthology of the Horribly Strange & the Strangely Horrible: Submissions: 'Robbed of Sleep' publishes twice each year, in mid-June and mid-December. We are always looking for a sampling of the strangely dar...

The First Trailer For WONDER WOMAN Starring Gal Gadot Is Finally HERE (ComicBookMovie.com)

The First Trailer For WONDER WOMAN Starring Gal Gadot Is Finally HERE (ComicBookMovie.com)

Sisters in Crime Meeting Reminder!

 I have not been able to attend in quite some time thanks to various things here....

 Check your calendar--meeting reminder that SinCND is this Sunday!

Meeting Reminder

Our Sisters in Crime meeting is this Sunday at 2:00 P.M. at the Frisco Library
Character and Setting with Melissa Lenhardt
Our own VP will talk about character and setting and how to make them standout!

July snacks will be provided by Lane Buckman

Copyright © *2014* *Sisters in Crime North Dallas*, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
3411 Preston Road, #C13-130, Frisco, Texas 75034 USA

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: When in Doubt, Add Butter by Beth Harbison

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: When in Doubt, Add Butter by Beth Harbison: Reviewed by Ambrea Gemma Craig has had enough of dating; instead, she has decided to focus on her job, which she’s surprisingly g...

KRL This Week Update--July 23, 2016

Up this morning in KRL a review & giveaway of "Murder Has Nine Lives" by Laura Levine http://kingsriverlife.com/07/23/murder-has-nine-lives-by-laura-levine/
Also reviews & giveaways of a fun bunch of 5 mystery novels by Penguin & Kensington authors-"Gone with the Wool": Yarn Retreat Mystery by Betty Hechtman, "Dressed to Kilt": Scottish Highlands series by Hannah Reed, "Final Fondue": A Five-Ingredient Mystery by Maya Corrigan, "Take the Monkey and Run": A Call of the Wilde Mystery by Laura Morrigan, and "Toasting Up Trouble": A Dinner Club Mystery by Linda Wiken http://kingsriverlife.com/07/23/a-bunch-of-july-mysteries-from-penguin-kensington/
And a review & giveaway of a fun food mystery, "Death at the Day Lily Cafe" by Wendy Sand Eckel, along with a fun food guest post by Wendy which includes recipes! http://kingsriverlife.com/07/23/death-at-the-day-lily-cafe-by-wendy-sand-eckel/
And a review & giveaway of "A Grave Prediction" by Victoria Laurie http://kingsriverlife.com/07/23/a-grave-prediction-by-victoria-laurie/
We also have a review of 2 British mystery TV shows-"Inspector Lewis" & "Endeavour" http://kingsriverlife.com/07/23/the-british-are-coming-the-british-are-coming-part-2-inspector-lewis-endeavour/
Over on KRL Lite this morning a review & giveaway of "Honolulu Hottie" by Terry Ambrose http://kingsriverlife.blogspot.com/2016/07/honolulu-hottie-mckenna-mystery-by.html

Happy reading, 


Dear Dr. Crider (Meanderings and Musings)

Dear Dr. Crider (Meanderings and Musings)

Business Musings: Other Evil Clauses (Contracts/Dealbreakers)

Business Musings: Other Evil Clauses (Contracts/Dealbreakers)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Worse news

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Worse news: Very aggressive form of carcinoma. Looks bad. Love to you all.

Bill Crider Update

This is per his daughter, Angela, on Facebook minutes ago:

"I wanted to post an update on Dad, although not a happy one. He has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of carcinoma. We do not know much, but we will be seeking appointments with specialists and having more tests during the coming days. I will let you know when there is an update. Thank you again for all of your thoughts and prayers."

Guest Blogger: Bill Crider – How to Write a Novel (Debra H. Goldstein It's Not Always a Mystery)

Guest Blogger: Bill Crider – How to Write a Novel (Debra H. Goldstein It's Not Always a Mystery)

Linda Castillo, In the Hot Seat (Lesa Holstine at the Poisoned Pen Blog)

Linda Castillo, In the Hot Seat (Lesa Holstine at the Poisoned Pen Blog)

Pulp Hack Confessions: Young Americans vs. Hillbilly Crime Lords and La C...

Pulp Hack Confessions: Young Americans vs. Hillbilly Crime Lords and La C...: Young Americans By Josh Stallings 288 pages ( Heist Publishing; October 30, 2015) ISBN-10: 0996948007 ISBN...

What Our Editors Look for on an Opening Page (Penguin Random House)

What Our Editors Look for on an Opening Page (Penguin Random House)

FFB Review: A CHAIN OF EVIDENCE (1912) by Carolyn Wells (Reviewed by Barry Ergang)

Barry is back for Friday’s Forgotten Books hosted by Patti Abbott. Read Barry’s review and then check out the FFB list today.

A CHAIN OF EVIDENCE (1912) by Carolyn Wells

Reviewed by Barry Ergang

Attorney Otis Landon and his widowed sister, Mrs. Laura Mulford, live together in the Hammersleigh, “one of the most attractive of the moderate-priced apartment houses in New York City.” At thirty-two, Otis expects never to marry, although, as he tells his sister, “I rather fancy that if I ever fall in love, it will be at first sight, and very desperately.”

Conveniently both for Otis and the plot, he does. The object of his affection is one Janet Pembroke, who lives in an apartment across the hall with her wealthy but miserly, temperamental, and somewhat reclusive great-uncle, Robert Pembroke. Although they’ve only lived in the Hammersleigh for two weeks, Otis and his sister have both heard Pembroke’s “voice raised in tones of vituperation and abuse.”

Not long after, Robert Pembroke is found dead. Otis and Laura Mulford are drawn into what turns out to be a case of murder, Pembroke slain by what is described as a woman’s method. When the crime was committed, the door to the apartment was locked, the windows were fastened tight, and a night-chain was in place, which suggests that only one or both of two others within it, Janet Pembroke and her maid, Charlotte, could have done the deed. Fully smitten, Otis is ready to do whatever it takes to protect the woman he (irrationally?) loves.

Thus begins the essence of a mystery novel by an author seminal to the genre who predates “the Golden Age.” It is a novel that demands of modern readers patience, tolerance and, above all, a sense of humor.

Patience is essential for several reasons. The author’s narrative style is that of an older, more formal era, and will likely seem stilted and verbose to a modern audience. The dialogue is equally stilted. I sincerely doubt Americans in the early 20th Century spoke the way Carolyn Wells’ middle- and upper-class characters do. Jane Austen’s English characters from the early 19th Century spoke less “literarily.” For example, consider this exchange between Laura Mulford and Otis Landon regarding whether Janet Pembroke merits her uncle’s berating:—

                        “Yes, but how do I know what she may do to deserve it? Those dark eyes show a smouldering fire that seems to me quite capable of breaking into flame. I rather fancy Miss Pembroke can hold her own against any verbal onslaught of her
                        “Then I’m glad she can,” I declared; “as she has to stand such unjust tyranny, I hope she has sufficient self-assertion to resent it. I’d rather like to see that girl in a towering rage; she must look stunning!”

The book could be shorter by a third to a half if Otis Landon’s first-person narrative didn’t contain multiple repetitions of the facts of the case and, especially, incessant lengthy passages in which he moons about the enigmatic and volatile Janet Pembroke, his love for her, his anxieties about her possible love for other men in the story, and angst about her possible guilt.

Tolerance is essential because of snobbishly demeaning, disparaging and racist attitudes toward “menials”—e.g., an elevator operator whose language suggests a substandard education, and Charlotte, the African-American maid, with her stereotyped dialect. Here’s Charlotte talking about forgetting to remove the night-chain before opening the apartment door:—

                        “Laws!” exclaimed what was unmistakably a negro (sic) girl’s voice, “I nebber can ’member dat chain!”

A sense of humor is essential—make that vital—when reading this novel. Thoroughly non-existent is police procedure as we’ve come to know it nowadays. Landon and others are given license to explore and tramp all over the crime scene as they see fit. A prominent lawyer, very much a suspect, who represented Robert Pembroke and who visited him the day before his death, is presently out of town on business. Rather than locate and bring him in for immediate questioning, the police and D.A. decide to delay official proceedings until his return. Otis Landon fancies himself possessed of a detective’s instincts, and manages to find physical clues and talk to people connected to the victim who might have reasons for wanting him dead while the police do almost nothing investigative. But despite his efforts, he can’t resolve the locked-apartment puzzle, so he ultimately consults Carolyn Wells’ incarnation of the Great Detective, Fleming Stone. A Chain of Evidence contains twenty-four chapters. Fleming Stone doesn’t appear until the twenty-first (or, according to my Kindle, until eighty percent of the novel was behind me). As soon as Landon explains the circumstances of the case to Stone, the latter announces that he knows who the murderer is. In order to solve the locked-room problem, however, he must visit the apartment. Once he does, it takes him no time at all to figure out the answer to that riddle.

The fact that the solution is a complete cheat is apparently inconsequential to the author. Much earlier in the story the reader is given several crucial details concerning the impossibility of entrance to the apartment with the night-chain in place. What is revealed in Stone’s explanation contradicts much of it and points up something the reader should have been told but wasn’t, thus underscoring that the reader has been unfairly duped.

Except to mystery historians and purists, I must conclude that A Chain of Evidence is nothing more than a (vaguely) entertaining curio.

For more information about Carolyn Wells, see mystery connoisseur and analyst Michael E. Grost’s A Guide to Classic Mystery and Detection: http://mikegrost.com/classics.htm. For more on Fleming Stone, see The Thrilling Detective website: http://www.thrillingdetective.com/eyes/fleming_stone.html.

© 2016 Barry Ergang

Derringer Award-winner Barry Ergang’s own (fairly-clued!) locked-room mystery novelette, “The Play of Light and Shadow,” is available at Amazon and, during the annual sale through the end of July, at Smashwords at a reduced price, among his other works you can find at those sites.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Gravetapping: Books You Should Read: "Backshot" by Ed Gorman and...

Gravetapping: Books You Should Read: "Backshot" by Ed Gorman and...: Cemetery Dance has two signed, limited edition hardcovers, with interconnected storylines available. The titles: Backshot: 1902 by Ed Gor...

How to Write a Thriller: Authors Megan Abbott, Blake Crouch and James Patterson discuss their writing methods (Wall Street Journal)

Bullet Points: Happy Distractions Edition

Bullet Points: Happy Distractions Edition

Crime Review Update

We feature new 20 reviews in each issue of Crime Review (
www.crimereview.co.uk), together with a top industry interview. This time
it’s author Jeff Gulvin in the Countdown hot seat.
We’re on Twitter at:
Crime Review: @CrimeReviewUK
Linda Wilson: @CrimeReviewer
Sharon Wheeler: @lartonmedia

This week’s reviews are:
WHEN THE MUSIC’S OVER by Peter Robinson, reviewed by Sharon Wheeler
Newly-promoted Det Supt Alan Banks is landed with a cold case from 50 years
back where it’s alleged a TV personality assaulted young female fans.

BEFORE THE FALL by Noah Hawley, reviewed by Chris Roberts
When a private jet goes down, painter Scott and a young boy are the only
ones who survive. Several of the passengers had serious enemies – was it

A FINE LINE by Gianrico Carafiglio, reviewed by Arnold Taylor
Guido Guerrieri is a defence lawyer working in Bari, southern Italy. Having
just completed a successful appeal on behalf of a man accused of sexual
assault, he receives a telephone call from a judge requesting his help.

THE HOTEL OF THE THREE ROSES by Augusto De Angelis, reviewed by John Cleal
Commissario Carlo De Vincenzi receives an anonymous tip that a crime is to
be committed at a louche hotel.

STREETS OF DARKNESS by AA Dhand, reviewed by Sharon Wheeler
DI Harry Virdee has been suspended from duty, but he goes solo to track
down the killer of a Bradford VIP.

THE PRIMROSE PATH by Rebecca Griffiths, reviewed by John Barnbrook
Rachel has moved to a small Welsh community to escape her past life.
Unfortunately her past is not keen to let her go and not all is as it
appears on first encounter

GOODBYE TO THE DEAD by Brian Freeman, reviewed by John Cleal
Lieutenant Stride is investigating a street killing, and discovers a link
to a murder in which he found himself on the opposite side to his late wife
years before.

DEATH ZONES by Simon Pasternak, reviewed by Chris Roberts
In Belorussia in July 1943, a few hundred miles west of the advancing
Russians, a German general is killed by partisans. Oberleutnant Heinrich
Hoffman is pressed to find the man responsible.ALONE WITH THE DEAD by James Nally, reviewed by Linda Wilson.
Rookie PC Donal Lynch is one of the first on the scene of a brutal murder.
The investigation quickly stalls, but the murdered woman herself is
determined to make sure her case isn’t forgotten.

HIDDEN by Emma Kavanagh, reviewed by John Cleal
A gunman stalks the wards of a hospital. Two members of a police firearms
unit assigned to find him are recently reinstated after being investigated
for shooting a teenage boy. The third has his own problems. As the stress
mounts, death is only the pull of a trigger away.

THE CHOSEN by Kristina Ohlsson, reviewed by Ewa Sherman
The terrifying Paper Boy arrives at night, carefully chooses his victims,
mostly children, and disappears. Later the mutilated bodies are found with
paper bags on their heads. Fredrika Bergman and Alex Recht have to stop him
from claiming more lives.

THE FIXER by Joseph Finder, reviewed by Chris Roberts
Rick Hoffman’s discovery of a fortune in cash concealed in his father’s old
study leads him to an investigation of corruption and a rethink of his own

THE LONELINESS OF DISTANT BEINGS by Kate Ling, reviewed by Linda Wilson
Life aboard the First Contact Vessel Ventura is regimented in all respects.
The system has no place for teenage rebels, as Seren soon finds out.

THE INCORRUPTIBLES by John Hornor Jacobs, reviewed by John Cleal
Army scouts Fisk and Shoe are assigned to guide a Senator on a hunting
trip, but face supernatural as well as human enemies.

THE AMERICAN by Nadia Dalbuono, reviewed by Sylvia Maughan
A body is found hanging under the Ponte Sant’Angelo. Who is he and why are
there similarities to the death of Roberto Calvi all those years ago?
Inspector Scamarcio has his work cut out to solve this one.

DEAD OF WINTER by Gerri Brightwell, reviewed by Chris Roberts
Mike Fisher is a taxi driver with little going for him, but when his
daughter disappears, rescuing her becomes a motivating preoccupation.

A MAN OF SOME REPUTE by Elizabeth Edmondson, reviewed by Arnold Taylor
Hugo Hawksworth of the intelligence services is given a desk job following
an injury sustained in the field. His boss arranges for him to be
accommodated in Selchester Castle, from which Lord Selchester had
mysteriously disappeared six years earlier.

SONGS ABOUT A GIRL by Chris Russell, reviewed by Linda Wilson
Fifteen-year-old Charlie Bloom’s life is turned upside down when she’s
asked to take a series of backstage photos of the latest boyband
phenomenon, Fire&Lights.

DEATH OF A SCHOLAR by Susanna Gregory, reviewed by John Cleal
Once again Cambridge is full of murdered clerics and scholars.
Physician/detective Matthew Bartholomew and Brother Michael must sort out
their latest mystery.

HEAVEN SENT (audiobook) by Meg Cabot, reviewed by Linda Wilson
Paul Slater is determined to change the past and make sure that Suze and
her boyfriend Jesse never meet. Suze is equally determined to stop him.

Best wishes


CHECK IT OUT: The Plano Public Library Newsletter

CHECK IT OUT: The Plano Public Library Newsletter

Our Medical Update

It was a long morning at the hospital. We got behind at the radiation deal and that cascaded everything backwards. But, we are finally home.

Radiation  went okay once they got things working and going. Sandi has four more treatments and that will be it.

Sandi's blood work seemed to be okay. They are double checking a couple of things as they seem a little too good to be true. But, if the results are confirmed things look amazingly good blood wise.

Doctor was pleased about how she is doing.  The current plan is for her to come back in three weeks and do the usual visit. At that point and after consulting with the radiation doctor they will have an idea as to how we go forward. Indications right now are that an MRI will be done in very late August or early September so they can measure the tumor in her spinal area and see if it has shrunk like it was supposed to do. After that is done what we do next will be determined.

So, all we know for sure is once the radiation is done we should have a couple of weeks break from going down to the hospital and doing anything. That will be nice.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Update.

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Update.: Not kidneys. Very likely lymphoma. Biopsy tomorrow.

We are devastated by this news. Our thoughts and prayers are with Bill and his family. 

Pulp Hack Confessions: 50 Shades of Zane Grey in E.A. Cook's Thriller, "T...

Pulp Hack Confessions: 50 Shades of Zane Grey in E.A. Cook's Thriller, "T...: Taconite By E. A. Cook 77 pages (Rogue House Publishing; February 4, 2016) eBook by Amazon Digital Services ASI...

WELCOME TO HELL ~ by Glenn Walker: The Legend of Tarzan

WELCOME TO HELL ~ by Glenn Walker: The Legend of Tarzan: The Legend of Tarzan ~ Don't tell him this, I don't want him to get a swollen head, but my big brother rocks. Even before he sa...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Dark Money, Running With Scissors, All...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Dark Money, Running With Scissors, All...: This week, our readers kicked of Nevermore with Dark Money:   The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radi...

Revue of Reviewers, 7-19-16 (The Rap Sheet)

 Revue of Reviewers, 7-19-16 (The Rap Sheet)

Guest Post: Jeanne on "(Brand) Name Dropping"

Please welcome back Jeanne of the Bristol Public Library with a few thoughts regarding brand names in stories. When I think of this sort of thing, I think of Stuart Woods and his Stone Barrington series where the brand name dropping is everywhere on nearly every page. I don’t think so much about how such tactics can date the work. It does and Jeanne shares some examples below.  

(Brand) Name Dropping

Years and years ago, I was reading a novel which mentioned a character watching a Star Trek rerun. This would have been around 1972 or so, when I was an ardent Star Trek fan before there was a real organized fan network, so the mere mention electrified me. I went on to notice that the author mentioned other things by brand name, such as Noxzema.  I was surprised but at the time I thought it made the book seem immediate and up to date—the show was playing every afternoon in syndication on a semi-local station, so that made perfect sense. I was impressed.

A few decades down the road, I’m not so sure.  It’s not so much the product placement (a concept I’m not sure was around then) but product longevity, something that seems in short supply these days.  More and more it seems that when I pick up an older book, there’s some reference to a company or product that has gone extinct.  It’s a little disconcerting when the book would almost seem to be contemporary because it instantly reminds me that it’s not.  To pull an example from a comic book, I vividly remember a scene in a Batman comic in which Bruce Wayne receives a video tape sent anonymously.  He looks at it and comments that at least the sender had the sense to send a Betamax tape.

Is there a show of hands of folks who know the significance? Uh… how about people who remember Betamax?  Okay, how many know what Betamax was? I’m only half kidding, because most of the people with whom I work would not understand at all that the dialog was intended to reinforce the image of Bruce as a connoisseur, someone who appreciated the higher quality picture that Betamax afforded.  To readers now, it would indicate he was hopelessly outdated and would evoke laughter.  I’m sure that should the story ever be reprinted, the Betamax reference would be expunged.  It certainly wouldn’t be first to undergo such revision:  there are a number of children’s books which have been updated for various reasons, including outdated language and stereotypes.  The Nancy Drew series has been updated several times, starting in 1959.  Some fans still mourn the loss of the blue roadster. (Or was it maroon?)

It’s quite a different thing if a writer wants to evoke an earlier era.  Then the references to people and products are a deliberate attempt to show readers when they are, though sometimes the authors have to word things carefully to make sure readers know what is being discussed.  For example, if a character in the early 1970s is enjoying a delicious Smoothie, the audience should understand that it is not a drink but candy somewhat like a Reese’s Cup but the peanut butter is covered in butterscotch.  Most recently, I encountered this in Joanna Cannon’s The Trouble with Goats and Sheep; she named dropped then current TV shows, celebrities, candy, and other products to remind people of the time period.

On the other hand, there are authors who use such deeply contemporary books as sources for their own historical novels.  Most recently I heard David O. Stewart discuss reading period novels for his new mystery, The Babe Ruth Deception, in order to check for slang expressions. He also commented on that some of the books were difficult to read because the sentence structure and vocabulary were so different from contemporary novels. (Stewart is an historian and lawyer and author of several non-fiction books, but he has a series of historical mysteries set in the early part of the 20th century. He was being interviewed on the radio show Your Weekly Constitutional  about the special place baseball has in Constitutional law.  Really.  You can listen to the podcast at https://www.montpelier.org/center/radio.)

So, authors, you may want to consider how long you expect your work to be read before you have a character walk down the street absorbed in Pokemon Go!

(Note:  I am reasonably sure that the first book I mentioned was The Mephisto Waltz by Fred Mustard Stewart, which I recall as being a nifty little horror novel along the lines of Rosemary’s Baby.  Our library doesn’t hold a copy so I couldn’t check to see if the reference to Star Trek was there, which would confirm its identity.  It was published in 1969, so that fits.  A recent review by Lobstergirl at Goodreads calls it “wonderfully dated” with “ghastly product placement.” Ummm,  well, that probably fits too.)