Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The Short Mystery Fiction Society Blog: Short Story Month: "The Heir Hunt" by Jacqueline S...

The Short Mystery Fiction Society Blog: Short Story Month: "The Heir Hunt" by Jacqueline S...: In 2013, StoryADay.org proclaimed May International Short Story Month . The SMFS spin on festivities is to highlight one or more members&#...

FREE Book Alert: "THE SEVENTH TAKING: A Mountain Mystery" by BJ Bourg

Author BJ Bourg has announced that, in honor of Mother's Day and all mothers everywhere, he has made THE SEVENTH TAKING: A Mountain Mystery free for the week.

Amazon Synopsis:

"THE SEVENTH TAKING is the chilling tale of a young man’s journey through harsh mountain country in his search for the girl he loves, and the two friends who dare to brave the dangerous elements—both human and natural—to support a friend.

When Joy Vincent disappears in the Blue Summit Mountains of Tennessee while vacationing with her family, park rangers begin an intensive search for the Louisiana high school junior. Seven weeks later, the search is abandoned and authorities conclude that Joy voluntarily ran away because of a fight with her father.

Unwilling to believe it, Abraham Wilson makes the long drive to the mountains and sets off on a journey that will change his life--and the lives of his friends, Brett Lester and Charlie Rickman--forever. Will they discover the secret behind Joy's disappearance, or will they meet with the same fate?

(NOTE: Originally published on April 5, 2015 by Amber Quill Press, LLC)"

A Panoramic Image From Mars Curiosity

A Panoramic Image From Mars Curiosity

Monday, May 02, 2016

Interrogation—Christian Lee (Centum Press)

Interrogation—Christian Lee (Centum Press)

Little Big Crimes: Shrink Rap, by Craig Faustus Buck

Little Big Crimes: Shrink Rap, by Craig Faustus Buck: "Shrink Rap," by Craig Faustus Buck, in Pulp Modern, 10, 2016. One thing that has always bugged me (trust me, there are others...

100 Must-Read Sci-Fi Fantasy Novels By Female Authors (BookRiot.Com)

100 Must-Read Sci-Fi Fantasy Novels By Female Authors (BookRiot.Com)

TEXAS BOOK LOVER: MONDAY ROUNDUP: Texas Literary Calendar May 2 - 8

TEXAS BOOK LOVER: MONDAY ROUNDUP: Texas Literary Calendar May 2 - 8: Bookish events in Texas for the week of May 2-8, 2016:  Special Events: Children's Book Week , May 2 - 8 Gulf Coast Indie Book F...

Monday With Kaye: "Wicked Lies" by Lisa Jackson (Reviewed by Kaye George)

Kaye George starts us off on this first Monday in May with another Thriller Monday. Instead of being manic, read a book. 

Wicked Lies by Lisa Jackson

This suspense thriller, written by sisters Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush, is the fourth in their series dealing with The Colony. Called Siren Song by the Oregon locals, or sometimes just 'the cult,' The Colony is a fortified compound where a group of half-sisters live under the strict rule of Catherine, their aunt. Some of the sisters have escaped into the real world.

Among them is Laura Adderly. She's gone through nursing school and married a doctor. She would be a success story, except that she's divorced from Byron, the doctor, and has just found out that she's pregnant by her ex as a result of a last minute reconciliation attempt. She's also finding out that her demented half-brother, Justice Turnbull, who wants to kill all the sisters, is now able to smell her. It seems he can easily detect the presence of pregnant relatives. Laura had immediately grown attached to the small life inside her and is determined to defend herself and her baby against the monster that Justice has grown to be.

Laura is armed with something more than her determination. All the sisters have been born with different 'gifts' and Laura has two. When Justice's thoughts invade her mind, she can put up a mental wall and block him out. The converse of that is that she can send her thoughts into his mind. Her second gift occurs sporadically, but has been a  help in her nursing career. Sometimes she can touch a person and diagnose medical disorders, even predict fatal conditions and death.

Justice is incarcerated from brutal murders that happened twenty years ago, but his ego-maniac, know-it-all psychiatrist is tricked by the wily killer and allows Justice to escape prison after severely wounding him and a guard. Now Justice is free to rampage through the Deception Bay area, killing as he goes, and threatening to annihilate every relative, every sisssterrrr, as he hisses into Laura's mind. A disgraced reporter, Harrison Frost, bent on redeeming himself by getting the story on Justice, through Laura, gets more involved with her than he intends. This excellent tale will keep you reading on the very edge of your seat. Be prepared for some late nights since it's over five hundred pages long.

Reviewed by Kaye George, Author of Choke, for Suspense Magazine

Sunday, May 01, 2016

My English Teachers Must Have Hated Me As No Offer Was Ever Made

Male Teen’s Parents Sue Over Son’s 9-HOUR THREESOME SEX TRAUMA With English Teachers

Mystery Fanfare: May Day Crime Fiction & Morris Dancing

Mystery Fanfare: May Day Crime Fiction & Morris Dancing: "What potent blood hath modest May."- Ralph W. Emerson For the past few years, I've posted a list of May Day Mysteries...

The Short Mystery Fiction Society Blog: May is International Short Story Month

The Short Mystery Fiction Society Blog: May is International Short Story Month: In 2013, StoryADay.org proclaimed May International Short Story Month . The SMFS spin on festivities is to highlight one or more members&#...

Review: "Murder On Wheels: Eleven Tales Of Crime On The Move" Editor Ramona DeFelice Long

Murder On Wheels: Eleven Tales Of Crime On The Move features short stories where various wheeled modes of transportation past and present serve as a key part of each tale. The tales come from six authors known as the “Austin Mystery Writers” as well as two award winning authors outside the group, Earl Staggs and Reavis Z. Wortham. Edited by Ramona DeFelice Long, the short stories that follow a brief introduction by Kaye George feature a lot of variety in style and complexity.

The stranger in town has quite the effect on people. While the men see him as trouble, that same quality is a serious attraction for the fairer sex. That is especially for Rosemary, a fifteen year old looking for a way out of her small town life. Whether or not Campbell Reed is the answer to her dreams is the question in “A Nice Set Of Wheels” by Kathy Waller.

Running moonshine has gone on for decades in the bottom lands of northeast Texas. In “Family Business” by Reavis Z. Wortham illegal liquor has paid the bills as well as caused a lot of problems and heartache. It is the business of the Caissen family and comes with a cost.

Fourteen year old stowaway Tim Brooks thought he would hide on the merchant ship until it arrived in port in Charleston. He picked the vessel Rota Fortunae to hide aboard and that was a serious mistake in this tale of the same name by V. P. Chandler. There is a secret in her hold and one that can’t be explained easily. Out of all the tales in the book this one of adventure, and the mystical was my personal favorite.

It is just after World War II in Hollywood as “Mome Rath, My Sweet” by Gale Albright begins. Private Investigator Grimm has a major problem as Joey Dormouse is dead and Grimm is being blamed.  He should have known the woman billing herself as “Miss Wonderland” who claimed she wanted nothing more than her sister found would be nothing but trouble. After all, Mome Rath is the biggest gangster on the west coast and more famous in all the wrong ways than Al Capone.

The route from Knoxville to D. C. is usually simple enough. The bus is one of those jumbo buses that have two levels. People take the ride, look at the scenery, and have fun. A difficult passenger can change things in “The Wheels On The Bus Go Round And Round” by Kaye George.

As the rest of the family has repeatedly pointed out, Mary should have never married her Italian husband, Marco. Her family is Irish and there are cultural issues. Then there is his behavior and his insistence on joining the family business in “Buon Viaggio” by Laura Oles.

Faye and her husband, Fred, are at opposite sides in their marriage. He loves riding his bicycles and is all about fitness. He now even wants to go vegan. Faye understands they have grown older and would prefer they stay home together and be cool and comfortable in their house. In “Aporkalypse Now” by Gale Albright the situation is definitely not a bicycle built for two.

Family stress also takes a major role in “Have A Nice Trip” also by Kaye George. Prissy has a difficult, to say the least, mother-in-law named Abigail. While Prissy’s husband, Trey, is aware and agrees they should go on their long delayed honey moon, one wonders if he truly understands Prissy’s needs.

There is an old adage about how one should write what one knows. Early Staggs knows all about driving school buses. One hopes he does not truly know about dead men on school buses. In his story “Dead Man On A School Bus” being Police Chief in the suburb of Southlake was supposed to an easy gig after thirty years of hard work on the police force over in Fort Worth. The chief has seen a lot of dead bodies, but the one found early this morning on a school bus is a new experience.

It is not a good thing when one walks into the kitchen and finds elderly Mom stirring in ground glass in the lemon meringue pie filling. Something has to be done to make sure Mom does not get thrown into prison in “Hell On Wheels” by Kathy Walker. The family has to have a plan and that means they have to work together.

Billy Ray Bryant always has one thing going wrong or another and needs a favor from Red Clark. Such is the case in “Red’s White F-150 Blues” by Scott Montgomery. Billy needs to hide his truck in Red’s garage to keep it away from the local repo man, Jerry Coonts. Red has been married long enough to know that the coming argument with his wife Britney over hiding the truck will be shorter if the dead is already done before she gets home.

A two page biography of each author brings the book to a close.

Slipping back and forth in time and set in various locations in Texas and elsewhere the eleven tales in this book are all good ones. Some are more adventure orientated than straight mystery and at least a couple are very noir like in their situations. Murder On Wheels: Eleven Tales Of Crime On The Move is a solidly good anthology from eight talented authors and one that is well worth your time. 

Murder On Wheels: Eleven Tales Of Crime On The Move
Editor Ramona DeFelice Long
Wildside Press LLC
April 2015
ISBN# 978-1-4794-0554-1
Paperback (also available in eBook format)
152 Pages

Material supplied by the publisher some time ago in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2016

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Booktrope Closing

Team publishing startup Booktrope to shut down, citing revenue shortfall (GeekWire)

The Education of a Pulp Writer: Under Burning Skies: The Americano, Hombre, and Ba...

The Education of a Pulp Writer: Under Burning Skies: The Americano, Hombre, and Ba...: The Americano (1955, film) You have to love low-budget RKO Pictures for always throwing in everything but the kitchen sink. In the...

KRL This Week Update

Up this morning in KRL a recipe for your Mother's Day dinner from the mystery "A Catered Mother's Day" by Isis Crawford, along with a chance to win a copy of the book http://kingsriverlife.com/04/30/a-catered-mothers-day-by-isis-crawford-2/

Also up a review & giveaway of "Reading Up a Storm" by Eva Gates aka Vicki Delaney along with an interview with Vicki http://kingsriverlife.com/04/30/reading-up-a-storm-by-eva-gates/

And reviews & giveaways of 3 more April mysteries from Penguin authors-"Crime and Poetry" by Amanda Flower, "Murder She Wrote: Design for Murder" by Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain and Renee Paley-Bain, and "Needle and Dread": A Southern Sewing Circle Mystery by Elizabeth Lynn Casey http://kingsriverlife.com/04/30/even-more-april-penguin-mysteries/

We also have the May mystery Coming Attractions by Sunny Frazier along with a giveaway of books by Linda Reilly and Sherry Harris http://kingsriverlife.com/04/30/may-coming-attractions-a-garden-of-reading-delights-edition/

And we have a review & giveaway of "Double Knot" by Gretchen Archer http://kingsriverlife.com/04/30/double-knot-by-gretchen-archer/

We also have a never before published mystery short story by Paul Lees-Haley

For those who enjoy fantasy with their mystery,  a review & giveaway of "Grave Visions" by Kalayna Price http://kingsriverlife.com/04/30/grave-visions-by-kalayna-price/

Over on KRL Lite, a review & giveaway of "Mrs. Odboddy, Hometown Patriot" by Elaine Faber http://kingsriverlife.blogspot.com/2016/04/mrs-odboddy-hometown-patriot-by-elaine.html

Happy reading,

KRL is now selling advertising & we have special discounts for
mystery authors & bookstores! Ask me about it!
Mystery section in Kings River Life http://KingsRiverLife.com
Check out my own blog at http://mysteryratscloset.blogspot.com/

The Short Mystery Fiction Society Blog: Member Lori Rader-Day wins Simon & Schuster-Mary H...

The Short Mystery Fiction Society Blog: Member Lori Rader-Day wins Simon & Schuster-Mary H...: Announced last night at the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar® Awards, SMFS member Lori Rader-Day won the Simon & Schuster-Mary H...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt: Reviewed by Ambrea In The Sisters Brothers , Patrick DeWitt chronicles the unfortunate misadventures of Eli and Charlie Siste...

The Truest Voice of All … by William Kent Krueger (rockymountainfictionwriters)

The Truest Voice of All … by William Kent Krueger (rockymountainfictionwriters)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Gravetapping: Mystery Scene Reviews: Issue No. 144

Gravetapping: Mystery Scene Reviews: Issue No. 144: The latest issue of Mystery Scene Magazine —No. 144—is at a newsstand near you. The issue is packed, as usual. It features an in-depth ar...

Writing 4.5 – Editing vs Revising (Brainsnorts Blog)

Writing 4.5 – Editing vs Revising (Brainsnorts Blog)

Spam, Spam, Spam Spam: Inkitt and the Grand Novel Contest (Writer Beware Blog)

Spam, Spam, Spam Spam: Inkitt and the Grand Novel Contest (Writer Beware Blog)

FFB Review: "Shaken: Stories for Japan" Editor Timothy Hallinan

Back in July 2011 I wrote the below review after reading and enjoying the anthology Shaken: Stories for Japan. In the wake of the recent earthquakes that once again have rocked the island nation it seemed a good idea to mention this book as part of Friday’s Forgotten Books hosted by Patti Abbott.

As noted on the cover, this book is “A Collection of Original Fiction for Japan America Society of Southern California's 2011 Japan Relief Fund.”  The authors involved have banded together to create this e-book with all monies raised from sales given to the Japan Relief Fund to aid earthquake relief efforts.  The need remains great in Japan and the aim of this book is to help in some small way while also providing reading pleasure. The book seems to be meeting both goals quite well based on the buzz it has generated.

After a brief message from Douglas G. Erber, President, Japan American Society of Southern California followed by a brief introduction to the book by Editor Timothy Hallinan it is on to the stories. While some are mystery stories and others are fiction, they are all stories of depth featuring complicated characters dealing with heavy burdens. These are not the shallow characters of the latest maga Hollywood style adventure. There are not any lightweight fluff stories in this book either.  It becomes quickly evident to the most casual reader that this is a book of fiction with serious depth and meaning.

The book opens with “Matsushima Bay” written by Adrian McKinty.  The author briefly chronicles a previous trip into the area, near the epicenter of the recent tragic earthquake and what the region means spiritually to so many.  While it is a work of fiction, it reads as nonfiction in the style of a personal and heartfelt narrative.

Naomi Hirahara comes next with “Chirigami” where a resident, Kenbo, of an apartment with very thin walls located somewhere just outside of Tokyo has a new neighbor.  All he knows is that she is a woman and foreigner but she is not British or American.  Times have changed.  Not only does Kenbo have an unattached female neighbor, something unheard of before, but the business he works in is slowly failing.  Thanks to his unknown neighbor, Kenbo’s relationship with others begins to change.

“Gift of the Sea” by Vicki Doudera tells the tale of a daughter of a woman who was destined to die at sea.  The sea was her end but it was also her mother’s beginning in this touching story.

Japan isn’t the only place to suffer major earthquakes that have been devastating. San Francisco has seen its share and serves as setting for “Coolie” by Kelli Stanley. The earthquake has struck, the heart of San Francisco is on fire and Alfred and his rescuer must navigate through the chaos to Golden Gate Park.  Alfred is blinded so he must rely on his rescuer to navigate as well as tell him of the dead horses, the rubble marking collapsed buildings and homes and everything else in this hell on earth this April 18, 1906.

Editor Timothy Hallinan makes his appearance with the powerful story “The Silken Claw.”  It is September 1926 on a movie set where production of a Dr. Zo movie is underway. Shooting of a pivotal scene is underway but the real drama is amongst the cast and crew.

Tom Hickey is 36 and a borderline diabetic in “The Enemy” by Ken Kuhlken.  He owns a supper club and hates what he is doing and the madness of the world. That includes the shocking shooting death of his bartender who was robbed on the way to the bank. Since Tom Hickey also works as a private investigator he intends to find the shooter one way or another.

It has been four long years and finally Eunice Toyama is back home in San Pedro. Internment has changed her home town as well as Eunice. It is 1946, she is 19, and very ready to do business and take care of debts that are due in “The Emperor’s Truck” by Wendy Hornsby.

Unlike many of the stories in this anthology that are set in the past, Cora Black chose present day Tokyo for her setting with “Mosquito Incense.”  Despite the initial modern day setting, the past is the key point of the story where Tokyo in August means heat, humidity and regret in large amounts in this tale rich with visual details and depth of feeling.

“Dead Time” by Dale Furutani powerfully tells the tale of a man in prison waiting to be executed.  Between 8 and 8:30 every day the warden comes to collect the prisoners to be executed that day.  In Japan the day of the execution is not known to the condemned or the family so each day begins with the mounting terror of not knowing if this is the day you die.  Being forced to contemplate death each day gives one time to think.

Reality is harsh for Miki in “Miki’s 19th Birthday” by Stefan Hammond.  Her daily reality is living in a cardboard nest in a tunnel with several other refugees.  She has semi bonded with two other teen girls in the wake of the earthquake/tsunami.  It’s time to find another empty house and get clean--what they call a “shower Invasion”-- as well as take whatever the trio wants.  The problem is the place they picked isn’t empty.

Brett Battles turns in “The Assignment” a tale where Orlando is supposed to pick up a married Japanese national at the airport in ‘Los Angeles.   It is supposed to be a simple pick up, escort Mrs. Tomita to a certain location, and drop her off job.  But, Mrs. Tomita is not everything she appears to be and has her own agenda.

Faith Hasegawa and the narrator were best friends from Junior High until Faith died at 40 from cancer.  In “Faith’s Secret” by Dianne Emley, the past is the theme in a tale that will strike a chord in many readers that grew up in the seventies. Set in Los Angeles this tale about teen issues works no matter where you grew up.

Working customer service from a cubicle is no fun and it certainly isn’t in “Father Knows Best” by Hank Phillipi Ryan.  A difficult boss has to be dealt with and the options are few.

Blending in the local society is a frequent theme of the stories in this book regardless of where they are set. This is certainly true in “Borrowed Scenery” by Rosemary Harris.  A fixture in the neighborhood block, Goria Madison always knew what was going on.  At least, she thought she did. The quiet neighbor next door is a surprise. 

With a name like Cynthia Goldberg, people didn’t expect her to look the way she did.  Thanks to her American Jew father and her Japanese mother, her heritage is mixed and striking as she walks near the tidal basin in March 1994.  It is almost time for the annual “Cherry Blossoms” in Washington D.C.  The setting is more than symbolic in this powerful tale by Debby Mack where the painful legacy of atomic warfare lives on.

Jerri Westerson pens a tale of forced marriage and much more in “The Noodle Girl.”  Haruka has just turned 13 and has been told she is to marry Masaru-Sama.  She unfortunately came to his attention because of her mom and their noodle/tea cart.  If the food had been bad, she could have been safe from him.  Mom is thrilled with her prospects but Haruka is not.

It has been twenty years since he was back to his village. Now the man has an 11 year old daughter.  Both the man and his daughter are abducted in the chilling story “The Missing” by Jeffrey Siger.  Captured by North Korean soldiers they must do what they have to do to survive while keeping secret exactly who they are.

“Enforcer No. 3” has been given his assignment in this hard hitting tale by Gary Phillips.  Tokyo may be having power problems, the city of Sendai may be heavily damaged, but the Yakuza carry on with normal business.  He has work to do with blade and grenade.

Rebecca has her hands full with three kids in “Dusty” by C. J. West.  But instead of all three to see the temple at Kamakura, Jessica plans instead to go to a friend’s home high in a local apartment building. By doing so, she leaves her younger sister Lisa and baby brother Stephen with Mom for the trip.  Within minutes of her leaving their car and joining up with her friend, the ground starts shaking and seemingly won’t stop threatening everything and everyone.

Watanabe Wataru was born into the right family at the right time.  It may be the 11th century in “The Kamo Horse” by IJ Parker, but nobleman Wataru is doing very well.  If he can win the great Kamo race, he can claim the prize of the Emperor’s new horse.  The emperor has selected him to train and ride the horse in the great race but others think the horse is unlucky and dangerous.  Wataru‘s future in the court hangs in the balance but not because of the obvious in this complex mystery tale that finishes the book.

At the very end of this enjoyable book, there is a small explanation about the Japan American Society of Southern California and their work.  Throughout the book after each story and author bio, there are scattered haiku from the book titled Basho: the Complete Haiku translated by Jane Reichhold and published in 2008. Along with a brief note about the passages cited, there is a brief note about the illustrative work created by cover artist Gar Anthony Haywood.

The result is a complex and imaginative work that spans the wide gulf between American and Japan while telling tales that will resonate with many people. These are not fluff pieces dashed off to meet a word count or loosely address a theme. These characters are complex and deep and allow a glimpse into their lives for a few pages.  This is a book of soul and complexity of depth that just happens to support a good cause.

Shaken: Stories for Japan
Edited by Timothy Hallinan
Japan American Society of Southern California
June 2011
E-Book: Kindle Edition

Material supplied by the editor in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2011, 2016

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Edgar Award Winners 2016 (Lesa's Book Critiques)

Edgar Award Winners 2016 (Lesa's Book Critiques)

Market Closed: Thuglit

Editor Todd Robinson has announced on the Facebook page for Thuglit that the market has closed. The final issue to come out, hopefully, by the end of May will be a larger than normal edition of stories as he winds things down.

Pierce’s Picks- A periodic alert for followers of crime and thriller fiction (The Rap Sheet)

Pierce’s Picks- A periodic alert for followers of crime and thriller fiction (The Rap Sheet)

Mystery Fanfare: CrimeFest Award Nominees

Mystery Fanfare: CrimeFest Award Nominees: CRIMEFEST annually presents its awards at a dinner which in 2016 will be held on Saturday, 21 May. Bristol, England. Congratulations to ...

A Dust Up in My Reading Habits: Reviewing Dust Up by Jon McGoran (David Cranmer reviews at CriminalElement.com)

A Dust Up in My Reading Habits: Reviewing Dust Up by Jon McGoran (David Cranmer reviews at CriminalElement.com)

HISTORY’S RICH WITH MYSTERIES----"NATALIE WOOD – Accidental Drowning or Something Else?" by Earl Staggs

After considering the mystery of Agatha Christie’s disappearance in January and the death of actor George Reeves in February and who killed Bugsy Siegel last month, Earl considers the circumstances surrounding the death of Natalie Wood.


When I look at the past, I find stories about people which fascinate me, particularly those in which there is a curious mixture of fact, legend, and mysterious uncertainty. In this series of articles, I want to explore some of those stories. I think of them as mysteries swaddled in legend. While truth is always desired in most things, truth easily becomes staid and boring. Legend, on the other hand, forever holds a hint of romanticism and an aura of excitement borne of adventure, imagination and, of course, mystery. 

NATALIE WOOD – Accidental Drowning  or Something Else?

by Earl Staggs

Born Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko in San Francisco on July 20, 1938, to Russian immigrant parents, she began acting at the age of four and soon changed her name to Natalie Wood.  In 1947, at the age of eight, she played Maureen O'Hara's daughter in the original film version of the Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street, a role which established her as one of the top child movie actors.  As an adult, she starred in a number of major films including , Splendor in the Grass (1955), West Side Story (1961), Gypsy  (1962), and  Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969).  

By the time she was twenty-five, Natalie Wood, a strikingly beautiful and talented actress, had  accummulated three Oscar nominations.  That was a record number of nominations for a young actress until  2014 when Jennifer Lawrence accomplished the same feat  by the age of twenty-three.

At 8:00 on the morning of November 29, 1981, Natalie's body was pulled from the water near Catalina Island, off the coast of California. 

The previous night, she had partied on their yacht, Splendour, with her husband, actor Robert Wagner.  They were married in 1957, divorced six years later, and remarried in 1972.   Also on board the yacht were their friend, actor Christopher Walken, and Dennis Davern, the boat's captain.

The Los Angeles county coroner ruled her death an accident by drowning and hypothermia and noted that a night of heavy drinking could have caused her to slip and fall into the water.

Not everyone accepted that ruling.  Lana Wood, Natallie's sister and a former Bond girl,  accused  Wagner of killing Natalie in a jealous rage over an alleged affair with Walken. When it was suggested Natalie fell into the water trying to board a dinghy alongside the yacht, Lana said Natalie was a  poor swimmer with a lifelong fear of water, and for her to voluntarily leave the yacht on a dinghy was  implausible.  All three men on board said they thought Natalie had gone to bed and had no idea she was in the water.

The case was reopened in November 2011 after the captain of the boat, Dennis Davern, published a  book titled, GoodbyeNatalie, Goodbye Splendour.  In his book, he admitted he lied to police during the initial investigation and now stated Wagner was responsible for her death.  Davern appeared in a 1992 Geraldo Rivera special, a 2000 Vanity Fair piece, and CNN interview in 2010.

Davern claimed Wagner pushed Natalie away after a drunken brawl and she fell overboard.  He said he wanted to  save her, but Wagner said, “Leave her there. Teach her a lesson.” 

Wagner dismissed Davern's allegations as nothing more than an attempt to sell books through tabloid headlines.

In his 2008 memoir, Pieces of My Heart,  Wagner acknowledged he had a fight with Natalie  that night after Walken went to bed, and that both of them had been drinking heavily.  As for what caused her to fall off the boat, he wrote it was "all conjecture. Nobody knows. There are only two possibilities: either she was trying to get away from the argument, or she was trying to tie the dinghy. But the bottom line is that nobody knows exactly what happened."

"Did I blame myself?," he wrote. "If I had been there, I could have done something. But I wasn't there. I didn't see her. The door was closed; I thought she was belowdecks. I didn't hear anything. But ultimately, a man is responsible for his loved one, and she was my loved one."

After a fresh examination of the original autopsy report, the Los Angeles County Chief Medical Examiner in 2012, amended Natalie's death certificate.  The cause of death was changed from  “accidental drowning” to "drowning and other undetermined factors."

The amended document also states:

. . .the circumstances of how Natalie ended up in the water are "not clearly established;"
. . .some two dozen bruises on her body and an abrasion on her left cheek may have been sustained before she went into the water;
. . .she may have been unconscious when she entered the water.

As of now, the case is still open and unsolved.  Investigators have circumstantial evidence, allegations, and suppositions, but no definitive evidence that Natalie's death was due to foul play.

As for me, I'm undecided.  Maybe they had  a physical altercation on deck, and she went over the side accidentally or aided by an angry, drunken husband.  Perhaps she was so anxious to get away from him, the amount of alcohol she'd consumed overwhelmed her fear of water, and she braved climbing into the dinghy only to lose her balance and wind up in the water.

One thing I'm certain of.  I don't believe we'll ever know for sure what happened on that ill-fated yacht on that dark night off the coast of Catalina.

What do you think?

Earl Staggs ©2016

Earl Staggs earned all Five Star reviews for his novels MEMORY OF A MURDER and JUSTIFIED ACTION and has twice received a Derringer Award for Best Short Story of the Year.  He served as Managing Editor of Futures Mystery Magazine, as President of the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and is a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars. 

He invites any comments via email at earlstaggs@sbcglobal.net

He also invites you to visit his blog site at http://earlwstaggs.wordpress.com to learn more about his novels and stories.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Florida, Paris, Einstein's Lawn, and Wh...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Florida, Paris, Einstein's Lawn, and Wh...: Reported by Jeanne The Thang That Ate My Granddaddy’s Dog by John Calvin Rainey was praised by our reviewer as a fun and funn...


After a long delay Sandi finally got her IVIG done.

News on the MRI was pretty bad. We await word regarding the next steps once they have talked to some specialists.

Chemo is currently planned in two weeks.


While there are power outages across the area and there is tornado damage to our north, we are fine. As the squall line hit here it had weakened a bit so all we got was a lot of rain and lightening with a little wind. Just a normal Texas thunderstorm and nothing more here. We are very glad about that.

I have not made it down the stairs to look at the car yet, but from looking down into the lot everything appears normal. That is a very good thing as we have a trip to the hospital today. Sandi has her IVIG deal and we should learn the MRI results.

I'm exhausted, but that is my normal state of being these days. Between the stress of  the situation here and my worsening health, things are very hard. But, it could be way worse this morning and I am well aware.