2 Rex Stout reviews by CJ Verburg: The Second Confession and Death of a Dude

The Second Confession (Nero Wolfe, #15)The Second Confession by Rex Stout
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An out-of-town adventure for Archie and then — when the case and the women involved spin out of control — for Wolfe. This plot hinges on the Communist threat, which makes it feel dated in a clumsier way than Stout’s nickel phone calls and $10 steak dinners ever do. Still, as always in this series, a gripping and satisfying read.

Death of a Dude (Nero Wolfe, #44)Death of a Dude by Rex Stout
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An adventure at Lily Rowan’s Montana ranch! The setting for me was the greatest fun in this episode of the ever-rereadable Wolfe and Goodwin series. Generally I prefer the mysteries this ace detective team can solve from Wolfe’s Manhattan brownstone; but since Lily is the Queen of Hearts, it’s a pleasure to travel with her and Archie to her most exotic home-away-from-home.

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Review by CJ Verburg of Naomi Klein’s The Battle for Paradise

The Battle For ParadiseThe Battle For Paradise by Naomi Klein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Liked” is the wrong word for a Naomi Klein book. As usual, she does an awesome job of exposing a travesty of rich entitled capitalists exploiting a system they’ve rigged to strip assets and well-being from ordinary citizens — in this case, the storm-battered and serially colonized islands of Puerto Rico. I’d love to believe the small sustainable local infrastructure innovations of local residents can prevail, but it’s a Sisyphean battle. I wish Klein had more explicitly defined the epithet “neoliberal.”

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Review by CJ Verburg: Ellen Kirschman’s Burying Ben: A Dot Meyerhoff Mystery

Burying Ben (A Dot Meyerhoff Mystery)Burying Ben by Ellen Kirschman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A book that opens with the suicide of a sympathetic character is not a book I’d normally expect to like, or maybe even finish. Burying Ben caught me up fast and kept me turning pages straight through to the end. Unexpectedly, it’s an ideal read for this “perfect storm” season of coronavirus, wildfires and hurricanes, political deceit and treachery, when hugging a dear friend might kill you. Nobody (including the narrator) is quite who we think they are, or who they think they are. Kirschman is a deft, engaging writer with a unique advantage: she knows the real world of law enforcement up close, from both the roller-coaster level of cops joking over coffee and five minutes later risking their lives, and the expert-observer level of a clinical psychologist. So this is not a standard story of good guys trying to outwit bad guys and vice versa. The “mystery” doesn’t even really emerge until we understand how the characters’ depths, quirks, pasts, and the diverse pressures they work under became lethal for would-be Officer Ben Gomez. It’s a scary terrain–compelling because it’s authentic. And through the ups and downs Dr. Dot Meyerhoff perseveres, because what else can she do, with human lives and her own future at stake? Highly recommended!

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Spend Your Last Week of Summer on Cape Cod — FREE!

Have you missed those lazy summer afternoons splashing, surfing, and sunbathing at the beach? Long mellow evenings of seafood and tall frosty drinks? We’re here to help!

On Friday, August 28, Boom-Books is giving away CJ Verburg’s 5-star Zapped: an Edgar Rowdey Cape Cod Mystery on Google Play, Apple/iBooks, Kobo, Nook/Barnes&Noble, and Kindle/Amazon. (We’re giving it away, but check before you click — some e-book outlets may charge you a small fee.)

Read a sample of Zapped here.

To stretch out your stretch of summer sleuthing, rejoin Edgar, Lydia, Mudge, and friends in the seaside village of Quansett for Croaked: an Edgar Rowdey Cape Cod Mystery.

Happy end of summer!

Free April Romantic Suspense!

Who knew that as the days grow longer and Spring fills the landscape with flowers, we’d all be indoors?

April 2020 is a wonderful time to expand our horizons virtually. Boom-Books is offering Charisse Howard’s Dark Horseman: Mystery, Adventure, and Romance in Regency Virginia FREE as part of Smashwords’ “Authors Give Back” sale from now until April 20. If you’ve ever loved horses, wept for a heart-breaking loss, or wished you could to time-travel back to Antebellum Virginia, you’ll love this fast-paced full-length story of a strong-minded young woman who must stake her future happiness on an impossible choice. Order Dark Horseman FREE until April 20!

 

Coronavirus: Update

Earlier today we posted “Corona Virus suggestions from Stanford Hospital Board,” which has now been exposed by Stanford Health Care and Mother Jones as a fake press release. Stanford’s actual coronavirus info site is here.

We still want you to keep healthy and happy and reading, so here are the “suggestions” that have been confirmed (or not) by real medical experts.

Tips from us for our readers: When you bring home a book, clean its cover with a disinfectant wipe. Wear gloves to (and inside) the library and on public transit. And turn social isolation into a vacation with our outstanding mysteries, romances, and nonfiction!

1. This coronavirus attaches specifically in the lungs. However, the New York Times reports it also can affect other mucous membranes, starting with the back of the throat.

2. While the CDC still emphasizes fever, cough, and shortness of breath as the main symptoms, Mother Jones cites a not-yet-published study by a group of German researchers suggesting that upper respiratory tract symptoms like runny nose may be more common than previously thought.

3. “If you can breathe fine, do not go to the doctor. Only go if you cannot breathe or are very ill.” — Epidemiologist Loren Rauch, quoted in Mother Jones. If you do go to the doctor, call ahead: they’re swamped!

4. Direct intense heat, such as strong sunlight or a clothes dryer, may kill the virus. By all means, cook your food thoroughly; wash clothes more often than usual; when you’re sequestered at home, relax in the sunshine with a pot of tea. But don’t count on that to keep you safe.

4. If someone sneezes with it, it takes 6+ feet before it drops to the ground and is no longer airborne. If you sneeze with it, sneeze into a tissue and then throw it in the compost bin.

5. How long the virus can survive on any particular kind of surface is not yet known for sure. Wear gloves when you’re out in public. Wash cloth gloves regularly; discard plastic ones. Wash your hands as soon as you get home.

6. Don’t touch your face — your eyes, nose, and mouth are portals for the virus to enter your body.

7. Overall good health is one of the best defenses. Keep your immune system strong: eat judiciously, stay hydrated, get plenty of sleep, and avoid stress as best you can.

8. Drinking water and/or hot liquids will not per se protect you from the virus.

9. Zinc lozenges were indeed recommended by expert James Robb, but not as a “silver bullet.” He writes: “In my experience as a virologist and pathologist, zinc will inhibit the replication of many viruses, including coronaviruses. I expect COVID-19 [the disease caused by the novel coronavirus] will be inhibited similarly, but I have no direct experimental support for this claim.”

FREE for Valentine’s Weekend

Looking for a hot Valentine’s romance?

Click here for your FREE e-copy of Lady Annabelle’s Abduction, #1 in Charisse Howard’s Regency Rakes & Rebels series.

Boom-Books is partnering with The Fussy Librarian and Kindle Direct Publishing to offer this spicy but charming adventure FREE until Sunday, February 16, 2020.

COOL NEW LOOK FOR A STEAMY BAYOU ROMANCE

Lady Barbara & the Buccaneer, #2 in Charisse Howard’s Regency Rakes & Rebels series, has a new cover! Read this colorful Regency story of a pirates’ Mardi Gras on Kindle. Or try the audiobook on Audible, with fast-paced narration by British-American actress Stevie Zimmerman.

       And don’t miss Lady Caroline, the Corsair’s Captive, Regency Rakes & Rebels #3, a suspenseful tale of war between England and France on the high seas: ebook and audiobook (FREE with Audible Escape!)

 

 

Updates on Our Authors

Happy New Year!

What can we look forward to in 2020? Clear vision, everyone claims jokingly. Wouldn’t that be a welcome shift! Meanwhile, zooming in on the book world:

Regency romance author Charisse Howard assures us she’s still thinking hard about her next novel and writing whenever she can. Time, however, is on the side of her other career (classified), which has commanded her full attention ever since she published Regency Rakes & Rebels #3, the heart-wrenching Lady Caroline, The Corsair’s Captive. Good luck on both fronts, Charisse!

Multimedia biographer and mystery author CJ Verburg spent much of 2019 writing and publishing short stories. Congratulations, CJ, on “Birdbrain,” which appears in Fault Lines: Stories by Northern California Crime Writers, and “Peccata Mundy,” in Seascape: Best New England Crime Stories (2019). “Disarmed: an Edgar Rowdey Cape Cod Story” is available free on most ebook platforms ($.99 on Kindle). Next up: CJ’s first story for Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, “Scandal at the Savoy: The Missing Monocle,” due out in early 2020.

For 2020, CJ is putting final touches on her novella Scalped, or The Toastrack Enigma. That’s projected to be #1 in her D. Awdrey-Gore series of mysteries inspired by titles and covers created by her longtime friend and collaborator, the late artist/author Edward Gorey in The Awdrey-Gore Legacy. Next in line: Skewered, or The Pincushion Affair. These six sequels to CJ’s novels Croaked and Zapped (as well as her story “Disarmed”) are meant to debut in parallel with her nonfiction theater biography Edward Gorey’s Art of the Theater. More news on that as it comes in.

Also in the pipeline is #3 in CJ’s Cory Goodwin mystery series, the Barcelona novella Gaudi Knight.

Best wishes from all of us at Boom-Books to all of you authors and readers out there. Remember, whenever you need a fresh look at the world, or a few hours’ escape from it, nothing can match the ease, comfort, and imaginative power of a good book!

In a Nutshell: CJ Verburg Reviews Preet Bharara’s “Doing Justice” & Janet Dawson’s “Till the Old Men Die”

Doing Justice: A Prosecutor's Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of LawDoing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law by Preet Bharara
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was originally meant as an experienced-based guide for up-and-coming lawyers, particularly prosecutors. Bharara’s distinguished career makes him a suitable author for it, and depicts him as a thoughtful, methodical, circumspect player in a complicated system. It’s well written and the cases he describes are well chosen. I enjoyed it, but the distinctions he draws between the different kinds of challenges a prosecutor faces became too subtle for me to feel, after 200+ pages, that I was still learning useful information.

Doing Justice does suggest Preet Bharara would be an admirable candidate for any job he may be up for in future, such as Attorney General of the United States.

Till the Old Men Die (Jeri Howard Mystery, #2)Till the Old Men Die by Janet Dawson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you devour mysteries, this is a good one, especially if you’re familiar with the San Francisco Bay area. The plot is intriguing & the writing is capable. I particularly enjoyed following sleuth Jeri Howard into the local Philippine community. If I were reading this book on an airplane I’d have finished it. As it was, squeezing it in between other priorities, I set it aside (repeatedly), first because my sense of geography isn’t strong enough for me to care what roads Howard takes to get to what destinations, & second, because I’ve read (and written) so much crime fiction that at this point I’m looking to be deeply engaged by a distinctive plot &/or characters, not just to take an entertaining break from reality.

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A Study in Scarlet by A.C. Doyle; Clara & Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland: Reviews by CJ Verburg

A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes, #1)A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

Dr. John Watson meets Sherlock Holmes for the first time: 2 young men just starting out, each looking for a flat-mate, little suspect that Holmes’s lab experiments & Watson’s budding medical practice will soon be overshadowed by their shared adventures. I very much enjoyed that part of the book. But once the detecting gets under way, Doyle shifts to an American back story which felt peripheral as well as unrealistically lurid.

Clara and Mr. TiffanyClara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland

One of those books I was very curious & hopeful about, but which didn’t get 3-dimensional enough for me to keep reading. Historical novels are hard to write! Although this one is full of plausible, interesting information about the characters, setting, & period, it felt more like a cross between a dissertation & a second draft than a believable story.

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