Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Hurricane Journal, Part Two.

Saturday, October 1. Day 11. If I didn't have this journal, I wouldn't know it's October. We load up on gasoline. Part of the trick is finding the right station. I see stations with crazy long lines. I find one that takes only 35 minutes.
Now with cash we go to a grocery store and buy some fresh fruit, bread and other basics.
While driving my wife's cell phone snags a signal for a moment. She sends a text message to a query from my family. She has to fight the Spanish auto-correct to get the English words: We are life. We lose the signal.
We go to Domino's pizza for lunch. Internet! It seems too remarkable to be true. I send off some emails and tremulously read about the rest of the world. The rest of the world still exists.
Donald Trump is fighting with the mayor of San Juan. Trump says FEMA is doing a great job and it's only the lying press that says otherwise. Trump says the mayor expects the federal government to do everything, insulting all of the work we've been doing here. Other than the army and lines for ice, I haven't seen the federal government doing anything here. And there is an absolute lack of coordination of information.
Trump is supposed to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday (Day 14). He has spent years insulting Latinos and his popularity here is zilch.
My sister writes back offering to help us. I don't know what to say. If she sends money to my bank, will I be able to access it? I guess I have checks. Maybe I can find a solar power installer open so I don't have to go through months of no electricity. Maybe they have months-long waiting lists.
We visit Mercedita, the local airport, about the size you'd expect from a town with nearly 200,000. They don't know when flights will resume. San Juan has very limited flights. We are told of a cruise ship that was mobbed by people desperate to escape to Florida, somewhere not destroyed by the storm.
I survived Hurricane Andrew in Florida. Very bad, but there was somewhere to go. Just a little north and you got to Fort Lauderdale, where the hurricane was only a tropical storm and everything was like before.
There is no way off the island.
My son Carlos has gone crazy over UNO, playing for hours with the neighbor kid.
The water has disappeared again.
I'm told my neighbor's generator burned out. He's spending the afternoon to repair it. It starts up sounding smooth and survives several hours before firing off a round of explosions and dying.

Sunday, October 2. Day 12. Some water in the morning. We go back to Domino's for lunch, figuring we will get internet again. Nothing, although the cellular makes a connection.
Domino's has a long list of what they don't have. What they do have is thin pizza with a choice of three ingredients. No water, two choices of soda.
I've noticed a lot of this recently. Places are open but they will sell you only what you don't want to buy. Restaurants have two items on their menus.
My neighbor fights his generator but it only makes it through about three minutes of farting. I learn this is his second generator: he gave up on his first.

Monday, October 3. Day 13. Major goal of the day: refills on medicines. We have three to five days remaining. Walgreen's has "its system down." A group is waiting for the system to return. I'm told they've been waiting three hours. This wouldn't work for everyone because you have to pay in cash: no insurance can be contacted.
I try another pharmacy. This one informs me that without the system of insurance to contact the insurance, the prescription is $277.50, cash. I tell them I can't pay for it. They agree to sell it to me for the price it was the last time with insurance but that I will have to pay the difference if the insurance later declines. With insurance: $5.00.
The generator at the medical school has been out for twenty-four hours before being fixed. All of the scientific specimens are at risk of being lost. The school has also been the place where we've been recharging our electronics which is something we have to skip.
My neighbor now has a small, quiet generator. It purrs softly. He has electricity. Real, uninterruptable electricity.
To see a movie, we gather around a laptop computer and watch "Die Hard" using its battery.

Tuesday, October 4. Day 14. I see a newspaper. Trump is to visit Puerto Rico today. Fifty-some people slaughtered in Las Vegas.
We come to an intersection with no police guiding traffic. It takes me a moment to realize that it has a working traffic signal.
There are a lot of dead iguanas, killed while crossing the roads. They live in trees and so many of their homes are trashed.
We watch "Die Hard 2." A trail of gasoline on fire moves faster than a jet and can fly into the air to explode it.
Horribly hot night. Humidity, no breeze.

Wednesday, October 5. Day 15. Since I counted the storm as Day One, this means two weeks have passed. That one time we had internet, for all of thirty minutes has spoiled me. I sent out a general email to my family, thinking I would communicate again soon. I'm sure there must be internet somewhere. I am writing this journal with the notion of posting it, but I wonder when that will be.
Cell phone service is extremely spotty. Cars line the roadside in areas where their cell phones work, their emergency lights blinking.
The car, with air conditioning, is a much more pleasant place to be than in the house.
Trump threw paper towels to hurricane victims. If he had thrown a generator I would have jumped out and caught it.

Thursday, October 6. Day 16. We go back to WalMart and find a butane grill for cheap, thinking we can make some hot meals. No butane. Anywhere. We still haven't found "D" batteries for our portable fan. They have some generators, $800. That's more than I have on me or in the bank. I'm supposed to be paid tomorrow, but will the automatic deposit work?
We get in the wrong line and instead of arriving to pay at a register, find that we are lined up for ice. The register at the second line closes on us. The third line works.
We pass a gas station with only four cars waiting. We pull up and wait. Only 10 minutes.
Die Hard 3: Die or Die Trying.

Friday, October 7. Day 17. Worst day ever. I go to work to fix up my office. We have a meeting scheduled for Monday to discuss what we are going to do with the semester. My wife and son arrive at the school, weeping. It seems that when I left for work this morning, I ran over Max, one of our dogs. He's dead.
I had no idea I hit him. No bump, no yelp. I arrange the disposal of his body and clean up some of the blood.
My family want another dog to replace him, seemingly immediately. I would prefer time to mourn. They win. We make a visit to Maria Rivera. We call her Maria de los Perros. She rescues strays and makes a home for them. Twenty live in her house and she has another eighty at an old house in the mountains. She is at her house and we will return tomorrow to go to her dog refuge.

Saturday, October 8. Day 18. We go on a pilgrimage to Maria de los Perros's dog sanctuary. The hurricane has wiped out the last quarter mile of the way there and we have to park and march uphill, carrying water for the dogs. Mudslides cover part of the road. Other parts were washed away leaving a long drop down to the river. Some trees crashed over the fence and several dogs have escaped.
Maria has in mind for us a friendly dog who has been at the compound for four years without finding a home. It is part Shih-Tzu, half-mutt, a Shmutt-zu. Sounds Yiddish. The dog is named Frijolitos, "Beans." She was discovered abandoned when she was tiny enough to be scavenging a meal with her head in a can of beans.
She takes instantly to Carlos, very affectionate. There are several other candidates but we settle on Beans.
We take her home and give her a good scrubbing. She sleeps with Carlos.

Sunday, October 9. Day 19.
I didn't write a post for this day, and now, looking back, two days later, I can't think of a thing that happened.

Monday, October 10. Day 20.
The faculty meet to discuss how to finish the semester. Many options are still open: the students going to Florida or Missouri and the teachers teaching them there. We may continue through December and have final exams in January.
My students, second year, are particularly vulnerable. We have a strict schedule to maintain to prepare the students for the Medical Board exams.
Their classroom lost its roof and is completely trashed. A schedule may include weekend classes.
A main problem is communication. No phone and no internet. I suggest a central bulletin board where we post messages. We discuss PTSD in students and faculty. 
I let out a short scream to summarize my perspective.
My office has internet for a few hours. I read up about the world.
Six p.m., the lights turn on in my neighborhood. Most of the neighbors are outside their houses and break into applause.
Seven p.m. the electricity disappears.
Eight-thirty, it returns. We sleep with air conditioner and fan.

Tuesday, October 11. Day 21.
I meet with my department faculty to plan how we are going to deliver lectures given different possibilities of internet access (we posted videos and notes for the students that were essential to the lectures).
We put together a schedule for the next few weeks using time allotted to my class.
Twelve p.m., internet access, just when my wife and son meet me for lunch. When I return, the electricity goes out for the school and I sit in the dark.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Hurricane Journal

I am composing this journal as we go along but I don't know when I'll be able to post it. Excuse the rough editing. I've seen internet anywhere once in the last three weeks and then for thirty minutes. When you see this, it will mean I found internet somewhere again and had a chance to post it. I apologize to all those I've not been able to contact.

Monday, September 18. Zero Minus Two. My wife finds passage on the internet, two tickets to Panama for herself and our ten year old son with the hopes of escaping the storm altogether. I don't have the credit available on my card to buy the tickets. I call the credit card company to ask if I can pay using my savings account. No, I'm told. I ask them for an extension on my credit and they transfer me: to fraud. Trying again, this time I'm connected to the right department. After a woman takes all of my information, she says our credit will be extended: in five days. She says she will send a new card by mail. I tell her there won't be mail in five days and cancel the extension.

Tuesday, September 19. Zero Minus One: Most stores are closed, the rest will be closed by noon. We've gathered up supplies and prepare to brave it out in my house. Five five-gallon tanks of fresh water, much more water for washing up. Perishables in the freezer with two bags of ice. Canned goods, nacho chips, other ready-to-eat food. I grab a couple of bags of popped popcorn, figuring that we won't be able to pop any any time soon.
We have an expensive flashlight that is supposed to last for 39 hours before recharging. We have candles. We have extra batteries for the radio and flashlights.
I believe we are ready.
Like most houses in Puerto Rico, ours is built like a bunker: cement walls, flat roof. Luis Ferré, ex-governor, cement manufacturer and philanthropist, preached the importance of build tough housing to survive hurricanes and got rich doing it. However, if we lose our roof, the cement walls will be little comfort.
Final NHC report at 11 p.m.. Maria is 165 mph with possible strengthening and is expected to make landfall over the southeastern part of the island and slice across the whole of the island, hurricane everywhere. It is expected to pass north of Ponce at approximately 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Ponce is a moderate-sized town, about 180,000 people sixty driving miles from San Juan. We are on the south coast.

Wednesday, September 20. Day One. Three in the morning. We are awakened by furious gusts. Soon, the electricity cuts off. My wife notes that she has no cellular service. This surprises me, seems too early. And why the cellular? Four a.m., the winds have picked up to a constant tropical storm force. Six a.m., with "daylight" we can look out the front windows and see the wind whipping the trees. Hurricane force. Eleven a.m., the hurricane is at maximum force, winds still coming from the north. A huge tree topples on to the neighbor's house. The tree in front of our house has lost half of its height from broken limbs. A tree in the vacant lot in back of our house is lashing our roof, making loud banging sounds. I'm afraid the back room might be breached and move everything out.
We have two street-rescue dogs, both Chihuahua-miscellaneous mixes, Max and Chloe. Max is the kind who feigns valor who has used his voice to protect from many mailmen-assassins. He is part kangaroo and loves to jump on to the sofa cushions up to the back of the sofa and then fly through the air. Chloe spins in worried circles, always counterclockwise. Both are terrified and huddle close to us.
At about 1 p.m., the winds have died down, an unnatural drop-off. The eye? Could it have come here? My neighbor shouts to me that he needs my ladder. He climbs to his roof and unstops the drains which are clogged with leaves. I do the same on my house. A flat roof, there is about six inches of standing water. The drain pipes releases water in explosive gushes.
The wind returns, coming from the south. It continues with hurricane force for about three more hours. Then comes tropical force winds with frightening gusts. On this part of the island, I would estimate about four to six inches of rain: nothing terrible.
At six p.m., shortly before dark, we go out to explore. The street connecting to ours is a jungle, so many toppled trees that we have fight our way through to make a path and then go on all fours to crawl beneath toppled trunks. We make our way to the main drag and then head back.
Night falls. We eat bologna sandwiches for dinner.
We discover the nacho cheese dip has jalapeños. The bags of popcorn are jalapeño-flavored. It seems that the last things which I'd grabbed from the store shelves were those with jalapeños.
Remarkably, the water is working and we take drip-showers.
We moved my son's mattress to our bedroom. His room doesn't have any kind of breeze. We barely do, even with the windows open.
Our next door neighbor has an emergency generator which roars like a jet engine and then goes into a coughing fit. It fires off several rounds of M-80s and then dies. He tells us he turned it off because it was too loud to allow sleep.

Thursday, September 21. Day 2. The water stopped. We designate a wastebasket as the chamberpot. We take showers using a bucket and a bowl.
No electricity, no cellular, no phone, no internet. No communication with the rest of the world. One radio station, AM, crackles and pops and talks about the hurricane and gives no useful information.
My wife, Ana, is distressed that maybe she will not be able to get her art to Florida in time for an exhibition.
We go out to explore. Weaving our car between fallen trees we find that, not only are the stop lights not working, most of them are not there. The poles are gone and the wiring is in a tangle across the street.
The fire station looks fine. The first floor business across the street from it has lost its windows, glass and aluminum frames.
Most of the major streets are blocked by fallen poles or trees. The few drivers who have been on the road have worked out the puzzle of which streets are clear enough and we can follow their muddy tracks. An auto parts store has lost its wall. A church is completely trashed.
I see the guard in front of my work, the university. Some buildings are okay, some were damaged.
A huge tree behind a statue commemorating the Taino Indians has fallen. I snap a photo.
At five p.m., we find a restaurant with a generator. The owner is cooking and selling his perishable foods. An hour's wait and we snag the last pizza.
My neighbor has been tinkering with his generator and tonight it sounds like killer bees attacking a nuclear power plant. The bees go silent and die.

Friday, September 22. Day 3. I drive into a gas station that's open. It doesn't have gas and has most of its foods cleaned out. I buy a Diet Coke and a bag of bubblegum. My family has a bubble blowing contest with the next door neighbor kid, who wins.
I clean out all of the broken branches from the trees in front and in back of our house. I have only a handsaw, but it's a well-made one and the effort is good exercise.
I pull a fan out of the back of a scrapped desktop computer. I attach it to a 9-volt battery and hold it front of my face. It works and I have a breeze for about fifteen minutes before the battery dies.
Exploring we find that WalMart is open. A forty-minute line, cash only. An employee personally escorts us as we shop. We buy ice, fruit, some items that are moderately perishable such as bologna. I figure the ice will keep the bologna edible. They have portable fans, D batteries. I buy one but they don't have D batteries. No one does.
A trickle of water today. It shuts off by nightfall.

Saturday, September 23. Day 4. Disorienting. Still no communication with the outside world. No cellular, no phone of any kind. No news. Now there are many more radio stations, but they are maddening in that they say nothing. Various people over the airways describing their plights. They have taken up making pleas to whoever can talk to the outside world, telling them to call families in the States or wherever and provide names and numbers. A man rants that there is no way all of the cellular service and internet could go out unless it was a conspiracy. Donald Trump is using Puerto Rico as a guinea pig to test his future plans for information blackout.
No one has working phones and yet the radio regularly gives out emergency phone numbers.
No cloud cover tonight. Without electricity I was told to expect a remarkable display of stars. I see hundreds. I was promised billions and billions.

Sunday, September 24. Day 5. Have I mentioned our neighbors are great? We drop by on one another bringing snacks and morale. Come evening, groups cluster in the cool evening air and chat. A stone's throw away (–literally, a few year's back we had a problem with someone chucking stones over the wall), there is a massive low-income housing project. It is vacant. I suppose they are all in government shelters. Who wants to pass their time in apartment boxes without electricity? I wonder about those who live on upper floors of buildings, no elevators. I hear few generators. In my middle class cul-de-sac, we have exactly thirty houses and three have generators.
My neighbor's generator tonight sounds much quieter: like a Harley convention. It sputters and fires bullets. It dies.

Monday, September 25. Day 6. I wonder about FEMA. I guess they are running shelters. I don't see much of them present. I see quarter-mile long lines of people waiting for ice. I do see a lot of locals cutting up trees in the roads along with the Army Reserve. The police have to act as traffic cops at every major intersection. I don't see any car accidents, probably because everyone is looking every direction at once while driving. I also suspect a relative lack of crime. I don't hear police car sirens as often as before the hurricane and few gunshots.
We wash clothes by hand and hang them out to dry.
I work at the Ponce University of Health Sciences. I don't know how we are going to continue the semester. The medical students need to be prepared for the boards, not just given shadow puppet shows as lectures (if we had electricity for light to make the shadows).
Volunteers including me and my son go around cleaning up the damage to the school. The building with the new neuroscience laboratories is trashed: it lost its roof. A half-million dollars and they moved in Friday before the storm.
My school has a generator, most importantly to preserve valuable biological specimens. They are having trouble finding diesel and are working the generator ten hours on, ten hours off. I go to my lab to recharge devices with rechargeable batteries.
I've given up on finding ice and tossed the perishables from the freezer which now smells bad. 
The water is on with enough strength to take a shower in the shower.
My neighbor's generator sounds like a raid by Pancho Villa.

Tuesday, September 26. Day 7. I drive my family over to visit friends. Don't have to call ahead, no one has a phone. My gas gauge tells me I have 69 miles remaining so I decide today's the day to get gasoline. I tell my wife I'll be back in two hours. After two hours, I can see the station at the end of the line. After four hours, I turn the corner. After five hours I pull in. Cash only. While waiting in my car (air-conditioning on!) I finished the final two hundred pages of a Len Deighton novel and I am eighty pages into another.
I have twenty dollars remaining. I meet someone else who tells me they spent only two hours waiting for gas at a different station.
I find a newspaper, the first time in a week having outside news. (I've listened for hours to radio and there is nothing approaching coherent news.) Hurricane force winds have damaged all of Puerto Rico. Tens of billions of dollars in a place that lives with bankruptcy from not being able to pay tens of billions of bonds. 95% are without electricity or cell phone. Months before electricity will return. Months of these long dark nights. The newspaper includes basketball news but nothing of the baseball standings.
We find a Burger King open. Cash only. They get the order wrong and I protest. When I look at the receipt I realize I don't have money to pay for the correct order. I tell them that and not to change the order to the correct one. They take pity on us and bring the missing hamburger, the one I didn't pay for, to our table. 
While driving home we see a line outside an ATM machine. Those waiting tell us that the machine is going to open in 30 minutes at 6 p.m.. We join them. Others come and the line becomes hundreds long. Six p.m. passes. We wait ten more minutes and then give up, figuring that we'd been suckered by a rumor.
My neighbor's generator sounds like elephants tap-dancing on firecrackers.

Wednesday, September 27. Day 8. My goal today is to find an open bank or ATM. I have two dollars on me and most everywhere demands cash only. I've heard that my bank will open. I pass WalMart and notice their lot is nearly full. It isn't for WalMart, it's for the nearby bank.
I have an idea: I know where my bank has two branches, one across the street from the other. Wouldn't that divide any line in two? I pack water, an umbrella for the sun and a book to read.
The line at the bank isn't horrendous and even better, nearly the entire passage is in the shade. It only took 50 minutes. The bank provided a maximum of $100 and said I could take a hundred more out tomorrow.
Tonight the generator next door sounds like early rocket launches from Cape Canaveral. It blasts out pops before experiencing mission failure.

Thursday, September 28. Day 9. I go back to the bank with high hopes and no umbrella for the sun, after all, yesterday I had to wait less than an hour and mostly in the shade. This branch is closed. The other nearby one has a long line and hours in the sun.
Before going back to the house to get an umbrella to protect me from the sun, I stop at the nearby K-Mart which has just re-opened. I find some size C batteries and also buy a mosquito screen to hang over our front door. Keeping the doors and windows open is a must at night to catch whatever little breeze. The C batteries will operate our boom box, so we won't have to rely only on the pathetic short-wave, AM-FM radio. Cash only. They take all but two dollars. It is 1 p.m. and I believe plenty of time to get some money from the bank.
I get an umbrella and camp out in front of the bank. After two and a half hours, a bank employee announces they will be open for fifteen more minutes. I count 28 people still ahead of me, and I think I might have luck. There are a hundred behind me. Two minutes pass and the bank teller comes out and says there will be five more minutes.
I surrender.
At home, my wife asks me why I blew all of the money at Kmart. I blow up at her yelling it's because I'm stupid. My son, surprised by the outburst runs to his room and cries.
I try to change a five gallon tank of drinking water and lose hold of the bottle, breaking it and starting a minor flood. Ana's paintings are caught in the flood.
My neighbor has been tinkering with his generator all afternoon. Now it sounds like a Rocket '88: much quieter than any previous incarnations. It purrs along for several hours and then begins popping and dies.
About midnight, I hear his truck turn on. He is sleeping in the air-conditioning of his truck.

Friday, September 30. Day 10. My goal today is to get money from the bank. I have money in the bank. It is mine if I can get it. I am a hunter, a caveman. I must chase down the money for my family. I bring an umbrella for the sun and some water. It is a hot day, no clouds. I get in a line behind about four hundred people, this time starting at 10:30 a.m.
I finish the water in the first hour. There are many elderly people and I wonder how they can survive this wait. We talk to each other. We agree that we have money in the bank and it must be more difficult for the poor. Or maybe, since we can't get our money, we are the poor.
Two hours have passed. In spite of the umbrella, I believe I am getting sunburnt, reflection off of the asphalt. People drop emptied soda cans wherever and they are swarmed by bees. All of the flowers have blown away.
I have the physique of Donald Trump, tall and portly. I also suffer from the heartbreak of tiny hands. The Puerto Rican elderly are thin and tough: beef jerky made human.
Three hours pass. Still about 100 people in front of me. I am dehydrated. I lean against a palm tree while others save my place. Nice folks. I advise one on getting into medical school.
Four hours pass. The line seems to be moving more slowly. I count 58 people ahead of me. Maybe it was a jinx to count: the bank announces they are shutting down early.
I go home. I am exhausted and nearly in heat shock. I climb into bed and sleep.
At five p.m. my wife tells me that she heard of a grocery store that allows you to pay with ATM. We drive there to find it is closed.
On the way home, we pass an ATM with about 30 people in front of it. I think that this is due to another rumor that it is going to open. My wife convinces me to investigate. It is giving out money, the maximum, $500. I'm sure it is going to close before I get to the front of the line. Success. It is 6:30 p.m., dark-dark. We see a line at a Burger King drive-thru and celebrate with warm food. When we return past the ATM we see hundreds waiting in the dark.

Note: I have more, I'll try to edit and post soon. No electricity, no internet, spotty cell phone (October 8).

Part Two.

Monday, September 18, 2017

October: National Don't Write a Novel Month


National Don't Write a Novel Month


The people over at National Novel Writing Month advocate that you write a novel over the course of November. Their motto is: The World Needs Your Novel. According to their website, over 500,000 participated in this event in 2015 alone. A word count of 50,000 words says your novel is done.

Here are the reasons to write a novel in one month:

  1. James Patterson never takes more than a month to write a novel.

In contrast, here are the reasons to NOT write a novel in a month.

  This is a lie --> The World Needs Your Novel. <-- This is a lie.

The world does not need 500,000 novel novels each with 50,000 words. Writing agents and editors don't need 500,000 queries come December. Self-publishing venues DO NEED 500,000 novels but your relatives don't need ten copies each of  your quickly-crafted output.


My Vision.

The world needs well-written novels. For this reason, I am launching October as "Don't Write A Novel Month." Don't-Wa-No-Mo. Join over 320 million Americans and over 7.4 billion people worldwide who are not writing a novel in October.

Let's get this question out of the way: What if I am already writing a novel? Continue. Just don't start and finish a novel during October.

Writing Is a Serious Endeavor and Novels Are Not the Place to Start.

I love short novels. I advocate for them. The Great Gatsby, Slaughterhouse Five, The Daughter of Time, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and many others hover around the 50,000 word mark.

These novels did not take a month to write and no novel should be written in a month. Among writing projects, a novel is not the place to start. Stanley Ellin took a month to write each of his short stories and the patience and love shows. I enjoyed Stanely Ellin's short stories so much, I accidentally bought two short story collections by Stanley Elkin by mistake. (Idea: Change my name to James Puttersen.)

So you want to be a novelist.


Writing is a craft. It is not learned in a month or a year. A novelist is a cabinet-maker. With years of practice and dedication, you can make a cabinet that looks like this:

Fine craftsmanship

Or you can be proud of your IKEA I-can-slap-cork-boards-together skills.



Or you can come up with this.


Why Doesn't Mine Look Like The Picture?

But, you say, writing a novel isn't like making a cabinet: it's like constructing a building. You can take your time and with diligence and practice and more than a month's worth of effort you can design this building.


Or you can take a month and come up with this.

New Windows for an Old Building

Or this:


The key problem: Americans are taught they are special. Every advertisement, every attentive lie tells them the individual matters. Therefore, the individual concludes: what I say must also be important.

Alright, you do matter. But mattering is not a talent, and mattering is not even an accomplishment. (I was-a born in the USA! I nailed that landing!) Having something to say is not a talent. Saying it well is a talent. Writing is a talent. Learning a craft takes time and once that craft is learned, practicing it takes time. Promoting writing a novel in one month is like advocating a two-day health plan or sixty-second sex.

Poor writing is pollution. It stings the eyes. It interferes with the inhalation of life-giving beautiful prose. It clutters the mind. It creates a wasteland of unedited books that spray like skunk farts on the body of literature. It convinces its readers, victims, all of them, that literature is painful or boring to read. It insults those who take the craft seriously.

The challenge to write-a-lot is a poorly conceived proposition. Write well. Practice and in time you can express those stories locked inside you.

Don't write a novel in October. And, if I haven't yet convinced you of abandoning the one-month idea altogether, you can always write a novel in November.


Martin Hill Ortiz is the author of Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press.



Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press

Never Kill A Friend is available for purchase in hard cover format and as an ebook.
The story follows Shelley Krieg, an African-American detective for the Washington DC Metro PD as she tries to undo a wrong which sent an innocent teenager to prison.

Hard cover: Amazon US
Kindle: Amazon US
Hard cover: Amazon UK
Kindle: Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble 

Martin Hill Ortiz is also the author of A Predator's Game. His epic poem, Two Mistakes, recently won second place in the Margaret Reid/Tom Howard Poetry Competition. He can be contacted at mdhillortiz@gmail.com.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Mystery Podcasts at Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine

EQMM Podcasts, listed by author and linked.

Updated with recent podcasts, September, 2017.

Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, 76 years and counting, is the premium venue for short mystery fiction. They maintain a podcast with a Murderer's Row of murder-minded authors, now up to 95 entries with 99 stories. The episodes are listed below, sorted by author's last name. 

For those who went through my last post for EQMM podcasts, the more recent entries are marked with an asterisk. Although many of the authors are award-winners, I mentioned awards only for those tied to the specific story in question. In my previous post, the podcasts from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine were similarly indexed and linked.


Allyn, Doug. "Famous Last Words." From EQMM, November, 2009. 42 minutes.
Allyn, Doug. "Stone Cold Christmas." From EQMM January 2007. 44 minutes.
Andrews, Donna. "Normal." From EQMM, May, 2011. 34 minutes.
Anthony, Meredith. "Murder at an Ad Agency." From EQMM, March/April, 2013. 39 minutes.
Bailey, Frankie Y. "In Her Fashion." From EQMM, July, 2014. 51 minutes.
Barnard, Robert. "Rogue's Gallery." From EQMM, March, 2003. 27 minutes.
Benedict, Laura. "The Erstwhile Groom." From EQMM, September/October 2007. 35 minutes.

Brett, Simon. "Work Experience." From EQMM, September/October, 2011. 30 minutes.
Cleeves, Ann. "The Harmless Pursuits of Archibald Stamp." From EQMM, February, 1995. 22 minutes.
Cline, Eric. "Two Dwarves and Eight Chained Ourang-Outangs." From EQMM, June, 2011. 31 minutes.
Cody, Liza. See Lovesey, Peter.
Collins, Max Allan. See Spillane, Mickey.
Cooper, Mike. "Whiz Bang." From EQMM, September/October, 2011. 38 minutes.
Crider, Bill. "The Case of the Headless Man."  From EQMM, March, 1998. 35 minutes.
Dana, Cameron. "Disarming." From EQMM, June, 2011. 35 minutes.
Davidson, Hilary. "Hedge Hog." From EQMM, September/October, 2011. With author interview. 69 minutes.
Dean, David. "Ibrahim’s Eyes." From EQMM, June, 2007. 64 minutes.
Dean, David. See also: Harvey, John.
Dean, Zoë Z. "Getaway Girl." From EQMM, November, 2014. Winner of Robert L. Fish award. 29 minutes.

Dhooge, Bavo. "Stinking Plaster" From EQMM September/October 2011. 31 minutes.

DuBois, Brendan. "Breaking the Box." From EQMM, September/October, 2013. 32 minutes.
*DuBois, Brendan. "The Lake Tenant." From EQMM, November, 2015. 32 minutes. Annual Readers Award.
*Edwards, Helena. "If Anything Happens to Me." From EQMM, June, 2015. 18 minutes. Short-listed for the Margery Allingham Short Story Competition.
Edwards, Martin. "No Flowers." From EQMM, May, 2012. 34 minutes.
Faherty, Terence. "No Mystery." From EQMM, March/April, 2011 EQMM. 24 minutes.
*Flores, E. Gabriel. "The Truth of the Moment." From EQMM, December, 2016. 27 minutes. Robert L. Fish Memorial Award.
Fredrickson, Jack. "The Brick Thing." From EQMM, September/October, 2002. 28 minutes.
*Goodrich, Joseph. "The Ten-Cent Murder." From EQMM, August, 2016. 26 minutes.
Gorman, Ed. "Comeback." From EQMM, March/April 2009. 23 minutes.
Hall, Parnell. "The Petty-Cash Killing." From EQMM, November, 1999. 39 minutes.
Harris, Charlaine. "Dead Giveaway." From EQMM, December 2001. Also an interview with the author. 42 minutes.
Hart, Carolyn. "Spooked." From EQMM, March 1999. Includes panel interview with Maron, Hart and Pickard. 89 minutes.

Three stories together in one podcast: 26 minutes.
Harvey, John. "Ghosts." From EQMM, September/October, 2009.
Dean, David. "Awake." From EQMM, July, 2009.
Raines, Dave. "Suitcase in Slow Time." From EQMM, June, 2009.

Herron, Mick. "Remote Control." From EQMM, September/October, 2007. 24 minutes.


The Edward Hoch series of locked room mysteries are from a 1970s radio dramatizations produced by Dave Amaral.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of Cell 16." Dramatization. 27 minutes. From EQMM, March 1977.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Christmas Steeple." Dramatization. From EQMM, January, 1977. 27 minutes
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Country Inn." Dramatization. From EQMM, September, 1977. 28 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Covered Bridge." Dramatization. From EQMM, December, 1974. 29 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Haunted Bandstand." Dramatization. From EQMM, January 1976. 28 minutes.

Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Little Red Schoolhouse." Dramatization. From EQMM, September, 1976. 27 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Lobster Shack." Dramatization. 27 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Locked Caboose." Dramatization. From EQMM, May, 1976. 27 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Old Gristmill." Dramatization. From EQMM in the March 1975. 27 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Old Oak Tree." Dramatization. From EQMM, July, 1978. 27 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Time Capsule." Dramatization. Originally published as "The Problem of the County Fair," in EQMM, February, 1978. 28 minutes.
Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Voting Booth." Dramatization. From EQMM, December, 1977. 28 minutes.
*Hoch, Edward D. "The Problem of the Whispering House." Dramatization of a story appearing in EQMM, April, 1979. 28 minutes.

*Hochstein, Peter. "The Client, the Cat, the Wife, and the Autopsy." From EQMM, January/February 2017. 30 minutes.
Hockensmith, Steve. "Dear Doctor Watson." From EQMM, February 2007. 35 minutes.
Hockensmith, Steve. "Fruitcake." From EQMM, January, 2003. 25 minutes.
Hockensmith, Steve. "Special Delivery." From EQMM, January, 2002. 32 minutes.
Howard, Clark. "Horn Man." From EQMM, June, 1980. 1981 Poe Award for Best Short Story. 38 minutes.
Howe, Melodie Johnson. "The Talking Dead." Originally published, EQMM, June 2003. 37 minutes.
Ingram, David. "A Good Man of Business." From EQMM, January, 2011. 37 minutes.
*Johnson, Russell W. "Chung Ling Soo's Greatest Trick." From EQMM, January, 2015. 29 minutes. Robert L. Fish Award winner.
Kelner, Toni L.P. "The Pirate's Debt." From EQMM, August, 2009. 76 minutes.
*Kemelman, Harry. "The Nine Mile Walk." From EQMM, April, 1947. One of my all-time favorite mystery stories. 22 minutes.
Law, Janice. "Star of the Silver Screen." From EQMM, December, 1996. 28 minutes.
Levinson, Robert S. "The Girl in the Golden Gown." From EQMM March/April 2010. 36 minutes.
Lewin, Michael Z. See Lovesey, Peter.

Three stories in one podcast: Three authors compose stories from one newspaper article. 73 minutes.
Lovesey, Peter. "Say That Again."
Cody, Liza. "The Old Story."
Lewin, Michael Z. "Wheeze."

Lutz, John. "Safe and Loft." From EQMM, March/April 2008. 32 minutes.
Maffini, Mary Jane. "So Much in Common." From EQMM September/October 2010. Read by Maffini and James Lincoln Warrne. Winner of the Agatha Award for Best Short Story. 34 minutes.
*Malliet, G.M. "The Oxford Tarts." From EQMM, March/April, 2017. 27 minutes.
*Manfredo, Lou. "Rizzo’s Good Cop." From EQMM, December, 2015. 68 minutes. Readers Award.
Marks, Paul D. "Howling at the Moon." From EQMM, November 2014. 28 minutes.
*Marks, Paul D. "Ghosts of Bunker Hill." From EQMM, December, 2016. 42 minutes. Readers Award.
Maron, Margaret. "Virgo in Sapphires." From EQMM, December, 2001. Includes panel interview with Maron, Hart and Pickard. 66 minutes.
Milchman, Jenny. "The Closet." From EQMM, November, 2012. 35 minutes.
Moran, Terrie Farley. "Fontaine House." From EQMM, August, 2012. 46 minutes.
Muller, Marcia and Pronzini, Bill. "The Chatelaine Bag." From EQMM, June, 2011. 38 minutes.
Oates, Joyce Carol. "The Fruit Cellar." From EQMM, March/April, 2004. 20 minutes.
Pachter, Josh. "The Night of Power." Originally appeared in EQMM September, 1986. 42 minutes.
Pachter, Josh. "Won't You Come Out Tonight?" From EQMM, March, 2004. 26 minutes.
Phelan, Twist. "Floored." From EQMM, June 2008. 25 minutes.
Pickard, Nancy. "Ms. Grimshank Regrets." From EQMM, May, 2008. Panel interview with Maron, Hart and Pickard. 59 minutes.
Pronzini, Bill. See Muller, Marcia.
Pullen, Karen. "Brea’s Tale." From EQMM, January, 2012. 27 minutes.

Queen, Ellery. "The Adventure of 'The Two-Headed Dog.'" From The Adventures of Ellery Queen (1934). 61 minutes.
Queen, Ellery. "A Lump of Sugar." Dramatization. From EQMM, February, 1953. 9 minutes.
Queen, Ellery. "The Myna Birds." A dramatization of the short story, Cut, Cut, Cut. From EQMM, September, 1956. 12 minutes.
*Queen, Ellery. "The Adventure of the Man Who Could Double the Size of Diamonds." From The Adventures of Ellery Queen radio series of the thirties and forties and reprinted in EQMM in May, 1943 and August, 2005. 34 minutes.
*Queen, Ellery. "The Adventure of the Seven Black Cats." First published in 1934 in the short story collection, The Adventures of Ellery Queen. 57 minutes.

Raines, Dave. See Harvey, John.
Rozan, S.J. "Golden Chance." From EQMM, December, 2012. 50 minutes.
Schofield, Neil. "Groundwork." Dramatization. From EQMM, November, 2001. 25 minutes.
*Shephard, Robert. "Just Below the Surface." From EQMM, March/April, 2017. 56 minutes.
Spillane, Mickey and Collins, Max Allan. "There's a Killer Loose!" From EQMM, August, 2008. 39 minutes.
*Steinbock, Steve. "Cleaning Up." From EQMM, March/April, 2010. 21 minutes.
Taylor, Art. "A Drowning at Snow's Cut." From EQMM, May, 2011. Winner of Derringer Award. 42 minutes.
Todd, Marilyn. "Cupid's Arrow." From EQMM, September, 2003. Dramatized reading. 47 minutes.
Todd, Marilyn. "The Wickedest Town in the West." From EQMM, June, 2013. 51 minutes.
*Todd, Marilyn. "The Old Man and the Seashore." EQMM, January, 2016. 23 minutes.
Tolnay, Tom. "Fun and Games at the Carousel Mall." From EQMM, September/October, 2002. 29 minutes.
Van Laerhoven, Bob. "Checkmate in Chimbote." From EQMM, June, 2014. 37 minutes.
*Vandermeeren, Hilde. "The Lighthouse." From EQMM March/April 2016 issue. 27 minutes.
Warren, James Lincoln. "Heat of the Moment." From EQMM, June, 2007. 48 minutes.
Williams, Tim L. "The Last Wrestling Bear in West Kentucky." From EQMM, September/October 2014. Winner of International Thriller award. 38 minutes.
Williams, Tim L. "Where That Morning Sun Goes Down." From EQMM, August, 2013. 37 minutes.
Zeltserman, Dave. "Some People Deserve to Die." From EQMM,August, 2011. 35 minutes.
Zelvin, Elizabeth. "The Green Cross." From EQMM, August, 2010. 24 minutes.

A Predator's Game, available March 30, 2016, Rook's Page Publishing.

 -----------------------
Nikola Tesla, Arthur Conan Doyle and Dr. Henry H. Holmes are all characters in my forthcoming thriller, A Predator's Game, Rook's Page Publishing, March 30, 2016.

Back page blurb of A Predator's Game (advance copy, subject to change).

Manhattan, 1896.

When the author Arthur Conan Doyle meets Nikola Tesla he finds a tall, thin genius with a photographic memory and a keen eye, and recognizes in the eccentric inventor the embodiment of his creation, Sherlock. Together, they team up to take on an "evil Holmes." Multi-murderer Dr. Henry H. Holmes has escaped execution and is unleashing a reign of terror upon the metropolis. Set in the late nineteenth century in a world of modern marvels, danger and invention, Conan Doyle and Tesla engage the madman in a deadly game of wits.

Martin Hill Ortiz, also writing under the name,

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Audio Recordings from the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine


Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine generously offers a free podcast with well-narrated recent and classic mystery and thriller stories. I present below their 40 selections, arranged in alphabetical order by name of author, of the stories currently available for listening on your computer or for downloading. The stories with an asterisk represent the entries since my last post in July 2015. I will follow this up with a post updating the podcast offerings from Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. 

Betancourt, John Gregory. "Pit on the Road to Hell." From AHMM, July/August, 2006. 56 minutes.
Bowen, Rhys. "The Wall." From AHMM, July/August, 2005. 36 minutes.
*Budewitz, Leslie. "The End of the Line." From AHMM, December 2006.
Burns, Rex. "Shadow People." From AHMM, June, 2006. 42 minutes.
Cleland, Jane K. "Killing Time." 57 minutes.
Costa, Shelley. "Strangle Vine." From AHMM, November, 2012. 45 minutes.
*Crenshaw, Bill. "Poor Dumb Mouths." From AHMM, May 1984. 47 minutes.
*Egan, Kevin. "The Heist." From AHMM, July/August 2016. 22 minutes.
Emerson, Kathy Lynn. "The Kenduskeag Killer." From AHMM, April, 2005. 46 minutes.
Fisher, Eve. "Drifts." From AHMM, January/February, 2006. 15 minutes.
Fusilli, Jim. "Digby, Attorney at Law." 27 minutes.
Fusilli, Jim. "The One-Armed Man at the Luncheonette."  From AHMM, June, 2014. 19 minutes.
Gore, Steven. "The God of Right and Wrong." From AHMM, January/February 2010. 37 minutes.
Hockensmith, Steve. "The MacGuffin Theft Case." From AHMM, November, 2005. 37 minutes.
Hurst, Howell. "The First Day of Spring." From AHMM, April, 2009. 25 minutes.
Johnson, Douglas Grant."No Trouble At All." 65 minutes.
*Law, Janice. "Madame Selina." From AHMM, 2010. 29 minutes.
*Lawton, R.T. "Across the Salween." From AHMM, November 2013. 34 minutes.

Lawton, R.T. "Click, Click, Click." 26 minutes.
*Lehan, Con. "Stella by Starlight." From AHMM, October 2016. 29 minutes.
Limón, Martin. "A Crust of Rice." 25 minutes.
Lopresti, Robert. "Snake in the Sweetgrass." From AHMM, December, 2003. 21 minutes.
Ludwigsen, Will. "In Search Of." From AHMM, June, 2008. 12 minutes.
*Lufkin, Martha. "A Lacking for Salt." From AHMM, September 1997. 34 minutes.

Lutz, John. "The Explosives Expert." From AHMM, September, 1967. 17 minutes.
MacRae, Molly. "Fandango by Flashlight," 27 minutes.
Millar, Margaret. "The People Across the Canyon." Reprinted AHMM, November, 2005. 39 minutes.
*Muessig, Chris. "The Hoard." From AHMM, July/August 2014. 45 minutes.
Parker, I.J. "Akitada's First Case." 54 minutes.
Ross, Stephen. "Boundary Bridge." From AHMM, March, 2010. 29 minutes.
Savage, Tom. "The Method in Her Madness." From AHMM, June, 2013. 43 minutes.
Shepphird, John. "Ghost Negligence." From AHMM, July/August, 2012. 33 minutes.
Stevens, B.K. "Adjuncts Anonymous." From AHMM, June, 2009. 80 minutes.
Strong, Marianne Wilski. "Death at Olympia." With introduction. From AHMM, July/August, 2003. 55 minutes.
Vernon, Gigi. "One for the Road." From AHMM, January/February 2006. 32 minutes.
Viets, Elaine. "After the Fall." With a question and answer session. From AHMM, January/February, 2006. 35 minutes.
Wiecek, Mike. "The End of the Train." From AHMM, June, 2007.42 minutes.
Wilson, Jr., L.A. "Jazreen." From AHMM, November, 1997. 53 minutes.
Wishnia, Kenneth. "Between Minke and Mayrev." 52 minutes.
Wishnia, Kenneth. "Burning Twilight." 18 minutes.

Martin Hill Ortiz is the author of Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press.




Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press

Never Kill A Friend is available for purchase in hard cover format and as an ebook.
The story follows Shelley Krieg, an African-American detective for the Washington DC Metro PD as she tries to undo a wrong which sent an innocent teenager to prison.

Hard cover: Amazon US
Kindle: Amazon US
Hard cover: Amazon UK
Kindle: Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble 

Martin Hill Ortiz is also the author of A Predator's Game. His epic poem, Two Mistakes, recently won second place in the Margaret Reid/Tom Howard Poetry Competition. He can be contacted at mdhillortiz@gmail.com.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

When Mysteries Become Political


Sometimes mysteries take on the major political issues of the day. Strangely, among that list I don't include most of le Carré's cold war thrillers. While some of his world-weary characters are true-believers and act out of a political consciousness, most are just doing their jobs or, often enough in le Carré's world, finding ways to avoid doing their jobs. It is the apolitical nature of several of le Carré's novels that make them so unsettling. Spies spy because. . . they are spies. Through the books' POV, we have the perspective of the British spies and they become our heroes out of familiarity, not out of noble purpose.

In The Little Drummer Girl, le Carré takes on Israeli-Palestinian conflicts and pro-Palestinian terrorism as it spills over into Europe. An actress is recruited to infiltrate a Palestinian terrorist group and is indoctrinated in both Israeli and Palestinian points of view with her sympathies (and the readers sympathies) whip-lashing between allegiances. Le Carré doesn't flinch when looking at the violence by both sides in the conflict and the constant need to strike back. The actress-protagonist-recruit is taken to the brink of a nervous breakdown by the conflicting worlds where everyone is right and everyone is wrong. The need to stop a terrorist seems almost minor in the enormous scale of the conflict. She escapes, barely, with her life and with her mind only partially intact.

The story is harrowing, enlightening, and is loaded with the thousands of details and human insights that make le Carré a world's-best craftsman of the novel.

Author: John le Carré (David John Moore Cornwell)
Book: The Little Drummer Girl
Publication: 1983.
Rank: #68 on the MWA list.
Word Count: 184,686
Age of author at time of publication: 52
Previous novels published by this author: nine.
Opening line: It was the Bad Godesberg incident that gave the proof, though the German authorities had no earthly means of knowing this.
Significance: Another masterwork from a master writer.


Which is the best le Carre novel? at the New Yorker.

If le Carré writes the apolitical East-West espionage thriller, then Tom Clancy writes the political one. In Clancy's The Hunt for Red October, the United States is the beacon of freedom and the Soviet Union the land of oppression. I've never read Clancy beyond his first novel. Perhaps his later characters have more nuance. In The Hunt for Red October, the Russian characters were cut out of one of two cardboard stocks: the hero and his supporters who are hijacking the submarine, and the bureaucratic zealots who seek to stop him. The Americans are cleft-chinned and brave.

Nevertheless, this is a pulse-pounding read. The real star, perhaps, the real main character is the military technology which is made believable by the attention to details as is evidenced in the first sentence (presented below).

Author: Tom Clancy
Book: The Hunt for Red October
Publication: 1983.
Rank: #84 on the MWA list.
Word Count: 151,091
Age of author at time of publication: 37
Previous novels published by this author: first novel.
Opening line: The Red October captain first rank Marko Ramius of the Soviet Navy was dressed for the Arctic conditions normal to the Northern Marine submarine base at Polyarnyy.
Significance: Launched the career of an author who helped define the modern espionage thriller.


The Four Just Men is an unusual book in that it takes the point of view of the terrorists who are represented as vigilante heroes. The just men of the title are an international league who commit murders to right injustices and kill off the dishonest. This concept is stretched to the realm of the political when they plan to murder a Cabinet Minister to prevent the passage of what they see as an unjust law: one that will expel aliens. The story proceeds following the police's attempts to thwart their plan and the tension comes from whether it will be successful. The target of the assassination is depicted as heroic.

Perhaps the real story of The Four Just Men is that the novel, self-published, came with the promise of an award of five-hundred pounds to whomever could solve the locked-room mystery central to the case. The book and the promise of a big payout (about 56,000 pounds in today's currency), became a sensation. Unfortunately for Wallace, he did not stipulate that the reward should go only to the first person who solved the mystery. And, in fact, the mystery was not difficult, and when the solution came out Wallace was driven to bankruptcy by the crowd of supplicants.

The book does not hold up for me. I'm not a fan of the vigilante genre in general and The Four Just Men seemed to me to be neither that clever nor just. The police never seemed to ask the right questions and it is by their lack of sensible actions that allows the plot to advance. On the other hand, it is a short novel, a novella by most standards, and made for a brisk read, and was a welcome relief after having downed several 200,000-plus word novels.

Author: Edgar Wallace (Richard Horatio Edgar Wallace)
Book: The Four Just Men
Publication:  1905.
Rank: #100 on the CWA list.
Word Count: 37,586
Age of author at time of publication: 37
Previous novels published by this author: first novel.
Opening line: If you leave the Plaza del Mina, go down the narrow street, where, from ten till four, the big flag of the United States Consulate hangs lazily; through the square on which Hotel de la France fronts, round by the Church of Our Lady, and along the clean, narrow thoroughfare that is the High Street of Cadiz, you will come to the Café of the Nations.
Significance: A unique novel/contest that made quite a splash and launched the productive career of Edgar Wallace who, among other works, gave us King Kong.


The Four Just Men and its reward.


Finally, one of the most direct shots into politics by a mystery, came in the form of Rex Stout's novel, The Doorbell Rang. The novel follows a businesswoman, Rachel Bruner, who was so impressed by the anti-FBI non-fiction book, The FBI Nobody Knows, that she sent out a copy to every U.S. Senator and Member of Congress. The FBI responds by tailing her and tapping her phone. Bruner goes to Nero Wolfe and his co-investigator Archie Goodwin for help to stop this harassment. The investigative pair goes after the FBI and wins. The story ends as the two directly humiliate J. Edgar Hoover.

The FBI Nobody Knows
was an actual book. As can be imagined, although he already had an FBI file, Rex Stout was placed under intense investigation after the book's release. Always an activist, maybe he was old enough that he didn't give a damn. Adding to Stout's mystique was his rich billy-goat beard. He wrote artisanal mystery novels before the term artisanal became art is anal.

Rex Stout speaks about the FBI and Hoover, here.

Rex Stout in his later years.

I've read that one of Rex Stout's talents is that he conveys a sense of fun in the investigation, and even more, that he had fun writing the book. This is evident in The Doorbell Rang.

I was young in the sixties and I remember the time when Hoover was worshiped. I remember gathering around the television to watch The FBI, most especially fixed in my mind was when my mother's first cousin was a guest star. Being Latino, he played a Cuban terrorist.

How on earth could J. Edgar Hoover deny the existence of organized crime for thirty-years when it was the national crime story? Some say blackmail. Maybe it was incompetence that had the FBI touting villains like Machine Gun Kelly and tailing Einstein and virtually everyone else who didn't fit their narrow political views.

Author: Rex Stout
Book: The Doorbell Rang
Publication:  1965.
Rank: #66 on the MWA list.
Word Count: 50,728
Age of author at time of publication: 78
Previous novels published by this author: #41 in the Nero Wolfe novel series.
Opening line: Since it was the deciding factor, I might as well begin by describing it.
Significance: At a time when mystery novels were mostly apolitical, at a time when the FBI was held by most in high esteem, this novel by an established master took on the FBI, portraying them as corrupt, as planting evidence, and as political zealots. Stuck the finger out at J. Edgar Hoover. As The Nation stated: No doubt about it — the best civil liberties mystery of all time.



---------------------
 Martin Hill Ortiz is the author of Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press.




Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press

Never Kill A Friend is available for purchase in hard cover format and as an ebook.
The story follows Shelley Krieg, an African-American detective for the Washington DC Metro PD as she tries to undo a wrong which sent an innocent teenager to prison.

Hard cover: Amazon US
Kindle: Amazon US
Hard cover: Amazon UK
Kindle: Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Review of Ruined Stones by Eric Reed


England during World War II possessed all the elements a mystery writer could hope for. Thick fog mixed with coal dust cloaked the streets. With the air raids and blackouts, a single lit candle could invite destruction and one building ablaze could become a beacon to summon more bombs. Death was intimate: family and neighbors died on the battlefield and ofttimes on the home front. Who would care about the death of an unknown woman, her corpse found among the ruins of an ancient Roman temple?

In their atmospheric novel, Ruined Stones, Eric Mayer and Mary Reed (Eric Reed) exploit another aspect of the war: women brought in to fill traditionally male posts. Grace Baxter, a policeman's daughter, is recruited from a small town to serve in the Newcastle-on-Tyne police force. She is less-than-welcomed by those who see her as a poor replacement for the real police who have been called off to war. Newcastle itself is unreceptive: peculiar in its Geordie dialect and insular in its ways. The mood is tense: angry at Hitler but far off from the battlefront, the townspeople can only shake fists at one another.

Grace is given what is considered a trivial job. She is assigned to talk to prostitutes to discover the identity of a corpse. The body had been discovered at an old temple, with her arms and legs spread out in the form of a reverse swastika. Soon, however, a second body appears at the same site and posed in the same manner. With the very nation under attack, both the small police force and Grace feel overwhelmed, unable to get the support they need for a proper investigation.

With the setting of the ancient ruins, its history of pagan rituals, and the constant presence of local superstitions, the story takes on an eerie tone. Indeed, Grace comes from a family of "wise-women:" witches in a different age. She maintains her skepticism while recognizing, even within herself, the attraction of such ancestral creeds.

Among those under suspicion is Mr. Rutherford who tends to ruins and believes he can summon their power. Spiritualism is thriving: this is a time when everyone has someone dead to talk to. This includes Grace's boss, who has sunk into alcoholism since the loss of his wife and children.

The tone and sense of time and place are near perfect. The town suffers from despair and loss, of plodding ahead because the past is ruined. One of the authors, Mary Reed, grew up in Newcastle and knows its eccentricities. The novel is sprinkled with just the right amount of dialect to give flavor.

The married mystery-writing team of Eric Mayer and Mary Reed (that can't be as cool as it sounds -- do they solve local crimes in their spare time?) have penned one prior Grace Baxter novel, The Guardian Stones, along with an award-winning series set in sixth century Byzantium. With this so-cool it chills suspense novel, they may have another success on their hands.



Mary Reed and Eric Mayer blog.

---------------------
 Martin Hill Ortiz is the author of Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press.






Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press

Never Kill A Friend is available for purchase in hard cover format and as an ebook.
The story follows Shelley Krieg, an African-American detective for the Washington DC Metro PD as she tries to undo a wrong which sent an innocent teenager to prison.

Hard cover: Amazon US
Kindle: Amazon US
Hard cover: Amazon UK
Kindle: Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble 

Friday, June 30, 2017

A Complete Ranking of Mystery Television of the 1980s

Having previously undertaken to present the rankings of television mystery shows of the 1960s and 1970s, I thought I'd complete this quixotic quest by taking on the 1980s. This will be the last decade. I believe a number of the series presented below were down-rated because they debuted at the nexus of the availability of the internet in the 1990s. (IMDB was launched in 1990, an early online presence.)

Among the sins of the internet is that people who have strong, often uninformed opinions have come to believe that all opinions are equal*. Anonymity helps give voice to vitriol and I believe the recent past has suffered. Everyone wants to express their opinions and those views for good or bad are exaggerated.

*All carefully weighed, well-thought-out, and informed opinions are equal.

Edward Gorey


In contrast to the 60s and 70s lists, here you will find a number of much beloved programs scoring lowly. Cult programs score highly. Of course, ofttimes cult status is deserved and some of the most highly-rated cult programs on this list are quite good. I have not seen many other high-ranking entries but have become intrigued by their descriptions.

My cut-off for the 1980s were those with at least 150 votes, and even with this higher number, the list greatly expanded over the 60s and 70s. As before, I left off TV movies, and mysteries with fantasy or sci-fi elements. I did include miniseries even when the total episodes were two.

There was a painful number of shows with a technologically-advanced car or helicopter helping to solve the crime. I cut these out. Beyond bordering on science fiction, they seemed to be mostly adventure rather than mystery. For this decade I grouped together series with multiple entries such as Miss Marple.

Two worthwhile trends in the 1980s. A lot of the classic mystery detectives made their debuts or were reincarnated, Marple, Dalgliesh, Marlowe, Morse, Holmes, etc. Gangster-themed shows are among the highest-rated. Perhaps this is a carryover from the popularity of The Godfather.

Not having seen Froutopia, the show with the number one ranking, I will not dismiss its status. I will say, that there were no other programs from Greece which made the list. Similarly, the number seven spot is held by an Iranian series. Iran has certainly made an international splash in recent years for their film-making.

Popular American series did poorly in the rankings in this decade.

This is a decade in which I personally watched little television. I was busy getting my PhD for several years and had little time for outside interests. I still have yet to see an episode of MacGyver, the show with the most votes.

I plan to do another post, to sort out the 60s through the 80s and separate American and British and look at the leaders of the three decades combined.

1. Froutopia (1985–1988) 9.1, Votes: 266
Greek. Puppets act out topical mysteries in this obscure show with a fanatical following.

2. Masterpiece Mystery (1980–continuing) 9.0, Votes: 583
British mysteries and Edward Gorey. This series showcased a lot of other great productions some of which are ranked individually below.

3. The Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes set of series. Two series were in the eighties (listed below) and two were in the nineties (not listed). The novels became TV movies (not listed).

  a. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1984–1985) 8.8, Votes: 14,897
  Jeremy Brett and David Burke in the canonic of the Holmes television series.
  b. The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1986–1988), 8.8, Votes: 6,396
  Each of the Jeremy Brett series is worth watching.

4. The Singing Detective (1986) 8.8, Votes: 3,615
Unique, hallucinatory, musical episodes of the reminisces of a mystery writer hospitalized with a crippling disease.

5. Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980) 8.8, Votes: 3,194
German. A criminal can't put his past behind him.

6. La Piovra (The Octopus) series. Four series in the eighties, ten in total.

  a. La Piovra. (The Octopus) (1984) 8.8, Votes: 2,293
  Italian. An inspector fights the mob. Popular, iconic Italian series.
  b. La piovra 2 (The Octopus II) (1985–1986) 8.5, Votes: 802
Man versus the mob, part two.
  c. La piovra 3 (The Octopus II) (1987) 8.6, Votes: 714
Man versus the mob, third installment.
  d. La piovra 4 (The Octopus IV) (1989) 8.8, Votes: 763
The fourth part in the series.

7. Hezardastan (1988) 8.8, Votes: 688
Iranian. Political intrigue, assassins and a jewel thief.

8. The Beiderbecke series. All three series were in the eighties.

  a. The Beiderbecke Affair (1985) 8.8, Votes: 417
  A jazz-lover and an environmentalist stumble into evidence of corruption and a lot of eccentric characters.
  b. The Beiderbecke Tapes (1987) 8.7, Votes: 254
  A jazz-lover and an environmentalist stumble into evidence of corruption and a lot of eccentric characters.
  c. The Beiderbecke Connection (1988) 8.7, Votes: 224
  A jazz-lover and an environmentalist help a refugee and stumble on to more eccentric characters.

9. Smiley's People (1982) 8.7, Votes: 2,758
George Smiley finally bests Karla.

10. Cuna de lobos (Cradle of Wolves) (1986–1987) 8.7, Votes: 166
A popular Mexican novella follows the treachery of the heirs to a pharmaceutical company.

11. Dobrodruzství kriminalistiky (1989–1998) 8.7, Votes: 154
Russian. The history of criminology, dramatized.

12. Edge of Darkness (1985) 8.6, Votes: 2,958
Environmentalism and murder in 80s England.

13. Traffik (1989) 8.6, Votes: 1,308
Inspired the Oscar-winning movie. Drug-trafficking, international.

14. Monaco Franze - Der ewige Stenz (1983) 8.6, Votes: 543
German. Police officer likes to chase women more than chase criminals.

15. The Men Who Killed Kennedy (1988–2003) 8.6, Votes: 464
A conspiracy-laden documentary look at JFK's murder.

16. Mother Love (1989) 8.6, Votes: 288
Problems with the mother-in-law. With Diana Rigg and David McCallum.

17. Shang Hai tan (1983) 8.6, Votes: 191
Hong Kong. Two friends grow up: one with the mob.

18. Mathnet (1987–1992) 8.6 , Votes: 177
Mathematicians work to solve crimes. From the Children's Television Network. The Sesame Street of math detectives.

19. Police Squad! (1982) 8.5, Votes: 11,121
Sometimes failure leads to success.

20. The Russian version of Sherlock Holmes. Two other installments of this series appeared in the 1970s, along with five made-for-TV movies. One more installment would appear in 2006.

  a. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: The Treasures of Agra (1983) 8.5, Votes: 1,831
  The well-regarded Russian series which began in the seventies, continues.
  b. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: The Twentieth Century Approaches (1986) 8.1, Votes: 1,663
  More of the popular Russian Sherlock series.

21. The Jewel in the Crown (1984) 8.5, Votes: 1,570
Follows the story of a man unjustly arrested for rape.

22. Duarte & C.a (1985–1989) 8.5 Votes: 184
Portugal. A wild comic detective show.

23. Crime Story (1986–1988) 8.4, Votes: 1,884
Dennis Farina as a Chicago detective versus the mob.

24. The Gangster Chronicles (1981) 8.4, Votes: 163
The story of organized crime in America.

25. Reilly: Ace of Spies (1983) 8.3, Votes: 1,071
Real-life spy gets a mini-series telling of his exploits.

26. Hill Street Blues (1981–1987) 8.2, Votes: 5,311
Bochco's groundbreaking police series set in a very busy precinct.

27. Jane Eyre (1983) 8.2, Votes: 2,544
Who knows what evil lurks in the attic of your employer?

28. Chiefs (1983) 8.2, Votes: 1,236
The changes in a Southern town as seen through three generations of police chiefs.

29. Philip Marlowe, Private Eye (1983–1986) 8.2, Votes: 263
British series of the iconic L.A. private detective.

30. Inspector Morse (1987–2000) 8.1, Votes: 7,048
A police inspector solves baffling and twisty cases.

31. Cover Up (1984–1985) 8.1, Votes: 353
Fashion photographer and ex-soldier solve crimes, world-wide.

32. Maelstrom (1985) 8.0, Votes: 320
UK and Norway. It's a smorgasbord of murder and violence.

33. Harry's Game (1982) 8.0, Votes: 313
Undercover soldier versus IRA.

34. Bangkok Hilton (1989) 7.9, Votes: 3,801
Australian. Nicole Kidman is imprisoned after being tricked into smuggling drugs.

35. Lovejoy (1986–1994) 7.9, Votes: 2,143
Ian McShane as an antique dealer/detective. Ian McShane!

36. Wiseguy (1987–1990) 7.9, Votes: 1,520
Undercover takedown of the mob.

37. If Tomorrow Comes (1986) 7.9, Votes: 1,307
Sidney Sheldon and jewel thieves and con men and lots of etc.

38. Joan Hickson as Miss Marple. Three were mini-series (listed below), several were television movies (not listed) and several more were part of Masterpiece Mystery (not listed).

  a. Agatha Christie's Miss Marple: A Murder Is Announced (1985) 7.9, Votes: 1,280
  A newspaper announces a murder.
  b. Agatha Christie's Miss Marple: The Body in the Library (1984) 7.6, Votes: 1,274
  Miss Marple knows where to find the bodies.
  c. Agatha Christie's Miss Marple: The Moving Finger (1985) 7.6, Votes: 1,057
  The moving finger, having written, writes another installment.

39. Fatal Vision (1984) 7.9, Votes: 693
Did his son-in-law kill his daughter? From a true story.

40. The Inspector Dalgliesh series. Five of the Roy Marsden series were in the eighties. Three more were in the nineties. Also TV movies.

  a. A Taste for Death (1988) 7.9, Votes: 216
  Inspector Adam Dalgleish on the scene.
  b. Cover Her Face (1985) 7.7, Votes: 225
  Chief Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh takes on another crime.
  c. Death of an Expert Witness (1983) 7.7, Votes: 224
  More Dalgliesh.
  d. Shroud for a Nightingale (1984) 7.6, Votes: 231
  Yet another adaptation of the well-regarded Dalgliesh series of books.
  e. The Black Tower (1985) 7.5, Votes: 233
  Another Dalgliesh mystery.

41. Widows (1983) 7.9, Votes: 210
A botched job of armed robbery kills the perpetrators. Their widows take on the job.

42. Protivostoyanie (1985) 7.9, Votes: 166
Soviet Union. A dismembered body leads to a war deserter.

43. The Equalizer (1985–1989) 7.8, Votes: 3,244
Edward Woodward as an ex-spy turned P.I.

44. I Know My First Name Is Steven (1989) 7.8, Votes: 1,949
Years after a kidnapping, a child comes home.

45. Midnight Caller (1988–1991) 7.8, Votes: 894
Ex-police officer takes on radio show.

46. For the Term of His Natural Life (1983) 7.8, Votes: 155
A false conviction sends a man to Tasmania, 1830s.

47. MacGyver (1985–1992) 7.7, Votes: 29,305
Who knew that you could make a bomb out of a toothpick, a hair comb,

48. Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1985–1989) 7.7, Votes: 1,324
Remakes of stories from the original series reusing introductions by Hitchcock.

49. Jack the Ripper (1988) 7.7, Votes: 3,542
Michael Caine works for Scotland Yard investigating the Ripper killings.

50. Mystery!: Campion (1989–1990) 7.7, Votes: 532
The Mystery series takes on another classic detective.

51. Tenspeed and Brown Shoe (1980) 7.7, Votes: 289
Ben Vereen and Jeff Goldblum as an unlikely pair of crime-fighters.

52. Masterpiece Theatre: Bleak House (1985) 7.7, Votes: 265
Dicken's mystery masterpiece. With Diana Rigg and Denholm Elliott.

53. Night Heat (1985–1989), 7.7, Votes: 241
Police detective stories as told by a reporter.

54. Fox Mystery Theater (1984) 7.7, Votes: 175
Anthology of twisty mysteries.

55. The A-Team (1983–1987) 7.6, Votes: 27,247
Four misfit vets solve crimes while on the run.

56. Moonlighting (1985–1989) 7.6, Votes: 14,103
Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd play P.I.s at a firm with a shaky fourth wall.

57. Mission: Impossible (1988–1990) 7.6, Votes: 2,602
Still Peter Graves, still impossible.

58. A Perfect Spy (1987) 7.6, Votes: 600
From Le Carré's tome on what makes a perfect spy.

59. Stingray (1985–1987) 7.6, Votes: 520
A mysterious do-gooder helps out strangers.

60. Partners in Crime (1983) 7.6, Votes: 423
Agatha Christie's merry married detectives.

61. The Two Mrs. Grenvilles (1987) 7.6, Votes: 256
Acid-filled rivalries, murder, Ann-Margret and Claudette Colbert.

62. Sidekicks (1986–1987) 7.6, Votes: 222
Karate kid police apprentice.

63. Nero Wolfe (1981) 7.6, Votes: 179
Classic mysteries with the classic detective.

64. Vizit k Minotavru (1987) 7.6, Votes: 178
Soviet Union. A Stradivari violin is stolen.

65. Miami Vice (1984–1990) 7.5, Votes: 17,881
Iconic 80s police series featuring cool and more cool.

66. Magnum, P.I. (1980–1988) 7.5, Votes: 16,556
A-hunk-a-hunk of Hawaiian P.I.

67. In the Heat of the Night (1988–1995) 7.5, Votes: 2,466
Carroll O'Connor calls him Mr. Tibbs.

68. Dempsey and Makepeace (1985–1986), 7.5, Votes: 1,081
Tough NY cop relocates to London force because.

69. Röd snö (1985) 7.5, Votes: 432
Norwegian, Swedish. Intrigue and murder in 1942 near the Swedish border.

70. TASS upolnomochen zayavit... (TASS Is Authorized To Declare. . .) (1984) 7.5, Votes: 236
Soviet Union. Spies and revolution.

71. The Charmer (1987) 7.5, Votes: 170
Killer, magna cum laude, Charm School.

72. 48 Hours (1988–continuing) 7.4, Votes: 1,167
Documentary show investigates true crimes.

73. Return to Eden (1983) 7.4, Votes: 967
Australia. After her husband tries to murder her by pushing her into a crocodile, Rebecca Gilling plots revenge. Remade as a TV series also starring Rebecca Gilling.

74. The Murder of Mary Phagan (1988) 7.4, Votes: 555
From the true story of the miscarriage of justice and those who tried to prevent it.

75. A Man Called Hawk (1989) 7.4, Votes: 227
Spenser for Hire spin-off.

76. 21 Jump Street (1987–1991) 7.3, Votes: 9,027
Edward Scissorhands proves that he was more than just a cut-up.

77. Remington Steele (1982–1987) 7.3, Votes: 5,373 
Zimbalist and Brosnan make for an unlikely detective team.

78. Spenser: For Hire (1985–1988) 7.3, Votes: 1,430
Robert Urich as Robert Parker's iconic private detective.

79. America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back (1988–2012) 7.3, Votes: 1,333
Be on the lookout: actual crimes are presented.

80. Taggart (1983–2010) 7.3, Votes: 920
Gritty series investigating murders in Glasgow.

81. Return to Eden (1986-1987) 7.3, Votes 323.
Australia. Rebecca Gilling relives the mini-series as a TV series.

82. Police Rescue (1989–1996) 7.3, Votes: 255
Australia. New South Wales rescue squad.

83. Street Legal (1987–1994) 7.3, Votes: 155
Canadian. Toronto attorneys.

84. Bassie en Adriaan en de huilende professor (1982) 7.3, Votes: 154
Netherlands. A clown and a strongman team up against an angry, although not mad scientist.

85. Matlock (1986–1995) 7.1, Votes: 4,661 
Andy Griffith stars as Grandpa Simpson's favorite defense attorney.

86. Simon & Simon (1981–1989) 7.1, Votes: 3,134
Brothers and private eyes.

87. Crying Freeman 1: Portrait of a Killer (1988) 7.1, Votes: 800
Japan. Animated. A woman witnesses a mob hit.

88. Le crime d'Ovide Plouffe (1984) 7.1, Votes: 336
French. Did Ovide blow-up a plane to kill his wife?

89. Hardball (1989–1990) 7.1, Votes: 153
Veteran and new cop team up and they don't always play by the rules.

90. L.A. Law (1986–1994) 7.0, Votes: 3,131
Bochco (Hill Street Blues, Columbo, etc.) strikes again.

91. Crazy Like a Fox (1984–1986) 7.0, Votes: 381
Father and son solve mysteries in San Francisco.

92. Dress Gray (1986) 7.0, Votes: 291
A murder at the military academy.

93. Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996) 6.9, Votes: 13,777
Jessica Fletcher brings order to the mean streets of Cabot Cove. Starring all-time heartthrob Angela Lansbury (not being sarcastic, she's wonderful).

94. The Bourne Identity (1988) 6.9, Votes: 3,474
Sometimes you have to go where nobody, not even you, knows your name.

95. The New Mike Hammer (1984–1989) 6.9, Votes: 685
Stacy Keach as the two-fisted P.I.

96. Brotherhood of the Rose (1989) 6.9, Votes: 682
Romulus and Remus are orphans, trained from childhood to be brilliant CIA operatives. Hoo-boy.

97. Linda (1984–2001) 6.9, Votes: 265
Hungary. Black belt karate-wielding policewoman.

98. Cagney & Lacey (1981–1988) 6.8, Votes: 2,242
Two female detectives are as tough as they need be.

99. Riptide (1984–1986) 6.8, Votes: 1,691
Vietnam vet detectives.

100. Bergerac (1981–1991) 6.8, Votes: 874
A detective with a drinking problem.

101. The Ruth Rendell Mysteries (1987–2000) 6.8, Votes: 218
The mystery novelists explores the dark side.

102. Lady Blue (1985–1986) 6.7, Votes: 181
Tales of a tough female cop.

103. Rin Tin Tin: K-9 Cop (1988–1993) 6.7, Votes: 148
Dogs also have nine lives. A police dog playing opposite Officer Katts. Rough.

104. C.A.T.S. Eyes (1985–1987) 6.7, Votes: 103
An all-female British P.I. enterprise. These two were below the cut-off for votes, but seemed to fit together, one after the other.

105. The Bill (1984–2010) 6.6, Votes: 2,103
London police, day-in, day-out.

106. Hardcastle and McCormick (1983–1986) 6.6, Votes: 1,580
Criminal and legal cases get a second going over with a retired judge and his helper.

107. Matt Houston (1982–1985) 6.6, Votes: 695
A Texan (note surname) moves to California and acts as a P.I.

108. The Atlanta Child Murders (1985) 6.6, Votes: 283
Based on the investigation into the murder of children in Atlanta in the early eighties.

109. Ein Fall für zwei (A Case for Two) (1981–continuing) 6.5, Votes: 495
German. Lawyers and private investigators worked to find justice. Just wrapped up its 36th season.

110. Großstadtrevier (1986–continuing), 6.5, Votes: 225
Hamburg Germany police comedy/drama. Thirty-one years and counting.

111. The People's Court (1981–1993) 6.5, Votes: 224
Small claims, big drama.

112. Jake and the Fatman (1987–1992) 6.4, Votes: 1,672
Gruff-voiced D.A. works with a P.I. to solve cases.

113. Boon (1986–1992) 6.4, Votes: 518
Ex-firemen solve crimes.

114. Windmills of the Gods (1988) 6.4, Votes: 233
Jaclyn Smith and Robert Wagner in a potboiler mystery.

115. B.L. Stryker (1989–1990) 6.4, Votes: 216
Burt Reynolds returns as a laconic detective.

116. Booker (1989–1990) 6.3, Votes: 487
Investigator Booker plays by his own rules.

117. The New Adam-12 (1989–1991) 6.2, Votes: 181
The iconic cop car gets new treads.

118. Seagull Island (1981) 6.1, Votes: 155
Her sister has disappeared.

119. T.J. Hooker (1982–1986) 6.0, Votes: 2,652
How many Shatner fans mob him for this role? Police drama.

120. Navarro (1989–2006), 5.9, Votes: 354
French. It is hard being police in a country with 246 different kinds of cheese.

121. Police Academy: The Series (1988–1989) 5.7, Votes: 600
Comic nouveau cops. Not to be confused with the even less well-regarded Police Academy: The Series (1997-98).

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 Martin Hill Ortiz is the author of Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press.






Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press

Never Kill A Friend is available for purchase in hard cover format and as an ebook.
The story follows Shelley Krieg, an African-American detective for the Washington DC Metro PD as she tries to undo a wrong which sent an innocent teenager to prison.

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