Charlie's Books

Charlie's Books
Buon Giorno, Amici!

Our motto ...

Leave the (political) party. Take the cannoli.

"It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela

Right now 6 Stella crime novels are available on Kindle for just $.99 ... Eddie's World has been reprinted and is also available from Stark House Press (Gat Books).

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Game 7 … Dave Mishkin … Merle Drown (free flash fiction) … Mike Callahan (published) … Baltimore … a TK game of Thugs … Special Prosecutors … St. Hillary … Obama’s TPP backdoor move (i.e., a Koch Brothers Wet Dream) …

GAME 7: All I can say is, “Whew!” While the wife played in Harry Potter land, it was me and Rigoletto left to BE THE THUNDER at Casa Stella Wednesday night. The poor creature is blind as a bat and was in a bit of shock when Cally fed Coburn the game winner early in the 3rd Period … suffice it to say, Momma Stella could hear me in Staten Island.

Rigoletto looked left, right, back and forth, and must’ve thought: How did they ever let this lunatic out of a nuthouse when he was a kid?

The ultimate compliment … so, early on in the game, I’m not sure if it was Mike Emrick who said it, but the description went something like this: “Callahan is a Pitbull behind the net.” The wife constantly calls me a pitbull (because I refuse to lose an argument … and some other stuff) … it’s an honor to be considered a Cally wannabe! Tenaciousness, baby. That’s what it’s all about.

And now it’s on to the inferior bagel town, Montreal, to seek revenge for last year’s sweep (when we didn’t have Ben Bishop in goal) … this year the Bolts were 5-0 vs. the Expos, but the game has proven to me that the playoffs are a very different animal. All I know is I can’t wait until this one starts … so, GO BOLTS!
Dave Mishkin … I used to love Sam Rosen’s voice (still do), but Dave Mishkin has the best hockey voice in the world … EVER. Listen to these calls. A little past midway is the start of the Bolts first goal, but listen through to the end … he’s incredible.
Merle Drown … new (and free) Flash Fiction from one of the greats …

Our review of Merle’s latest, Lighting the World, here:

Get Lighting the World here:

Mike Callahan … while his younger brother, Ryan, moves into the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Mike Callahan (click on link for TK’s feature on him) adds more to his own long list of accomplishments … Mike landed a position as a columnist in Lawn and Landscape magazine, the biggest landscaping magazine nationally. His first column was well received. Mike says, “Go Bolts!”

Baltimore (the frenzy of the moment) … is anyone really surprised that yet another video exposing police brutality (and possibly murder) would make a city suffering from decades of neglect, unemployment and systemic criminal injustice find itself a war zone? Baltimore is no different than any urban area in the country, and when another police officer is caught on camera doing something like shooting an unarmed man in the back, taking part in a gang-like pummeling, punching a woman in the face, etc., then we can expect more of the same response. You shit on people long enough, they’ll fall victim to the frenzy of the moment.

Part Deux of A TK Game of Thugs … yous choose the thug from the videos below. Maybe President Obama can reassess his calling those caught on film in Baltimore thugs … or maybe just call the cops in the videos below the same thing?
Which one(s) are the thug(s)?

Which one(s) are the thug(s)?

Which one(s) are the thug(s)?

Which one(s) are the thug(s)?

Which one(s) are the thug(s)?

And then there are these:


I don’t post those to show how bad the cops are, because obviously not all cops are that bad. I do post it to show how bad cops can be, and obviously, it has taken video cameras to see for ourselves. Now, imagine how many similar incidents were and/or are never caught on video? Which leads to …

Special Prosecutors … Police aren’t willing to flip on each other for obvious reasons (they have the prosecutors CLEARLY running interference for them). The two work hand-in-hand and need each other. Having the police investigate the police is akin to a wolf guarding the henhouse. The Blue Wall of Silence is no different than what the mob used to swear by (omerta), except the mob (at least over the past 30 years) no longer had/has prosecutors in their pockets. It’s the process that stinks. Assign special prosecutors (who weren’t former cops) to handle charges filed against police. Make police wear cameras (for their sakes as well as the public’s sake). Hold police every bit as accountable as the public is held accountable, which means do not have 3 month investigations that normally take a week or two, end of story.

St. Hillary … she won’t talk about her missing emails or her possible plutonium connection/husband’s speaking fees/hidden donor cash and/or TPP, but give Hillary a stage and a theatre, and there she is attempting to woo African-American voters over Baltimore’s misfortunes. While the speech was well done and well received, one has to wonder if any of the African-American community remembers her campaign against Obama back in 2007, when Bill played the race card in South Carolina before that primary.

Read more about The Deafening Silence of Hillary Clinton here:

Obama’s TPP backdoor move (a Koch Brothers Wet Dream) … giving back to the corporations he’s done so well for since he took office (sorry Democratic loyalists, but those are the FACTS), President Obama tried the most despicable backdoor move in his presidency (and any in my lifetime) in support of corporations. Just watch the video below. This was a deal arranged by 60 corporate representatives and Mr. Obama.

So, my fellow liberals sworn to the Democratic Party, do real progressives a big favor and quit ass-kissing a President so anxious to repay favors to corporations while he (and they) take a collective shit on the working people of this country. You want us to get real? Yous get real. TPP is nothing less than a Koch Brothers wet dream, and making believe Obama isn’t behind this backdoor deal doesn’t change the FACT that he was.

You want real hope and change? Bernie Sanders … if Democratic loyalists would quit telling each other (and trying to convince us) how Bernie can’t win and just voted for the guy, they just might be amazed at the result … at the top of this blog is a quote by Nelson Mendela …”It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Think you had it rougher than he did?


We’ll feature more about Bernie when he officially announces … in the meantime, meet the ONLY candidate who refuses corporate cash and the ONLY candidate Jesus would support, Bernie Sanders.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Game 5: Bolts vs. Wingless in Detroit … Tartan Noir (Len Wanner) … Hillary vs. Reality … Comic Book Movies?

Bolts vs. Wingless in Detroit through 4 games … what can one say? Exciting? Yes. Crazy? Absolutely. Pleasing? Well, two of the four have been, that’s for sure.

Wingless in Detroit Coach, Mike Babcock, summed up Thursday night’s game best: “We stole one from them in Game one and they stole one back tonight.”

Saturday’s feature (game 5) is back on home ice … hopefully the Bolts are still flying from that thrilling, albeit improbable, win the other night. Hopefully, the Wingless Wonders are still in shock. We’ll know soon enough.

Hockey has become my new first sports love and it has everything to do with team play and the full speed tenaciousness of the game. It’s made me bi-polar, no doubt … I suffer horrible lows when we lose and euphoric highs when we win … Thursday night I woke up most of New Jersey (and my wife) after being so friggin’ depressed I was drinking slow … slow turned to moderate after our first goal … when we tied it, I drank from the bottle … when we won it, I used two friggin’ straws.
Last night's Strangers game had to be one of the better games I've ever watched ... incredible defensive hockey from both squads. I'll give credit where it's due ... they earned the 2nd round match-up.


Tartan Noir … Len Wanner has put together a brilliant collection of Tartan dark … what’s Tartan, yous ask?
From Google: Tartan is a pattern consisting of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colours. Tartans originated in woven wool, but now they are made in many other materials. Tartan is particularly associated with Scotland. Scottish kilts almost always have tartan patterns.

A fascinating, scholarly but highly accessible study of Scotland's world-renowned Tartan Noir literary movement, examining a number of high profile best-selling crime writers, from William McIlvaney, Stuart McBride, Caro Rasmay and Ian Rankin to Val McDermid, Quintin Jardine, Louise Welsh and many others. Based on the author's own research and in-depth interviews with many of the writers covered, Wanner delves deeply into what characterises and defines the Scottish police procedural and psycho killer novel at the heart of Tartan Noir, whilst also looking at the traditions and influences from wider Scottish literature. Doing for Tartan Noir what Barry Forshaw's ground-breaking Nordic Noir did for Scandi crime fiction, Len Wanner's book will be a fascinating companion for crime lovers and students of literature alike.

Mine is ordered for review shortly after the release. Let me tell you, amici, Len (unlike Moi) is about as scholarly as one gets …

Publisher: Freight Books
ISBN: 9781910449080
Hillary vs. Reality … The hysteria has already started from loyal Dems … “How can you possibly not vote for Hillary?” they ask. "If you’re a true progressive, how can you let the GOP win?"

Just look at that picture above. “What did I do?”

Oy vey … Basically, what the Dem loyalists are asking/saying is: So what she’s a scandal a minute, corporate sellout, does whatever she wants whenever she wants (just like the corporations that own her), ignores every and any regulation and/or law in her way, will say or do anything to get “her turn” … sure she can’t be trusted as far as you can toss a 4,000 pound anvil … she’s still our bad girl and our bad girl HAS to be better than the other sides bad guy!

Sorry, but that just doesn't pass the smell test … nor does she.

Her supporters are making a valid statement. “There isn’t one single shred of evidence she did anything wrong,” they claim.

Hmmm, shred of evidence … could that shred of evidence possibly be in one of the missing (or shredded) emails?

Look, if Bernie doesn’t run, Charlie doesn’t vote. But I’ll have a blast watching (and commenting on) the entire so-called election process. What is really a fiasco, Alex. If the Dems want people like me back in the fold, they’ll have to grow a pair … like an old football coach (Yaker) of mine used to say: “It’s as simple as that.”

And when Bill O’Reilly speaks up for Hillary (he claims he hates “left wing hit jobs”/ she claims it’s a “great right wing conspiracy” seeking her destruction), well, that should tell you all you’ll EVER need to know about whether or not you should demand that YOUR party demand she recuse herself from “her turn” ... and that they find someone with at least the sniff of respect (and/or decency) to present as their champion of working men and women. So long as they let her kiss up to Goldman Sachs and apologize for anti-Wall Street rhetoric, well ... thanks, but no thanks.

According to a piece in Politico Magazine, former Secretary of State and likely 2016 presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, had some harsh words related to progressives in her $400,000 speeches for Goldman Sachs and friends. Clinton decided to use her speaking opportunity before the super rich to attack those criticizing Wall Street and its numerous criminal practices.

Is that too Red State for you?  Try this version (click on link) Try not to laugh out loud when she claims they came out of the White House "dead broke."
Seriously, Dems, that’s the person you’re trying to convince liberals to vote for? You’re trusting HER to help working families? And you want us to wake up? Do you really believe she won’t cave to a deal with Republicans and appoint another business friendly Supreme Court Justice?

Good luck with that ...

Comic book movies make me upchuck my pablum! This is what I tell my wife and my kids … and everybody else … they think I’m a true curmudgeon when it comes to my distaste of multi-million dollar movies about friggin’ comic book characters. Oy vey, vey iz mir … Sorry, but I just can’t do it (watch one of these silly movies). I can occasionally have a 10 minute laugh at a clip of one of the older comic movies (Nicholson as the Joker—hell, I even quoted one of the lines as the epigraph to Charlie Opera (“This town needs an Enema.”). It takes place in Las Vegas (for the most part). But asking me to enjoy non-stop car chases, bombings, shootings, etc., etc. … while some putz dressed for Halloween saves the world? Well, that’s asking too much. Yeah, I’m probably a curmudgeon when it comes to Captain America, Batman, Superman, et al … it’s too silly for my tastes (this coming from a man who LOVED Popeye and all three Austin Powers movies … but does that disqualify me from mocking the choices my brats and wife make (over and over and over)? Who cares! Give me something I can at least make believe has something to do with reality, or make it a complete joke (Nicholson’s Joker), but until then I’ll be passing on the next installation of The Incredible Hulk and the collection of Avengers that make me shake my head in disbelief every time I see one of the trailers on television (or in the movies).

It’s also why I tend to watch far more foreign flicks than American movies … it’s got nothing to do with sophistication (remember, my first app upload on the new phone I’ll never use is a fart board) … I just find comic book characters as appealing as toe fungus.

I mean, come on … look at that silly shit above. I know they're getting millions, but how do they perform in these movies with straight faces?


Let's Go Bolts!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Book reviews: As Close As You’ll Ever Be … Words to Die For … ESPN’s Britt McHenry … Bolts vs. Wingless in Detroit … Johnny Porno in Poland …

As Close As You’ll Ever Be, by Seamus Scanlon … see, how it works is, you keep looking and sometimes you luck out and find it … and sometimes it finds you. The author was looking for people to help fund his McGowan Trilogy (previously performed in New York and now heading to Galway, Ireland), so I thought, why not? Let me take a bite … and its taste was delicious. This is some very powerful writing, amici. The stories in this book are violent, often hilarious, and always profound. From Galway to where one of my sons lives these days, Washington Heights in Manhattan … just powerful, powerful stuff.


Words to Die For, Lynn Kostoff … well, it’s already received a *STARRED* review from Booklist, so all I can add is the following: Simply put, Words to Die For is another brilliant novel from one of the very best in the business, Lynn Kostoff. It’s 1986 in Indiana, where Raymond Locke works miracles at a public-relations firm called Public Domain. What he does is provide damage control to fuck-ups (whether they’re individuals, corporations, or the greedy SOB’s running the corporations). He’s very good at his job and is famous in the industry for saving a Bishop after the Bishop’s mistress committed suicide and left a very destructive note behind. Raymond is married to the love of his life (love at first sight), Kate. They have an autistic child, Andrew, who requires constant attention and care, but the strains of his job and their son place their marriage in jeopardy.

When an outbreak of salmonella and other poisoning occurs on the heels of Public Domain’s biggest client, Happy Farms Chickens’ (whose motto is: Only The Rooster Gets A Better Piece Of Chicken) grand opening of a couple of fast-food restaurants, a 10-year old girl winds up in a coma. Raymond has to step up big time to try and save the company from the greedy corner cutting it may have enacted for the sake of profit. Not a very envious task to have (protecting scumbags), but Raymond has to do his job and it’s crucial he get it done if he wants to save his marriage and maintain the week-to-week affordability of his stress-filled life. The girl, Tina Brackett, has a father who’s been to hell and back as regards luck, but he’s now sporting less than half a deck. He’s a major problem for all concerned, especially since nobody can figure out what exactly his angle might be … does he intend to sue his former employer, Happy Farms, or take a settlement (of sorts). There are a couple of opportunistic journalists seeking higher profiles of celebrity (and perhaps a Pulitzer) determined to bring down the owner of Happy Farms Chicken, an unlikeable little shit named Lamar Ditell. There’s also an opportunistic prosecutor looking to hang a murder charge on Ditell should the young girl die. There’s a ton going on and all of it is intriguing and very thought provoking. One is constantly asking oneself, why is this decent man working to protect such scumbags?

Against the backdrop of this 1986 story is Iran-Contra scandal (talk about spinning something into nothing) … Kostoff does a wonderful job of juxtaposing the two disasters; how they’re ultimately perceived by a public helplessly hypnotized by the drama spun by professionals. Think that’s not possible? This morning a public opinion poll show 56% of Americans in favor of putting ground troops back in Iraq.

A passage I particularly loved shows how Raymond often felt about his job rescuing people from their lapses in judgment and/or stupidity and/or bad nature(s): As long as he continued to feel appalled. Raymond told himself, he’d be all right. Appalled kept him from getting lost. Appalled was good. Appalled was the line of breadcrumbs he dropped in order to find his way back home.

Words to Die For is brilliant writing, start to finish. Kostoff once again leaves this reader envious of what is obviously his natural gift of masterful craftsmanship. He remains one of the very best in the business today.


ESPN looks horrible, yet again … and they can thank this beauty queen.

“I’m in the news, sweetheart, I will (expletive) sue this place,” McHenry said in the video published online by LiveLeak.

“Yep, that’s all you care about, is just taking people’s money,” McHenry said. “With no education, no skillset, just wanted to clarify that. … Do you feel good about your job? So I could be a college dropout and do the same thing? Why, cause I have a brain and you don’t?”

As she walks out of the lot, she tells the attendant to “lose some weight, baby girl.”

Remember that the woman actually warned Ms. McHenry that she was on camera … so, afterward, once the video went viral, the ESPN starlet had this to say: “As frustrated as I was, I should always choose to be respectful and take the high road. I am so sorry for my actions and will learn from this mistake,” McHenry said.

TK responds to her response with a great big, FUCK YOU, LADY!

And, of course, TK has a resolution to this mishap. Forget a 1-week suspension. How about ESPN do the right thing and FIRE THIS OVER-PRIVILEGED ASSHOLE.
I'm in the news? Really? What a fucking accomplishment. So is Aaron Hernandez in the news.

Bolts-Wingless in Detroit … Oh, Baby … we SO OUTPLAYED the Wingless in Detroit the other night, I couldn’t sleep all night. What was keeping pucks out of their net? No problem, luck like that won’t happen again. Saturday, we begin the sweep!


Johnny Porno in Poland … well, here are the covers …


Saturday, April 11, 2015

The McGowan Trilogy (Seamus Scanlon) … Breathing Lessons … Hockey Playoffs … Crazy Coppers …

It’s time for some of us to put our coin where our hearts are … Seamus Scanlon, an award winning author and playwright, has a request for some support for his highly praised McGowan Trilogy. It is to be staged again (it first appeared in New York by the Cell Theatre in 2014), this time in Galway, Ireland. Check out the Fundit! Site and drop some coin his way. Support the arts!

Some reviews: A trio of plays that begins with comedy and irreverence and ends with pathos and loss is surprising, original and hugely enjoyable - Christian O’Reilly (Chapatti)'

Scanlon’s irreverent evisceration's of the pieties of Irish nationalism are darkly comic, disturbing and curiously affecting - Declan Hughes (Digging For Fire, All The Things You Are)'

Wolf Meets World are pleased to announce that we will be producing and staging, the Irish Premiere of 'The McGowan Trilogy' by Seamus Scanlon.

Published by Galway based company Arlen House, The McGowan Trilogy follows the exploits of IRA Assassin Victor McGowan over a 2 year period in 1980's Ireland which consists of three plays, Dancing At Lunacy, The Long Wet Grass & Boys Swam Before Me, which will be staged in Galway City together as a 3 act showcase.

We are thrilled and honored that Seamus has chosen Wolf Meets World to be the company to stage the Irish premiere of this finely written, award winning play and that he has also come on board as co-producer.

The play will be directed by Galway Playwright/Director Adrian Lavelle, with John O Connor as production and stage manager.

Fund it here!:

Check out more about Seamus here:

And the play here:

And I just ordered a book of his stories here:

Come on, Amici … this is money well spent.

Breathing Lessons, Anne Tyler … the last (for a little while) of my Tyler reads, this one deals with a middle-aged married woman’s attempt to salvage a relationship with her grandchild, repair her son’s marriage, and restore immediate family to some sense of normalcy. Maggie Moran can’t help being the busybody she is, nosing into one mess after another, albeit with best intentions. Her son is a wannabe rock star who managed to get a 17 year old (Fiona) pregnant. Maggie more or less steered them into marriage and help oversee her granddaughter throughout the impossibility of holding everything together. Her husband, Ira, is the opposite of Maggie. He sees things with the logic and reason of a scientist, except he has some preconceived emotional baggage that (at least) skews his perceptions of the world at large. Jesse and Fiona are already living apart for a few years when we meet Maggie. She's driving out of car repair shop to pick up her husband so they can attend her best friend’s husband’s funeral a full state away. Maggie is listening to talk radio about the state of marriage when she hears Fiona’s voice claim that she’d already married for love, but now she is marrying for security. Maggie is temporarily shocked; she's just pulled into the street when she reacts without thinking and hits the gas instead of the break ... and a Pepsi truck nails her fender. Tyler takes us through Maggie and Ira’s perspectives of what’s going on their lives, then Maggie’s perception of their past, bringing it back to the current situation (post funeral attendance), when Maggie schemes to bring Fiona and Jesse back together. No spoilers, but I’m convinced that anything by Ms. Tyler is well worth the time, effort and coin. She’s a wonderful writer.

Get Breathing Lessons here:

SNHU MFA News … two sign with agents … Beth Orozco '14 has signed with Jill Marr of the Dijkstra Literary Agency for representation of her thesis novel At River's Edge … and Ted Flanagan has signed with Julie Stevenson of Waxman Leavell Literary Agency. Major league congrats! As most of us know, there are far more publishable works out there than ever get to see the light of day … and finding and securing an agent is often more difficult than finding a publisher. So let’s hear it for Beth and Ted! SNHU MFA’ers rock!

And more good news from the program … Black Coffee, a short story by Heather Atwood '15 is in the spring issue of Blue Guitar. Read it here: We've featured Heather here at TK before ... she's well on her way.

NHL Playoffs … well, I’m filling out my bracket soon as I can so I can win, at the least, another cellphone I’ll never use. My pick to win it all? The Tampa Bay Lightning … who else? Go Bolts!

Above, one of the California’s finest beats the shit out of a woman … yes, a woman.
Crazy Coppers … what’s left to say about this issue, except I think it’s pretty fair to stop assuming that only 10% of the aggregate police force (nationwide) are bad/corrupt/criminals, etc. Unless, of course, you excuse police for not reporting the crimes their fellow officers commit (whether it be engaging in an illegal beat-down or shooting an unarmed person in the back). I’m not sure what the percentage of cops in general are bad people (with licenses to do pretty much anything), but anyone who believes for a second that the stuff being caught on cameras these days is some kind of aberration, well … I hope the Easter Bunny left you something extra sweet.

And then there’s this latest California fiasco (below) … Nine cops going to work on a guy they just zapped with a taser … one has to wonder what percentage of their department should be locked up rather than carrying weapons and badges, although something tells me it’s probably higher than 10%.

And before we all laud the South Carolina Police Department for arresting and firing the cop who felt compelled to shoot at an unarmed black man’s back 8 times (hitting him 5 times and killing him), let’s not forget the same police department was perfectly willing to take his side of the story BEFORE someone released a video to the NEW YORK TIMES (because he feared the police might cover-up?) …

Let’s just hope the camera work of recent months forces some of these out of control punks/assholes into thinking twice before acting like the thugs the videos above show them to be. But let’s face it, video doesn’t always get it done. District Attorneys stall grand juries and avoid indictments for political reasons, and more often than not, it’s an accidental video that trumps a DA with motivations other than justice to do his or her job.

Until there are special prosecutors for incidents involving police, cops have no reason on earth to give up their unofficial omerta (the blue wall of silence) they continue practice day in and day out. The only difference between the way the mob once held judges, politicians, and dirty cops/police officials in their pockets and what we see today (as regards DA's refusing to indict police) has everything to do with District Attorneys being dependent on good relations with the police (i.e., the police have the D.A.’s in their pockets) … unless, of course, somebody films them doing something criminal … and even then, sometimes it won’t make a difference anyway.


Tom Waits … Romeo is bleeding

Old' 55 ...

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Women from Baltimore (novels by Anne Tyler & Laura Lippman) ...


The Women from Baltimore
Okay, so what does the Dominoes Sugar Factory have to do with the three novel reviews by two Baltimore authors below, yous ask?
Listen to me: The last scene of my next crime novel (Tommy Red) ends a few blocks from the Dominoes Sugar Factory, so when I was looking for images of Baltimore, rather than the gussied up harbor pictures, I went old school.
Dinner at the Homesick Diner … by Anne Tyler … Pearl Tull is blind and on her deathbed as she reflects on the hard life she’s lived. Her husband, the father of their three kids, ran off without plans to return. Pearl never really told her kids their daddy took off and instead claimed he was away on business (which he often was), but that he’d be back … until they no longer bothered to care or cared to bother. The three kids are very different, but all shared similar experiences living under the often cruel mothering Pearl often exhibited. The novel is told in each character’s perspective. Her eldest son, Cody, has it in for his younger brother, Ezra. Ezra isn’t a whirlwind of energy or the contrariness often exhibited by his older brother, but he is Pearl’s favorite (not that that saves him from some very cruel discipline) … Cody hates how so many people take a shine so fast to his brother, especially girls. He has a desire to exact some kind of revenge on Ezra, while Jenny, Pearl’s second child, is an adorable young lady with the smarts and desire to excel in spite of some romantic mistakes. Ezra is the child readers will find closest to their hearts (much like Pearl’s protectiveness) … he befriends those shunned by most others … he takes on a job in a restaurant and dreams of one day owning one he can equate to home (albeit a fantasy home he never really experienced) … Ezra wants to have a restaurant with a homey atmosphere that would quell homesickness … no point in spoiling any of this wonderful novel. Just read it and see how it turns out.
Another EXCELLENT Anne Tyler read … how I found this (and so many other great authors) so late in my stay on this planet doesn’t really baffle me. I was good at being ignorant to anything that didn’t have to do with the sports I followed religiously, and later the streets I earned from, but that’s the beauty of surviving past mistakes (and remaining healthy enough to read) … you get to keep learning.  All glory goes to teachers.
Earthly Possessions … also by Anne Tyler … although the concept initially intrigued me (a woman about to leave her husband goes to the bank to withdraw some cash and winds up a bank robbery hostage) … this one took some time for me to engage. The fortunate thing about that is it is a short read … and although it doesn’t measure up (for me) to either The Accidental Tourist or Dinner at the Homesick Diner, it did come around towards the end. The last few chapters really made the difference for me. Charlotte Emory has had it with her preacher husband, two of his three brothers, and her life in general … which is what takes her to that bank in the first place. The story is told in alternative time, the hostage situation, versus Charlotte’s past, and how she came to meet, marry and later want to leave her husband in the first place. Earthly Possessions was my 3rd consecutive Tyler book and I’ll no doubt read all her works before the end of the year … I’d go with one of the other two first, but this one is also worth the time, effort and cost in coin.
After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman … I read a Laura Lippman book every few years and I’m never disappointed. I don’t follow her Tess Monaghan series, but that has nothing to do with whether or not they’re worth the follow—I’m sure they are, but I prefer standalones in general. After I’m Gone caught my eye when I read somewhere about it having to do with a former bookmaker with a wife, three kids, a few mistresses (but just one that counted) fleeing the scene (business/family/everything and everybody) from fear of a federal charge. What happens to the women he leaves behind is the crux of the story, although following the Cuban born retired Baltimore homicide detective working as a consultant on cold cases is the character we follow every other chapter throughout his investigation into the missing/murdered mistress. Her mysterious disappearance occurred ten years to the day the bookie, her love interest (and husband and father to the other women—his wife and three daughters) went on the lam.  It’s a tale well told via clever character introspections. I was sucked in early on to Sandy Sanchez (the retired homicide detective/consultant doing the cold case investigation ), quickly sympathizing with everything about the guy, from his understandable (yet seemingly unacceptable) flaw of not having a relationship with his severely autistic son, to the heartbreak of losing the wife he so loved. By mid-book I was rooting for everybody, it seemed. There’s some great touches of Americana dating back to the 1950’s, through the 70’s, 80’s, 90’ and so on (when I appreciated the introspection most), and the ending is an exciting surprise.


Sara Bareilles ...