Generous Maggie Mason sent me Margalit Fox’s Conan Doyle for the Defense: THE TRUE STORY OF A SENSATIONAL BRITISH MURDER, A QUEST FOR JUSTICE, AND THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS DETECTIVE WRITER and reading it brightened up my day. I vaguely remembered this case mentioned in a couple of the A. Conan Doyle biographies I’ve read over the years, but Margalit Fox sharpens up the details and presents a compelling story of the years of struggle Doyle undertook to clear an innocent man.

In 1908, a wealthy woman was found murdered in her Glasgow home. As usual, the police pinned the crime on a convenient suspect: Oscar Slater, an immigrant Jew. Despite Oscar Slater’s obvious innocence, he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to life at hard labor in a harsh Scottish prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Already world famous as a best selling author and the creator of Sherlock Holmes, A. Conan Doyle–outraged by the injustice of this case–became obsessed with proving Slater’s innocence. Doyle used the methods of Sherlock Holmes when he analyzed the trial transcripts, interviewed eyewitnesses, and identified the many inconsistencies and fabrications invented by the police and the prosecutors to frame an innocent man. It should come as no surprise that in 1927 A. Conan Doyle’s years of work on this case resulted in Slater’s freedom. If you’re a fan of true crime, you’ll enjoy Conan Doyle for the Defense. If you’re a Sherlockian, this is a must-read! Thanks again, Maggie, for sending this excellent book my way! GRADE: A
Author’s Note
Prologue: Prisoner 2988
Book one: Diamonds
A footfall on the stair
The mysterious Mr. Anderson
The knight-errant
The man in the Donegal Cap
Book two: Blood
The original Sherlock Holmes
The art of reasoning backward
A case of identity
Book three: Granite
The trap door
“Until he be dead”
The cold cruel sea
Arthur Conan Doyle, consulting detective
The strange case of George Edalji
Prisoner 1992
Book four: Paper
“You know my method”
The ruin of John Thomson Trench
Cannibals included
The purloined brooch
The gates of Peterhead
More light, more justice
The knight and the knave
Epilogue: What became of them
Cast of Characters


HQ Trivia is a wildly popular live game show that you play on your cell phone (I play on Diane’s iPhone) where you can win a real cash prize every day. Patrick and Katie introduced me to the game almost a year ago and downloaded the free app to Diane’s iPhone. I enjoy trivia games so I played HQ Trivia frequently. The host or hostess asks 12 questions. You have 10 seconds to tap your answer to each question. If you answer all the questions correctly, you win a part of the cash prize. In the game where I was a winner, the cash prize was $5,000! I had made it to the Last Question five times. Four of those times, I picked the Wrong Answer. Frustrating! But this fifth time, I finally got a question in Literature:
What poem did the American poet who helped injured soldiers in the Civil War write?
1. “The Road Not Taken”
2. “I Sing the Body Electric”
3. “Because I Could Not Stop For Death”

I knew the answer was #2: Walt Whitman. That night 350,000 people played HQ Trivia. After 12 questions about 3000 people answered all the questions correctly. All the winners won…$1.35! For me, it’s not about the money, it’s the bragging rights! I WON HQ TRIVIA!


The Brave and the Bold features The Flash and Green Lantern chasing the genius gorilla Grodd. In a second adventure, Injustice For All, Lex Luthor assembles his own “Injustice League” consisting of Ultra Humanite, Cheetah, Copperhead, Solomon Grundy, Star Sapphire, The Shade, and The Joker in his quest to destroy the Justice League. I enjoy these animated DC collections. Also included are two Special Features: Save Gorilla City and Storyboards for Justice: Follow An Action Sequence From Storyboard to Screen With the Series Creators. Here’s 87 minutes of fun! GRADE: B+


“Now the disease of Trumpism has consumed the Republican Party and put the entire conservative movement at risk. It has been hijacked by a bellowing, statist billionaire with poor impulse control and a profoundly superficial understanding of the world. The blazing, white-hot embrace of actual, honest-to-God stupidity has been as contagious as small pox and as fatal as Ebola.” (p.6)

Rick Wilson’s Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever doesn’t pull any punches. As a political operative for decades, Rick Wilson knows the political score. He shows how the Republican Party–chiefly Reince Priebus, Paul Ryan, Roger Ailes of FOX New–failed to stop Trump early in the 2016 campaign. Wilson provides the flawed logic that eliminated all of Trump’s Republican rivals with the help of donors and FOX News stacking the deck in favor of Trump.

Wilson also gives a penetrating analysis of the strong Evangelical support of Trump: “Being a goddamned degenerate pussy-grabber with a lifetime of adultery, venality, and dishonesty is not, to my knowledge, one of the core tenets of the Christian faith. I can’t find it in either the Old or New Testament, and I’m not sure which book of the Apocrypha the ‘pussy-grabber’ exception comes in, but as noted earlier, I’m no biblical scholar.” (p 63)

With Paul Manafort flipping and the November Elections looming, life in Trump World is likely to get a lot more dicey. If you’re looking for an insightful and funny book about the Trump Presidency, I urge you to seek out Everything Trump Touches Dies. GRADE: A
Introduction; Everything Trump Touches Dies 1
Part 1 The Road To This Shitshow
What to Expect When You’re Working for Trump I
1 Vichy Republicans 17
What to Expect When You’re Working for Trump II
2 Furrowed Brows and Deep Concern 45
What to Expect When You’re Working for Trump III
3 Running with the Devil 61
What to Expect When You’re Working for Trump IV
4 That’s Why You Got Trump 69
What to Expect When You’re Working for Trump V
Part 2 Victims Of The Curse
Inside the Oval Office I
5 What We Lost with Trump 83
Inside the Oval Office II
6 The Media 95
Inside the Oval Office III
7 The Trump Base 101
Inside the Oval Office IV
8 Limited Government 125
Inside the Oval Office V
9 The Grown-ups All Die Too 143
Part 3 Surrounded By Villains
Top Secret Intercept I
10 Welcome to Hell 161
Top Secret Intercept II
11 The Trump Family Syndicate 175
Top Secret Intercept III
12 Team Crony 191
Top Secret Intercept IV
13 Clown Princes of the Trump Media 199
Top Secret Intercept V
14 Trump’s Island of Misfit Toys 225
Top Secret Intercept VI
15 The Alt-Reich 249
Part 4 After Trump
16 But Gorsuch 261
17 Trump Is Electoral Poison 269
18 My Party After Trump 289
Epilogue: Post-Trump America 301
Notes 313
Acknowledgments 327


After the 47-3 beatdown in Baltimore last Sunday, the Buffalo Bills Brain Trust decided to bench QB Nathan Peterman (5 for 18, 24 yards, 2 interceptions) and start rookie quarterback Josh Allen against the mighty L.A. Chargers. I say “mighty” because last year the Chargers pummeled the Bills 54-24. Of course, Nathan Peterman’s FIVE INTERCEPTIONS in the First Half of that game contributed to the outcome of that game. The Bills Defense didn’t show up in Baltimore so today is their chance for Redemption. The Bills are 7 1/2 point underdogs at home. How will your favorite NFL team fare today?


Of all the members of the Justice League, Aquaman has always been considered the weakest link. But in Aquaman: Rage of Atlantis, Aquaman loses his beloved Queen Mera and his half-brother Orm. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and rookie Green Lantern Jessica Cruz confront an interstellar threat where Aquaman is the key to solving the mysteries. I’m a fan of these DC Animation/LEGO mashups. I enjoy the humor and the clever characterizations of these iconic superheroes. If you’re a fan of the Justice League, you’ll enjoy this off-beat adventure. Are you a fan of Aquaman? GRADE: B+


Mike Ashley’s latest volume in the Science Fiction Classics series, Moonrise, follows the pattern Ashley set in his previous anthology, Lost Mars: Stories From the Golden Age of the Red Planet (you can read my review here). Ashley includes early stories about the Moon like H. G. Wells’s “First Men In the Moon” and George Griffith’s “A Visit to the Moon” just to give the reader the flavor of speculation about the Moon a hundred years ago. Judith Merril’s “Dead Centre” and Edmond Hamilton’s “After Judgement Day” are likely to be more familiar stories. Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Sentinel,” although published in 1951, led to 2001: A Space Odyssey. If you’re a fan of theme SF anthologies, you’ll enjoy these mostly forgotten stories about the Moon. And Mike Ashley’s excellent introductions to the stories inform and delight! GRADE: B+
Dead Centre – Judith Merril 31
A Visit to the Moon – George Griffith 67
Sunrise on the Moon – John Munro 93
First Men in the Moon – H.G. Wells 105
Sub-Satellite – Charles Cloukey 151
Lunar Lilliput – William F. Temple 175
Nothing Happens on the Moon – Paul Ernst 221
Whatever Gods There Be – Gordon R. Dickson 247
Idiot’s Delight – John Wyndham 269
After a Judgement Day – Edmond Hamilton 317
The Sentinel – Arthur C. Clarke 335


Megan Abbott’s blurb exclaims “Bracing and blazingly smart…could hardly be more needed or more timely” on the cover of Dead Girls. Alice Bolin explores the theme of dead girls in crime fiction, movies, and TV. From the death of Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks to the mysteries of Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald, Alice Bolin traces the American obsession with missing and dead girls. The perfect example of this phenomenon is the late Summer media domination of the search for missing (and then dead) Molly Tibbitts in Iowa. FOX News showed its obsession with Molly Tibbitts while ignoring the more provocative happenings in Trump World. Dead Girls is strongest when Alice Bolin deals with crime and mysteries rather than her hypochondria and witchcraft. I enjoyed Bolin’s perspective in these essays. GRADE: A-
Introduction: Girls, Girls, Girls 1
Part 1 The Dead Girl Show
Toward a Theory of a Dead Girl Show 13
Black Hole 25
The Husband Did It 47
The Daughter as Detective 57
Part 2 Lost in Los Angeles
There There 89
Los Angeles Diary 99
Lonely Heart 109
The Place Makes Everyone a Gambler 117
The Dream 137
Part 3 Weird Sisters
A Teen Witch’s Guide to Staying Alive 159
And So It Is 177
My Hypochondria 187
Just Us Girls 199
Part 4 A Sentimental Education
Accomplices 215
Acknowledgments 275

SCREAM FOR JEEVES: A Parody By P. H. Cannon

A couple weeks ago Jeff Meyerson mentioned a Lovecraft/Jeeves mashup. It took a spirited search to find P. H. Cannon’s Scream for Jeeves (Wodecraft Press, 1994) but I finally tracked it down and reread it. P. H. Cannon is a Lovecraft expert. Cannon’s H. P. Lovecraft (Twayne, 1989) provides a survey of Lovecraft’s stories and discusses key aspects of Lovecraft’s short life. Scream for Jeeves consists of three short stories. The first, “Cats, Rats, and Bertie Wooster,” involves Bertie and Jeeves in a mission to help Bertie’s old friend, Tubby Norrys. Underground horrors and strangeness abound. In “Something Foetid,” Bertie and Jeeves confront a stinky situation involving a reclusive Spanish doctor with a passion for cool air. My favorite story in this book is “The Rummy Affair of Young Charlie” where Aunt Agatha dispatches Bertie and Jeeves to aid a family friend, Charles Dexter Ward, who has met up with Erich Zann in a room on Rue d’Auseuil (a place on no known map). Also included in Scream for Jeeves is P. H. Cannon’s essay, “The Adventure of the Three Anglo-American Authors: Some Reflections on Conan Doyle, P. G. Wodehouse, and H. P. Lovecraft.” Cannon gives the reader plenty to think about with these three unique writers. GRADE: B+


Imagine that Germany and Japan won World War II and are crushing the Resistance in the United States. That’s the premise of Freedom Fighters: The Ray. This Alternative Earth is called Earth-X. A band of meta-humans including The Ray fight the Nazis and support the Resistance. When The Ray is wounded during a fight with Nazi meta-humans, he’s sent to our Earth. The Ray passes his powers over to 22-year-old civil servant, Ray Terrill. Ray Terrill finds having superpowers both fun and scary.

With the help of The Flash and Green Arrow, The Ray learns how to master his powers. But Big Decisions–in Ray Terrill’s personal and superhero life–loom large. I’m a fan of these DC Animated movies. If you’re in the mood for a adventure in Infinite Earths, give Freedom Fighters: The Ray a try. GRADE: B+