Author Archives: george


If you’re a fan of lists, The Armchair Detective Book of Lists is pure gold. The Armchair Detective Book of Lists was first published in 1989. I have the “REVISED SECOND EDITION” published in 1995. My favorite entries “The Ten Best First Mystery Novels” by Marv Lachman, “Famous Authors Pick Their Favorite Mystery Writers and Novels,” and “The Most Fiedishly Ingenious Locked-Room and Impossible-Crime Novels of All Time” by Douglas G. Greene. This book is a browser’s delight! GRADE: A
Contents And the Winner Is . . . 1
1. The Mystery Writers of America Awards 3
The Grand Master Awards 4 The Edgar Allan Poe Awards 5
Best Novel 5
Best First Novel by an American Author 13
Best Paperback Original 22
Best Short Story 26
Best Fact Crime 38
Best Critical/Biographical Work 46
Best Young Adult Mystery 51
Best Juvenile Mystery 52
Best Episode in a Television Series 59
Best Television Feature or Miniseries 66
Best Motion Picture 71
Best Foreign Film 79
Best Play 80
Best Radio Drama 81
Outstanding Mystery Criticism 82
Special Edgars 84
The Ellery Queen Awards 88
The Robert L. Fish Memorial Awards 88
The Raven Awards 90
2. The Crime Writersâ Association of Great Britain Awards 97
3. Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Awards 106
4. Independent Mystery Booksellers Association’s Dilys Winn Awards 109
5. International Association of Crime Writers’ Hammett Awards 111
6. The Wolfe Pack’s Nero Wolfe Awards 112
7. The Bouchercon World Mystery Convention Anthony Awards 113
8. Private Eye Writers of America Shamus Awards 116
9. Mystery Readers International’s Macavity Awards 119
10. The Malice Domestic Agatha Awards 122
The Critics Have Their Say 125
11. The Haycraft-Queen Definitive Library of Detective-Crime-Mystery Fiction 127
12. Queen’s Quorum: The 125 Most Important Books of Detective-Crime-Mystery Short Stories, Selected by Ellery Queen 137
13. Otto Penzler’s Top 100 Sherlock Holmes Books 142
14. Robin W. Winks’s Personal Mystery Favorites 153
15. The Armchair Detective Readers’ Survey 164
16. The Drood Review’s Editors’ Choice Lists 167
17. The Sunday Times 100 Best Crime Stories, Selected by Julian Symons in 1957–58 170
18. The Hard-Boiled Dick: A Personal Checklist by James Sandoe 175
19. H. R. F. Keating’s 100 Best Crime and Mystery Books 181
20. Most Frequently Taught Crime and Mystery Writers 186
21. The Ten Best Mystery Reference Works, Selected by Jon L. Breen 188
22. The Ten Best First Mystery Novels, Selected by Marvin Lachman 190
23. James Corbett’s Ten Greatest Lines, Retrieved by William F. Deeck 192
24. The Most Fiendishly Ingenious Locked-Room and Impossible-Crime Novels of All Time, Selected by Douglas G. Greene 194
25. Firsts Magazine’s List of 25 Rapidly Appreciating Mystery Books 196
26. The Top Ten Mystery Movies of All Time, Selected by Ric Meyers 198
27. The Top Ten Mystery TV Series of All Time, Selected by Ric Meyers 201
Some Famous Authors Pick Their Favorite Mysteries 205
28. Famous Authors Pick Their Favorite Mystery Writers and Novels 207
29. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Favorite Sherlock Holmes Stories 220
Mystery Booksellers Make Their Recommendations 221
30. Mystery Booksellers’ Favorite Mystery Books/Authors 223
Mystery Organizations, Conventions, and Publications 239
31. Organizations 241
32. Author Fan Clubs and Newsletters 245
33. Mystery Fan Conventions 255
34. Mystery Periodicals 259

ELYSIUM FIRE By Alastair Reynolds

Elysium Fire is a mashup of a police procedural and a space opera. The Glitter Band is a collection of ten thousand habitats circling the planet of Yellowstone in Deep Space where independent thinkers reside in a nearly perfect democracy. They can pretty much do anything they want…and they do. But, humans being human, some people get out of hand and that’s where the Prefects of Panoply come into play. They police the Glitter Band when things get out of control. And things are out of control as a series of residents are being murdered by having their brains explode.

Prefect Dreyfus, hero of 2007’s The Prefect (aka, Aurora Rising), races against time as the body count rises. The clues to these murders lurk in a twisted past where a secret group produces tampered memories and unleash a power that could destroy the millions who live in the Glitter Band. On top of all this, Alastair Reynolds weaves in a critique of democracy and the role of police power. There’s a lot going on in this book! Highly recommended! GRADE: A

WHITE HOUSE TURNOVER: 12 Top Trump White House Staffers Who’ve Left So Far, From Steve Bannon to Hope Hicks to Gary Cohn

When White House Communications Director Hope Hicks resigned last Wednesday, she was only the the latest of a series of high-profile departures from President Donald Trump’s administration. Top Economic Advisor Gary Cohn just announced he’s leaving because of Trump’s crazy Tariff plan!

Hope Hicks is also the fourth person to vacate the White House Communications Director position in a little more than a year, following Anthony Scaramucci, Sean Spicer, and Mike Dubke. It’s not unusual to have some turnover after a president’s first year in office, but this White House’s revolving door shows how chaotic the White House has become since Trump moved in.

Here’s a partial round-up of those who’ve left ― either gracefully or with an escort ― since Trump took office:

Michael Flynn ― National Security Adviser
Trump’s former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned last February following revelations about conversations he had with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn has since been cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. In December, he pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian government.

Mike Dubke ― Communications Director
Mike Dubke served as Trump’s communications director for three months between February and May, 2017 before his resignation. He wasn’t an especially public figure, rarely appearing on television or talking to reporters on the record.

Sean Spicer ― White House Press Secretary and Communications Director
Spicer became one of the most ridiculed members of the Trump White House during his tenure as press secretary, including several notable spoofs on Saturday Night Live that made his lectern antics household knowledge. He abruptly resigned last July.

Reince Priebus ― Chief of Staff
Reince Priebus, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, spent a little more than six months as White House chief of staff before he quietly submitted his resignation. Priebus continually butted heads with other powerful voices in the West Wing, including then-Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and the short-lived communications director Anthony Scaramucc. Then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, took over the role in July.

Anthony Scaramucci ― Communications Director
Scaramucci served in the White House for a mere 10 days after joining the administration. His tenure was heaped in controversy, including a profanity-laced interview with New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza. As the gregarious Long Island native’s departure was announced, Trump sent out a tweet reading “No WH chaos!”

Steve Bannon ― Chief Strategist
Former Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon, once considered an untouchable confidant of the president, left the White House last August after spending the first half of the year helping shape Trump’s “America First” agenda. While the administration wished him the best at the time, he quickly became a political pariah after a very public feud with the president centering around quotes in a book where he declared actions by Donald Trump Jr. as “treasonous.”

Tom Price ― Health and Human Services Secretary
Price resigned following a firestorm over his extravagant use of private and military planes for official travel. A series of flights cost American taxpayers more than $1 million, according to Politico, and despite his attempts to quash the controversy, he resigned the post a week after the expenses were first disclosed.

Omarosa Manigault Newman ― Director of Communications, Office of Public Liaison
Newman, a former reality television star who first rose to fame on “The Apprentice,” resigned from her role in December “to pursue other opportunities.” Her sudden departure was followed by reports that she was escorted from the property, although she has maintained that she resigned and was not fired. She went on to criticize the Trump administration during an appearance on “Celebrity Big Brother” and even said she wouldn’t vote for the president again “in a million years.”

Sebastian Gorka ―Deputy Assistant
Gorka was an early addition to the administration after having served as an adviser during Trump’s presidential campaign. He quickly became one of the most vocal defenders of Trump’s policies, including the controversial travel ban. Gorka, a U.K. native with alleged ties to an anti-Semitic Hungarian group, left his White House job in August. He claimed he resigned from the role, but an unnamed administration official suggested in a statement to multiple media outlets that he was either fired or forced out.

Rob Porter ― Staff Secretary
Porter left the White House under a cloud of controversy after two of his ex-wives said that he had physically and emotionally abused them. The former staff secretary was able to serve in the White House for months with an interim security clearance that allowed him to view some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets, even though the claims of abuse had stalled his FBI background check. The revelations have prompted Chief of Staff John Kelly to revamp security clearance procedures, and 30 top aides were recently stripped of their own interim clearances, including the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Hope Hicks ― Communications Director
Hicks’ resignation marks the departure of one of Trump’s most trusted advisors. The enigmatic 29-year-old has worked for the president for years, despite having no previous political experience. She recently spoke with Mueller as part of his ongoing probe, and reportedly said she sometimes tells “white lies” for the president. CNN reported on Wednesday that comments made by Hicks in 2016, just days after Trump was elected, have been the subject of questions by the special counsel.

Who’s next? Stay tuned! I’m guessing Jeff Sessions is toast.


This animated movie came out in 2008, but I just got around to popping it into my Blu-ray player and viewing it. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ll want to check this out. Yes, many critics dismissed Star Wars: The Clone Wars as a long commercial for the television series of the same name which debuted on October 3, 2008. Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano undertake a dangerous mission to rescue Jabba the Hutt’s son. But wait, there’s more! Obi-Wan Kenobi and Master Yoda lead an army of clones against the droid army while the forces of the Dark Side rise. I found Star Wars: The Clone Wars to be 98 minutes of fun! GRADE: B+
A Creative Conversation video commentary by director Dave Filoni, producer Catherine Winder, writer Henry Gilroy, and editor Jason W.A. Tucker
The Clone Wars: Untold Stories: preview stories, vehicles, planets, and battles of season 1 of Star Wars: Clone Wars TV series (in high definition)
The Voices of the Clone Wars: voiceover actors and animated characters in split-screen performances (in high definition)
A New Score: composer Kevin Kiner establishing a new musical identity for the series (in high definition)
Gallery of Concept and Production Art (in high definition)


We’re still living with the effects of the Vietnam War. Max Boot’s The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam explores the possibility that the war in Vietnam could have been avoided if Edward Lansdale’s advice had been taken. Lansdale was a CIA operative who managed to stop a Communist group in the Philippines with an anti-insurgent strategy. Lansdale believed in political and social reform at the village level to build support for the Government.

Max Boot does a great job of setting the scene in the Philippines (including Lansdale’s long-term affair with a local woman) where Lansdale and the CIA learn how counter-insurgency techniques work. With that success, Lansdale and others are recruited for the effort to stop the Communist threat in Vietnam. Of course, Vietnam was an entirely different problem. Massive government corruption, political instability, and American military ineptness mixed with politics made the situation a giant mess. And Lansdale’s sound advice was ignored.

I’ve read a couple histories of the Vietnam War, but The Road Not Taken shows events through the activities of Lansdale and other operatives at the local level. Instead of the macro view, this book shows you the micro view of the events that lead to disaster after disaster. If you’re interested in a different approach to our involvement in Vietnam, I highly recommend The Road Not Taken. GRADE: A
Maps xii
Dramatis Personae xv
Prologue:The Day of the Dead: Saigon, November 1-2, 1963 xxiii

Introduction: The Misunderstood Man xli

Part 1 Ad Man (1908-1945)
1 In Terrific Flux 3
2 Enfant Terrible 16
3 An Institution Run by Its Inmates 33

Part 2 Colonel Landslide (1945-1954)
4 The Time of His Life 47
5 In Love and War 65
6 The Knights Templar 87
7 “A Most Difficult and Delicate Problem” 104
8 “All-Out Force or All-Out Friendship” 118
9 The Power Broker 136
10 “A Real Vindication” 157

Part 3 Nation Builder (1954-1956)
11 La Guerre sans Fronts 171
12 A Fortress Falls 185
13 “I Am Ngo Dinh Diem” 196
14 The Chopstick Torture 214
15 Pacification 233
16 The Viper’s Nest 254
17 “Stop Calling Me Papa!” 277

Part 4 Washington Warrior (1957-1963)
18 Heartbreak Hotel 301
19 Guerrilla Guru 311
20 A New War Begins 332
21 The Ambassador Who Never Was 347
22 “The X Factor” 363
23 “Worms of the World Unite” 376
24 “Washington at Its Nuttiest” 400

Part 5 Bastard Child (1964-1968)
25 “A Hell of a Mess” 419
26 “Concept for Victory” 433
27 Escalation 444
28 The Impossible Missions Force 457
29 Waging Peace in a Time of War 471
30 To Stay or to Go? 490
31 Waiting for the Second Coming 502
32 The Long Goodbye 515

Part 6 The Beaten Man (1968-1987)
33 The War at Home 533
34 A Defeat in Disguise 549
35 The Abandoned Ally 564
36 The Family Jewels 575
37 The End of the Road 586

Afterword: Lansdalism in the Twenty-First Century 599

Acknowledgments 607
Notes 611
Select Bibliography 661
Index 677


I’ll try to predict the OSCAR winners, but I found the 2017 movies nominated good, but not great. First, if I were voting I’d go with LADY BIRD for BEST PICTURE. I’m a sucker for “coming-of-age” movies. I’d go with Francis McDormand for BEST ACTRESS and Gary Oldman for BEST ACTOR. I’d vote for Sam Rockwell for BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR and Laurie Metcalfe for BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS. But, I’m pretty sure that’s not the way things are going to turn out.
BEST ACTRESS: Francis McDormand for Three Billboards…
BEST ACTOR: Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Allison Janney for I, Tonya
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Richard Jenkins for The Shape of Water
BEST DIRECTOR: Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water
BEST MOVIE: The Shape of Water

Who do you think will win?


I’ve been enjoying Genevieve Cogman’s “The Invisible Library” series over the past few years. This new adventure features ultra-dimensional Librarian Irene Winters and her assistant Kai investigating the possibility of a corrupt Librarian in a world set in Prohibition New York City. Irene gets to play a woman gangster from England. There’s plenty of gunplay. But the crux of the plot involves the politics of the dragons.

If you’re looking for fun and frivolous reading, “The Invisible Library” series delivers. Who can’t enjoy the antics of a Librarian who acts like Modesty Blaise? You can read my review of The Invisible Library here. You can read my review of The Masked City here. You can read my review of The Burning Page here. GRADE: B


BAEN Books is in the middle of reprinting all of Poul Anderson’s Psychotechnic League stories. This second volume features mostly stories from the 1950s when Anderson was just formulating his projected Future. The third and final volume in THE COMPLETE PSYCHOTECHNIC LEAGUE series will be published in July 2018. If you’re a fan of Poul Anderson, you’ll love these stories. If you’re a fan of classic science fiction, it doesn’t get much better than this. My review of The Complete Psychotechnic League, Volume 1 can be found here. GRADE: A
Forward By Sandra Miesel 3
Quixote and the Windmill 7
Holmgang 19
Cold Victory 53
What Shall It Profit? 73
The Troublemakers 91
The Snows of Ganymede 141
Brake 217
Gypsy 255
Star Ship 273


Patti Abbott’s new book, I Bring Sorrow and Other Stories of Transgression will be published in the next few weeks. If you’re read Patti’s previous books, you’ll want to order this one RIGHT NOW! I asked Patti if she’d like to do a faux-By the Book post for you to enjoy. Patti graciously agreed. Here’s what she sent:

I am in Florida as I write this so the books on my nightstand are ones we have purchased here in the last three weeks. They include: Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan, Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld, American Wife, Curtis Sittenfeld, The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, The Burglar in the Closet, Lawrence Block, Sick Puppy by Carl Hiaasen and Trespass by Valerie Martin. I am sure by the end of our time here, the number will have doubled.

Offhand the books that have made me laugh the most over the years are the Hoke Moseley books by Charles Willeford, some Elmore Leonard, some Tom Perrotta, Lucky Jim, Kinglsey Amis, the work of David Sedaris, Jean Shepherd, David Lodge’s academic novels, some Kurt Vonnegut.

Books that have made me cry? Number one is the New York Times since November 2016. Also Mice and Men, Wuthering Heights, Room by Emma Donoghue, Atonement, Ian McEwan, Disgrace, J.M. Coetzee, Things Fall Apart, China Achebe, King Leopald’s Ghost, Adam Hochschild.

Three people who I’d invite to a dinner party? I have always found this a tough question because the writers you most admire or find interesting often seem inaccessible or intimidating. But if I could sit quietly and listen I would choose: Patricia Highsmith, Fran Leibowitz and Doris Lessing. I think these three women would be fun to watch have at it.

And don’t forget to go to tomorrow for Friday’s Forgotten Books hosted each week by Patti Abbott!


For the past 20 years or so, I’ve used TURBOTAX to prepare my Federal and State taxes. The early versions were sometimes overly complicated and frustrating to use. But, as time went on, Intuit (the company that makes TURBOTAX) improved the product so today’s version is simple and easy to use. I was worried that because I prepared my taxes on my DELL (Windows) computer last year, the TURBOTAX file wouldn’t be read by my new Apple iMac computer. But, no problems. I just inserted my USB drive with my tax files and TURBOTAX transferred all the information. Easy peasy!

Sadly, we have pay the Feds about $500 and New York State about $1,500. I’ll have to adjust our Withholdings for next year. Of course, next year we’ll take the new higher Standard Deduction and forget about itemizing (you probably will, too). In the long run, we’ll all be paying more in taxes. Have you done your taxes yet?