With a personal viewpoint, writing about the arts stops sounding like Newspeak. Here is the best gift I can give an artist—a flash of my impressions of the work as open as I can divine them, uncluttered by social and historical baggage, and free of plot-spoilers.


Photographs were taken of or from Point Richmond, California and Champaign, Illinois.


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TIME’S UP by Janey Mack

TIME’S UP ©2015 by Janey Mack stars a fabulous, feisty heroine. Maisie McGrane and her four brothers are Black Irish, first-generation Chicagoans. Her family are all cops and lawyers (including her parents). Maisie has had a life-long dream of being a cop, which is now thwarted, so, with characteristic deviousness, she becomes a meter maid, prone to mishap and misadventure.

BADLANDS by C. J. Box

The first C.J. Box I read, THE HIGHWAY, I found riveting. Naturally, I dashed out to the library and snapped up BADLANDS ©2015, the next in the series.

BADLANDS is even better, but don’t start here because the long story (with recurring characters) is much richer.

. . . a nameless review

One of the traits I envy fiction writers is their ability to tell the unfettered truth about their characters’ thoughts, the emotional interaction between characters, and their view of life. Me, I’m usually polite. I don’t often write reviews of books I dislike but this one just rang all my bells.

It’s crime fiction about five women who are in their seventies, in lazy pursuit of their individual bucket lists. Doesn’t that sound charming?

THE HIGHWAY by C. J. Box

C.J. Box’s THE HIGHWAY ©2013 is a thriller about a serial killer on the highways in the mid-west US. At first I feared the story would be fem-jep and torture porn, but it turns out that C.J. Box is a gifted writer and, without travelling that path, he had my imagination anticipating the worst. Obviously a serial killer does appalling things to his victims and we fear for the safety of a couple of young women, but the on-screen violence is a swift blur.

The story is compelling. Several unanticipated events rip holes into one’s expectations for the storyline. The only part that’s serenely lovely is the scenery.

What a ride!

WRITTEN OFF by E. J. Copperman

WRITTEN OFF ©2016 by E. J. Copperman stars a crime fiction writer, Rachel Goldman, whose protagonist jumps off the page into her life as a semi-official police presence. Naturally a huge leap of disbelief is required, but surprisingly realistic as amateur detective fiction goes—I mean if I wrote crime fiction and my hero came to life, I’d probably be thinking much of what the protagonist of this story does. Furthermore (don’tcha love sentences that start with "furthermore"), E. J. Copperman is a pseudonym of a charming writer. So one watches oneself watching the writer watching E. J. Copperman molding Rachel as she interacts with her detective who has come alive—the whole premise is nuts, right?

Issues To Consider When You Self Publish

This is part of the series Lively Discussions on Crime Fiction. Since LinkedIn’s group search capabilities have diminished, we’ve provided this summary.

Of the many tasks before your book is published, here are a few relevant discussions for self-publishers.

To access these links, you’ll need to be a member of our FREE Crime Fiction group on LinkedIn.

If you have comments or questions, please use the Contact form (tab) at the top of the page.

Memorable Books of 2015 on DorothyL

From December through mid February, readers of DorothyL listserv posted their favourite books read (for the first time) during 2015 to the DorothyL list.

Our volunteer Allocator read all DL posts and forwarded relevant emails to our volunteer processors (fondly known as Indefatigable Sharpies), each of whom copied, cleaned and pasted data from those emails into an Excel spreadsheet which they then forwarded to me. I did some more data cleansing, and then sent out a cry to the list for volunteers to verify submitted data (copyright dates, titles of books and authors).

SHEPHERD LAKE by Peter Rennebohm

The talented Peter Rennebohm is back with a new tale featuring Charlie Nash and his dog in SHEPHERD LAKE ©2015. We first met Charlie, some years ago, in BLUE SPRINGS. Both books are written in the tradition of vintage adventure stories, full of suspense and derring-do.

LITTLE BLACK LIES by Sharon Bolton

I found LITTLE BLACK LIES ©2015 by Sharon Bolton a complex read. The person who starts this story is angry and full of grief, and it took me several attempts over several days before I could read beyond a few paragraphs. This is a case where a Cast of Characters would have been helpful and prevented my having to go back and reread prior sections of the story.

ASSUME NOTHING, BELIEVE NOBODY, CHALLENGE EVERYTHING by Mike Craven

Intruiging title, eh? Invigorating. Sometimes hilarious. I’m not fond of short stories, mostly because there’s not enough time to get beyond the punchline, to learn about the lives of the characters. This collection of six short stories in ASSUME NOTHING, BELIEVE NOBODY, CHALLENGE EVERYTHING by Mike Craven ©2015 exceeded my expectations in most particulars. We come to care deeply about Detective Inspector Avison Fluke’s team of police- men and women. They’re a clever and thoughtful bunch.