1997 Opinionated Book Reviews

Fiction to lose yourself in

when your motherboard dies

There is a review on a separate page of the outstanding children’s book by Australian artist Graeme Base, My Grandma Lived In Gooligulch. (30 April 1997.)

Marissa Piesman has her fifth Nina Fischman mystery out, Survival Instincts. I was almost rolling on the floor laughing. Wry, bawdy, different, entertaining, clever. Nina moves back to Manhattan after leaving her workaholic lover in L.A. A lawyer without a job, she lives with her mom, who is no mean shakes as an amateur detective.

Nina is hired by a writer for the New Yorker to help investigate the murder of a scientist who was researching a herpes vaccine. Did the animal rights folks snuff him? Find out. I wouldn’t recommend this unless it were sprightly. Meet Nina.

Marissa Piesman is co-author of The Yuppie Handbook. I enjoyed that too.

Shelly Reuben, award-winning author and Private Investigator, who presented a workshop at Magna cum Murder III, really knows her stuff. You must read Origin and Cause. You will love the whole book, and learn more about arson investigation than you knew existed. I can’t recommend this highly enough. Shelly has subsequent books out that I am panting to buy.

I know, someone might think arson isn’t exciting enough, but any subject, in the hands of the right writer, can be galvanizing. There are bodies! Read it.


The Man Who Understood Cats by Michael Allen Dymmoch. I hadn’t expected to be so knocked over by the skill of this author, but I should have known better. It garnered awards and praise galore.

Dymmoch’s attention to detail is unparalleled. I have heard her speak about the lengths she goes to to be accurate. Hugh Holton, author of the amazing Presumed Dead and Braintrust, a Commander on the Chicago police force, is one of her mentors. Dymmoch’s book combines police procedure with absorbing psychological study. The plot pulls you in, leaving you looking for the movie and the sequel.

I, the used-book empress of the county, bought two new hardcover copies of this book so I would have one to lend. It doesn’t get any better than this.

The Man Who Understood Cats by Michael Allen Dymmoch, St. Martin’s Press, New York. Avon pb ©1993. ISBN 0-380-72265-8. Malice Domestic Award winner for Best First Traditional Mystery.

The second book in the series is The Death of Blue Mountain Cat. It’s equally excellent. Blue Mountain Cat is a Native American painter murdered at his show at a prestigeous gallery. It takes a really good writer to get me interested in art-related mysteries. I couldn’t put this one down.

I Should Have Stayed Home, The Worst Trips of Great Writers, edited by Roger Rapoport and Marguerita Castanera. ©1994 Book Passage Press, Berkeley CA US. Barbara Kingsolver who wrote The Bean Trees, etc., Joe Gorres who wrote the side-splitting 32 Cadillacs, etc., Michael Dorris (The Broken Cord, etc.,) Paul Theroux, the inexhaustible travel writer, and a great many other talented writers relate harrowing tales of their travel misadventures. Don’t read it before you start off on a journey.

I’ve been deeply disappointed to find I have almost no time to read, because of keeping up this large website. I also make pages for other people and organizations. So in order to read, I have to stay up very late at night. Even then I have to finish all my technical periodicals first. This has cut down drastically on my reading time. Before my website, I would have had at least three books a week to add here. Now I find I had not updated this page for ten months. This current page is a rushed update.

My heart is heavy tonight because I just learned of the death of Michael Dorris. His books had an impact on my life. It is a terrible loss for the whole reading community, and beyond. (17 April, 1997.)

Where do I come up with these books? Some are quite new, but the travel books are mostly from Hyde Brothers Used Books on Wells Street in Fort Wayne, Indiana. My major favorite source for more easily obtainable books is A Common Reader from Akadine Press. James Mustich, Jr. has made the best use of a Liberal Arts degree with his Akadine Press publishing and sales business. His reviews are worth every minute you spend reading them. He is just now venturing on-line. Let’s welcome A Common Reader.

Another winsome source of my books is Main Bookshop in Sarasota, Florida. My favorite spot on bookearth, the Main just got a web presence. Beware. It’s quicksand! This is the largest remainder bookstore anywhere. Enfold yourself in it if you go to the Gulf Coast of Florida. Otherwise (and in addition!)sink into the web ambiance and discover my great sponsor, Mysteries By Mail

Links to other bookish pages

  1. See my page on Magna cum Murder IV , the great mystery writers and fans conference coming up at Ball State University in late October, each year.
  2. The Arsenic and Oolong Society for mystery fans has a fun site now. Mirbane. the Butler of Wotney Hall will teach you how to plant a corpse.
  3. I just received an email from a webmaster, inviting me to a new site. You must visit. This detective is Andi Wicksham, P.I. of the book series by RL Bell. The large website is maintained by Lena Kovid. I especially want you to see the page content. Conceptually, it sets a standard for all writers to match.
  4. Kate Derie is much better at this field than I. But of course you already visit ClueLass regularly.
  5. More to come. Just don’t forget my pages, she cried plaintively.

My victorian style line divider is a gift from the amazing Sonya Marvel

Speed your comments to me, editor@tentativetimes.net

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