About the Whodunit Book Club

Whodunit Book Club has met in its present location for almost seventeen years! If you would like to join us, our meetings are held on the last Tuesday of every month (except December).
We meet at the Chapters Store located at 41 MicMac Blvd., Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Phone (902) 466-1640

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lisa Lutz interviews

Since this month's Whodunit title was "The Spellman Files" by Lisa Lutz, I thought some might be interested in these online interviews with the author.

Interview #1:
Interview #2:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"The Spellman Files" part 1

I say part 1 because of course this title will be dealt with in depth at the June 30th meeting of Whodunit.

Finished reading this month's Whodunit title "The Spellman Files" by Lisa Lutz. A quick, entertaining read but not exactly what I would call a mystery per se. The book read like it would make an excellent script for a comedy film.
My casting for the film version goes like this:
Izzy Spellman = Sandra Bullock
Little sister Rae = Abigail Breslin
Brother David the lawyer = James Spader
Father Albert = Gene Hackman
Mother Olivia = Dixie Carter
Uncle Ray = Robert Forster
Daniel the dentist = Greg Kinnear
Stone the cop = Mark Ruffalo

Disagree with my casting? Then by all means write a comment!

Oh, and by the way, since when do dentists actually clean teeth? Don't they have dental hygienists in San Francisco?
Don't you think the Spellmans must have a share in a car parts business? I've never heard of so many broken tail lights or slashed tires...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

"Die with me"

Just finished reading a debut novel by Elena Forbes. "Die with me" was a pleasant surprise! Forbes included all the elements of a mystery/psychological thriller that much more seasoned novelists sometimes have difficulty with.
The protagonist is the broodingly handsome DI Mark Tartaglia who inherits a murder case because of the fact that his mentor/DCI is in the hospital recovering from a serious accident.
A modern police procedural mystery set in West London, the crime involves the apparent suicide of a young girl. However it soon come to light that the girl was 'assisted' in her death by a man and that this was not the first young girl to meet her end in the same manner! Someone seems to be targeting the most 'lost' girls and exploiting their vulnerability for his own sadistic pleasure.
Just when things get interesting for Tartaglia and his sergeant Samantha Donovan a new DCI is appointed to the case in a position above him... a woman, the formidable Deputy Chief Inspector Carolyn Steele. With her comes a profiler, Dr. Patrick Kennedy.
What I particularly liked about this novel was the deep characterization. I felt I knew all the characters well and the satisfactory ending left me wanting more. Since it said on the jacket flap that Forbes is now writing the sequel, I look forward to another quality series!

An interview with Elena Forbes is available online.

Monday, June 8, 2009

"He grassed me up!"

Anyone who has ever read a British mystery has probably heard the expression "he grassed me up!" or read someone described as being 'a grass'.
The phrase/term means someone who informs to the police.
I for one have always wondered where the expression originated.
Word and phrase origins are one of my interests, so when I chased this one down I thought I'd share it via blog. I found the answer on the website "Phrase finder".
Inform on someone to the police.
In 2005, British newspapers picked up on a story about a burglar who had stolen cash, jewelery and an African Grey parrot from a house near Hungerford, Berkshire. David Carlile, widely described in the press as 'feather-brained', explained to the police that he knew that African Greys could talk and he didn't want the bird to 'grass him up'.
'Grassing up' has been a commonly used expression in the UK since the mid 20th century, but is less common elsewhere. The first known use of 'grass' in that context is Arthur Gardner's Tinker's Kitchen, 1932, which defined a grass as "an informer". Grass was a well-enough established word in the 1980s to have spawned 'supergrass', i.e. a republican sympathiser who later 'turned Queen's evidence' and informed on the IRA.
Informers are variously known as squealers, noses, moles, rats, snouts and stool pigeons. These terms invoke imagery of covert snooping around and of talking. Grass is less intuitive. It could just have arisen from 'snake in the grass', which derives from the writings of Virgil and has been known in English, meaning traitor, since the late 17th century.
There is another route to the word and this is via rhyming slang. Farmer and Henley's 1893 Dictionary of Slang defines 'grasshopper' as 'copper', i.e. policeman. The theory is that a 'grass' is someone who works for the police and so has become a surrogate 'copper'. The rhyming slang link was certainly believed in 1950 by the lexicographer Paul Tempest, when he wrote Lag's lexicon: a comprehensive dictionary and encyclopaedia of the English prison to-day:
"Grasser. One who gives information. A 'squealer’ or ‘squeaker'. The origin derives from rhyming slang: grasshopper - copper; a 'grass' or 'grasser' tells the 'copper' or policeman."
That comes only a few years after the term grass was coined and there seems little reason to doubt it as the derivation. The original users of the term 'grass up' were from the London underworld and would have certainly been better acquainted with rhyming slang than the works of Virgil.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Murdoch mysteries on TV

As mentioned in a previous post on this blog, the Maureen Jennings Murdoch mysteries were televised this week. I had to watch as the books are amongst my favorites.
What a disappointment! Although the actor who plays Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) is not hard to look at, the whole feel of the show struck an off chord with me.
When I watch a historical piece on Masterpiece Theatre, I am THERE. Totally immersed in the time period with the realistic characters. When I read Maureen Jennings' books I feel the same. Watching the Murdoch mysteries however, I felt that the actors were obviously 'play-acting'. The acting was poor, the whole feel of the piece FAKE. The depiction of the electrical apparatus and testing was poorly done. The suitcase with the recorder actually had a stove element as an antenna!
All in all, I don't think I'll spend another hour watching this show. Besides I could be reading a Maureen Jennings novel instead.... MUCH BETTER!

Arthur Ellis Award announced!

On June 4th The Crime Writers of Canada announced that former Toronto Star columnist Linwood Barclay has won the Arthur Ellis award for best novel for his book "Too close to home".
The psychological suspense thriller is about the killing of a family in a quiet suburban neighbourhood and the secrets that emerge in a seemingly peaceful town.
I haven't read it yet, but it sounds like a great read!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Euphemisms for Death

Most mystery novels have one thing in common.... There is usually ALWAYS a dead body. As mystery readers you must have heard many different euphemisms for death. I thought it would be fun to list some of them for your entertainment. Some I'd heard of before some I hadn't. I've put them in alphabetical order. The first one is one I'd not heard before but is one of my favorites!

At room temperature
Became living-challenged
Big sleep
Bought a pine condo
Bought the farm
Bumped off
Buy it
Cash in (or out)
Ceased to be
Checked out
Crossed over
Crossed the bar
Crossed the River Styx
Dance the last dance
Deader than a doornail
Dirt nap
Done for
Eat it
Gathered to his people
Gave up the ghost
Get your wings
Go into the fertilizer business
Gone into the west
Gone to meet their maker
Got a one-way ticket
In a better place
In the grave
In Hell (or Heaven)
In repose
Kicked the bucket
Kicked off
Met his maker
Moved into upper management
No longer with us
No more
Off the twig
Passed...(over, on, away, etc)
Popped off
Pushing up the daisies
Resting in peace
Return to the ground
Rubbed out
Run down the curtain
Shuffled off the mortal coil
Six feet under
Sleeping with the fishes
Snuffed out
Sprouted wings
Stone dead
Struck out by the big blue pencil
That good night
Toes up
Wearing a toe tag
Went belly up
With the ancestors
Worm food

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Blog comments

Just thought I'd mention that I sent author Ariana Franklin an email to tell her that we had covered her book "Mistress of the art of death" in club. I sent her links to this blog and my website. She replied! Her reply can be found under comments at the bottom of the post for the book club meeting dated May 26, 2009. Just click on the comment to read her reply.
If you want to leave a comment yourself on any of the blog posts, just click on the '0 comments' at the bottom of the post and another page will open ready to receive your comment.
I hope to hear from you soon!

"They died in vain"

I work at a public library and recently came across a mystery reference book titled "They died in vain: overlooked, under-appreciated and forgotten mystery novels". A quote from the back cover "If characters die in a mystery novel, and no one reads their story, have they died in vain?"
What a great premise for a reference work! Makes me want to read all the titles listed just so that the characters won't have met their end in obsurity...

A few of the titles/authors mentioned are:

"A question of guilt" by Frances Fyfield
"Jitterbug" by Loren D. Estleman
"The victim in Victoria Station" by Jeanne M. Dams
"The christening day murder" by Lee Harris
"Lonely hearts" by John Harvey
"Fugitive colors" by Margaret Maron
"A show of hands" by David A. Crossman