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Monday, August 2, 2021

Mystery Fill-in-the-Blank Game 8/2021

Let's play a game this week! 

I am going to list partial titles and you try to fill in the blanks. All the books are by the same author, which is a clue. At the end of the titles, supply who the author of these books was.

You are on the honor system playing this, try completing this without the aid of the internet.  In a few days I will supply the answers and you can post how many you got right in the comments.  I did this in a very low tech sort of way :-)

1) A _________ for Death

2) A ________ to Murder

3) A __________ Justice

4) __________ and Desires

5) The _______ Tower

6)  The Murder _____

7) ___________ Causes

8) The ________ Patient

9) Death in ______ ________

10) Cover Her _______

The Author of all these books is: _____ _________

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Friday, July 30, 2021

Movie Review - Blowout

Blowout (1981)
Directed by the great Brian De Palma

Jack Terry (John Travolta) is a movie sound effects technician from Philadelphia for horrible, exploitive b-movies that were the rage at the time of filming.  

Travolta's character is out late one night, on a bridge, recording owls and other night sounds for his job, when he witnesses an accident. It appears a car has a blowout, swerves off another bridge, and plunges into the river. Travolta dives in and rescues a girl (Sally) inside.  Later he discovers that the car's dead driver was a potential presidential candidate.

When he reviews the audio he recorded that night, he believes he actually captured audio evidence of an assassination of the presidential hopeful. A conspiracy takes center stage as Travolta's character begins to investigate what happened and his life is increasingly in danger.

The supporting cast includes John Lithgow and Dennis Franz. The film's tagline in advertisements was, "Murder has a sound all of its own".

Originally the movie received a few glowing reviews, but not across the board. The movie didn't do well at the box office initially, either.  But in 1994, director Quentin Tarantino noted how it was one of his favorite movies and it was largely why he cast Travolta in "Pulp Fiction".  Presto, the movie was born again to fresh eyes who say it has many merits. 

The striking and stylish visuals were filmed mostly at night. The main character of Jack and crash survivor Sally are well developed and wounded.  I have read some people consider this one of Travolta's best performances.

Interesting bit of trivia: during editing two reels of footage were stolen and had to be reshot to finish the film.

"And yet, the reputation of "Blow Out" has continued to grow in the 40 years since it first came out. While the technological aspects have certainly changed, the story has not aged at all—in an era in which people are more willing than ever to find conspiracy in everything, it now feels more in sync with the times than ever before and even the infamous finale feels like less of a shock. It remains a work of stunning cinematic craft from one of our greatest, if too often undervalued, filmmakers and while he has made any number of other great movies over the years, this is the one he deserves to be remembered for above all."  Peter Sobczynski 

My thoughts: I saw this when it was first in the theater and it stuck with me. I always thought it deserved more credit than it received then.  This is a wound tight thriller that has aged incredibly well as a conspiracy theory and suspenseful tale.  De Palma drew out depths from Travolta that were hidden before this.  I feel it is well worth a viewing and is a good thriller movie without a bunch of gore. It has a web of intrigue, well done characters, and a honed plot.  I recommend this movie for suspense thriller fans.

Movie Trailer:

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Book Giveaway - A Peculiar Combination



I have some extra hard copy books, so I am going to give one away here and there.  the first is A Peculiar Combination by Ashley Weaver, hardbound book.  Click here for my review.

Book Blurb: "Electra McDonnell has always known that the way she and her family earn their living is slightly outside of the law. Breaking into the homes of the rich and picking the locks on their safes may not be condoned by British law enforcement, but World War II is in full swing, Ellie's cousins Colm and Toby are off fighting against Hitler, and Uncle Mick's more honorable business as a locksmith can't pay the bills any more.

So when Uncle Mick receives a tip about a safe full of jewels in the empty house of a wealthy family, he and Ellie can’t resist. All goes as planned―until the pair are caught redhanded. Ellie expects them to be taken straight to prison, but instead they are delivered to a large townhouse, where government official Major Ramsey is waiting with an offer: either Ellie agrees to help him break into a safe and retrieve blueprints that will be critical to the British war effort, before they can be delivered to a German spy, or he turns her over to the police.

Ellie doesn’t care for the Major's imperious manner, but she has no choice, and besides, she's eager to do her bit for king and country. She may be a thief, but she's no coward. When she and the Major break into the house in question, they find instead the purported German spy dead on the floor, the safe already open and empty. Soon, Ellie and Major Ramsey are forced to put aside their differences to unmask the double-agent, as they try to stop allied plans falling into German hands."

Entry for giveaway lasts until Friday August 13th 6:00 p.m. (MST).  U.S.  entries only please.  

I will be shipping the book to the winners.

How to enter:

*** First, you must be an email subscriber to this blog***

All entries are to be in the comments for this post.  ALL ENTRIES WITHOUT AN EMAIL ADDRESS ARE DISQUALIFIED.

I will accept entries for this giveaway until 6:00 p.m (MST) on  Aug 13, 2021.    I shall notify each winner via the email address you provided to get your mailing address and have the prize sent directly to you.  If I don't hear from you in 3 days, I will select another winner and notify them.

IF you are an email subscriber of this blog, you only need to leave a comment with your correct email.

BECOME an email subscriber of this blog if you aren't already and enjoy the celebration of all things mystery and suspense.

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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Review - Smoke and Lies

I recently read where one person saw many correlations between this series and the Sebastian St. Cyr series by CS Harris.  I believe this is far more on the intrigue side and not as grim as Sebastian St. Cyr series that is a solid detective investigating sometimes gruesome murders.  I find this a welcome change when I don't want the darkness of Sebastian St. Cyr but rather the rush of political intrigue during the fascinating Napoleonic time period.

I have followed this series from the beginning: 

1 --SWEET REVENGE (click here)  

2 -- THE COCOA CONSPIRACY (click here), 

3 -- RECIPE FOR TREASON (click here)  

AUTHOR Interview -- (click here). 

Author: Andrea Penrose

Copyright: May 2018 388 pgs

Series: 4th in Lady Arianna Regency Mystery series

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical suspense, amateur sleuth

Main Character: Lady Arianna Saybrook

Setting: 1814 London, at sea, Italia island of Elba

Obtained Through: personal purchase

Book Blurb: "Now that peace reigns in Europe and Napoleon has been exiled to the island of Elba, Lady Arianna and her husband, the Earl of Saybrook, are determined to put government sleuthing aside. But the head of British security has other ideas . . .

Rumors are rife that Napoleon may be plotting to take back the French throne and plunge the Continent into another war. So when Saybrook learns that his Spanish cousin has gone missing on the island under mysterious circumstances, he and Arianna feel they have no choice but to undertake a secret mission to Elba for the government and unravel the serpentine tangle of truth and lies.

Friend or Foe? From the start, they find themselves up against treachery and deceptions. And for Arianna, things become even more difficult when she encounters ghosts from her past, forcing her to make fundamental choices about love, loyalty, family and friendship. Once on Elba, she and Saybrook—along with some unexpected allies—must match wits with a deadly enemy and the great Napoleon himself. And with the clock ticking, all the last-minute machinations come down to a question of Luck . . ."

Arianna is a smart action oriented character, perfect for intrigue and improvisation as she dons disguises and chases shadows. She has a troubled past and many bad life experiences that come back to haunt her in this addition to the series.  Alessandro De Quincy, the Earl of Saybrook, is more of a forceful presence yet he has had his share of grief and difficulty in his life due to serving in war.  These two rely on each other as they can't trust their allies in this mission. One such ally is Lady Plessy-Moritz who clearly has an additional mission, and perhaps even her own ulterior motives at play.  Then there is Count von Wolfram, Wolf for short, a dangerous con man from Arianna's past also tasked to work with them but seemingly hiding something as well.  Plus an American Navy officer, Captain Hamilton, is a rocky ally since American and England have barely ended a war.

Ms. Penrose incorporates setting expertly.  They are at sea for a bit of the story and you feel salt air and waves tossing the ship.  Once on the Isle of Elba, the sense of eyes watching every move and ears listening to every breath is ever present.  Great job with the setting.

Nothing is quite what it is supposed to be. The journey by sea could have dragged, but rather it is filled with intrigue, this only gets more intense once they reach Elba.  The pacing builds towards the climax and is well done.

 The climax is filled with urgency, bravery, and perilous danger.  Everything I love as well as a few revelations.  Great job.  

I must say, I love the intrigue this series always delivers. It is my go to for a great historical suspense and the characters of Arianna and Saybrook I find very enjoyable.  This outing was filled with cloak and dagger and danger lurking all handled quite well.  Ms. Penrose is at the top of her game.  If you are looking for less gruesome murders and more spy master intrigue, this is the series for you.

Rating: Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list 

Here is a short video of Elba and Napoleon's time there.

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Monday, June 28, 2021

Movie Review - Wait Until Dark

Wait Until Dark, a psychological thriller, started as a play before becoming a movie.  The original 1966 play starred Lee Remick and Robert Duvall.  Lee Remick was nominated for a Tony award for Best Actress in a play for her performance.  In 1998 the play had a successful revival with Marisa Tomei and Quentin Tarantino in the cast.

The Movie

In 1967, just one year after the play debuted, it was made into a movie starring the legendary Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna, and Efram Zimbalist Jr.  Rotten Tomatoes rated it a rare 96% with the consensus saying "Nail-bitingly tense and brilliantly acted, Wait Until Dark is a compact thriller that makes the most of its fiendishly clever premise."  Metacritic gave a weighted average score of 81 out of 100 saying it had universal acclaim.  Bravo included the movie in their 100 Scariest Movie Moments based on its climax (which was the only time I have ever screamed in a movie). The American Film Institute ranked it #55 in its top one hundred thriller movies.


Recently blind urban wife Susy is adapting to life without sight when her photographer husband, Sam, unwittingly becomes a drug mule.  A woman in the airport convinces Sam to take her antique doll until she can collect it from him.  She had stolen Heroin and hid it in the doll.  She is later killed by the men she stole from.  Sam takes the doll home and waits for the woman to return and collect the doll. Sam is contacted for another photography job and must travel, leaving Susy alone with the cheated drug dealers after the doll.  Realizing she is blind, they try to trick and con her out of the doll. 

My Thoughts

This movie is certainly a nail biting thriller that ratchets up the suspense like Hitchcock.  The climax truly was the only time in my entire life I screamed - not from any gore but the wound-tight tension and surprise in the scene.  It is clearly dated with its mild drug traffickers when today's audiences are used to more violence and gore, but the masterful building of tension is timeless.  It reflects a more trusting time as well for Sam to take the doll in the first place.

I contend that this was Audrey Hepburn's absolute greatest acting, hands down.  This is more than a "woman in jeopardy" thriller.  It is a cat and mouse game in the plot.  But at its core it's about a blind, fearful woman learning she is stronger than she ever imagined and that her "disability" can be her strength.  If you haven't seen this movie at all, or recently, treat yourself to this well directed and acted thriller.  Let me know if you have a reaction to the climax, even a little!

Here is a short movie trailer:

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