“DOUBLE TROUBLE” By GRETCHEN ARCHER

Every mystery written by Gretchen Archer has been complex with multiple subplots and complication upon complication building to a crashing yet happy ending. In this novel, the complications are so intricate you have to read carefully to pick up the clues.

Many authors write convoluted stories with the inevitable corpse showing up where a dead body is most unlikely. When it gets too labyrinthine, ye olde “Deus Ex Machina” drops by to fix everything.

Ms. Archer doesn’t have a Deus Ex Machina. If Davis found her way into the disaster, she will claw her way out. For every knot, she finds a way to unknot it before the book concludes.

This story begins with the Bird lady who runs the Lost & Found department. She is old. No one is sure how old, but very would be a good guess. She is forgetful. She has a unique way of doing things and that being said, no one knows exactly how she does whatever she does. Her entries use a unique shorthand. Birdie has her own coding system.

Gretchen with granddaughter during COVID-19 pandemic

Her codes and shorthand made letting her go a bit scary. Who’d figure out what was going on unless Birdie explained it — if she could explain it? She didn’t hear well or remember much. No one entirely understood her and she didn’t seem to fully understand herself.

There has been a massive rebuilding of the Belissimo Casino and Resort since it was nearly destroyed by Category Four Hurricane Kevin.

Davis Way is no longer in charge. She is a part-time employee. A quarter-time employee or even less. She adores her children but misses her work. She was warned to let Birdie go before something went terribly wrong, but Davis hadn’t quite gotten to it. Firing a very old woman from the only job she ever had isn’t easy. She intends to take care of it, but it’s been waiting in the wings.

Then, calamity happens. Just like everyone said it would.

Five-million dollars that never should have arrived at the Casino go missing. Birdie might have the money (probably not).  It might be one of the people Birdie worked with who Davis had not been allowed to vet. Or a third unknown party.

Bradley’s away on business and Davis hasn’t told him what’s happening. Moreover, she can’t find a babysitter that she desperately needs. This is why her mother arrived accompanied by Bea (her former mother-in-law) who definitely should not be there.

Also arriving are many baby tomato plants doused with dangerous fertilizer and the smell from hell. Davis hadn’t wanted to tell Bradley what was going on, positive she could handle it in just a few hours (NOT). Bianca won’t talk to her and …

Where are the $5 million dollars? What does the money have to do with the wedding cake? Who is taking care of Birdie’s cat? Who stole the Mercedes? Did I mention all those Elvis impersonators?

“Double Trouble” is the most complex Davis Way caper ever. You’ll need your best mystery-solving abilities to find your way to the end. It’s an exciting ride with never a dull moment! But if you know Gretchen Archer’s work, you’ll know that somehow, despite the madness, it will be resolved … and hopefully, all will be forgiven.

On a personal note, I wish that Gretchen would stop keeping everything to herself and tell Bradley the truth. Upfront rather than after the disaster. I always find myself muttering, “Good grief, just TELL him already!” But of course, if she did, there wouldn’t be a story to tell.

Other reviews of previous Davis Way Capers:

“DOUBLE TROUBLE” IS NOW AVAILABLE! AUDIBLE, KINDLE, AND PAPERBACK! GRETCHEN ARCHER

“DOUBLE TROUBLE” DUE FOR RELEASE JUNE 9!

Every mystery written by Gretchen Archer has been complex with multiple subplots and complication upon complication building to a crashing yet happy ending. In this novel, the complications are so intricate you have to read carefully to pick up the clues.

Many authors write convoluted stories with the inevitable corpse showing up where a dead body is most unlikely. When it gets too labyrinthine, ye olde “Deus Ex Machina” drops by to fix everything.

Ms. Archer doesn’t have a Deus Ex Machina. If Davis found her way into the disaster, she will claw her way out. For every knot, she finds a way to unknot it before the book concludes.

This story begins with the Bird lady who runs the Lost & Found department. She is old. No one is sure how old, but very would be a good guess. She is forgetful. She has a unique way of doing things and that being said, no one knows exactly how she does whatever she does. Her entries use a unique shorthand. Birdie has her own coding system.

Gretchen with granddaughter during COVID-19 pandemic

Her codes and shorthand made letting her go a bit scary. Who’d figure out what was going on unless Birdie explained it — if she could explain it? She didn’t hear well or remember much. No one entirely understood her and she didn’t seem to fully understand herself.

There has been a massive rebuilding of the Belissimo Casino and Resort since it was nearly destroyed by Category Four Hurricane Kevin.

Davis Way is no longer in charge. She is a part-time employee. A quarter-time employee or even less. She adores her children but misses her work. She was warned to let Birdie go before something went terribly wrong, but Davis hadn’t quite gotten to it. Firing a very old woman from the only job she ever had isn’t easy. She intends to take care of it, but it’s been waiting in the wings.

Then, calamity happens. Just like everyone said it would.

Five-million dollars that never should have arrived at the Casino go missing. Birdie might have the money (probably not).  It might be one of the people Birdie worked with who Davis had not been allowed to vet. Or a third unknown party.

Bradley’s away on business and Davis hasn’t told him what’s happening. Moreover, she can’t find a babysitter that she desperately needs. This is why her mother arrived accompanied by Bea (her former mother-in-law) who definitely should not be there.

Also arriving are many baby tomato plants doused with dangerous fertilizer and the smell from hell. Davis hadn’t wanted to tell Bradley what was going on, positive she could handle it in just a few hours (NOT). Bianca won’t talk to her and …

Where are the $5 million dollars? What does the money have to do with the wedding cake? Who is taking care of Birdie’s cat? Who stole the Mercedes? Did I mention all those Elvis impersonators?

“Double Trouble” is the most complex Davis Way caper ever. You’ll need your best mystery-solving abilities to find your way to the end. It’s an exciting ride with never a dull moment! But if you know Gretchen Archer’s work, you’ll know that somehow, despite the madness, it will be resolved … and hopefully, all will be forgiven.

On a personal note, I wish that Gretchen would stop keeping everything to herself and tell Bradley the truth. Upfront rather than after the disaster. I always find myself muttering, “Good grief, just TELL him already!” But of course, if she did, there wouldn’t be a story to tell.

Other reviews of previous Davis Way Capers:

“DOUBLE TROUBLE” AT THE BELISSIMO! BY GRETCHEN ARCHER

“DOUBLE TROUBLE” DUE FOR RELEASE JUNE 9!

Every mystery written by Gretchen Archer has been complex with multiple subplots and complication upon complication building to a crashing yet happy ending. In this novel, the complications are so intricate you have to read carefully to pick up the clues.

Many authors write convoluted stories with the inevitable corpse showing up where a dead body is most unlikely. When it gets too labyrinthine, ye olde “Deus Ex Machina” drops by to fix everything.

Ms. Archer doesn’t have a Deus Ex Machina. If Davis found her way into the disaster, she will claw her way out. For every knot, she finds a way to unknot it before the book concludes.

This story begins with the Bird lady who runs the Lost & Found department. She is old. No one is sure how old, but very would be a good guess. She is forgetful. She has a unique way of doing things and that being said, no one knows exactly how she does whatever she does. Her entries use a unique shorthand. Birdie has her own coding system.

Gretchen with granddaughter during COVID-19 pandemic

Her codes and shorthand made letting her go a bit scary. Who’d figure out what was going on unless Birdie explained it — if she could explain it? She didn’t hear well or remember much. No one entirely understood her and she didn’t seem to fully understand herself.

There has been a massive rebuilding of the Belissimo Casino and Resort since it was nearly destroyed by Category Four Hurricane Kevin.

Davis Way is no longer in charge. She is a part-time employee. A quarter-time employee or even less. She adores her children but misses her work. She was warned to let Birdie go before something went terribly wrong, but Davis hadn’t quite gotten to it. Firing a very old woman from the only job she ever had isn’t easy. She intends to take care of it, but it’s been waiting in the wings.

Then, calamity happens. Just like everyone said it would.

Five-million dollars that never should have arrived at the Casino go missing. Birdie might have the money (probably not).  It might be one of the people Birdie worked with who Davis had not been allowed to vet. Or a third unknown party.

Bradley’s away on business and Davis hasn’t told him what’s happening. Moreover, she can’t find a babysitter that she desperately needs. This is why her mother arrived accompanied by Bea (her former mother-in-law) who definitely should not be there.

Also arriving are many baby tomato plants doused with dangerous fertilizer and the smell from hell. Davis hadn’t wanted to tell Bradley what was going on, positive she could handle it in just a few hours (NOT). Bianca won’t talk to her and …

Where are the $5 million dollars? What does the money have to do with the wedding cake? Who is taking care of Birdie’s cat? Who stole the Mercedes? Did I mention all those Elvis impersonators?

“Double Trouble” is the most complex Davis Way caper ever. You’ll need your best mystery-solving abilities to find your way to the end. It’s an exciting ride with never a dull moment! But if you know Gretchen Archer’s work, you’ll know that somehow, despite the madness, it will be resolved … and hopefully, all will be forgiven.

On a personal note, I wish that Gretchen would stop keeping everything to herself and tell Bradley the truth. Upfront rather than after the disaster. I always find myself muttering, “Good grief, just TELL him already!” But of course, if she did, there wouldn’t be a story to tell.

Other reviews of previous Davis Way Capers:

COMRADE LEADER AND THE BLOGSTERS – Rich Paschall

A SERENDIPITY Fractured Spy Tale, by Rich Paschall

It was a long hall with high, vaulted ceilings, elegantly appointed with gold-leaf trim. The walls were appropriately red on the upper two thirds, with an elegant dark cherry wood wainscoting below. Down the middle of the hall ran a long table made of the finest dark wood. It could seat 20 comrades along each side. The room was empty now, except for the big man seated at the head of the table.

He was patiently waiting in the Great Hall of the Central Committee. The room was quiet and serene, just like the meetings presided over by the big man. As he sat admiring a portrait of himself, Comrade Number Eight entered the room and walked to the front of the hall. Number Eight stood at attention and waited to be acknowledged.

“Report!” ordered the man at the head of the table.

“Comrade Leader,” Number Eight began. “I am pleased to report the success of our blog writers in foreign lands. Already today, six more articles have been posted. They are all well received, especially the ones we have designated as coming from ‘news’ sites.”

“What is the most popular story you have planted recently?” the Leader inquired.

“Comrade Leader, we have reported that the main opponent of our appointed foreign leader is running a scandalous sex ring from the back of a Taco truck.”

The Leader of the Federation looks a bit confused at this.  “Taco Truck? What do you mean?”

“Comrade Leader…” said Number Eight hesitantly. All reports began by addressing “Comrade Leader” but from there he was not sure how to proceed on this one.

“This is a truck that travels around the streets selling food. Tacos, Tortas, Burritos.”

“And the political opponent runs a ‘sex ring’ from such a truck?”

“Yes, Comrade Leader.”

“And the people of that nation believe this story?”

“Oh yes, Comrade Leader. We placed the story on several blogs and it was picked up and distributed by other blog sites. It has even been run by some news stations.  It has many ‘shares’ and ‘likes’ on social media. It is being spread all around the country.”

At that. the Big Man, Head Mister of all the Misters on the Central Committee, stared at Number Eight with the most incredulous look Comrade Leader had ever given anyone. After a brief moment, he roared with laughter.  He was laughing so hard he nearly fell out of his high backed leather chair. Number Eight felt he could finally relax and laughed a little bit too.

“Have you designated a particular truck?” the important man wanted to know.

“No sir, Comrade Leader, sir. There are many of these trucks in the big cities and we wish to throw suspicion on all of them. With a little more prodding, we think the people will start attacking some of them.”

The leader laughed some more.

“Next week, Comrade Leader, we are going to have our asset speculate that these trucks are all run by illegal aliens and should be shut down. He will try to make a link between the illegals, his opponent and the sex ring. They are all selling prostitutes to fund the political campaign against our appointed one.”

“Stop, you’re killing me,” the boss man said as he was laughing so hard his sides began to hurt. “This is the funniest thing I have heard in years. Your team has done excellent work and brought me great joy. You will receive the People’s Medal for your achievement.”

“Thank You, Comrade Leader. I am very… (pause) pleased… that you are… (pause) pleased… sir” Number Eight puffed out his chest and stood in the Great Hall with a large smile on his face. It would not last long.

“Now, Number Eight, tell me how our special agents, Boris and Natasha, are doing on their secret mission.”

Number Eight looked down at the carpet that covered the floor beneath his feet. He did not know how to explain what was happening.

“I am sorry to say, Comrade Leader, that our operatives in the foreign land have not yet completed their assignment. We still have high hopes that they will succeed soon.”

“What has been the problem for them so far?” the leader of Covert Operations wanted to know.

“Sir, at every turn in the road they have been thwarted by two other agents who seem to be of superior intelligence.”

“I see, have you identified these other agents? We must deal with them severely.”

“No, Comrade Leader, but we have learned their code names, ‘Moose’ and ‘Squirrel.'”

The big man nodded his head knowingly as if he had encountered these crafty beasts before.

True patriots — American Heroes!

TOO MANY MURDER MYSTERIES – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Thursday: PROXY

As soon as whoever it is — usually, a child or grandchild of some older person shows up clutching a proxy in hand, evil will be done. The old person will be forced out of his home, all his possessions will be stolen right down to and including his most comfortable chair.

The two Barnabys

Soon, a scream will echo through the halls of the lordly manor as the corpse is discovered.

The REAL star of the show, Sykes

Will it be the old person or the young person … or, sometimes, someone apparently completely disconnected from the event? Barnaby and his sidekick Ben will investigate.

A little map of Midsomer

The truth will always surface and that person found dead — who I assure you will not be the only person found dead because no good Midsomer Murder has fewer than three murders in any episode — will ultimately be discovered to have some hidden, furtive relationship with everyone else.

Typical local home in Midsomer

Who is everyone else? Family, of course. And the wealthier and nobler the family, the more murders will have occurred before the show ends.

I always feel short-shrifted if there are fewer than three murders in an episode. And there has to be at least one scream.

YOU KNOW HOW TO WHISTLE, DON’T YOU? – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Whistle

TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT 
Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart (1944)

“Just put your lips together and BLOW!,” she said.

He blew.


Note: Lauren Bacall’s “real” name was Betty Persky, but Humphrey Bogart’s name was Humphrey Bogart, Jr.

DOUBLE AGENT by GRETCHEN ARCHER – LATEST GREATEST DAVIS WAY CAPER

DOUBLE AGENT – A DAVIS WAY CRIME CAPER #8
By Gretchen Archer


Print Length: 252 pages
Publisher: Henery Press 
Publication Date: March 26, 2019

It’s a category four — and soon-to-be category five — hurricane. They call it Kevin, but at the Bellissimo Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. they are calling it the “the end of the world.”

Maybe not the absolute end, but close enough. Nothing this powerful has come ashore since Katrina flattened Louisiana. The Bellissimo has been built to withstand a reasonable amount of weather stress. It is, after all, on that frequently thrashed southern U.S. coast … but nothing is built strong enough to take this kind of pounding.

So, the name of the game is evacuation. Davis Way wants to get everyone out the door and most especially, her twins, her husband and of course, everyone on the casino and resort staff. It looks like she and Fantasy have more than enough time to get it done.

They’ve been carefully monitoring the track of the storm. They have to cash out ten slot machines, secure the funds, then move everyone out of the reach of hurricane Kevin.

Sounds easy enough, right?

Wrong.

After clearing most of the slot machines, fifty million dollars of the cash vanishes. Instead, they find a corpse.

Definitely dead.

That would be bad enough, but there are more bodies to come. Bodies keep turning up while Davis is desperate to get everyone out of the Bellissimo.

At which point who should arrive but her boss and body double, Bianca Sanders. A woman who doesn’t appear to have a grip on what’s going on because she has fled to the Bellissimo to get out of danger, but while she was fleeing, the storm changed direction.

Who else has shown up?

Eddie, Davis’ ex-ex. And his pet pig. Or is it his girl friend’s pet pig? It’s definitely someone’s pet pig. Eddie has been shot and is sure he’s dying, but as it turns out, he’s not dying, but he’s sure his girlfriend is dead. She’s not dead either … but someone else IS dead because they found the corpse in the fountain in the main court.

There’s a double agent somewhere. Instead of evacuation, it’s more like coagulation including some very odd people. All of whom claim to be inspectors from one official agency or another, but … well … neither Davis, Fantasy, or Bradley … or those very strange and drunken meteorologists thought so either.

Meteorologists?

As the storm finally begins to make landfall and there’s a whiff of poison in the air. As Davis, Fantasy, and Bradley do their best to track down who is who and doing what and whether the Bellissimo is the victim of one incredibly complicated heist or possibly several unrelated but intertwining heists, a lot of lives and more than a few deaths are on the line as the various knots are teased apart and the water finally recedes.

This is by far the most lethal, complex, and frightening Davis Way caper to date. You’ll need your best mystery-solving abilities to find your way to the end. It’s an exciting ride with never a dull moment!

This is a sophisticated and extremely complex mystery. Until the end, I was not entirely sure who were the bad guys, the worse guys, the worst guys … and maybe not such bad guys after all. And occasionally, a good guy.

Gretchen Archer’s ties up all the ends into a neat bow. And it all makes sense.


 AVAILABLE ONLINE AND IN STORES — TODAY, MARCH 26th, 2019! 

THE NEW IBERIA BLUES, BOOK 22 – DAVE ROBICHEAUX – James Lee Burke

The New Iberia Blues:
Dave Robicheaux Series, Book 22

By: James Lee Burke

Narrated by: Will Patton

Series: Dave Robicheaux, Book 22
Length: 15 hrs and 3 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 01-08-19
Language: English
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio


James Lee Burke never fails me.

Every book he writes is rich, sensual, and powerful. The writing, the feel of the place and mood of the times. Of course, Dave Robicheaux and Clete are my favorites, but I have loved every book I’ve read by James Lee Burke, in and outside of the “Robicheaux” series.

I didn’t think they could get better, but this was better.

Why? Because the characters aren’t the same “kids” they were. They have aged, grown, and changed. They aren’t the same “guns blazing” Dave and Clete.

Life has been hard for both of them. Dave has lost three wives, one to Lupus and two to violence, but he’s not full of hate or looking for retribution. He’s an adult, a genuine grownup.

Both men have moved on with the understanding that life isn’t and won’t ever be exactly what they want. They aren’t expecting perfection, yet they are still involved, caring, concerned for each other and the world in which they live. They are entirely alive and deeply involved.

If you like James Lee Burke’s writing, there’s nothing not to love in this book.

Will Patton is a superb narrator (and a pretty good actor too, by the way). He may even be better than the original narrator who was himself, brilliant. What Patton has going for him is clarity of speech which enables him to use a reasonable southern accent, but clearly enough for we northerners to easily understand.

My only regret is that I read the book too fast.

I should have slowed down and made the story last longer. Maybe I’ll read it again.

Maybe I’ll read the last TWO again.


Note: This review is for the Audible.com version, but reading James Lee Burke as a regular book is just fine and in fact until quite late in the series, I read all his books in hardcover. I have all of the first books in hardcover, first edition. I know it’s sentimental, but I can’t help myself. I still love the smell and feel of a new hardcover book!

RELEASED TODAY! DOUBLE DOG DARE – GRETCHEN ARCHER

 DOUBLE DOG DARE  –  Gretchen Archer

From the publisher …

Print Length: 215 pages
Publisher: Henery Press 
Publication Date: March 20, 2018


Davis Way Cole has gotten stuck. Not permanently stuck, mind you, but stuck in the house, stuck with the kids, stuck in that life of children and housewifery that is a not-so-rare thing for working women. But the time has come for her to move out of the house and get back to work. There’s her family, of course and whenever they pop into her life, it just gets crazy. And there’s the Bellissimo casino. It has come a long way back from its near demise, but it has a way to go and it’s time for Davis to get back on board and help.

As it typical of all of Gretchen Archer’s hilarious yet incredibly complex novels, the dog show, the dogs, the people, the absolutely everything that could possibly go wrong or off the rails, does.

One of the truly delicious aspects of Ms. Archer’s writing is her ability to take a wildly complicated story, tie up all the ends, and come out in the end with all the hanging parts of the story neatly tied up in a proper bow. This one is no different and if it wouldn’t give away too much, I’d tell you more.

Double Dog Dare

Davis Way is growing up. Her world is still crazy. Her boss is definitely crazy and her family is charmingly wacko … but she’s maturing. She’s smart. She may not always make the perfect decisions, but she doesn’t make her decisions casually or without serious thought. She cares about people she is close to … and she also cares about all the people who ramble through her life. So the books aren’t merely funny. They are also warm and frequently touching. 

Want a sip from my Double Whammy cup?

Suffice to know that this is one intelligent, funny, thoughtful, weird, complicated book where everything is happening at the same time and it looks like it’s all different things. Yet, somehow, most of it comes together and all of it gets sorted out. This is a life and death tale that will leave you laughing, crying, and hugging your dog.

I gave all three of my dogs two extra biscuits.

A full five stars for DOUBLE DOG DARE! 


PAPERBACK RELEASED! DOUBLE DOG DARE – GRETCHEN ARCHER

 DOUBLE DOG DARE  –  Gretchen Archer

Print Length: 215 pages
Publisher: Henery Press 
Publication Date: March 20, 2018

Davis Way Cole has gotten stuck. Not permanently stuck, mind you, but stuck in the house, stuck with the kids, stuck in that life of children and housewifery that is a not-so-rare thing for working women. But the time has come for her to move out of the house and get back to work. There’s her family, of course and whenever they pop into her life, it just gets crazy. And there’s the Bellissimo casino. It has come a long way back from its near demise, but it has a way to go and it’s time for Davis to get back on board and help.

As it typical of all of Gretchen Archer’s hilarious yet incredibly complex novels, the dog show, the dogs, the people, the absolutely everything that could possibly go wrong or off the rails, does.

One of the truly delicious aspects of Ms. Archer’s writing is her ability to take a wildly complicated story, tie up all the ends, and come out in the end with all the hanging parts of the story neatly tied up in a proper bow. This one is no different and if it wouldn’t give away too much, I’d tell you more.

Double Dog Dare

Davis Way is growing up. Her world is still crazy. Her boss is definitely crazy and her family is charmingly wacko … but she’s maturing. She’s smart. She may not always make the perfect decisions, but she doesn’t make her decisions casually or without serious thought. She cares about people she is close to … and she also cares about all the people who ramble through her life. So the books aren’t merely funny. They are also warm and frequently touching. 

Want a sip from my Double Whammy cup?

Suffice to know that this is one intelligent, funny, thoughtful, weird, complicated book where everything is happening at the same time and it looks like it’s all different things. Yet, somehow, most of it comes together and all of it gets sorted out. This is a life and death tale that will leave you laughing, crying, and hugging your dog.

I gave all three of my dogs two extra biscuits.

A full five stars for DOUBLE DOG DARE! 


DOUBLE DOG DARE – DAVIS WAY MYSTERY #7 – BY GRETCHEN ARCHER

 DOUBLE DOG DARE  –  Gretchen Archer

Print Length: 215 pages
Publisher: Henery Press 
Publication Date: March 20, 2018

Davis Way Cole has gotten stuck. Not permanently stuck, mind you, but stuck in the house, stuck with the kids, stuck in that life of children and housewifery that is a not-so-rare thing for working women. But the time has come for her to move out of the house and get back to work.

There’s her family, of course and whenever they pop into her life, it just gets crazy. And there’s the Bellissimo casino. It has come a long way back from its near demise, but it has a way to go and it’s time for Davis to get back on board and help.

Of the many things no casino is supposed to present to the public, a dog show is probably high on the list. Especially this dog show where the pooches are not being judged for their breed characteristics or even their abilities in obedience or agility. They are being judged for their unique abilities … to do … well … dance. Sing. Human things dogs are not supposed to do. It’s a wild and crazy competition and Davis’ boss is supposed to judge it. You know what that means. That’s right. Davis is the stand in … and Davis’ sisters’ best friend has an entry for the show. Or is supposed to but …

As it typical of all of Gretchen Archer’s hilarious yet incredibly complex novels, the dog show, the dogs, the people, the absolutely everything that could possibly go wrong or off the rails, does.

One of the truly delicious aspects of Ms. Archer’s writing is her ability to take a wildly complicated story, tie up all the ends, and come out in the end with all the hanging parts of the story neatly tied up in a proper bow. This one is no different and if it wouldn’t give away too much, I’d tell you more.

Davis Way is growing up. Her world is still crazy. Her boss is definitely crazy and her family is charmingly wacko … but she’s maturing. She’s smart. She may not always make the perfect decisions, but she doesn’t make her decisions casually or without serious thought. She cares about people she is close to … and she also cares about all the people who ramble through her life. So the books aren’t merely funny. They are also warm and frequently touching.

Suffice to know that this is one intelligent, funny, thoughtful, weird, complicated book where everything is happening at the same time and it looks like it’s all different things. Yet, somehow, most of it comes together and all of it gets sorted out. This is a life and death tale that will leave you laughing, crying, and hugging your dog. I gave all three of mine two extra biscuits. They didn’t say thank you. Spoiled maybe?

A full five stars for DOUBLE DOG DARE! 


 DOUBLE DOG DARE will be available on March 20th! Put your pre-order in now!

TOO MUCH NOIR – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Dark, rain-glistened streets. Ominous shadows hover in trash littered alleyways. Cats screech in the distance. Gunshots ring out and a body slumps into the gutter.

The world of film noir.

Film-Noir-Wallpaper-2

As a kid, these were the second show in an afternoon at the movies. The “B” movie. Always in black and white, less than 90 minutes. Featuring the nearly-stars such as Dana Andrews, Richard Conte, Linda Darnell, and Sterling Hayden.

The titles were straightforward. “Where The Sidewalk Ends”, “This Gun For Hire”, “Kiss of Death”, “The Street With No Name”, “The Narrow Margin,” and “The Killers” among other small films now considered film noir classics.

The people were familiar too. The P.I. (Private Eye). He usually had a five o’clock shadow, chain-smoked, drank cheap whiskey out of the bottle or a paper cup. He worked in a dingy second floor office. The client? Usually a husky voiced, chain-smoking, heavily made up siren out of the Mae West Drama Academy. The P.I’s secretary? A snarky, but good-natured woman who didn’t take crap from her boss, the cops or hoodlums. The Bad Guys? Sleazy, menacing, and homicidal. Think young Richard Widmark, William (Pre-“Life of Riley”) Bendix, Neville Brand, Lee Van Cleef, Jack Elam, Jack Lambert, and probie villain, Lee Marvin. These guys loved to kill.

Maltese-Falcon-72

There were no happy endings in these film noir classics. The female lead usually was a two-timer who got killed or took the fall in the closing minutes. Mary Astor’s Brigid O’Shaughnessy was straight out of central casting when Bogie’s Sam Spade turned her over to the cops in “The Maltese Falcon.” Spade liked her, but not enough to risk a bullet in the back one lonely night.

Robert Mitchum’s Phillip Marlowe wondered  “Why does everything I touch turn to shit?” in the 70’s reboot of “Farewell, My Lovely”.

I loved the fatalism of these movies, far removed from the glossy romantic dramas featuring Gable, Tracy, Flynn and other major stars of old Hollywood.

For a while, we were watching Netflix’s stable of dark crime dramas. They come from around the world. All share a world-view including lots of death, depression, depravity, brutal murder, and minimal — if any — humor. Locale doesn’t matter. It could be Los Angeles, Denmark, the English countryside, or Sweden. It’s one, dark grim world, everywhere you look.

Recently Watched imageSometime last year, a new streaming service popped up and Marilyn decided it might be just the thing. At $50 for a year, it’s also one of the less expensive streaming services. It shows you everything you might want to see from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and England. Some stuff from Ireland and Scotland too. Heavy on the Australian and Kiwi stuff.

Who imagined we’d get addicted to an Australian soap opera, or fall in love with George Gently? Or become entranced by Murdoch’s Mysteries? But we did. From “MidSomer Murders” to “A Place to Call Home” and “Doc Martin,” we have happily gone deep into British empire dramas, mysteries, and even a few comedies. I can almost understand a New Zealand accent. Almost.

One of the really sweet parts of all of these shows is that they have wit and humor.

Characters develop, change, and grow … something that has become far too rare on American series. And I have to mention the music. American shows mostly have music that is closer to Muzak. There are exceptions, but a lot of the shows — especially from Australia and New Zealand — have amazingly good music. It’s not just background noise. It’s beautiful, evocative, singable. I think they haven’t yet raised the price on Acorn yet.

Acorn is a winner in the streaming market. I don’t know if it shows up on Amazon or Apple TV, but Roku lets you decide what you want to watch instead of telling you what they want you to watch. I highly recommend the Roku, too. The good one with the remote you can point up your nose but it will work anyway. It also works by voice (yours) but I’ve never bothered to “train” ours. I hate arguing with remote controls.

I still love those dark and dangerous film noir folks. But these days, real life is sufficiently grim. I prefer my murders with a bit of laughter.

Cheerio!