Book Review: The Keeper by John Lescroart

Keeper-300pxA crime novel featuring Dismas Hardy and Abe Glitsky on the hunt for clues about a woman who has gone missing.

On the evening before Thanksgiving, Hal Chase, a guard in the San Francisco County Jail, drives to the airport to pick up his step-brother for the weekend. When they return, Hal’s wife, Katie, has disappeared without a clue.

By the time Dismas Hardy hears about this, Katie has been missing for five days. The case strikes close to home because Katie had been seeing Hardy’s wife, a marriage counselor. By this time, the original Missing Persons case has become a suspected homicide, and Hal is the prime suspect. And the lawyer he wants for his defense is none other than Hardy himself.

I enjoyed this book, even though Dismas Hardy played a secondary role to Abe Glitsky. I like Lescroart’s writing style, and I wish more crime writers followed his lead. I found the story intriguing and plausible, although one clue revealed early on pretty much narrowed down the suspects. Still, the plot had enough originality to keep me guessing as to the outcome, which has enough of a twist to keep it from being formulaic.

I met John at the La Jolla Writers Conference a few years back, and he has become one of my favorite authors.


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Book Review: Back Story, Robert B. Parker

Fback_story_parkerun romp through a 28-year-old cold case that has more twists than a piece of licorice, and an ending that does not exactly surprise, but avoids the formula of this genre. Parker’s witty and sarcastic exchanges between the characters delight. Only have to willingly suspend disbelief on a few occasions. And his persistent use of passive voice gets on my nerves at times.

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PWSD, 9/27: “Preparing Yourself and Your Manuscript for Publication”

I won’t be able to attend, but I recommend this for writers relatively new to the world of writing, editing, and publishing. I see a lot of mangled manuscripts from writers who don’t know what they don’t know.

Publishers & Writers of San Diego

Saturday, August 27, 10 a.m.
Bridget Boland, “Preparing Yourself and Your Manuscript for Publication”
Encinitas Community Center
1140 Oak Crest Park Drive
Encinitas, CA 92024

Non-members welcomed. This is a good, professional group and worth joining.

There is also an Orange County (CA) branch of this group that meets separately.

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Violent Loss Resources Newsletter, September 1, 2016

Survivors of Violent Loss

Violent Loss Resources Newsletter, September 1, 2016

            Topic of the Month:  Prosecuting the Case, Continued

            Question of the Month: What happened in your case?

            News: National Day for Remembering Homicide Victims

            Resource of the Month


Topic of the Month:
Prosecuting the case, Chapter Seven, Murder Survivor’s Handbook .

webMurder_Survivor-front-cover-sticker-2500webWhile there are many families who do get their case heard in a court of law; there are those who are still waiting for their day in court. This newsletter will address cold cases in the future. In this issue we will focus on those who do get to go to court.  The following is an excerpt from the book:

Prosecutor Prior writes the following questions on the back of her business card and encourages families to ask the questions each time they meet:

When is the next court date?

What can I expect?

Will anything…

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Breaking News: Olympics Update—Underdogs Fiji and New Zealand Top the Medal Count

So, I stay up to effing midnight to get some pole vault action and what do I get in return from NBC? Six vaults as an afterthought to four hours of at times interminable,  jingoistic coverage.  (My friend Rich in Seattle got to watch the entire event—live—via Canadian TV.) Although NBC did include the Canuck decanucking and the ultimate winner. I’m happy for the Brazilian. Nice to see a (sort of) underdog win.


Kiwi rowers take first gold for New Zealand.

Ditto for the balance beam—I’m happy for The Little Dutch Girl (that’s also the name of a fiddle tune I play). And that swimmer from Kazakhstan. I’m now rooting for the Mexican in 2nd place in springboard diving.

But who does Bob Costas interview in the post-event wrap-up? Shaun White, the snowboarder. Huh? I punched the remote to 4 on fast forward. Ditto during all those first-round heats on the track that took less than 15 seconds to run, followed by 15 minutes of commercials. (Along with the never-ending rounds of beach volleyball, which, as I understand it, will not conclude until after the closing ceremony.)

Of course, NBC had to close the show with the medal count, thumping its chest with the U.S. atop the leader board. But isn’t that to be pretty much expected? The news would be if the U.S. were not atop the leader board.

What NBC and the rest of news media ought to do is rank the medal winners on a per capita basis, say a medal per 1 million people, and maybe even weight it by GDP. The latter would put Fiji—which doesn’t even have 1 million people—near the top, if not at the top, for its first-ever Olympic medal, a gold in rugby sevens, followed by New Zealand, maybe, then Norway, and so on. Let’s put it in perspective.


Fiji rugby players win first gold ever for the tiny island nation.

Whadaya know . . . someone has already done it . . . saves me the trouble . . .

New Zealand is #2 (at this writing), as I suspected (despite the All Blacks’ embarrassing fumble), but with Grenada topping the list, while Fiji is a mere 7th. (When looking at gold medals per capita, Fiji does top the list.)

The Fijians have to stop being so happy and get serious about their Olympics program and branch out beyond rugby; maybe we could start a new competition for Fiji—shark wrestling. That would be more interesting than endless rounds of ping-pong and badminton. How did those geriatric pastimes become Olympic sports, anyway? Next thing you know, they’ll be handing out medals for golf (oh, right, I forgot) and lawn darts—which could  interesting if played with bare feet.

I’m not sure Bahrain (4th), should count, since all the medal winners seem to be ex-pats from Kenya. What’s with that?

And Grenada? With a population less than that of the city of Everett, Washington, I suppose it would top the list. After all, how many Olympic medalists have ever come from Everett? That said, I think Grenada’s medal winner got a scholarship to a U.S. university, so maybe that should be factored into the ranking as well; i.e., take it down a notch or three.

So, my hat’s off to New Zealand, one of my favorite places (and where I made new friends when I covered the America’s Cup regatta in 2000), and Fiji, and the other tiny countries that, despite the odds, have managed to take home a bit of bronze, silver, and even gold. (I just hope their governments don’t put their medal winners in a position of having to melt down and sell their medals to pay the income tax on them as does the U.S.)

What about the United States? Ranks a pitiful 37th, one rung below Russia, no less. (Weighted for GDP, the U.S. drops even lower.) I guess we need Trump to rally the storm troopers and make this country great again, just like East Germany did in the ’80s. After all, I doubt he wants to be one-upped by his pal Putin.

And China? With 1.4 billion (yes, with a “b”), the most populous country on the planet, it ranks a paltry 60th. Must be the air pollution.

And what’s with host country Brazil? With a population of 208 million, it’s only two ticks above China. Must be those pesky favelas.

So, I say cheers to the underdogs of the world, and may you knock a big country or two off their high horses and  win more medals in the Olympics in the days and years to come.

By the way, I didn’t have to make this up. Check it out (it’s on the Internet so it must be true):

Olympic Glory in Proportion

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-American. I am thrilled to see my fellow countrymen and countrywomen win their individual medals. They earned them. But in terms of the total medal count that the U.S. news media  and chest thumpers trumpet, it needs to be put in perspective.

Chiz, mytes

PS: More on the notion of perspective, a column in the Los Angeles Times (Aug. 17, 2016):

American women are dominating the Olympic Games, and it didn’t happen by accident

 “Forty-four years after the landmark passage of Title IX, which prohibits discrimination against females in all areas of federally funded education including sports, American women’s athletics is indeed no longer just about participation, it’s about championships.”

I’m happy for the women who today have opportunities their predecessors did not; they deserve it. But the operative word here is “opportunities.” And that relates back to the GDP. Yes, fairness plays a role, but being fair-minded comes at a price. The U.S. made a commitment to fairness—and the associated costs.

Other countries have followed suit—good for them. But some have not, or do not have the equivalent resources to do it. Yet world-class athletes still emerge from those countries and shine brilliantly at the Olympic Games. That deserves acknowledgement and recognition by those who trumpet U.S. greatness but only look at the raw numbers. The fact is, with its population and GDP, the U.S. (as a whole, not on an individual basis) is underachieving compared to some of its smaller counterparts—albeit not as much as China.


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Ten Most Common Errors Made by Writers: #0

From the Editor’s Eye
The 10 Most Common Errors Made by Writers
(And How to Fix Them)

The eleventh of a ten-part series.

#0. Extra: (A Few of) My Language Pet Peeves: Word Contortion, Distortion &  Deformation (Hoping for Reformation)

Some misused and abused words, terms, and phrases that bug the crap out of me . . .

  • mall — a public area often set with shade trees and designed as a promenade or as a pedestrian walk (not a shopping center).

Example: the National Mall in Washington, DC, and the Independence Mall in Philadelphia. Not a Nordstrom, Macy’s, or Starbucks in sight.

This is a mall:



  • strip mall — (not a mall in any sense of the word)

This is a strip mall . . . er . . . moll:



  • podium — a small platform on which a person may stand to be seen by an audience, as when making a speech, or conducting an orchestra, or receiving an award. Latin: elevated place, balcony. The operative element here is podi-, the Greek term for foot, not shopping.

This is a podium:

  • lectern — a stand that holds a book, notes, etc., for someone who is reading, speaking, or teaching (not a podium, although a lectern might sit on a podium).

This is a lectern:


Shout-out to NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell for using lectern rather than podium during her coverage of the recent political conventions. Now, if only her colleagues would pay attention.

  • try and . . . — yes, this has a long history, especially in the mother country. Irregardless, it ain’t rite. (BTW, if you have watched any British TV lately, you realize you should not use that as an exemplary example of proper English.)

The appropriate phrase is try to. Think of it this way: In this context, “to try” means “to attempt.” Would you say: “I will attempt and do it”? No. You’re more likely to say: “I will attempt to do it.”

The and implies that you have no doubt, that you will do it. In which case try is not needed: “I will do it.”

  • exact same — this is something a child or adolescent would say. Use one or the other, but not both. Alternate term: identical. Dialogue may be excepted because it reveals character (fer shur).
  • exact center — ditto.
  • utilize — get rid of it; it’s pretentious (it’s French, after all). Use works just fine; avoid utilize and utilization. Yeah, I know, bureaucrats and military types use it. Nuff said.

Resources & References


#10 They’re, Their Now: Contractions & Homophonic Convergence
#9. Commagain? Oxford Comma, Comma Splice & Dialogue Punchuating Bag
#8. Word Contortion: Homophonic Trip-ups
#7. Three Dots and Out: Give Your Ellipsis Elbow Room
#6. A Tense Moment: Word Context, Past & Present
#5. Dash It All! Part A: Hyphen and En Dash
#4. Dash It All! Part B: Em Dash—The Separator
#3. Pronounflagration: Pronoun Profusion, Confusion, and Contusion
#2. Apostrophic Calamity: Apostrophe vs. Dumb Quotes
#1. Verbal Abuse: Lie Down with Lay & Related Verb Warps

Still to come:

An ongoing series on the art & craft of writing. Watch this space.

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News you can use … August 1, 2016

Violent Loss Resources Newsletter, August 1, 2016
News you can use …
Topic of the Month: Prosecuting the Case: Survivor Voices
Question of the Month: What happened in your case?
News: Two Day Conference 2017: Traumatic Grief after Violent Dying
Inspiration: “Not Forgotten” Project in Chicago contains photos and interviews
Resource of the Month: Victim Law

Survivors of Violent Loss

Violent Loss Resources Newsletter,  August 1, 2016
News you can use … collected for you in July. (Scroll down to see all)

Contents will vary somewhat month to month, as we close out this month, our contents include:

            Topic of the Month:  Prosecuting the Case: Survivor Voices

            Question of the Month:  What happened in your case?


            News: Two Day Conference 2017: Traumatic Grief after Violent Dying

            Inspiration: “Not Forgotten” Project in Chicago contains  photos and interviews

            Resource of the Month: Victim Law

            What you missed last month           

Topic of the Month: Chapter Seven, Prosecuting the Case
: The importance and complexity involved in this topic is large enough that this topic will continue next month as well.  This month the  focus will be on Survivor Experiences.

 Excerpts from Murder Survivors Handbook webMurder_Survivor-front-cover-sticker-2500web

Here are what some Survivors have to say about this topic:

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