Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Malice Afterword

I'd mentioned awhile back that when I got a free moment I would elaborate on the vintage mystery novels I picked up in the Malice Dealer Room, so here's a few of the more interesting items I shipped home.

WHAT RHYMES WITH MURDER? by Jack Iams. Dell mapback. No date, but it’s one of the later editions.

Hmmm. Birder? Girder?

“When a lusty Lothario sings his serenade, romance rhymes with death!”

It does? I’m thinking Mr. Iams was poetry-impaired, but he does seem to waxed lyrical in this one.

“Ariel Banks, a high-flying, Bohemian poet, had one bad habit: HE LOVED WHERE HE PLEASED.”

Weeell, don’t we all? Kind of? To some extent?

Opening line:
“The news that a British poet was going to lecture before the Tuesday Ladies’ Club would normally have caused something less than a ripple among the ninety-nine percent of our city’s eighty-odd thousand inhabitants who did not belong to, or give a hoot about, the Tuesday Ladies’ Club.”

You know, I like this. Not only did they get the “British” versus “English” thing right, but I am awfully partial to mystery novels about poets. In my opinion the world cannot have too many mystery novels centered around poets and poetry.

But that’s just me.

THE SHADOWY THIRD by Marco Page. Pocket, 1949.

“Marked for slaughter, he was number one on everybody’s hate parade.”

This batch of books goes rather hard on practitioners of the fine arts.

“Dave Calder had been hired to solve the disappearance of a heavily insured violin. Then the owner of the missing violin (Igor Krassin, in case you’re interested) was murdered, and the list of suspects read like a telephone directory.”

I’ll spare you the phone book recital just this one time. Opening line:

“The rehearsal was scheduled for noon but by ten-thirty there were already a dozen musicians in the orchestra dressing room and more were straggling in one or two at a time.”

Uh huh. As you’ve guessed, this kind of plot appeals to me—in particular I love the combination of tough guys and the arts.

Speaking of tough guys…

FINDERS KEEPERS by Geoffrey Homes. Bantam, 1947.

“Here is another toughie by that expert in murder, Geoffrey Homes, who has won a million readers for Bantam Books with his fast-paced, hard-hitting mysteries featuring that two-fisted milk-drinker, the dick with a hard fist and a soft heart, Humphrey Campbell. What more could you ask?”

Is this a sincere question or are you playing with me?

To begin with, I could ask that the dick not be named Humphrey Campbell. I’ll let the Humphrey pass, but CAMPBELL? (Little Scottish folk-singing joke.)

I have to say that Mr. Thrilling was…er…thrilled when I pulled this out of my Malice book box. Apparently he has been longing to read this series by Homes for eons. I myself am not entirely sold on the idea of a writer who pens “toughies” about milk-drinking lads named Humphrey, but….

OH MY GOD. IT’S WORSE THAN I THOUGHT. I tailed off to read the opening line and found this description of our hero:

“Humphrey Campbell, a chubby, tough, ACCORDION-PLAYING sleuth, who was headed for trouble.”

Well, yeeeeAH!

Opening line: “Under the giant sycamore a man in a wheelchair was writing a letter.”

MURDER ENTERS THE PICTURE by Willetta Ann Barber and R.F.Schabelitz. Penguin, 1942.

The gimmick here is an artist-detective, Kit Storm, whose “on-the-spot sketches are important in solving murders.”

Of course they are.

“This is the best book in a unique series of profusely illustrated mysteries, in which the scores of sketches are an integral part of the story.”

And you thought gimmicky mysteries started with recipes and crochet patterns in the eighties!

Opening line:
“EZRA’S GHOST, come back to haunt the Plateau!”

ROLLING STONE by Patricia Wentworth. Popular Library, 1940.

I bought this for the cover since I already have the book in a much later edition. I love all Wentworth’s novels, uneven though they frequently are.

“Spike Reilly, member of a gang of picture thieves that has added murder to its nefarious activities, dies suddenly in a hotel room—and Peter Talbot, unofficial operative of the Foreign Office, decides to take his place.”

Opening line:
“The rain fell in a fine, steady drizzle.”

Ah, to be in England…

My favorite Wentworth novel is called RUN. Anyone read that? I’ve tried unsuccessfully for years to get hold of a copy of THE ADVENTURES OF JANE SMITH (at a price I could afford), which I believe has never been reprinted. Possibly for good reason, but I’m still curious.

VENTUROUS LADY by George Harmon Coxe. Dell, no date again, but I’m guessing late forties.

“In the looming shadows of an old barn where New York actors are producing plays for summer vacationers, mystery rewrites the script—with terror and death as the stars.”

Oh, I just LOVE their work! I’ve never miss one of their shows!

“In the late afternoon the wind, which had been southwest and steady, shifted to easterly, and the sky grew overcast, promising an end to the clear warm days of the past week.”

PIPER ON THE MOUNTAIN by Ellis Peters. Lancer, 1968.

Plenty on the web about this offering from Peters featuring Dominic Fell all grown up and falling in love with a murder suspect, so I’ll move along to…

SING A SONG OF HOMICIDE by James R. Langham. Popular Library, 1940.

Terrific cover and we appear to have a hitherto undiscovered set of married sleuths, Sammy and Ethel Abbott. I wonder if they are somehow related to Pat and Jean Abbott?

Anyhoooooo, no hint as to what the story is about although the title is in keeping with our murder in the arts theme.

Opening line:
“Some people claim that it isn’t nice to laugh at a fresh corpse.”

There we go. It’s interesting how many opening lines focus on weather. Personally I prefer a hint of danger or death the minute the curtain rises.

MURDER OF A NYMPH by Margot Neville. Pocket, 1951.

“She would never steal another woman’s man again!”

Safe to say.

“Beautiful and bad—Enone McGrath had enough wickedness for a woman twice her age.”

Uh…you mean 40? Jeez. What’s that supposed to mean?

“Not even 21, she couldn’t help exercising her charms on other women’s husbands.”

Cute little tyke. Maybe she’ll grow out of it.

“One night someone caught Enone on a lonely road and cooled her off permanently.”

Or maybe not.

Opening line:
“It would have been hard to say just where the train of happenings that led up to the disaster at Come-hither Bend began.”

Oh my. AAAALLLLLLL ABOARD! That’s pretty bad, not even taking into account the Come-hither Bend bit. Let’s ride a little further…

“That question—where events start from, in the primeval cave or yesterday afternoon—opens up a whole field of metaphysical speculation. Better let that lie.”

Agreed. Best to back up slowly and carefully, avoiding sudden movements or any noise…

MYSTERY IN BLUE by Gertrude E. Mallette. Berkeley Books, 1945.


Kerry Owen was a very good secretary. She also had an inquiring mind.”

And inquiring minds want to know!

“And from her very first day as secretary in an engineering office, Kerry’s mind starting asking questions: about the shambles in the files, the way papers were lost one day and turned up the next, and the furtive behavior of some of her coworkers…”

My God, Kerry is working IN MY OFFICE!

(Yes, I do still have a day job—or did.)

Opening line:
“Kerry Owen kept her face as unrevealing as she could while the university placement secretary spoke.”

And I can hear her now: You shouldn’t have taken all those lit and humanity courses, Kerry. What the hell were you thinking? You should have gone for an MBA in Business!

I picked up a few other odds and ends, but the last one I’ll mention here is SCENT OF MYSTERY by Kelly Roos. Dell, 1959.

“The touch of horror, the taste of excitement, the look of murder, and the…SCENT OF MYSTERY”

Yep, Mr. Thrilling is cooking supper once again!

“SCENT OF MYSTERY the first motion picture ever filmed in SMELL-O-VISION!”

I am NOT making this up!

It says right on the cover, “Now a brilliant Michael Todd, Jr. Production.”

You can’t make up stuff like that.

Opening line:
“The young Englishman checked his light meter against the brilliant Mediterranean sun.”

And what are you reading?

Thursday, May 18, 2006


PSSSSST! As of this minute, Mr. Thrilling has not yet removed Contest #9,
so here's a chance for all of you who haven't been able to figure
out the previous contests to take a shot. No guarantee how long
the contest will remain up...

1)Which of the following novels was NOT nominated for
a 2005 Agatha in the Malice Domestic Best Novel
a-Owls Well That Ends Well by Donna Andrews
b-Rituals of the Season by Margaret Maron
d- The Body in the Snowdrift by Katherine Hall Page

Heather was nominated but for TROUBLE IN SPADES.

2)The DorothyL listserv is named after which mystery writer?
a-Dorothy Salisbury Davis
c-Dorothy Cannell
d-Dorothy B. Hughes

3) A young Victorian widow’s investigation into her late husband’s mysterious life and death forms the basis of which novel?
a-The Egyptian Coffin by Jane Jakeman
b-A Body in Berkeley Square by Ashley Gardner
c-Murder on Black Friday by P.B. Ryan

4) Leslie Ford’s Washingtonian amateur sleuth Grace Latham is
aided in her investigations by her disapproving but
ultimately indulgent beau:
a-Colonel Mustard
c-Colonel Protheroe
d-Colonel Walker

5) A young mother’s investigation into the death of an
environmentalist on a Northwest Air Force Base forms the
basis of which novel?
b-The Big Nap by Ayelet Waldman
c-Confessions of a Naughty Mommy by Heidi Raykeil
d-Mommy Deadest by Jean Marcy

6)Which of the following queens of classic romantic
suspense also wrote children’s books?
a-Mignon G. Eberhart
c-Dorothy Eden
d-Victoria Holt

7) Who was the first female P.I. to star in a
series of popular and well-written novels?
a-Kinsey Millhone created by Sue Grafton
b-Sharon McCone created by Marcia Muller
c-V.I. Warshawski created by Sara Paretsky

Yep, decades before Sue Grafton or any of the gals was a twinkle
in their mother's eyes, Zelda F. Popkin was churning out smart
and well-written Dell Mapbacks about a department store
detective by the moniker of Mary Carner.

By the way, in my haste to get this contest up, I mis-typed
Mary's last name as CARVER. My bad! So this one became a freebie.

8) Who said “Book ‘Em, Dano.”?
b-Barnaby Jones
c-Frank Gannon
d-Thomas Magnum

9) Which of the following series is NOT by Elizabeth Peters?
a-Amelia Peabody
c-Vicky Bliss
d-Jacqueline Kirby

Nina Quinn is the sleuth with the green thumb in Heather Webber's
gardening series.

10) Diana Killian’s lord and web-master owns which well-known mystery-related website?
a-A Guide to Classic Mystery and Detection
d-Mystery Lover’s Corner

I always tell Mr. Thrilling I married him for his website. He thinks I'm kidding.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

It's a small world after all!

No, I'm not talking about my recent trip to Disneyland.
(Although...yes, I have to admit, it was really, really fun! Can I admit that as a semi-grown-up?)

Nope, I'm talking about the small world of blogs and bloggers and a fun
little time waster known as blog-tagging. My understanding of how blog-tagging
works is you devise some totally trivial questions and then you "tag"
three or four of your most tolerant pals, and they answer the questions
on your website and their own (I think? Or maybe you're just supposed to
answer on your own blog? Anybody?) and then THEY TAG three or four of their
own most tolerant pals, and so on and so on and so on like those shampoo
commercials for wheat germ hair products. (Remember those?)

Anyway, I was tagged by Heather Webber, who writes the Agatha-nominated Nina Quinn series.

So here are the questions, answers to which will not change the
future of the Western World, but might afford you a few moments

To Catch a Thief
The Big Sleep
Gunga Din
The Uninvited

Actually, if I like a movie, the chances are good that I will watch it over
and over again. Especially because I like to write with movies playing in the background.

Lake Isabella

I've lived in California my whole life, so that narrows it down a bit.

I don't watch a lot of TV, so it's easier if I
tell you four of my all time favorite TV shows:
The X Files
The New Avengers
MacMillan and Wife
Kung Fu: The Legend Continues

Buffalo, New York
Seattle, Washington
Lake Isabella, California
Ventura, California

Chicken Chou Mein
Anything chocolate (except chocolate-covered ants, maybe)
Chips and salsa

(Beyond your own????)
Yahoo Groups
Yahoo News
ebay (well, that's off and on--but when it's on, it's OBESSESSIVE)

The English Lake District
A swimming pool (drinks on the nearest table, please)
One of those luxury trains tooling through the Scottish Highlands

Tag 4 People you think will respond:
Tasha Alexander
Shelley McKibbon
Heidi Vornbrock Roosa
Tori Lennox

Sunday, May 07, 2006

What's in the Bag?

Part of the fun of attending mystery conferences is the “goodies bag”
that you get upon registering. You usually get a copy of Mystery Scene
and EQMM and AHMM, a pin or two, a fridge magnet—but
best of all, you get books. New and totally free books!

The books are donated by publishers who hope to promote new
or potentially hot authors (or possibly they need tax write-offs).
book bag one year—this year, I’m sorry to say, Pocket was not
one of Malice’s supporters or book suppliers. I try not to blame
them for the M.D. book bag being, in my opinion, a little skimpy.

Really, that’s not fair to say because the book bags are NEVER
as full as I would like. I-- I’m addict. I’m one of those people
genetically incapable of saying, “Enough!” when it comes to books
and book-purchasing.

So what was in my Malice book bag? Well, here’s what I kept
(because not every bag gets the same books, and there’s always
a “book swap” table where you can toss back what you don’t feel
like carting home—or exchange it for something worth the $$$ for
extra-heavy luggage):

THE COSMIC CLUES by Manjiri Prabu. A first novel about a “detective
agency that combines astrological science with investigations!” This
is set in India and it stars Sonia Samarth—she’s out to nab an
“international criminal.”

First line: “This is Stellar Investigations and we don’t
read horoscopes!”

Frankly, this doesn’t sound like my kind of thing, but I hung
onto it because my mom might enjoy it—and because if it starts
getting brilliant reviews on DorothyL or elsewhere, I might take
a peek.

FEINT OF ART by Hailey Lind. I was happy to see this in the book
bag because I love mysteries that have to do with art, books,
history, archeology and murders from the past, and I’ve heard
enough about this one to be interested.

Former art-forger Annie Kincaid informs her ex-boyfriend museum
curator that his prized Caravaggio is a fake. Then the museum
janitor is killed and Annie’s ex disappears.

There is mention of a “charming but fickle art thief.”
I am so there!

First line: “Georges, please – try to concentrate on what I’m saying,”
I persisted. It is illegal and immoral to forge art.”

WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE PARROTS by Donna Andrews. I’ve read and enjoyed
one other Meg Langslow novel, so I’m sure this will be fun. Meg goes
to her actor boyfriend’s television series fan convention and soon
after a run-in with the ego-maniacal series star, Meg is suspected
of offing the “Queen B.”

First line: “I woke up when Michael began screaming in the bathroom.”

I like that. It sounds like MY home.

TOO BIG TO MISS by Sue Ann Jaffarian. “Too big to miss—that’s
Odelia Grey. A never-married, middle-aged plus-size woman, she
struggles with her relationships, her crazy family, and her crazier
boss. And then there’s her knack for being in close proximity to
dead people…”

Even if Sue Ann and I had not been partners for the Author-Go-Round
at Malice, I’d have wanted to check this out. I believe Claudia and I
previewed this back in the days of the Wicked Company Book Preview Club.

Originally a self-published effort, Sue Ann sold the series to Midnight
Ink. How cool is that?

First line: “My weekend was D.O.A….dead on arrival.”

And that concludes what I chose to keep out of the book bag.

Now let me tell you what I ADDED to the book bag after visiting
the Dealer’s Room.

O’ARTFUL DEATH by Sarah Stewart Taylor. I’m not sure why I never
bothered to buy this book before meeting Sarah, because it has everything
I love: art, literature, a mystery that ties into the past—and an academic

University professor Sweeney St. George is an expert in cemetery art.
Intrigued by the macabre graveyard statue of a beautiful woman, she
starts poking into the statues history and stumbles into murder
both old and new.

First line: “The girl’s nude body lay in the boat, her dead eyes
staring heavenward, her long hair coiling strangely to the ground.”

As already mentioned elsewhere I also bought MOVING IS MURDER by
Sarah Rosett, AND ONLY TO DECEIVE by Tasha Alexander, and MURDER
ON THE ROCKS by Karen MacInerney. I won’t rehash those reviews
here, but I’ll probably do little snippet reviews on Amazon later
in the month (because I just don’t spend enough time not writing books).

As is my want at these things, I scooped up some vintage reprints
from Tom and Enid at Rue Morgue including: THE BLACK PIANO by
Constance and Gwenyth Little (for my views on the Little Sisters,
read my essay at Girl Detective).

“Dick Rouston claimed Jane Cowrer murdered his fiancĂ©e, which made
for a pretty awkward situation, since Jane was equally convinced
that Dick had murdered her.”

Now doesn’t that sound like fun?

GLASS ON THE STAIRS by Margaret Scherf. A Henry and Emily Bryce
comedic mystery. This was a mistake. I was looking for the second
book in the series, but this is the third—it’s not a serious mistake,
because I’ll read it right after I find the second.

“Mrs. Otis Carver walked into Link Simpson’s gun and antique
shop one hot August morning and shot herself.”

Now THAT is a difficult customer.

CORPSE DE BALLET by Lucy Cores. First published in 1944, this
is the second and last book to feature amateur sleuth
(exercise maven, former dancer and part-time ballet reviewer)Toni Ney.

First line “Why don’t you take off your hat and stay awhile?” Toni
said hospitably.

Which is as good a place to stop as any. Later this week I’ll post
on the vintage mystery original paperbacks I picked up.
There's some good stuff there--even Mr. Thrilling was pleased with
a couple of my finds.

Friday, May 05, 2006



1)The “Father” of modern detective crime fiction is
generally held to be:
a-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
c-Wilkie Collins
d-Dashiell Hammett

You could make an argument for Collins being first with
THE MOONSTONE or Doyle being most influential with Holmes,
but Poe is the guy the learned experts (of whom I do not
number myself) tapped for "Father."

2)This Golden Age mystery writer also crafted witty
historical romances:
a-Barbara Cartland
b-Robert Louis Stevenson
c-Jane Austen

If you're a fan of the comedy of manners genre, you MUST
read Heyer. She is brilliant. Yes, her mysteries are clever,
but she really comes into her own with the historical

3)Hilda Adams, Sarah Keate and Cherry Ames share
which of the following traits in common:
b-All three work as secretaries for overbearing
professional investigators
c-All three are overbearing professional investigators
d-All three unofficially help their policeman husbands
solve crimes

4)Hailed on the Guide to Classic Mystery and
Detection website as “the most important American
detective writers of the Twentieth Century,” Ellery
Queen is the pseudonym of:
b-Erle Stanley Gardner and A.A. Fair
c-Frances and Richard Lockridge
d-Stuart Palmer and Craig Rice

Dannay and Lee were cousins as well, which I
consider an interesting bit of trivia.

5)“Thin Man” William Powell appears as detective
Philo Vance in the film made from which of S.S. Van
Dine’s novels:
a-The Gracie Allen Murder Case
b-The Winter Murder Case
d-The Dragon Murder Case

6) Theologian G.K. Chesterton wrote about clerical
a-Brother Cadfael
b-Rabbi Small
c-Sister Fidelma

7)A famous mystery author’s disappearance for eleven
days in December 1926 was the subject of the film:
d-I Know Where I’m Going

Have you seen the film? So-so. Nice period touches, but
just not much substance.

8)Akira Kurosawa’s classic samurai film Yojimbo was
supposedly influenced by which Dashiell Hammett novel:
b-The Dain Curse
c-The Maltese Falcon
d-The Big Knockover

You might not expect this of me, but I'm quite a fan
of samurai movies--I've seen pretty much every one
made up until the 1980s.

9)The Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) Arthur Ellis
Awards are named after:
a-The literary critic and crime writer
c-Canada’s first Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman
d-The first criminal to receive capital punishment in

A creepy bit of trivia!

10)The Malice Domestic Mystery Conference is always
held in:
a-Richmond, VA
b-Seattle, WA
d-Burlington, VT

Actually, Arlington VA would be more correct. I let this one be
a freebie though most folks seemed to guess correctly.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Wild Kingdom

I'm not having a good week.

It started out all right. We went to the L.A. Festival
of Books at UCLA on Saturday. It was nice and cool--the
haze burned off quite early (toasting Mr. Thrilling to a
sexy crisp by the end of the very long day), and even the
madding crowd didn't irk me too much (although I have to
admit that if I wasn't there signing, wild horses wouldn't
drag me to the campus during the book festival. The mobs of
people and cramped booths do not make for the optimum buying

I signed at Book 'Em
and Crime Time, and it went fairly well
at both places, but Linda at Crime Time had
some mildly disturbing news: she was
VERSE OF THE VAMPYRE from Ingram. Both books
were listed as backordered and unavailable.


Of course there might be a mistake somewhere....

But not the kind of news that soothes a skittish author's soul.

After I'd finished my signings I thought I would lend
a hand at the MWA (Mystery Writers of America) booth.
Alexandra Sokoloff (THE HARROWING--great title isn't it?)
was manning the booth with me, and she had just slipped
off for a few minutes of well-deserved respite when
someone plumped down in the seat next to me.

"I'm going to sit down," announced a woman.

"Oh. Okay," says I. I thought perhaps she was feeling
faint. It was getting pretty hot by then. But she
proceeded to tell me about her cousin, a mystery writer
who she had met for the first time that morning and who
she planned to rendezvous with in The Mystery Bookstore booth.
After a minute or two I realized that she was not...quite

Alexandra came back and the lady pointedly ignored her while
continuing to occupy Alexandra's seat, staring fixedly at me
and then staring off into space. Alexandra and I sort of talked
around her--and then the lady tuned back in, looked at me
and announced, "It's time for you to go."

"It is?" I said.

"Yes. You need to go now. My cousin is coming."

Okaaaay. She didn't appear to be armed. (Yes, I did
double-check.) So I laughed. "Okay, Well, I'll just wait
till your cousin gets here."

This was not the right answer. She started muttering
to herself and I don't think any of it was flattering
to me. But about then one of the very nice people manning
The Mystery Bookstore booth came along and gently detached
her from the MWA table and moved her outside.

Alexandra and I compared notes on dealing with that
unpredictable animal, John Q. Public.

After the book fest, I persuaded Mr. Thrilling
to stop at Jack in the Box. This took some doing. Mr.
Thrilling is always in favor of cooking real food. This
usually works well because I am all in favor of eating
real food--especially if I don't have to cook it. But
sometimes I don't want real food. I want the food that
Jack built. However, I worked my wiles and got my
got my favorite chicken club salad, and then we headed
home and watched THE LATE SHOW with Art Carney and Lillian
Tomlin, which is now out on DVD.

This is a movie I hadn't seen in years, and I was pleasantly
surprised. It's a tidy little update on the screwball
mysteries of the 30s and 40s. In fact, as the Carney P.I.
character even says to the ditzy Tomlin dame,
"This town never changes. They just move the names around."

Both Carney (as an aging P.I. struggling to keep
his head above water--and retain a little dignity
while he dogpaddles into the sunset) and Tomlin
as a nutty clothes designer and talent agent and cat
owner) do a very good job--the success of the movie
depends entirely on these characters and our instant
affection for them. The plot is brisk
and reasonably tight--overall quite entertaining and
well worth a second look, if you haven't seen it
in a few years.

Mr. Thrilling and I don't have many ops for lolling about
on the sofa eating fast food and watching flickers (and even
occasionally dozing) -- in fact, these days it's rare that we're
even in the house at the same time -- so that was much
needed quality time together. Sunday I worked in the garden
mostly planting seeds and pulling weeds. I noticed
that there seemed to be a lot of bees in the wisteria.

I'm very proud of that wisteria. It took me five years
to coax it to flower--every time I look out the window
at those luscious purple flowers draping through
the whatchamacallit slats I feel like I've successfully
worked a magical spell. The garden is really
lovely right now. The roses are blooming as well
as the lilacs--gorgeous! And I planted them all!
I did it! Me!

But as you would expect with magic, there
are unexpected side effects. On Monday Mr. Thrilling
calls me at work with the news that there is a swarm
of bees apparently taking up residence in the drainpipe
beneath the library (right over the front door, in other

This is not jolly news for any homeowner--and for
someone who freaks out over bees as much as I do
(we must all have our little phobias--and bees and
heights are mine) it is really BAD news.

Mr. Thrilling waged war all day with cans of hornet
killer spray while I--Cassandra-like--waxed doom and
gloom over the phone and advised hiring professional
killers FAST. This is my solution for every problem,
but this time my reasoning was sound. But Mr. Thrilling
was convinced that he could win the good fight and by
the time he left for work he assured me the tide had
turned. So I toddle home and by the time I drive
up about seven o'clock, I can see that our winged
enemies are still buzzing around with the total confidence
of WWI aces--and renewed numbers.
I slipped in through the garage and peeked out the front door.
UPS had left a box--my long-awaited Malice book box!--and


Words cannot convey the hideousness of this moment.
Not that I didn't give Mr. Thrilling an earful
of them when he got home. I mean, think of
it: a furry quivery mound of bees all over my
precious treasure chest of books!!


So at last Mr. Thrilling arrived home with the reinforcements
(more cans of hornet poison spray) and by then I
was acting out the last half of the latest horror movie--except
that I eschewed the usual skimpy wardrobe. My view
was that we should abandon the house for the night and
think about putting it on the market the following day.
I was, safe to say, a wee bit stressed.

But Mr. Thrilling insisted that it was now cold
enough to really do some damage to his foe, so
out he went with his trusty spray cans. First he
liberated the book box (the man does share my priorities)
and then he emptied two cans of poison into the drainpipe.

And that's when the fun really started. You could
hear the angry buzzing through the walls--I mean we are
talking thousands of furious bees who had our name and
number and were dialing collect.

Again I pushed for abandoning the house and fleeing
to my parents or my sister's. Mr. Thrilling comes from
pioneer stock, and he was confident that the poison
would soon take effect.

So we waited while the bees buzzed like
all the electrical wiring in the place was
about to blow.

And then two bees appeared in the upstairs hall.

I again suggested abandoning the fort. Mr. Thrilling
suggested turning off the lights, which he said were
attracting the enemy, and retreating to the
downstairs to go through the rescued book box.
Apparently he thought distracting me would be
advisable--or even possible.

So we doused the lights and went downstairs
and, yes, I did calm a little gloating over
my Malice purchases (to be detailed in a later
post). We were about halfway through the book
box when a bee landed on my nose.

You heard me. A BEE LANDED ON MY NOSE.

Mr. Thrilling says there is no doubt about my
Irish heritage given the Banshee-like shriek that
echoed off the vault ceiling. He also made cracks
about my impromptu modern dance routine. Yes, he
was a barrel of laughs as he set about killing
the THIRD bee to infiltrate our sanctuary in less than
an hour. He just couldn't get over the improbability of
mine being the nose the bee would choose to land
on--it would never work in a book or a movie, he
assured me, because it would be too cheesey, too clumsy.

Of course if we had been filming a horror movie,
he hastened to add after I gave him The Look,
as soon as he laughed at me he would be eaten
by a giant bee.

"That's right," I said curtly. "You would be killed."

"I don't mean to laugh at you," he assured me,
trying to keep a straight face. "Really."


Anyway, that was it. I told him I was spending the
night in a hotel. It was nearly ten o'clock by then,
and I desperately needed sleep. Mr. Thrilling assured
me that spending nights in hotels with me was high
on his list of favorite things to do, and we grabbed
our night things and headed out for the local Marriot.
No Sleep System, but no bees either.

The next morning the bees were down to a few hundred or so.
Mr. Thrilling dosed them liberally with
poison--and soapy water--and by the time I got
home from work everything looked pretty normal
other than the carpet of dead bees over the lawn
and walkway.

So--feeling a little calmer--I braved the bedroom balcony
to water the plants. And I startled--the feeling was mutual
--the doves that hang out there lately. I noticed one
of the doves seemed pretty darned upset. She flew to the
chimney and kept cooing at me, and I glanced down at
the basket I was watering and realized I had just
watered a tiny, pale pink egg.

Needless to say I was as upset as Mrs. Dove at
this gaffe. I love those doves and now I've
probably destroyed their little baby dove. But
having watered it, there wasn't much I could do.
I went back inside and got a cup of birdseed for
Mrs. Dove in case she decided to come back.
I kept peeking out, but she didn't return to
the nest as far as I could tell.

But then when I woke up this morning both doves
were back on the balcony (in the wrong basket).
Mr. Thrilling went out and watered this afternoon
and said Mrs. Dove was back in the right basket
and she didn't move when he watered everything
on the balcony (which is lucky for him because I told
him NOT to go out there while she was there--whereupon
he asked to see my ID).

And she's out there right now--the wind blowing
like a hurricane and no shelter for that basket
at all if it rains--which it looks ready to do.
I'm afraid Mrs. Dove might be wasting her time....