Private Investigations – A Glimpse into the Hearts of Your Favorite Authors

Private Investigations was not what I expected and found it to be a pleasant surprise. 41dKe9cUVJLBesides, the pleasure readers will find, PI is a primer for writers and aspiring authors. The stories are essays about the struggles writers often experience.

Rachel Howzell Hall’s “I Don’t Know This Word” uses words to build a compelling story about an exceptionally strong and resilient woman. Her battles with cancer struck home with me. I lost two children, ages three and forty, to cancer. Shortly after the loss of my daughter, I began my battles with cancer. A two-time survivor, I empathized with Hall’s struggles, although mine were nowhere near as horrifying. She is an inspiration who brought tears to my eyes.

Jacqueline Winspear’s “Writing About War,” pulled at my heart in many ways. My taciturn Grandfather fought in France in World War I. Not once did he ever mention a word about the experience. The only one to remark was my Grandmother, who once said, “He was gassed, you know, mustard gas.” She would say no more.

My father was in France during World War II. He only twice mentioned his time in combat. “The only time I fired my gun was when I pointed it in the direction of the Germans and pulled the trigger. I don’t know if I ever hit anything.” The other was riding in the back of a 2 ½ ton truck when a German fighter began strafing them. The driver pulled into some trees. My Dad said he didn’t remember anything from then until the end of the war. He wasn’t wounded.

Both men suffered what we now know to be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Robert Dugoni’s “Nuns, Magic, and Stephen King,” was as good as King’s On Writing.
Twenty engrossing essays leading me to appreciate not only the ones familiar with but others I’ve never read but will.

In Private Investigations, Zackheim has once again succeeded in assembling an outstanding array of stories.

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Old Murders Inspire Mystery Author

via Old Murders Inspire Mystery Author

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May 8, 2020 · 7:40 pm

QUARANTINE SPEED

I keep my Ultra Classic in the garage on a trickle charger. For non-bikers, that is a slow charge that keeps the battery alive during winters parked on cement.

Not long after the Shelter in Place (SIP) started, I decided to take a ride. Low and behold, a dead battery, couldn’t even charge it. I checked and found the extension cord was plugged in. Next stop the bike, yup, charger connected. Last stop, the charger. Oh, Oh, not connected to the extension cord.

With my years of investigative experience, I make a deduction: someone in the family used the cord and tossed it back in the general direction of the charger. Hoping, I guess, for immaculate connection. Asking the usual suspects, I received what I expected, a litany of not guilty pleas.

Out to the local Harley-Davidson dealer and $200+ later, I have a new battery.
After working on my soon (hopefully) to be released novel, writing with my on-line writer’s group, and a fantastic grilled SPAM and cheese sandwich, it was time to change out the old dead battery. I’ve done this too many times over the years.
Well, removing the backrest wasn’t too bad, even with a touch of arthritis. I could not for the life of me get the seat off. Swallowing what little dignity remains in this beat-up body, I turned to my wife. “Honey, please help me.”

Between the two of us, mostly Cathy, we got the seat out. I was happy; she dropped the mounting screw, something I never fail to do. She’s human. Then for the battery, my hands would not grip. We constructed a makeshift battery strap and got it.
Putting it all back together was a snap.

Warmed up all 88 inches and went for a ride. On the ride out of town, the traffic was as heavy as a normal commute. What gives? Who are these people? In my neighborhood, it seems most people are staying at home.

Anyway, it was great to be out on the road. When I came back, the traffic was light. I was on a five-lane highway in the number two lane, second from the center. I was rolling along with the flow of traffic when I noticed a car coming up fast in the number three lane. Thinking I might be impeding traffic, I checked the speedometer. Wow! I was clocking along at 85 MPH. The car passed me doing at least 100. A minute or two, another IMG_6900speedster passed me in the fast lane going about as fast. Dang. It was a short but exhilarating ride, and yes, I was wearing Shorts.

If the hotels are open, my buddy and I will be heading out for a fortnight in about five weeks.

 

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Under the scarf is a happy rider.

 

 

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Thanks, Gig Harbor SJP

It’s been several years since my wife and I took a road trip to Gig Harbor, Washington.
We took a couple of weeks up and back. Other than Gig Harbor, the trip was in some ways like a motorcycle trip, except we were in a cage. We went hither and yon with no other plans. When we arrived, we were pleased, not that we would move there.

One morning while on a walk, I saw one of those newspaper boxes advertising free local IMG_6885papers. I opened it and there on top of the papers was a shiny rock. Painted on it was a rainbow with happy faces at each end. Smiling, I picked it up and felt a sense of wellbeing. I took a paper and put the rock back and walked on, thinking about that rock and the feeling it gave me. Back I went. Picking it up, I thought: I’d like to take you home. But I couldn’t bring myself to take something that wasn’t mine. Back a third time, like a thief in the night, I looked in all directions. No one in sight, I slipped the booty into my pocket and fled.

I didn’t know about rock painters leaving a friendly face to be found by people like me. The finder is supposed to take the gift or leave it for someone else to find. Not happening!
Back at home, I put the rock on the window shelf over the kitchen sink. Many times since then, I stop and look at MY rock. I always smile and perk up.

I’ve been suffering writer’s block. I needed something to get me going, so I brought the IMG_6886rock into my office. Holding it helps. I turned it over and found a note from SJP, allowing me to keep it. At the top was a request to post on FaceBook.

Today on the blog and FaceBook, I’m sending my thanks to SJP.

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It is the Ride, not the Destination

Over the years, my motorcycle trips have been more about the journey than the destination. I have been to the big motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, at least a dozen times. Three or four times, I was what is called derisively ‘a trailer queen,’ we pulled a bike trailer behind a motorhome. Those trips were in the early days, and we were all about getting to the rally: no side trips, only twelve-hour days driving straight through. Once there, we took rides to Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, and Wounded Knee. These trips were made quickly so we could get back to the rally. Everything was a crowded rush.

We could say we had been there and done that. (I hate that cliché)

In 2001, I got an Ultra Classic and began riding to Sturgis, following the advice of Robert Pirsig: “Sometimes it’s better to travel than arrive” (Pirsig 103). No longer on the road 1c4nPGlJQmVpftM0Tu9w_Beartooth-Pass_54_990x660from morning until dark, I looked around. Instead of the most direct route, we mapped out places we wanted to visit. Jackson Hole, Yellowstone, Beartooth Pass are just some of the big names. Places we never imagined like US-191 north out of Green River, Utah, and through fantastic country and on through Wyoming. I liked US-191 so much that I made a solo trip south on it. Not as scenic, but a great ride. I have made these long rides with a dozen riders, three or four, and alone—never once lonely.

This summer, my buddy Jim Kennemore and I, plan on heading north to the Cascades, make a right onto Washington-20 across the state to Kettle Falls on the Columbia River. There we will flip a coin and go—

We have room for other bikers; we don’t care what you ride as long as you miss the open road and the wind in your face.

 

Pirsig, Robert M. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Bantam Books, 1981.

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The Dreamer by Sheldon Siegel

Siegel, Sheldon. The Dreamer. Sheldon M. Siegel, Inc., 2020

When I saw that Sheldon Siegel had a new book, The Dreamer, I had an idea that he would address the social issue of immigration and DACA. I had no doubt he would weave The Dreamerthe subject into the plot. As always, he addresses issues in a way that none should find offensive, but instead learn and gain understanding. Undocumented people and the ICE agents are treated equally and with respect.

A rising star chef is found stabbed to death. Next to him is a young woman, covered in blood. Presumed guilty, the San Francisco County Public Defender takes her case.

Siegel’s story develops around the trial skills of Mike and Rosie. Trial work is repetitive, that is the nature of trial preparation and courtroom demeanor. He manages to bring new life to each book in the series.

While fast-paced, Siegel provides a breather when he takes his readers on a trip through time with each visit to the churches, courts, and police buildings. His descriptions of settings are accurate and help define the characters as well. In The Dreamer, he brings each of these people alive, and often, someone we would wish to meet.

Dreamer is a fun read!

 

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BLACK PEARL – A Review?

Bell, Donnell Ann. Black Pearl. Bell Bridge, 2019.

In most good detective stories, the hero almost always states: “I don’t believe in coincidences.” I beg to offer a different view. In over fifty years of law enforcement and private sector investigations, I have run across more coincidence than you can shake a stick at.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve posted a few book reviews that I was quite proud of until I got a telephone call.

My best friend is a voracious reader. After but a brief hello, he said, “Cramer, I have to tell you I think a couple of your reviews are bad.” Yep, he used the “B-word.” He went on to tell me that one review was of such a frightening nature; he would never read the book.; another so boring he wouldn’t spend money on it until he read some reviews on Amazon. The Amazon reviews convinced him otherwise.

I asked my friend what was so bad about my reviews, and he said, “You didn’t write them for a reader, you wrote them for someone like you.”

My usual response to criticism about what I’ve written is to get angry, set the comment(s) aside for a few days, and then with a much cooler head examine the %&^$#. Usually, I find value and what has been suggested. In this case, I didn’t need to wait or think it over. I knew he was right.

First coincidence: I had just settled down to read Bell’s, Black Pearl. I had my usual toolkit with me, Post-It notes, pencils, red, black, and blue ink pens, three different colored hi-liters, and a note pad. If you looked at books I’ve reviewed, you would them almost destroyed by the different underlining, high lighting, comments written in the margin, and dogeared pages. These readings take anywhere from one to two weeks.

After the call ended, I took all my weapons of mass destruction and dumped them on my desk. I retired with Black Pearl to where I only read fiction by Bernard Cornwell, Michael Connelly, J.A. Jance, and a rare few others. I read until dinner and then spent the evening enjoying it with my wife.

The next morning, I skipped breakfast and finished Bell’s book before lunch. I enjoyed it and felt fresh; it wasn’t like I had been working on an MFA review.

41lbPhTdeILToday, I wrote and submitted this Amazon Review. I hope it works for my friend.

“Drenched in mystery and violence, from the first page, Bell gives both misleading and factual clues. These are in such a cryptic fashion; it only becomes clear at the end of the action who the killer is. Or does it?

There were several places where I was taken out of the story by a confusing sentence or statement.

What worked for me, but then gave me concern were descriptions. The friendly difference of opinion between Agent DiPietro and the retired sheriff about their choice of motorcycles was realistic and added to the pleasure for me. What didn’t work for me was the lack of description of the Harley-Davidson. Even more distracting was the lack of a word picture of Ouray County and Montrose. I’ve ridden my H-D through there. It is some of the most breathtaking country in Colorado. Bell left out a description of the countryside, as well as some of the other settings.

What worked was the interaction of the characters. Bell drew me into the conversations, and unsaid messages that conveyed much of the action, and worked well with the story’s pacing.

It was an excellent and riveting read. I will buy more of Donnell Ann Bell’s work.”

Second Coincidence: During Shelter in Place (SIP), I am not wearing shirts that require ironing, just T-Shirts. In my closet is a stack of over a hundred of these souvenir shirts. Most are from Harley-Davidson shops. I just reach in and take the one at the top of the pile, sight unseen.

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Today: BLACK PEARL Harley-Davidson, Belize

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