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Category: books in general

Blood on the Mitten

I should have put my Michigan Native sweatshirt on for this shot. I clearly didn’t think this through.

I held off on posting this here because I thought my new book blog was going to be ready to go, and this would be the inaugural deal, but. It hasn’t happened yet. So. here you go.

I got this book for Christmas from the Mister and I was super excited about it because if there are two things in this world I love, they’re true crime and Michigan. Don’t judge. I love other shit too.

This book started out fun and quickly grew annoying. For an author who allegedly spent 25 years in Traverse City, he certainly seems fixated on Detroit. Like everybody else in the world. Guess what, America! There are, in fact, a whole bunch of other cities in Michigan. And somebody’s been murdered in all of them. I guarantee it.

X marks detroit, which is evidently the center of the known universe.

OK, I’m being a little harsh. This book is a fun, quick read – each murder is presented as a brief summary – like a book full of murder blurbs. (Although I could easily fall into an argument over the difference between killing and murder, and some of the cases presented here don’t seem particularly murdery to me.) Each murder is also accompanied by the “murder map,” which gives you the location, or approximate location that it took place, and whether or not the house/hotel/school/whatevah is still standing. It also gives you a little bit of loosely related history of the era and or area. So obviously it’s not an in depth true crime masterpiece.

But dear God. If you’re going to call your book “Blood on the Mitten: Infamous Michigan Murders 1700s to Present,” shouldn’t all of the murders in the book actually have taken place IN THE MITTEN?? Just because a murderer hails from the Water Winter Wonderland, doesn’t mean it’s a “Michigan Murder.” St. Valentine’s Day Massacre? Didn’t happen here. And frankly, you present only tenuous evidence at best that it was even related to criminals from – you guessed it – Detroit. The killing of peaceful Cheyenne at Washita River? Nowhere near this pleasant peninsula, my friend. Who gives a bag of Better Made if Custer grew up here? His famous Last Stand was over a thousand miles away from here. And while Fort Custer may be about 5 minutes from my house, I’m not convinced the man ever actually even set foot on that land. (I suppose it’s possible, I’ve done no actual research. But he was from the east side of the state. What else is on the east side of the state? Hmmmm, let me think. Oh yeah! DETROIT.) The Oklahoma City bombing? Last time I checked, Oklahoma City was in Oklahoma. And while McVeigh and Nichols, vile and loathsome murderers, indeed, may have hailed from eastern Michigan, they didn’t commit their horrific act of terrorism here. McKinley’s assassination? Guess what? Went down in Buffalo. New York that is. Decidedly not Michigan. I mean. If you wanted to write a book about famous murderers who hailed from Michigan, you probably should have done that.

decidedly not a michigan murder

Also, dude. WHYYYYYYYYYYY so much Detroit? (I’m 100% including the few suburbs of the Motor City when I say Detroit. As far as we on the West Side are concerned, it’s all the same.) What about the Marshall murder of local television news anchor Diane King by her husband, former police officer and WMU adjunct instructor, Bradford King? (I read a book about that one.) Or the 1999 murder of Kalamazoo College student Maggie Wardle by her ex boyfriend? (I read a book about this one too – The Events of October, which is a good, though incredibly tragic read.) The only Kalamazoo murder mentioned is the Uber driver who terrorized the city in early 2016 and gave what was ultimately the final shove to centralizing our county-wide 911 dispatch system, for good or ill, we shall see.

OK, again, I’m being harsh. And slightly exaggerating. There are other cities listed. Mostly the U.P. and northern lower Michigan. Very very little from West Michigan or South Central Michigan. (We’re a much bigger state than you think, my chickens.) Still, Detroit isn’t literally the only region represented. It’s just over-represented. And frankly, West Michigan is tired of that shit. The second largest city in Michigan is Grand Rapids. Which is in West Michigan. (Granted, I don’t spend a lot of time there either. Me+Big Cities = claustrophobia.) Pay attention to us!!

Despite my trash talk, and the presence of a handful of editing misses (always annoying), the book is indeed full of interesting things I had not known before. For instance, I’m going to have to make a trip back to Mackinac Island – I haven’t visited since I was a kid anyway – to see the “Drowning Pool” where the Brits shoved women weighted with rocks off a 20 foot drop into a pool of water. Like all accused in the 1700s, if they could swim and save themselves they were witches. If they drowned, they were innocent. The pool is said to be haunted. (If you’re in the Mitten and want to find out for yourself, it’s near Mission Point Resort.)

I also learned that The Lone Ranger began as a radio show in bloody Detroit, along with The Green Hornet.

I really am not a fan of Detroit. (Don’t tell my sister in law, she’s a native. I’m pretty sure she has an old English D tattooed somewhere on her person.)

2.5 out of 5. If we’re handing out stars. Fun for true crime buffs, but not the best ever. Definitely a must for MI true crime connoisseurs. Sorry, Tom Carr. Please don’t show up at my door to punch me. This is all meant in good (honest) fun.


Johnny Cash The Life

johnny cash is my spirit animal. i have like 15 spirit animals. shut up.

It has been a minute since my last book post. Sooooo sorry about that, chickens. I have been B.U.S.Y.

But now that the semester is over I’m looking to spend some quality time with the Man in Black. *swoon*

I’ve had this book for a while, and I actually started it ages ago (sort of the story of my life) but had to set it aside for more pressing things. Then I got caught up in quick murder mystery reads and some true crime and kept checking Johnny out out of the corner of my eye. But damn, this book is heavy. Literally. Heavy. Weighs a ton. Because it is one hell of a thorough and fine toothed look at every intimate detail of Cash’s life. I’m a good 200 pages in and have about 400 to go. There’s not a lot of detail to share, it’s a biography. The whole bloody book is details.

It’s so good, though, chickens. It does not sugar coat shit. It takes a serious, honest look at the Man and his wayward ways, as well as his redemption. (I assume, how can it not? But I haven’t gotten that far yet, so. I guess I don’t know.) Anyway. It’s good. It’s very well written, has loads of great photos from various friends and family members. If you are a Cash fan, I recommend this tome. And if you’re not a Cash fan, just stop talking to me, because you just do not get me at all.

Legend has it Cash was my first concert, but I think that may have been a tall tale. I did see him here on campus back in the early 90s and it was fucking incredible. I had terrible seats, but I was THERE and I loved every minute of it.


i’m not even into bad boys. like at all. but look at that face.

OK, I have a bloody nose, so I have to run. It’s OK. I’m Ok. Really. But check out this book. Then OD on a good Cash playlist. Especially the stuff he wrote himself. And then watch Walk the Line, because I don’t care what anyone says, that was a pretty good film. But also I have a weird crush on Joaquin Phoenix, so what do I know?

WALK THE LINE, Joaquin Phoenix, 2005, TM & Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.

Look, if you weren’t interested in my opinion on this shit, you wouldn’t be reading this. … right? If you just came to mock, don’t tell me. OK?



As an aside, I’m giving growing out my gray another go. I’m thoroughly sick of dying it every 3 weeks. I’m just going to TRY. AGAIN. to embrace it. If only it would just go gray overnight. That’s the REAL problem. Also it’s not really GRAY at all. It’s white. Which, in the end, will look pretty cool, I think.

Here’s one for your Halloween spooky reading fun. Meddling Kids, by Edgar Cantero. I’m getting through this one verrrrrry slowly because of all my reading for the class I’m taking that I don’t hate, addiction to British procedurals, and spending actual time with my family. Also there’s that whole job thing, but whatevah.

Meddling Kids is very heavily inspired by Scooby Doo, but takes fun creative license. I haven’t got far enough in to tell who the bad guy is, but it’s definitely not a real estate swindler in a mask. I’m reasonably certain this is a take on the Cthulhu mythos, but we’ll see if I’m right.

I’m enjoying it so far, despite a couple of unintended anachronisms. The fellow who wrote it is not a native English speaker, which may or may not have contributed to that. I’m guessing probably it’s just a research glitch. But it’s fiction, so does it matter that much? (Yeah, OK, it bugs me a little, but I don’t think most people would care at all.)

The writing style is very interesting. It jumps around a fair amount from reading like a television script to narrative to first person reflection, but somehow not in an annoying way. I don’t know how I feel about the characters yet. But I do love the dog(s).

Jinkies! I need a stamp that says jinkies. Obviously.

I even got this one from the library! Well, the Mister did, on account of he thought both Miss W and I would like to read it. She gave up before she finished the first chapter. Then it got stuck on our bookshelf where I discovered it looking for something else. Don’t worry, we renewed it. We’re not monsters. We’re not even real estate swindlers in masks who would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for … Also there’s the fact that the library bought this thing back in March and we were the first people to check it out, so I don’t think we’re depriving anyone.

I’ll update you on this one later in the month, but for now, I’m recommending it – if for no other reason than most of you reading this post grew up on Scooby Doo, like I did, and you’ll enjoy it for the homage it’s intended to be. Also if you don’t love Scooby Doo I don’t even want to know you any more, because clearly you are a soulless ghoul-masked real estate swindler.

P.S. I mean no disrespect to some very good friends of ours who are real estate agents and are honorable, upstanding, awesome people whom we are lucky to know. You know they must be good people if I’m qualifying my post. I clearly think very highly of them. I merely reference the bad guys in pretty much ALL Scooby episodes.


The Trespasser – An Epilogue

still life with book cover

You guys.

I did it. I pushed through. I actually finished the bloody Trespasser. And you know what?

I’m going to throw in a pretty photo of a random Irish castle as a buffer because there be spoilers below.

I don’t know who took this gorgeous photo, but it was not me. I only wish it were. Good on you random gorgeous Irish castle photog.

You know what?

It never got any better.

I know you thought I was going to say “You know what? It was so worth it! It got soooooo good at the end!” I know you thought I was going to say the book totally redeemed itself and lived up to the Tana French standard we’ve all come to know and love and expect.

I am so sorry to disappoint you, chickens. But it just did not.

Worse yet, the only possible character I could see her basing the next Dublin Murder Squad installment on is kind of awful, and also it seemed like he was getting the axe anyway, so I have no clue.

Unless she goes with the one completely random guy thrown in just to be a pain in the ass and sound like a complete and utter dick. In which case, no thanks.

And then I thought wait. Maybe this is it. Maybe this is the team that she’s keeping around for the duration. Conway and Moran. Perhaps all future tomes set in that tumultuous Irish city will center around this intrepid team. This “I’ve miraculously resolved my daddy issues in this two page arc” and “If only I could beat my partner over the head with all the obvious clues instead of just coming right out and SAYING WORDS she’ll fucking get it” dynamic duo.

If that is indeed the way of it, I’m afraid I’m out, Ms. French. I’ll be forced to hang up my fan club hat forevermore.

Settle down, I don’t really have a Tana French hat. Do they even make Tana French hats?

Oh wait, I just remembered Fleas. Yeah, I could see that happening. Still not terribly enticing, but better than the previously mentioned possibles I suppose. Really Fleas is the only logical choice for the next book.

Honestly, I was so frustrated through this whole book. And it just went on and on and on until all of a flipping sudden it was over. Like “oh shit, I’ve been prattling on for days as if I were actually Conway wallowing in my own self inflicted misery, and I nearly forgot to actually finish solving the mystery that pretty much any reader with half a brain has gone ahead and solved by now because the murderer could obviously only be one of two people.” Boom. The end.

I get no satisfaction from this whatsoever, just so we’re clear.

Also, if I suddenly go missing after slagging Tana French, you might want to look into her mob connections.

Praying for your comeback, Tana! Fingers crossed for the next one! Maybe the one-off The Witch Elm will be just the break you needed from the Squad. Let’s all hope, shall we? Plus, hey, it’s based on an actual unsolved mystery, right?

Course your name’s bigger than the title on that cover as well …


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