Saturday, August 26, 2017

Book Review - A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon

When you know war is coming, how do you prepare for it? 

Cover for D. Gabaldon's A Breath of Snow and Ashes

A Breath of Snow and Ashes
(#6 in series)

In the hills of the Carolinas, on the southeastern coast of the USA, spring was only beginning when a desolate sight met the eyes of Claire and Jamie Fraser. A burning homestead. . .and it wasn't the only one. A friend reports the carnage to Jamie and the Frasers go to investigate. They find half-burned bodies, whole families murdered and hanged, and some poisoned. The settlers are being killed by roving gangs of men who are the forefront of the coming war. Like carrion-eating birds, they judge and execute those who don't agree with them. The marauders blame the Indian camps, some of whom had taken to fighting back as they try to protect their own against these same roving gangs of men.

Tensions are running high when Jamie is offered the position of Indian Agent, a liaison between the British and Native tribes. The British are gathering their supporters about them as they try to determine where and when the trouble will come. Jamie accepts the Indian Agent position with misgivings. One of his first meetings reveals that the Indians want guns, they fear any treaties will be broken if the white man goes to war.  

Both the British and the Regulators (who consider themselves patriots of this new country) are wondering where James Fraser's allegiances lie. Then, an incident at the Fraser mash shed occurs and Claire is snatched as a hostage. She suffers much before Jamie locates the camp. This is a pivotal point in the story.

Incident follows incident, and Claire is regarded with suspicion after she makes a bad medical decision. Some consider her a healer, others thinks she's a witch. Her daughter, who has time-travelled back to find her mother, is kidnapped by a pirate. The Frasers and Roger, Brianna's husband to be, pursue the man responsible in order to find their daughter.

This novel reads at a faster pace, with constant action. The war machine of the British colonial empire is coming. Gabaldon weaves the history details into the narrative, as she shows the anguish and horror which helped birth a nation. The settlers are defending their own land. The British redcoats are defending the Empire. The Indians just want to survive. Recommended for anyone who likes Gabaldon's writing and for fans of the American colonial times. I enjoy Gabaldon's writing style, and the characters that populate her novels. There will be more reviews of her work for this series, once I acquire them. 


Are you a Gabaldon fan? Have you watched the Outlander series on tv? Do you like historical based fiction books? 

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here and I'll reply. Thanks for stopping by! Next up will be reviews about a couple of Agatha's mysteries (Poirot) and one review of a book about Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassidy. Hope you'll come back for those.

For my other reviews of Gabaldon's work:

Drums of Autumn (#4)

Voyager (#3)

Dragonfly in Amber (#2)

The Fiery Cross (#5)

Outlander (#1)


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Reunion - The Wanderer - WEP August Challenge

Reunions are celebrated on ReUnion, a colony planet that has been settled for a few hundred years. Here is one of the stories from that planet.

Surface horizon of a planet, similar to ReUnion, free use image

ReUnion - The Wanderer

A Noah Generation II Starship arrived at the landing port with supplies to trade. The sleek stealth black wing design could handle hyperjumps and was equipped with hidden armaments in the exterior shell of the ship. The manifesto included grains, seeds, cloned animal embryos designed to withstand the rigors of space travel, and the latest inventions.

Captain's Log:

We planned to be here for a week, time to unload, reload, make a few deals. With the upcoming ReUnion Festival of Humanity opening in a few days, this place is going to be crawling with potential customers. I smell more profits. 


A red alert flashed indicating an incoming message to the bridge. The captain's raised eyebrows and his switch into action at one of the consoles confirmed this was a real call for help. No one else moved for a few seconds. . .

"Urgent. Mayday. SOS. SOS. Generation I, Colony Starship Wanderer, damaged from attack. Urgent. Come in ReUnion. Our call code is SSJ900. Mayday. Mayday...."

"Call Code SSJ900. This is NOAH , Gen II Trade Starship SST1100, Captain Jona speaking. Do you read me? I'm in contact with the landing agent on ReUnion. An emergency ship will be dispatched. What coordinates?"

"Coordinates sent. Thanks Captain Jona. I'm Pilot Olivar, our power level is depleting. We may need towing unless you have a mechanic who understands the old starship configuration. I can send the schematics."

"Great. I'll forward them to the agent. Your signal wasn't strong enough with all the interference of other ships landing and leaving."

"Can't boost it. Power level too low. I'll look you up later, Captain Jona. I owe you one, sir."

As he signed off, Captain Jona wondered if this man kept his word. Many say of things they will do, but few follow through. This could be an event of historic importance, a wandering explorations colony ship! He wanted to see the other ship and look up Pilot Olivar, once he arrived. 


Captain Jona obtained clearance to visit the ship, on the condition that he would act as liaison for the incoming Terran ship and its captain. 

From the notes of the meeting in the Captain's Log, Starship Noah, quoted verbatim:

"We are a exploration settlement ship which left Terra many centuries ago, an advance ship sent prior to the Great Evacuation. We have been searching for human settlements but only finding other species or humans who look like us. but are NOT like us. Searching so long . .then we were attacked several weeks ago by one of the free-running marauders. They usually travel in pairs but this one was alone. We used a lot of our power supply to escape the attack. We are grateful for your help.

"May we also express our sincere thanks to Captain Jona who heard our call for assistance and responded. Our pleas would have gone unheard if not for him."

Captain Jona winced, but smiled and nodded. No way was he going to stand and acknowledge his part. Nope

Pilot Olivar stood and looked at the few who were able to attend this momentous meeting. Privacy meant it couldn't be a public affair, only an inner circle could be trusted. But Olivar knew, it wouldn't take long for word to get around.

"We, and I speak for my shipmates, will need to assess our damage in human lives as well as our ship functions. I'm not sure how many we may have lost in that last encounter."

Pilot Olivar invited Captain Jona to meet with him privately, so they might talk friend to friend.  As they are dining, Jona tells Olivar about ReUnion and asked him to meet again so they might be able to set up a deal with some of the trade items. Olivar asked him how the name of the planet came to be ReUnion.

Jona replied, "This planet was named ReUnion by the initial settlers with their hope of reuniting some of the far-flung colonies of humankind.  After centuries of no contact, most of the population has forgotten that reason. Reunion has become a focal point at the crossroads of several trade routes. The colony has grown into several large cities on the one large continent. Trade is the lifeblood of this planet. That's why we are here."

WC = 754

To be continued at a later date. . .


Do you like reunions of any kind? Have you attended a reunion for your school or work location, or a large family reunion in the last year?

Please leave a comment to let me know you came by and I'll respond. Thanks for taking time to read my entry, a partial beginning for a short story.


WEP - Write, Edit, Publish - a fiction challenge: REUNIONS

It's August, time for another WEP challenge - with the support team of Nilanjana Bose and Olga Godim adding their imaginings and creativity. Thanks to Denise and Yolanda for being the hosts!

Create an artistic entry: a poem, a flash fiction piece of 1000 words or less, a non-fiction piece detailing your personal experience or someone else's experience, write a script, draw your dreams, or post a photograph or a photo essay. The genre and the artistic choice are yours!


Saturday, April 29, 2017

REVIEW: Dear Reflection: I Never Meant to be a Rebel, by Jessica Bell

Growing up is hard to do. . .growing up with performing musicians who are also your parents, is even harder. Jessica Bell has written an engaging and poignant memoir which spans two distinct places: Australia and Greece. It's a whirlwind tour of learning to cope.

Jessica Bell's Memoir cover for:Dear Reflection

DEAR REFLECTION: I Never Meant to be a Rebel
Author: Jessica Bell

A lonely child uses her imagination to provide what she doesn't have--a trusted person to talk to. In listening to this mirror image alter ego, she gives permission to the voice that urges her, demeans her and chips away at her confidence. Music comes along with an early guitar and suddenly she finds something she enjoys. But is she good enough? Always the uncertainty.

There are forays into the wilder side of life for intervals, but something always seems to save her from her destructive tendencies. Family issues come and go, each teaching the young woman more about the real world. She learns the darkness of addiction to prescription drugs from her mother, the blindness of the mind that alcohol causes, and the bullying of a jealous partner.

To survive, she must accept her parents for what they are, and push back and prove to herself that the voice in the mirror and in her head is wrong. This memoir, with its moments of grittiness, is the first I've read that has kept my attention throughout. Reading this novel stirred the thought that when the going gets tough, the struggle strengthens us. 

Highly recommended for parents, teens, or anyone who has felt loneliness whether growing up or afterwards as an adult. I consider Dear Reflection: I Never Meant to be a Rebel one of Jessica's best. She handles the issues which she has lived through with sensitivity and brutal honesty. Bravo!

ALERT: Available the 1st of May. See the link to website below.

Have you read any of Jessica Bell's other novels? Do you like memoirs? Why or why not? Do you ever think of writing a memoir? 

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here and I'll respond. Thanks for dropping by. 

For more on this author's novels, and other talents, please visit Jessica Bell's website:  


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

WEP April Challenge - No Love Nor Peace, Part 2

What would you do if you knew who had killed your brother and he was still loose on the streets? 

Promotional photo of The Godfather Knife - Google Images


(Part 2 of story Automatic Slim, see link also at bottom of post)

Sam first interviewed Hans and Ildi Loewen, who brought their two children to the party -- Joshua, ten and Birgit, sixteen. They befriended Jonathan shortly after moving into the neighbourhood.  When Sam questioned him about the party, Hans remembered little, only that his daughter had arrived late and left shortly after. 
“Birgit had plans to meet with her boyfriend, who picked her up at Jonathan’s house.

Did you notice anyone at the party who was unfamiliar?” Sam asked making a note about Birgit leaving early.  “I’ll need the name of Birgit’s boyfriend, as well. I’m verifying a list of everyone who attended the open house or who happened to be on the premises, like Birgit’s friend.”

 “Well, if it’s part of the investigation . . .his name is Dieter Jensen. He seems all right, but I don’t know anything about his family.”

As Hans walked Sam to the door, Birgit shouldered past them in the hallway.  She looked covertly at Sam but said nothing. Sam's instinct was bristling like an insect’s antennae. He left after asking a few more questions, but gathered little additional information. Jonathan had not mentioned Birgit’s boyfriend at the front door

A week later, a second man was found dead behind Grey’s Tavern with the same type of switchblade sticking out of his chest. Lazlo Podarsky, 30 years of age, was an associate of Rico Divenuto and a known ‘person of interest’. The owner of the tavern told Constable McNulty that Lazlo left a couple of hours before closing time, and seemed capable of getting himself home.  When the owner took the trash to the bin in the alley the next morning, he discovered Lazlo’s body hidden behind the huge garbage bin. He phoned the police.

“This is bad for business.” the owner told McNulty. “You cops, you find out who has done this or nobody will want to come to Grey’s Tavern. If these people want to kill each other, I wish they go somewhere else.”

“We’ll contact you for a statement soon,” McNulty said.  “Don’t talk about it to anyone. The killer could be one of your customers.”

Constable McNulty asked Sam to attend the second homicide scene and check for anything Forensics might have missed. He scanned the pile of garbage where the body had been thrown.  No one was around, so Sam closed his eyes to concentrate on clearing his mind, a trick he used to spot the clues others missed.

The sun flashed on the building wall opposite just as Sam opened his eyes.  A quick reflection of light shone from the garbage. He walked over to pick up a finely tooled but dirty knife sheath with silver edging which lay amid the mess. Garbage piled behind the dumpster had fallen to the sides when the body was removed, exposing the knife sheath. Sam pulled a small forceps from an inner pocket, put the sheath in a specimen bag and pocketed the evidence.

Sam later asked his friend, a tech in the Street Crimes investigation unit to run an analysis of a partial fingerprint on the silver work. 

Sam woke from his nap with a start.  What was that? With a shrill tone, the cordless phone reminded him as it rang again.  He struggled out of his old wingback chair muttering oaths under his breath and grabbed the phone.  “Hello?”

“Jarvis, back off. One warning. Keep your nose out of Grey’s Tavern. This is private.”  Click. 

With his mind still groggy from the nap, Sam didn’t register fear, just annoyance. The tenor male voice sounded muffled, but he heard loud music in the background.  He called Constable McNulty.

After hearing about the threats from someone at Grey’s Tavern, McNulty said, “I’ll send an undercover man around to your address to watch for trouble. Any ideas who it was?  You ruffled any feathers, Sam?”

“I’m just doing my job, asking questions.  That usually ruffles a few feathers.  Have you got an undercover at Grey’s Tavern?  If not, put one on.  And thanks for the tail, Constable.

Watch yourself Sam, and don’t try anything alone. We’ve tried to close that bar down, but we need hard evidence to do that. The owner won’t report the crimes. He just turns his back. Can’t report what you don’t see."

Sam made a pot of coffee before he pulled out his notes on the case. Could that call have been set up by the owner of the bar?  Or one of those thugs that hung around waiting for the action?   What connection did the murders have with the stolen knife?

As he poured himself a cup of coffee, he saw the message light flashing on the old cordless base unit. The message list showed the lab number on the display.

Sam’s friend left a message regarding the fingerprint identification. The prints on the knife sheath belonged to Jonathan Ashworth. What?  His head felt sluggish.  Confused at what this meant, he remembered the stack of knife-size boxes he’d seen in the corner of Jonathan’s library.  Sam’s lack of sleep was making his thinking less clear and more fractured.

The phone rang again. Mr. Hans Loewen's daughter, Birgit, confessed to her father that she had stolen Jonathan’s original knife from the library.  Birgit told her dad after Sam left and asked him to intervene. 
According to Birgit’s story, her boyfriend came to Jonathan’s front door to pick her up for a movie.  Birgit asked him to wait while she went to the bathroom. On the way, she passed the library and convinced Jonathan to go downstairs to meet her boyfriend When Birgit came out of the bathroom, the library door stood ajar and she saw the white stiletto lying on top of the main desk.  No one was upstairs, so she pocketed the knife in her jeans and left.  

Jonathan was at the front door talking to Birgit’s boyfriend Dieter, while they waited for her. She told her father that she later gave the knife to Dieter.  Dieter lost it there a few hours later to Rico Divenuto in a poker game at Grey’s Tavern.

Sam thanked Mr. Loewen for calling and told him he would have to make a new statement to the police.  No charges had been laid yet.

On his way to the police station downtown to update Constable McNulty, Sam got a call on his cell phone from a train dispatcher at the Canadian National Railway. Another body was found.  Constable Johnson had given the manager Sam's number.

Sam changed his route to head down East 1st Avenue to Main.  A male body had been dumped near the railroad tracks off Terminal Avenue and Main Street, on the edge of the downtown eastside.  Third man -- same type of blade – same efficient killing method.  The hilt of the knife rested between the second and third rib, the blade buried at an angle in the flesh. Very little blood was around the body. 

Railway workers halted their train until the police and Forensics had finished their investigation, warning the other rail traffic of the stoppage with flares and red flags.  Operations for the CNR had sent a supervisor over to confirm that the railway was not responsible for the death. Someone had wanted the body to be found with the same death signature as the two previous murders.

Sam stopped in at the Ovaltine Cafe for a coffee after he saw the body. There had to be some connection between these three murders.  He finished his coffee, left a tip for the waitress and left, heading back to his bungalow on Capitol Hill.

After setting his security alarm and his clock, he looked to see if the police cover was outside watching his place.  Yes, the black sedan was there, the full-bodied type that screams ‘police’, as soon as you see it.  For now, he was grateful.


McNulty conducted an internet search of all Vancouver purchases of the Protec Godfather Tuxedo knives in the last two years. A background search on each order pinpointed Jonathan Ashworth as a multiple importer of the knives for his business. Imports International, his storefront, was also his family business. By special police warrant, the Imports International database was hacked into by the RCMP. When the web search analysis arrived at Constable McNulty’s office, he called Sam in to see the results.  Jonathan’s name headed the list of suspects.

“How can it be him?  He’s the one who reported the knife missing.” 
“Yeah, that theft gave him a great alibi, didn’t it? Now hold on, Sam. Do you remember that murder a few months ago involving a guy who hung around Grey’s Tavern? That was Jonathan’s younger brother who was shot in the head at close range.  His brother was used as the pawn in a dispute between two rival gangs. We had no concrete evidence, so no charges were laid, and no one would testify.” 

Sam remembered the news article.  It stated that there had been a set-up to establish one club's drug turf.  He hadn’t known that the victim had been Jonathan’s brother, due to a court-ordered embargo on the case details.

“How did you find out that it was a set-up?”

“To answer that, I’ll need you to keep your mouth shut.  This is highly classified, and I’ll hold you responsible if you let it get out.”

“I’m a professional, Constable.  My information is confidential just like yours.  You must have someone on site. I hope he’s tough.”

 “You’re right, Sam.  One of our men is working as a bartender at Grey’s Tavern, he’s six foot four, two hundred fifty pounds and he works out at the gym where some of the lowlife go.  He was military before, so he can take care of himself. He’s reported seeing a man fitting Jonathan’s general description hanging around with some of the gang members at Grey’s. For several weeks before the first murder occurred, he infiltrated the gang based out of Grey’s bar and ingratiated himself with his dead brother’s associates.  Since he knew his weapons, they allowed him into their fold.”

“I’ll be damned.  I’d forgotten that Jonathan used to act in community theatre, he did it for a few years.  He was good at it too.  But to go to Grey’s by himself -- I didn’t know he had it in him.”

“Jonathan Ashworth made his own vendetta against the three men he discovered were responsible for his brother Boyce’s death. The knife that Jonathan reported stolen came back to its original owner that night, as Jonathan waited for Rico’s return.  Rico must have trusted him in his business biker disguise, making it easier for Jonathan to get close.  That same knife or a similar one was used to eliminate Rico, the one who bragged to his friends about the killing. ”

“So the knife found in the second body was another copy?”  Sam hadn’t told McNulty about the sheath identification since he had been called by the CPR on his way to the police precinct. Three men in the deal, three men dead. 

“Probably.  I haven’t heard from the lab yet but they’re comparing the evidence.  We’ll know for sure tomorrow.  That one would have been easy for Jonathan if he was keeping company at the bar.  The owner never said if Lazlo Podarsky left by himself or perhaps with Jonathan.  We’ll be calling the owner in for questioning.”

“Okay.  What about the last body by the CN tracks?  Who was the third man?”

“That was Vincent Sturgeon, Vinny to his buddies, a guy who assaulted women whenever he got the chance.  He’d been hauled in several times, but the women always got scared.  He did the dirty work for Rico on occasion, whenever he wanted to rough someone up.  Jonathan did society a favour on that one, but don’t quote me.  Same type of knife, same thrust to the heart on the last victim. ”

 “I see.  I guess that ties it.  When will Jonathan be arrested?”

“As soon as we get a warrant prepared, and we’re watching his place nonstop until then.  He’ll undergo psychiatric testing first.  This isn’t the first case of something like this occurring.  Good men can lose it, when the only person they call family, is murdered.  Jonathan must have snapped when his brother was killed so brutally.”

“I guess. I'm an old friend of Jonathan’s; I'll visit him at the hospital. Could you keep me informed as to how it goes for him?”

“Confidentially, of course.”

“Of course.  Any idea what will happen to his business?”

 “The import business is closed by order until the psychiatric assessment is completed.  The law will determine what happens based on that report and auditing the books.  At worst, the inventory will have to go on the auction block.”

Sam felt as if he had entered a walking bad dream, with exhaustion dogging his steps.  He wanted to kick something as he walked to his car.  Life wasn’t fair; it had turned gritty for his friend, and there wasn’t much he could do about it.  His old friend Jonathan had crossed that fine line between the exceptionally intelligent and the intelligently insane.

A couple of days later, Sam found Jonathan in his room at the Riverview hospital, reading a book on ancient sword making.  His eyes brightened when he recognized Sam.  Some of the old memory seemed intact.

“Good morning, Sam, you’re a little late.  I’ve already had my breakfast.  It’s good to see you, though.”

“I’m sorry, I got delayed by that lineup of traffic coming off Lougheed Highway.  Traffic keeps getting worse.”

“At least you’re here.  While I’m in this hospital, my schedule isn’t my own.  I’m a little confused as to exactly why I’m here, but the doc tells me it’s only a short stay.  They’re worried about me, you know.”

“Well, I hope you’re cooperating, dear friend. I see you’re reading a historical book. Do you like it? I’ve got that one myself. Let me know when you’re finished and we can discuss it.”

“You’ve read it? How interesting – an expert like you?”

“I can always learn something new. I’ll admit that I contributed to some of the facts they cite on swords and curved blades.”

Jonathan looked pleased. Almost like old times. He rang the nurse to see if he and his visitor could get some tea and a bite to eat. The staff had been advised to humor his requests in the hope that his mind would stabilize. A stable mind could stand trial.

When the tea arrived, Jonathan waved the nurses away and served them both. “We’ll just sit awhile and talk, ladies. If you don’t mind.”  Sam followed his friend’s lead as they talked, avoiding any references to recent events. Except for the occasional moments when Jonathan stared at his hands as if they weren’t his own, all was normal. 

Jonathan was indicted for the three murders, receiving a reduced sentence due to his psychiatric assessment.  That memory of what he had done was buried deep within his subconscious.  It was a common trait of multiple personality disorder. 

On Sam’s last visit, Jonathan talked about Boyce as if he were still living.  Perhaps in Jonathan’s muddled mind the horror never happened. The elegant black bladed, white handled knife with the double edge was never mentioned again. He had wiped away all memory of the blade that had been his favourite, the Godfather Tuxedo.
The weapons collection was held in trust for six months, along with the rest of Jonathan’s estate. Sam visited Jonathan once a week in the Riverview psychiatric centre, trying to keep to their old breakfast arrangement. If Jonathan was allowed to keep the weapons collection, Sam wanted to be the next caretaker.   

Jonathon knew that he would have no PEACE until his LOVE for his brother was honoured by his judging and executing the men who had caused his death. Despair and Hope were both resident in his heart.

WC=2639 approx.


Write, Edit, Publish (WEP)
Peace and Love

It's April, time for our second WEP challenge - with the support team of Nilanjana Bose and Olga Godim adding their imaginings and creativity. Thanks to Denise and Yolanda for being the hosts!

Create an artistic enterpretation: a poem, a flash fiction piece of 1000 words or less, a non-fiction piece detailing your personal experience or someone else's experience, write a script, draw your dreams, or post a photograph or a photo essay. The genre and the artistic choice are yours!

According to the poem Peace and Love by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. 

"Despair and hope may meet within one heart."


Part 1 of this story: Automatic Slim

Note: The original 5000 + word count story was edited to this current length in Part 2 to finish off the story which began in the last challenge. A lot of narrative was cut, but I couldn't meet the 1000 word count limit and still keep the story valid.  Please forgive my excesses. . .


Monday, March 6, 2017

Lonesome Traveler by Jack Kerouac -- A Review

Jack Kerouac was on the cusp of becoming one of the best known of the Beat poets and writers when this book was written.

Cover image for Lonesome Traveler, by Jack Kerouac

Lonesome Traveler

When Jack wrote Lonesome Traveler, he was working at various jobs while he tried to get On The Road published. He observed, lived through and recorded a time period of change in the USA. It was a time of questioning, a time of epic road trips and the introduction of variety in American literature style.

In this autobiographical work, Jack Kerouac writes about the years of his wandering, when he worked as a railway brakeman in California, a steward on a tramp steamer, and a fire lookout on Desolation Peak in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

Lonesome Traveler includes San Francisco stories, New York scenes (the clubs, the parties), and a saved-for big trip to Europe. Jack was getting his culture education and wasn't afraid of working to achieve his goals. This generation was restless, curious, and a forerunner of the social movements to come. No longer content to sit and grow old in the same place as their parents, the young adults of this time period (the 50s) wanted to see the USA and the world'.

Kerouac also reveals more about himself in this book, as he talks about his goals, his work and how he writes. His personal life is always a bit 'in limbo' as his relationships don't tend to survive. He does remain in touch with the other members of the Beat group, albeit sporadically. A bit different from his stream of consciousness rambling, Lonesome Traveler is an enjoyable read with a lot of detail packed into the narrative.  I recommend this book for those who like the historical detail of the Beat poets and writers, or those who like to read about the man, Jack Kerouac. 

An Alley in 'Frisco

In recognition of his literary contributions, Jack Kerouac has an alley behind City Lights Bookstore named for him. 'If you're going to San Francisco' as the song goes, be sure to stop by and drop in at the City Lights Bookstore. Ferlinghetti, the longtime owner-poet-writer, ensured many of the Beat authors were represented there, along with poets and other authors.

Kerouac Alley in San Francisco, CA. by AC, prop DG Hudson

Have you ever read any of the Beat writers? Are you a fan of Kerouac's novels? Ever seen Kerouac Alley?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here and I'll respond. Thanks for dropping by! I'll soon be reading and reviewing several more recent books, one by Jessica Bell, and several by other current indie writers. 


American poet, painter, liberal activist, and the co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers.

City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco

A to Z post on Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac, American writer


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

WEP Back of the Drawer - Automatic Slim

At the back of my desk drawer, I found this story based on the very real theft of a collector blade, The Godfather knife. It's a weapon that keeps making an appearance in one dead body after another. . .

So, who is the thief?

Promotional photo of The Godfather Knife - Google Images

Automatic Slim . . . 
A short story excerpt

Yellow police tape cordoned off a small rancher a few blocks off Commercial Drive, in Vancouver’s east end, while lights flashing from several police car beacons created a strobe effect. A few blocks away, the emergency sirens blared a warning to pedestrians and traffic on Broadway. The noise grew louder as the ambulance and coroner’s van arrived one after the other at the scene of the homicide. 

Vancouver Police officers were directing pedestrians to move back from the barriers while forensics specialists and the coroner collected and tagged their evidence.  Bystanders, including a few dog walkers and a couple of joggers, stood nearby talking to their neighbours trying to determine what had happened.
“Keep back from the barricades, everyone, or I’ll have to clear the area.  No statements will be issued at this time.”  

Constable Sean McNulty glowered at the crowd and the reporters standing by the barriers, using his imposing size and bushy eyebrows as reinforcement. It didn’t stop reporters or the gawkers with their camera phones from taking photos of the house.  No one argued -- but they didn’t move either.  Any one of them could have phoned in the anonymous tip the precinct had received that morning.

“Constable, don’t we have a right to know what’s happening in our own neighbourhood?” asked the white-haired lady from the house two doors down.  “I live by myself and this violence frightens me. I need to know what to watch for.”
“Yes lady, you do.  But first, we need to do our preliminary investigation.  Now, if any of you have any information about the deceased Mr. Divenuto, please let Constable Johnson take your statement.  If anyone witnessed anything, we need to know.  Johnson’s the one standing over there by the patrol car.”

Only a couple of those hanging around went over to talk to the officer, offering what they knew of the young victim. No one seemed to like him much, judging by the comments.
“He wasn’t a friendly guy, if you know what I mean,” said one of the men.  “Kept to himself, and didn’t have many visitors.  Didn’t even cut his own lawn.  Paid some gardening service to do that.”

“Did you hear anything late last night or early this morning?  A struggle or yell, anything unusual?”  Constable Johnson said as he made eye contact with the crowd.

“Not at the time he comes home. That’s usually in the wee hours. He can walk home from Grey’s Tavern, a bar on Commercial Drive.”

Constable Johnson and the local police unit knew the exact location of Grey’s Tavern, having been called there on several occasions to settle disturbances.

Rico, born Ricardo Divenuto, had been found dead in his home with the murder weapon buried in his flesh. Between the second and third ribs, the officers had found a knife thrust through to the heart. Not just any knife, but an elegant one with a white ivory handle encasing six inches of black satin steel. 

According to the coroner, the weapon had been placed with surgical precision and the intent to kill. Judging from the lack of visible evidence and the sweet smell of chloroform, the coroner reported that the victim had been under forced sedation prior to death.

Constable McNulty pulled up a background check on the laptop in the squad car. Rico’s police profile showed minor offences, and suspected complicity in a few felonies. Lack of evidence had prevented any serious charges being laid against him.  He was thirty-one years old, but had spent time in juvenile detention as a minor.

After Rico’s body was zipped in a body bag for delivery to the morgue, Forensics packed their specimen evidence and equipment into cases for the lab. Constables McNulty and Johnson were the last to leave and locked the house. The yellow tape remained, edging the property like an ugly fence.

“What do you think happened, McNulty?  That fancy knife seems out of place, don’t you think?”
“Looks like a vengeance killing to me. And Johnson, this is off the record and goes no further than the two of us -- understand?  We’re not paid to give our opinions, nor to do any talking about it.  Let’s go get a coffee at Timmy’s before we head to the precinct, I could use a strong one.”

“I’m aware of the consequences McNulty, and I don’t talk about my job. Coffee sounds good. I’ll pay. You drive.”

“You got a deal.”

“Knives have a certain beauty to them, an aesthetic value above the actual utilitarian purpose for which they were designed,” said Jonathan Ashworth. “Especially this one,” he said pointing to a switchblade in his collection. “It’s the Protec Godfather Tuxedo Model.”

“Yes, it’s a fine piece, that one,” said Dr. Samuel Jarvis.  “Looks brand new and deadly, is it a recent acquisition?”
Sam, an authority on unusual methods of killing, had written several books on hand weapons and lectured on historical and current models. He worked with the Street Crime Investigation Unit when his expertise was needed. As an old friend of Jonathan’s, Sam came once a week for breakfast and companionship.

“As a matter of fact, yes, it is. A replacement, actually, since the original that I purchased on a trip to Florida was stolen a couple of days ago. I was showing it to a small group of guests at my annual open house, when I was asked to meet someone at the front door. When I returned, it was gone.”


He pushed the cabinet back into the hidden wall enclosure, and locked the steel door. As Sam walked back to the dining room, he noticed a stack of small rectangular boxes with elegant black and white packaging in the corner. Neither Jonathan nor Sam mentioned the police incident from the rental house three doors over. Each kept that information close to their heart

Inspector Mike Patterson had pulled Sam into the murder case at the local tavern, when Forensics saw the special knife.  Rico Divenuto, when he was among the living, had been employed at the local motorcycle dealership, and rode his bike in his off hours with the gang that hung around Grey’s Tavern. 

Inspector Patterson approved Sam's request to interview some of the people on Jonathan's guest list. They were investigating other leads from their undercover operations at the tavern.  There was no reason - yet - to advise the inspector of his friendship with Jonathan.

WC= 1071 (for story only) not including lead-in and notes.

To Be Continued. . .at a later date.

Two more bodies will be found stabbed with the same knife. This whodunit in full is about 5000 WC so can't post the whole story. Automatic Slim is a lead-in story to introduce the character Sam Jarvis who also appears in a novella/novelette based on a border story incident.

What was in the back of your drawer? A mystery object? A forgotten story? A box with someone's history in it? Do you have any special weapon, either purchased or inherited?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and I'll respond. Thanks for dropping by!


WEP -Write, Edit, and Publish

The prompt: Create an artistic interpretation: a poem, a flash fiction piece of 1000 wc or less, a personal experience, a dream or a photographic essay. The genre and style are up to you. You could find a note about a scandal, a love lost, a deed, a lottery ticket or a will naming you the beneficiary. Have fun with it!

Thanks Yolanda and Denise for hosting this challenge and thanks to those behind the scenes as well!

What will you find at the Back of the Drawer? Check the main list here.


The Knife  - Wiki