- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 medium cucumbers
- 1 red onion
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
- young adults
- nighttime riders
- motorists traveling on rural roads
- individuals traveling in pick-up trucks
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
I am thrilled to welcome mystery novelist and professor Margot Kinberg as my guest today on her blog tour.
Be sure to visit Margot's amazing blog, Confessions of a Mystery Novelist. Be prepared to receive quite an education! For more information on how to obtain a copy of her novel, B-Very Flat, click here.
Without further ado, I'm honored to introduce Margot Kinberg, as she writes about "The Fine Line Between Truth and Fiction."
Thanks so much, Kathleen, for hosting me today. I truly appreciate it. The old saying is that truth is stranger than fiction. When it comes to crime, there’s certainly an argument for that. True crime captures the headlines, and some true crimes have become so famous that they’ve become part of the culture. Even true crime that isn’t quite that famous has a lot of effect on the way we think about crime and punishment, so it’s not surprising that it also has an effect on crime fiction. That’s been the case for a very long time, too.
One of the best-known true crime cases has been the 1888 Whitechapel murders. Those eleven killings took place in the Whitechapel section of London’s East End, and most of the victims were (or had been) prostitutes. The murderer was never caught, although there’ve been several allegations that the killer, dubbed “Jack the Ripper,” had been identified. Some of the murders were particularly brutal and suggested that the killer had surgical or some specialized anatomical knowledge. There’ve been several crime novels through the years that have been inspired or at least affected by those murders. One of them is Jane R. Goodall’s The Walker, which takes place at the end of the 1960’s. This novel tells the story of two women – Detective Briony Williams and Nell Adams. Four years earlier, Nell had been on a train in Plymouth when she witnessed a murder. As horrifying as that was, Nell did her best to move on with her life. Now, she’s a college student in London. Meanwhile, Briony Williams is trying to make her mark as a detective, and right now, she and the team she works with are trying to track down a killer known as The Walker. The Walker kills his victims with surgical skill, reminiscent of Jack the Ripper, and arranges them in theatrical poses. Then, Nell’s and Briony’s paths cross when Nell’s picture is printed in a newspaper. It turns out that the murder she witnessed was The Walker’s first murder, and now the killer is on Nell’s trail, unless Briony and the team can stop him.
Another very famous true-crime murder story that’s influenced crime fiction is the famous Crippen murder. Hawley Harvey Crippen was an American homeopathic doctor who was hanged for the murder of his wife, Cora Henrietta Crippen. Crippen and his wife, a music hall entertainer, had moved to England, where their fortunes took a downturn, as Cora’s career in music never really took hold, and when her husband lost his job and had to settle for whatever he could find. Soon, Crippen was having an affair with his secretary, Ethel Le Neve, Then, Cora disappeared. Crippen said that she’d left him and gone to California. But the ladies of her Music Hall Ladies’ Guild didn’t believe him and gossip soon spread that Crippen had killed his wife. Rumors grew even more when Crippen said that his wife had died overseas. Chief Inspector Walter Drew of Scotland Yard investigated the case and at first, he was satisfied that Crippen was innocent. Then, Crippen and Le Neve left the country. This called renewed attention to them, and Drew and his team inspected the house again, and found a body in the basement. The body was said to be that of Cora Crippen. Crippen and his lover were captured and returned to England, and Crippen was put on trial for his life. After only twenty-seven minutes of deliberation, Crippen was found guilty and hanged. Although there’ve been doubts raised about his guilt, the story itself still captures the imagination.
The Crippen story is the basis for Martin Edwards’ Dancing for the Hangman, which is a fictionalized account of the murder and subsequent trial, told from Crippen’s point of view. The book takes place as Crippen is in jail, awaiting his execution, and goes back over the events that led to his conviction. Edwards’ book, though, isn’t the only crime fiction where the Crippen story plays a role. For instance, in Agatha Christie’s Mrs. McGinty’s Dead, Hercule Poirot investigates the murder of a charwoman whom everyone thinks was killed by her lodger. When the investigating police officer begins to have doubts about the lodger’s guilt, he asks Poirot to look into the case. It turns out that Mrs. McGinty had found out that one of the other characters was connected to a long-ago murder. What’s interesting is that one of the past murders that Poirot finds out about as a part of this case is the murder of a Town Clerk’s wife that’s very reminiscent of the Crippen case. In the fictional case, too, the wife disappears, her widower takes up with someone else, and then the wife’s body is found in the basement of the home.
Even the name “Crippen” is mentioned more than once in crime fiction. For instance, in Elizabeth George’s Missing Joseph, Inspector Lynley and Sergeant Havers investigate the poisoning murder of Robin Sage, Vicar of Wimslough. He died after having dinner with a parishioner and local herbalist, Juliet Spence, and her daughter. When Sage dies of water hemlock poisoning, some of the villagers think that Juliet Spence poisoned Sage deliberately. This leads to unpleasant gossip and Juliet’s daughter, Maggie, becomes a target of her schoolmates, who call her mother “Crippen.”
Another famous set of true-life murders, the Manson murders, has also inspired crime fiction. Charles Manson, a career criminal with an uncanny ability to sway others, had acquired almost a cult following – a group of mostly female devotees called The Family. In early August, 1969, Manson directed Charles “Tex” Watson to take three other Family members, Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian and Patricia Krenwinkel, to a home owned by director Roman Polanski and his wife, actress Sharon Tate. The four were told to kill everyone there, as gruesomely as possible. Then, the next night, Manson joined the group as they went to the home of grocery-chain owner Leno LaBianca. There, they brutally murdered LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, The killings made international headlines, and Charles Manson’s name has become synonymous with a certain kind of ruthless, psychotic killer.
One novel that’s based on the Manson crimes is Jeffrey Deaver’s The Sleeping Doll. In that novel, Kathryn Dance, an expert interrogator with the California Bureau of Investigations, is assigned to interview Daniel Pell, a Manson-like killer with his own “cult following.” Pell’s in jail for murdering the Croyten family eight years earlier. The only member of the family who escaped was Theresa Croyten, the youngest member of the family. The police have uncovered another murder, and believe that Pell and his “family” may have been responsible. Dance plans to use her expertise at kinesthetics and other aspects of interrogation to find out if Pell knows anything about the killing, but he escapes. Then, more murders occur, and soon, it’s clear that Pell and his group are bent on killing everyone who’s ever crossed him – including Dance and her family.
In 1931, Winnie Ruth Judd, a medical secretary living in Phoenix, was convicted of murdering her room-mate Agnes LeRoi and was believed to have murdered her other room-mate Hedvig Samulson. Allegedly, the three were rivals for Phoenix businessman Jack Halloran. That case, which came to be known as “The Trunk Murders,” was the inspiration for Megan Abbott’s Bury Me Deep. In that novel, Marion Seeley is left behind in Phoenix when her husband, Dr. Everett Seeley, goes to Mexico because of his arrest on drugs charges. Seeley has set his wife up in an apartment and arranged for her to get a job as a typist and file clerk at the exclusive Weldon clinic, so at first, all goes well. Then, Marion takes up with nurses Louise Mercer and Ginny Hoyt, who share an apartment and a wild lifestyle. Marion gets drawn into their lives, and into a relationship with one of their “friends,” Joe Lanigan. In the end that friendship ends in tragedy for all concerned.
One of the most famous true crime novels is Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, which is an account of the November, 1959 murders of Herbert and Bonnie Clutter and two of their children, Kenyon and Nancy in Holcomb, Kansas. At first, the police believed that someone close to the Clutter family must have committed the murders, but they had no real leads. They got a major break when Kansas State prisoner Floyd Wells said that he thought a former cell-mate, Richard “Dick” Hickock and his friend and fellow ex-convict, Perry Smith, might be responsible. They believed that that Clutters had a safe containing US$10,000, and wanted to steal the money. The Clutters had no such safe, but Hickock and Smith murdered the family members and fled to Las Vegas, where they were arrested. They were later tried and executed.
There are several other cases of true crime that’s influenced and inspired crime fiction through the years. Do you enjoy those novels? Which are your favorites?
Thanks again, Kathleen, for hosting me today!
(My pleasure, Margot ~ and thank you, for such an informative and intriguing post!)
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
see more Funny Graphs
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Needle, a magazine of noir, is holding its first Flash Fiction Contest. The rules: 1000 words or less and must include a needle of some sort. Here's my entry:
“Is it true — a ghost lives here?” the attractive twenty-something patron asked the waitress of the village bar and restaurant on the north shore of Long Island.
Bridget heard this question at least once a week. She hesitated briefly, glancing at the couple to evaluate their sincerity; believers and nonbelievers frequent this rustic location that was built in the 1800s. One time a patron even suggested burning pine needles to drive out her spirit; that pine needles are considered a spiritual cleanser, and it removes negative mental energy, to boot.
“I do believe a ghost lives here. Sometimes the volume on the TV in the bar jumps up real loud — while the remote sits on a shelf. Light bulbs and fuses blow quite often, but then again, this is an old place — it might be coincidental.”
“Does her presence frighten you?” the brunette with the heart-shaped birthmark on her right cheek asked, clutching her menu, more interested on what wasn’t on it.
“I sit on the edge of my seat — on pins and needles — when I watch horror movies, so I’m surprised that I am comforted by her presence,” Bridget said. “I’m not threatened by her; she belongs here, and we’ve become protective of her.”
The sound of crashing glass pierced the bustling atmosphere of the Saturday night crowd, although it didn’t interrupt the piano player’s rendition of “Look What You’ve Done to Me” by Boz Scaggs.
Take me up your stairs and through the door...Take me where we don’t care anymore.
“That’s probably her right now,” Bridget said. “Sometimes glasses fall from the shelves, cutlery ends up on the floor, doors slam, and the piano sounds like a kitten is running across the keys when no one is near the bench. I’ve even detected a scent of lavender when she’s around. It’s very soothing, actually.”
Bridget took their drink order. The floorboards of the historic tavern creaked under the carpet as she walked toward the bar.
“Hey, Frank, did you just break another glass?”
“It flew off the shelf. I didn’t see it, just heard it. I think it’s our friendly neighborhood ghost. She’s vying for attention, as usual,” Frank said, drying his hands with a bar towel. What can I get ‘ya?”
“A Long Island Iced Tea and a Bud draft, please. Frank, I think she’s finally here.”
“Elizabeth Rose? How do you know?”
“She has the birthmark, and she looks just like your sister. Let’s act cool for now.”
“I have to see her for myself. I’ll deliver the drinks. Tommy’s got the bar.”
Frank delivered the drinks and almost dropped them when he saw the young woman who could pass as his sister’s twin at her age.
Bridget took their order for a Caesar salad, Chicken Francaise and New York Strip Steak, medium well. After dropping the order, she delivered warm bread and butter to the couple.
“Do you know anything about this ghost, I mean, who she was?” her doubting Thomas male companion asked. He sipped his ice-cold Bud.
“Her name was Mary, a regular. She was drinking at the bar and had a few too many. She left with a man who lived in the rooming house upstairs. We only have the killer’s word for it, but she supposedly needled him about his manhood, or lack thereof. He stabbed her repeatedly and stuffed her body into a utility closet in the hallway.”
“They arrested a postal worker, right?” the man asked, buttering his bread.
“Yes, the first question the Postal Service asked was if he was on the clock — but he wasn’t. Finding the killer wasn’t a needle-in-the-haystack search. The bartender saw her leave with him. The police found her body in the closet and her purse in his room under an embroidered quilt.”
“Thanks for sharing this information,” the young woman said, her eyes watering. “I recently learned she was my birth mother.”
“I’m sorry her life ended so tragically,” Bridget said.
“Thank you. I never knew her. She was a heroin addict who ended up pregnant and in jail. After she gave birth, I was put up for adoption."
“How did you hear about her ghost?”
“During the trial, Newsday ran a photo of my mother; it looked like a cropped mug shot. An old friend who knew I was adopted had mailed it to me; she noticed the strong resemblance. I confronted my parents and they admitted she was my biological mother. When I spoke with people about the murder, the legend of her ghost came up. I had to visit myself — be where my mother was — or is."
The hostess whispered to Bridget, “I’ve just seated a four-top in the corner for you.” Bridget excused herself.
After the couple ate, sipped coffee and split a slice of New York Cheesecake, Frank approached the table and introduced himself. “I was wondering if I could speak with you privately for a moment? Do you mind, Sir?” The woman glanced at her companion for approval.
“I’m enjoying the piano music,” he said, as the piano man effortlessly played Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel.”
...In the arms of an angel
Fly away from here
From this dark cold hotel room…
Frank escorted the brunette to the back office. “May I ask your name?”
They shook hands. “Liz, have a seat. Bridget told me your story, and even if she hadn’t, there’s no doubt in my mind. Look at this photograph.”
“That’s my birth mother!” Liz cried. "She looks so beautiful."
Frank handed her a tissue.
“Mary was my sister; this was taken during happier times. After she got out of jail, she straightened her act out. She never forgot you. She knew one day she’d find you, in this life or another.”
“You’re my uncle,” Liz said. As they embraced, the door slammed shut, and the smell of lavender filled the office.
“She’s at peace, now.” Frank whispered.
I took the above photo of the restaurant that was once called "23 Wall Street" - which is the address of the location in Huntington Village -- when I worked there in the 1980s while waiting to join the police academy. Although "The Bond" is a fictionalized version, a woman was murdered by a postal worker who lived in a room above the bar restaurant when it was known as "Snyder's Hotel." I certainly did hear crashing glasses and the volume jumping on the TV and was often asked questions by the patrons. I was comforted by her presence. May she rest in peace.
My husband, who once volunteered with the Huntington Fire Department, recalls a legend about a little girl who died in a fire at that location; witnesses claimed to see her at the top of the steps of the hotel above the bar.