The Tao of Doo

In his kind and generous review of my first mystery, DEATH NOTICE, author James Reasoner said the plot was vaguely reminiscent of something found in Scooby-Doo, only played seriously. He meant it as a compliment and I took it Read more


Another October, another release date. Since BAD MOON is my second book, you would think I'd be used to it. But nope, I'm not. BAD MOON's publication date feels as surreal as DEATH NOTICE's did last year. For readers, the Read more

Writing With ... Louise Penny

I am thrilled beyond words to welcome one of my favorite writers, Louise Penny, whose Armand Gamache mysteries have appeared on bestseller lists worldwide.  Her last book, BURY YOUR DEAD, won the Ellis for best mystery in Canada, and Read more

Is Browsing Dead?

I'll be the first to admit that I was a nerdy teenager. Not pocket protector nerdy, but no sports star, either. I was bookish, I guess you could say. I read A LOT back then, and nothing pleased me Read more

Why We Left Earth

Outer space has always been a mystery. Even before mankind fully grasped its vastness, they wanted to go there. Early astronomers, fascinated by the stars, invented ways to get a closer view. Think Copernicus, Galileo, Cassini. Writers not content Read more

Awesome List

The Awesome List No. 4

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I know, I know. It’s been ages since I’ve done one of these. So why start again now? Well, because this week has been awesome, and here are the top five things that have made it so.


Good heavens, I love this show. I’ve always enjoyed British period dramas featuring lavish country homes and repressed emotions, but I find this show absolutely spellbinding. On the surface, Downton Abbey is pure Masterpiece Theater — lovely to look at, as elegant as Waterford crystal, as repressed as a nun. But underneath the poised and polished surface are the roiling emotions, petty jealousies and revenge plots of a soap opera. It’s as if All My Children had been taken over by Merchant Ivory.

The Daily Telegraph


I love watching tennis, especially the four majors. The first one each year is the Australian Open, held in Melbourne. The finals are this weekend, and I can’t wait to see Djokovic beat Nadal. But the best match of the tournament has already been played. It was Kim Clijsters vs. Li Na. Clijsters badly hurt her ankle, lost the first set and was a point away from losing the second set when she miraculously came back. She beat back four — four! — match points to win the second set, then the third and the match. And while she lost in the semifinals, unable to repeat last year’s victory in Melbourne, Clijsters will always have my respect.

3. THE ART OF FIELDING by Chad Harbach

Despite the rave reviews and award nominations, I was hesitant to read Harbach’s debut novel. I don’t really watch or understand baseball and felt that the book wouldn’t interest me. I was wrong. The reviews were right. Only fifty pages in, I’m already under its spell.


I’ve only seen four of the nine movies nominated for Best Picture. I plan on seeing the other five before the big night on Feb. 26. But I doubt any of them will top Hugo as my favorite film of the year. It led the pack with 11 nominations, but faces stiff competition from The Artist and The Descendents. Hopefully, though, all those nominations will inspire more people to head to the cineplex and check out this charming, heartfelt and — dare I say it? — magical film. (And if you can, see it in 3-D! It really enhances the film.)


No more needs to be said.

The Awesome List No. 3

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Five things that rocked my world this week.

Dark Score Stories

In December, A&E is going to air a miniseries based on the Stephen King book BAG OF BONES. To promote it, they’ve set up Dark Score Stories, a website that gives some background into the miniseries’ town and characters. Presented as a piece of fictional photojournalsim, I don’t know if it will do much to draw viewers. (Quite frankly, with King’s name attached, it doesn’t need to.) But it’s mesmerizing to look at. The images are gorgeous, haunting and, in some cases, downright creepy. As an added bonus, if you look closely, you’ll catch a few homages to other King works.


I was in the Chicago area last weekend for a few book signings. While browsing one of the stores in the city, I found these awesome robot-shaped cupcake molds. I bought a set for a friend of mine known for her cupcake-baking prowess, and I hope to be eating one shortly. If you’d like your own set of Yumbots, they can be ordered at Fred & Friends.

Starbucks Peppermint Mocha Latte

I don’t usually drink Starbucks. I’m a Dunkin’ Donuts guy through and through. But there are two times of the year when I frequent that ubiquitous java boutique known as Starbucks. The first is early fall, when their pumpkin spice latte hits stores. The second is right now, when they usher in the holiday season with peppermint mocha latte. It’s like Christmas in a cup.


Carrie Fisher has had a weird and wild life. Her famous parents’ marriage ended in scandal, she was Princess Leia, Paul Simon’s wife, an alcoholic, a drug addict and she still struggles with mental illness. Thankfully, she can find the humor in all of this. WISHFUL DRINKING, her memoir, is rowdy and funny and wonderfully written. Her hysterical lesson on Hollywood inbreeding alone makes the book worth reading.


Hearing Fisher’s thoughts on Paul Simon made me go back and listen to one of his greatest albums, Graceland. Released in 1986, it blends Afro-centric beats and instruments with his usual melancholy, intelligent lyrics. The result is stunning. “You Can Call Me Al” was the album’s biggest hit, but my favorite is “The Boy in the Bubble,” which tries to make sense of a world that’s simultaneously try to improve and destroy itself.


The Awesome List No. 2

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Five things that rocked my world this week.

Pan Am

The ratings for this show seem to be dropping every week, making it as doomed as the passengers on Oceanic Flight 815. Yet I love it all the same. Part workplace drama, espionage thriller, fashion show and travelogue, it’s about four plucky flight attendants and their two pilots as they fly to exotic ports of call rendered in charmingly unconvincing sets and greenscreen backdrops. The cast is likable, the clothes are to die for and the show’s portrayal of life in the air is glamorous, relaxing and wistful all at once. A nice escape for someone like me, who has been flying way too much in recent weeks.


This bookstore in Maplewood, New Jersey, has two missions: To serve the community’s reading needs and to help people with special needs by teaching them job skills. That’s a fantastic combination. Check them out on the web at

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

For me, there is only one real candy to give out at Halloween — these milk chocolate discs filled with creamy peanut butter. It’s the best candy ever made, hands down. And this year, I made sure to have quite a few left over once all the trick or treaters went home.

Supernatural Superserious

I’ve been listening to a lot of R.E.M. ever since the band announced their breakup a few weeks ago. They were my favorite in the last couple of years of high school and my first two years of college. And while I didn’t listen to them much since Bill Berry left the band, this single from their 2008 album Accelerate has jumped to the top of my playlist. A rollicking three minutes of teenage angst, it sounds like something that would feel right at home on 1992’s Automatic For The People.


The first novel from Manuel Munoz takes place in Bakersfield, California, right around the time Alfred Hitchcock and Janet Leigh arrived to film parts of Psycho. Hitch and Ms. Leigh are never named, but they play a big part in this fictional story about how a crime of passion inspired one of the world’s most famous films. Munoz tells this fascinating tale in achingly clear prose that evokes a whole town’s hopes, dreams and despair.