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text 2018-04-21 11:41
Reading progress update: I've read 30 out of 75 pages.
Murder Off Miami - J.G. Links,Dennis Wheatley

I have no idea how  many pages are in this book, as there aren't any page numbers, but I'm up to the point of the blueprint floorplan of the boat.  I'm stopping here for the night because my copy is too fragile to read in bed.  So far, it's only just been determined that a murder has been committed, so there's not a lot of information to go on.  But my first recurring though it is (put behind spoiler tags in case Themis-Athena wants to avoid any influence on her own investigating): 

 

Nobody on that boat knows what Bolitho Blane looks like - are we sure he's the one that's dead, and not the secretary?

(spoiler show)

 

 

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review 2018-04-19 15:32
The Nursing Home Murder by Ngaio Marsh
The Nursing Home Murder - Ngaio Marsh

Because this one involves the murder of the Home Secretary, which is apparently a cabinet level position in the British Government (it seems to correspond loosely to a combination of the Secretary of State and the Head of Homeland Security, near as wikipedia can help me to figure out), it is one of the featured books in Chapter 12 of TSCC100, Playing Politics. 

 

This is also the third Inspector Alleyn mystery, but is the first one that I've read. I am reserving judgment overall because it was obvious to me that there was a backstory to the characters that I didn't have.

 

The mystery itself was fun - by the time Inspector Alleyn gets called out to the deceased Home Secretary, who died on the operating table from a septic appendix, pretty much everyone is a suspect. He's been getting threatening letters from the local anarchists and Bolsheviks, and he's broken it off with a mistress who is taking it badly and who just happens to be, along with his former friend and hopeful swain of the above mentioned mistress, the nurse and surgeon, respectively. They've both recently threatened him because the nurse is not handling the rejection with equanimity. And then we have his rather bizarre wife, a Leninst nurse, and an anesthetist who is disturbingly fond of a hands on approach to eugenics.

 

I didn't get the relationship between Alleyn and Nigel Bathgate at all, and the relationship with his fiancee, the fair Angela even less. I think I need more data in order to draw any conclusions. It was enjoyable, but a bit farcical.

 

Unfortunately, the solution to the crime was just plain bad. I had to read the last two chapters three times before I was able to really absorb what had happened, and at the end I was still just puzzled about the entire thing.

 

 

Allrighty then.

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text 2018-04-16 16:52
Rocks -- Befores and Afters (pic heavy!)

Murder by Death asked about some before and after pictures of the rocks I collect, cut, and turn into jewelry.  As it happened, I had some examples handy because I had them out for the studio tour last week.  And I love love love talking about rocks!

 

First is an example of what they look like in the wild.

 

 

Looks like a plain rock-colored rock.  But at the right-hand edge, you can sort of see . . . something.

 

 

Though it's rough and broken, it's kind of quartzy-looking, but with a somewhat waxy consistency.  So you turn it over some more . . .

 

 

 

 

And what you have is a banded agate.  Or at least part of one.  The banding isn't clear in this particular piece because the edge is all broken and dirty and rough.  This was part of one of my estate lots, so I have no idea where it came from, but agates like this are very common around here and pretty much anywhere there's been volcanic activity.  They aren't directly volcanic in origin, but form from water that seeps through volcanic material to dissolve the silica minerals and then deposit them in empty pockets.  I know, I know, TMI.  ;-)

 

This is another rock, one I did find, that I cut to make sure a new saw blade was installed properly.  I knew the rock was mostly the volcanic ash matrix the agates form in, but with a crust of chalcedony on one side.

 

 

You can kind of see the chalcedony -- that waxy-looking quartzy stuff -- on the end, though the other side shows it more clearly.

 

 

As with the first example, the inside is what matters, and I was pretty stunned when I cut this one.  I wasn't expecting anything very exciting.

 

 

 

 

In the picture directly above, you can see the matrix on the right hand side of the slice.  I usually have to trim this off with either the saw or an old pair of side-cutter pliers.  It's fairly porous and somewhat easy to remove most of the time, but it can be very difficult on occasion.  And it will not polish.

 

To give a better idea of the size, since this is larger than the little purple pieces I cut the other day, here it is with my favorite (and only!) Arizona quarter.

 

 

I did a little enhancement of these photos to try to bring out the patterns in the agate/chalcedony parts, but the truth is that when they're dry, they don't show up very well.

 

 

Upper left above is a slice of lavender sagenitic agate from the Sheep Crossing north of Phoenix. Lower center is from Brenda.  The other three are from the Chickenman place.  ;-)  They've been cut on the saw, tossed in kitty litter to get the oil off, then washed in water and dish detergent.

 

These next two show how dirty the little cavities can be.  Some of this is ordinary mud that gets into them over the years/centuries that they're out in the desert, if they have an opening that mud and water can get through.  Some of it is hardened ash that got in when the agates were forming.  That stuff has to be dug out with a dental pick, and sometimes it just plain won't come out.

 

 

 

After they go in the tumbler for six or seven weeks, the rough edges get ground off and rounded, and the exterior surface polishes to a nice glassy shine.  Much of the time, those little cavities turn out to be filled with tiny, tiny sparkly crystals, and they tend not to be affected by the tumbling process.  But I'm not good at capturing them with the camera!

 

 

In the shot above, the stone on the far right has a little depression filled with those tiny crystals, but they wouldn't sparkle for the camera.

 

Because the stones are unique, it's actually not hard to match up a before and an after picture of the same stone. Later today or tomorrow, I'll get some more shots of a few individuals so we can have a reference for particular befores and afters.  But the middle stone above came from a piece of rough that is actually still sitting by the saw.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it.

 

 

 

 

I hope this helps, MbD!  More to come anyway. . . .

 

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review 2018-04-11 09:36
Murder at Half Moon Gate (Wrexford & Sloane Mystery, #2)
Murder at Half Moon Gate - Andrea Penrose

I like these books; the first one had some plotting problems towards the end, but this one offered a much tighter and surprising story.  The author does an excellent job with atmosphere and setting too, although I can't comment on historical anachronisms.  Penrose does include an author note at the end discussing the backdrop of the story and offering some non-fiction titles for further reading.

 

There's a stronger element of romance to these books than there were in the previous historical mysteries by Penrose, but it's not at all overbearing, and the characters are much more sympathetic.  I was worried the author was going to drag Charlotte's big dreaded secret out even longer into a 3rd book, but she pulled it out right at the end (and spoiler - it's not even a little shocking).  I continue to like the two waifs Charlotte has taken under her wing too; I generally don't like kids in my mysteries much, but they work here and they're never purposefully cute or cloying.  

 

I'd put this series in just about the same class as the Lady Darby series by Anna Lee Huber - so if you like those, you might enjoy these.

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text 2018-04-08 21:46
The Green Mill Murder (Phryne Fisher #5) - Kerry Greenwood
The Green Mill Murder - Kerry Greenwood

Apparently Mother Nature forgot to break up with Winter. The upside to this continued relationship? I have an excuse to spend my Sunday inside with tea and a book. 

 

I adore Phryne Fisher. She definitely makes my list of fictional characters I would love to spend the day with. She never fails to make me giggle while taking my breath away. I love how she just plunges headfirst into life. 

 

More than Miss Fisher, I love Greenwood's ability to weave a complete story into so few pages. I have yet to get to the end and feel like I've been shorted. Pun intended. 

 

I am starting to wonder if I should attempt to watch the television series based on these books. Do I need to progress further in the series to avoid spoilers? Will I inevitably disappointed with the adaptation? The little snippets of the show I have seen look promising enough. The actress cast as Miss Fisher certainly seems to fit the part which is more than I can say for that abominable Last Kingdom casting. *Listen, I don't know who the casting direction was trying to cast but that man is NOT Uhtred. He's too much of a pretty boy to be my Uhtred.*

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