Cozy Genre, Murder, Poison

The Art of Poison

Poison Romance and Poison MysteriesMysterious chefs and murder by lethal food and drink are popular subjects for the Cozy genre.  The Washington Post restaurant critic and food section editor Phyllis Richman, aka Chas Wheatley, turned to mystery writing after retirement from daily journalism.

Learn about the power of poison from C.J.S. Thompson, a prolific writer, physician, antiquarian collector and analyst of the chemical and toxic properties of food and drink.

His 1899 study Poison Romance and Poison Mysteries is an e-book available for free download through

Lucrezia Borgia, daughter of a pope, wife, mistress and mother, is often linked to poison used for political expediency, hardly a cozy scene. The ancient art of poison never goes out of style.


Convicted Spy Retiring to Israel?

NPR reports that serial spy Jonathan Pollard was released from U.S. federal prison when he because eligible for parole in late November, 2015. Israel had been lobbying on Pollard’s behalf for years.  Now that he’s done his time,  the AARP-eligible spy may settle in Israel according to news reports. Israel rewarded him with citizenship two decades ago.

He was sentenced to “life”  in prison after his guilty plea was accepted for clandestine work benefitting the state of Israel. Life in this case translated to prison time of 30 years.

His other spying activities against the U.S. are not well publicized. Former Navy-analyst Pollard passed secret documents to several other countries.

Does he have a book out yet?  After 30 years in prison he must have done something with his time.

Asia, Crime, Murder

The Coroner’s Lunch

Discovered The Reality Check International Crime Authors  site this morning,  a  Jesus Eve surprise gift to self.   The blog showcases a coterie of  international crime writers, including Colin Cotterill, musing on books, crime, the writing life, politics and their passions. 

CIA map of Laos.

CIA map of Laos.

This came to pass because, two nights ago, I finished The Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill  — who describes himself as  cartoon chappy, writer man,  and regular guy living life.  Wanting more information about the author I broke my resolution to stay away from the Mac today and slam bang, there was Colin Cotterill’s  hand-drawn website.  Check it out; hope a few more websites lose the boxy look-alike face paint!

The Coroner’s Lunch came out way back in 2004 and is set in 1976 in the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos.  The story, characters and setting are alive in print, so captivating that I did not want the book to end.  You readers know the feeling!  

Now I know there are more books featuring coroner Dr. Siri Paiboun of Vientiane, Laos.  Travelers and mystery readers: snap up Mr. Cotterill’s books when you see them online, or at the local Friends-of-the-Library sale room or  humane society store.  The latest,  The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die, came out in February, 2013.

So what was the coroner’s lunch?  I’m not saying another word about Siri the coroner.  Too fabulous!

Thrillers & Mysteries

Luang Prabang market. courtesy Wikipedia.

Luang Prabang market.
courtesy Wikipedia.


Libraries for Laos


Asia, Crime, Non-fiction

Midnight in Peking

John French has written a page-turner, true crime story of insidious ex-patriot behavior and the storms of midnightinpekingchange brought to China by the invaders from Imperial Japan. On a sharp icy December night in 1937, Pamela Werner is murdered and her mutilated body left in a derelict no-man’s land just outside the foreign legation area. The deserted ditch where the body was discovered was in the shadow of the ancient watch tower said to be haunted by fox spirits which Chinese avoided. This was also steps away from a seedy zone of nightspots, brothels and opium dens, an odd locale for an educated debutante to be found. French investigates the crime following in the steps of the Scotland Yard detectives assigned from the British port zone in Tientsin to find the murder of the daughter of a not well-liked former British consular agent and scholar.

Using the extensive reports paid for by the victim’s father which were ignored but carefully filed in Foreign Ministry archives in London after the British evacuation of China, French explains the forensics of the investigation and motivations of a crew of ex-pat opportunists who hunted wild game together and much else.

mapfor midnightinpeking

In addition to compelling crime reporting, the author writes accurate scenes of street life, the diplomatic figureheads and social personalities of the day against a background of fear that engulfed China as it fell to the invaders and the war in the Pacific began.

The Daily Mail review offers the right notes of sensationalism.

The Washington Post book review is more discreet.


Jim Thompson, I and II

Jim Thompson wrote noir crime fiction.  AKA pulp fiction.

Jim Thompson wrote noir crime fiction. AKA pulp fiction.

Jim Thompson I,  the American noir crime writer, found commercial success in the grave.  His work reached a diverse geographical audience by a decade after his death.  All authors should secure and protect their copyrights as Jim Thompson directed his spouse to do just before he died.  Check out the cover art on some of his novels displayed in ShotsMag UK .

Jim Thompson lived -- and was lost -- in Thailand

Jim Thompson lived — and was lost — in Thailand. Image:


Jim Thompson II,  the American textile merchant, disappeared in the jungles of Thailand, but he apparently lives on and prospers.   The Jim Thompson house and museum was a simple klong-side Thai house in 1989, when I visited.  The textile store was well appointed and busy.  Now the Jim Thompson company website offers merchandise that the corporate caretakers have cooked up to leverage the brand internationally.