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Sam Sattler

I predict that you're going to love those Spenser books, especially the first dozen or so. I kind of grew weary of Parker's style after that point, but I remember being really excited about the books back in the eighties and nineties.

The thing that finally turned me off about them was the way his publisher struggled so hard to make such short books appear to be longer than they were by using slightly larger than normal print and widening the spaces between lines to require fewer words per page. This became irritating in the later books as it seemed to get worse and worse.

But even with that, I have to say that a Spenser novel by Parker is usually very good. After Parker's death, Ace Atkins picked up the characters and continued the series. Also, very good...and a little longer.


Hi Danielle: it's nice to see that you're staying safe and keeping your spirits up during these days of the plague (I'm struggling to do the same). I've never read the Spenser books, although I've been tempted at times to give them a try, so I'll be eager to see your reaction. I'm also a fan, or I used to be, of Kinsey -- although I loved the early books, for some reason I just stopped around "H" or so. I've also thought about a re-read there!
Like you, I miss the experience of actually watching a movie on the big screen, in a theater. Also like you, I will be one of the first to attend the re-openings. The documentary on women directors sounds great -- I'll have to keep an eye open for it.
Unlike you, I've not explored the diary/memoir area very much. Hopefully, I'll get to it at some point. Do you still belong to the NYRB Classics Club? I believe one of their selections was a very interesting biography by Diane Johnson (I know, NOT the same as a diary but . . . "The True History of the First Mrs. Meredith and other Lesser Lives." Sounds intriguing. I don't read many bios these days but this one is tempting me a bit.
My own reading has been most distracted for the past several months --- lots of bits & pieces. I did go through a spell of reading novellas, which I enjoyed but didn't feel like writing about. Last month I seemed to settle down a bit and actually began to read books again. Hopefully this will continue -- there's so much out there, and it's such a comfort in these times, when so much else is unavailable!


While I hate not being able to go everywhere as I'm trying to stay in as much as possible, I do think it's kind of neat how many events are now going virtual. For example, our State's book festival is going virtual this year. Thank you for sharing the info on the NY Film fest and I will have to check that out. And, yes, to diaries or books based on diaries. Hope you are keeping cool this weekend!


I am coming back to your post to read about all your books in detail. Nothing is available for me to get immediately (sigh) but I will be making a note of all of them. The Madeline Project is the one I'd love to get hold of. How come any of the houses I moved to, no one left anything, absolutely nothing.


I am reading the first book now and quite enjoying it. He is very good at descriptions so he is capturing the feel of the era really well. I was surprised when I got the book as usually a mystery tends to be about 350 pages or so on average and this is just over 200, which is not necessarily a bad thing. You wonder at what point they were turned into a TV series--as a shorter book would translate well into an hour long show. I am not sure that I will read the whole series (maybe...), so thanks for the heads up on the later books. Do you have any other suggestions for pre-technology detective novels of the hardboiled sort? I need to go back and read more Hammett and Chandler, but I like the period that comes just after them, too (50s-60s-70s)?


Hi Janakay--so nice to hear from you. It is hard staying engaged and productive when it feel like this has been going on forever and no end in sight. I am happy to keep with all the health things--mask wearing and social distancing, but it would feel so much better if things seemed to be improving all over the US. There is just too much bad news these days. I am still getting my NYRB Classics and so many of them look great. I have about three started and I keep telling msyelf that I need to read one short story a day from the most recent selection, but I am overloaded right now with other books. I may not be reading fast, but I guess I am reading a lot variety-wise! :) Are you still doing the Classics Club, too? Have you read any that you particularly enjoyed? I also have been reading some shorter books and also more graphic novels--need to pick a new one to read. I do understand what you mean by a mystery series--I have more than a few that I am sort of half or mid-way through and it wasn't that I lost interest necessarily, but other books just got in the way. I had hoped to finish the Alphabet mystery series this year--it may still happen, but if not, that's okay too. I am reading the first Spenser book and so far so good! I hope you are well, too!


I am also staying in as much as I can as well. I get to-go, but have not felt comfortable eating in a restaurant or sitting in a coffee shop. I just go to the store once a week and then work three days in the library and the other two at home. I know eventually it will get better. Just trying to stay focused on my books. But there are all kinds of cool things online available if I look around and that helps. Maybe I need to start some new books (themes like diaries) lists again. Bookish stuff always makes me happy!


I know what you mean! Once in a while I will buy a used book that might have some little clipping or a bookmark and once a postcard. But nothing of substance. I think you could look up the Tweets and see photos from the Madeleine Project--what a cool find and that she shared her experiences, too. Sometimes social media can be a scary place and turn me off, but then you come across something like that! :)

Sam Sattler

The ones that come immediately to mind are people like James M. Cain, who wrote some classic stuff in the thirties and forties, the early James Lee Burke books from the eighties, and Andrew Vachss who wrote some NYC crime fiction in the eighties. Maybe the early Elmore Leonard books or Ross MacDonalds stuff. And all those 87th precinct classics by Ed McBain.


I should read Ed McBain--I have read Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice a few times. I think I read one James Lee Burke--I'll have to dig around and look at these authors. I was also thinking of Dorothy B Hughes, though hers are crime novels and not detective stories. I need to stick with a couple of authors and work my way through their titles, but I am also looking for something new, too! Thanks for the suggestions!


That recipe diary is amazing!

Re: movies, my boyfriend and I have been loving the new digital offering from Metrograph here in NYC ( - such a mix of stuff! This month so far we've watched anime, a French New Wave film, two very different films set in Brooklyn, and more.


That film festival sounds amazing. Just the kind of event that I would love to support. I don't go to as many movies as you, but I always enjoy the experience (and try to choose ones that I think will be the most rewarding on the larger screen with reverberating sound). You've done such a fantastic job with Kinsey Millhone. Funny, I would have thought that her books would have struck exactly the right tone during lockdown, but maybe they were just too dark? Or maybe it was the idea of all the letters of the alphabet? Anyway, good to hear that you're back at it. After all, nothing like a good reminder of one's mortality, than to listen to/read the U.S. news these days -- and you'd hate to leave Kinsey's fate up in the air!:D


Thanks for the link. This has been an upside to being at home--getting access to theaters I would not otherwise have been able to and so seeing their offerings. I will check out that link--I have watched a few movies from Film at Lincoln Center. So much good stuff out there!!


Even though Sue Grafton never finished the last letter, I kind of don't mind. I like the idea of Kinsey being out there still--jogging in the morning, having coffee and cinnamon rolls with Henry, going to Rosie's for dinner. Doing a little sleuthing and lying her way out of a situation. That said, I do want to get through the rest of the alphabet. I am thoroughly enjoying letter R and feel back in the realm of Santa Teresa. It does feel good. And I have even also picked up a thriller. The Vision Maker film festival starts Monday--I just got a reminder email so am happy to have something good on the horizon.

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