Monthly Archives: December 2013

Review of Long Gone by Alafair Burke

Long GoneLong Gone by Alafair Burke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of the most enjoyable mysteries I’ve read in quite a while. The author falls prey to the common and irritating stereotype of cops (especially NYPD) and FBI being frenemies, but only briefly. Soon the New Jersey cop, NYPD and FBI are all working the same case – although to them its three different cases – and end up on the same side. The pace is quick and the descriptions are fun. The characters are engaging and mostly likeable. The “shocker” ending isn’t as shocking as the hype makes it out to be. I didn’t completely figure out the why or the how but as the ending neared I had no trouble figuring out the who. The plot by the bad guys was a bit too convoluted but all in all the story was plausible enough to be entertaining the whole way through. And it was all done with a minimum of gore and and profanity – always a plus for me.

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Merry Christmas

I wish everyone special joy at this time of year, regardless of your religious (or irreligious) preference. My present from you was my best sales month yet for my books. Thank you. Click the Cliff Knowles Mysteries menu link above if you didn’t get that gift you wanted for Christmas.

FCI work

People often ask me what it was like to do foreign counterintelligence (FCI) work when I was in the FBI. This cartoon pretty much sums it up.

The life of an FBI agent
Cartoon by Dan Piraro, Bizarrocomics,com King Features Syndicate

Nouns and verbs

One of my pet peeves as the Word Police is how people misuse nouns. Too often people convert a noun into a verb. It usually sounds ridiculous and ignorant, sometimes pretentious. A common example, timely right about now, is the word “gift.” Tax planners have come to use the term “gift” to mean give. “You can gift $14,000 a year to each child without filing a gift tax return.” When there’s a perfectly good verb, use it. Don’t use the noun as a verb. Another noun that is probably too far gone to be saved from this misuse is “impact.” Even worse is when you change the word into a non-existent verb form, such as to verbize a noun. Yuck!

Another common mistake is the double whammy — taking a the adjectival form of a noun and converting that back to a noun. I heard a news announcer do that today with the word “courage.” It became “courageousness.” Sorry, but that doesn’t fly. The noun is courage, the adjective is courageous. That’s all you need. The double whammy can happen with verbs, too. Administer -> administration -> administrate. You don’t need the second verb form. Use the one you already have.

Wordplay – Ogden Nash

As a lover of wordplay I stand in awe of Ogden Nash. Here’s one of my favorites of his:

Let’s think of eggs.
They have no legs.
Chickens come from eggs
But they have legs.

The plot thickens;
Eggs come from chickens,
But have no legs under ’em.
What a conundrum!

— Ogden Nash

Review of Foal Play by Kathryn O’Sullivan

Pure chick lit. The petite female fire chief commands a station full of macho men, pursues a murderer, aided by her frisky frolicking dog and the irascible but lovable old biddy who once taught her 3rd grade. All the while the chief is pursued romantically by the stoic sheriff, a slick and wealthy real estate developer with mob ties, and… could it be? .. that mysterious and very handsome stranger in town.