Happy Friday and welcome back to the Friday Fiction Feature! This week’s theme is an experiment in two different areas: 1) what happens to the fiction feature when the research assistant Tabatha forgets breakfast, and 2) how wildly different a list of books can be that are all found through the same few words (like tea, bagel, and toast…just to name a few random examples).
First, my yen for something warm to drink has led to…a murder
mystery and soviet scientific secrets. Who knew? In The
Black Tea Experiments by Ray Atkinson, Logan Bauer,
a brilliant college student, has a promising future. However, when
his girlfriend is accused of murdering fellow student Brent
Johnson, Logan must go on a quest to discover the truth that will
set her free. Logan’s journey soon takes him to the former Soviet
Union and into the hands of the infamous Dr. Vladimir Rostov, a
former scientist who worked on several top-secret medical projects
during the Cold War, including the Black Tea Experiments, a drug that would enhance the learning ability of children and ultimately increase the intelligence level of future Soviet generations. But everything isn’t as it seems. The two worlds of the former Soviet Union and the quaint college town of Crandon, Illinois, soon collide, forcing Logan to uncover the pieces of Rostov’s twenty-five-year-old secret in this exciting murder mystery.
Next, the breakfast lineup brings us to a more local mystery with Sharon Kahn’s Fax me a Bagel (who knew breakfast could be so mysterious?). Ruby has been a widow for more than a year now, since the hit-and-run death of her beloved husband, Stu. She should be free to start a new life, but once a rabbi’s wife, always a rabbi’s wife, at least in Eternal. Ruby can’t even escape her least favorite member of the congregation, Essie Sue Margolis – who wears designer clothes to take out the garbage. Ruby figures she should be safe from Essie Sue at eleven in the morning at The Hot Bagel. Wrong. Still, The Hot Bagel makes the best baked goods west of the Hudson, and Ruby’s not about to miss her favorite morning fix. Ruby soon discovers that she has more on her proverbial plate than poppy seeds. Marla, sister of the much disliked Essie Sue, goes into a convulsion and dies, leaving not only her bagels on the table but more unanswered questions than Ruby could ever have imagined. Was Marla’s death an accident? Was it part of a plan? How does it fit into other unexplained deaths in the small Texas community that straddles the worlds of the plantation South and the rugged West?
Personally, I prefer butter on my toast, but I suspect the titular toast of the next novel is for display purposes only. In Mr.
Wilson’s Cabinet Of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice onToast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology by Lawrence Weschler Pronged ants, horned humans, a landscape carved on a fruit pit–some of the
displays in David Wilson’s Museum of Jurassic Technology are
hoaxes. But which ones? As he guides readers through an
intellectual hall of mirrors, Lawrence Weschler revisits the
16th-century “wonder cabinets” that were the first museums and
compels readers to examine the imaginative origins of both art and science. Illustrations. Hopefully our next sleuth will live
up to his almost-name and find something more appetizing
in Schlock Homes: The Complete Bagel Street Saga by Robert L.
Fish. Whether you are a Sherlockian or not this is must
reading – for all the laughs. Fish wrote the best parodies to be
found of the great fictional detective. They originally appeared in
Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, then were collected into two
volumes, the only problem was that all the stories were not in the
two volumes. This book has them all and is well worth it. Read them
slowly, one at a time, the humor is often subtle. Then, re-read them to catch the send-ups you missed the first time. Even Sherlock Holmes and his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would probably enjoy these well crafted stories.
For the next selection of mysteries with the wrong kind of titular “toast,” we have Grace F. Edwards’ AToast Before Dying. Murder casts a shadow over the soul of Harlem…. When she’s not studying for her master’s or dropping in on her father’s jazz gigs, ex-cop Mali
Anderson checks out the scene at Harlem’s smoky Half-Moon Bar. She wasn’t there for singer-bartender Thea Morris’s birthday party, but someone else was–someone who shot Thea to death outside in the alley. Was it her boyfriend, now sitting in jail on suspicion of murder? His sister insists he’s innocent–and wants her friend Mali to clear his name. Thea herself is a mystery: a lonely beauty in an apartment too deluxe for a woman living on tip money, with a gamut of lovers from an aspiring actor to an ambitious politician. It will take all Mali’s savvy–and sources from street-corner buzz to uptown cocktail chat–to unravel Thea’s life and death. And it will take her every survival instinct to catch a killer who will kill again to keep a deadly secret.
And for a final, and more academic, submission, I bring you Shakespeare on Toast by Ben Crystal. Who’s afraid of William
Shakespeare? Just about everyone. He wrote too much and what he did write is inaccessible and elitist. Right? Wrong. “Shakespeare on Toast” knocks the stuffing from the staid old myth of Shakespeare, revealing the man and his plays for what they really are: modern,thrilling and uplifting drama. Actor and author Ben Crystal brings the bright words and colourful characters of the world’s greatest hack writer brilliantly to life, handing over the key to Shakespeare’s plays, unlocking the so-called difficult bits and,
astonishingly, finding Shakespeare’s own voice amid the poetry.Told in five fascinating Acts, “Shakespeare on Toast” sweeps the cobwebs from the Bard – from his language, his life, his time – revealing both the man and his work to be relevant, accessible and full of
beans. This is a book for everyone, whether you’re reading Shakespeare for the first time, occasionally find him troublesome, think you know him backwards, or have never set foot near one of his plays but have always wanted to …It’s quick, easy and good for you. Just like beans on toast.