Oh boy, boat ride!

[from the stabenow.com vaults, 2007] March 20 Today a fishing vessel would not respond to our hail so we sent a boat over to talk to them. We see gear in the water and it’s smaller than your average mother ship, but it gives us a chance, the captain says, “to push the button.” The…

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Channeling Holmes

[My introduction to the 2012 Edgar Awards program guide, which I edited this year. The quotes are from authors, booksellers and librarians from the pieces they wrote on Holmes for the program.] Aren’t we all? The Sherlock Holmes canon has long been subject to assiduous mining by laborers in literature and film. Steve Hockensmith says,…

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Training Environment

[from the stabenow.com vaults, 2007] March 19 XO Steve Rothchild says our forecast is 4 to 7 foot seas. That’s been our forecast ever since we left port. I look over the side and I’m no expert but I’m thinking those hardly deserve to be called waves, never mind four foot ones. Temps everywhere coming…

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Boots on the Ground Research

[Luncheon speech for the Poisoned Pen Conference, July 13, 2012] Sometimes research is easy. When I lived in Anchorage my house was right under the traffic pattern to the seaplane base of Lake Hood. One day my father was helping me with something in my back yard and a Cessna 206 was taking off with…

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I'd call Molly Gloss' The Hearts of Horses almost a sequel to Monte Walsh by Jack Schaefer, and I consider Monte Walsh one of the perfect novels. The writing is superb, in that run-on raconteur style that feels like the easy canter of a horse. It's 1917, and young Martha Leeson leaves home to become an itinerant bronco buster, only she's a horse whisperer instead and she doesn't get that far from home, either.

This book works on so many levels, I hardly know where to begin. It's a book about World War I at home, it's a book about coming of age, it's a book about the loss of the American west, it's about the failed government program to settle the West with farmers, it's about the American cowboy, only this time she's a girl. The circle ride is a terrific device for telling not only Martha's story but the stories of all the ranchers and farmers for whom she is breaking horses, not to mention a look through Gloss's eyes at the loneliness and beauty of the western Oregon landscape.

Mostly, I think, this is a story about Martha, a young woman from an abusive home who is so lonely and unsocialized (for lack of a better word) that she literally doesn't know what people mean when they speak to her. As she breaks the horses, so does the community gentle her into being one of their own.

This would be a terrific book club book.

And just for fun, here's the trailer for the Tom Selleck film version of Monte Walsh. It's pretty good.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woHix1RrVFM&w=480&h=360]

# Permanent link to The Sequel to Monte Walsh

Steel Beach

[from the stabenow.com vaults, 2007] March 18 In the back of the bridge is a stack of cardboard boxes. This morning the captain materialized in the middle of ENS Dan Schrader’s OOD (Officer of the Deck) training watch to toss one of the boxes over the side for a simulated man overboard drill. We go…

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On six occasions, his enemies had tried shooting him; twice, they'd attempted poison (once using a samosa laced with arsenic); and during the Case of the Pundit with Twelve Toes, a hired thug had tried to force Puri's car over the edge of a hairpin bend on the road to Gulmarg.
The most ingenious attempt had been orchestrated by a cunning murderer (a naturalist by profession) working in Assam's Kaziranga Park, who had secretly sprayed Puri's clothes with a pheromone that attracted one-horned rhinos.
The closest anyone had come (not including the three rhinos, who could move surprisingly quickly) had been a criminal hijra who had pushed a pile of bricks off the top of a building into an alley in Varanasi where Puri had been walking.

# Permanent link to “Saala, maaderchod!”*

Lessons for the Day

[from the stabenow.com vaults, 2007] March 17 A little before nine a.m. I felt the ship turn hard right rudder, so I went up to the bridge. We spotted a fishing boat on the radar. The captain says that drug smugglers often use fishing boats as mother ships for go fasts. The go fasts will…

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