Rhapsody In Red (a Preston Barclay Mystery, Book 1) by Donn Taylor ~ a review as a tribute to US military veterans

A Rhapsody in Red

What a great main character ~

Preston “Press” Barclay, PhD is retired US Army, special operations and is a professor of history in a quasi-Christian university that at one time was a true Christian college. The powers that be at the school, in an attempt to be ‘inclusive’, removed the crosses off the buildings and hired a Mara Thorn, a Wiccan, to teach religious studies. They also made quite a few other politically correct changes that irk Press Barclay.

Mystery novels and thrillers are awash in retired spec ops main characters hunting down the bad guy(s) and solving crimes. In the overwhelming number of cases, the authors depict these US veteran main characters in an honorable light. Press Barclay is certainly an honorable man, and he searches for a killer while reciting lines from classic literature as well as from the Greek classics. It’s refreshing to see a military veteran portrayed in that way…and in this novel this particular scenario is often humorous.

On that note…what a great story. The author’s use of subtle wit woven throughout the plotline often had me grinning. Press has an enemy hailing back to his days in the military…police Captain Clyde Staggart. When Press and Mara find the body of fellow Professor Laila Sloan, Staggart sees this as an opportunity to hang the murder on Press. If he also charges Mara with the murder, thems the breaks. Staggart completely disregards that Professor Sloan had more than a few enemies of her own. So, Press and Mara take matters into their own hands and begin their own under the radar murder investigation. They break laws (breaking and entering, among others), rules (stealing one of the university’s pass keys), and angering all of their colleagues on campus. Press is attacked and knocked out, Mara’s car is bombed, they are chased by hired killers and wind up hiding out in a motel. Then to add insult to injury, they’re both suspended from their jobs at the university.

Press spends every Wednesday night in utter despair battling music that runs unbidden through his head as he mourns the loss of his pianist wife Faith. It’s become a ritual he observes but can not control. The music can turn from an adagio to sudden discord. These are internal musical hallucinations, a malady he shares with Beethoven.  These hallucinations can often be jarring, have a sweetness, even humor.

This novel is perfect for the reader who loves literary witticism, high jinks, and a riveting sleuthing all from a Christian perspective.

ribbon-greenAOM Cover  US special ops veterans now under the auspices of a quasi-clandestine organization search for who in the deep state brutally killed Lavender Raines husband. Retired Marine Raider Mackey feels overprotective of her though she seems to disdain him.  ACTS OF MALICE

GLAMOROUS ~ the writer’s life, not

hand held ac

When a/c’s on the fritz.

The drainage system of my central air conditioning system needs to be flushed. Hey, this is Florida people! This is a big deal.

Today threatens to be a hot one. Hotter than Hades. So, until the a/c repair person arrives, (I don’t know if it will be a man, so I’m going gender neutral) I’m giving my a/c system a break. Water is accumulating in the metal pan beneath the system. If too much water accumulates, it will spill over and begin to create water damage in the house I rent. But before that happens, this unit has a shut off switch and will shut itself off. My fear is it will NOT turn itself back on after some water has evaporated. That would leave me with no relief at all from what threaten to be scorching temps this afternoon. So, I raised my thermostat and in effect turned the unit off to let some water evaporate. Then if the said repair person doesn’t get here today, after some water has evaporated, I can turn it back on during the hottest part of the day. Remember, this is Florida and the temps are brutal right now…and he/she probably has a long, long client call list today.

So,, here’s the glamour part…don’t want you to miss that!!! I’m sitting before my laptop in my coolest, cotton, shortie PJs with my window’s open to catch the small breeze out there, a fan is blowing on me, and I’m sweating some while typing this out. Of course you can see the glamour in that. Why, it’s akin to Hemingway’s involvement in the Spanish Civil War. No? Not quite? Not close? Well, anyway, I do need a hand-held A/C system right now.

Romans 12: 12 [NASB] ~  rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,

The Nike N. Chillemi Blog ~ has a new look

palm trees

Lighter, brighter, a dash of humor…new photos in the side-bar.

Of course I’m still blogging about murder mysteries, detective stories, romantic suspense, thrillers, cozies, and espionage stories, as well as policing, first responders, and the military. I find myself increasingly linking crime fiction and policing to the human psyche, culture, and societal institutions. I hope to offer a “merry” view of my subject matter — merry in a biblical sense. This would be not only a sense of humor, though I love a lighter touch where appropriate, but also healing and wholeness.

Since I’ve moved from the industrial northeast to Florida, I’ll be incorporating a more breezy, beachy, tropical feel.

Proverbs 7:22 [KJV] ~ A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

 

Jailhouse Hooch ~ a recipe

Oranges
Courtesy of FreeImages by Gabriel77

 

Nancy W. came to my mind today. I knew her many years ago, when I was a single working girl living in Miami. (Trust me, a looong time ago.) She was a loyal member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). She’s passed now, and I suppose I could use her last name, but I won’t.

Nancy W. was a blue blood, truly. Her ancestors came over on the Mayflower. Her family is in the social register. I went to several open AA meetings (open to non-alcoholics) with Nancy. That was in the 1970s and members came to evening meetings from work dressed in polyester pantsuits, or well worn-in dungarees, depending upon the type of job. This was south Florida, so some came in shorts, some in short-shorts. Nancy wore a pleated skirt, white or pastel blouse, and pearls.

Nancy told me about the highlight of one of her trips to Manhattan (NYC). She accompanied her chic socialite friend to an AA meeting in the East Village. Both women always sat in the front row when they’d been in boarding school, and they did so at this meeting. They didn’t want to miss anything. Her friend was decked out in a fur coat (animals lovers, please don’t judge). It was a small meeting place, and the meeting had already begun when an obviously inebriated man walked, or careened in. The only seat left was in the front row, right next to the lady in the fur coat. The speaker kept on with his story about getting sober. All of a sudden the drunk threw up on the floor smack-dab front of the podium and in close proximity to Nancy and her friend. The speaker didn’t miss a beat, kept on talking. Nancy and her friend sat there unfazed while someone rushed forward with a mop. Another member guided the drunken man to the back to feed him some strong coffee. When retelling this story, Nancy remarked, “That man is a drunk, just like me.”

Nancy was one to write down recipes. While watching a TV morning or afternoon show, if a celebrity demonstrated how to make something scrumptious, she would write the recipe down on the back of a stray envelope or a piece of scrap paper. One evening, Nancy attended an AA meeting where the now long-sober speaker had once done time in prison. He gave the recipe for jailhouse hooch and, naturally, Nancy grabbed a piece of paper out of her handbag and wrote it down. While joking one day, she showed the “recipe” to me and I wrote it down. Here it is…

Jail House Hooch a/k/a Pruno

1. Take one empty paint can, wash well. [Note: Nancy copied this recipe in the 1970s. I have on good authority that inmates use huge Ziploc baggies now.]

Courtesy of FreeImages by loungefrog
Courtesy of FreeImages by loungefrog

2. Combine in the can 10 peeled oranges and one 8 oz can of fruit cocktail (stockpiled from lunches or filched from the kitchen). Mash well. Add 16 oz of tap water, mix, and reseal can (or baggie). Wrap can in a towel and store in a warm place hidden from the guards. Let sit 48 hours.

3. Open the can (baggie). The mixture should have ballooned and there should be a smell of fermentation. That would be true in wineries, in this case it’s more like rotten fruit. Add 50 cubes of white sugar,  5 tsp (or 5 packets) of Heinz Ketchup, must be Heinz. Mix to stir ketchup through and to dissolve sugar. Put the cover back on the can and seal. Wrap it up in the towel again and store in a warm place (if you used a baggie, run it under hot water for 30 min.) and be sure to keep it away from the guards, but a place that is accessible so you can let gases out. Don’t want to be cleaning this stuff off the walls.

4. Twenty-four hours later, open can and let some fermentation gasses escape.

5. Twenty-four hours later, open can and let some fermentation gasses escape, place it near a heat source (oven or radiator) for half an hour (or run the baggie under hot water) to keep the fermentation going.

6. Twenty-four hours later, let gasses out, sit near a heat source (oven or radiator for half and hour), reseal, wrap in towel and put away again.

7. Twenty-four hours later, open can and let gasses out, sit near a heat source (oven or radiator for half and hour), reseal, wrap in towel and put away again.

8. The next day open the can, fish out the rotten fruit and the yukky mold. Strain the liquid carefully through a wire, mesh strainer. And it’s ready to drink.

Does it taste like Scotch, bourbon, Irish Whiskey, or brandy? In a word, NO! It tastes like a mixture of rot-gut and gasoline, and only gives a measly, minor buzz. It’s more sickening than inebriating, but it does, in fact, inebriate somewhat.

Here’s a spiritual thought. You might consider asking for Last Rites before drinking Jailhouse Hooch

Coourtesy of FreeImages by KodakGold
Coourtesy of FreeImages by KodakGold

Will The New Glasses Hide the Crow’s Feet?

Courtesy of Free Images by difletcher
Courtesy of Free Images by difletcher

 

 

My eye doctor just gave me shattering news. No, it’s not glaucoma or cataracts. I’m not going blind, heaven forbid!

Up until now, I’ve had perfect vision for driving and everyday walking around. I’ve only needed reading glasses these past few years. That has changed. I now need glasses to to see far off distances, which means I need glasses to drive.

So, what is the trendy murder mystery writer to do? “Get glasses Alice!” That’s what. I’m conjuring the 1980s TV commercial where this yuppy-type young woman kept running into things and her friends sweetly yelled at her, “Get glasses Alice!”

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The thing is, I’ve become attached to my reading glasses. I’ve developed a “crime fictionista” persona with my reading glasses perched on my nose.

 

 

 

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I’ve mugged and had lots of fun with these glasses. They’ve sorta become a part of me. But all things come to pass.

 

 

 

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I’ve got my prescription and I’m going to have to go get the proper glasses for an older me. Hey, but I’m only 39 (and holding). ~ Ooops, my nose is growing too now. Oh, dear. Well, that’s a whole other issue. LOL

 

 

 

The Glamorous Digs of an NYPD Precinct Detective

We all see the pristine, spacious offices and shiny cubicles of police detectives on television. So, I was somewhat shocked to see my where the detectives were quartered at my local police precinct.

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I’m sure I must’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere.

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Actually, this seems to be it.

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Yes, indeed, this is it. Right up there it says, “DETECTIVES.”

Actually, I’m impressed with the way they’ve handled shabby-chic to perfection.

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What impeccable interior decorating skills. I can only conclude that these aging file cabinets are here solely for their “vintage effect.”

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Taking a closer look, I see this is the door through which detectives go for “roll call.” Oh, my, this doesn’t look anything like the duty rooms I’ve seen on television. Clearly the interior decorator who designed this precinct was going for another look. That’s got to be it.