No Better Advice


The advice is great. The fortune cookie in which it was found, not so much.


Announcing … The Ocelot Chronicles

Ocelot Chronicles Cover

I am pleased to announce the publication of my new book, The Ocelot Chronicles, available as an Amazon e-exclusive.

Here is the “official” blurb from the publisher:

New York City schoolteacher Ethan Dawes, kind of heart and generous of spirit, finds himself consoling his colleague (and secret crush) Ginger. The loss of Ginger’s beloved cat, Louie, has left her bereft, and Ethan cannot stand to see his friend suffering. What better way to bring light back into Ginger’s life than to find a replacement for Louie? After a fruitless search of animal shelters and cat-rescue Websites, Ethan is ready to admit defeat–until he finds the perfect pet for Ginger, a ringer for the dearly departed Louie. Unfortunately, the cat is an ocelot living happily and peacefully at the Bronx Zoo. Events conspire to convince Ethan that liberating Pumpkin the ocelot from the zoo would be the best outcome for all concerned. Will Ethan’s daring plot to infiltrate the ocelot pen at night meet with success? And if Ethan succeeds, what exactly will he do with a kidnapped ocelot when the intended recipient leaves town unexpectedly?

As with The Outsmarting of Criminals, the cover illustration and design are by the magnificent and brilliant J. E. Larson.

While it would be a stretch to say that The Ocelot Chronicles is “based on a true story,” I can honestly say that it is based on a bit of truth. When I was in college (we won’t say how many years ago), an ocelot escaped from the Bronx Zoo and was later found unharmed. And thereby hangs a tale…



Deadly Ink: NJ’s Mystery Convention, Aug. 5-7

Mystery lovers, fans, and writers from the New York tri-state area, rejoice! New Jersey’s mystery convention, Deadly Ink, comes to New Brunswick, NJ this year, August 5th – 7th.

Deadly Ink is a smaller convention, which allows you to talk with pretty much everyone, see old friends, and make new ones.

This year’s guest of honor is Reed Farrell Coleman, and the toastmaster is Hilary Davidson.

More information is available here.  While the conference goes on for three days, there’s a lot of flexibility in the registration; you can come for one day, two days, three days — whatever works for your schedule.

At Storm King State Park

Those who love outdoor sculpture might enjoy a day at Storm King State Park in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York. You can rent a bike so that you can cover all 600 acres in one day, though the price is astronomical (for a good cause, though…)

This one reminds me of my mother’s old clothesline. I hope the artist, if he or she is reading this, is not offended.


I like the framing aspect of this one.  Every time I hear the word “framing,” I think of the narrative structure of Wuthering Heights. (FYI, WordPress just auto-corrected Wuthering to Withering Heights, which is a completely different book by Dorothy Cannell…)


Years ago I edited an art history textbook and learned about the Nike of Samothrace, which was (one theory goes) mounted to the prow of a ship.  This piece remind me of the N.o.S.


I loved this one. Trees among the trees.


This massive Buddha is the show-stopper. Not pictured is a funky young park employee, who admitted that her job is basically to prevent people from climbing onto the Buddha.


How this one stays in an upright position is a mystery to me (it sure isn’t because of the gal “holding” it up).


Owner of a Broken Heart

(Title cribbed from “Owner of  Lonely Heart,” from Yes’s 1983 album, 90125)

You get to a certain age and you know that “life isn’t fair”–though I remember my father making that very clear in the early 1970s.

But I feel that life is particularly unfair this week. The Well-Read Bookstore, in Hawthorne, NJ, has closed its doors.

The Well-Read Bookstore was a bright light in downtown Hawthorne. They had an interesting business model. You could buy new books there, as well as gently used, like-new books for half price. Every so often I would stop in, just to see what’s “out there,” and I always came home with something unexpected.

It was at The Well-Read that I discovered Lars Kepler, who has become a favorite. (Aside: I just heard an interview with the authors, who noted that “Lars” is an homage to Stieg Larsson. Who knew?)

I thought the inventory was looking a bit slender, and then as I was paying for Wild Thing by Josh Bazell (and wondering why the price was so low), the young man behind the counter told me that the store was going out of business. I overhead the proprietor saying to another customer that it had been a hard decision despite the fact that sales had been going up every year.

I went to Barnes & Noble in Clifton, NJ a few days later, sort of as a way of reassuring myself that brick-and-mortar bookstores still exist, but it just wasn’t the same, you know? But surprises come in unexpected ways. As I was paying for my copies of Arcadia by Iain Pears and Version Control by Dexter Palmer with my credit card, the young woman at the register saw the name on my credit card and said, “Did you write The Outsmarting of Criminals?”  That was my first public recognition.  Guess I’ll have to start wearing sunglasses everywhere now…