Book Reviews

Book review – Chilton Vs. The Center For Biological Diversity

Chilton cover

Jim & Sue Chilton are friends of mine. They own and operate a cattle ranch south of Arivaca, Arizona. The ranch’s southern boundary is the U.S. – Mexican border. They have had trouble will illegal border-crossings, with the U.S. government, and with radical environmental groups.

Their story is told by J.P.S. Brown in his new book Chilton Vs. The Center For Biological Diversity: Truth Rides A Cowhorse

This book exposes the betrayal of trust of federal agencies and the skullduggery of a radical environmental group. I enjoyed reading this story. And remember, as Jim Chilton says, “Every day is Earth Day to a rancher.” This is because his economic well-being depends upon keeping the range productive and in good shape.

Amazon Synopsis: Truth Rides a Cowhorse is the story of a cowboy’s fight to defend his livestock against activist environmentalists who spend millions of dollars in a campaign to rid the world of the cow while it spends more millions on a campaign to save the whale. Which of these two great animals has done more for mankind?

Reviews:

“This is the true story of the legal battle and the VICTORY of the Chilton Ranch in Arizona. Jim and Sue Chilton took on the legal battle to fight against the environmentalists and prove that the Chilton Ranch is the best example of a well run organization that cares not only about it’s cattle, but the ranch and the Chilton name and in doing so they honor all three.”

“Amazing story by one of the great story tellers of our time. Not a unique situation involving manipulation of endangered species and grazing laws to feed the appetite of an ever inflated bureaucracy. Joe Brown is worth checking out. This is how the ‘west was won.’”

The book is available from Amazon in both print and electronic versions.

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Murder mysteries and noir short stories by Lonni Lees

I am promoting these books because Lonni has murder on her mind and she is my wife.

Besides that, these books are very good reads.

Deranged, A Novel of Horror

Deranged cover awardSynopsis: Just an ordinary-looking man, Charlie Blackhawk is really a monster inside–a cold-blooded killer who likes to use a knife. When his path crosses that of Meg Stinson and her 12-year-old daughter, Sabrina, their lives are changed forever.

From a review: The book is beautifully plotted, with Lees leaving the actual kidnaping until relatively late in the story. This allows her to explore the characters and their various interactions with friends and family, leaving the reader with a true sense of caring about their fates. By the time the abduction happens the reader has gotten to know Sabrina quite well so you really feel for her and her family.

This book won a first place award from the Public Safety Writers Association.

Amazon (Link to paper and kindle) Barnes&Noble: Paperback, Nook

Independent comments:

“DERANGED is a hell of a good read by a bright new talent. It’s a harrowing ride, a first novel mixing crime with horror and horror with crime in a way you won’t soon forget. Bravo!” -Gary Lovisi, HARDBOILED magazine and Gryphon Books

“Lonni Lees sends chills down my spine!” -Terrill Lee Lankford, Novelist and Film maker

 

The Mosaic Murder: A Maggie Reardon Mystery Novel

Mosaic Murder coverSynopsis: The artists’ reception at the popular Mosaic Gallery in Tucson, Arizona is a great success, but the next morning, when the body of Armando, the owner’s husband, is discovered, things start turning ugly. Every artist becomes a suspect, and each of them has their own reason to want the man out of the picture. But who disliked him enough to want him dead? Police Detective Maggie Reardon is on the case.

Amazon: Paperback, Kindle Barnes&Noble (Link to paper and Nook)

 

Independent comment:

Review by Terry Butler, artist and writer:

“This is Lonni Lees’ third book and her second novel. I’ve had the pleasure of reading them all as well as her online and print stories, but I have to say this one is my flat-out favorite.

“Lonni lives in Tucson and writes her descriptions of the area and its harsh beauty, plants and weather with a sure hand. And the best thing about that is her exercise of self control, showing us that the right amount of atmosphere is just enough, leaving her room to draw the character of Detective Maggie Reardon in detail–flaws and strengths alike, just as in all human beings. Maggie is no superhero hard-boiled dudette in sexy clothes, but a smart, interesting woman whom we end up caring a great deal about.

“In fact all the characters in this book are well described and believable, even if some of them are a bit weird. But then, who are artists and gallery hangers-on if not umm, “unique” individuals? Its a great milieu for a mystery and Lonni keeps us guessing all the way.

“It’s great to see a new writer getting this much better with each outing, and word is that Lonni has another of Detective Reardon’s adventures in the pipeline. I’ll be waiting!”

The Corpse in the Cactus: A Maggie Reardon Mystery

Corpse in the cactus awardSynopsis: Tucson police detective Maggie Reardon is back, in the sizzling sequel to The Mosaic Murder.

The murder that Detective Maggie Reardon just solved at a local Tucson art gallery has already created repercussions, complicating her life both legally and personally. Her new lover dropped to second place when a new man entered the picture. A dead man whose body had been found at The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum lying under a bed of cactus. What at first appeared to be a tragic accident was quickly starting to smell like murder. This book is also a first place award winner.

Amazon Barnes&Noble

Independent review:

By Terry Butler
For this reader one of the great pleasures of reading P. I. or Police Procedural novels in series is the opportunity to move along with a good writer as she develops the character of her protagonist and those close to that person. That’s why I was so glad to see that up-and-comer Lonni Lees has continued to flesh out the intriguing character from 2012’s “The Mosaic Murder”–Detective Maggie Reardon of the Tucson P.D.
And this book is even more compelling than the first book in the series, because as Ms. Lees has deepened our attraction to a believable and likeable cop with a heart, she now provides Det. Reardon with a lightly drawn but troubling back story that promises a more complex psyche than is at first apparent. Something powerful happened to Maggie to form her toughened vulnerability somewhere along the line and I want to know what it was!

Crawlspace, and other dark stories

Crawlspace coverThis is a book of noir style short stories.

Deep beneath the surface, they hide in all of us. The crawlspaces, cobwebbed basements, shadowed alleyways and musty attics of our minds; they are the dark and dangerous corners of the human psyche. Dormant, they lie in wait. Some pretend they’re not there and go about their innocuous lives, while others grab hold and pull them to the surface, feeding on their dark forces. Whether a career criminal, a madman, a thug, an abused spouse or an innocent child, within these pages you’ll find those who have embraced that darkness. Some tap into it for survival, some for greed. Some use it for destruction, some just because it’s there. It dwells within all of us, waiting.

Amazon: Paperback, Kindle Barnes& Noble: Paperback, Nook
Independent comment:
“When Hardboiled Magazine publishes new authors, I’ve learned over the years it’s worth paying attention, and Lonni Lees is no exception. Her crime story, “The Blue-Eyed Bandit,” merges a pitch-perfect Black Mask pulp style with a more modern, psychotic noir, with the result being that Ms. Lees is someone readers should be on the lookout for.” -Dave Zeltserman, Author of Small Crimes and The Caretaker of Lorne Field.

America’s Culture, Its Origins & Enemies – Book Review

Americas Culture coverJohn Harmon McElroy’s book explores American exceptionalism. McElroy posits that American exceptionalism and culture was announced to the world by our Declaration of Independence which says in part “that all men are created equal” which is different from the class-bound societies of Europe. The second important principle is that the people are the sovereign, not some king or dictator. At the time of America’s founding, these were radical ideas.

America’s Culture takes you on an interesting journey through American history from first settlement by European colonists to what McElroy believes is now the “paramount danger to America.” McElroy’s history is not so much a “who did what, when”, but rather why things happened as they did and how that shaped our culture.

McElroy shows the uniqueness of American culture by comparing it to the development of the other European colonial cultures of the New World: Canada, mainland Spanish America, and Brazil. Each colonial power encountered differences in physiography and climate, which influenced what they could do with the land; they encountered differences in the number and state of native people in the regions; and each colonial power had different philosophies about who should emigrate and how to treat native populations.

France, Spain, and Portugal tended to limit emigration to the New World by screening for fealty to crown and church. That tended to make the colonial populations homogeneous. England, however, did not screen emigrants, and allowed emigration from other parts of Europe. Instead they sought to build up a large colonial population that could send back agricultural products and be a market for English goods. That policy contributed to the diversity of American culture. McElroy writes: “The self-selecting immigrants who went to America wanted to be free of the socio-economic constraints inherent to societies based on birth-determined classes. They wanted to be self-determining. They were individualists who were willing to live among strangers and compete with them.” Also, these individualists found it to their own advantage to aid others and the community to make living better for all.

Chapter four recounts how our Constitution was formulated specifically to limit the federal government and preserve sovereignty for the people and the states. Chapter five deals with the diversity of religion in America and several Supreme Court decisions on the matter.

In Chapter six, “The Paramount Danger to America,” McElroy discusses Political Correctness. He asserts that PC is influenced by Marxist philosophy and that PC “has taken over one of the major political parties and infiltrated the other and is exerting an increasing influence in the nation’s schools, churches, business enterprises, universities, media, government, and philanthropic institutions.” McElroy is, however, optimistic and says that the basic historical values of American culture will prevail.

I found this book to be very interesting and learned some things about the “why” of history and our culture that I had not appreciated before.

McElroy says that this book is for you if you can answer “yes” to any of the following questions:

1. Are you grateful to be an American? Would you like to know why America is an exceptional country?

2. Do you feel the basic values Americans have lived by are being degraded? Would you like to understand why and how this is happening?

3. Is the federal government out of control in your opinion and taking from the States constitutional rights which belong to them?

4. Do you think the U.S. debt needs to be curbed in fairness to future generations?

5. Would you like to learn something new about America’s history and geography?

6. Would you like to know why America is not doomed to decline?

America’s Culture is available in electronic form on Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook. Print copies may be obtained from McElroy’s website: http://johnharmonmcelroy.com/ and from 50 States Press, 2100 E. Speedway Blvd., #43661, Tucson, AZ 85733.

About the author:

Professor Emeritus at the University of Arizona, John Harmon McElroy has chronicled Walt Whitman’s Civil War experiences and edited Washington Irving’s history of Columbus. His several books on American cultural history are Finding Freedom, American Beliefs, Divided We Stand, and his newly published America’s Culture Its Origins & Enemies, a synopsis of what has made American culture exceptional and the how and why of the present deliberate attempt by Political Correctness to transform that heritage.

Before going to the University of Arizona, Prof. McElroy taught at Clemson and the University of Wisconsin. As a Fulbright Professor of American Studies he has been a member of university faculties in Spain and Brazil. He has also lectured at universities in Poland and Colombia and presented papers at meetings of the American Studies associations of France and Argentina. The radio program on American history and culture he created, America’s Fabric, is broadcast on KVOI-AM, Tucson.

A graduate of Princeton University, he had two years of sea duty in the U. S. Navy, North Atlantic Fleet, before taking his PhD at Duke University. He and his wife Onyria Herrera Diaz, PhD, who writes bilingual medical dictionaries, were married in Cuba in 1957. They live in Tucson, Arizona, and have twelve children and grandchildren.

Book Review – Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming

Why-Scientists-disagree front-coverThis book by climate scientists Craig D. Idso, Robert M. Carter, and S. Fred Singer is a tour-de-force on the scientific debate about global warming. The book is relatively short, just 101 pages divided into seven chapters. Each chapter leads off with a summary of key findings, and each chapter section is supported by many references to the scientific literature.

The book is published by the Heartland Institute. You can download the entire book as a PDF file (7.8Mb) for free here, or buy a hard copy from the Heartland Store ($14.95).

Many books and papers about global warming contain many, sometimes confusing, graphs. Not this one. Some readers may be happy to know that there are only three graphs in the whole book. The authors get right to the point with their succinct, easy-to-read explanations.

Here is a brief summary, key findings of each chapter, and my comments:

Chapter 1: No Consensus:

“The articles and surveys most commonly cited as showing support for a ‘scientific consensus’ in favor of the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis are without exception methodologically flawed and often deliberately misleading.”

This chapter examines each major paper that claims consensus and exposes its flaws. This chapter also provides evidence for lack of consensus.

Chapter 2: Why Scientists Disagree:
The key points provide the major reasons for disagreement:

“Climate is an interdisciplinary subject requiring insights from many fields. Very few scholars have mastery of more than one or two of these disciplines.”

“Fundamental uncertainties arise from insufficient observational evidence, disagreements over how to interpret data, and how to set the parameters of models.”

“The United Nations’ Intergovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), created to find and disseminate research finding a human impact on global climate, is not a credible source. It is agenda-driven, a political rather than scientific body, and some allege it is corrupt.”

“Climate scientists, like all humans, can be biased. Origins of bias include careerism, grant-seeking, political views, and confirmation bias.”

Chapter 3: Scientific method versus Political science:

In this chapter the authors contrast the proper methods of scientific investigation with what goes on in climate science.

“The hypothesis implicit in all IPCC writings, though rarely explicitly stated, is that dangerous global warming is resulting, or will result, from human-related greenhouse gas emissions.”

“The null hypothesis is that currently observed changes in global climate indices and the physical environment, as well as current changes in animal and plant characteristics, are the result of natural variability.” (The IPCC has never presented any physical evidence to refute the null hypothesis.)

“In contradiction of the scientific method, IPCC assumes its implicit hypothesis is correct and that its only duty is to collect evidence and make plausible arguments in the hypothesis’s favor.”

Chapter 4: Flawed Projections:

This chapter examines the climate modeling used by the IPCC and shows how all their predictions (projections) have been wrong.

Chapter 5: False Postulates:

This chapter shows that modern warming is neither unprecedented nor unnatural. Rather, the following statements are supported by observation evidence.

“Neither the rate nor the magnitude of the reported late twentieth century surface warming (1979–2000) lay outside normal natural variability.”

“The late twentieth century warm peak was of no greater magnitude than previous peaks caused entirely by natural forcings and feedbacks.”

“Historically, increases in atmospheric CO2 followed increases in temperature, they did not precede them. Therefore, CO2 levels could not have forced temperatures to rise.”

“Solar forcings are not too small to explain twentieth century warming. In fact, their effect could be equal to or greater than the effect of CO2 in the atmosphere.”

“A warming of 2°C or more during the twenty-first century would probably not be harmful, on balance, because many areas of the world would benefit from or adjust to climate change.”

Chapter 6: Unreliable Circumstantial Evidence:

This chapter debunks scary climate claims.

Chapter 7: Policy Implications:

The authors recommend: “Rather than rely exclusively on IPCC for scientific advice,
policymakers should seek out advice from independent, non-government organizations and scientists who are free of financial and political conflicts of interest.”
“Rather than invest scarce world resources in a quixotic campaign based on politicized and unreliable science, world leaders would do well to turn their attention to the real problems their people and their planet face.”

The book concludes with this:

Policymakers should resist pressure from lobby groups to silence scientists who question the authority of IPCC to claim to speak for “climate science.”

The distinguished British biologist Conrad Waddington wrote in 1941,

“It is … important that scientists must be ready for their pet theories to turn out to be wrong. Science as a whole certainly cannot allow its judgment about facts to be distorted by ideas of what ought to be true, or what one may hope to be true.” (Waddington, 1941).

This prescient statement merits careful examination by those who continue to assert the fashionable belief, in the face of strong empirical evidence to the contrary, that human CO2 emissions are going to cause dangerous global warming.

I highly recommend this book for those who want to know the real story of global warming, and I recommend it especially for those who believe the IPCC and government propaganda.

Book Review: Doubt and Certainty in Climate Science

Doubt and certainty coverDr. Judith Curry, Professor and former Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has introduced a new book by Alan Longhurst titled Doubt and Certainty in Climate Science. You can read Curry’s extensive remarks here.

Curry says, “Doubt and Certainty in Climate Science is an important new book that everyone should read. The book is 239 pages long, with 606 footnotes/references. The book is well written, technical but without equations – it is easily accessible to anyone with a technical education or who follows the technical climate blogs.” She opines, “This is a remarkable book, a tour de force. There are fresh insights in each chapter, borne of Longhurst’s objective analysis of the data and the literature. The papers he cites are from Nature, Science, PNAS, Journal of Climate and other mainstream, high impact journals.”

The author, Alan Longhurst, is a biological oceanographer at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. He has published more than 80 peer-reviewed papers and several books. You can download the book as a PDF file for free (4.4Mb).

In the Preface, Longhurst explains why he wrote the book. Here is an excerpt:

“The complex relationship between solar cycles and regional climate states on Earth that was central to classical climatology (and is still being discussed in the peer—reviewed literature) had been replaced with a reductionist assumption concerning radiative balance, and the effective dismissal of any significant solar influence. I found this rejection of an entire body of scientific literature troubling, and looked for a disinterested discussion of the balance between natural and anthropogenic effects, but could not find what I wanted — a book that covered the whole field in an accessible and unprejudiced manner, and that was based solely on the scientific literature: I found text—books on individual topics aplenty, together with a flood of others, either supporting or attacking the standard climate change model, but none that was based wholly on studies certified by peer—review — and whose author was inquisitive rather than opinionated.”

Longhurst writes in his conclusions:

While I am aware that the general opinion of the relevant scientific community is that no further debate is necessary after five successive assessments by the IPCC, I suggest that this is premature because these conclusions concern topics that have not yet been properly addressed by that body, and so should be accorded status in a continuing debate concerning the influence of anthropogenic effects on regional climates.

If the peer-reviewed scientific literature, with all the levels of uncertainty associated with individual contributions, has anything to say collectively in assessing the standard climate model, then a small number of conclusions may be drawn from the 600 peer-reviewed papers that I have consulted:

• — the global archives of surface air temperature measurements are unreliable estimators of the consequences of atmospheric CO2 contamination, because they are already themselves contaminated by the effects of deforestation, land use change, urbanization and the release of industrial particulates into the lower atmosphere.

• — users of these data are not able to judge the consequences of the adjustments that have been made to the original observations of surface air temperature ashore, although the limited investigations now possible show that the adjustments have changed the long-term trends that had been recorded by some reputable national meteorological services.

• — sea surface temperature is not a substitute for air temperature over the oceans because it responds to changes in vertical motion in the ocean associated with coastal and open-ocean upwelling; the resultant change in surface temperature is independent of any changes in atmospheric temperature caused by CO2, yet these changes are integrated into the GMST record which is used to estimate the effects of CO2.

• — surface air temperatures respond to cyclical changes within the Sun, and to the effect of changing orbital configurations in the solar system: the changes in the resultant strength of received irradiance (and of tidal stress in the oceans, which also has consequences for SAT) are both predictable and observable.

• — our description of the evolution of the global heat budget and its distribution in multiple sinks is inadequate for an understanding of the present state of the Earth’s surface temperature, or to serve as the initial state for complex modeling of climate dynamics. Future states are therefore unpredictable, cannot be modeled, and will certainly surprise people living through the next century.

• — the planetary heat budget is poorly constrained, perhaps principally by our inability to quantify the mechanisms that control the accumulation and loss of heat in the ocean, where most solar heat accumulates; the quantification of changes in cloud cover is so insecure that we cannot confidently describe its variability, yet clouds are the most important control on the rate of heat input at the sea surface.

• — the evidence for an intensification of extreme weather events and, in particular, tropical cyclones is very weak and is largely due to the progressively increasing reliability and coverage of weather monitoring: today’s frequency of cyclones and other phenomena does not appear to be anomalous when longer data sets can be examined.

• — global climate in the present configuration of the continents falls naturally into a limited number of patterns that are forced externally and patterned by internal dynamics. Some of these climate patterns will tend to conserve global heat, some will tend to permit its dissipation to space, while all move heat from one region to another. Two dominate the whole: the North Atlantic Oscillation that describes the flux of tropical heat through the North Atlantic Current into Arctic regions, and the Southern Oscillation that describes the strength of trade winds, especially in the Pacific, and thus the relative area of cold, up-welled water that is exposed to the atmosphere.

• — the recent melting of arctic ice cover over larger areas than 20 years ago in summer is not a unique event, but is a recurrence of past episodes and is the result of cyclically-variable transport of heat in warm North Atlantic water into the Arctic basin through the Norwegian Sea; the present episode will likely evolve in the same way as earlier episodes.

• — sea level is indeed rising as described by the IPCC and others, but the causes, especially at regional scale,are more complex than suggested by that agency and involve many processes other than expansion due to warming. Had the human population of some very small islands remained within carrying capacity, their occupation could have been permanent, but this is not the case.

• — the consequences of acidification of seawater is one of the most enigmatic questions, and may bring serious biological problems, although it seems now that (i) marine organisms are more resilient to changing pH than was originally feared, because of the genetic diversity of their populations and (ii) the history of pH of seawater during geological time suggests that resilience through selection of genomes has emerged when appropriate in the past (Sections 10.3, 10.4).

Unfortunately, the essential debate on these issues will not take place, at least not openly and without prejudice, because so many voices are today saying – nay, shouting ‘enough, the science is settled, it is time for remediation’. In fact, many have been saying this for almost 20 years, even as fewer voices have been heard in the opposite sense. As discussed in Chapter 1, the science of climate change like many other complex fields in the earth sciences does not function so that at some point in time one can say “now, the science is settled”: there are always uncertainties and alternative explanations for observations.
END

Stories of Murder and Mayhem

My wife, Lonni Lees, has murder on her mind. Fortunately for me, her thoughts go into novels and short stories. This article is a review of her four published books. The first, “Deranged” and her most recent, “Corpse in the Cactus” both won first place honors from a group of professional crime writers, the Public Safety Writers Association. Two of the novels, “The Mosaic Murder” and “Corpse in the Cactus” are set in Tucson.

 The Mosaic Murder (Amazon)(Barnes & Noble)

Mosaic Murder coverSynopsis: The artists’ reception at the popular Mosaic Gallery in Tucson, Arizona is a great success, but the next morning, when the body of Armando, the owner’s husband, is discovered, things start turning ugly. Every artist becomes a suspect, and each of them has their own reason to want the man out of the picture. But who disliked him enough to want him dead? And who stole the fake Mexican artifacts and the sculpture of the goddess Gaia? Gallery owner Barbara Atwell is devastated at her young husband’s death, and turns to her friends, Adrian and Rocco, for support. An unseasonable Arizona heat wave keeps everyone’s nerves on edge as Police Detective Maggie Reardon juggles a disastrous personal life while trying to solve the crime. She even finds herself attracted to one of the suspects as she sifts through a long list of colorful, Bohemian characters to determine who had the ultimate motive for murder. But when she’s viciously attacked in her own home, she begins wondering whether she’ll survive long enough to find the culprit. The first of a great series of detective novels set in the sizzling Southwest!

Reviews on Amazon:

1) This is Lonni Lees’ third book and her second novel. I’ve had the pleasure of reading them all as well as her online and print stories, but I have to say this one is my flat-out favorite. Lonni lives in Tucson and writes her descriptions of the area and its harsh beauty, plants and weather with a sure hand. And the best thing about that is her exercise of self control, showing us that the right amount of atmosphere is just enough, leaving her room to draw the character of Detective Maggie Reardon in detail–flaws and strengths alike, just as in all human beings. Maggie is no superhero hard-boiled dudette in sexy clothes, but a smart, interesting woman whom we end up caring a great deal about. In fact all the characters in this book are well described and believable, even if some of them are a bit weird. But then, who are artists and gallery hangers-on if not umm, “unique” individuals? Its a great milieu for a mystery and Lonni keeps us guessing all the way.

It’s great to see a new writer getting this much better with each outing, and word is that Lonni has another of Detective Reardon’s adventures in the pipeline. I’ll be waiting!

2) “The Mosaic Murder” is a captivating murder mystery novel that left me guessing until the very end. A man is found murdered in a Tucson art gallery, and the list of suspects is long. Detective Maggie Reardon is on the case; she is portrayed as the no nonsense loner cop who doesn’t take crap from anybody, least of all her ex-boyfriend! Her character is witty, sarcastic, and easy to relate to on many levels which makes her even more likeable. As she investigates the case, one particular suspect catches her eye in an unexpected way and leaves you rooting for them by the end of the story.

The story is written so descriptively that it’s easy to envision each character and how their personal stories unfold in the hot desert sun. When the temperature rises in Tucson and time grows short on the investigation, there is only one murder suspect left for Maggie to bring to justice. Fantastically written with a twist! Great job.

The Corpse in the Cactus (Amazon)(Barnes & Noble) This is a sequel to “Mosaic Murder.”

Corpse in the cactus awardSynopsis: Detective Maggie Reardon is back, in the sizzling sequel to The Mosaic Murder!

The murder that Detective Maggie Reardon just solved at a local Tucson art gallery has already created repercussions, complicating her life both legally and personally. Her new lover dropped to second place when a new man entered the picture. A dead man whose body had been found at The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum lying under a bed of cactus. What at first appeared to be a tragic accident was quickly starting to smell like murder.

And dead things always smelled worse under the hot Arizona sun.

Losing wasn’t her game, but she’s been dealt a nameless victim with no witnesses, no suspect, and no apparent cause of death. As the evidence unfolds, Detective Reardon battles a hostile fellow cop, determined to see her lose her badge.

The mixture adds up to a scorching southwest recipe guaranteed to sear your taste buds — but leave you begging for more!

Reviews on Amazon:

1) For this reader one of the great pleasures of reading P. I. or Police Procedural novels in series is the opportunity to move along with a good writer as she develops the character of her protagonist and those close to that person. That’s why I was so glad to see that up-and-comer Lonni Lees has continued to flesh out the intriguing character from 2012’s “The Mosaic Murder”–Detective Maggie Reardon of the Tucson P.D. And this book is even more compelling than the first book in the series, because as Ms. Lees has deepened our attraction to a believable and likeable cop with a heart, she now provides Det. Reardon with a lightly drawn but troubling back story that promises a more complex psyche than is at first apparent. Something powerful happened to Maggie to form her toughened vulnerability somewhere along the line and I want to know what it was!

Lees has also pared down and sharpened her mystery this time, making it more puzzling–and ultimately more satisfying– than most of the tired tropes and standard plots we have to plow through while looking for a gem like this. This time we also have a few dark and somehow interconnected weirdos inhabiting a sort of parallel world in the darker corners of Tucson. Ms Lees brings to this underground some of the ways with horror stories that she displayed in earlier books like 2011’s “Deranged” and in some of the short stories she’s published online in magazines like Yellow Mama (where she also does illustration work) to add to the mystery in front of us.

There’s a bit of Jim Thompson here, some Stephen King too, but much more Lonni Lees than anyone else.

When I got my copy from Amazon I was going to crack it and see where it would go in my book pile; on the table in my workroom or the nightstand next to the bed. I ended up in a comfy chair in the living room pleasurably ingesting the first three chapters before I had to get back to the real world. I finished the book in short order though, and it was a joy to read, reading in bed as a cap to my day. I like shorter books that get to the story right away, that don’t try to trick you or make you read lots of detail–books that fit Elmore Leonard’s parameters in his Ten Rules of Writing (Google it!)

This one is a good example of that kind of storytelling. I highly recommend it.

2) Police Detective Maggie Reardon is alone again. Just when she thought she might have found Mr. Right her captain called her in and put the kibosh on the whole kit-and-caboodle. Rocco was, after all, a witness in the murder of the proprietor of the Mosaic Gallery, the case that she just solved.

Sure, she has blown her chance at romance, but Reardon was delighted to find out that Rocco was willing to place a hiatus on their budding romance until the case went to trial. Buoyed with the notion that someone was willing to wait for her she set out on the next grisly discovery, the body of a man found discovered in the javelina pit at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

Always determined to send waves through the department, the newly minted female detective in the Tucson Police Department challenged the findings of the senior officer on duty, who wrote off the body as an accidental fall. When her leads show they had a victim with no identification, multiple state tag numbers in his trunk and no witnesses, she has her work cut out for her.

By the time she puts together the unidentified body with an apparent runaway, skulking in a cheap south-side motel, she is able to help solve not just a missing persons case but prove the cold-blooded killing of the corpse in the cactus.

Lees’ fact-filled little novellas, featuring Detective Maggie Reardon, are fast becoming a favorite read of mystery fans in the Old Pueblo she features, Tucson, Arizona.

Deranged, a novel of horror (Amazon)(Barnes & Noble) -Lonni’s first novel

Deranged cover awardSynopsis: Just an ordinary-looking man, Charlie Blackhawk is really a monster inside–a cold-blooded killer who likes to use a knife. When his path crosses that of Meg Stinson and her 12-year-old daughter, Sabrina, their lives are changed forever. What’s the connection between the Stinsons and a girl named Amy? Do Amy’s nightmares hold the key to Sabrina’s survival? A chilling, thrilling exercise in unrelenting horror and suspense. “A harrowing ride, mixing crime with horror, horror with crime, in a way you won’t soon forget.”

Reviews on Amazon:

1) This is the first novel by Ms. Lees but I expect there will be many more. An imagination this active will surely not be contained within the pages of just one book! Perfectly titled, Deranged is a nerve wracking descent into the mind of a unique madman as he pursues some ordinary people for reasons that–well, you need to read it to fully comprehend, and perhaps you may never be able to. I’ve read Lonni Lees’s stories before, and whenever I see her name on a magazine I know I’m in for a well-crafted adventure to the dark side. I was very happy to find that she is expanding her reach to the longer stuff. If you like psycho-horror, you’re going to LOVE this book!

2) Deranged is a thrilling and horrifying tale of a twisted madman named Charlie, a beautiful young girl named Sabrina and the strange dreams that haunt a frail child named Amy. Their journey through this story is captivating, I couldn’t put the book down! Each scene is described so well, it literally transports you into the action like you’re watching a movie. I really enjoyed the way Ms. Lees pulls you into the story and makes you realize that it’s not a black and white world out there; there are many shades of gray, and Charlie lives in one of them. Watch out! Can’t wait for her next book, I’m sure it will be as exciting as this one.

3) This was a great read. Highly recommended. This book has a great plot, well developed characters, catches your interest right away, a compelling psycho-thriller. I hope to see more novels from Ms. Lees in the future.

There are 10 more reviews.

Crawlspace and other dark stories is an anthology of noir-style short stories (Amazon)(Barnes & Noble)

Crawlspace coverSynopsis: Crawlspace is an exquisite collection of stories in the noir style. Each shows a slice of life and each ends with an unexpected twist. The stories get you into the head of each protagonist whether sympathetic or contemptible. Each story is very entertaining and you will want to read them again.

This story originally appeared in the Arizona Daily Independent.

New Book – The Corpse in the Cactus

Corpse in the Cactus cover proofThis article is a book promotion for a new murder mystery by Lonni Lees, my wife. The book is titled The Corpse in the Cactus.

Synopsis:

Tucson police detective Maggie Reardon is back, in the sizzling sequel to The Mosaic Murder!

The murder that Detective Maggie Reardon just solved at a local Tucson art gallery has already created repercussions, complicating her life both legally and personally. Her new lover dropped to second place when a new man entered the picture. A dead man whose body had been found at The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum lying under a bed of cactus. What at first appeared to be a tragic accident was quickly starting to smell like murder.

And dead things always smelled worse under the hot Arizona sun.

Losing wasn’t her game, but she’s been dealt a nameless victim with no witnesses, no suspect, and no apparent cause of death. As the evidence unfolds, Detective Reardon battles a hostile fellow cop, determined to see her lose her badge.

The mixture adds up to a scorching southwestern recipe guaranteed to sear your taste buds — but leave you begging for more!

The Corpse in the Cactus is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Independent Review

By Terry Butler on March 23, 2015
For this reader one of the great pleasures of reading P. I. or Police Procedural novels in series is the opportunity to move along with a good writer as she develops the character of her protagonist and those close to that person. That’s why I was so glad to see that up-and-comer Lonni Lees has continued to flesh out the intriguing character from 2012’s “The Mosaic Murder”–Detective Maggie Reardon of the Tucson P.D.
And this book is even more compelling than the first book in the series, because as Ms. Lees has deepened our attraction to a believable and likeable cop with a heart, she now provides Det. Reardon with a lightly drawn but troubling back story that promises a more complex psyche than is at first apparent. Something powerful happened to Maggie to form her toughened vulnerability somewhere along the line and I want to know what it was!
Lees has also pared down and sharpened her mystery this time, making it more puzzling–and ultimately more satisfying– than most of the tired tropes and standard plots we have to plow through while looking for a gem like this. This time we also have a few dark and somehow interconnected weirdos inhabiting a sort of parallel world in the darker corners of Tucson. Ms Lees brings to this underground some of the ways with horror stories that she displayed in earlier books like 2011’s “Deranged” and in some of the short stories she’s published online in magazines like Yellow Mama (where she also does illustration work) to add to the mystery in front of us.
There’s a bit of Jim Thompson here, some Stephen King too, but much more Lonni Lees than anyone else
When I got my copy from Amazon I was going to crack it and see where it would go in my book pile; on the table in my workroom or the nightstand next to the bed. I ended up in a comfy chair in the living room pleasurably ingesting the first three chapters before I had to get back to the real world. I finished the book in short order though, and it was a joy to read, reading in bed as a cap to my day. I like shorter books that get to the story right away, that don’t try to trick you or make you read lots of detail–books that fit Elmore Leonard’s parameters in his Ten Rules of Writing (Google it!)
This one is a good example of that kind of storytelling. I highly recommend it.

And check out Lonni’s other books as well as those of her sister Arlette Lees, a talented author and painter in her own right.

Besides The Mosaic Murder, linked above, Lonni’s first novel, Deranged, is about a serial killer who meets his match. This book won a first place award from PSWA a professional association of writers, forensic experts, police and firefighters. Lonni also has an anthology of her noir-style short stories in the book called Crawlspace. One of the stories in this collection, The Blue-eyed Bandit, also won an award from PSWA.

Lonni’s story “The Confessor” online at Shotgun Honey won First Place as well as Grand Prize from PSWA. Take a look at The Confessor for a short taste of noir.

If you are a fan of murder mysteries, give both The Mosaic Murder and The Corpse in the Cactus a try. If you like sheer horror and suspense, try Deranged.

Book Review: The Anthropocene: The Human Era and How It Shapes Our Planet

Anthropocene coverIn this book, author Christian Schwägerl claims that humans are irreversibly changing Earth’s biological, chemical, and geologic processes in a way that may threaten our existence. He is, however, hopeful that human intelligence and technology will forestall an apocalypse.

The term “Anthropocene” was proposed as a new geologic epoch by atmospheric chemist Paul J. Crutzen in 2000. The idea has been much debated. This book attempts to justify Crutzen’s declaration.

Schwägerl cites the following reasons in justification: Population growth, increased human living space requirements, energy consumption and its consequences on climate, and, he contends, we are changing the future course of evolution, i.e. we are running populations of many plant and animal species down to the point of extinction.” (Didn’t a few ice ages and comets do that?) He also worries that “humans are beginning to create new life-forms through interbreeding, gene technology and more recently, biotechnical design.”

While some or all of the above may be true, these reasons do not fit the geologic definition of a new time division. Geologic time divisions require some global stratigraphic evidence in rock strata that can be preserved for millions of years. As Doug L. Hoffman explains:

“Named stratigraphic or geological time periods are identified by changes in the rock record. Within the rock of Earth’s crust is recorded the comings and goings of all the life forms to inhabit this planet. Major changes in climate, often associated with mass extinction events, can also be captured by Earth’s strata. Even events of cosmic origin, such as major asteroid impacts, can create a marker in stone.”

By that definition, designation of the “Anthropocene” as a new time division is premature at best.

Parts of Schwägerl’s book are very interesting, other parts are tedious.

In chapter 1, Schwägerl provides an excellent recount of the history of life on Earth with some scientific and political history and many anecdotes (including AZ biospherians) thrown in. His point: Each problem with living in an artificial ecosystem symbolizes the present situation of humanity. In the “Anthropocene,” the earth itself becomes one giant biospheric experiment, but without any emergency exits or windows to let in additional air.

In chapter 5, titled “Apocalypse No” Schwägerl scolds environmentalists about their Man versus environment stance:

“But the Apocalypse gurus seeking attention and making money by frightening people are mistaken. In all probability, the earth will not be destroyed in the foreseeable geological future, at least not in an apocalyptic sense. This means that we humans of today and our descendants will have to live with the long-term consequences of our present actions, good and bad. Even if climate change turns out to be worse than scientists at the IPCC fear, it will not lead to the end of the world or the collapse of civilization.”

Indeed, the Earth is resilient and will survive humans. Some speculation on this matter was presented in a very interesting book: “The World Without Us” by Alan Weisman which shows how, if humans suddenly disappeared, Earth would reclaim the environment.

Overall, the book seems to be a mixture of geological history, environmental documentation, and neo-malthusian alarmism. The later chapters include the tired message that humans must reduce their use of fossil fuels and generally their footprint on the planet, all of which makes for some tedious reading.

As for the main contention that humans have become a geologic force, I refer to Will Durant who wrote: “Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice.”

In the end, I do not recommend this rather expensive book published by Synergetic Press. But if you want to read it, it is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Related review:

On Gaia, A Critical Investigation of the Relationship between Life and Earth by Toby Tyrrell

 

Book Review – Philosophy, an Illustrated History of Thought

Philosophy coverIn this large format book (9.5″x11″) author Tom Jackson distills the essence of thought from great philosophers as they consider the “Ponderables” of life. The book contains 100 chapters of one-half to two pages each in a chronological exploration of philosophy. The book includes a separate, 24-page chart illustrating the history of thought (see first page of the chart at the end of this review below). This is a good reference work that allows you to get to the crux of the matter quickly.

 

 

The book covers all the classical philosophers who asked questions such as:

What is real? Leads us to Metaphysics: The Study of Existence

What can be known? Leads us to Epistemology: The Study of Knowledge

What should I do? Leads us to Ethics: The Study of Action

What is allowed and disallowed? Leads us to Politics: The Study of Society

What can life be like? Leads us to Aesthetics: The Study of Art

The book also explores some more-modern and unusual questions, some not usually included in works on the history of philosophy.

Chapter 45 examines “Feminism”.

Chapter 51 examines “Evolution by Natural Selection.”

Chapter 64 is “Schrodinger’s Cat” wherein a physicist creates a thought experiment to study a paradox on quantum theory.

Chapter 80 examines “Many Worlds Theory” how every effect has a cause.

Chapter 95 examines the “Gaia hypothesis – is it religion or science?”

Chapter 98 is titled “Philosophical Zombies” which examines perceptions.

Beyond the 100 chapters, the book gives a short definition of the various schools of philosophy. This book is entertaining and informative. I shall refer to it often.

I have enjoyed and reviewed two other books in Jackson’s “Ponderables” series:

The Elements, an Illustrated History of the Periodic Table

Physics, an Illustrated History of the Foundations of Science

Two other books in the series (which I have not read) are:

Mathematics, An Illustrated History of Numbers.

The Universe, An Illustrated History of Astronomy

Tom Jackson, is a science writer with over 80 books to his credit. He studied zoology at the University of Bristol, U.K. where he resides.

Philosophy is published by Shelter Harbor Press, New York. The book is available from Amazon and from Barnes & Noble.

Philosophy foldout

Book Review: Amazon Burning by Victoria Griffith

Amazon Buring coverThis is a debut novel by Victoria Griffith. I look forward to other novels by this author.

Synopsis from the publisher:

When 22-year-old aspiring journalist, Emma Cohen, is forced to flee the comforts of her NYU student life, she maneuvers an internship from her father at his newspaper in Rio de Janeiro. There, Emma is immediately swept into a major news story–and a life-threatening situation–when a famous jungle environmentalist, Milton Silva, is mysteriously murdered.

Emma must now enter the Amazon rainforest with her father to investigate; both awed by the enormity and beauty of the Amazon, and appalled by its reckless destruction. Not only will Emma have to brave the primal world of the Amazon, she must fight to survive the kidnappers, villains, corrupt activists, and indigenous tribes that lay in wait along the ever-twisting trail of the murder case. Stretched to the brink, it’s up to Emma, her father and the dreamy news photographer, Jimmy, to unravel the mystery and live to tell the tale.

I read the whole book in one day, that’s how interesting it was. Amazon Burning is a compelling, entertaining story. The plot line is solid and the main characters are well-developed. And, as for who killed Milton Silva, there is an ironic twist at the end, reminiscent of a good noir-style story. Griffith did a good job spinning her tale.

The book is being promoted as a “Young Adult” suspense story. I was not familiar with that terminology, but it worked for me and I’m only 70 years young.

I looked up the term “Young Adult Fiction” on Wikipedia and was surprised to find this genre is nothing new. It includes such works as The Swiss Family Robinson (1812), Oliver Twist (1838), The Count of Monte Cristo (1844), Great Expectations (1860), Alice in Wonderland (1865), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), The Catcher in the Rye (1951, has it really been that long ago?); and Lord of the Flies (1954).

The book is available at Amazon, no pun intended.