Welcome to On the Prowl.
This wolf has a lot to howl about this month. A new book release. Season 2 of our podcast drops. And it’s not 2020 anymore. To entertain you, I have a deep dive into something you touch about 10 times a day, a little word play, and ways to keep your mind sharp.
The Full Wolf Moon rises on Thursday, January 28. According to our favorite source, The Farmers Almanac, January’s moon was named after the wolf because so many were heard on those crisp, cold nights. People used to think the wolves howled because they were hungry (said the hungry people trying not to think about food). Scientists now know that wolves howl for many reasons including communications, finding pack members, and marking territory. My wolffs howl whenever I sing “their music” or make really awesome mom jokes.
Silver Dagger is organizing a book tour for my new release, Suicide Squeeze. Bloggers interested in joining in, click on the image to go to the signup page or email me at tina at tgwolff dot com.
Old School Hardware
For The Thinking Man, the first story in this season of Mysteries to Die For, I went down the rabbit hole of 19th Century windows and doors. You would think I would need to study topics more in line with 19th Century medical practices or policing technologies, but no. One of the compelling things about mysteries is that they are set in ordinary places, in ordinary times. And, of course, times do change and so there are times, such as this one, where a little due diligence into our past is necessary.
The Thinking Man is an adaptation of the Poe classic The Murders in the Rue Morgue. At its essence, the story is one of dead body inside a room with the windows and doors locked from the inside. The mystery comes from the idea that the door couldn’t have been locked from the inside if said people inside were dead.
In our modern world, the fact of a body inside a locked room may not create a mystery. Now, many doors lock automatically when they close regardless of who went out it- killer, the mailman, a toddler. Our door at my office locks automatically and, yes, I’ve locked myself out a time or three. But, in the 1800s, this auto locking technology hadn’t been invented. Door latches ranged from simple levers to the first “rim lock” style. Architectural Observer has two blogs on the topic. Part 1 is 1800-1850. Part 2 is 1850-1900. Both have several pictures of different door latches from 1800s houses here in the States. While the latches could be highly ornate and decorative, they were still simple. Doors locked with a key. If the people inside locked the door, they had to have had a hand on the key to do it. And so, were alive at the time the door was locked.
Window technology has changed, too, with the lifting and locking mechanisms advancing. In the 1800s, the frames windows sat in had pulley wheels at the top. On both side of the window, chain or rope was fastened that went over the pulley and was connected to a counterweight that was concealed within the frame. With weight of the window balanced, the counterweights made the windows easy to slide up and down. These window systems are still around in older homes. We had these in our old house in Cleveland, which was built in 1920. They were very easy to open, from the inside or the outside, and did little to keep out winter. To prevent people who were, literally, on the outside from opening them, thick pins slid into the frame and prevented the window from lifting. With the pins in place, the window would break or the frame shatter before that pin would give way. And so, again, we have the mystery of a pin having to be inserted by a living person on the inside of the window.
Now you are ready to dive into The Murders in the Rue Morgue or listen to my adaptation, The Thinking Man.
DEAD OF WINTER
Keep your mind warm and nimble
make up words short and simple
or long and hard if that’s your way
to add more fun into your day
If my rhyme didn’t do it for you, here it is in prose: make as many words as you can out of the letters in DEAD OF WINTER
Mysteries to Die For. Season 2: The Originators
Mysteries to Die For combines storytelling and original music to put you in the heart of murder, mystery, and mayhem. This season features adaptations of some of the first stories to be considered mysteries. Episodes begin dropping Friday, February 5.
S2 E1 The Thinking Man Drops Friday 2/5/2021
Two women living a peaceful life. Two women spending an evening in their third floor flat. Two women dead. The doors are locked from the inside, the windows are closed. One man knows who the killer is and how he got in. The thinking man.
An adaptation of The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe
S2 E2 Desperate Times Drops Friday 2/19/21
Everyone liked George. So the story went. The evidence was to the contrary. The bank vault was open, the money was stolen, and George was dead. The authorities come up empty and a reward didn’t help. Those were desperate times.
An adaptation of The Somnambulist and the Detective by Allan Pinkerton
Releasing February 5
Diamond is back in her second
Secrets are like dead men, best kept cold and buried
Diamond. One name for a woman with one purpose. Or she was, until she finished her to-do list. Now she’s just a woman ready to be over with it all.
Hanna Lang is the kind of woman men write bad checks for. She has a problem. Her man, Dr. Damon Marten, disappeared in the middle of an ordinary day. The police aren’t concerned but Hanna knows better. A clandestine meeting leaves her with an address, a sealed envelope, and one last hope. An hour later, she rings a doorbell.
Before Diamond was a widow, she was CIA agent with skills illegal in a dozen countries. When her marker is called in, she has no choice but to listen. It’s just like fate throw her a curve ball, sending her the one problem she can’t walk away from. Hanna’s situation is virtually identical to her own with one exception: Hanna’s man might still be alive.
Diamond reluctantly takes the case. She dives into the mystery, surfacing in the middle of a scavenger hunt for a secret known as Poe’s Raven. It takes Diamond’s flair for the impossible to capture this bird, only to discover what’s in her hand has the potential to take terrorism to a chilling new level. And fate isn’t done with Diamond, forcing her to put it all on the line or risk setting the caged bird free.
The Great Filling Station Hold Up Edited by Josh Pachter Available Feb 22
Jimmy Buffett is one of the great contemporary singer/songwriters, and it’s hard to imagine a citizen of Planet Earth unfamiliar with such classic hits as “Margaritaville.” Jimmy has also written novels, children’s books, memoirs, and a stage musical based on Herman Wouk’s Don’t Stop the Carnival, and his family-friendly concerts almost always sell out to audiences comprised of a mix of dedicated Parrotheads, casual fans, and newbies.
In The Great Filling Station Holdup, editor Josh Pachter presents sixteen short crime stories by sixteen popular and up-and-coming crime writers, each story based on a song from one of the twenty-eight studio albums Jimmy has released over the last half century, from Leigh Lundin’s take on “Truckstop Salvation” (which appeared on Jimmy’s first LP, 1970’s Down to Earth) to M.E. Browning’s interpretation of “Einstein Was a Surfer” (from Jimmy’s most recent recording, 2013’s Songs from St. Somewhere).
If you love Jimmy’s music or crime fiction or both, you’ll love The Great Filling Station Holdup. Mix yourself a boat drink, ask Alexa to put on a buffet of Buffett tunes, kick back, and enjoy!
Look out for the Next Edition of
On the Prowl
February 27 in the silence of a winter night, the Snow Moon will be high overhead.