Stop That Complaining

It’s that busy time of the year. Last week, on Black Friday, I decided to forgo the usual weekly blog. No, I didn’t spend the day shopping (“oh, the horror! the horror!”). I spent the post-turkey time relaxing. I don’t do that very often. Relaxation has never been a natural state for me. But I like to give it a try every now and then. It feels weird at first, but then I pick up a book, zone out, and I’m okay with it.

However, in the midst of my reverie, what should arrive from Fed-Ex but boxes filled with our new title, Marilyn K./The House Next Door by Lionel White. Naturally, I felt obliged to start getting them ready to ship out. Then, on Monday, more boxes arrived, this time filled with our new Black Gat book, Only the Wicked by Gary Phillips. Naturally, I had to get those orders out as well.

And after I got all those books boxed up and off to the post office and UPS….just as I was ready to kick back again… I received a plethora of orders from the Baker & Taylor warehouses, one of which wanted one copy each of almost every book in stock. Yowza.

I only mention this because right before Thanksgiving I had emailed a fellow bookseller, bemoaning the fact that November orders were way down. Which they were. But December has started with a bang, so I’m officially going to stop complaining.

In fact, today Booklist sent me a new review of Gil Brewer’s The Erotics/Gun the Dame Down/Angry Arnold which concludes with these words: “Plenty of writers wrote better, but Brewer’s fever-dream Florida always makes an unforgettable detour.” Reviewer Keir Graff suggests that our collection offers “a more complete picture of an author who never really fit in,” and his enthusiasm for Brewer is obvious. Love these Booklist reviews.

Last month they reviewed our Lionel White two-fer with these words: “The two tales in this double-decker come at us from a time—1960 and 1956, respectively—when crime novels were shorter and more focused than now. No padding, no sagging middle, everything pointing to the grim finale… The ending is as surprising as it is satisfactory.” We couldn’t agree more.

And a week ago we finally got word of a late October review in Publishers Weekly for Fell the Angels by Catherine Butzen. The reviewer said: “Butzen keeps the action moving quickly, with plenty of fights distracting Abby and John from their search for the killer, but also tosses in some delightfully grim humor.” Thank you, PW.

So, not only am I going to stop complaining, but I’m going to be officially thankful for all the great reviews and the book orders, and all the continued support we get from the Stark House Crime Club members as well. It’s turning out to be a pretty good end of the year after all. Now, if we could only get a little peace in the real world….

—Greg Shepard

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