Saturday, December 31, 2011

Book Review: “The Lake” by Banana Yoshimoto

The Lake
In The Lake,as in a number of her novels, Banana Yoshimoto takes as a theme the power of family, and of loss to effect the lives of her characters. Here, the characters are Chihiro, a daughter of a non traditional family – a “mama-san” and owner of a rural/small town club, and a father who is “A person of local import” who is not married to her mother.Chihiro feels distanced from her father, as if he only really existed for her mother and she finds him ridiculous because of his airs as a big fish in a small pond. Chihiro has gone to school for a small degree in design and makes her living painting murals, or as she puts it, little more than a sign painter. Chihiro has just gone through a period of her life where she has cared for her mother during a terminal illness. After her mothers death, she leaves her small town behind to make her way in Tokyo.
In Tokyo, Chihiro has an anonymous life. Lovers for entertainment, but not love. Acquaintances, but no real friends. She specializes in painting murals on buildings and in neighborhood which are marked for destruction due to urban renewal. Still haunted by the passing of her mother, she is both anchorless and directionless. But across the courtyard of her apartment building she starts noticing Nakajima and he becomes her anchor, her friend, before they ever do more than wave to each other across the courtyard.
At first, Chihiro and Nakajima speak as they pass in the elevator, and eventually Nakajima starts coming to Chihiro’s apartment for meals and they meet for coffee. Chihiro is drawn to Nakajima and doesn’t understand why. He is painfully thin and has a stooped posture, in other words, he isn’t ‘sexy’. But he is intelligent and she learns that he is studying for a doctorate in research, specializing in DNA and genetics. Chihiro also finds him odd because he isn’t pushy sexually, and she slowly learns that sex is difficult for him , even emotionally painful. He hints at a traumatic event in his past that explains his lack of a sex drive, and also nightmares that he suffers.
As the two become more than friends, Chihiro comes to value the relationship, even though it lacks sex. In short, their relationship becomes one of love without the traditional trappings of a romance. As the trust builds, Nakajima asks Chihiro to accompany him to The Lake of the title, where friends of his, apparently tied to Nakajima’s tragic past, live.
The journey to the lake reveals some “nearly-mystical” and mysterious emotions and scenes. There, Chihiro is introduced to Mino and Chii, a brother and sister who make their living as seers. The sister is bed-ridden and is hardly ever conscious in the typical fashion. Her brother speaks for her, in her voice, which she sends to him telepathically. Chihiro also becomes fond of the tea served by the pair. Mino tells her that it’s properties must come from the local waters of the lake.
This visit serves to bind Chihiro even more to Nakajima, but upon returning to Tokyo, she begins to worry that their intellects and Nakajima’s goals will drive them apart. Nakajima wishes upon completing his doctorate to go to France, and Chihiro sees herself as a simple “sign painter” with lower ambitions and even unable to meet Nakajima’s ambitions on the same level. However, from this point she starts to take her art seriously, and dream of becoming a serious artist.
At just over 200 pages, the story is still very involved and beautifully paced in revealing not only the obvious plot, but in the emotions and personal psyche of the main characters. At times the dialog seems overly juvenile, but it becomes clear that the author is speaking in the voice of two young people and that voice is very realistic.
On one level, the story is about unconventional people in a conventional relationship to outward appearances. Yoshimoto’s works are often trivialized by readers that won’t look below the surface and see the “fable” of her stories. There is Nakajima, consumed by genius and deeply marked by not only the loss of his mother, but by trauma, real or imagined. And there is Chihiro, a seemingly shallow drifter in her goals and her personal life, yet able to find love and inspiration where others would not look. She even practices her art in a transitory place – buildings that will soon be destroyed – because she sees a lack of importance or permanence to modern life. It’s also telling the moral that no matter how cold and callus the modern world is, we can find places and things that make it worth living.
The Lake is a marvelously modern tale with the message that when the mystery of a lovers behavior and actions is revealed, the rules of your lives together change as well. But there IS something in the water….read on to find out.
The Dirty Lowdown
Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved
  Article first published as Book Review: The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto on Blogcritics.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Perfect Assassin by Ward Larsen - Only Only 99¢ for Kindle!

Did you get a Kindle or other eReader for Christmas? Then check out this great title.

Oceanview Publishing is offering

The Perfect Assassin by Ward Larsen

for Kindle eBook

Only 99¢

for a limited time!

Click the image to purchase!

If you haven't read Ward Larsen, now is a great opportunity!


In the middle of the Atlantic, Christine makes an incredible discovery - a man narrowly clinging to his life in the frigid waters. With only minutes left to survive in the icy temperatures, the man barely escapes death as he is rescued by Christine. But there is more to this unlikely survivor than meets the eye. Much more.

David Slaton is a Kidon - a highly-trained, highly-precise, and highly-dangerous Israeli assassin. Christine's world begins to capsize: she quickly goes from rescuer to the one in need of rescue as the Kidon hijacks her boat to England.

Peril on the high seas ensues as Christine is forced into an unlikely and tenuous partnership with the Kidon. But in this world, things are not as they seem; David Slaton is both the hunter and the hunted, and he and Christine are in grave danger. Targeted by a ruthless, sinister and lethal organization, the two are forced to run from unrelenting terrorists, the police and their governments.

But there is even more at stake: a mysterious ship and its dangerous and deadly cargo have disappeared without a trace. Accidental deaths appear not to have been accidents at all. The Kidon knows too much about a sinister terrorist cell planning to bring the world to its knees. Will the Kidon win in this race against time?

With the precision of a sharpshooter, author Ward Larsen weaves an intricate tale of espionage and intrigue. The Perfect Assassin is full of high-octane action that will leave readers breathless until the final, shocking line. Ward Larsen writes with uncanny dexterity, able to seamlessly fuse pulse-racing action, and shocking revelations with a very real cast of characters.


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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Audio Fidelity to Reissue Crosby, Stills & Nash and Gary Wright Classics in Gold CD format


Gary Wright








             Crosby, Stills & Nash                                        The Dream Weaver



Crosby, Stills & Nash's Legendary Debut and Gary Wright's Dream Weaver

Get Deluxe Treatment on New Limited-Edition Discs

If you are an audiophile, or even a casual fan wanting to flesh out your 60s & 70s rock collection with two iconic albums of those eras, these and many other Audio Fidelity remasters are where you want to spend your allowance.

The CS&N debut is a legendary album coming out in May, 1969, just before Woodstock. CS&N were perhaps the first folk rock super group. David Crosby had been the rhythm guitarist and a vocalist with The Byrds, Stephen Stills had been a guitarist and song-writer in the band Buffalo Springfield, and Graham Nash had been a guitarist, vocalist and song-writer with The Hollies, one of the "British Invasion" acts. Known most for their intricate vocal harmonies, and political activism they were also noted for having three fine guitarists as well as three notable song writers.

The album became the record of the summer of '69, garnering saturation airplay on the then-new FM radio format and spawning two Top-30 singles in Graham Nash's "Marrakesh Express" and Stephen Stills' paean to Judy Collins, "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes." By the time the trio performed at the Woodstock Festival three months later,
CROSBY, STILLS & NASH was a Top-10 album on its way to a 107-week stay
on the charts.

How the band came together is a legend in itself. By ‘68, Buffalo Springfield had ceased to exist after one hit, and what a hit it was, “For What It’s Worth”. In late ‘67, David Crosby had been kicked out of the Byrds over creative differences. Crosby and Stills got together and jammed that spring on Crosby’s boat, which would become the subject of the hit “Wooden Ships”.

Graham Nash had been introduced to Crosby when The Byrds had toured the UK in 1966, and when The Hollies ventured to California in 1968, Nash resumed his acquaintance with Crosby. At a party in July 1968 at  Mama Cass Elliot's house, Nash asked Stills and Crosby to repeat their performance of a new song by Stills, “You Don't Have To Cry,” with Nash improvising a second harmony part The vocals jelled, and the three realized that they had a unique vocal chemistry. Nash promptly quit the Hollies, disillusioned with that groups failure to grow.

Oddly enough, the new band failed their first audition with The Beatles, Apple Records, but that legendary Atlantic Records founder, Ahmet Ertegün signed them and the rest is history.

Suite Judy Blue Eyes

Like Crosby, Stills & Nash, keyboardist-singer Gary Wright is often associated with a specific time and cultural place: the mid-1970s, when popular music was frequently experimenting and pushing boundaries and an unconventional track like "Dream Weaver" could ascend to Number 2 on the singles charts.

A childhood actor, Wright went to Europe to study psychology. In 1967, he joined the band Spooky Tooth as singer and keyboardist. During this period, he also befriended George Harrison and was invited to contribute piano to Harrison's All Things Must Pass. After Spooky Tooth split in 1974, Wright continued his solo career, culminating in this album.

Wright not only composed and sings all the songs on THE DREAM WEAVER, he provides the bulk of the instrumentation, playing organ and electric piano, Moog synthesizer and other keyboards on the largely guitar-less album. The title track was issued in January of 1976 and quickly became a hit, to be followed in April by the funk-infused "My Love Is Alive" (which also rose to No.2 on Billboard's song survey).
A third charting single, the more uptempo "Made to Love You," came out that September. THE DREAM WEAVER stayed on the charts for 75 consecutive weeks, and while Wright went on to record more long-players, it remains his biggest seller and among a handful of releases that will forever conjure memories of the mid-'70s for rock aficionados.

“My Love Is Alive”

These Limited Edition and Numbered 24K Gold remasters are outstanding for audio quality. I had long since replaced my original vinyl of both discs with CDs but the Gold Discs out preformed then my a long shot. The sound makes you feel you are sitting in the studio, hearing these songs performed live. They absolutely sparkle.

audio fid

Founded in 2002, Audio Fidelity specializes in deluxe reissues of classic popular-music recordings for the audiophile and collector
markets. The Camarillo, California-based label is best known for its 24-Karat Gold CDs and its 180-gram virgin-vinyl album editions, as well as a line of popular DVD titles. Check out their site for more ear candy. Come on, it’s Christmas and you deserve it. And that, my friends, is the……


The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

Friday, December 23, 2011

CD Review: “Show Me How To Live” by Royal Hunt



Show Me How To Live

Reunited with vocalist DC Cooper, this progressive metal band known for their melodic symphonic presentations release their eleventh studio album, Show Me How To Live available everywhere on November 29th.

Hailing from Denmark, their sound has a pinch of Moody Blues and with keyboardist Andre Andersen driving the sound, as well as writing the bulk of the songs, they are surprisingly accessible to the non metal fan. Andersons voice is one of the best in hard rock. His range and warmth  make it all worth it.

The current line up is André Andersen – keyboards, D.C. Cooper – vocals, Allan Sørensen – drums, Andreas Passmark – bass, and Jonas Larsen – guitars. The songs here are a lush, highly melodic mix and at time beautiful in the vocal harmonies.

“Show Me How To Live” album trailer by Royal Hunt

The tracks included here are “One More Day”; “Another Man Down”; “An Empty Shell”; “Hard Rain's Coming”; “Half Past Loneliness”; “Show Me How To Live”; and “Angel's Gone”.

“Hard Rain’s Coming” is probably my favorite. The vocals soar and the arrangement is stunning. RH1 promo 2011

“Half Past Loneliness” is another favorite, reminding me in the opening bass line of a Genesis tune. Filled with driving guitar and a slow keyboard line over the bridge, the song is custom built for the radio.

The title tune is also another winner, it’s a slower tune and maybe more symphonic in nature, with shredding guitar and high flying synthesizer throughout.

Formed in the early 90s, the two albums that they have released with American singer DC Cooper; are the ones that mostly stood the test of time: “Moving Target” in 1995 and the subsequent concept album “Paradox” in 1997. Now, reunited with Cooper they are ready to make another impression on the hard rock world. Check their website for shows and further works.


The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

Thursday, December 22, 2011

CD Review: “Of Stars And Other Somebodies” by The Silent League

The Silent League

Of Stars and Other Somebodies

Hard to pin a label on, The Silent League write a perform songs that cross, and indeed ignore genres. The instruments may be those usually associated with rock music, but the way they use the instruments and the rhythms and timbre are more often found in classical music while the themes and presentations of the songs are sort of a folk music with orchestration. Billing themselves as a post-rock, chamber pop band, they hail from Brooklyn. The band released their debut album in 2004 titled, The Orchestra, Sadly, Has Refused. It met with critical acclaim, being heralded by The Guardian, The Times Independent, Rolling Stone, and many other music venues as wonderful and as “the great hope” of the music scene.

This is their second release from 2007, being rereleased as a “Special Edition” and including  an alternate version of "Before You Started" (re-thought by Max Lichtenstein of Camphor fame) and remixes by Nitemoves (Com Truise) and Matt Henderson (Fitness Club Fiasco).

“King & Queen” The Silent League

The album is a mix of neo psychedelia, space pop symphonies, synthesizer driven and chamber pop. The remixes work very well, presented with less orchestral pieces and more synth they come of, if not exactly head banger rock, a more pop rock sound.

A more descriptive name for the band might be The Invisible league, as they keep doing a vanishing act. They release a highly praised album, tour to rave reviews and enthusiastic crowds, then disappear. They appear to be an on-again/off-again relationship between a collective of musicians interested only in periodically making records, playing shows, and disappearing again. This may be true as nobody in New York ever seems quite sure whether or not the band still exists. Formed by Justin Russo (then keyboardist for Mercury Rev during the classic Deserter's Songs/All is Dream era) they draw a lot of attention when they grace the music worl with their presence. And  the band’s music is well worth waiting for as it soars with a kind of melancholy genius and a neo-psychedelic wonderment. It’s stunningly fresh, and a thing of musical beauty. You just wish they wouldn’t wait so long between albums.

Released on Dec 6th, just in time for Christmas, you can get the album and select tunes from iTunes, or download it from Amazon by following the links above.


The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

CD Review: “Blues At The Border” by James Armstrong


James Armstrong

Blues At The Border

‘The Ambassador Of The Blues’

He’s got a voice that drips soul. He’s got a raunchy slide guitar that  can make a old man swivel his hips. He’s got gritty delivery that’ll rock your socks and he’s got Blues At The Border. His first album in eleven years happened when he teamed up with bassist extraordinaire and producer par excellence Bob Trenchard and Catfood Records.

The result is one of the nicest recorded pieces of Blues/R&B you’ll hear this year. With two WC Handy Awards nominations under his belt and years of working with artists such as Albert Collins, Keb Mo', Coco Montoya, Roy Brown,Joe Louis Walker, Chaka Khan, Ricky Lee Jones, Peter Tork, Jan & Dean, Mitch Mitchell and Tommy Castro, James can bring it with the best. James skill has not escaped the notice of filmmaker either. Several of his songs have been chosen for movie soundtracks. “Bank of Love” was used in Hear No Evil, with Martin Sheen and Marlie Matlin. “Two Sides to Every Story” is featured in Speechles with Micheal Keaton and Geena Davis also in The Florentine with Jeremy Davies and Luke Perry.

Jposter_1250953393What Armstrong has managed to put together here is a collection of 21st century blues, proving that the genre is evolving, and reports of its demise are highly exaggerated. He’ll alternately seduce you, energize you and make you smile with his music. From the opening tune, “Everything Good To Ya”, his sense of humor and his unfailing instinct as a musician are apparent. Soaked in the ‘feeling’ of the great rock/blues albums of the mid ‘60s, and with tasty organ work (George Papageorge) the song is a warning about life in the new century. A good deal of the album deals with ‘modern’ problems.

Witness the title track, Blues At The Border which gives a realistic picture of travel after 9/11 as well as a tongue in cheek account of maintaining an international love life. The tune packs some of the tastiest slide guitar work, you’ll be finding your self “sliding over” a few borders your own self. The slide gets fiery and fierce, but always stays very articulate as is his soulful voice. Here’s a sample from James’ 1995 release.

Sleeping With A Stranger

This album is filled with great tunes and contemporary blues that manages to still stay authentic. “High Maintenance Woman” is another favorite showing off more of that greasy groove that has made James a favorite live performer for a long time now and its more evidence of that sense of humor . With a little help by Maddona Hamel, he lays out just how a high maintenance woman can give a man “more troubles than Robert Johnson” and have her “mood swings like Sinatra” but be well worth the effort. James_Armstrong_054a_1289181695

“Young Man with the Blues” is his most autobiographical song to date. It pays tribute to James’ father, a musician himself - Born in Los Angeles, Armstrong’s mother was a blues singer and his father played jazz guitar - who gave James the gift of music, a love of the road and, despite the absence of a mother, a happy childhood. About love and loss, “Young Man with the Blues” is a sad but, not self-pitying song.

“Devil’s Candy” is another where the guitar gets raunchy an slinks its way through the temptations of touring. A medium/slow driving rhythm, backed by a steady beat that leaves all the ‘flirting’ to James and his ax, the “Devil’s Candy” isn’t the only one James shows a good time.

“Devil’s candy”

On tour right now, James is famous for his live shows as he blends virtuosity on the guitar with a showman’s report with an audience. If you have a chance to catch this road warrior and consummate performer, don’t pass it up.

DATE         DAY        CITY                 VENUE & WEBSITE

12-08-11 Thursday   Chicago, IL         Kingston Mines

12-09-11  Friday      Quincy, IL           Club Tavern

12-10-11  Saturday   Betendorf, IA      Muddy Waters

12-23-11   Friday      St. Paul, MN       Wilebski's Blues Saloon

01-07-12   Saturday  Marshall, MI       Franke Center

01-27-12   Thursday  Atlanta, GA       Blind Willies

01-28-12   Friday     Tallahassee, FL   Bradford Blues

01-29-12   Saturday  Montgomery, AL Capital Oyster Bar

02-02-12   Thursday   New York, NY   Terra Blues

02-04-12   Friday      New Hampshire  Elks Lodge

02-06-12   Saturday   Rockland, ME    Timeout Pub

02-09-12   Friday       Minneapolis, MN Famous Dave's

02-11-12   Saturday   Fargo, ND          Fargo Winter Blues Festival

And be sure to check James’ Website for more news and tour dates.


The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter 2012 Jazz Singing Workshop with Nancy King and Mary Kadderly


Winter 2012 Jazz Singing Workshop with

Nancy King and Mary Kadderly


Dates: Mondays - January 30. February 6, 13, 20, and 27.

Time:  7:30-9:30 PM ish 

Location: The first three sessions are at a studio in the Hawthorne area of SE Portland.

The fourth class will be a performance (February 20) at West Cafe ( - 1201 SW Jefferson.

The last class will meet again at the SE studio to discuss the performance and to answer any questions.

Cost:  $275.00 (Special offer: 10% discount to all PDX Jazz members! Present your membership card upon registration)

What:  An emphasis on jazz singing that will include the study of jazz rhythm, improvisation, the blues, proper vocal technique, and jazz jam etiquette. Please bring two songs with the sheet music or chord chart that you'd like to work on.  The workshop is limited to 8. 

How to register:  Please send payment to:

Mary Kadderly, P.O Box 4052, 

Portland, OR 97208. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please e-mail or call 503-222-7310.





Review on The Dirty Lowdown back on Dec 3, we had this to say:

“She has reinstalled the mystery and the truth into these timeless pieces. They drift to the ears as soft as a whisper, and as sharp as a prayer.”

A Gift

Watch A Gift on YouTube



"The rare Christmas record that transcends background music, nostalgia or pure business, this first Christmas album by the jazz pianist Geri Allen is serious and thoughtful."

- Ben Ratliff, New York Times

Motéma Music is proud to announce its collaboration with Media Voices for Children

on a short film titled A Gift. Produced by Media Voices, the project is a new cultural music video set to music from jazz pianist Geri Allen's new Christmas album, A Child Is Born (released on Motéma, October 11). Now available for viewing on YouTube, the filmmakers and Allen present the film as a gift to the public during this holiday season. In return, the public is encouraged to make donations to Media Voices and/or Media Voice's project, Kenyan SchoolHouse (both non-profit initiatives). Donors who donate $100 or more will receive a gift of Allen's album.
Produced by filmmakers Len and Georgia Morris, the film was inspired by the children they encountered while visiting Kenya this past September. As they traveled the length and breadth of Kenya, crisscrossing the country for three weeks, the Morris' handed out 650 lollipops to the children they met along the way.
"Having made documentaries about children's human rights for over a decade, I could see the futures of these impoverished kids. We wanted to touch and change each of their lives, to bring them the food they lack, the educations they'll never have, health, happiness and the security of childhood. Instead, we had to settle for  'How are you?' a smile and a lollipop with a whistle," says Len.
These moments, along with Allen's music, form the heart of the short video. The film and music 'honor' the beautiful spirits of these children of Kenya, the valuable work of Media Voices for Children and the sacred nature of Allen's music. 
"A moment of giving and joy is a precious thing.  it is never trivial. The film demonstrates this in a profound way," states Motéma Music Founder and President Jana Herzen.
"I am moved and grateful to have my music used in this beautiful film with these beautiful children," reflected Allen after viewing the film for the first time.
With her critically acclaimed solo piano project, A Child Is Born, Allen offers her own interpretation of Christmas and the holiday spirit, a collection of traditional and original Christmas music that is profound and exuberant, solemn and joyous, spiritual and intimate. The project is her third release for Motéma Music and honors equally meaningful, but perhaps even more deeply entrenched influences: family and spirituality. Allen refers to the album as "a joyous Christmas celebration and remembrance of a childhood where love was always unconditional."
Len concludes, "How natural, then, to put the Lollipop Project, as we call it, to Christmas music and how fortunate we are to have the artistry of pianist Geri Allen to bring it all together."

Donate to Media Voices and/or Kenyan SchoolHouse (a Media Voices initiative)
Donors who contribute $100 or more
will receive a gift of
A Child is Born

For more information on Media Voices for Children, visit:
For more infromation on Kenyan SchoolHouse, visit:


A Child Is Born's Recognition:

"This well-considered program brilliantly stitches together familiar traditional Christmas and gospel songs...a quietly masterful display of artistic conception." 

- Kirk Silsbee, Los Angeles Times

"Allen has earned her reputation as an innovative pianist, and she deepens it with this genre-bending album." - Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

"Occasionally a jazz CD covers Christmas tunes with intelligence, eschewing the pabulum of the season. Pianist Geri Allen presents such a disc."

- Karl Stark, Philadelphia Inquirer

Geri Allen · A Child Is Born

Motéma Music · Release Date: October 11, 2011

For more information on Geri Allen, please visit

For more information on Motéma Music, please visit

For more information, please contact:

DL Media · 610-667-0501

Jordy Freed ·

34th Annual Kennedy Center Honors Gala To Be Broadcast on CBS Tuesday, Dec. 27, 9-11 PM

34th Annual Kennedy Center Honors Gala
To Be Broadcast on CBS
Tuesday, Dec. 27, 9-11 PM

Honoree Sonny Rollins Celebrated
In Musical Segment Led by Christian McBride
& Also Featuring
Herbie Hancock, Jim Hall, Jack DeJohnette & Others

In Award Presentation at Dec. 3 State Department Dinner,
Rollins Was Toasted by Bill Clinton

December 21, 2011

2011 Kennedy Center HonoreesSonny Rollins and his fellow 2011 Kennedy Center Honorees -- Barbara Cook, Neil Diamond, Yo-Yo Ma, and Meryl Streep -- were celebrated for their dazzling professional accomplishments and artistry on Sunday, Dec. 4 at the annual Honors Gala in Washington, DC. Seated with the President of the United States and Mrs. Obama, the Honorees were saluted in turn by an array of world-class and deeply personal performances. (Photo: John Filo)

The Honors Gala will be broadcast on CBS on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 9:00-11:00 pm (ET/PT). Rollins's segment was introduced by Bill Cosby. Musical director Christian McBride assembled an all-star band consisting of Rollins colleagues (and friends) Jim Hall, Benny Golson, Joe Lovano, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Heath, Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane, Billy Drummond, and Roy Hargrove, who performed in different configurations before coming together for the finale of "St. Thomas."

"It's about jazz music," Rollins said of the award's significance for him. "There are many people much greater than I am that were never honored in their lifetime, before honors like this were given out. I accept the award, but I accept it for the music, not so much for my own accomplishment."

The Kennedy Center Honors medallions were presented on Saturday, Dec. 3, the night before the Gala, at a State Department dinner hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Each Honoree was toasted by a dignitary; Rollins's toast was delivered by former President Bill Clinton, who'd sat at Rollins's right during dinner that night. President Clinton's remarks appear below.

Bill Clinton Toast to Sonny Rollins

State Department Dinner, Kennedy Center Honors 

December 3, 2011

Bill Clinton and Sonny Rollins

Bill Clinton & Sonny Rollins (photo: Terri Hinte)

There are many people in this room who could do this better than me: Jimmy Heath, Joe Lovano, Ravi Coltrane, Jim Hall. But it's appropriate because I'm just a fan. I discovered Sonny Rollins when I was about 15, 16 -- about 50 years ago. I loved jazz, and I fancied that someday I might be good enough to do it. And I bought my first Sonny Rollins LP. I listened and listened, I listened the grooves off of it. I subscribed to Down Beat magazine and I kept thinking: if I read every edition, sooner or later I will find one article that will explain to me what in the hell I just heard.

It was unbelievable, and it still is. Decade after decade after decade, this man explores the far reaches of the possibilities of what has lovingly been called the devil's horn. His music can bend your mind, it can break your heart, and it can make you laugh out loud. Still today after all these years, if I wake up in kind of a bad humor, or I'm worried about something, if I put on Sonny Rollins's version of "Brown Skin Girl," I will laugh out loud.

I have thought so much about his unique gifts. He has done things with improvisation that really no one has ever done. In complexity and creativity, he rivals Coltrane.

On one of the three CDs I listened to to prepare my mind for this, the Road Shows 2 album [that] has a lot of the tracks from his 80th birthday concert at the Beacon Theatre in New York -- I was just aghast at how good he still is. There's a duet which is more of a duel with Ornette Coleman, who probably has the most extreme capacity to go beyond normal chord structures and tonal assumptions of any saxophone player. So Sonny just gets right out there with him.

Then when he plays beautiful music-- Another one of the CDs I listened to today was called Old Flames. I played that one because it's a bunch of love songs that Sonny recorded in my first year as President. One of them, Duke Ellington's beautiful "Prelude to a Kiss," Jimmy Heath arranged and conducted. . . . It's so beautiful.

And then I listened to The Freedom Suite, which he recorded almost 54 years ago, in February of 1958. A propos of what the former speaker said [referring to emcee Renee Fleming's earlier remark: "He'd take a song you'd known all your life and in soaring solos of improvisation strip away the familiar and reveal new universes of wonder"], there are also, at the end of The Freedom Suite, three different takes of "Till There Was You," and they're all different.

This man is a marvel. He was born with a strong body and a brilliant mind and a passion for jazz. He knew when he made jazz his mistress he would never be bored, but he would never conquer. And he decided he would spend his life trying again, every single day.

At 81, he told me tonight, he said "I still practice every day." Every day. I said, "I love that 80th birthday gig at the Beacon." He said, "I wasn't very good."

Some musicians that are really good grace us because they keep playing. Sonny Rollins's great gift to all of us, whether you know a lick about jazz or not, is that he keeps growing. And he still does.

Hadron SupercolliderA few weeks ago, physicists in Switzerland at the superconductor supercollider, the Hadron Supercollider, fired some subatomic particles called neutrinos through the mountains to a magnet in the Italian Alps, and it appeared that they arrived before they left. That is, it's the first known experiment in physics since Einstein propagated his theory of relativity where anything with matter and mass appeared to travel faster than the speed of light.

People who know a lot more about this than I do are still trying to absorb what this means and whether the experiment is accurate. But if it is, it may mean not just that we don't know where we are and what time it is -- something I often feel when I'm in Washington -- it may mean that there is after all a whole fourth dimension to reality.

Long before the scientists fired the neutrinos, Sonny Rollins believed there was another dimension to reality. In jazz music, his Mark VI Selmer tenor with his old Berg-Larsen mouthpiece is our superconducting supercollider. He has given us a gift, and reminded us that whatever hand we're given to play, we're supposed to play it to the very end and keep growing. Thank you, my friend.

Kennedy Center Honors:

Brief video interviews with Sonny Rollins, Christian McBride, Herbie Hancock

Reports on the Gala from DownBeat and JazzTimes

Sonny Rollins Web Site:
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Book Review: “Conversations With Mr. Prain” by Joan Taylor

Conversations With Mr. Prain

Conversations With Mr. Prain

Stella is an expatriate New Zealander, artist, poet, author of short stories and one single novel. She keeps a book stall in Camden Yard, London, where she earns her living selling secondhand books. Stella is a daydreamer, and idealist whose politics are just barely right of Marx. She is a “Green”, a staunch environmentalist. She lives with a handful of like mined young people, all artists, actors, musicians, activists in search of “the truth”. She has moved to London because she sees for herself a career as a great author of important literary works, and New Zealand is just too small to contain her search for that universal truth.

One day, in springtime, a man wanders into her small shop. A man of obvious breeding and a higher social station than the usual collection of Bohemians, hippies, yuppies and punks that usually haunt Camden Market. When Stella looks up from her pricing of books a second time, the man is staring intently at her and holding a book on the early works of Cézanne. Stella is not so much a against capitalism as to pass up a joke about over charging him. Soon, Mr. Prain is showing up every Saturday and they fall into an easy conversation about literature, art exhibits, politics and various other things that passing acquaintances would discuss.

After a few months, Mr. Prain shows up at Stella’s stall one day and she is working on one of her poems. Upon request, Stella shows it to him and Mr. Prain reveals that he is the managing director of Coyman’s, England’s largest independent publishing house. Mr. Prain ask Stella whether she has written other things, at which point she admits her literary aspirations. Mr. Prain asks if he might read her work. The next weekend, she boxes up what she considerers her best efforts and gives them to Prain. After reading them, he asks her around to tea to discuss her writing. Around, being a train trip north, near Oxford, to his his opulent country estate.

Stella is naturally giddy at the prospect of her art reaching the hands of one of the countries most important publishers. She is also dreading the appointment for the same reasons. Does she stack up, or has she been deluding herself. Are Prain’s motives literary or romantic?

At Prain’s mansion, the conversations of the title take place. We hear Prain’s capitalistic approach to publishing, which, profit driven, are also very pragmatic and realistic. We also explore Stella’s motivations as an artist. Her artists confidence and what she might trade for the chance to create and create freely. The two discuss the question, “what is the purpose of art?” “should art be profitable? should it make money and who does it belong to?” It also explores Stella’s psyche and how she views herself as an artist and a women.

The story is erotically charged without being an erotic novel. Shortly after Stella’s arrival, Prain reveals a nude photograph of Stella taken by a famous photographer. Stella has worked as a “life” model for serious painters, photographers and art classes. Prain was drawn to the photo for what it represented to him as the ideal female form. It also has elements of a mystery, without being a mystery. Does Prain’s interest in Stella and his admiration of the photo objectify Stella as a woman, or is he drawn to her romantically and on a personal level because of it? Or, yet more, is she really a writer worth discovering?

Perhaps the most overlooked, but interesting, aspect of the plot and the story is there are really only four characters in the book, outside of the teenage niece and nephew who were Prain’s reason for visiting the book stall in the first place.

Upon arrival at Prain’s estate, Stella meets Monique, Prain’s French housekeeper, who is not all she seems at first glance. The fourth person is Prain’s grumpy gardener. These two characters serve the purpose of revealing aspects of Prain’s personality and history. Since the story is told as a first person narrative, these characters prove necessary, but they are more than just literary devices. Is there a sexual relationship between Prain and Monique? How does Prain react and inter act with the “lower social classes”; the gardener?

The plot is really an exploration of the publishing world, the artistic mind set and motives, the class differences that still exist in England, and a sort of odd ball love story. Or hate story, perhaps. How much of ones soul as a person would they trade for their art?

The plot is intricate. It moves in and out of Stella’s imagination as she congers, in her artists brain, different strategies and motives she might attribute to  Prain. We visit Stella both as an artist and a women and as she explores her own artistic values and personal motives and how those mesh with Prain’s.

First ignored, when published in 2006, by the critics, what Taylor has crafted here is at least a minor classic. Perhaps a major classic. Parallels will be drawn with John Fowles works, particularly “The Magus” but there is nothing of the supernatural here. Nothing of the deep drama with Gothic touches. Instead the story is told much ,more directly, if intricately. Only Stella’s artistic daydreaming and explorations of her own worth makes the novel more than a straight narrative. Taylor writes in an original and engaging way and has a finely crafted plot that is very easy to be absorbed into. It’s very modern while still remaining familiar. She knows her characters well, even though they are extremes on a scale and her use of literary symbolic metaphor is marvelous. This is a work told on many levels, both in its crafting and its subject matter, and a tale that the reader will revisit again and again and find new elements of attractions.

Review copy provided by  NetGalley and Melville House Publishing

Article first published as Book Review: Conversations With Mr. Prain by Joan Taylor on Blogcritics.


The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

CD Review: “Edge–Flute Music From The Periphery Of Europe” by Paul Taub

Paul Taub Edge

Taub makes the Edge an alluring place to explore. A beautiful errie-ness, as the listener takes a musical travelogue through through the works of composers from the different former Soviet republics. It is engaging, experimental, magical, and exotic.

Paul Taub is the pacific Northwest’s premiere flutist and founder of The Seattle Chamber Players. He is often a soloists with the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, the Olympia Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Northwest and the Everett Symphony.

A promoter of ex-Soviet/Russian composers, what Taub has assembled here is pieces from Armenia, Latvia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Russia composed by Artur Amanesov, Peteris Vasks, a new work by Giya Kanchelli – “Ninna Nanna Per Anna”. as well as works by Elmir Mirzoev and Sergie Slonimsky.

Taub is a rake, with a flute for a rapier, that will lull you into a peaceful boat ride down exotic rivers and then, in turn fence with your ears as he thrusts and parry's with the tune and the accompanying musicians.

Paul taub1


  • Mikhail Shmidt, violin
  • Natasha Bazhanov, violin
  • Julie Whitton, viola
  • David Sabee, cello
  • Roger Nelson, piano
  • Matthew Kocmieroski, percussion, Nathan Whittaker, cello, Valerie Muzzolini-Gordon, harp this “new” classical presentation captivating, never boring, always dramatic and totally satisfying.

Taub is a professor Cornish College Of Arts in Seattle, and has been a featured performer at National Flute Association conventions in Los Angeles (1992), Atlanta (1999), and Las Vegas (2003). He is currently a member of the Boards of Directors of both Chamber Music America and the National Flute Association. He has worked extensively to promote Soviet/Russian composers in America and American composers in the former Soviet Union. His Soviet repertoire has been featured on National Public Radio’s Performance Today, at the Goodwill Arts Festival, and in a solo recital at the Leningrad Musical Spring International Festival. He has also performed four times in Russia with the Seattle Chamber Players and twice at the Warsaw Autumn Festival in Poland, as well as in Costa Rica, Denmark, Estonia, Italy, Lithuania, and Ukraine.

This collection is available from CDBaby. Hopefully we will hear more of his recorded works sometime soon and I’d like to thank Tom Baker at Present Sounds for providing this review copy. Wonderful music.


The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Year In Melville Crime

Melville House


We're not rookies anymore.

A year ago this time we had two books in our shiny new crime imprint: Cut Throat Dog by Joshua Sobol and Kismet by Jakob Arjouni.
One year later and we've done time in seven countries over the course of 14 novels: Kenya, England, Germany, Israel, the United States, Russia and the Ukraine. Next year we have novelists that hail from France, Germany, Spain and Poland (Breslau to be specific). That last one is an amazingly creepy series set during World War II and debuts  in the fall. We hope you like arachnids, is all we're going to say for now.
So you see: not so shiny anymore.
Look. We're not trying to brag for the sake of our own self-esteem. We just need you to know that we mean business. We are, afte rall, the imprint that brought Derek Raymond back to print in the states and brought Mukoma Wa Ngugi's stunning Nairobi Heat out of Africa and into the world at large. If nothing else, titles like that should prove that we've got the stomach for this work.
Now, about those "wares" you were asking about...

The Goods

The Craiglist Murders

Brenda Cullerton

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Pages: 219
ISBN: 9781612190198
Published: May 2011

Check Out
Brenda's Blog

“A brilliantly prophetic and modern tale of the macabre . . . A novel that roars across the intersection of Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho and Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities.”
James Wolcott, Vanity Fair

American Psycho meets Sex In The City in this brutally hillarious debut novel about a psychopathic interior designer indulging her hatred for the Upper East Side trophy wives she works for. The disturbing thing, dear reader, is that you'll find yourself cheering Cullerton's murderous anti-heroine, Charlotte Wolfe, as she bludgeons and cleaves her way through countless numbers of these "plastic" women.

BRENDA CULLERTON is a writer for the fashion, beauty, and interior design industries, and the author of the memoir, The Nearly Departed Or, My Family and Other Foreigners, which O Magazine called "wise, courageous, brutally honest and darkly hilarious." She has also written several books on interiors and the home. She lives and works in New York City.



Happy Birthday, Turk!

Jakob Arjouni
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781935554202
Published: February 2011

“Kemal Kayankaya is the ultimate outsider among hard-boiled private eyes.”
—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times

Meet German-Turkish gumshoe Kemal Kayankaya, a wisecracking, hard-drinking and thoroughly street-weary private detective who despite his best intentions not to, takes on the hardest, least profitiable cases. Think of him as a Turkish Sam Spade with Columbo's fashion sense. Kismet was the second book we published on our crime imprint. In 2011 we put out three more of Kayankaya's delightful misadventures.

More Beer

Pages: 160
ISBN: 9781935554431
Published: June 2011

Kayankaya cares more about sausage and beer than politics, but when he’s hired to defend four eco-terrorists charged with murdering a chemical plant owner he finds himself stuck in the middle of Germany’s culture wars. It doesn’t take long for Kayankaya to realize that the whole situation stinks and that both the Left and the Right have blood on their hands. And is the fiery journalist Carla Reedermann dogging his steps because she smells a story, or is she after something more?

One Man,
On Murder

Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781935554547
Published: June 2011

Love is never easy, especially when your girlfriend is an illegal Thai prostitute who has been kidnapped (again) by a gang of sex traffickers. Fortunately for the hapless fiancé, Kayankaya is on the case. The son of a Turkish garbage collector, he knows a thing or two about living in the ethnic fringes of the ugliest German city of them all: Frankfurt. One Man, One Murder populates its pages with unforgettable characters, whip-smart dialogue, and a connoisseur’s collection of grim details.

JAKOB ARJOUNI was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1964, the son of acclaimed German playwright Hans Gunter Michelson. He has written numerous books, including the novel Magic Hoffmann, which was shortlisted for the IMPAC Award. But it is his series of four mysteries featuring Turkish immigrant detective Kemal Kayankaya—all of which are being published by Melville House— for which he has become best known. Bestsellers throughout Europe and the winner of the German Thriller Prize, they have also been turned into wildly popular movies in his home country. Arjouni now divides his time between Berlin and Languedoc, France.

Nairobi Heat

Mukoma Wa Ngugi

Download Netgalley
Pages: 204
ISBN: 9781935554646
Published: September 2011
"An engaging insider's view of the cultural divide between Americans and Africans."
Publishers Weekly

In Madison, Wisconsin, it’s a big deal when African peace activist Joshua Hakizimana—famous for saving hundreds of people from the Rwandan genocide—accepts a position at the university. When a young white girl is found murdered on his doorstep, his life as well as many others are about to change. This is, afterall, a place the Ku Klux Klan still hold ralles. After being assigned to the case, Detective Ishmael gets a mysterious phone call: “If you want the truth, you must go to its source. The truth is in the past. Come to Nairobi.” It’s the beginning of a journey that will take Ishmael to a place still vibrating from the surrounding genocide, where NGO money rules and where the local cops shoot first and ask questions later.

MUKOMA WA NGUGI was born in Illinois but raised in Kenya. The son of world renowned African writer and Nobel contender, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, his own poetry and fiction has been shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African writing in 2009), and for the 2010 Penguin Prize for African Writing. He is currently based in Cleveland, Ohio, where he teaches at Case Western University.

Crime Quiz

We're debuting two major international authors next year, whose major series were previously unavailable. Guess the correct title (of these forthcoming books) from these woodcuts and we'll give you a free ebook when they publish. Each woodcut relates to a single title by an individual author. In other words, there are two books by two different authors represented below.







Death and the Penguin

Andrey Kurkov

Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781935554554
Published: June 2011
“A striking portrait of post-Soviet isolation.... In this bleak moral landscape Kurkov manages to find ample refuge for his dark humor.”
The New York Times

It's a one to one ratio. On part Mikhail Bulgakov and one part Alfred Hitchcock. The literal explanation of this novel, as post-Soviet crime fiction set in the depressed and thoroughly corrupt city of Kiev starring a writer of obituaries and his adopted penguin Misha, often inspires more questions than answers. Does the penguin talk? Does Misha help solve crimes? Is it a proper mystery? Does the penguin have a scarf and adorable little hat? No, is the answer, and that’s what makes it own of our favorite books of the year. Innovative noir storytelling at it's finest.

Penguin Lost
Download Netgalley
Pages: 160
ISBN: 9781935554561
Published: September 2011

Now available for the first time in the US, Penguin Lost sees Viktor return to Kiev incognito and launch an intensive, guilt-wracked search for his adopted penguin, Misha.

It’s a search that will take Viktor across the Ukraine to Moscow and back, vividly depicting a troubled landscape. It once again lands Viktor in league with a series of criminals and corrupt officials, each of whom know something of what happened to Misha, and each of whom are willing to pass that information along if Viktor will just help them with one more job..

Coming 2012

The Case of the General's Thumb
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781612190600
Published: March 2012

The corpse of a distinguished general is found attached to an advertising balloon—and minus his thumb. Police Lieutenant Viktor Slutsky is sent in to investigate. So, too, is KGB officer Nik Tsensky. They begin their investigations unbeknownst to each other, but quickly find themselves mystified about developments caused by the other.

Thus begins a comedy of very dangerous errors as the two criss-cross Europe, Russia, and the Ukraine, catalysts in a bizarre battle between the Russian and Ukrainian secret services.

ANDREY KURKOV borrowed money from friends to self-publish his first books, which he sold himself on the sidewalks of Kiev. He has gone on to become one of the most popular and critically acclaimed writers in Ukrainian history, and his books have been translated into 25 languages.





Crime Bundles!


Buy all nineteen Melville International Crime titles published over our first year and a half of crime fiction. Including Andrey Kurkov's The Case of the General's Thumb and the first three titles of Manuel Vázquez Montalbán's Pepe Carvahlo series.

The Return of Derek Raymond

"Carve Derek Raymond’s name into the literary pantheon. He is one of the rare authors who seek to understand evil, ferret out the darkness in human nature, and blast Noir fiction out of the genre ghetto and into Literature. His nameless detective's quest through the bleak streets gets under your skin. Amazing, painful and brilliant."
Cara Black, author of Murder in Marais

No one cares in Margaret Thatcher’s England, a place and time where austerity laws thinly veil racism and the terrible inequalities of enforced classism. Justice is something reserved for the well-to-do, and purposely withheld from those that require it most. No one wants to touch the messy stuff, no matter how much of it happens every day.
Except for one man. In the five noir novels that comprise Derek Raymond’s masterly Factory Series (He Died with His Eyes Open, The Devil’s Home On Leave, How the Dead Live, I Was Dora Suarez and Dead Man Upright), he created the ultimate avenging spirit. A nameless Detective Sergeant, so given over to a ruthless compassion for the downtrodden that he takes only the most desperate of unexplained deaths as his case. Emotionally investing himself in both the murderer and victim, the stubborn Detective Sergeant fearlessly peers into the dark heart of humanity, eternally hunting injustice in hopes of redeeming society itself.

The Devil's Home On Leave
Pages: 218
ISBN: 9781935554585
Published: October 2011

The second book in Derek Raymond’s acclaimed Factory Series opens with the chilling discovery of a horribly butchered body abandoned in a warehouse by the Thames. The body has been chopped up and boiled so that the deceased is impossible to identify. It’s obviously the work of a contract killer, but why would a professional leave the body for discovery?

How the Dead Live
Introduction by Will Self
Pages: 224
ISBN: 9781935554592
Published: October 2011

In the third novel of Derek Raymond’s acclaimed Factory Series, the nameless detective visits a decrepit country house to look into the case of a disappeared woman.
It is, as always for the Detective Sergeant, a deeply unsettling investigation of love and damnation. The woman’s husband seems to love her entirely, and yet he seems reluctant to find her. Meanwhile other cops are getting in the way of the Sergeant and he’s making new enemies on the force back in London.
With growing desperation and his trademark sense of enraged compassion, the sergeant fights to uncover a murderer not by following analytical procedure, but by doing the most difficult thing of all: understanding why crimes are committed.

I Was Dora Suarez
ISBN: 9781935554608
Published: October 2011

"Everything about I Was Dora Suarez shrieks of the joy and pain of going too far."
—Marilin Stasio, The New York Times

An axe-wielding psychopath carves young Dora Suarez into pieces. On the same night, in London's West End, a firearm blows the top off the head of Felix Roatta, part-owner of the seedy parallel Club. The unnamed narrator, a police sergeant, becomes obsessed with Dora as he investigates her murder. Autopsy results compund the puzzle: Suarez was dying of AIDS. Then a photo links Suarez to Roatta, and inquiries at the club reveal how vile and inhuman exploitation can become.
Despite a plot so grotesque that even Jim Thompson’s Lou Ford would have grown squeamish, I Was Dora Suarez remains Raymond’s masterpiece, with language that is often compared to that of John Donne as much as to Chandler.

Coming 2012

Dead Man Upright
ISBN: 9781612190624
Published: February 2012

The fifth and final book in the author’s acclaimed Factory Series was published just after Derek Raymond’s death, and so didn’t get the kind of adulatory attention the previous four titles in the series got. The book has been unavailable for so long that many of Derek Raymond’s rabid fans aren’t even aware there is a fifth book.

But Dead Man Upright may be the most psychologically probing book in the series. Unlike the others, it’s not so much an investigation into the identity of a killer, but a chase to catch him before he kills again. Meanwhile, the series’ hero—the nameless Sargent from the “Unexplained Deaths” department—is facing more obstacles in the department, due to severe budget cutbacks, than he’s ever faced before.

However, this time, the Sargent knows the identity of the next victim of the serial killer in question.

DEREK RAYMOND was the pseudonym adopted by Robin Cook, a well-born Englishman who spent a great portion of his life in France. Turning his back on Eton and all his birth class implied, he worked for years at whatever menial jobs or scams came to him, writing all the while, learning the secret life of London the way a cab driver must learn its streets. Soon enough he took the crime novel to heart, taking as his subject the dispossessed and faceless, society's rejects: alcoholics, abused women, prostitutes, petty criminals swarming like pilot fish in the wake of sharks. His life's work culminated in the four Factory novels now seen as clear landmarks in British fiction: He Died with His Eyes Open, The Devil's Home on Leave, How the Dead Live, and I Was Dora Suarez.
Check out the blog series on Derek Raymond that we ran on MobyLives, which contains audio recordings, interviews, slideshows and a selection from the black bard's final reading.

Coming Spring 2012

“Montalbán writes with authority and compassion and a le Carré-like sorrow.”
—Publishers Weekly

The Angst-Ridden Executive

Pages: 240
ISBN: 9781612190389
Published: January 2012

When Antonio Jauma, a director of the multinational conglomerate Petnay, is murdered, his widow seeks out private investigator Pepe Carvalho, who had met and forgotten the playboy executive after their single chance encounter—back when Carvalho still worked for the CIA.

Jauma was a “womanizer,” according to a friend, “of the least pleasant sense,” and the police have decided that the murder is the work of an unhappy pimp. But Carvalho doggedly pursues his own phlegmatic investigation, with time out for his signature book burning (Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reasoning; Sholokov’s And Quiet Flows the Don), cooking (leek soup and a freshly-caught steamed turbot), and running with his girlfriend Charo, whose last name he can’t remember.

The Buenos Aires Quintet
Pages: 384
ISBN: 9781612190341
Published: March 2012
“The most metaphysical gumshoe on the streets. . . the plot is as concerned with exploring capitalism’s malignancy as it is with corpses and femmes fatales.”
The Times

The Argentine army’s “Dirty War” disappeared 30,000 people in six years and the last thing Pepe Carvalho wants is to investigate another vanished person, even if that missing person is his cousin. But blood proves thicker than a fine Mendoza Cabernet Savignon even for a nihilistic gourmand like Pepe.

Once there, he quickly learns that “Buenos Aires is a beautiful city hell-bent on self destruction” and he’ll have to confront the traumas of Argentina’s past head on if he wants to stay alive, and find his cousin.

The Quintet is a moving psychological travelogue inhabited by boxers, scholars, seductive semioticians and Borges and infused with the tango, music, literature and, as always, divine cuisine.

Murder in the Central Committee

Pages: 224
ISBN: 9781612190365
Published: February 2012

At a meeting of the central committee of Spain’s Communist Party, in a room both locked and guarded, general secretary Fernando Garrido is stabbed to death. But the Party refuses to believe it was an inside job.

They turn to former member Pepe Carvalho. But he’s soon out of his depth in unfamiliar Madrid, where he spends nearly as much time investigating the chorizo, lamb-kidneys, and tripe, and the uninspiring selection of wine on offer, as he does murder.

With time out for his signature book burning (Engels’s The Housing Question), cooking (shellfish risotto), and an ill-advised bajativo (cognac, crème de menthe) inspired romp with Gladys, Pepe Carvalho leads a wry and cynical tour through the labyrinth of post-Fascist Spanish politics amid violent jostling for power.

Summer 2012

In search of the spirit of Paul Gauguin, Stuart Pedrell—eccentric Barcelona businessman, construction magnate, dreamer, and patron of poets and painters—disappeared not long after announcing plans to travel to the South Pacific.
A year later he is found stabbed to death at a construction site in Barcelona. Gourmand gumshoe Pepe Carvalho is hired by Pedrell’s wife to find out what happened. Carvalho, a jaded former communist, must travel through circles of the old anti-Franco left wing on the trail of the killer. But with little appetite for politics, Carvalho also leads us on a tour through literature, cuisine, and the criminal underbelly of Barcelona in a typically brilliant twist on the genre by a Spanish master.


Pepe Carvalho is set to retire. Content to live out the rest of his days enjoying the best food and wine Catalonia has to offer, his plans are put on hold when an executive from Barcelona's world-famous soccer team pays him a visit. “The center forward will be killed at dusk,” reads the note the executive gives to Carvalho.
With that, the detective, former communist, and one-time employee of the CIA, must find out where this note is from. Is the threat real? Is it the work of one person? Or is it one of the real estate moguls tearing Barcelona apart in their battle over the most important properties of Catalonia?
Here Montalbán does for the game of soccer what he has done for food. In an exquisite portrait of Spain’s most beloved sport, soccer and politics mix in a gripping mystery about the reckless excesses—and limits—of power.

Born in Barcelona in 1939, poet, playwright, essayist, and novelist MANUEL VÁZQUEZ MONTALBÁN was one of Spain’s greatest writers. A well-known gourmand, he also wrote often about food. He is best known for his crime series featuring Pepe Carvalho, which won him international acclaim and numerous awards, including the Planeta Prize and the International Grand Prix de Littérature Policière. He died in 2003 in Hong Kong, on his way home to Barcelona.