A disturbance in the Force on 1st February 2000 indicated transmission of the first Orphan Scrivener, issued while we were in the middle of writing Two For Joy. Now the newsletter has reached its centennial, we shall engage in that fine old tradition of marking such events by engaging in a wee bit retrospection. For, as Dante said, oft times that will delight the mind. We give no guarantees on whether it will do the same for subscribers.

Thus to accompany a favourite old essay from Eric's solo blog we're also going in for something new, to wit some very nice offers, including freebies, from fellow Poisoned Pen Press authors. Can't beat that with a big stick!


"The paper towels were on sale," I told Mary when I got in from the grocery. We'd been getting low on paper towels and we don't like the usual grocery store price so this was some cause for celebration.

"It just like Caldor. Remember, whatever we wanted was always on sale."

She was right. The Caldor department store had been good to us. No matter what I showed up at the door to buy, be it a vacuum sweeper or a can opener, it turned out to be on special. Like magic.

I should've checked their ad in the Sunday paper to see what household item was going to break during the week.

"I wonder if Caldor's still around?" Mary asked, as she admired the bargain towels.

That particular store had closed, but that was a long time ago in another place. I didn't know the answer so I asked Google. It directed me to Retailers from Woolworth to Wal-Mart .

Caldor failed to answer the Christmas bells after 1999.

Checking the list of departed chains I noticed that its predecessor at the same location, Hills, was also gone. I never cared for Hills. It felt dingy. The lighting was dim. Up front they did feature give-away snacks, though. Fifteen cent hot dogs and ten cent sodas, or round about those prices. You could have a meal, of sorts, for less than a half dollar.

A lot of other places I'd shopped in are gone. Service Merchandise, Hechinger, Ames, Woolworths, Zayre, Lechmere, Gold Circle. I'd guessed they were gone but couldn't be sure. Considering how little I spent over the years, I suppose I contributed to their demise.

A name I hadn't thought about for years caught my attention. Arlens.

Few chain stores have inspired me as much as Arlens, and I only happened to stop there once. At least I think it was Arlens. It was in a shopping center I could never find again, already run-down in the late sixties. As I always did back then I went straight to the bargain record bin. Among the dollar closeout albums were half a dozen by a band I'd never listened to -- the Kinks.

I've listened to a lot of Kinks music over the years. It's beginning to look like my all-time favorite rock band is as dead as the store I discovered them in but the music remains. In fact, I still have the albums themselves stored someplace.

Vinyl. Needless to say.


A shorter length of ticker tape is unspooling this time around, but it's All Good Stuff!


We recently stumbled over an Historical Novel Society review of The Guardian Stones, in which the writer made an observation well-received at Casa Maywrite -- a point also hinted darkly in our header -- because it touched on what we were attempting to convey within the context of the story.


Operation Pied Piper was not the best name to pick for the 1939 mass evacuation of British city children to safer lodgings in the country, but it was the topic of a contribution on 21st June to Suzanne Adair's Relevant History. As she says, for many, high school history was boring and extraneous. In this feature on her blog, guests show just how non-boring, non-extraneous history is to people in the 21st century.


Continuing the wartime theme, novels reviewed on our joint blog since last we met include A Scream in Soho by John G. Brandon, set during the blackout in 1940s London. The protagonist and a bobby on the beat arrive on the scene within two minutes of the titular scream. There's no body, but a bloodstained stiletto and a woman's lace-edged hanky have been left behind...

Then there's J. Jefferson Farjeon's Mystery In White: A Christmas Crime Story, a surprise best-seller last Yuletide in the UK. Travellers take shelter a country house during a blizzard. The door is unlocked but nobody is in residence, yet the kettle is boiling, fires have been lit, and tea is laid out in the drawing room. There are also thoughts on White Face by Edgar Wallace, featuring a man with the nasty habit of concealing his face with a white cloth and going about robbing people, not to mention a real stumper: how can a man be fatally stabbed without his assailant being seen by people close by? These and other reviews may be read via links at


Shrouded In Mystery would be a good title for a novel, but the fact is we have no idea of the topic of Mary's next contribution to the Poisoned Pen multi-author blog. There's a simple reason: it hasn't been written yet. Why not wander over there on the 18th and see? Meantime, subscribers may care to browse blogs by our fellow Poisoned Pen authors starting at this page


Continuing with the theme of shopping and as a thankyou to readers for their interest in our novels, here's a bunch of attractive (mostly free) offers from fellow Poisoned Pen Press authors which subscribers may find of interest.

Jeff Siger's Murder in Mykonos is currently available free on Kindle

His latest title, Santorini Caesars, will be published next month.

Charlotte Hinger is offering a free print copy of Deadly Descent to the first reader who contacts her at Charlotte's forthcoming novel is Fractured Families (March 2017)

Mitchell Lewis has several copies of Murder in the 11th House to give away to readers. Contact him at His current title is Evil in the 1st House.

Ken Kuhlken has a free copy of The Biggest Liar in Los Angeles for the first person to email him at Ken's latest novel is The Good Know Nothing.

Priscilla Royal's Wine of Violence is currently 99 cents on Kindle.

Her forthcoming title is The Proud Sinner (February 2017)

Triss Stein has three pocket sized paperbacks of Brooklyn Bones to give away as well as a couple of hardcover copies of Brooklyn Graves and Brooklyn Secrets free to the first five readers who contact her at and specify where they live. Her current title is Brooklyn Secrets.

S. K. Rizzolo will send a free hardback of her current title On a Desert Shore to the third reader to contact her at

Jeanne Matthews has two hardcover copies of Bones of Contention and two hardcover copies of Her Boyfriend's Bones to offer the first two readers who contact her at before the end of this month. Her most recent title is Where the Bones Are Buried.

Donis Casey will donate a copy of her latest title, All Men Fear Me, to the fifth person who leaves a message on her website at by September 1st.

Tim Maleeny will send a signed copy of his novel Jump to the first reader to contact him at His most recent title is Stealing the Dragon.

Ann Parker offers two copies of the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery Award winning Mercury's Rise to US-based readers picked at random from those who contact her (see her website for contact information). Winners will be chosen August 30. Her forthcoming book, What Gold Buys, will be published next month.

Joining in the jamboree, we are offering an e-ARC of The Guardian Stones to the first two subscribers who get in touch with us at Review or not as you wish!


According to Shakespeare, time's footstep is inaudible, and it's now time to remind subscribers the next Orphan Scrivener will slip silently into their in-boxes on October 15th, by which time the weather should be more reasonable, given this was composed with the heat index standing at 104*, which is good for neither man, beast, nor computer.

See you then!
Mary R and Eric

who invite you to visit their home page, to be found hanging out on the virtual washing line that is the Web at There you'll discover the usual suspects, including more personal essays, a bibliography, and our growing libraries of links to free e-texts of classic and Golden Age mysteries, ghost stories, and tales of the supernatural. There's also the Orphan Scrivener archive, so don't say you weren't warned! Our joint blog is at Intrepid subscribers may also wish to know our noms des Twitter are @marymaywrite and @groggytales Drop in some time!

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