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Opening Soon! ;-)

Cinema QuizIt can be a lot of fun to take in a film, especially when the weather’s dreary. And the thought of films puts me in mind of…



… a quiz! Oh, don’t start! You know what you risk by coming to this blog! ;-)


There’ve been a number of well-regarded films adapted from crime novels. And as a dedicated crime fiction fan, you know all of your crime dramas don’t you? Or do you? Take this handy quiz and find out. Match each question to the correct answer. At the end of the quiz, submit your responses and see how well you’ve done. You can also go back through your responses to see which ones you got correct.

Ready? Pick up your ticket to begin… if you dare ;-)



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All We Are Saying is Give Peace a Chance*

KindnessWhen was the last time someone paid you a compliment? I don’t mean a friend or family member, whom you’d expect to support you. I mean someone with no interest in your well-being. Wasn’t it great? Didn’t it make you feel more alive? Well, at least that’s how I feel when people are kind to me for no reason.

And here’s what’s interesting about kindness: it has a way of getting passed along. It’s easy to see how too if you think about your own life. Someone offers, unasked, to help you with a project at work. Your load lightens and you feel better. The rest of your day goes better, your mood is positive, and you’re happy to let someone else ahead of you at the cash machine. Or you pay an unexpected compliment to the server who brings your meal at a restaurant. Then that server (or the person you’ve let ahead of you in line) is in a better mood and in turn spreads that kindness. It’s not just a ‘fairyland dream.’ It works.

There’s another thing about kindness too. It reminds us of what we are capable of achieving as humans. Let’s face it: the world is full of misery in so many forms. Every day the news brings us stories of the worst that people can do to one another. It’s enough to make anyone give up on the human species. But if one person goes out of her or his way to give you good directions when you’re lost, things don’t seem so bad.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. When I began my graduate studies many years ago, I went to class at night. One night – a cold wintry night on the US East Coast – I was on my way home from class when my car broke down. I pulled over and found myself on a street of very exclusive upmarket shops, most of which were closed for the day. The nearest light I saw was in the window of a very expensive-looking fur shop – the sort of shop I could never afford. I went in and the couple who ran the shop started to tell me that they were closed. When I told them of my predicament though, they immediately allowed me in and let me use their telephone (yes, those were the days before everyone had mobile/cell ‘phones). I called for a tow and while I waited, my hosts gave me a cup of hot chocolate. Not only did that simple act of kindness keep me safe and warm, it also made everything just a little better – even the fact that I had a major car repair expense waiting for me. Oh, and here’s the interesting part. The couple who helped me that night were Russians. And this was before the breakup of the Soviet Union. There was no reason for these people to be kind to a stranger, and an American at that. And there was no reason for me to trust them. And yet… I hope they had a good life.

The other thing about even small acts of kindness is that they can be really productive. Don’t believe me? Here’s another story (I’m a writer. I tell stories. It’s what I do.). Winters on the US East Coast can bring absolutely foul weather, and sometimes there are sudden big snowfalls. That happened one weekend when I was still living there. There was so much snow in fact that all roads – everywhere – were closed. So were all of the airports. We ended up getting about 1m (just over 3ft) of snow that blew into drifts about twice that high. Needless to say, the parking area near the building where I lived was impassable. And our usual snow removal company couldn’t send a plow because of the ban on driving. And yet, after three days of not being able to go anywhere, people needed to buy basic supplies. So on the day the ban was lifted, we decided to help one another. One by one, we shoveled each car free of the snowdrifts, not really caring much whose car it was. It was hard work, but in a relatively short few hours, we got the parking area clear enough that people could move their cars. If you’ve ever lived in an apartment building, you know that you often don’t get to know your fellow residents very well. Certainly none of us knew each other well. We weren’t being kind because we were friends or family. We did it because it needed to be done and it was best for all of us if everyone was helpful. And it worked.

This past week, we’ve been brutally reminded of how awful people can be. The tragedies in Canada have broken our hearts, and we stand together in grief and sorrow with Canada at this time. There are other, equally grim reminders of what humans can sink to doing.

Kindness will not bring those people back. Kindness won’t instantly stop war, poverty, social injustice or any of the other ills that beset us. But here’s the thing. Kindness can remind us that we are better than that. Kindness can focus us and allow us to work together to solve some of the problems we face. Kindness can help us channel our grief, our fears and our uncertainty into something productive.

And it doesn’t take much to be kind. It doesn’t cost a penny to smile and wave someone ahead of you at the grocery store. It costs nothing at all to pay a genuine compliment to someone who waits on you, teaches your child or works with you. And you don’t have to ‘click here’ or slide your credit card to help someone who drops a bag or doesn’t speak much of your language but needs directions. But the payoffs are enormous. And there’s no crime or mystery about that.

So as we all face the awful things that have happened lately, I invite you to do one kind thing – just one – to remember those who lost their lives. Maybe that one kind thing will lead to another. And another. And maybe at some point, somehow, all of that kindness building on kindness might mean that fewer people have to deal with that kind of tragedy.

Pass it on!

ps. Thanks to Bill Selnes at Mysteries and More From Saskatchewan for the powerful and inspiring post that made me think of this. I love you too, Bill.
*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from John Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance.


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An Open Letter to Frontier Airlines


Dear Frontier Airlines:

I recently had my first experience on Frontier flights. It will also most emphatically be my last. Let me explain why.

First, when I visited your online site to check into my flight, I discovered that there is a US$30.00 charge for every carry-on, per flight. That was never mentioned when I originally purchased my ticket, and that alone seems deceptive. The bigger problem though is being charged for a small carry-on. I’ve flown on many airlines, to many different destinations. I’ve been on very long international flights, and short commuter flights. I have never been charged for one carry-on on any other flight.

This is the offending 'excess baggage.' For purposes of comparison, I'm just over 1.5m (5 ft) tall.

This is the offending ‘excess baggage.’ For purposes of comparison, I’m just over 1.5m (5 ft) tall.

What is more, the carry-on I had with me was regulation pilot-size, more than small enough to meet the requirements for carry-ons on your flights. Your baggage receipt labelled my small carry-on as ‘excess baggage.’ I do not regard one small pilot-size suitcase, plus my handbag, to be ‘excess.’

As though that fee weren’t enough reason to choose never to fly Frontier again, I had another unpleasant surprise when I boarded the flight. I discovered that Frontier charges for everything consumed on board, including water, coffee, tea and juice. The risk of dehydration during flights is not a trivial one; it is avaricious, penny-pinching and worse, heedless of passenger safety to charge for these beverages. That is especially true for passengers who must take medications with liquid. Again, I have been on a wide variety of flights, both very short and very long. Never, on any flight, have I been expected to pay for water or coffee. And again, this was not indicated when I purchased my ticket.

It might be one thing if this was just my own experience, but as it turns out, I am not alone in having serious problems with Frontier. A friend and his wife also recently took a Frontier flight. They discovered when the flight landed that the handle of their brand-new suitcase had been completely broken, so that the suitcase could not be moved. The Frontier representative with whom they dealt informed them that there would be no compensation for that damage, although it had happened while the suitcase was in the care of Frontier’s employees. The legalities of responsibility aside, it shows a serious lack of customer service that Frontier, through its representative, did so little to make this situation right. Something could, and should, have been worked out to satisfy these paying passengers.

Today’s airline customers have a number of choices. So, aside from safety, customer service and comfort should be top priorities for every airline. That is particularly the case for passengers such as my friend and myself, who travel regularly, and who willingly comply with all safety regulations and other airline policies. It is clear that Frontier regards neither customer service nor comfort as a priority.

Since I have choices, I will exercise them. Under no circumstances will I ever board a Frontier flight again. Further, I will strongly encourage my employer’s travel planner, who is responsible for most employees’ flight arrangements, to cease suggesting Frontier. This is a potential loss of hundreds of passengers, since I work for a large employer. I am also using all of the social media tools at my disposal, as well as word of mouth, to share my experiences. I hope that by doing this, I can spare as many people as possible the same difficulties I have encountered on Frontier.


Margot Kinberg


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The Latest From Your Special Reporter ;-)


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Crime Fiction News Break



Links You’ll Want


Le French Book

D.S. Nelson

Catherine Aird’s Last Writes 


Drag Noir

Cathy Ace


Rebecca Bradley

Crime Book Club


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