Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


The Five Stairsteps.


My brother was fired from his job at the bank on his very first day.  A woman asked him to check her balance so he pushed her over.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Joe Bennett and the Sparkletones.


This interesting low-budget film from small company Invincible Pictures stars Reginald Denny as a playwright and reluctant detective when two producers of his play are murdered.  Evelyn Brent, Jack La Rue, Inez Courtney, and Hugh Marlowe are in the top credited cast.

I liked the film, but reviewers are mixed on IMDb.  Thus:

"A wise cracking little thriller that's actually much better than it's title."

"WONDERFULLY enjoyable, entertaining and clever classic 'whodunit'...has literally got everything from a complicated plot with LOTS of suspects, a pretty unusual murder method, and some QUITE suspenseful moments, to the most funny and original wisecracks and the most hilarious characters."

"No one can dream up a dumber murder method (but they did)...but then surprisingly, it became enjoyable."

"A mostly static, dull, over-talkative, and ultimately disappointing movie.  I couldn't make sense of the garrulous plot...a shame to see Evelyn Brent wasted...a chatterbox like Inez Courtney and a tepid hero like Reginald Denny...One incredibly boring scene [with] the lackluster Denny...I thought would never end."

Well, you can't please everyone.

This one was directed by Phil Rosen (Charlie Chan in the Secret Service, Captain Tugboat Annie, The Shadow Returns) from a script by Arthur T. Horman (The Lone Wolf in Paris, Buck Privates, Captains of the Clouds).


Monday, December 11, 2017


Danny O'Keefe.


  • Ursula Curtiss, The House on Plymouth Street and Other Stories.  Collection of thirteen mystery stories.  Curtiss came from a writing family; her mother was mystery novelist Helen Reilly and her sister was mystery novelist Mary McMullen, who provides a warm and interesting look at Curtiss in the books introduction.  Curtiss is somewhat of a forgotten writer, although her books have gotten positive reviews lately from Sergio at Tipping My Fedora, John Norris at Pretty Sinister Books, and others.
  • "Michael Innes" (J. I. M. Stewart), Lament for a Maker.  Mystery novel, the third featuring Sir John Appleby.  In addition to being an academic, contemporary novelist, and literary critic, Stewart published nearly fifty mystery novels and collections under his Innes pseudonym from 1936 to 1987, thirty-five of which featured Appleby, who began as a Detective Inspector at Scotland Yard and rose to Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.  From the Crime Fiction Lover blog:  "The third novel by Innes is a remarkable combination of gothic horror and literary thriller with an obvious debt to Robert Louis Stevenson.  Set in a fictional district of Scottish hamlets, it begins like a 1930s version of Trainspotting with a local shoemaker's account in an authentic dialect of the bizarre events that have occurred during a snowbound Christmas.  The mad recluse Ranald Guthrie, the laird of Erchany, has fallen from the ramparts of his castle on a stormy winter night.  A crime appears to have been committed but few will mourn the passing of the miserly laird, who was in thrall to a clannish feud going back centuries."
  • Mel Odom, Paid in Blood, Blood Evidence, and Blood Lines.  The three novels in Odom's NCIS:  Crime Scene series.  These are not television tie-ins, but are original novels featuring NCIS Commander Will Coburn.  In the first:  "An NCIS agent is found murdered in North Carolina...A U.S. Marine with ties to the South Korean black market is assassinated in Chinhae...Columbian cocaine is discovered in Moscow...And old Soviet nuclear missiles have gone missing."  In the second, "A serial killer stalks a quiet North Carolina community...A sixteen-year-old has been savagely killed...A dead soldier is linked to a seventeen-year-old murder case...And a high-powered politician may be involved."  And in the third:  "An NCIS agent is shot taking down a suspect...Two fathers fight to protect their sons..And somewhere in the jungles of Vietnam, a U.S. soldier lies in a forty-year-old grave."  The publisher of this series, Tyndale House, is known for religious nonfiction and fiction, often from a conservative Christian viewpoint; their biggest sellers have been the Left Behind series.
  • Edgar Wallace, The Forger.  Mystery novel, circa 1927.  "Newly married to a man she did not love, Jane Leith is plunge headlong into a nightmare of murder and madness.  What was the secret of her husband's immense fortune?  Was he 'The Clever One' who kept the banks and the police of the world guessing with his brilliant Forgeries?  Or was he a homicidal maniac?"  Wallace, of course, wrote a gazillion thrillers during the first third of the last century.  His work now is dated and. at times. quaintly readable.

Sunday, December 10, 2017


Weather has been acting strangely lately.  Here in Pensacola, it snowed last night.  Maybe fifty flakes (I didn't count).  One enterprising person was actually able to catch a snowflake in a jar for the Pensacola Museum of Ain't That Weird, but by the time he got there the sneaky snowflake had managed to escape, leaving behind only a small trace of snowflake pee.

Here's a BBC documentary on strange weather phenomena.