Tuesday, August 23, 2016

WHEN THE DEVIL COMES TO CALL :: Eric Beetner

"On the run. Fugitives. An ex-hitman and an orphan girl."

Lars and Shaine are back! Two years following the escapades that brought them together in Eric Beetner's The Devil Doesn't Want Me, the pair has carved out a nice quiet life in Hawaii. They escaped the mainland with very little, but have a cool million in the bank and spend their days surfing, home schooling and firearm training. Lars may be retired, but he wants Shaine to be prepared, just in case.

Did I say "retired?" Ha. We all know better than that, right? Eric might write a lot of great things, but the only type of retirement he writes has some serious finger quotes around it. When former employer Nikki Senior calls asking Lars for "one last favor," the qualities that make an excellent hitman a questionable hitman kick in. Loyalty and conscience have Lars heading back to the mainland, Shaine at his side. One quick hit. In and out, no problem, done forever.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy, especially in a Beetner novel. Soon enough, Lars and Shaine are caught up in mobster hijinks, personal vendettas, ghosts of Lars's past and the FBI net that Nikki has used to try and protect himself by turning on his former associates and going into witness protection. And while Lars may have loyalty to Nikki, Shaine has nothing but revenge on her mind when it comes to the man who ordered her father killed.

A  slim volume at 224 pages, When The Devil Comes to Call is what we've all come to expect from Eric - fast-paced, tightly-plotted shenanigans that always entertain, even when everything is covered in brains, blood and putrefying corpses. It's a fast run through a gritty world that makes mayhem and violence the norm.  

Book 2 in the Lars and Shaine saga digs into Lars's past in a new and somewhat unexpected way and introduces some great new characters that a girl can only hope she gets to revisit in further entries to this shotgun blast of a series.

STREET SENSE:  If you like high-octane crimefests with plenty of gun play and action to burn, When the Devil Comes to Call is definitely recommended, along with Eric's other work. Best get ready for the next installment in the McGraw series by reading Rumrunners (if you haven't already, and if you haven't already I'm not even sure what to do with you) before Leadfoot comes out in November.

A FAVORITE PASSAGE:  Lars had suffered a broken heart. Shaine knew he had one, she wouldn't be alive if he didn't, but she always thought of his heart as solid, like polished marble. She didn't consider it had a warm, gooey center. And this Lenore, she turned his heart hard, calcified and carved with her initials.

COVER NERD SAYS: 280 Steps does a great job with its covers, and When the Devil Comes to Call is no exception. Although all the covers have a similar feel, they are also relevant to the content, and this cover aptly depicts all the pulpy innards.




Tuesday, August 16, 2016

REVOLVER :: Duane Swierczynski

"The trick to being a cop, a veteran detective once told him, is to go home at the end of the day."

A law enforcement family. Multiple generations. Five decades. Three timelines. A city steeped in racial turmoil. Murder. Revenge. Redemption. All these elements are boxed up inside one well-wrapped package in Duane Swierczynski's Revolver, which knocked my socks clean off.

There are plenty of things to love about Duane Swierczynski (his unparalleled sense of humor, his humility, and his deep-seated love of 70s Billy Ocean singles to name just a few), but one of the things I admire most is that he's always pushing his envelope and changing things up.

Duane has a hat full of speedily-breeding rabbits and you never know which rabbit he's going to pull out next. All you know is it's going to be a fierce, wise-cracking rabbit. (I have no clue where that analogy came from, apparently my rabbits have been drinking.)

He's written a few series books (the Charlie Hardie trilogy is fantastic), some terrific standalone novels and also works in the comics industry. He writes in a wide array of subgenres and does them all well.

This time, he put one right in my bread basket. Realistic cop drama - check. Multi-POV format - check. Alternating timelines - check. Snark - check. When something is that dead center in your alley, you're sometimes a harsher judge than if you're pushing your reading comfort zone. No matter, Revolver knocks it out of the park.

May 7, 1965. Philly PD Officer Stan Walczak and his partner George Wildey don't go home at the end of the day. Shot down in cold blood in a corner bar while waiting for an informant, the murders haunt their families for generations.

May 7, 1995. Homicide Detective Jim Walczak is one of the haunted. Son of Stan, Jim is obsessed with the man he knows killed his father and George Wildey. The man is in prison on another charge but about to be set free. For decades Jim has dreamt of being able to look his father's killer in the eye. He's about to get his chance; the only question is what he'll do with it.

May 7, 2015. Audrey Kornbluth is a bit of a disaster, in no small part due to the ripples from the waves that first capsized her family back in 1965. Daughter of Jim, Audrey is the black sheep of the family. A hard-drinking, tattooed, foul-mouthed (i.e., in Duane's hands, fairly delightful) forensics student in Texas, Audrey has strained relationships with her cop brothers and her parents. Audrey is particularly confounded by her father, who she hasn't seen in three years, calls "the Captain" and describes as "an emotionless golem."

On the 50th anniversary of her grandfather's murder, Audrey reluctantly returns home for a ceremony dedicating memorial plaques to Stan and George. Feeling angry and out of place even with her family, Audrey gets the brilliant (i.e., destined to stir up major shit) idea to solve her grandfather's murder as her long overdue graduate school independent project. Of course, the more people -- including her own family -- fight her efforts, the more determined she becomes.

Via these three timelines, Swierczynski brings to life a family hit hard by life and legacy, a city mired in racial tension that may or may not have had something to do with Stan and George's deaths, and a troubled young woman bound and determined to set a few things right, even if she doesn't fully recognize the depths of her mission.

I'm a sucker for a multi-timeline work, and Duane does a great job with that format in Revolver. He weaves the three disparate decades together such that you know where you are in each arc and yet in many ways they are all set in the same place and time. Philly comes out in full color (or maybe stark black and white, Philly feels like it would always be in black and white) to tie all of the decades and characters together in a tight knot.

Part mystery, part procedural, part character study, social study and family drama, Revolver is a dark and gritty love story about a family, a city, legacy and what it is to be a cop. This is sure to be one of my favorite reads of the year. Philadelphia Police Officer Joseph T. Swierczynski (1892-1919) would be proud.

STREET SENSE:  I highly recommend Revolver to everyone who enjoys a good crime story, thick with history, that doesn't short-change on character or place. Although I had small issues with one minor plot point and Audrey could be a bit over the top at times (which is also what made her such a stand-out character), I loved this book unabashedly.

A FAVORITE PASSAGE:  And there he is, bold as day. His father's killer steps out of the halfway house, fists shoved into the pockets of a fleece jacket. The weird thing is, he looks nothing like the mug shot Jim knows in vivid detail (obsesses over). The guy in the mug shot looks feral, ready to punch you in the gut as soon as say hello. But this later, post-prison version is just a skinny old man, walking down Erie Avenue with his head hung like there are invisible weights attached to his forehead, presumably headed for the El so he can ladle out chicken noodle to the less fortunate.

COVER NERD SAYS: This cover is perfect. It evokes historical fiction and police procedural to a T. It might not give a clue about the deep character work inside, but anyone who is interested in stories based on cops and police work won't be able to resist this one anyway. I love the sepia tint and the stark fonts. Great work.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS :: B.A. Paris

Grace would rather not spend her life alone, but she's been having trouble finding the right man to share her life. Her devotion to her sister Millie, who has Down syndrome, always seems to be a deal-breaker. Then Grace meets Jack Angel. Jack, who has movie star good looks and charisma to burn, is a star attorney who represents battered women and has never lost a case.

Grace can't believe her luck. Not only is Jack crazy about her, but he loves Millie as well, and doesn't blink an eye at Grace's plan for Millie to move in with them once she turns 18 and is done at boarding school. After a whirlwind courtship, Jack and Grace marry and move into the dream house Jack built for their family, including a special bedroom just for Millie.

The Angels settle into their perfect lives and from the outside all appears well. But what if it wasn't luck that brought Jack into Grace and Millie's lives? And isn't their 'perfect' relationship just a little too 'perfect' to be believed?

Behind Closed Doors is a steam train of a psychological thriller. I can't remember the last time I wanted to stay up way past my bedtime to finish a book. If I hadn't started this one so late in the morning, I would have made it. Paris does a great job of making the pieces of this thriller fit together.

All too often, a psychological or "domestic thriller" will leave me rolling my eyes at one partner's choices or actions. While some pushing of the envelope is often necessary to keep the story moving, Paris does a good job of at least providing rationale, however warped, for her characters' actions, even when they fall in the "What the hell?" column.

STREET SENSE: Along alternating timelines, Grace and Jack's past and present unfold, winding together and building anticipation for a final confrontation. Behind Closed Doors is a riveting thriller that may keep you up into the wee hours.

A FAVORITE PASSAGE: I almost didn't pick one, as it was difficult to be non-spoilery, and this book isn't after unique or dreamy turns of phrase. Paris simply motors through in a manner that keeps you turning the pages. But I thought this one added a little something without giving much away:

I'm beginning to despair of anyone ever questioning the absolute perfectness of our lives and, whenever we are with friends, I marvel at their stupidity in believing that Jack and I never argue, that we agree about absolutely everything, that I, an intelligent thirty-two-year-old woman with no children, could be content to sit at home all day and play house.

COVER NERD SAYS: It's not just that I'm a wood nerd that makes me a fan of this cover. I love a clean image that is somewhat mysterious, and this one is that. It's simple, and yet the image along with the title can leave no doubt what this book will bring, and it brings it with gas. I also love the tag line, which is just big enough to add to the cover without being distracting. If I had to pick nits, I'm not sure why the light from the keyhole is necessary (if that's even what that flare is supposed to be). I think a dark keyhole would have been even more effective. Overall, though, this is a winner.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

ALL THE BRIDGES BURNING :: Neliza Drew

"Sometimes we don't have a choice. Even when we want one."

Neliza Drew's debut novel, All the Bridges Burning, is aptly titled. I have great appreciation for an author who doesn't shy from the dark places and isn't afraid to simply burn everything to the ground. Not that everything started out peaches and cream for Drew's protagonist, Davis Groves. Just the opposite. She and her two sisters grew up in a hostile, abusive environment.

Davis eventually got out, knowing she had to do so to save what remained of her mind and body. She thought she and her sister Nik left younger sister Lane in as good a position as possible, despite the fact Lane is still living with their unstable addict mother. In the time she's been away, Davis has continued working to make herself as invulnerable as possible, at least on the outside.

When she learns Lane has been arrested for killing a man, Davis is drawn back "home" to do what she feels she failed to do previously--save her sister. What she finds is an angry teen she doesn't recognize, a mother who insists Davis is dead, and years of ghosts, good and bad, coming out of the woodwork to throw wrenches in her works.

Davis has a powerful yet obviously damaged voice that seethes with authenticity. When you find yourself feeling (and wondering) how much of a story is autobiographical (either through self-experience or as a witness), you know an author has crossed into fearlessness and vulnerability.

Knowing things and being able to write them effectively are two different things. Drew is a second-degree black belt (maybe higher by the time I write this). Proficient as she is physically, describing an action scene is a very distinct and difficult task. In All the Bridges Burning, Drew proves she has a black belt with the written word. Her action scenes are tight, realistically brief, and non-fanciful. Her combatants suffer from their acts and don't miraculously recover with a little spit and polish.

Likewise, Drew's writing feels deeply on point when she's addressing difficult issues, whether through dialogue or exposition. She is able to channel her experience with troubled youth onto the page without missing a beat or moving into cliche. Even beyond the story itself, reading Drew's work is both enjoyable and an immersion into raw emotion that feels aptly uncomfortable.

As Davis takes on her past in order to save Lane, the story bends and twists and adds characters such that you need to pay attention. It all comes together, while leaving room for Drew to revisit Davis from a multitude of perspectives. Other than a flashback sex scene that took me out of the narrative for a moment, I was sucked in by Drew's writing from start to finish.

STREET SENSE:  All the Bridges Burning is an emotional and gritty debut that brings to life a female protagonist with plenty of edges to explore. Davis is authentic and multi-dimensional, wounded and fierce. This is crime fiction strong on character and I look forward to learning more about Davis Groves.

A FAVORITE PASSAGE: Unfortunately, Adobe Digital Editions decided to eat all my highlights, of which there were plenty. Drew has a great voice, and more than one turn of phrase had me re-reading. Thankfully, I wrote a few down, so I'm just going to go ahead and share those.

The opening sucked me right in:

The first time I saw someone die, I was almost thirteen years old and still naive enough to hope our mother, Charley, would keep us safe.

And this:

After he left, I sat in the car and looked at my hands. There was blood there no one else could see. A lot of it was mine.

In one scene, Davis is being patched up after a fight. Her friend Craig is applying bandages on fresh wounds, not commenting on "the melted whorls in the shape of a stove burner that refused to disappear."

I loved Davis's description of a public defender:

...a small man with a neck like a turtle who looked like he'd take any opportunity to duck down into his brown suit jacket and refuse to return.

And these of herself:

In my experience, sometimes people had personalities that just lent themselves to eventual execution or accidental death. Many would argue I was one of them.

The normal me I'd tried so hard to be had peeled away, like a costume left on the floor after a night of Halloween partying.

COVER NERD SAYS:  This cover is something special, because despite really being pretty far outside my wheelhouse, I kinda fell in love with it on sight. I love the color palette, and the images and text all fit together perfectly.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

THE MAN WHO MADE THINGS OUT OF TREES :: Robert Penn

Those of you who didn't just meet me yesterday know I took one look at the gorgeous cover of Robert Penn's The Man Who Made Things Out of Trees and went all Muppet arms, threw a huge clot, picked my aged bones up off the floor and put on my wily hat in an attempt to get a copy to feature on the blog. If this site has two themes they are violence and woodworking (I do try to keep the two separate). Look at this beautiful thing. I don't know how anyone could resist the outside, but what about the content? Fear not and read on.



The Man Who Made Things Out of Trees is something of a love story written about the ash tree. Which, as you will learn in this ode to the ash, is a pretty amazing tree. As Penn notes, "I can't remember as a child ever making the connection between the tree and many of the things I loved." How many of us do as children? Or perhaps even as adults? It's never too late to learn and appreciate, and Penn's delightful prose and engaging writing style provide the perfect tools for learning. It's all about picking the right tool for the job. Penn's got 'em.

The almost exhaustive use of ash wood throughout history is mind-boggling. Penn's adult love of the versatile ash led him to undertake a search for the perfect tree to fell and have made into as many different items as possible. Nothing other than using every last part of that tree would do it justice. I admit I was at first a bit dismayed to discover Penn was not going to be making things from the tree himself. But once I read on, my grin grew wider and wider and didn't stop until my face hurt and I hit the last page and cried for more.

Penn does not do the selecting alone. He does not fell the tree alone. He does not do the milling or shaping or lathing. What he does do, as it turns out, is even more fabulous. Penn takes his ash to some of the finest woodworkers in the UK and beyond, and at each stop he delves into the lore of the craftsman he's visiting. Each is as fascinating as the last - a tool handle manufacturer, a wheelwright, a bowl turner, and a medieval bow and arrow maker to name a few. Penn also ventures to Austria for a first class toboggan (taking his ash with him to be steamed, bent and jointed into a sled) and to the infamous Louisville Slugger plant in the United States.

Penn is wonderfully adept at taking the reader with him. I could smell the shops, picture the craftsmen and their tools, and nearly feel the grain as they worked. Wood nerds, tool geeks and history buffs, this book is your nirvana.

Just a few of the fascinating tidbits I learned:

  • Some historians believe tree ownership issues were as instrumental in bringing about the American Revolution as those relating to tea taxation
  • Steam-bending of wood dates back to at least 2000 B.C.
  • Achilles's spear was made of ash
  • An arrow's feathers need to be from the same wing for it to fly true
  • A bow from the Middle Ages could be drawn by only a handful of people today. Middle Age folks were studly, able to hold what amounts to a weight of 90-160 pounds out on the end of a straight arm
  • No other tree species is more commonly used or referenced in geographical locations (take that, oak and elm)
  • The Morgan Motor Company still uses ash in the manufacture of its boutique sports cars

I could go on ad nauseam (some may argue I already have), but I loved this book so much I want to sing its praises from the highest branch of the nearest ash tree. I swear I have a book dart on just about every other page of this gem. While reading, I felt as if I was sitting around a campfire listening to a wise elder share the mythology of the world through wood and craftsmen. To top it off, Penn has a great sense of humor (as does his wife; see favorite passage below) and the soul of a poet and I swear he would also make great crime writer:

Someone had described hurling to me as a cross between hockey and homicide: I thought it was more like ballet on crack cocaine.

There were a dozen ash trees together, like a family, near a brook. The bark on all of them had fissured. They were mainly straight. One had the faint, graceful, feminine sweep so distinctive of ash, like a slim-hipped femme fatale in a floor-length cocktail dress.

Ash wood is pinkish white and disturbingly like human skin when freshly sawn.
Perhaps Penn's next work will be a bit of crime fiction featuring some of the forty-four different types of items/uses Penn found for his ash tree. Not a cell of Penn's ash went to waste, nor does he waste any words. Despite the technical or scientific nature of some of the information being shared, I was never anywhere close to bored or disinterested. This one is going to be high on my "Best of" charts for this year, no doubt. And my next project? It's going to be made from ash.

STREET SENSE: If you're not convinced by now, there's not much I can say here to persuade you. What's not to like about trees, wood, craftsmanship, history, great stories and humor?

A FAVORITE PASSAGE:  A few, because the rules are mine and while not as much fun to break, I've gotta stay in shape:

The more I understood about the process, the less Phill spoke. The afternoon passed in a gentle sea of timeless, elemental sounds: the rhythmical rasp of the hand planer as the wood yielded to Phill's wishes; the ringing crack of the mallet; the scrape of Phill's pencil on wood; the plunk of ash touching oak; the caw of the spokeshave on the felloes; and the hiss of sandpaper turning dry ash to dust.

Each swing of the axe is like turning the page of a book; it opens a new part of the tree, and elicits a little bit more information about the tree's life: V-shaped and ellipsoid figures, curly grain, ray flecks, dimples, tight knots, loose knots, bark pockets and staining from diverse fungi might all show for the first time when a log is split open.

And the last because it made me laugh out loud and fall completely in love with this book on page 13. This from Penn's wife upon learning about his plan to find a tree and use 100% of it:

She looked unimpressed. Her eyebrows arched. "Do you know a wheelwright?" she asked. "Do you know a toboggan-maker or even a bowl-turner? Do they still exist? This is the beginning of the twenty-first century, not the middle of the fifteenth. And don't you need to know a great deal about timber? I can see a large pile of very expensive firewood at the end of this venture. Perhaps there'll be enough wood left over to make the coffin you're going to bury yourself in." I decided not to mention the idea again. Nor did I say she had hit on the one thing I would not be making from my ash: elm was traditionally used for coffins.

COVER NERD SAYS:  JUST LOOK AT IT. Genius.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

LISTEN TO ME :: Hannah Pittard

"At so many times of the day, we expose ourselves to chance."

It's that chance, the possibility of being touched by violence, that keeps Maggie wrapped in a cocoon of fear. Assaulted by a homeless man nine months ago, she has almost worked her way back to "normal" when she gets news of another violent attack on her street and retreats even deeper into her debilitating malaise. She cuts her hours at work and starts hiding weapons in the house, all to the consternation of her husband, Mark.

As Hannah Pittard's Listen to Me begins, Mark, Maggie and their dog Gerome are leaving Chicago early for their annual road trip to Mark's parents home on the East Coast. Mark hopes the trip will straighten Maggie out; he's tired of living with the new Maggie. But the couple is heading into stormy territory, literally and figuratively, and their communication fluctuates between anger, understanding, disbelief, frustration, acceptance and back again.

Although it often felt as though nothing was happening (other than  Mark and Maggie arguing) on the surface, the undercurrents were moving about wildly. Mark doesn't understand why he seems to be losing his wife to the darkness, why she has become so obsessed with trolling the internet for tragic stories. For her part, Maggie can't get Mark to see her new reality or to deal with the violent state of the world as she sees it.

The threesome is driving into the largest storm of the season and surely the biggest test of their marriage. As they deal with their issues on the long car ride, the reader is WAITING for something to happen. All the portents of disaster are there, waiting to hit them, to prove Maggie right, and the anticipation is fed to the reader by Pittard throughout the long drive.

The trip often felt bogged down in repetitive arguments between husband and wife; this is the story of a marriage, not a straight-up thriller. I never considered putting the book down (I'm a big fan of Pittard's work), but I was getting restless. Only when the story came to a close did I really appreciate the trip I had been on through the first three-quarters of the novel. I then realized how I'd been sucked into and become a participant in it. In some ways Pittard manipulated me masterfully, and I loved her for it. Not all readers might feel this way after being in the car that long with a couple so at odds, and I can see the tone and structure of the book being a bit polarizing.

A very interesting thing happened to me while reading this book. As a dog lover, I am always curious about people's dogs. I like to think it tells me something about them. So it drove me batshit insane that Pittard never described Gerome. I had no idea what kind of dog he was and that fact actually distracted me. It was only when I sat and thought about it that I realized I don't think Pittard ever really physically described Maggie or Mark, either. That hadn't even dawned on me while reading. Why was that different?

The only answer I can come up with is that by their actions and words I got the sense of who Maggie and Mark were. What they looked like wasn't a necessary element to their character. But because Gerome can't talk and was under the control of his owners, there was nothing to give me a sense of him. And hey, he was just a dog, so why did it matter? I don't know why it mattered, maybe just because I'm a dog geek, but it stood out like a flashing light to me. Weird?

STREET SENSE: Although violence swirls around every moment of this story, it really is more of a study of character and marriage. If you can hold on for the ultimate "reveal," this is a story worth digging into.

COVER NERD SAYS: This cover is fantastic, from the image to the font, but I'm not sure it accurately reflects the tone of the novel. It had me expecting more of a thriller, with the font almost evoking a bit of a horror or gothic element. While the book did have elements of those genres, I wouldn't classify it as such. Taken alone, I love the cover work. As a visual representation of the subject matter of the book, I don't think it's a perfect fit.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

THE TRAP :: Melanie Raabe

"A trap is a device to trap or kill. A good trap should be two things: foolproof and simple."

Best-selling author Linda Conrads hasn't stepped outside her house in eleven years. Twelve years ago she discovered her sister stabbed to death, and her eyes met those of the murderer as he fled. When the investigation ultimately went cold, Linda retreated from the world.


More than a decade later, Linda sees the killer again. Determined to bring him to justice yet unable to leave home, she decides to lure him into an elaborate trap she designs by writing a book mirroring her sister's murder and the investigation that followed. Using herself as bait is risky, since Linda is certain the killer knows she saw him leave the scene. 

Alternating between Linda's first-person narrative and the chapters of her book, The Trap is a fun, engaging read that flows well despite getting a bit bogged down by repetition in Linda's head as she obsesses over the murder and her plans to solve it. At times the story felt like a twisted game of cat-and-mouse, at others a game taking place only in the head of a really unstable cat.

I'm a sucker for the book-within-a-book format, and this is one done well. As Linda's preparation for her showdown with the killer progresses, so does the prior investigation (as depicted in Linda's book). As Linda's mental state is called into question, so is everything about what she has written. As Linda admits, "I've been living in a hall of mirrors that have distorted everything in my life." Is what Linda has written the truth about her sister's murder, or just what she wants to remember?

Part of what made The Trap enjoyable was wondering who to believe and when. As a lifelong storyteller, Linda begins to wonder, along with the reader, if she hasn't simply come to believe a story she's been telling herself for years. Despite one loose thread that nagged at me, Raabe brought both stories (her sister's murder and her present day efforts to bring the killer to justice) to a satisfying conclusion.

STREET SENSE:  The Trap is an entertaining summer read with a unique premise that doesn't feel too heavy despite the subject matter. If you're a sucker for the book-within-a-book format, this is one to put on your wish list.

A FAVORITE PASSAGE:   People think it's hard not to leave your house for over a decade. They think it's easy to go out. And they're right; it is easy to go out. But it's also easy not to go out. A few days soon become a few weeks; a few weeks become months and years. That sounds like an immensely long time. But it's only ever one more day strung on to those that have gone before.

COVER NERD SAYS:  I fell in love with this cover immediately. I'm a sucker for dark photographic elements, and this image appeals to be even standing alone. I appreciate the plain font and the ratio between the title and the author type size. You can still read Raabe's name, but the differential leaves room for the two plot blurbs. I'm not usually a fan of such tools, but I think in this instance it works extremely well. If you can resist those plot hints, you're a stronger reader than I.

About Malcolm Avenue Review

I was lucky enough to be born and raised in a nifty, oak-shaded ranch house on Malcolm Avenue, a wide-laned residential street with little through traffic, located amid the foothills of Northern California. It was on that street and in that house I learned most of my adolescent life lessons, and many grown-up ones to boot. Malcolm Avenue was "home" for more than thirty years.

It was on Malcolm Avenue, through and with my family and the other families that made up our neighborhood of characters, that I first learned about and gained an appreciation for the things I continue to love the most to this day: music, animals, photography, sports, television/movies and, of course, books.

I owe a debt of gratitude to that life on Malcolm Avenue. It gave me a sense of community and friendship, support and adventure. For better and worse, life on that street likely had the biggest impact on the person I've become. So this blog, and the things I write here, are all, at their base level, a little bit of a love letter to Malcolm Avenue.

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