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Mystery Monday

In 1936, S.S. Van Dine (author of the Philo Vance mysteries) published an article titled "Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories." Some of these rules, for example, 3 and 9 seem rather curious today.  Fans of police procedurals know it takes teamwork to find the guilty party.  Jack Reacher fans know he is too often irresistible to women who are not looking for a long-term commitment. As for some of the other rules, have they stood the test of time?  You be the judge.

1) The reader should have the same opportunity as the detective to solve the crime.

2) No tricks can be played to mislead the reader unless it is also done to the detective by the criminal.

3) The detective should not have a love interest.

4) Neither the detective nor one of the official investigators can turn out to be the criminal.

5) The villain must be found by logical deduction, not luck, accident, or un-motivated confessions.

6) The story must have a detective who also solves the crime (by detection).

7) It must be a murder mystery ("the deader the corpse the better").

Custer, Sherman papers

Historians, genealogists, and researchers have a window of opportunity to view more than 115,000 U.S. Military Academy application documents dating to West Point's early years. Beginning with Veterans Day and running through Sunday, November 14, there will be no charge when viewing these images on Ancestry.com, a genealogy website. Thereafter, when searching from home, a person would need a subscription. However, the New City Library offers this database in the library as an ongoing  free database. Documents such as the papers of Lt. Col. George Custer and Gen William Tecumseh Sherman are there for the viewing.

Broadening Your Horizons

When you think of Fantasy, what elements immediately spring to mind?  Perhaps a vaguely medieval, pre-industrial setting, for starters-- thatched cottages, castles, a feudal system, and so on.  A young, questing hero, or maybe a team of adventurers wielding longswords and magic.  An evil witch or wizard.  For variety, let's toss in a few noble Fae folk, a stolid dwarf, and a troublesome halfling or two.  And it's not a proper fantasy without some fabulous beasts, right?  How about a fire-breathing dragon?  Classic... why is that, though?

Now, before you get too upset at me for reducing all fantasy fiction to a stereotype, I do have a point.  Potentially, the fantasy genre has a near-limitless scope-- it's not bounded by science or reality, only by the author's imagination.  Despite that latitude, what fan hasn't read a dozen books containing most of the elements I listed above?  My concern is that the American fantasy landscape today is suffering from a sad lack of diversity.

Hot Minute for November 8

Press play below to hear this week's Hot Minute.


0:59 minutes (921.76 KB)

What's Cooking?: Autumn Harvest

pie

As I survey the colorful array of apples, pears, grapes, winter squash, persimmons, and pomegranates, they remind me of autumn jewels waiting for me to spirit them away to my kitchen.  For me, it is the season to open the ovens, and bake those pies and tarts!  I excitingly gloss over new recipes and retrieve the time-tested favorites.  The first apple pie of the season is sort of a celebration in our house.  With great anticipation, we can’t wait to have a flaky crust embrace these luscious slices in the hot oven.  The apple pie I make is filled with the combination of what I name as the “3Gs” - Granny, Gala, and Golden Delicious apples and then it is covered with a rich brown sugar crumb topping.  So good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on that crunchy topping!

Terror! Passion! Gothic Romance

A dark and stormy night.  A mysterious castle, rife with hidden passageways.  A wicked usurper.  A strange prophecy.  A beautiful heiress, innocent prey to his dark desires.  Frightening apparitions!  Family secrets!  Madness!  A really big helmet!  And the faithful love who will overcome all obstacles to save her....

In a nutshell, this is Horace Walpole's Castle of Otranto, the very first Gothic romance.  It was published in 1764, the same year that Ann Radcliffe-- another famous Gothic writer-- was born.  Today, we might find his work a bit absurd and overwrought, but Walpole deserves credit for trying something completely new.

Holding Patterns

Don’t miss another book being held because of a business trip or vacation.  Did you know you can suspend the material on your request list, not lose your place in the queue and select the date you wish to reactivate the list?  This ability not only avoids missed requests but also allows you to have some control over when your requests arrive.  This might offset the ‘when it rains it pours’ lament.  I set my fiction titles a week or so apart, but that’s just me.

It’s really easy, and now that you’re on our website you’re halfway there.   Go up to ‘My Account,’ click on ‘Holds Requests’ then click in the little box to the left of the title(s) you want to suspend; if you’re going away select all the titles.  Then choose the date to reactivate, and click on Change Status.  Circulation staff can do it for you at the library or call (ext 124) and we’ll do it or walk you through the process.

No Sparkles Here: Old-School Vampires

It's that time of year again.  The air is getting colder; trees are shaking off their summer raiment to reveal the skeleton branches beneath.  With each passing day, we lose a few more minutes of precious daylight.  The burgeoning moon is cold comfort to those who already yearn for the vanishing sun.  As the shadows lengthen, the 31 titles of this month's speculative fiction list lie ready to remind you why we should fear the long night.

You won't find any pale-but-sexy, misunderstood immortals in this month's offerings.  No compelling, tall, dark strangers with an unfortunate dietary requirement.  No soulful soulless writhing in metaphysical melodrama, no Byronic brooding.  (Okay... maybe a little brooding.)  No vegetarians.  And most definitely, positively, and categorically: NO SPARKLES.

Rockland History Month

The county of Rockland abounds with so much history reflected in county activities this month.  Residents have been invited to an interpretive walk on Iona Island, an island with a varied history of activity, travel a postcard ride of New City, view a play of John Andre meeting Benedict Arnold. The list continues. Currently the library has on exhibit images and original contracts owned by the Concklin family of South Mountain Road.

Take a look around you. Check out the many places that are part of our proud past. Remember that Rockland County began in 1798, 212 years ago! “Oh the place you’ll go” when you walk the Hessian Trail out of Bear Mountain; walk past Rockland Lake into the hills to view the remnants of a past ice industry; or visit the oldest lighthouse on the Hudson River in Stony Point.

I’m certain you will return home with a greater appreciation for this very unique county, smallest in the state outside of Manhattan and yet an integral part of our country's beginnings.

New Text Messaging Service for Holds

Now you can receive a text message when your item on hold is ready for pick up.  Stop by the Circulation Desk to sign up for this handy service today!

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