Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Murder on the sea

My friend Shanmei, that usually writes Chinese-flavored, wuxia-style fantasies, is doing a series of historical mysteries set in the very first days of the last century, and based on the first-hand accounts of her grand-grandfather’s experiences in China and the East.

Murder on the Giava is the first of the adventures of Lieutenant Bianchi, an Italian officer attached to the Italian Expeditionary Corp sent to Peking in the aftermath of the Boxer Rebellion.

A smart, resourceful young man with a passion for photography, Bianchi is the sort of guy that notices things, and the go-to man when someone turns up dead on the ship that is carrying the Italian troops to China.

Murder on the Giava is a novella-length mystery, filled with historical detail and built around a baffling mystery.

Deception, sabotage, murder … and Bianchi has yet to set foot in China!
This is a nice start for a new series, and I hope we’ll see the sequel soon.
Meanwhile, you can get the book both in digital and paperback form, and it’s an excellent light reading for the summer.

(and yes, I translated it in English, so any problem with the text is my responsibility)


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It’s all fun and games until… – The Last of Sheila

The Last of Sheila is a 1973 mystery movie that I first saw somewhere in the early ’80s, during a long summer, and indeed, what’s better than a good chiller on a hot summer night?
Or in a cold winter night – and so I re-watched the movie last night, to see if it was as good as I remembered.
Well, mostly it was.

The basic premise: Sheila was killed in a hit-and-run accident. One year later, her husband reunites a number of friends on his yacht to play a game. How the game is connected to Sheila’s death is part of the mystery.

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Shoestring

These quarantine days are heavy – working on three projects (one good, one bad, and one weird) seemed like a good idea at the time, but after five days it’s starting to take its toll. My hands ache, my head aches, and I am absolutely sure I will never be able to write a single line of decent fiction for the rest of my life.

So to recharge my batteries and take my mind off the plotlines and what else, I’ve found a piece of my past as a TV viewer on Youtube, and I’m spending my lunch break going down memory lane.
because I was a very unhappy student in my first year of high school when I first saw Shoestring.

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A tour on the Minibus

As expected, the night spent reading Chris Fowler’s book about forgotten writers has started wreaking havoc with my reading plans, or at least with my to-read pile of books and ebooks.

Having read Fowler’s fun collection of short bios, I found it to be excuse enough to finally go and check out a writer that’s been on my radars for years now, but I never found the time, or motivation, or that extra bit of curiosity that would make me go and spend money and time on one of her books.

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Flash from the Past: Hawk & Fisher

I discovered Hawk & Fisher in the early ’90s, when I bought in bulk the six slim Headline paperbacks that make up the series. It was a very strange hybrid: sword & sorcery, detective story and humor.
But I liked the general concept, the six paperbacks were cheap, and it was a fun way to spend a summer.

Hawk & Fisher is one of the first series developed by Simon R. Green, a British writer that has fully metabolized the pulp ethos of yore: he writes serial characters, usually in pretty classic genres (fantasy, horror, space opera), adding a twist that makes even the most trite concepts look fresher.

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Tea-time with Frankie Drake

I’m sticking to my idea of dropping out of Facebook between 5 and 6.30 PM, and my levels of stress are dropping fast. Just give a wide berth to the socials as people get out of work and pour their frustration online, that’s the trick.

During these 90 minutes of freedom, I’m checking my mail, listening to some music, and maybe watching some TV show. I went through YouTube’s Origin in a week, and right now I’ve found another thing that keeps me happy while I detox from the socials: it’s called Frankie Drake Mysteries, and it’s just my cup of tea.

Which is quite fitting, considering I’m watching it at tea-time, or thereabouts.

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Shopping suggestions mystery

What would be our life without a little mystery.
Here’s my little mystery from the last two weeks or thereabouts.

I get mails from Amazon.it.
My favorite pusher of books and assorted stuff sends me a mail once in a while suggesting stuff I might like.
fadfae60-1061-4d45-b1ab-b2f7e14d41cdBecause evidently Amazon.it likes to play it safe, these lists of stuff I might like usually include ten items, eight of which are taken from my Amazon wishlist and/or from my recent browsing history, including stuff I have actually bought, with two other titles thrown in for good measure.
Now I find it markedly stupid on Amazon’s part to suggest to me I buy something I already wish to buy, but who knows, maybe it’s one of those psychology things.

Anyway, I got three such mails in the last ten/fifteen days, and something weird happened. Continue reading