Secret Adversary (1922) by Agatha Christie

I’d not read Agatha Christie for decades. And Then There Were None was a favourite of mine as a teenager.

Secret Anniversary is a surprisingly sophisticated and complicated murder mystery … done in a very lighthearted way.

Very easy to read.

The book introduces the characters of Tommy and Tuppence who feature in three other Christie novels and one collection of short stories …

The Secret Adversary was the second Christie work to be turned into a film. …

The novel was adapted twice for television, in 1983 and in 2014 …



Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell

Another in the murder mystery series featuring the historical figures of Thomas De Quincey — the English Opium Eater — and his daughter Emily.

Another strong novel. I recommend it.

The year is 1855. The Crimean War rages. The incompetence of British commanders causes the fall of the government. The Empire teeters. …

This killer targets members of the upper echelons of British society, leaving with each corpse the name of someone who previously attempted to assassinate Queen Victoria. The evidence indicates that the ultimate victim will be Victoria herself. … 


Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell

An excellent story well written. Historical crime fiction.

David Morrell:

Murder As a Fine Art is the first in my three-book Victorian mystery/thriller series. Each novel has a backdrop of a real 1800s crime that paralyzed England …

Long before Jack the Ripper, the shocking Ratcliffe Highway murders of 1811 were the first publicized mass killings in English history. Never fully explained, they paralyzed London and all of England.

Click to enlarge

Forty-three years later, the equally notorious Thomas De Quincey wrote a ground-breaking essay “Postscript: On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts” in which he meticulously reproduced the Radcliffe highway multiple murders in blood-spattered detail, making readers feel they’re both the murderer and the victims.

In Murder As a Fine Art, shortly after this terror-drenched essay is published, a family is killed in the same horrific way as the earlier murders. It seems someone is using De Quincey’s essay as an inspiration—and a blueprint. And De Quincey himself is the obvious suspect. Aided by his brilliant daughter Emily and two determined Scotland Yard detectives, he must uncover the truth before more blood is shed and London itself becomes the next victim.

Click PLAY or watch the trailer on YouTube.

Vita Nostra by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko

Washington Post called this book the “anti-Harry Potter you didn’t know you wanted.”

It is a little bit like Hogworts University … with sex and vodka.

But more than anything else this book is weird. It’s long. And by the end I still had not much idea what was happening to the students at the Institute of Special Technologies.

It seems this is the first book in the Metamorphosis cycle, three unconnected novels addressing themes of transformation.

Overall, I can’t enthusiastically recommend.

Vita Nostra is a novel by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko (Maryna and Serhiy Dyachenko) first published in 2007 in Ukraine.

The novel tells the story of Alexandra (Sasha) Samokhina, who is forced by an unknown man to attend a remote and mysterious university.

The Dyachenkos hail from Kiev and currently reside in California.

cycling eastern Washington State

July 14, 2019 – day 12.

I was up early at my wild camp between road and cattle fence.

Near Sprague Lake I happened past a baby bird staying motionless on the roadway. Seems it had become separated from the Mom.

Eastern Washington State is interesting. There are a lot of old trucks, some operational.

And how can there be so many trains? Are they all headed to Seattle?

As I’d given up on the Great American Rail-Trail I took, instead, a variety of backcountry roads and non-motorized trails.

Actually I got trail advice from the first GART hiker I’d met. (Now retired, he now plans to wander the USA and Canada with his dog Oreo.)

Columbia Plateau Trail
Fish Lake

For some reason there was a gap on the Columbia Plateau Trail … but I found a way to squeeze through.

Later I had problems with my bike. Somehow, somewhere I’d broken 3 spokes.

Is this a bike shop?

It was a long day, but a good day — aside from the spokes.

The bike still rolled but was quite noisy and wobbly.

No matter how much I drank, I could not urinate. 😕

Is that a bad sign?

In these flatlands it wasn’t easy to find a discrete place to camp. Happily I came upon this old foundation sunk into the ground.

Click PLAY or watch the ride on YouTube.


Next morning I tried taping up my broken spokes so they made less noise.

It worked, but not well.

Luckily the farm highway was nearly deserted.

I wobbled my way into the town of Plummer, Idaho and called Dave Adlard in nearby Couer d’Alene. Could he come pick me up?

Dave did rescue. But it was one of he busier days of his life. 🤔

I waited at the Gateway restaurant. And enjoyed a 19,000 calorie breakfast.

cycling Moses Lake to Sprague Lake WA

July 13, 2019 – day 11.

Dullest day, so far.

Since I had a motel the previous night, I stayed until check-out at 11am.

Breakfast and coffee were included with the $60 room.

After yesterday’s long, hot ride I felt I should cut the number of hours in the sun today. I didn’t really get going until Noon.

I’d planned to resume the Great American Rail-Trail but found the track too sandy. It really requires a fat bike. I quit after about a mile.

Parallel at that point was a canal path. Better, but still difficult to pedal.

Finally I headed for the empty secondary highways.

This farmland is pretty. But I didn’t stop to take many photos.

I set my sights on reaching Plummer, Idaho, the start of the Great American Rail-Trail in that State. It’s called Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes.

On a break I took some selfies.

The small farm towns of eastern Washington State are very quiet. There must be inexpensive houses for sale.

Gas, Food, Dope.

Looking to stop about 8pm I found a nice, quiet spot between a farm road and the fence.

Click PLAY or watch today’s ride on YouTube.

cycling Ellensburg to Moses Lake WA

July 12, 2019 – day 10.

A cyclist had earlier warned me to prepare for disappointment on the so-called Great American Rail-Trail Washington State.

And I was disappointed today.

Twice I was turned back at points on the where bridges were impassable. You can see where I backtrack on my route video.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

My first roadblock came right at the beginning of the day. The bridge over the I-90 was out.

Without hopping fences that meant a 6 mile detour. But a detour including coffee and bacon on a stick!

Farm country has a lot of fences. And other impediments to cycling.

On the other side of the bridge the GART continues on to Army land — Joint Base Lewis McChord. It did not look welcoming. One tunnel MIGHT be closed on that 22 mile section.

I decided, instead, to detour via the I-90 stopping at the Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility.

The I-90 is not all that bad. It has a very wide shoulder.

Once reaching the gorgeous Columbia River I tried to rejoin the Great American Rail-Trail.

Once again, no go. The bridge over the river was out. 😕

I backtracked again now forced to cross the Columbia on the I-90. Not good. There is no shoulder at all crossing the bridge.

Look — the website is lousy. Not up-to-date.

Not having their own app they rely instead on TrailLink, also lousy.

The Great American Rail-Trail is more of a concept than a thing. 

I decide to skip the next section as well trying to resume (last chance GART) at Warden past Moses Lake.

I road the service roads beside the I-90 freeway. Not much shoulder but hardly any traffic.

By the way, there is a town called George, Washington.

This is lush cropland. Lots of potatoes. Lots of corn.

This was my longest, hottest day so far. On a whim I decided to get a cheap motel in Moses Lake.

For dinner I followed the crowd over to Chevron.