Trace Elements

How, you’re probably wondering, could the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) possibly relate to a novel about Venice? OK, I admit that you’re probably wondering no such thing. But I’m going to tell you anyway. Of course water is the… Read More ›

Ukulele of Death

Yes, it’s spelled “ukulele,” not “ukelele.” As those clickbait posts on Facebook would say, almost 90% of adults spell this word wrong! A second issue is not so easily resolved. Many of us like labels and taxonomies—not as a tool… Read More ›

Secrets Typed in Blood

As the third, most recent, and best-so-far novel in Stephen Spotswood’s great Pentecost and Parker series, Secrets Typed in Blood is an outstanding detective novel that takes place in the year of my birth. I reviewed the two previous books… Read More ›

Teachers deserve better.

“Teachers deserve better. They deserve more trust and respect, and less standardized testing, smaller class sizes, and yes, larger paychecks.” So says author Alexandra Robbins in The Teachers: A Year Inside America’s Most Vulnerable, Important Profession. A well-known long-time New… Read More ›

13 Quirky Stories

I have written about the fascinating author Helen DeWitt four times over the past eleven years: They say that third time is the charm, but what about the fifth time? Well, the verdict is mixed. DeWitt’s short story collection, Some… Read More ›


Don’t leave this book—Murder Your Employer: The McMasters Guide to Homicide—lying around casually at work. Your boss might get the wrong idea. Now that it’s safely on your night table at home, or on the end table next to your… Read More ›