Shamus Dust: Hard Winter, Cold War, Cool Murder

“Hardboiled History”

A review by Joey Media

Somewhere between the fast-paced action of a 1940s noir and detailed, methodical read-by-the-fire novel, Shamus Dust is a well-researched, engaging exploration of London post–World War II (when “eggs were powder, bread was on ration, and bacon wasn’t even a rumor”), where the bombings and disruptions of the war have opened the gates to all manner of subterfuge and cash-grabs.

According to her biography, Janet Roger cut her thriller and mystery teeth on Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe and it definitely shows. But, as I said, this is more than just a trope-filled whodunit, although fans of the genre—myself included—will not be disappointed. If you are familiar with Hugh Laurie’s The Gun Seller, it has the very same layer of intelligence.

As a writer of historical novels who loves to do research and create highly detailed descriptions of the worlds in which they happen, as well as a playwright who has penned two audience-chooses-the-endings murder mystery musicals and an Escape Room based on my 1940s Manhattan gumshoe Dirk Manzman, I am well acquainted with the immense amount of work that goes into combining the two as Roger has accomplished.

The historical research really is exquisite, from the Roman presence in Britain at the turn from BC to AD and onward for hundreds of years to the German V-2 rocket launches. There are references to an RKO newsreel and film of the time. It helps to know your history when Newman references “Dickie Mountbatten” (the popularity of The Crown, and Charles Dance’s portrayal, should help) and another character says, “[T]hey charged at Balaclava and were chums with General Gordon in China” (George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman series, anyone?). There’s even a reference to a 1927 chess match. See if you can find it. Continue reading

The Blood of Squirrels

“For the Page as well as the Stage”

A Review by Joey Media

Some days, it is splendid to be a reviewer.

Most days, honestly. But the days when a little gift is delivered to my email in-box in the form of a book—or a play—that is in need of some attention, some publicity… those are the best for me.

Of the nearly 200 reviews I have written, roughly 180 of them are of fiction and nonfiction books. I have also reviewed music and videos. And also some plays.

Plays are interesting to review. An argument is often made that teaching Shakespeare as literature instead of theatre is detrimental. Well, of course you are missing the performance element, which is what the plays were expressly written for… but more people have probably read those plays than seen them, so overall it’s been helpful.

And here we are, five months into the pandemic, with Broadway shut down until at least 2021 and regional and small theatres struggling and closing. As a result, (millions of) people are watching plays on cable: Hamilton comes to mind, as well as the Danny Boyle–directed Frankenstein from the National Theatre starring Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch that was available on YouTube several months ago. Continue reading

Loose Canon

“Different mirrors; different reflections.”

A review by Joey Media

“Loose Cannon”: an expression that derives from the danger posed by an unsecured cannon on the deck of a ship.

Irish poet Michael McNamara’s newest collection plays on this definition. If he is the first to do so, I applaud him. The implications of this homonym certainly fit and the implications are profound.

Edgar Allen Poe said that a novel is a cannon, while a short story is a rifle. But what of poetry? We might say that a collection is a cannon, while the individual poem is the rifle.

Inserting the homonym, this loose canon of collected poetry can certainly do some damage: to the established canon and to our perceptions of time, place, and death.

These themes, prevalent in McNamara’s work, are the primary reason I am deeply engaged with it. I recently reviewed his collection, This Transmission (Argotist Ebooks, 2019), a complex work on the amorphous nature of identity. As founding editor of newmystics.com, I have promoted McNamara’s work through his author page and recently had the opportunity to read an as yet unpublished piece of his that is Gregory Corso–esque in its ruminations on death.

In Loose Canon, which features the poet on the cover, photographed with what appears to be a thermal-imaging camera, McNamara takes us around the world, looking at love, identity, death, and art. His image on the cover is done at a Dutch angle, cuing the tilt that will set that unsecured can(n)on—the poet—in motion. Continue reading

Connect to the Light

“It Is Already There, Awaiting You”

A review by Joey Media

A number of years ago, when I was living on the beautiful Crystal Coast in the southern Outer Banks of North Carolina, an author client referred me to the writing team of Carisa Jones and Sylvia Lehmann, collectively known as Receive Joy.

During a long lunch on the waterfront of my beloved Beaufort, we talked at length about their exciting work in positive thought and manifestation. By the end of the conversation, I had agreed to be the editor for their first book, Ask and You Shall Receive.

A truly dynamic duo, I was most impressed with their energy, enthusiasm, deep belief in God and His Gifts, and their commitment to write the book using only positive words.

During the course of my work with them, I attended several of their Miracle Group meetings and have since worked with them in other capacities.

Between Ask and You Shall Receive and the current book, they have stayed active in their mission to teach and mentor others in manifesting and positive living. They have also published several CDs, their Daily Asking Journal, and the Inspiration and Focus Wheel workbooks.

In addition, they co-created the Million True Millionaires, a Family of Wealth. For $225 a year, you can benefit from this business networking and support organization, which carries the same positive energies as Receive Joy’s other projects (www.milliontruemillionaires.com). Continue reading

A Search in Secret Egypt

“Spirits, Sphinx, and Serpents”

A Review by Joey Media

Paul Brunton, perhaps best known for his Short Path to Enlightenment and theories about the Oversoul, was an explorer, spiritualist, and thinker in the great tradition of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As humankind grappled with the Industrial Revolution and the question of the moral validity of Empire, Brunton and others like him sought to understand the varied religious, historical, and political systems of the world by experiencing them firsthand.

Prior to going to Egypt, he traveled to India, writing the precursor to this volume.

As Timothy J. Smith writes in the introduction, this journal is not only outward but an “inward journey of initiation.” When I first received it I anticipated a travelogue with valuable information about Egypt and its wonders through the lens of the 1930s. Although it is certainly that, detailed in its descriptions of buildings and people and filled with pictures—most taken by Brunton—it is also a great deal more.

If you’re interested in a spiritual explorer’s insights into the magick and mystery of Egypt, this is a treasure trove of unique experiences. Brunton heard the Sphinx speaking to him early on in his visit, and when he later spent the night in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid he had a profound encounter with Demons as well as Angels of Light.

Brunton is not shy about his theories. He talks about Atlantis as though it is absolute fact (and it very well may be), based on what he hears whispered by the Sphinx and his own extensive studies. Continue reading