News, Reader Comments and Responses

I do not mean to create a blog but I do receive some very interesting and useful comments and suggestions from readers from time to time. I thought it might be interesting to share these thoughts and perhaps even stimulate more readers to respond with their thoughts and ideas. Thanks to those who have provided these gems and I hope my readers will enjoy them as much as I did. 

Let us hear from you!!  Keep your ideas and comments coming and I’ll keep sharing them.  Send me an email at



Global Warming and Climate Change

I know most of my readers are interested in solving mysteries, but I'm interested today in unraveling two mysteries: global warming and climate change. I've been working for the last couple of years with one of my graduate students and we've produced a book called The Coming Climate Crisis, published by Rowan Littlefield in Boulder, which is available at Amazon or directly from the publisher on it's website. The official author is Claire Parkinson, an impressive scientist at NASA. If you want to really understand the science behind climate change, this is the book for you. Happy reading!


Most of you know that I was stricken with a terrible stroke two years ago.  When my life was in a vegetative state, I met people who were worse off than I, and I realized it would be beneficial to volunteer and give back.

I have chosen to dedicate my time at a wonderful organization in Hanover, New Hampshire called the Upper Valley Hostel, which provides accommodation and hospitality for patients undergoing treatment at the nearby Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

As I have been back volunteering, I've realized that our hostel, a 100-year old building, is not exactly handicapped accessible. So I've started a fund, named the Mystery Fund, to help raise money for this worthwhile organization. I have donated $50.00 to the Hostel for the Mystery Fund. Any size monetary contribution you can make would be wonderful.  If you'd like to donate, please mail the check to:

Upper Valley Hostel
17 East South Street
Hanover, New Hampshire 03755

04/21/10 - Commercial Beware

Most of you know that I have never asked for money on this website, nor will I ever do so. But I do sometimes ask you to pick up a certain book, such as the French crime fiction from the University of Wales.

Now I ask a personal favor. I edited a series of books called The Why of Where for Rowman & Littlefield Book Publishers.  There are three books so far, entitled Space, Place and Sex, by Lynda Johnston and Robyn Longhurst, Landscapes of Music, by David Knight, and The Chinese Diaspora, by Carolyn Cartier and Laurence J.D. Ma.  I will have a book in the series by the end of the year, entitled The Why of Where, which will address matters of geography.  I would appreciate if you would investigate or just take a look at these books, as they are on very interesting topics. Without readers, the series will be stopped, which would be a shame.

By the way, for those who ask, I am recovering from the stroke very well.  I am beginning to walk, and I will be back to my old, cantankerous self soon. I truly appreciate all of the emails from my readers inquiring about my health and wishing me well. 

Happy Reading, fellow bibliophiles!

04/21/10 - Medical Mysteries

Some time ago I got my regular copy of the New York Review of Books, a superb journal that not only reviews books but runs articles by very talented and intelligent people. There was an article by Dr. Jerome Groopman, the author of the book How Doctors Think.  His argument was that doctors rely too much on technology these days, and should move to a more Sherlock Holmes method of investigation and observation. He recommends the book Medical Detectives by Berton Rouechée, a collection of mysterious medical occurrences. I promise you if you start it, you won’t be able to put it down. It is a true mystery lover’s dream.

11/25/09 - Children's Mysteries

As most of you know, I had a severe stroke a year ago.  I spend the first few months recovering at a wonderful place in Virginia called Heritage Hall, a very caring rehabilitation center.  After 10 months, we had to decide whether to stay in Virginia or go back to beautiful New Hampshire.  We decided, obviously, on New Hampshire.  When we got here we were surprised at the outpouring of help from friends and neighbors.  Our closest neighbors are the McGraths.  They have a 10-year old daughter, Jacqueline and a 6-year old son, Liam.  These two wonderful children decided to come over and read to me during my recovery.  First, they brought the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries.  Then they came over with the Cabin Creek Mysteries by author, Kristiana Gregory.  What a great experience! 

The Cabin Creek Mysteries are wonderful books for children.  They are well written and beautifully illustrated.  It was fun to hear the children take in their breath during the stories and I could honestly say that these kids were involved in the action. 

While reading The Secret of Robber’s Cave, they were trying to solve the mystery and they were actually in the cave in the story having a great time with the main characters.  These two children were so excited by this book and it amazed me. The Cabin Creek Mysteries are superb and I recommend them for anyone with children from 6 to 12 years old.  Jacqueline and Liam have been really great company and are now mystery fans.  They have made me aware of how great these children’s mysteries are. 

11/09/08 - The Arabic Mysteries

For a long time, I have wanted to do a column on the Arabic mysteries but there is so little information about this location that it has been difficult to add this area to my website.

However, recently, I came across a wonderful translation of an Arabic mystery by my good friend at Dartmouth, Jonathan Smolin. The title of the book is The Final Bet, and the original author is Abdelilah Hamdouchi.

The novel is published by the American University in Cairo, which is also headquartered in New York.  A complete review of the book may be found at The Final Bet Review.

Because of translation cost and the lack of a clear market, publishers are often reluctant to publish Arabic novels, so it is important that mystery lovers and others support this book. 

Please support this publisher and buy The Final Bet. It’s a rare opportunity to get a glimpse into Moroccan culture and the translation is excellent. I am sure you will enjoy it.


5/31/08 - A new and superb volume, entitled French Crime Fiction, will be published in September 2008 by the University of Wales Press.  I have reviewed and evaluated it and it is the best material I have ever seen on the topic.  It is accessible and extremely well written.  Look for it - it is worth the wait.


A new and superb volume, entitled French Crime Fiction, will be published in April 2009 by the University of Wales Press.  I have reviewed and evaluated it and it is the best material I have ever seen on the topic.  It is accessible and extremely well written.  Look for it - it is worth the wait.


Recently, the editor of the Felony and Mayhem Press in New York, Maggie Topkis, informed me that she read my piece on Claire Taschdjian’s mystery (The Peking Man is Missing), found a copy of the book and was fascinated by it. My description of it appears in the column on my website at Off the Beaten Track. At any rate she has decided to re-publish it. She has contacted the family and will include in the volume a biographical sketch of Ms. Taschdjian’s life along with a short section on the issue of the Peking archeological find and the bones of Peking man. The book is scheduled for publication in July 2008. It is amazing what a small reference on a humble website can generate.


One of my regular readers is also a very talented author - Debby Atkinson. Her mysteries take place in the Hawaiian Islands and deserve your attention. Primitive Secrets was published in 2002 and The Green Room in 2005- both by Poisoned Pen Press, a press I highly respect. Give them a try. I am sure the exotic island venue will keep you enthralled. By the way, Debby’s newest book, Fire Prayer, has just been published and I am looking forward to reading it. It is set on Molokai, the former Leper Colony. Cannot wait. She and I have also started a conversation about Juanita Sheridan, an interesting person and author of a number of mysteries set in Hawaii in the late 1940s and early 50s. She introduced the first primary Asian crime solver to the genre- Lily Wu.

My reader and I have also started a conversation about Juanita Sheridan, an interesting person and author of a number of mysteries set in Hawaii in the late 1940s and early 50s. She introduced the first primary Asian crime solver to the genre - Lily Wu.  Her books are for sale at Amazon.


One of my most interesting respondents is from Japan (and I stupidly lost his name and email address). He sent me a message informing me that there was a Japanese science fiction and mystery writer named Jyuza Unno (1897-1949) who created a character named “Syoroku Homura,” the Japanese transliteration of Sherlock Holmes!! I'm unable to find out much about Unno on the Internet, so I hope my informant is still a reader and will contact me.


A rather classy version of my Maps and Mysteries column was published in Mystery Scene, Number 98, 2007. It is entitled “Mapping the Mystery” and is grandly illustrated thanks to my friend, the editor, Kate Stine. If you have Adobe Acrobat on your computer, you may be downloaded, in Adobe Acrobat .pdf format, here. By the way, Mystery Scene is without a doubt the best crime fiction magazine on the market and rivals the old Armchair Detective. Have a look and be pleasantly surprised.


Dr. Bonnie Hallman of the University of Manitoba wrote to me about a series of novels, written by Gail Bowen, whose amateur detective in the series, Joanne Kilburn, is a university professor in Saskatchewan. She has her own website at Gail Bowen's Home Page, which lists her books and ordering instructions.  Six novels in the series have been made into movies for television.  The stories are very political and geographical and she uses them as teaching tools in her environmental class. I am looking forward to reading them. (By the way, I do not do much with Canada because I have counterpart there who dislikes my crossing the border!).


Jane Arnold from Wisconsin has put me onto two excellent writers. Steve Hamilton sets his stories in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and they are superb. His website is at Steve Hamilton

Jane also recommends Victoria Huston who has her detective haunt the Eagle River area of central Wisconsin.  Her website is at Victoria Houston.


Chuck Brownman, another regular reader strongly recommends the work of C.J. Box whose hero is a game warden –Joe Pickett. His website is at C. J. Box.  Box’s novels are set in Wyoming and very strongly reflect the local terrain and climate. His latest novel, Three Weeks to Say Goodbye, is scheduled to be released on January 6, 2009. Chuck also recommends Steve Hamilton’s Michigan novels.


David Wyman of Goffstown, New Hampshire, one of the bloggers on the Assistant Village Idiot website, and I have been having a discussion about where the largest mystery reading audience is located.  We have been throwing hypotheses about but, in my opinion, there has been a great growth of mystery readers in Russia and Japan - large enough in terms of reading rates to rival the U.S.  Also, I argue that mysteries are most popular where there are educated populations.  That is based on my hypothesis that mystery readers are more intellectually oriented and not into passive pap reading.  We are looking for any real data and your opinions on this matter.  Obviously, the "largest number" of readers will be in large population centers so we are concerned about a more nuanced statistic.


Barbara Delaney Bogosian has written to ask me why I have not done much with Cara Black’s novels set in Paris. Her website is at Cara Black Paris Mystery Author.  I confess that I only read one – Murder in the Marais. I will try to get to the others- Murder in the Belville, Murder in the Bastille, Murder in Clichy, and others. Her eighth Aimee Luduc mystery, Murder in the Rue de Paradis, was released on March 1, 2008.  Given the titles are all regions of Paris, I should read them (but as you all know, so many books, so little time!).

Barbara also asked why I do so little with British mysteries and the answer is - there are so many sites that deal with the Brits that I don’t see it as a priority here. But, I do think that P.D. James is the greatest living mystery writer and that Ellis Peters (real name Edith Pargeter) a close second!!

Let us hear from you!!  Keep your ideas and comments coming and I’ll keep sharing them. 

Send me an email at George Demko!

Cheers - GJD

Updated April 21, 2010

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