Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bitten By Books

Review of: The Seattle Barista Killer by Murdoch Hughes

Review by Rachel

Categories: Book Reviews, Shapeshifters, e-books

Here I am again with another book set in my favorite hometown of Seattle! The second I saw this title, I knew I had to read it, and am so glad I did. Seattle, home to the coffee mega corporation McBuck’s (this reminded me of a beautiful twist on name play, Starbucks and McDonald’s lol) is in an uproar when some of it’s barista’s come up brutally murdered, and nary a clue to be found as to who the perp might be. SPD calls in their super (on the sly) sleuth Harley Wolf to help them sniff out a clue. Harley’s got a knack for getting the job done when nobody else can. The guys down at the cop shop think he’s psychic, but really, he just has a keen sense of smell. So keen, he’d put a blood hound to shame.
You see, Harley’s a
werewolf. Not your average run of the mill rip em up shred em up fur ball, but one with an ethics code that made even this reviewers head spin. Not only is Harley a whiz bang private investigator, he’s a vegan. Yep, a vegan. A soy latte drinking, non bunny killing werewolf. The guy doesn’t even wear real leather when he’s riding his hog (that would be the bike not the pink squealing variety).
The storyline is fast paced and has more twists and turns than a single short, decaf, breve, sugar free, no foam, no whip 140 degree latte (with a recycled sleeve if you please). Harley really thinks he’s onto the real killer when a series of even stranger events starts to unfold that throw him for a loop. Will he be able to unravel the truth before another barista loses their life?
Murdoch Hughes has combined, a crime thriller, werewolf storyline interwoven with a great environmental message that will have you laughing and on the edge of your seat throughout the book. Not to mention leaving you with your mouth hanging open at the end when the real killer is revealed. I haven’t enjoyed a book so much in quite some time. You will definitely want to pick up a copy of The Seattle Barista Killer today. I cannot wait to see what Mr. Hughes has up his sleeve for another book in Harley Wolf series.
Book Stats:
Paperback and e-book: 216 pages
Publisher: Mundania Press LLC (July 26, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1594264864
ISBN-13: 978-1594264863
To purchase a print copy of The Seattle Barista Killer click
here.To purchase an electronic copy of The Seattle Barista Killer click here.
To visit the author’s website go
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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

They cannot shoot wolves...

They cannot shoot wolves, for now.

A federal judge recently reinstated endangered species list protections for wolves, preventing the hunting of wolves in the Northern Rockies…for now. It means the 500 wolves they intended to massacre—one-fourth of the estimated 2,000 wolves in the area—will live to roam wild and free. Well, free within certain boundaries. They can be legally shot if they are found in the vicinity of a dead calf.

How many motorists are shot after running into a cow crossing the road at the wrong moment? None, of course, silly question. But calves die all the time, from disease, the traumas of birth, lightening strikes and bad weather, to name just a few threats to a calf born on the open range. Ah, but let a wolf be found in the area of a dead calf, maybe eating the remains of calf that died of other natural causes, and the wolf can then be legally killed.

Another rationale for hunting wolves, culling they call it euphemistically, is that the wild game wolves prey on, like deer and elk, should be saved for the so-called sportsmen. Why shouldn’t it be the other way around? The deer and elk not killed by wolves may then be allotted to the sport hunter.

Most of this takes place on public land. Our land, belonging to us, the public. Land leased in many cases for a few cents an acre. We are subsidizing grazing cattle and the hunting of deer, elk, and small game. That is the way things are, but if we must hunt, why not the wolf?


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

They Shoot horses!!!

The U.S. Interior Department is about to sanction another slaughter of wild horses on our (public) land. What is their excuse for this cruelty to some very fine animals? Overgrazing?!!

There are only about 37,000 wild horses, while there are over a million cattle grazing on the same land. The cattlemen complain about the horses, even though they run their cattle on our land with leases that are dirt cheap. These are the same people who constantly complain about wolves on our land, claiming they kill a walking burger occasionally.

Lightning kills more cattle by far than wolves do, but you never hear them talk about that. Cattlemen help spread disease by running too many cattle out there, and various viruses kill more cattle than anything. Then there are cold and drought and rattlesnakes. Shouldn't the incidental wolf kill be just another of the costs of doing business?!!!

And shouldn't the small amount of grazing competition from a relatively few wild horses, on "our" land, be accepted as the effect of eradicating the horses' natural predators, which is also demanded by...ranchers!!!

And if they don't like the natural risks of predators and a bit of sharing the grass with wild horses, then they can raise their cattle elsewhere. If that means less cattle, well the overweight population of the United States could use a few less burgers. And instead of the cattle business being subsidized by cheap leases and our taxes, why not charge what the grazing is worth in the marketplace, complete with wild horses, wolves and all?!!!

Murdoch Hughes
Award-winning author

Monday, June 2, 2008

Motorcycle Booksignings

I love to do booksignings for events that are different from the usual bookstore signings. Since I ride a Harley-Davidson Road King motorcycle and have ridden motorcycles all my life, it follows that my detectives ride motorcycles. I don't think there is a more appropriate vehicle for a detective, which is a straight line through genres from the Western marshals riding horses. Motorcycles don't eat grass but they don't burn much gas either. And there's not as much coming out the other end.

For Memorial Day weekend I was the guest author at a Vintage Motorcycle Show hosted by the Old Strokers Motorcycle Works and Cafe in Everett Washington. Now you might wonder how that works out, considering the traditional stereotype of a biker as a skull and crossbones, itinerate mechanic who dropped out of school to ride the trails; and not a very good mechanic either since he seemed to be always working on the darn thing.

I don't subscribe to that stereotype. There is nothing better or easier to carry on a long ride than a good book. Unless of course it's a PDA of some sort that will store a thousand books, including a service manual and the "Motorcycle Guide to the Universe", as well as "Murder In La Paz", "Death Mask of the Jaguar" and "The Seattle Barista Killer"...must reads for any serious biker.

Bikers, like cowboys, have always read books, and they sometimes read the magazine articles before looking at the pictures they tear out and pin up on the walls of shops. Okay, maybe they look at the pictures first. But these days there is more time for reading because the motorcycles run better. Of course there are purists, but you throw away that pesky carb and replace it with fuel injection, and you have a recipe for a lot more riding and a lot less fixing.

And of course the ridership has changed, or more definitively, the biker community has expanded. It might include an emergency room intern studying Grey's Anatomy on his laptop in a roadside internet cafe in Baja. Or a retired couple in the Black Hills on a last adventure, with a copy of AARP magazine and a couple of paperbacks in their saddlebags. I was quite surprised when a local Harley-Davidson chapter did a group ride to go play miniature golf. Yikes! What's next, shuffleboard on vintage Cushman walkers? Well...why not?

So, you get all types at a motorcycle event these days, which is a good thing. Memorial Day weekend I had some great conversations, did a few readings when the bands weren't playing, sold many books, and even got to ride my Harley. Oh, and one more thing, there are more women bikers (and mechanics) all the time; it's the fastest growing segment of motorcycle owners. And they definitely read lots of books. Ride Sally, Ride.

Murdoch Hughes
Award-winning author

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Baja Authors Booksigning and Winetasting

The annual Baja authors booksigning and winetasting is a great event in a spectacular setting on a 150' bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It's hosted by the Pyramid Resort on their deck, with an average of 15 authors of books about or set in Baja. They also include several Baja wineries.

I'm a paraglider pilot as well as a Mystery Author, and last year the winds allowed me to launch on the bluff nearby and soar over the other authors and guests during the booksigning event. A photographer for the Gringo Gazette took the picture of me flying, on the right, and it later appeared in their English language newspaper.Sometimes promoting our books is a real chore, but this was one time I was thrilled to do it.

This year the Baja Authors Booksigning will be held on Saturday, May 3rd. I'll be there with my new Mystery, and if the winds are right I'll launch and fly with the pelicans, soaring above the event once again. I hope to see you there. Just look up.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Wolf Outrage

Well the wolf killers are back at it again. The Bush government just de-listed wolves from the endangered species list, which means Western states with wolves can start killing them again. Why? Because ranchers on public land occasionally lose a few least so they claim. They lose cattle to weather also so they should be shooting clouds. They lose cattle to disease, snakes, and probably many other things. These are cattle grazing on public land, which the ranchers use for extremely low-priced and therefore tax-supported leases. The few cattle lost to wolves should be just another cost of doing business. One way of looking at it is these wolves belong to us, the public, and the land is ours. But a few ranchers with political influence set the policy. It's one more case of Republicans catering to fat cats.

The other reason wolves will soon be open-seasoned for killing is there are some people who call themselves sportsmen who get some kind of strange, perverted thrill out of killing animals from a distance with high-powered rifles with scopes. I don't know what is sporting about that. There are even fat cat doctors and dentists who hire guides so they can shoot wolves from the safety of an airplane or helicopter. Or in winter they shoot them from snowmobiles. These are people without morals or ethics, who think no more of the miracle of wildlife we share the planet with, than they do of tossing their trash onto the earth wherever they happen to be. To them it's like shooting a beer bottle. It's live-action target practice.

It's disgusting. Wolves are amazing creatures with the same ancestors as the dog who lies in your lap, or the ones working the cattle for the ranchers. It's an ego thing. They can pass the cost of the few cattle who might be killed by wolves on to the consumer. Do you want a dead wolf with that steak?

Please let your congressperson know you oppose the vicious killing of wolves. It's not a matter of how many wolves there are or how many cattle are killed. Wolves have a right to exist. Stop the senseless killing.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Interview by author, Murdoch Hughes, with his Mystery character, Harley Wolf, a vegan werewolf detective. You can learn more about Harley in The Seattle Barista Killer, available now from Mundania Press, LLC.

So Harley, what does a vegan werewolf eat?

Very funny! You want me to use that tired line you throw out at readings? I stalk the wild asparagus? There, you happy, dogboy?

Ouch, your bark bites. People can't help being interested in the whole vegan thing.

Yeah sure. There are no stupid questions, just stupid people. There are billions of vegetarians and vegans in the world, whole nations even. But some little arrogant shit-burger eating fatboy thinks I'm weird. Oh it's okay for me to be a werewolf, but that whole vegan thing is too weird? Sure. Do you know why they recommend that hamburger be thoroughly cooked? It's because all meat has feces on the outside of it. When you cook a steak the harmful bacteria are on the outside and are killed off. But with hamburger the feces is ground into the meat so the feces, otherwise known as shit, has to be well done. It's still feces, however, but at least it's pure poop.

Okay, okay, enough with all that. Let's talk about the "Seattle Barista Killer."

You talk about the book. It's what you do best. You do write darn good werewolf characters.

Uhmm…well, how about coffee? You're known as something of an espresso snob. Why is the Pacific Northwest such a huge espresso consuming area?

So there really are dumb questions. Okay. This is the first region in this country to have readily available fresh gourmet coffee. People love coffee and they even drank that horrible stuff that was pre-ground and sealed up in those tin cans. I'm not sure anyone could have actually liked the taste of that stuff. They probably drank it for the legal buzz they got off of it. Legal buzzes are hard to come by. Coffee tastes best when you use the highest grade of freshly roasted coffee beans and only grind them just before you make it. It's best when infused with steam and consumed immediately. The reason is, the best of the aroma and flavor is contained in oils in the beans. The oils deteriorate with time and begin to evaporates after it is ground. However, even the best grade of beans slowly roasted by a maestro, can be ruined if not prepared properly.

We in the Northwest are lucky to have many good things, as well as a continually cleansing, rainy environment. Fresh is the word. And we have the ocean, mountains and the largest remaining number of werewolves, to name just a few of the things that make this area so special.

Speaking of werewolves, your girlfriend Helene is a fantastic character, if I do say so myself. Do you think she should get a spin-off and have her own series?

Grrr!!! Now you want to steal my girl? We work great together. Why mess with a good thing? Of course I wouldn't want to hold her back if readers really want something like that. She's amazing. In fact that's why I agreed to go along with this whole story idea of yours. I wasn't so sure it was a good thing to let everyone know that werewolves were alive and living in the Northwest. Mob mentality still exists. I also liked the chance to dispel all those old myths about us, but the main reason I went along was the chance to work with Helene. She's fantastic.

So you like the love scenes?

Yeah sure, you think I'm crazy? That's the best part. Ar-ar-arrrroooo! You know what they say about riding a Harley.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Review in the January 24 issue of "The Stranger"

January 23, 2008
Furry Justice
The Hero of Murdoch Hughes's Noir Novel Is a Vegan Werewolf
by Paul Constant

The Seattle Barista Killer
by Murdoch Hughes(Mundania Press) $12.95

Ed McBain made only one real mistake with his 87th Precinct series, but it was a mistake hardwired into the core of the books, one that tainted every one of the dozens of novels that followed. Rather than setting his fictional police precinct in a real city, all the action takes place in The City, an unnamed metropolis that many people assume is a direct analog for New York but which actually contains elements of Chicago, Boston, and even St. Louis.
Some people would claim that this geographic detachment frees McBain's stories from becoming dated, and makes them more lasting works of fiction. These people are wrong. There's nothing more lasting than rooting a story in a specific time and place. Imagine Dickens without soot-crusted London streets, or Dostoevsky without hopeless, frozen Russia: It's impossible.
Murdoch Hughes understands this, and he's chosen the perfect setting for his newest mystery, The Seattle Barista Killer. Seattle, still in its post–tech boom hangover and on the cusp of a housing depression, is an ideal backdrop for a noirish mystery. This book meanders through specific locations (Everett, First Avenue in Pioneer Square, the view down Denny Way "with the Space Needle pointing up through the mist to hidden stars above, like some giant compass needle showing the way to infinity") so clearly that an overachieving reader could take a map of Seattle and draw out the action as it takes place.
Armed with this specific sense of place, Hughes creates a private investigator that embodies The Seattle Man in 2008. His name is Harley Wolf—as improbable a name as Spillane's Mike Hammer or Hammett's Sam Spade—and, much like Seattle, he is composed of contradictions. Wolf is a Harley-Davidson-motorcycle-driving man with a lust for, well, lust. He's a man who knows how to fight for justice with his bare knuckles. And he's a werewolf.
At the same time, Wolf is an avowed vegan who thoughtfully prepares eggs for his lover after a long night of passionate lovemaking. He's a bit of a triple-espresso-quaffing coffee snob whose heightened sense of smell can barely stand corporate-chain coffee. And he feels like an outsider compared to the rest of the highly uncouth local werewolf pack. He's a pacifist, or at least he tries to be.
But when a serial killer known as The Barista Basher starts mauling female coffee clerks—"These baristas are like princesses around here," explains an SPD officer at the scene of the third attack—Wolf, brought on the case as an outside consultant, takes it personally, and he vows to track down the killer and bring him to justice.
Killer is clearly intended as the first book in a series, and the colorful supporting cast is introduced as Wolf's hunt grows frenetic. The most colorful of the lot is an ancient cowboy named Greg who lives in the U-District and buys his Stetsons off eBay: "Why auctions are probly old as the human race, and the fact it's on some new gadget that looks a lot like a typewriter hooked up to a telyvision shouldn't stop no one."
The most important character, though, is Seattle, and we learn about its history as Wolf prowls the streets: "The streets I walked had begun as a settlement for logging the nearby hills, with the huge trees cut down, stripped, and skidded down the muddy slopes to the salty waterway, where they were shipped south to supply the rapidly growing population of California."
As Killer moves along, too, the language becomes more exciting. This is clearly an author having a tremendous amount of fun: "'Ohhh,' she moaned, moving slowly, like melting chocolate dancing a tango. Metaphors mixed and flowed through us, one to another until language couldn't keep up, our words slipping into the sweet primordial liquid of our origins."
As the case explodes into a Spillane-style climax that includes violence, S&M, a hostage in peril, giant dildos, and jealousy, it becomes obvious that Killer is about more than just solving a crime. It's about the weird state of modern semimonogamous sexual relationships, boundless corporate greed, the changing idea of masculinity in polite society, and the importance of good coffee. It's about everything that makes Seattle what it is today.
More articles in Books »

Also by Paul Constant
Constant Reader
The Acrid Stench of PoliticsPosted Jan 15, 2008