Monday, June 29, 2020


My local library is open once again, though with limited hours and revised practices. On Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, the library is open from 10am to 3 pm.  On Tuesday and Thursday, those hours are 3-8pm. The first hour of each day is encouraged (but not mandated) for vulnerable populations. For the immediate future, the library will be closed on Sunday.

The outdoor book drops are only open Friday morning through Monday morning, though patrons can still return books indoors during the library’s hours of operation. Returned items are quarantined for 72 hours before being put back into circulation.

Sadly, my ability to get items via the ClevNet system is somewhat diminished in this time of pandemic. As veteran readers know, that system encompasses nearly a hundred libraries in the Northeast Ohio area. If any of them have items I want, they send them to my local library. In the past, my local library would call me to let me know a requested items had arrived and was ready for pickup. That’s not the case these days. Often, when I try to reserve a book, the item is not available because the library/libraries who have it are not ready to resume the flow of materials from one library to another. It will likely be several months before this inter-library service is fully restored. 

Because too many of my fellow Medina citizens are fucking morons, i.e., no masks and no social distancing, I’ve changed how I use the library. I have been making use of the Anytime Lockers accessible outside the main entrance. All I have to do is call the library and they will put my reserved items into one of the lockers. Then, when I pick them up, I only have to punch in my code and the locker door opens. Very convenient.

When I return items, I use the outdoor book drops. I miss actually going into the library, but I want to stay alive. Which will allow me to continue bringing you these bloggy things of ours.


Veteran bloggy thing readers know that I love reading mysteries and police procedurals set in Cleveland or other Ohio locations. Before I recognized this as a passion, I never thought there would be at least two such series set in my state’s nearby Amish communities, not to mention a series about a debutante turned cemetery guide who sees ghosts and solves mysteries for them. From time to time, I’ll be writing about these and other Ohio-based novels.

The Andy Hayes series by Andrew Welsh-Hughes has become one of my favorites. Hayes is a disgraced Ohio State University football star turned private investigator. He lives in Columbus and is reviled by most everyone who knows who he is, including his own father. He threw a big game and Buckeyes fans will never forgive him for that. I originally thought such enmity was far-fetched, but my son Eddie, the most devoted OSU football fan I know, tells me that continuing hatred is not just possible but likely. Lest you think Hayes is a masochist for staying in a city that so hates him, he stays because his two sons live there with their respective mothers. He might not be the best dad - his job causes him to cancel many outings with his boys - but he tries. His ex-wives hate Hayes only slightly less passionately than the Buckeyes fans.
The Third Brother [Swallow Press; $26.95] is one of two Andy Hayes novels I have read while sheltering at home. This one starts with Andy helping a Somali-American woman and her young children against  anti-immigrant creeps. This puts him on the radar of other Somali immigrants who hire him to find a missing teen accused of plotting a terror attack. That the missing kid’s older brother was an actual terrorist who died in Syria makes Andy’s job that more difficult. There are the usual turns and twists, but I don’t want to give them away. I will say this book has some nice moments for Andy’s growing supporting cast and the usual woes involved in his uncertain life navigating fatherhood, ex-wives and romance.

In Fatal Judgment [Swallow Press; $26.95], a judge with whom Andy had a very secret affair hires him and disappears. We have a second  missing person as well, a swamp land whose fate depends on how the judge rules, difficult moments with Andy’s eldest son, a visit to Andy’s brief career as a Cleveland Brown quarterback and a budding friendship with a dedicated cop. Like the previous novels in this series, Welsh-Hughes delivers a satisfying ending.

Welsh-Hughes seems to release a new Andy Hayes book every year or so. I’m eagerly awaiting the next one.

Since we’re on the theme of Ohio-based mysteries, let me recommend Vivien Chien’s fun Murder Lo Main [St. Martin's Paperbacks; $7.99]. This is the third book in her “Noodle Shop Mystery” series. Set in Cleveland’s fictitious Asia Village dining/shopping outdoor mall, the series features Lana Lee, now manager of her family’s Chinese restaurant. The earlier books in the series were Death by Dimpling and The Dim Sum of All Fears.
Obviously, murder is a common theme in these books. As is the harm done to Asia Village’s businesses as the deaths keep customers from coming to the mall. Feisty, impatient and tenacious, Ms. Lee gets involved in solving these murders against the advice of just about everyone: her family, some of her friends and her police detective boyfriend. I love how other friends get pretty excited about what Linda does. Because...wouldn’t you?

The novels are fun. The murders aren’t outlandish. The perils Lee faces are fairly realistic. I like the interactions between Linda and her family, including a difficult sister studying to become a lawyer. I like that her boyfriend comes to recognize, book by book, that he can’t control her and that she’s pretty good at what she’s doing. There is character growth in these novels.

Later books in the series, which I’m to get from my library sooner rather than later, are Wonton Terror, Egg Drop Dead and, in August, Killer Kung Pao. It makes me wonder how Asian Village can stay in business. On the other hand, I won’t lie. If that outdoor mall was for real and was actually the setting for such delicious murders, I’d eat and shop their regularly. Wouldn’t you?

That’s it for now. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2020 Tony Isabella

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