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Showing posts by: Guy Bergstrom click to see Guy Bergstrom's profile
May 19 2017 3:00pm

Dear Professor Moriarty: Petty Thief or Criminal Mastermind

This week's guest columnist is Professor Moriarty, who reports that he is, contrary to rumors, very much alive and quite busy planning for a major event that you will all witness soon. Very soon.

Dear Professor Moriarty,

Our 12-year-old daughter was just caught shoplifting from the drug store, and she seems more concerned about how she got caught—there's a camera she didn't spot—than the fact that she did something wrong.

We aren't rich, and things are pretty tight now that the mill closed, but we've always tried to give her what she needed. And she’s always been a good kid: straight A’s, consumes books from the library, and just got into our school’s gifted program. 

Why would she throw her future away by doing something so stupid? 

What's worse is this wasn't an impulsive crime. In her History notebook, I saw a sketch of the drugstore with the locations of five cameras, the expected angles of view for each, and blindspots in each aisle with a list of items, their retail price, and the names of other children. 

I think she was planning on selling what she stole to other kids. 

How can we make sure she understands where she went wrong and how this sort of criminal behavior can ruin her life? 

—Worried Single Dad in Delaware

[Read Professor Moriarty’s advice!]

Jan 21 2017 2:00pm

Review: Treachery in Death by J.D. Robb

To celebrate the upcoming release of J.D. Robb's 44th Eve Dallas mystery, Echoes in Death, we're taking a look back at every single book in the In Death series. Today, Guy Bergstrom reviews #32, Treachery in Death.

This is an unusual novel in the series in that it circles around Peabody instead of Eve, pushing her from sidekick to co-star. 

The author sets it up nicely in the opening pages, with a murder in which Peabody plays the bad cop and Eve plays good cop. It is a slight foreshadow of the significance of Peabody to this book.

It's also different in that instead of hunting for a murderer on the outside, Peabody and Eve are facing traitors from within their own police department. This develops the figures from the Department and allows the reader to see the interaction between them.

[Read Guy Bergstrom's review of Treachery in Death...]

Dec 23 2016 12:00pm

Dear Professor Moriarty: How Do I Say No This Christmas?

This week's guest columnist is Professor Moriarty who reports that he is, contrary to rumors, very much alive and quite busy planning for a major event that you will all witness soon. Very soon.

Dear Professor Moriarty,

Every year, extra family and friends invite themselves to our house for Christmas dinner—or just show up—and it’s getting out of control. 

I cook and clean for days. Half the guests don’t bring a dish, and nobody RSVPs these days. Last year, I had to drag two folding tables from the garage at the last minute to seat my cousin, his wife, and their three sons—who spent three hours rummaging about the bedrooms upstairs while their parents drank all the red wine they could find.

The holidays are my favorite season, and I’m a generous person, but I can’t keep doing this. 

How can I politely say no to so many family members and friends, and what’s the right way to do it without alienating my husband’s five siblings and some of our best friends from church? 

—Not-So-Merry Christmas

[Read Professor Moriarty’s advice!]

Dec 19 2016 1:00pm

Dear Professor Moriarty: A Pile of Boring Secret Santa Gifts

This week's guest columnist is Professor Moriarty who reports that he is, contrary to rumors, very much alive and quite busy planning for a major event that you will all witness soon. Very soon.

Dear Professor Moriarty,

I have a large family, and this year it’s our turn to host Christmas.

The problem comes on Christmas morning when it’s time to unwrap gifts. Since anyone can remember, it’s been our family’s tradition to do a Secret Santa gift exchange, where you draw a name out of a hat and buy a gift for them—under $15, please! 

Nobody knows who gives each gift because it’s supposed to be from all of us. And this is a huge let-down, every year. I can’t let our two boys open their giftsthey’re thoughtful and things they actually wantbecause it would make the rest of the family feel bad after they open a long series of thoughtless, cheap, and unwanted items ... like socks. 

I swear my brother-in-law shops exclusively at Dollar Tree for his gifts, and it shows.

How can I convince the rest of the family to change this cheap, stupid tradition? 

—Christmissing the point

[Read Professor Moriarty's advice!]

Dec 9 2016 3:30pm

Dear Professor Moriarty: A Company Christmas Dinner Disaster

This week's guest columnist is Professor Moriarty who reports that he is, contrary to rumors, very much alive and quite busy planning for a major event that you will all witness soon. Very soon.

Dear Professor Moriarty,

As the only female coder at a Silicon Valley startup, I’ve been delegated to doing the company Christmas dinner—which was okay the first two years when we had 8 people on staff, with half of those being the brothers of the owner. Last year, we had 16, and that was tough.

After a new round of venture capital, we now have 32 staff, and my boss is planning on doubling again to 64 next year before we go public. My boss is an engineer who doesn't understand how cooking for 32 or 64 is insane. He thinks my process is sound, so I can “just scale up.” And he won't take no for an answer. 

This is more than a little sexist and oppressive, but I need the salary and the health benefits. This is a dream job the other 11 months of the year, so I don’t want to quit. 

How can I convince the boss that he’s asking too much?

Fed Up With the Company Christmas Dinner

[Read Professor Moriarty's advice!]

Sep 16 2016 1:00pm

Dear Jack Reacher: Family is Forking Important

This week's guest columnist is Reacher, who just received three unusual deposits into his bank account for $2.06, $5.55, and $12.94, which clearly is intended to be a phone number with a Seattle area code: 206-555-1294. This leads to a problem, seeing how Reacher doesn't own a phone.

Dear Reacher,

My sister is a year older than me, and we grew up as best friends. I married a rancher in Nebraska and we've got a big, happy family—two boys, two girls—and she married an investment banker in New York.

The trouble is, we've packed up and driven to her place the last two years for Thanksgiving dinner with our parents, and the whole time, she kept correcting the table manners of our kids, especially which fork to use. This is the only time the whole family can get together, and her pettiness makes me want to skip it—except we can't. She even did it this summer when she visited our farm for a week.

How can I get her to stop?

—Sister, Up in Arms

[Read Jack Reacher's advice!]

Aug 26 2016 1:00pm

Dear Wallander: Advice for a Concerned Mother

This week's guest columnist is Kurt Wallander, the brooding Swedish police inspector who looks like he hasn't shaved, or slept, for days. 

Dear Wallander,

I'm the mother of three beautiful young boys—ages 3, 6, and 8—and one of them is lying to me. I found Gilly the Goldfish on the rug, ten feet from her tank. Clearly, she didn't make that leap by herself. 

Luckily, I got her back into the water and she seems okay.

All three of my boys deny doing this. In your experience, what's the best way of getting the truth out of them—and how can my husband and I ever trust them with the life of another pet?

—Mom Wants Answers

[Read Wallander's advice!]

Jul 1 2016 12:00pm

Dear Professor Moriarty: Advice for an Overbearing Mother

This week's guest columnist is Professor Moriarty who reports that he is, contrary to rumors, very much alive and quite busy planning for a major event that you will all witness soon. Very soon.

Dear Professor Moriarty,

Our youngest daughter is getting married, and we are, of course, thrilled to pay for the wedding. The trouble is she's still young at heart and wants a gothic wedding, with pale makeup that makes her look like a corpse, an atheist woman presiding instead of our pastor, and a punk band instead of a pianist—and worst of all, she's insists on a dreadful black wedding dress. 

I can't bring myself to underwrite this debacle. 

How can I convince my daughter that she needs to have a traditional marriage ceremony with our pastor, a white dress, and classical music?

Worried Mother Needs Daughter to Grow Up

[Read Professor Moriarty's advice!]

Jun 17 2016 12:30pm

Dear Jack Reacher: Advice for the Girl Who Wants Everything

This week's guest advice columnist is Jack Reacher, who's sipping black coffee at a diner in Omaha, Nebraska as he watches a pretty woman with a gun and a badge get out of her rented Impala and wipe blood from the knuckles on her left hand.

Dear Jack Reacher,

My husband works, while I stay home. I'm a traditional girl, but he insists on buying used cars, clothes from thrift shops, and second-hand books, and he keeps complaining about our credit card bills when I buy the latest fashions.

How can I convince him to end his cheapskate ways?

Jimmy Choo Girl

[Read Jack Reacher's advice!]

Jun 3 2016 12:00pm

Dear Mike Hammer: Tough Advice for a Suspicious Husband

This week's guest columnist is a Mike Hammer, who's taking off his rumpled trench coat as he stumbles into his ratty office after an all-night stakeout that turned up bupkis.

Dear Literary Tough Guy,

My beautiful young wife is hardly ever home anymore and shows no interest in me. She works as a sous chef at a French restaurant, a fancy place where the owner is a celebrity chef who's known for womanizing. 

How can I find whether she's cooking up more than appetizers and savory entrees?

Suspicious Husband Seeking Truth

[Read Mike Hammer's advice!]

May 20 2016 12:30pm

Dear Professor Moriarty: Advice for a Harvard Man

This week's guest columnist is Professor Moriarty, who denies any knowledge of what happened to Prince Harry's missing puppy, though offering a large reward for finding the creature might be wise. 

Dear Professor Moriarty,

I'm a junior at Harvard who just got engaged to a beautiful pre-med whose parents are loaded. A dream, right? 

Here's the nightmare part: her brother. I live in one of their condos (yeah, they have three) and couldn't afford tuition, room, and board without this help. Her only brother, who she adores, is my roommate. Mostly, he amuses himself by tormenting me. Nair in my shampoo bottle, waking me up with an airhorn at 3 a.m. every morning and squirting Crazy Glue into the keyholes of my car—yeah, that's an average week.

It's ruining my life. Do I drop out of Harvard and break off the engagement to a great woman, or sit quietly and endure another two years of living hell?

Harvard Man Living with a Maniac

[Read Professor Moriarty's advice!]

Oct 9 2013 11:30pm

Writing a Lee Child Novel in 8 Foolproof Steps

Lee Child is one of the best thriller writers, period, and one of my favorite authors.

After 18 novels, even Child isn't immune from repeating himself a smidge. It's like a Bond movie: there are going to be gadgets, girls, tuxedos, and sharks, because such things are required by law.

Here's a handy recipe for writing any Reacher novel.


Step 1: Reacher is all by his lonesome

Our hero is a giant with the brains of Sherlock Holmes in the body of Conan the Barbarian, and he's innocently wandering:

(a)    through cotton fields in the Deep South.

(b)    alongside a highway in the Midwest while a snowstorm rages.

(c)    in the urban jungle of Manhattan on his world coffee-drinking tour.


Step 2: Somehow, someway, trouble finds Reacher

While he's drinking coffee (black, always black!), evil events finds Reacher in the form of:

(a)    bad guys kidnapping him along with a beautiful woman.

(b)    corrupt cops arresting him for a murder he didn't commit.

(c)    bad guys offering him a job which he declines, then takes just to get closer to the bad guys.

(d)    his old Army buddies are in trouble, or dying, and sending him secret messages via deposits to his bank account since he doesn't have a phone or address.

[Read on for Steps 3 through 8!]

May 31 2012 10:30am

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse: A Play in Three Acts

You’re in bed. It’s three in the morning and Fluffy the Dog is barking like the Hound of the Baskervilles while somebody—or something—pounds on your back door.

 Then the glass shatters, and the zombies are inside. 

What are you going to grab, and where are you going to head?

[We start at the beginning . . .]

Jan 7 2012 11:00am

The Top Ten Action Mystery Clichés

Peter FalkAs a huge fan of mysteries and thrillers, I am allowed to make fun of them. Just as as a blond Swede, it’s perfectly legal for me to tell blond or Swedish jokes. NO ONE WILL ARREST ME.

Mysteries always involve a murder and somebody trying to solve the case. Action mysteries pump up the thrills outside the drawing room. Now, even while considering the need for thrills, there’s a lot of flexibility in how you get from the beginning to the end. However: there are also 2.74 metric tons of clichés, like the typical stubbly detective who breaks the rules, struggles with the bottle and tends to tune up suspected killers with a copy of the Manhattan Yellow Pages.

So: let’s pick a victim, find ourselves a killer and get this party started.

[Heck, yeah!]

Dec 15 2011 10:30am

The Ten Least Thrilling Thriller Clichés

Daniel Craig as James BondEver get the feeling, “I’ve read this book before—or seen this movie six other times?” Any fan of thrillers will recognize that yes, you need action, and a villain, and thriller law requires that Things that Can Possibly Explode Must Go Boom. However, it’s also nice to be surprised. To not be able to predict every move the villain will make. To have a hero who uses his brain once in a while rather than his guns and gadgets.

But it so rarely happens. Instead, we are treated to endless variations on these, the top ten thriller clichés.

[Mad, bad, and dangerous to know.]

Oct 1 2011 11:00am

Death Brackets: Toughest Dicks vs. Baddest Thriller Heroes: The Championship!

Death Brackets: Toughest Dicks vs Baddest Thriller HeroesIf you haven’t been playing along, you might want to check out our Death Brackets feature page to get the lowdown on the contest and the participants along with how all the previous elimination rounds have gone down.

Only two contestants remain.  The cunning, highly trained, and super careful assassin John Rain, and the former Military Policeman turned all-around-go-to toughguy Jack Reacher.

[Ladies and gentlemen, let the contest begin!]

Sep 30 2011 10:30am

Death Brackets: Toughest Dicks vs. Baddest Thriller Heroes: Semi-Finals

Death Brackets, the tournament to the deathOf all the literary tough guys from mysteries and thrillers, who would win in a fight to the death? No rules. No referees. No bells. We outlined the contest in the Introduction and gave you the tale of the tape for each contestant in the First Round (Part 1 and Part 2), and we’ve already eliminated twelve of the original sixteen.  We have only two of the master detectives and two of the spies, assassins and anti-heroes remaining.  So without further ado, on to the Final Four!

[And . . . Fight!]

Sep 29 2011 10:30am

Death Brackets: Toughest Dicks vs. Baddest Thriller Heroes: Quarter Finals

Death Brackets logoAnd the tournament continues! This is our fourth Death Brackets post, and the suspense is horrible!  In the Intro, you met the contestants and learned the rules. During the First Round (Part 1 and Part 2), you got the tales of the tape, their competitive advantages, disadvantages, and the first corpses left behind in elimination.  So, enough with the preamble...on to the Elusive 8!

[Bring on the battles!]