Ex-Cleveland Medical Examiner Launches New Crime Series

Lisa Black Writes What She Knows: The former Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office Medical Examiner writes novels about medical examiners. After finishing two series in Cleveland, she launches a new one with “Red Flags”, based at the fictional Locard Institute in Washington, D.C.

It is named after real French criminologist Edmond Locard, who developed the contact tracing theory of forensic science, which states that every contact between two objects leaves behind evidence such as fibers or oils.

The main character, Ellie Carr, works for the FBI and is called to a mansion overlooking the Potomac in response to the disappearance of a 4 month old baby. She is surprised to learn that the mansion belongs to her cousin Becca, whom she has not seen in over five years, and that the baby is Becca’s son, Mason.

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Although his presence is normally a conflict of interest, his unit is stretched and he is told to stay. At the same time, Becca’s husband approaches Rachael Davies, assistant director at the Locard Institute, to ask them to consult privately. He explains the source of their wealth – she is a political adviser to a Senate committee; he’s a lobbyist with a client who’s about to make him a billionaire, pending a Senate hearing. As they talk, Hunter receives a text: “We have your son. He is instructed to admit rule violations at the hearing or he will not see the boy again.

Rachael arrives at the mansion, introduces herself to Ellie, and tries to claim the evidence she collected, to which Ellie’s response is “Oh, no.” The two women, with their doctorates and their highest level of expertise, work together reluctantly. They easily discuss mitochondrial DNA and iodine sublimation, but know nothing about special purpose acquisition properties, so Hunter considered dodging some disclosures about his hearing at the Senate. The subject is a massive online gambling platform and it is disputed over the children’s online privacy protection rule.

While they are working, three other children disappear. The ease with which children can be kidnapped is realistic and shocking.

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The suspenseful story includes little about Rachael’s personal life and even less about Ellie’s. It is not announced if the next book in the series will focus on one of the women, both working together, or on another member of the Locard Institute.

“Red Flags” (338 pages, hardcover) is $26 from Kensington Books. Lisa Black also wrote two excellent thrillers under the name of Elizabeth Becka. She is a Latent Print Examiner and Certified Criminal Analyst for the Cape Coral Police Department in Florida.

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‘Akron Neighborhoods’

You may know where Firestone Park is, but what about Sherbondy Hill? These are two of the neighborhoods included in “Akron Neighborhoods – Old and New,” an exhaustively researched photo op by Akron historian Sharon Moreland Myers.

According to Myers, Akron has 25 neighborhoods and includes origins, early settlers, notable buildings, and landmarks. It’s sad to read about the buildings that have been torn down, but nice to see the ones that still exist, like the beautiful Art Deco terminal at Akron Fulton Airport. Myers describes “sub-neighborhoods and pocket neighborhoods” and neighborhoods that are commercial developments, such as High Hampton.

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With industry, canals and trains came the need for hotels. Myers’ “Hotels of Akron and Summit County Through the Years” begins in 1826, with a tavern at the corner of Main and Exchange streets. It tells of the lavish and the sordid, with some being the same buildings at different times. Play a quiz on how many times the words “burnt” appear in the book.

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As helpful and informative as these books are, the crown jewel is “The Town Crier, Kenneth Nichols, Akron Beacon Journal, 1941-1942,” a compilation that reveals the warmth and generosity of the beloved columnist, who retired in 1981 and died in 1987. The delightful anecdotes and insights into life in wartime Akron could provide months of bedtime reading.

There is some awkward racial language, mostly about the Japanese after the war began, and light annotations would be welcome for today’s readers for things like classification schemes and rationing.

“Akron Neighborhoods” (384 pages, $49.99), “Akron and Summit County Hotels” (127 pages, $21.99), and “The Town Crier” (394 pages, $21.99) are available in softcover from online retailers.

Sharon Moreland Myers is an alumnus of Cuyahoga Falls High School and the University of Akron. She is one of a dozen authors who will be signing their books at the inaugural Shelf Life Local Lit Fest on Saturday in Cuyahoga Falls; see event listings for more information.

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The Ohioana Library has announced the winners of the 2022 Ohioana Book Awards. They include two National Book Award finalists: in fiction, Cleveland native Anthony Doerr for “Cloud Cuckoo Land,” and in nonfiction, Hanif Abdurraqib of Columbus, for “A Little Devil in America: In Praise of Black Performance”. The awards will be presented on October 26 in the atrium of the Ohio Statehouse. See the list of winners on ohioana.org.

Events

Bookstore of the learned owl (204 N. Main St., Hudson): Gabe Hudson signs his storybook “The Loving Wind,” 1-3 p.m. Sunday; Nancy Christie signs “Peripheral Visions and Other Stories”, Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Cuyahoga County Public Library: Bill Shaffer talks about “The Scandalous Hamiltons: A Gilded Age Grifter, a Disgraced Descendant of a Founding Father, and a Trial in the Dawn of Tabloid Journalism” during a Zoom event from 7-8 p.m. Monday. From 7-8 p.m. Tuesday, Nina Nesseth talks about “Nightmare Fuel: The Science of Horror Films.” Register on cuyahogalibrary.org.

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Middleburg Heights Branch, 16699 Bagley Road): NCAA basketball official Phil Bova discusses ‘Throwing Back the Chair,’ Bova’s memoir (with co-writer Nino Frostino) over 30 years as a referee, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday. Register on cuyahogalibrary.org.

Portage County District Library (Garrettsville Branch, 10482 South St.): Dave Schwensen, author of “The Beatles in Cleveland,” discusses his book and displays memorabilia, 5-7 p.m. Tuesday. Register on libraryportage.org.

Massillon Municipal Library (Pam S. Belloni Branch, 12000 Navarre Road SW, Brewster): Bob Lung, who runs the annual Fantasy Football Expo in Guangzhou, talks about the “Fantasy Football Consistency Guide,” 6-8 p.m. Tuesday.

Tuscarawas County Public Library (121 Fair Ave., New Philadelphia) Wanda Brunstetter debuts “The Applecreek Announcement,” the third in her romantic Creektown Discoveries series set in Walnut Creek, Tuesday at 6 p.m. Register on tuslibrary.org.

Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library: Marcia Chatelain, author of “Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America”, winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for History, discusses fast food restaurants and their influence in the black community, during a virtual appearance from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday. Register on smpl.org.

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Fairview Park Branch, 21255 Lorain Road): Bette Lou Higgins discusses “Lost Restaurants in Downtown Cleveland,” 7-8 p.m. Wednesday. Register on cuyahogalibrary.org.

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B-side (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd. Cleveland Heights): David Spero, former entertainment director and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame executive, signs “A Life in the Wings: My Sixty Year Love Affair with Rock and Roll: A Memoir”, his memoirs with K. Adrian Zonneville, Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Rocky River Public Library (1600 Hampton Road): Rocky River’s Malcolm Wood signs his self-published mystery novels and talks about his upcoming work, 7-8 p.m. Thursday.

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Berea Branch, 7 Berea Commons): Former TV presenter Jack Marschall signs “From the Heart: Words to Inspire a Tired World,” 7-8 p.m. Thursday. Register on cuyahogalibrary.org.

Visible voice books (2258 Professor Ave., Cleveland): The One Full Wit reading series features Chris Drabick, Fatima Al Matar, Laura Owsiany, Zach Peckham and Justin Todd Smith, 7 p.m. Thursday.

Loganberry Books (13015 Larchmere Blvd., Shaker Heights): Riley Black joins the Peculiar Book Club in a virtual event to talk about “The Last Days of the Dinosaurs: An Asteroid, Extinction, and the Beginning of Our World.” The cost is $10. Register at loganberrybooks.com. The first of three Author Alley events, the BiPOC Author Showcase, features Black, Indigenous, and writers of color, starting at 12 p.m. Saturday. The second and third events will take place on August 13 and 20.

Canal Fulton Public Library (154 Market St. NE): “4×4 Fantasy Author Extravaganza” features authors Dan Arman (“The Maiden’s Thorn”), Mary Arman (“Ty and the Blood Fairy Prince”), David F. Balog (“Necromancer’s Lament”) and Cat Russell (“Pinholes: Traveling Through the Curtain of the Night”) reading and signing their works from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Wayne County Public Library (220 W. Liberty St., Wooster): Wooster author Marcy Campbell launches her picture book “The More You Give,” 10-11 a.m. Saturday. Register on wcpl.info.

Pavilion at Falls River Square (2085 Front St., Cuyahoga Falls): The first Shelf Life Local Lit Fest features authors Michael Gershe (“The Magic of Life”), Michael Haase (“School of Fish”), Megan Higgins (“My Super Special Magic Shoes”), MaggyGrace Howe and Susan Bagby (“The Magical Future Song Book”), Amanda Kowalsky (The Garbage Bandits and the Attack of the Trash”), Mary Meyer (“Lyla’s Encore”), Sharon Moreland Myers (see below above), Patricia Miller (“Joshua: Life After Theos”), Barbara Marie Minney (“If There Is No Heaven”), Mark Morelli (“Effwords”), Art Reed (“Track Star”) and Jim Woods (“Bite the Bullet”). Food and merchandise vendors, raffles from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. See the list and schedule at shelflifebookstore.com.

Email information about local books and event notices at least two weeks in advance to [email protected] and [email protected] I tweet at @BarbaraMcI.

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