The Exhausted Amanuensis is FREE for the next three days on Amazon!

ExhaustedAmanuensisGet your FREE Copy of The Exhausted Amanuensis: A Lizzie Borden Girl Detective Mini-Mystery on Amazon for the next three days.

Introducing Miss Lizzie Borden of Fall River, Massachusetts, a most excellent girl detective and the most remarkable young woman ever to take on the criminal underworld. Many years before her infamous arrest and trial for the murders of her father and stepmother, Lizzie Borden pursued a career as a private consulting detective as chronicled in this clever and imaginative series of short stories. When exiled math professor J. Wellington Welles believes that he is moving backwards in time, Lizzie Borden goes undercover as his personal amanuensis to discover the exact moment of his future murder as well as the name of the killer! Joined by her sister Emma in the somewhat reluctant role of maid-of-all-work, the Girl Detective faces her most puzzling challenge yet, and races against time to solve the problem of the Dark Conclusion. You have met Lizzie Borden before, but never like this!

 

David Bowie and the Minuscule Monk

The Minuscule Monk: A Lizzie Borden Girl, Detective Mystery begins with a quotation from “Antigonish”, a poem by Hughes Mearns (1875–1965).

Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away

I chose this quotation because it perfectly describes the theme that I had woven into the story as a whole.  The little man who wasn’t there obviously resonates with the Minuscule Monk himself, and his doubtful existence mirrors the “subjective idealism” coveted by C.B.M. Borden, the boy detective, and his weird delusion that his own mother doesn’t exist.

bowieMy first introduction to the lines was a David Bowie album that I bought in 1978 at a West Village record store.  Bowie had re-conceived the poem with surrealistic lyrics for the song “The Man Who Sold the World.”  It was only after Nirvana resurrected it in a 1994 acoustic grunge version that I discovered the lyrics were referencing the Hughes Mearns poem.

Mearns was a teacher, notably at the Philadelphia School of Pedagogy and later at Columbia University, and part of the progressive movement in American education started by John Dewey.  The poem is a logical absurdity, similar to the mind twisting paradoxes in poems by Lewis Carol or Dr. Seuss.  One can imagine a school room full of children laughing uproariously at this “little man who wasn’t there,” a sort of anti-matter doppelganger to the poem’s narrator.  It isn’t a far leap from this non-existent imp to other tricksters such as Rumpelstiltskin, Superman’s Mr. Mxyzptlk or the Great Gazoo from the Flintstones.  One could also think of Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation or Bugs Bunny, all agents of chaos and logical confusion.

Leave it to avant-rock star David Bowie to refashion this elusive but playful character into a much more haunting and surrealistic one.

On a 1970 album release whose lyric references ranged from Friedrich Nietzsche to H.P. Lovecraft to Kahlil Gibran, Bowie inserted a mysterious track called “The Man Who Sold the World”:

We passed upon the stair, we spoke of was and when
Although I wasn’t there, he said I was his friend
Which came as some surprise, I spoke into his eyes
I thought you died alone, a long long time ago

The overall mystical tone of the album is unmistakable.  Here the encounter with the Little Man Who Wasn’t There, a relatively amusing character for children who appreciate fairy creatures, is turned into a breakdown of identity and a descent into madness.

Here it is the narrator who is non-existent (“Although I wasn’t there”).  They seem to have a past together and the man may or may not be a ghost (“I thought you died alone”).   Bowie’s characteristic bending of lyrics into dark paradoxes is reflected in the phrase, “I spoke into his eyes” which is an act that is hard to visualize but is stylistically perfect for this dreamlike song.

Oh no, not me, I never lost control
You’re face to face, With The Man Who Sold The World

MWSTWUS2“Not me” is reminiscent of Samuel Beckett’s “Not I”, another exploration of the fracturing of self-consciousness. Perhaps the “world” that the man in the song has “sold” is a total state of being, experienced only by the narrator in the depths of a madhouse.  It could also mean a frightening bout of mental illness in which reality becomes elusive and the victim cannot distinguish between himself and other people.

Some people have speculated if there had been a political message in the song, accented by the cartoon cover art in which a cowboy walks by a Federal-style building with a concealed rifle tucked under his arm.  I tend to doubt this interpretation since the cover art really depicts the Cane Hill Mental Asylum in England where David Bowie’s brother Terry had been treated for schizophrenia (Charlie Chaplin’s mother Hannah had been treated at Cane Hill as well).  If anything, the song could be an homage to his brother who committed suicide in 1985, too late for the song to be referring to Terry’s death.  Bowie was wise to keep the meaning of the song mysterious.  It is much more effective that way.

SNL recently posted a video of David Bowie performing this song in 1979 accompanied by back up singers Joey Arias and Klaus Nomi.  The surreal costume and make-up were to an American audience used to more conventional rock-and-roll attire.  It seemed closer to punk, but was too theatrical, too clean.  Bowie had just spent several years working in Berlin where he recorded a trilogy of albums with Brian Eno and had a lot of exposure to the European art and music scene.  His act with clownish costumes and mime-like gestures would have fit in beautifully at a Dada festival.  In regard to the song, the theatrical effects heightened its sense of otherworldliness.

The song was revived again in 1993 when Nirvana, just months before their lead singers’ suicide, performed an acoustic version on MTV’s unplugged series.  In stark contrast to the SNL theatricality, the song is performed by an unshaven grunge artist with uncombed hair and shabby clothing.  Cobain’s vocals are gruff with less acting but no less haunting.  He makes no eye contact with the audience and at times mumbles the lyrics, but he seems inwardly focused.

Considering that “The Man Who Sold the World” had been an obscure Bowie track from a pre-Ziggy album, the Nirvana performance was many Generation X-ers introduction to the song.  The contrast between German 80s art-rock and Seattle 90s grunge can’t be greater, but the song thrived in both treatments because of its timeless and unsettling elements.

While The Minuscule Monk is a few cry from a David Bowie or a Nirvana album, it does depict several characters having crises of consciousness.  They all respond in their own characteristic way.  Andrew Borden grows increasingly frustrated and becomes mentally confused.  C.B.M. Borden, having been raised by a woman of dubious mental stability, is already skeptical of reality and tries to cover it up with philosophical rationalization and a forced self-confidence.  Herr Hugo von Trotter, the Truth-Telling Dog, fights back with a violent campaign against human lies, refusing to let them get away with it.

It is only Lizzie who plows forward with a determination to reconstruct reality and expose the truth.  But her evidence keeps disappearing, people turn out to be other than what they claimed, and those about her are weaving alternate realities that is counter-productive to her investigation.

For these reasons, the Mearns poem seemed appropriate.  It struck a tone, announced a theme.  And I have to admit, I had more than a few musical hooks from David Bowie’s song in my mind as I wrote.

Happy Birthday Nine Muses Books!

birthday victorianIt was one year ago today that we began publishing the Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective Mystery series.

We are grateful to all fans who downloaded our books and posted marvelous reviews expressing their enthusiasm for the series.

Beginning this year, we are publishing a monthly newsletter containing an original short short and updates about the series each month. You can sign up for the newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/bCtr6b

This coming year, we are going to publish a collection of Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective Mini-Mysteries including one novella never before published. Also in the works is The Calamitous Catamount, a brand new Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective novel.

Hope it will be as much fun for you as it is for us!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective

newyear-card

My first New Year’s resolution for 1876 is to stop taking my fancy.  It seems that it is an embarrassment to Father and that could not be good for his business.  I will miss those pansy pins and kid gloves.  My second resolution is to convince Father to vote for Governor Tilden in the Presidential Election.  General Grant had scandalized this nation and Rutherford B. Hayes will only continue the outrage.  It is frustrating that my voice cannot be heard.  How I wish I could vote!  Happy New Year, 1876 is going to be a good year!

The Scrooge of Second Street, a new short story

Prince Albert's Christmas TreeNine Muses Press announces publication of its December 2015 issue of the Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective Newsletter, Volume 1, Number 2. The newsletters contains the latest news about Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective, and in addition,  a brand new short story, available exclusively in the newsletter! The newsletter is free, to receive your copy please sign up at http://eepurl.com/bCtr6b.  By signing up you will automatically receive the monthly newsletter as well as current announcements about Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Girl Detective

Lizzie Borden, the Girl Detective of Fall River sends her holiday greetings:

Thanksgiving Maskers“Thanksgiving is upon us again, and the Borden family is preparing for its annual feast.  Grandfather Abraham will lord over our table, bestowing bounty in the form of a plump turkey carved with excellent cutlery and accompanied by sweet pies and smashed potatoes, cranberries and sweetcorn, buttered biscuits and sausage stuffing.

“Everyone will be happy except my father, Andrew Jackson Borden, who loathes the holiday and would prefer to keep to his room if we did not insist he be present.  For it is upon this day of thanks and forgiveness that a strange and disfigured army of ragamuffins appears in the streets, children sporting false faces of a terrifying aspect, and clothed in shabby habiliments to mimic the poverty-stricken classes of tramps that have terrified the streets of our nation since the great war.

Thanksgiving Maskers

“This army of grotesque celebrants masquerade as Mephistos with sneering moustaches and red linen horns, Uncle Sams on tottering stilts, John Bulls with stuffed bellies, bandits with toy pistols, pirates with eye patches and stuffed birds upon their shoulders, sailors dancing frantic horn pipes, hobos with busted hats and flapping shoes, and ruffians with cloth cudgels and mocking sneers.  Noses and ears are artificially enlarged through the use of waxen gee-gaws, enhancing the distortions of the children’s faces.

Thanksgiving Maskers“Costumes portraying historical figures from our national past are popular.  Last year, as I recall, there were a few Abe Lincolns with absurdly tall hats and pasted fur beards.  They lacked only that height unobtainable by those children not yet into their growing years.  I also witnessed a mite-sized George Washington, brandishing a gold-plaited hatchet and searching for the elusive cherry tree which would have been, without intervention, a member of our backyard pear tree orchard.

“With the crafty use of burnt cork and mohair wigs, they have perfected their appearances and roam from door to door in their haunting masks, blowing tin trumpets and tossing confetti, demanding treats, spiced jelly gums, opera drops and hard candies from the fearful inhabitants of the houses they have targeted for extortion.  They threaten invasion and sabotage if we do not supply them with the desired bounty.

Thanksgiving Maskers“Worst of all, the more pecuniary of them ask for money, often in the form of coined specie.  This is what irks my father the most, being that he is not inclined to hand out alms to the most dire of the hungry or the homeless, far less greedy children from the Highlands parading in garish costumes.

“’I must talk to the city council about this nonsense,’ he complains.  ‘They must have the decency to move this practice into October so as not to stain the solemnity of our Founders’ Harvest Festival.’

“He talks of handing out tainted hard candies laced with rat poison, but I temper him and convince him that murdering children is not in the holiday spirit.

“So if you have a Ragamuffin Day in your neighborhood, barricade your doors, close your window shades, and enjoy your Thanksgiving meal in peace.  Think on our ancestors huddled on that rugged shore of New England and what they endured for our benefit. Do not let an army of hoodlums invade your domestic peace and tranquility.

“Happy Holiday from the Borden Family!”

Grand Old Fall River, 1876.

Photos Courtesy of the Library of Congress

The Exhausted Amanuensis now available on Amazon Kindle

ExhaustedAmanuensisGreat news for Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective fans!  The Exhausted Amanuensis, the sixth in the Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective Mini-Mysteries series, is now available as a Kindle book on Amazon.

This is the first Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective Mini-Mystery to be made exclusive to Amazon.  That means those readers enrolled in Kindle Unlimited can read the story for free!

Don’t own a Kindle? No problem! Kindle books can be read using the Free Kindle Reader App.  Download it today and read The Exhausted Amanuensis on your preferred reading device.

Read your copy of The Exhausted Amenuensis now!

When exiled math professor J. Wellington Welles believes that he is moving backwards in time, Lizzie Borden goes undercover as his personal amanuensis to discover the exact moment of his future murder as well as the name of the killer! Joined by her sister Emma in the somewhat reluctant role of maid-of-all-work, the Girl Detective faces her most puzzling challenge yet, and races against time to solve the problem of the Dark Conclusion. You have met Lizzie Borden before, but never like this!

 

Richard Behrens poses with his Minuscule Monk cake!

After Richard’s energetic and entertaining reading from The Minuscule Monk, friends and fans gathered for a talk back session with coffee and cake. A good time was had by all! Check back soon for a video link to the reading.

Book Reading and Signing in Keene, NH

toadstool-bookshopMeet Richard Behrens the author of  The Minuscule Monk  at a Book Signing and Reading at 2:00 PM on Saturday, October 24 in Keene, NH  at Toadstool Bookshop, Colony Mill Marketplace. This is event is free and open to the public.

The Minuscule Monk is a comic mystery that paints a portrait of Fall River, MA at the height of its Victorian splendor and Lizzie Borden, its most infamous citizen, at the start of her most excellent career as a consulting detective.

Come hear the author read from his comic mystery.  Also meet Herr Hugo von Trotter the Truth-Telling Dog and C.B.M. Borden the Existentialist Boy Detective.

For more info go to www.toadbooks.com

The Minuscule Monk is appropriate for both adults and young adults.

 

The Minuscule Monk is now available for FREE on Amazon for three days!

The Minuscule Monk

The Minuscule Monk

The Minuscule Monk: A Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective Mystery by Richard Behrens is now on sale for FREE at Amazon.com for three days only. Take advantage of this great offer to download, read, and review the second in a series of mysteries starring the Girl Detective that the Fall River Historical Society has called “fearlessly cunning, charismatic, and thoroughly enchanting!” Shelley Dziedzic, editor of http://lizziebordenwarpsandwefts.com has said of the series: “…so much fun, it’s nearly criminal!” The book also includes a great cover illustration by artist Marc Reed.

This sale is for the Kindle edition and will last from 9/24 – 9/26 on the Amazon store.

When a dead body mysteriously appears in the basement of her father’s furniture store, 15 year-old Lizzie Andrew Borden immediately takes on the case. Accompanied by an eccentric millionaire who campaigns to extend the vote to animals; a Boston terrier trained to sniff out crooked politicians; and a boy detective who believes the entire universe to be inside his own head, Lizzie follows a trail of taxidermy tools and Civil War bushwhackers to the Minuscule Monk, a legendary gunslinger whose mummified body will bring a punter’s pot to anyone who can deliver it to the New York gangster who has been hunting the Monk for decades. With such high stakes, everyone has a motive for murder, yet everyone seems innocent. Or perhaps, as Lizzie suspects after attending a dinner party with non-existent food and meeting a horse that has turned into its opposite, none of it is even real. Lizzie Borden, the Girl Detective of Fall River, is at her most spirited in The Minuscule Monk, a comic mystery that paints a portrait of Fall River at the height of its splendor and its most infamous citizen at the start of her most excellent career.

Richard Behrens is the co-founder of Nine Muses Books and author of the Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective series of mysteries. He is a contributor to The Hatchet: A Journal of Lizzie Borden and Victorian Studies and a regular lecturer on eccentric Victorian women and silent film comedy. Richard is a native New Yorker, now living in New England,

Download your free copy now!

The Minuscule Monk now available for free to American Unlimited subscribers!

Nine Muses Books is proud to announce that The Minuscule Monk: A Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective Mystery by Richard Behrens is now available on Kindle Unlimited.  For a limited time only, read The Minuscule Monk for free with an Amazon Unlimited subscription!

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Download from Amazon now!

The Minuscule Monk: A Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective Mystery
by Richard Behrens
Nine Muses Books

 

The Minuscule Monk: Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective Anniversary Sale!

The Minuscule Monk

The Minuscule Monk

To commemorate the 123rd anniversary of the Fall River Tragedy, Nine Muses Books has lowered the price on The Minuscule Monk: A Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective Mystery e-book  by Richard Behrens on Smashwords.  For one day only, you can get this full-length novel for 99 cents.  That’s a savings of $3!  Get your copy today!

Click here to buy The Minuscule Monk: A Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective Mystery on Smashwords.

Praise for The Minuscule Monk:  “Richard Behrens has crafted a perfectly plausible, yet utterly fantastical story of Lizzie Borden as a girl detective. I so much enjoy everything written by Richard and am amazed at his use of language and description to make a period in time come alive. This book is more complex than his last (Lizzie Borden Girl Detective), but works so well to keep the reader interested and wondering what will befall our heroine next. I loved this book!”  Stefani Koorey, Editor of The Literary Hatchet,  editor of Mondo Lizzie Borden, and author of Fall River Revisited, Massachusetts (Images of America Series).

 

Book Signing in Fall River Saturday August 1st!

The Fall RIver Historical Society

Place: Fall River Historical Society, 451 Rock Street, Fall River, MA 02720

Date: Saturday, August 1, 2015

Time: 12:00-3:00 PM

Call for details: (508) 679-1071

The Minuscule Monk

The Minuscule Monk

 

 

Hear author Richard Behrens read from his latest Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective novel: The Minuscule Monk! Books will be available for purchase at the event and all proceeds benefit The Fall River Historical Society.

Meet Herr Hugo von Trotter, the truth-telling Boston Terrier, and hear how he helped Lizzie solve the Mystery of The Minuscule Monk!

Come hear excerpts from this comic mystery that paints a portrait of Fall River at the height of its splendor and its most infamous citizen at the start of her most excellent career.

 

The Minuscule Monk is now available on Amazon

The Minuscule Monk

The Minuscule Monk

Be the first to purchase, read and review The Minuscule Monk: A Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective Mystery.  The novel is now available on Amazon in a trade paperback edition.  The e-book edition will be available sometime next week.

Buy your copy now!

When a dead body mysteriously appears in the basement of her father’s furniture store, 15 year-old Lizzie Andrew Borden immediately takes on the case. Accompanied by an eccentric millionaire who campaigns to extend the vote to animals; a Boston terrier trained to sniff out crooked politicians; and a boy detective who believes the entire universe to be inside his own head, Lizzie follows a trail of taxidermy tools and Civil War bushwhackers to the Minuscule Monk, a legendary gunslinger whose mummified body will bring a punter’s pot to anyone who can deliver it to the New York gangster who has been hunting the Monk for decades. With such high stakes, everyone has a motive for murder, yet everyone seems innocent. Or perhaps, as Lizzie suspects after attending a dinner party with non-existent food and meeting a horse that has turned into its opposite, none of it is even real. Lizzie Borden, the Girl Detective of Fall River, is at her most spirited in The Minuscule Monk, a comic mystery that paints a portrait of Fall River at the height of its splendor and its most infamous citizen at the start of her most excellent career.

Read exclusive chapters from upcoming Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective novel: The Minuscule Monk

hatchet

This summer, Nine Muses Books will publish a new full-length Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective novel entitled The Minuscule Monk.  This is the first novel-length Lizzie adventure and will be published as both a print book and an e-book.

Now you can read the first two chapters which have been published exclusively in The Literary Hatchet #11. The magazine is available from PearTree Press in a free digital downloadable edition as well as a print edition.  This is your chance to get a head start on the new adventures of Lizzie Borden, the most excellent girl detective of Fall River.

Download your copy today!

The Minuscule MonkWhen a dead body mysteriously appears in the basement of her father’s furniture store, 15 year-old Lizzie Andrew Borden immediately takes on the case. Accompanied by an eccentric millionaire who campaigns to extend the vote to animals; a Boston terrier trained to sniff out crooked politicians; and a boy detective who believes the entire universe to be inside his own head, Lizzie follows a trail of taxidermy tools and Civil War bushwhackers to the Minuscule Monk, a legendary gunslinger whose mummified body will bring a punter’s pot to anyone who can deliver it to the New York gangster who has been hunting the Monk for decades. With such high stakes, everyone has a motive for murder, yet everyone seems innocent. Or perhaps, as Lizzie suspects after attending a dinner party with non-existent food and meeting a horse that has turned into its opposite, none of it is even real.

Lizzie Borden, the Girl Detective of Fall River, is at her most spirited in The Minuscule Monk, a comic mystery that paints a portrait of Fall River at the height of its splendor and its most infamous citizen at the start of her most excellent career.

 

Author Richard Behrens interviewed by Fall River Herald

tv-the-lizzie-borden-chronicles02If you are a Lizzie Borden fan, you most likely know that The Fall River Chronicles has aired its fourth episode on the Lifetime Network.  Fall River Herald reporter Deborah Allard has been interviewing various Lizzie Borden historians, pundits and enthusiasts in a weekly Herald column.  Last night, she caught up with Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective author Richard Behrens about the episode entitled “Welcome To Maplacroft” and let him join in on the fun!

Read the interview here.

Richard has commented further: “Far be it from me to criticize the show for historical inaccuracies!  I guess serial killer is just as full of dramatic and comic potential as girl detective!”