“No Man’s Nightingale” by Ruth Rendell

Rendell’s latest Inspector Wexford mystery is a disappointment. The Inspector is now retired and his former detective now holds his old position and allows him to tag along on cases. It seems improbable. The case involves the murder of a single mother, vicar, who is found murdered in the parsonage. The plot meanders and drags. The unknown identity of the dead mother’s dauhter is somewhat intriguing, but doesn’t rescue the story. Not one of her best.


Not only will the NYPL have their Christmas wreaths back on the lions in front of the 42nd St./ 5th Ave. branch as of December 5 (it’s been nine years since they were removed because they damaged the century old stone), it also spent 2.15 million to purchase the archives of writer Tom Wolfe. Fortunately, most of the money came from a private donation. The wreaths were also paid for by a private donor, but the amount was not made public. The wreaths are now made of artificial green spruce and will not damage the marble, and they weigh in at 150 pounds each.

Sister Mother Husband Dog

Read this over the weekend.  Delia Ephron writes much like her sister – witty, truthful, and pretty unsentimental considering Nora Ephron’s relatively recent death.  The book consists of about a dozen essays on family, hair, food, dogs, movies, love.  The two were very close and I got the definite feeling that they were collaborators in more than just movies.

“A Most Expensive Book”

If you have $15 to $30 million bucks hanging around, you might be interested in an auction to be held at Sotheby’s on Tuesday.  What will your money buy:  the first English-language book printed in the New World.  Seventeen thousand copies of the book were originally published; today only 11 copies survive.  The title of this unique book is “The Whole Book of Psalmes” also known as “Bay Psalm Book.”  Within its pages you will find 150 psalms in verse.

New England Puritans believed that the King James translation of the Bible was corrupt. They retranslated the psalms from Hebrew into English.  Since they wanted the psalms to be sung, they set them to meter.

Like Benjamin Franklin, who established the first lending library in 1731, Thomas Prince of Boston also founded a library. He began collecting more than 2,000 books that he kept in a room in the church steeple of the Old South Meeting House.  Prince, a minister, had in his collection five of the psalm books.  In 1866, the Prince collection was given to the Boston Public Library for safekeeping.  Somehow one of the psalm books ended up in the hands of the mayor of Boston.  When his heirs announced that they were going to sell it at auction, the sale was contested by the Old South Church.  Eventually the Massachusetts Supreme Court decided that the mayor’s heirs were the rightful owners.  The book sold for a whopping  $1,025.  A real bargain compared to what Sotheby’s expects it will sell for on Tuesday.


Set in East Germany in 1980, “Barbara” is a new foreign film addition to our collection.  Barbara is a young doctor who has made the politically  incorrect request for an exit visa from East Germany.  As a consequence, she is forced to leave her position at an important Berlin hospital and is exiled to a small pediatric clinic in the Germany countryside.

She is subjected to dehumanizing treatment by the Stasi.  She is constantly under surveillance in her apartment and at the hospital.  She can be interrogated at any time.  She is forced to undergo bodily physical examinations.  Even while she is undergoing such brutal treatment, she never loses her compassion or strong personal ethics.

“Barbara” is a taut, well-acted film with well-developed character portrayals set against the back drop of a sad chapter in German history.