The Mystery Place

Welcome to The Mystery Place. I have always liked mysteries. My favorites tend to be who killed the town mayor etc. I don’t want a lot of gore. I prefer cozy mysteries where the murderer gets caught with a minimum of blood. There is enough gore in the world already. Someone does not have to die. The story could be chasing an embezzler or bank robber. Trying to find a lost child or solving a past crime by digging in the ground or through records to find the guilty party. If it is missing or deceased, it is a mystery!
Here is a partial list of my favorite mystery books, TV shows, and movies.

Murder on the Orient Express
The Alphabet Books by Sue Grafton
The Inspector Gamache Books by Louise Penny

Murder She Wrote

The Fugitive
The Sixth Sense
Maltese Falcon
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts One and Two
The DaVinci Code

What are your favorites?


Four statements of Wisdom

The Chief Inspector Armand Gamache book series is written by Louise Penny Louise Penny’s website

Penny originally began writing a historical novel but changed to mystery writing after finding trouble finishing. She entered the first book of the series, Still Life, in the “Debut Dagger” competition in the United Kingdom, placing second out of 800 entries.

The series is based on the character of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. The stories take place usually in the village of Three Pines, with Gamache investigating the murders of various people in each novel. They have been described as “character-driven” mysteries that explore the relationships between characters with each book in the series. Three Pines is a fictional location set in the province of Quebec, with Penny setting up the characters using the history of old Canada to show their personalities and backgrounds. In the series, a few of the plots are set outside of Three Pines.

Inspector Gamache is a likable, honest man who gets placed in the most trying situations in a dirty police department. One of the reasons he survives is that he is a kind soul and plays by four statements of wisdom. Those statements are:

I don’t know

I was wrong

I am sorry

I need help

Throughout the Inspector Gamache mystery series, these four statements have helped him solve crimes, patch relationships, and become a better man. He tries to teach these four statements to his recruits and reinforce those statements to senior officers.

What I find amazing is that these statements do work. Recently I stepped in it big time. As I tried to manage the situation, I found that each of these statements worked for me. It did not change the outcome, but it provides wisdom to me as I walked the path I set in motion.

So I challenge you to think about something in your past and follow these statements to see if the statements provide wisdom to you.

Until next time,

Frank Szewczyk


Sneakers–the movie 1992

I woke up this morning and caught one of my favorite movies Sneakers. Sneakers is a 1992 American comedy caper film directed by Phil Alden Robinson, written by Robinson, Walter Parkes, and Lawrence Lasker.

The stars in the movie are Robert Redford (Bishop), Dan Aykroyd (Mother), Ben Kingsley,(Cosmo) Mary McDonnell (Liz), River Phoenix (Carl), Sidney Poitier (Crease) and David Strathairn (Whistler).

Sneakers You can see the trailer here. sneakers

(Short synopsis) Martin Bishop is the head of a group of experts who specialize in testing security systems. When he is blackmailed by government agents into stealing a top secret black box, the team find themselves embroiled in a game of danger and intrigue. After they recover the box, they discover that it has the capability to decode all existing encryption systems around the world, and that the agents who hired them didn’t work for the government after all. Written by Graeme Roy <gsr@cbmamiga.demon.co.uk>

I love mysteries and spy stories. This movie combines the two. With hacking today becoming an hourly event this movie shows that espionage was a live and well back in the day. Redford and Strathairn provide a glimpse into the the world of the blind (Strathairn is blind in the movie). Whistler’s ears and Bishop’s memory help locate the people responsible for creating a device that can bust any code it reads. In the hands of the wrong people this decoder can literally doom the world.

The movie also combines humor with the serious. Blind Whistler driving the getaway van is hilarious. Liz trying to get Stephen Tobolowsky ( Dr. Werner Brandes) to say certain words on a date so they can record his speech to make a voice print that they can use to enter the building is priceless. When the group hides in Liz’s apartment, they string the place with computers and wire such that it looks like a jungle. Once the mystery is solved the movie ends on a hysterical note.

Sneakers is not your typical mystery but one which will help you escape for a couple of hours.
Check it out!

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

One book I forgot the list as one of my favorites is Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore. It is a fantastic mystery where no one dies but the suspense can be cut with a knife. Here is the review from the New York Times Book Review Dec. 14, 2012.

Clay Jannon, an unemployed Web designer, takes a job working the graveyard shift at a 24-hour bookstore, owned by the strange Mr. Penumbra. The store is just as inscrutable, with two kinds of customers — random passers-by who stop in so rarely Clay wonders how the store is able to stay open and a furtive “community of people who orbit the store like strange moons. . . . They arrive with algorithmic regularity. They never browse. They come wide-awake, completely sober and vibrating with need.” These customers borrow from a mysterious set of books, which Clay has been warned not to read. He surrenders to his curiosity and discovers that the books are written in code. With the help of his roommate, a special effects artist; his best friend, a successful creator of “boob-simulation software”; and his romantic interest, Kat Potente, who works for Google in data visualization, our likable hero goes on a quest. He solves the Founder’s Puzzle, the origins of which are never clearly explained, using data visualization and distributed computing and stumbles upon an even bigger mystery: Mr. Penumbra has disappeared. Clay tracks him to New York, and in the city, the friends locate the Unbroken Spine, headquarters of a secret society.

They match wits with the Unbroken Spine as both groups try to decipher a text; the secret society using old, rigorous research methods, while Clay and his friends harness the power of current technology. In the end, both are right and wrong. Working together is the only way they will find a solution.

“Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” is eminently enjoyable, full of warmth and intelligence. Sloan balances a strong plot with philosophical questions about technology and books and the power both contain. The prose maintains an engaging pace as Clay, Mr. Penumbra and the quirky constellation of people around them try to determine what matters more — the solution to a problem or how that solution is achieved.