The Cutthroat by Clive Cussler

Isaac Bell is the main character in a series of Clive Cussler branded books. Co-written with Jason Scott, the series features the adventures of detectives with the Van Dorn Detective agency, modeled after the Pinkertons. The Pinkertons always got their man, the Van Dorns never give up. Mid 19th century high technology always plays a big part in the Isaac Bell novels – steam trains, the telegraph, flying machines and radio all come into play.

The premise of this tale is that London’s Jack the Ripper did not die as claimed by Scotland Yard, but rather found his or her way to the good old USA where he/she continued slashing throats. Taking advantage of the Van Dorn Agencies broad reach in the USA, Isaac Bell uncovers a pattern in the murders of young woman across the country. He appeals to his boss to let him travel to England to pursue further leads and concludes that the location of certain US murders corresponds to the path taken by a theater production of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as it tours the US by rail.

Undercover, Bell arranges to become an ‘angel’ offering to fund the production of a film version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as it wraps ups it’s cross country tour in L.A. Bell’s sweetie Marion is a budding film producer with some creds, so she and Bell hitch the Van Dorn luxury rail car to the Jekyll and Hyde production train and work to suss out who the evil doer is. The dramatic conclusion takes place on the movie set with Bell and the evil doer locked in a deadly saber duel.

Of all the Clive Cussler / Isaac Bell series I have read (and I’ve read them all), this one appealed to me least. Perhaps it was the emphasis on ‘theater’, or the paucity of venues, or character development that didn’t really work for me, or the fact the Jack the Ripper has been done to tatters, but I was disappointed. I mean to say the train visited a lot of cities, but then straight to the theater or back to the train, so not much attendant travel log or interesting local color. Did I want to keep reading? I read two other books in the middle of reading this one, so not so much.


New Arrival: Out on the Wire

Out on the Wire

In our new arrivals this week is Out on the Wire by Jessica Abel, a nonfiction graphic novel all about narrative radio. From the back of the book:

Go behind the scenes of today’s most popular narrative radio shows and podcasts, including This American Life and Radiolab, in this graphic narrative.
Every week, millions of devoted fans tune in to or download This American Life, The Moth, Radiolab, Planet Money, Snap Judgment, Serial, Invisibilia and other narrative radio shows. Using personal stories to breathe life into complex ideas and issues, these beloved programs help us to understand ourselves and our world a little bit better. Each has a distinct style, but every one delivers stories that are brilliantly told and produced. Out on the Wire offers an unexpected window into this new kind of storytelling—one that literally illustrates the making of a purely auditory medium.

Our price is $8.50. Find it in our contemporary culture section.

Just in: Old radio books

Guess what just came in over the transom? A nice selection of old-timey radio books.

Radio Simplified – Kendall and Koehler – $12

Efficient Radio Sets – John Smith & Co – $10

Radio for the Millions – Popular Science Monthly – $9

How to Make the Most Popular All Wave 1 & 2 Tube Receivers – Grensback’s – $13.5

100 Radio Hookups – Maurice Muhleman – $9

How to Build 4 Doerle Short Wave Sets – Grensback’s – $13.5

All About Aerials – Grensback’s – $13.5

Radio Manufacturers of the 1920’s vol.1 – Alan Douglas – $25

Radio Manufacturers of the 1920’s vol2 – Alan Douglas – $25

Radio Manufacturers of the 1920’s vol3 – Alan Douglas – $25


Vintage tube AM radio, RCA Victor 6-X-7

This RCA Victor model 6-X-7 table radio boasts that mid-century flair. Manufactured in 1956 and 1957, the 6-X-7 came in white or black. This one is is white, tunes the AM band and features a superhet tuner.

If you love the era of the ’57 Chevy and appreciate the warm tones associated with tube circuitry, stop in and crank up the rock and roll on this iconic piece of ’50’s technology.

Vintage 1956/7 RCA Victor tube AM radio at Gifty Things Vintage – $75.00


Vintage 1946 Sentinel tube radio

If you like old technology, this 1946 Sentinel tube radio might just be your cup of tea. Manufactured by Sentinel Radio Corporation of Evanston, IL, the IU285P features a superheterodyne tuner and operates on either 120VAC or batteries. The “P” in the model stands for portable. This one tunes the AM band and works very nicely.

The case is wood, covered with rich brown and tan faux leather and the carrying handle is stitched leather. There are three tan Bakelite controls knobs: volume, off/AC/batt, and the tuner.  Considering this radio is 69 years old, it’s previous owner took very good care of it. No nicks or scrapes.

Talk about nostalgia. Imagine your great grandparents boogieing around the kitchen to Toot, toot, Tootsie Good-by or Clear, Cool Water broadcast on KELO AM. World War two was over with the surrender of the Japanese in September of the previous year, the GI’s were coming home and there was plenty to celebrate. Own a bit of history.