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According to the Farmers' Almanac, the "Dog Days" of summer are from July 3 to August 11 each year, and they're usually the hottest and most unbearable days of the season. I think this year, these days started earlier and will likely end later than the given dates, seeing the temperatures we're all experiencing. There are varying theories as to where the name came from, but it actually refers to SIRIUS, the "Dog Star" and its position in relation to the sun at this time of year. If you'd like to read more:

I had a great time this past month when I attended the Public Safety Writers Association conference in Las Vegas. PSWA membership is open to anyone who works to ensure the safety of the public, as well as to writers who address such issues. The conference speakers and panels included current and retired police officers and firefighters, an FBI profiler, probation officers, and a former prison warden. There were other writers, like myself, who were on panels---even as a new member; I talked about writing a series. While it was 112 degrees most of the days I was there, everything was air-conditioned, and I was quite comfortable. And, no, I didn't bring home any winnings. But I did learn a lot and met some really nice people. I have a new "to-be-read" stack of books, but here are a few I finished and would highly recommend. In keeping with my plan to introduce writers with whom you may not be familiar, these were all members of PSWA and all new to me. I think you might enjoy reading these as much as I did!

ARCHITECT OF COURAGE by Victoria Weisfeld (2022): This is a definite page-turner! The characters are wonderfully detailed, as are the New York settings and the glamorous world of its elite. Tagged as an "International Crime Thriller", the plot is original, and it kept me guessing until the end. It is a book I didn't want to put down, and will look forward to this author's next one.

FIRE HORSES by R J Haig (2011): This was another real page-turner about a team of retired firefighters who go to attend a wedding in a small town where the local fire department has been called away by the governor for another fire an hour away. The town is in the process of building a new hospital, but it's not complete. A fire breaks out in the old hospital where people are trapped within. Someone lets the police know about the retirees, who are then contacted and spring into action, despite the evening's earlier celebration. Aside from the detailing of what firefighters must do when arriving on the scene, it was fascinating to learn what they did despite their lack of familiar equipment, not to mention their age. It was a totally engrossing story, and while fictional, it is based on some of the writer's own experiences and demonstrates how resourceful firefighters often have to be.

WHEN THE SMOKE CLEARED: A Murder Mystery in Malden

by Bill Powers (2023): This was the fascinating detailing of a case that appeared to be a possible arson but was soon discovered to be not just arson but something designed to hide a murder. There were many problems with this case, but the major one was the lack of a body, despite evidence of blood, displaced furniture, and a broken coffee table in what was supposed to have been a locked room in the apartment complex. The book is based on an actual case and the author's experience as the lead investigator. His extensive background as both a homicide detective and an attorney paints a very clear picture of processing the crime and carrying the case through to court. There is a strong focus on the importance of communication between multiple branches of investigators. The reader is taken step by step through the years of the investigation and the final day-by-day of the trial. It was a great read!

Hope you all enjoy the remainder of your summer!

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