Adventures of a Writing Life

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“Crime of the Week” and other charms

“Crime of the Week” and other charms

Question: What happens when you live in one house for over 40 years?

Answer: It gets cluttered with unfinished projects and treasures without a place (including letters and treasures from my parents’ cluttered attic).

Question: And what happens when, of an instant, you decide to have the entire first floor refinished?

Answer: Everything must get moved out and surfaces cleared.

This process takes time! Everything must be puzzled out.

One of the treasures without a home I picked up this morning, for example, is a manilla file titled “Crime of the Week.” It’s filled with clippings of the Crimes of the Week as reported in the northern Californian Anderson Valley Advertiser in the 1980s and 90s. My parents had a property in beautiful Anderson Valley (not far from Mendocino, California), and my father used to send me the Advertiser. I began cutting out various Crimes and slipping them away in a file.

The Advertiser is still trucking, but I suspect that the crimes to report these days may have lost some of their last-century charm.

For example, here’s the Crime of the Week from June 22, 1988, picked at random:

CRIME OF THE WEEK
A Westport couple was hanging out the window of their house screaming that they were trapped. Deputies Hillard and Degeyter walked right on in through the front door and transported the couple to Ukiah for psychiatric evaluation.

Or this one (date not noted):

CRIME OF THE WEEK
Miles Reisman of Redwood Valley called the Sheriff’s Office to say a neighbor of his was walking through the neighborhood wearing nothing but a “scrap” around his waist while swinging a dead skunk. Deputy Pendergraft was unable to locate the dead skunk twirler, speculating the man had simply blended in with the Redwood Valley commute crowd.

I’ve long thought that the Advertiser should publish the Crimes of the Week as a charming daily calendar, something a publisher like Workman might be interested in. At the least, I thought I might share some of them on this blog now and then. (What do you think?)

Today the Crime of the Week feature seems to have morphed into Catch of the Day. On October 13, 2016, Catch of the DAY listed 13, with grim mug shots of each.

And thus it is that it has taken all morning to place just one file without a home in Current. :-)


A note to writers of cosy mysteries: the Anderson Valley Advertiser would be an excellent source of ideas for plot and character. There is even a book put out by Bruce Anderson and Mark Scaramella: Mendocino Noir; Crimes Large and Small.

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