The Surreal Killer

The Surreal Killer
Machu Picchu. Peru

Saturday, March 30, 2013


The familiar tomato-cilantro-Serrano or Jalapeno chile mix called salsa we dip our chips into on the Mexican lunch/dinner table is a regional variant of a ubiquitous sauce in Latin America.  In Argentina, Uruguay, or Chile there aren’t chips to dip and there isn’t tomato-based salsa.  So what will you meet on these tables?  I’ll give you a hint---food is pretty bland in most of Argentina and Uruguay, and the prevalent “seasoning” is too much salt on the beef.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


            I came across a review of “The Surreal Killer” on the book’s Amazon UK site (only £1.93 for the novel).   The reviewer thought the book was “too twee” for them.  I think this is one of those classic cases of Americans and British being separated by a common language.  At least for me it was a new word, which sent me quickly to the nearest dictionary.

            Before I share the definition with you, a word about the novel is in order here, I think.  The storyline is about a serial killer who murders in a particularly brutal fashion with a machete.  The murderer kills ten victims, with two of the killings described in detail in the novel.  Several other killings by others are mentioned in one place or another in the book, and another killing is described as it occurs.  All in all, an impressive body count I thought.

            “Twee” means excessively cute or delicate.  That’s an interesting way to describe multiple murder and dismemberment.  I find it difficult to imagine my hard-boiled mysteries as being delicate.  But that’s the fun of being a reader---in the end the book is whatever you the reader want it to be. 


            What do I mean by efficient hunters?   How about getting four pheasants with three shots in less than 20 minutes?  It really happened.  Keep reading for the details.


Here’s a very nice description of what I did in Uruguay when I wasn't trying to write and sell mystery stories and novels. [Reprinted From Global Health Matters, Fogarty International Center's newsletter, January / February 2013 | Volume 12, Issue 1]

“Focus on water”

What started as an initiative to protect Uruguayan drinking water from an herbicide commonly used by rice farmers has blossomed into an international network of budding researchers focused on solving water problems in Latin America. With Fogarty support, researchers and trainees are teaching others how to develop and use molecular-based tests to measure water purity.  Researchers in Uruguay devised a simple test to measure herbicide levels in water.
The project began in 2001, when Dr. Jerold A. Last of the University of California (UC), Davis, received his first International Training and Research in Environmental and Occupational Health grant.  This Fogarty program aims to nurture trainees from a variety of disciplines to help developing countries and emerging democracies develop capacity in both environmental and occupational health.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


OK, you're ready to visit some of the places I've described in my South American mystery stories.  What should you do next?  Most of South America, especially in the poorer and less developed countries, has a much more complicated system and infrastructure to support tourism than we are accustomed to in the United States and Western Europe.  Banking systems are less reliable, currency values are less stable, and credit cards have not yet replaced cash in many transactions as they have in North America, especially for international visitors.  So, if you want to go from where you are to a different major tourist attraction it takes some planning.   You don’t go on-line and make plane and hotel reservations, nor do you hop on a flight with stand-by tickets and find a hotel when you arrive at your destination.   

Saturday, March 2, 2013


We flew from Santa Cruz de Bolivia to La Paz on the usual pre-dawn flight that seemed to be the norm for flying in South America.  With a 5 AM pick-up Elaine and I were in the air early en route to a remarkable landing experience.  We were told that only a few pilots were qualified to make this landing, and that they spent entire careers flying in and out of the airport in El Alto.  As we approached the landing we could look up to see snow capped peaks.  Yes, we entered through a valley and flew under the highest peaks.  We were close enough to the mountains themselves to see the textures and impressions in the snow.  The El Alto airport runway is at 14,000+ feet, and I can personally certify that the air is pretty thin at that altitude.  It takes a long time for the plane to slow down and stop after it lands and the runway is just long enough to make the landing work.  A certain amount of faith in the pilot is required at white-knuckle time; several of the passengers were noticeably crossing themselves and praying as we landed.  El Alto, once part of La Paz, is now a city in its own right.  It spills over the top of the ridgeline that defines the end of the La Paz Valley and sprawls out onto the high plain above the city.  La Paz itself is built vertically into the side of the mountain.


Great review.   5.0 out of 5 stars

Fast paced novella,
Loves All Things Books (Oklahoma)

This review is from the Amazon book page:

The Body in the Bed (South American Mystery Series) (Kindle Edition)

I received The Body in the Bed by the author for an honest review. This is a short read, a print length of about 68 pages. The reader doesn't have to read the past Mystery novels written about Roger and Suzanne to read this one. Though I fully recommend you read those too if this one sparks your interest.

Roger and Suzanne head back to Montevideo to celebrate their friend's promotion in the police force. When they arrive they find a body in the bed. Seems like every time they visit this country there's a new mystery to solve.

I cannot wait to start reading the other novels by Jerold Last. Two thumbs up for The Body in the Bed!