Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Literary Monday - 5/28/12

Meant to post my recent reading list yesterday but got distracted by company:

The perks of being a wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - Charlie is a freshman in high school whose best friend killed himself the previous summer.  Almost by accident, he becomes friends with a group of open-minded seniors who accept him for what he is and encourage him to become involved in life and not just stand on the sidelines observing.  At the same time, he is mentored by a teacher who recognizes and encourages his intelligence.

The coroner's lunch by Colin Cotterill - Dr. Siri Paiboun is a septuagenarian who has recruited to be the national coroner of Laos, even though he has no experience performing autopsies, since all the rest of the intelligentsia have crossed the river into Thailand.  When presented with two high profile cases, Dr. Siri manages to solve the mysteries with the help of his two unusual morgue assistants, the chemistry teacher at the local high school, and some outdated medical textbooks.

Death wore white by Jim Kelly - It's a "locked room" mystery that takes place in cars!  Several automobiles are stranded on a Norfolk road in a sudden snowstorm.  One of the drivers is discovered to have been murdered but there are no other passengers in the vehicle and no footprints leading to or away from the car.  So whodunnit?

The given day by Dennis Lehane - I wasn't sure if I was going to like this historical novel about the failed Boston police strike of 1919, but it's so much more than that.  Great characters, fascinating history, plenty of sub-plots, tragedy and triumph.  This is a stand-alone historical, not part of his mystery series, from the author of "Mystic River" and "Shutter Island."  Lehane has another historical novel coming out this summer.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Missing Tuesday - Zebb Quinn

Sometimes when someone disappears, the police have plenty of clues, but the clues don’t make sense or they point in different directions. Such is the case in the very strange disappearance of Zebb Quinn.

Zebb Wayne Quinn disappeared on January 2, 2000, from Asheville, NC. He was employed at the Walmart store on Hendersonville Road and was at work on January 2. He left work at 9 p.m. and met his friend Robert Jason Owens. The two young men were going to look at a Mitsubishi Eclipse that Zebb was interested in buying. On their way, they stopped for sodas at a Citgo gas station on Hendersonville Road not far from the Walmart, and video footage from the store shows the pair entering the store around 9:15 p.m. The same footage show their cars pulling away from the station’s parking area a few minutes later, heading toward Long Shoals Road.

Around 9:30 p.m., Zebb flashed his lights at Owens and the two cars pulled over to the side of the road. He told Owens that he had received a page and needed to make a phone call right away. Law enforcement later confirmed that the page had come from Zebb’s aunt’s telephone. He drove off, then returned about ten minutes later and accidentally rear-ended Owens’ pick-up truck. Zebb told Robert that something had come up and he couldn’t look at the Mitsubishi that night, and he drove away. He was never seen again.

Owens was treated for broken ribs and a head injury that he claimed were from another automobile accident that occurred in the early morning hours of January 3, several hours after he last saw Zebb. Police were suspicious about Owens being involved in two accidents just a few hours apart, particularly since the second accident where he claimed he was injured was never reported to police.

On January 4, someone claiming to be Zebb called the Walmart to say that he would not be coming to work that day. After the call ended, Zebb’s supervisor hit *69 to see where the call had come from, and it turned out that the call had been made from the local Volvo automobile manufacturing plant. Robert Owens was employed at the plant, so police immediately were suspicious that he had made the call. When questioned, Owens admitted making the call, at Zebb’s request. After giving police his initial statement, Owens refused to cooperate with police further.

Zebb’s blue Mazda Protégé was found abandoned in the parking lot of a local restaurant, The Little Pigs Barbecue, on January 16, two weeks after his disappearance. The parking lot is across from Mission St. Joseph’s Hospital where Zebb’s mother, sister and grandmother all worked as nurses. A black Labrador Retriever puppy approximately 3 months old was found in the car. The dog didn’t belong to Zebb and police believe that the car was left in that location deliberately with the puppy inside so that it would be noticed right away. Police checked with local pet stores, dog breeders, and animal shelters but were unable to locate the source of the puppy. One of the investigating officers ended up adopting the puppy.

In addition to the dog, a plastic hotel key card, drink bottles, and a jacket that didn’t belong to Zebb were also found in the car, along with some strands of hair that were inconsistent with Zebb’s hair. A pair of lips and two exclamation points had been drawn on the rear window with lipstick. There was no sign of Zebb at the scene and no one had any idea who had left the car there. The hotel key card had no name on it, and none of the local hotels and motels were able to identify the card.

Police now suspect foul play in Zebb’s disappearance and are investigating the case as a homicide, and believe that more than one person is involved. In 2009, they collected hair, saliva and fingerprint from a female friend of Zebb’s, although they stress she is not a suspect in his disappearance. Zebb had told his family that the woman (identified as Misty Taylor) was in an abusive relationship, and that he himself had been threatened by her boyfriend.

Zebb’s aunt is also a mysterious figure. She claimed that she wasn’t at home at the time Zebb received the page, and she had witnesses to back her up. The witnesses were Misty Taylor’s family, who the aunt was friendly with and had gone to their house to discuss a business plan – apparently they were planning to start a business together.

There has been considerable speculation that more than one person was responsible for Zebb’s disappearance, and that Misty’s boyfriend was involved. Maybe the page that Zebb received was from Misty, asking him to meet her at a local motel and that the two spent the night together and were later discovered by Misty’s boyfriend. It is also possible that Misty’s boyfriend lured Zebb somewhere by using his aunt’s phone at a time when he knew she wasn’t at home. Robert Owens was arrested in 2007 following a high speed chase. He still refuses to talk to the police about Zebb. Also, 9 p.m. at night seems an odd time for two young men to go look at a car. Obviously a number of people know more about Zebb’s disappearance than they are admitting.

Zebb Quinn in his ROTC uniform

Zebb Quinn is 5’9” tall and weighs around 165 lbs. He has brown hair that he wears in a neat short haircut, and blue-gray eyes. He wears contact lenses. He has scars between the middle and ring fingers on both hands. He has a learning or organizational disability and his family describes him as being not street-smart. He is close to his family and would never have left without warning or contacting them. At the time of his disappearance, Zebb was 18 years old – today he would be 30 years old. He was wearing jeans, a plaid button-down shirt, and a gold chain. He didn’t take money, clothing, or any other items that he would need if he was leaving for a long period of time.

If you have any information about Zebb’s disappearance, please contact the Asheville Police Department at 828/252-1110.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Missing Tuesday - Lisa Stebic

Every year, over 15,000 people go missing from the Chicago area alone.  Lisa Stebic disappeared on April 30, 2007, from Plainfield, IL, a western suburb of Chicago.  Her family recently marked the fifth anniversary of her disappearance, a sad occasion.

Lisa was last seen on April 30, 2007, around 6 p.m. at her home in Plainfield. According to her husband Craig, Lisa left home around 6 p.m. to go work out at the track at a nearby school.  No one saw Lisa at the high school track that evening, and she was reported missing the next day, May 1, by a co-worker when Lisa failed to show up for her job at Lincoln Elementary School, where she worked in the cafeteria.

Lisa was born Lisa Michelle Ruttenberg on May 19, 1969.  Lisa married Craig Stebic in 1993, and the couple had two children, Zach and Lexi.  On the day of their mother's disappearance, the two children had walked to a neighborhood store to buy candy. 

Lisa’s car was parked in the driveway of their home, but her purse and cell phone were gone. There has been no activity on her cell phone or credit cards since she disappeared.

Lisa and her husband Craig were in the middle of a divorce. Craig filed for divorce in 2007 after 14 years of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences.  The couple continued to live in the same house but according to witnesses, were barely speaking to each other.  Lisa's family states she had filed a petition for eviction on the same day she went missing.  Friends say that Craig was very controlling and restrictive. 

At the beginning of the investigation, Craig cooperated fully with the police, even handing over the family's computer for analysis.  The police consider Craig to be a person of interest in her disappearance, but have not charged him with any wrong-doing. Craig told police that Lisa was a good mother and would never have just walked away from her children.  He insists he had nothing to do with Lisa’s disappearance and was working in the backyard went he thought he heard her leave the house for her regular workout. Police say that he refused a polygraph and is no longer cooperating with them, and communicates through his lawyer.  Craig has refused to allow his children to speak to authorities about their mother's disappearance, as he wants them to live as normal a life as possible under the circumstances.  Shortly after Lisa disappeared, Craig hosted a pool party at his home that was attended by WBBM reporter Amy Jacobson.  Film footage showed Jacobson wearing a bikini at the party.

Craig Stebic filed for sole custody of his children but a judge denied the request.  His lawyer told reporters that the reason for the motion was that he feared that Lisa would return, take the children, and disappear again.  Approximately a year after Lisa disappeared, Craig filed a motion to have their divorce proceedings dismissed, which was granted by a Will County judge.  Craig's lawyer, Dion Davi, is currently suing him for unpaid legal bills over $10,000.

Lisa Stebic in 2007

Authorities now believe that foul play was involved with Lisa's disappearance.  Divers searched several bodies of water near the Stebic home, and police and friends have searched nearby Silver Spring State Park as well as an estate on the Michigan-Wisconsin border owned by the Stebic family located in an area that has a number of abandoned mines.  The FBI also joined the search for Lisa but no new evidence has been found.  The Stebic home and automobiles were searched, but police have not released any information regarding the search.  Her disappearance bears some eerie similarities to the disappearance of Stacy Peterson in October of that same year.  Lisa's family continues to work to keep the investigation alive and her story in the public's view.  A reward is being offered for any information about Lisa's disappearance.

Lisa is 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs 125 lbs. She has long brown hair and brown eyes. Today she would be 42 years old. She has two visible tattoos, a small rose on her ankle and a large butterfly on her lower back. Her family has established a website, www.findlisastebic.com. If you have any information about Lisa, please contact the Plainfield police department at 815/267-7217.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Literary Monday - 5/14/2012

Three titles so far during May:

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles - the book opens on the last day of 1937, when two young women living in a New York boardinghouse meet a wealthy young man at a jazz club.  The events of the next two days change all of their lives forever.  The descriptions of New York in the 30s are wonderful.  Towles uses a female narrator (he's a man), and she comes off just a little too hard and masculine.

So Much for That by Lionel Shriver - Shep Knacker has dreamed all of his life about retiring to an island paradise and living off the proceeds of the sale of his company.  Just as he is about to realize his dream, his wife informs him that she has cancer and that he needs to keep his job because she needs his medical benefits.  At the same time, Shep's best friend Jackson (who works for the same company) has a daughter suffering from a rare hereditary disease.  Shriver also wrote We Need to Talk About Kevin, and I enjoy her writing very much.

Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer - historical fiction set in Hungary and Paris that focuses on a pair of Jewish brothers who leave Hungary to study, one to Paris to study architecture and the other to Italy to study medicine, who are caught up in the tragedy of WW II.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Reading list update

I have been missing my blogging since we lost so much staff at the library.  I used to blog on my lunch hour, but lately I have been working through lunch just to try to stay caught up with all the work.  Will try to do better.

Today I am catching up on my reading.  Here is what I have been reading since my last "Literary Monday" post:

Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin - this is the book that the HBO series is based on, and they are following the books pretty faithfully.  Lots of characters and a setting that is sort of like Middle Earth meets the Middle Ages.  I already bought the second book, Clash of Kings, for the Kindle.

Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - the 2nd and 3rd books in the Hunger Games trilogy.  I was satisfied with the conclusion but not everyone was (it's a very adult conclusion to the book, not "and they lived happily ever after").  The characters are extremely damaged by what they have gone through, and it's not realistic to think they are all going to skip off into the sunset holding hands.

Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan - the story of a relationship told through dictionary entries.  Different.

Troubled Bones by Jeri Westerson - the fourth title in the Crispin Guest medieval noir series.  I liked this one very much since Westerson introduced Geoffrey Chaucer as a character - Chaucer is also scheduled to appear in the next title in the series.

Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton - A man who is unable to speak following a childhood trauma becomes a safecracker to help his girlfriend's family.  Good psychological thriller.

Civilized World by Susi Wyss - A novel told in segments that focus on various characters and set in various African countries.  Reminded me of Olive Kitteridge.

Ten thousand saints by Eleanor Hamilton - a coming-of-age story about three teens whose lives are affected by the loss of a brother, a friend, and a lover.

Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak - an orphaned ward of Empress Elizabeth of Russia spies on members of the court and attaches herself to the court of the future Catherine the Great.  Loved it.  It's the first book in a planned trilogy about Catherine.

Kiss me Judas by Will Christopher Baer - ever hear that urban myth about a guy who picks up a girl in a bar and takes her back to his hotel room, only to wake up the next morning in a bathtub full of ice with one of his kidneys gone?  That is the premise for Baer's quirky, sometimes surreal noir novel.  It's hard to tell who are the good guys.

Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell - Two parallel stories that focus on two couples (one in the 1950's, the other in the 21st century) gradually come together to reveal the connection between them.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Missing Tuesday - Keith Anderson

Keith Anderson, 63, of Anacortes, WA, went missing on January 6, 2010. He left his family home to meet an acquaintance and was never heard from again. Keith is the father of Jake Anderson, a crew member aboard the F/V Northwestern on the Discovery Channel program “Deadliest Catch.” Viewers of the program watched as Jake received the news while out at sea during the 2010 fishing season.

Keith is a retired high school counselor who held a doctorate in psychology. Former students recall he was a kind generous man, and many of them state that they stayed in school because of Keith. In addition, Keith has four children of his own, one son and three daughters (his fourth daughter, Chelsea, passed away in 2009 at age 37).

On January 6, 2010, Keith met his brother Chris for coffee in the morning, and spent the day doing chores and errands, including moving a washer and dryer for one of his daughters. Past injuries had unfortunately left Keith with a dependence on prescription painkillers, and he left home around 4:30 p.m. that day to meet a friend to purchase a supply of Oxycontin. Normally the round trip took three to four hours. Keith met his contact in the Arlington, WA, area about 120 miles from the family’s home. An acquaintance of Keith’s thought he saw him in Sultan, WA, that evening.

When Keith did not return home that night, his family immediately began to worry, since he had never spent a night away from Donna, his wife of 43 years, except when he had worked in Alaska. Worry turned to fear when Keith’s cell phone was found in the mud near the family home. Family members say Keith had around $500 with him when he left the house. Keith’s son Jake was due to return to Alaska for the winter fishing season on January 7, and Keith never would have missed the chance to say goodbye before Jake left.

Police spoke to the man that Keith was meeting, who said that they completed their transaction and he dropped Keith off at a grocery store parking lot. There was no mention about the location of Keith’s truck, whether it was parked in the lot or elsewhere.

On January 16, Keith’s white Ford Ranger pickup truck was found abandoned 11 miles up Sauk Prairie Road, a logging road northwest of Darrington. The truck was stuck between two logs with the transmission burned out. It appeared that someone had tried to dig the truck out. The truck was locked and the keys were inside. Darrington is in the opposite direction from Sultan. Search and rescue units have repeatedly searched the area where the truck was found but no clues have been discovered.  There was no evidence of foul play or suicide in the truck's vicinity.

Keith was a marathon runner and possessed survival skills; if he had been stranded due to car trouble, his family and friends say he would have been able to find his way out of the area. Although he had a dependence on Oxycontin, Keith understood the effects of the drug and never medicated himself until he was safely at home. A logger who worked in the area stated that the only reason anyone would go that far up that particular road would be to hide a vehicle.
The police investigation officially ended on January 22 when all leads had been exhausted, although the case is still open. A small amount of blood was found in the vehicle, but police did not test the blood until Anderson’s family put pressure on them. Keith’s son Jake Anderson believes that his father was murdered, since there are rumors that the last person claiming to see Keith alive also bragged about killing him. The family has hired a private detective to look into the case.

Another man, Brock Holmes, went missing from the Sultan area in October 2009. It is unknown if there is any link between the two cases.

Keith Arthur Anderson was 63 years old at the time of his disappearance. He is approximately 5’4” tall and weighs around 130 lbs. He has gray hair, blue eyes, a beard, and wears glasses. He has a tattoo of an eagle on his left arm and another tattoo on his right shoulder. His date of birth is 9/02/1947. He was wearing brown work boots, a blue coat, and a gold neck chain with an anchor pendant. He had no other belongings with him, not even his cell phone. In addition to chronic pain, Keith suffered from depression, particularly following the death of his daughter Chelsea in 2009. It is possible that Keith felt added pressure as the one-year anniversary of Chelsea’s death approached. Chelsea suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and passed away from pneumonia. Keith was one of Chelsea’s primary caregivers and felt responsible for her death.

If you have any information about Keith’s disappearance, please contact the Anacortes Police Department at 360/293-4684.

UPDATE:  Human bones found by a hiker in a remote area of Skagit County, Washington, were positively identified in late June as the remains of Keith Anderson.  The remains were located about a mile from where Keith's truck was found.  No cause of death has been announced.