Tuesday, October 26, 1999

Wagging those dog tales again

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Guess it's time to start dunning Jeff Marks with more bad puns: “Going to the dogs, are you, Jeff?”

        Marks is the 39-year-old Green Township author and editor who made a stir in '98 with Canine Crimes (Ballantine; $5.99), a collection of 15 mysteries by various authors. The glue was dogs: They played a prominent role in each story, helping or hindering an investigation.

        Well sir, it's a year later and he's back with more dogs. This time it's Canine Christmas (Ballantine, $5.99), 15 more mysteries full of murder and dogs, all set at Christmas.

        The way the compilations work is Marks, who goes to lots of writers' conventions, writes the writers and asks them to contribute. He then edits and publishes 15.

        Christmas has some good names: Besides Marks, there's Melissa Cleary, Lillian Roberts, Virginia Lanier and others — “a kennel of champion writers,” Marks says.

        It's due in mid-November.

        Marks, meanwhile, is gearing up for a signing tour of the Midwest with a stop in New York — “a big town for mysteries” — plus a book launch party here in December.

        He's also working on two more compilations: Magnolias and Mayhem will be Southern mysteries, sans dogs, due in June 2000.

        Criminal Appetites, more short mysteries but these with recipes, is due in summer, 2001. “I don't know what mine will be for that one. LaRosa's phone number maybe.”

        BEER, PLEASE: On a sad note: There was supposed to be some beer drinking going on out in Mason last weekend. Fast drinking, at that.

        Uh, yeah, says Bridget Castellini, speaking for members of the Heritage Club, homeowners in the upscale neighborhood where homes run $400,000 and up. Seems they needed a fix of merrie olde England's Old Speckled Hen, a pale ale fermented in wooden barrels.

        So they ordered some. Problem is, a barrelful has a shelf life of two weeks. The trip from Abingdon (Oxfordshire), to Liverpool to Boston to Cincinnati takes eight or nine days, leaving the Heritage gang one weekend to down the suds.

        That was supposed to be last weekend at a party where Heritage chef Don Mueller whipped up a veddy British menu — scotch eggs, fish and chips.

        Everything but the beer. Turns out Mueller tapped the cask, and it was undrinkable. Flat and vile, leaving club members all dressed up with nowhere to go.

        So they'll try again? Maybe. As of Monday, wheels were turning.

        HEARD AROUND TOWN: “I'm very impressed with the way you exhibit the manatees (and other critters) and the educational component is the best I have yet to see.”

        That from Dr. Robert Bonde, head of the U.S. Geological Service's Sirenia Project, an outfit working for conservation of the highly endangered manatee.

        He was in town recently, visiting Thane Maynard and the zoo's Manatee Springs exhibit, paying special attention to the educational side. Most conservationists believe the way to save any endangered species is to educate people about the species' environmental role.

        Manatee Springs is one of several exhibits he has toured, and the one he likes best. So much, in fact, he promised that others from Sirenia would visit soon.

        Knip's Eye View appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Have an item to report? Call Jim Knippenberg at 768-8513; fax: 768-8330.

        Psst! appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Have an item to report? Call Jim Knippenberg at 768-8513; fax: 768-8330.