Thursday, January 26, 2017


I’ve been struggling to come up with a topic for this week’s blog, partly because I’m engrossed in writing about a new character called Wolfman, partly because Michael and I are plotting a thriller (note: plotting, not pantsing), and partly because I’m genuinely afraid that some of the world’s most powerful leaders are so narcissistic that they couldn’t care if they stuff up the world.


I spent some time outlining a blog that was a take-off of a Trump speech, except that it was how Michael and I were the best mystery novelists ever, that our sales numbers were so great that the trees harvested for the paper for the books was contributing to climate change . . . . . . . Then I realised no one would believe what I was writing because there is no such thing as climate change.  So I abandoned that one.

I then spent several hours researching various articles, trying to gain insight into the mind of Donald Trump.  (I really did this research!)  My friend Dr. Anthony Gear suggested that Trump could well be suffering from Syphilis.  This is what Wikipedia says of the disease:

The Symptoms of the disease first appear from 10 to 30 years after infection. Incipient GPI is usually manifested by neurasthenic difficulties, such as fatigue, headaches, insomnia, dizziness, etc. As the disease progresses, mental deterioration and personality changes occur. Typical symptoms include loss of social inhibitions, asocial behavior, gradual impairment of judgment, concentration and short-term memory, euphoria, mania, depression, or apathy. Subtle shivering, minor defects in speech and Argyll Robertson pupil may become noticeable.
Delusions, common as the illness progresses, tend to be poorly systematized and absurd. They can be grandiose, melancholic, or paranoid. These delusions include ideas of great wealth, immortality, thousands of lovers, unfathomable power, apocalypsis, nihilism, self-blame, or bizarre hypochondriacal complaints.

The only issue is whether Trump’s social behaviour ever made him susceptible to contracting a Sexually Transmitted Disease.

Then I read a fascinating article in The Atlantic, written by Dan P McAdams in the middle of last year titled The Mind of Donald Trump.  You can read it here – it is well worth the time. 

In predicting what sort of president Trump would be, he wrote:

In sum, Donald Trump’s basic personality traits suggest a presidency that could be highly combustible. One possible yield is an energetic, activist president who has a less than cordial relationship with the truth. He could be a daring and ruthlessly aggressive decision maker who desperately desires to create the strongest, tallest, shiniest, and most awesome result—and who never thinks twice about the collateral damage he will leave behind. Tough. Bellicose. Threatening. Explosive.
Surprisingly, the wrong finger!

Finally, I listened to a very interesting thesis about how dangerous it is that Trump believes his own lies.  You can listen to Keith Olbermann’s A Plea to Trump Fans: This Man is Dangerous here.

By this time, I was deeply depressed. Everything I had read or watched reinforced rather than dispelled my belief that Trump is mentally unstable. As I sat in the dark late last night, I wondered whether he and like-minded, self-important leaders would lead us into times of horror. I had no doubt they could!  But would they?  Time will tell.

How I felt after my research

I don't enjoy writing when I'm down in the dumps, so I decided to write about something completely different. About something I love; something from the world of nature.

I’d like to introduce you to the Central African Horror Frog (with thanks to New Scientist for the information).  It is about 11 centimetres long (4.5 inches), so no puny amphibian.  As Pliny the Elder once wrote: “Ex Africa semper aliquid novi.”

Trichobatrachus robustus is a bizarre, hairy frog with cat-like extendable claws.  When it is threatened, scientists speculate, it actively breaks its own bones to produce claws that puncture their way out of its toe pads.
Horror frog 
Horror frog

At rest, the claws of T. robustus, found on the hind feet only, are nestled inside a mass of connective tissue. A chunk of collagen forms a bond between the claw’s sharp point and a small piece of bone at the tip of the frog’s toe.
 The other end of the claw is connected to a muscle. . . . . .when the animal is attacked, it contracts this muscle, which pulls the claw downwards. The sharp point then breaks away from the bony tip and cuts through the toe pad, emerging on the underside. 

The end result may look like a cat’s claw, but the breaking and cutting mechanism is very different and unique among vertebrates. 
Also unique is the fact that the claw is just bone and does not have an outer coating of keratin like other claws do. 

In Cameroon, apparently the horror frogs are roasted and eaten.  I hope their hunters have heavy gloves and iron stomachs.

Has this man eaten a horror frog?  Or just read about Trump?

I'm pleased I found out about the horror frog, because I have learnt something.  Next time I am attacked, I’ll break my fingers.  That way, I’ll pass out and won’t be aware of what’s happening to me.


Murder Is EverywhereAuthor Recognitions and Events


Won the 2016 Prix Marianne for the Lagos Lady, the French translation of Easy Motion Tourist:

Easy Motion Tourist / Lagos Lady, was number 2 on Le Monde's list of best thrillers of 2016:

Easy Motion Tourist featured in the Guardian's Best Recent Crime Novel Review Roundup:

Upcoming Event:

March 7 to 16: South African Word Festival, Stellenbosch.


Strange Gods: Paperback, Felony and Mayhem, Feb 2016
Idol of Mombasa: Paperback, Felony and Mayhem, Oct 2016
Sunshine Noir: Editor, White Sun Press, Oct 2016


Murder in Saint Germain, Aimée Leduc’s next investigation, comes out June 6, 2017.
Just signed the contract for the next two Aimée Leduc investigations in Paris with Soho Press.

Upcoming Event:

Thursday, January 26, 2017 @ 7 PM
Janet Rudolph’s Mystery Readers Salon 
(with Jeff Siger and Lisa Alber)
Berkeley, CA


           Signed two-book contract with Severn House!


2016 Barry Award Finalist for Best Novel.

Upcoming Events:

Thursday, January 26, 2017 @ 7 PM
Janet Rudolph’s Mystery Readers Salon 
(with Cara Black and Lisa Alber)
Berkeley, CA

Saturday, January 28, 2017 @ 4 PM
Corte Madera, CA

Tuesday, January 31, 2017 @ 7 PM
Pasadena, CA

Thursday, February 2, 2017 @ 7:30 PM
Orange, CA

Friday, February 3, 2017 @ 7:30 PM
San Diego, CA


Sunshine Noir: Editor, White Sun Press, Oct 2016


  1. Stan, delighted to hear that you and Michael are pantsing your way through a summary of that thriller that I am so looking foward to. I was agreeing totally with the syphillus diagnosis until I got to the term "self-doubt." If only!!

    So glad you got the Trump research out of the way before I show up on your doorstep. We will speak of many things, of cabbages and kings. But NOT the Tweeter-in-Chief.

  2. I'm trying to see the connection between the horror frog and the president. It's on the tip of my tongue, but...

  3. I feel a lot of angst KNOWING that the President of the United States is mentally ill. You just know he's going to tweet the nuclear code one day, or unintentionally declare and thus start a war with China through a tweet sent at 3 am. Insomnia is a symptom of what again?
    And that frog is just awesome.

  4. He's what 70? He has a BMI of 29.5? Would you let a man with those stats drive a bus?

  5. Amphibians I thought represented an evolutionary step up out of the swamp, and horror frog is clearly unique. But then there's Pepe the Frog, symbol of all that's poised and prepared to drag civilization back into a noticeably undrained swamp. And it's only getting deeper.