This Matter Was Not at All Foul

I Loved This Book and Just HAD to Discuss It

By Jeff Salter

Let me start by explaining: “foul matter” is evidently a publishing term meaning a manuscript which has not yet begun the in-housing editing process. It’s NOT a critical assessment of the quality of that story’s content.

Now, what I really want to say is how exciting it has been to have a book recommended to me, I read the book, and like it so much that I’ve just got to discuss it with somebody. Only I can’t breathe a word about it to anyone who hasn’t yet read it.

The additional wrinkle in this instance is that – on the recommendation of a fellow author – I ordered this book on Feb. 9. It didn’t arrive until Feb. 25, by which time I’d completely forgotten which author recommended it to me. So, when I posted a teaser about it on one of my author sites, here comes Jackie Zack with the reply, “I’m glad you liked it, too.”

“Were you the one who recommended it?” I asked.

She was. And there began a spirited back-and-forth (on email) with questions, answers, comments, observations, etc. — all about this wonderful book.

Naturally, after Jackie and I had batted around all this content, I invited her to whip up a review for my Hound Day blog, here.

I won’t dull any of Jackie’s points with my own observations… except to add that Martha Grimes truly has a way with words. She can turn a phrase! Though I seldom write in my books, I found myself marking several of Martha’s passages that just intoxicated me with their beauty.

Humor abounds with these richly-drawn characters… and, if properly done, a movie version would be fantastic. My sole gripe with the story is the frequent use of the F-bomb… by nearly every character.

Review of “Foul Matter” by Martha Grimes

By Jackie Zack

Meet Paul Giverney. He’s a successful New York City author, a millionaire many times over. He’s a family man with a wife who wears an apron to cook microwave dinners and has a daughter who writes dragon stories. But he’s got a problem wearing on him. Publishing houses. He’s not sure the NYC authors are tied to the right publishers. One in particular is Ned Isaly — the best writer who tops them all in Paul’s estimation. And Ned is stuck at Mackenzie-Haack, the worst of the worst, plus he isn’t making much money. The owner, Bobby Mackenzie is an arrogant, pompous man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Just how bad is Bobby willing to be?

Ned is oblivious to anything around him. He’s caught up in his own world of writing and cares deeply for Natalie’s stalled life. What will become of her? She’s lost everything. (Natalie is the main character in his work in progress.) Ned also meets his author friends regularly. Saul, another amazing writer and Sally, a wannabe writer who works at Mackenzie-Haack. She keeps a close eye on Ned and his work.

Paul leaves his publishing house and decides to strike a deal with Mackenzie-Haack with the stipulation that they drop Ned Isaly. Editor Clive and owner Bobby are thrilled to get Paul. But they can’t drop Ned. He’s under contract, and his new book should be finished soon. They can’t possibly break the contract. Also, if they drop Ned, their top editor will get mad and quit. What a disaster.

Enter Candy and Karl, two hitmen. Clive tries to deceive himself that they will just hurt Ned or spirit him away to another country. Wrong. Bobby and Clive strike up a deal with the men. But Candy and Karl aren’t two ordinary hitmen. They have to decide if the victim deserves the punishment, so they start to follow Ned. They find one of Ned’s books in a bookstore. From what they see on the cover about the author, he seems like a nice guy. What in the world did he do to deserve getting bumped off? Candy and Karl have learned that Paul Giverney has instigated the process. What kind of guy is he? Maybe he deserves it more than Ned. They buy a book by Ned and one by Paul and each starts to read one. Yes, who does deserve it more?

I really enjoyed the camaraderie between the authors, the hitmen with a conscience, and Ned who was oblivious to everything the whole time. The humor and suspense were a tremendously fun mix. I had read this book when it came out in 2003, three years before I started writing. It was really fun to read again, knowing what I do about authors and publishers. It made more sense! The only drawback with this book is the language. Be prepared to skip over words or to read them as something less offensive. The language lives up to the title of “Foul Matter,” as does the character’s plight. And the meaning of Foul Matter in the publishing industry? Foul Matter is what acquisition editors and publishers call the author’s manuscript after the author has written and polished the manuscript to the best of his or her ability!  

Jackie Zack Bio Blurb

Jackie Zack loves to read and grew up reading Phyllis A. Whitney, Victoria Holt, Agatha Christie, and many others. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Jackie has spent many years studying the craft of writing. Her light-hearted novels include a mix of romance, comedy, and suspense with Christian characters. She loves serving up her special blend of entertainment and hopes it will bring much enjoyment to the reader. Her newest book is the third installment of the Katy Russell Mystery Series, titled: “Shady Grove.” Her books are available at Amazon.

Shady Grove (A Katy Russell Mystery — Book 3)

[JLS # 634]


About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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15 Responses to This Matter Was Not at All Foul

  1. Jackie Zack says:

    Thanks again for asking me to write a review. I really enjoyed writing it and also talking to you through email about the book. You’re so right about Martha Grimes’s ability to craft amazing phrases. Her humor in creating such a sticky situation for the characters was brilliant. It truly would make a fun movie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      well, sometimes you have an itch to talk about a really good book. And who better to talk with than the person who initially recommended it to you?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jackie Zack says:

    I’m so glad that a friend recommended Martha Grimes’s Richard Jury (Detective) Mysteries to me around the 1990s. She had found them at the library. We also enjoyed talking about them. Then when “Foul Matter” came out, it was a fun surprise that Martha Grimes had written something different.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Welcome, Jackie!
    This is a wonderful review, truly. You hit main points, made clear and honest criticisms and all without over-telling or being overly harsh.
    I hope that you join us again and if life EVER settles down a bit more for me, I will grab your work, as I am very interested.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Wow, what a unique and varied cast of characters! Thanks for the breakdown – I’m sure I’d get confused if I tried to read this. And welcome back, Jackie!

    Liked by 2 people

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