Can you spot the name of a rock star in this famous poster?

Rumors of hidden messages in songs are old as backmasking, or recording a song backward onto a track. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, and even the Eagles have faced accusations that their music held satanic code words.

But a subliminal message in a musician’s hair? That’s no rumor. There’s…

In “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” the detective again proves he’s smarter than the London police

Great holiday crime stories are rare. Have the plot of a murder mystery unfold on Christmas Day and you risk accusations of trivializing the birth of Christ or playing it for heavy irony.

Part of the genius of “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” is that it implicitly acknowledges such…

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A famous editor says “it’s cruelty to animals” to keep authors waiting for a response to their work

No one may have a better claim to knowing what authors want than Robert Gottlieb, the most celebrated American book editor since Max Perkins, who worked with Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Gottlieb is the rare — perhaps the only — person to have been the editor-in-chief of an…

How much trouble can you get into by stealing another writer’s idea? An author finds out the hard way in a thriller.

An elegant writer can keep you interested in an inelegant plot. Jean Hanff Korelitz largely pulls it off in a novel that melds several genres: thriller, academic satire, roman à clef, and literary homage — in this case, to Patricia Highsmith’s psychopathic killer, Tom Ripley.

Korelitz is a writer who…

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Have these female students gone too far with personal branding?

I used to work for a fashion magazine kept afloat partly by tasteful bra ads and edited by some of the most body-conscious women on the planet. But I’d somehow missed a related trend until I fished out of our library’s discard bin a battered paperback called Pledged: The Secret…

A journalist saw shocking abuses of donations intended for victims of wars and other catastrophes

Global outrage erupted after Sixty Minutes reported back in 2011 that Greg Mortenson had made up or embellished many of the stories he told in Three Cups of Tea, his bestselling memoir of building schools for girls in Afghanistan. …

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A new novel has a more honest answer than authors typically give in the acknowledgments of their books

A famous criminal defense attorney once joked that he liked his clients despite their misdeeds: “The law is like prostitution. If the price is right, you warm up to the client.”

A lot of literary agents have had similar thoughts, to judge by some of the memoirs that have swept…

Janice Harayda

Critic, novelist, award-winning journalist. Former book columnist for Glamour and book editor of The Plain Dealer.

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