Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"Another great installment" and ANOTHER CHANCE TO WIN!

Memes and Fiction calls my Kittens Can Kill "another great installment in the Pru Marlowe series. I've read all five now, and find each one more enthralling than the last" and gives it four stars. Today also marks the countdown on this book giveaway. Only three more days! Enter here.

Win a copy of CODE GREY!

Win a copy of my new Dulcie Schwartz feline mystery from Goodreads! Contest is open for one month before the official Aug. 1 U.S. release date!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Code Grey by Clea Simon

Code Grey

by Clea Simon

Giveaway ends July 26, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Monday, June 29, 2015

Is Pru "a superbly strong heroine"? This librarian thinks so!

In Kings River Life, Cynthia Chow writes, "Despite Pru’s prickliness, her brittle nature, and a less-than-pristine past, she is ultimately likable and admirable as she guards over animals that seem far nobler than humans. As she says, nature isn’t pretty but humans only make it worse. The title comes, prophetically enough, from an animal control officer’s ferret that provides the clue Pru interprets incorrectly. This novel delves deeply into noir territory with family drama and the secrets of an unforgiving small town, and it features a superbly strong heroine learning to lower her defenses and open herself up to a life filled with possibilities."Thanks so much, Cynthia! Read more here.

Friday, June 26, 2015

"This unusual and intelligent series continues to surprise"! THANK YOU, BOOKLIST!!

"This unusual and intelligent series continues to surprise, with additional backstory on some of the characters adding layers of interest. Readers will not want Dulcie to finish her dissertation anytime soon."

Wow, I am over the moon!

Full text:



Publication: BOOKLIST

Issue: 1ST JULY 2015

Code Grey. Simon, Clea (Author), Aug 2015. 224 p. Severn, hardcover, $28.95. (9780727885067). Severn, paperback, (9781847516107). Severn, e-book, (9781780106618).

Working on her dissertation, Dulcie Schwartz is one of the few people remaining at Harvard over spring break. Her scholarly pursuits are interrupted when she comes to the defense of a former Harvard student, Jeremy, now homeless, who is found at a construction sight, holding a long-missing, valuable book. Police like Jeremy for the rash of recent campus break-ins, but Dulcie doesn’t buy it. With the help of her friend, rare-books librarian Mr. Griddlehaus, she begins to research the history of the missing book, which was part of a collection donated to the library decades ago, when Griddlehaus, Jeremy, and the head of facilities were all students. Cats play a role, of course, in sorting out the mystery, and Dulcie’s abilities to communicate with felines comes in very handy. This unusual and intelligent series continues to surprise, with additional backstory on some of the characters adding layers of interest. Readers will not want Dulcie to finish her dissertation anytime soon.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Take Your Cat to Work Day

Today is Take Your Cat To Work Day! A great idea, but not for everybody - or every kitty. As comments point out, most cats are very territory-based: they are most comfortable in a place they know and will be unhappy going someplace new, even with their best human. (Why we get a cat sitter as opposed to boarding Musetta when we travel.) But not every cat is alike. Of course, this is a no-brainer for me! I'm a writer and I work at home. Or, you could say, my workplace and Musetta's overlap (i.e., I work in her realm. For her, of course)

Friday, June 19, 2015

"Brilliantly written, fast paced, funny cozy mystery."

And this Book Bug reviewof Kittens Can Kill calls it, a "[b]rilliantly written, fast paced, funny cozy mystery" with "ery colourful characters, interesting relationships between them," concluding, "I will definitely have some catching up to do (this was the first one for me in the series. The fact that I loved it can prove it does well as a standalone as well." Read more here.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

"One of the most interesting characters to come along in quite a while"

Pru Marlowe, that is, and the "highly intriguing" mystery is my Kittens Can Kill. Want to read the entire review from Vic's Media Room? Click here.

KITTENS CAN KILL "more than just a mystery"

Trust a librarian to give a thoughtful review! Reviewing my Kittens Can Kill, the Bookblog of the Bristol Public Library says, in part: "As with most of the best books, Simon gives the reader more than just a mystery. It’s an exploration of the relationships between people and animals, both domestic and wild, and how one can impact the other in unexpected ways and sometimes unhappy ways. Food for thought!" Want to read more, click here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Not quite free books, but ...

Do you know about http://www.thefussylibrarian.com? If not, you should. The librarian send out an email daily letting readers know about discounted ebooks. They're not always new, but many of them will be new to you. And tomorrow – June 16 – one of my books will be featured. So if you sign up today, you'll get the email tomorrow... It's free, of course.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Want to win some free books?

It's not too late to win my Kittens Can Kill! All this month, I'm being hosted on a blog tour by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours. They've set up interviews, reviews, guest posts, and more – and most of them link to chances to win free books. Come see my full itinerary and enter to win.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Is KITTENS the best Pru yet? Richmond Times-Dispatch thinks so!

"With a clever plot that keeps the reader guessing — and a deeper look into Pru’s inner life and demons — “Kittens Can Kill” shines as the best installment yet in Simon’s entertaining and thoughtful series." That's how the Richmond Times-Dispatch review puts it. Would you like to read more?

Crimebake filling up fast!

I know it's hard to think about autumn when spring has only just finally arrived. But CrimeBake, New England's own mystery conference, has been announced for Nov. 6-8, and registration is filling up fast! The great Elizabeth George is the guest of honor – and yours truly will be on a panel on Saturday (along with Donna Andrews, Leslie Meier, Roberta Isleib, and Paul Doiron, wow!). Won't you join us?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Dulcie will be in paperback!

Great news, folks! My publisher Severn House will be bringing out all my Dulcie Schwartz books in trade paperback – even the first ones of the series! No word yet on when, but look for them to start appearing this spring... in time for the new Dulcie/Mr. Grey adventure, "Code Grey." (To find out more, click here.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

PANTHERS PLAY FOR KEEPS is "a wonderful cozy mystery." Thank you, MBR!

Thank you, MBR! "'Panthers Play for Keeps' is a wonderful cozy mystery with a well-planned story involving a gifted protagonist. ... The journey to the end is an adventure."– Teri Davis, Midwest Book Review. Thank you, Teri!

Read the whole review here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Gumshoe Review "enthralled" by STAGES OF GREY

"This is one of those books where the reader gets so caught up in the narrative that you try to help the main character. You have to keep on reading because you continue to hope against hope that Dulcie will make the right decisions, or at least have a lot of luck if she makes the wrong ones. The writing draws in the reader and keeps them enthralled...."

Gumshoe Review

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Richmond Times-Dispatch loves "Stages of Grey"!

"With a keen eye for the hothouse world of academia and a touch of the supernatural, she creates another entertaining story..." Thank you, Richmond Times-Dispatch!

Book review (fiction): Stages of Grey
BY JAY STRAFFORD Special correspondent | Posted: Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Actors and hackers and sleuths, oh my!

All are among the featured players in “Stages of Grey” (217 pages, Severn House, $28.95), the eighth novel in Clea Simon’s mystery series featuring Harvard doctoral candidate Dulcie Schwartz, her pals and a few felines.

The fun begins with a local theater group, which is staging “Change: A Metamorphosis Musical,” a disco (yes, disco) version of Ovid’s play. But the fun ends when one of the actresses, Amy Ralkov, is found dead, her throat sliced.

Dulcie, who’s still working on her dissertation, puts herself in peril by engaging in some amateur detection. Aided by Gus, a Russian Blue cat who has been adopted by the theater group, she learns the truth.

Simon, a former journalist and the author of two other mystery series, uses her fertile imagination in all her work, and “Stages of Grey” is no exception. With a keen eye for the hothouse world of academia and a touch of the supernatural, she creates another entertaining story, one that combines a clever whodunit with an update on the lives of cherished characters.

Jay Strafford is a retired writer and editor for The Times-Dispatch. Contact him at jstrafford@timesdispatch.com.

Monday, August 18, 2014

PW gets "Stages of Grey" and Dulcie!

PW loves Dulcie! Reviewing my upcoming (Oct.) STAGES OF GREY, the review notes my "endearingly fragile but determined protagonist." So happy!

Simon’s diverting eighth Dulcie Schwartz mystery (after Grey Howl) finds Dulcie, now a fifth-year Harvard grad student, in need of a break from her academic toils. As a distraction, Dulcie attends a “disco interpretation” of Ovid’s Metamorphosis at a Cambridge theater, accompanied by her boyfriend, Chris Sorenson. During the performance, a blonde actress lures Chris to the stage by picking his pocket, and a cat walks a tightrope above the audience. After the show, Dulcie and company discover the blonde actress lying dead in an alley, her throat slashed. Was she the victim of a passing stranger, or possibly of domestic abuse? Or is the truth even more sordid? The feline complications of the plot should please those readers who crave shed fur in their whodunits. Dulcie herself is an endearingly fragile but determined protagonist. Agent: Colleen Mohyde, Doe Coover Agency. (Oct.)
Reviewed on 08/15/2014 | Release date: 10/01/2014 | Details & Permalink

Saturday, April 26, 2014

"Brilliant"! She said I wrote "brilliantly"! Thank you, Kings River Life!

"A strong heroine who sometimes acts much too impulsively, sarcastic humor and a respect and affection for animals enhance this tightly plotted mystery where the motives for killing prove to be all too human." Wow, thank you, Cindy Chow. To read more of this wonderful, detailed (and favorable!!) review by a librarian, in Kings River Life please click here.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

"'Panther Play for Keeps' is a sure winner." Thank you!

"Each new adventure in this series gets deeper and more intense as the author carries her creations to new heights of angst and anxiety. I highly recommend that you read this book. Beg, borrow or steal a copy, just read it and enjoy."

Wow, thank you, Nora-Adrienne! To read the full review, click here.

Friday, April 18, 2014

GREY HOWL is a "favorite." Thank you!

"Multiple plot lines and well-developed characters will keep the reader engaged" What a nice way to start the day! The Conscious Cat may be predisposed to like cat mysteries, but this is still high praise -- both for "GREY HOWL" and for the entire Dulcie series. Thank you so much!

"Clea Simon’s Dulcie Schwartz mystery series, featuring the Harvard graduate student, along with her kitten Esme and the spirit of her departed cat, Mr. Grey, has become one of my favorite cat mysteries..."
To read more, click http://consciouscat.net/2014/04/18/review-grey-howl-clea-simon/.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"Up there with the greats." Thank you!

Clea Simon's "ability to juggle so many people and multiple crossing plots make her books a genuine pleasure to read, collect and share with friends." So says NoraAdrienne, avid mystery fan. If you want to read more, please click here.

Monday, April 7, 2014

"Grey Howl" – a Gothic homage

"Simon pays sincere homage to the gothic tradition while having a lot of fun with it." So says the Bookblog of the Bristol Public Library. Want to read more? Click here.

"Pru is back..." A review and a PANTHERS PLAY FOR KEEPS giveaway!

"Pru Marlowe is back and she's better than ever!" So says The Conscious Cat,who adds, " found this fast-paced and well-plotted book hard to put down, and I’m already looking forward to the next book in the series." Read the entire review - and sign up for the giveaway here.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Chatting with Hank Phillippi Ryan about how the sausage gets made

How do we write when Facebook is so tempting? What are the biggest obstacles to getting the daily word count done? Over at the Sisters in Crime New England blog, mystery superstar Hank Phillippi Ryan and I chat about the mechanics, and more...

Here's a sample:
Hank: When you need to do your writing for the day, how difficult is it to get yourself to begin? Why?

Me: It’s not difficult at all. Why do you ask? As soon as I’ve checked Twitter and Facebook, and then gone back because maybe I’ve missed a few Tweets. And then looked at my email and responded to my email, and then responded to new postings on Facebook and looked through the latest cat videos … sorry, what was the question again?

Read more here.

Talking books (and cats) with Nancy Adams

Nancy Adams, blogger over at Saints and Trees, and I chatted writing, mysteries, and more:

NA: Tell us a bit about your writing journey: when you started to write, your journey to publication, and so on.

CS: I have always loved making up stories and have been writing stories since I could read. But it took me a while as an adult to think my stories had any validity. I became a journalist and wrote three nonfiction books in part because of this: I felt like if I was conveying information, then I had a reason to write. But I largely read fiction. It wasn’t until Kate Mattes, who owned the now-closed Kate’s Mystery Books in Cambridge, Mass., told me, “You should write a mystery” that I started my first one, “Mew is for Murder.” I think in some way I needed permission.

To read more, please click through to Nancy's blog, Saints and Trees.

When life imitates art: a panther appears in Massachusetts...

The dodo is extinct. The passenger pigeon as well, although some intriguing backward-engineering of DNA may soon change that. The Eastern cougar? That’s another matter. Last month, amid growing community concern, repeated sightings of a large, tawny cat just outside of Boston have made what was once a closed issue open to debate. ...

Read my entire guest blog at The Conscious Cat.

"Killer" review from the Richmond Times-Dispatch: thank you!!

"Infused with a killer plot and an engaging heroine -- as well as striking originality and a measure of humor -- "Panthers Play for Keeps" continues an addictive series and displays Simon's profound talents at their best." AND "Grey Howl" a "complex and satisfying whodunit."

The Richmond Times-Dispatch mystery reviewer Jay Strafford did a double review of my two latest books, and all I can say is, "Wow. Thank you so much." Read the full review here.

"Pru Marlowe is back and better than ever..."

"Fast-paced and well-plotted" Well, thank you! This great review ran in The Conscious Cat today.

Pru Marlowe is back, and she’s better than ever! In Panthers Play for Keeps, the fourth book in Clea Simon’s Pet Noir series featuring pet behaviorist and psychic Pru Marlow, Pru has to solve her most challenging case yet: while taking a dog for a walk, she finds the body of a young woman, who seems to have been mauled by a wild cat. Pru knows there have been no cougars in the Berkshires for years, and not much about this death makes sense. As Pru starts looking into the murder, a cougar of another kind has her eyes set on Pru’s on again, off again boyfriend, detective Jim Creighton. When Pru’s rival disappears, Pru is forced to set aside her own problems to solve the mystery.

Read the entire review here.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

This is what we look like

Women in the raw. Lots of them.

It started because of the horror. I and presumably thousands of other viewers reacted with shock at the sight of Kim Novak at the Oscars. Her face, once the epitome of icy beauty, looked frozen and bloated, more plastic than flesh. Social media soon had us reading an interview with the 81-year-old actress in which she acknowledged how insecurity about her looks prompted her to trust a plastic surgeon who, shall we say, did not do a great job. “We do some stupid things in our lives,” she told SFGate.

What followed became a vitriolic back and forth across Facebook and Twitter, with many people calling out an industry (film) and a culture (us) that place a ridiculous premium on youth. Others, myself included, argued that we needed to take responsibility for our own decisions – and own up to the reality of aging. If we don’t age, we die. That’s it. And the gray area? The question of what any of us will do to appear more attractive... hell, to appear to the outer world as we (still) feel ourselves to be? That we left untouched, a little too scary to tackle.

Enter Laura Lippman. Laura is a writer, a former journalist who now writes New York Times bestselling crime fiction. She was on my radar this week because I’d just heard her speak most inspirationally at the Sleuthfest crime fiction conference in Orlando. (Yes, any excuse to flee New England in late February.) Tellingly, when asked what she was most proud of, she quoted the Soundheim song that Elaine Stritch made famous, “I’m still here.” Persist, she told us. Work hard. That’s what matters.

And now, post Sleuthfest, post Oscars, and maybe post Kim Novak catfighting, Laura has stepped forward again. On Tuesday, she posted on Facebook a “raw” photo: no makeup, no filters, no flattering lighting. And while Laura is both a lovely woman in the flesh and years younger than Stritch, the photo showed the effects of wear and travel. She looks tired in her selfie. At 55, she looks her age.

And a meme was started. Sometimes using the Twitter handle #itsokKimNovak, at other times just linking to Laura’s Facebook page, women – primarily writers and our friends – have started posting our own “raw” photos. Men have joined in, too, and now there are hundreds of photos of real, unadorned faces showing up.

I decided to post one, too. It’s funny now, in retrospect, how scary it was. I took several “selfies” before finding one that I would dare post, and I actually very rarely wear makeup. So, this is the face most people see. And yet... it was hard. My husband (who said nice things about my photo) threw out the following observation: “Photos lie,” he said. In real life, in person, we are so much more animated than any one frozen image. We are so much more alive and attractive. But still….

This morning, still in my nightshirt and robe, I decided to try one again. I smiled in this one, and I thought it captured more of my personality, so I posted it: my second “raw” selfie. A friend even suggested I should use it as my author photo. “You look as if you know a secret,” she wrote. Maybe I do now. This is what we look like. Won’t you share it?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Breaking into the Boys' Room: VIDA runs the numbers

Gender representation in book criticism is getting a little more even,but not much…

Paint a landscape. Anything you want. Only, you can’t use green. Or, let’s be fair, you can, but only a smidge – say no more than a nickel-sized dollop on your palette. And not, you know, too green. OK, then? Go wild.

Picturing a desert? You’re in luck. Same with, say, a high mountain scene or maybe a particularly stormy night. And if you prefer to work in black and white, as many of the greats do, then this prohibition won’t bother you in the least. Your viewers, who presumably know your style, will have no cause for complaint. The rest of them? They can go look elsewhere.

Unless they can’t. And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with gender underrepresentation in the media. Yes, it’s that time of year again and yes, VIDA, an association of women in the literary arts, has released its fifth annual tally of the number of women critics in major literary publications as well as the number of works by women being reviewed. And while the numbers are getting better – notably better in some places – they’re still not good.

As a woman author, I can tell you this sucks. (Though, in all fairness, I am almost equally up in arms about genre as well as gender discrimination – because, you know, traditional mysteries are not as important as slash’em up thrillers. Though, come to think of it, trad mysteries – “cozies” – are usually written by women, while thrillers are still overwhelmingly penned by men, hmmm…) But really this isn’t simply a women’s issue. It’s a reader issue. Because if people of any type are looking for guidance on what to read next and they are not hearing from a representative population, then they are not seeing the full spectrum of what is out there. Yes, they can look for themselves – but as bookstores stock newspaper-list bestsellers or (at best) “heard on NPR” shelves, and radio and magazine features focus on the same – these review sections function as gatekeepers. To readers, and thus to aspiring writers, critics, authors.

As I’ve said, it sucks. How bad is it? A quick look at the charts tells the story. Although this year’s count has expanded to include some cool journals – the VIDA Larger Literary Landscape – the mainstream media is still undeniably slanted. The New York Review of Books, for example, still has 212 male critics and only 52 women. You think that might be why 307 of the works reviewed were by male authors, while only 80 were by women? Ditto Harpers, with its 24 male critics to 10 female – reviewing 49 books by men, and 19 by women. Other members of “Dudeville,” as VIDA puts it, include The Atlantic, London Review of Books, New Republic, The Nation, and The New Yorker. “Drumroll for the 75%ers,” says VIDA. Would that it announced the coming of a tumbrel.

There is some good news. The New York Times Book Review and The Paris Review have both gotten better. The Paris Review went from 70 male bylines and 18 female in 2012 to 47 and 48 in 2013. The Times has added critics – and added more women than men: last year the paper had 400 male reviewers and 327 female. This year, it had 412 male and 393 female. Counting numbers of critics, bylines, and books reviewed brings the Times up to a full “VIDA Count” of 894 male, 725 female, and 1 transgender. (VIDA is aware of the issues surrounding binary classifications of gender but not at this point prepared to address them, says an editor’s note, for fear of “mission drift.” Not that others can’t take up these and further battles.)

Here in Boston, things are marginally better than the literary world at large. The Boston Review has equity in reviewers this year (10 of each), but not in authors reviewed (22 male authors to 10 female). Counting number of bylines and also micro-reviews, that comes to an overall count of 143 male to 106 female. The New England Review has an overall count of 53 male to 35 female. The Boston Globe isn’t in the count, but it does have a woman editing the book reviews (which helps). Plus, they let me write for them (as well as such better known names as Caroline Leavitt and Katherine Powers). So, yeah, maybe there is hope. But count in the backlash – Jennifer Weiner, anyone? – and you know that we’re not close to an endgame yet.

We will be. The VIDA count is part of it. So is getting angry. Read the report. Spread the word.

This essay originally ran in the Arts Fuse.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Publishers Weekly likes my upcoming "Panthers Play for Keeps," too!

Very psyched to see the early reviews for "Panthers Play for Keeps," the fourth Pru Marlowe pet noir, are beginning to come in - and to come in favorable! Here's the first word on "Panthers," which Poisoned Pen Press will publish on April 2:

Panthers Play for Keeps: A Pru Marlowe Pet Noir

Clea Simon. Poisoned Pen, $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-59058-872-7

At the start of Simon’s engaging fourth mystery featuring animal behaviorist Pru Marlowe (after 2013’s Parrots Prove Deadly), Pru and Spot, a service dog she’s training for a wealthy man who is going blind, discover the badly mauled body of a young woman while walking in the woods outside the Berkshire town of Beauville. To all appearances, a large animal, most likely a wild cat, killed the woman, yet no cats like this have been seen in the area in years. Det. Jim Creighton, the man in Pru’s life who has recently become uncomfortably chummy with the attractive therapist sponsoring Spot, is inclined to think the woman was murdered. Pru, whose psychic powers allow her to understand animals’ thoughts, receives conflicting and confusing suggestions from Spot, as well as from her tabby, Wallis. In the end, Pru’s sleuthing instincts guide her to a satisfying resolution of the crime. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/17/2014
Release date: 04/01/20

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"Grey Howl" gets two very big thumbs up!

My seventh Dulcie Schwartz feline mystery, "Grey Howl," pubs on March 1 and I am pleased as punch that both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly have given me glowing reviews. Here are the reviews in their entirety:

From Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly

Grey Howl: A Dulcie Schwartz Feline Mystery
Clea Simon. Severn, $27.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8346-9
Academic politics and the world of literary scholarship provide the background for Simon’s charming seventh Dulcie Schwartz mystery (after 2013’s Grey Dawn). Harvard grad student Dulcie, who’s been researching The Ravages of Umbria—a gothic romance—and the role of women in 18th-century society, is looking forward to a prestigious academic conference in Cambridge, Mass., at which she’s to present her first paper. On the eve of the conference, Marco Tesla, a visiting scholar, is found dead with a broken neck, having fallen from a balcony. Detective Rogovoy and Dulcie, with the help of three cats she communes with for assistance (one of whom, Mr. Grey, is deceased), determine that Tesla was murdered and try to uncover who, among the scholars vying for the position of department chair, is the culprit. Extracts from The Ravages of Umbria add to the fun. Agent: Colleen Mohyde, Doe Coover Agency. (Mar.)



by Clea Simon
More adventures in the dangerous groves of academe.

Doctoral candidate Dulcie Schwartz is thrilled that she is getting the chance to read a paper she wrote on aspects of a gothic novel by a so-far-unidentified woman author who’s the subject of her thesis. The literature conference is being held for the first time at a prestigious university in Cambridge, Mass. Dulcie has been pressed into service as a liaison and fixer of problems by her nervous department head, Martin Thorpe, who’s fighting to keep his job. Dulcie would prefer Renée Showalter, a Canadian professor who’s made available to her some highly interesting documents that will help in her research—at least, until she meets charismatic Paul Barnes, another candidate for Thorpe’s job who hints that he’d like to work with Dulcie. When a paper that Stella Roebuck had planned to read vanishes from her computer, professor Roebuck, blaming her former lover Barnes, demands that Dulcie’s boyfriend, Chris, a computer expert, find it. Then Marco Telsa, Roebuck’s newest lover, falls off a balcony at an evening party, and the police suspect murder. Dulcie, who often seeks advice from the ghost of her deceased cat Mr. Grey and her new cat, Esmé, is worried about Thorpe, who appeared to be drunk at the party, and Chris, who’s acting strangely. Although she’s survived several murder investigations (Grey Dawn, 2013, etc.), her immersion in all things gothic gives her a distinctive slant on sleuthing that puts her in peril.

Though Dulcie’s rather scatterbrained approach to sleuthing may put readers off, her seventh provides a plethora of suspects that keeps them guessing.