Death Strikes the Adorable

One is a hardboiled, coke-addled Fed from the mean streets of the City, the other a sleek lutrine kid from the pristine snow slopes of Otter, Montana. They both have literary pretensions but sadly lack the schooling to tell a sonnet from a double dactyl or the skill to fashion either of them. After a chance encounter, they fall, enjambed, into the coils of a tragic desire. Inevitably, it ends in blood gushing onto dirty snow.

It’s a bad dream, a nightmare mash-up of a pulp noir fantasy, bad poetry, and cute images of animals disporting themselves in the snow. It comes with its own poem:

Ominous Sonnet on Otter in Snow

FBI agent with psychic ability
pens an apostrophe lauding his otter: dac-
tylic tetrameter, deeply unsonnetesque

murderous rage at this innocent animal —
gamboling playfully, sporting in snow — who is
brutally slaughtered with weapons of poetry

How comes this nightmare? Two sources: a Facebook posting by Dennis Baron yesterday, with the pulp fiction; a letter, arrived yesterday, from Ann Burlingham, with an otter-in-the-snow stamp bought with me in mind (I was once an otter in body type, an otter being a sleeker version of the bear body type; now I’m far too bulky to be an otter, so I’m a bear by body, though not a Bear by subculture).

Sonnets on the body. Dennis forwarded this e-book ad (with his highlighting):


Commenting wryly (ok, Rylie-ly):

Victims with Shakespearean sonnets on their bodies? A psychic FBI agent decoding “the ominous poetry”? A steal at only $2.99.

To which I responded:

“ominous sonnet” is a wonderful donée for a poem (or the name of an elegant rock band)

(There is, of course, literarily inclined punk, also punk-influenced literature.)

On “Rylie Dark” — surely a chosen name, either the author’s chosen legal name or their pen-name — more below. Here I note that their books all have women as their detective protagonists (Carly See above; No Way Out is one in a series, of three books so far), so I’ve been careful to allow that the ill-fated lovers of “Ominous Sonnet on Otter in Snow” might be of the same sex, either both female (much more likely) or both male (my sad fantasy; I am, after all, an ex-otter).

Playful Otters in the Snow. A block of 4 US Forever stamps, issued on 10/12/21 at the Otter MT post office, at 58 cents per stamp; art director Derry Noyes designed the stamps with artwork from illustrator John Burgoyne:


Amazon on Rylie Dark. This is pretty much all you’re going to find about the author. From Amazon’s author page:

… Rylie Dark is author of the SADIE PRICE FBI SUSPENSE THRILLER series, comprising six books (and counting); of the CARLY SEE FBI SUSPENSE THRILLER series, comprising three books (and counting); and of the MIA NORTH FBI SUSPENSE THRILLER series, comprising three books (and counting). Rylie loves to hear from you, so please feel free to visit to receive free ebooks, hear the latest news, and stay in touch.

The webpage is all about selling e-books. Otherwise the author’s identity is carefully concealed. My guess is that they’re a woman, most likely a trans woman — which I happen to think would be cool, but maybe they find the detective mystery world too unwelcoming for transgender writers.

Whatever the facts are about Rylie Dark, there are a few transgender women in the business. From the Lambda Literary site, “Three Trans Crime Writers Talk Thrills and Challenges of Writing in the Genre”, by John Copenhaver on 7/8/21:

Transgender writers are underrepresented in the crime writing world. Historically, crime fiction has taken up transgender characters as subject matter, often in problematic ways, relying on negative stereotypes and painful tropes rather than highlighting the rich and complex lives of trans people. Crime fiction needs trans voices, not just because harmful stereotypes need to be challenged, or … because trans writers ought to have the platform to tell their own stories, but because — simply put — trans voices make the genre better.

Robyn Gigl, Renee James, and Dharma Kelleher are a talented trio of compelling crime writers, working in different subgenres, from legal thriller to amateur detective to noir. They’ve written fiction that entertains, educates, and urges the genre in fresh and exciting territory.


3 Responses to “Death Strikes the Adorable”

  1. J B Levin Says:

    The things you learn when trying to get a simple answer to a simple question: WTF is “luterine”?
    This was news to me: “Otters have the densest fur of any animal—as many as a million hairs per square inch in places. Otters also have particularly stinky poop, which even has its own name: spraints.” — Nat Geo
    Also I learned that I should have been looking up “lutrine”.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Apologies for “luterine”, which I have since fixed. No doubt interference from “uterine”, but I still should have caught it. (Even at my glacial pace of writing and editing, I still make a startling number of typos, and have begun to wonder whether I shouldn’t abandon posting.)

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