Five great crime novels

Every week, Kevin Kelly, Claudia Dawson, and I send out our Recomendo newsletter. It's a lightweight rundown of six useful things. (Sign up here!) Here's this week's newsletter:

Five good crime books:
On the excellent Five Books website Author Simon Brett is interviewed about his five favorite crime novels. Three of his picks (A Kiss Before DyingThe Big Sleep, and The Talented Mr. Ripley) are among my favorites, so I added his other two picks to my wish list. — MF

Summer enjoyment:
I spent almost four hours lounging in this papasan float on the 4th of July and it’s now my favorite purchase of the year. Half my body stays in the water, so I’m able to stay cool while basking in the sun. The only drawback might be how easy it is to relax — time went by so fast, I got sunburned. — CD

Outstanding listen:
You know about Song Exploder, yes? It’s this amazing podcast that takes one well-known song each week and explodes it into its component parts. The musicians who wrote and perform the song take it apart track by track, sometimes beat by beat, explaining what they were thinking as they created the pieces: what challenges and dead-end they met along the way, how the song changed as they worked on it, and why they like the final version. It’s the x-ray into music I always wanted. — KK

Free app finder:
Daily App Advice shows you which paid apps are currently being given away for free in the iTunes App Store. I’ve found many useful free utilities and games here that usually cost between $1 and $10. — MF

Movie night must-have:
Cinesift is a website that combines film ratings from Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB and Metacritic and gives you the average. What I find the most helpful is that I can filter my movie search by genre, and limit results to only those available on Amazon Prime and/or Netflix Watch Instantly. That way I don’t waste time flipping between services searching for a movie. — CD

Best work surface:
I have a large self-healing mat on my workbench, and I have smaller cutting mats I lay on a table if I am working. The non-skid surface keeps parts and pieces stationary, while the cushion prevents dings in the table top beneath. And of course, the self-healing mat is ideal for cutting fabrics, paper, etc. with razors and blades. Also protects from spills better than cardboard. It is easy to clean up: just tilt and wipe. It’s become my default surface for any work. Get the largest size you can. At the minimum, an 18 x 24 inch mat covers well and yet is portable and easy to store. — KK