I love summer, and since Oklahoma can’t seem to decide what season we’re in, I’m declaring it summer. So I’ve put aside my chores, and my computer how-to manuals and I’m reading for fun. Started with David Handler’s The Boy Who Never Grew Up, which despite the fact the book was written in 1992, Hollywood looks much the same as it does now. Stewart Hoag, ghost writer extrodinaire, has been sent to help Matthew Wax, movie mogul, get over the imminent collapse of his marriage by writing his memoirs. His wife is writing her own, and we’ve got the “he said, she said” war emerging. Wax is quite literally pulling his hair out over his lady love, Pennyroyal. Hoag has plenty to deal with, adolescent grown-ups, crazy ambitious actresses, and toss in some arson and racy photos and you’ve got the idea. I almost forgot Lulu, a charmer for all dog lovers. The mystery parts are well developed, the ending is a suprise and you meet one Hollywood character after another.
Then of course, I found a Charlaine Harris’ Aurora Teagarden I hadn’t read. How is that even possible. Poppy Done to Death. Poppy, Aurora’s sister-in-law, is about to be accepted into the prestigious “Uppity Women Book Club.” Before she can accept this honor, she’s murdered in her own kitchen and Aurora discovers the body. There’s lots of infidelity going on, with desperate housewives and husbands on the prowl. It’s hard to find anyone still faithful to their partner. In little Lawrenceton, Georgia, the saying “no one really knows anyone”, couldn’t be truer.
Aurora has a new love interest since the death of her husband, Martin. And the relationship is moving along in surprising ways. Her half brother Phillip, provides an unexpected visit, and adds to her personal narrative. Charlaine Harris is always a good cozy read. Interesting characters, strong Southern charm, and a mystery to keep you reading until the end. Grab your sweet tea and put your feet up for this one.
I’ve been off to New Orleans, for the American Library Association meeting. I think we were about 17,000 strong this year. Hot, hot New Orleans, but great hospitality, wonderful food and of course meetings, meetings, meetings. You would think librarians would go to a conference resplendent with booktalks, author teas, and piles of books. Some of that happens but mostly I spend my time getting updates from library Software vendors on the latest version releases. Sigh.
Major publishers do give out ARC (advanced reader copy) galleys. And we hop on them like ants on honey. I have a whole suitcase full and had to take my clothes back in a carryon. Unlike those conferences where employees are wined and dined by big vendors, with megastars singing their latest album we’re lucky to get a bagel, or tiny egg rollup with coffee and occasionally fruit. And when meetings start as early as 7:00 I dare say we deserve every morsel.
Travel was the usual pain, nothing notably nightmarish. I read Tamar Myers’ Nightmare in Shining Armor on the way down. One of her Den of Antiquity mysteries, starring Abby Timberlake. It’s Southern cozy fiction and good airfare.
A Halloween pary gone awry, a dead body in a suit of armor, knowledgeable antique dealers, and Southern dialogue and charm provide a fun read. Picked this one up at the Metropolitan Library System book sale for $0.50.
Looks like Tamar has some new ones out, set in Africa, starting with The Witch Doctor’s Wife (2009) and a 2011, Headhunter’s Daughter. Fans of McCall Smith should enjoy these. She also has a slew of Pennsylvania-Dutch with Recipes mysteries. I know I’ve tasted a few of those.
Picked up an ARC of G. M. Malliet’s Wicked Autumn for the ride home. Have 100 pages left, but finding it quite good. Features Max Tudor, local Anglican priest and former MI5 agent solving the mysterious demise of the town’s tyrannical leader of the local Women’s Institute. (Think U.S. Junior League wives)
So I’m home and ready to read, and with the temperature rising daily, it sounds like a good plan.
After Death of a Cozy Writer by G. M. Malliet won the 2008 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, I noticed we had picked up several other titles from her relatively new publisher, Midnight Ink. I read the second in the series, Death and the Lit Chick, and found it very enjoyable. Chief Inspector St. Just goes to a writer’s conference in the delightful Dalmorton Castle. His boss has assigned him to do a presentation on police procedures for PR purposes. Amid a backdrop of jealousy, flirtations, backstabbing and bad blood between writers, agents and publishers, our new star on the mystery circuit, Kimberlee Kalder, ends up at the bottom of the bottle dungeon. And the game is afoot…
Check out Midnight Ink books, they’re fast reads, clever plots with fun characters. Here’s what they have to say about themselves.
What is Midnight Ink?
Midnight Ink is a fresh new voice in mystery fiction. Aiming to satisfy readers of all tastes, we are committed to publishing suspenseful tales of all types: hard-boiled thrillers, cozies, historical mysteries, amateur sleuth novels, and more.
Last Scene Alive was one of those quick, well written, character driven mysteries that work perfect for travel. Aurora Teagarden is like an old friend. Readers of the series fall immediately into the story to find out what’s happening in Aurora’s life after her husband Martin has died. Ms Harris is so good at describing “real” relationships. People aren’t always good or bad; family, friends and co-workers often irritate but are the very people we turn to in crisis or support. Aurora better known as Roe, meets up with long time acquaintance Robin Crusoe, who has written a true crime book on past Lawrenceton murders. Now a soon to be a made for TV movie. Robin’s very recent girlfriend and star of the movie, Celia Shaw is playing the part of Roe in the movie. The plot thickens and Roe is off to solve a new mystery (not without a few scrapes and bruises along the way), battle her grief and start to find a new life.
Cozy mystery writting at its best. It’s good like an Anne George but with a little more spice. I’m glad Harris hasn’t left Aurora behind after all her success with the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries and “True Blood”. There’s plenty of room for diversity from this very talented writer.
I’m so glad to be back on Okie terra firma. OMG airplane travel is hideous. Obviously no one is heeding VP Biden’s directive to stay off planes. Every plane I was on was full, and had standbys. Actually I did make all my planes, close call with having the shuttle service in Athens tell me they didn’t have me down for a return trip, what good is the confirmation number they give you? The very nice gentleman at the desk at the Hilton Garden Inn, Downtown Athens helped me and found me a cancellation and I was on my way. Thank you.
And Thank You Young Bill Young for blogging for me. Much appreciated and I think all will agree he’s welcome to blog here any time. We will have to ask him whyYoung Bill was the only one at McDonald’s that was asked if he wanted the senior discount.
The one good thing about travel is being able to read and block out all the stuff going on around you. I did notice less people reading and more people playing with electronic devices. I finished one book on the way, started another, finished it and started another. And since one of them was by one of my favorite cozy authors, Anne George, I’ll take this opportunity to reply to Reggie Jet about cozies,
“Never read a “cozy” but I’ve always envisioned them in the style of Agatha Christie’s Jan Marple mysteries. (Am I off base?)” http://blog.newsok.com/okiereads/2009/05/13/cup-of-crime-with-a-tea-cozy/
The cozies I like best are full of humor, sarcasm, a good mystery, and clever, eccentric characters. Anne George’s Southern Sisters mysteries have all these qualities. And hey, I was visiting the South so a perfect pick. Mary Alice and Patricia Anne are sisters but nothing alike in looks or temperment. They are the typical southern family where blood is always thicker than water, except Mary Alice can really put that concept to the test. In Murder Gets a Life, Mary Alice’s son, Ray, meets “Barbie” look alike Sunshine Dabbs. Next thing you know, the sisters have fallen over a dead body stuck to the linoleum floor with Sunshine’s grandmother Meemaw’s best hog butchering knife. Lots of family crisis including Patricia’s daughter’s pending vows and departure for Warsaw, Debbie (Mary Alice’s daughter) is having a baby and suffering through nausea and more, this unexpected marriage between Ray and Sunshine in Bora Bora, and a whole host of eccentric, “common as pig tracks” and unnerving new in-laws.
Meemaw is a particularly loveable character, especially since she has been visited by Gabriel her channeler, who first appeared after a space ship sighting declaring, “behold I bring you tidings of great joy.” There are laugh out loud passages and just an enjoyable, engaging, good for plane travel and lazy summer day read.
Sorry Anne George is gone and there will be no more Southern Sister books, we’ll miss the old girls.
I was looking through a recent issue of Publishers Weekly, selecting titles to order at work and was pleasantly surprised by an interview with Oklahoma’s own Carolyn Hart. It followed an article on Cozies, the Bud Light of crime fiction, with drinkability. You can see the article for yourself at http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6655706.html?
Carolyn is always promoting her Okie roots. Much appreciated. Her newest Annie and Max Darling is Dare to Die. After you have finished it go back and get the other 40 Carolyn Hart mysteries. Find the bibliography of her works at the Oklahoma Author Database.
For an interview with Carolyn Hart, check out the Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers interview with Emrys Moreau.
I like the whole Cozy genre. I particularly like M.C. Beaton writing about Hamish MacBeth, small town Scottish bobby. A great read for a Highland getaway. Agatha Raisin is her other cozy character. Of course anything by Charlotte MacLeod.
On May 2nd Malice Domestic Awards were handed out. See the Mystery Scene blog for highlights and winners. Try out the Malice Domestic newsletter. Want a step back from too much sex and violence in your crime books, try out one of these, it just may be your cup of tea.