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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Brrrrrring! Johnny Dollar.

The Hardy Boys came into my life when I was nine years old, thanks to my older sister, and that got me started on my life long love of mysteries. But you already knew that [or guessed that!]. Still, there was one other influence: old time radio mysteries. It was at that very same time that my aunt, who visited with us for extended months, got me listening to the radio at night (we didn't have a TV). And the show that really had me hooked was called, "Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar."

Johnny Dollar had been on the radio since 1949, but by the mid fifties, when I began listening, it was a 15 minute nightly serial that carried through the week. Every night it began with the ringing of a telephone, followed by the hero who would answer by saying his name.

Dollar was a free-lance insurance investigator who managed to get into a large variety of cases, including a great deal of dangerous situations. When I think about it, the 15 minute episode ended with a cliffhanger, just as did the chapters in the Hardy Boys series.

Well, I was thrilled to hear an audio of this old show again. A little searching prompted by my listening to the Mystery Play I-Radio on iTunes led me to a website called Old Time Radio Network that contains thousands of free audio episodes of old radio shows... including Johnny Dollar.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Authors Who Make the Rounds

Last night I enjoyed hearing author Liza Ketchum speak about her work of writing stories, mostly for young adults. It's a tough life, I think, making the rounds as an author. She spoke at our library to about 4 adults and 6 children. Our library's mystery book club hosted about eight authors from New England during the course of the year. Often, attendance was poor (about 4-6 people).

But I really enjoyed it. Liza Ketchum involved the children very nicely in a discussion about writing and the need for research (detective work, she called it).

Several of her stories involved a mystery. She described writing a mystery as hard work and requiring careful planning and an outline.

It has been fun to hear different authors approach mystery writing in different ways; some cannot live with an outline, some can't live without it.

Anyway, thanks to Liza and all your fellow writers who share your time with us curious readers.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Virgin of Small Plains (Due Dec 10)

It's November 10. It's time for the next book, The Virgin of Small Plains. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed reading California Girl, the book due for today.

Any comments you want to share about California Girl, please go to this post and add them there. Now that we have finished reading it, I have added my thoughts on the book. How about you? Did you like it?

- - - - -
Please feel free to add to THIS post any comments you have about The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard. This book is different from many other mysteries in that there is no central "sleuth." Instead, everyone, it seems, is trying to figure out what happened and nobody is talking. Well, I have already read it so I will say no more for now.

One thing for sure, this book has received many awards! Wow!

REMEMBER: No spoiler comments here until after December 10. Then, you can unload all your feelings about the book! So until then, keep you comments, ahhh, mysterious.

Go to the author Nancy Pickard's website by clicking here.

Read Nancy Pickard's Blog by clicking here.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The James Deans - (Due Jan 10) Add Your Comments

I haven't started it yet, but if you have, feel free to post comments (as long as they are not plot spoiling comments!). We can really comment openly without worry about spoilers after Dec 10... CHANGED TO JAN 10!!

---> Sorry if you have already started on this book, but I had to swap it to January, to keep in line with the decision at our library, the non-virtual mirror to this web site. Soooo, it is The Virgin of Small Plains for Dec 10 and The James Deans for Jan 10.

In the meantime take a look at how it feels to be a reader when you are a writer. Great guest blog by Reed Farrel Coleman over at Poe's Deadly Daughters.

Legal Thrillers

Legal thrillers have always been my favorite. I began reading dozens of Perry Mason novels in junior high school (1958-60). When I began to travel in the late 1980s, I began to read mysteries more regularly. I'm sure John Grisham played a part. Anyway... if you like legal thrillers, you gotta read Steve Martini's series featuring attorney Paul Madriani.

I recently finished Double Tap and it was, as always, a pleasure. Martini does a great job of making the preparation for trial and the give and take during trial sound compelling. Through it all is the mystery - who done it? Great surprise ending.

If you have not read any of the books in this series, the book probably works well on its own. On the other hand, you'd do better to start with Compelling Evidence and work your way to Double Tap, the 8th in the series. Every plot is separate, but you get a better feel for the central character, whose career and family circumstances evolve quite a bit along the way. Check the author's web site for a synopsis of the stories.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Yesterday I mentioned reading The Hard Way by Lee Child. On the same overseas trip I also read Hard Truth by Nevada Barr. It was just a coincidence. Or was it?? I also brought in my suitcase Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich. What would Freud say!?! [I didn't read the Evanovich book because, it turns out, I had read it before. No, I didn't have my list with me on my rush trip to the library, see my Oct 13 post.]

Hard Truth stars Anna Pigeon in her 13th adventure as a park ranger and sleuth. I enjoyed the story and characters, but occasionally the writing was annoying. There were paragraphs when it was hard to determine who was doing or saying what. Admittedly, when there are more than two characters in a scene, this is a difficult challenge for a writer; yet one that must be overcome to keep the reading smooth. Also, Barr uses a vocabulary that exceeds that of any other modern mystery writer I've read. I wish I had written down a few of these "big" words while reading through because I can't remember them now and I don't feel like reading the book again to look for them. I just remember how distracting and unnecessary it felt at the time.

The story takes place at Rocky Mountain National Park. I have visited there some years back, so it was fun reading from that point of view.

The book actually has two leading characters, and alternates point of view between Anna and Heath Jarrod, a wheelchair-bound woman who was recently paralyzed in a climbing accident. Barr does a marvelous and convincing job with Heath; actually, Heath could easily be a great character for a second series of books.

The plot had some well done red herrings. Is it the rigid cult leader? The cult youth leader? The park ranger who has lied about her ties to the charismatic youth leader? The last 100 pages was a continuous build-up in suspense.

I still like V I Warshawski as my all time favorite female sleuth, along with Carlotta Carlyle. Of course there's Nina Reilly- I'm a sucker for the legal thriller. As for Anna Pigeon? She's.... ok, maybe even more than ok. But maybe not exactly my cup of tea. I might read another, but... might be just the thing for another visit to a National Park. My wife and I and some best friends recently visited here. Does it make you think of a good story line?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Anonymous Jack Reacher

I read The Hard Way by Lee Child on my recent overseas trip. This is my first time with Lee Child and I'll have to add him to my favorite authors page. Definitely a "page-turner." I will soon be getting the earlier books in Child's Jack Reacher series.

"Jack Reacher ordered expresso...." the book begins. We learn a bit about Reacher's tastes, which is interesting because on the whole we never learn much about the central character. Who is he? His military background as an MP is repeated often enough. But who is he?

You can grow fond of Spencer (Robert Parker) and his wit. You know almost more than you want to know about Nina Reilly (Perri O'Shaughnessy) and her family and friends. But here is a guy with no apparent family or circle of friends, no office or home.

At the end of the book, chapter 77 serves as the epilogue. We learn what happened to and where they are now - both the bad guys and the good guys. Except for Reacher: "Nobody knew where Jack Reacher was. He had left Grange Farm two hours after the backhoe had shut down, and there had been no news of him since." Until, I suppose, he pops up in the next story, from nowhere.

Even the rather cold Lucas Davenport (John Sandford) has a home and family. Even The Equalizer (remember the series starring Edward Woodward in the late 1980s?) had a son and other family entanglements. Jack Reacher (at least in this novel) also functions as an Equalizer, but one that seems impenetrable. Who is he? So Lee Child has created an anonymous character, and done rather well with him.

I regret that I will miss hearing Lee Child when he keynotes at the annual Crimebake. I have attended two previous Crimebakes and they are excellent.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Do you like to keep a list of books you read? I started doing this some years back in order to make trips to the bookstore and library more productive. I wish I had started 20 years ago! I use a simple MSWord document with all entries alphabetical by author. Here are two sample entries:

Freedman, JF - 96House of Smoke-ok; 91Against the Wind; 98TheDisappearance-ok-unrealistic; 97KeyWitness+++; 00Above the Law+ 01Birds Eye View+

Friedman, Philip – Reasonable Doubt++; Grand Jury+; 92Inadmissable Evidence+;

At some point I started adding the publication date in front of the title so that I could tell the sequence of the stories, especially if the book was part of a series. My rating system was pretty simple:
+++ Fantastic book, A
++ Great book, A
+ Good book, B
ok All right book, C, probably wouldn't get another by this author
skip Poor book, F

If I read a book I really liked, I would sometimes look up the other titles in the series, and list them in bold. These would be books to borrow/buy.

Today I discovered that you can use one of several online resources to get even better mileage on your "list." You can get all the details in a blogpost by Timothy Broder. He describes and compares the pros and cons on three services:

My Library (Google)

Library Thing

All three are new and wonderful discoveries for me! Thanks Timothy!

Invisible Prey (Sandford) Was Fun

I read one of Sandford's "Prey" books about 4 years ago and immediately read most of the rest of them. Unfortunately I don't remember the particulars of the plots that well, only that I really enjoyed them. I remember that the series' hero, Lucas Davenport, begins as a detective on the city police force and works his way up to a special role on the state's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Along the way, he defends and marries a plastic surgeon. He is wealthy from a private software venture, fearless, macho.

I say "unfortunately" I don't remember because I have read some other folks' reviews of Invisible Prey in which they say that Sandford is not at his best in this book. The plot solution is obvious. And other downers. Thing is, I liked the book! Yes, by chapter 6 we know exactly who the bad guys are. We know more than the hero (this is not a first person narrative). But I enjoy seeing how Davenport uses the pieces of evidence to figure out what is going on. And it is a pretty good tribute to Sandford's writing that he can keep a reader breathless with only a few minor plot surprises.

Would I read another of Sandford's Prey books? Yes.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Reaction to The Lincoln Lawyer (Connelly)

I just returned from a book club discussion of The Lincoln Lawyer (by Michael Connelly)... maybe you have read it too?

There was a range of reaction, none severely negative, mostly positive. WARNING!! Some spoiler comments follow.

Some ranked the book quite high- a 98/100 was one score! Now this is the guy who has said that "only Sherlock Holmes merits a 100."

He and all of the members enjoyed the book's description of legal strategies and the courtroom repartee. Personally, I love books that provide an extensive dialog of lawyers examining witnesses. For me, it all began with Perry Mason when I was in the 8th grade! At least 9 of the authors on my favorites list write books about lawyers. BTW, I prefer legal drama (Perry Mason) to legal thriller (The Firm), but I like them both. Id say that The Lincoln Lawyer falls about midway on the continuum between drama and thriller.

None of us work in the "justice" system and can claim the ability to judge the realism in the book, but most of us had the feeling it was accurate. Unlike Perry Mason, Connelley's criminal defense attorney almost never has an innocent client. Indeed, that became the crux of the problem for the lead character who must face the mistake of contributing to the incarceration of an innocent man.

Some interesting plot twists: the attorney's investigator gets killed. Gosh! The author killed his Paul Drake!

In the final twist: we find out how the "bad guy" is able to move undetected across town to commit murder while wearing an anklet alarm system. OK, the author had me fooled, but my peers in the discussion group had figured it out in advance.

Most of the difference of opinion about the book revolved around the central character. Some of us did not feel sufficient attraction to the character. It was suggested that defense attorneys created by J. F. Freedman were more likable/attractive. Other participants liked the development of the character through the book; as the book opens, the attorney is thoroughly jaded and seems resigned to perform a service, no matter how low he must stoop. By the end, he seems just a bit (thus, realistically) reformed by the crisis he underwent with the two principle clients featured in the plot. At the very least, the crisis brought out his more noble side.

The group also exchanged views on the credibility of the evil client and his equally equal mother. This led to a reflection on the different mental states of murderers, including Jeffrey Dommer and Charles Stuart.

I felt the book was a solid "B" and others in the group had no trouble giving the book a solid "A."

If you read the book, how would you rate it?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Book Version or the Movie Version

What do you like best, the movie version of a mystery/thriller or the book version?

I was thinking of the movie versions of books by my favorite authors. Here's some examples:

I love the Easy Rawlins series by Walter Moseley. When Moseley finishes a paragraph you can feel the sub-culture of 1950s LA - I am there! The history is live! So when Devil in a Blue Dress was made into a movie with one of my favorite actors (Denzel Washington), I put it into my VCR with huge anticipation. What a let down! It just couldn't capture it. I wish I could put better words on "it." Is "it" - ambience? flavor? aroma? emotion? stress? I just don't know how Moseley does it but it wasn't in the film. More importantly, I couldn't follow the plot as done on film... and supposedly I already knew it! Nope, the book is better.

I also love Vic Warshawsky, the tough feminist-minded insurance investigator created by Sara Paretsky. I enjoy the realism in the book and the lead character is very believable. The plots are well developed. Extremely fun reads. Then a movie was made with the title "VI Warshawski- Detective in High Heels." My overall impression from the book is that Vic is not exactly a high heels kind of gal-- so right off, you know something is amiss. Then the script plays more like a comic mystery - I assure you that is not the case in the books. The movie was not based on one specific book. As someone on Paretsky's forum states: It "kind of cobbles together some of the stories. It stars Kathleen Turner. It's an ok movie, but doesn't really do justice to Sara's books - a single book made into a movie would be good!" How true.

I could go on, but generally the book is the real deal. Extreme Measures might be an exception. This was a great movie and a great book IMHO.

Here's something I wonder about: Which is more to the point-- ?
(1)People who read a book they like, will spend money to see the movie.OR
(2)People who see a movie they like, will go out and buy the book.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

California Girl - (Due Nov 10) Add Your Comments!

I will start reading this soon. Feel free to post your comments about the book here, but save any spoiler type comments until after Nov 10.

I will say that I have read several of Parker's books and have enjoyed them a lot. He creates great lead characters, usually quite conflicted. I especially loved the 3 part series with Deputy Merci Rayborn spelled out in The Blue Hour, Red Light, and Black Water. I am looking forward to California Girl!

You can visit Parker's own website here. On that page is a list of links to author interviews - always a fascinating insight into a book.

Here is a really fun interview of Parker conducted by Harlen Coben (one of my recent fav authors). An author interviews an author. It is posted on the site of Mystery Readers International - the major mystery fan organization which votes the Macavity awards.

First let me say that my library mystery book club (the non-virtual one) rated the book quite high. Of seven readers, six thought it was a terrific book.

OK, here are my comments about California Girl:

In some ways this book defies categorization; is it a “novel” or a mystery? Or put differently, is it a story with themes about family struggles and conflicts, public personas and private secrets, or is it a plot of suspense and a crime to be solved. This book is clearly both.

Many mystery books, best-seller or otherwise, fall into the category of “thriller” or “who dunnit?” that are heavy on plot and light on character, and especially the development of character. Using examples familiar to our library book club from last year, Riggs, Tappley, Healey, and Flora all come to mind. If there is any extensive character development, it is to make the motive of a psychopathic maniac somehow believable. Deaver and Gerritson come to mind.

On the other hand, many books deal entirely with family conflicts over a period of time. I am not much of a reader outside of the mystery genre, but isn’t this what James Mitchner did (Texas, Virginia, etc)? Not to mention many others that focus on the evolution of families. Some may feel that Parker does too much of this. Publisher’s weekly bends in this direction with the comment: “Readers should think mainstream novel rather than thriller and prepare to wait patiently for the rewards offered by this intricately plotted tale.”

Yet this book won the Edgar for best mystery novel in 2005. So clearly the eight panelists at the Mystery Writers of America felt it was not only a mystery, but the best of the year. Incidentally, there are typically around 500 competing titles for this award.

If you were to imagine a contiuum of 1 to 10 with 10 being a mystery/thriller focused almost entirely on plot with little to no description of character beyond the minimum, and 1 being a “mainstream novel” with no mystery plot worked in at all… where does California Girl fall? Is it satisfying to the mystery lover?

My answer is maybe a “5” – and yes it was satisfying as a mystery. I also enjoyed following the theme of life expectations and realities as seen from a variety of family viewpoints: The Vonns, The Beckers, The Stoltzes, and The Lobdells. Lofty expectations for love, for marriage, for child-raising are all central to the story as well as the events that thwart these hopes. These thwarting events include the world at large (Vietnam war, local politics, cultural pressures) as well as individuals and their psycho-social-sexual needs that are at odds with other family members.

Would I read another book by this author (#10)? Yes. But to be honest, I have read some of Parker’s other books which I liked even more than this one, in particular the three book series with Sheriff Deputy Merci Dearborn. That probably colors my thinking at least a little.

This book begins with a first person point of view in chapter 1 and then concludes with the same first person point of view in the last 3 chapters. The intervening 35 chapters are told as narrative. The narrative serves as one long flashback spanning the years 1954 – 1970. In a way, Parker is essentially providing the prologue and epilogue in the present, without calling it that.

The specifics (using the my ranking form as a guide).

Did the book get my interest? Well the first chapter did that. Then you have to hang in there for a while since the next several chapters are not about the mystery plot, but rather with the background to the conflict that drives the principle characters.

Plot solution? Well, he does a pretty good job with credible red herrings. Beyond Cory Bonnet (the drug dealer convicted of the crime) and Roger Stoltz (the businessman and US Congressman ultimately proven to be the bad guy) there were a host of possibilities: Janelle’s brothers; David Becker, Howard Langton (the coach accused of the other murder at the same time and friend of David; Terry Neemal (the Wolfman homeless guy); Barbara Becker (I thought she would protect David and the Chapel at any cost); and Jonas Dessinger (the obnoxious news publisher and Andy’s boss).

Nevertheless, though Parker kept me guessing, I sure suspected Stoltz the most, but not because of the possessive love motive —more because of some political belief conflict. It was also clear from the first chapter that the one that would be accused would be accused wrongly. Finally, the very moment that Nick Becker orders the finger and thumb to be frozen, you know that DNA will become the final solution at the end of the book.

Was the solution credible? It was in every way but one. I have a bit of trouble picturing Stoltz getting into the beheading gore. I consider it partly credible because he would be desperate enough to try to cover his tracks, and sawing off the head was probably seen by this character as necessary to throw off any investigation – which it did.

Suspense and tension? Not so much in the classic thriller way, like Harlan Coben or Jeffrey Deaver. The tension was more a matter of personal conflicts-- binds in which characters found themselves, like David vs the FBI nuts; Andy and his love life; Andy and his bosses; Nick and Lucky Lobdell; Max and Monica and the way they responded to Clay throughout their lives; and so on. So I gave a mediocre score to the book on this point, because I think of this grading point more in the classical way. I make up for this later.

Setting? This surely includes, not just the California locales, but the historical periods of the 50s and 60s. This was really, really fun. And Parker does it really well, much better than, say, Stuart Kaminsky in Mildred Pierced. Kaminsky, I felt, got carried away with bits of trivia and it became almost obvious that he was trying to find a paragraph to insert the name of a song from the period. Parker slips these things in seamlessly. OK, the contact points of his family with Nixon and Manson are maybe a bit much--- yet it was believable in the context.

Along that line, the dialog was totally believable given the setting and characters.

It is interesting that all of the Becker boys are central characters. Yet Parker favors Nick as he is the first-person voice at the start and the end. Using the words of our grading question, none of the boys are admirable or hero types. Possibly not so likable. They are however interesting because they are all flawed, and so also appealing because of that!

In all, I gave it a score of 91 – a good A-.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

What are you reading (mystery-related!)?

Tell us your recommendations for favorite mystery books, thrillers, cozies, police procedural, etc... Click on "...COMMENTS" (after the words "POSTED BY FRANK HARDY AT 10:32 AM" below).

Let's see, I'm reading a Three Investigators Book to my grandson LOL. Just finished The Lincoln Lawyer by Connelly. It was a fun read, primarily because I have always had a weakness for lawyer type characters. (This goes back to the dozens of Perry Mason books I devoured in the eighth grade, c. 1960). There are a few good plot twists which I always like. Can't say that I am really drawn into the central character particularly. Is it the start of a series? Unknown. Would I read a second in series if there was one? Eeehhh... [waffle my hand].

Anything that I'm reading, I will tag "My Outside Reading." Feel free to comment on any of these books if you have read them.

This post is for anything you are reading that is not posted anywhere else in this blog... so go to it!

OK what are you reading?

Why the titles for the first six selections??

First of all: I am not pushing any author or book. Period. If I ever get around to writing/publishing something (LOL), I might push that.

These first titles happen to be the ones my (non-virtual) library book club chose to read. (Alluded to in my "welcome" post.) I will be sharing comments about the book from the library discussion group each month. Of course, that will be after the due date for each book.

So why did the library book club choose these books for this year (Sep 07 - Aug 08)? Well, last year, the group deliberately selected books by New England authors. No one in our group had pre-read the books we chose; they simply represented a good assortment of local scenes. Some authors had many books to their credit; some new writers had very few. As the year progressed, we read a number of books that our group absolutely did not enjoy. Although we had hilarious fun pillorying these books, even using them as a helpful measurement of what we did not like, we just did not have much fun with the actual reading of some of these books.

So our group thought we might increase our odds by reading award winning books. Even that is no guarantee. We recently read New England author Thomas Cook's book, The Chatham School Affair, which won the 1997 Edgar Award for best novel. Boy did our group differ in reaction to that book! Several of us REALLY like the book (myself included); others seriously did NOT like the book at all. Our group is well aware that movie-goers often disagree with movie critics, and that may be our experience with Award Winning mystery books. Nevertheless, for this year we have left the local authors theme and gone to the Award Winners theme.

The first six books represent a variety of genres and authors. The awards are not all from the same source (organizations giving awards have their biases too!).

Here are the books and the related awards:

The Lincoln Lawyer (Connelly) - 2006 Macavity Best Novel; 2006 Shamus Best Novel, 2006 Edgar Finalist for Best Novel; 2006 Anthony Finalist for Best Novel.

The James Deans (Coleman) - 2006 Anthony for Best Paperback; 2006 Shamus for Best PI Paperback; 2006 Edgar Finalist for Best Paperback; 2006 Macavity Finalist for Best Novel.

California Girl
(Parker) - 2005 Edgar Finalist for Best Novel.

The Virgin of Small Plains (Pickard) - 2007 Finalist for FOUR Awards: Edgar Best Mystery Novel, Agatha Best Novel, Macavity Best Novel, Anthony Best Mystery Novel. Not Part of a Series. (Author has written 16 other novels, divided into 3 series. She has won 3 other Agatha Awards.)

Paranoia (Finder) - Actually it was his book Killer Instinct that won the 2007 Thrillerwriter Award for Best Novel.

Devil in A Blue Dress (Moseley) - Actually he won the Shamus Award for Cinnamon Kiss, the most recent in the series with the Easy Rawlins character. However Devil in a Blue Dress was the first in the series (also made into a movie) and quite good. (Yep I have read most of these.)

The Janissary Tree
(Goodwin) - 2007 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Novel, Finalist 2007 Macavity Award for Best Novel

What do you like to read?

Please consider responding to the first poll (at the very bottom of the page).

And/or add your comments about the poll or poll choices here!

(The software does not permit me to add or subtract to the voting choices once the voting has begun. So, if you think something is missing, please add a comment to this post.)

Please Join Us - And Let Us Know!

This is the place to let me and the rest of the group know you will be participating. At the very least, at the time of adding your comment to this post, you are committed to reading at least the current book.

The goal is to finish the book by the due date, always the last Friday of the month.

The current book is shown in the upper right corner of this blog!

Please leave a comment to say:
---you are reading the book, or
---you will be reading (or trying to read!) the book by the due date, or
---you have recently read the book and will be joining in on the discussion.

Who is behind this blog? Find out here by getting some background on the Mystery Book Club.

Future Plans

My plans for this blog include:

1) Encouraging a large group of mystery reading fans to participate with me in reading pre-selected mysteries, and to join in the discussion of the book. (See note about "pre-selected books" in separate post.) Each month a book will be posted, and a due date will be provided. Discussion about the book after the due date can be "no-holds barred." Discussion about the assigned book prior to the due date must not contain "spoiler" statements.

2) Providing a rating sheet with questions to motivate discussion and comparison of various books.

3) Providing a plan to prevent "spoiler" postings. More on this later. The idea is that any post involving plot give-aways would appear only after the "due" date.

4) Providing some fun contests. One such will be submitting your guess on what others will think about the assigned book. The person whose guess about our group's average ranking of the book come closest will win a prize. I also have some ideas based on mystery book trivia.

5) Providing links and links to links that make it easier to find author websites, mystery writer and fan conferences, and other resources.

6) Providing brief anthologies of short stories in e-book form that can be downloaded. OK, a kind of mystery magazine. So I will be looking for stories to consider for "publication." More on this later.

7) Meet others with similar interests! Have fun.

Friday, September 21, 2007


I've been reading mystery books all my life. You could say I am addicted to them! During the last 15 years I have been writing down the titles of the hundreds of books I've read, and grading the books. My list has helped me in two ways:

1) When I go back to the bookstore or library, I can be sure not to get the same book again. Yes I take the list with me. I just hate to have taken a book along for a plane trip only to get to page 6 and realize -- oops! Been there - read that.

2) I will tend to look for more books by the authors of books I have already ranked highly. (Sometimes that doesn't work, but generally it does.)

Around 2005, I joined our local library's "Mystery Book Club." It was (and is) a small group of regulars. We read a different book each month and gather to discuss the book. In the second year, I proposed that we actually grade the book, using a ranking sheet. Not every participant enjoys doing that but it has really focused the discussion.

One thing is clear, we don't always agree about what we like or dislike! Sometimes we are almost shocked to find that a book that one person "loved" was almost "hated" by another. We have learned that these different evaluations are almost unpredictable! But it has been such FUN!! At times uproarious!! I hope you won't think me mad if I tell you that the Book Club is the high point of my life (apologies to Poe).

So I am inviting YOU to join our little book club (virtually). For the next twelve months we will be reading award winning mystery books of different genres. The due date is the 10th of the month! The first due date is November 10, '07, so please get the book and start reading. You will have the opportunity to share your thoughts on the book, and, after the 10th, to hear what the members of my (non-virtual) Book Club thought as well.

We are just finishing The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly. More on that in future posts.

So I invite you to read along with me (us): California Girl by T Jefferson Parker.
Get it from your library, local bookstore, or buy the book from this web page (see right, top).

More on participation in the Book Club reading, and participation in the Blog can be found by clicking these Labels-
*Future Plans

(By the way, for now, I will leave the city library that hosts my Mystery Book Club a secret. Maybe it will forever remain a secret, I don't know yet.)

2009 POLL #2--Do Mystery Stories and Political Bias Mix? What is closest to your view?