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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?