On the Case

October 13, 2009 - 2:45 pm

As of today, my book reviews can also be found on GoodReads at http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2760139.

And if any geekily-inclined reader out there knows how to import book widgets, please let me know. I'm still at the baffled stage with that one.


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October 13, 2009 - 10:35 am

There's nothing like a family medical crisis to put life in perspective. Blogs and books fade far into the distance. Errands go undone. To-do lists are ignored. Housekeeping becomes a lost art. Even clients and paying projects are left to simmer on the back burner.

Last Friday, my husband's routine (supposedly) one-and-a-half-hour outpatient procedure turned into a four-and-a-half-hour ordeal. I spent a lot of time stalking doctors and nurses to no avail, reading, praying, trying to meditate and failing miserably, pacing the very small waiting room like a caged animal, riding the St. Joseph lobby elevator, and searching the hospital's various cafés for a decent cup of tea.

It was while I was making one of my many elevator jaunts that the Universe stepped in with a life lesson. (They keep coming; guess Im a slow learner.)

I was just about to push the "close" button when a female voice asked me to hold the door. Stifling a small burst of irritation, I obliged, then watched as a sixty-something woman escorted a man with a walker to the corner of the elevator and went back for a sweet-faced elderly woman in a wheelchair. The escort smiled her gratitude for my very, very small kindness and explained: "Thanks for helping. It's difficult. Max over there is blind and his wife, Anna, can't walk."

We chatted. I held the door as the woman helped her charges out into the lobby, one at a time. And when I walked out of the elevator, I felt strangely calm and troubled at the same time.

Despite the difficulties my husband and I are facing right now, I find myself thinking about Max and Anna. A lot. Wishing them well. Wishing I could have done more for them. And thanking them for giving me a yardstick of suffering against which to measure my own problems. Those problems seem a lot smaller and more manageable now.


Back to the blog, with practical guidelines for writing those must-have book proposals, courtesy of author and writing mentor Mark Shaw. Plus a glimmer of good news on the Mantra for Murder front!



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October 8, 2009 - 1:09 pm

In the opening chapter of Andrew McCall Smith's wonderful mystery, The Sunday Philosophy Club, a young man literally falls from "the gods"--that is to say, the upper balconies of Edinburgh's famed Usher Hall.

The book is so good, I had to write a review. To see it, click on "Death in Edinburgh" in the Critic's Corner. 

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October 6, 2009 - 11:55 am

 Years ago, more years that I care to admit, a number of local NPR stations aired a weekend program called “Desert Island Disks.”  During the course of an hour, local notables would discuss—and play—their all-time favorite recordings. The idea being that this was the music they would bring with them should they happen to find themselves exiled to a desert island.

The result, as you’d expect, was invariably a rich, messy mix. Within the span of 60 minutes, listeners were likely to hear everything from classical to cabaret, from C&W to acid rock, and from pop ballads to straight-no-chaser jazz.

Music, certainly. But what about books?

Music may be the food of life. But so are books. Which got me thinking: what 10 mystery novels would I take with me if I were being marooned somewhere, with no hope of ever buying, begging or borrowing another book?

Here’s my top-of-the-head list:

1. The complete works of Raymond Chandler or, if I had to choose just one novel, a coin toss between Farewell My Lovely and The Big Sleep
2. Dorothy Sayers, another coin toss:  Murder Must Advertise or Gaudy Night
3. Wilkie Collins’ classic (and, some  would argue, the first “real” mystery novel) The Moonstone
4. P.D. James, probably The Lighthouse although anything of hers would do
5. Josephine Tey’s intellectual tour de force, Daughter of Time
6. To make me smile, one from M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series
7. Peter Tremayne’s latest, whatever that happened to be, OR the entire Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters
8. In the over-the-top category, something by Joan Hess, probably Martians in Maggody
9. Dust by Martha Grimes, a truly remarkable comeback novel
10. Tony Hillerman’s entire corpus (except for Finding Moon), starting with The Blessing Way

And one bonus book (cheating, I know):

11. The Shaman Laughs by James D. Doss

What about your list?

For inspiration, you might want to check out “Our 100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century,” a  fascinating list compiled by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association http://www.mysterybooksellers.com/links/20th-century-favorites-1).  

And while you’re at it, click into http://www.auntagathas.com/bestof.html for the current “Best Of” picks by the staff of Aunt Agatha’s Bookstore.

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For more information about Mantra for Murder
Phone: 734/761-8440 • Email: lindafitz@mantraformurder.com