Sunday, June 29, 2008

Favorite authors and more

Oh, happy day! My library system has a new program in which you can sponsor books. Each time your author writes a new book, you can pay for the book (at the library's lower cost) and be the first patron to read the book (with an expanded due date, too!). Thanks to the program, this weekend I walked away with I Shall Not Want, the sixth in Julia Spencer-Fleming's series. I discovered JSP last year and devoured all five books. As JSP says in this interview at Bookreporter, there will be a seventh novel, but the series will be limited. I'm not averse to that -- I think series should have a limit. But I will be digging into I Shall Not Want very soon!

One favorite author, Martin Edwards, writes about another favorite author, Peter Lovesey, and his most recent book, The Headhunters. Hmmm, another to add to my TBR list.

Susan Hill (yes, another favorite author. I have a long list, OK?) writes that she was puzzled about a recent review of the Serrailler series (the third of which is on my nightstand).

And over at The Washington Post, publisher Jonathan Karp has a must-read piece on the state of publishing. And what happens to books that don't sell ...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Around the blogs

Robert Fate, who has written a great series about a tough, young woman, is interviewed at Poe's Deadly Daughters. He shares with us good news: Baby Shark, the first in the series, might well become a movie. We hope so -- it would make a terrific movie.

Fate has written his books in the voice of a young woman. One of my favorite authors, Andrew Taylor, has written about why this is so hard for men to do sometimes. His advice to male writers: "Just shut up and listen."

At In For Questioning, another great interview, this time with Scottish writer Donna Moore (Go to Helena Handbasket). Moore's a hoot, and so is this interview.

June reads

The Darkness and the Deep by Aline Templeton (2nd in a series)
Protagonist: Det. Insp. Marjory Fleming
Setting: Kirkluce, Scotland
Rating: 4.7
When a lifeboat rescue crew of three hits a rocky shore and dies, it turns out to be murder -- lights were set out that diverted them from their landing site. Then a fourth member of the rescue crew is killed in a hit-and-run. Templeton writes in the classic, cozy tradition, but brings real-life situations to her mysteries: drugs, underage pregnancy and anorexia (Fleming's daughter, in this case). In this second book, we also delve more into Fleming's team: Tam McNee, who loves to quote Scottish poet Robert Burns, the young Tansy Kerr and a newcomer out to prove himself, Jonathan Kingsley. Can they overcome their jockeying for Fleming's favor to solve the murders? Wonderfully written mystery -- fast becoming one of my favorite series.

Lying Dead by Aline Templeton (3rd in series)
Protagonist: Det. Insp. Marjory Fleming
Setting: Drunmbreck, Scotland
Rating: 4.9
When a young woman is found dead in the woods, Fleming and her team first have to find out who she is. With Fleming out of town for a day, two of her officers seem to have wrapped up the case -- or have they? Another murder is committed, one that can't be pinned on the first suspect. In the meantime, the divisions in Fleming's department widen to an unbearable point. With tensions high, Templeton delivers a whopper of an ending. With the year half-over, I think Templeton will be my find of the year -- a writer using the classic traditions of mystery in a fresh, powerful way.

Ammunition by Ken Bruen
Protagonist: Det. Sgt. Brant
Setting: Southeast London
Rating: 3.0
Four pages into the book, the amoral, unlikable Brant is shot and taken to the hospital. As he tries to solve who shot him, the rest of the cops in his precinct are getting into all sorts of trouble -- drugs, setting up innocent bystanders in order to get off an unpleasant assignment, organizing a vigilante's group (of senior citizens). This is very dark humor. Bruen fans will probably love this. Just not my cuppa tea.

T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton (audio)
Protagonist: Kinsey Millhone
Setting: Santa Teresa, Calif.
Rating: 4.0
Kinsey suspects that an elderly neighbor is being abused and robbed by his caregiver. We know it to be so, because the book alternates between Kinsey and Solana Rojas, the nurse. But, for Kinsey, proving it becomes more difficult. In T, Grafton has written one of her most chilling characters, and written a truly scary story about elder abuse. In my opinion, the best book in the series.

An Advancement of Learning by Reginald Hill (2nd in a series) (audio)
Protagonists: Andy Dalziel and Peter Pascoe
Setting: Holm Coultram College, England
Rating: 3.4
Dalziel and Pascoe are called to the college when, while a statue is being moved, a skeleton is found underneath. This is followed shortly by the fresh murder of a student. While this 1971 book is a bit dated (student protests and student orgies) and the narrator of the audiobook was terrible, any Hill book can still make me smile. Just plop Dalziel into an academic setting, and that in itself is worthwhile. Dalziel hates academicians -- but he hates the students, too. Pascoe, meanwhile, is trying to reignite an old flame -- despite Dalziel's interruptions. Characters in this book figure on later in the series, so that's another good reason to read this early novel.