There has been a lot of heavy news lately, what with the city election,
and the Ten Commandments, and the China crisis. I think it is time for
mysteries again. In them justice usually triumphs, which is not always
true in the real world.
One of my favorite mystery writers is Marne Davis Kellogg, a native
Coloradan who is, in her words, "a real westerner." She adds, "It's a
state of mind, I think -- tough and independent and, in a word,
Western." She created Lilly Bennett, Marshall of Roundup, Wyoming --
the western woman I would like to be if I were 50 again and had a few
I was disappointed that Kellogg's new mystery leaves Lilly and her new
husband Richard to enjoy in their honeymoon in peace. But in her new
novel, Insatiable, set in glamorous playgrounds around the world,
she introduces a new character, Jacqueline du Fidelio. Jackie is a
portrait painter with an international reputation . She is a fine
artist, but has lousy taste in men -- except for her wonderful, amoral
gay butler and closest friend, Nigel, who is the narrator of the
story. The story begins in prison, where Jackie is scheduled to be
executed for murder and Nigel is saying good-by to her for the last
time. Then Nigel tells the story and what a story it is. In a personal
note, Kellogg says, "Nigel is the biggest, most neurotic sissy on the
Kellogg is an extremely skillful writer with a sense of humor, and if
any of you can figure whodunit before the last page, let me know and
I'll buy you a latte.
My Alaska friend Jesse Arnold is back with her crew of beautiful sled
dogs. It's hard to know whether the lead character is Jesse or Tank,
the lead dog who is almost human. Their creator is Sue Henry who lives
in Anchorage, teaches at the University of Alaska and visits Happy
Valley now and then. Yes, I'm name dropping. We had coffee together.
It was Jesse Arnold who in earlier books ran the Iditerod Trail race
and the Yukon Quest. In Beneath the Ashes she is enjoying the Alaskan
spring in her cabin surrounded by the latest batch of pups. But her
pleasure is cut short when a mysterious fire ravages a popular local
pub, leaving an unidentified body lying in the ruins. As if the
destruction of her favorite watering hole isn't bad enough, Jessie's
life is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of a friend she hasn't
heard from a decade and her own cabin is torched.
Sue Henry brings Alaska to life in all its beauty, and I generally need
to wear an extra jacket when reading her books. But this one takes
place in the spring.
Another friend of mine is Anna Pigeon, a fiftyish, slightly cranky Park
Ranger who is the creation of Nevada Barr. Anna's home station is in
Mississippi, but in Blood Lure she has been sent to study grizzly
bears in Waterton/Glacier National Peace Park. When a mutilated body
shows up, it becomes clear that the woman met death at the hands of a
human rather than the claws of a grizzly. So Anna goes killer
hunting while at the same time trying to learn about the habits of
grizzlies. Waterton-Glacier National Park is one of the most
beautiful spots in the world -- and also the most rugged. Anna doesn't
lead an easy life.
An interesting new character (new to me) is Ella Clah, once an F. B. I.
agent and now a Special Investigator with the Navajo Police. Ella's
brother says that her investigation skills are a gift of the spirits,
and she says the F. B. I. training is responsible. In "Shooting
Chant," by authors Aimée and David Thurlo, her caseload is heavier than
ever and she is newly pregnant - forcing some major decisions and an
For a change of pace and a happier sleuth, I like Carlotta Carlyle,
Boston's favorite wisecracking redhead. She is the creation of Linda
Barnes. In Flashpoint she gets involved in murder (of course), real
estate developers, and a historic icon.
Sorry. Gotta go. I have to find out what happens to Dr. Kay Scarpetta
in Patricia Cornwell's newest, "The Last Precinct."