Ah - the lazy days of summer. As always in the Banana Belt, they arrive
all of a sudden and here we are without warning wanting to do nothing in
the world except stretch out and read a mystery.
We can always cool down a bit in Alaska. The new Sue Henry book is due
out this week. It is called "Cold Company". I have not yet been able to
get my hands on a copy, but the reviews say it is as good as or better
than her others. Jessie Arnold, a professional dog trainer and dog sled
racer is a special mystery friend of mine, and her Huskies, supervised
by Tank the lead dog, almost make me want a dog. Building a new home
for herself and her sled dogs on the charred ashes of her old one,
Jessie plans to be finished well before the onset of the long northern
winter. But her progress is halted when the excavations unearth a
skeleton entombed in a crumbling basement wall. Jessie solves the
mystery, of course, and tells a great story. Booklist says, "In what
is perhaps her most unforgettable novel to date, the incomparable Sue
Henry weaves a spellbinding tale of past sins and present-day evils, of
humanity at its best and worst, and nature at its most powerful. "
Sue Henry has ties in Grand Junction and visits us occasionally.
Another gutsy Alaskan female is Kate Shugak, the invention of Dana
Stabenow. Kate gets involved in political or environmental issues and
Indian folklore along with her talent in solving mysteries. One of my
favorites is the paperback I am re-reading, "Blood Will Tell." Kate
was once an investigator of the Anchorage D. A.'s office and has now
returned to her Aleut roots in the far north. A scheduled meeting of
the Alaska Federation of Natives is to take a vote which will decide the
future of the tribal lands, but the death of one of its members makes
the result doubtful. Kate forces herself out of her much loved cabin to
head for Anchorage and solve the mystery.
Stabenow's latest hardback is "A Fine and Bitter Snow," which involves
tensions that have been swirling around the question of oil drilling.
Booklist says, "This twelfth Kate Shugak mystery is among the series'
best...,the environmental issues are handled sensitively, the scenery is
striking as always. Like Nevada Barr, Dana Stabenow writes mysteries so
firmly rooted in the natural world that their sense of place becomes a
vital part of the plot."
Lest you get too cold, we'll head down to the lower 48. I found a very
odd coincidence recently. Two mysteries that I read in a row , start
with the same basic premise. Each heroine has killed in self defense in
the past, and the books involve their ways of dealing with their
feelings about it. One author lives in Maine and the other ii
Tess Gerritsen's New York Times Best Seller, "The Surgeon" is a very
intense medical thriller based in Boston. A serial killer of utter
evil kills and mutilates women. Dr. Catherine Cordell very nearly
loses her life bringing him down. This is a thriller of great depth
and suspense. The characters are real, from the ER to the squad room .
It is exciting and a great read, but I do not recommend it for the faint
The other female killer is a D. A. in Santa Barbara, Lily Forrester.
The paperback is "Buried Evidence" by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg. It is not
very well written but I read it because of the odd similarity to the
much better Gerritsen book.
Active, independent female detectives are not new. I am sure that many
of you spent hours on that early mystery series, Nancy Drew. Mildred
Wirt Benson, Nancy Drew's author, died last week at the ripe old age of
96. She wrote more than 130 books, but is best known for creating
Nancy Drew, who captivated generations of girls and allowed them to
imagine anything could be possible at a time when females struggled for
any sense of equality.
Ah, mystery. What a wonderful way to cool off.