Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wordsmith Wednesday

(See book contest at the end of the post)

I may have mentioned once or twice in the past that I'm a little anal-retentive (which could potentially begin to explain this), especially when it comes to mystery writers.

When I hear of someone that I think I would like to read, I must start at the beginning of their works, regardless of where the authors currently are in their careers.

My justification of this is that I like to read/watch the evolution of the character over time. I find it is very revelatory about the evolution of the author as well.

I may also have mentioned once or twice in the past that I'm a little obsessive-compulsive.

So once I find a mystery author I like, I read their entire library. If I can't get a book in the series, I will stop reading the series until I find it. Sometimes, I won't even start. Even if I have book 1, 2 and 4, but am missing 3.

Some are easy to locate. Think Janet Evanovich. Think Lori Avocado.

Then there are the others; the ones that bookstores don't stock anymore - think the Spencer series of Robert Parker. Think the earlier Alex Cross series of Robert Patterson. So I have to hit either Amazon or our city's used bookstores. I'm usually successful. Sometimes though, I have to count on the kindness of the Countess of Yik Yak to go to the mystery mecca of Minnesota, Uncle Edgar's. What I need is always there.

Here's the thing. Faye and Jonathan Kellerman, Patricia Cornwell, Sue Grafton, Diane Mott Davidson - I pounce on any new book from them as soon as it's out;I've received my advance notice from the publisher, or checked Amazon for the tentative release date. I am like the prolific Serengeti lion in the high grass, just waiting for that meaty gazelle with the ingrown toenail.

In keeping with the lion analogy, I pounce and devour. And then, when I'm done in a day, I am left to wonder why these people can't be less selfish and more prolific and put out a book every 3 months or so. I am left at odds, waiting and waiting.

But now, by some magical intervention from the Hachette Book Group fairy, comes Michael Connelly and his book, Trunk Music. Here's a fellow who looks like a keeper. So much so, I am willing to be introduced to the main character mid-way through the series.

And let's talk for a minute about the main character. His name? Hieronymous Bosch. How can a guy with this handle be anything but interesting?

I don't know much about him, but what I do know is that he's had some nastiness happen earlier on, pre-story; he's just recently come back to the squad room to resume his detective duties. So, not only am I compelled to find out if there's any alluding to what happened to get Bosch suspended in the first place, but I'm looking forward to see if his current actions give away any clues as to why he might have got suspended in the first place.

Another thing I'm liking about Connelly is that I'm learning some new things. I've read my fair share of whodunnits; I would like to think that I'm pretty savvy in the procedures that go into both crime scene and forensic analyses. Yet here, there were some surprises. Something new and -pardon the pun- novel. I appreciated that.

One of the downfalls of a mystery writer, in my estimation, is the awkward articulation of romance that is usually thrown in to spice things up. Most writers, men in particular(again - in my estimation), fumble through this like a horny teenager.

Once again, with Connelly, I was pleasantly surprised. He kept the dialogue realistic, and his descriptions of intimate interplay was neither too florid, too fromage-y, nor too pulp-ish. The guy gets it; how A goes into B, and is able to deftly keep commentary current and moving along at a satisfying clip.

When I was waffling about reading someone new, and feeling a little like I was cheating on my perennial favorites, my friend Cormac Brown - a Michael Connelly fan - quickly snapped me out of it.

"He's not a difficult read", said the wonderful crime fictionalist Mr. Brown. He also added that Mr. Connelly is a disciple of Raymond Chandler and Ross MacDonald (while I shamefacedly admit to having read neither, I'm interpolating here that this means if one is described thusly, it is high praise indeed).

Cormac Brown - you are right yet again, sir.

This novel was compelling, and intriguing, and dammit - I could not figure out the ending.

And that is enough for me. Now, when I am alone in the tall grass, and getting some tummy rumblings, I have new prey to stalk - Michael Connelly and Detective Harry Bosch.

Baroness von B's Book Contest Giveaway
(courtesy of the fine people at Hachette Book Group USA)

1. You must live in either the U.S. or Canada

2. Mailing addresses can not be a P.O. Box. Street addresses only, please.

3. DO NOT answer this in the comments section of this post - you must e-mail me your answer to the contest question at Be sure to include your mailing address, or your entry will be tossed to the bottom of the pile.

4. I will pick 5 of the best answers, and these winnahs will get a copy of the book, as well as having their answer quoted here for everyone to see.

5. Only one entry per person, please. Let's not ruin a good thing.

6. Contest deadline is midnight on Monday, October 27th, 2008 - winners announced on the 29th.

My work here is done. Here's where your work begins:

Trunk Music opens in a park just off of Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles; the title refers to a Mafiosa term for killing someone and dumping them in a car trunk. Those wise guys, such charmers.

I'm thinking riffing on this particular fact is a little on the macabre side - so I'll ask you this instead:
What would you pack in a trunk (car or Louis Vuitton),
if you were going to travel to Los Angeles, and why?
Tell me in the style of a mystery novel.


{i}Post said...

Not a mystery reader...i know, kill me...or i would participate because i soooooo loved The Almost Moon! I am passing it on next week via my blog ;0)

well read hostess said...

Please, please tell me that you have read the Detective Lynley mysteries by Elizabeth George and, most importantly, the Travis McGee series by John D. McDonald!

Sandi said...

WRH beat me to my recommendation. The Detective Linley mysteries by Elizabeth George are THE BEST!

Candy said...

I'm exactly the same way about my mysteries, at least when there is a recurrent character involved. I read a Patricia Cornwell novel, well into the Kay Scarpetta series, and had to go back and start all over again. Like you, I got hung up on a title I couldn't find, and even though I had two other books to read, I couldn't continue till I found it.

Unfortunately, her books have lost some of their magic for me, but I loved em for a while.

Cormac Brown said...

"while I shamefacedly admit to having read neither"

(loud audible gasp)

Baroness, get thee to a Chandler-y!

Let's give you a taste with this site with such gems as...

"Dead men are heavier than broken hearts "---The Big Sleep (Chapter 8)

"She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket"--Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 18)

"It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window."--Farewell, My Lovely (Chapter 13)

The key to Chandler is his prose and not so much his mysteries.

RiverPoet said...

Oh, I'm not much of a mystery reader anymore (aside from the odd James Patterson that I slink out of the bookstore with), but I do love a good book review. And this was a good one!

Good luck to the contestants!

Peace - D

Baroness von B said...

Countess iPost: Now THAT's a great story for a mystery - if I kill you on a farm 9 miles for anywhere and make it look like Clyde S. Dale did it...(perish the thought - I heart my iPost!!)

I do not judge people on what they do or do not read (ahem, Mr. Brown...). As long as they're reading, it's okey dokey with me. I'm so pleased that you like the Almost Moon. I love her work; she has the bravery to really flesh out the unspeakable and I so admire that.

Countess WRH: My MIL has told me repeatedly about Elizabeth George, but I've always just clung on to my standbys. Based on your moniker, I feel obliged to now check her out.
And John McDonald,too (although we had a Prime Minister by the same name - well, MacD - and I didn't vote for him - his train obsession was kinda creepy...)

Countess Candy: Funny you should mention that about Ms. Cornwell; I thought as I read her last book that it really wasn't one of her best. Her whole story arc with Marino had taken a pretty ugly turn. And then I realized, this woman's been churning books out for 15, 20 years - how many book have YOU written, Baroness. I then said a silent apology.

Count Brown: Please don't hate me. I get so distracted by shiny things - there must be something in the library that keeps drawing me away from the Chandler and McDonald shelves. With those yummy quotes and all the other above recommendations, how can I not delve in now? I'd be a fool not to.

Next trip to the library, I will avert my gaze from glossy book covers or take a seeing-eye child to assist me. Promise.

Countess D: Really? Because I thought that I just rambled and rambled and rambled. Like usual.
With some semi-constructive opining at the end.

At least I'm aware of my strengths and weaknesses, and that's gotta count for something.

And please don't be ashamed of Mr. Patterson - I'm hooked on the Women's Murder Club - I call it literary junkfood. Easy to finish, and no ugly surprises.

Except maybe melamine, if its printed in China.

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