June 5, 2014

Books of the Week:

 

  • A Shiver of Light, Laurell K. Hamilton
  • Bad Angels, Rebecca Chance
  • The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, Joel Dicker
  • Cop Town, Karin Slaughter

Laurell K. Hamilton’s decision to wrap up the Meredith Gentry series will leave a lot of fans desolate, but other readers will be happy because this means she can concentrate on her Anita Blake books. As always with Hamilton, the world she created for America’s own faerie princess is complex, vital, and dangerous. Though sometimes she seems to get sidetracked by making sure the reader knows all the details of that world, Hamilton’s world building is amazing. If you’ve read all the previous Meredith Gentry books (when last we saw our part-human heroine, she was pregnant with multiples), you really have to read A Shiver of Light. There’s no happily-ever-after for this faerie tale, but there is a glimpse of what could be a less dangerous life for all concerned. Plus, babies!

 

I knew Rebecca Chance under her previous writing guise, so I bought Bad Angels out of sheer curiosity. It won’t surprise anyone that Rebecca Chance is just as great a romance writer as Lauren Henderson was a mystery writer. There’s not ONE romance in her books, there are SEVERAL . . . it’s like the thriller of the romance world. This plot includes an actress who is having all her plastic surgery undone, a killer who’s recovering from plastic surgery also, the nurse who tends both of them, the Russian zillionaire who owns the penthouse, the concierge, a football player . . . well, you can tell a lot happens, and there’s plenty of love to go around. Sounds like a mess, doesn’t it? But it’s great reading and a ton of fun.

 

Joel Dicker has become an international phenomenon, and The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair has been published in 32 languages. Dicker is young, Swiss, and now incredibly well known for this book, which is set in America. I’m breaking my habit about talking about books that didn’t appeal to me, because obviously I’m missing something. Here’s the plot: a young writer, Marcus, has been mentored throughout his college career by Harry Quebert, a teacher at the college who has one very, very successful book. The subject of that book is the love affair between a very young woman and an older man. But then the skeleton of a missing girl is found on the property of Harry Quebert, and he’s arrested. Marcus spends months trying to prove his innocence, and regaining his writer’s chops. (His dealings with his increasingly irascible publisher are really funny, and scary, to any writer, I have to say.) I read this book all the way through, but in the end, it simply didn’t resonate with me. I am clearly in the minority over this, and I hope many of you read and enjoy it.

 

Cop Town, which will be on the shelves in JULY, is simply amazing. Karin Slaughter and I know each other, and I was really interested when she sent me a copy . . . and I found a character was named for me. But that aside, this is an exciting book. It’s set in Atlanta in 1974, and it’s about women police. Newcomer Kate Murphy faces challenges her first day as a cop, challenges which would make most of us run screaming, and she’s a little surprised when she doesn’t. The female cops are ghettoized by the male cops, and the black female cops and the white ones are sharply divided to the point where they have to negotiate territory. The case that is the catalyst for the action in the book is the shooting of a policeman and his partner. What happens after that is incredible. This is some truly great writing and a truly great book. Please read it.

 

 

Blog

 

By the time you read this, I’ll be in Phoenix at ComicCon. Most of my professional traveling for the year will be done, and I can actually put my suitcases away until late August, when I leave for the UK for FantasyCon in York. That’ll be really nice. After that I have a speech at Books in the Basin in Midland, Texas, in October, and Bouchercon in California in November. Now I’m weighing the events I want to attend next year, and I already have a few lined up. Planning my travel is a constant balancing act.

 

I know a lot of people who travel more than I do for work, people who are on the road over half of the year. Some of them try to find something fun to see or do everywhere they go, and some make the process as painless as possible by holing up in a hotel room and staying private. I sympathize with both attitudes. When I first started being on the road a lot, I felt like a failure if I didn’t take advantage of being in a new city. I had to see at least something that made me realize I wasn’t home any longer. But usually signing trips are so quick – you land, go to the hotel, go to the venue, go back to the hotel, go to the airport – that there’s really hardly any time to sightsee.

 

Now that I’m older, I tend to let the travel roll over me while I look straight ahead at what comes next. It’s like having blinders on, I suppose. This minimizes the wear and tear on me, but it does make tours seem curiously homogenized. I remember cities by their hotels! The Heathman in Portland, the Four Seasons in Seattle, the Adolphus in Dallas . . . and all points in between. There are certainly worse things than having to stay in luxury hotels across America!

 

I do wonder how many more years of traveling I have in me. I feel a little more reluctant every time I leave, arthritis makes me uncomfortable, and I regret the work slowdown. I am not as productive when I’m on the road. I know plenty of writers who manage to keep to their work schedule, but I’m not one of the happy band. I can see the day coming when I’ll just say, “Naaaah. I don’t think so.”

 

Until that time . . . did I put in my charger cord? Did I replace the Bandaid in my bathroom bag? Are the batteries in my little flashlight still good?

 

Charlaine Harris