November 24, 2014

Recently, at the Bouchercon in Long Beach, CA, there was a panel that did us all proud. A large group of mystery writers, both women and men, gathered together to recommend writers who have undersold . . . in other words, writers OTHER WRITERS feel haven’t gotten the attention and sales they deserved. Instead of recommending individual books I’ve read this month, I’m going to recreate that list. I hope some of you will look up the books they’ve written, and maybe buy one or two. If you’d like to read more, and find out who recommending each writer, go to any of these sites: Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Murder by the Book (Houston).

  • Sara Gran
  • Steve Mosby
  • Deborah Coonts
  • Dennis Tafoya
  • Margaret Lawrence
  • Tracy Kiely
  • Amanda Kyle Williams
  • Charlotte Carter
  • Penelope Fitzgerald
  • Lauren Sanders
  • Charles McCarry
  • John Galligan
  • Sarah Weinman
  • Steph Cha
  • Sarah Hilary
  • Wendy Lyn Watson
  • Shannon Kirk
  • Anonymous 9
  • Jen Sacks
  • Bill Loehfelm
  • Tom Savage
  • Jan Weiss
  • Lynne Raimondo
  • Donald Harstad
  • Toni L.P. Kelner
  • Shirley Jackson

The last three were my recommendations; I am rereading Donald Harstad now, and his books strike the same chord with me now that they did the first time I read them. The humanity of Carl Houseman, the reality of his job and relationships, and the very real problems he faces, are still vivid. My friend Toni’s three “Where Are They Now” books never sold as well as they should have. And Shirley Jackson is a great American writer, both funny and terrifying, and of her wonderful work, only “The Lottery” is well known.

I love Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite. I love the weather, the food, the hymns, the concept. I need a daily reminder to be thankful for all I have (a home, a stable income), all the people I love, and the country where I live. America is a flawed country, but it’s still the best place in the world to live; I firmly believe that. Maybe the fact that America is constantly self-examining is proof of how great it is . . . or maybe it’s the fact that we’re absolutely free to self-examine.

I don’t know about you, but I have to write a cooking and task schedule to prepare for the holiday. We are having the extended family, and they are all bringing a dish, but I still have to decide when to start preparing, so I can get all my part done. We’ll have house guests of the human variety (at Christmas, we’ll have human and canine visitors). Since I was brought up with strict standards of how my house should be when there’s company, this makes me very nervous, something I’ve worked for 60+ years to overcome.

I know that no one will inspect my laundry room, nor should I care if anyone did. After all, we live here around the year, and there will be stacks of laundry! And I know no one will think the worse of me for having boxes around. After all, Christmas will follow Thanksgiving. But I feel the ghost of my mother standing at my shoulder, and I know she would not approve! So today is the day I’ve designated to get the laundry put away and the boxes stowed. Tomorrow, I start cooking. And if all goes according to plan . . . which it never does! . . . on Thanksgiving Day I will have food to feed my family, the table will be set, the flowers will be on the counter, and everyone will be happy. More or less.

That’s my goal. And I think I can make it.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends and readers.

Charlaine Harris