Books of the Week:
- Jewel of the Thames, Angela Misri
- Baltic Gambit, E.E. Night
- Deliver Us, Kathryn Casey
My friend Dana Cameron recommended Angela Misri’s book. Dana, as well as Angela Misri, apparently, is quite a Sherlockian. Whether you are or not — and especially if you enjoyed Laurie King’s books – you are sure to enjoy Jewel of the Thames. A very sharp young woman is approached by a hitherto-unknown relative after she looses her mother. The fabulous but shady relative whisks Portia Adams off to England, to the London house Portia has inherited, which turns out to be 221 Baker Street . . . the house of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. This book is engaging and clever, and if you’re like me, you’ll want to read the next one.
I’ve long been a fan of E.E. Knight and his Vampire Earth series. Baltic Gambit, though told from the point of view of Alessa Duvalier rather than David Valentine, is every bit as good as its predecessors. In Knight’s world, America has been overcome by an alien race called the Kurians. They don’t have complete control, and there’s a very active rebellion. Both Duvalier and Valentine are rebels. It’s very interesting to see Valentine from another point of view, and also an interesting twist to see the two take off for the Baltic area, much farther than this series has ever ventured.
Kathryn Casey is a true crime writer, and Deliver Us is her book about the multiple killings along I-45 in Texas. In a fifty-mile stretch, over three decades, more than twenty women were found discarded in lonely stretches of waste ground, oilfields, forest . . . and many of them were very young. It’s clear that not all these women were killed by the same man or men, since there have been a few arrests and convictions, but most of the cases have never come to court. It’s like this area was a magnet for predators of a certain type. There’s a lot of food for thought in Casey’s narrative of this trail of tears. At least sharing between adjacent law enforcement agencies has improved, DNA samples have helped clear or convict defendants, and the kids of today certainly should be more aware of the dangers around them.
One of the more interesting things about going to large expos, like ComicCon or Phoenix ComicCon, or C2E2 in Chicago, is the side-order of celebrities that comes with multimedia interest. In my celebrity ranking, writers are the stars of the firmament, and it’s always struck me as funny (or sad) that most writers would not be noticed by the average person on the street. Of course, Stephen King has a famous face. And Mary Higgins Clark, I think. Probably Lee Child, because he’s so tall? I’m sure there are others. But the lowliest television actor is more recognizable.
To me, people on the big screen are very hard to translate to real life. Somehow, because you’ve always seen their heads framed by the screen, you expect their heads to be bigger. No, I’m not making a snide comment. Two of the nicest people I’ve ever met at one of these shindigs, Cary Elwes and Sean Astin, were absolutely down to earth. And Amber Benson, of course, but then . . . she’s a writer now. (I’m leaving the cast of “True Blood” out of this, since I saw them many times.)
This past weekend at C2E2, I was waiting in my golf cart for a car to disgorge Stan Lee so I could take it back to the hotel. My convention escort said, “Here come M. Night Shyamalan and Matt Dillon.” If he hadn’t given me the tipoff, I never would have noticed them. There was no glow around them, and no large crowd of sycophants. Of course, they had a few people with them, but no one was throwing down rose petals where they walked or anything. They had to get from point A to point B in the cavernous convention center just like everyone else.
I’m not aiming for any particular point here about the nature of celebrity or how we all have to put our pants on one leg at a time. But maybe if you want to see a weird jumble of celebrities past and present mixed in with current writers, one of these huge cons is the way to go. Some of them have photo session areas, where after paying a fee you can have your picture made with them. Some of them are signing memorabilia. Some of them have brought cds or other things they’ve produced. Some of them have written books, actually.
But they’re not hanging around by a pool in California reading scripts. They’re out there hustling to stay in the public eye, to make a buck, to keep busy. And they’re working hard to do this.
Just like me at my signing table.