BOOK & BLOG
January 25, 2009
Books of the Week:
Three books that are classified as mysteries this week, though they couldn’t be more different from each other. Suzanne Arruda’s book is a conventional mystery set in post-World War One Africa. Her protagonist, Jade del Cameron, is a liberated woman for her time. Fortunately, Arruda doesn’t go overboard with unrealistic points of view, and it’s easy to accept Jade as a strong and skilled woman who is determined to make her own living, but also as a woman who doesn’t step across certain societal boundaries; in other words, she’s a product of her times. Jade’s suitor Sam, a pilot, is suspected of murder in this installment of Arruda’s series, and Jade is determined to clear him. There is a genuinely suspenseful scene in which Jade is shut in a shed with a leopard, and there are other interesting moments. This is a very pleasant read.
Charlie Huston, of course, is in a class by himself. THE MYSTIC ARTS is another wonderful addition to his list of books; the protagonist is another damaged man with the seeds of redemption planted in him . . . pretty deeply. Webster Fillmore Goodhue, who’s been living off his best friend for far too long, is offered a job that may be his last chance. His friend Po Sin offers Web a chance to work on his crime scene cleanup crew, Clean Team. Soon he’s helping clean the house of an apparent suicide, and the suicide’s daughter takes a shine to the incredibly rude Web. Though Clean Team is involved in a feud with a rival cleanup business, Web answers Soledad’s call for help and becomes embroiled in her attempt to extricate her incredibly stupid brother (an even bigger asshole than Web) from his complicated dealings with some dangerous men. Of course, I loved this book.
Last but never least is Andrew Vachhs’s final Burke book, ANOTHER LIFE. Yes, this really is the final Burke book. Vachhs, an attorney in New York specializing in child abuse cases, has always had an agenda. His books have actually changed the way society handles the issues of child pornography, child exploitation, and the way Americans used to regard children as property. The eighteen Burke books are a standing testament to Vachhs’s knowledge of the sickening facts of those who prey on children. If you can stand to absorb this knowledge secondhand, then read the Burke novels in order. If you’re already a Burke aficionado, you can’t miss ANOTHER LIFE. Burke and his family are aging, and the Prof, Burke’s father figure, needs specialized care since he’s been shot. In exchange for the best of care at a secret facility and the erasure of their criminal records, Burke and his family are hired to find an abducted baby. After Burke’s exhausted all his usual channels and run down every possible lead, he is forced to consider the unthinkable.
I’m pretty close to getting my calendar for the year up. To all intents and purposes, my calendar will be in June or July. So far I’ve lined up ALA in July (I think), a small conference in Gainesville, Fla., July 29-30, DragonCon in Atlanta Sept. 3-7, the launch party for the Delta Noir anthology in Clarksdale, Mississippi on Oct. 3, and Bouchercon in Indianapolis Oct. 14-18. I may be adding to this within the next few weeks. As always, I hope to see some of you along the way.
To all of you who pointed out mistakes in Chapter One of DAG, thanks. That was not the final version, of course, and I think we’ve caught all those in the page proofs.
Paula is really proving to be a help to me, and I hope to you all. I realize it’s a relief to have someone to email to, and I know if Paula can’t answer your questions, she’ll ask me if I can. In the meantime, I ‘m not spending as much time on non-writing projects, which I hope will ultimately benefit all of us.
I’ve finally gotten over the sinus condition that laid me low last weekend. I was at the point where I would have been relieved if my face had fallen off. I’m sure some of you have been there! With the temperature going up and down so markedly this winter, I just can’t seem to get a break on my sinuses, and my wastebasket is always full of a snowstorm of tissues.
I had a teleconference last Friday about the Sookie companion, so that project is gaining momentum. Paula and I were on telephones here in Arkansas, my agent was on another in New York, and the incomparable staff of Tekno books was listening in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Somehow, it was easy to turn down an invitation to Green Bay in January . . .
This week I’m working on a short story for the Mystery Writers of America anthology I’m editing. It’s a Dahlia Lynley-Chivers short story. I love writing Dahlia. Next up, the short story for DEATH’S EXCELLENT VACATION, the anthology Toni and I are editing. Then, the next Sookie; and somewhere in there, I have to write the novella that will be included in the companion. Okay, back to work!
© 2009 Charlaine Harris