BOOK & BLOG
April 5, 2010
Books of the Week
It’s not a surprise that I liked all of these books. I’m a big fan of Jeanine Frost’s, and this new book is just as good as her others. It’s not a Cat-and-Bones book, though they’re in it. This book focuses on Cat’s friend Denise, who’s attacked by a demon, and Bones’s friend Spade, whom Denise calls for help when she can’t reach anyone else. It’s not a surprise when Spade finds himself attracted to Denise, either, or she to him. With Frost, the sharp characterization and the swift action, plus the genuine charm of her writing, make the journey worth making.
Kelley Armstrong has long been a favorite of mine, and I discovered she’d returned to Dutton for Waking the Witch when her editor sent me an advance copy. This book will not be out until AUGUST, so mark your calendars! You won’t want to miss this episode in her Women of the Underworld series. This one’s about Savannah, orphaned witch, who is on her first solo private detective case. Armstrong is not afraid to have awful things befall good people, which is one of the many things I like about her. Savannah has an impressive support system and a great inner strength.
It’s definitely self-serving to mention Delta Blues, since I have a story in it, “Crossroads Bargain.” I have stellar companions in this anthology edited by Carolyn Haines, a long-time friend. There are stories by John Grisham, James Lee Burke, Ace Atkins, my long-time buddies Toni Kelner and Dean James, and my sister Femme Fatale, Mary Saums. If you’ve watched the U Tube video of Blues Muse and the Boomettes at the club in Clarksdale, you’ll see a lot of other contributors. I’m reading my way through the book one story at a time starting with the foreword by Morgan Freeman, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in the collection of Delta blues noir.
When Paula and I checked into the Covent Garden Hotel, we had no idea how lucky we were. This old English hotel does not present a fancy front, but the fabulous staff, the great service, and the individually decorated rooms, all added up to a great place to stay. Plus (and this was the best part) upstairs there’s a library with a fire, and a sitting room, and you can book these for interviews. And there’s an honor bar, where the guests sign a sheet when they take items to eat or drink. Plus! You can call downstairs and they’ll bring up a tray with coffee or tea. Could life get any better? I think NOT.
My room had pheasant feathers (try saying that several times, really quickly) hanging from the bed canopy and the valance. It also had a fireplace. And steps led down to it from the door, which had a doorbell. If this sounds too “Gee, golly, shucks,” let me tell you that I’ve stayed in a lot of nice hotels, even luxurious hotels, and I was totally impressed. Paula’s room was even prettier, though I don’t think it had a fireplace or steps! The beds were very comfortable, too.
Okay, enough raving about the hotel. Paula and I tried twice to go to Westminster Abbey, but there were demonstrations about the Iraq war connected with some hearings, and there was enough threat close by to where the Abbey was closed for tourism. The second time, the last tour had already started. So we missed that, but we saw Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, The National Portrait Gallery (where I think we lasted up through about 1825), and the statue of Boadicea. We caught a glimpse of the changing of the guard at the palace by a happy coincidence, and we drank in the sights and sounds of London.
My UK publisher, Gollanz (owned by Orion), treated me to a wonderful dinner at Groucho’s. We were in a room up some steep stairs, and the food and the service were excellent. My editor there, Jo Fletcher, presented me with a lovely Amy Christie necklace and earrings, which I’ve worn many times since then. I got to know some of the Orion people, and it was really a fun evening.
I had an event the next evening at the Prince Charles cinema, and they put my name up on the marquee. That was a treat! Though the room wasn’t completely full, it was pretty packed, and the crowd was enthusiastic.
The next morning Paula and I were shepherded onto a train by my English publicist, Jonathan Weir, who is absolutely great. We love him. I had an early morning appearance on BBC Breakfast, and the presenters were due to film an interview with Gerard Butler immediately after the show was over. Just my luck, he was entering the building when I was leaving by another door. Life can be so unfair! But the BBC interview was later than we’d anticipated, and we had to scurry for the train station because I was due to sign in Nottingham. Paula and Jonathan, lighter and younger than I, made a huge dash for the train and as I hurried after them I couldn’t help thinking it would be pretty funny (for a minute) if the train left with them on and me left at the platform. However, that didn’t happen, and we got to see the English countryside as we rolled up to the Nottingham Waterstones. I was only a little late, and I signed and signed, getting everyone “done” on time to leave for Manchester. We had a car to Manchester, where another Waterstones signing was just as good as the first, and we spent the night there. The next day we caught a train back to London, and spent the whole time looking out the window.
I was supposed to do a series of interviews with French media that day, but they cancelled at the last minute, so Jonathan called some people he’d had to turn down and I did two more interviews in the lovely library at Covent Garden Hotel.
Paula’s search for a hat (it was still cold) was finally successful, and she kept it for about six hours until it vanished forever. That was the only thing we lost the whole trip, I believe! Not bad!
By that time our luggage was definitely looking battered and bulgy, despite the fact that we’d left a box in Poland for my Polish publisher to mail to us. (We’re still waiting for the box, incidentally. I don’t think my mom’s candy is going to be in good shape by the time it finally gets here!)
© 2010 Charlaine Harris