Quote of the Week

"The key is to commit crimes so confusing that police feel too stupid to even write a crime report about them."
Randy K. Milholland, Something Positive Comic
10-30-03. Web Comic Pioneer

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Please Omit Funeral by Hildegarde Dolson

Please Omit Funeral by Hildegarde Dolson was initially appealing and chosen because it takes place in Connecticut in the mid-seventies and because I spotted it at a library book sale. Reading a mystery set in the seventies presented a chance to look back at habits and cultural mores of the time but also of the type of suspense popular at the time.
The victim and all around nasty guy was not a sympathetic character, the most obvious suspect almost as bad. The remaining cast of characters were interesting and well developed with two lead characters particularly well done. Clues to the case were numerous and sometimes contradictory but led to continuing interest in the story. Here we are 35 or so years later and still classic novels are being removed from libraries and extensive acrimony exists between the would-be censors and First Amendment defenders. The sense of shock at the existence and talent of a young and attractive librarian reinforced the usual stereotypical picture of a librarian. The local thrift shop was as popular for clothing as for gossip, not too different from today. The most amazing thing was the description of smoking in a hospital – unheard of today. This was an interesting mystery with a heroine who was a widow with very human thoughts and deeds. I quite liked her and would read another in this series.
Hildegarde Dolson, 1908-1981 was a prolific and writer and self declared spinster who was often quoted as being in favor of the single life (a characteristic shared by the heroine of the story). Dolson left Pennsylvania and arrived in New York City on Black Friday. That fact did not stop her from becoming a writer and she was published in numerous magazines. 1935 saw the publication of the first of 15 novels and non-fiction. In 1965, she married another suspense writer, Richard Lockridge , giving up spinsterhood.
This book and others by Dolson are available through Amazon both hardcover and paperback versions.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"The Blood Red Indian Summer" by David Handler

Choosing a book to read with the place being my home state of Connecticut was a fun experience.  This is book two in my reading adventure with my friend Wendy as we read mysteries where the place is as significant as the characters or plot. Surfing around through library pages and mystery resources, I came across the Mitry & Berger series by David Handler.  The book is called "The Blood Red Indian Summer" and is the 8th in the series with these characters.  They live in the fictional place called Dorset, CT on the CT shoreline. Sometimes it is a challenge to jump into the middle of a series with no back knowledge of characters, plot, & chemistry but this was an easy read in which this could have been a stand alone book.  I know there is background with the characters. Mitry has been demoted so to speak from a higher police position to become a resident state trooper. I wonder about that. Having known a few CT resident troopers in my day, the job does not have the stature say as a homicide detective, while still an important part of a community.  Berger is a film critic to has relocated to the area from NY. I wonder about that. He is a nice Jewish boy who lives a simple albeit quirky lifestyle.  Ask him film trivia questions such as "Who is the producer of such & such film?" He magically pulls the answer out of the air.   Mitry & Berger become embroiled with a disgraced NFL player who takes up residence in a very tony area of CT fondly called "The Gold Coast."  They begin solving a potential crime in which the NFL player's sister-in-law is found nearly drowned on Berger's beach after which might have been a suicide attempt and a heavy night of partying.  Handler does a great job intertwining a group of interesting and sometimes seedy characters.  Everyone from the dementia patient with no sexual inhibitions to a used car salesman with a string of ex-wives and "Bond girl" type advertising bimbos.  Don't let the cast of characters derail you from a well written mystery.  If you are not familiar with the CT shore, you will find his descriptions accurate and appropriate for the plot and timing.  I found myself guessing to the end.  I now know I need to go back to my hometown library and get the series from the beginning and get to know Mitry & Berger just a little better. I highly recommend this series not only for it's CT roots, but it's just plain worth your time if you need a new series.

Monday, November 14, 2011

All the Way Home by Wendy Corsi Staub

When my co-blogger and I decided to embark on our cross country trip to read a mystery in every state, I thought it would be hard to pick some of the authors. I was absolutely correct. I finally decided to start in New York because I was born there. Several years ago I met author Wendy Corsi Staub at a New England Book Show and have wanted to read pone of her books ever since. Hence the choice of “All the Way Home” for my first book.
Set in present day, New York, at the tip of the Adirondack Mountains, the story is based on every parent’s nightmare: a child disappearing with no trace. This was a riveting story right from the first sentence. One sister devastated and gone for ten years returns to her home to cope with her mentally ill mother and rebellious teenage sister and a healthy helping of guilt. She no sooner arrives on the scene then disappearances begin again.
There are numerous red herrings and mysterious unanswered questions: mysterious men on the street, missing food, strange smells of food cooking, and sightings by mother, a mysterious nun or two. Just amazing clues or non-clues make this a real page turner even though I missed the missed one of the most obvious.
Character development of the women in the Connolly family made sense. All three grew as the story continued. The dilemma of the new neighbors next door was also believable and their reactions to events made sense. Once it became obvious that something creepy was happening in their house, it was impossible to stop reading either when there was a babysitter or the baby was sleeping in his room.
Some reviews compared this author to Mary Higgins Clark in style. Although I can understand the thought, I have read both an find Staub to have more plot lines going on and better developed characters.
Staub who is a veteran author with more than 70 published novels. She also writes women’s fiction under the name, Wendy Markham. She is a nominee for the Mary Higgins Clark award for “Live to Tell”. She won the 2008 RT Award for Career Achievement in Suspense and numerous other awards. For additional details, visit wendycorsistaub.com.