Lessons from My Reading

M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

What's the Flavor of Your Favorite Mystery

Noir or Cozy. Mysteries come in many forms. With my pessimistic nature -- "If something will go wrong or be done stupidly, it will." --, I gravitate towards the noir. Like, I found it very difficult not to go back and read O'Connell's  complete Mallory series from one to ? after reading The Chalk Girl. -- Yeah, I got them all on my overcrowded bookshelves. But, I read a cozy mystery next to cleanse my palate.

My anthropologist ears perk up when a cozy mystery creates a three-dimensional world. It may be medieval or contemporary or even futuristic, but the characters interact on some real plane that's fun to visit. Jenn McKinlay"s Due or Die doesn't disappoint.  In this second book in the series, Lindsay Norris, the new library director, must solve a mystery of the murder of an associate's abusive husband.

Yeah, be careful of your vices in cozy mysteries. They make your demise more likely. Cozy conventions don't usually allow for true, debased evil like paranormals ... but ... they still need a murder victim, red herrings, a dollop of intriguing information from the MC's "hobby", a precipitating event to send the characters into a higher level of action, and a hint of romance. Three dimensional characterization makes the mystery intriguing. Cozy mysteries also allow the reader to pat themselves on the head since they are also usually easy to solve.

If the conventions are so easy to identify, why don't I write cozy mysteries? Because, among other things, I think the genre is a hard write, especially since you need to create something new and interesting to get a major publishing deal. The writer has to juggle more than the average craft balls well.

Yeah, Jenn McKinlay does it well. She continues to expand on a well-rounded fishing community and group of friends she developed in the first novel ... without an info dump. More important she managed to nudge a little secondary character development while the MC was almost killed solving the crime.

Altogether, Due or Die was a pleasant read ... though it didn't lure me beyond my usual 11:30 bedtime.  Maybe ... three-and-a-half-stars?

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Haven't mentioned Pat, the Pet, my vowel-controlled pre-primer that's under contract, recently.  Think it's stubbed it's toe against another writer convention: micro-publishers don't have the resources that major publishing houses do.

Pat is a reprint of a self-published project which my artist and I didn't have the knowledge/resources to promote back in the 1970's. We've got the contract ... but the book needs a cover. 

Yeah, covers can be a problem. In this case, what my artist lacked is craft skills she made up in charm and intuition. Unfortunately, craft skills are easier to come by than artistry.



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