Monday, February 25, 2008

Take a Leap off Maiden Rock (But Don't Forget Your Parachute)

I went to Chicago recently for a writer's conference and took a book with me to read on the plane...Maiden Rock by Mary Logue. At first glance, it seemed like the perfect choice. I expected a warm and fuzzy cozy mystery, nothing too demanding, but good enough to keep me from being bored. Even the author's book flap picture was reassuring. She looks like your best friend's mom, ready to offer up a plate of cookies and a glass of cold milk. The perfect cozy, right?

Wrong. This book had me gasping for breath a third of the way into it. I wanted to rush to the end, but at the same time I was worried sick about the fate of one of the characters, so much so that I wanted to scream at her, lest she make a wrong move.

This book scared the hell out of me. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Was it the demented serial killer? The graphic gore and violence?

Nope. The horror of this book rests in the author's ability to take ordinary people, people like you and me, place them in mortal danger, and make us care what happens to them. She does it beautifully. And because we as readers know more than any one individual, we see danger coming long before the characters do. Therein lies the terror.

Maiden Rock is a traditional mystery featuring Claire Watkins, a deputy sheriff in a small midwestern town who investigates the apparent suicide of a teenage girl. But the death may not be a simple case of suicide. The supposedly safe, quiet town where Claire lives is being ravaged by a drug that is striking the community's youth like a plague. The author slowly unravels the town's secrets and we are forced to watch helplessly as first children, and then their parents, are destroyed by meth addiction and its consequences. Her descriptions of the drug's physical and emotional effects on individuals adds considerable realism to the story. Yet her sympathy for the characters (even the flawed ones) makes the tale haunting. It stays with you long after you've read the final page.

Buy this book and read it. Then let your kids read it. I promise, you won't regret it.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Mystery Genre - Does it get the respect it deserves?

I saw an interesting article in the Sunday New York Times about Joan Brady, an American author living in England, who sued a shoe factory near her home for poisoning her with toxic fumes. She was awarded $230,000 damages.

As proof that she was damaged, she presented her novel, Bleedout, a mystery thriller, and claimed it was only written because she could no longer concentrate on her 'literary' novel, which she had to abandon due to neurological damage.

So, in essence, if you write mysteries, your suffering from brain damage!

Here's the link to the article. Let me know what you think.