Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A short time ago, Kaye Barley, crime fiction fan and blogger at Meanderings and Muses, invited Lesa Holstine, from Lesa's Book Critiques, and I to chat with her about reading and our love of mystery. So from practically coast to coast, Kaye, Lesa and I did just that. We've decided to share our chat with everyone and divided it up. The discussion starts at Meanderings and Muses, moves to Lesa's Book Critiques and I have the finale. I hope you enjoy our chat and feel free to leave your own responses to our questions in the comments area.

JEN: Kaye, I meant to mention that Robert Crais and Linda Fairstein actually hooked me on crime fiction. I had read some John Grisham and James Patterson, but it didn't motivate me to find anything else. For Robert Crais, I got a Borders email telling me about one of his books and it sounded like something interesting. Then I discovered it was a series, so I started at the beginning and never looked back. Linda Fairstein's ENTOMBED was on display at Sam's Club and I read the book jacket. The tie in to Poe intrigued me and again I learned that it was part of a series. I started FINAL JEOPARDY and have been a fan ever since.

I think most of the classics really have crime fiction at the heart of them.

GATSBY is most definitely a crime fiction novel. And I adore GATSBY, by the way.

My favorite book of all time TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is a crime novel. It's really a close relationship between the two, so the transition was actually quite easy!

Kaye, over to you...

KAYE: Lesa, speaking of Ellery Adams' Books by the Bay series - that's a series I'm enjoying quite a lot also. Another of her books that I really like is one she wrote under the name J.B.Stanley, and is called A KILLER COLLECTION. Speaking of books by the bay - Have either of you read Kathryn Wall's series featuring Bay Tanner? They take place in Hilton Head and are, I think, quite good. She's one of those writers who I think might be among the vastly under-appreciated.

She, Sharon Wildwind and Vicki Lane are three writers I'd like to see get a bit more exposure. Vicki is getting there, I think. She was a recent Anthony nominee. I wouldn't call any of them cozies, nor do they fall into hard-boiled territory. Perfectly rendered traditionals, I'd say.

Jen, you couldn't have picked better authors for your introduction into crime fiction, I don't think. I'm a huge Linda Fairstein fan, and I'd have to say I think her writing is getting stronger with each book. She's also awakened a strong interest in me for learning more about the wonderfully rich historical architecture of New York City. I had always thought of NYC as a "new" city, but not so. I had never heard of Roosevelt Island, didn't know Harlem was once a Jewish neighborhood. I learn fascinating things from her books.

LESA: I actually think Kaye just missed her turn to ask a question, so she'll have to take it the next time around. This is the perfect place for me to ask mine since we've been talking about authors we read. Author Gar Anthony Haywood asked a question on the ListServ DorothyL one day, and as far as I know, I was the only one who answere him. He and I even discussed it when we met at Left Coast Crime.

I loved the question! Who have you always meant to read, and haven't read yet?

I did answer him. I had never read Ed McBain's 87th Precinct books. I read some of his books written as Matthew Hope, but I was intimidated by the size of the 87th Precinct book series. I always thought I'd save them for retirement and start from the beginning! But, Gar and a couple other authors wrote and said, you like police procedurals. You have to read him now. I've read the first two, have the third at home, and they're right. I really like these books, and I'll read the rest. It will take me some time, but I'll get there.

So, that's my question for you. Who have you always meant to read, and haven't yet? Why not?

JEN: Wow! Since I've only really been reading crime fiction about 5 years now, this list is quite long for me. But each year I do read some of those "always meant to read" authors. Like Lesa, I have Ed McBain on my shelf waiting. One of the things that often happens with me is when I buy a book myself, it ends up at the bottom of the priority list because I didn't commit to reading it for a review and I don't have to return it to the library. That's basically the reason I haven't read Ed McBain yet.

I also would like to read John Connolly's Charlie Parker books. I've read THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS, but not the Parker novels. Declan Hughes is another. I've wanted to read his because I've heard wonderful things, and I actually requested audiobooks from the library. I'm just waiting for them to come in now.

How about you, Kaye?

KAYE: Great question!

I'm afraid the list of names of authors I should have read by now, and have
meant to, might be long and embarrassing. I remember when, not too long ago, I discovered Ed Gorman's work I was SO excited. I also had no idea that he was as well-known as he is and I was probably the last person on God's green earth to have heard of him. Shameful. Since then I've "discovered" several additional well-known (except to me, apparently) crime fiction authors. I'm betting there are still many more to follow.

Now how unbelievable is this - I've not read anything by Ed McBain either. As it happens, I have several of his 87th Precinct novels that were given to me by a friend. I better get busy with these, huh? I had no idea there were so many!

The other person I've always meant to read but haven't, is Dick Francis.

Back to you, Lesa!

LESA: Well, here's a question we haven't discussed. I know the books now that you want to read. This question might not even pertain to you, Jen, since you said you've only been reading mysteries for five years.

I guess it can pertain to you, though. You can answer it with the books you
started with then. I'm going way back in time. What were the first mysteries you read?

Before I even read Nancy Drew (and I was a fan!) I read Jerry West's Happy
Hollister series. When we went on a month long trip across country, my sister and I were each allowed to take 15 books. So, we took most of this series, 15 books each, but ones that the other person would want to read, too. I also read mysteries by an author who wrote in the 1940s, Helen Fuller Orton. She wrote books for kids such as Mystery of the Hidden Book and Mystery of the Secret Drawer. Naturally, I found those books at the library. So, I had a very early taste for mystery.

Jen and Kaye, if you want to answer that, and Jen can ALMOST wrap us up. We
still need to let everyone know what's going on in Jen's life that's mystery related.

Actually, I CAN answer this question. The first mystery I vividly remember
reading - and that I still recommend to this day - is THE WESTING GAME by Ellen Raskin. I also loved the original Boxcar Children series.

KAYE: Some of the oddest coincidences keep popping up in this conversation!
Jen, I had never heard of THE WESTING GAME or Ellen Raskin until just this past week or so. And it came up at DorothyL (my Number One spot for hearing about new books and writers), so I've it added to my on-going list of books to check out.

Lesa, isn't it funny how some things just never change? I loved this remembrance of yours about taking all those books on vacation. This year
instead of packing up a lot of books to take, I'm loading several onto my iPad.

But I'm still going to have to pack at least one or two "real" books - it just won't seem like vacation without 'em.

The first mysteries I read were Nancy Drew. I remember discovering them at the library and being so excited, but then I also remember discovering them at McCrory's on Main Street in Cambridge where I grew up. I think that's when I started collecting books; the Nancy Drews that my parents didn't buy me, my Aunt Belle did. Aunt Belle was my reading addict partner right up until she died this past November. I never went home to Cambridge without a bag full of books for her. I still have some of my old Nancy Drew books, and some of the Dana Sisters. From the girl detectives and the Hardy Boys I remember moving on to Erle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason novels. Pretty typical, I think.

Lesa, back to you. I think you have an announcement you'd like to make??

Any more questions either of you want to toss out?

LESA: Oh, I get to make the announcement? Then, I want to congratulate Jen on her Anthony Nomination for Best Website/Blog. It's quite an honor. The winners will be announced at Bouchercon in St. Louis. I got to announce it, and congratulate her, but, in her wrap-up, I'll let her tell about Bouchercon, and what else she's doing now. She has some other exciting mystery news.

And, in my wrap-up, I'll say I'm off to New York City this week. I'm going to be on a panel for librarians at Book Expo America, the annual publishing trade show. The panel is called The Great Readalike: If You Like That - You'll Love This!

A friend and I are flying in five days early. We're staying in the Theater District, and have tickets to three Broadway shows. We're having lunch one day with Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's editor. And, a true librarian geeky thing - on Saturday or Sunday we're going to the New York Public Library. That weekend only, they're giving tours of the closed stacks at the Stephan A. Schwarzman Building, the one everyone thinks of as the NYPL. And, there will be 5 foot Lego sculptures of the lions! I know. Shows I'm a true librarian, doesn't it?

So, unless Jen or Kaye have more questions, that's my wrap-up for Three Bookish Women. I'll let them wrap-up, too.

Congratulations, Jen! Well-deserved. You work really hard to have an original blog that celebrates mysteries. And, Kaye? Congratulations on your retirement that gives you more time to enjoy mysteries. Thanks for this great idea!

JEN: Thanks so much Lesa. I feel like a giddy school girl over this nomination. I'm trying to act all casual and mature, but really I jump up down and laugh at least a couple times a day still.

Lesa, you have a grand time hanging out in New York. And you might think it's a "librarian geeky thing" but I'm jealous of that tour you get to take. I, too, will be headed to BEA, but she and I will be kinda of crossing paths. Lesa will be there early and I'll be there later, as I've been invited to join a panel at the Book Bloggers Conference on the Friday after BEA. I'm looking forward to that as well as Printer's Row in Chicago the following weekend. Then I'm going to be in need of a hiatus. I think I've traveled more the first half of this year than in the last six years combined.

Bouchercon will be in September this year and will be held in St. Louis. I hope if folks are able to make it they'll do so. It's going to be an incredible celebration of mystery readers, writers, publishers, etc. Plus, I'll be interviewing Val McDermid, so come be my moral support as I interview a woman I greatly admire.

O.k., Kaye, I'll toss it back to you! This has been a real treat. Thanks for the super idea.

KAYE: Jen - HUGE Congratulations, Sweetie, on your Anthony nomination. It is well deserved and I am proud of you beyond words. Enjoy every second of all this - you earned the right to jump up and down and laugh. And if you didn't do that I'd have to give you a shake!

You guys have fun in New York and all your other travels.

I'm going to be missing all the mystery cons this year and using all our pennies for a very special vacation with Donald to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. But - I hope to be back on the trail next year and seeing both of you - Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise, as we say here in the south.

This has been a bunch of fun - thanks, gals, for taking time out of your busy schedules to have a little chat.


Kaye, Lesa and I hope you enjoyed our chat as much as we enjoyed chatting. Remember, feel free to add your own responses to the comments. We'd love for you all to join in as well.

Happy Reading!


Kaye Barley May 17, 2011 at 9:30 AM  

Jen - I just mentioned this to Lesa; between the two of you I have added a whole bunch of new book titles to my list of things to try. You have a couple of favorite authors I haven't tried yet - but I'm gonna! And soon!

This has been fun, Jen - Huge Hugs, honey!!

Beth Groundwater May 17, 2011 at 11:21 AM  

Loved the chat, you three! Thanks for sharing with us.

Lesa May 17, 2011 at 12:32 PM  

Thanks, Beth. As you can tell, we all enjoyed it. Thanks, Jen!

Debbie May 17, 2011 at 6:22 PM  

Wow....LOL. I had so much fun following this conversation. But my comments on each blog might not make sense. I LOVE Julia Spenser-Fleming!! I hope you do too now. (if it was YOU who just discovered her.)
and I've written down 7 new authors to try.
I fall in love with the characters--they come to be friends of mine.

anotherliz May 17, 2011 at 7:13 PM  

Thanks, I enjoyed your chat a lot, and found some new authors to try.

le0pard13 May 17, 2011 at 8:37 PM  

What a great conversation! But, then again I'd expect nothing less from such a great set of folk. Thanks for sharing this.

Vicki Lane May 17, 2011 at 9:33 PM  

Jen, I totally agree about most classics having a crime at their heart. I'd go farther and say that almost all fiction contains a mystery -- even if it's no more than will the boy get the girl or will the hero kill the dragon.

Kay May 17, 2011 at 10:41 PM  

This was fun for everyone. Hope you three decide to do it again. I suspect everyone added to their TBR pile a little bit.

OK, I've already congratulated you, Jen, on your Anthony nomination, but I'll do it again. And, truly, you get to interview Val McDermid. How exciting. I love her books.

Hugs to all three of you!!

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