Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mystery, Like Life, is Like a Box of Chocolates

Gabriella Herkert, Catnapped and Doggone

How dark is too dark for reading or writing mysteries? I like my mysteries like I like my chocolate. A lot and in every imaginable darkness. My taste buds relish an eclectic range from white chocolate to bittersweet.

On days of light and happiness, I turn to a white chocolate delicacy like P.D. Wodehouse. Are Wooster and Jeeves (ok, we all know Jeeves is the brain here) on Indiana Jones’ path to the Arc of the Covenant? Heck, no. They’re looking for lost heirlooms at house parties dressed to the nines. They sip cocktails and figure out how to avoid social faux pas without ever acknowledging that WWI is happening at the same time. Sweet, delicate and not exactly chocolate but tasty all the same.

For my milk chocolate fix, I turn to Janet Evanovich. Yeah, there’s the occasional psycho boxer with a little girl’s voice and lots of funerals but they mostly end with hot men and birthday cake. For the nuts, I’ve got Lula, the former ‘ho, and Grandma Mazur. Sometimes you feel like a nut and sometimes you don’t. Both are readily available in the milk chocolate variety. These are my reliable afternoon end of the work day savories.

For my darker fix, say 70% cacao on the chocolate scale, I turn to J.A. Jance’s J.P. Beaumont or Jonathon Kellerman’s Alexander Delaware. There’s some gun play and the occasional character in need of serious psychiatric couch time but the plots are twisty and the motivations elegant. Too much of this delicacy and you might break out but what a way to go.

Ah, bittersweet. This degree of darkness must be handled with care. You don’t want to snack on these late at night or while searching the basement by yourself. You’ll be wide awake at two in the morning. But some days, you just need that little bit of extra darkness you can only get from Tami Hoag or Kathy Reichs. These are sophisticated science-heavy special occasion treats to be savored. They are both a mind and a palate sensation.

Just remember there’s no such thing as bad chocolate. On the right day, there’s a flavor to match. On any day, come to think of it.



Tana Hall said...

Gabi - I look forward to your posts. It's a great way to start a Sunday.

I'm reading Rhys Bowen right now - the Royal Spyness mysteries are like a delicate French mint!

Gabi said...

I love her, too. Can't you just imagine sleuthing in those stylish clothes?

Jen Forbus said...

I think I need to eat my candy bar that I brought today for This is a great analogy Gabi! I run the spectrum on my reading as well. Everything from Jane Cleland's Josie Prescott series to the dark depths of Dennis Lehane and Karin Slaughter.

Very fun post!

Shane Gericke said...

But Gabi, you skipped ultra-dark chocolate, 100%, with gunz and corpses and fast cars and CIA guys and stuff. Who would you choose for your 100% days?