Thursday, June 4, 2020

For Your Consideration . . .

By Catriona

Q: Do you keep a “bible” for your series characters and stories? If so, what does it look like? What does it contain? Do you use a specific program or just Word or Excel files? What do you put in it, how detailed are you?

Well, this is easy. "No." 

And that jumps up and bites me sometimes. When I was copy-editing SCOT ON THE ROCKS (Last Ditch No.3) last month, I called Lexy's ex Brandon most times except once I called him Branston. Thank God for that. Because in books 1 and 2 he is Branston. With a change of editor, no one knew that. If I hadn't accidentally used the right name it would never have been caught.

Once again, I'm a dire warning; not a shining example.

Now, with the rest of my blog allotment today . . . 

Tomorrow is the cut off for Anthony nominations at Bouchercon. And it's Pride month. And following George Floyd's murder, Black Americans are suffering grief, pain, and the extra grief and pain that comes from widespread, willful misunderstanding. 

It's not much but one thing the privileged (like me) can do in whatever little corner of the world we occupy is boost, boost, boost.

So here's my selection of some stuff I've read in the last year and some stuff I'm waiting for from Books and Crannies.

Cheryl Head's JUDGE ME WHEN I'M WRONG is the fourth Charlie Mack Motown Mystery. The first three are hard-boiled and stuffed to the brim with shady characters - yes - but for a wimp like me (who had to stop watching House of cards because there was no one to root for) the best thing is what a cracker of a woman Charlie always tries and usually manages to be. (Best e-book/PBO)

John Vercher's debut novel THREE-FIFTHS isn't exactly a basket of kittens wearing daisy-chain coronets either. But it's a story that grabs your heart, your brain and your entrails - a quick, urgent read that's got a moral centre of tempered steel. And such delicious writing. (Best first)

For a bit of comfort, how about TWISTED AT THE ROOTEllen Hart's twenty-sixth (!) Jane Lawless mystery. Twenty. Six. They are all funny, tightly-plotted, and enormously satisfying. Real "try to save for the beach and fail" books. I envy anyone who's still got them all ahead. (Best novel)

Speaking of the beach, in Rachel Howzell Hall's THEY ALL FALL DOWN a dream holiday goes wrong in a way no island getaway has ever gone wrong since Agatha Christie was reducing the head-count. And while Miriam Macy is no Charlie Mack, you can't help but kinda love her anyway. (Best novel)

Now for the mean streets. I know I've banged on about Kristen Lepionka's Roxane Weary PI series before (and you don't need to wait long for the other shoe to drop: Tracy Clark is coming) but THE STORIES YOU TELL is ah-maze-ing. Did you think "troubled hero with a drink problem and a terrible home life" was tired? Not in Lepionka's hands. (Best novel)

Tempted to lie on the floor and drum your heels in a tantrum because Shawn A.Cosby's BLACKTOP WASTELAND still isn't out? Well, Attica Locke's HEAVEN MY HOME is another trip up Highway 59 in rural east Texas, to a little lake town stuck in the past in more ways than one. BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD was awesome - that's not breaking news - but I think this one is even better. (Best novel)

And back to the city again. Chicago this time, where Tracy Clark's Cass Raines is cold, broke, and out of options in BORROWED TIME. Who could resist the question that kick-starts this terrific plot: why kill a dead man? Cass #3 WHAT YOU DON"T SEE is on its way to me from Once Upon A Crimeby the way. Today the UPS guy came. Yay! And he brought . . . a replacment charger cable. Cruel trick. (Best novel)

Finally, not eligible for Anthony nomination until next year, because it's brand new, Jessie Chandler's QUEST FOR REDEMPTION is a fresh twist on one my absolute favourite kinds of crime stories: the heist. It shouldn't be a surprise that Chandler has written a heist; her Shay O'Hanlan capers are three quarters of the way there. QUEST is all the way there and halfway back again. "Lost love and vodka" - what's not to?

Bonus! For people even more impatient than me (whining about BLACKTOP WASTELAND and scowling at UPS Joe for the charger cable) you can download Dharma Kelleher's free e-short, KISSING ASPHALT, right now. 

And then order the rest of the Jinx Ballou novels after.

Love and hugs, everyone. Despite everything, it's still Pride and it's still great that there is Pride. And this, that we're living through right now, might be - it just might be - the bitter, rotten, scraped-out, rock bottom before the beginning of change.


Finta said...

Thank you for the frabjous reading list catriona. You’re the very best person to have in anyone’s corner

Ann xox

James W. Ziskin said...

Great choices! Thanks, Catriona.