Monday, December 14, 2020

And They All Settled Down for a Long Winter's Night

 Q: Books make wonderful gifts. What are your recommendations this year?


- from Susan


So many good books! And this is the year to read, read, read. I know my fellow Minds are sharing their own wonderful suggestions, and I am afraid that my TBR shelves will be groaning from the weight of the crime fiction books I must read. 


I’m going to do something a bit different. If you’re like me, finding a new author and a book you love is a wonderful experience. How much more wonderful when you realize the author has done this before and you can now curl up with the rest of her or his treasures? I’ve been thinking about the many times I’ve had that thrill. 


You know the big names: Michael Connolly, Sara Paretsky, Cara Black, Rhys Bowen, Sue Grafton, so many with great ongoing characters. I’ve talked before about Barbara Neely’s Blanche White series, so I will just remind you it is not to be missed. I love my fellow Minds’ series, and think they all deserve and will reward your attention. I’m including a current series, but not all the books by the other three authors here may be currently in print. However, the quest for back catalogs has become so much easier now that the online market is robust. I think the hunt is worth it for these. 


Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series. If you can, start with the first one, Maisie Dobbs (2003) and prepare to be pulled gently forward through the life of a fascinating young woman of pluck, intelligence, and great empathy. The series begins right after World War I and it’s ongoing, for which I’m so grateful.


Magdalen Nabb’s Florentine Mysteries. The first one was published in 1981 (but Soho has re-released them). They revolve around a Sicilian Carabiniere chief, Marshall Salvatore Guarnaccia, stationed in Florence. There are about 10 of them, each one distinctive in story, setting, and characters. They feel like black and white art films. I started somewhere in the middle of the series and worked in both directions and it was fine.


Jonathan Gash’s Lovejoy Mysteries. Yes, the character is deeply sexist, a thorough rogue, a bit of a crook. But he’s also a “divvy,” an antiques hunter and dealer who has a rare gift for spotting a great antique. He hangs out with some peculiar characters, and gets into serious trouble often. I went through a stage of gobbling them up and I remember the fun even though I now realize they are so not politically correct but that was then (1980s, I think).


Joe Gores’ DKA series. This is one I’m hoarding for the next time I need the lift of a series I haven’t explored fully. My late partner met Gores at a book event, was immediately hooked, loved the series, and was on me to read it. I have kept his collection on the shelf. Gores won three Edgars (three!) and this series has been called “fall down funny” by the NYT, which is serious cred. Not only that, but he lived in Marin County, as I do, and that has to count for something.


Oh, by the way, I have two rather short series and I would be failing at my stumbling promotional attempts if I didn’t mention the Dani O’Rourke Mysteries and the French Village mysteries. (Most of them are also available as audio books, if that works for you or someone you’re shopping for.)


So, there you are. Happy holidays, happy reading, and see you in 2021.













Dietrich Kalteis said...

Happy reading and happy holidays to you too, Susan.

Catriona McPherson said...

Thanks for the Joe Gores tip - new to me and definitely one to catch. Cx