I spent precious writing time yesterday afternoon on a piece about The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens. And if you haven’t read that piece, please put the book on your “To Read” list. You won’t be sorry.
I heard about this novel and bought a copy on the recommendation of a friend with a reputation as a discerning reader. At the close of a recent book club session, she mentioned three or four titles without any further description, and I assumed solely from the title that it was a novel of manners.
As a senior citizen with so many books left to read in rapidly diminishing time, I try to be picky about my selections. I only read good fluff; the book doesn’t have to be a serious tome, but it must have something unique to offer the audience.
I don’t see myself as a mystery reader; or I didn’t until I started going through the list of all the books I’ve read since 1990. The dog-eared spiral containing the list provided an entirely different view of my reading taste. Between a credible selection of fairly well regarded books, I’ve also enjoyed my fair share of murder mysteries.
The ones I most particularly enjoy are light on the crime and heavy on the development of the various characters and their interaction with each other. Elizabeth George was particularly good at that.
The hero in a mystery must have admirable qualities; not like Gone Girl in which everyone is a schnook. It’s even better if they’re comical or period pieces or set in a unique place.
Charlotte Macleod, a British author, has written a double handful of mysteries with a dry sense of humor. Alisa Craig is another I enjoy. John Greenwood and Joan Hess have written series that are perfect for the beach or airplane. Janet Evanovich’s earlier books are also delightful.
Of course there’s an exception to every rule. I adore James Lee Burke who is scary and incredibly violent but has a fantastic command of the language; sort of a cross between Shakespeare and Al Capp.
Jasper Fforde presents mysteries from a science fiction approach. His Eyre Affair is a must read but don’t rush through it. You might miss the puns. Oh, and for those of you who’ve given birth, the villain is Braxton Hicks. Does the name ring a bell?
Every genre has its place. It’s always good to read something light and entertaining after completing a serious book.
I had an enlightening afternoon writing this piece; learned something about myself. If you decide to read any of the titles or authors I’ve suggested in this piece or if you have a particular mystery writer you’d like to recommend, please don’t hesitate to write a commentary in reply.