Thursday, December 6, 2012
LUCY BURDETTE: I told you it had been a lucky cycle for getting blog ideas from JRW readers. Here's the second one this week. Denise Terry, one of the students who attended the SEASCAPE: ESCAPE TO WRITE seminar this year, mentioned that a number of years ago, her sister had given her a complete set of Agatha Christie books so she could "lighten up" her reading. And then she got hooked.
Denise also told me she has a friend who has never read a mystery. She wondered what we would recommend to a mystery virgin? I asked her to find out more about why her friend had never picked up a mystery, so we could target our suggestions.
Denise's friend said: "I don’t like scary stuff that gets into my dream life. The scariest book I ever read was Philip Margolin “Gone but not Forgotten,” which had me breathless as I read it. Really heart pounding and scared. I finished it b/c I always do, but I didn’t like being so scared. I did not get near the girl with the dragon tattoo books, again prejudiced that I’d be too scared."
So there is the challenge for today Reds. What first mystery would you offer to someone who doesn't want to be too scared? How about a reader whose TBR list has been loaded with literary classics but who might enjoy a lighter read?
RHYS BOWEN: It goes without saying that I'd recommend any book written by a Jungle Red author. If I wanted to convince someone that mysteries were not just "genre fiction"--i.e. light fluff, poorly written, as some people seem to think, I'd suggest Louise Penny, Laurie King, Margaret Maron. I think that Red Deb's books are as good as it gets for British police procedurals with great characters. If someone really wanted a good chuckle I'd recommend my own Spyness titles.
HALLIE EPHRON: Yes, goes without saying (but here I go, saying it again) all of our books are wonderfully entertaining. She could look at the lists of Agatha and Mary Higgins Clark award nominees (Never Tell a Lie and Come and Find Me were nominated for the latter) as a good start.
Classics? Definitely Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White. P.D. James's An Unsuitable Job for a Woman. Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers. The Hot Rock by Donald Westlake. Overture to Death (or anything else by Ngaio Marsh). Fer-de-lance by Rex Stout. And the list goes on...
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Oh, what a good question! And yes, Rhys--we have the whole spectrum here, right? (And with that "other woman" in the headlines, it seems like a perfect segue to my..oh, well, you know.) But for "lighter" reads, "entry" reads, how about Peter Abrahams' Chet and Bernie books, where the story
is from a dog's point of view? (written as Spencer Quinn.) They're wonderful. Julie Hyzy's "White House Chef" series is truly and intelligently funny. Catriona MacPherson's Dandy Gilver is sort of Downton Abbey meets Agatha Christie--I LOVE her books! And how about Murder on the Orient Express?
LUCY: Yes, Hank I love Julie Hyzy's White House chef series. And of course it depends on what the reader is interested in too, right? If a foodie, there are tons of fun culinary mysteries out, starting with Diane Mott Davidson and then lots of new ones. And for characters and setting, you can't go wrong with Nancy Pickard, THE SCENT OF RAIN AND LIGHTENING.
Now your turn reds. What books would you recommend to a mystery virgin?