Thursday, July 27, 2017

Dinner with (imaginary) Friends

INGRID THOFT

There’s a standard list of questions that writers get asked. One of the favorites (it’s in the New York Times’ “By the Book” section every week) is: Which writers would you like to have dinner with—living or deceased? This question elicits interesting responses, but I think an even more interesting question is, which fictional characters would you invite to dinner?

So, who would I like to see around my dinner table? Whose brain would I like to pick? The personalities I’ve chosen are strong, so no doubt, it would be a lively evening!


James Bond (and yes, I expect him to look like Daniel Craig.)


Ian Fleming's super spy is licensed to kill, and he knows how to do everything.  Fly a helicopter?  Check. Disarm a nuclear weapon? Check.  Choose beautiful dresses for his female companions?  Check.  I’d want to hear about his adventures and near-death experiences, and I’d like to breathe in his confidence i.e. arrogance.
  


Quinn Colson



Full disclosure: I have a crush on the sheriff of Tibbehah County in Mississippi.  I know, I know, he doesn't really exist, but Ace Atkins' creation feels real to me.  The head of law enforcement in an area full of underhanded deals, backstabbing, and tangled family trees, Quinn navigates it all with a quiet strength. And biscuits. I'd like him to bring some biscuits.




Barbara Havers


Yes, she’d turn up looking unkempt, but Elizabeth George’s detective sergeant is whip smart and not afraid to speak her mind.  Often in the shadow of her handsome, nattily dressed boss, Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, Havers holds her own. Time and again, she  proves a critical member of the Met’s investigative team.


What about your dinner party?  Which fictional characters would get an invitation from you?


82 comments:

  1. Oh, what fun! I'd need a VERY big table to include everyone I'd like to invite; I'll go with Julia’s Clare and Russ . . . Hank’s Jane Ryland and Jake Brogan . . . Lee Child’s Jack Reacher.

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    1. Wonderful! May I come too? I will help cook…

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  2. Like Joan, I'd need an exceptionally large table. Starting off with the Jungle Reds' characters. Clare and Russ, Jemma and Duncan, Georgie and Darcy, Molly and Daniel, Jane and Jake, Haley and Miss Gloria, Lissie and Miss Sorrel, Fina (I have to start to get to know her), Lindsey (because I have Books Can Be Deceiving ready to go). From some other authors and books, I would want Samuel Craddock (from Terry Shames), Jamie Frasure and Clair (from Diana Gabaldon), Ruth Galloway and DCI Harry Nelson (from Elly Griffiths), DC Kathleen Doyle and DCI Michael Sinclair/Lord Acton (from Anne Cleeland), Macy Greeley (from Karen Salvalaggio), Ellie Stone (from Jim Ziskin), Kinsey Milhone (from Sue Grafton), Maggie Hope (from Susan Elia Macneal), Erica Donato (from Triss Stein), Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell (from Laurie King), Jane Steele and Timothy Wilde (from Lyndsay Faye), Ian Rutledge (from Charles Todd), Inspector Gamache and the whole village of Three Pines (from Louise Penny), Anna Blanc (from Jennifer Kincheloe), Gabriella Giovanni and Detective Sean Donovan (from Kristi Belcamino), Flavia de Luce (from Alan Bradley), Sally Lockhart (from Philip Pullman), Lacy Flint (from Sharon Bolton), Louise Rick (from Sara Blaedel), and Rose Carroll (from Edith Maxwell). I'm sure I've left some out. And, of course, I'd have to start another table for all the characters from past authors, such as Jane Eyre and Cousin Rachel and so on.

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    1. Kathy, you would need a table the size of Queen Elizabeth's! But what an amazing gathering!

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    2. Kathy, thanks for including Duncan and Gemma (I'd quite like to have dinner with them, too. And I love that among all the other wonderful characters, you chose Sally Lockhart! I love those books!

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    3. I think I'm going to need more than one table, maybe more than one room, Ingrid. Oh, Debs, I'm so happy that you Love the Sally Lockhart books, too. This past winter I ordered a new set of them because the set was in trade paperback, and I had them in mass paperback. I wanted the larger ones. I would probably go wild if I ever found them in hardback.

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  3. I'm thinking of a few old favorites. Mrs. Pollifax and her CIA boss Carstairs (and Bishop. Can't leave him out.) I'd love to meet the Bob-Whites from the Trixie Belden books. And, just to throw things really out of whack, let's add the characters from the sci fi TV series Babylon 5. That's a very large table and sure to have a very interesting dinner.

    Of course, it would have to be at least 24 hours long so I can spend time with all of my guests.

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    1. Mark, having met a number of the cast of Babylon 5, I would love to have dinner with the ones that are still alive (sadly, a number that keeps shrinking far too fast). I've met Bruce Boxleitner, Claudia Christian, Tracy Scoggins, Bill Mumy and Stephen Jackson who was the Pak'mara Ambassador. I also met J. Michael Stracyznski which was amazing for me.

      Of course, I don't know if I'd survive a dinner with Ambassador Mollari.

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    2. Mark, having met a number of the cast of Babylon 5, I would love to have dinner with the ones that are still alive (sadly, a number that keeps shrinking far too fast). I've met Bruce Boxleitner, Claudia Christian, Tracy Scoggins, Bill Mumy and Stephen Jackson who was the Pak'mara Ambassador. I also met J. Michael Stracyznski which was amazing for me.

      Of course, I don't know if I'd survive a dinner with Ambassador Mollari.

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    3. I've met Claudia Christian, but she's the only cast member I met. Bruce Boxleitner even lived in the same town as me, at least for a while, but I never ran into him.

      Definitely sad how many have passed beyond the rim. They gave us a truly amazing show.

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    4. Mark, the best five year novel for television ever.

      I wish we could post pics here, I'd put up the ones of me with the cast members.

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    6. Oh, B5 is one of my favorite shows, even though I'm not a sci fi fan, just married to one! Great characters, great arc. Great show for writers to watch for that reason. I'd like to have Stracyznski over for dinner.

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    7. I've never watched B5, but it sounds like I should! My husband and I are looking for a new series.

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    8. Ingrid, it is a great show. However, I must warn you that the first season is rather slow. But stuff that occurs in it pays off down the line.

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  4. Such a great question. Actually, I'd like to have my own protagonists at my dinner table! Imgaine the stories Cam Flaherty, Robbie Jordan, and Rose Carroll could tell me. We'll throw in Lauren Rousseau, who is apparently on an open-ended sabbatical, and Mac Almeida, who hasn't get made her debut (but is under contract to). I'd get to find out where I went wrong, and what they're planning next. ... Suddenly my writer's brain is plotting a new short story with ALL of them in it (maybe they'll be perusing a diary of Rose's, since she lived 130 years before they did).

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    1. This is genius, Edith. All you have to do is make a lovely dinner and force them to tell you what to write. :)

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  5. I'm limiting my dinner party to 6 literary guests for a total of 7 when you include me.

    First up, Robert B. Parker's Spenser - Hell, maybe I can convince him to cook.

    Second - Jon Land's Ben Kamal & Danielle Barnea

    Third - David Weber's sci-fi heroine - Honor Harrington. Since she goes everywhere with her treecat, technically Nimitz would be there as well.

    Fourth - C.J. Box's Joe Pickett - He is just someone I'd love to meet.

    Fifth - Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch.

    I purposely left out any characters written by the JRW bloggers so it didn't seem like I was sucking up.

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  6. oh, how fun!
    I'd like all the residents of Three Pines and the entire Deborah Knott family, and that's just for starters.

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  7. Aw Jay.. :-)

    I know this one! Lord Peter Wimsey. Harriet Vane. And Morse. In reality, this reality at least, maybe that wouldn't be much fun. But I would love love love to see them.
    And Jake and Jane, too… Wow, that would be weird.
    Such a wonderful question… I am going to think about it more. There are so many complicating factors :-)

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    1. Hank, truth be told while it would be rather intriguing to have dinner with various JRW characters, I think it would be even more fun to have dinner with said authors themselves.

      Provided we can find a restaurant that serves food that everyone can eat. And yes, you and Ingrid will get the first two invites, no use denying that.

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    2. awwww....that reminds me, are you thinking of going to Thrillerfest next year?

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    3. Hank, yes. I'm going to try to attend. I got an offer that will help make it possible. Now I'm working on saving money through the rest of the year and into next so that I can afford the hotel, travel, food and of course, spending money. :D

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  8. Of course, I would say the folks living in Three Pines (especially Ruth), but I would also add Vera, Tony Hill and Carol Jordan, James "Jamie" Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser and Claire Fraser, and Lucky Santangelo.

    This would be quite the party!

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    1. Jamie and Claire! Absolutely! But something terrible would happen, as it always does… Jill, I could find out where she gets her gorgeous shawls.. :-)

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    2. Ruth was the first one who came to mind for me. How to choose? Yikes.

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    3. I thought about Vera, but she can be so grumpy! Also, she probably wouldn't stay for dinner!

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  9. Good to know about the dinner of you guys and I hope that you would have shared the best ideas to make things more creative.
    Emma Charlotte | Dissertation Help

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  10. Precious Ramotswe. And Lisbeth Salander. At the same table. With a side of Hercule Poirot...

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    1. Oh good Hallie, I'm having Hercule Poirot too. Precious and Lisbeth are inspirational.

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  11. By the way, if cooking at home isn't an option, if I got to pick the fictional restaurant where we could all sit down for a meal, I'd choose The Lyme House from Ellen Hart's Jane Lawless series.

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  12. Oh, my. You are all much more adventuresome entertainers than I am. Dinner parties for the multitudes? Not me. I'd go for Italian food with Cynthia Harrod-Eagles' DI Bill Slider and his partner Joanna--mostly so Joanna and I could dish about classical music. I'd grab a salad and splurge on dessert to talk bog bodies with Ellie Griffiths' Ruth Galloway. A nice steak dinner with Susan Elizabeth Phillips' characters Annie Hewitt and Theo Harp would also probably be a hoot. I suspect afternoon tea with Lucy's Miss Gloria would be a riot, if Hayley brings cake. And if I get to pick one author, living or dead, it would definitely be Raphael Sabatini. I'll bet he has all the best dinner table stories.

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  13. I have so many I need to have several dinner parties! Here are just a few: everyone from Three Pines, Lord Peter and Harriet Vane, Lady Georgie, Maggie Hope (and friends), and Doctor Who!

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    1. You're invited, Hank! So are:

      Inspector Lewis, Sergeant Hathaway, and Dr. Hobson
      Russ and Claire
      Ellery Queen
      Sherlock (Benedict) and John
      Leroy Jethro Gibbs

      Can you imagine Sherlock and Gibbs in one place? RTFL. I definitely need to have several dinner parties.

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  14. No question in my mind that I would love to have dinner with Commissario Guido Brunetti and especially his wife, Paola whom I would hope to inveigle to cook, adding maybe Russ and Clare, Duncan and Gemma, and Kate Shugat and Jim Chopin perhaps. We could all talk about food and people and places. That is what binds me to them, the people, the places, and the food too.

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  15. May I have more than one dinner party? Because I really like to cook and have a huge dining room table. First guests would be all the characters created by the Reds, but only if they bring their writers with them. Menu to be announced but I cater to all appetites and restrictions.

    Second party I would hold in the bistro in Three Pines, catered by Gabri and Olivier. What's not to like? Of course Myrna would contribute the centerpiece bouquet. And Ruth would read to us.

    Third, considering these may not be fictional, but it's my party, would be the Holy Trinity. As I've said before, I have a lot of questions to ask upper management.

    And the last party?

    I say last because I have run out of energy and inspiration by this time.

    Hannibal Lector and Donald Trump. Hannibal could sort things out right then and there.

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    1. You can have as many dinner parties as you want, Ann! ;)

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  16. Oh, I'm sure I could come up with quite the table. Let's see:

    James Bond
    Dirk Pitt
    Hercule Poirot
    Sherlock Holmes (but he must look like Benedict Cumberbatch) and I might have to have John Watson around to keep him in check
    Jane and Jake
    Pete Adams and Zoe Chambers
    James Hathaway (from "Lewis")
    Fina Ludlow

    Is it okay to sneak my own characters in there? I keep thinking that my 18-year-old 1942 worker at Bell Aircraft (Betty Ahern, the new book I'm working on) would be overwhelmed. Then again, she's feisty, so maybe not!

    Mary/Liz

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    1. Oh, and I forgot Elouise Norton. I think she'd shock some with her language, but she'd be a hoot.

      Mary/Liz

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    2. Oh, how could forget about James Hathaway? I need to invite him, Inspector Lewis, and Dr. Hobson!

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  17. If I was inviting Sherlock Holmes to dinner, it would have to be Jeremy Brett. I should've had him on the list but his presence would be rather intimidating I think. At least for me.

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  18. I just want to have a Big Mac with Kinsey Millhone, and discuss her latest case.

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    1. That sounds perfect. And no cleanup!

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    2. Sound like that is a Fina approved meal as well.

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    3. Well, I would have to skip this particular dinner because believe it or not, I actually don't eat at MickeyD's. The last two things I ate there were egg McMuffins and the French fries. But the Styrofoam containers the McMuffins used to come in would taste better than the food item does now. And they did something to the fries that cause me to stop eating them because they tasted different in a bad way.

      I'll have to treat Kinsey, Fina, Jane and Charlie Mac to the 99.

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    4. And Kinsey's neighbor Henry. I love Henry!

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  19. Small dinner parties lead to better conversation. Jemma and Duncan, Deborah and Dwight, Peter and Harriet. Another time, I'd bring together Guido and Paola, Bruno, and the Gamaches.

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  20. I'm all for having dinner catered in Three Pines. Additional guests: Lord and Lady Hetheridge (Emma Jameson), Tai and Trey (Tina Whittle), Spencer Arrowood (Sharyn MacCrumb), Sheriff Longmire,
    Hugo Marston (Mark Pryor), Charley Davidson and Reyes (Darynda Jones), Amelia Peabody and Emerson, Sebastian St Cyr and Hero, Lord John Grey (Diana Gabaldon), Max Tudor (GM Malliet), John Madden (Rennie Airth), Dandy Gilver and Alex (Catriona McPherson), Joe Sandilands (Barbara Cleverly) and that rascal Ethan Gage (William Dietrich). Okay. That's the first seating.

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  21. I'm going for elegant men here. Lord Peter Wimsey, who was my first huge literary crush. Charles Todd's Ian Rutledge. Mark Pryor's Hugo Marston (hopefully in Paris.)
    Adding a little magical spice, Ben Aaronovitch's Inspector Thomas Nightingale. Then a shot of good-looking and dangerously magical, Aaronovitch's Peter Grant and Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden, although very bad things would probably happen. Maybe I should ask Gandalf along for the fireworks...

    And I can't leave out Ian Rankin's John Rebus.

    I see have no gender parity whatsoever here. A second dinner party to come!

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    1. I would have included Inspector Morse as long as his pints were rationed, and Ann Cleeve's Jimmy Perez except I'm not sure I would understand a word he said.

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    2. I would just ask Perez to speak slowly, and we'd mostly communicate with uninterrupted eye contact.

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  22. These answers are fattening up my TBR list! Lots of intriguing suggestions!

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  23. The girls' night out: Ian Rankin's Siobhan Clarke, Elly Griffith's Ruth Galloway, Louise Penny's Reine-Marie Gamache, P.D James's Cordelia Grey, James Ziskin's Ellie Stone, Elizabeth Peter's Vicki Bliss, Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce (in hopes that she wouldn't poison us), Ann Cleeve's Vera, and to keep us all in line and relative sober, Miss Marple, of course.

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    1. Oh, I left out Charles Todd's Bess Crawford! And Cara Black's Aimee Leduc, two of my very favorites! What a party that would be!

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  24. I'd want to go visit Deborah Knott's family and stay for a pig picking and some back porch music. Then head out across the sea to visit with Jimmy Perez in The Shetlands. Maybe drop down to see Lynley and Havers. And while there perhaps meet up with Cormorant Strike. Just a few. There's tons more. Fun!!

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    1. Pam, I'll meet you inn Shetland, and we can go from there!

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    2. In Shetland, not inn, because we'll be staying with Jimmy!

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  25. I'd like to see Peter Wimsey and Phryne Fisher size each other up over cocktails. I'd just watch.

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  26. I'd love to join Deborah's girls' night out if I could bring along Cormoran Strike's partner, Robin Ellacott, Louise Penny's Ruth Zardo, Ngaio Marsh's Agatha Troy, and Martha Grimes' Emma Graham. Miss Marple and Ruth Zardo: who wouldn't want to eavesdrop on that conversation? Some of my favorite (non-literary)
    fictional characters are Geraldine Granger, Leticia Copley, and Alice Tinker from The Vicar of Dibley. I'll sneak them in through the back door.

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  27. Love these parties!! How about afternoon tea with Miss Marple at one of those fancy past-their-prime seaside guest houses?

    I do love the idea of writers sitting down to sup with their own creations so they can delve deeper!! What would come up!??

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  28. Which fictional characters would I invite to a dinner party? Alexander McCall Smith's Isabel and Jaime from Philosophy club series, Rhys Bowen's Evan Evans, Lady Georgie and Molly (from three different series), Penny Warner's Connor Westphal from the gold country series, Deb Crombie's Gemma and her husband, Jenn's Hat Shop sisters, Susan Elia MacNeal's Maggie Hope, Ellie Alexander's Jules Capshaw from the Bakeshop series, Caroline Graham's Barnaby families from Midsomer Murders, and Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs That would be a big dinner party - LOL.

    When I was a kid, I wanted to invite Peter Rabbit and Winnie the Pooh to tea.

    Diana

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  29. There are just so many! The characters (in no specific order) from the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, the main characters from the Alienist (including Theodore Roosevelt), Anne of Green Gables, Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler, Sophie Winston and her friend Nina from Krista Davis' Domestic Diva Series, Clare Cosi from Cleo Coyle's Coffeehouse Mysteries, Agatha Christie, Nancy Drew, Mary Alice & Patricia from Anne George's Southern Sisters Mysteries, all the characters from Louise Penny's Armand Gamache series -- actually, that would be where the dinner would be -- in Three Pines ~

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    1. I seriously considered Nancy Drew, too. I would also invite George and Bess; wouldn't want to break up the trio1

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    2. Yeah, but Nancy might be annoying, right?
      How about Hermione Grainger? !
      And Lyra from The Golden Compass? We could get tender vittles for her daemon.

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  30. Had to look at my Goodreads page. This is, by no means, a definitive list: Brunneti, Wimsey, Lydia Chin, Marcus Didius Falco, Gamache, Jury, Maggie Hope, Charlotte and Thomas Pitt, Kincaid and James, and Rutledge. And I haven't even looked at the huge stack of books (admittedly not all mysteries) by my side of the bed. I am currently reading A Necessary End (Inspector Banks) by Rutledge. And these are only the mysteries.

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  31. Someone else commented on having several small dinner parties. Sounded like a great idea!

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  32. I'm late to this post-what a great thing to contemplate!!! I think I would l like to just drop in on all the dinners mentioned above!! And maybe bring Stephanie Plum and Grandma Mazur. What fun that would be. Thanks for sharing!! Debi Huff

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  33. How fascinating! I love a party or diner party that draws in wildly different guests. My super socialist neighbour with my ultra conservative former in-law. So... But intriguing as the idea is, I'm having a hard time coming up with a combo. I guess because I really do know they aren't real. Sigh. But oh, the thought (without naming authors or characters) of having the characters of Three Pines in the same space as the characters of Laura Lippman or Megan Abbott. Makes my head spin. I can't put them in my dining room, though my imagination has room for them all!

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  34. Bouchercon2017, this reminds me of the Wife Swap reality tv show.

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  36. My dinner party list - Gandalf the Grey, Ross Poldark, Lord Peter Wimsey and Steven Maturin down one side, Mma Ramotswe, Claire Fraser, Helen Lynley and Lucy Penvensie down the other. Harry Flashman at the opposite end from me. LOL!

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  37. Armande Gamache and everyone in Three Pines. Kate Shugak, Duncan and Gemma and Anna Pigeon.

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