I ran into our good reader friend Sue Q at the South Street Library the other day.
As you know, that’s not a library you go to if you’re looking for something specific. It’s more of a haven for readers. A brief escape to spend time among books. A clean well lighted place, Hemingway might call it (though no grappa is served there).
I run into Sue Q a lot at the library. Not just the one on South Street. We’re both library habitué’s. Even when I bump into her outside of one, which I do on occasion, we trade book titles and recommendations.
This time when we met up we were both empty-handed. “What should I read?” we asked each other. Sue lead me to the B’s and filled my arms full of C.J. Box detective stories. “This guy’s great. It’s about a Game Warden out in Wyoming who solves mysteries.” As we walked on towards the C’s I pulled a Jackie Collins off the shelf…remember Poor Little Bitch Girl? I handed it to Sue Q. “It’ll definitely entertain you for an afternoon,” I told her.
So we traded.
Tit for Tat.
Or, in our case, Tit for Tetons.
Out of Range by C.J. Box: It’s like comfort food. It’s meatloaf for the brain. You get what you expect. First, you meet Joe Picket, the sleuth. He doesn’t mean to find trouble. The problem is, it seems to always find him. He’s made some enemies in the past. These adversaries, and the brief summaries of the stories that came before Out of Range, are briefly described and woven into the text early on. New opponents are introduced, and the current situation explained. Things are looking up for Joe and family. After –the last book scenario here—, he and his wife and kids are on solid ground, until—the new situation here—and now things are just going to go wrong until Joe can make them right again… or die trying. And he comes close to dying. But then he doesn’t. Along the way, readers are given clues and red herrings as they try to solve the mystery along with Joe.
As far as this type of genre goes, C.J. Box is pretty good. He’s engaging and writes well. His love for the northwest part of Wyoming shows through in beautiful descriptions of the land that pepper each chapter.
I like the formulaic mystery once in a while, though I rarely read two in the same series back to back. As many variations exist as there are readers. But they all work from a similar blueprint. Diane Mott-Davidson is one of my favorites. Her P.I. is a caterer and she throws in recipes every few chapters. Delicious!
The Puzzle Lady Mysteries (Parnell Hall), about a crime solving cross word puzzle editor, provides readers with a cross word every so often. There are Sudoku mysteries too (Kaye Morgan). Today I came across the Tea Shop Mysteries, a series by Laura Childs, wherein each who-dunnit comes with tea recipes and teatime tips.
You can find a crime-solving kitties (Lilian Jackson Braun’s, The Cat Who…), a private dick priest (Ralph McInerny’s Father Dowling), a sleuthing professor (Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon), a nosey couple (The Thin Man series by Dashiell Hammet)…and on and on. For the anal-retentive murder mystery consumer, there’s even a detective who solves crimes in alphabetical order (Sue Grafton’s novels starting with A is for Alibi through W is for Wasted).
I was thinking about crime novels. Is there any walk of life that hasn’t already made the scene as a gumshoe? What can you come up with?
How about a Chemist by vocation, budding mystery writer by avocation, each crime committed with deadly compounds only he can determine.
Or an Executive Consultant who travels constantly for work and leisure finding intrigue wherever she goes. This one comes complete with mini travel logs offered every few chapters.
What about a Development Director/bird enthusiast, birdlike in his habits and intelligence, who spies more than just birds through his binoculars.
Comfort food for thought, Scramblers…