Thursday, March 21, 2013

Trouble on the Doorstep

Trouble on the Doorstep is now available! I have to work on the large print version. Same humor, a bit more reality because of the hurricane. I didn't think I could ignore the damage, given that the books are set at a NJ beach. In the first book, I placed Ocean Alley near Asbury Park, which is about 80 miles north of where Sandy c
ame ashore. (ebook)  (ebook in many formats) (paperback) Barnes and Noble (ebook)

There are descriptions with the books, or on my web site ( Here is a really short one:
From Hurricane Sandy to Cozy Corner B&B repairs to Aunt Madge's wedding in three weeks. If Jolie can handle that surely she can deal with a sobbing woman who shows up at midnight playing a scary message on a cell phone. Between burning muffins for guests, appraising houses, and murder Jolie may be in above her head. The police, best bud Scoobie, & boyfriend George think so. And maybe the murderer.

If someone would like a review copy, let me know.
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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Memories of Sea View Secret

Director of the annual Magna Cum Murder Conference, Kathryn Kennison, asked conference friends to write a few sentences about their favorite childhood book. Mine was "Sea View Secret," a short mystery by Elizabeth Kinsey. It features children who move to a new town and become friends with two children staying with (or maybe being raised by) an elderly aunt.The aunt is about to be evicted from the family home because she can no longer afford it.

My most vivid memory is of a large cast-iron stove that makes the house unbearably hot. And the mystery, of course, which the kids solve.

I have searched for this book many times.Thanks to Internet retailers, there are now a few copies available (which I won't buy for $40). My memories were confirmed, and I won't spoil the reading experience in case it is reissued and you can read it to children in your life.

What made the book so special? I believe it is because it depicts ordinary children who accomplish something important. They are not super heroes and do not have extraordinary resources. They use their wits.

A generation that likely can search the Internet by age four might not be impressed. It would be their loss.

(Update: My sister found this book for much less than $40, and it is now on my shelf!)
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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pacing through the Years

Our perception of time -- more particularly how quickly we should be able to get what we want -- evolves. Wait to talk to a friend until we get home and use a phone that is wired into the wall? Ridiculous. We complain if it takes a few extra seconds for a mobile phone to place a call. None of this answering machine business. If we can't reach someone via phone it's time to text. Email is soooo last century.

Mysteries have changed, too. There's always a puzzle to solve, but the amateur sleuth of today rarely ponders clues during a walk in the garden or a train ride. Even the detectives of old operated at more of a Jessica Fletcher pace than a Jason Bourne race. When I think of a thriller a few decades old it's Alfred Hitchcock's work that comes to mind, and he kept us on the edge of our seats without the protagonist having to leave a room--or a chair.

My thoughts about pacing became more focused when the Women of Murder Book Club of Muncie read Wilkie Collins' Woman in White, which was issued in the mid-1860s. I groaned my way through the first 100 pages, sticking with it only because we were going to discuss it the next night. Then my husband read about it on a web site (something I never do when I start an unknown book). I don't know that this was exactly what he read, but here's the gist:

The Woman in White is credited with being the first of the sensation novels, and one of the finest examples of the genre. A young woman's husband defrauds her of her fortune, her identity and eventually her sanity. She is saved by her sister and a loyal man who loves her, and her two rescuers attempt to expose her husband. They meet a woman dressed all in white whose fate seems curiously intertwined with that of the young woman. In the tradition of the sensation novel, the story contravenes boundaries of class, identity and the private and public spheres.  (This is what Barnes and Noble said in promoting its issuance of a classic edition of the book.)

Without saying so, my husband's message was more or less, gee, maybe you should be quiet and keep reading.

I got quieter, and by the last 150 pages was reading to see how the book ended because I really cared. I cannot say it was easy to follow every clue, because some of them were buried in the lengthy internal dialogue of the time. However, patience is a trait I keep trying to develop, so The Woman in White was a lesson in its acquisition.

 It's still not a pace I care to read too often, but I came to want to learn more about the author enough that I took Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone out of our local library. T.S. Eliot describes it as, "The first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels."  It is long, but it grabbed me more at the beginning, so I will read it and try to be quiet about it.
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