Good Stuff and Not

I’ve just been reading a blog that caters to political opinions. It was fairly brutal. People are understandably incensed.

Yes, I’m going to vote this year. Meanwhile, I’m trying to keep as much distance as I can from the turmoil.

Which brings me to this blog. Distraction is good.

I’ve complained so much lately about sloppy research and anachronisms that I’ve been thinking it seems only fair to mention some writers who I think really get it right.

While thinking that, I watched a new tv show a couple nights ago. Life on Mars transports a contemporary detective back into the 70’s. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I enjoyed it no end. I’d forgotten that we didn’t have computers or cell phones then. And that women in certain areas of the workplace had a tough time. And, oh, the colorful clothes and big hair. It was a pleasant walk down memory lane, as escorted by Harvey Keitel. They got the period right. I’ll revisit it again.

It’s smart to pay attention to details.

I like mysteries. Rather, I like mysteries (or any other kind of story) so long as they’re character-driven. I don’t much care for stories that sacrifice character for plot.

Among my favorites, which I’ve kept: Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus series, which I first discovered when I was in Edinburgh. Carol O’Connell’s Mallory books. Janet Evanovich’s wonderful Stephanie Plum. Greg Iles. Brian Freeman. P. J. Tracy. Elizabeth George, though I swore I’d never read another of her books after she killed off a recurring and very likeable character. I ultimately relented.

I swore off Larry McMurtry for the same reason, though he’s a wonderful writer, and about that I haven’t changed my mind. I can find enough to get emotional about just turning on the news. To go through an entire story with a wonderful main character and then have her abruptly die at the end of the story– Nope. Not for me.

Although I tried to do it once, in one of my own books. My editor wouldn’t let me. She said my readers would protest.

On my trip to Dublin this year, I discovered another local writer, Tara French. (As was the case with Ian Rankin, I found it great fun to read a novel set in a city while visiting that city.) Her first book, In The Woods, won the Edgar Award. I found a sequel, The Likeness, which is also excellent, but don’t know if it’s available here yet.

There have been other series that I liked a lot, but the authors seem invariably to eventually kill off someone I’m emotionally involved with and thereby annoy me a lot – usually it’s the recurrent love interest who bites the dust – and that’s the end of that.

I also came across, quite serendipitously (I love that word), Martin Millar’s wonderfully funny Lonely Werewolf Girl and liked it so much that I set out to find out what else he’d written. Of course I couldn’t resist a book called The Good Fairies of New York?

I’m a fan of Terry Pratchett. And Neil Gaiman. The Once and Future King has a permanent home with me, as do The Lord of the Rings and The Princess Bride. Though I’m getting tired of the paranormal phenomenon, I still have all of Laurel K. Hamilton’s books on my shelves — though I haven’t yet opened the last two yet; I’m hoping that doesn’t mean I’m finally getting tired of reading about sex – along with J. R. Ward.

Not all discoveries are serendipitous, alas. Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander is touted as a ‘bisexual Regency romance’. Expecting something along the lines of Lora-Leigh-does-Regency, I was intrigued enough to buy the book. After the first twenty pages or so, I was no longer intrigued enough to finish reading it. The lure of slightly kinky sex isn’t enough. Sympathetic characters are required.

This is the very reason I didn’t like Burn After Reading, though it did manage to make me laugh, which is more than I can say for Phyllida. I didn’t care about a single character in the entire film.

Good historical novels? Read Deanna Raybourn. Tasha Alexander. Laurel Willig’s wonderful Pink Carnation series.

So much for distraction. I just made the mistake of looking at the headlines. Palin is now accusing Obama of being a radical on abortion rights.

According to, ‘radical’ means a person who advocates fundamental political, economic, and social reforms by direct and often uncompromising methods.

Sarah Palin opposes abortion in all cases, including rape and incest, and believes Roe v. Wade should be overturned.

If the shoe fits…