It has been such a long time since I've had a chance to read for pleasure. In the last year gunshots and recovery and a consequent lack of concentration found me, for the first time in my adult life, with no novels on my "to be read" shelf and no desire to find any to fill the spaces.
Once my brain started to function again, I found myself taking two Humanities Seminars at the UofA. Between the history of the fall of the Roman Republic and an exploration of humans' expression of consciousness I barely had time to keep up with Doonesbury. Once classes ended for the semester, I was busy with brownies and holidaze and family and taking a quiet moment for myself was out of the question.
Then, suddenly, everyone was gone and the house was back to normal and the Stroll and Roll was planned and executed and I had time. My first stop on my first regular day was the Nanini branch of the Pima County Library.
The literary gods rained ambrosia on me. James Patterson. John Lescroart. Geraldine Brooks. The first two newly published oeuvres - January 2012 means hot off the presses - and the third a novel I'd missed reviewing for BlogHer last year. I clutched them to my bosom and made a beeline for home.
I didn't check my phone messages, didn't look at email, never got the snail mail from the box out by the road. I took Mr. Patterson and Ms. Paetro, his co-author, out to the back yard and fell blissfully into the life of the world's most gorgeous and effective private investigator.
Private: #1 Suspect was a good place to start after so long a hiatus. James Patterson's plots involve me from the first page, and the characters are so well drawn that I never find myself wondering which one is married to whom and who's the lawyer and who drives the Cooper. He writes about individuals and conveys their quirks with a minimum of exposition; he defines the maxim I try to live up to: show, don't tell.
Every sigh has meaning. There is nothing extraneous. I am never tempted to skip ahead to see if anything is going to happen; something is always happening. Plus, it all happens within 2 or 3 hours of reading time. I'm blissfully unaware of my surroundings for just enough of the day. It's a Goldilocks Moment - just right.
Just as my favorite television shows have more interesting back stories than weekly plots (ie. White Collar), the loves and lives of the folks attached to Jack Morgan reappear in this second installment of the series. Their images are here on my desk as I type to you - Colleen and Tommy and the woes and worries they carry. It's telling that I'm in the middle of another novel right now and yet Private's characters are with me still.
And what might that other novel be? The Hunter is John Lescroart's latest slice of San Francisco, and it's every bit as readable as the rest of his work. Once again, the back stories are as vivid as the main plot line - couples have split, families have grown - and the characters are sitting in the black leather chair, waiting for me to stop typing and re-join them as the fog rolls in. San Francisco is every bit as much of a character as is Wyatt Hunt, another absolutely gorgeous and wildly successful private investigator. The story is told with love and care. Harshness is tempered by love in a realistic if improbable situation.
Is that possible? Can something be improbably and realistic? I'm going to cogitate on that for a while and then go back to my story. It's nice to have someone else do the heavy lifting for a while. I'm going to relax and be taken wherever Mr. Lescroart's intertwined-between-books characters want to lead me. I know I won't be disappointed.