I like reading mysteries. It's not so much the who-dunnit piece, though I have fun matching wits with the fictional detectives. It's not the procedures and the structure and the insight into the back rooms of the precincts or the attorney's offices that attracts me, although in the last two years I've begun to enjoy comparing their experiences to my own. It's not the twists and turn which bring me back for more; in fact, they annoy me more than they should. What draws me to these stories are the characters.
John Lescroart weaves a huge cast in and out of his novels. For a while, I tried to read the stories in order by character; it was impossible. Without reading the stories in chronological order, I was missing little bits and pieces of information which made my attempts at character study quite frustrating. James Lee Burke and Patricia Cornwell follow one family and its hangers-on; children grow up and take lovers; relationships begin and end in what feels like real time. Marcia Mueller straddles the two. Sharon McCone has so many relatives and relatives of relatives and employees who end up married to relatives that the stories weave in and out but never go very far from her office by the Bay.
I like them all. I've watched Alafair Robicheaux grow up as her dad won and lost his battles with women and alcohol and his best friend, Clete. Clete's the prototypical side-kick in modern mystery writing, or so it seems to me. He has all the bad habits a dissolute lifestyle might desire. So does Marino, Kay Scarpetta's bete noir. The alternative wing-man, the kindly landlord, is a strand followed by Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton. There are Lords and butlers and I could go on about Peter Wimsey and Richard Jury until even the most devoted of you would would click away. As I said, I like them all.
These series go on and on and on, although I am a little worried as Kinsey Mulhone moves on inexorably to Z is for.... That is another reason I love them. There is always another one on the shelf. That's also why I hate them; they are often not on the shelf. The library has to order it, the book store might not carry it, in any event, it's not in my hands right now, when I want it.
All that can serve as prologue to the topic of this post; I have a new favorite heroine, and she's in my hands whenever I want her to be. I'm in heaven.
I cured myself of playing games on my Kindle by force-feeding them to myself for a week straight. by the seventh day, the very thought of dropping bubbles or matching diamonds made me ill. I haven't played since. The device sat, unused, for a few weeks. Slowly, I began using it as a tablet, checking my email, tweeting (@ABattheBurrow, if you're interested), staying current on Facebook. TBG could watch sports all day and night; I was amused and sitting next to him at the same time. As the days got shorter, I found reading library books to be taxing on my eyes. I needed the large print volumes to read once the sun went down; a good reading lamp is on my holiday list.
Those large print tomes defeated the purpose of reading print books instead of e-books; there was no connection to the author's hand in the binding or the font or the paper quality. I turned on the Kindle and spent an hour with Susan and Oliver in their Angle of Repose and then, when I picked it up after getting a snack it had defaulted to the books homepage which was offering a free mystery, the first of twenty, the last due in February. How could I refuse?
Right now I'm on number ten, and I'm in love with the heroine, Kate Shugak. I have learned more about skinning a moose than I ever thought I'd enjoy. I have a growing sense of the geography and topography of Alaska, and I know how hard it is to slog upstream in the rain. I know this because, like Kate, I hate having wet feet. We don't like to be interrupted when we're reading. We've been known to twirl around on the top of a mountain with our arms outstretched to the sky. Dana Stabenow brings a chunk of the Bush to my Kindle with a tap of my finger.
Yes, it cost some money, and a library book would be free. I'm reminded of my mother's line about not buying green bananas, and I laugh as I admit that getting shot has damaged my ability to delay gratification. I don't want a lot, but what I want, I want now.
It's win win all over the place. I'm immersed in the story line and the characters are following me all over town. I can read without additional illumination. I have a new friend, and I'm less than half way through her saga. Best of all, the newest volume will be released in February.
Kate knew I couldn't wait much longer than that.