BOOK & BLOG
October 14, 2008
Books of the Week:
All three of these writers are writers I’ve included in this column before. LEGACY is Jeanne Stein’s third Anna Strong book, and the cover is really . . . well, I think it lets the book down. Anna is in a strange and meaningless position and has two bandoliers packed with bullets strung around her shoulders, which is certainly not something she does in the book. Anna was a strong and aggressive woman even before she became a vampire, but she doesn’t tote a huge cache of armaments around with her. Now that I’ve vented on that, all the people who’ve read the previous Anna books will want to read this one, too -- though it’s low on the action and long on the complicated relationship between Anna and the people she loved before she became a vampire; her parents, her “niece,” and her partner. Trying to conceal the truth from them seems almost silly at this point, and it’s good Anna is thinking of cutting the ties with her family.
Charlie Huston is a wonderful writer, and EVERY LAST DROP is his fourth Joe Pitt book. Joe Pitt is a vampire, too, and he’s been cast out of his beloved Manhattan. Joe’s “living” in (shudder) the Bronx, and he hates every minute of it. But as it turns out, there’s still work for him to do in Manhattan, and along the way Joe learns even more unpleasant truths about the vampire world he inhabits. In the end, it’s hard not to pity Joe. And I wonder what he’ll do next? No matter how bleak Huston’s world gets, I’m always curious about what’ll happen in the next installment.
HELL HOLE is Chris Grabenstein’s fourth John Ceepak/Danny Boyle police novel. Ceepak and Danny are investigating the murder of an Iraqi vet. The former soldier’s body is discovered in the men’s room at a rest stop on the Garden State Parkway. Danny senses something is off about the scene and takes pictures with his cell phone to show Ceepak. Though the case is not in their jurisdiction, they find some good reasons to investigate the crime. Danny is getting smarter and more disciplined; he’s definitely growing up. Ceepak’s parents are in HELL HOLE, which should make any reader scramble to buy this book. This is a consistently excellent series of mysteries.
I’ve just returned from Bouchercon, the world mystery convention. This year it was held in Baltimore. Next year it’ll be Indianapolis (2009), then in 2010 San Francisco. The year after that, St. Louis. If you’re anything of a mystery reader, this is the convention you need to attend. In any given year, a good fifty percent of the mystery writers in America are at Bouchercon, and maybe an even higher percentage than that.
I’m not talking rank and file, either. Harlan Coben, Lee Child, Dennis Lehane, Laura Lippman, Val McDermid, Laurie King, Max Allan Collins . . . I could go on and on. Wait, I think I will, to include a lot of the other writers who are my friends! Carolyn Hart, Margaret Maron, Dana Cameron, Toni L.P. Kelner, Nancy Martin, Marcia Talley, Dorothy Cannell, Deborah Crombie, Joe Konrath, Daniel Hale . . . Okay, stop me now.
I had a great time. The conference planners (Judy Bobalik, Jon and Ruth Jordan) had so many interesting panels I would have attended every one, if I’d had a free minute.
The thing you have to remember about Bouchercon, or any other important convention, is that it’s the prime business venue of the year. Not only are readers attending panels, buying things in the book room, and attending parties, but editors are meeting writers, writers are having drinks with agents, and deals are being struck between any combination of those three groups. Writers attend cocktail parties (or, if they’re lucky, dinners) given by their publishers. Agents meet with hopeful novelists who aren’t yet represented. And everyone networks like mad. This year I had to draw up a day by day list of my appointments and obligations, because my timetable got just that complicated.
After a day or two, I found myself suffering from convention-head. In this strange state, you’ve talked to so many people in such a short time that you can’t recall what you said to whom, so you find yourself repeating the same stories to the same people. Your sinuses are also in an agitated state because of the air travel and the hotel meeting rooms. Probably you haven’t gotten as much sleep as usual since you’re in a strange bed and there’s always some jerk who wants to get ice from the noisy ice machine at four in the morning. Quite possibly, you’ve had more alcohol to drink than you normally imbibe. After days of operating at a more frenetic level than normal, it’s quite a relief to check out of the hotel and resume your “off” position because at a big convention, you’re definitely “on.”
Now that I’m back home and coming down to earth, look out for news about my next venture. My friend Paula is cleaning out my book closet, and I’m having a virtual yard sale!
© 2009 Charlaine Harris