BOOK & BLOG
|March 4, 2007
Book of the Week: BONES TO PICK by Carolyn Haines
Right now my bookmark is in BONES TO PICK, Carolyn Hainess latest novel. Reading Carolyn Haines is a trip down memory lane for me. Carolyn, of all the writers in the world, writes about the exact place where I grew up. Theres nothing as fascinating as reading a book set in your home land, and when the writer is as good as Carolyn, its a very happy and haunting experience.
Whats the location? The Mississippi Delta, which is flat beyond belief and one of the most fertile farmlands on earth. Its beautiful in its very own way, and every time I visit my mother I have that indefinable sense of home. Slow to change, and the scene of some of the worst poverty in America, its nevertheless a magical place.
Carolyn Haines uses the Delta as the setting for her series of mysteries about Sarah Booth Delaney, a woman whos come back to her familys old home to recoup her losses. She finds Dahlia House haunted by the ghost of a black woman, Jitty, and she finds the landscape haunted by her memories. To earn her living, Sarah Booth becomes a private detective, and she acquires a partner, Tinkie.
Sarah Booth attracts a lot of attention, because she has a stubborn streak and a rebellious nature. This is very attractive to the men in Zinnia, Sarah Booths small hometown. Sarah Booths colorful love life is a recurring theme in the books. Jitty the ghost is ready for Sarah Booth to get married and have a baby, so the family can continue to live in Dahlia House. Sarah Booth is increasingly willing to do this, but shes holding out for the right man. Of course, the right man is tangled up in a very difficult marriage with a psychopath. Nothing comes easy for Sarah Booth, except investigating mysteries. In BONES TO PICK, Sarah is hired to find the murderer of a writer whos published a tell-all book about all the prominent families in the area. Quentin McGee, not only a rebel against her own society but also a lesbian, is poised to publish a second book with even more dramatic revelations. Someone has silence her forever in a gruesome way. Though Quentins lover has been arrested, there are more than enough suspects that fit the bill.
Obviously, I love this series. A switch in publishers has dramatically changed the look of the books, but a Carolyn Haines in any sort of cover is a good book. Please give these a try if you havent already.
When people ask me what I enjoy most about being a writer, the answer is easy.
I love knowing other writers.
I am an enthusiastic groupie, just like any other reader. I get just as excited finding myself on an elevator with Carolyn Haines and Dean James as any of you would, and sharing a meal with Susan McBride and Denise Swanson makes me happy as a clam. When I have a drink with Lee Child or share a moment with Rachel Caine, I feel luminous. And getting an email from E.E. Knight or Charlie Huston makes my day. Joan Hess and I talk on the phone about once a month, and I count Toni Kelner and Dana Cameron as good friends. I get to be on panels with the likes of Ken Bruen, Nancy Pickard, Parnell Hall, and S.J. Rozan. I talk to Laurell K. Hamilton and MaryJanice Davidson. I hug Elaine Viets and Harlan Coben. Steve Brewer, Daniel Hale, and I belong to the Arkansas Mafia.
Im afraid I could go on and on, and with the slightest bit of encouragement, I will. I am a Name Dropper and not at all ashamed of it.
In an unglamorous profession, this is the glittery part. Writers dont necessarily talk about writing when theyre together. They do talk about sales, and editors, and their latest work, especially when a deadlines looming. Some writers retreat to their rooms at conferences, and work when theyre not on panels. But not me. Im sitting in the lobby schmoozing with friends. Most writers are good conversationalists. Theyre funny, sarcastic, quick-thinking, and occasionally cutting.
After all, what do we do for a living? We shut ourselves away in rooms, wearing pajamas or jeans or sweats, and we think while our fingers hit the keyboard. Its only right that we enjoy ourselves when we gather. A writers life is a solitary one. After all, a day after the conference is over, well be back at our word processors, all by ourselves. No one to impress, and the only fun well have is the fun we create.
I think its okay that we enjoy each others company so much. Its like letting the monkeys out of their cages.
© 2009 Charlaine Harris