Friday, 9 August 2013
Cosy Mystery Cravings
After a summer of reading mostly new books, then a little time spent on oldies (The Saint, Georgette Heyer and Mary Renault) I suddenly felt like indulging the craving for Cosy Mysteries that occasionally overcomes me. I didn't really, properly, discover this genre until about seven or eight years ago - just after I'd written the first Brenda and Effie novel, 'Never the Bride.' It was only then, reading my first books by Cleo Coyle, Yasmine Galenorn, Donald Bain and so on that I realised that what I'd written was actually a Cosy Mystery. (Put very simply and succinctly - small town-based, amateur sleuths, accent on the comic more than gritty realism, maybe a paranormal slant, plus a strong, catchy central conceit and a punning title.)
Yesterday I returned to Rita Lakin's series about Gladdy Gold in Florida, where she lives in sheltered housing with a whole bunch of pensioners who get together to investigate local homicides. They're like the Jewish Golden Girls and the books are hilarious - ribald (and IN LARGE PRINT, too! Which is always a bonus.) This one, 'Getting Old is the Best Revenge' is set partly on a very dangerous cruise trip the girls embark upon. It's just wonderful - one of the best of the genre I've read so far, in fact. Lakin's series might be edging up on my usual favourite, Cleo Coyle's Coffee House Mysteries (which are just a tinge darker and more dangerous, with their big-city setting and all-too believable deranged killers.)
I'm currently on with Rochelle Staab's debut, 'Who Do, Voodoo?', which is the first in a magically-tinged series set in Hollywood, and I'm enjoying it a lot. But where next? Back to the series I've left go fallow for a while? Pick up a vintage mystery or two? Of course I prefer the slightly camper, outrageous ones - those in Ngaio Marsh's idiom, perhaps more than Agatha Christie's...?
Funny thing yesterday. I was reading about an interesting manual about How-to-Write-Mysteries, in which a bunch of authors each write chapters and share experiences and hints. One of the Amazon reviewers sounded quite piqued by this. 'Yeah, there are a few instructions about how to write your own book here, but there's also a lot of irrelevant crap in which writers talk about their lives and the books they've written.'
A quote reminding me of occasions when, as a Creative Writing tutor, I idly considered whether murder might be an option.