Monday, July 27, 2009

Mystery, She Wrote

Yesterday afternoon I spent making four peach pies (making and freezing, not baking--it being 80F in the house without turning any ovens on). When you're lousy at pie crusts, as I'm (as Foghorn Leghorn would say), this takes a fair amount of time, so I asked my 8-year-old son to pick a book and read it to me. Currently I'm swept up in Julian Rubinstein's THE BALLAD OF THE WHISKEY ROBBER, which came to me highly recommended and which I recommend in turn, but I didn't feel I could ask a second-grader to read me a book featuring almost constant drunkenness and a character named Mound of Asshead, never mind all the bank-robbing.

So my son chose NATE THE GREAT AND THE SNOWY TRAIL by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. May I just say that I am a huge Nate the Great fan? Sharmat's mysteryettes are clever, hilarious, and satisfying. I love Nate's voice in the stories and the roster of familiar characters, especially the odd, cat-loving Rosamond. We had fun trying to guess the solution to the mystery, and neither one of us succeeded. Isn't that the draw of a mystery?

Actually, Mystery is one of those largely unexplored genres for me. I've read the forerunners: Wilkie Collins' THE MOONSTONE and THE WOMAN IN WHITE. I did Dorothy Sayers consecutively and all in a six-month space, but that's about it. No Agatha Christie, nothing. I've read the entire #1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY series, but those are "mysteries" in nothing but name. If I were to bone up in this genre, I wouldn't know where to begin because the bookstore shelves are bursting.

For those of you mystery readers, who are your favorite authors, and why?

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