In The Writer's World

Earlier this year, I noted in this blog that I am committed to spending more of my reading time with indie, small press, and self-published writers. Let’s face it, we are taking up a bigger share of the market every day.

My latest discovery is Jean Erhardt. In her literary blog, Rose City Reader, Gilion Dumas quoted Erhardt’s protagonist Kim Claypoole as “going to Tara to kick Scarlett O’Hara’s butt”. I knew in a heartbeat that I’d like this Kim  character, so I took immediate measures to track down Erhardt and score a review copy of her book. As it turns out, she lives in Portland. But her mystery series opens in Tennessee where Claypoole owns a restaurant in Gatlinburg and has to take a few days off to go to Fogarty to help her mother during a financial crisis.

One thing leads to another. A murder in town has the good people of Fogarty suddenly locking their doors. Kim thinks nothing of it; the guy was a sleazebag. But then her cousin is murdered, same means, and it becomes personal. Why has murder visited her family, and what is the connection?

The book is a wild ride through redneck country replete with Kim’s pithy observations of her fellow humans and her lonely lusting after her Gatlinburg honey Nancy (who not only is Tennessee’s answer to Martha Stewart, but is also married, and a Republican to boot–“my first”, Kim confesses!). One-liners fly, and they are hilarious. Kim Claypoole is hilarious, but also the kind of real, earthy amateur sleuth who is easy to love. I look forward to the sequel, which is due out very soon!

Author William Kent Krueger moderated a mystery session I attended at the Tucson Festival of Books last March, but his reputation preceded him. His book Ordinary Graces had been nominated for the 2014 Edgar Award, and indeed won the award last week. I’m a bit late to the party on this one. Krueger has written 13 books in his Cork O’Connor mystery series set in Minnesota.

For a reader like me, this is music. I adore mystery series. (Probably that is why I currently am writing one.) Strangely, I am not starting at the beginning, but have embarked on Krueger’s 13th Cork O’Connor book, Tamarack County. Though it’s early days, I’m already comfortable with O’Connor and the members of his family. The book is very promising as is the anticipation of starting at the beginning and working my way through the series.

Ah, so many books, so little time!

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