WOMEN OF MYSTERY: A Compendium of Authors # 5
Sue Grafton had a long writing career beginning with television screenplays then transitioned to mysteries with Kinsey Millhone as the gumshoe. Her Alphabet series, beginning with “A is for Alibi,” was told from the standpoint of the former insurance company investigator turned private eye in Santa Teresa, California, standing in for Grafton’s own Santa Barbara. Kinsey is the self-sufficient single woman, jeans and turtleneck kind of gal, who doggedly follows the clues, cracking wise along the way. The secondary characters, such as her neighbor/landlord and eccentric extended family, the various ex-boyfriends, and a back story weave their way through all the books giving them a strong continuity. It is hard to believe that when she published her first mystery in 1982 the idea of a female detective was something of a novelty.
For more of her books:
Dorothy Sayers, an English author, is best known for her amateur sleuth, Sir Peter Wimsey and between the two of them reinforce the tropes of the British detective novel. Although a scholar of classic and modern languages, Sayers worked for a living. Her first novel, Murder Must Advertise, had references to her time at an advertising agency where she helped create the promotional campaign for Guinness featuring zoo animals, most prominently the toucan.
This very modern job is in contrast to many of the allusions to Old Britain, its class system and the nature of relationships that are at the core of the Wimsey books. Wimsey is of course an aristocrat, lives as a gentleman, in other words doesn’t have much to do, is looked after by a ‘batman,’ basically a personal servant who assists in crime solving in addition to drawing Wimsey’s bath.
Sayers’ mysteries are intricately plotted with suspects’ actions timed to the minute, train schedules sometimes figuring in—a very British thing—and a lot of Wimsey’s patter to boot. The Nine Tailors was a revelation to me with a vivid description of the Fens in England, the sharp class distinctions and a devious solution. I’ve read it twice and can’t remember who done it and why, but there is a strange ceremony of bell ringing that figures into it. If it weren’t for Sayers, I would not know about Morris dancers, chimney pots, Maundy Thursday and many other quaint terms.
For more of Dorothy Sayers’ work click here to link to her books
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I like to highlight women writers of mystery and a fellow Tucsonan,
A. J. Flick, author of Toxic Rage, has just the background for mystery and true crime. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in journalism and her byline has appeared in numerous news websites and publications across the country, covering everything from news to sports to entertainment.
A. J. covered the case detailed in Toxic Rage, her first book, while reporting for the now-defunct Tucson Citizennewspaper. I remember following the news coverage of the shocking, convoluted yet true story of two ophthalmologists excited to be working together whose professional split ended in a tragic murder. A.J. digs deep into the psyche of each of the men and the strange legal entanglements that followed.
Since leaving daily journalism, she has been working as a freelance journalist, editor, copywriter, screenwriter and campaign communications director. She grew up in Maryland, the Philippines, Indiana and Arizona and loves living in Tucson.
Here’s the link to the book on Amazon, which has it in print, digital and audio:
WOMEN OF MYSTERY: A Compendium of Authors
As an author, I have only recently begun to read is the multiple award-winning Sujata Massey. Born in England of European and Indian ancestry, she grew up in the United States. After college and a several years in journalism, she moved to Japan to teach English and like any long residency in a different culture, the experience influenced her significantly.
Ms. Massey began her fiction career with a bang with the creation of Rei Shimura, a bicultural woman. Although many reviewers use the term bi-racial in describing her, I avoid using the term ‘race’ as an anthropologist who recognizes race as a social construct, not a biological reality. The cultural divide, however, is a real one, and Rei straddles it as an amateur sleuth—always a fun mystery trope—by upending expected stereotypes as she ferrets out the motive and murderer. The Salaryman’s Wife was the first of eleven books before she transitioned to the India themed mysteries with which I am came to find her.
In the Widows of Malabar Hill, Massey again examines the intricacies of culture, religion and gender this time in 1900s Bombay with the protagonist Perveen, a female attorney trying to make sense of wealthy man’s will. Satapur Moonstone is the second in the series and Bombay Prince is due to be released in early June.
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featuring an Indie author.
Of course, I need to start the Women of Mystery series with Agatha Christie, the Queen of Crime, due to her shaping and mastery of the genre and how prolific she was. It is estimated that approximately two billion copies of her books were sold in her lifetime and beyond as well as short stories and plays scripts. Some of her work was created at home in England, while traveling or accompanying her second husband, Dr. Max Mallowan, a noted Middle Eastern archaeologist at his excavation sites.
I wrote the first draft of DEADLY MOUNTAINS in a cave one spring in the Philippines where my archaeologist husband was working and while that might sound exotic, the drip of limestone water on my laptop was a bit of a nuisance. However, it was grounding to know that those drops of water were trying to create a stalagmite at my feet to be enjoyed by some future generations.
Knowing Christie’s extensive travels, you can pick out what in her lifetime would be exciting and for most people, out of reach experiences such as traveling on the Orient Express, visiting Egypt or vacationing in the Caribbean.
Her most famous creations were the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, the village amateur sleuth Jane Marple, and my least favorite, the couple Tommy and Tuppance who spend altogether too much time nattering at each other. The author’s sensibilities were rooted in the 1920s, 30s and 40s but her plotting was spectacular.
Next week: Sujata Massey
|New Feature Starts This Week|
|Get ready for Women of Mystery Starting this Thursday|
Just for fun, I will be posting a weekly bio featuring women mystery writers. I hope to rotate from a classic, to a modern, to an indie writer. A whole year’s worth! Let me know of requests – especially of indie writers who never get enough attention. I’ll be saving them to my website in the event you miss one.
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Why, a mystery, of course!
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|Preferences Several years ago, I went to see some action movie and the ticket seller went into a fast-talking pitch about Easter Eggs.|
I wasn’t the first time I had heard the term, but it was the first opportunity I could actually ask someone to explain.For anyone reading this who doesn’t know, it means an image, word or name imbedded in a movie or computer game like an inside joke for the viewer to discover.
I’ve got my own Easter Eggs in my mysteries and this new romance book. They are family or friends, addresses, or locations from my life. In my defense, it’s hard to create names for upwards of forty characters in each book!Take a look at Romance in the Western Desert and see if you can find yourself.
|Post from October 27, 2020|
Post from October 27, 2020
|This is fall in Southern Arizona|
|In Southern Arizona, late October is when the bougainvillea is bursting with blooms and it’s time to plant mesquite and palo verde trees for shade next summer.My winter garden will only be pots of herbs, lettuce, and arugula this year to cut fresh for dinner each night.Wait – if I’m in Arizona, why do I write about North Carolina?Nostalgia is one reason because I lived there for three years.The other is that there were so many eventful episodes when I studied primate behavior at Duke that I had to share some of them in my mysteries.Speaking of mysteries, DEADLY WOODS, is on sale Oct. 28 for only $2.99 on Amazon! And always free to Kindle Unlimited people. DEADLY WOODS Happy Reading! |
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