Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Just Bragging

Critical Praise for Damned If You Don't

"I liked spending time with Hannah Fox, Anita Page's warmly human and admirably hardheaded heroine in DAMNED IF YOU DON'T (L&L Dreamspell). Hannah is a woman who looks at life with both rueful humor and intense sympathy for those who suffer. She's funny and smart, full of well-reasoned opinions and an awareness that she might be nuts. Although very conscious of her flaws, Hannah accepts herself and others with generosity of spirit. And the creature that returns this most consistently, in this mystery driven by complex human beings, is her dog, Brooklyn. Hannah is glad for the solace." --Susan Weinstein,

"In a mystery of this sort believable and sympathetic characters are a must and this is one of Ms. Page’s strengths. Along with Hannah, a fully realized well rounded character who never falls into triteness, Page has particularly believable adolescents, who act like real kids not small adults. If I had one quibble it was keeping track of the many minor characters. Despite that quibble this is a first mystery with an intelligent plot and an appealing heroine and a satisfying resolution."--Ron Smyth, The GenReview

And more words of praise for Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices

If you love New York, you’ll be thrilled about this collection of tales written by
members of the New York/Tri-State chapter of Sisters in Crime. Like the city it honors, this collection has it all and will satisfy even the most well read. The crimes take place in lots of NY locales, not just Manhattan, though it gets a great share of the stories. The characters are many and varied and give a real flavor of the diversity the city encompasses. As will all anthologies, the styles are as different as the contributors. This collection brings some happy moments with old favorites as well as with some newcomers. The stories range from the gritty realistic variety to some with ghostly or even vampiric flights of imagination. This is not a hit or miss anthology. Every entry is top notch. --Mysterical-e

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Writing Strong Women

Yesterday I talked with Sylvia Dickey Smith on Writing Strong Women, her blogtalkradio show. In preparation for the show, Sylvia sent a list of probing questions about my protagonist, Hannah Fox. I thought I knew this woman, but as I told Sylvia, her questions helped me get to know Hannah even better. You'll find the interview here.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Patti Abbott dedicated this week's Forgotten Book Friday to Donald Westlake, in celebration of Hard Case Crime's publication of his last book, The Comedy is Finished. Westlake, who died in 2008, wrote more than 100 books. My review of Trust Me On This was included in Patti's roundup.

Trust Me On This (Mysterious Press, 1988)

Reporter Sara Joslyn, driving down a deserted road on the way to her new job, passes what looks like a body hanging out of a car. She makes a U-turn, because she is, after all, a reporter, and discovers that the person halfway out of the car is better than dead—he’s been murdered. First day on the job and she’s going to walk in with a story about a man with a bullet in his brain.

Poor Sara. She fantasizes accolades when she presents her discovery to her new editor, Jack Ingersoll, but instead gets: “On what series is he a regular?”

As you may have guessed, this isn’t The New York Times. It’s the Weekly Galaxy, a supermarket tabloid with a hunger for celebs and a very relaxed attitude toward truth in journalism. Forget the body, Jack tells Sara, and assigns her instead to a piece on the beer and potato chip diet.

Sara will eventually do some sleuthing, and Westlake pulls off a nice suspenseful climax, but the murder is an afterthought. We’re here to hang out in a newsroom where editors pace their squaricles—taped lines on the floor delineating walls and doors—trying to stay alive and earn their enormous salaries by pitching stories like “Jogging Causes Nymphomania” and “Desperate Aliens Search for Rogue Planet Earth.”

The characters are an appealing mix of evil, lunatic and charming: the despot publisher whose office is an elevator; the three perpetually drunk Australians known as the Down Under Trio; Sara and Jack, whose initial antipathy guarantees that they’ll end up together.

And then there are the wildly comic scenes that read like something out of a Marx brothers movie. Here’s a glimpse of the Down Under Trio in the Veterans’ Bar & Grill:

“The sight of a fairly respectable-looking, neatly dressed in suit and tie, fifty-one-year-old Australian leaping about the bar, up onto chairs and back down onto the floor, suitcoat tail flying, hand firmly holding drink as both hands pretended to be tiny kangaroo paws boxing, the whole while honking, was so captivating that everybody had to do it, beginning with the retirees and finishing with the widows.”

In the end, the murder is solved, of course, and Jack and Sara go off into the sunset, but you’ll be glad to know you can meet up with them again in Westlake’s Baby, Would I Lie?

Part of this review ran previously at Women of Mystery.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I came across T.C. Boyle's 2006 novel TalkTalk in the library recently, and was immediately hooked. Boyle's highly-charged language and the story of a deaf woman whose identity has been stolen make for a thrilling read. Read more today at womenofmystery.