Saturday, March 24, 2007
What I've Been Reading
It's curious how different books can be when you read them than what you expected from the back-cover blurb.
I recently discovered the work of Julia Spencer-Fleming, a really excellent mystery author. On recommendation of members of my writers' group, I read her first book, In the Bleak Midwinter. Had it not been praised by people whose judgment I trust, I would never have tried it--I would have shunned the book based on the back-cover blurb. The heroine is an Anglican priest--a woman priest--and I'd expect a book featuring a priest or minister to be preachy, to force-feed religious dogma to the reader. How wrong I was!
In the Bleak Midwinter (2002) is the only debut novel to have won six major mystery awards--according to the author's website, it "made debut history when it won the St.Martin's/Malice Domestic contest, the Dilys Award from the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association, and the Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, and Barry awards for Best First Novel." After reading it, I can say it deserved those awards.
No sooner had I finished the book than I purchased and read the second in the series, A Fountain Filled with Blood (2003), which was as good as the first book. I have the third in hand now, Out of the Deep I Cry (2004), and I'm eager to start on it. There are two more in the series after this, To Darkness and to Death (2005) and All Mortal Flesh (2006). All Mortal Flesh has been nominated for the Agatha award and also for Mystery Ink's Gumshoe award. It also made several "best of 2006" lists, including Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Library Journal.
I love to discover a good author who's already completed several books in a series, because I don't have to wait for each book. Of course, once I reach the latest book, I'm on the wait-a-year-for-the-next-one list. But at least while reading the backlist I can immerse myself in the bliss of wonderful writing.
In a few days I hope to post an entry on Spencer-Fleming's books. I want to analyze what makes her books riveting.