Category Archives: Susan Wittig Albert

You Picked a Real Bad Time*

Bad TimingReading and reading experiences are often very subjective. Of course, no matter who’s doing the reading, ‘flat’ characters, stilted dialogue and cumbersome detail are signs that a book isn’t well-written. But the fact is, our impressions of a book are also affected by things such as personal taste and preference. What we think of a book is also arguably affected by when we read that book. Let me just offer a few examples from crime fiction to show you what I mean about the way timing can impact our impression of a book.

A lot of people prefer lighter reading during holidays. Somehow, lighter, cosy mysteries such as Susan Wittig Albert’s China Bayles series or comic caper novels such as Carl Hiaasen’s just seem to ‘fit’ when you’re beach reading or curled up by the fire. There are many, many examples of this kind of lighter reading, and of course, personal taste is going to figure into which novels one chooses. But there’s something about holidays and vacations that seems to invite one to read a lighter novel.

What’s interesting is what happens when you pick up that kind of novel at another time, say, when you’ve just been reading about an important social issue and you want to mull it over. Suddenly, the Bev Robitai or Simon Brett theatre-based novel that seemed so absolutely perfect…doesn’t seem that way anymore. Nothing at all has happened to the quality of those novels (I recommend both authors, by the way). They’re still interesting stories with appealing characters. What’s happened is that the timing isn’t right for them.

The same kind of thing happens with novels such as Unity Dow’s The Screaming of the Innocent or Kishwar Desai’s Witness the Night. Those are both difficult novels to read in that they deal with important but harrowing social issues. And there are times when one’s open to those more challenging stories. You might just have read an article about a certain topic, or you might have just come back from a holiday and be ready for a challenge. At those times, books like these can feel like the perfect choice. You can appreciate the message and you’re willing to invest yourself in the harder parts of the story.

But suppose you decide to try something such as Cath Staincliffe’s Split Second when you’re off on a fun trip. The same book that you might have thought of as difficult, even harrowing, but exceptionally well-written and worth reading, now becomes far too difficult to read. Now this kind of book is unutterably depressing and hard to finish. The fact is (and you already know this of course) nothing’s happened to the book’s quality at all. It’s still an excellent story with a lot of ‘food for thought’ and some compelling characters. The timing’s just wrong for the book.

Did you ever notice that when you’re planning to travel somewhere, you get quite interested in reading books that take place in your destination? I know that’s happened to me. So if you’re planning a trip to Spain you might be especially interested in Teresa Solana’s, Antonio Hill’s or Domingo Villar’s work. I’ve only mentioned a very few examples of Spanish crime fiction but you get my point. As you read those books you try to get every nuance of culture and geography you can, since you’re attuned to it.

But what if you choose a book like Keigo Higashino’s The Devotion of Suspect X when you’re having ‘one of those weeks’ and you’ve only got small amounts of reading time? Then, the very nuances of culture and geography that you love at other times can seem burdensome, or you might not pay attention to them and really appreciate them. That feeling might not have much to do with the quality of a given book. Rather, it’s the timing of your reading.

There are times when the action and suspense of thrillers such as Lindy Cameron’s Redback are exactly right. Thrillers like that can be the perfect accompaniment to a quiet evening when it’s fun to imagine what it would be like to be up against international terrorists. But maybe it isn’t the best choice if you’re not feeling well and not ready to deal with edge-of-the-seat ‘roller coaster rides.’

A ‘quieter’ sort of mystery such as you find in Nelson Brunanski’s John ‘Bart’ Bartowski series might be really appealing for those times when you have a few days to follow along and appreciate the subtler approach and more slowly-evolving story line. At those times, you can see the real appeal of character development and nuance. But pick that sort of book up when you’re waiting in an office or when you’re anxiously awaiting word on whether you got that job, and you could easily find such a novel too slow. Those details of character development that so draw you in at other times now just seem irritating. The series hasn’t changed (by the way, I recommend Brunanski’s series – I really like Bart’s character a lot). The fact is, it’s the kind of series that’s best enjoyed when you’ve got the time to ‘slow the pace down’ a bit.

And I think we’d all agree that mood plays a role too in what we think of a book. Grumpy or feeling crotchety? Virginia Duigan’s The Precipice might be the perfect fit. Need a good, irreverent laugh? Christopher Brookmyre has done some very funny novels. You get the idea.

So as we all start to plan what we’re going to read in 2014, do you think about this timing issue? Do you plan your reading so that you’ll take the lighter stuff with you on holiday for instance? Or do you adapt yourself to the book you’re reading?  What about when you start a book and then realise it’s the wrong time for that novel? Do you give up or pick it up at another time?

 

 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is the title of a Billy Joel song.

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Filed under Antonio Hill, Bev Robitai, Carl Hiaasen, Cath Staincliffe, Christopher Brookmyre, Domingo Villar, Keigo Hagishino, Kishwar Desai, Lindy Cameron, Nelson Brunanski, Simon Brett, Susan Wittig Albert, Teresa Solana, Unity Dow, Virginia Duigan

Now Everything is Oh, so Cozy*

CosiesMystery novelist and fellow blogger Elizabeth Spann Craig’s Knot What it Seams   was released in February. That’s the second in her series featuring retired art gallery professional Beatrice Coleman. And Rubbed Out, the fourth in Craig’s Memphis Barbecue series (which she writes as Riley Adams) is due to be released in less than a month. I’m very happy for her success, as I think she’s very talented. It’s also got me thinking about the appeal of cosy mysteries. They’ve been a part of the crime fiction scene for a long time, and they are consistently popular with a lot of readers. Of course, everyone likes one or another kind of novel for different reasons. But here are a few of my ideas as to why cosies are as popular as they are.

Many of them feature amateur sleuths and readers who like to identify with the protagonist find amateur sleuths especially appealing. For instance, Kerry Greenwood’s Corinna Chapman is a normal, if I can put it that way, person. She’s not a cop and frankly, she’s not even eager to investigate mysteries. She’s a baker and that’s her real professional passion. She’s also not fashion-magazine beautiful. She’s one of ‘the rest of us,’ and that makes her accessible. Of course, the series features interesting characters and solid plots too, as well as a really effective Melbourne setting. But all that aside, Chapman is a ‘regular’ person. Now, not everyone might call this a cosy series because it does get a little edgy at times, but it ‘counts’ for me. Your mileage as the saying goes may vary.

Mike Befeler’s Paul Jacobson is also an amateur – a ‘regular’ person. When we first meet Jacobson in Retirement Homes are Murder, he’s moved to a retirement home after the death of his wife Rhonda. One day he finds the body of fellow resident Marshall Tiegan stuffed into a trash chute. When the police are alerted Detective Saito takes the case and begins to investigate. Jacobson is immediately suspected for a few reasons. First, Marshall Tiegan did not exactly top most people’s popularity lists and Jacobson had good cause to dislike him. What’s more, Jacobson has severe short-term memory loss. He can’t recall on any given day what happened the day before. So he can’t explain how he came to find the body or what happened just before the murder, and he can’t provide an alibi. Jacobson knows he’s not a killer though, so he decides to investigate the murder himself in order to clear his name.

One of the most appealing things about cosies for a lot of readers is that they tend to be low on violence and even lower on gore. Of course, murder is a violent, horrible thing and a well-written cosy acknowledges that. But the violence is generally kept ‘off stage.’ That’s what we see for instance in Susan Wittig Albert’s China Bayles series. Bayles is a former attorney who now owns an herb and tea shop called Thyme and Seasons in Pecan Springs, Texas. In Chile Death, Bayles’ policeman partner Mike McQuaid is recovering from a serious line-of-fire injury that has left him in a wheelchair, probably permanently. When he’s invited to serve as one of the judges for the upcoming Cedar Choppers Chili Cook-Off, Bayles thinks this is the perfect way to help McQuaid take his mind off his troubles. He’s unwilling at first, but finally agrees. On the day of the cook-off, one of the other judges Jerry Jeff Cody suddenly dies. It turns out that he was severely allergic to peanuts, and someone put peanuts in the chili he was asked to sample. Since she and McQuaid were both on the scene, Bayles gets involved in the investigation. There are several suspects too since Cody was not only an unfaithful husband but also a shady businessperson. In the meantime, Bayles and McQuaid also look into some disturbing allegations of some things happening at the nursing home where McQuaid is recuperating. There are stories that the director may be skimming money from the patients and has been abusive with at least one resident. These stories tie in with the murder and bit by bit, Bayles discovers the connections. There is violence in the story in the sense that someone is killed. But there is no gore and the violence that there is, is ‘off-stage.’

That’s also the case with Alan Bradley’s historical (1950s) Flavia de Luce series. Flavia is a preteen chemistry whiz who lives in the village of Bishop’s Lacey. In The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie we learn that she and her two sisters are being raised by their father Colonel de Luce in the family home Buckshaw. One morning, Flavia finds a dead body in the family’s cucumber patch. It turns out that this man is the same man she saw having an argument with her father the night before and sure enough, Colonel de Luce is soon arrested for the crime. Flavia knows that her father isn’t a murderer so she decides to find out who the dead man was and who really killed him. Flavia discovers that although the dead man and her father did have a tragic past connection, there are several other people who were just as eager to see the victim killed. In this novel, we don’t see the murder as it actually occurs, and the description of the body is kept brief. And yet, there is no doubt of what happened and Bradley gives a very authentic picture of how frightening it must be to have a family member accused of murder.

Many cosy series also feature a cast of ‘regulars,’ some of whom may be eccentric, but they’re all appealing. For lots of fans of cosies, that’s a big part of their appeal. Alexander McCall Smith’s series featuring Mma. Precious Ramotswe is like that. Mma Ramotswe, Botswana’s only lady detective, is the main protagonist. But there are several other characters too, to whom fans of the series have become deeply attached. For instance, Mma. Ramotswe’s husband Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni owns Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. He doesn’t really solve cases with his wife, although she does sometimes seek his input. But his character is much-loved, and even his not-exactly-hard-working apprentices are popular ‘regulars.’ So of course is Mma. Grace Makutsi, Associate Detective with quite a lot of skill in her own right. Fans have followed the development of her character as she has evolved through the series. Also popular is Mma. Sylvia Potokwane who runs the local orphanage. There are other ‘regular’ characters too, and those who love this series are as attached to them as to anything else.

We also see that with Lilian Jackson Braun’s Cat Who… series. The main protagonist is newspaper columnist James ‘Qwill’ Qwilleran, who lives in the small town of Pickax, in Moose County, ‘400 miles north of nowhere.’ But there are several other ‘regulars’ who have become popular with fans. There’s Polly Duncan, head librarian and later bookshop owner, who is also the main woman in Qwill’s life. Then there’s Arch Riker, Qwill’s close friend and editor, and Arch’s wife Mildred. There’s also local police chief Andrew Brodie and luncheonette owner Lois Inchpot. As the series progresses, we see how the various ‘regulars’ interact with each other and with Quill, and fans have enjoyed the story arcs that feature them.

Well-written cosies of course also have believable mysteries and a solid setting too, just as any good crime fiction novel does. But for many people, the accessible protagonist, the low level of violence and brutality and the ‘regular’ characters of most cosies makes them especially appealing.

What about you? If you’re a fan of cosies, what is about them that appeals to you? If you write cosies, why did you choose that sub-genre?

 

 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Clarence Paul, Barney Ales, Dave Hamilton and Mickey Stevenson’s Once Upon a Time, made famous by Marvin Gaye and Mary Wells.

 

 

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Filed under Alan Bradley, Alexander McCall Smith, Kerry Greenwood, Lilian Jackson Braun, Mike Befeler, Susan Wittig Albert

I Trusted You Till I Learned the Score*

AbuseofTrustOne of the worst kinds of crimes, at least in terms of the scars it leaves, is the sort of crime where those in positions of a lot of trust abuse that trust and take advantage of those who are vulnerable. We see lurid stories of that sort of thing in the newspaper, on television and the Internet when, for instance, a teacher or parent abuses children, or a shady ‘charity’ bilks honest donors and worse, those for whom those donations were intended. Abuse of trust is also a major theme in crime fiction and that makes sense. First, it happens in real life so it’s realistic to have it play a role in a novel. Second, abuses of trust are fairly often crimes, and even when they stay just this side of illegal, they can lead to a strong motive for murder.

In Agatha Christie’s Cat Among the Pigeons, what starts out as a normal summer term at exclusive Meadowbank School turns disastrous when games mistress Grace Springer is shot in the school’s new Sports Pavilion. Then there’s a kidnapping. And then there’s another murder. While Headmistress Honoria Bulstrode works hard to reassure parents that their daughters are safe, many of them feel that their trust in the school has been violated and they pull their daughters out. In the meantime, one of the pupils Julia Upjohn visits Hercule Poirot, who is an acquaintance of a friend of Julia’s mother. She tells him of the events at Meadowbank and he agrees to look into the matter. In the end, the murders and the kidnapping are all related to a revolution in a Middle East country and a cache of valuable gems. And many of the events in the story happen because Miss Bulstrode has put too much trust in someone – and made her school vulnerable.

There’s a chilling example of abuse of trust in Ruth Rendell’s A Judgement in Stone. When George and Jacqueline Coverdale hire Eunice Parchman as their housekeeper, it’s obvious that they trust her with their home and possessions. And although the new housekeeper is a little eccentric, all seems to go smoothly enough at first. She certainly does her job well enough. But as we soon learn, Parchman is keeping a secret from her employers and she’s desperate to prevent them from learning it. And although she’s afraid of them on that score, she also has her share of contempt for them. When George’s daughter Melinda accidentally discovers what the housekeeper’s secret is, the result is tragic. What makes it all the more tragic is that much of what happens could have been prevented if the Coverdales hadn’t trusted the wrong person.

Susan Wittig Albert’s Chile Death also has as one of its themes the abuse of trust. Former attorney China Bayles now owns and runs an herb and spice shop called Thyme and Seasons. Her partner police officer Mike McQuaid is in a nursing home recovering from a line-of-fire shooting incident that has left him paralysed. So now he’ll have to re-think his life and his identity. Then, there are allegations of abuse at the nursing home where McQuaid is staying. There are even reports that the manager may be skimming money from the residents. Then a nursing-home employee is fired for stealing, but claims that she was framed. In the meantime, McQuaid is dealing with the major changes in his life and so is Bayles. To take him out of himself so to speak, McQuaid’s persuaded to serve as a judge for an upcoming chili cook-off. He’s reluctant to appear in public but he finally agrees. On the day of the cook-off, fellow judge Jerry Jeff Cody, an insurance executive, is poisoned. Bayles looks into the murder and discovers how it’s related to the abuses and fraud at the nursing home.

In Åsa Larsson’s The Savage Altar (AKA Sun Storm), Stockholm tax attorney Rebecca Martinsson returns to her home town of Kiruna when her former friend Sanna Strångard is accused of murder. Sanna found the body of her brother Viktor in a local church and alerted the authorities. That’s stressful enough for her but then it’s discovered that Sanna may have had a motive for killing her brother. She tells Martinsson that she’s innocent and asks Martinsson to defend her. Martinsson has her reasons for being reluctant but she agrees to take the case and begins to investigate. As she looks into the lives of the people in Viktor Strångard’s life, especially those involved in the church where his body was found, she finds quite a lot of abuse of the trust people often put in church leaders. And that strikes an all-too-familiar chord with Martinsson, whose reason for leaving Kiruna in the first place had to do with a breach of that trust.

Abuse of trust and taking advantage of those who are vulnerable plays a major role in Michael Connelly’s The Fifth Witness. Lisa Trammel’s mortgage is being held by WestLand Financial, part of WestLand National, an L.A.-based bank. When her husband Jeff leaves her, she’s no longer able to make payments on her home. The bank threatens foreclosure and she visits attorney Mickey Haller to get some help with her situation. Haller looks into the matter and finds some evidence that the bank may be engaging in fraudulent mortgage re-assignment, and he’s trying to use that abuse as the basis to re-negotiate his client’s loan and find a way to help her. Trammel has her own mental issues so instead of taking responsibility for her part in the foreclosure (she didn’t pay the mortgage or contact the bank to try to make some arrangement), she blames the bank entirely. In fact, she sets up a citizens’ action group and even pickets the bank, claiming its foreclosure policies are predatory and illegal. Then Mitchell Bondurant, the mortgage officer who was handling the Trammel account, is murdered in the bank’s parking lot. Trammel is accused of the murder and certainly she had motive. But as Haller looks into the case he finds that she wasn’t the only one. So now he has to look into the bank’s practices, Trammel’s claims of innocence and the personal relationships that Bondurant had at the bank to find out who is responsible for the murder.

Angela Savage’s PI sleuth Jayne Keeney looks into a case of abuse of trust in The Half Child. Frank Delbeck has hired Keeney to look into the death of his daughter Maryanne, who fell (or jumped, or was pushed) from the roof of the hotel where she was living. The official police report classified the death as a suicide but Delbeck doesn’t think his daughter killed herself. So Keeney travels to the town of Pattaya, where Maryanne Delbeck was a volunteer at the New Life Children’s Centre. New Life is an orphanage that also has a facility for what are called ‘boarders.’ Those are children whose mothers or fathers have not yet given them up for adoption but are unable to care for them. The idea is that the children will stay there until their parents either relinquish them or get into circumstances where they can take care of them. As Keeney begins to investigate Maryanne’s death, she discovers some evidence that there may be some serious abuses of trust going on at New Life. There are hints that parents may be being illegally coerced into releasing their ‘boarder’ children for adoption. There is even the possibility that some of the ‘boarders’ are being stolen from their parents and given to unwitting adoptive families. Did Maryanne know or suspect what was going on? If so is that why she was killed? Or did Maryanne’s personal life (which also contained secrets) have something to do with her death? As Keeney sorts out this case, we see through the eyes of some of the mothers of the ‘boarders,’ as well as through the eyes of adoptive parents, what happens when the trust we put in official institutions is abused.

Abuses of trust are perhaps all the more serious because those who are victims are often vulnerable at the start. That’s in part why they make us so angry when they happen in real life. That’s also why they can resonate so much in crime fiction.

 

 

 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Lefty Frizzell’s I Don’t Trust You Anymore.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Angela Savage, Åsa Larsson, Michael Connelly, Ruth Rendell, Susan Wittig Albert

This Night We Are Together*

Authors understand as few other people can what other authors go through and what it’s like to be an author. That’s true in just about any genre and it’s certrainly true in crime fiction. So it’s a special compliment when one author pays tribute to another in a novel or series. And it happens more frequently than you might think. I’ll just give a few examples; I’m sure you can think of others.

Many people know that Agatha Christie mentions Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes in several of her works. Christie fans will also know that she and P.G. Wodehouse admired each other’s work quite a lot. In fact Christie’s Hallowe’en Party is dedicated to Wodehouse. Murder in Mesopotamia is told from the point of view of Amy Leatheran, a nurse who’s been hired by noted archaeologist Eric Leidner. Leidner’s wife Louise has been having fears and anxieties – she even believes that someone is trying to kill her – and Leidner wants Leatheran to help allay his wife’s concerns. The couple is sharing an expedition house near a dig in Iraq so when Leatheran arrives, she meets the rest of the members of the expedition staff. The first staff member she meets is Bill Coleman; here’s how she describes him:
 

“He had a round pink face and really, in all my life, I have never seen anyone who seemed so exactly like a young man out of one of Mr. P.G. Wodehouse’s books.”
 

When Leatheran’s patient is murdered just as she had feared, Coleman becomes one of the suspects. Hercule Poirot is travelling in the area and he agrees to take some time off and find out who killed Louise Leidner and why.

Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is the story of fifteen-year-old Christopher Boone, who is particularly fascinated with Arthur Conant Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles. He imagines himself as a detective like Sherlock Holmes and he gets the chance when a neighbour’s dog is killed. Boone finds the dog and decides to find out who’s responsible. He’s even more determined when he becomes a suspect. Throughout this novel Boone and Haddon make reference to the Conan Doyle novel; even the title is a tribute.

In James W. Fuerst’s Huge we meet twelve-year-old Eugene “Huge ” Smalls. Huge has trouble getting on in school and socially even though he’s brilliant. But that’s not really important to Huge; at least that’s what he tells himself. His grandmother introduced him to Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett and those two fictional detectives are Huge’s heroes. He wants to do just what they do and he gets his opportunity when his grandmother hires him to find out who defaced the sign at the retirement home where she lives. Bit by bit Huge finds out the truth about the sign and a lot of truths about himself. As he does so he refers several times to Chandler and Hammett. It’s an interesting way to pay tribute to those groundbreaking authors.

Patricia Stoltey’s Sylvia Thorn is a former Florida judge whom we first meet in The Prairie Grass Murders. In that novel, Thorn’s brother Willie Grisseljon is paying a visit to his and Thorn’s home town in Illinois when he discovers the body of an unknown man. At first Grisseljon is suspected of being the murderer and in fact, he’s locked up for vagrancy. Thorn travels to Illinois to get her brother released and ends up getting involved in the investigation of the dead man’s murder. It turns out that this murder is related to greed, land-grabbing and corruption. Thorn is a reader and there are several references to some talented crime fiction authors in this novel and in the next Sylvia Thorn/Willie Grisseljon novel The Desert Hedge Murders. Here’s one example from The Prairie Grass Murders:
 

“A little relaxation was in order. One glass of Reisling, a slice of cheddar cheese, one chocolate truffle, a new China Bayles [the creation of Susan Wittig Albert] mystery, and a long soak in a tub full of lavendar-scented bubbles. Heavenly.”
 

Stoltey also makes reference by the way to Sue Grafton.

One of the more innovative ways in which one crime fiction author pays tribute to another is in Anthony Bidulka’s Aloha Candy Hearts. In that novel Saskatoon private investigator Russell Quant takes a trip to Hawai’i to spend some time with his long-distance partner Alex Canyon. He gets involved in a murder and a sort of treasure-map mystery when a stranger who turns out to be an archivist slips a cryptic set of clues into Quant’s luggage. When the man is later murdered, the cop who investigates the murder is Kimo Kanapa’aka, the creation of fellow crime fiction author Neil Plakcy. Michael Connelly and Robert Crais have also had their sleuths “visit” each other’s series and it’s a creative way to pay tribute to each other.

Angela Savage’s Behind the Night Bazaar includes an interesting discussion of other crime fiction. Australian private investigator Jayne Keeney lives and works in Bangkok but she frequently visits her good friend Canadian ex-pat Didier de Montpasse, who lives in Chiang Mai. The two of them share a love of books but they have different tastes. Didier prefers classics and cosies while Jayne prefers more modern, darker novels. They discuss several well-known authors such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Raymond Chandler, and Sara Paretsky and each tries to “convert” the other. It makes for a lively debate. Then Didier’s partner Nou is brutally murdered, and shortly afterwards, Didier himself is shot in what the police say was an attempt to escape them. The police report holds that Didier murdered Nou and resisted arrest when the police tried to question him. But Jayne is quickly convinced that Didier would not have killed Nou and that both men were deliberately murdered. She decides to try to find out the truth behind the murders and discovers that Didier had uncovered some very ugly truths about Chiang Mai that some powerful people do not want made public. Interestingly enough, one of the important clues in this case is a clue that Didier himself leaves for Jayne: it’s a cryptic clue that refers to a Sherlock Holmes story.

It’s a gesture of respect when authors pay tribute to each other and it’s a nod to the crime fiction fan too. I’ve only mentioned a few examples here. Which have you read and enjoyed?
 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Billy Joel’s This Night. Why did I choose this song? Because in it Mr. Joel pays tribute to Beethoven by integrating the second movement of Beethoven’s Pathétique Sonata into the chorus.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Angela Savage, Anthony Bidulka, Arthur Conan Doyle, Dashiell Hammett, James W. Fuerst, Mark Haddon, Michael Connelly, Neil Plakcy, P.G. Wodehouse, Patricia Stoltey, Raymond Chandler, Robert Crais, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, Susan Wittig Albert

A Musical Salute ;-)

Today (or tomorrow, depending on when you read this), we’re celebrating Independence Day in the U.S.. This year I’ve thought of a different sort of way to observe the occasion. I hope you enjoy :-)
 

 

I wish a happy and safe Independence Day to my U.S. readers!

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Filed under Denise Hamilton, Elizabeth Spann Craig, Gillian Roberts, Janet Evanovich, Janet Rudolph, Judith Van Gieson, Julie Hyzy, Laura Lippman, Marcia Muller, Margaret Coel, Marilyn Victor, Megan Abbott, Nevada Barr, Patricia Stoltey, Rebecca Cantrell, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, Sue Henry, Susan Wittig Albert