Category Archives: Elizabeth Spann Craig

They Get So Excited*

A lot of people are very much looking forward to the upcoming holidays. Whether it’s the time off from work, visiting with loved ones and friends, the food, the presents….whatever, many people get excited at this time of year. In fact, one of the best things about the season is that eager anticipation.

We all like to have something to look forward to, if you think about it. It might be a big upcoming event, or the arrival of something you’ve ordered, or your top author’s new book, or something else. Whatever it is, that anticipation is, as they say, half the fun.

Anticipation plays a role in crime fiction, too, and that makes sense if you think about it. It’s a very human reaction to life. And it’s interesting the way authors can use that as part of the plot, or as character development.

For example, in Agatha Christie’s Death in the Clouds (AKA Death in the Air), we meet Jane Grey, a London hairdresser’s assistant. She’s won a sweepstakes lottery, and decides to take a trip to Le Pinet, as a lot of her clients do. The trip itself isn’t a bad one, although she spends
 

‘…the last two (rather disappointing) days in Paris.’
 

But it certainly doesn’t live up to the fantasy. Then on the plane trip back from Paris to London, Jane gets caught up in a murder mystery when a fellow passenger, Marie Morisot, suddenly dies of what turns out to be poison. The only possible suspects are the other people in the cabin, one of whom is Hercule Poirot. He works with Chief Inspector Japp to find out who the killer is, and it turns out that more than one of the suspects could have had a motive.

Cathy Ace’s The Corpse With the Silver Tongue begins as Vancouver professor and criminologist Cait Morgan plans a trip to Nice. A colleague had been scheduled to deliver a lecture at a conference there, but has been sidelined by an accident. So, Morgan has been tapped to deliver the paper instead. She goes to Nice, and the presentation goes as planned. Now, she’s looking forward to a few days enjoying the good food, fine wine, and pleasant climate – some ‘me’ time. That’s not how it works out, though. Instead, she gets involved in a murder case when she happens to meet up with a former employer who insists that she attend his wife’s birthday party. Morgan isn’t too thrilled about it, but finds herself going. At the party, her host suddenly collapses and dies of what turns out to be poison, and Morgan becomes ‘a person of interest.’ It certainly isn’t the peaceful, relaxing visit she’d planned.

In Linwood Barclay’s Bad Move, science fiction author Zack Walker is very much looking forward to a big move his family is planning from the city to a new suburban development called Valley Forest Estates. He’s been worried about his family’s safety in the city, and the new development boasts nice houses, safe streets, and so on. And when the family first moves in, all starts off well enough. But very quickly, things start to unravel. For one thing, Walker’s children aren’t nearly as excited as he is. They don’t like their new school, they don’t like where they live, and so on. For another, the new house isn’t all it was promised to be. Then, Walker discovers the body of a local environmentalist near a local creek. He ends up getting mixed up in a case of fraud, murder, and more. It’s not at all the lovely new home he anticipated.

Thea Farmer, whom we meet in Virginia Duigan’s The Precipice, also has a dream home in mind. She’s recently retired from her position as a school principal, and has had a home built in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. It’s her perfect home, and she’s looking forward to living there. But bad luck and some poor financial decision-making have meant that she has to sell that dream home, and settle for the house next door – a house she refers to as ‘the hovel.’ As if that’s not bad enough, Thea’s perfect home is bought by Frank Campbell and Ellice Carrington. They duly move in to the home Thea still considers hers. Then, Frank’s niece, Kim, comes to live with him and Ellice. Against all odds, Thea finds herself forming an awkward sort of friendship with the girl. So, she’s especially upset when she learns that Frank may not be providing an appropriate home for Kim. Thea tries to get the police involved, but there’s not much they can do. So, she decides to take her own action…

Hannah Dennison’s Murder at Honeychurch Hall introduces readers to TV presenter Katherine ‘Kat’ Stanford. She’s had enough of public life and media scrutiny of everything she does. So, she and her mother, Iris, have decided to go into the antique business together. Kat’s looking forward to this next part of her life, and already thinking of plans. Everything changes, though, when she gets a call from her mother. It seems that Iris has moved to the Devon village of Little Dipperton, and has bought the old carriage house on the estate of Honeychurch Hall. Shocked at this change of plans, Kat goes immediately to Little Dipperton, where she finds that her mother has broken one of her hands in a car accident. So, she decides to stay and help out until Iris can manage on her own again. That decision draws Kat into the mystery of a disappearance and a murder.

And then there’s Elizabeth Spann Craig’s Quilt or Innocence, in which we meet Beatrice Coleman. She’s retired from her position at an Atlanta art gallery, and has decided to move closer to her daughter, Piper. So, she moves to Dappled Hills, North Carolina. She’s eagerly anticipating catching up on her reading, taking time to pace herself, and stepping back from the stress of working life. But that’s not what happens. No sooner does she settle in to Dappled Hills than she gets drawn into the local life. It soon seems that every time she thinks she’ll have a few hours to herself, she gets a call, or a visitor, or…  And then one day, there’s a murder. A member of the quilting group Beatrice has joined is killed, and it’s not long before she’s drawn into the case.

And that’s how it is when a big event, or an anticipated package (or visitor), or something else is on the horizon. It’s so much fun to anticipate it, which is probably a good thing. You never know what will actually happen…

 

ps. Oh, the ‘photo? Why, yes, that is a receipt for tickets to see Paul McCartney. Talk about eager anticipation…

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from the Who’s Christmas.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Cathy Ace, Elizabeth Spann Craig, Linwood Barclay, Virginia Duigan

Maybe This Time I’ll Win*

As this is posted, it’s 123 years since Alfred Nobel’s will established what we now know as the Nobel Prizes. Today, there are six Nobel categories: Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Economic Sciences, Literature, and of course, the Peace Prize. To be a Nobel laureate is the achievement of a lifetime.

Few prizes are as valuable as a Nobel Prize, but there are, of course, lots of prizes and awards out there. And winning can be very important. So, it’s little wonder that there’s sometimes quite a lot of competition for a prize and for the recognition that goes with it. And even when there’s not a lot of obvious competition, there can be a lot of tension and suspense as people wait and wonder whether their efforts will give them the win. That tension can add a lot both to the plot of a crime novel and to the layers of character development in a novel.

The Nobel Prize for Literature figures into Karin Alvtegen’s Shadow. That novel features several generations of the Ragnerfeldt family, including Nobel laureate Axel Ragnerfeldt. An exploration of the family’s dark past and deep secrets is triggered when Gerda Persson is found dead. She had no family, so social worker Marianne Folkesson goes through her things. Marianne discovers that the dead woman’s freezer is full of copies of Regnerfeldt’s books, all dedicated to her. As the story goes on, we see how this story is tied in with the story of a man named Kristoffer, who was abandoned as a boy, and still isn’t sure who he is or why he was left alone. And we see the impact of the desire for a prize like the Nobel, and not just on the person who wants the prize.

There’s a different literary prize at stake in Teresa Solana’s A Shortcut to Paradise. That novel begins on the night that celebrated Catalán writer Marina Dolç wins the coveted Golden Apple Prize for Literature. After the awards banquet, she goes up to her hotel room, where she is later found dead. The police investigate, and soon settle on a suspect. He is fellow writer Amadeu Cabestany, who was the victim’s strongest competition for the prize, and who wanted badly to win. It doesn’t help matters that he and the victim were at odds. Nor does it help his case that, although he claims he was elsewhere at the time of the murder, he can’t prove that, and no-one at the party paid any attention to whether he was there or not. Cabestany’s literary agent hires Barcelona PIs Josep ‘Pep’ Martínez and his brother Eduard to look into the matter and try to clear Cabestany’s name if they can.

Even when a prize isn’t as prestigious as the Nobel, it can still mean high stakes (at least for the people involved). For instance, in one plot line of Douglas Lindsay’s We Are the Hanged Man, Met Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Robert Jericho is ‘volunteered’ to serve on a panel for the television show Britain’s Got Justice. It’s the last thing he wants to do, but his boss hasn’t made this optional. In the show, contestants compete as apprentice police officers. Being the winner of a reality show doesn’t, of course, have the cachet that a Nobel Prize does. But these contestants want to win. And they definitely want the fame that comes with being on TV. So, when one of them is killed, the remaining contestants are all possible suspects. Among other things this novel offers an interesting look at what it’s like to compete for a television prize.

Riley Adams (AKA Elizabeth Spann Craig) shows readers how coveted a beauty pageant prize can be in Hickory Smoked Homicide. In the novel, we meet Tristan Pembroke, wealthy and well-known beauty pageant judge and coach. She’s made her share of enemies, so when she is murdered one evening, there are several suspects. Chief among them is local artist Sara Taylor, who was involved in a dispute with the victim over one of her paintings. Sara’s mother-in-law, Lulu Taylor, knows that she is innocent. So, she decides to ask some questions to find out who the real killer is. And in the process, we learn just how important a beauty-queen prize can be, especially sometimes to the parents of the competitors.

Susan Wittig Albert’s Chili Death is, in part, the story of a hotly contested cook-off. In that plot line, Pecan Springs, Texas police officer Mike McQuaid is persuaded to serve as a judge for an up-coming chili cook-off. There’s a lot riding on this competition, so there’s tension. On the day of the event, one of the other judges, Jerry Jeff Cody, suddenly dies of what turns out to be chili that was laced with crushed peanuts, to which he was violently allergic. McQuaid’s wife (and Wittig Albert’s sleuth) China Bayles is at the cook-off and gets drawn into the investigation. And one very strong possibility is that one of the cook-off contestants was responsible for the murder. As it turns out, that murder is connected with a case of some disturbing events taking place at a local nursing home.

A prize may be as simple as a blue ribbon at a science fair contest, or as noteworthy as a Nobel Prize for Chemistry – or anything in between. Whatever the case, when a group of people all want the same thing, and that thing has value to them, there’s bound to be tension. And it’s bound to show up at some time in crime fiction.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from John Kander & Fred Ebbs‘s Maybe This Time.

 

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Filed under Douglas Lindsay, Elizabeth Spann Craig, Karin Alvtegen, Riley Adams, Susan Wittig Albert, Teresa Solana

We’re Not Quite Sure Just What We’re Dying Of*

If you’ve ever been ill, even with something relatively minor like a cold, you know how easy it is to be preoccupied about your health. And that has advantages. It’s important to take medication, especially things like antibiotics, as directed, to rest if needed, and so on.

But, like anything else, it’s possible to take that preoccupation too far. I’m emphatically not talking here of genuine chronic illness. That’s an entirely different matter. Rather, I’m talking of cases where preoccupation becomes hypochondria. In real life, it can be annoying to spend too much time with a hypochondriac. But hypochondria can add an interesting character layer in a novel. And, if it’s a crime novel, there’s just a chance that preoccupation with one’s health is justified…

In Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sign of the Four, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson investigate a strange case brought to them by Mary Morstan. Years earlier, her father returned from India to London, and arranged to meet her. But he didn’t keep that appointment and hasn’t been seen since. Not long after his disappearance, Mary began receiving a set of pearls, one each year, from an anonymous person. Holmes and Watson discover that that person is Thaddeus Sholto, the son of a friend of Morstan’s. It turns out that Sholto has some important information about what happened to Morstan, and why he’s been sending the pearls. As it happens, Thaddeus Sholto is a hypochondriac, who can go on at great length about his health (and does). Even Dr. Watson finds his medical conversations tiresome.

Agatha Christie’s After the Funeral (AKA Funerals Are Fatal) features the Abernethie family. When wealthy patriarch Richard Abernethie dies, his family members gather for the funeral and the reading of his will. During the gathering, Abernethie’s younger sister, Cora Lansquenet, says that he was murdered. Everyone else hushes her up, and even she tells the others not to pay attention to her. But the seed has been sown, and everyone wonders whether she might be right. When she herself is murdered the next day, it seems clear that she was right. Family attorney Mr. Entwhistle asks Hercule Poirot to look into the matter, and he agrees. One of the people concerned in this case is Abernethie’s younger brother, Timothy. He doesn’t attend the funeral because of ill health, and we soon learn that ill health is his status quo. He revels in his bottles of medicine, and is obsessed with his heart rate, his pulse, and so on. This hypochondria isn’t the reason for the two deaths, but it adds an interesting layer to the story.

Fans of Martha Grimes’ Inspector Richard Jury will know that his assistant, Sergeant Wiggins, is also obsessed with his health. He’s constantly concerned about whether he’s well, and he keeps himself updated on all of the latest articles about health, whether they’re from responsible sources or they’re faddish. Wiggins can be tiresome about health matters, and that annoys Jury. But Wiggins is also a skilled police officer who knows his job. So, Jury tries to keep Wiggins’ hypochondria in perspective. It’s not always easy, though…

Elizabeth Spann Craig’s amateur sleuth, Myrtle Clover, is a retired English teacher who lives in the small town of Bradley, North Carolina. She originally gets involved in solving mysteries mostly to prove she’s not ready to be ‘put out to pasture,’ although that’s what her son, the local police chief, would like. Myrtle sometimes needs a ‘sounding board’ for her ideas, or some help putting them into action. One of the people she turns to is her friend, Miles Bradford. Like Myrtle, he’s retired. His idea of retirement, though, is quite different to Myrtle’s. He’d pictured a quiet retirement, without a lot of adventure. But that’s not what happens once he gets to know Myrtle. Miles is a germaphobe, and someone of a hypochondriac, although he’s not the whiny sort. Still, Myrtle doesn’t always have patience for his more cautious approach. He makes for an interesting contrast to Myrtle’s more adventurous nature.

Of course, there are times when it’s wise to pay close attention to, and to focus on, one’s health. For instance, Gail Bowen’s Deadly Appearances introduces us to her sleuth, academician and political scientist Joanne Kilbourn. In the main plot of the novel, she happens to be present when her friend, up-and-coming politician Androu ‘Andy’ Boychuk, suddenly collapses and dies of poison. As a way of coping with her grief, she decides to write a biography of her friend. And, as she does, she gets closer and closer to the truth about what happened to him. In another plot thread, she begins to lose weight and have other signs of illness. At first, she doesn’t pay much attention, as she’s not one to be obsessed about her health. But as time goes by and things get worse, she gets concerned and seeks medical attention. At first, there aren’t any clear answers to what’s going on, and that’s scary. It’s easy to see why, in cases like this, one would start getting very preoccupied with health.

It can be annoying to spend too much time with a hypochondriac in real life. But in fiction, hypochondria can make for an interesting layer of character. And there really are people like that, so it can be credible, too. These are just a few examples. Your turn.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Hotspur’s Hypochondria.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Elizabeth Spann Craig, Gail Bowen, Martha Grimes

His Painting’s On the Wall*

We’ve all heard of world-famous paintings such as Picasso’s Guernica. Beyond their monetary value, there’s just something about certain pieces of artwork that capture the imagination – or at least, people’s attention. If you’ve ever stood looking at a piece of artwork, drawn to it, you know what I mean.

And artwork certainly plays its role in crime fiction. And we don’t just see it in ‘heist’ stories, either. Sometimes, a particular piece of art is central to a plot; sometimes it’s not. Either way, it can add an interesting layer to a story.

For instance, in Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Six Napoleons, Inspector Lestrade brings Sherlock Holmes an unusual case of vandalism. It seems that two busts of Napoleon, sold by the same shop, have been smashed. Then another is found smashed, and this time, there’s also a murder. Lestrade wonders whether the culprit is some sort of madman with a fanatical hatred of Napoleon, but Holmes guesses that’s not the case. He traces the smashed busts to their origin, and, in the end, finds out why someone would want to destroy them.

In Agatha Christie’s short story Within a Wall, famous artist Alan Everard and his wife, Isobel, host a tea party to unveil his latest work: a portrait of her. It’s technically flawless, but Everard knows it doesn’t have the passion of his earlier works. Then, one of the guests discovers a painting of Everard’s daughter’s godmother (and his muse) Jane Haworth. The contrast between the two paintings shows just how much influence Jane has had on his work, and that influence has had its consequences. Admittedly, this story isn’t really as much a crime story as it is a psychological study. But it shows how one painting can play an important role in a story. I see you, fans of Five Little Pigs

Aaron Elkins’ Loot begins as Boston art expert Benjamin ‘Ben’ Revere gets a call from his friend, pawn shop owner Simeon Pawlovsky. It seems that Pawlovsky has gotten in a new painting, and he wants Revere to tell him whether it’s valuable. Revere goes to the shop, expecting that the painting won’t be worth much. To his shock, though, it appears to be a priceless Velázquez. Revere wants to do some research on the painting, but he’s concerned for Pawlovsky’s safety if the painting is left in the shop. He asks for permission to take the painting with him while he does the research, but Pawlovsky refuses. Reluctantly, Revere leaves the painting behind. By the time he returns, Pawlovsky’s been murdered. Guilty about leaving his friend in such a dangerous situation, Revere wants to know who’s responsible for the killing. He knows that he’s not a professional detective. But he reasons that, if he can trace the painting from its last known owner to the pawn shop, he might be able to find out who the killer is. And that’s what he proceeds to do. It gets him into plenty of danger, but Revere finds out the truth.

As Bartholomew Gill’s McGarr and the PM of Belgrave Square begins, Chief Superintendent Peter McGarr of the Garda Síochána is at the scene of a murder. Antiques and art dealer William Craig has been shot, and his body has been discovered behind the building that houses his home and his shop. McGarr and his assistant, O’Shaughnessy, have just gotten started on the case when it’s discovered that one of the paintings in the shop is missing. This adds a possible motive, and McGarr wants to find out more about the painting. His wife, Noreen, works at her family’s picture gallery, and has a background in art history. So, he taps her expertise. It turns out that the research she does, and the background of that painting, prove to be important clues in this case.

An argument over a painting is an important plot point in Riley Adams’ (AKA Elizabeth Spann Craig’s) Hickory Smoked Homicide. Tristan Pembroke is a wealthy beauty pageant coach, who’s as malicious and mean-spirited as she is influential. She commissions a portrait from local artist Sara Taylor. Tristan isn’t happy at all with the result, as she feels that it doesn’t do her justice. So, she refuses to pay Sara. As you can imagine, that prompts a dispute between the two. When Tristan holds a charity art auction at her home, Sara includes the painting among the pieces that will be sold. After all, she reasons, who’s going to want to buy a portrait of someone else who isn’t world-famous? At the auction, the painting prompts another argument. Later, Tristan is found murdered, and Sara becomes the prime suspect. Her mother-in-law, Lulu Taylor (the sleuth in this series) knows that Sara’s innocent, and she sets out to find out who the real killer is.

And then there’s Gail Bowen’s The Gifted. Political scientist and academician Joanne Kilbourn Shreve, and her husband, Zack, are excited when their daughter, Taylor, is invited to include some of her work in an upcoming charity art auction. Taylor is a talented, passionate artist, and this is a real chance for her. She’s already shown her parents one of the two pieces that she will contribute. The other, which she’s called BlueBoy21, is a portrait of her muse and love interest, Julian Zentner. No-one sees that painting until it’s revealed on the night of the auction. And it turns out that that piece of artwork will have tragic consequences for more than one person.

Some pieces of art are like that. Beyond any monetary value, they have influence, appeal, or influence on their own. These are just a few examples of how plot point can play out in crime fiction. I know you’ll think of others.

 

The ‘photo is of a beautiful Joan Miró sculpture that’s displayed at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, in Madrid.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Paul McCartney’s Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me).  

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Filed under Aaron Elkins, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Bartholomew Gill, Elizabeth Spann Craig, Gail Bowen, Riley Adams

Perfect Isn’t Easy, But It’s Me*

We all know that people aren’t perfect. Most of us do some things well (perhaps even very well), and some things not very well. And, yet, there’s a myth that we ought to be perfect. We’re ‘supposed to’ do our work with no mistakes, always look perfectly ‘put together,’ and so on. There are even more myths around raising children (our perfect children are supposed to be raised perfectly).

Everyone knows that human make mistakes. Still, lots of people want to be perfect. On the one hand, there’s nothing wrong (and a lot of things right) with setting goals, wanting to improve, and so on. It’s when perfectionism takes over that it can present a problem. I got to thinking about this after reading a really interesting post by Elizabeth Spann Craig. By the way, if you haven’t read Elizabeth’s mystery series (she’s got several), you want to try them. You won’t regret it.

Elizabeth’s post had a focus on perfectionism in writing (in case you’re wondering, it’s not possible.). But perfectionism isn’t just confined to writers. And it’s not confined to real life, either. There are plenty of crime novels in which perfectionism plays a role. Here are just a few.

In Agatha Christie’s Evil Under the Sun, we are introduced to sixteen-year-old Linda Marshall. She goes with her father, Captain Kenneth Marshall, and her stepmother, Arlena Stuart Marshall, to the Jolly Roger Hotel on Leathercomb Bay for a holiday. But this isn’t a happy time for Linda. She is very much dissatisfied with her physical appearance, for one thing. She’s also got that teenage awkwardness that makes it hard for her to feel confident. Linda wishes she were perfect in appearance, grace, and so on, but she knows she isn’t. And that makes life very hard for her. It doesn’t help matters that her stepmother is a famous and beautiful actress, with all of the looks, confidence, and grace you’d expect. Linda has a lot of resentment towards Arlena, and that’s part of what makes her a ‘person of interest’ when Arlena is murdered one day. Hercule Poirot is staying at the same hotel, and he works with the police to find out who the killer is.

Talmage Powell’s short story To Avoid a Scandal features a banker named Horace Croydon. He has what he sees as the perfect life. He does his job perfectly, he has a perfect little place to live, and he’s never done anything to raise even the merest hint of a scandal. Then, he meets his boss’ cousin, Althea. After a very respectable courtship, they marry. Almost immediately, Horace sees that he’s made a dreadful mistake. Althea doesn’t serve meals on time, she doesn’t do the shopping in the ‘right’ way, and she’s made several changes to his perfect home. She doesn’t even dress properly to appear at the breakfast table. All of that’s bad enough, but one day, she goes too far. When she destroys some ciphers that Horace is working (it’s his hobby and passion), he decides he’s going to have to act. And he comes up with his own plan to solve the problem.

Karin Alvtegen’s Betrayal is the story of Eva Wirenström-Berg. She’s always wanted the ‘perfect’ suburban life, complete with white picket fence. And she thinks she has it. She and her husband Hendrik have been married for fifteen years, and they have a six-year-old son, Axel. For Eva, it’s very important to have the perfect home, the perfect marriage, and so on. Then, she discovers to her shock that Hendrik has been unfaithful. She’s devastated by this and decides to find out who his lover is. When she does, she decides to take revenge. In the meantime, we meet Jonas Hansson, who’s got his own issues. One night, he’s in a pub when Eva stops in for a drink. The two get to talking, and, soon enough, things spiral out of control for both of them. In this case, perfectionism has a very dark side.

It does in Sinéad Crowley’s Can Anybody Help Me? too. Yvonne and Gerry Mulhern and their newborn daughter move from London to Dublin, so that Gerry can take advantage of a very good job opportunity. It’s hard for Yvonne, because she doesn’t really know anyone in Dublin. And, while she’s not stupid or gullible, she has been subjected to the myth of the ‘perfect mother.’ As anyone who’s ever had a newborn knows, babies are exhausting. There’s little time to eat properly, clean the house, put together the right outfits, and so on. And there’s no magic way to get them to stop crying when you want them not to cry. Yvonne doesn’t really have a support system and feels very strongly that she doesn’t ‘measure up.’ Then, she discovers an online forum called Netmammy. It’s a chat group for new mums, and there, she finds the camaraderie and support she so desperately needs. Then, one of the other members of the forum goes ‘off the grid.’ Yvonne’s concerned enough to go to the police, but there’s not much they can do. Then, the body of an unknown woman is found in an empty apartment. It could very well be Yvonne’s missing friend. If it is, what does this mean for Netmammy? Could the other members, including Yvonne, be in danger?

And then there’s Megan Abbott’s You Will Know Me. Devon Knox has rare gymnastic talent. Her parents, Katie and Eric, want to nurture that talent, so they are only too happy to listen when gymnastics coach Teddy Balfour invites them to place her in his gymnastics coaching program. Then, a tragic hit-and-run accident (if it was, indeed, an accident) changes everything. The question is now: how far does a family go to reach the Olympics? There’s a great deal of pressure in the program to be the best – to be perfect. And that plays its role in the novel.

We all know we’re not perfect. We’re messy, flawed, nuanced human beings. But it can be easy to ‘buy’ the myth that perfect is possible. And when that happens, it can lead to trouble.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Barry Manilow, Jack Feldman, and Bruce Sussman’s Perfect Isn’t Easy.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Elizabeth Spann Craig, Karin Alvtegen, Megan Abbott, Sinéad Crowley, Talmage Powell