Category Archives: Stuart Kaminsky

But We Do Our Own Thing, And We’re Having Fun*

Throughout much of history, there’ve been social and professional groups that haven’t conformed to what the rest of society was doing. I’m not talking here of religious groups; to me, that’s a different matter. Rather, I mean groups who have a unique professional or social (sometimes both!) culture that can set them apart from ‘the rest of us.’

Groups like that can become insular; but even when they don’t, they generally have their own sort of culture and unwritten rules. And that can make it a challenge for ‘outsiders,’ who might not understand that culture and those rules. Such groups can make for really interesting additions to a crime story, though. When the story’s done effectively, readers can learn a little about a different sort of lifestyle. And the author can add some tension as members of this sort of group get mixed up in murder cases.

The acting community (stage or screen) has traditionally been thought of in this way. In fact, there was a time when actors were expected to stay to themselves and weren’t welcomed elsewhere.  Even today, the acting community has its own culture.

Agatha Christie explored that culture in several of her stories. For instance, we get a peek at it in After the Funeral. In that novel, wealthy patriarch Richard Abernethie dies, and his family gathers for the funeral. Afterwards, Abernethie’s sister, Cora Lansquenet, says that he was murdered. At first, everyone hushes her up. But, when she herself is murdered the next day, it seems that she was right. The family attorney, Mr. Entwhistle, asks Hercule Poirot to investigate, and he agrees. Two of the ‘people of interest’ in the case are Abernethie’s niece, Rosamund Shane, and her husband, Michael ‘Mick.’ They are actors, and, as Mick says, they’ll be able to produce their own play with their share of their uncle’s inheritance. As Entwhistle and Poirot spend time with them, we get a look at the acting world, the way it works, and some of its priorities.

We get an even closer look at the sometimes very unconventional world of film acting in Stuart Kaminsky’s Toby Peters novels. Peters is a Los Angeles- based PI who once worked on the security staff of Warner Brothers’ Hollywood film lot. So, he’s very familiar with the acting and film cultures. And his knowledge gives him insight into the cases he investigates. The series takes place in the 1940’s, during the ‘Golden Age’ of the Hollywood mega-studios like Warner Brother and MGM. And several of the characters with whom he interacts are actual historical figures, such as Errol Flynn and Judy Garland. B.C. Stone’s novels featuring real-life star Kay Francis as the sleuth also shed light on this era.

The culture of other entertainers, such as magicians and carnival artists, is also often non-conformist and quite different to what most of us are accustomed to in our own lives. Elly Griffiths shows us that culture in her Max Mephisto/Edgar Stephens series. This series takes place in the 1950s, and features Stephens, who is a Detective Inspector (DI). His old friend, and wartime (WWII) fellow soldier is a magician named Max Mephisto. Mephisto is a member of the ‘carnival culture,’ and he travels and performs on the seaside resort circuit. As such, he’s a very helpful resource for Stephens, whose lifestyle is a little more conventional. And in the novels, readers get the chance to see what life is like for ‘carneys’ who don’t stay in one place long, and whose friends are mostly others who are in the same life.

In one plot thread of Kate Ellis’ The Merchant House, we get the chance to know a little more about another unique culture: the travellers’ culture. Travellers don’t always conform to the rest of society. Instead, they have their own ways of doing things, and their own expectations. We learn a little about this life when the body of a young woman is discovered at Little Tradmouth Head, Tradmouth. Detective Sergeant (DS) (later Detective Inspector (DI)) Wesley Peterson and the Tradmouth CID team begin to investigate. After a time, the trail leads to a group of travellers that has set up camp in the area. One of these people is Chris Manners, who may have some information on the victim. With him lives a little boy named Daniel. And that means that Social Services takes an interest. When the Social Services representative, Lynne Wychwood, visits, she has to handle the matter carefully. This is a different community, with its own ways of living, that don’t always conform to what others think ‘should’ happen. Her visit to the travellers doesn’t solve the murder. But it does give some insight into the travellers’ lives. You’re absolutely right, fans of Claire McGowan’s The Lost.

And then there’s the surfer community that we meet in Don Winslow’s novels about Boone Daniels, The Dawn Patrol and The Gentleman’s Hour (there’s also Rogue Ride, a short story featuring Daniels). Boone Daniels is a former San Diego police detective who’s become a PI. In reality, though, he’s a dedicated surfer who’d much rather be on his surfboard than on a case. He and his friends, whom he nicknames the Dawn Patrol, spend as much time surfing as they can, and, as we get to know them (and Daniels), we learn about the surfing community. It’s a unique group of people who, quite deliberately, don’t conform to the larger society. And they like it that way. In fact, in The Dawn Patrol, Daniels comments on how much he resents the Beach Boys for calling a lot of attention to surfers and the surfing community:
 

‘So many people moved to the SoCal coast, it’s surprising it didn’t just tilt into the ocean. Well, it sort of did; the developers threw up quick-and-dirty condo complexes on the bluffs above the ocean, and now they’re sliding into the sea like toboggans.
 

In a lot of ways, Daniels and his friends would far rather have been left outside of ‘regular’ society.

Not every community conforms to what ‘the rest of us’ might expect. On the one hand, that can make such groups seem unusual at best. On the other, it adds to their distinctiveness, and can make this sort of group an interesting context for a novel.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from the Waffle Stompers’ Garage Ska.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, B.C. Stone, Claire McGowan, Don Winslow, Elly Griffiths, Kate Ellis, Stuart Kaminsky

He’s Gonna Save My Reputation*

People’s reputations sometimes matter a great deal. After all, most people don’t want others gossiping about them. And, of course, reputation has a lot to do with how one’s perceived at work. The wrong reputation can get a person fired, not promoted, or not hired in the first place. It stands to reason, then, that people do a lot to protect their reputations.

Sometimes, people do a lot to protect another person’s reputation too, especially if that someone else is a friend or loved one. And that’s just as true in crime fiction as it is in real life. For instance, there are plenty of crime novels in which a character doesn’t provide an alibi for a crime, because that alibi might compromise someone else. Protecting someone’s reputation can add motive, character development, and even a plot point to a crime novel. Here are just a few examples; I know you’ll think of plenty of others.

We see that sort of gallantry in Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles. In that novel, Captain Hastings visits an old friend, John Cavendish, who lives at his family’s home, Styles Court, with his wife, Mary, his brother, Lawrence, his stepmother, Emily Inglethorp, her husband, Alfred, and her ward, Cynthia Murdoch. Cynthia becomes a ‘person of interest’ when Emily Inglethorp is poisoned. She was present at the time, she worked in a dispensary (and so, had the requisite knowledge), and she’d been told that she would be provided for in the victim’s will. The family doesn’t want a scandal, so they’re reluctant to have any sort of investigation. But Hastings learns that his friend, Hercule Poirot, is in the area. He persuades the family to engage Poirot’s services, and the investigation begins. When Cynthia learns that there is no financial provision for her, she isn’t sure what she’ll do. At that time, and in that place, a respectable young lady doesn’t live on her own. And Cynthia doesn’t feel she can stay on at Styles Court. What’s more, she’s been mixed up in a murder investigation – enough to tarnish any young lady’s reputation. Hastings decides to try to protect her by proposing marriage. It’s not spoiling the story to say that things don’t work out that way, but it’s an interesting example of wanting to protect someone’s reputation. You’re right, fans of Dorothy L. Sayers’ Strong Poison, that’s a similar sort of situation.

In Stuart Kaminsky’s Bullet For a Star, we are introduced to Los Angeles PI Toby Peters. He is a former security guard at Warner Brothers Studio, so he knows the Hollywood industry. That’s in part why producer Sid Adelman wants his help with a case of blackmail. It seems that famous star Errol Flynn (the book takes place in 1940) was photographed with a very young girl, and someone is threatening to release that photograph to the press and public. That, of course, will ruin Flynn’s reputation, and his bankability. Adelman wants to protect both, so he’d decided to pay the blackmailer. He wants Peters to deliver the money and collect the photograph and the negative. Peters agrees and goes to the appointed meeting place. But while he’s there, someone kills the blackmailer, steals Peters’ gun, and takes the print and the negative. Now, Peters has to get the photograph and negative back. He also has to clear his name, since his gun was used in the murder.

Catherine O’Flynn’s The News Where You Are introduces readers to TV presenter Frank Allcroft. He’s doing well at his job, he has a solid marriage, and a good relationship with his eight-year-old daughter. But he’s reached a sort of crossroads in his life, and he doesn’t feel settled. What’s more, he’s dealing with the death of his predecessor, friend, and mentor, Phil Smedway, who was killed in a hit-and-run incident while he was out jogging. Allcroft’s restlessness draws him to the scene of Smedway’s death, and he notices some things. The road is straight and wide – plenty of room for even an impaired driver to swerve and avoid a pedestrian. The death happened during daylight, too, so it would have been easy to see Smedway. Now, Allcroft gets curious about what really happened, and starts to ask questions. And he finds that wanting to preserve a reputation plays a role in the story.

Zoë Ferraris’ Finding Nouf takes a different perspective on preserving someone’s reputation. In the novel, Palestinian-born Nayir ash-Sharqui works as a desert guide in the Jeddah area of Saudi Arabia. He gets drawn into a murder investigation when his friend, Othman ash-Shrawi, asks him to find out what happened to his sixteen-year-old sister, Nouf. It seems that Nouf went missing and was later found dead in a wadi. Othman wants to know what happened to her, and Nayir agrees to look into things. In the process of seeking answers, he meets Othman’s fiancée, Katya Hijazi, who is a medical examiner. As the two work to find out the truth, we learn how important reputation is in this culture, especially for women. For instance, women do not go out without a male family member or ‘official’ male escort. And they’re expected to dress and act in accordance with the very traditional Islamic culture of the area. Any whispers that they are doing otherwise can have all sorts of consequences. So, Katya has to be very careful about where she goes, whom she speaks to, and so on. She is less conventional in her thinking than Nayir is, but she understands what the risks are. At one point in the novel, the two of them are walking when they are approached by a man:
 

‘‘In the name of Allah, and Allah’s peace be upon you, Sir, pardon me, but your wife is not properly veiled.’’
 

Nayir has to think quickly in order to protect Kaya’s reputation. Here’s his response:
 

‘Nayir frowned, ‘Are you looking at my wife?’ he asked. The man opened his mouth, but Nayir interrupted. ‘She’s my wife,’ he shouted. ‘You’d better have a good excuse for staring at her!’
The man took a step back. ‘Apologies, brother, but you understand it’s a matter of decency.’
‘That’s no excuse.’ Nayir moved closer with a menacing squint. ‘Don’t you have your own wife to worry about?”
 

The ruse works, and Katya is spared any humiliation.

Brian Stoddart’s Christian ‘Chris’ Le Fanu is a police superintendent in Madras (today’s Chennai) during the 1920s – the last years of the British Raj. As the series begins, he is separated from his wife, who lives in England, He shares his home with his housekeeper, an Anglo-Indian named Roisin McPhedren. He’s in love with Roisin, and she with him. But in that place, and at that time, a public relationship is out of the question. If word of it gets out, she won’t be able to find any sort of respectable work. And his career is at risk. One story arc in this series is the way each of them protects the other’s reputation.

The way other people see us, and the reputations we have, do matter. So it’s little wonder we care about those perceptions. And it’s little wonder that we work to protect the reputations of those who matter to us.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer’s My Boyfriend’s Back.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Brian Stoddart, Catherine O'Flynn, Dorothy L. Sayers, Stuart Kaminsky, Zoë Ferraris

Your Name’s Not Down, You’re Not Coming In*

You probably see them without even thinking about it. They’re there when you go to clubs, certain places such as museums, tourist attractions, and sometimes government buildings. Yes, I’m talking about security people.

They really do play an important role in our lives, if you think about it. It can be annoying to have your handback searched or have to empty your pockets when you go to a major sporting event. But at the same time, many people argue that security procedures keep everyone safer. If you go to a nightclub, it’s good to know you can shout for security if there’s a problem.

Security people play a part in crime fiction, too. And that makes sense. Their role is to prevent trouble if they can and stop it if it starts. So, they develop the ability to ‘read’ people and watch for early ‘warning signs.’ Those ‘warning signs’ and that trouble are often the focus of crime novels, so it’s a fairly logical match. There are lots of examples in the genre; there’s only room in this one post for a few of them.

One of Stuart Kaminsky’s most popular series features Toby Peters. Fans can tell you that Peters started out as a security guard for Warner Brothers Studio (the series takes place in the 1940s). He was fired from the position and has since become a private investigator. Still, the various big studios see him as a ‘known quantity,’ and so do the Hollywood stars with whom Peters interacts as the series goes on. So, they often turn to him when there’s trouble. And Peters knows the town and the studios, so he’s got the background he needs to do the job.

There’s an interesting instance of private security in Robert Colby’s novella No Experience Necessary. Glenn Hadlock has recently been released from prison and is looking for a new start. It’s not easy, though, as plenty of places won’t hire an ex-convict. So, he pays attention when he sees an advertisement for a bodyguard/escort. It seems that wealthy Victor Scofield is looking for personal security for his wife, Eileen. He himself is disabled and can’t leave his home. But he doesn’t want to restrict his wife. So, he’s hit on the idea of hiring someone to provide security and be a chauffeur/escort. Hadlock gets the job, and all starts out well enough. The work isn’t difficult, Eileen Scofield is pleasant company, and the pay and benefits are good. But Hadlock learns soon enough that there’s more going on here than it seems, and he’s in much more danger than he imagined.

In Tony Hillerman’s Hunting Badger, we are introduced to Deputy Sheriff Teddy Bai. He works part time as a security officer in a casino on the Ute Reservation. One night, the casino is robbed by a group of far-right militia members who want to use the takings to buy weapons. If you know anything about casinos, then you know that security is a big priority. It’s nearly impossible to take anything, let alone a large haul of money, without ‘inside help.’ And the police think that Bai has provided that help. He says that he’s innocent, though, and his friend, Navajo Tribal Police Officer Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Manuelito, believes him. So, in one plot thread of this novel, she asks Sergeant Jim Chee to help her find out what really happened at the casino. It turns out that this case has its roots in the past and is connected to an old Ute legend.

Eoin Colfer’s Daniel McEvoy is an Irish ex-pat and former member of the military. Now, he works as a bouncer at Slotz, a rundown, dirty bar/casino in fictional Cloisters, New Jersey. It’s not the sort of place you go for an elegant dinner and some time at the baccarat table. In his line of work, McEvoy runs into all sorts of low-life, sometimes very dangerous people.

In Zoë Sharp’s Killer Instinct, we are introduced to Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Fox. She’s a former member of Her Majesty’s Special Forces, who now lives near Lancaster. One night, her friend Clare persuades her to go to the New Adelphi Club, where there’s to be a karaoke competition. Clare wants to take part but wants some moral support. So, the two women go to the club. When another contestant tries to attack Clare, Fox steps in and the other contestant ends up getting ejected from the club. The owner, Marc Quinn, finds out what Fox has done, and decides to hire her as part of the security team. That doesn’t go down well at first with some of the other security folk, since Fox is a woman. But she proves herself to be more than a match when it comes to preventing trouble in the first place and stopping it when it starts. As she starts to work at the club, Fox soon discovers some ugly things that the club is hiding. She starts asking questions and finds that some people are determined to do whatever it takes to keep her from finding out the truth.

Of course, not all security is physical security. With today’s Internet and other electronic technology, cyber security becomes ever more important. That’s where Cara Black’s Aimée Leduc comes in. She and her business partner, René Friant, own Leduc Detective, a private investigation firm. Leduc’s specialty is computer security, which proves useful in Murder in the Marais. In that novel, an encrypted code that Leduc is hired to decrypt turns out to be connected to two murders.

Security experts can be very useful at the front door, so to speak. And they can make interesting characters, too. Which have stayed with you?

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Klaxon’s The Bouncer.

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Filed under Cara Black, Eoin Colfer, Robert Colby, Stuart Kaminsky, Tony Hillerman, Zoë Sharp

Who Knows Where it Will Lead Us?*

Sometimes, authors set the scene in one novel for what’s going to happen in the next. This often (but not always) happens in a series, where the author wants to lay the proverbial groundwork for another story or novel.

It’s tricky to give such hints. For one thing, readers don’t usually like stories to end with real cliffhangers. Most readers want some sense of resolution to the main plot. For another, changes can happen, even in a series, and even where the author has planned future novels. Creating a context for the next novel, when that novel might change, is risky. But, when it’s done well, that sort of groundwork can be an effective segue between novels. It can also invite readers who enjoy a novel to try the next one, too.

In Agatha Christie’s short story The Double Clue, Hercule Poirot is called in by antiques collector Marcus Hardman. It seems he hosted a tea party at his home, and during the party, showed his guests some precious jewels he’d collected. Later, his safe was rifled and the jewels went missing. There are only four suspects, and Poirot uses two clues in particular to find out who the thief is. One of the ‘people of interest’ in this story is Countess Vera Rossakoff, a refugee from the Russian Revolution. Poirot finds himself quite impressed with her. In fact, this is what he says about her to Hastings:
 

‘‘A remarkable woman. I have a feeling, my friend – a very decided feeling – I shall meet her again. Where, I wonder?’’
 

He does, in The Big Four.

In Stuart Kaminsky’s Bullet For a Star, 1940s Hollywood PI Toby Peters gets a new case. Someone’s blackmailing film star Errol Flynn over a very compromising photograph taken with a young girl. The blackmailer threatens to go the press with the photograph unless Flynn pays. Producer Sid Adelman has decided to pay, rather than risk that sort of publicity, and he wants Peters to be ‘the go between.’ All Peters needs to do is hand over the money, get the photograph and negative, and return them to Adelman. Peters agrees, but during the exchange, someone attacks him, steals his gun, and shoots the blackmailer. The photograph and negative are stolen, too. Now, Peters has to find out who the killer is (since his own gun is involved, and he’s a suspect). He also has to find the photograph and negative. In the end, and after another murder, Peters finds out the truth. At the very end of the novel, he gets a call from another star, Judy Garland, who has another case for him. That lays the groundwork for the next novel, Murder on the Yellow Brick Road.

As Simon Beckett’s Written in Bone ends, forensic anthropologist David Hunter faces physical and mental trauma as a result of the case he’s investigating. This lays the groundwork for Whispers of the Dead. At the beginning of that novel, he’s decided to get out of London for a while as a way of dealing with that trauma. He opts to spend some time at Tennessee’s Anthropological Research Laboratory, also known as the Body Farm. His plan is to do some research, spend some time getting well, and connect with his mentor, Tom Liebermann. Very soon after Hunter’s arrival in Tennessee, a decomposed corpse turns up near a disused cabin not far from the lab. Hunter finds himself drawn into the case, and it’s a wrenching one.

Cathy Ace’s The Corpse With the Silver Tongue introduces her sleuth, Caitlin Morgan. Morgan is a criminologist and academician who teaches at the University of Vancouver. Occasionally, she also consults with the Vancouver Police. When a colleague breaks some bones in a bicycling accident, Morgan is asked to take his place at an upcoming symposium in Nice. It’s just a matter of going to the symposium and delivering her colleague’s lecture, so she agrees. Besides, it’s a beautiful location for a symposium. At first, all goes well. Then, by chance, Morgan meets up with Alistair Townsend, a former employer. He insists that she attend the upcoming birthday party he’s having for his wife, Tamsin, and there’s really no way for Morgan to back out of it. She’s extremely reluctant, because her relationship with Townsend wasn’t a pleasant one. But she finally agrees to go. At the party, Townsend suddenly collapses and dies of what turns out to be digitalis poisoning. In part because she’s a suspect, and in part because she wants to finish this trip and go back to Vancouver, Morgan starts to ask questions. In one sub-plot of this novel, Morgan gets very concerned about her friend, Bud Anderson, a detective with Vancouver’s Integrated Homicide Bureau. He seems to be facing a serious problem, and she tries to help. The main plot in the novel, the murder of Alistair Townsend, is resolved. The sub-plot, though, leaves open the possibility for more development in future novels, and that’s exactly what happens. It’s an interesting way to move to the next novel in the series, but at the same time, resolve the main plot.

And then there’s Paddy Richardson’s Hunting Blind. That’s the story of Stephanie Anderson, who’s just beginning her career as a Dunedin psychiatrist. When she gets a new patient, Elisabeth Clark, things don’t go well at first. She can’t seem to connect with Elisabeth, and they don’t make much progress. Then, Elisabeth tells her that, years ago, her younger sister, Gracie, was abducted and never found – not even a body. This story is eerily similar to Anderson’s own past. Seventeen years earlier, her younger sister, Gemma, also went missing and was never found. Anderson decides to lay her own ghosts to rest and try to find out who was responsible for both abductions. She returns to her home town of Wanaka, where she hopes to get some answers. Along the way, she is faced with a personal choice, and at the end of the novel, she makes that choice, and it lays the groundwork for a further novel. I hope we see that novel at some point.

It’s not an easy task to use one novel to build a context or provide a motivation for another. But when it’s done well, it can be effective. And it can build interest in that new novel.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul’s Audition (The Fools Who Dream).

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Cathy Ace, Paddy Richardson, Simon Beckett, Stuart Kaminsky

I Never Thought I’d Be a Superstar*

Have you ever met someone really famous? It can actually be awkward, if you think about it. On the one hand, famous people are just people. They may have extraordinary talent, or have done something to make them famous, or are members of a certain family. But they’re just people. On the other hand, meeting a famous person isn’t really like meeting other sorts of people, especially if that famous person is someone you hero-worship.

‘Brushes with fame’ can lend an interesting touch to a story. There’s the suspense, the awkwardness, and even a feeling of euphoria. All of that can add a layer to a crime novel, and dimension to a fictional character.

For example, in Agatha Christie’s The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side (AKA The Mirror Crack’d), we are introduced to Heather Badcock. She lives a more or less ordinary life in the new council housing in the village of St. Mary Mead. Heather is excited when she learns that her film idol, Marina Gregg, has purchased Gossington Hall (that’s right, fans of The Body in the Library. It was the home of Colonel Arthur Bantry and his wife, Dolly). Things get even better for Heather when an announcement is made that the new owners plan to continue the tradition of an annual fundraising fête at the hall. On the day of the big event, Heather goes to Gossington Hall, and actually meets Marina Gregg. The star even goes so far as to hand Heather a drink. Shortly afterwards, Heather becomes sick and then dies of what turns out to be poison. At first, it looks very probable that the poison was actually meant for Marina. But it’s not long before Miss Marple begins to suspect that Heather was the intended victim all along. She and Dolly Bantry investigate, and in the end, find out who killed Heather Badcock and why.

Pablo de Santis’ The Paris Enigma introduces readers to Sigmundo Salvatrio, the son of a Buenos Aires shoemaker. Sigmundo is a would-be detective whose idol is famous detective Renaldo Craig. So, when he learns that Craig is opening a new school, the Academy for Detectives, Sigmundo immediately applies for admission. He is accepted, and, right away, starts trying to learn all that he can from his hero. Craig has been planning to go to Paris as part of a group of world-famous detectives known as The Twelve. They’re scheduled to make a presentation at the upcoming World’s Fair, and Craig is an important part of their plan. Then, a shocking incident leaves him ill and unable to travel. So, he sends Sigmundo in his place. The boy is thrilled to go, and eager to meet the other detectives and their assistants. Shortly after Signmundo’s arrival, one of the master detectives is murdered. Now, Sigmundo works with the group’s co-founder, Viktor Arkazy, to find out who the killer is. Among other things, it’s really interesting to see how Sigmundo’s view of his hero changes as the novels goes on.

Peter James’ Not Dead Yet sees Brighton and Hove Superintendent Roy Grace investigating the bizarre case of a body discovered in a disused chicken coop. It’s a difficult matter, made even more so when he’s told he will also have another charge. It seems that international superstar Gaia Lafayette, who’s originally from the area, will be in town to do a film. There’s already been at least one death threat against her, and it’s important that the police demonstrate their commitment to her safely. Grace has no wish to see her in danger, but at the same time, his plate’s quite full, as the saying goes. Still, orders are orders, and he prepares as best he can for the star’s visit. Among those most eager for Gaia’s arrival is Anna Galicia, who is completely obsessed with the superstar. She follows all of Gaia’s news, her home is filled with merchandise and memorabilia, and she’s been to every concert she can afford. She can’t wait for the opportunity to finally meet her idol. Gaia and her entourage arrive and settle in at the luxury suite set aside for them. It looks like it’s going to be a routine filming, but this trip turns out to be anything but…

Stephen King’s Misery shows just how dedicated fans can be when they meet their idols. In the novel, famous novelist Paul Sheldon is driving through a heavy snowstorm when he has an accident. He is rescued by Annie Wilkes, who happens to be a deeply devoted fan of Sheldon’s work. At first, Sheldon is very grateful; he’s safe and warm, is healing from injuries related to the accident, and can get back to work on his new novel. It’s still in manuscript form, and Sheldon is looking forward to getting the project done. His host, being the dedicated fan that she is, is very interested in the story, and follows its progress. She doesn’t like the direction the story is taking, though, and decides to take matters into her own hands. And, this being a Stephen King novel, you can imagine how that’s going to work out for Paul Sheldon…

Of course, not everyone is ‘starstruck.’ Stuart Kaminsky’s Toby Peters, for instance, doesn’t engage in hero worship. He’s a Hollywood PI during the early 1940s. And his business often involves very famous screen stars. Peters, though, has seen the all-too-human side of these celebrities, having been a former security guard at Warner Brothers studio. And his cases often involve the off-camera lives of those famous people. So, he’s become rather jaded.

A lot of people haven’t, though. And, personally, I don’t see anything wrong with wanting to meet a famous person you really admire. I mean, so what if you have to wait out in a blizzard, starting at 2:00am, to get tickets? It’s worth it! Right? RIGHT?  What?! 😉

If you’re reading this, Happy Birthday, Mr. Joel!

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Billy Joel’s Oyster Bay.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Pablo De Santis, Peter James, Stephen King, Stuart Kaminsky