…A look at what I’ve been doing in my free time this month, as compared to the vision in my head of some perfected J.A.:
The Thing I Read: Don’t Dare a Dame by M. Ruth Myers
This is the third book in a hard-boiled detective series starring young Maggie Sullivan, a P.I. trying to make her way in 1930s Dayton (at some point, Ohio seems to have become the new Chicago as far as the detective novels I read are concerned). Maggie and her friends and helpers are beautifully written, the historical setting is interesting, the mysteries are excellent, and if she doesn’t give her possible love interest a break I am going to explode from frustration. The man can play a penny whistle and catch bad guys, for god’s sake.
What I Should Have Been Reading: I just bought a three-in-one volume of Philip Marlowe novels after seeing The Big Sleep for the first time this summer. Until then, I’d just assumed there were Hammett people and Chandler people in the world and I was clearly Team Dashiell; if I can ever stop reading about Maggie Sullivan, I’m going to put that hypothesis to the test.
(On a side note, any fellow mystery/movie buffs who are reading this: isn’t The Big Sleep odd? I can’t think of any other movie I enjoyed so much that seemed so much longer than its actual runtime.)
The Thing I Read: Weird Romance: A Sparrow & Crowe Anthology by various authors, including the creators of the Wormwood podcast that originated the characters
I came late to podcasted dramas after a few years of subscribing to the driest “Boring Fact of the Day”-type podcasts you could imagine. I was therefore probably the last to know about Wormwood, a sort of supernatural(…er) Twin Peaks in which a vision leads booze-swilling former psychologist/current sorcerer Dr. Xander Crowe and his technomancer assistant Sparrow to the titular town. When I did find the 2007 series, I promptly put off listening to the last season for months on end because I didn’t want Wormwood to stop. Fortunately, there’s also a comic book series and two short-story anthologies to keep fans of Crowe and Sparrow from languishing. The book badly needed more proofreading, but the stories are often excellent as two of the most entertaining misanthropes in fiction take on demons, mythical creatures, themselves and each other.
What I Should Have Been Reading: I’ve been on a weird-fiction kick of late and took a chance on a book of Thomas Ligotti stories. I’ve paused halfway through, but the man is a master of elegant prose about horrible things, and I can’t believe I’d never heard of him before this year. I suspect this is how I’m supposed to feel about Raymond Carver but don’t.
I should also start re-listening to Wormwood, for that matter.
The Thing I (Re)Read: Various portions of the Addison Holmes mysteries by Liliana Hart
These books have a special place in my heart—extra-special, considering I’ve read four of them and can’t decide if I like them, and I’ll probably buy the next one and feel the same way. It might be more accurate to say they have a special place in my wallet. But the Addison Holmes books are the story of one woman, not particularly suited for the job, becoming a private investigator—a subject I’m currently trying to write about myself. Watching Addison train and deal with an increasingly demanding vocation when she starts out as a schoolteacher is, dare I say it, educational.
What I Should Have Been Reading: Oh, maybe something from this nice collection of mystery-writing books I have?
Additional Warning About The Dangerous Ease of Buying E-books: I own Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead on Nook? When the hell did that happen? You should pick it up, though; it’s really good.
Next time: What anybody who was all Frankensteined out for the year would do: watch Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein for the first time since the oughts.