Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Saturday, August 20, 2011

More Praise for Women Crime Writers

It may surprise people who know my fiction that I really have a taste for "cozies." I am very fond of the "Hamish Macbeth" series by M.C. Beaton (aka Marion Chesney). A new one is coming out next February and I can't wait. Oddly enough, I really don't like her "Agatha Raisin" books.  They're just a little bit too "twee" for me.

I am a huge fan of Ellis Peters (aka Edith Pargeter) who wrote under half a dozen pseudonyms (some of them male) and wrote dozens of books.  She was also known as a scholar and a translator. Before I knew her as the author of the Brother Cadfael novels, I had read her "Brothers of Gwynedd" quartet, brilliant historical fiction.  In addition to almost 20 novels about Cadfael,  former Crusader-turned-monk, she wrote 13 novels featuring Inspector George Felse. I have not yet had the pleasure of reading those and look forward to it.

I devoured Catherine Aird's Inspector Sloane mysteries up until I went to college and then kind of forgot about her. But...she's still writing (new book out this year), which means I will get to catch up with the series and the characters. I didn't know that her real name is Kinn Hamilton McIntosh. Kinn's an unusual name. I wonder if it was a family name. 

Remember the television series The Scarecrow and Mrs. King? (Divorced housewife/mother Kate Jackson becomes spy with handsome Bruce Boxleitner.) Writer Dorothy Gilman wrote a series of absolutely delightful books about Mrs. Pollifax, an elderly widow who joins the CIA because she's bored.  The characters are great, and she even gets a love interest in later books.  Angela Lansbury starred in a TV movie about the character; Rosalind Russell was Mrs. Pollifax in the movie version.  (It's streaming on Netflix if you're interested.) The last Mrs. Pollifax novel Gilman wrote came out in 2000, but she's published since then so--we can always hope.

I always really liked Harley Jane Kozak as an actress (especially in Parenthood), and her novels about Wollie Shelley, a greeting card artist, are wonderful, especially if you live in Los Angeles where the stories are set.  She does a lot of readings here in town, at the wonderful Vroman's book store in Pasadena and at local libraries, and I have to get to one of those readings one day.

Probably my all-time favorite cozy writer, though, is Janet Evanovich. She's taken a lot of flak for getting too predictable and formulaic with her last few novels about Stephanie Plum, Joe Morelli and Ranger, but you know...she's a brand now and when you buy her brand you get what you expect--a blend of romantic crime solving and outrageous character humor.  One For the Money, the first in the series, is laugh-out-loud funny and Stephanie herself is a wonderful "Everywoman" character.  A movie based on the novel is due out any day now with Katherine Heigl as Stephanie and Daniel Sunjata as Ranger.  (Yesssss!)  Evanovich writes other series and also writes with collaborators, so if Stephanie's adventures don't work for you, there are other heroines to try.

Cozies--what I read when I'm not writing dark fiction.

If you like cozies yourself, check out the Cozy Mystery Site. It's a terrific resource for all things cozy.

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