Monday, December 26, 2022

An Anita Blake Limited Edition Lot Find I REFUSED to Leave Behind

Okay. Okay. Okay. So, Anita Blake and I have beefed back and forth for years. I stopped reading the series for a few years, jumped back on, stopped again, and recently decided to jump back on to catch up on Blake's (and Hamilton's) latest offering with 2020's Sucker Punch and 2021's Rafael. I had some deep, ripping issues with 2018's Serpentine; I welcome you to find the video in which I shared my concerns.

Nevertheless, my continuing to read Hamilton on and off is driven chiefly by the state of nostalgia her work generates. Summer of 2007. Just discovering how the urban fantasy/action woman stories stretched outside Buffy meant everything during that time. Not to mention how incredible the first nine Anita Blake books were (though I've gradually become accustomed to the tone change after book nine).

Friday, December 9, 2022

#FridayReads ~ More Carolyn G. Hart Despite a "Break"

"A group of Christie buffs. . .In honor of Agatha Christie's one hundredth birthday, mystery bookstore owner Annie Laurance Darling plans a week-long celebration of mystery, treasure hunts, title clues, and Christie trivia. Yet even as the champagne is chilling and the happy guests begin arriving on Broward's Rock Island, Annie feels a niggling sense of doom. But the last thing she or her guests expect is that the scheduled fun and mayhem will include a real-life murder. The unexpected arrival of Neil Bledsoe, the most despised book critic in America, was sure to raise a few hackles. An advocate of hard-boiled detection and gory true crime, Bledsoe drops a bombshell on the devoted Christie assemblage: He's penning a scurrilous biography of the grand dame of suspense herself. Before the first title clue is solved, no less than two attempts are made on Bledsoe's life. Now Annie and her unflappable husband, Max Darling, find themselves trying to stop a murder in the making-only the first corpse isn't the one they're expecting. . .and it isn't the last."


Now, see, I told my ass this: “Don’t you pick up another Death on Demand book and ruin your appetite for them with the fourth book read in a row." My intention was to read within a different series or genre. To get out from underneath Carolyn G. Hart's fantastic cozy series for a hot minute. And, well, knock some of these unread titles off my shelves before this latest package of books arrive tomorrow (YIKES). Yet, the work week was finished. The rain was pouring. The coffee was brewing. Listen, everything in life was in order for some more familiar, cozy mystery reading. Thus, here arrives The Christie Caper by Carolyn G. Hart (Death on Demand #7).

So I'm already fifty pages into the book and loving it. Wholly absorbed in all matters (from personal to mysterious) stacked within this entry. I'm still getting to know the suspicious characters, as Hart does a great job of putting at least five or six of them in a room to see who behaves in whichever way to get readers to "know" them. And the apparent–though not quite yet established as such–victim is particularly spirited and nasty this go’round. But on the other hand, the main protagonist, Annie, remains pleasant and inviting as our central guide to the mystery. The same can be said for the side characters.

Anyway, this book puts an evident and strictly specific emphasis on its references to Agatha Christie and her works. Every other page does some job in ensuring not to lead readers away from that focus and how much these references operate as clues as well. But by book seven, readers will already have established that Agatha Christie is highly revered and favored by Carolyn G. Hart. So it was only a matter of time before she would draw up a mystery and cast centered around an Agatha Christie convention. And the "draw up" is dedicated and fierce in this entry.

I have yet to indulge in much of Christie's work to get Hart's references, but I'm here for Hart all weekend long as is.

Happy #FridayReads

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Reading some Death on Demand by Carolyn G. Hart

Carolyn G. Hart's Honeymoon with Murder and A Little Class on Murder are books numbers four and five of her award-winning Death on Demand series. Death on Demand itself is a mystery-themed bookstore on a South Carolina island called Boward's Rock. The store is run by a woman named Annie Laurance, who becomes Annie Darling per her eventual marriage to her beau, Max. Nonetheless, as a mystery bookstore owner, Annie is deeply dedicated to everything surrounding the mystery genre–so she knows her stuff. A cast of supporting characters are there as well with equal appreciation for loving and conversing about mystery books. As readers, we are privy to much of these conversations about various mysteries and the authors who write them. Blended so well into the overall narrative, you, the reader, suddenly find yourself intrigued by anecdotal information on, say, Agatha Christie and/or Ross MacDonald. The list is endless.

Meanwhile, the author is telling and selling you a great murder mystery with all the operating components that make these books cozy. Yet, they are so, so much more. For one, they are apt and sharper than many nowadays cozies I've read that seem to prioritize lunacy and love triangles as the standard. Secondly, while some primary and supporting cast may annoy me sometimes, Hart delivers humor/comedy like the pro she is. I sometimes run across cozies where authors need to learn how nuance lands a comedic moment. Or lack the ability to put some intelligence behind comedy to keep it from selling eye-rolls and cringe page after page. As a matter-of-fact, I think "nuance" is the correct term to describe Hart's ability, because outside notes of humor her characters simply come off the page to me. I respect it; Carolyn G. Hart won multiple awards for a freakin’ reason.

This all aside, I list three things that keep me returning to this series (aside from Hart's ability to plot).

1. I've entirely warmed up to Hart's duo, Annie and Max. I mention this because I typically wouldn't like the way romances are handled in cozy mysteries–especially those that insist on beginning a romance with a love triangle. Nevertheless, earlier in the series I thought Annie was rude; her and I didn't exactly click. In contrast, Max got on my nerves as the designated love interest in many cozy series. The further into the series I read, the further my view of the two changed. 

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