Tag Archives: Michael Connelly

Crime fiction, here and there, cozy and not, on page and screen

Roberta Isleib by Carol Tedesco.jpg

Lucy Burdette, aka Roberta Isleib. Photo by Carol Tedesco

I recently interviewed Lucy Burdette, who is really Roberta Isleib, who lives in Key West and writes the Key West Food Critic Mysteries. The seventh installment in the series, Killer Takeout, publishes on April 5.

It’s a “cozy” mystery, which means no blood or sex on the page, as Roberta tells me during the interview. Not my usual thing but I enkiller takeout coverjoyed her book, which is set in the run-up to Fantasy Fest … with a hurricane bearing down. It didn’t even give me too much of a Wilma flashback. I especially admired how she addressed the tensions among Conchs, yearround locals and snowbird socialites. That’s a large — and growing — aspect of life down here, at least from my perspective.

At the same time, my husband and I have been watching the second season of Bosch on Amazon Prime (no spoilers, please — we’re only halfway through). I liked the first season fine but the second one is much better. The best part is that I haven’t read any of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch books. Most of my crime fiction reading is


Titus Welliver plays Harry Bosch.

historical and just about all of my contemporary crime fiction reading has been set in Florida (Carl Hiaasen, James Hall, et. al.). But now I’ve got the first Bosch book, The Black Echo, on order from the library.

And I feel like I’m primed for L.A., not only by watching the TV show — which manages to make L.A. look fairly attractive, probably because nobody on there ever spends time stuck in traffic — but also because I just finished Shaker by Scott Frank. I read a short story about it in Entertainment Weekly and my most exshakercellent local library already had a copy. Frank is a screenwriter and this is a first novel – my opinion has been that screenwriters write excellent thrillers and crime fiction because they know how to move a plot along, as well as how to write dialogue. This one bolsters my theory and is also an excellent option for people who are jonesing for Elmore Leonard now that the master has left us. Frank wrote the screenplays for Out of Sight and Get Shorty and it shows, though he doesn’t really have Leonard’s funny vein. He’s not trying to be funny, though, so that’s cool.


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Key West Literary Seminar: The Dark Side, Final Chapter download

Lyndsay Faye and Sara Gran. Read them! Read them now! Photo by Nick Doll.

It’s always a risk when the Key West Literary Seminar puts on a double session, meaning two separate Seminars two weekends in a row. We want to accommodate as many people as possible, and we’re limited by the seats available at the San Carlos Institute. But it’s exhausting for the staff and other organizers. And worst of all for those of us with the terrible duty of attending both weekends, it can get repetitive so you feel like you’re stuck in some literary version of Groundhog Day.

To everyone’s great relief and delight, this year that did NOT happen. Probably because only one panelist — James W. Hall — appeared on both weekends and truly, he’s the kind of guy you could listen to tell funny stories all day. The two weekends felt quite different, but both offered illuminating and diverse discussions of crime fiction in its many and varied and forms. Having superstars Lee Child and Michael Connelly in the house for the Final Chapter certainly added to the excitement and they were both great. Child, in particular, was an erudite speaker, who set the tone Friday morning with an entertaining talk about the roots of suspense fiction going back into human history. Evolutionary history.

With Child, Connelly, Lisa Unger, Tess Gerritsen and other big names on board — and two, count ’em two Edgar nominees for Best Novel (William Kent Krueger and Thomas H. Cook) — this week might have felt more commercial, to apply an overly broad adjective. Maybe because of that we had less of the old genre-vs.-literary discussion which I am alternately fascinated and bored by (I’ve got a bunch of links on my Readme page if you feel like delving into it). John Banville, Mr. Literary Himself with a Booker Prize to prove it, said he dislikes the genre stuff and wishes bookshops would shelve everything alphabetically — mainly because he feels like it ghettoizes literary fiction and consigns it to a dark and forbidding corner. We shelve all the fiction alphabetically at the library, I’m happy to say.

Once again, though, it was the women who really caught my interest — I’ve already posted about my bordering-on-embarrassing-fangirldom of Lyndsay Faye, whom I interviewed for Littoral. I had seen Sara Gran last summer at ALA, and she was even smarter and cooler than I remembered. Malla Nunn was a terrific new voice for most of the people in this crowd and her stories of writing about mixed-race people in South Africa as apartheid was being instituted were riveting. Elizabeth George’s keynote was great, setting a wonderful tone — and making me realize that I must have some kind of sick voyeuristic Protestant fascination with hearing about miserable Catholic childhoods. Mary McCarthy, Mary Gordon, Frank McCourt, you name the writer — I just never get tired of hearing about them. Or reading about them.

I tweeted a lot less this time. Not sure why, but I do know partway through Elizabeth George’s keynote I put down my notebook and just allowed myself to sit back and listen — she was not speaking in tweetable nuggets and I did not want to distract myself by focusing on listening for them.

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Filed under crime, fiction, Literary seminar, movies, recommended reading