Friday 23 March 2012

Crime fiction for moms

I do try , when I'm reviewing, to say if a book is suitable for my mother or for the vicar. I assume everyone understands that "for my mother" means not too violent, little swearing and none of those sex scenes that, if they come on TV whilst you're watching with your mother, make your toes curl. "For the vicar" means gross violence and pederasty (I jest!)

"All well and good," says an older friend of mine who has recently rediscovered reading, "but I've read all the Ross Thomas you've reviewed and I don't like Michael Connelly. What else would your mother read?"

Hmm. The little list I have in mind for review involves a few Michael Connelly and several authors where the hero rarely stays in one piece, let alone the victims or the villains. What would I recommend to my mother?

Well, there's always the name I hate to mention, the dreaded Dick Francis. His books are so forelock-tuggingly spittle-licking that Telegraph readers have been roused to heights of revolutionary fervour. The Queen-Mum-Gawd-Bless-Her used to love him - so if he could get through a gin haze of royal proportions he certainly isn't taxing (ho ho) or offensive to vicars. Avoid them if horse racing leaves you cold (as it actually does my mother). If you want a light read, albeit formulaic, buy them secondhand.

What of a classic, Sherlock Holmes - four full-length and fifty-odd (if memory serves) short stories? Well, oddly, I've never yet met a female who likes Arthur Conan Doyle. Actually, I've never met a female who has tried and managed to read anything but a bit of ACD - and you'd understand why if you'd read The White Company. I assume it's the selfish bachelor in Holmes that turns them off.

Robert Parker invented a female detective - I gave those works short shrift on another post so I won't say more than that the word "execrable" comes to mind. Other female detectives - most are too lipsticky and aimed at the chicklit market. At the other extreme, Marlowe on screen might appeal, in print, no. Detective after detective can be discarded in the knowledge that none of them put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket.

Ah, inspiration! Kellerman's Alex Delaware. I will be covering several of his books soon but rich, hunky, sensitive to the needs of the lovely Robin (whose bum does look big in those overalls) - Alex is definitely on the list. Who else?
Looking further afield, at least timewise, the adventures of Brother Cadfael come to mind. Ellis Peters (a nom de plume) wrote a lot of Cadfaels, all solid and good on historical detail. If you fancy the idea of a 12th Century soldier-turned-monk on the prowl you could do a lot worse. Very readable and they don't insult the intelligence in their plots.

Going back another five hundred years and switching gender, we have Sister Fidelma, religious and lawyer, daughter of a Chief Of Ireland and intrepid traveller. Stunningly good on atmosphere and detail, moderate on plot, still very readable. Written by Peter Tremayne, another nom de plume.

Anyone who thinks I should try Claire Gulliver, Dana Sloan or Regan McHenry, I have. I'll say no more.

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn 103

If mom doesn't want a book then I recommend looking at some other blogs of mine, aimed at finding presents for US Mothers Day or indeed any occasion you'd like. Begin with Gift Ideas For Moms, go forward to jewellery as a gift for your mother, all the way to Mothers Day gift baskets. Anything you buy makes mom very happy and a small commission comes my way to pay for blogging and an austere diet.


buddy2blogger said...

Interesting theory about ladies not liking Sherlock Holmes..

I am an avid Sherlockian and it is always a pleasure to read/blog about Sherlock Holmes.


Nathalie said...

I do like Sherlock Holmes, I am a big fan to be honest, and I also don't mind the sex scenes at all! But maybe I am not a typical mother. I must check Peter Tremayne's Sister Fidelma. Looks interesting.

I also enjoyed Anne Perry's Charlotte and Thomas Pitt, Paul Charles Doherty's Kathryn Swinbrooke mysteries (I love this series a lot). Both should be fit for a vicar.

Anonymous said...

A great series for moms is Mark Schweizer's Liturgical Detective Series. Also Jasper Fforde's Tuesday Next if mom is well-read in the classics. The Peculiar Crimes Unit books are good mom reading, too. I can't read the Reacher novels anymore or serial killers. Something has softened, but I still like the intrigue and plotting of mystery fiction. My Uncommonly Good Mysteries lens has quite a few possibles for mom or vicar.

Ruth Cox aka abitosunshine said...

The adventures of Brother Cadfael sound quite interesting to me.

I enjoy your book blogging and writing style, Paul, and love that you are frank and to the point, as well as the fact that you add a touch of humor to your writing.

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