Umm, Yummy Books

There’s nothing like the refuge of books when the real world’s got a feminist down. We all need a place to hide from coverage of Sarah Palin et. al (and especially our own coverage of Palin et. al).

Books can be infuriating too, however, especially when you like literary candy but hate chick lit. My go-to has always been mystery novels with feisty protagonists. My mystery obsession began in childhood with Trixie Belden books, and unlike my love of the Dukes of Hazard (I had their racetrack), it’s lasted so long, I daresay my deathbed will be littered with mystery novels.

Two gems that I’ve been powering through in election 08 season:

Denise Mina’s Paddy Meehan series: I love Paddy Meehan, daughter of a large working class Catholic family in Glasgow, who begins the series as a copyboy and wannabe journalist and starts the third book as columnist and true crime writer. Sure, Meehan solves mysteries, and good ones too. But it’s the way that she seeks solace and love in the complex social matrix of her life that has me hooked on this series. Mina’s writing is lovely, and her history of Glasgow in the 80s and 90s as presented through Paddy’s point of view is riveting.

Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks Series: Men can be feisty too, and it’s impossible not to like protagonist Alan Banks. The landscape of Yorkshire, where the novels are set, becomes a palpable character in the stories as well. Best of all, there are more than 15 Banks books. I haven’t been this thrilled to discover a series since I decided to give Dennis Lehane a try, despite wanting to gnaw off my hand in the movie version of Mystic River, and found myself riveted.

I do like stand alones (Tana French’s recent Into the Woods, Kate Atkinsons’ Case Histories), but I love finding older series with lots of titles oh so much more. If you have recommendations, post them here, and cheers to a little escapism in election season ‘08.


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4 responses to “Umm, Yummy Books

  1. flyovermiss

    i also grew up on the trixie belden books. hooray for spunk.

    if you’re willing to go there, j.d. robb’s “in death” series is deeply satisfying. i’ve also recently been encouraged to read the laurell hamilton vampire hunter books – they’re a little more horror than straight mystery, but a wonderful distraction, complete with kickass yet tiny heroine.

  2. htg03

    I’ve actually been to JD Robb. Laurell Hamilton sounds great– I’ll have to give them a try. Thanks, flyovermiss.

  3. jke4

    Ah, Trixie Belden. Do you remember the one where she and Jim had to go undercover to some hangout spot as ‘bad’ kids? She wore something like a fisherman’s sweater and a skirt. So naughty!

    Laurell Hamilton has another series too–one with a heroine who’s a PI by day and (I kid you not) a fairy princess by night.

    PJ Clark is a mother/daughter team that writes mysteries set in Minnesota. Some great female characters. My favorite is one who never smiles. But there are only four books, and apparently they write slowly!

  4. htg03

    I do remember that Trixie Belden– so funny! There was a mystery tangentially involving apple seeds, arsenic and a Waldorf salad that always comes to mind when I think of the series too.

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