The Working Stiffs are taking the Fourth of July holiday off to spend with our families. You might be able to find us sipping lemonade under the big tree in the back yard while burgers and hot dogs sizzle on the grill. But while we’re kicking back, we thought we’d offer everyone our Top Ten Summer Reading List. In no particular order:
THE BODY BOX, by Lynn Abercrombie (pseudonym of Edgar award winning author Walter Sorrels.) The Body Box features detective MeChelle Deakes, recently demoted from GLBT Liaison Officer to the Cold Case unit of the Atlanta PD. She and her new partner Lt. Hank Gooch search for a serial killer who kidnaps children, places them in a box and watches them starve to death.
BLIND FEAR, the second in the series in which newly retired Lt. Hank Gooch and MeChelle Deakes have 13 hours to solve a case. The catch is that MeChelle has been kidnapped, her eyes superglued shut and she’s in a soundproof room.
DEATH BY PANTYHOSE by Laura Levine. Freelance writer Jane Austen is back in another hilarious adventure. A perfect summer book to read in the shade with a cool drink.
TILT A WHIRL by Chris Grabenstein introduces Danny Boyle and John Ceepak as odd couple partners solving the murder of a billionaire real estate tycoon found murdered on the amusement park ride in a quiet tourist town in New Jersey. If you’ve already read it, try MAD MOUSE or WHACK A MOLE, the next two in the series.
WHAT THE DEAD KNOW by Laura Lippman is an eerie cold case in which two young girls disappear from busy shopping mall, their bodies never found. Thirty years later a dazed woman involved in a hit and run accident claims to be one of the sisters. A top notch tale reminiscent of the story of Anastasia.
THE CHRYSALIS by first time author Heather Terrell tells a story the crosses centuries as attorney Mara Coyne attempts to unravel the mystery behind the ownership of a lost masterpiece, The Chrysalis. The investigation into the painting’s true provenance leads Mara to discoveries involving underground Catholicism in the 1600’s, to Nazi atrocities, to lies and deception in the present.
THE WAR AGAINST MISS WINTER by our own Working Stiff, Kathryn Miller Haines. Set during World War II, aspiring actress turned gumshoe, Rosie Winter is thrust into a role she never expected when her detective boss turns up dead.
From new releases to a classic, what’s a summer reading list without perennial favorite REBECCA by Daphne Du Maurier. “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Need we say more? Didn’t think so.
For those of you who'd like to take a break with a little non-fiction, here are two books that might inform your settings and characters this summer.
LIES MY TEACHER TOLD ME: EVERYTHING YOUR HISTORY TEXTBOOK GOT WRONG by James W. Loewen claims that whitewashing American history not only diminishes its worth but makes it just plain boring, a lesson every novelist should take to heart. Along the way, readers get to know familiar historical figures and events in new ways, which could energize your next historical mystery.
Loewen argues that racial conflict is central to the two most famous American novels of all time: Uncle Tom's Cabin and Gone with the Wind. Beverly Daniel Tatum's book, WHY ARE ALL THE BLACK KIDS SITTING TOGETHER IN THE CAFETERIA? can help writers visualize endings for such conflict that are emotionally satisfying and treat minorities with respect.
Those are some of our picks. What are yours?
And Happy Fourth of July from the Stiffs!