Wednesday, July 07, 2010

HHH (Hazy, Hot, and Humid) but Still Reading

It's been hot by Vermont terms -- in the eighties to low nineties each day, and night-time temperatures around 73 (we're used to plunging down to 50 at night, which cools the place off). Dave and I each have a fan close to the desk, and we've got one room air-conditioned for occasional breathing spells.

In those breathing spells over the past couple of days, I enjoyed Laurie R. King's new page-turner, GOD OF THE HIVE -- it takes all the threads left hanging from the preceding book, The Language of Bees, and weaves the rest of the tapestry of Mary Russell and her aging but still adept husband Sherlock Holmes, as each one grapples with what it means to have "family" members. For Holmes, it's his son Damian (via Irene Adler; remember her, always "The Woman" to Holmes?) and Damian's child; for Mary, it's taking responsibility for protecting that child and an extraordinary new acquaintance, for whose sake the book was nearly named "The Green Man" (actually that was its name in manuscript, but things change when publishers get involved, don't they?). I won't spell out the plot here, but the book offers Mary a chance to display all of her own most profound character traits (courage, analysis, speed of decisions, loyalty) EXCEPT the one that may be most familiar: There is no time at all for her bookish studies.

Now I'm working on the notices to the press for our July 17 guest of honor here at Kingdom Books: Carla Neggers (that's her photo above). As I do, I've been reflecting on her immense list of work (more than 50 novels), as well as on the genre in which she shines: romantic suspense. Neggers blogs at "Running With Quills," with several other authors -- among them Jayne Ann Krentz, who offered this insight recently:
How does one define romantic-suspense? I think the best definition I ever heard comes from our own Elizabeth Lowell. She once said that in a novel of romantic-suspense the relationship between the hero and heroine must move in lockstep with the development of the mystery/suspense plot. Every twist in the mystery should create a twist in the relationship and vice-versa.

And why is romantic-suspense so popular? Because the relationship between the hero and heroine raises the stakes of the danger and makes the outcome very, very personal. We're not just risking our necks to save the innocent from the bad guys. We're forging an enduring bond of love that will be strong enough to establish a family. It may be a family of two or it may be the foundation of a dynasty or it may be a non-traditional family. But family is family. It is the basic building block of civilization. Without the unique connections of family bonds of one kind or another, there is no future, nothing worth fighting for, no hope.
Watch for a review later this week of the newest Neggers suspense novel: THE WHISPER.

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