Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lehane; Parshall; and a Look Ahead

The week after you finish writing a novel is a low-key one, so I'll just add a couple of notes this evening. One is: Hurrah, the new Dennis Lehane crime novel, MOONLIGHT MILE, is making waves everywhere. It's a tough book to review, because the first chapter opens with a shock for those (like me) who've read and re-read Gone, Baby, Gone and seen the film version multiple times. I checked Lehane's website, and here's what it offers:
Amanda McCready was four years old when she vanished from a Boston neighborhood twelve years ago. Desperate pleas for help from the child's aunt led investigators Kenzie and Gennaro to take on the case. The pair risked everything to find the young girl—only to orchestrate her return to a neglectful mother and a broken home.

Now Amanda is sixteen—and gone again. A stellar student, brilliant but aloof, she seemed destined to escape her upbringing. Yet Amanda's aunt is once more knocking on Patrick Kenzie's door, fearing the worst for the little girl who has blossomed into a striking, clever young woman—a woman who hasn't been seen in weeks. 
OK, that's not bad. Amanda is, of course, the little girl who got kidnapped in Gone, Baby, Gone. Turns out that's about all I can say, though, without spoiling Lehane's adventures. So ... if you want a review full of spoilers anyway, check out the one from the New York Times. (And I appreciate reviewer Janet Maslin pointing out that the book's title is from a Rolling Stones song.) Otherwise, here's the short clean version: Everything in this volume unfolds with bursts of surprise, and also with simultaneous gasps of "Oh, of course, that would have to follow from what's in the earlier book!" It's a classic sequel, smoothly written and ready for film.

Next: I'm keeping an eye on the New England Crime Bake, the annual conference for crime fiction readers and writers, co-sponsored by Mystery Writers of America and the New England chapter of Sisters in Crime. Dozens of published authors will be on hand for the sold-out event this weekend, including Lehane and featuring Charlaine Harris, whose Sookie Stackhouse series is the basis for the TV vampire series True Blood. In the process of frantically trying to catch up with the work of the folks who will be there, I picked up BROKEN PLACES by Sandra Parshall. This was a slight miscalculation on my part, since Parshall is the sane, steady voice managing much of the SinC listserv, but isn't going to be at the New England event (she lives in northern Virginia). On the other hand, her book caught me and kept me reading -- the character of veterinarian Rachel Goddard, with her fine-tuned affinity for dogs and cats and other creatures, is fully mature, well drawn, and impeccably braided into a tight plot of murder, risk, loss, and survival. This one's a keeper, and I'll be looking for a copy of Parshall's first book, her Agatha Award winner (for Best First Novel), The Heat of the Moon.

Coming sometime this weekend: a long look at the latest Brazil crime novel from Leighton Gage, EVERY BITTER THING -- releasing on November 16, perfectly timed to provide distraction as needed, as the American holiday season races toward us all.

PS: I'm not being coy about my own writing -- there's occasional news about it at It's just that all the months of searching for the right words can leave a person a wee bit speechless by the end.


Sandra Parshall said...

This may be the only time my name and work are mentioned in close proximity to Lehane's, so I'm enjoying it. Thanks! :-)

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Eager to meet you at Crime Bake! See you soon...and don't forget your vampire costume. (There'll be some pretty amazing photos, don't you think?)

Beth Kanell said...

Bottom line: a Good Read is a Good Read! And I'm looking forward to more books from both of you.

Beth Kanell said...

Vampire costume: gotta love country life. The "costume and props" lady for the local theater groups lives a few miles away, and she just happened to have in her living room a nice long cape ...

This is going to be serious fun! And for those of you who haven't yet read the vampire crime fiction of Charlaine Harris (the books are behind the TV series True Blood), here's some news: These are NOT mushy exotica like certain other vampire fiction has been -- they are adventure/mystery/factions-in-conflict books with a strong narrative pull. Jump in at the middle of Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series, as her earliest books are warm-ups for the stronger writing that follows.