Thursday, December 09, 2010

Murder-by-Month Mysteries: Jess Lourey

A very interesting packet arrived here a few weeks ago, from Saint Cloud, Minnesota. Inside were some unusual bookplates ("Property of Battle Lake Public Library" -- there is no such library, the town is fictional!) -- signed by author Jess Lourey; a Season's Greeting card saying, "May your mysteries be merry!"; a description of Lourey's 2011 release, October Fest; and, most intriguing of all, a sample packet of the unique Midwestern confection called a Nut Goodie.

And that, of course, was plenty of incentive for me to order a copy of Lourey's most recent book, SEPTEMBER FAIR. I set aside a snowy afternoon, poured a mug of tea, and settled on the sofa. Soon I was seriously irritating my husband across the room, as I escalated from giggling, to frank guffaws, and even read aloud some of the dialogue. There are few accidental detectives as plainspoken (and as hampered by phobias and childhood experiences) than local Battle Lake journalist Mira James. But her friends, like Mrs. Berns and (female mayor) Kennie Rogers, are even more blunt ... and eccentric, to say the least.

SEPTEMBER FAIR (which comes after May Day, June Bug, Knee High by the 4th of July, and August Moon) takes Mira out of the small town where she's been honing her reporting skills (and recovering from years of hard drinking and bad choices), into the midst of the  many events of the Minnesota State Fair. It should be a lot of fun to be covering the fair, tracking down Battle Lake locals, and checking out the competitions, critters, and Big Events. And there's the highly unusual local fair treat of deep-fried Nut Goodies on a stick -- melted chocolate and all.  Unfortunately for Mira, one of the first unscheduled events to take place is the death of Ashley Kirsten Pedersen, winner of the Milkfed Mary, Queen of the Dairy title -- right in front of Mira. Her reputation for running into dead bodies is never going to get lived down, is it?

author Jess Lourey
If you savor a good country fair, you'll find the surroundings achingly familiar (and if you live in a City, consider getting acquainted with how the other half manages). And if you like a mystery that's wickedly funny, sharply astute about country life (and flirtations) and the cleverness of seasoned old ladies (Mira's friends!), put this one on the list. I'll also be watching for the March 2011 arrival of October Fest -- how can I resist a description from Lourey that reads, "What do you get when you cross beer, a conservative politician who keeps putting her foot in her mouth, and polka music? Octoberfest in Battle Lake, that's what." And knowing Mira James's tendency ... well, there's sure to be a body in there, sooner rather than later.

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