My mystery book club meets once a month. Because of the happy turmoil and pressure of the holiday season, we don’t choose a book to read for our January meeting. Instead, we are going to one member’s house to watch a movie based on a crime novel. Until we get there, we won’t know what the hostess has selected.
|Nathaniel Parker as Armand Gamache|
For last year’s January meeting, we watched Louise Penny’s Still Life. We enjoyed it, although we all agreed Nathaniel Parker didn’t meet our preconceived notion of Inspector Armand Gamache.
We’ve gone on a couple of field trips, the most recent to the Edgar Allen Poe house in Baltimore, and to hear authors give presentations in the area.
Usually, though, we follow the more conventional mode of selecting books for everyone to read for the other months. The members cast their nets widely, drawing in a combination of contemporary, old favorites and books that intrigue us.
|A popular mystery|
set in Christchurch,
One member is from New Zealand, and she introduced us to Paul Cleave’s noir series set in Christchurch. That one, Cemetery Lake, inspired a heated debate about the main character, Theodore Tate, an alcoholic former police officer who is now a private detective.
A few times we’ve gone back and pulled up old classics. We read The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers, a Lord Peter Wimsey book I hadn’t read before. Somewhat to my surprise, it turned out to be about bell-ringing in a church, and I have to admit I skipped major portions of the book which described bell-ringing in its entire mathematical complexity. I’m sure some people would say I missed the entire point, but I didn’t find I missed out on much of the storyline. The story unfolded well without it.
Our February choice is any of the Hamish MacBeth series by M.C. Beaton. That’s a series with which I am
familiar. In fact, I have dog named Hamish, a goofy
reddish labradoodle. He is well-intentioned, sincere, tries hard to do what he
feels a good dog should do, but unfortunately comes up short in the intelligent
choices category, and is often saved by fate. I’m reading Death of a Valentine. So far, it’s following the very successful
“formula” of the other books in the series.
|Robert Carlyle as Hamish MacBeth|
in BBC Scotland series
When it was my turn to choose, I selected A Morbid Taste for Bones, the first Brother Caedfael novel set on the English/Welsh border in the first half of the twelfth century. I am thinking about a
Dick Francis book for my next choice.
The hostess supplies refreshments suitable to the book, which is something I failed to take into consideration before choosing this. I fell short in supplying snacks based on oats, but we did have plenty of fruit and cheese. No one objected to the substitution of St. Brendan’s Irish Cream Liqueur for mead.
|The book club selected|
the first in my series
I think, though, that my favorite meeting of the club was the first one I attended, when the book selected was my own Steeled for Murder, first in the Jesse Damon Crime Novel series. That one was a culinary challenge, too, since Jesse’s diet consists of ramen noodles, peanut butter sandwiches and canned chili.
I’m looking forward to the selections the coming months will bring, both old familiar friends and authors who for some reason I have missed.
And our field trip suggestions are coming in, including the possibility of attendig a one day local conference, Murder as You Like It, organized by the local Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookstore and Mystery Writers of America.
Do you belong to a book club or other group centered on crime fiction?