Thursday, March 13, 2014

Friday Reads: February Book Reviews, Part Two by Christine Locke

Ok--so this one is really late!  But here's the second installment for what I read in February.

Me and Murder, She Wrote by Peter S. Fischer

I've already confessed here on the blog that I love Murder, She Wrote.  I guess the weakness for the prime-time sleuthing of Jessica Fletcher dates back to sometime in the eighties when my grandfather wheeled the TV out of its place of shame in the coat closet, plugged it in, adjusted the bunny ears, and introduced me to the murder-magnet diva of detective dramas.  I fell in love, and now I stream Mrs. Fletcher any time I want on a  myriad of internet devices--none of  which are ever banished to the coat closet.  My dear grandmother would have been horrified.
So, imagine my delight to discover Peter S. Fischer, whose name you have seen many times indeed in MSW font if you are a fan.  Mr. Fischer produced and co-created the show, and he wrote many episodes during the  first seven years.  I loved hearing all about it.  In fact, I don't remember ever being this glued to a memoir.  I might not remember all the relevant names and the vast array of 70's and 80's  TV facts--you'd have to read the books more than once--but it's an unforgettable record of how some of your old favorite shows came to be--and why some wonderful ideas didn't work out (remember Harry McGraw?  I do.).
But I first heard about Fischer as a self-published mystery author who once co-created Murder, She Wrote.  That's right. He  has now transferred the ability to write those scripts that somebody "needed yesterday" into a penchant for mystery novel-writing, and, like many epub'd authors, Fischer writes fast.  Really fast.  Like, he already has at least a dozen books out, fast--not counting the MSW memoir book.  I'm checking those out, because, really, if Fischer is the storyteller, I don't see how I can lose....


Has Anybody Here Seen Wyckham? by Peter S. Fisher

I jumped into this series with the eighth book, and I don't really know why I did that.  It may  have been accidental.  But I was  relieved to find--and pleased to relate--that it doesn't matter.  Although the series follows the adventures of the same detective throughout, each mystery also works as stand-alone entertainment.
This should come as no surprise given Fisher's background, but he writes a  great mystery, if what you like is the classic whodunnit.  I do, so I'm tickled to find this series.  Has Anybody Here Seen Wyckham? has some fun twists, and I do like the character development of  the protagonist.  That's often lacking in this kind of series.  Also--Fisher uses his extensive knowledge of Hollywood history to enrich the  series: each murder mystery is set against the backdrop of a movie you might remember being made by stars you probably love.  John Wayne figures prominently in this one.
I'll be returning for more books in the series.  And here's something else worth noting: you know those order forms that used to be in the end pages of paperbacks?  Fisher has his own publishing company, and his books have those.  Not only that, but if you order directly from his publisher, he will sign the books for you.  Sounds like fun to me!



The Wisdom of Hair by Kim Boykin

The same young woman has  been cutting my hair and my children's hair for...I'm not even sure how many years, honestly.  We  know a lot more about each  other's marriages  than perhaps some of our relatives do, and we are quite literally watching each other's children grow up.  There is something magic about the salon, and it might be a Southern thing (think Steel Magnolias, again), but I'm not sure about that.  I also  have some very fond memories of my aunt's hairdresser in Portland, Maine, who cut my hair whenever I was visiting and always made me feel at home.  I'd hear all about her through my aunt and send my best wishes back the same way.
All this to say, I'm a big believer in what Boykin calls the wisdom of  hair.  In fact, I'm working on a novel manuscript in which a salon is of central importance, so I get it.  And  I was excited to see how another novelist would handle the topic.
This book is a romance, and there are steamy scenes and sweet, young love scenes aplenty.  However, the moments in this book that I found most true and sympathetic are not the romantic ones.  I loved looking into the work life of the characters and exploring their family dynamics, especially the painfully contrasted  mother/daughter relationships of the main  character and  the mother she must escape  compared to her best friend's close and nurturing relationship with her mother.  I enjoyed Boykin's take on  work and  family and love--and especially her sharing the wisdom of hair.  I'd recommend the book.

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