I read In The Market for Murder by T. E. Kinsey and really enjoyed visiting Lady Hardcastle and her kung-fu maid, Florence, a second time. Humor permeates these books. This one takes place in 1909, but Lady Hardcastle is way ahead of her times, always pushing the boundaries and solving crimes. The mysteries–three in this book that seem separate but are all connected–are solid. I like it when I read a mystery and the mystery is a decent part of the plot and well thought out. These are.
I bought the first book in this series because I looked at the top 100 mysteries for some category and noticed not one or two, but FIVE of T. E. Kinsey’s mysteries listed. And they were historical. Always a plus for me. So I decided to try one. And I found it extremely entertaining. Which surprised me. In my mind, I had decided that best-selling books had to be weighty and serious. Lady Hardcastle is NOT serious. Neither is her maid, Florence. They take potshots at each other and enjoy it tremendously. Lady Hardcastle enjoys brandy…often. And when stressed or bored, Florence fills the kitchen with so many cakes, they have to give most away.
In this particular Lady Hardcastle mystery, sleights of hand play a big part. There’s a séance that might or might not be legit. Trophies disappear from a case but the thief didn’t leave the premises. All clever. All fun. And the books are hugely popular. As they should be.
My theory that bestsellers have to involve angst, character growth, and a certain amount of suffering hasn’t proven true in this case. The stakes didn’t make me lose sleep. I fell asleep smiling. And I love it!
I hope whatever you’re working on is going well, and enjoy this LAST week of May. I can’t believe it. It’s almost June–which I love. But where did the time go? Again?
I read a twitter post that made me happy. Lynn Cahoon is coming out with a new series, The Kitchen Witch. I’m a fan of her Tourist Trap mysteries. Add a witch to her whodunnits, and I’m in. I have a soft spot for nice witches and magic.
Way, way back when I wrote urban fantasies as Judith Post, I wrote a lot of Babet & Prosper short reads. Babet was a witch, and Prosper was a bear shifter and a detective for supernatural crimes. They lived in a city with a feel a bit like New Orleans. I wrote them mostly for fun, like I write Muddy River now as Judi Lynn. When I signed with Kensington to write romances, though, I left all of my urban fantasy behind.
After I wrote six Mill Pond romances, my editor let me try writing a cozy mystery, and that’s how the Jazzi Zanders mysteries came to be. But I missed the world of magic, and I noticed there were a lot of witch and wizard mysteries making their way onto Amazon. I bought and enjoyed quite a few of them–witches who worked in chocolate shops, in bakeries, in small towns. A lot of them had art for covers instead of models. Paintings of witches with black, pointy hats and black dresses. A lot of them were fun, light-hearted mysteries, and I enjoy them.
That’s not what I wrote when I started Muddy River, though. And that’s probably a marketing mistake, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in my ability to write humor. I used it in my first romance–COOKING UP TROUBLE, because I didn’t have much confidence that I could write romance either:) I’m still not sure either is my strong point. Mae Clair, who wrote the Hode’s Hill suspense series that I love, turned to humor for her short read, IN SEARCH OF McDOOGLE, and she nailed it. McDoogle was the perfect read for the end of a long, tiring day.
I like humor. Sometimes, I’m even funny. I’m just not a natural at it. But I’ve noticed that it works really well with good witches. And when Lynn Cahoon’s book comes out late August, I’m looking forward to see what her witch is up to.
I’m a fan of M.C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth mysteries. Having a laidback constable who’s happy doing his job and staying where he is, with no pretentions of ambition, even though he’s devilishly clever and always solves a case, is a novel twist. People often underestimate him, and that works to his advantage. It’s refreshing to read about someone who’s perfectly satisfied with his life. At least, so far. I’m way behind in the series.
M.C. Beaton also writes the Agatha Raisin mystery series, which can now be seen on Acorn TV. Way back, when the early books first came out, I bought a couple and tried them. And Agatha annoyed me so much, I couldn’t make myself read another one of them. I went right back to my clever, amiable Hamish. But recently a funny thing’s happened. I ran out of shows in the Shakespeare and Hathaway series I enjoyed so much. Ditto for the series Rosemary and Thyme. The Queens of Mystery was even shorter with its witty narrator and sly humor. I enjoy Longmire, but HH and I only watch one or two of those shows a week. So we tried Bosch, but that show’s so depressing, we’re going to finish the first series and swear off it. That led us to try Agatha Raisin on TV. And we really enjoy it.
I was younger when I first tried Agatha. I’m not sure if my sense of humor has changed, or if the TV shows appeal more to me than the books would. And for me, it doesn’t matter. I think I’ve found a good balance, watching Agatha and reading Hamish. It lets me enjoy both sides of M.C. Beaton.
What about you? Have you read M.C. Beaton? Do you enjoy Agatha and Hamish, or do you prefer one over the other?