Posts Tagged ‘summer reading’

Summer Friends

Monday, July 18th, 2011

I meet a new set of friends each summer. They exist on the pages of mystery novels. I choose a series and read as many books as I can find. It is comforting to go from one book to another; always returning to the adventures of the characters that I come to know and love.


Two of my best friends this summer are Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers. They live in a series of books written by Elizabeth George. She places these characters in New Scotland Yard inLondon, but they travel all overEnglandto solve crimes much too complicated for local law enforcement agencies. Lynley and Havers work well together and come to respect each other – although they are totally opposite in every way. Tommy is a tall, elegant, aristocratic Earl endowed with suave charm and keen intelligence. Barbara is a short, unattractive young woman living in a lower class neighborhood, but she is plenty smart. She often notes clues overlooked by others and she holds her ground in defending her positions.


George’s novels are complex and rich. The settings are intricate and accurate – exhibiting  her love ofEngland, although she is a native of theU.S.All of her characters, even the minor ones, have distinct personalities and psychological complexities. George also experiments with different writing styles – ensuring that each reading is fresh and exciting.


Kinsey Millhone was my friend of choice last summer. She appears in Sue Grafton’s alphabet mysteries, beginning with A Is for Alibi and continuing through U is for Undertow (so far).Kinsey is a Private Investigator inLos Angeles in the 1980s. She is single (twice divorced). The stories are told in first person and Kinsey’s cynical, wise-cracking personality balances out some of the horrific situations she finds herself in. Reading the books through (mostly in order of publication) provided an opportunity to experience Kinsey’s development and growing maturity.


Summer before last, I got well acquainted with Lieutenant Eve Dallas of the New York Police Department as J. D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts) envisioned it becoming in the mid-21st century, so her stories offered a bit of science fiction along with mystery. Eve is a tall, beautiful woman with confident strength of character. Her husband, known only as Roarke, is fantastically rich, wonderfully handsome, and ever supportive of his wife. These two main characters dominate the stories, but secondary characters were well developed and in some ways more likeable, such as Eve’s assistant, Delia Peabody – a bit overweight, uncertain about her abilities, and sometimes emotional.


Some of the murder scenes and harrowing events in all of the above mentioned books are pretty gruesome, but I read on steadily because I know that my book friends will solve the mysteries and all will be well by the end of each volume.