Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sweet Mystery of Life by Dorothy Howell

My love of a good mystery began at age six. Though I was only in the first grade, I remember the moment quite clearly.

I was seated in a tiny wooden chair in a circle of about 10 children in Mrs. Hopkins’ reading group. We were slogging our way through the latest so-called adventure of Dick, Jane and Sally.

At the time, I didn’t know the meaning to the phrase “redundant dialogue” but, believe me, I was thinking it.

Do you remember the Dick, Jane, and Sally readers? They had lines such as, “Oh, look. Look, look, look. Look and see. See the cat. Oh, look and see the cat.” The repetition was meant to reinforce the vocabulary, but to me, the writing lacked something.

Then came the fateful day when the story finally became interesting. Sally, it seems, couldn’t find her car. It had disappeared, and not even Dick or Jane could find it. I perked up in my chair, suddenly enthralled. The dull story had turned into a mystery!

My love of mystery continued and I developed a huge crush on Encyclopedia Brown as I read about his adventures. I grew to adore suspense by devouring the entire Black Stallion series.

My love of reading in general was derailed in high school as I was forced to read the classics. Thankfully, I escaped my worst nightmare and was never assigned Moby Dick.

When I decided to write a mystery I knew it had to have some of the elements I enjoyed in the mysteries I read. Humor was a must, as well as quirky, multi-dimensional characters, and a romantic subplot.

The books of some of my favorite authors all have those elements. I’m hopelessly in love with both Elvis Cole and Joe Pike, the detectives in Robert Crais’ great series. Myron Bolitar, the sports agent in Harlan Coben’s books, is funny and clever, and gets along famously with a host of unusual friends.

I’m drawn to a little darker detective, at times. I’d seriously consider leaving my husband if Lee Child’s Jack Reacher showed up on my doorstep and asked me to go on the road with him. And if I’m ever involved in a murder investigation it’s my hope that Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch will be on the case.

As my new book HANDBAGS AND HOMICIDE makes the rounds and I continue to write the Haley Randolph series, I find that many people enjoy the same things about mystery. It must be funny, fast, and a flirtatious!

Oh, by the way, Sally discovered her car beneath Father’s hat.

Mystery solved!

Learn more about Dorothy Howell here