Friday, September 28, 2012

Jack Reacher's Beginning and a Local Bookstore

Here is a bold statement.  If Chicago ceased to exist, Minneapolis would be my next choice of a place to live.

Why?  Ok - I was just there for work and the weather was really nice so I know I don't have a realistic idea of the winters in Minnesota.  But the people who live there are so nice.  They have Surly in Minneapolis.  There is no sales tax on clothing.  I love Black Sheep Pizza.  And on this trip I discovered the store Once Upon a Crime.  Thank you tourist magazine in the hotel room!  Sometimes those magazines have good suggestions.  And let me repeat - NO sales tax on clothing.

So I headed over to Once Upon a Crime and killed some time in the nearby coffee shop waiting for the store to open.  The coffee shop was also very good but not as well run as my local in Chicago, The Grind.  There was another customer in the store and he was talking books with one of the owners.  This is a mystery only bookstore.  The customer is a big reader and he and the owner were having a great back and forth.   So I asked if they could suggest some series that were not so violent they would keep me up at night but did not feature cats or knitting.  As you can see from the stack above I did not leave empty handed.  But more than that it was so much fun shopping and talking books.  And showing how to search Etsy for cookie cutters shaped liked guns.

The other customer also travels for work.  I think mysteries lend themselves to travel reading because they are, as Nancy Pearl says, plot driven narratives.  And let me tell you, "The Affair", moves.  I was worried that Lee Child might be getting a little lazy with the Reacher series.  Except for the fact that there are a lot of U-turns in this book (actual cars making U-turns - they seem to be doing it all the time!) this is a good story that keeps you interested.  As with many mysteries it's not the actual case that is the center of attention, it's the characters and their relationships.  This one goes back in time to right before Reacher leaves the Army so you get background into that as well as some insight into future behavior.  The added short story was enjoyable because you are introduced to his mother and father.  And the preview for the next book sounds like a great story.  Could Reacher be vulnerable?

So I like mysteries, as you know, and sometimes truth is weirder than fiction.  I found an example this week for work and it got some of us talking about mystery series and their locations and naming conventions.  I was trying to convince someone to start writing a mystery series and said you have to plan a title naming scheme that lets you have lots of books.  Although Lee Child did not do that.  But Evanovich has numbers, Sue Grafton has the alphabet and Cara Black has the neighborhoods of Paris.

So how would you name your mystery series?  The months?  The signs of the Zodiac?  So many possibilities!  And if you are in Minneapolis stop by Once Upon a Crime.  You will not be sorry.

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