Elizabeth George: Banquet of Consequences Sunday, Nov 15 2015 

Auntie M had the distinct pleasure of taking a Masters Class in Beginnings with Elizabeth George last week at New England Crimebake. One of her favorite authors, George’s class was succinct and helpful. The diminutive wordsmith, who claims she is introverted, nevertheless charmed the entire audience over the three days she was there teaching, on panels, doing interviews and just being herself. She is an animal lover, another hit with Auntie M, and the two compared notes on her adorable Wire-haired Dachshund, Lucy, and Auntie M’s Italian Spinone, Radar, two opposite ends of the dog spectrum in size but not in jolly goodness.

George was generous with describing her writing process, which starts with the germ of an idea and victim as she explores her setting. Then she peoples that person’s world with other characters, creating long histories that in Auntie M’s screenwriting days were called “bibles.” Her plot unfolds from this and she’s off and writing a book for the satisfaction of readers, ones that have won her a deservedly huge following. Her newest is destined to keep her readers flipping pages.

BanquetConsequences
Elizabeth George’s 19th Lynley mystery, despite its size, lives up to the best of her work, with Lynley and Havers back on the case in Banquet of Consequences, a most apt title upon reflection.

George takes her time introducing the players: The Goldacre family consists of William and his girlfriend Lily; his brother Charlie and wife India, his mother Caroline, and her second husband, Alastair MacKerron. Their interaction is key to the events that take place some months leading up to William’s suicide, an event that precipitates extraordinary fallout, some of which overlaps into a case of poisoning in Cambridge that handed to Lynleys’ DS Barbara Havers manages to get herself assigned to investigate.

Still smarting from her hasty actions in the last book, Just One Evil Act, which took Havers and Lynley to Italy to the chagrin of Det. Superintendant Isabelle Ardery, Havers has a sword of Damocles hanging over her head: a signed transfer request Ardery has no intention of tearing up if it means Havers toes the line.

Chafing at the bit and hating the restrictions placed on her detecting, Havers begs Lynley to go to bat for her and have the poisoning case assigned to her. That he has to go around Ardery to do it doesn’t improve either of their positions with the Super. Havers is allowed to investigate with a reluctant DS Winston Nkata at her side, yet the duo end up working their investigative magic as the case comes together in a most unexpected way.

The plot is complex, as are the personalities of the characters involved. The dead boy’s mother in particular is a pushy drama queen who never fails to keep the attention on her. There are side affairs, past secrets held and revealed, marriages fractured. There will be time for Lynley to ponder and pursue his relationship with the veterinarian, Daidre, and even a little dog, Arlo, who captures everyone’s heart except that of the Superintendent. One interesting subplot has Ardery’s secretary, the well-put-togehter Dee Harriman, deciding to take Havers under her wing and give her something of a life outside her work.

The final twist falls to the reader, one that will leave them pondering what is true justice and if it has been well served. An intriguing mystery with more than its share of tension and revelations. Highly recommended.

Laura Lee Smith: Heart of Palm Sunday, Mar 31 2013 

This week Auntie M will be in Florida, so it’s only fitting that our guest resides there. Please welcome Laura Smith telling readers about her novel Heart of Palm:

Freaky Florida—A Fiction Writer’s DreamHOP Cover Art

I once heard fiction writer and creative writing professor Lynne Barrett say that Florida is a great place for fiction because “Florida is complicated. It’s not a simple place. Problems arise.” And I have to agree. I’ve lived in Florida for more than thirty years, and I chose to set my novel HEART OF PALM here because I knew that Florida could deliver the eccentric characters and environmental tensions that would make for solid storytelling. It’s just a funky place.

Don’t believe me? Let’s not forget last year’s face-eating attack, or the shrimper who found the prosthetic leg of an ex-football player floating in the Gulf of Mexico.

The football player was tracked down. “Ain’t nobody dead,” he said. “Just give me back my leg.”

There’s no end of story ideas. Click the link for inspiration from The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Ah, Florida. Crime, conflict and crisis. You can’t make this stuff up.

But wacky stuff aside, one of the most serious conflicts I’ve witnessed here has been the clash of cultures between old ways of living and new development.

I live in the nation’s Oldest City, but at the same time, my home county is one of the fastest-growing in the state. Total population in St. Johns County grew 54.3% in the last 10 years.

People want to live here, and who can blame them? It’s warm and sunny. It’s comparatively inexpensive. It’s picturesque. But what happens when the newcomers want to change things, and the old guard does not? That’s the conflict I handed my fictional family, the Bravos, in HEART OF PALM.

The novel is told in the voices of six members of the hapless Bravo family—stalwart natives of the neglected and hard-worn town of Utina, a relic of palm harvesters and moonshiners in fast-developing Northeast Florida.

The primary voice belongs to Frank, the middle-aged son who is juggling management of the family restaurant, support of his eccentric mother and sister, and resentment toward his aloof older brother and his absent father. To complicate matters, Frank harbors a decades-old love for his brother’s wife.

We hear, too, from Frank’s mother Arla, a former ingénue who has been physically and emotionally scarred by the life and the marriage she impetuously chose. Also here are the narratives of Sofia, the fragile cynic; Carson, the volatile autocrat; Elizabeth, the voice of reason; and Dean, the heartbreaking but maddeningly affable alcoholic.

Behind each family member’s agenda lurks the memory of shared tragedy and shared blame. When a real estate offer presents a chance for change, Frank faces a hard choice: he can continue his self-imposed penance, or he can pursue his long-postponed desires.

The book is first and foremost about a family. But it’s greatly influenced by the environment in which it takes place. And when it comes to ratcheting up narrative tension, Florida can’t be beat. Take guilt, loneliness, lost love, financial ruin and grief, and then add 98-degree temperatures and suffocating humidity. And see what happens.

 

Laura Lee Smith’s first novel, HEART OF PALM will be released April 2 by Grove Press.      LauraLeeSmith Head Shot

Her short fiction was selected by guest editor Amy Hempel for inclusion in New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best, 2010. Her work has also appeared in The Florida Review, Natural Bridge, Bayou and other journals. She works as an advertising copywriter and has taught creative writing at Flagler College.

www.lauraleesmith.com

 

 

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The Graveyard Shift

S L Hollister, author

Welcome to Leeward

Liz Loves Books

The Wonderful World of Reading

The Life of Guppy

the care and feeding of our little fish

dru's book musings

Reading is a wonderful adventure!

JoHanna Massey

"I tramp the perpetual journey." Walt Whitman

MiddleSisterReviews.com

(mid'-l sis'-tǝr) n. the reader's favorite sister

My train of thoughts on...

Smile! Don't look back in anger.

K.R. Morrison, Author

My author site--news and other stuff about books and things

The Wickeds

Wicked Good Mysteries

John Bainbridge Writer

Indie Writer and Publisher

Some Days You Do ...

Writers & Writing, my own & other people's; movies, art, music & the search for a perfect flat white - the bits & pieces of a writing life.

Crimezine

#1 for Crime

Mellotone70Up

John Harvey on Books & Writing - his own & other people 's - Art, Music, Movies, & the elusive search for the perfect Flat White.

A thrilling Murder-Mystery...

...now being made into a radio drama

Past Offences: Classic crime, thrillers and mystery book reviews

The best mystery and crime fiction (up to 1987): Book and movie reviews