Monday, April 20, 2009


Every time I set out to post a blog entry or look for comments, I see the introduction at the top of my home page. "An ongoing conversation with myself and others about a book I am writing..." and I feel an immediate thud in my stomach. "A book I am writing" should more aptly be "A book I started but pay scant attention to nowadays". There are many excuses. One of these is that I love to read books. So, the latest "diversion" is a tidy little mystery from Poisoned Pen Press, "The Coffin Trail" by Martin Edwards.

I read about this mystery on my favorite book blog, "Books Please". I looked for it in several used bookshops but no luck. A quick search on netted a used copy in good condition. So, earlier this week I took a little imaginary trip to England's Lakes District in an effort to slay the "blue mood" dragon (the bane of my existence, I am sorry to say).

From the back cover:

"When author/professor Daniel and journalist Miranda decide to abandon their hectic big-city lives for bucolic bliss at Tarn Cottage in England's Lakes District, they come under the spell of an old murder. Unbeknownst to Miranda, the alleged perpetrator of a bizarre, bloody killing involving the nearby Sacrifice Stone lived in said Tarn Cottage and was Daniel's friend.

Soon Daniel's helping the Cold Case Squad's Hannah Scarlett, who worked with Daniel's recently deceased estranged dad on the original case. With its twisty plot, atmospheric setting, and typical English-village characters, this new series from British crime novelist Edwards will appeal to Peter Robinson and Reginald Hill devotees."

So you see, we have the academic playing amateur detective with personal connections to the suspected murderer and to the investigating officer, all in a storybook setting. Perfect diversionary material! I was on to the murderer about halfway through the book but totally missed the motive. Actually, I think it was just a lucky guess on my part because the reason behind the murder and how it all played out was quite unexpected. I will definitely look for more books in this series and for Peter Robinson and Reginald Hill mysteries too.

A note about Poisoned Pen Press (I love the name!)...founded in 1996 by Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen a Mystery Bookstore and More in Scottsdale, Arizona, this publishing house is dedicated, according to their website, to "making available books, whether originals or reprints for today's mystery audience." Peters started Poisoned Pen Press as a response to consolidations in the publishing industry that, in her view, "represented a threat to cultural diversity and to the survival of the independent bookstore--ultimately becoming a subtle form of censorship. Besides, she wants to sell books she likes."

Good for her! If you are a mystery fan, you have probably already run across Poisoned Pen Press. If not, be on the lookout, I know I will.

So, another happy diversion. Perhaps, at this stage in life, I should not think of these as "diversions", but as "doing what I like". Is "writing the book" what I like? Good question.

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