Thursday, June 05, 2008


Julia Buckley (author of Madeline Mann)
I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson
My forgotten book is a relatively recent bestseller(2002),
but one that people may have forgotten about by now,
and which is worth a re-read. It’s called I Don’t Know How She Does It,
by Allison Pearson. I first read a little blurb about this book in a
magazine and thought it sounded intriguing.It was about a woman (named Kate
Reddy) with the same old problem—wanting it all
—who finds that it’s very stressful to have it all. She is a mother,
a wife, a high-powered executive. She is still young and attractive,
but always stressed out and continually exhausted.She is very funny
and often tragic. And yes, this book will make you laugh and cry,
whether or not you’ve been in Kate’s situation. But almost all
women, I think, can relate to this heroine, as you will find
when you read this wonderful, wonderful book. Pearson precedes
Chapter 1 with an epigraph: the definition of the word “juggle.”
And that is what Kate does throughout her life, starting with the first
chapter, which finds Kate in her kitchen at almost two in the morning,
hitting mince pies with a rolling pin. You see, she has to contribute
to the refreshments for her daughter’s school carol concert.
She bought the pies at the store, but she wants them to appear homemade
so that the “good mothers” who don’t have jobs don’t look at her with
their special brand of superiority.
Kate has only just returned from a business trip to the States,
but she feels obligated to be a good mother and create the false
image of homemade pies. Pearson’s diction is beautiful and
heartbreaking. Kate looks outside, after her husband sleepily tells
her to come to bed, and sees that “a crescent moon is reclining
in its deck chair over London” and then reflects that it must be
a Man in the Moon, because “if it were a Woman in the Moon,
she’d never sit down.” And thus begin Kate’s exhausting yet wonderful
adventures, in a tale which is a tribute to real women everywhere.
M.J.Rose (author of The Reincarnationist)
Grammercy Park by Paula Cohen
Grammercy Park by Paula Cohen, was published seven years ago and I came
across it by accident via - if you liked X, you'll like Y -
and something about the cover or the title intrigued me enough to
read the description and then order the book and then read the book.
And loved it.

This is what the Amazon review says and I agree: "Smart, tender, witty and titillating libidinous, Cohen's debut fiction is a credit to the genre of the historical novel. Set in 1894 in the eponymous Manhattan enclave at a time when Mrs. Astor ruled New York society, the novel boasts vivid characters, both sublime and nasty, and a sly and absorbing plot embroidered with period details."

Sean Chercover, (author of Big City, Bad Blood)

Derek Raymond's Factory Series

For years I’ve been pimping Derek Raymond to anyone who would
listen. His four-book Factory series, narrated by an unnamed London
police detective, are about as bleak and beautiful as it gets.

Those willing to look at the dark side will be richly rewarded.
There is no hope for redemption here, but Raymond’s language is
poetic, and there is sometimes humor to be found in the darkness.

And the really good news is, Derek Raymond’s Factory series is
(finally) back in print, thanks to the good folks at Serpent’s Tail.
So you won’t have to search used bookstores and garage sales to find
a copy. Start at the beginning, with HE DIED WITH HIS EYES OPEN.
and I WAS DORA SUAREZ. This last one is so bleak you might want to
lock up the razor blades before reading it. Thanks, Sean.

Lee Lofland (author Police Procedure and Investigation, A Guide For Writers)
by Patricia Cornwell

The first autopsy I ever attended as a police officer was performed by Dr. Marcello Fierro, Virginia’s Chief Medical Examiner. Dr. Fierro is a brilliant pathologist, and world renowned. Little did I know at the time, watching her dissect a fragile human corpse, that I’d become tangled in a world woven from threads of reality and fiction, all centered on her.

Patricia Cornwell, having worked in Virginia’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, found Dr. Fierro as equally fascinating as I did, and based her lead character, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, on the doctor.

Cornwell’s first book Postmortem is based on a real case that took place in Virginia, in an area where I worked many nights as an undercover police officer. The real-life killer, Timothy Spencer, was one of our country’s most notorious serial killers. He was also the first person in the United States to be sentenced to death based on DNA evidence. I served as a witness to Spencer’s execution.

In Postmortem, Scarpetta takes the reader on a grisly journey through the historic streets of Richmond, Virginia. The imagery in this book is exceptional. Maybe it’s because I know the area like the back of my hand, or maybe it’s because Cornwell painted such a fantastic picture of this southern city that I can smell honeysuckle when I open the book.

Postmortem is a convoluted tale of a stealthy serial killer who committed his deeds under the cover of darkness with an unusual level of intelligence. This story was also, for many readers, a first glimpse at forensic science—the original CSI.

Scarpetta must locate the killer before he adds a fifth victim to his body count. She uses every trick in her book of forensics to identify the worst serial killer in her fictional world. She also finds herself having to defend her own life—someone wants her dead—after an unknown person inside her own department sabotages the investigation.

This early work was Cormwell in her shining moment. A great read

My connection to Dr. Fierro/Kay Scarpetta continued over the years. When my wife received her PhD, Dr, Fierro and her assistant joined us for dinner in Richmond’s exclusive Commonwealth Club. My association with the doctor ended soon after I shot and killed a bank robber during a gun battle. Dr. Fierro’s office performed the autopsy on the dead robber. I retired shortly afterward. Dr. Fierro has since retired, but Dr. Kay Scarpetta lives on.

Robin Agnew (proprietor of Aunt Agatha's Books in Ann Arbor, MI)

KJ. Erickson wrote four wonderful mysteries, but the best in my opinion - and a mystery classic - was
2003's THE LAST WITNESS. I see that searching her on "fantastic fiction" doesn't even come up with a match which is a shame. I don't think these are ALL out of print but if they aren't they are going very fast. This series is a police procedural set in Minneapolis, featuring a single dad, Mars Bahr. Terrible name, great character. While they are focused on police details, the stories are always so compelling that the police part is almost a sidebar to the story. In this book basketball star T-Jack is hammering out the details of his divorce with his inlaws and his wife's lawyer; at the same time his wife's body is found, battered and bloody, on the kitchen floor of their house. While everyone thinks T-Jack is their perfect suspect - he was known to be violent and possessive - his alibi is pretty iron-clad. Mars is given the task of breaking it, along with his assistant, Nettie, who is more computer than people savvy. The novel becomes a combination of suspense, police work, wonderful writing and terrific, memorable characters and also has one of the better endings I think I've ever encountered. Erickson is a thoughtful, intelligent woman who worships Truman Capote and who is very serious about her writing - forgetting her work is a terrible idea. Ellen Hart, another writer I admire, told me that one student she taught in writing class who she thought was a discovery was KJ Erickson. Nuff said.

And here are some more Forgotten Books to peruse:


Clea Simon said...

So glad you've started this, Patti! It's a real service and a hoot to participate in and to read. So much so, in fact, that I've done a second week - at or
And Caroline Leavitt, who I'd tapped, has tapped two more authors for next week.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Clea (nice seeing you at Kate's party late month, Clea). This was fun. Thanks for inviting me to participate, Patti.

Anonymous said...

I meant last month, not late month. May definitely arrived on time.

pattinase (abbott) said...

And thanks for making it possible. And feel free to come back for more.

Gerald So said...

Patti, I saw your invite to do a Forgotten Book next Friday (the 13th). I've been under the weather since Tuesday, but I'd be glad to do it.