Friday, July 05, 2019


Andi Shechter has been a publicist, chat host, interviewer, convention-planner, essayist and reviewer. She lives in Seattle with far too many books.

NO HUMAN INVOLVED, Barbara Seranella (reviewed by Andi Shechter)

The other day, in a fit of rereading (I get this way after trying two or three new books and finding them wanting) I picked up DEADMAN'S SWITCH by Barbara Seranella. This is a book I've read at least three times and will, undoubtedly read again. It was the last book Barbara wrote and I got annoyed thinking about that. It was the first book in a new series that featured a fascinating and terrific new protagonist, a woman with an interesting job in crisis management and an interesting life. Charlotte Lyon has obsessive compulsive disorder , an at times seriously disabling condition and Seranella it brilliantly – she was the "un-Monk" to me. (I know people with OCD and cannot watch the overbearing neurotic "Monk" who simply refuses to deal with his illness but instead expects the world to deal around him. Rrrrr.)

Sorry, off track. But see, the thing is that Barbara Seranella died in January of 2007 and that really frosts me. I'm still mad. I wasn't ready to lose a friend and to lose the person who created Munch Mancini, one of mystery's best protagonists. Her first book was NO HUMAN INVOLVED and it featured a character few of us had ever met. Munch was a junkie, an addict and was in trouble. In this first book, it's Munch's last day as an addict. She's going to get clean and sober. Throughout the history of the series, we watch her learn about all the life she missed while she was on drugs, all the hell she left behind and watch her try to get beyond it – something that's hard to do. She has debts she'll never pay, but she is learning to join society , as she puts it. Munch takes on responsibilities, sobers up without being preachy, faces the world pretty squarely and is just great to spend time with.

A couple years after I read NO HUMAN INVOLVED, I was hosting a discussion about hard-boiled mystery at a convention on a Sunday morning, It was a casual thing, a bunch of us sitting around in a circle and chatting. One of the participants in the conversation was so interesting, had so much to say and yeah, that was Barbara Seranella. I valued her friendship and the chance to catch up with her when she came to town on a book tour, and I miss her still. She had talent and used it. Her books are well crafted, and her protagonists unforgettable. This week, I'm reading my way through the Mancini series and being impressed all over again. I don't want her to be gone.


Margot Kinberg said...

It's interesting you chose this one, Patti. I thought Mancini was an interesting character, too, although I don't usually go for the 'deeply damaged' type of protagonist. Thanks for reminding me.

Jeff Meyerson said...

I loved Seranella's Munch Mancini series and was saddened when the author died so young.

TracyK said...

Thanks for this reminder that this book needs to be moved up on my TBR pile.

Todd Mason said...

SJ Rozan has the unwelcome news about Andi Shechter:

SJ Rozan:

Andi Malala Shechter has died. This is a great loss, to the writer/reader community, to progressive causes, and to me. Andi was one of the first people I met when I came into this world and she was first a great supporter and then a great friend. As does pretty much anyone who knew her, I have too many Andi stories to tell them all, but here's the first: I was registered for Bouchercon in Seattle in 1994. My first book was just out and I wasn't on any panels; I didn't even really get what Bouchercon was. Then four days before the con I got a phone call from someone named Andi. A NYC writer I knew had to drop off a panel and recommended me as her replacement. It was the Humor Panel, and Donald Westlake, among others, would be on it. Would I do it? This Andi person said she'd already read my book and I'd be perfect.
"But," said I, "I'm not funny."
The Andi person cracked up. "See?" she said when she stopped laughing. "I knew it."
I did that panel, it was great, and that was the start of a beautiful friendship.
Goodbye, friend. RIP.