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)
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.
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.