Friday, December 21, 2018

Friday 's Forgotten Books, December 21, 2018

 From the archives

Andi Shechter has been a publicist, chat host, interviewer, convention-planner, essayist and reviewer.

NO HUMAN INVOLVED, Barbara Seranella

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.

Frank Babics,SENTENCED TO PRISM, Alan Dean Foster
Les Blatt, MORE MURDER IN A NUNNERY, Eric Shepherd
Brian Busby, BEST BOOKS read in 2018
Crossexaminingcrime. MYSTERY IN WHITE. J. Jefferson Farjeon
Martin Edwards, FIVE ROUNDABOUTS TO HEAVEN, Francis Iles
Richard Horton, THE CONFIDENCE MAN, HIS MASQUERADE, Herman Melville
Jerry House, The Caligari Complex by Basil Copper (1980)
The Secret of Shark Reef  by "William Arden" [Dennis Lynds] (1979)
George Kelley, TIED UP IN TINSEL, Ngaio Marsh
Margot Kinberg, ALL SHE WAS WORTH, Miyuke Miyabi
Rob Kitchin, COP HATER, Ed McBain; SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE, Kurt Vonnegut
B.V. Lawson, DANGLE, Meg Elizabeth Atkins
Evan Lewis, THE KING'S COAT, Dewey Lambdin
Todd Mason,   "The Faithless", a novella by John D. MacDonald, plus stories by James McKimmey, Jr. et al.: REDBOOK, May 1958, 
Matt Paust, THE DEATH OF MR. LOMAS, Francis Vivian
Rick Robinson, A  HOLIDAY FOR MURDER, Agatha Christie
Gerard Saylor, THE TOMB, F. Paul Wilson
Kevin Tipple, FLASHBACK, Ted Wood
TomCat, TIME WANTS A SKELETON, Ross Rocklynne
TracyK, THE SHORTEST DAY, Jane Langton 


Jeff Meyerson said...

Excellent review. I agree totally. The Munch Mancini series is great and she was a fascinating character.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Just glad to see you collecting again, Patti. I hope that means things have gotten at least a little better for now.

Casual Debris said...

Hi Patti,

I forgot last night to hit Submit. My review is now live:


Mathew Paust said...

I echo Kevin's comment. Hope Phil is on the mend!

George said...

Glad to see you back hosting FFB!

J F Norris said...

Will you please add me to the list?

Valancourt Book of Victorian Ghost Stories, volume 3

TracyK said...

Thanks for including that review of No Human Involved, Patti. I have a copy of that and am reminded I need to pull it out and read it. And thanks for including my post. Hope things are going well with you and Phil.

Anonymous said...

So glad you're back, Patti! And it is awful losing a friend. I've read No Human Involved and it is an unusual story with a unique protagonist.