When Jeff asked me to blog every other Sunday, I thought, “What do I know about dead guys in living rooms....except from reading mysteries for decades?”
But then I recalled that my father was found dead on the living room couch, in our family home He wasn't murdered, but died of natural causes, including old age. The last book he was reading was DEATH BED: A FATHER KOESLER MYSTERY, by William Kienzle. My brothers and I hope Dad had time to finish the book. We also thought the title should have been DEATH COUCH.
As you can surmise, my Dad was a mystery reader. It was the one good addiction I inherited from him. Besides the mystery novels that were always around, there were those great radio mysteries. (Yes, I am old) There was “Inner Sanctum” with its creaking door, “The Shadow” who always knew what “evil lurks in the hearts of man.”
Also “Suspense” and “The Whistler” along with a more than one featuring a married couple who solved crimes. Thanks to the joys of the electronic age, it is possible to still listen to these shows. Yes, the “good old days” when murder was often featured on the airwaves instead of the hatred which seems to spew forth these days.
So what I was always looking for was a “death by homicide” in my life, though not in my living room. In 2000 I went to a Public Library Association conference in Charlotte, N.C. Not too long before I had read a book, CUTTINGS, by Anne Underwood Grant (c1999). In that book a body is found at a flower show at the Charlotte Convention Center where PLA was being held. I was so disappointed as I looked in every nook and cranny which I could locate, but there was not a corpse in sight. What a disappointment. <g>
If I wanted to be an amateur sleuth I lived in an ideal small town, of which a nearby city newspaper headlined: “Fostoria...another week, another murder.” Yes, and as the librarian and avid mystery reader, did I go out and try to solve the crimes. Nah, I let the police handle it. Two of the cases involved teens, and yes, I knew some of them and their families. Alas, besides being chicken, I had no friend who was as mystery-mad as I, nor a suitor on the police force or in the sheriffs' departments. (Our town is in three counties). No relative was a dispatcher at a local law enforcement agency and besides I worked well over 40 hours most weeks.
Then there was the time a former in-law died in Colorado. It was either an accidental overdose, suicide (with no note) or murder. She was with a boy friend who was not at all popular with her parents nor her former husband as he tried to take everything of value which she had. Now had I been one of my favorite heroines, I would have rushed to the airport and grabbed a plane for Denver. But I thought better of it and if I remember correctly the death was ruled an accident. Had I done that and gotten on a horse to go up to the mountains where she died, I know I would have fallen into that TSTL (Too Stupid to Live) category.
As much as I love reading, especially mysteries, I have become more selective over the years. I won't read a book that I've started and isn't entertaining or intriguing me. And I have some pet peeves which I will share later. And also tell you about the books that I really, really liked.
Also I will share some of the great things about being a mystery fan, including going to conferences and meeting my favorite authors and contacting them on-line. Do you suppose readers wrote fan letters to Jane Austen. Did she have book signings?
I know I'll never be a writer or a detective, amateur or professional. I will continue, however, to be an avid reader who likes to talk about what she has learned from reading and how that led to my ideal profession of being a librarian who worked as a public servant for over fifty years. And I will have thoughts, serious or silly, that I will share with you over the coming months.
Doris Ann Norris, the 2000-year-old librarian