Was it murder--or something serious?
Philip Marlow in Murder, My Sweet

Friday, May 2, 2014

It's Not Personal

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Yesterday was a bonanza day at Thrilling Detective HQ. Mr. Thrilling got the usual parcels of cozy mysteries as well as a few books that he might actually read. I was pawing over the pastel offerings, trying to see if there was anything I might be interested in before I hand them off to my mom (she is your devoted fan, believe me -- but she has no book buying budget.)

I was reminded again -- and this is such a hard lesson for authors, maybe an impossible lesson -- so much of what we like or dislike in our reading (or our anything, I guess) has NOTHING to do with the quality of it. For example I will not read a pet mystery. I love pets, I miss having a dog a lot, but not only do I have no interest in anything pet-related, I actually find the whole concept kind of irritating.

I have no idea why. Sentient animals are the worst, but even perfectly ordinary pet-related books are an instant pass. Most of the time I won’t even read the blurb. Now that’s as impersonal as it gets.

I also can’t stand anything to do with knitting, spinning, sewing, embroidering, crocheting… Just…no. I have nothing against these activities, but for some reason they are an instant turn-off in a book. Now, I am well aware of the phenomenal success of all those knitting mysteries and knitting romances, so I’m not under the illusion that I have any instinct for what is commercial (see Poetic Death series).

Toys…teddy bears, dolls, doll houses…no. Maybe a collector of vintage toys…hmm. I might like that. I love antiques, but then again, as much as I love the idea of an antique collector/restorer/auctioneerer I don’t think I’ve actually ever got around to reading any.

Art is always good for me. Anything to do with books. Book collecting, in particular. Owning bookstores, obviously. But then again I have a few of those Booktown Mysteries, and I’ve never felt inclined to actually read one. I like looking at their charming covers though. They make me want to read...though somehow not them. I like books about writers, but it’s difficult to sell those outside of chicklit. Egyptology. Archeology. These are all wins. I like vintage clothes and gardening. I love jewelry. I collect vintage jewelry. Selro, anyone? But I don’t want to read about a jewelry collector.

Food. I love food. I love cooking. But I don’t think I like any cooking mysteries. I buy them though. Especially the ones that have cupcakes on the cover. The promise of recipes in a book does nothing for me. It’s not a turn-off. It's just not an incentive. I always faithfully read the blurbs. Sometimes I will even sample the first couple of pages, and they are usually absolutely FINE. Occasionally even delicious.

It’s so weird trying to analyze why we like what we like. And why we dislike sight unseen…jam-making mysteries or stock car mysteries or Bible salesman mysteries (come on, there HAS to be an inspirational cozy series about a Bible salesman).

I wonder if it’s the whole concept of series? I am very much burnt-out on the idea of a series. I could read and enjoy a standalone novel about, well, something -- a jewelry collector -- if the conceit didn’t have to stretch to five books and counting.

But that’s just me.


  1. No pets, needle crafts, or girly collectables. I seem to remember kids are verboten, too. lol Back in the day I read Lillian Jackson Braun and Diane Mott Davidson, but I steer clear of the gimmicky series cozies popular now.

    You’ve mentioned preferring stand-alones before. Is that as a reader or writer? I enjoy series, but I can see how they could become creatively boring for an author.

    So I’m guessing you'd skip the vintage Doan and Carstairs stories by Norbert Davis. I just ran across them on Kindle, and the hardboiled PI partnered with a Great Dane sounds fun. Kind of a noir pastiche. I figure I can't go wrong at 99 cents.


    1. I read those Doan and Carstairs and enjoyed them very much. In fact, I bought all the Rue Morgue Press editions for my mother, who loves them.

  2. I just finished the first in the series and enjoyed the 40's dialog. Lots of action, lots of bodies, and a secret passage/rooms--good stuff. I like that Doan is shady, and Carstairs isn't your typical warm and fuzzy pooch.


    I only stumbled across the series because of Amazon's bizarre search algorithm. I was checking to see if any of Dorothy Gilman's old standalones were on Kindle, and Doan and 'Carstairs' popped up. Apparently just a character in a book will pull up similar results. Who knew?

    I see you updated your author pic. Very artsy. :0)