Tag: William Tapply

William Tapply

Dorsey's SASSIES AWARDS

 It’s award season, not only for books, but also music, movies, and plays. A lot of the time, I’ve never heard the names of people nominated, although that shouldn’t diminish the recognition that they deserve. But I’ve been thinking, well, maybe I ought to give out a few awards of my own. (DISCLAIMER: The awards made in this blog entry are solely attributable to the blog post writer, me, C. Michele Dorsey. No blame should be placed on the shoulders of my fabulous blog mates, the Miss Demeanors. ) Now that we have that out of the way, I am announcing the SASSIES, Still Awesome Sustainable Series I Enjoy Savoring.             I read a ton of books, lots of them are marvelous, but the SASSIES are about books I wait for, as in I usually know the pub date and anticipate it eagerly. The SASSIES have characters I consider longtime companions if not friends. Their authors are writers whom I admire and frankly have a literary crush on. I write sentences from their books in a notebook reserved for “Sentences I Wish I Had Written.”            Some of these writers have been writing the same series since the 1980’s. While I confess I may find an occasional entry in the series a little less perfect than the others, the character evolution and plot development always are at a level I seek to emulate. The writing never fails. Never.             And so please roll out the red carpet for Dorsey’s SASSIES:  1.        Elizabeth George for her Inspector Lynley series. George combines intricacy of plot, fallible characters, and bucolic settings in England to deliver time after time. Her vocabulary has challenged me more than once in each book to head for the dictionary, a trip I thoroughly enjoy. The books can be a tad long, but when they are this good, who cares? The best in the series was“Playing for the Ashes.” 2.        Peter Robinson for his Inspector Banks series. Alan Banks and I are growing old together, but I haven’t minded because Robinson is able to humanize his police procedurals, also set in England. Like in George’s series, the reoccurring cast of characters live lives almost as messy as those of the criminals they pursue, but Robinson never lets that get in the way of the story. My favorite in the series was “In A Dry Season.’ I do wish Inspector Banks hadn’t changed his taste from opera and classical music to rock.  3.        Tana French for the Dublin Murder Squad series. Stunning writing, brutal storytelling, and characters that stay with you make this newer series one of my favorites. I’m hard pressed to pick a favorite, but I can tell you “Broken Harbor” was spellbinding and haunts me to this day. French’s books keep me up at night and often have me switching from audio to print versions so I don’t have to put them down.   4        Louise Penny for the Inspector Gamache series. I came late to this party, reading the tenth book, “The Long Way Home” first.  By the third chapter, I wanted to move to Three Pines where Penny has created a village of imperfect characters who all care about each other even as bodies fall around them. I was so taken with Penny’s writing and ability to create characters you truly feel you know, that I vowed to read the all in order. A year ago I ventured back to Three Pines and read each book in the series in succession. When I was done, I felt a void. I tried the if-you-like-Louise-Penny-try this author without success, which is a true tribute to the cast of characters she has brought alive for readers. My favorite is “The Beautiful Mystery” set in a cloister of monks in the wilderness of Quebec, a brave endeavor skillfully executed.  5.        Robert Galbraith (J.K.Rowling’s pseudonym) for the Cormoran Srike series. I hadn’t followed the Harry Potter series closely, so was surprised at how well the characters captured me and had me waiting for the next in the series.  Strike is former military police and an amputee who has begun his own private investigation business. The tension between Strike and his assistant, Robin, rivals Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd in Moonlighting.  6.        Sue Grafton for her Kinsey Milhone series. I went through the alphabet with this series, never imagining it would be cut short at “Y” by Grafton’s recent death. Kinsey’s quirkiness coupled with a truly sad childhood not born of cliché made me bond with her early. Grafton’s ability to use small details to flesh out her characters inspired me to write. My favorite was “M is for Malice,” in which she portrayed the murder victim with such melancholy, I felt the need to mourn him, much as I do now this gifted author. I will miss Kinsey Milhone.  7        William Tapply for his Brady Coyne series. Tapply died nine years ago, but I gave him a SASSIES award because every year, I miss having a new Brady Coyne mystery to ready. A wonderful writer, Tapply created an irreverent lawyer who preferred to be fishing on a river than in a courtroom. All of his books are good, so if you’re looking for a series to devour, consider this one.So there you have it. The 2018 SASSIES are now history. I am grateful to each of these authors for consistently giving me something to look forward to each year. Keep on writing!Who would you give a SASSIES award to?

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Feeding the Hungry Reader

French Comfort Food, by Hillary Davis, one of my favorite cookbooks,    How would you like a buttery grilled cheese sandwich filled with Cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and bacon right now? Or perhaps a tuna melt on rye bulging with melted Gruyere? Maybe a plate of creamy macaroni and a combination of three cheeses, not one? Too plebian? We could add chunks of lobster.            Not feeling savory at the moment? Could I get you a plate of warm chewy chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven? Or a piece of apple pie with feathery light flaky crust? No? I could dish up a piece of moist golden cake with homemade chocolate buttercream frosting if you’d prefer.            If you aren’t hungry by now, you may not be human. Just the very description of these foods, often categorized as “comfort food” is enough to make a reader salivate, which is why most readers and writers are captivated by food in stories. Food helps to create atmosphere and lends authenticity to an environment. I defy you to read Barbara Ross’s Maine Clambake series and not crave lobster. When Stone Barrington cuts into a steak at the legendary, now defunct, Elaine’s in Stuart Woods’ wildly popular series, most readers find their mouths mysteriously open.            Food enhances reading. Food enriches writing. Food brings joy to life. Cozy mystery writers have long understood this. Joanne Fluke (Blueberry Pie Murder), Diane Mott Davidson (Sticks and Scones), Lucy Burdette (Killer Takeout), and Edith Maxwell (When the Grits Hit the Fan) all have written popular series with variations in food themes.            Other mystery subgenres feature food regularly. Olivier cooks up a gastronomic storm at his bistro in Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series, while Clara serves comfort food to friends at her kitchen table. From Steak Frites with Mayonnaise to Coq Au Vin with a Hint of Maple, readers feast on Canadian specialties when not merely content to munch on a steady diet of buttery croissants.            Readers, myself included, have been driven to patronize restaurants featured in books. Margaret Truman’s books enticed me to try the old Le Lion D’Or in Washington D.C. when my daughter was in college there. My husband didn’t get it, especially when the tab arrived. He was on board when we headed to a Spanish restaurant in Harvard Square where William Tapply had his protagonist, Brady Coyne frequenting.            Writers use food more than gratuitously. It can be part of the plot as in Tana French’s recent release, The Trespasser, where a romantic dinner prepared by the murder victim but never shared, became an integral part of the story.            In Permanent Sunset, I chose the bride’s choice of her wedding menu as a window into her soul. I later used the wedding meal, which was never served to guests due to the untimely death of the bride, to color a police officer corrupt and to paint a portrait of the surviving family members.            I happen to love writing about food, possibly because I love reading about it (I own a few hundred cookbooks and this is after “downsizing”), only slightly less than cooking it. For me, it is as much pleasure deciding what to serve my characters as it is what to serve guests in my home. I recently created a meatloaf dinner for my grieving protagonist, which she quite enjoyed.            Fortunately, calories don’t count when you are writing about food. Only pleasure. What brings you please when you read or write about food?                       Dessert from Hillary Davis                       

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