Sunday, June 3, 2012
The Background Research Is Important
I wrote a previous blog about the possible linkages between my wife Elaine’s dog Jake and Robert B. Parker’s real life and fictional dogs named Pearl. As I found myself trying to remember when Spenser first met Susan Silverman and when Susan first acquired Pearl, the availability of a convenient resource made this research project simple. The resource, designed by Elaine during a bathroom remodel several years ago, is a set of built in bookshelves in an unusual, but very convenient, setting and the paperback mystery novel collection I keep in these shelves (see Figure 1). These are the old favorites I will read again and the various series I have collected because I've enjoyed them so much.
Figure 1---The bookshelves
Included in the book collection are mystery novels mostly based in the two states we have lived in as a couple, California and Massachusetts. There is a complete run of the Spenser series neatly filed in the lower right section of the shelves, under “P” for Parker. It took just a few minutes to skim through the earlier books until I found Susan in God save the Child, in her early incarnation as a school guidance counsellor, and Pearl, who joined the series several books later in Pastime. Other series in the shelves set in Boston include Parker's other two series, featuring Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall, books by Jeremiah Healy (his John Francis Cuddy series) and Linda Barnes’ Carlotta Carlyle series.
Pride of place for California P.I. novels in the collection goes to Ross MacDonald (the entire Lew Archer series, which is my all time favorite, and some of MacDonald's earlier works from just after World War II, which give me hope that if an author stays at it, he or she will continue to improve). Also in this grouping are Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe novels and some of the short stories, the lesser known Jack Lynch’s Bragg series, Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch series, Robert Crais' Elvis Cole novels, and Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins series. In addition I've collected lots of Marcia Muller's Sharon McCone novels, Arthur Lyons' Jacob Asch series, Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware books, and John Lescroart's Dismas Hardy novels. A few oddball books like Robert B. Parker appearing again with Poodle Springs, Perchance to Dream, and Gunman's Rhapsody and Fred Zackel's Cocaine and Blue Eyes (in the far lower right hand corner of the shelves). Leaving California, we also have a few more favorite series including Donald Hamilton’s Matt Helm series and Tony Hillerman's Navajo police novels. Throw in a whole lot more books from other authors in this genre and the shelves are full.