Thursday, November 29, 2007

Roberta Isleib

Clinical psychologist Roberta Isleib has written seven mysteries including five featuring a neurotic LPGA golfer and two starring psychologist/advice columnist Dr. Rebecca Butterman. Deadly Advice was published in March, with Preaching to the Corpse due to follow on December 4. Isleib is currently the president of Sisters in Crime International.

Last week I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
When I'm muddling through the work of writing one of my own books, I tend to read books that aren't mysteries. They seem more restful, I suppose, without the obligations of solving crimes and catching criminals. Having mailed in the manuscript for the third book in my new series to my editor last week, I've been in that phase.

This week I finished Good Grief by Lolly Winston, and hated to see it end. Thirty-six year old Sophie Stanton is reeling from the loss of her husband to cancer. The early chapters describing her helpless grief are hard to take, but the book picks up momentum as she moves to Oregon and gradually beings to piece her life back together. The characters are appealing, there's lots of good food, and a feel-good ending. Light, funny, and engaging.

At my recommendation, my book group recently read Boombox by Gabriel Cohen, published by Academy Chicago. I'd read Cohen's first novel back in 2002, a police procedural set in the Red Hook neighborhood of New York. It was a wonderful book, nominated for an Edgar for best first novel. Boombox was very different -- the short and tragic story of a group of unlikely neighbors who clash in a series of connected townhouses. The book asks fascinating though discouraging questions about whether people who come from different backgrounds can learn to live in proximity -- a good question for our times.

Here If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup is a lovely memoir by a woman who was widowed when her Maine state trooper husband was killed in a car chase, leaving her with four children and many questions about the meaning of life. She eventually attends divinity school and takes a job as the chaplain for the Maine Warden Service, accompanying professionals on search-and-rescue missions in the wilderness. The writing is clear and unsentimental, and her stories of grief and recovery -- both hers and the people she works with -- are moving.

On my to-be-read stack, I'm looking forward to sampling a first novel by Jennifer McMahon called Promise Not to Tell, and the third in a fabulous, dark police procedural series set in Iceland: Voices by Arnaldur Indridason.
Visit Roberta Isleib's website and her blog, and read her award-nominated story "Disturbance in the Field."

--Marshal Zeringue