Thursday, March 8, 2012

Carola Dunn

Carola Dunn is the author of the Daisy Dalrymple mystery series, set in England in the 1920s, most recently Gone West; and the Cornish mystery series, comprising so far Manna from Hades and A Colourful Death, with more to come. In fact, she has just finished writing the third, Valley of the Shadow.

Last month I asked Dunn what she was reading.  Her reply:
Who knew Sir Isaac Newton spent his later years working for the Royal Mint? History, mystery, biography, science, would-be magic, they all come into this fascinating book: Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World's Greatest Scientist by Thomas Levenson. Newton used his logical skills to catch a man who'd been ripping off the national monetary system for years. An interesting sidelight is Newton's belief in the Philosopher's Stone, that turns dross to gold, and his search to discover/create it.

In the realm of science, I read The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos by Brian Greene. I didn't understand a lot of it, but the concepts—branes, bubble universes etc.--were fascinating.

The Wolf in the Parlor: How the Dog Came to Share Your Brain, by Jon Franklin, was what you might call speculative science. Franklin postulates that dogs and humans co-evolved, that without dogs we would not have become what we are—and vice versa. Being a dog-lover, I go for this theory whole-heartedly.

Another interesting book I read recently was fiction—you could call it fantasy. The Leftovers, by Tom Perrotta, is about a small group of people coming to terms with being among those left behind after the so-called Rapture—which doesn't seem to be anything like what Rapture-believers expect. The people who suddenly vanish aren't necessarily good, nor are they Christians. They're of all beliefs and none. The discombobulating effects on society and on individuals are well-imagined and the main characters are sympathetic, though I have to say I would have liked some sort of explanation of what happened.

I enjoy reading mysteries as well as writing them. One of my favourites is Spencer Quinn's Chet and Bernie series. Bernie is a private eye in LA, and Chet is his dog. The books are written from Chet's point of view, normally something I avoid like the plague. But Quinn does the dog's voice so beautifully, it really feels like a dog's thinking. He gets distracted by passing smells, doesn't understand a good deal of what Bernie says to him, and can't imagine anything wrong with the world as long as his person is with him. As I mentioned, I'm a dog person! I caught up with the series with The Dog Who Knew Too Much.

Another series I like is Roderic Jeffries Majorcan mysteries. Murder Majorcan Style is the latest in Inspector Alvarez's questionable triumphs—he usually works out whodunnit, but his superior chief never gives him credit. Alvarez loves brandy, good food, Mallorca, naps, and women, not necessarily in that order. He's in no hurry, but he gets there in the end. The setting is wonderfully portrayed, with the conflict between the natives and the invading hordes of Northern Europeans.
Visit Carola Dunn's website.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Carola Dunn & Trillian.

--Marshal Zeringue