Saturday, June 23, 2012

Jeanne Matthews

Jeanne Matthews was born and raised in Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Journalism and has worked as a copywriter, a high school English and Drama teacher, and a paralegal. She currently lives in Renton, Washington with her husband, who is a law professor.

Her latest novel in the Dinah Pelerin Series is Bonereapers.

A few weeks ago I asked Matthews what she was reading.  Her reply:
A writer is forever learning his or her craft and one of the books I return to again and again for inspiration is Margaret Atwood's Negotiating With The Dead. She explores the reasons why any sane person would devote a lifetime to inventing situations that never happened and characters who never existed. It's a wonderful book, a philosophy of creative writing and what it means to be a writer, and her compilation of provocative quotations from other writers is a treasure.

I just finished reading Larry Karp's A Perilous Conception. Before becoming a writer, Larry was the Founder and Medical Director of the Reproductive Genetics Facility at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, and he delivered the first baby in the Pacific Northwest conceived through in vitro fertilization. His cleverly plotted medical mystery focuses on the race to perform a successful in vitro fertilization and the tragic consequences when one egotistical doctor allows his ambition to trump his ethical responsibility. The medical lore is fascinating and Detective Bernie Baumgartner's determination to outsmart the medical geniuses and solve the mystery make the story satisfying and engaging on several different levels.

My favorite books are the ones that take me places I haven't been. For that reason, I chose Code of Thieves by Joyce Yarrow. Joyce takes the reader on a tense journey from the Bronx to Russia. Her protagonist, Jo Epstein, combines the unlikely occupations of poet and detective, but the character comes across as completely authentic and believable. Named (somewhat infelicitously, perhaps) after Joseph Stalin, Jo is unique and her insights, both social and psychological, are astute. The story begins when Jo's stepfather, a Russian immigrant, receives ominous threats from someone back in the old country. Jo feels obliged to travel to Russia and track down his nemesis. The descriptions are rich and detailed and put me right there on the ground in Russia with Jo.

Busy as I am with my own writing, it's hard for me to keep up with the latest crime novels and I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that another book I'm reading now came out in 2007. Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn has been widely praised and it's easy to see why. Set in London during the 1890s, this elegantly told tale of murder and detection is also an education in Victorian upper-class mores and sensibilities. Since 2007, there have been four sequels featuring Ms. Raybourn's offbeat Lady Julia Grey as the aristocratic sleuth.Silent in the Grave  develops slowly for a mystery, but it's delightful to follow along as the widowed Lady Julia begins to arrive at a sense of her true self, having been freed from the influence of her (deviously murdered) husband. After this introduction to Lady Julia's wit and the cast of her eccentric relatives, I'm looking forward to the sequels.
Visit Jeanne Matthews's website.

--Marshal Zeringue