Thursday, January 16, 2014

Beverle Graves Myers

Beverle Graves Myers is the author of Whispers of Vivaldi and five previous mystery novels featuring Tito Amato, the 18th-century sleuth with a stellar talent for sleuthing. A former psychiatrist, Myers divides her time between Louisville, Kentucky and southwest Florida.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Myers' reply:
Sometimes I read for entertainment, sometimes to inform myself on the trends in my chosen genre, which is, of course, historical mystery. It’s a joy when these two activities merge into one delicious read. Several recommendations:

A Woman of Consequence: The Investigations of Miss Dido Kent by Anna Dean. If Jane Austen had turned her hand to mystery, she might have created Dido Kent. I’ve been hooked on this series since Bellfield Hall introduced the inquisitive, puzzle-bending spinster—Dido is barely thirty-five, but unmarried, and thus a spinster dependent on the generosity of her family. Fortunately, her mind remains independent and highly observant. Much of the series’ appeal, besides the perfectly comprehensible Regency-inspired prose, is Dean’s seamless integration of the manners and culture of the period with the mystery plot. All carried off with wit and charm. I drop a curtsy in admiration.

Speaking From Among the Bones by Alan Bradley. This series is a near perfect example of the reasons I read historical mystery. Flavia de Luce, an eleven-year old sleuth and accomplished chemist, provides the freshest narrative voice I’ve come across in a long time. The setting of the English village and crumbling manor house suffering post-World War II privations is fully realized through the eyes of an unsettlingly precocious child. Each installment of the series contains a well-constructed mystery and also makes reference to the overarching question: what really happened to Harriet, Flavia’s mother rumored to have died in a mountain climbing accident? Like Flavia, we don’t believe that fluff for a moment. Suspend your disbelief in Flavia’s powers and romp through this series like the Nancy Drew books of yesterday. Start at the beginning with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

The Devil in Music by Kate Ross. This is an older book, sadly the last by its brilliant author who was lost to an early death, but worth revisiting or reading for the first time. The appeal to me is obvious—Northern Italy, opera, a cultivated sleuth with a pragmatic, loyal sidekick. The plot, melding the political with the musical, is complicated and secondary characters plentiful, but all is handled so deftly that the reader is never confused. Unless Ross is misdirecting with a purpose, a technique she mastered to perfection. Like all of the Julian Kestrel mysteries, this is a quality read. Highly recommended.
Visit Beverle Graves Myers' website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue