Friday, March 29, 2019

Mariah Stewart

Mariah Stewart is the award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous novels and several novellas and short stories. A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors country life and tends her gardens while she works on her next novel.

Stewart's new novel is The Goodbye Café, book three in The Hudson Sisters Series.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
I love thrillers – suspense – police procedurals – mysteries. I thought I’d read just about everyone but then I stumbled over John Sandford and slapped myself on the forehead. How had I missed John Sandford? I’d picked up one book in the supermarket – we live in the country and there is no such thing as a local bookstore – on a day I had nothing to read and snow was in the forecast. I wasn’t aware the book was part of a series, but by the time I’d finished it – the following day, by the way, time off for eating and sleeping only – I wanted all the books in the Prey series and I wanted them right then and there. Accepting the sad fact that even I could read only one book at a time (I do read really really fast!), I started ordering them three at a time. My plan was to read three books/week. That’s worked out pretty well, actually.

So I’ve gone from the first book in the series (Rules of Prey) straight on through to Twisted Prey (and yes, I’ve preordered Neon Prey, which goes on sale on April 23). So what, you ask, is the big deal? Sandford begins each book with a hook, and with fewer words than one might expect, you’re immediately into the story, right there whether in the midst of a cold, bitter Minnesota winter or a hot, muggy Minneapolis summer. The characters are so strong and so well-defined, you know them, from womanizer Lucas Davenport to the crew who works with and for him. He can be a jerk, yes, I realize that, but he’s written with such humor and humanity, I can’t hate him for it. Actually, I have a sort of crush on him, truth be told. Besides, he does grow and change as the series progresses, marrying a surgeon who is very much a feminist and who puts an end to his days as a player.

Sandford’s characters, like his plots, are multi-dimensional. The bad guys are really bad, but they’re never clichés and they don’t always behave the way you expect. As first a Minneapolis detective, and later as head of the Minnesota Bureau of Investigative Apprehension, Davenport is a stone-cold killer when he has to be, but he’s also a man with a heart so soft, he brings home an orphaned twelve-year old girl (he and his wife adopt her). In another book, he angsts for days after he meets the five year old child whose mother had been murdered. He’s also smart and savvy and might be the sharpest knife in the block.

Some books in the series are better than others, admittedly, but they’re all worth a read. I’m disappointed there’s only one more book to go – I hate to see my time with Davenport and company come to an end. But I’ve heard the other series is great too. I’m going to have to check it out. This detective, Virgil Flowers, sounds like a guy I’d like.
Visit Mariah Stewart's website.

--Marshal Zeringue