Round Rock New Neighbors is a social organization of women welcoming women in the Round Rock area since 1978. Both "new" and "old" neighbors are welcome. For more information: rrnewneighbors.org [Barnes & Noble requires that RRNN's book club be open to the public, so you do not need to be an RRNN member to attend book club, and both men and women are welcome and do attend. ]

Literary Events

Literary Events

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The Friends of the Georgetown Public Library’s Hill Country Authors Series events will be listed here.
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Round Rock Public Library Book Group meets monthly at 7:00-8:30 PM. Check the library website for more information, or ask Carla.
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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mystery is More Than Who Done It

It seems the rule rather than the exception that readers who love mysteries read many, and other readers can take or leave mysteries. Am I right? Our book club comprises a few avid mystery readers and a majority who don't seem to read many mysteries. I enjoy a page turner, but I do not go to the mystery section when looking for a book to read. Our book club has read a few mysteries together, and they have all been fun to read. This month, all of close to 20 of us who met at Barnes & Noble on Monday had finished reading Mystery, by John Kellerman!  It seemed to be good timing for us to read a mystery. Thanks to Joyce for giving us a chance to discuss Mystery and mysteries!

Those of us who had read other books in the series knew about the main character, Alex Delaware, psychiatrist, and his past and his quirks, as well as those of his sidekick, Milo, a homicide detective. When Patty, who hadn't read other Delaware novels, asked why the author had given Milo the characteristic of being gay, Joyce said she thought it added interest that Milo was strong and tough but also gay. Marla added that the gay aspect was a twist on the typical character who would be working in a police department and also that Milo's gay past would indicate that he would have firsthand experience with being kind of a victim. There we were discussing Milo's gayness, when those familiar with Milo told us that the author had created him around 20 years ago! That brought the discussion around to why a detective might have been portrayed as gay 20 years ago, which gave us new ideas, including Pam's suggestion that Kellerman might have been trying to cajole his readers to be more accepting of homosexuality, back when it wasn't mainstream 20 years ago. Someone also suggested the possibility that Kellerman had a gay friend who might have inspired the Milo character.

There were some criticisms of Mystery, e.g., some of the characters unique to this book were not developed much. We generally agreed that Kellerman, as a prolific mystery writer, wrote this book in a quick and formulaic manner, known as "phoning it in," ie, phoning the book in to the publisher rather than poring over written and edited versions. Perhaps the most important criticism was that even those of us who guessed the killer didn't really have much foundation from the book for our guess. This was not the kind of book where the author gives the reader enough clues for the reader to solve the mystery. Frank gave us a quick lesson about mysteries, which I find to be an interesting way of categorizing them. (1) There are the kind that are puzzles that the reader can solve, such as the Agatha Christie books. (2) There are books where the author gives the reader a detective who makes amazing conclusions based on the evidence, though the reader can't put together a solution, such as Mystery or the Sherlock Holmes stories. (3) And there are crime novels, where the criminal often isn't even apprehended or punished, and the main character might be the criminal.

I was a little disappointed that we didn't delve into the excessive amounts of mostly greasy food that seemed to accompany every meeting between Milo and Alex in Mystery. Has this kind of eating been going on for the last 20 years between these characters? Perhaps Kellerman is planning a mystery that takes place in a hospital room, where Milo is the patient? Kidding. I do think there were probably other questions and topics we could have discussed relating specifically to Mystery, but the conversation took on a life of its own, as so often happens and is usually very interesting. This discussion drifted toward examples of other books, series, and films. We discussed Mystery in the context of the entire series that Kellerman wrote about his character, Alex Delaware. Then we compared the book to thew other types of mysteries already mentioned, and then we compared it with another Kellerman series, which seems to tend to be more like crime novels, those with a detective named Jack Reacher.

Books and films mentioned that might interest you:
Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware and Jack Reacher series
A new BBC series called "Copper"
A movie with Jack Black, called "Bernie"
The Hangman's Daughter, by Oliver Potszch
Cloud Atlas: A Novel, by David Mitchell

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