I originally blogged about Mindy Starns Clark's Million Dollar Mysteries on my other blog, Notes in the Key of Life, on April 16, 2008. Even then, the books weren't new--but they're definitely deserving of a second look! Here's my original post:
Now, there is fiction, and there is fiction. There's the kind that keeps you up way past your bedtime because the pages are turning themselves automatically...and there's the kind that you plod through as if you were preparing for a test over it--not really giving two hoots about the story or the characters.
Believe me, the Million Dollar Mysteries are "way past your bedtime" books.
In the main character, private investigator Callie Webber, Mindy Starns Clark has created a very real person. I've always liked Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone mysteries because we as the reader know Kinsey so well--right down to the fact that she likes egg sandwiches and junk food, she runs every day, and she only owns one dress.
We get to know Callie that well. We know she's smart, pretty, courageous and cool-headed--but we also know that she's still hurting from the death of her husband, and she's terrified of getting too close to anyone, especially any man. (Except maybe her employer, the mysterious and wealthy Tom, to whom she's powerfully drawn.)
We know that she adores her little dog Sal and gets her exercise and tension relief from paddling her canoe on the scenic Chesapeake near her home.
Mindy's mysteries ring with authenticity, making it seem as if she herself has been a private eye for years. Callie's faith is a part of who she is, and Clark makes no attempt to hide that fact.
The writing is top-notch, with nuanced characterization, beautiful description, and atmospheric detail. And the device of keeping the elusive Tom just out of Callie's reach most of the time (at least in the two books I've read so far) is one that works well--making the reader want to know just what will happen with those two.
But as with any terrific fiction, it's the story that matters the most--and the stories were riveting in both of the books I've read so far: A Penny for Your Thoughts and Don't Take Any Wooden Nickles.
I'm now in the middle of A Dime a Dozen, and I'm also excited about reading Clark's stand alone novel, Whispers of the Bayou.
Note: Mindy Starns Clark's books are available on amazon.com, and be sure to check out her website--she's written several more books since this review was originally posted. (Most recently, she's been writing stories set among the Amish.)
In fact, I've yet to finish the Million Dollar series. Oh well...more books for my growing to-read list!
I'm participating in Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books! Click on the icon for more info...