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Just Desserts hiatus assignment - Nov/Dec 2014

November 07, 2014 by sdc

During the Nov/Dec 2014 hiatus between meetings of the Just Desserts mystery fiction discussion group, we encourage regular attendees to continue to participate as a group...but in a virtual way. While we may not have an actual meeting scheduled during these two months, this blog is available to keep everyone active with their mystery reading and discussions.

Our "hiatus assignment" for 2014 is the “Benjamin January” series by author Barbara Hambly. Comprised of thirteen volumes, published between 1997’s first volume (A Free Man of Color), and 2014’s latest volume (Crimson Angel). Barbara Hambly was first published in 1982, and has been a prolific writer of genre fiction, including not just mysteries but also science fiction and fantasy. Her “Benjamin January” series is considered to be among the best of all of her works. This series was described as follows on Wikipedia:

“This historical mystery series begins with A Free Man of Color (1997) and features Benjamin January, a brilliant, classically educated, free colored surgeon and musician living in New Orleans during the antebellum years of the 1830s. At the time, New Orleans had a large and prosperous population of free people of color. Born a slave, as his mother was enslaved, January was freed as a young child by his mother's lover, under the plaçage system. Provided with an excellent education, he gained fluency in several classical and modern languages, and was thoroughly versed in the whole of classical Western learning and arts. He studied medicine in Paris, where he trained as a surgeon. He returned to Louisiana to escape the memory of his late wife, a woman from North Africa. As a free black in Louisiana, he cannot find work as a surgeon. He earns a modest living by his exceptional talent as a musician.

Each title is a murder mystery, with a complex plot and well-developed characters. Each explores many aspects of French Creole and overall Louisiana society. Most tend to emphasize some particular element of antebellum Louisiana life, such as Voodoo religion (Graveyard Dust), opera and music (Die Upon a Kiss), the annual epidemics of yellow fever and malaria (Fever Season), fear of miscegenation (Dead and Buried), or the harsh nature of commercial sugar production by enslaved labor (Sold Down the River).

Important themes of the series are 1) the cultural clash between the rising Protestant English-speaking Anglo-Americans, and the declining Catholic, French-speaking Creoles, 2) skin color discrimination within the society of Creoles of color, with favor given to lighter-skinned persons 3) January's bitterness at the many forms of racial injustice he observes, 4) the complex, partially race-based sexual politics of colonial French and United States society, and 5) January's comparison of what he thinks of as the open and frank African outlook of his early childhood with the more restrained and rational European worldview he acquired through education and experience. This last theme occurs most often with respect to music, spirituality, and respect for law and social custom.”

We encourage Just Desserts participants to read any of the 13 books in this series, at some point in November or December 2014, then come back here to this blog post and leave a comment about whatever you read or watched, as a response to this discussion topic.

1. A Free Man of Color (1997)
2. Fever Season (1998)
3. Graveyard Dust (1999)
4. Sold Down the River (2000)
5. Die upon a Kiss (2001)
6. Wet Grave (2002)
7. Days of the Dead (2003)
8. Dead Water (2004)
9. Dead and Buried (2011)
10. The Shirt on His Back (2011)
11. Ran Away (2011)
12. Good Man Friday (2013)
13. Crimson Angel (2014)

As a bit of background, here are some links to Barbara Hambly information:

·         Barbara Hambly’s official website

·         Barbara Hambly entry on Wikipedia

We look forward to seeing your comments here over the course of the next two months!

So…here’s your question:

Which of the “Benjamin January” novels did you read, and what was your opinion?

Scott C. - Just Desserts coordinator and host

 



Tagged in: Just Desserts, mystery, book discussion, discussion group, book group, Barbara Hambly, Benjamin January, hiatus,
Comments: 1

Just Desserts hiatus assignment: 2013 -- Elmore Leonard

November 01, 2013 by sdc

During the Nov/Dec 2013 hiatus between meetings of the Just Desserts mystery fiction discussion group, we encourage regular attendees to continue to participate as a group...but in a virtual way. While we may not have an actual meeting scheduled during these two months, this blog is available to keep everyone active with their mystery reading and discussions.

Our "hiatus author" for 2013 is Elmore Leonard, one of the most distinctive “voices” in American mystery/thriller writing of the past 50 years. Leonard began his fiction career putting out western novels, before putting out his first thriller, The Big Bounce, in 1969. Since then, Elmore Leonard was a regular fixture of the best-seller lists, and many of his novels were also turned into successful films and television series, including Mr. Majestyk, Glitz, Freaky Deaky, Get Shorty, Maximum Bob (TV series), Rum Punch (filmed as Jackie Brown), and Out of Sight (both a film and a TV series were based on this one). The current TV series Justified is based on the characters Leonard introduced in Riding the Rap and Fire in the Hole, and was continued in his final novel Raylan. [ See our Remembering...Elmore Leonard booklist on BookGuide ]

We encourage Just Desserts participants to read any mystery or thriller book by Elmore Leonard, at some point in November or December 2013, then come back here and leave a comment about whatever you read or watched, as a response to this discussion topic.

As a bit of background, here are some links to Elmore Leonard information:

·         Elmore Leonard’s official website

·         Elmore Leonard entry on Wikipedia

·         Elmore Leonard entry on the Internet Movie Database

 

We look forward to seeing your comments here over the course of the next two months! So…here’s your question: Which of the Elmore Leonard novels did you read, and what was your opinion?

Scott C. - Just Desserts coordinator and host



Tagged in: Just Desserts, Elmore Leonard, hiatus,
Comments: 4

Your 2012 Just Desserts hiatus reading assignment!

November 01, 2012 by sdc
During the Nov/Dec 2012 hiatus between meetings of the Just Desserts mystery fiction discussion group, we encourage regular attendees to continue to participate as a group...but in a virtual way. While we may not have an actual meeting scheduled during these two months, this blog is available to keep everyone active with their mystery reading and discussions.

Our "hiatus author" for 2012 is John D. McDonald, creator of the classic mystery/suspense series featuring Travis McGee. McGee isn’t a typical P.I. or detective, but instead calls himself a “salvage consultant”, specializing in recovering lost or missing items. His standard fee is 50% of the value of the item recovered. McGee lives aboard a large houseboat called “The Busted Flush”, which he won in a poker game, and which is now docked at Fort Lauderdale, Florida. McGee appears in 21 novels, starting with The Deep Blue Goodbye in 1964 and ending in The Lonely Silver Rain in 1984. The Lincoln City Libraries have all but one of the 21 Travis McGee novels (we are missing #9).

We encourage Just Desserts participants to read any book in the Travis McGee series (click this link to jump to the library catalog), at some point in November or December 2012, then come back here and leave a comment about whatever you read or watched, as a response to this discussion topic.

As a bit of background, here are some links to MacDonald and Travis McGee information:

John D. MacDonald wrote much more than the Travis McGee series. In total, he wrote over 40 additional stand-alone novels, in both the mystery/thriller, general fiction and science fiction genres.

We look forward to seeing your comments here over the course of the next two months! So…here’s your question: Which of the Travis McGee novels did you read, and what was your opinion?

Scott C. - Just Desserts coordinator and host


Tagged in: Just Desserts, mystery, thriller, suspense, John D. MacDonald, Travis McGee, reading assignment, hiatus,
Comments: 4

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew mystery series

November 03, 2010 by sdc
During the Nov/Dec 2010 hiatus between meetings of the Just Desserts mystery fiction discussion group, we encourage regular attendees to participate as a group in a virtual way. While we may not have an actual meeting scheduled during these two months, we want to use this blog to keep everyone active with their mystery reading and discussions.

We encourage Just Desserts participants to read any book, from any of the many generations of titles in the Hardy Boys (by Franklin Dixon) or Nancy Drew (by Carolyn Keene) mystery series for teens and youth, at some point in November or December 2010, then come back here and leave a comment about whichever Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew book they read, as a comment posted in response to this discussion topic.

As a bit of background, here are some links to The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew information:

There have also been a number of books published in the past 20 years talking about the origins of the Stratemeyer syndicate, which published both of these series, and the men and women responsible for the creation of these iconic characters.

We look forward to seeing your comments here over the course of the next two months!

Scott C. - Just Desserts coordinator



Tagged in: mystery, mysteries, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, hiatus, discussion group, Just Desserts,
Comments: 1

The Works of Erle Stanley Gardner

November 04, 2008 by sdc

During the Nov/Dec 2008 hiatus between meetings of the Just Desserts mystery fiction discussion group, we encourage regular attendees to participate as a group in a virtual way. While we may not have an actual meeting scheduled during these two months, we want to use this blog to keep everyone active with their mystery reading and discussions.

We encourage Just Desserts participants to read a book by Erle Stanley Gardner (the creator of Perry Mason, as well as many other novels) at some point in November or December 2008, then come back here and leave a comment about whichever ESG book they read, as a comment post in response to this message.

As a bit of background, here are some links to Erle Stanley Gardner information:

We look forward to seeing your comments here over the course of the next two months!

Scott C. - Just Desserts coordinator



Tagged in: Just Desserts, mystery, discussion group, Erle Stanley Gardner, hiatus,
Comments: 3


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