I met Lee Kelley via email nearly five years ago. She'd read The Clovis Incident and loved it. Next thing I knew, my book had been reviewed in the Vroman's newsletter. For the uninitiated, Vroman's is Southern California's largest independent bookstore. It's a glorious place.
Since then, I've had the pleasure of corresponding with Lee and even meeting her in person. She's one of the unsung heroes in our mystery community. An active supporter who works at a general bookstore, but isn't an employed book seller per se.
I asked her to write a little something about mysteries and herself because I suspect there are a lot of people like Lee (though none exactly like her of course!) who give to our community daily though we may never be fortunate enough to know their names.
Have a blessed Monday,
Thank you, Pari, for inviting me to Murderati! As the current gatherer of mystery tales for The Scene of the Crime email newsletter for Vroman's bookstore in Pasadena, I can't think of a better place to be.
Actually I work in the accounting office, but because I'm such an avid reader, I've been happy to review books for the mystery newsletter for seven years. Recently, due to staff changes, I've assumed a much larger role in the production of this genre-specific publication which is separate from the store's more extensive newsletter.
Generally, I comment on and recommend books that are extremely current, time-wise, with the printing of the newsletter, but am considering a corner for books that I reviewed in the past that remain on our shelves today. I hope the store lets me do that because it's another way to push authors and their endeavors.
A little about me: I started reading at age two and never looked back. In grade school I devoured all the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew stories. I read my first "adult" mystery when I was around fifteen or so. It was The Moonstone by the English author Wilkie Collins and was published in 1868. Many people consider it to be the precursor to the "modern" detective story. I was entralled with it and pretty soon was reading every mystery I could get my hands on.
As I got older my tastes changed. Now I read everything from classics to westerns, from fantasy to mystery. Though my favorite genre is science fiction, I continue to supplement my craving for good literature with mysteries.
Naturally Pari is one of my favorite authors; I've lived in New Mexico and can see the places she writes about. I also am a major fan of Tony Hillerman and he will certainly be missed. Dick Francis is another favorite.
I particularly like psychological mysteries. The workings of the mind have always fascinated me. It's true that often in this kind of mystery you know who the perp is. As far as I'm concerned that doesn't take away from the pleasure of the book because then the fun of reading becomes following the protagonist and shouting, "No, you idiot! It's the other guy!"
In mysteries, modi operandi and motives frequently seem familiar, but it always amazes me how an author can make them seem fresh. I think what makes the difference is the characters. If the writer truly knows the characters and environment, then the scenarios become new. Sure, there may be murder and mayhem in every story, but because the characters are unique, so is the tale.
Reading mysteries satisfies the need-to-know gene in me. What really happened? Where did that come from? How was that done? And why, in the name of all that's obvious, can't that detective figure out what's going on?
Well, it's probably because he's not as smart as we are — we, the readers — who devour the book and sort the clues from the comfort of our chairs as we immerse ourselves in the world of the author.
Cowboys want to die with their books on.
I'd like to pass on with a book in my hands.
Thank you, Lee.
HEY!!!! If readers, writers, booksellers, agents, editors and publishers aren't enough to make you thankful this holiday season, I've got another bit to brighten your day:
Cornelia Read will be joining Murderati beginning Saturday, December 6. She and our marvelous Alex Sokoloff will alternate posts weekly. Join me in giving her a big 'Rati welcome!
Welcome, Lee! Loved reading your post and meeting you. I’m not familiar with Vroman’s, but will now know to look for you there on-line.
And may I shout out a huge “Welcome!” to Cornelia, please?!
Kaye,It’s always such a breath of sunshine when you comment. Did you know that?
Lee is probably still asleep or on her way to work right now. I hope she’ll pop in tonight when she gets home.
Vroman’s is a wonderful bookstore. It’s in the grand tradition of indies where you can get lost amid the aisles and aisles of books.
And YES!!! We’re really delighted that Cornelia is joining us.
Thanks for sharing your story, Lee. As a So Cal guy myself, I’m well aware of Vroman’s importance in our community, and appreciate all that you do for them!
And a huge welcome to Cornelia, too!
Hi Pari! I don’t know about the breath of sunshine thing, but I’m giving loads of thought to Lee’s cowboys wearing boots . . .
(Thank you, Pari – you are a sweetheart!)
Lee, how nice to meet you here. I certainly know Vroman’s. Now I’d like to know you, too.
And welcome to Miss Cornelia. Nothing I like better than a little Berkeley rant on a Saturday morning.
Hello, Lee; we need to get up to Pasadena and Vroman’s more often. Thank you for the motivational reminder.
Cornelia Read!! Excellent news! And now maybe Alex will take time to sit down and compile all that good writing advice into one volume.
Hi Lee – welcome to Murderati! It’s a delight to have you here. The good opinion of booksellers is always highly prized by authors.
I haven’t come across Vroman’s on my travels, but will be sure to stop by the next time I’m in California. (And looking at the first winter snows hitting the UK outside my window, that visit can’t come soon enough…)
And a big welcome to Cornelia, of course ;-]
Hi Lee! As one indie bookseller to another (and one who’s also into the accounting side, so we know how. . .interesting. . .it can be) let me add joyous hello and welcome!
And Cornelia? Oh welcome!
Great post, and I’m definitely stealing “why, in the name of all that’s obvious”. Love it 😉
And can’t wait for your first post here, Miss C…..
Welcome, Lee! And welcome, Cornelia!
Fran,When are YOU going to write me something????
Lee, I’m so looking forward to meeting you! Thank you for joining us at Murderati.
And big welcome kisses and hugs to Cornelia!
What a great post, Lee, and thank you everyone for such a warm welcome. I’m so happy to be joining the gang here!
Thanks for the post, Lee.
— and welcome, Cornelia!
Lee, I’m totally with you on the psychological mysteries – my favorite reading of all.
Thanks for being here!