Sunday, March 7, 2010

Clean Mystery? Must be a Fluke

I was thrilled this past weekend to head down to Pittsburgh. Mystery Lovers Bookshop was hosting a talk and signing by one of my favorite authors, Joanne Fluke.

Now this was my first trip to the bookstore, which I'd heard people rave about. The edifice is not all that impressive, and you might get more of a selection of mysteries from a large Barnes and Noble. is one of the largest independent mystery bookstores in the country. And they do a phenomenal job of attracting authors for special events--in addition to having well-above-average customer attention and community involvement. Pittsburgh has a treasure in this store, and I hope they appreciate it.

I exhibited unusual self control and only bought three paperbacks and a signed Diane Mott Davidson. And tickets for their Festival of Mystery in May.

On Saturday we headed to the nearby Oakmont Library where the store hosts many of their events. They expected around sixty, and I think they had a few more than expected. Like any cozy mystery crowd, most were women--although there were a few men in attendance. (Mostly accompanying women.) Fluke discussed growing up in Swanville, Minnesota (population 217, give or take), her inspiration for her popular Hannah Swenson mysteries and recipes, and her new book, The Apple Turnover Mystery, released in February 2010.

In the question-and-answer portion, two mothers in the audience expressed their appreciation to Fluke for writing books they felt comfortable passing on to their daughters. I echo this. There is a market for clean books (as evidenced by Fluke's current 11th-placed showing on the New York Times Bestseller List). During a time where many seem to want to 'push the envelope' and get 'edgy,' a strong market exists for a clean cozy, and I hope people are paying attention to the phenomenon. I would love more books like this--books with no strong language and no 'onscreen' sex--even though my daughter is grown.

But off my soapbox. I enjoyed it. It was fun to be able to put a face and voice to the books, and Fluke is down-to-earth and funny. I got my book signed, and hubby and I headed out to lunch in Pittsburgh's strip district (Primanti's and Wholey's Fish Market). And I finished reading my book in the car on the way home. A great weekend road trip!