Wrong again: Read Charlaine Harris

I thought I didn’t like cozies, especially those written by Charlaine Harris. To refresh your memory, cozies feature an amateur sleuth (who has some law enforcement connection.) Many sleuths are female: many own cats and like to cook or do some other domestic craft. The violence and sex happen off stage. Most of all, there’s a sweet, light tone to the books. Not my style.

I write police procedural mystery novels. Think cop shows where the action is seen through the eyes of some type of law enforcement. The murder(s) are unraveled with  methods available to law enforcement, be it FBI, coast guard investigators, the sheriff, or big city cops. In my case it’s Santa Monica, featuring a fictional SMPD homicide detective.

It means my tastes lean in the direction of reading other police procedural writers, such as John Stanford, Mike Markell, or Oliver Tidy. Why read something you don’t like?

Or so I thought. Recently the Los Angeles chapter of Sisters-in-Crime, put on a crime writers conference. Charlaine Harris was one of the keynote speakers. As it happened, I thumped down in a chair next to her at breakfast, not recognizing her. With a thick as honey Mississippi accent and southern good manners, she charmed me.

She charmed the entire audience of crime writers and fans that day. I paraphrase one remark. I don’t read how to books on writing. I might find out I’d been doing everything wrong.

One titled Midnight Crossroad was made available in our book bag at the conference. I started reading one night and was hooked. The cozy writer is allowed more leisure in starting off a novel. Police procedural readers want the murder in the first few pages. Harris charmed me again, setting me down in a twisty Texas hamlet filled with original characters and a riveting storyline.

The older I get the less certain I am about my hard and fast opinions. The nice thing about changing your mind about what you like is that it opens you up to a new dimension. I may not like all cozies from now on, but Charlaine Harris is a charmer and I’m a new fan.

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