Friday, November 30, 2012

Thank you, Kirkus!

"As paranormal talking cat mysteries go, Simon’s latest gives her humans their due and a little bit more."

Hey, Kirkus is renowned for the "Kirkus kick." This is more plot summary than review, but I'll take it!

TRUE GREY (reviewed on December 1, 2012)
A graduate student finds that life imitates art a little too closely in the gothic romances she studies.

Dulcie Schwartz (Grey Matters, 2011, etc.) doesn’t understand the meaning of her recurring nightmares, in which she finds a body—sometimes red-haired, sometimes dark-haired—from which the “precious ichor glistened jewel-like no longer.” She does know that under the watchful eye of Thomas Griddlehaus, chief clerk of her university’s famed Mildon Collection, her dissertation about The Ravages of Umbria is moving along nicely—at least until the arrival of celebrated gothic scholar Melinda Sloane Harquist leads the Mildon to be locked down under the orders of Dean Haitner, who wants to give Melinda sole access to its treasures. Ignoring a warning from Mr. Grey, her dearly departed cat, who comes periodically from the other side to counsel her, as well as the concerns of her current pet, the younger but equally talkative Esmé, Dulcie goes to Dardley House to confront Melinda. She finds her rival sprawled out like the figure in Dulcie’s dream and every bit as dead. Now, Dulcie is a person of interest in the investigation, and her friendship with Detective Rogovoy of the university’s security force doesn’t help much when she’s questioned by the Cambridge police. Adding insult to injury, Dean Haitner slaps her with plagiarism charges. Now that her boyfriend, Chris, is working a night shift and her thesis advisor is giving her wide berth, Dulcie has almost no one to share her sorrows with—except of course her feline friends.

As paranormal talking cat mysteries go, Simon’s latest gives her humans their due and a little bit more.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-7278-8215-8
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Severn House
Review Posted Online: Nov. 19th, 2012
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

That reminds me...

... have to order my bird for next week. (Yes, this is a real photo of my yard and Beakie, the Beacon Street turkey, an occasional visitor.)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thank you, Bristol Public Library!

"The best so far..." Wow, thank you, Bristol Public Library.
Bookblog of the Bristol Library
Reviews by the Reference Department of the Bristol Public Library, Bristol, Virginia/Tennessee.

True Grey by Clea Simon

Melon ponders whodunit in True Grey.

Reviewed by Jeanne

Dulcie Schwartz is just starting to see some daylight at the end of her long academic tunnel. She has a hot lead on the anonymous author she’s been researching for her thesis, and she thinks she may be ready to start writing. Then the incredible happens: a visiting scholar shows up who claims to have already found the missing novel and is about to publish her paper on the topic. Dulcie is devastated. Years wasted! In hopes of finding out if maybe there’s still something left from which to carve out a thesis, Dulcie tries to contact this Melinda Sloan Harquist despite several warnings that she shouldn’t. There is a meeting at last, but Melinda is dead and Dulcie has blood on her hands—literally.

True Grey is the fifth in Clea Simon's Dulcie Schwartz series and I think the best so far. Dulcie is a bit more settled in her life. After several false starts, she’s finally making some real headway with her paper. She and boyfriend Chris have settled into a steady relationship. Esme, the willful little kitten who captured her heart after the death of her beloved feline Mr. Grey, seems to be growing up a bit. Did I mention that Esme can talk? And that Mr. Grey is also still looking out for Dulcie? Both offer help after their own fashion, but advice from felines can sometimes be a bit obscure. Like the Oracle at Delphi, one has to attach one’s own meanings to some of their pronouncements.

I especially enjoyed these little interludes with the cats, but the whole book is fun—especially if you are or ever have been a member of the Professional Organization of English Majors. Actually, anyone who’s been involved in academia will recognize how passionate people can be over things the general public would think to be totally inconsequential. Think of the TV show Big Bang Theory,only with less slapstick and Engligh majors instead of physists. People carve out their own areas of expertise and are focused on that to the exclusion of almost everything else, so that someone studying the Gothic tradition sniffs at someone studying the Victorian era and vice versa. Simon catches the atmosphere perfectly, even having Dulcie accept being a murder suspect with relative equanimity but being shattered to learn that she’s suspected of –GASP!—plagiarism!

Another aspect I particularly appreciate is the way Simon has the story mirror some of the material Dulcie studies, with its portents and foreshadowings which the headstrong heroine ignores. Dulcie has a good number of these both from her cats (alive and otherwise) and from her New Age mother, who calls to inform Dulcie when the signs are unfavorable. Dulcie, so intent and earnest in her evaluations of fictional situations and so heedless when it comes to real life, makes me smile in recognition. I also like Dulcie’s thoughts on the anonymous author of The Ravages of Umbria and comments on the early feminist movement as she tries to reconstruct the author’s life.

The subplot with the anonymous author remains one of my favorite aspects of the books and I’m interested in seeing how it plays out. That said, I think these books can be read as standalone mystery novels. As with most series, it’s a bit better to read in order to see the character growth but it’s not mandatory.

Full disclosure: I was given a copy of the book-- or rather, Melon was given a copy of the book-- but it did not influence my review.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thank you, Publishers Weekly!

TRUE GREY is "intriguing... authentic and appealing." I'll take it!





Issue: 22ND OCTOBER 2012

True Grey: A Dulcie Schwartz Feline Mystery, Clea Simon. Severn, $28.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8215-8

An academic rival poses a threat to Harvard grad student Dulcie Schwartz in Simon’s intriguing fifth paranormal cat cozy (after 2012’s Grey Expectations). Melinda Sloane Harquist, a visiting scholar, is preparing to publish a biography of
the anonymous 18th-century author of The Ravages of Umbria, the same author
Dulcie has been researching for her doctoral thesis. If Melinda is able to publish first, Dulcie’s thesis will be ruined. When Dulcie decides to pay a friendly call on
Melinda at Melinda’s university lodgings, she’s dismayed to find that someone has brained Melinda with a marble bust. To prove she wasn’t the killer, Dulcie turns for help to her usual supporters—her spectral cat, Mr. Grey; her telepathic feline, Esmé, now past the kitten stage; and her boyfriend, Chris Sorenson. Simon, who attended Harvard herself, provides an authentic and appealing view of campus life