Jude Hardin

Author, Drummer, Turtle Whisperer

My Photo
Location: United States

Monday, July 23, 2007

Does Being A Writer Spoil The Fun Of Reading?

When my son was little (he’s 15 now), I sometimes performed simple magic tricks for him. It was fun, you know, watching his amazement as a quarter seemed to disappear from my hand or a hat seemed to levitate from the top of my head. He always asked, “How did you do that, Daddy?” When I showed him the secret, he said, “Oh!” He invariably wanted to try the trick himself. Knowing the secret was even more fun than not knowing it. Now, he was the magician.

As a writer, the same holds true for me with regard to reading. Even though I’m aware of what an author is doing, and even though I sometimes analyze the prose, plot, character development, etc., reading has not lost its magic for me. When an author is doing everything right, I can still become entranced and lose myself in the story. I can still experience what John Gardner called The Fictional Dream, even though I know all the tricks. For me, it’s one of the great pleasures of being alive. If reading somehow stopped being fun, I’m not sure I would even want to write anymore.

How about some of you other magicians out there? Is reading fiction still fun? Can you still kick back and be mesmerized by the show, even knowing the craft behind it all?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Book Review #1: Dirty Martini by J.A. Konrath

What do you look for in crime fiction? Fast-paced action? Tension and conflict on every page? Three-dimensional characters with real motivations and emotions? Lean-cut prose? A bigger-than-life villain who pushes the protagonist to the utmost of his/her abilities?

I look for all that, and I found it in JA Konrath’s latest thriller, Dirty Martini.

This is Konrath’s fourth installment of the Lt. Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels series. The first three, Whiskey Sour, Bloody Mary, and Rusty Nail are first-rate as well, and you should definitely check out his backlist.

But Dirty Martini blew me away. I wanted to sip and savor it like a gentleman, but I couldn’t. I gulped it down in two days. Konrath likes to mix in-your-face terror with goofy-but-realistic cop banter and humor, and I think he stirs the perfect concoction here.

Jacqueline Daniels is a forty-something homicide detective with the Chicago Police Department. She’s divorced. She loves designer clothes and the Home Shopping Network. She’s in love, but she’s on the fence about getting married again. She takes her job--to serve and protect--very, very seriously.

A man known only as The Chemist is doing the unthinkable: he’s poisoning food in and around the Chicago area. Delis, restaurants, grocery stores. He doesn’t care who dies, as long as he gets the cops’ attention. He wants two million in cash to stop.

How will Daniels and her task force stop The Chemist before thousands meet a horrible fate? Will two million dollars be enough, or does The Chemist have even more sinister ideas up his sleeve?

Buy the book. Try to take a few sips, like I did. Try to put it down. Bet you can’t.