Uncategorized, USA Fiction Challenge

Catching Up: Flyover Country & Genre Mashups

Two things in the book world are bothering me this weekend, and I feel the need to rant.

Thing 1: Since I’m falling short on covering books set in every state in the US, I’ve tried for some regional diversity in my picks for upcoming reviews. I’ve come across some good stuff: the Lena Jones series by Betty Webb set in Arizona was a good find. Lena is a bad-ass PI, the stories grapple with big social issues: I’ve liked what I’ve read so far. A couple things bothering me about books not set on the East and West Coasts: (a) so many books set in the South seem unnaturally populated with quirky characters; and (b) so many books set in say, Pennsylvania or the Rust Belt, deal with miserable characters dealing with a miserable set of circumstances. I would love some recommendations for books that aren’t overrun with wacky sidekicks or that aren’t telling a super-miserable story. I think I need older book recommendations because the recently-published stuff I’m coming across as I try to broaden my geographic coverage isn’t my thing.

Thing 2: It’s really hard for me to find genre mashups I like. I just don’t get the tone, I think. For example, I liked Lauren Beukes’s Broken Monsters which was a little horror mixed with a crime novel, but I could not get into her Moxyland which seemed too sci-fi for me. I also just finished Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s The Undesired where the ghost-story didn’t really add anything to the crime story for me.

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8 thoughts on “Catching Up: Flyover Country & Genre Mashups”

  1. I like Betty Webb’s Lena Jones series, too, Rebecca. And I know what you mean about needing a balance between ‘too light’ and ‘dismally sad.’ Have you tried Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire stories? They’re set in Wyoming. No wacky sidekicks, and not really dismal (from my perspective). Just sayin’

    1. Thanks for the recommendation, Margot! While I’ve tried the Longmire TV show, I haven’t read any of the books. I will dig around for them. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

  2. Try See Also Murder and See Also Deception by Larry Sweazy. Marjorie Tremaine living in the NW plains in the 1960. Great sense of place, and a well-balanced, driven protagonist who can take care of herself.
    Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski books are always fun.
    And if one wants to read long books that aren’t gripping, but easy-to-read about Australian suburbanites, then try Liane Moriarty. Truly, Madly, Guilty was a distraction from the news here, but was not harrowing or brutal.
    John Grisham’s Sycamore Row, Gray Mountain and The Rogue Lawyer all have merit and are easy to read. Sycamore Row is serious, yet fun to read, and is an excellent book. Great characters and story.
    Gray Mountain is about Big Coal’s impact on poor communities in Virginia and focuses on one attorney’s story. It makes very good points yet is easy to read. The Rogue Lawyer has good points, too, but is funny.

    1. Thanks for all the recommendations. I haven’t read Grisham in awhile, I’ve liked the Moriarty I’ve read so far, and Paretsky is a longtime favorite of mine. I will check out Sweazy, whom I haven’t heard of. Have a good weekend, Kathy.

  3. I enjoyed Todd Borg’s Nevada-set story about a PI working in lake Tahoe – the only quirky character is the gorgeous Great Dane (and it doesn’t talk or anything like that – just displays doggy intelligence) – I read TAHOE DEATH FALL but the whole series looks good to me

    Just read my first Bill Crider book set in Texas – the series starts with TOO LATE TO DIE in the 80’s – I thoroughly enjoyed it and think it meets all your criteria

    Good luck

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