Friday, June 17, 2005

Mysteries No More

I love a good mystery. Real or fictional, doesn't matter. A real life, unsolved murder is the only kind that drives me a little crazy. Too many cops in my family. If anyone knows who really shot JFK, e-mail me. I'd like to know before I die.

There are some mysteries shouldn't be solved. Such as how within seven days after purchase my son manages to make his new sneakers smell as if he's been working at the local landfill or the sewage plant. Don't tell me it's sweat, either. Sweat does not smell like that.

Then there are mysteries too elegant to solve, such as the man who visits Edgar Allan Poe's grave every January 19th to leave a tribute of roses, a tradition that has been going on for more than fifty years. I love this mystery. I will hate the person who exposes the man's identity, and why he does it. Let us wonder.

Some mysteries being solved have shocked me, such as recently discovering that Born Free author Joy Adamson was not killed by a lion, but murdered by Paul Wakwaro Ekai, a disgruntled employee. This won't mean anything to you youngsters, but Born Free was a huge hit with my generation. Oddly, Joy's ex-husband was also murdered a few years later.

There are other mysteries where I just want to know everything is okay, as when an author drops out of sight, or why the romance I'm reading sounds like a guy wrote it. For those of you who are in the same boat, try Barb Deane's Whatever happened to... list, or the outing male writers who write romance under female pseudonyms page.

"The worst-kept secret in publishing" was one I never actually cared about as a reader, but you can solve it by reading David J. Schow's essay AKA Trevanian. I thought the one-name thing was a little odd, but I didn't know there was anything behind it. I've been one-name blunted by Prince and Bono and Jewel and Cher. Whatever his real name is, Trevanian's The Main and Shibumi are excellent reads.

The latest mystery in my life to be solved was finding out what my favorite editor looks like. In my imagination, she was something like Gwyneth Paltrow. Blonde, tall, slender, elegant, ivory silk suits, stiletto heels, no purse, the cool gleam of publishing savvy in her ice-blue eyes. Great eyebrows that never had to be plucked. You know, the woman we all want to run down in the street and back over a few times. Yes, there's probably a need for therapy somewhere in there.

I told this to my editor, and when she was done laughing, she sent me a photo. Alas, she is not as I imagined. She's a petite brunette with the cool gleam of publishing savvy in her deep dark eyes, and a great smile. Now every time I talk to her, I'm going to see Julia Roberts instead of Gwyneth in my head. Which will make me think of George Clooney, Julia's co-star in the Ocean movies . . . who needs Gwyneth Paltrow, anyway?


  1. Ohhh, answers to two mysteries I'd like to know: the disappearance of Ambrose Bierce and the identity of Bible John.

    She's a petite brunette with the cool gleam of publishing savvy in her deep dark eyes, and a great smile.

    That conjures an image of Janeane Garofalo.

  2. Re Bible John: There's an excellent mystery novel which features a subplot about the retired Bible John getting annoyed by a copycat killer - Black and Blue, by Ian Rankin. It's the 8th in the Inspector Rebus series, but you could probably read it by itself. I'd recommend reading them all though, cause they're bloody good. The Bible John plot is fascinating, and I had no idea that he was real until I finished the book.

  3. Anonymous9:08 AM

    I'm with you on the Poe mystery. I think it's gorgeously romantic that the tradition has (allegedly) been passed from father to son, and I would want to hunt down anyone who exposed the family.

    We have a mystery down here in the Carolinas: the Edisto Mystery Tree (here's a picture if you care to see
    Some unknown person has been decorating the tree several times a year for the last ten or fifteen years. The decorating always happens in the dead of night, and since the tree is in the middle of a marsh, no one is entirely sure how the person even gets out to it to do his job!

    Not as romantic as the Poe grave roses, but it's ours. *grin*

    :) Misty

  4. Thanks for the links "Whatever happened to?" and "Outting Men." In many cases, the whatever happened to is a great example of the dreaded author death spiral. In "Outting Men" I was pleased to see my old pal Tom Townsend listed under his Tammie Lee moniker. At the time he wrote that Leather & Lace book, he was a mercenary in South America and was photographed for Time, I believe, (my memory could be faulty--been a long time since I heard him tell the story) with the caption "Romance author Tammie Lee."

  5. Oh, thank you, James. I didn't realise that Ian Rankin did a story on Bible John. I'm getting a copy. :) Thank you.

  6. You're welcome - just so you know though, it's not the main focus of the book. There are two plots, and the Bible John one is the secondary one. There's still plenty of story on it, I just wouldn't want you to get it expecting the whole thing to be about him... But it's worth reading anyway. It's a continuation rather than a retelling - assuming Bible John really did retire, what might he do next, and so on. Hope you enjoy it.

  7. Anonymous3:12 PM

    I agree with you whole-heartedly on the Poe mystery, and was shocked to read about what really happened to Joy Adamson-- I remember seeing "Born Free" as a child; it seemed my mom was always singing that song... (thanks for reminding me of a nice memory, by the way)

  8. At our wedding, my husband danced with his mom to the Born Free song. (my husband was born in Africa - so really, it all made sense at the time even though the band thought we were a little crazy.)


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