Friday, July 07, 2006

Pulled In

I’m possibly the last mystery lover on the planet to have discovered Elizabeth George, but I’m fast becoming a fan. I’ve enjoyed the filmed versions of her Lynley and Havers mysteries on PBS’s Mystery! the last few years, but until recently had never picked up her books.

(Okay, I actually had picked up her books on several occasions, but put them back down again, frightened, I think, by their hefty 800-page length. I love a long, meaty novel I can sink into for a lengthy wallow, but I don’t love starting a long book only to find I dislike the writing, story, or—worse—the characters. Do I continue reading, hoping it will get better? If so, for how long? Will I be sucked into reading the whole thing only to toss it across the room at the end, disgusted at myself for wasting all that time?)

But I saw the audio version of George’s A Place of Hiding in the library last week and checked it out on a whim. A day or so later, I saw her book on writing, Write Away, on sale at my local bookstore and snatched it up, too. I haven’t finished reading or listening to either, but I’m already hooked on both. I’m listening to A Place of Hiding in my car, and I find myself thinking up errands I have to run and places I must drive, simply to hear more of the story (which isn’t good for global warming or my budget). And she hooked me in the first chapter of Write Away with this:

...characters are interesting in their conflict, their misery, their unhappiness, and their confusion. They are not, alas, interesting in their joy and security. The first gives them a pit out of which they climb during the course of a novel. The second robs them of story.

So very true. And judging by the first few chapters of A Place of Hiding, it’s obvious that Elizabeth George is a master at creating wonderfully complex characters who must spend all their time climbing from pits, and her stories are the richer for it.

So now I’m an Elizabeth George fan and am looking forward to starting at the beginning of her series and discovering the characters and stories other mystery fans have loved for years. Lucky me!

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