Monday, September 27, 2010

Cold Weather Reading

by Julia Buckley
This was the first cold week in Chicago, and I couldn't be happier. I come alive in fall, and I feel as though I get twice as many things done (including more writing) when the air is brisk.

I also enjoy reading things that are set in fall and winter. The first Martha Grimes book that I ever read, THE OLD SILENT, was captivating to me, especially the way that Grimes wove in a particular Robert Frost poem which contained the line "Goodbye, and keep cold." The book prompted me to read everything in the Grimes collection, and several of her mysteries were set in a mysterious and poetic winter backdrop.

Some fictional detectives live in cold climates, and so their authors set all of their mysteries in the cold.

I found this list while searching for cold-weather mysteries, compiled by "Leah Smith, librarian and avid reader." It's a terrific list, and I've read at least half of the books that Smith recommends, and can therefore agree to them.

I've always wanted to read Smilla's Sense of Snow simply because of the wonderful title, but I have not yet done it. Like many other readers, I sometimes feel crushed by the weight of all the books I want to read versus the amount of time I find to read them in. Still, it is a luxury, the thought of all those books . . . .

And now I'll be looking for the ones set in the cold. Something about that frigid air, and the delicious warm food that seems so much more appealing now than it did in July, makes me ready to embrace the news season, in life and in fiction.

What's your favorite cold-weather mystery?

(Photo by Julia Buckley: a hill-top in Sinsinawa, Wisconsin, 2006).


Sheila Connolly said...

The one I'm writing now (which is still nameless), that includes a blizzard in Massachusetts and the death of a ... furnace.

Julia Buckley said...

That sounds realistic. :)

I envision a Massachusetts cold to surpass a Chicago cold. Sounds nice and moody!

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

The one that popped into my mind was Patricia Moyes, Season of Snows and Sins. That's snow lite compared to Nevada Barr's Winter Study.

Sandra Parshall said...

HEARTS AND BONES by Margaret Lawrence, set in a New England winter just after the American Revolution, has wonderful wintry atmosphere. I felt so sorry for the horses that had to get around in the deep snow.

Unknown said...

The only one I can think of right now is a classic, Dorothy L. Sayers' The Nine Tailors, which starts in a snowstorm and ends in a flood.

Julia Buckley said...

Great suggestions. Liz, yours made me remember Moyes novel DEAD MEN DON'T SKI, which was the first book of hers that I ever read. Great stuff.

Sandra, what a great example of why setting stays with us--the little details that make us feel the weather, even from a horse's point of view.

Jane, I think I've read every Sayers mystery, but I barely remember THE NINE TAILORS. I'll have to give it a re-read.

Susan D said...

THat was my first thought too, Jane. The Nine Tailors. I just rewatched the Ian Carmichael video this week, because it is soooooooo good. As is the book.

Julia Buckley said...

Now you've convinced me, Susan. I do love Lord Peter so.

Sheila Connolly said...

Julia, I should warn you that Smilla's Sense of Snow has one of the weirdest sex scenes I've ever encountered--and I still remember ten years later. But a good book.

Loved The Nine Tailors. It's about change-ringing, something most of us know little about. I was thrilled when I visited a friend in England and she "showed me the ropes." (Didn't get to ring anything, though.)