Mary Daheim: Mysteries featuring a small town newspaper editor

Last week, I picked up The Alpine Betrayal by Mary Daheim at a used book store. There are about 10 books in the series, which features Emma Lord, the editor of a small town in northern California.

I’ve read through Chapter 7, about 80 pages. So far, I am enjoying it. The local color is interesting. The main character is fleshed out well. There is a cast of secondary characters, some of whom are described in detail and some of whom get only passing notice.

I just waded through a two-page scene in which the author introduced more than a dozen new characters by name and terse description. There’s no way I can keep track of that many characters, particularly when they’re thrown at me like bullets from a machine gun.

But I still like the author and look forward to exploring more of the series.

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Tony Hillerman R.I.P.

Tony Hillerman’s passing marks the end of a long string of excellent fiction books.

I fell in love with Hillerman’s Jim Chee/Joe Leaphorn novels back in the 1980s. I read every one of them as soon as I could get my hands on them. I enjoyed them all, though I think his last couple of stories didn’t measure up to his earlier works.

I enjoyed Hillerman’s works for two main reasons.

First, he created characters that were likeable and believable. Leaphorn and Chee both are honest, upright lawmen. But both have personal foibles and imperfections that make them human. They react to situations just as I suspect real people would. I believe them.

Second, Hillerman set his stories in the American Southwest, a region that fascinates me. He was good at describing the terrain, the foliage, the weather, everything that I find interesting about the desert.

My favorite titles by Hillerman are Listening Woman and The Dance Hall of the Dead.