Books for Dudes (Library Journal)

Now here’s something: Library Journal has a column called Books for Dudes (who knew?).  The Poisoned Pawn has a mention in it today, which is unexpected and flattering: I would have thought Books for Dudes would review books written by dudes; I’m the only female author mentioned. I’ve actually always thought of my target readership as being women, but hey, I’ll happily take readers of any gender.

(According to the stats, women “of a certain age,” as a friend of mine refers to us, are the largest reading  group demographically when it comes to mysteries, although the president of my new publishing company told me he thinks I write for men. So there you go. I write the kind of stuff I like to read, and don’t think too much about gender, although I was at a book club yesterday where I met the first male member of the thirty or so I’ve visited.)

But I digress. Columnist Douglas Lord has decided The Poisoned Pawn is a book for dudes with gumption and that cracks me up. Here’s part of the review (all you gumptious dudes out there can read the whole thing here.)

Did you read Blair’s 2012 The Beggar’s Opera? If not, you’d better be bringing a lotta gumption, Chumley.

See, PP is set immediately post-BO, so if you don’t know the 411 you’re SOL. Having said that, it just takes a little longer—and more gumption—to find the plot here. Or, rather, the four different plots—and four different narrators—on offer within the first few pages.

The main story of this police procedural set in 2006 Cuba centers on capable, dependable detective Ricardo Ramirez, who is haunted by the ghosts of his unsolved cases. At the same time that Ramirez is sent to Toronto to collect a priest found with child porn on his laptop (no graphic descriptions, no airsickness bag needed), a bunch of apparently unrelated poisonings of Cuban women occurs. Why? How?

It’s Ramirez’s job to find out before the Canadian government issues a travel ban for Cuba, which would affect the island nation’s economy and which Ramirez’s Castro-esque governmental ministers really don’t want. So he’s busier than a one-legged man at an ass-kicking contest. Luckily he is assisted by a charming dwarf pathologist named Hector Apiro—an obvious homage to author Martin Cruz Smith’s Professor Andreev.

VERDICT While this is an interesting and thoughtful read, it really can be a jumble to follow if you haven’t read the first book [Starred review, LJ 1/1/14].


The hyperlink in this article to “gumption,” by the way, takes you to Wikipedia’s entry for Henry Ford for some unknown reason. The word itself , however, means initiative or courage. So I’m happy to throw out the gauntlet to courageous men everywhere to step up to the plate and buy the book, dudes.

By the way, I did read Martin Cruz Smith’s wonderful Gorky Park several decades ago and I do recall how his dwarf forensic scientist reconstructed a face around a skull. Hector Apiro, however,  was actually conceived the day I found myself standing on a stool in the kitchen, cursing as I tried to reach a shelf that was still out of reach. Nice to see him mentioned in the same breath as Martin Cruz Smith though — now there’s a dude who can write.

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