Tracy Clark’s Gift List

Do you know what I love about the gift lists from the authors? I enjoy seeing how they each tackle the same topic. The voices and styles are always unique.

Tracy Clark is our guest author today. Clark is a newspaper editor based in Chicago. Her first mystery, Broken Places, introduced Cass Raines, ex-cop turned PI. She followed that critically acclaimed book with Borrowed Time. You can find copies of both of her Chicago-based books in the Web Store.

You can also find Tracy’s gift suggestions in the Web Store. I hope you’ll check them out.

1. Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? Agatha Christie. I’d give this book to anyone interested in a twisty good time. The fun of a good Christie yarn is how this master of red herrings and deviously masked clues manages to trip up a reader every single time. Oh, you go into each book thinking you can outsmart her, outthink her, but you cannot. She’s probably somewhere up there laughing at us right now. Evans is one of my favs. It doesn’t feature Marple or Poirot, just a couple of energetic amateur sleuths, but I love this one. When I read it the first time decades ago, I kicked myself for getting bamboozled. Having read Evans a few times since, now I just smile and give the great dame her props. Brava, Dame Christie. Brava!

2. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee. OK. This one’s not technically a mystery, though maybe it could be considered one, given that whole Boo Radley thing. But Mockingbird would be on any list of my all-time fav books, and I’d gladly gift it to anyone, anywhere, anytime. If I were deserted on a desert island and was allowed only one book to have along, this would be the book. I don’t know how many times I’ve read it and have no idea how many more times I’ll open it up and read it again. I like the simple beauty of Lee’s words, her unique voice, her social commentary. Every sentence is a descriptive masterpiece and her characters have become iconic, as familiar to most readers as a member of their own family. Everyone knows a Scout. Everyone stands at that defense table with Atticus Finch. Read this book. Treasure it.

3. A is for Alibi through Y is for Yesterday, Sue Grafton. Pick one. Doesn’t matter which, they’re all great fun. Grafton is a true master of the female-led PI story, one of a handful of Golden Age of female detective writers who took the conventional PI genre and flipped it on its hard, bumpy little head. Kinsey Millhone with her little black dress and peanut butter and pickle sandwiches (ick) is a real delight. Never laughed so hard as when Kinsey tried squeezing through a doggy door in the pursuit of justice. I’m laughing now just remembering it. Start at A work your way through the alphabet.

4. One Coffee With, Margaret Maron. This one kicks off the Sigrid Harald series. Harald is a brilliant NYPD police lieutenant with a unique backstory. But she’s a bit peculiar, a loner, socially awkward, which makes her so much fun to get to know. I think there are seven or eight books in the Harald series. I wish there were more.

5. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens. I’ve given this one as a gift a few times. I want everyone to love it as much as I do. I read A Christmas Carol every year, speeding all the way through from their first glimpse of Marley’s ghost in the door knocker all the way through to that little kid lugging that massive turkey back to Scrooge’s place on Christmas morning. Love it, but I’m a big Dickens fan. Bleak House, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist. Count me in. It doesn’t have to be Christmas to read this one either. Read it on the Fourth of July. It’s still good.

Thank you, Tracy. And, happy reading!