On July 2, Author Katherine Bolger Hyde braved the scorching heat of the Central Valley to visit with the San Joaquin Sisters in Crime. Despite it being a holiday weekend, we provided a full house.
To accompany her talk on her first mystery, Arsenic With Austen, she opened with a quiz about Jane Austen. The librarians attending scored well; the rest of us floundered.
This is something Katherine hopes to rectify with her new series combining murder with the classics. She explained there is a “Great Wall of China” between literary fiction and genre fiction. By alphabetically including literary names in the titles of future mysteries, she encourages readers to go further to explore literary authors.
What is “literary?” Katherine defined it for us as books that have stood the test of time. They often explore the human condition. She admits being more familiar with dead female British authors from a time frame christened “The Golden Age.” Agatha Christie is a top-runner in that category with Dorothy L. Sayers a close second. She regards Elizabeth George, P.D. James, Louise Penny, Jacqueline Windspear, Catriona McPherson and William Kent Kruger as writers of mysteries right up there with the classics.
“Jane Austen was a little difficult to work with,” confessed Katherine. There are no murders in the Austen novels. Perhaps she’ll have less trouble with future characters. “Bloodstains With Bronte” is a working title for book 2. The third novel is, of course, Christie and the fourth probably going to go to Dickens. Stay tuned.