If you like romantic suspense, chances are you read the occasional mystery (or more than occasional) too. NPR’s Talk of the Nation recently featured mystery writers discussing the appeal of the urban noir.

In The Maltese Falcon, San Francisco is a character. The Big Sleep is all about Los Angeles. In mystery stories, there’s a distinct sound to every city’s mean streets, and the setting can be as important as the crime. Mystery writers talk about why they choose to imagine crimes in the cities they love.

Guests:

Eddie Muller, writes a series of crime novels featuring sportswriter Billy Nichols, the first of which, The Distance, was nominated for multiple mystery writing awards; author of three acclaimed books on film noir

Laura Lippman, author of 10 crime novels, and the Tess Monaghan crime series; editor of the Baltimore Noir collection

William Hunt Kreuger, author of a Minnesota crime series; his work appears in Twin Cities Noir

Give it a listen. I’m off to B&N for my readers’ group this morning. We’re discussing Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. They’ll probably ask me to leave the group now, LOL. But, since rereading it was killing two birds with one stone for me (I still have a section of thesis to write on this book), I was grateful they agreed. None of them had ever read Woolf before. I wonder if they’ll ever want to read her again? Maybe I should have suggested The Voyage Out, a much more straightforward narrative and a book I reread only last month.

Have you ever read any Virginia Woolf? Do you like her? Think she’s impossible? Figure life’s too short to muck through that stuff? TTLH is my favorite novel of all time. I know that’s weird, but hey. I can’t explain it, except that I shivered and caught my breath and cried at parts of it the first time I ever read it. It is a dense and difficult book (those pesky Modernist writers!), but I just love it. It holds up on a reread, but that wonderful sense of discovery I felt the first time isn’t there. Some of the things that made me shiver then don’t quite elicit that effect ever again. But I still think it’s amazing. It’s not urban noir, but the Hebrides and the lighthouse are characters nonetheless (and you thought my train derailed somewhere east of LA). 🙂