Summer is a great time to read a good book. There’s more daylight for sitting on the back porch with a cool libation forming little dark water rings on the coaster; at the beach you can relax in the shade of an umbrella while the waves lap at your ankles and the kids build sand castles or try out their surfer moves. Or you can sit on a bench in the park in the middle of a busy city and tune out the world on your lunch break. Books are great ways to take a summer vacation while staying right where you are.
Summer is not the time, however, to read something heavy. Save Dr. Zhivago or Arrowsmith for sitting next to the fireplace next winter. What you need is a good page-turner that defies you to put it down or make you curse when the LOW BATTERY symbol flashes on your Kindle.
I’ve come across two such fun and intriguing reads by Stephen Anable. First up is The Fisher Boy, a detective story told by a most unlikely detective: Mark Winslow, a gay stand-up comic trying to make it during the high season in Provincetown on Cape Cod. It’s a deftly-woven story written in fine detail that surrounds you with the feeling of being there. The story moves at a quick but not hurried pace; it’s like he wants you to enjoy the view as we solve the mystery. There are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing to the very end. Oh, and you’ll learn a lot about the very interesting artists and denizens of the fabled P-town.
The next entry in the Mark Winslow series is A Pinchbeck Bride. This time we’re in Boston exploring the historic sites and learning about some rather interesting if not repellent Back Bay blue bloods with a family history that sometimes seems more like the Charles Addams family instead of John or Samuel Adams. Mark is volunteering as a docent and member of the board of the historic Mingo house when a grad student assistant is found delicately murdered in full Victorian regalia in the house. There are lots of suspects with lots of alibis and insight into the rarefied air of the musty attics of family secrets. Even if you don’t know Boston from downtown Longmont or a historical museum from the fun house at Coney Island, you will quickly feel at home and get to know these characters.
There’s a certain craft to writing a detective story that I’ve always envied, and Stephen Anable has it down to perfection. I hope you take the time to take a look and take them along to wherever you go to enjoy a good read this summer.