June 16, 2009

For Glory by Elisabeth Lee

One of my favorite things about book reviewing is discovering books I definitely would have missed. Writing a review encourages me branch out in my literary appetite, and discover new authors, series or genres. Still I was apprehensive when asked to review For Glory by Elisabeth Lee which centers around a fifty something protagonist. I’m on the wrong side of twenty five myself, but wasn’t sure that I wanted to read about a female detective you may remind me more of my mother than someone I could identify with. But if Carlyle Hudson is any indication of a middle aged detective, bring it on. Carlyle “Lyle” Hudson, is confident, desirable, and smart.

The book centers on Lyle who projects a tough exterior. She thwarts and threatens a mugger early on the story for instance. But those who know her, like her gaggle of L named aunts, Lenore, Loretta, and Luce, or at times her inherited dog “Glory” are treated to her softer more vulnerable side. The story opens in Kansas where Lyle is on a losing streak alluding to the fact she’s a professional gambler and has just lost her mom who died unexpectedly. The very metropolitan, Lyle, who hails from San Francisco, is tying up loose ends when she finds a few of her mother’s items that intrigue her—mainly a gun and some bizarre correspondence. Things begin to heat up once a wedding dress is taken for ransom, and Lyle meets a guy or two.

Lyle’s first person narrative asks a lot of open ended rhetorical questions, at times I wanted to roll my eyes, we get it Lyle, you’re thoughtful. I was also a couple of chapters in before I realized I had picked up a mystery novel. Though Lyle is nothing if not witty, a suspenseful nail biter this isn’t. Think a natural progression of Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon (same self-assured personality)with a much lighter tone. In fact For Glory is unlike books typical of the detective novel or mystery genre. It is a smart break from all those young, spoiled and dramatic characters hogging the literary limelight. Take this book to the beach, and look for the next in the series, Flashes of Glory this summer.

For more information: www.elisabethlee.com

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