Sunday, August 30, 2009
The sleuth who takes the law into her own hands in Sophie Littlefield’s debut novel, “A Bad Day for Sorry,’’ is Stella Hardesty. Having dispatched her own abusive husband with the business end of a wrench, Stella takes tough and ornery to new levels. She has developed a “justice-delivering career,’’ her business driven through word of mouth from satisfied customers. She rides through the rural Missouri countryside in her husband’s beloved Jeep (“a sweet little green Liberty with chrome aluminum wheels and a sunroof’’) to strains of Emmy Lou Harris, stalking recalcitrant abusers and monitoring her “parolees.’’
Stella takes her Johnny Walker straight up, and she’d rather not have to use the yoke and spreader bar with restraint cuffs, or the electric shock baton, or that little Raven .25 “she took off a cheating son-of-a-bitch in Kansas City,’’ but some spousal abusers just won’t stay “whupped.’’ Still, her average quarry is an angel compared with the crew she tangles with when Chrissy Shaw hires her to find her reprobate husband who absconded with her 2-year-old son. Roy Dean Shaw’s new associates don’t mind using any weapon in their considerable arsenal.
By the end, Chrissy has become sidekick to Stella’s Dirty-Harry-in-a-housecoat. Not all the guys are jerks, and Stella gets a welcome assist from Sheriff “Goat’’ Jones, an easygoing hunk with an appreciation for an older woman who isn’t and never was a beauty queen.
An abundance of violence is leavened with humor and heart in this debut novel in what I hope is the start of a new series.
...and then, Jay Strafford of the Richmond Times Dispatch said this:
Try to picture a more pacific view of small-town Americana than this: a 50-year-old widow who runs a sewing-machine shop in Missouri.
But Stella Hardesty will make you change your mind. Sure, she knows about sewing, but she also knows how to bring a cheating, abusive man to his knees -- or to the hospital.
Such is the premise of Sophie Littlefield's first mystery, A Bad Day for Sorry (288 pages, Minotaur Books, $24.95), and it's markedly original. In this initial outing, Stella, who runs a vigilante service for abused women (she was one, herself) is approached by Chrissy Shaw, who tells her that her no-account husband, Roy Dean Shaw, has taken off with Tucker, Chrissy's toddler son from a previous relationship. As Stella sets out to retrieve Tucker and bring Roy Dean down a notch or four, she finds her own life in peril.
Littlefield uses words, not drawings, but this is as graphic a crime novel as you'll find this side of the thriller subgenre. The story's compelling, the dialogue perfect -- and Stella is one of the most memorable characters of this summer or any other.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Kieran Shea and Pulp Pusher editor Tony Black - are friends of mine. (Monster talented friends, in fact. They're both going to be around for a long time so y'all might as well get used to them!)
Thanks guys - I owe you a round!
PS sorry for the picture weirdness. Blogger-In-Draft, which I thought was heaven-sent, is actually demonic and won't let me size or move the shots like I want to. That's Tony up there and Kieran at right.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
By Oline H. Cogdill
Sun-Sentinel Mystery Fiction Columnist
Friday, August 7, 2009
She owns a sewing shop, but what fiftysomething badass Stella Hardesty really does is dispense justice to abusive husbands and boyfriends, having discovered that "whuppin' ass wasn't so hard."
TV Pitch: Put Cagney or Lacey in rural
Lowdown: Crime fiction hasn't seen a character as scrappy, mean, and incredibly appealing as Stella in a long time. A-
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Last night was the signing at M is for Mystery, and fellow featured author Steve Hockensmith made it not only palatable but kind of fun, other than the terrified dry heaves part. We sold all the books and, despite my trucker mouth, I don't think I offended too many people.
When I got home (late, following obligatory post-signing bar wallow) I discovered a bouquet of flowers lying on my keyboard. My sweet son biked over to safeway and spent his allowance on them while I was out carousing. He's proud of me.
Thank you, Big Guy...a day can't really get much better than that, I don't guess.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Saturday, August 1, 2009
From The President