So why am I purchasing No Place to Be Sick, by Timothy Sheard, for a family member who only occasionally reads mysteries? Why did I give this family member, who is interested in all things union and labor history and who will henceforth be referred to as Union Man, his first Lenny Moss mystery a few holidays back, which he loved and requested more of?
The answer lies in the story's hero and subject matter. The hero & crime solver, Lenny Moss, is a custodian, and, of greater interest to Union Man, a union representative. So the books, like every good mystery, aren't just about who killed whom. They weave labor issues, such as harassment of workers, into the stories. For example, in the first book, This Won't Hurt a Bit, a laundry worker at a large university hospital is accused of murdering a doctor. Lenny and his co-workers at the hospital, however, believe the man is innocent, and together they undertake their own investigation into the murder.
The heroes of mysteries these days are no longer just private eyes and police detectives. They are janitors and cleaning women, reporters, herbalists, teachers, librarians and more. Whatever your interests, you can likely find a mystery set in your milieu, and there are even books to help you find your mystery match, such as Make Mine a Mystery: A Readers' Guide to Mystery and Detective Fiction. The book, which you can view at the Readers' Services desk on the third floor, contains a subject index that goes from Aborigine-Australia to Zoo. Some subjects included are:
HMOs (for those who have ever been frustrated with an HMO)
Shipboard (for those who can't afford to take a cruise)
Railroads (love this one!)
Theater (for those who have ever wanted to kill a director or theater diva)
Another helpful book is What Mystery Do I Read Next, which includes both time period and major character indexes (activist, aged person, animal trainer, etc). Want personalized suggestions? Ask the helpful staff at the 3rd floor Readers' Services desk.
What's your favorite mystery or series featuring an amateur or unconventional sleuth? Do you have a favorite setting or locale? Do books make good gifts?