Or at least makes for some darn good plots.
The past couple of years have seen an uptick in mysteries set at a newspaper. These are timely novels that show the struggles of newspapers and how the fear of being laid off hangs over many newspaper staffs. A few set in the recent past make us yearn for the good old days.
Anyone who has worked at a newspaper knows there is nothing like a newsroom culture -- the constant banter, the exchanging of ideas, the feeling that you are making a difference in people's lives. Not to mention the lifelong friendships and, of course, marriages that come out of newsroom.
Brad Parks' novel Faces of the Gone about Newark investigative reporter Carter Ross made my list of best debuts for 2009. Apparently I wasn't the only one who liked this novel as Faces of the Gone has been nominated for a Shamus Award in the best first category and for a Nero Award. Parks will learn if he or the other Shamus nominees take the prize on Oct. 15 during Bouchercon week; Nero award winners will be announced in December.
John Lescroart: A Certain Justice and A Plague of Secrets, among others -- Lescroart's series about attorney Dismas Hardy go beyond the courtroom to look at how a community deals with strife. Flawed characters, flawed ethics and a flawed legal system add up to exciting novels. In 1995's A Certain Justice, Dismas Hardy only makes an appearance as Abe Glitsky, the head of San Francisco’s homicide department, takes center stage when a race riot engulfs the city. The murder of a manager of a trendy coffee shop jumpstarts the energetic A Plague of Secrets (2009). Lescroart's latest novel is Treasure Hunt, the first of a new series about San Francisco private investigator Wyatt Hunt.
Julie Smith: Death Turns a Trick -- Before she turned her attention to New Orleans and Skip Langdon and Talba Wallis, the heroines of her two Big Easy series, Smith wrote about San Francisco attorney Rebecca Schwartz. These novels are lighter in tone than her other two series, and often quite funny. Death Turns a Trick (1992) introduced the self-described "Jewish feminist lawyer." Before my first trip to the Monterey, I read Dead in the Water (1993), which is set at the Monterey Aquarium; on each visit I always look twice at those wonderful exhibits.