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Books by the Blogger:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


paperback | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

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I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« Kennedy, Shane: Highbinders | Main | Burke, Alafair: Close Case »

Kandel, Susan: I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason

  

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Avon Books © 2004, 292 pages [amazon]
4 stars

With five previous books under her belt, Cece Caruso, the protagonist of Susan Kandel's I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason, is stalled on her sixth, a biography of Erle Stanley Gardner. Gardner is best known as the creator of Perry Mason: he penned more than eighty novels featuring the man Raymond Burr would immortalize for a television audience. But Gardner was also an attorney himself, and he made a point in his career of investigating cases in which he believed an innocent party had been wrongly convicted. He received a great deal of mail, in consequence, from convicts hoping to lure Gardner into taking on their cases. His involvement in these nearly lost causes provides Kandel with the hook for her story, as Cece, while poring through Gardner's correspondence, stumbles upon one of the letters that did not manage to pique the attorney's interest. A certain Joseph Albacco Jr. wrote Gardner in 1958, in Kandel's story, shortly after he was convicted for killing his wife on their first anniversary. Perry Mason's alter-ego may not have taken on the Albacco case, but Cece is struck by the convicted murderer's tone in his letter--humble rather than hostile. She hopes to combat her writer's block by walking in Gardner's shoes for a while and looking into the case. Cece visits Albacco, still moldering in prison forty-odd years hence, and takes upon herself the responsibility of righting an old wrong. Unfortunately for her, as old as Albacco's case may be, there are still people eager to see that the true story of his wife's murder remains safely buried.

Perry Mason's alter-ego may not have taken on the Albacco case, but Cece is struck by the convicted murderer's tone in his letter--humble rather than hostile.This first installment in Susan Kandel's series of Cece Caruso mysteries is very appealing. It is a stroke of genius to give her amateur detective the day job of writing the biographies of mystery writers: it allows Kandel, as here, to punctuate her novel with information about the subject of Cece's current writing project. (Next up in the series is Not a Girl Detective, in which Cece takes on Nancy Drew.) The writing is good ("I was going for sexy and tousled and vowed not to look in the mirror until bedtime for fear of encountering evidence to the contrary."); the mystery absorbing. Less appealing were Kandel's secondary characters--Cece's daughter and son-in-law; her friend Lael, who lives in apparent chaos with a great many children from a great many fathers; the proprietor of a vintage clothing store Cece frequents: not poorly written, but not interesting or likeable enough to jump off the page. Cece's interest in the designer clothing with which she decks herself also left me cold--though readers will find her obsession with Oscar de la Renta silk saris and the like interesting or not depending on their own proclivities. That said, the quality of writing, the clever plotting, and most especially Kandel's brilliant channeling of Erle Stanley Gardner for this initial offering in the series makes for a winning combination. I look forward to more of Cece's romps through genre fiction.

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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.