Before today, I had never read any Gail Bowen novels, but she’s well-known in mystery circles and I have long been meaning to check her out. So when I saw four of her books, with the words “Rapid Reads” on their covers — novella-length novels by famous authors, mostly in the crime genre, published by the good folks at Orca — at a garage sale, bundled for $2, I snapped them up. Bowen is known for her Joanne Kilbourne mysteries, and there are ten of those things. When I like a book, I want to read the whole series. So my theory was, “I’ll check out these shorter entries into her bibliography. If I like them, then Joanne Kilbourne gets added to my list. If I don’t, bye Jo!”
This rapid read, the first in the Charlie D series, centres on the titular radio call-in counselor and his attempts to figure out which of his listeners is killing off rivals for his affection. To this end, he goes into erotomania, the obsessive love of a celebrity who is sending you secret messages, and that often leads to violent outcomes. He even touches on the stalker of Canadian star Anne Murray, which led me to learn something I never knew. Well, two things, really. One, Anne Murray is very talented. I just checked her out on YouTube. Honestly, I never knew who she was, except for as a line in a South Park song. (“Blame Canada!”) But the other thing was that the Barenaked Ladies song “Straw Hat and Dirty Old Hank” is based on her stalker. I have been singing that song for more than twenty years, and I had no idea what it meant!
(I should point out here that BNL is my all-time favourite band. The kind of favourite where I have flown internationally in order to see them. Twice. And another time I went to New Jersey, and cried like one of those girls from an Elvis documentary when they came on stage. So thanks for the information I should already have known, Charlie D!)
I really like Charlie D. Charlie is a mensch. I also like his pragmatic radio producer, Nova. I like his dedicated and troubled fanbase. I like that he’s Canadian. And I really like the incredibly interesting manner in which this case is investigated, mostly on-air and in Charlie’s first person. Clever. And yes, it truly is a rapid read.
Also! Did you know that Sarah McLachlan wrote the song “Possession” about her experience with stalkers? I freaking love that song. One of her stalkers not only sued her because he claimed she used some of his love poetry in the song — she didn’t — but then also shot himself in the head and had the video of it sent to her.
Ugh. Sometimes, you just have to wonder: why are people?
TBR DAY 25: Love You to Death (Charlie D #1) by Gail Bowen
TIME ON THE TBR: 3 years.
PURCHASED FROM: Garage sale.
KEEP: No, I’ll pass this on to another mystery fan, I think.