Sunday, January 04, 2009

Why I Still Miss Jill

Mystery writer Jill McGown died last year. It still makes me sad to think about it, especially because I haven't heard whether or not her publisher will put out one last Lloyd and Hill mystery.

I was reminded of McGown's greatness again this Christmas break. It saddens me to say that because of a stack of papers I had to grade, I didn't have one moment to read a mystery. I had to steal a few minutes in bed each night, but you know how that is--no matter how fascinating the material, the eyes droop, and Boom. Out.

I went through the books in my headboard, but for several nights I couldn't get into the books I selected. One just didn't capture my attention. Another had dialogue that I simply didn't understand--and I'm normally good with dialects.

Last night I grabbed a McGown hardback called Picture of Innocence, which sat on my shelf with her other beloved titles. Within two pages I had experienced the old McGown magic--a seemingly sedate beginning that bubbled with subterranean tensions. The question isn't "Who Will Get Killed," but "Who Will Kill Him and When?"

McGown created complex characters, but then only revealed them bits at a time, manipulating her readers into making assumptions without actually misleading them.

I love it when I can't remember the ending of a book I'm re-reading--that means I get the pleasure of revelation twice. :)

So my first read for the New Year is a Jill McGown novel, and for once I will stay awake at bedtime.


Martin Edwards said...

I share your admiration for her. Have you read The Other Woman? It is probably my favourite among her books.

Julia Buckley said...

I've read them all, Martin! Although that would be a great one to re-read. I loved A Perfect Match, but they seemed to get better and better after that one.

Martin Edwards said...

Now that is one of the few I missed. I take it you recommend it strongly!

Julia Buckley said...

I believe it was her first--and yes, I do recommend it! :)