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Murder Among Friends

Our Discussion On: "Liar, Liar" by K. J. Larsen

K.J. Larsen pix with Liar Liar cover

Last Thursday’s discussion of K.J. Larsen’s Liar, Liar began with a question we had no answer to, but would love to find out: how do three writers go about writing one book? Especially when two sisters live in different parts of Seattle, and one lives in a different state (in the Chicago area by the way)? K.J. Larsen is the pen name of sisters Kari, Julianne, and Kristen, and Liar, Liar is the debut novel in their series featuring Cat DeLuca and Cat’s Pants on Fire detective agency. From their web page, we know that the three (of six sisters) wrote their own Nancy Drew adventures, so they had their sights set on mystery writing from an early age.

Since our meeting I’ve been able to find an interview with all three where they do talk about how they write together. The following is an excerpt from Kings River Life Magazine. Click here to go to the full article!

KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can? And how does that work with there being three of you?

Sisters: We sisters meet on Skype most mornings, wearing pajamas and armed with a cup of hot coffee. Every day we ask, “What does Cat do today?” On our better days we already know what she’s up to and each sister has a scene she’s working on. But some mornings we’re just stuck and struggling to figure out what happens next. A typical bleary-eyed conversation goes something like this. “OK, sissies. Cat is in the warehouse. A bomb will explode in twenty-three seconds. A man with a very big gun is blocking the only exit. How the hell can we get her out alive?”

As you can see, the humor we all mentioned during our discussion, is ever-present with these three. It was also fun for us to get their take on Bridgeport and the Chicago area. We talked about how iconic these neighborhoods have been, and how different ethnic groups have taken turns dominating the area. When they do, there seems to be an unspoken set of standards for behavior that work for these communities that may not work so well in other places (like the suburbs). Several members grew up in Chicago neighborhoods, and felt that these authors did a good job of depicting life in a Chicago neighborhood – especially if you are Italian-American.

We all got a kick out of Cat’s family and friends, and felt there was a similar feel to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books in the way that both use family, friends, and occupation to create humorous (even zany) situations and dialog. We saw a similarity in the feel of the story, the use of Cleo as a pseudo-Lula, and Inga as Cat’s Bob. On the other hand, we felt that Cat was different from Stephanie in some significant ways. First, she is very competent as a P.I., and we feel she has been very successful. We noted that she has expensive shoes, vases, and the cash flow to treat everyone at Mickey’s; not to mention replacing cars! She also knows what she’s doing with a gun, something that Stephanie still struggles with. While it looks like there is potential for a similar romantic triangle (with Max and Chance versus Joe and Ranger), we felt the authors (at least in this debut) strongly indicated that Cat’s main man is Chance.

We spent time talking about humorous mysteries, and whether they are a believable form for mysteries. Members talked about how even in the darkest mysteries, there can be moments of humor, and that the light, humorous mysteries can also take on some serious themes and poignant moments. We connected with Cat’s determination to see justice done by Rita as one instance of this. We mulled over what we think happened to all the diamonds, since they are in Uncle Joey’s care. We are sure that (aside from Cat’s earrings) he put the majority of the diamonds into the research hospitals Cat indicated. But we felt he wouldn’t be the slightly-criminal charmer he is, without taking a “commission”. He is also one of the group’s favorite characters. Both he and Tino are forces to be reckoned with, and we hope they’ll turn up early and often in the succeeding books in the series. Members indicated they are already on board with following this series, and they were told that the newest book in the series, There Was a Crooked Man, is on order for the Lisle Library collection.

We are all looking forward to reading Ordinary Grace for November – and speaking with its very talented author, Kent Krueger via Skype – at our next meeting on Thursday, November 17th!

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