cover of You May Now Kill the Bride


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Love and Death

You May Now Kill the Bride © 2006 Deborah Donnelly

© 2007 Beth Helstien

People sure love to read murder. I wonder why men and women often seem to want to read about it so differently.

My husband reads a lot of what I like to call “guy books:”  authors like W.E.B. Griffin, John Sanford,  John Saul. But mostly he reads murder: Robert B. Parker, John D. MacDonald, J. A. Jance, Tony Hillerman, and plenty of others. So, I value his opinion on murder.

On the advice of a local library user, I picked up You May Now Kill the Bride. It’s author, Deborah Donnelly, began the Wedding Planner Mystery series in 2001. I enjoyed reading about murder in the mausoleum at Roche Harbor, and a hostage taking at American Camp because, for me, the pleasure in mystery reading is often in the setting.  I enjoy Tony Hillerman for that same reason: those murders on the Navajo Reservation take me to the southwest. 

I also enjoy it when authors get familiar settings right and illuminate aspects of familiar territories through their fictional renditions.  Barbara Wilson set Murder in the Collective in Seattle a few blocks from where I used to live, with characters who were more like my life than most people I tend to meet, and finding that familiarity--that recognition--in fiction, felt like homecoming.

My husband didn’t enjoy You May Now Kill the Bride. We have a family friend who read one of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series--A is for Alibi, etc., and hated it.  Our friend said, “Who cares that Kinsey put on a black turtleneck? Why should I care what she was wearing for God’s sake?” Is it that women like this chatter in their mysteries, while men want something else?  I couldn’t really say, because I got sick of reading about how poor, tough private investigator Kinsey gets beat up all the time by her work, and quit reading after the first three or so.

My opinion is that men and women both want back story in their mystery fiction, but that the “guy books” are filled with one kind of back story and “chick lit” with another. The best murder authors must transcend a gender divide. Both women and men read Robert B. Parker and Tony Hillerman. 

The bride wears purple and lavender in You May Now Kill the Bride, and while the wedding does not take place at San Juan Island's Pelindaba, it is set on a fictional lavender farm. The premise of the series is that the wedding planner stumbles into bad things on the way to other people’s weddings, so you might not want to hire her for your nuptials.  It might be the rare male who enjoys it.

On the other hand, enthusiasts of American Camp and its buildings or aficionados of the After Glow mausoleum might find new insight into well-loved places. And its fun, quick, and available for free of charge at the San Juan Island Library.

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