Smoke and Mirrors, Barbara Michaels

For some reason, I’m attached to Smoke and Mirrors.  It’s not one of Barbara Michaels’s most elaborately plotted books, and there don’t turn out to be any ghosts, which is one of the things I tend to like about her books.  I think I like it because it’s all set in a political campaign, and I think that that is interesting.  Every time I read this book, I’m all I should work on a political campaign! before I remember that the two politicians I really like, my mayor and the President, have already been elected.

Two books by Elizabeth Peters

Elizabeth Peters – under this pseudonym as well as her other one, Barbara Michaels – is one of my most favorite authors of all the authors.  I like her because she writes the kind of book I like, but she does it (usually) tongue-in-cheek, and furthermore she has read all the same books I have read.  Not just, like, Little Women, which everyone has read, but you know, Rafael Sabatini and The Sheik and trashy things like that.  I appreciate this from Elizabeth Peters.

The Love Talker and Devil-May-Care, both of which I read in the last few days, are superficially rather similar.  In both, a woman comes to live with her eccentric relatives, and a number of strange happenings ensue.  In The Love Talker it’s all to do with fairies getting photographed, and in Devil-May-Care it’s ghostly apparitions of the ancestors of the posh families in the town. Devil-May-Care is, I must say, vastly superior in every way.  The resolution of the mystery is more satisfying, and I like the heroine better, and I like the elderly relatives better, and Ellie in Devil-May-Care has an aggravating fiance to be gotten rid of in a totally humorous fashion.  (Though why she was with him in the first place one is never really sure.)

If you are ever in the mood for a friendly, rather Gothic sort of mystery, Barbara Michaels is generally the way to go.  Elizabeth Peters has written these two ones, which are a bit Gothic, but most of her books under this pseudonym are regular (non-Gothic!  non-ghosty!) mysteries.  Her four books about Jacqueline Kirby totally slay me, especially the one set at a romance novel convention.  Oh, Jesus, I need to read that again.  I cleverly bought a Jacqueline Kirby omnibus in New York, but it was tragically published before Naked Once More got written, so it’s a Jacqueline Kirby, I don’t know, pluribus instead.

I really don’t feel this blog accurately reflects my tremendous fondness for Elizabeth Peters.  Her Amelia Peabody series is a load of lovely mysteries set in Egypt at the turn of the (20th) century, and she’s written one of her best women for it – she does men better than women really.  The series has been going on perhaps a smidge too long, but I’d say right up to Children of the Storm the books were all excellent.  I don’t even like mysteries that much.  She’s got a Master Criminal, and all sorts of mummies and antiquities and Howard Carter.  I love Elizabeth Peters.

(Oo, but don’t read Someone in the House.  It’s so scary!  I couldn’t sleep after I read it!  The house in question (spoilers ahead, but that doesn’t matter since I know you’re going to listen to me and NEVER READ IT), the house is spooky and haunted and it’s trying to make its inhabitants happy.  Yeeeeeergh.  It’s not trying to get rid of them!  It’s trying to make them happy.  It creeped me out so much!  Way more than haunted house mysteries where the house is trying to drive people insane or kill them.)