When mystery author Marcia Muller published The Broken Promise Land in 1996, she visited Book’em Mysteries in South Pasadena, California. I joined a long line of her fans, all of us eager for her signature. This was my first author signing, and you never forget your first anything: first day of school, first kiss, first … you get the idea!
I had been a huge fan of Ms. Muller for many years, not only of her Sharon McCone series, but the Elena Oliverez and Joanna Stark ones as well. Then there are the stand-alones, and the series written with her husband, Bill Pronzini (also a terrific mystery writer).
If memory serves, Marcia Muller was a petite, soft-spoken woman. Her appearance and demeanor surprised me because I picture her heroines as being tall, dark-haired, and forceful. But authors have alter-egos and this is why we write, to let our second selves come out to shine.
While I stood in line I chatted with Marcia Muller’s other fans. I learned that Mary Daheim’s Alpine Gamble was about to come out and that author Robert Crais was drop dead gorgeous! Needless to say, I’ve since read many of Robert Crais’s works and consider him one of my favorite authors. And I just finished Mary Daheim’s Alpine Zen [Note to Ms. Daheim’s fans: she’s not ending the alphabetically-titled series].
I reference my experience at Book’em Mysteries in the last chapter of Murder at the Book Group, my debut mystery. Hazel Rose, my sleuth, has a bittersweet moment when she finds a copy of The Broken Promise Land in the bookcase of Carlene Arness, the murder victim:
I picked up a Marcia Muller book, The Broken Promise Land. The author had signed the hardback novel in 1996 at Book’em Mysteries in South Pasadena. Small world—I had been at the same signing. The year 1996—it must have been shortly before Carlene fled California. It gave me a funny feeling to have been in the same space with her, especially during a time of such upheaval for her.
I’m still reading Marcia Muller’s works. Besides The Broken Promise Land, my favorites are Vanishing Point and In the Eye of the Storm. In July, 2016, she published Someone Always Knows, #33 in the Sharon McCone series. That’s up next for me.
I haven’t started the Carpenter and Quincannon series, set in San Francisco during the 1890s, that she writes with Bill Pronzini. I understand that Maggie Field is their agent for the series. I was acquainted with Maggie when I lived in Los Angeles.
I was inspired to write this post after reading Janet Rudolph’s recent interview: “A Glamorous Day in the Life of this Writer: Guest Post by Marcia Muller.”
Marcia Muller’s website.
Marcia Muller’s bibliography on Stop! You’re Killing Me
Publisher’s Weekly interviews Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini on their Carpenter and Quincannon series.
Here’s a 2013 article about Book’em Mysteries. Warning: you’ll be adding to your TBR list! And there’s a photo of the aforementioned Robert Crais, in all his handsomeness.
A little over a year later, Book’em Mysteries closed its doors. Read the article from the Pasadena Star News.
Book’em Mysteries owner Barry Marin periodically updates on the former store’s Facebook page. Sadly, co-owner Mary Riley died in 2015.
Readers, do you have a favorite author who’s signed her/his book for you? Please share your story.