Wednesday, October 23, 2013

LISA'S REVIEW: An Illustrated Death (Judi Culbertson) Secondhand Prose Mystery #2

Title: An Illustrated Death

Author: Judi Culbertson

Series: Secondhand Prose

Format: ARC

Source of copy: Witness Impulse HarperCollins

ISBN13: 9780062296344

Expected publication: October 29th 2013 by Witness Impulse


It's not every day you get an inside peek at the world of a famous artist.

So when bookseller Delhi Laine gets the opportunity to appraise the late Nate Erikson's library, she jumps at the chance, despite the mysterious circumstances surrounding the illustrator's death. But as she spends more time with the eccentric Erikson clan at the family compound in the Hamptons, Delhi can't help but wonder what really happened to the lost patriarch.

When death visits the family once more and another Erikson is found murdered, dark secrets come to light. Left coping with a charmed family not quite as idyllic as she first believed, Delhi is determined to solve the murders once and for all. But digging up truths can get you dirty . . . and Delhi is about to discover just how far some will go to keep them buried.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)

About the Author:
Judi Culbertson graduated from Hampton DuBose High School in Florida, and majored in creative writing at Wheaton College in Illinois.  After two years in Philadelphia she moved to Long Island where her son Andy was born.  Here she published GAMES CHRISTIANS PLAY (Harper & Row, 1967), followed by THE LITTLE WHITE BOOK ON RACE (Lippincott, 1970) with a friend, Patti Bard.
           In 1970 Judi began working for the Suffolk County Department of Social Services, working with families at risk, children in foster care and, finally, in the Court Unit where she wrote petitions to free children for adoption.  During this time she was writing articles for Glamour, The New York Times, Newsday, Cosmopolitan, Woman's Day, Working Mother, and others and travel stories for major newspapers.        
           In 1986, after a trip to Paris, Judi and her husband, Tom Randall, wrote a travel story that developed into PERMANENT PARISIANS,An Illustrated Biographical Guide to the Cemeteries of Paris, published in 1987 by Chelsea Green Press.  This was followed by four more: PERMANENT NEW YORKERS; LONDONERS; CALIFORNIANS; and ITALIANS.  
              After earning an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Vermont College, Judi published THE NURSERY  (St. Martin's Press, 1996).  By then she had started speaking professionally on a subject that had long fascinated her, people's attachment to stuff.  This led to two books: SCALING DOWN, Living Large in a Smaller Space, written with Marj Decker (Rodale 2005) and THE CLUTTER CURE (McGraw-Hill, 2007).
             Judi left social work in 1999 to pursue her interest in selling used and rare books on the Internet.  It is this background that helped create the Secondhand Prose Mystery Series.   A NOVEL DEATH is the first book, published by Avalon Books in June 2011. AN ILLUSTRATED DEATH will be published on October 1, 2013 by Harper/Collins.  When not writing, she and Tom travel extensively and enjoy their twin grandchildren, Andrew and Emily, as well as the three cats they live with: Ignatz, Vladimir, and Pangur.

(Information Lifted from: )

Author Interview:

1. What inspired you to start writing?

      My grandparents lived with us and my grandfather read me Little Women, Little Men, and other books when I was four.  By the time I was in fifth grade I realized that writing was the only thing I could do well, the only thing I was interested in doing.  I went on to major in creative writing in college and never stopped.


2.What are your hobbies?

       Travel is huge; instead of spending money on cars and clothes, we go on trips, from Russia to the Galapagos.  I also love entertaining, anything to do with homes and decorating, and I never met a craft I didn’t like.


3. Out of all the book you have written, What book is your favorite?
        Yikes.  I loved writing Permanent Parisians because we were tromping around  fascinating cemeteries all day long and eating in French bistros at night without worrying about the calories.  I love Scaling Down because so many people posted reviews that it helped their lives.


4. What inspired you to write this series?
         I love mysteries and I loved bookselling when I was doing it actively--the search, the people I met, everything I was learning about books, the connection with the past.  It was fascinating and I wanted to share the experience with people, also teach them about what makes particular books valuable.  Writing the mysteries keeps it alive for me.


5. Why set the series in Hamptons?
         Beginning with Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, there’s always been an active artists’ presence in the Hamptons.  I knew it was where the Eriksons would live.  When I started writing Illustrated Death, I imagined them living just where they do in Springs.  Nate wanted to establish a dynasty, so he needed somewhere not quite as fashionable as, say, Southampton--which of course also figures in the book.


6. How much of this book features Scenes from your life?
        The setting, Port Lewis, is very similar to Port Jefferson, the village where I’ve lived  most of my adult life  It’s picturesque, a good place for murder, but I changed the name I wanted the freedom to move things around, have people die in the bookstore etc.  I’ve bought books all over Long Island, so the scenes themselves are real although the characters aren’t.


7. Each female character seemed to have a little of you based on your author descriptions, social worker, book dealer, and traveler. Which character do you most relate to?
          I was a social worker as my “day job” and it was a good fit for me because I could make home visits and ask people personal questions; I also felt I was helping make their  lives better and that was very important to me (I have a religious background similar to Delhi’s).  Traveling is still all-consuming--we were in Croatia and Bosnia in May, and I am always ready to go back to Paris.  But bookselling is what I feel most nostalgic about, what I will never regret doing.  As far as Delhi’s personal life, my husband isn’t anything like Colin and I don’t have as many children.

8.How long did it take you to write An Illustrated Death?
            It took me a long time to write the first book in the series, A Novel Death, to get the setting and the characters the way I wanted them.  By contrast, Illustrated Death took about a year.  

9.What is your favorite part in this book?
            That’s so hard to say.  I like to re-read the conversations, especially the ones with Colin and Patience.

10. I enjoyed your subtle humor. I found Adam's Revenge very humorous. How did you come up with that?
            As I mentioned, I was raised in a conservative Presbyterian home, so most of the  stories I heard were Bible stories and these were very visual.  This seemed true of Nate Erikson as well.  And humor has always been important to me, a way of traveling through life.


11. When will the next book in the series come out?
            A Photographic Death is scheduled for Summer 2014.  It involves the search for Caitlin.  When I read through it I always tear up at the end, which I hope is a good sign.
Though I have not read the first I will be now that I have finished this book. I loved this story. The whole time I was trying to guess who was doing all the crimes. I love that it was one mystery after another.
I really enjoyed the Erikson's characters. All so different, but a real family with real problems despite their wealth.
Lots of tragedy, but still a good read. Never got depressing as some do with so much tragedy. Dehli is a great character. I cannot wait to see what her future holds. The ending left me wishing I could read on in to Dheli's life.
Looking forward to reading more of Culbertosn's tales.


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