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Friday, May 15, 2015

Die For Love by Elizabeth Peters

Yes, this is another reread for me - this time on audio.  A much beloved (by me) book, Die For Love, was written by Elizabeth Peters in 1984.  The narrator is Grace Conlin, who does a fine job.  This is the 3rd book that features Jacqueline Kirby, librarian extraordinaire (and by that I mean, not your stereotypical librarian - and what is that even?) and intrepid sleuth.  If you have never met Jacqueline or Jake to her friends (never Jackie), you have missed out.  Such a great character.  Of course, this is the same author who gave us Amelia Peabody and Vicky Bliss.  And if you don't know those names, well, you should.

In Die For Love, this author gently pokes fun at the romance book industry.  And romance conferences as well.  Jacqueline is a college librarian, living in Nebraska.  She decides that she needs a break and so goes on a search of conferences that she could attend (the tax benefits) that are being held in a place she'd like to visit.  She decides to go to New York and the only conference is the Historical Romance Writer's Conference.  Jacqueline is not a reader of historical romances (at first) or a writer of same, but what does that matter?  She jumps on a flight heading east, along with two of the latest bestsellers in that genre, both written by a Valerie.

When she arrives at the conference, many things are prevalent - gushing women, authors dressed in the manner of their characters, vast amounts of pink, vast amounts of Valeries, Aunt Hattie (the most successful agent with the most successful authors - mostly Valeries), fan club members, protesters who think the books demeaning, a well-known gossip columnist named Dubretta, and someone with murder in their heart.  After a bit, Dubretta the columnist is dead, Jacqueline has seen two old acquaintances from her college days, her Nebraska 'gentleman friend' has arrived to surprise her, and she becomes involved in convincing the police, in the form of handsome Lieutenant O'Brien, that Dubretta was murdered and not just a heart attack victim.  And did I mention the Valeries?

One thing that Elizabeth Peters was a master of was creating smart, witty, attractive (in unconventional ways) heroines.  Each of them is unique, but they all share certain characteristics.  And Jacqueline comes with a PURSE.  Caps intended.  Jacqueline's purse is almost a character of it's own.  It's kind of like the bag that Mary Poppins carried - you know, the bottomless treasure trove.  The Kirby purse can be used in many helpful ways, such as a defensive weapon or a battering ram and it contains anything you might need - paper bags, silverware, thermos of coffee, notebooks, tissues, raincoats or boots, books - you get the idea.

Naturally, since the book was written in the '80's, it's a bit dated.  There is smoking everywhere.  Women wear pantyhose (thank goodness we don't have to do that anymore) and dresses and heels.  The humor is still good and the early '80's was the heyday of historical romance with those Fabio covers.  This book is a good laugh, even 30 years later.

If you have read an Amelia Peabody book and liked it, you might try Jacqueline Kirby.  And now, since I've decided to continue enjoying my Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters rereads for some time to come, I'm off to pick out the next one.

29 comments:

  1. I haven't ever got into Elizabeth Peters perhaps because I came to crime fiction after her heyday but recently I've found I've found huge enjoyment in reading fiction written in the relatively recent past from a contemporary perspective - a touch of nostalgia perhaps? A great review which has meant if I come across one of these I'd be tempted to pick it up.

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    1. Great! That's my aim - to let some know that these are still good books.

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  2. Like Cleo, I haven't read any of Elizabeth Peters' books but this sounds like a lot of fun. Funny how fashions change - romance writers these days would probably think Valerie sounded too staid...

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    1. True, so true. I think at the time, Valerie was very cutting edge. In the book, the Valeries last names began with 'V' as well. Very clever.

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  3. I have to add this series to my list, based on your review and the main character. Love your comments about librarians :-)

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    1. Well, I've known a few librarians and in working at a library, most everyone considers you a librarian even if you don't have the letters after your name. Jacqueline is a 'typical/atypical' librarian. Did you ever read Jo Dereske's book about Helma the librarian?

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  4. Sounds like fun!

    Since I don't care for "bodice-ripper" books, it would be fun, to read, making fun of them. ,-))))

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    1. Yes, Peters pokes gentle fun at them. Nothing over the top. Just a little tongue-in-cheek.

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  5. I've only read one of Peters' Jaqueline Kirby series (Naked Once More), but I loved it. Fun and entertaining! I will look for this one!

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    1. I think that Naked Once More is the last book that Jacqueline appears in. There were only 4, I believe.

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  6. I forgot about the Jaqueline Kirby books! They were always fun though I never could find them all. I need to devote some time to finding all of Elizabeth Peters' books and reading them in order.

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    1. That would be a fun project Katherine!

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  7. I've read Barbara Michaels years and years ago, but not any of Elizabeth Peters. Of course I've heard of her and had her somewhere just off my radar when choosing books. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, sounds like a fun read. It's okay to be dated because, as Cleo mentioned above, you feel nostalgia for those days, like when a victim had to find a phone booth to make a call, etc. :) Good times.

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    1. Exactly. I think I'm still getting used to the fact that the '70's or '80's are far enough back to feel nostalgic about. LOL

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  8. My mom told me today (May 15th) is the 75th anniversary of the first day nylons were sold in New York City. I'm not grateful. LOL

    This sounds like a fun book. I enjoy reading romance, but making fun of it can be fun too, I admit. :-)

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    1. Wow. Nylons. Again, so happy with no more pantyhose.

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  9. I haven't read anything by this author, but your review has me itching to go check her out.

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  10. Jacqueline Kirby is probably my favourite Elizabeth Peters protagonist. Every time I do a reread of one of the Kirby books, it feels like getting together with a good friend.

    Have you read Devil May Care? That's probably my favourite Peters book. No Jacqueline, but I love the characters and the bit of spookiness.

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    1. I have read Devil May Care, but it has been years and years. Planning on putting it on my list for a reread soon - maybe on audio? Thanks for suggesting it!

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    2. I have it in audio, narrated by Grace Conlin, and that's how I've been rereading it!

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    1. It was - even for the 'umpteenth' time. :-)

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  12. I never read anything by this author but I've had her on my list of authors to read for a long time. This sounds really good.

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  13. I love Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels. Somehow I've missed the Jake series. I'll have to check this out. Thank you for bringing it to my attention!

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    1. Oh, you will, Laura. There are only 4 books in the series. This is the 3rd.

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  14. I hadn't heard about this series of hers before. Sounds like a lot of fun! I actually went to one of those romance writers conferences (pre-blogging) and it was such a blast! It was hilarious because I wasn't really a romance reader but I was curious and it was just a lot of fun. I have got to read this book!

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    1. How funny - well, you'd have a good perspective. :-)

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