Mysteries and More

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Mysteries and More is a fantastic mystery bookstore nestled in Lenox Village in southeast Nashville.  Greg and Mary Bruss own the only brick and mortor bookstore in Tennessee dedicated solely to the mystery genre.  And a great store they have.  They invited me for a signing today which coincided with the third birthday of the store’s opening.   I was met with a room full of people and –  birthday cake to boot.

What a pleasure to talk with dedicated readers of mysteries and thrillers.  But I know that the real reason they came was the “feel” of a community bookstore where books are displayed for accessibility, the chairs are comfortable, and the owners care about delivering the right book to the discerning reader.  And there was cake.

After I talked about my writing of the Eli Branch series of medical suspence, and answered questions, and signed copies of Rupture and Public Anatomy, many of those in attendance did not leave.  They congregated for fellowship
and discussion about books and reading.  Life seemed to slow down for a while.  Exactly how a bookstore should be.

Celebrating Memphis

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Summer sunsets over the Mississippi River, white dogwood blooms in the spring, brilliant red oaks in autumn, an occasional blanket of snow.  Four seasons in the Bluff City.  One thing is certain – Memphis has character – and that’s what I try to capture in my novels. 

From Beale Street to the Rendezvous, Front Street to the Arts District, a tour of Victorian Village, nights at the Peabody, Fourth of July in Tom Lee Park.  Then outwards to Tunica, Oxford, and the farmlands of West Tennessee, and a few surprises thrown in. 

I enjoy talking with Memphians about the setting of my books, as I did at my recent signing at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Laurelwood Shopping Center.  In my novels, I want to capture the good, the bad, even the occasional ugly. If RUPTURE and PUBLIC ANATOMY were movies, Eli Branch would no doubt be the star.  But in many ways, Memphis is the main character.


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I’ve just returned from the first week of signings for PUBLIC ANATOMY.  My first event occurred at Big Sleep Books in St. Louis (Big Sleep as in Raymond Chandler’s hardboiled crime novel of 1939, The Big Sleep, and the 1946 movie of the same name starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall).  Ed King runs a great “old-feel” mystery bookstore on North Euclid Ave. in St. Louis.  Later, I signed at Subterranean Books near the Washington University campus.  Thanks to Kelly and Alex and their cozy independent store.  My Nashville launch was at Barnes and Noble with community relations manager, Robbie Bryan, and a host of friends, some of whom I haven’t seen in years. 

Next stop Bradenton, Florida outside of Tampa, for nice meet and greet at Books-a-Million.  My gratitude to Ken for a nice set-up.  The key fact for Bradenton, of course, is the spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the baseball team I’ve followed (through some lean years) since I was six when I used to watch Roberto Clemente.  The Pirates also happen to be the favorite team of Eli Branch (go figure).  I was able to squeeze in a game and watched the Pirates beat the Red Sox, 9-4, in front of the largest crowd ever in McKechnie Field history.  Ok, enough baseball trivia.

Then on to Sarasota and Circle Books in St. Armands Circle, the Rodeo Drive of Florida.  Debbie Stowell runs a great bookstore in a great location.  I enjoyed meeting readers from all over the country – Michigan, New Jersey, and Indiana.  Congrats to Bill from South Bend for Notre Dame’s #2 seed for the NCAA tournament.

Next up is Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Memphis on Saturday, March 19th.  For both RUPTURE and PUBLIC ANATOMY, Memphis is where it all goes down.

What is a Public Anatomy?

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I just returned from the South Central Renaissance Conference held at St. Louis University where I presented a paper for the Society of Renaissance Art History.  The topic of my paper was the sixteenth century anatomist, Vesalius, who is known as the father of human anatomy.  Specifically, I discussed the details from the illustration (year 1543) that forms the cover of my novel, PUBLIC ANATOMY.  The scene shows Vesalius performing a human dissection in a public demonstration – thus, a public anatomy.  

Icones Anatomicae, History of Medicine Archives, Vanderbilt University

Public anatomies were spontaneous events, usually outdoors, held in hastily constructed platforms that held spectators, anatomist, and the body for dissection.  The spontaneity of the event depended upon the availability of a body – usually a criminal pulled fresh from the gallows – the clock ticking before decay set in.  Word would spread and a host of spectators would converge – students, politicians, clergy, and those struck with morbid curiosity.  And since human dissection at that time was largely forbidden by the church – the event was not advertised, the set quickly dismantled following the dissection.

This work of anatomical art forms the title page of Vesalius’ masterpiece on anatomy, the Fabrica.  You can find the full illustration within PUBLIC ANATOMY on the left page just before the beginning of Chapter One. Within this image are clues that propel the mystery in the novel.  So take a look at the illustration and refer back often.  And happy hunting, PUBLIC ANATOMY is released tomorrow.