Dang Near Dead By Nancy G West
Review by Diana Hockley
Dang Near Dead is Nancy G West’s latest Aggie Mundeen mystery and believe me, it does not disappoint!
Aggie, her friend Meredith and Aggie’s love-focus, Sam, head for a dude ranch intending to enjoy a short break. Aggie is particularly eager for the holiday to turn out well, because she has practically dragged Sam there.
As in the first of the Aggie Mundeen stories, Nancy West’s delightful heroine is pitched into a series of mysteries during which a young woman is attacked and lapses into a coma. Having heard that the former owners of the dude ranch died in what Aggie perceives to be questionable circumstances, Sam finally accepts that there is a mystery and things go downhill from there.
Well-paced and written, there are bursts of humor in this novel which had me roaring with laughter. The plot is intricate, with a satisfying ending. Sam and Aggie grow a little closer and he still does not know of Aggie’s secret grief.
A great read and highly recommended. I hope the author has plans to bring out more Aggie Mundeen novels, because there is a lot of scope for them and fans eagerly waiting!
This review first appeared in Kings River Life: http://kingsriverlife.com/
__Diana Hockley is an Australian mystery author who lives in a southeast Queensland country town. She is the devoted slave of five ratties & usually finds an excuse to mention them in her writing, including her recent novel, The Naked Room. Since retiring from running a traveling mouse circus for 10 years, she is now the mouse judge for the Queensland Rat & Mouse Club shows. To learn more, check out her website.
NANCY G. WEST TALKS TO HER CHARACTER, AGGIE MUNDEEN.
NGW: I was writing a serious suspense novel, Nine Days to Evil, about Meredith Laughlin, a graduate student facing a life-threatening dilemma. Why did you pick that time to pop into my head, Aggie?
Aggie: Meredith needed a friend.
NGW: Somebody with whom to share problems? Somebody to help her?
Aggie: Somebody with a sense of humor. Meredith is too serious.
NGW: Of course, she’s serious. Her world disintegrates. Her life is in danger. You showed up in the middle of my writing Meredith’s novel to be funny?
Aggie: To lighten things up.
NGW: You appeared in my head making wisecracks about Meredith’s problems, about her outlook, about her husband, even about her professors ….
Aggie: Yep. I was right there with Meredith in those classes at University of the Holy Trinity.
NGW: You showed up in class wearing a warm-up and sneakers. With hair like a Brillo pad. Giving the professor a ‘show-me-something’ look.
Aggie: The kids needed a role model.
NGW: You made me chuckle, sitting there like you owned the place.
Aggie: You needed to loosen up.
NGW: You made it hard for me to keep ratcheting up suspense in Meredith’s story.
Aggie: You needed contrast. Dark moments versus light. Scary versus comic … stuff like that.
NGW: Wait a minute. I’m the writer here.
Aggie: I got in your head, didn’t I? You needed me.
NGW: You made it hard to focus on Meredith. I’d be agonizing over how she could get out of her predicament, and you’d do something to make me laugh.
Aggie: Yeah …. I enjoyed that.
NGW: My husband thought I was crazy.
Aggie: You share an office with your husband? That’s really crazy.
NGW: I’d be chuckling at my computer screen, and he’d ask me what was so funny. I’d say, “Aggie did something hilarious.”
Aggie: That’s one way to get him out of the office.
NGW: I got so tickled at you, I could barely stay serious long enough to finish Nine Days to Evil.
Aggie: You made it, though. It’s a better book, thanks to me.
NGW: By the time I finished Meredith’s story, Nine Days to Evil, you’d taken over my consciousness to the point where I knew I had to write about you.
Aggie: And you knew that one book from my point of view wouldn’t be enough.
NGW: I figured you would demand your own series.
Aggie: If you hadn’t promised me that, I’d never have let you finish Meredith’s book.
NGW: I realized that. So Aggie Mundeen’s first two mystery capers, Fit to Be Dead and Dang Near Dead are out!
Aggie: I like those books. You’re getting to know me, and I’m getting to know Detective Sam Vanderhoven better and better. I really like that part.
NGW: Meredith’s still your friend … she’s in both your books.
Aggie: Yep. You and I appreciate her more. Thanks to me.
NGW: But you still want to be the main character?
Aggie: You bet. Now that their dude ranch vacation has ended and summer is over, Aggie and Meredith will be back at University of the Holy Trinity. I really want to learn about telomeres. Scientists think they might delay aging. I have to relay this vital information to my readers.
NGW: For your column.
Aggie: Naturally. I’ll talk Meredith into taking the course with me.
Aggie: Professor Carmody is going to teach it.
NGW: You had serious trouble with him in Fit to Be Dead.
Aggie: I thought he’d kick me out of school. In Dang Near Dead, the stuffed moose hanging in the dining hall reminded me of Carmody … something about the animal’s dull eyes. Anyway, I need to learn about telomeres, so Carmody will just have to deal with me again.
NGW: He’d probably like to strangle you.
Aggie: There’s always conflict in mysteries. Especially when I’m around.
NGW: What about Detective Sam? You and he have plenty of conflicts.
Aggie: We get along better now. He’s beginning to trust me. Mostly.
NGW: That’s the first step. If you want him to love you.
Aggie: …. I guess you could put it like that.
NGW: What will happen next between you and Sam?
Aggie: Why don’t you work on my next story? You’ll find out. When it’s time ….
Nancy G. West is writing Aggie’s third mystery caper. Nancy can’t wait to see what goes awry at University of the Holy Trinity. As for Aggie and Sam, stay tuned ….
This interview first appeared in Kings River Life: http://kingsriverlife.com/
Tempted to Let Your Beloved Edit Your Work?
First, better give them this letter:
by Nancy G. West
Dear (beloved) Editor,
Your GOAL is to read this manuscript for the flow of the story and its entertainment value. Follow the logic of the story. Enjoy characters’ personalities. Discern their motives. Do they grow and change?
Different parts of the brain operate when you read for enjoyment as opposed to searching for grammatical or punctuation errors. Therefore, you will have another opportunity to act as copy editor during a second reading. If you feel compelled to correct grammar/punctuation on this page, inform the author (me) that you relinquish your editorial position, effective immediately.
Still with me? Okay. During the first reading, choose a number(s) from the following twelve-item list, bracket the text you’re referring to and pencil comments in the margin of the manuscript:
1. I like this character, description, scene or dialogue.
2. This moves slowly.
3. This made me chuckle.
4. Huh? (Try to explain your stunned reaction.)
5. Two much verbiage.
6. Needs further explanation. (What more do you need to know?)
7. Repetitious. (Find page where this was previously mentioned. Is new info. added here?)
8. Would character really say or do this? (No? Why not?)
9. Contradiction of logic. (Find earlier contradiction, note page number and bracket contradiction here.)
10. Is writer ahead of reader here? (Writer seems to assume something reader doesn’t know.)
11. This part created questions. It either (a) made me want to learn more or (b) made me wonder why author included this.
12. If you have other comments not included above, pencil them in the margin and bracket appropriate text.
13. Now tell me, TAHDAH! – WHAT YOU LIKED MOST ABOUT THIS BOOK! and what you liked least about this book.
One more thing: If, at any point, you feel compelled to be a smart-alec, try to be a helpful smart-alec.
Your (beloved) trusting writer.
p.s. Consider whether editing this manuscript will enhance our long, fruitful relationship, or whether your editing career will begin and end with this assignment.
Article first appeared January 12, 2013 at http://patriciastoltey.blogspot.com/2013/01/tempted-to-let-your-beloved-edit-your.html Thanks to Patricia Stoltey!