Historical mysteries have given the genre wonderful stories. James R. Benn’s Billy Boyle stories and Rebecca Cantrell’s Hannah Vogel novels explore life during WWII while Charles Todd and Jacqueline Winspear have shown us WWI, better than Downton Abbey. Martin Limon brings a view of the Korean Conflict.
But historical mysteries aren’t all about war or settings occurring more than 60 years ago.
Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone novels are set in the 1980s and, as the series inches toward 1990, the vast changes in technology they reflect are astounding.
Did we really live without cell phones, the Internet or computers?
Each of our histories are different. My memories are different than yours, even if we grew up in the same era or share a hometown.
P.J. Parrish’s latest novel Heart of Ice sparked a memory for me. Parrish’s novels about Louis Kincaid began in the mid-1980s and now, with Heart of Ice, have reached 1990.
In Heart of Ice, Louis has brought his daughter, Lilly, to Michigan's picturesque Mackinac Island just before the remote tourist area shuts down for the winter. But the vacation has barely begun when Lily falls on top of a skeleton in the basement of an abandoned hunting lodge. This launches an investigation that has its roots in 1969 when a wealthy industrialist’s daughter disappeared.
My review just ran in the Sun Sentinel.
It’s the 1969 part of Heart of Ice that sparked a memory when the investigators find a photograph in which the boys are wearing shirts with fruit loops on the back.
Boy, did that spark a memory.
I am not talking about the cereal, which is spelled differently, but the little loops that were on the back of boys’ shirts back in the day.
In Heart of Ice, the investigators talk about how girls would collect fruit loops: “Conquests. Guys notched their belts. Girls collected fruit loops.”
Actually, my friends and I were too innocent for “conquests,” and probably didn’t know what that meant back then. But we did collect fruit loops from boys’ shirts. We weren’t sure why, but it was fun and one of those little things that girls share.
This whole fruit loop reference lasts less than two paragraphs in Heart of Ice. But it sparked a lovely memory.
I think that having your words connect with a reader’s experiences has to be one of the best compliments an author can receive.
As for those fruit loops – I doubt they lasted in our homes past the first year of college.
But I remember when four of us asked a guy if we could have his fruit loop, and it was a sweet memory.
Photo: P.J. Parrish are sisters Kris Montee, left, and Kelly Nichols