I have been a fan of Project Runway since the middle of the first season. I kept avoiding it, despite the rave reviews from a deskmate.
Ah, reality shows. I could care less, I thought.
But things of changed. I admit to being a fan of the Real Housewives shows and, I also admit, that I have no excuse for this lapse in judgment.
Except….I can’t help myself.
But Project Runway was my first reality show, and remains a guilty pleasure.
For me, Project Runway isn’t so much about the clothes, although that runway show is a great bonus. Instead, I love to see the creative process, watching people see a piece of work from start to finish. I love to see how fashion designers think and how they have to “make it work,” as Tim Gunn says.
And then there is that glimpse into a world we don’t know. How many of us knew about draping or how often those sewing machines mess up or how much muslin is used? I have watched Project Runway during the good seasons and the bad. Those include the priceless episode when designer Michael Knight defended a fellow castmate who was being ridiculed by another. Knight then uttered that show stopping phrase: “I wasn’t trying to play no Captain Save a Ho.”
Or the dreadful Gretchen-gate when an irritating and not so talented designer won over the multi-talented Mondo. Really? Over Mondo.
Project Runway just started its 11th season, airing at 9 p.m. EST Thursdays on Lifetime. The season already is fraught with drama, inflated egos, talent, and even pathos. And with all the backstabbing that sometimes goes on, the one ups manship that permeates the competition, I naturally thought about mysteries wrapped around the fashion world.
After all, these people work with pinking shears; and much can be done with that fabric from Mood.
Here’s a few for Project Runway fans, as well as for readers who could care less about why Michael Kors isn’t on this season. In compiling this list, I received much help from the readers on DorothyL, and I thank each of you who responded to my request both to me personally and on the site. (I won’t try to thank each person as I am sure to miss someone.)
I am not reviewing the following novels, but offering a compilation. And I am sure I have missed several, so please add to the list in our comments.
Ellen Byerrum’s Crime of Fashion mysteries feature Washington, D.C., style scribe Lacey Smithsonian, who writes about style snafus in her Crimes of Fashion columns and Fashion Bites. The series includes Veiled Revenge, Death on Heels and Hostile Makeover.
Elaine Viets’ Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper series has the single mother constantly looking at fashions, including handbags in Dying in Style; high heels in High Heels Are Murder; scarves in Accessory to Murder; and lingerie in An Uplifting Murder.
Gregg Herren’s Fashion Victim is about a reporter assigned to profile a fashion designer who ends up dead 15 minutes after the interview. One blurb calls it “Devil Wears Prada meets Agatha Christie.”
Hank Phillippi Ryan’s Air Time is all about counterfeit designer clothes and purses and the crime of pirating designs. The major plot line is intrigue in the fashion industry.
Rex Stout's wife, Pola, was a fabric designer and several of his stories involved the fashion world, including The Red Box (1937) and The Red Threads (1939).
Rosemary Stevens has shown the historical importance of fashion in her series about Beau Brummell, who was the arbiter of fashion in the Regency era of Great Britain. Her Murder A Go Go novels featured the fashions of the 1960s.
Sondra Luger’s newly published Drop Me Off In Harlem is a jazz age mystery set 1927 at a NYC fashion house were a model is murdered. The suspects are two models, one white, one black who team up to find the culprit.
Margery Allingham's The Fashion in Shrouds introduced Albert Campion's sister, a successful fashion designer.
Patricia Moyes's Murder à la Mode involves Henry Tibbett's niece, who is a model, the murder of a writer for a fashion magazine and the smuggling of the latest Paris designs.
Christine DeMaio-Rice’s Fashion Avenue series include Death of a Fashion Model and Dead Is the New Black.
Megan Abbott and Alison Gaylin are both known for their suspense-filled novels.
Abbott often writes noir from a historical perspective such as Bury Me Deep and Queenpin.
But she also is an expert at contemporary suspense, with a twist, such as her 2012 Dare Me, which looked at the cut-throat world of cheerleading.
Dare Me was named a “summer read” by O Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Newsday and the Wall Street Journal.
Gaylin’s latest novel is the suspense-filled Into the Dark, the second in her new series about Brenna Spector, a missing persons whose rare neurological disorder enables her to recall every detail of every day of her life.
A couple of years ago, Abbott and Gaylin teamed up for a graphic novel Normandy Gold.
Normandy Gold has been described as a Tarantino-esque graphic novel about a female sheriff who comes to 1970s Washington, D.C., to avenge the murder of her call girl sister.
Perhaps that comparison to Tarantino will soon be more than just a description.
Normandy Gold has been optioned to New Regency, with Abbott and Gaylin to adapt.
We all know that an option is a long way from a property actually becoming a film.
But it’s a good start.
And I’m looking forward to the team of Abbott and Gaylin making it to the big screen.
Publishing 20 well-received, suspenseful thrillers is a milestone.
So congratulations to James Grippando, whose thrillers deliver “ripped from the headlines” plots while offering a vivid view of life in South Florida.
Most of Grippando’s novels feature Miami defense attorney Jack Swyteck. The son of a former governor and a Cuban mother, Jack’s background is steeped in South Florida lore.
But, like most mystery novels, Grippando’s stories could take place anywhere.
Grippando’s use of current events adds realism to his novels, and often brings a sense of urgency to his works.
In Need You Now, Grippando showed how the plague of Ponzi schemes, such as Madoff and their ilk, reaches into every strata, affecting the wealthy, the middle class, corporations and charities, even mobsters. After all criminals also need a place to park their money and, unlike most Ponzi victims, they tend to be bit more vengeful, as I said in my review.
Money To Burn looks at the Wall Street meltdown.
His Afraid of the Dark may be one of the scariest novels I have ever read, frightening in its uncovering a horrifying conspiracy among terrorists that most of us cannot even imagine happening.
Afraid of the Dark touches on terrorists, the treatment of political prisoners, cyber security, the war in Iraq and even teenage sexting. It’s a heady brew of plot points, but Grippando skillfully balances each tendril, as I said in my review of the novel. To say more would spoil the myriad twists that Grippando deftly adds to this multi-layered plot, but every plot twist, every nuance feels authentic.
And Grippando continued that focus on newsmakers in his 20th and latest novel, Blood Money. It’s also his 10th one about Jack Swyteck.
Grippando used the Casey Anthony case as the inspiration for the meticulously plotted Blood Money.
But Blood Money was not just a look at this case that is still making headlines.
Grippando spins Blood Money into an intriguing look at the media, vengeance-seeking crusaders and our perception of defendants and their attorneys, as I said in a review.
I was raised on a 75-foot fish tender in the Gulf of Alaska. In port, at low tide, it was a 42-foot climb up an often ice-encrusted ladder to get to the library, but if you’re a born reader and an icy climb is the only way you can get to the library, you climb.
The Seldovia Public Library was one room in the basement of city hall. It was open once a week, on Monday nights, for three hours, seven to ten. Because there were so few books, each patron could check out only four at a time. Susan the librarian started me on Nancy Drew.
I read all the Nancy Drew Susan had in short order, and then I read everything else on her shelves. Because I was a kid on a boat, I was always looking for stories about other kids on boats. Eventually, Susan found me a copy of The Lion’s Paw by Robb White.
It’s World War II. Fifteen-year-old Ben’s father is lost at sea in the Pacific. Penny and Nick are siblings on the lam from the orphanage that would split them up. They stow away in Ben’s sailboat, the Hard A Lee. Ben’s uncle is going to sell it, so Ben, Penny and Nick decide to run away on the Hard a Lee together.
My favorite kind of book is a how-to book. You can’t put enough detail into a book about how someone lives their life or does their job or falls in love or commits a crime to suit me. The Lion’s Paw is a how-to book. How to run away. How to sail a boat. How to be a captain. How to be crew. How to hide a sailboat in plain sight. How not to wrestle an alligator.
There is that one book every writer can point to as the story that inspired them to tell their own. The Lion’s Paw may be the first book I ever read where I looked at the author’s name on the cover and wondered, “Who is this guy? How does he know all this stuff?” and more importantly “Did he write anything else?”
He did, and I read it all. And then I started writing my own.
Dana Stabenow writes two series of mystery novels set in Alaska: The PI Kate Shugak series, and the Alaskan state trooper Liam Campbell series. She also pens the sci-fi series Star Svendotter in addition to several standalone novels and anthologies. She is a proud native of Anchorage, Alaska.
Author website: www.stabenow.com
This "Writers on Reading" essay was originally published in "At the Scene" enews February 2013 as a first-look exclusive to our enewsletter subscribers. For more special content available first to our enewsletter subscribers, sign up here.
When Calista “Cally” Wood, a high school junior, transfers to St. Bede’s Academy on a full scholarship, she hopes it will begin a new chapter of her life. Soon after her arrival she makes many friends (from the popular Helen to the excitable “Pigeon”), becomes the third member in a love triangle, and begins to find a place for herself in spite of her own quirks (for instance, she shaves her head!).
However, Cally learns the “little woods” surrounding the school holds many a dark secret. A girl named Iris vanished there a few months before…just as her own sister Clare, along with her friend Laurel, disappeared from St. Bede’s ten years ago. Iris is thought to be a runaway, and the other girls were assumed to have been killed. As Cally tries to piece together what happened to her sister, Laurel, and now Iris, a body is discovered in the woods. Closing in on the truth, she risks becoming part of the terrifying history of the little woods.
While The Little Woods (McCormick Templeman’s first novel) succeeds as a mystery story, it does have a few problems. Many of the characters are well done, but some feel hollow and flat; others are hard to tell apart. The love triangle seems forced, as if it exists just to satisfy the obligation of romance. In spite of these weaknesses, the story grows more gripping and the mystery of the missing girls keeps the reader hooked throughout the last half of the book. Many twists are thrown in, along with a creepy setting, and there is a strong conclusion and a nice wrap-up of questions at the end. While The Little Woods seems to struggle at first, it is well worth the read—a chilling but charming young adult mystery.