A continuing series! It has only taken me about a decade to come up with something I can just quickly and randomly write about. [Editor's Note: Hahaha... you wrote this 5 months ago...] Last time, I wrote about Troy Soos and today is an author I think about often...
Author: Sandra West Prowell
Character: P.I. Pheobe Sigel
The Work: BY EVIL MEANS (1993); THE KILLING OF MONDAY BROWN (1994); WHEN A WALLFLOWER DIES (1996)
Sandra West Prowell published with Walker and Co. Walker was a mid-tier publisher of mainly non-fiction and children's books. They did, however, maintain a small but notable slate of mystery authors, James Sallis and Edward D. Koch among them. Much like Troy Soos, who I wrote about previously, it all ended in tears. By the end of the '90s, mid-tier publishers were staring down the barrel. Crime Fiction only made up a small percentage of Walker's output. One assumes money was reallocated or focused on their bread and butter to stem the inevitable tide and authors like Ms. West was out. We never got her fourth book, AN ACCEPTED SORROW.
My affection for Ms. Prowell and Pheobe Sigel is built on WHEN A WALLFLOWER DIES. It was the first I read, only later going back for the other two. WALLFLOWER is a haunting read. The last act sits with me to this day. It's about the cruel past, and about who we are and who we want to be and what happens when they meet with who we actually are. The book was about how we survive that moment, and how all too often we don't. WHEN A WALLFLOWER DIES is an all-timer for me. A perfect crime fiction book.
I want to write about the cruel fate of not getting the next book. The unfairness that market forces dictated a story. Those things are true and disappointing and not worth lingering over in this case. Sandra West Prowell wrote three books, only three. And they are all fastballs.
I have mentioned on a few occasions about the purge I conducted on my collection. I began that process 7 years ago. 350 plus books went out. I own MONDAY BROWN and WALLFLOWER. I will never get rid of them. To tap into the current zeitgeist [Editors Note: That will date this post almost immediatley] they spark way too much joy in me. In writing this post I looked up what it would cost to acquire BY EVIL MEANS. The current cost is ineligible given the deep meaning that all these books have.
I read to find that feeling. To find that intractable love for a book. I hope you find that. I hope to find that with the next book I read.
Current Read: House of the Rising Sun - James Lee Burke
To be Read: 24