I’m certain you’re thinking it’s a mystery where I’ve been for the past eon of weeks, since we’re talking mystery! Yes, I’ve been away, but away for a healing cause. To remain at peace in the flow of my life, I go away to come again, better, I love to think, than I was before. Whenever I do this, slip off the scene and hover just under the radar, I attend to whatever I need to bow to on a spiritual level. We need to recognize when this is a necessity so that we may practice the art of taking time out for ourselves. When we do so, we can better show up in our lives and in the lives of others.
There now. At least that mystery is solved.
For the main event, I recently discovered blockbuster author Elizabeth Sims, who penned the mystery series, The Rita Farmer Mysteries! I will voluntarily admit it. I have ever been, since the beginning of time, a romance, some fantasy, a tad of paranormal, family sagas and historical fiction sort of girl. Although writers serve up a bit of mystery in romance, yes, I have rarely reached for mysteries, thrillers or detective novels, per se, unless I had to in literature courses.
Life is wonderfully fascinating!
Blessed to have been selected to be a 2014 Lambda Literary Foundation Writing Fellow in Elizabeth Sims’ workshop on “Genre Fiction,” I followed my curiosity to Sims’ second series, the Rita Farmer Mysteries, on Amazon. There, I discovered THE ACTRESS, THE EXTRA and ON LOCATION, respectively. (And no, they do not require reading in that order!) Before the arrival of the workshop’s pre-reading list, I devoured THE ACTRESS and could hardly stay away from its lit pages on my Kindle Fire, the read was captivating, gripping and deliriously satisfying from start to finish.
Sims’ writing sparkles and snaps in a story that had me laughing out loud, as Rita, a wholly engaging protagonist, is beautifully sketched, thoughtful, fearless and hilarious. She’s immersed in the everyday of life, struggling to hold her own to survive in Los Angeles, a city that doesn’t appear exceedingly welcoming, yet is indifferent, beautiful, and basically unbiased to all, from the mogul to the homeless. Actually, the city felt, to me, like a compelling character, as real as Rita herself, and I loved that aspect of the story, among so many others. For instance, I adored Rita finding her way to a particular parking lot to speak with her beloved, gutsy Gramma Gladys, a spirit who speaks with the zeal of a fearless matriarch and with the intensity of the wind!
The mystery? Does Rita, an aspiring actress down-on-her-luck, have what it takes to earn a thousand dollars a day to help a celebrity defense attorney prepare a wealthy client for the most exacting role of her life. Has Miss Rita Farmer mastered her craft enough to transform the client’s body language, facial expression and vocal style to suffuse her testimony with credibility…and freedom? Will Rita remain one step ahead of other dangerous situations out of her controls when the stakes climb?
The novel is a 412-page page-turner! Well paced, intelligent, fascinating and well crafted, THE ACTRESS had me ready to plunge into the second book, THE EXTRA, when I missed Rita, Petey, and Daniel before I reached the novel’s final page.
Sims’ characters are simply priceless! That Jeff, Rita’s ex, is a perennial pain, though my girl handles her own when he gets beyond himself in his efforts to see her squirm financially as she struggles to provide the best home possible for their adorable four-year-old, Petey, whose antics and wit inundated me in smiles and outright laughter as well. Eileen Tenaway and hubby shimmer in mystery. Eileen and sister are a study in opposites and humor. Daniel makes me want to hug him when Kwan dies, and Rita’s new beginning and promise of romance send me into a happy dance at the novel’s end.
When time permits, I will slip back into Sims’ fictional paradise and abide with not only Rita and a new cast of characters in Books 2 and 3, but also I intend to meet Miss Lillian Byrd in The Lillian Byrd Crime Novels.
Not to tell much more of the story, blunting your reading pleasure, I will simply say, “Go grab a Sims’ sizzler for yourself!” And when you do, traipse on over to visit Elizabeth’s website, http://www.elizabethsims.com. You will find up-to-date information about her, her books, and free excerpts and discussion guides. Don’t miss out! Oh, and not only that, readers and writers, you will want to read her nonfiction delight, YOU’VE GOT A BOOK IN YOU: A STRESS-FREE GUIDE OF YOUR DREAMS.
I am so excited…and inspired! Happy reading and writing, Beloveds!