The best crime and mystery novels are situated in a “place.” Not that a place explains a crime, nor is the crime necessarily unique to the place. Three of the books in this series are situated in small communities and two center the action in a large city, Tulsa. As you will see from their varied plots, mystery and investigation stories find a ready home in Oklahoma and provide a window on the character of the state. Do common features emerge that mark these novels as distinctly “Oklahoma”? Yes, in the sense that almost all of the novels pay close attention to how “family”—an important value among Oklahomans—shapes behavior and how individual behaviors strengthen or divide whole communities. Native American culture is also often prominent, particularly as it sustains itself in an Anglo environment. Are you interested in reading and discussing detective novels set in Oklahoma? Do you want to rediscover the joys of hearing and seeing people in their natural environment and learn something about how where they are may indicate who they are. A common denominator of the books in the “Oklahoma Private Investigations” reading series is attention to the social conditions of families and communities that help create the criminals and the good people. If any or all of these questions interest you, an opportunity for exploration awaits you. If you want to be an active partner in this exploration, please join us for this “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma” reading and discussion program. Books are available for those who want to conspire with us actively and be present throughout the series to follow all the clues.
Oklahoma City University invites participants to make these books come alive in the readings of this five-part series. At each session, a Humanities scholar will make a 30-40 minute presentation on the book in the context of the theme. Small group discussion will follow with experienced discussion leaders. At the end, everyone will come together for a brief wrap-up. Anyone interested in participating by attending the sessions is encouraged to pre-register and borrow the reading selections by calling Harbour Winn at 208-5472, emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or dropping by the Dulaney-Browne Library, Room 211 or 207. (Note the offices are located in the five-story building southwest of Walker Center.) Information can also be found on the web site of the Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film & Literature: www.okcu.edu/film-lit/
The series will be held in Walker Center, Room 151, on the Oklahoma City University campus from 7:00 to 9:00 PM on Tuesdays, beginning September 9 and continuing on most alternate Tuesdays through November 11. Books, services, and other materials for this series of programs are provided by Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma, a project of the Oklahoma Humanities Council with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Funding for this series was provided by a grant from the Inasmuch Foundation.
READINGS AND DATES: Fall 2014
September 9, 2014 The Old Buzzard Had It Coming by Donis Casey
Set in eastern Oklahoma in early statehood days, pioneer wife and mother Alafair Tucker’s hunches and actions launch our series theme. The richness of this novel comes from the individualized portraits of families and their daily lives, which continue on while a mother seizes what time she can to learn more, ever mindful that she too must continue to live with the folks of this community after her sleuthing is concluded. Dr. Harbour Winn
September 23, 2014 Letter from Home by Carolyn Hart
Letter from Home is national bestseller Carolyn Hart’s favorite novel. It is her “book about home,” involving the apprenticeship of a young girl who becomes personally involved in a murder investigation. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, the novel also received the 2003 Agatha Award for Best Mystery Novel. Dr. William Hagen
October 7, 2014 Capitol Offense by William Bernhardt
In Capitol Offense, detective Kincaid, who usually takes on hopeless cases, attempts to defend a college professor who has all the known facts stacked against him. While the novel presents legal questions and a criminal conspiracy that could erupt in any large city, it makes good use of the Tulsa cityscape and includes shrewd insights into Oklahoma laws and attitudes. Bryan Kimmey
October 28, 2014 Twisted Perception by Bob Avey
The second big-city mystery novel in this series, Twisted Perception weaves together all the elements of the contemporary hard-boiled detective style. With recognizable Tulsa, Stillwater, and small-town locations, the novel embodies a sense of present-day Oklahoma as a state of people on the move in a violent, unstable, and insecure world. Robert Roensch
November 11, 2014 The American Café by Sara Sue Hoklotubbe
Hoklotubbe locates her mysteries in and around the Cherokee Nation in northeastern Oklahoma. Heroine Sadie Walela decides to pursue her dream of opening a restaurant with no idea that murder will be on the menu. The novel is enriched by the protagonist’s Cherokee culture, its history, the various adaptations of individuals to Anglo culture, and the community prejudices that continue to bubble up, particularly from the older generation. Dr. Karen Schiler