Thursday, January 21, 2010
To Thine Own Self Be True by Judy Clemens
Title: To Thine Own Self Be True
Author: Judy Clemens
ISBN: 1590583922, Poisoned Pen Press, 2006
Genre: Amateur Sleuth, #3 Stella Crown mystery
First Line: "So I said to him, 'You know what could happen if I pierced you there?' The stooge went white so fast I thought he was gonna do a face plant right there on the linoleum!"
Stella Crown lives in a Mennonite area of Pennsylvania and is a hard-working dairy farmer. She is also tattooed and rides a Harley Davidson motorcycle. She's used to be looked at with raised eyebrows; she's used to being treated as though she's from another planet.
Shortly before Christmas, Stella decides to treat herself to a new tattoo and stops in at Wolf Ink to have it done. Halfway through the tattoo, Wolf's wife Mandy calls him to the back of the shop, and while he's gone the hard-working Stella falls asleep in the chair. When she wakes up, Wolf and Mandy have disappeared. Although she's not happy about the interrupted tattoo, she's also very uneasy about the disappearance of her friends. When Stella discovers that Mandy has been found frozen to death behind a dumpster outside Wolf Ink and that Wolf has vanished, her overwhelming sense of guilt has her helping the police with their investigation. The investigation soon starts looking into fringe tattooists (who ink underage kids and "forget" to change needles) and a legislator who wants to close down the entire industry. Between milking times and blizzards, will Stella have a chance to find out who killed Mandy and what happened to Wolf?
I enjoy this series because Clemens has such a marvelous character in Stella and such an unusual setting. You may have sleuths who are tattooed and ride motorcycles, but chances are that they don't have to keep a dairy farm running. Many times amateur sleuths who are supposedly gainfully employed have time to gallivant over hill and dale day after day in pursuit of the bad guys. Stella doesn't. When those cows need milking, she has to be there. When the truck comes to pick up the milk, it has to be taken care of. This means that the mystery has to take a backseat from time to time for the daily work on a dairy farm. I like that realism.
I also like the fact that Clemens lets me take a peek into worlds that are very unfamiliar to me: the worlds of the Mennonites, of dairy farmers, of tattoo parlors, and of motorcycles. With a down-to-earth character like Stella showing me the way, it's a pleasure to ride along while she solves mysteries.
[Source: Purchased at The Poisoned Pen.]
My Book Rating Scale:
A+...Don't delay, get your hands on a copy of this book!
A...I loved it!
B...I really liked it.
C...I liked it, with a few reservations.
D...I finished it, but it's not my cup of tea.
- Phoenix, Arizona, United States
- Hi! I'm addicted to books (especially crime fiction), laughter and traveling off the beaten path. In my free time, when my eyes aren't glued to the printed page, one of them is usually pressed against the viewfinder of my camera. Let's see... books, laughter, travel, photography. Anything else? Oh yeah-- my dream house wouldn't have a kitchen!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.