Oh oh. I've remembered another one of those questions that randomly flit through my mind like drunken butterflies, and I'm hoping you'll help me with the seating chart. Seating chart? Oh yeah. Definitely need one of those for this question!
You're having a dinner party for some of your favorite fictional characters. Whom are you inviting?
The dinner is being catered, so don't sweat the idea that you're doing all the cooking. You do have one ground rule though: The total number of people who can be seated at the table comfortably is ten, and since you'll be one of the people at the table, you can't invite more than nine people.
That's the only rule for you. I did, however, place more restrictions upon myself. I decided that I would have a dinner for my favorite fictional policewomen, and that limited the time period. Let's face it, there weren't a whole lot of female police officers back in the Good Old Days!
Believe it or not, after I'd written down my list, I had to pare it down. Lacey Flint of S.J. Bolton's series set in London was younger than almost all the rest, and since she tends to be a bit secretive, I didn't want her to sit at table and be forced to converse. The same goes for Harry Bingham's brilliant but decidedly strange Fiona Griffiths in his series set in Wales. Fee told me in no uncertain terms that she wanted no part of dinner, so off the list she went! I'd also included an FBI agent and National Park Service law enforcement ranger, but decided to have my guests all be on the police force.
I can feel it from here. You're wanting to know who's sitting at my dinner table waiting to eat, drink, and chatter, aren't you? Well, here's my seating chart. I'll also list them and-- as I did with Lacey and Fee-- give you links to the authors who created the characters and to a list of the books in order of publication.
- Detective Chief Superintendent Fran Harman from Judith Cutler's series set in Kent, England. Fran keeps thinking of retiring but hasn't gotten around to it yet. She took care of her aging and ailing parents for many years and came to love late in life. She's smart, she's funny, she's not above taking a risk now and then, and she's the best character I know of when it comes to dealing with her superiors and with the people on her team. She's mentored many a raw recruit to promotion after promotion. Now... if she could only be as successful with her new husband's grownup children!
- Helene Tursten's series features Detective Inspector Irene Huss, and she is the only person at table whose first language is not English. She's a member of the Violent Crimes Unit in Goteborg, Sweden. She's got a black belt in the martial arts, a husband who's a chef, and twin daughters who seem to live for drama. I don't think she'd mind coming to Arizona for dinner during a long Swedish winter, do you?
- In Elizabeth Gunn's series set in Tucson, Arizona, Detective Sarah Burke is newly divorced and is trying her best to raise her niece, since Sarah's sister is a drug addict who can't-- or won't-- stay clean. Like everyone else on this list, she's tough, she's smart, and I think the rest of the women would love to get to know a woman police officer who lives and works in the "Wild West." (And if they don't, I do!)
- I hope Duncan doesn't mind that he's not invited to this dinner, but I simply couldn't leave Detective Inspector Gemma James off my list. Deborah Crombie's marvelous series set in London is filled with fascinating crime and family dynamics, and I definitely want to know how Gemma gets it all done.
- Seated immediately to my right is Sheriff's Deputy Victoria Moretti, fresh from Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire series set in Wyoming. Quite frankly, the woman makes me laugh, and if we both get going, I have a feeling that everyone else at the table will be joining in-- whether or not they know what we're laughing about. Another tough, smart woman, Vic is a natural for this dinner party, and I think the women from across the pond will get over the occasional language shock and love her.
- Immediately to my left is Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope, a woman as cranky and as interested in fashion as I. In Ann Cleeves' series set in East Yorkshire, England, here's how Vera is first described: "She was a large woman-- big bones amply covered, a bulbous nose, man-sized feet. Her legs were bare and she wore leather sandals. Her square toes were covered in mud. Her face was blotched and pitted so Rachael thought she must suffer from some skin complaint or allergy. Over her clothes she wore a transparent mac and she stood there, the rain dripping from it onto the floor, grey hair sleeked dark to her forehead, like a middle-aged tripper caught in a sudden storm on Blackpool prom." I know this woman has stories to tell, but if she turns out to be a bit quiet, she and I can always chat about birds.... Somehow I don't think she's going to be quiet. She's amongst peers.
- I couldn't have a dinner party and not have someone with a Scottish accent sitting at my table. In Denise Mina's series, Detective Sergeant Alex Morrow works the mean streets of Glasgow, Scotland. I don't think she'll be bothered a bit that she's younger than many of us. It has to be quite a boost to the spirit to be sitting amongst so many peers.
- Rounding out my group of Wild West Americans is Cochise County Sheriff Joanna Brady, who's the star of J.A. Jance's long-running series set in Arizona. She'll be the highest ranking police officer at the table, and I know she has a lot in common with the others-- especially Gemma-- since Joanna has to combine a high stress job with a husband and children. And those other women would just love to meet a real life sheriff, wouldn't they?
- Last but not least is misfit Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers from Elizabeth George's series set in England. I have her seated between two women who are used to getting along with difficult people, and Barbara can certainly be stroppy at times! But she fits right in with this group, and she can tell us what it's like to work with an Earl.
Well, that's my dinner party. What do you think? Do you think it will be a roaring success with story swapping and laughter making the time pass much too quickly, or do you think I have a disaster in the making? Would you like me to get a bigger table so you can be invited, too?
What I'd really love to know is whom you're inviting to your own dinner party. I put restrictions upon myself, but you don't have to. Mix the sexes. Mix the time periods. Mix the genres. What would your seating chart look like????
Inquiring minds want to know! (You didn't think I'd end this post without saying that, did you?)