Friday, April 11, 2008
A Note From Elizabeth Zelvin
Elizabeth Zelvin, author of Death Will Get You Sober, has sent a note to readers today. Her mystery novel is due out Tuesday, April 15. I'm in the middle of it, and I can say she's introduced an original character to mystery fiction. Death Will Get You Sober is a book that's hard to put down. In addition, Elizabeth's short story, "Death Will Clean Your Closet," published in Murder, New York Style, has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Short Story. That award will be presented at the Malice Domestic Conference the weekend of April 25-27. Congratulations, Liz, and thanks for the note to readers.
Do any of you think you have to be an alcoholic to like Death Will Get You Sober? Questions like this have been keeping me awake at night in the months before publication of my debut mystery. Although I believe that sober alcoholics and others recovering from addictions and codependency will get a big kick out of the book, the answer is not at all. In fact, the only group I’m pretty sure will not appreciate my protagonist Bruce’s journey from detox on the Bowery on Christmas Day to a future with some potential for happiness and a solved murder case are active alcoholics who have no intention of giving up the booze and resent anyone who mentions the possibility.
One reason I love reading—perhaps this is true for you too—is that I get to open a window on an infinite variety of worlds that I may never enter, even some I wouldn’t want to in real life. I don’t have to have rafted down the Mississippi to appreciate Huck Finn or gone whaling on the North Atlantic to respond to the beauty and power of Moby Dick. I enjoy reading dog mysteries, for example, although—or perhaps because—I am happy never to get my face licked or have to carry a pooper scooper.
What I’ve tried to do in Death Will Get You Sober is open a window on the world, not of drunks, but of recovery. Somewhere in the AA literature it refers to the process as a “moving and fascinating adventure.” I agree. In my years working in treatment programs and in my therapy practice, I’ve never ceased to marvel at how people who have lost or thrown away everything can turn their lives around. Not all of them, but some—even some on the Bowery, where Bruce’s story begins. But I didn’t want to get preachy, so I invented Bruce.
I hope you’ll like Bruce as much as I do. He’s smart, funny, sexy, and under a lot of b.s. that he’s built up in years of drinking, he’s got a heart. You may also like his friends, Barbara and Jimmy. Barbara’s the world’s most codependent addictions counselor. She’s always ready to help and mind everybody’s business, especially Bruce and Jimmy’s. Her boyfriend Jimmy is Bruce’s best friend—or was from the age of 8 till 15 years before the story starts, when Jimmy got clean and sober and Bruce didn’t. Now the friendship has a second chance. Some of you may find how that works out as interesting as who’s been murdering homeless alcoholics, including Bruce’s detox buddy with the big trust fund and the unfortunate nasty streak. Read the book and find out!