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Hello, My name is Ann and I am a mystery-olic. There I said it. I am totally addicted to the who-done-its. (Hey, it could have been worse. I could be addicted to Harlequin Romances.) I know I should have been more careful. I have a very addictive personality. But I thought I was ok since I didn’t crave just any mystery. I never touched those bloody-gorey-psycopathetic-killer-on-the-loose-who-has-a-dark-basement-and-a-knife mysteries. Un-nuh. No way. Too scary. I’d be awake all night. I like my murders done off stage. A little romance on the side doesn’t hurt. (This addiction is sounding even more pitiful.) Ok, in the true spirit of confession, I declare loudly that I lovelovelove Inspector Lynley and Barbara Havers. Mmmm. I want Elizabeth George to just keep writing them on and on and on. I’ve read then twice…

This mystery-olicism is NOT my fault. Do all addicts say that? But I’m serious. It’s all because that book eat,pray,love (I’m whispering the title) came out at the VERY SAME TIME that I put my name on the dotted line with Beth McAuley as my witness and told the world (or at least Beth) that I would begin to write again. Tell my stories of Europe. 1970s. Good stuff. I even had all my letters that my mom saved from that time. My memories were restored. I was excited.

But then…epl (I’d rather not repeat the name) came on the scene. Friends gushed. Told me I hadhadhad to read it. Especially since I was writing my own memoirs of travel. They even tried to get me to see the movie when it came out, for heaven’s sakes. I couldn’t even look at Julia Roberts’ big smile from the posters. no.No.NO. I told them. Didn’t they understand? The absolute worse-ever book for me to read would be this one. I was just beginning, after all. First drafts. Shaky self-confidence well in place. I didn’t need to read someone else’s sexier-more meaningful-certainly more lucrative adventures of a journey. No way, Jose and everyone else who tried to give me copies.

That’s when I turned to mysteries. My addiction began. I remembered a friend telling me once, when she was going through a bad bout of depression, that she read only mysteries. They were great, she said. She’d read them. Forget them. Read them again. Perfect for me. Entertainment without thinking.

I had no plan at the beginning. I would pick up anything on the Librarians-Recommend-These-Mysteries shelf. How could I go wrong? It was there I met Berger & Mitry (sex, murder and cats), Detective Brunetti (food, Venice, grappa), Hoagy and Lulu (how can you not love a basset hound?) and of course Inspector Lynley and dumpy Barbara Havers. They became my exclusive books-on-hold. I was hooked.

After a while, I tried to break this mystery-addiction. I did, really. I started to put different kinds of books on hold…popular-novels-by-famous-people, books-that-anyone-who-loved-Downton-Abbey-would-love (they were all New York Times Bestsellers which should have told me something about quality of writing), books-to-help-me-meet-my-perfect-mate (a result of all that romance in the former books), and biographies of people I should admire (I never read them). The problem was…that when my holds came in and I’d go to pick these books up at the Lillian Smith Library…I’d sneak up the curving staircase to the second floor and head for the first aisle, and just pick up one-wee-little-mystery just in case. …I always read it first.

But it is time to quit. Sigh. The manuscript of Annie’s Odyssey is finished, edited, even copy edited. Red ribbon around it and all that. I have to move on. My social-media-guru, Sarah, heard my resolution. She loaned me her Kobo Reader to take with me South…I could drift into Dostoyevsky, Austin, O.J. Simpson. I’ll have hundreds of choices. I charged the battery. Put it with my “Take” pile. But I know for sure…I’ll also slip my half-finished Elizabeth George, Deception on his Mind into the pocket of my suitcase…addictions die hard…

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