By Wendy R. Blair.
Oh, how I love Whodunnits on a dark and stormy night.
I light a fire and settle down to read by candlelight.
Should thunder roll or lightning flash I like it even more.
The story gets a whole new feel from nature’s underscore.
Tonight the squall’s cacophony cries, “Curl up on the couch!”
I’ve waited for the perfect storm to read The Purloined Pouch.
Those autumn trees, which still have leaves to rattle on the eaves,
cast bony-fingered shadows with fine lace around the sleeves.
Dark hands that dance the ceiling, chased by banshee-howling wind,
send shivers down my spine that last until the clouds have thinned.
My nerves stretched taught, I’ll don my robe and call the house ghosts in.
For when the storm has reached its peak, I’m ready to begin.
Decanted wine, some chocolate fudge and perfidy galore,
a twisting plot, a smoking gun, and death behind each door,
add in some grisly murders, a detective, weak yet strong
will have me hooked and sleep be damned. I’ll read the whole night long.
But don’t be fooled, I have no wish to wade through town and gown.
Edwardian’s, Victorian’s, I’ll easily put down.
Set in some mold’ ring murky manse with servants sly and sharp
and boring guests who’ll sit for hours while someone plays the harp.
A governess, oblivious, who’s working for some boor,
will find some lordling’s long-lost loot while stumbling through a moor.
No, give me guys with rumpled coats, worn loafers, loosened ties,
that drink and smoke, won’t smile but watch the world through wary eyes.
The golden age of Gumshoes, ‘twenty-nine and not before.
I find the stories set back then have plots that I adore.
The characters are characters, not cardboard cut-and-paste.
when women had more on their minds than just a wasp-like waist.
Strong ladies with a sharp retort for every pick up line;
Yet men still open doors for them and take them out to dine.
These “dolls” are seldom murdered and might be the murderess.
But innocent or guilty, wow, they sure knew how to dress.
They’re talked about in feline terms: a she-cat or a lynx.
And desperate men would kill for them – and always bought their drinks.
I like these hardened hell-cats who are tough and smart and strong.
They slink and swirl through stories marked by the men who, “done them wrong.”
I dive inside their sordid world where honesty’s unknown.
With flashy cars and dingy bars, and clothes I’ll never own.
I’m with them in the alleys and the backstreets for the chase.
And like the heroines, emerge, with every hair in place.
But spare me damsels in distress. I wish they’d grow a spine.
(I might sit shivering through this storm, but there I’d be just fine.)
For if they try to run, those ninnies always lose a shoe
or trip and once their stockings rip they’re easy to subdue.
Yet though they faint and scream or cry, the author’d make it known,
her lipsticked lips looked perfect, as her hair was tossed and blown.
Those “skirts” would freeze in horror, never knowing what to do.
So I, for one, get happy when the “dame” starts shooting too.
I ponder every paragraph; the clues I note with care.
Red herrings I have learned to spot; the times I’m fooled are rare.
What fun to catch the villain via thoughtless word or phrase
Or how they arched an eyebrow (does one do that nowadays?)
The denouement’s surprise, at last, the culprit is revealed.
I feel great pride when I have guessed what authors want concealed.
Storm gone at dawn, I’ll tamp the fire and put the room to rights,
check Amazon, then wait for other dark and stormy nights.
Wendy Blair is a former Southern California gal who moved to the other South thinking the mid-life change of career and scenery would give her more time to write – another entry on the long list titled, Wendy’s Misconceptions. . She brings six decades of life experience to her current role as the owner and innkeeper of Rose Hill Bed and Breakfast in Virginia. Having worn more hats than Bartholomew Cubbins, she has pursued paths as an actress, singer, director, carpenter, waitress, short-order cook, writer, landscape designer, event-planner, public speaker, development director, business executive, fundraiser, teacher, caterer, wedding coordinator, witness preparation specialist, community volunteer and soccer coach. Most of these career paths have helped prepare her for role as “Mistress of Rose Hill,” and provide a lot of grist for the writing mill. Poetry is her first love and she is a stodgy, unrepentant, true rhymer who is also a stickler about rhythm.