Travel and Books Go Together
Like most of us, I return to favorite books occasionally, especially during stressful times. No one can doubt that living through this pandemic is stressful. I’m not talking about the classics of literature, although I do feel the need once in a while to revisit Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre.
I’m talking about books like the Mrs. Pollifax series by Dorothy Gilman or the Dr. Gideon Oliver series by Aaron Elkins. Dorothy Gilman’s characters have warmth, humor, and dimension. Anthropology professor Gideon Oliver, “the skeleton doctor” provides interesting details about forensic anthropology.
But more than that, their characters travel, often to places that I have also explored, probably with the same touring companies. The itineraries seem strangely familiar. In fact, I read in an item by Aaron Elkins that he enjoyed traveling so much that he started writing mysteries set in the countries he visited so traveling would pay off. In my books, I also write about places I’ve visited.
I just finished rereading Mrs. Pollifax and the Whirling Dervish, set in Morocco. Several years ago, I was part of a tourist group invited to watch a whirling dervish ritual in Istanbul. The dervishes, or Sufis, we watched did not whirl so fast they became a blur, as Gilman describes, but they did arrive in a line and whirled, in their long white robes, arms folded across their chests, around and around as they followed each other in a circle. Don’t try this at home.
In the book, Mrs. Pollifax travels from the medina in Fez, where our group, like Mrs. Pollifax, was jostled by donkeys laden with panniers and got lost in the bewildering maze of souks. Mrs. Pollifax visits cities and towns and varying terrains, many familiar to me from my trip. In fact, I toured Morocco to research my own book, Shadow of the Rock, set partly in Morocco.
Gibraltar also figures in Shadow of the Rock and its sequel, In Rembrandt’s Shadow. Elkins used Gibraltar as a setting in Uneasy Relations. This strategic port at the mouth of the Mediterranean inspires awe. Unbelievable that I should stand at the top of the Rock, peering through the morning mist toward the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. When Dr. Gideon Oliver climbs to the top of the Rock, I can stand with him. I’ve been there. I’ve met the Barbary apes and like tourists before and after us, I took photos of one sitting on my husband’s head.
Eileen Haavik McIntire is staying home during the current coronavirus crisis. She hopes you are, too. What a great time to write and read!
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I love mysteries, secrets, strange people and weird places and hope to share what I find interesting with you on this website and in the mysteries I write.
For more about my mysteries, go to the 90s Club and the Shadow Series pages.
- Eileen Haavik McIntire
Comments from reviewers about my books:
The Two-Sided Set-Up - “McIntire’s latest novel is a fast-paced and multilayered thriller with well-developed characters and colorful settings...Most of the action is set in Virginia, and McIntire does a fine job of capturing the rhythm of its small-town life, from the friendliness of local business to the calm of quiet nights on the water. An engaging tale for aficionados of psychological suspense.” - Kirkus Reviews
Shadow of the Rock – “A riveting tale of time and humanity, highly recommended.” (Midwest Book Review) “A bold adventure....Chapters move quickly in a mixture of danger, excitement, and pure enjoyment...” (Foreword Reviews).
The 90s Club & the Hidden Staircase – “With plenty of humor and its own original tale . . .a must” for readers of cozy mysteries. (Midwest Book Review)
The 90s Club & the Whispering Statue - “A fun read....nostalgia and...social commentary, wrapped up in an engaging mystery novel.” (Foreword Reviews)
The 90s Club & the Secret of the Old Clock – “An impressively well crafted and thoroughly entertaining mystery that plays fair with the reader from beginning to end,” (Midwest Book Review)
“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
― Philip Pullman