I started this blog some time ago to replace a webpage with truly horrible html where I posted book reviews. Since then, I’ve started stashing reviews on LibraryThing and instead use this space to comment from time to time on things that interest me. These are sometimes things about books and reading, sometimes about the publishing industry or libraries, and often are simply a way to work out my thoughts about issues that have piqued my curiosity or pushed my buttons.
I’m an academic librarian at a small liberal arts college where I coordinate our instruction program and do a whole lot of other stuff, too. The beauty of a liberal arts college is that you get to put your liberal arts education to work by dabbling in all kinds of interesting things. You also get to serve on every committee ever invented and fix jams in the printers. My research interests include how students learn to use libraries, where publishing is going, and how social issues are formed. I also mouth off at Inside Higher Ed and participate in various electronic forums where I’m known as “God, not that woman again.”
Another interest of mine is crime fiction. I’m fascinated by the role fiction plays in people’s lives and how it shapes their knowledge base. I track Scandinavian crime fiction, which is increasingly being translated into English, and occasionally write critically about it. I’m also a passionate reader of mysteries and review them for Reviewing the Evidence. And I write them, too.
In the Wind, published by St. Martin’s Minotaur in 2008, features a detective in the tradition of the women who reclaimed the PI story in a feminist mode. Anni Koskinen has left her career as detective with the Chicago Police Department after testifying in a civil suit against another cop and finding herself ostracized. She takes out a PI’s license while she tries to figure out what to do with her life now that the only job she really wanted is no longer an option.She ends up working on the defense team of a woman wanted for a 35-year-old political crime – the murder of an FBI agent who happened to be the father of her closest friend and mentor, Jim Tilquist. Though he followed his father into the Bureau, he has growing doubts about the way the post-9/11 surveillance of dissidents mirrors the unconstitutional actions of authorities during the Vietnam War era.
The second Anni Koskinen book, Through the Cracks, was published in May, 2010. In this story, Anni is hired by a women who the victim of a high-profile rape in the 1980s. The man she identified as her attacker has had his conviction overturned, but the prosecution continues to believe in his guilt – even though other rapes since then seem all too similar. The story examines violence against women and how race intersects with the criminal justice system through the braided stories of the victims, the accused man trying to adjust to life on the outside, and the efforts of the cop who put him there working with Anni to set the record straight.
I’ve started on a third book about Anni, but it would be bad juju to talk about it since I’m not sure where it’s headed.
I’ve also self-published two open access books (because PressBooks makes it slick and has sweet templates – and I’m into open access publishing). One is a collection of essays titled Babel Fish Bouillabaisse – mostly reprinting stuff I wrote for Inside Higher Ed and things from this blog, particularly research into online reading communities. It’s not on Amazon because I kind of hate Amazon.
That’s also true of If Then Else, a young adult novel that I serialized on Twitter before making available in various formats. If Then Else is about a kid with computer skills whose older brother is arrested on trumped-up terrorism charges.It’s also about the ways fear is used as an excuse for ubiquitous surveillance powers, aided by stings aimed at hapless people who can be coaxed to incriminate themselves. It was fun to write and, I hope, fun to read if that’s your sort of thing.