I’ve just finished reading the second Claire Hanover mystery, and I’d have to say Beth Groundwater’s main character is another one strong enough to my interest through a series.
Claire, of course, is a very different character from Sam Acquillo or Gus LeGarde. For a start, she’s a woman. Plus, while enormously resourceful, she really doesn’t have the kind of background or physical strength to be an action hero. But she does have lots of character, or chutzpah, as one of her friends has been known to say.
Claire has the confidence to believe what she sees and to tell it like she sees it. Just because no one else saw the ski tracks doesn’t mean they’re not there. Just because no one else sees the danger doesn’t mean she shouldn’t protect her daughter. Just because…
So she walks into police stations and describes exactly the sort of details that someone unaccustomed to such places would notice—the presence or absence of family photographs, the pictures on the walls… She walks into a night club and learns the right words for the music by making mistakes—okay, so daughter’s embarrassed, but Mom’s taking charge. She leaps into action, rightly earning the nickname Mama Bear. And the reader follows along, all the time amazed and impressed and, if you happen to be me, just plain wishing I were more like her.
I guess Claire’s more of a niche hero, perfect for us moms with kids fleeing the nest, and ideal for the recipients of gift baskets. She makes me want to ski again. She believes in ibuprofen. She’s real and she’s fun. And she’s more than capable of leaving me eagerly awaiting her next adventure.
So maybe “write what you know” means write about people you might understand. And learn the unknown details on the way, as I’m sure Beth Groundwater did, to make the plots and locales ring so vividly true.