Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Murder is Pathological Virtual Book Tour

Murder is Pathological
P.M. Carlson


The exploding wastebasket is a prank, but slaughtered lab rats have graduate student Maggie Ryan, Monica Bauer and the rest of the lab on edge. When the custodian is murdered, actor Nick O'Connor goes undercover to investigate, help that Maggie does not appreciate-- or does she? While Nick and Maggie search for the killer, Monica struggles to connect with a veteran who was shot in the head in Vietnam.


About MURDER IS PATHOLOGICAL (Maggie Ryan 1969)
"[Carlson's] work offers a unique combination of empathy for her characters, her sense of history, and her ability to weave the social and political currents of the '60s and early '70s into the stories." –– The Drood Review of Mystery
"The vandal is elusive. When at last the mystery is solved, the conclusion is stunning."––The Armchair Detective

MURDER IS PATHOLOGICAL excerpt 2 (269 words):
Actor Nick O’Connor goes undercover as neurology lab janitor, 1969.
            Nick tried to relax, but his mind kept gnawing at problems.  The troubling fate of the man whose bed he now occupied.  The welcome Maggie had given him, and the abrupt rejection.  He had to find out why.
            Was he really any better off now than he had been this morning, as her friend?  Their feelings were in the open now; that was a step forward.  And, forced to choose between banishing him by exposing his disguise, or allowing him to help search for the truth about  Norman’s death from this peculiarly useful position, she had chosen to let him help.  Things  could–– maybe–– come to a happier resolution than the one this afternoon.
            They’d better, he thought, to make up for these weeks of cleaning up rat shit.
            Like all buildings at night, the lab made its own secret noises.  A steady hum, probably the air supply.  Overlaid on that, little creaks and rustlings.  Made sense, the building was filled with mice and rats, hundreds of tiny intelligences.  Nocturnal animals, at least wild ones were.  Maybe these tame ones were also at their peak now.  Unlike Nick, who was thoroughly groggy.  Through a crack in the curtains, he could see scattered stars against the velvety country sky.  The weather had cleared, except for little, smudgy clouds blowing across part of the sky.  The stars came and went behind them.  Odd.  He flicked the curtains a little further apart, and realized what was happening.  The smoke from this building was drifting on the light wind.  The incinerator.
            God, thought Nick, I’m sleeping in a crematorium.
            But he did sleep.

 Did the Vietnam war affect people like your characters differently from the more recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
          Two things seem to me to be especially important in the effect of the Vietnam war.  First was the universal draft.  Every young male drew a number, and had to show up when it was called.  There were exemptions, for men with disabilities, for college students (until they graduated), for national guard members, etc.  But any young man of that age, and all his friends and family, knew that he could be sent to fight.  So the war was much more immediate to many more Americans than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  Today, with an all-volunteer military, the friends and family of active-duty US soldiers are not spread through the population, especially since the need for more troops is now met only partly by new recruits.  It’s also met met by many soldiers who had expected to go home at the end of their tour, and are forced to stay for another one, or two, or more.
          The other big difference was television.  In the sixties and seventies most Americans had TVs, but there were only three important channels, not the hundreds available now.  So when the nightly news came on, the choice was NBC, ABC, CBS, or PBS, and the newscasters saw their jobs as straightforward reporters of facts, not of political opinions.  War reporters were not embedded in US military units, and were free to investigate whatever they thought needed investigating. 
          Of course the full experience of war, the horror and heroism and fear and friendships and betrayals, is impossible to boil down to a few minutes in a newscast in any era    But at least families in the US could see every night that people–– including Americans they might know–– were suffering and dying in Vietnam.  Today’s TV audiences can insulate themselves from what’s happening on the ground.

P.M. Carlson taught psychology and statistics at Cornell University before deciding that mystery writing was more fun.  She has published twelve mystery novels and over a dozen short stories. Her novels have been nominated for an Edgar Award, a Macavity Award, and twice for Anthony Awards. Two short stories were finalists for Agatha Awards. She edited the Mystery Writers Annual for Mystery Writers of America for several years, and served as president of Sisters in Crime.
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 MURDER IS PATHOLOGICAL 2-minute video chat
Personal comments on the background of MURDER IS PATHOLOCAL

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P.M. Carlson said...

It's good to visit Bookgirl Knitting! Thanks for hosting.

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Winnie Lim said...

I like the suspense to reading mysteries - trying to solve it, wondering who dunnit.

P.M. Carlson said...

I agree, Winnie. The mysteries I like best have danger and plenty of emotional ups and downs, but there's also a logical puzzle, and the reader can solve it too! I try to be fair and give the reader all the necessary clues, but I also try to hide them in a really engrossing story. That's win-win whether you guess it or not!

Anonymous said...

Really thought-provoking post!


Rita said...

The story sounds very intriguing.


P.M. Carlson said...

Thanks, Rita. My first job as a Cornell undergraduate was training rats for a psychology experiment. I got a hands-on appreciation of the work that goes into that research, from the theory and logic of the scientific experiment to the careful daily tending of the experimental animals. In this story the impressions of a scientist (Monica) and an artist (actor Nick) are combined to give a fuller picture of what they're trying to do and what can go wrong.

P.M. Carlson said...

Thanks for your comments, and thanks to Bookgirl Knitting for hosting!