I'm a fan of the old pulp writers such as Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Jim Thompson and noir writers such as Patricia Highsmith and James M. Cain. It was easy for me to go from reading their works to reading Robert B. Parker, Lee Child, and Michael Connelly. For a break from blood and guts, I read Janet Evanovich. In my search for a combination of pulp, noir, contemporary and humorous mysteries, I came across Sue Ann Jaffarian and her Odelia Grey series.
Odelia is a "doesn't fit the mold" character. She's middle-aged, overweight and brunette. She's surrounded herself with a family she's made of friends and compatriots and avoids her poisonous stepfamily and passive-aggressive father. When she loses one of her best friends via the old "suspicious suicide," she puts aside her self-doubt and lunges into discovering her friend's carefully hidden secrets and the killer.
Jaffarian, who is a self-described overweight middle-aged woman, doesn't hesitate to address her issues with age and weight while conjuring up a twisting, turning, driving murder mystery. There were also touches of humor and easily grasped descriptive writing.
Evanovich look over your shoulder; that's Sue Ann Jaffarian catching up to you.
--Trudy, Bridgeton Trails Branch