I went to a book presentation last weekend by Connie Willis. Who? Mystery writers and crime writers may not know her. I didn't know her until the owners of the Denver Book Mall -- Nina and Ron Else -- told me I had to be there. I know a good recommendation when I hear one. Nina and Ron know their stuff. Anything about books, they know it. Connie Willis is a science fiction writer. And romance (gasp) writer and "anything" writer. She stood there pleasantly and chatted for 45 minutes or so, straight off the cuff about whatever came to her mind. The presentation was seamless, funny, engaging, wry, biting, self-effacing and terribly engaging. The level of pretense was zero. Or less. It was impossible not to like her -- particularly because she was so interested in so many things. She seems to approach the world with a great deal of zeal and zest and I was extremely impressed. She's prolific (just check out her stuff on line) and yet seems not to live in a hole whatsoever; she is completely plugged in and out and about, based on all her stories. I walked away carrying a $40 hardback that compiles tons of her novellas and short stories, "The Winds of Marble Arch." A doorstop for sure -- and a beautifully done book. On Amazon, I spotted "The Doomsday Book" by Connie Willis, published (I think) in 1993. Number of reviews? Something like 233. Rating? Five stars. My point? Sometimes it's fun to step outside the world of straight-up mystery and crime. And when a bookstore owner gives you a tip, make sure you're paying attention.

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