Monday, September 10, 2007

Access Denied by Donna Andrews

A friend recommended Andrews’ first Turing mystery Click Here for Murder because it was so different and interesting. I met Donna Andrews at a book festival and after speaking with her for a few minutes I walked away with all four of the books in the Turing series. And it wasn’t just because she was a good salesman. What she told me caught my attention and I have to say I have really enjoyed the three books that I have read so far.

In the series Donna Andrews combines characters from three very different worlds of mystery writing. Turing is a sentient computer who solves mysteries. Like early crime fighter Sherlock Holmes, Turing is methodical and analytical – almost to a fault. To her, everything has a logical deductive answer. But, Andrews introduced two other characters in her first book who have become crucial sidekicks to Turing’s Holmes. Maude is the series Miss Marple. She is an older figure who resembles a librarian when the series starts. But, as the books progress she becomes the computer expert who works with Turing to solve the impossible crimes. The third character is Tim a pulp fiction film noir junkie who wants to be Sam Spade. Combining these three generations of mysteries, Andrews has succeeded in creating a mystery that would appeal to a huge range of readers.

As Andrews’ told me when I met her, there’s another whole side to her mysteries appeal. Andrews has made a concerted effort to create a realistic sentient computer – in the best guise of good science fiction. I think it is her crossover between science fiction and mystery that appeals to me the most. There is an interesting mystery to solve to keep the reader reading. But, there is also a lot of technical information that is very up to date and accurate. It is easy to believe in the sentience of Turing because Andrews’ places her in a realistic computer-aged world. The logical side of the character blends well with the push for independence. I loved her conversations about the garden in this book.

I love this series. But, I am the first to admit that not everyone is going to like it. My husband, a technophile, is somewhat dismissive. He liked it and thought she did a decent job with the computer, but he is so tech-y that he expects perfection. My mom found the first book “cute” and different, but it didn’t appeal to her love of historical mysteries. I would recommend this to someone who grew up with computers and is willing to create a suspension of disbelief in order to empathize with Turing as she fights against her online limitations.

1 comment:

Shannon said...

I loved the first one, but then again, you know that!