Last night I attended the book launch for Anne Laughlin‘s new novel, Runaway. Anne was a 2008 attendee of the Lambda Literary Foundation’s Emerging LGBT Voices writers retreat and studied under Australian mystery writer extraordinaire Claire McNab (Pen name for Clarie Carmichael). The book launch had a solid turn-out. At least thirty people crowded into the event space at Women and Children First.
Fellow Chicago writer Kathie Berquist was the opening act. While Anne and Kathie are both from Chicago, they first met in LA at the writers retreat mentioned above. Kathie read from a funny short story of hers before introducing the main event.
Anne took the stage and talked a little about what’s been going on with her so far this year. She pointed out that the lack of hair poking out from underneath the cap she wore was due to being in the midst of treatment for the cancer with which she was diagnosed in January. No hair, but a styling cap.
Anne then read the the Prologue and Chapter One of Runaway. I had been fighting the clock to finish the book and arrived at the bookstore with about ten pages to go. Runaway is a solid page-turner of a mystery/thriller in the lesbian tradition, which means there is at least one blush-worthy sex scene. I enjoyed Laughin’s writing and think she presented an original plot with a good balance between the thrilling action and the obligatory drama-filled budding lesbian relationship. (Personally, I wanted more thriller and less romance, but that’s not the book she wrote.)
Runaway is primarily about Jan Roberts, a Chicago PI who escaped from her father’s Idaho militia camp when she was 16. For the last twenty years Jan has been living her life under the new identity she created. Just as Jan and her partner take on a new case tracking down a runaway teen, the firm they work for is purchased by a British company. The new boss is a hot British women with MI6 in her background. Sparks fly between the new boss and Jan. The runaway teen ends up leading Jan back to the militia lifestyle she fled, first to Michigan and then to Idaho.
Laughlin has a great sense of humor, but doesn’t overdo it. Here are two bits that made me laugh:
Catherine appeared to be in her mid-forties, but her breasts appeared to be in their mid-twenties. Jan wondered if she’d have the opportunity to examine whether that was the result of good genes, good lingerie, or good plastic surgery.
And then this from when Maddy, the young runaway, is participating in a militia training exercise in Michigan before her group moves to Idaho:
Maddy and Kristin were teamed up to learn about stealth movement and sensory awareness in the woods, which Maddy took to mean walking quietly with her headphones off.
I plan on reading more books from Laughlin and look forward to seeing where she takes her writing in the future. Below are some pictures from last night’s event.
|Anne Laughlin starting her reading.|
Bold Stokes Books, March 2012
Format read: ebook
Source: bought it