Thursday, February 26, 2009

Friday's Forgotten Books

Murder in Metropolis by Lonnie Cruise, Murder Beyond Metropolis by Lonnie Cruise, Married in Metropolis by Lonnie Cruise and Malice in Metropolis by Lonnie Cruise.

Metropolis, Illinois is a quirky little town of about 7,000 on the Ohio River. Its claim to fame it that its the only town in the United States named Metropolis.

To capitalize on its moniker, the town "adopted" Superman and, in 1986, the Illinois House declared Metropolis the Official Hometown of Superman. There is a 15-feet statue of Superman at the east end of the courthouse.

Lonnie Cruise grew up in Las Vegas, later moved to California and finally settled in Metropolis to raise her family. She then started writing Metropolis mysteries beginning with Murder in Metropolis.

Sheriff Joe Dalton, the hero of the series, is a likable, very believable character who is constantly called upon to solve a fictional murder that usually turns into more.

To solve the murders, he has the help of his deputies, his mystery-writing wife and the folks of the town itself. The people of Metropolis have the same hopes, dreams, schemes, aspirations and jealousies of people everywhere. But Cruise pulls you into their lives with an easy-going style that makes you care about them and cheer Joe on as he uncovers the clues that finally lead to solving the crimes.

But don't let the easy-going style of writing that mirrors the easy-going style of Sheriff Dalton fool you. Beneath his laconic exterior is a great cop who is an excellent judge of character and an excellent detective with a keen mind for unearthing clues and using whatever forensic science is at his disposal to aid in his detection.

Likewise, just beneath the surface of Cruise's smooth prose are thrills, chills, suspense, adventure and plenty of twists and turns. The books always keep you guessing until the end.

Just as interesting as the mysteries themselves, are the cast of characters who populate the town. Having grown up in a Midwestern town about the size of Metropolis, I can tell you the people she writes about are absolutely real and, like some folks in most small towns, really colorful, bordering on the bizarre. They are headstrong, set in their wacky ways and not about to let fashion or convention change them one bit. 

Most of the time, the Statue of Superman figures prominently in the stories, which adds a touch of surrealism to the hyper realistic milieu.

Start with Murder in Metropolis, which revolves around a headless body found draped over the Superman statue by the courthouse. I read all four books, in the order they were written, in one week. Once I visited Metropolis and spent time with Joe, his wife and the townsfolk, I just didn't want to leave.

Cruise emailed me awhile back with the news that she had given up writing the Metropolis books because she didn't sell as many as she does with her new series, the Kitty Bloodworth, Fifty-Seven Mysteries, which also take place int Metropolis.

Here's hoping sometime she returns with further adventures of Joe Dalton and the super mysteries set in Superman's official hometown.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Oh, what a nice series to remember. Thanks and come back soon.

Lonnie Cruse said...

Thanks a million for your wonderful comments about my Metropolis series! I really appreciate it! Word of mouth helps an author more than anything.

r2 said...

Thanks, Lonnie, I'm a big fan of the books. Do more! I'm also going to check out your 57 series.

Patti, sorry I got mine in so late, but I had promised you back in January I would do a Friday's Forgotten Books in February and, although I barely made it, I didn't break my promise. I'm also a big fan of Friday's Forgotten Books, although I'm more of a lurker/reader than a participant. Thanks for letting me join in on the fun.