Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rita Lakin, mystery writer

I discovered Lakin's books at a book fair, and was intrigued by their fictional detective and location. Gladdy Gold is a 79-year-old retiree in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she lives in the Lanai Gardens senior apartments. She is so full of Yiddish sass that Lakin includes a glossary for those unfamiliar with the bits of that language that remain in some spoken vocabularies. Her crew of sleuths include her sister Evvie Markowitz and Ida Franz. These are not soft-spoken elderly ladies, which can be a problem when they encounter nearby residents like Hy Binder, "man of a thousand jokes, all of them tasteless" or his thought-deprived wife. The population also includes care takers, Holocaust survivors, leches, and Cubans in various roles. The humor is often Borscht belt as the ladies deal with finding killers. At the same time there is the underlying reality, the bittersweet reminders of daily troubles the elderly either triumph over or submit to in less satisfactory ways.

What is this series doing in this blog? Lakin is a longtime Californian who still resides here. She had a successful television career, both as a writer and eventually as a producer. She wrote many movies of the week, and has won a variety of awards, including the prestigious Edgar Allen Poe Award for mystery writers.

So you have a mother retired in Florida? Here's what to send as a mitzvah to give her a dose of the best medicine, lots of laughs. Ok, she may kvetch back, but just roll your eyes and keep quiet. Of course, read the book first for your own pleasure.

Rita Lakin also has a blog, and a new book about to come out, Growing Old is Tres Dangereux.