Eugene à Clef
by Camilla Mortensen
If you like cops, you’ll like L.J. Sellers’ Thrilled to Death (Echelon Press, $13.99). If you like Eugene cops, you will particularly like this book. If you like cops with incontinence issues … OK, well, anyway, let’s just say that L.J. Sellers (aka Linda J. Sellers, a freelance writer for the R-G) humanizes the hardboiled detective character by giving Det. Wade Jackson a rare, dreadful disease that leads to one scene in which a suspect answers his question of “Anything else I should know?” with “You’re leaking a little.” His condition, retroperitoneal fibrosis, adds little fillip of suspense in which not only does the reader wonder if Jackson will solve the crime, but whether he can do it without having another little accident courtesy of the stents in his ureters.
As a self-admitted connoisseur of mindless literary fun — and I mean that in a good way; you know, romance novels, thrillers, books with pink covers — I give Thrilled points for plot twists and Eugene-centric details. There’s some social commentary too as the media and the cops are influenced to report on and investigate the kidnapping of the daughter of a wealthy Eugene family, the Durhams, before they look into the disappearance of a less pecunious single mother.
Thrilled is the third in Sellers’ Detective Jackson series, and ironically, what makes the books fun is also what sometimes gets a little tedious — a lot of detail about Eugene. But once the reader gets past getting told the exact address of everywhere our cop-hero goes, it’s cool to read about the bar scene at smutty nightclub Diego’s (“He strode up the alley and into the club, which was tucked in between a Greyhound station and a Thai restaurant”) and try to figure out just which prominent family that owns lots of downtown property the troubled Durhams might be modeled upon. Think of it as easy listening for readers, and stick it on your reading list for those days you want to veg out with some bad guys and good cops, Eugene-style. L.J. Sellers signs books from 2-5 pm Saturday, Aug. 21, at Borders and celebrates Thrilled to Death’s release from 2-6 pm Sunday, Aug. 22, at Territorial Vineyards’ tasting room (907 W. 3rd).