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The summer has come and almost gone, but I have not (gone, that is).  Like many/most/all of you, my summer plans vanished in a puff of Covid-19.  The two foreign trips my husband and I had anticipated were not taken, and even shorter, closer-to-home visits to family and friends were non-happenings.

However, even the darkest clouds have a silver living.  First, and most important, my family and friends have not contracted the virus and have remained healthy during this pandemic; I hope the same is true for you and yours.  Second, with all the unexpected free time I had, I was able to do much of the preparation for my fall BOLLI (Brandeis Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) course, WHODUNIT?:  DETECTIVES WITH DISABILITIES, which begins on September 14th.

I had been thinking about this course for some time, having become increasingly interested in the various challenges people with disabilities/handicaps/impairments face.  How do we view people with handicaps?  Do we automatically think they will not be able to do everything the non-disabled among us can do?  Do you think some types of impairments are harder to deal with than others?  Physical, because they’re easy for others to see and perhaps judge?  Mental or emotional, because they’re often hidden, making it more difficult for others to understand the problem facing the detective?  Or perhaps you don’t see “disabilities” as problems at all, but rather as “differences.”

We will be reading and discussing disabilities both visible and invisible, some obvious and some not.  Here is the list we’ll be reading for the fall semester, along with the issues faced by the protagonists of the novels:  The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (amputation); After She’s Gone by Camilla Grebe (memory loss);  Love Story, with Murder by Harry Bingham (Cotard’s Syndrome), Odds Against by Dick Francis (deformed hand); A Cold Treachery by Charles Todd (PTSD); Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem (Tourette’s Syndrome); The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (Asperger’s Syndrome); and Little Black Lies by Sandra Block (ADHD).

Although this class and the mysteries we will be reading may sound overwhelming and depressing, I will tell you now, without giving too much away, that this is not the case.  Class members will join me in discussing the strength of the human spirit, as the detectives learn to overcome their physical or emotional problems and lead successful lives.

One more thought.  Two weeks ago a reader of this blog emailed to say that he wished I reviewed more American mysteries.  I wrote back, noting that half of the recent books I’d reviewed took place in the United States, but that made me think about the books I’ve chosen for this term’s course.  In fact, five of the eight take place in England (!) and the sixth is set in Sweden.  Only two take place in the States.  I’m wondering if that says something about how America views disabilities as opposed to how they are seen in other countries.

Please read along with us as we meet (via Zoom) to talk about WHODUNIT?:  DETECTIVES WITH DISABILITIES.  I promise you that these novels are truly something special.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

My best wishes for good health for everyone.


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