Tory Bauer Mysteries by Kathleen Taylor
In the long run, I don’t think the adult psyche is well served by being popular in high school. I suppose that sounds like sour grapes, since I was always on the outside looking in, but my belief in that basic truth comes from observation, not resentment. Most of us were born ordinary. . .
That line was probably not the first time I whooped out loud at a truth in the writing of Kathleen Taylor, but it was one of the first I recorded in a list that is still growing. I found it on p. 137 of the third in the series The Hotel South Dakota, which may have been the first Taylor I discovered. (I now own them all, and for a suitable ransom, am willing to loan them to friends.) And yes, I was a nerd in grade school and high school both; I got good grades and was on the debate squad and rarely dated. But those aren’t the only reasons I find these books full of humor and truth.
All six of Kathleen Taylor’s books narrated by Tory Bauer, resident of a small town in South Dakota, have an intriguing mystery at their heart. But they also overflow with truths about life in general, with zingers that highlight life in a small rural town. In 1969, Tory Bauer was a high school sophomore, and as is the case for most girls at that age, finding a date for homecoming was “a Life and Death issue.”
Here’s a quote from the first in the series:
Delphi, South Dakota is a dusty little prairie town, the kind people drive through on their way to bigger cities. But as Tory Bauer, middle-aged, widowed, overweight, cranky waitress might say, “Everything that happens in big towns, happens here too. We just don’t look as good naked.”
Tired of mysteries where the sleuth is clever and sophisticated, and none of the people resemble anyone you know? Read Kathleen Taylor.
In 1969, prevailing wisdom dictated that the way to deal with trauma and grief was to indulge in one good cry and never think about it again . . . . “put it out of your mind”. . . . Amnesia was encouraged.
In my childhood, we were not surrounded by counselors and others paid to help us survive. One day not long after I was dropped as a “city kid” into a rural school when my mother married a rancher, I bloodied the nose of a lout who’d been pawing girls and socking boys his entire grade school career. I’d already fought the toughest girl on the playground to a draw, but drawing his blood solidified my place in the hierarchy. Tory Bauer would understand.
Kathleen Taylor also designs knitwear, has written five knitting books, one mainstream novel, and a paper doll coloring book. She is a spinner, wife, mother, and grandmother; and she lives in Redfield, South Dakota.
Hustle down to your local library and get her books, or buy them at your favorite bookstore– you are likely to want to reread them, and pass them on to friends. In order they are, Funeral Food, Sex and Salmonella, The Hotel South Dakota, Mourning Shift, Cold Front, and Foreign Body.
Linda M. Hasselstrom
Hermosa, South Dakota
© 2021, Linda M. Hasselstrom
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