Book Review: Under the Cajun Moon

Mindy Starns Clark
Harvest House, 2009
332 pages
trade paperback


I'm not Cajun. Not technically, anyway, because my family didn't come through Nova Scotia. Instead, in the mid-1700's our ancestors sailed directly from France. Which makes us French Creole, although nowadays people usually think more "mixed blood" when they hear "Creole." We're probably that, too, by now.

At any rate, I know from South Louisiana because I come from that particular pot of genetic gumbo. Which ingredient my family is or was doesn't much matter now, since it's the flavor that counts.

Clark's Under the Cajun Moon tries very hard--almost too hard--to give readers a taste of South Louisiana. It's liberally sprinkled with Cajun French (stuff I recognized from my own childhood) and vivid descriptions of the bayous and of New Orleans. In fact, the title and cover art are the reasons I picked this one from the library shelf, even without reading the description.

Well! That's the other thing. If I'd looked at the publisher, I'd have known, but this is one of those Christian books disguised as a mystery. Somehow I've yet to read one that, no matter how hard the author tries, doesn't make the reader feel like he or she is being beaten over the head with a sermon. (And if Christians are reading these things, aren't the authors and publishers just preaching to the choir?)

The publisher was, in fact, a big factor in my problems with this book, though not because of the religious angle. That doesn't actually bother me, except when the storytelling grinds to a halt so someone can whip out a Bible and pray. The book was simply badly edited and contained many typos. Also, the use of "Prytaria" instead of "Prytania"? Seriously? Someone couldn't look that up and make sure it was correct?

As for the story itself, for a mystery it wasn't much of one. Clark telegraphs her punches, and I--as an avid mystery reader--had the bad guy fingered almost as soon as he appeared on the scene.

I'm underwhelmed as a whole, but here's the thing: I wouldn't say no to trying one of Clark's other books.

And I'm wondering if I insert some sermonizing into one of my manuscripts, will Harvest House publish it?


"That's My Program"

The title of this post is taken from one of the lines from last night's episode of Modern Family, which is one of the two sitcoms I watch. I wanted to give a sort of encapsulation of my current television preferences, if only to situate readers in a way that allows them to relate to me and the kind of person I am.

Here is my current television schedule:

   House (FOX)

   Lost (ABC)
   V (ABC)

   Modern Family (ABC)

   Bones (FOX)
   Flash Forward(ABC)
   30 Rock (NBC)

I don't watch anything on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

On Mondays, we used to watch 24 but gave up early this season when we realized we just didn't care any more.

I only just started with V at the behest of my husband. He likes it a lot more than I do, I think. I don't mind it, but I find myself playing Bookworm on my iPhone while it's on. A show that doesn't require my full attention is only a time-kill in my way of thinking. That's how it started with 24, too--I ended up messing around on my laptop while it was on and then started wondering why I was even bothering. While my husband's devotion to V may hold, mine doesn't seem likely to.

Thursday is, as you can see, the "big TV day." We'll usually save either Bones or Flash Forward on the DVR for a Friday night viewing. We're too old and have too many children to stay up that late otherwise.

You'll notice a lack of reality television on my list. Once upon a time, we did watch Survivor and American Idol. But they got old fast. I just don't care to give those fame-seeking pissants [reality show contestants] the satisfaction of my time. I'd rather have professionals [script writers] do the job. If I want to watch an idiot attempt to do things he or she clearly has no idea how to do, I'll go stand on the street corner and watch the local drivers. (Especially the ones in Dodge Caravans and Grand Caravans. WTF is wrong with those people?)

I may also be biased in that I have a screenwriting degree and always wanted to be a television writer. Just throwing that out there.

People have said we should look into Justified. It seems promising, but then so did Burn Notice, which we liked but not enough to make it part of our "appointment programming"--and we found we didn't have the time to catch up later, either; it was filling the DVR. We also gave up on The Tudors at some point. We do still pick up Entourage and Mad Men when they come back every summer.

That's the sum of it. We don't watch nearly as much television as we used to, and that's probably a good thing. After all, how much Blind Date or Bridezillas can anyone really ingest? I'm certainly not sorry to have cut the fat from my TV dinners!