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It's a strange thing, but when you frequent book sales and thrift stores as much as I do, there are some authors who are so popular that you're likely to see their books in bunches at every stop. And you get to the point where you automatically skim past them, either because you know you've read them all or you have no desire to do so now. Since I peruse the mystery titles in particular and since there are so many "cozies" by female authors, I'm afraid I'd made "Emma Lathen" one of the authors I didn't pay any attention. Until the other day that is, when the local Salvation Army store had almost an entire shelf of them out curiosity got the best of me. Good thing too...

Mary J. Latis and Martha Hennissart met as graduate students at Harvard and paired up to write over 20 John Putnam Thatcher "mysteries," under the Emma Lathen pen name, between 1961 and 1997, when Ms Latsis died. Ms Hennissart was a corporate lawyer, but their detective hero owed more to Ms Latsis's career as an economist (including stints with the CIA and UN). Thatcher is the Executive Vice President of Sloan Guaranty Trust and they use his business dealings and Wall Street intrigues as the backdrop for his adventures.

As luck would have it, I chose to read "When in Greece" first, and it was something of a departure for the authors. Ms Latsis was of Greek decent and was so disturbed by the Colonels Coup there in 1967 that they set aside the installment they'd been working on and churned out one with a Greek setting in just six weeks.

Ken Nicholls, a junior executive at the bank, is in Greece working out the details of a deal when the coup occurs. For obscure reasons, he's suspected of some involvement with Greek radicals and ends up going on the run. An amusingly pompous senior bank officer, Everett Gabler, is sent to straighten things out but he is kidnapped in turn. Enter Thatcher...

The authors keep the tone light and the action moving. They use the milieu to criticize the military plotters, but aren't overly polemical and they portray Greece as such a nest of plot and counter-plot that the coup almost seems sensible by the end.

Fortunately, I've got a whole pile of Thatcher adventures to work my way through now and know better than to ignore the Emma Lathen titles in the future.


(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A-)

  

Websites:

See also:

Mystery
Martha Henissart Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Emma Lathen
    -Emma Lathen (Stop You're Killing Me)
    -OBITUARY: M.J. Latsis, 70, Emma Lathen Writing Team Collaborator (ROBERT McG. THOMAS Jr., October 31, 1997, NY Times)
    -OBIT: Mary Jane Latsis (Jack Adrian, 11/22/97, Independent)
    -PROFILE: WALL STREET'S AGATHA CHRISTIE (N.R. KLEINFIELD, February 22, 1981, NY Times)
    -ESSAY: They Love New York (DILYS WINN, October 31, 1999, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of When in Greece by Emma Lathen (Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Reviewing the Evidence)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Right on the Money: Emma Lathen's Mysteries (Jim Huang, MysteryNet)
    -REVIEW: of Ashes to Ashes by Emma Lathen [1971] (Heartkeeper Common Room)
    -REVIEW: of Murder Without Icing by Emma Lathen [1972] (Theresa Ichino, BookLoons)
    -REVIEW: of Murder Without Icing (Jim Felton, MysteryFile)
    -REVIEW: of Going for the Gold by Emma Lathen [1981] (Newgate Callendar, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Going for the Gold by Emma Lathen [1981] (John Leonard, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Something in the Air by Emma Lathen [1988] (John Gross, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of East is East by Emma Lathen [1991] (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    "http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,316500,00.html"-REVIEW: of East is East (Josh Rubins, Entertainment Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of East is East (Theresa Ichino, BookLoons)
    -REVIEW: of Right on the Money by Emma Lathen [1993] (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Right on the Money (Theresa Ichino, BookLoons)
    -REVIEW: of Brewing Up a Storm by Emma Lathen [1996] (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Brewing Up a Storm (Deborah Stead, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of A Shark out of Water by Emma Lathen [1997] (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Shark Out of Water (Theresa Ichino, BookLoons)
    -REVIEW: of Shark Out of Water (Carl Brookins, BooksnBytes)

Mary Latsis Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Emma Lathen
    -Emma Lathen (Stop You're Killing Me)
    -OBITUARY: M.J. Latsis, 70, Emma Lathen Writing Team Collaborator (ROBERT McG. THOMAS Jr., October 31, 1997, NY Times)
    -OBIT: Mary Jane Latsis (Jack Adrian, 11/22/97, Independent)
    -PROFILE: WALL STREET'S AGATHA CHRISTIE (N.R. KLEINFIELD, February 22, 1981, NY Times)
    -ESSAY: They Love New York (DILYS WINN, October 31, 1999, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of When in Greece by Emma Lathen (Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Reviewing the Evidence)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Right on the Money: Emma Lathen's Mysteries (Jim Huang, MysteryNet)
    -REVIEW: of Ashes to Ashes by Emma Lathen [1971] (Heartkeeper Common Room)
    -REVIEW: of Murder Without Icing by Emma Lathen [1972] (Theresa Ichino, BookLoons)
    -REVIEW: of Murder Without Icing (Jim Felton, MysteryFile)
    -REVIEW: of Going for the Gold by Emma Lathen [1981] (Newgate Callendar, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Going for the Gold by Emma Lathen [1981] (John Leonard, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Something in the Air by Emma Lathen [1988] (John Gross, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of East is East by Emma Lathen [1991] (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    "http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,316500,00.html"-REVIEW: of East is East (Josh Rubins, Entertainment Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of East is East (Theresa Ichino, BookLoons)
    -REVIEW: of Right on the Money by Emma Lathen [1993] (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Right on the Money (Theresa Ichino, BookLoons)
    -REVIEW: of Brewing Up a Storm by Emma Lathen [1996] (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Brewing Up a Storm (Deborah Stead, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of A Shark out of Water by Emma Lathen [1997] (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Shark Out of Water (Theresa Ichino, BookLoons)
    -REVIEW: of Shark Out of Water (Carl Brookins, BooksnBytes)

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