OAKLAND -- Mystery fans are in for a treat June 17 when the Montclair Branch of the Oakland Public Library presents a mystery double feature.
East Bay writers Terry Shames and Jonnie Jacobs will read from and discuss their latest books. Sponsored by the Friends of Montclair Library and the Oakland Public Library, the event is one that organizers hope will be repeated on an annual basis.
Over the past year, the Montclair Library has begun to organize more adult programs to serve the community.
"We want to take advantage of the great treasure trove of writers and poets that reside locally," said Kathleen Hirooka, Friends of Montclair Library volunteer. "Mysteries are a popular genre and both Terry Shames and Jonnie Jacobs are East Bay authors who we are hoping to showcase at this event."
Shames will be reading from "The Last Death of Jack Harbin," her second book in her mystery series featuring former chief of police Samuel Craddock. The stories take place in Jarrett Creek, a small fictional Texas town loosely based on where Shames grew up. Shames resides in Berkeley.
In the story, just before the outbreak of the Gulf War, two 18-year olds, best friends and football stars, sign up for the U.S. Army. Woody Patterson is rejected and stays home to marry the girl they both loved. When Jack Harbin returns badly damaged, the two former friends attempt to reconcile but Harbin is brutally murdered and with the police chief out of commission, Craddock steps in to investigate.
"This book has a different kind of theme I think is really relevant right now. It's about veterans and their treatment," Shames said. "I don't make this a diatribe but I wanted to illustrate it as part of the whole book. There's a lot more to the book but this is an underlying theme."
Shames will also be discussing the ups and downs of writing a mystery series, in part explaining how she believes mystery is at the heart of any good book.
"I feel the mystery genre can be very literary and I aspire to make something well-written so that people will come away with something more than knowing who done it," Shames said. "I want people to know something about the human heart at the same time."
Piedmont writer Jonnie Jacobs, author of 14 mystery and suspense novels, will read and discuss her latest release, "Lying with Strangers," described as a story of two different women and a tragic event that brings them together.
When a young woman, Chloe Henderson, raised in foster homes, takes a Sunday outing with her boyfriend, Trace Rodrigues, she never expects that he'll attempt to rob a convenience store, killing the clerk and injuring a customer, Roy Walker.
Through a series of events Henderson's life becomes entwined with that of Walker's wife Dianna, in ways neither of them could have imagined, offering a story that is both riveting and a provocative tale of choices and second chances.
Shames and Jacobs are pleased to be participating in this library event, citing their wish to support public libraries and enjoying the interest and appreciation shown by the audiences.
"I love doing events at libraries. I find they are well run by people who really like books and who are appreciative and supportive of authors," Jacobs said. "Most of my books, including this latest, are set in the east Bay Area, and it's fun talking to readers who are familiar with the terrain."
Shames concurred, adding that library events are her favorites.
"I am never disappointed in library events; there's always a big crowd and people are always very eager, alert, ready to ask questions and know about your book," she said. "There's something about library readers; they're really serious."
Hirooka hopes people will plan to attend June 17 and again in July when the library will be hosting Montclair resident Yiyun Li, author of "Kinder Than Solitude."
Books by Shames and Jacobs will be available for sale and signing courtesy of A Great Good Place for Books in Montclair Village.