Pick a peck of Potters
Potter fans go generations back, years even before the famous Harry ever stepped off Platform Nine and Three Quarters at King’s Cross Station. Since the early 1900s, numerous “Potters” have waved a literary magic wand on eager readers.
Potter is a name the literary fiction world has linked not with not only wizardry but also with woodland creatures, children’s books, mysteries, chefs and Tom Sawyer!
Beatrix rivals Harry for captivating Potter readers throughout the world with her early 1900’s tales of animal antics. If as a child you loved the classic adventures of Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin, Benjamin Bunny, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and others, you’ll enjoy an adult version by veteran mystery author Susan Wittig Albert. Albert created a series of whimsical mysteries for adults and young adults that feature a fictionalized Beatrix Potter and an English countryside full of Potteresque woodland creatures.
“The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter,” is a well-written series of whodunits woven into a charming plot. The mysteries are not the kind of crimes that would get the attention of Sherlock Holmes but are warm, fuzzy stories that feature a captivating set of villagers and an odd group of mystery-solving animals. The animals talk with each other but can’t communicate with humans.
A mix of biographical facts and fantasy, the books focus on the period of Potter’s life when she moves away from London to live in an English country village.
The first in the series, “The Tale of Hill Top Farm,” opens with a death and the mysterious disappearance of a number of things around the village. In book two, “The Tale of the Holly How,” a shepherd falls from a cliff, his sheep go missing and Miss Potter has her hands full trying to solve several puzzling events. Book three introduces rats, cats, fairies and a lady with a mysterious past.
Albert has promised eight stories to the series. Watch for the fourth, “The Tale of Hawthorn House,” due out in a month.
Another Potter (Eugenia) gained fame as the culinary queen of crime in a contemporary mystery series begun in 1982 by Virginia Rich. A food editor and chef, herself, Rich wrote two whodunits featuring amateur sleuth, Eugenia Potter: “The Cooking School Murders (1982), and “The Baked Bean Supper Murders” (1983).
The Eugenia Potter character attracted such a large and loyal readership that upon author Rich’s unexpected death, another author picked up where she left off.
Working from Rich’s boxes of notes and outlines for future novels, award winning author Nancy Pickard wrote three more Eugenia Potter mysteries, “The 27-Ingredient Chili Con Carne Murders” (1993), “The Blue Corn Murders” (1998) and “The Secret Ingredient Murders” (2001). The books are available in regular and large print and are generously sprinkled with a number of unique recipes.
And finally, here’s a bit of trivia that ties the Potter name to Tom Sawyer: A sorry, drunken character who’s a friend of Injun Joe, is wrongly jailed for murder. Tom knows the truth and when his conscience gets the better of him, gives testimony that clears. . .Muff Potter.
Pick a peck of Potter at Hastings Public Library!