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November 29, 2006

Welcome to the Heart of Tartness Book Club!

High_heelsOn behalf of the Book Tarts and the Heart of Tartness Book Club, I am delighted to welcome you to our third meeting - hurray for us!

First of all, we all know this is a very cool thing we are doing together, right? Right.

Today's book is HIGH HEELS ARE MURDER by our own Elaine Viets. This is one great book!

And we are really lucky because the author herself will be joining us today.

Here is Elaine's intro, which is much better than mine:

This book started at a shoe store when a salesman stroked the underside of my foot. At least, I thought that’s what he did. I wasn’t sure, but I knew it felt weird. When I bought new heels, the salesman said, “May I keep your old shoes? You don’t want to take these with you.”

“No!” I said. “I mean, yes, I’m taking them.”

I was sure I’d saved my old shoes from a fate worse than death. I used that scene in HIGH HEELS ARE MURDER, when my mystery shopper, Josie Marcus, investigates Mel, a salesman who loves shoes a little too much. You could say he loves them to death.

This is a novel about addiction and denial. There’s housewife gambling, an addiction often dismissed as “not serious” because women tend to prefer the slot machines instead of “serious gambling” like poker.

There are the women who kid themselves that their paid encounters in no-tell motels aren’t “real sex.”
And the men with foot fetishes who claim they just like to watch Pretty Woman.

And there’s the drug dealer who says, “Coke isn’t serious. It’s recreational.”

Josie denies that she hates Perfect Cheryl. But the woman has been driving her crazy for years.
I think we all have a Perfect Cheryl in our lives. I certainly did. I’m afraid I enjoyed Perfect Cheryl’s end all too much.

As for Josie, my mystery shopper heroine, she struggles to do the right thing, but she’s caught between her mother, who she loves but would occasionally like to strangle, and her daughter, who she also loves, but would occasionally like to change the locks on. Josie’s main support is her best friend, Alyce.

I hope you’ll be addicted to the Josie Marcus series.

I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about HIGH HEELS ARE MURDER.

Thanks Elaine! Now, ladies and gentlemen of the blog, let's talk addiction! Let's talk shoes! Let's talk about living with three generations.

As always, our discussion will take whatever path you choose. In the event that we get crazy with numbers of comments, check back up here and we'll give you a time and a change of subject if we think it might help.

And remember our first rule of Book Club: Everybody talks at Book Club.

If you have trouble posting your comment, be sure to come back later. Today's traffic has overwhelmed the system!

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Good Morining Hearts and Tarts.

I love my shoes. There, I said it. I still have shoes that I will never wear again. Why? Well, no one I know wears my size, and when you find a perfect pair of shoes, you can't just ditch them because, say, after two pregnancies you can't stand to wear high heels any more. That is not the fault of those midnight blue suede pumps, now is it? Or even - and I hesitate to bring this up so early in the morning, but my deep red spike heels - those shoes are blameless.

I even keep all of the original boxes.

But I do not get them out just to play with them. In fact, I'm not sure where some of them are. But they are there, just in case I decide to get glamorous some day.

I have to run - totally unexpected and unwlecome appt this morning, but you will be in great hands with Elaine and the Tarts and I shall return.

So, as the Coffee Talk lady says" Talk Amongst Yourselves".

I have always wondered about those men who are sales clerks in shoe stores. I mean---wouldn't you rather do just about anything but sell shoes? What a frustrating job. And sometimes downright icky. (Really, do you want to look at my aunt's corns and amputated toes? Much less struggle to find her a pair of shoes for an hour and watch her walk out the door without buying?) I'm always super polite to the women who wait on me in shoe stores because I figure they've got it very tough.

But the male sales clerks--? I guess that's a prejudice of mine, isn't it? I assume they've got other motivations for being there.

Working in a shoe store, if it were the *right* shoe store, sounds pretty good to me. Especially with the employee discounts.

Great book, Elaine!

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Learned more than I ever knew existed about the world of shoe fetishes! Nice handling of addiction issues generally. I enjoyed seeing more of Alyce with Josie. I kept waiting for the shoe to drop (ack!)on Alyce's husband, Jake, since there were references to him working late and to Alyce's simmering discontent. I was glad he was not implicated! Thanks for a fun read, Elaine!

I think many men simply see shoes as something to put on their feet. To many women, shoes have an emotional impact. We have shoes to suit our moods. We're working women in sensible two-inch heels, sexy in high-heeled open-toed sandals, comfortable in flats and ready to kic kback in cowboy boots -- sometimes all in the same day.
Elaine

I cannot wear high heels. They don't come in my size--5 1/2. If I find something two inches high, I'm thrilled, but not for long. You try staying upright with only an inch and a half of your body touching earth. I also can't stand up on the beach. The waves knock me down. But that can be fun, too.

On the up side, I still have shoes I wore in high school. Penny loafers and a pair of red topsiders that draw comments every time. And platform wedgies? Those are my "tall" shoes. I'll be so upset when they go out of style. Which, I think, happened about a year ago.

About the themes of the book, I live in a big gambling state. There is nothing more depressing than seeing a man with no legs parked at a slot machine, until you see a woman with no arms. And I'm not kidding.

With my foot a dainty size 11, I'm more used to salespeople shaking heads and saying, sorry, they don't make it above a size 10 and then bringing out my grandmother's shoes!
If a salesman stroked my foot, I'd probably kick him...great reflexes. That said, I loved the tip of the iceberg feel of the story...one addiction leading to murder leading to another addiction and then another. I think we all know someone our parents thought were perfect (mine was my cousin Glenn and I resent him to this day...he's a minister now)and secretly smile when they turn out not to be. On the other hand, addiction is a serious business and it was well pointed out.
Never lived with three generations, but I'm off to visit my daughter, "son" and grandpets, which is close. We get along well for the four days I stay (precisely why I only stay four days).
Of course, I loved the descriptions of Josie's disguises...and find myself looking for long blond or black curly wigs at B&N!
Great book Elaine :o)Thanks!

Maryann, if you live anywhere near California, we could share shoes. I'm a 10.5, but as no one makes those, I usually get bumped up to an eleven. The only person who's shoes I can borrow are my husbands, and he never has the right pair of pumps.

Oops. That's "whose shoes" and not "who's shoes." Forgive me. I've been up since 4:20 a.m.

Thanks, Harley. :o) I think I'm actually a 10 3/4 or something odd...sadly the stores in central Illinois don't carry much and when they do, whoooosh! Out the door those not so little pumps go! I actually get my walking shoes from QVC (Ryka and they're great)but dress shoes...sigh.

I think the character of Perfect Cheryl resonated with a lot of us.--There's always somebody who appears to have a perfect life. I had a Perfect Cheryl in high school. (Wait, don't most of us feel as if everyone has it better than we do in high school?) But she ended up in such dire circumstances and with a really lousy life--of her own making--that it's really hard to feel anything but sorry for her now.

I like the way you've layered in the clues, Elaine, and allow various subplots to evolve. You are great at planting suspicion!

The Perfect Cheryl in my life turned out to be perfect as an adult, too. That's why I find fiction so much more satisfying.
Elaine

Elaine - I'm here to offer my support and shamefacedly admit that I haven't gotten around to reading Josie. I'm so sorry. I bought it, though! I really did. And as soon as this book of mine is in, I will take it off the top of my TBR pile.

Okay. I feel much better admitting that.

I have to say, this blog has me really intrigued. I mean, I am not a shoe girl, just like I'm not a Florida Fashionista in your other series and I cannot get my mind around what the big deal is. Maybe it comes from living in the boonies....But that's reason enough to read your book right there.

Now if anyone wants to discuss Chinese footbinding after this, I'm somewhat of an odd expert...

Now I can't wait to run out and buy HIGH HEELS ARE MURDER. Which is good because I'm currently reading a mystery so boring I'm hoping all the main characters get knocked off...LOL.
For those of you with larger feet, you can find shoes at stores that cater to cross-dressers. See? All that research I do for my books is actually useful.

Sarah! Chinese footbinding! My school book group read Ties That Bind, Ties That Break last month. Great book, but we printed out photos of actual bound feet and GUH. After seeing that, some of the boys couldn't eat for, like, several seconds.

Chinese footbinding is just one example of what people have done to girls so they'll be eligible for marriage and, to me, is as cruel as clitorectomies. Maybe even worse. (By the way, clitorectomies are also mutilations done to make girls marriage worthy.)
And, yes, the photos are sickening. Especially the X-rays.

But, hey, let's get back to the book!

I have to admit I haven't even bought the book but it's on my list for my winter break from hell, uh I mean school. I've been studying the brain for the past two weeks and the part of the brain that is dedicated to foot sensations is a surprisingly large area on the spectrum. Just something to ponder......On Dec. 13 after my last final, I'm off to B&N where I have a lovely $100 gift card to spend! Back to A&P and Developmental Psych.

Thanks for the shopping tip, Sarah, but female impersonator shoes look like they're worn by men who are trying to be women. They're too gaudy for a real female to wear during the day time, and they're not just big, they're sort of square, to fit a guy's foot.
Elaine
Who once covered a female impersonator beauty pageant as a reporter

Thank you, Sarah, for your admissions. I'm waiting for my copy to be delivered (somehow, getting a "promotion" at work a few weeks ago and putting in 60-hour weeks really screwed up my timing!) and looking forward to it immensely. And I also don't get the shoe thing. It may be because I'm hard to fit (6.5, high instep, wide ball of foot, narrow heel), or maybe it's because heels kill my feet, knees, hips and back. Is it because I'd rather spend the money elsewhere? Or would I rather spend the money elsewhere because I'm just not crazy about them?

Anywhoo -- with apologies all around, I'm definitely one of those who sees a real similarity between high heels and footbinding . . .But that could just be jealousy.

I grew up in the age of pointed toes and three-inch spikes (wore them for gradeschool graduation no less) and was never happier than when the square toed look was fashionable. I liked the stacked heels too. Now I'm thinking about younger women wearing those skinny boots and pointed toes (again) and pondering the wisdom of buying stock in orthotics :o) or helping a deserving podiatrist through school (by the way I give them as much credit as I do dental hygienists...I'm not sure I could rummage around in anyone's mouth either).

Does anybody else want a peek at Janice's report card? She's been working so hard!

Kerry, I have found the shoe for funny feet! Cole Haan and Nike make a dress/running shoe that's not half bad to look at: http://www.shoes.com/product.asp?catalog_name=web&product_id=5011396&variant_id=EC1005816&&CMP=OTC-Froogle&partnerid=Froogle&cpc=Froogle&campaign=Cole+Haan&group=Womens&cpckw=Women's+Air+Beau+Maryjane+Black+Leather

From Elaine, who's having trouble with Mr. Typepad today:

Actually, Josie isn't much of a fan of them herself, and nearly blows her cover when she's investigating Mel the shoe salesman. He says he doesn't understand why women don't wear them more often because they make their legs look attactive.
"Because they hurt," Josie says.
Mel says women should suffer to look beautiful, and Josie says crippling yourself is not attractive.

I've been back and having Typepad trouble too - what's up with that.

Great comments so far.

Now let's talk about mothers and daughters. I could not live with my mother. I'm sure my daughter will feel the same way as soon as she's out of my house too.

I thought one of the most interesting things about the book was Josie's relationship with her Mom. Anyone else?

I can't talk about daughters. I don't have one (sob) although I have, on several occasions, tried to steal one of Nancy's.

My sister, who also reads this blog, and I often talk about our mom. But never in print.

Technical Update - for reasons that remain a mystery, lots of people are having trouble posting comments today - not just me.

And most problematic is that Elaine herself is having trouble getting in - so don't think she's not trying!

For those of you who can read the blog, but can't get in to post a comment - thanks and please keep trying!

The mother-daughter issue fascinates me. So many of my friends love their moms, but can't stand to be around them for long periods. Maybe that's nature's way of making sure we leave home.

A number of readers have commented on Josie's family rule about "GBH," which stand for Great Big Hug. When she says GBH her mother has to hug her, no matter how angry she is. Both Josie and Jane are hot-tempered, and it's a way to diffuse anger.

By the way, Typepad has been a struggle all day long. Thank you all for trying to post despite the delays and difficulties.

Nancy, that link isn't working, and I really want to see those shoes!

About Moms . . . no way could I ever have lived with mine (loooong story); I remember the panic I felt one college summer when the job I had counted on for food, clothing and shelter fell through and I faced the appalling concept of moving back home. I even had a hard time going back for vacation.

And yet, when Mom got sick, somehow all that baggage went away. Between her new (and much improved) attitude and my own, we managed to cohabit quite nicely during the times I was at her house taking care of her.

My daughter is living at home again now, and I have really mixed feelings about it. I don't actually see her a lot, so we don't rub on each other too much. She's a lot of fun, and I do enjoy her company (except when she drives me nuts, of course). I don't enjoy the lack of privacy. I don't enjoy having to live through her dramas (like the fight, over the phone, with her boyfriend the other night).

The thing that always just sort of amazes me is that she and I have the kind of relationship that I never had with my own Mom. My side of the relationship feels totally natural, but, as I keep telling her, I honestly have no idea what her side feels like. And that's kind of weird, if that makes any sense . . .

Oh -- and let me just say that one of the best things I ever did was to start studying martial arts with my daughter. Sharing that activity probably taught us more about each other, and led to more mutual respect, than just about anything I can imagine.

Ramona, if you want to borrow a slightly older version, let me know :)

I tried the link to the shoes and if you hit refresh, it will come up...eventually (I think it took 2 to 3 minutes on my machine). If I may be so bold, another great option for comfort and a nice casual look in larger sizes is Nike's Rift collection (I have 4 or 5 pairs) http://www.nike.com/index.jhtml#l=nikestore,grid,_grid,st-false/s-rift&re=US&co=US&la=EN
...these are great if you have a wide foot and a narrow heel (they will actually stay on your foot since the back cinches down!). I think www.nikeid.com will let you customize a pair to whatever specification you want and then deliver it to your house.

As far as mothers and daughters...hoy, my mother can't live far enough away and I'm already saving for my daughter's therapy from not seeing her grandmother (she's 5 now). I figure I have at least another 8 years before the carnage begins. Who needs to save for college?

I sold shoes once for a summer and like Nancy am very nice to the ladies at the shoe stores. As for the men; well I worked with some interesting characters and wouldn't want them touching me! I suppose that's why I order online all the time now!

In defense of male shoe salesmen - we have a guy named Jerry who is the absoute best! No foot fetish - but he is gay, so maybe it's just female feet that don't do anything for him. I'll have to ask next time.

Anyhoo, after I broke my foot (the second one) he found me the most fabulous shoes - Taryn Rose - before she became famous and sold out. He's also my connection when they make trips to Italy - I have the most gorgeous basic flats.

And Ramona - me too! I still have my navy blue docksiders from junior high. I also still have clogs from high school - they are now back in style for the third time. I used to wear sample size shoes, so I have quite a collection.

I have to say that I love Elaine's Dead End Job mysteries so much that I was a bit worried about a new series - I don't want to lose Helen! But Helen is still alive and kicking around, and now I have Josie to look forward to as well. So thanks Elaine - for two great series!

Sorry, I have been out of the house writing all day, but maybe it was a good thing since I missed all the trouble with Mr. Typepad. He is always nice to me. Maybe it's because I wear heels?

Not that you all didn't already know this, but I'm firmly in the category of women obsessed with shoes. I have fond childhood memories of my first pair of heels -- white sandals I got for a party with criss-crossing red and blue straps. The heels were no more than two inches, but I felt so grown up! By college, I'd graduated to Maud Frizon. Why? Well, no matter what's going on with your weight or your outfit or your hair, if you put on a pair of heels you always look better. At least, you feel like you do. One woman's view.

Nancy,

My overall GPA is 3.5. I think I'll get a 4.0 in stress management, 3.7 in developmental psych and hopefully, if I study my butt off the next 2 weeks a 3.5 in A&P 206. A&P could go as low as 2.9 or as high as 3.8.......we get to drop our lowest grade and replace another grade with a extra credit assignment. Not too bad for an old broad who wears Birkenstocks! Snicker.

Elaine~your book is on my list to buy!

PS~what's Maud Frizon?

Janice, congrats on those grades. You rock down to your Birkenstocks!

Maud Frizon was the Jimmy Choo of the 80s.

Elaine
I had just gotten a new pair of three inch heels. I had not worn them in 15 years but for some reason in the store they called to me. I had to buy them and I would find a place to wear them. My daughter, 15 was trying them out and asked "why?" I told her it is hard to explain but the right pair of shoes can set the mood. Sometimes you just need to wear a three inch heel. You are right the right pair of shoes make the mood.

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