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Posted on: January 22, 2024

Unravel Oklahoma mysteries with the library’s new book series

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Stillwater Public Library’s newest community reading series delves into mystery and crime with a local flair. “Let’s Talk About It: Oklahoma Private Investigations” will give readers the opportunity to discuss five crime-themed books that take place in Oklahoma. Program dates range from Feb. 22 through May 31. 

 “Let’s Talk About It” is a program of Oklahoma Humanities (OH) that strives to connect community members through literature and meaningful conversations. Each program includes a presentation on a book by an Oklahoma humanities scholar, followed by small group book discussions. Programs take place on Thursday evenings at 6:30 p.m.

Library Director Stacy DeLano always enjoys it when she can bring an author to visit the library.

“Part of what drew us to select this theme is that we wanted to have an author visit,” DeLano said. “We are fortunate that William Bernhardt lives in Oklahoma and was eager to come speak about his book. I think we’re going to have a lot of interesting topics to discuss with a variety of scholarly perspectives.”

In addition to the book discussions, the library is also planning a few companion programs related to mysteries and crime solving in Oklahoma.

“We’re still working out all the details,” DeLano said. “But we think the topics being covered will help further enhance the subject matter presented in our ‘Let’s Talk About It’ series.”

The first book is available starting Jan. 22. Participants may pick up copies of subsequent books to read prior to related programs.

Books, program dates and scholars include:

Feb. 22 – “The Old Buzzard Had It Coming” by Donis Casey, with scholar Dr. Bill Hagen, retired Professor of English at Oklahoma Baptist University. Set in eastern Oklahoma during early statehood, Alafair Tucker, a strong pioneer wife and mother, tries to solve the murder of a neighbor. The neighbor’s son emerges as a suspect, and he also happens to be romantically involved with Tucker’s daughter.

Mar. 14 – “Letter from Home” by Carolyn Hart, with scholar Shanley Wells-Rau, an MFA in Creative Writing and Poetry and instructor at OSU. The book follows a young girl of 14 who gets an apprenticeship at a local newspaper in a small town in northeastern Oklahoma during WWII and becomes personally involved in a murder investigation. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, the novel also received the 2003 Agatha Award for Best Mystery Novel. 

Apr. 11 – “Capitol Offense” by William Bernhardt, with the author also presenting as the scholar. Detective Kincaid attempts to defend a college professor who has all the known facts stacked against him. Set in Tulsa, the author presents legal questions and a criminal conspiracy that could erupt in any large city.

May 2 – “Twisted Perception” by Bob Avey, with scholar Dr. Andrew Vassar, English Professor at Northeastern State University. This title is the second in the “Detective Kenny Elliot” series that follows an outsider police detective as he continues to cope with a mysterious death from his past, one that turned him into a suspect. There are numerous recognizable Oklahoma locations in Tulsa, Stillwater and other small towns that Avey uses to embody present-day Oklahoma. (Note: the library has the entire series.)

May 30 – “The American Café” by Sara Sue Hoklotubbe, with scholar Dr. Traci Floreani, an English Professor at Oklahoma City University. The novel takes place in and around the Cherokee Nation, focusing on heroine Sadie Walela, who decides to pursue her dream of opening a restaurant with no idea that murder is on the menu. The story focuses on small-town Oklahoma life, enriched by the protagonist’s Cherokee history and culture.

This series is free and open to the public, but space is limited to 50 participants due to the number of books available. Community members may sign up online, by phone at (405) 372-3633 x8106 or in person at the library’s Help Desk. Individuals do not have to attend all five sessions to participate in the series. 

Books, services and other materials for this series are provided by Oklahoma Humanities (OH) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily represent those of OH or NEH. Generous funding and support for this series are also provided by the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, McCasland Foundation, Oklahoma City Community Foundation and Oklahoma City University. For more information about OH, visit okhumanities.org

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