Under The Beetle’s Cellar

Every once in a while, I read a book that just captivates me and draws me in to the story so much that I can’t put the book down.  Even more rarely (I can count on a few fingers) does a story bring me to tears.  Under The Beetle’s Cellar by Mary Willis Walker is one that did.

Best Book Club Selection

What does this novel have to do with writing?  I’ll get to that in a minute.  First, a story of my own.

A number of years ago, I belonged to a book club.  It was one of those where each meeting a different gal got to choose the book to read.  We had the usual Oprah books, and for a while, numerous books that delved into Middle East culture.  And without exception, at least a couple of people didn’t like the books – to be fair, I was usually one of them.  You see, I need a story that…


No offense to those books, or the writers, but I don’t see the point in droning on about child abuse, bad marriages, broken people, abuse in general, and so on.  I used to be a counselor, I got enough of that every day in my job.  And, by the time I read to the end, the stories well…ended…but with no point, no resolution, no healing.  Give me…

A Great Mystery Or Thriller

Which brings me to Under The Beetle’s Cellar.  This was the one book in my book club that everyone liked.  As a matter of fact, my selections, all mysteries, were the only ones that everyone liked.  Why is that?

It’s in part because mysteries and thrillers by nature have clearly defined good guys and bad guys that we, the readers, clearly can root for.  But more importantly, if the book is well-written, it moves along at a fast pace and we want to turn the pages…we want to find out what happens next.  We want suspense!

But if it’s extremely well-written, we care about the characters as well.  Mary Willis Walker did this with Under The Beetle’s Cellar.  I cared so much that I teared up at the end (I won’t spoil it and tell you why).  To me, that’s great writing.

And that’s why everyone liked it.  A mystery or thriller (genre fiction) can be a great read.  It can have poignancy and heart, just like the rash of “literature” that gets published every day.  And it kept the readers in my book club turning the pages.

Under The Beetle’s Cellar won multiple awards, as did other works by Mary Willis Walker.  And deservedly so.  I don’t know what happened to Walker, she just seemed to vanish a number of years ago.  That’s a loss for the reading community.

If you love great stories, read this book and all of the rest that Walker wrote.  If you are a writer, study this book and how she constructed the story and characters.  You won’t regret it.

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