Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cornelia Read on Elaine Flinn

Sad news from Eugene, Oregon that mystery writer Elaine Flinn has died of cancer. Lifted straight off the Murderati blog is Cornelia Read's perfect tribute:

The Flinns were the smartest family in Carmel, California, and the coolest. I used to hang out with Elaine's daughter Kelly and her gang of irregulars eating crepes at a little place in town, under the stairs where I. Magnin used to be, on Ocean Avenue. We would snark and laugh for hours.

The very first time Kelly took me to her house to meet Elaine and Joe, everyone was talking about Dave Brubeck.

As a teenage hippie kid raised on Donovan and Hendrix, I had no idea who this was.

"Dave Brubeck? 'Take Five'?" asked Elaine and Joe.

I stood there dumbly.

"Are you fucking serious?" asked Elaine, patting me on the shoulder. "Oh, you poor kid."

"Take Five" has been one of my favorite songs ever since.

And I learned early that it was F-L-I-N-N, never with a "Y," because Flinn was the REAL Irish spelling and Flynn was evidence of the lasting taint of British oppression, which is something you do not fuck around about in the presence of this family.

After that I ended up going east to school, and stayed there a good while. Kelly and I kept in touch sporadically, 3000 miles apart.

When I joined MWA NorCal, about six years ago, I noticed one particular name in the membership list. Elaine Flinn. With an "I."

I emailed immediately: "Kelly's mom, Elaine Flinn?"

She wrote me back about sixty seconds later: "Cornelia, where the hell have you been? Welcome, kid."

I can picture her really clearly right now, sitting at the Great Conference Bar with Tony Hillerman, a glass of Jack Daniels in her hand. She's dressed impeccably, as always, and she just said something smart and funny and wicked that cracked him right the hell up.

There's Brubeck on the jukebox, too.

My heart goes out to Elaine's husband Joe, to Kelly and Sharon and Patrick. Theirs is a great, great loss.

It is ours as well.

Elaine was damn good people. I am so lucky to have known her.


Julie Weathers said...

So sorry to hear this. Sounds like a fun, fun woman.

We lost Tony Hillerman also. What a rotten week.

Cornelia Read said...

Thank you so very much for reposting this. I've been sick in bed myself for a couple of weeks, and have been looking out my window all day long, remembering conversations with Elaine.

She was a force of nature.

xx Cornelia

Susan Adrian said...

Thanks, Janet and Cornelia. I didn't know Elaine, but it sounds like I would've liked her a lot.

(and Cornelia, I read and LOVED your book, based on Janet's rec!)

Cornelia Read said...

Susan, thank you so much (and thank you Janet, for the rec).

I'd like to recommend Elaine's books. Cozies with a smartass Carmel-based protagonist who smokes and drinks Jack Daniels and swears a lot. With a heart of gold. I love a good old-fashioned salty dame...

Susan Adrian said...


Sounds fab. I'll have to grab a stack of those too. :)