and Acknowledgments, by Taffy
I first met Rebecca Rothenberg when
I called her in 1992 to ask about the medium-sized New York publisher
that had just published her first mystery, The Bulrush Murders,
and was about to publish mine. She had visited their editorial
offices and likened the operation to WKRP. I knew instantly that
this was someone I could love.
As I got to know her over the next
few years, I learned that she was witty, wise, accomplished, self-deprecating,
and possessed of an enviable gift for language. She had been a
songwriter in Nashville and an epidemiologist in Los Angeles.
What's more, she had seized the vast and arguably unlovable San
Joaquin Valley for her Claire Sharples series and had invested
the region with charm and appeal.
Becky and I did a lot of book signings
together, often with a sheaf of bulrushes quietly crumbling in
the back seat. Her series was botanical and one of my books took
place in the flower-growing industry, so we also ended up on a
lot of the same mystery discussion panels. We lived less than
a hundred miles apart, but much of our time together was spent
a continent away at the Malice Domestic convention in Washington,
DC. Becky's parents lived nearby and she attended as what she
called a "day student."
In the fall of 1994, while Becky
was staying with me during San Diego signings for The Dandelion
Murders, my brother was diagnosed with a brain tumor. "I
have a brain tumor," she told me matter-of-factly, adding
that it had been diagnosed a full eight years earlier. This is
a disease steeped in the rhetoric of hope, featuring dreadful
treatments and appalling survival statisticsand she had
survived eight years. With that astonishing revelation, she metamorphosed
for me from a savvy and talented colleague into a shining beacon.
The beacon dimmed when that tumor
finally caught up with her in 1998, and we lost her at the age