State Fair is Earlene Fowler's 14th Benni Harper mystery. She wrote Fool's Puzzle, the first book in the series, back in the early 1990s on an electric typewriter. She's come a long way since then … although Benni hasn't. Only five fictional years have passed between Fool's Puzzle and State Fair. Benni gets to stay young forever!
Californian Earlene had flown into Portland from Kansas City, part of the discombobulating whirlwind some authors get to go through to publicize their books. A seemingly abandoned briefcase at the airport added to the excitement of the trip, as airport security went into high alert. Portland must have seemed so sedate in comparison.
When tested about the order of her fourteen books, Earlene rattled them off, stumbling briefly on Steps at the Altar but pulling herself through like a champion at the end. She says she's been writing her books for so long that she's working with her fifth editor at her publishing house. She has worked on training them on the nuances of rural living – and the food culture that goes with it!
The state fair provides a light-hearted, if somewhat cholesterol-heavy (with all its attendant fried foods), background for a serious issue: racism. Earlene points to the Southern Poverty Law Center as a good resource for learning more about white supremacist organizations.
Let's end with her tagline: "Reading is the only art form reader and artist create together."