There is hardly a memory lurking in the recesses of my mind as to how I discovered the Canadian author Lyn Hamilton, though I know it was while we were living here in Budapest. Surely, it was some guest who knowing our love of travel, knew we would be a perfect match. After reading one of her mystery novels with Lara McClintoch, the Toronto based antiques dealer who globe trots archeological sites, I was hooked. My search through the used book stores here were not fruitful in producing her titles fast enough, so my book lust demanded placing an order from the US.
One of her books is The Magyar Venus, which has a great deal of Budapest interwoven into the story. After reading and admiring the story, I incorporated it into my Critical Thinking as an end of the semester fun read. Mystery novels require critical thinking skills. When I taught the course on US Contemporary Mystery Novels, I cheated by including Lyn. Well, she was an American, a North American after all.
One thing students repeated loved about the book was the authenticity of the Budapest landscape. She named real streets, real antique stores, real places you can still visit today. With this enthusiasm, there was a prompting followed by a push to writer to her to tell her how much she was appreciated over here in Hungary. She kindly wrote me back offering to write to any student who dropped her a note. A few did.
Being taken in by her warmth as well as her stories, I was devastated when I had read she was retiring after eleven books. More than once I had offered her hospitality if she should return to Budapest. If she would speak to a group, all the better, but not a contingency. When my first book came out, I wrote her to say that I was now part of the published club. Her letter of congrats included her thoughts that writing a travel guide must be harrowing work. By contrast, I think it is easier than writing a mystery novel.
Over time, I felt we had a slight connection, but I had high hopes of one day her taking me up on the offer of our home. Today in class, when the student leading the class was prompting a discussion of the novel, she happened to mention that Lyn had died. I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. Of all of the times I was thankful for the Internet in that classroom, this reached the apex of appreciative times. No, I could not believe it. My occasional pen-pal had died at the horrendously early age of 65 in September of 2009. I don’t want to go into more deals here, but if interested, there is more here.
Lyn, you stimulated my imagination, pushed some of my creative moments to the surface when I needed them most, and proved me with hours of pleasure traveling the world with you and Lara. I will miss you both a tremendously.