Men in Pink

By Elaine Viets

Are you man enough to read my books?

The cover of my new Dead-End Job book, "Murder Unleashed," is pink. So is the first book in my Josie Marcus series, "Dying in Style."

But I don’t write "girl" books. I never dreamed those pink covers scared the pants off some men. Some guys won’t be caught dead reading a murder mystery with a pink cover.

I found this out from a manly man named Bob Burke of Twinsburg, Ohio.

Pink covers don’t frighten him. Bob boldly opened the book cover some members of his gender fear most.

Bob has a reading discussion group, and they tackled my pink books. "One guy complained about the hot pink cover," Bob said. "He has to ride the bus to work and he felt many eyes looking at him. I told him the best thing to do is every so often to scratch and spit."

Nice try, Bob. But you’ve given him guy advice. You need a woman’s viewpoint.

Let’s say you are a young female. You ride the bus to work because it is environmentally cool, and you’d have to move back in with your parents if you drove your own car now that gas is three bucks a gallon.

You are in chic black. (Anything else would show the dirt from the bus seat.)You see two guys near you. Both have dating potential. Both are reading books, a good sign if you want an intelligent man.

One guy has a manly thriller. The black cover is decorated with a bloody knife and a big gun.

This black and bloody cover may make a man feel secure in his masculinity, but it will not put women at ease. Blood, guns and knives remind us of stalkers, serial killers, and guys who have an unnatural interest in chainsaws and wood chippers. The kind of man who has his yard dug up by the police, and his basement invaded by sniffer dogs. His neighbors tell reporters, "He seemed so quiet. We had no idea all those women were buried under his Beefsteak tomatoes."

Get the picture? It’s not pretty. The blood-and-black cover guy is not good date material.

But consider the man with the pink book.

First of all, guys, don’t worry that we’ll think you’re gay because you have a pink book. A gay man would be savvy enough to know that pink is the new black. Besides, a gay man would more likely read a bodybuilder magazine, stare at the Ralph Lauren ads in Vanity Fair, or settle in for a comfy chat with us about his partner.

A man brave enough to read a book with a pink cover in public is worth considering. That’s why the women were staring at the guy on the bus, Bob. Those weren’t hostile stares. They were speculative.

The women were thinking, "Hmm. A cute guy reading women’s mystery fiction. He might be strong yet sensitive. He might realize that Hooters is not a good place for a date. He might do more than scratch, spit and drink beer."

If the guy takes your advice and scratches and spits in what he considers a manly manner, he will derail those hopes. The women will go back to wondering if they should go out with the blind date Jennifer set up for Thursday.

But if the pink cover man continues to read, a woman can start a safe conversation.

SHE: "That ‘Murder Unleashed’ mystery any good?"

HE: "If you’re a dog lover, you’ll enjoy it."

SHE: "I love dogs. I have a golden retriever named Sheba."

HE: "I have a Lab called Bubba."

At this point, they may make a date to meet for coffee and walk their dogs. If the relationship develops into something serious, well, they owe it all to the pink book cover.

One more tip: Black is a better color for sheets than pink.

Elaine is the author of the Dead-End Job mysteries.

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