Posts Tagged 'mystery'

Reading: The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid

Some books jump to the front of the queue, even when you have perfectly fine reading material home from the library. Val McDermid’s “The Skeleton Road” jumped to the front, in front of the latest Laurie R. King book, and in front of two other books that are due back at the library tomorrow. And it stayed in the front, and was read and reread in 4 days.

Brief sum up: satisfying mystery, with some comic characters, but painted with a very broad brush by the mixed-up sadness of war torn lands. Not sure this is a book I want to see on television, because some things are best left to the imagination. Probably I’m alone there. 🙂

I’m  glad not to have seen the blurbs about the book, since they would have colored my reading experience. I plowed into Prologue and first chapter from the start, and found it hard to go back to work after lunch break. Good cold-weather reading, when you don’t want to go out into the howling wind and shovel the snow.



Reading: A Trick of the Light, by Louise Penny

Inbetween shoveling snow, knitting, or obsessively watching cross-country skiing during the Olympics (and scaring my cats as I shout at the skiers on television)… I’ve gotten quite a bit of reading done. I’m almost finished with Louise Penny’s A Trick of the Light, and no, I haven’t found out who-dunnit yet. Artists, gallery owners, and small town Canada, with a dead art critic outside a garden party for an older artist’s debut at the Musee’. The question almost seems to be who wouldn’t want to kill an art critic who bad mouthed people and tried to split up couples? How awful for Clara, the artist with the solo show, to find police at her door, and the dead body of a woman in the flower beds. And how dreadful that she was once best friends with the dead critic, but was treated quite badly by her in their college years. Some of the characters are hopefully in other of the Chief Inspector Gamache novels — Ruth the tactless old poet with a crude sense of humor, Beauvior the investigator who reports to the Chief Inspector (and hopelessly falling in love with his daughter), and Clara herself.

Other plotlines weave in and out, mostly from another part of the series, but it’s very readable without reading the other books. And, having been an art minor, I can see the genius in the character creation and the development of motive. So far, people are nicer than they were at group art crits.

So, have you read any good novels lately, or reread a favorite mystery story that you want to share? Please do in the comments!

Quick comment on popular culture and PBS

Mystery… omg [no tweet account… or farcebook… so just ignore if you don’t want to read about PBS]

Just saw Sherlock, “The Great Game“. Just spent 35 minutes scaring the cats by yelling at the television for the cliffhanger. Yes, yes. I do know how the canon ends this one. But in the meantime… PBS has done this right by getting something done with interesting acting, an interesting rethinking of London’s image, and re-imagining everything from the Baker Street Irregulars to how villians are introduced. Modernization ala the new series of Dr. Who.

And no knitting was injured during this one. I was too involved in what I was watching and all the quick stuff (some of which was horrible, because after all where there’s Sherlock there is inevitably crime).

A tale of two gentlemen

It’s amazing what you see in public.

  • A gentleman in a public library, using the computer to watch foot “adoration” how-to videos. No children there, so I figured there wasn’t much need to complain. (Perhaps he’s too poor for a computer; perhaps his wife/gf/bf was tired of watching him watch feet instead watching him mow the lawn; maybe he’s trying to save money. Shrug. There’s a detail for fiction. [Go ahead… it’s not my topic matter])
  • Then there’s a gentleman who “gets it”. He picked up one red rose that was wrapped in a fancy clear and gold plastic cone from the florist. The card taped to the plastic said, “Happy birthday from your HoneyBear,” and he was buying one of those plastic honey bear jars at the market I was in. I just hope his significant other understands how cool it is that he’s put this much thought into his gifts.

I somehow believe my fiction prof from way back when wouldn’t believe either scene. But real life is often stranger than fiction around here.

Weaving in Ends

I’m finishing up the toe on the second sock. Yesterday was filled with a lot of unexpected delays (some good, and some bad) and noise. Not a heck of a lot got done, including the baking project I was musing about. So today, I’m picking up the pieces, making some decisions about what I can and can’t accomplish before tonight. And weaving in sock ends is on the list. Unfortunately, lack of sun is making pics of finished socks impossible right now.

I did finish the Maxim Chattam book, The Cairo Diary. Even though I was warned that I might not like the ending, I kind of liked the unfinished feel to it, with multiple layers of truth. It is a book of fiction, and seems self-consciously aware of that, since the narrator takes care to leave things muddied a bit. If you’re squeamish, don’t read it. Yes, there are lush descriptions of Cairo during the 1920s, and the salt-scoured descriptions of the monastery with its strange architecture surrounded by the sea, but it still has harsh notes that may jar people to look away (it is, after all, billed as a thriller). I’m still glad I read it grimly on to the end. It rewarded me with lines like,

She spotted the fleeting pencil of light from a lighthouse far away on her right.

“And all these stars, the sole and silent witnesses of human tragedies since the dawn of time.”

It leaves with the question of “What is “truth” after all?” In a book that blurs historical scenery, from historical descriptions of a party held in a hotel in Cairo to gardens with mercury pools, with multiple layers of fiction and discussions about Rousseau, the mystery is in one’s perception of the whole. How will the reader react, and how much can the readers bring to the stories themselves? I do wonder how much I’ve lost by reading an English translation. I would have lost much more if I had struggled to understand the French version, of course.

Bookish quote

Since her adolescence she had developed a theory, which held that all the keys to the cosmos were assembled at various earthly points: libraries. An individual who knew all the books in a few libraries could understand the universe, right down to its most intimate, most savage elements.”

The impossibility of the task for a single brain and a single life reflected all the truth of this ultimate knowledge: It was not within the grasp of mankind.” – Maxim Chattam. The Cairo Diary.

Yep, I’m still reading along, in between work, walks, knitting, choir practice, and making dinners. So far, not too spooky. We’ll see how it goes. I’m a wimp. But this quote is one of those things I think about when in a library. That absolute thrill when I see all those books. And honestly, in today’s economy, the library is needed more than ever for job seeking, escapist reading, and a place you can sit and think without people asking you if you’re going to buy something.

“C” Is for “Cat(s)”

His Most Serene Fluffybutt enjoying the sun porch

His Most Serene Fluffybutt enjoying the sun porch

Cat burbling: Here is Malkin, devourer of unusual things (no, seriously: brussel sprouts, rusks [Wheatena], coffee [no cream, thank you], spiders, and nylon) and killer of wasps (he bats them with his ferocious paws without being stung).

He is a night and day tripper. He has to be first, even if it’s to stop suddenly because the light on the ringing phone freaks him out… at which point I trip over him.

There are 2 other cats in the household. But Malkin is the idiot who thinks I’m the alpha cat and he can soak up some of my glory. As if.

He does have many endearing qualities. His fur is very, very soft. He spends mornings curled up on the sofa behind my head while I drink morning coffee (really, he’s jonesing to steal some). He talks. He’s smitten with the 4-year old female cat who’s new (possibly because he can steal her food). He’s possibly the most laid back and friendly to outsiders.

“C” is also for The Circle by Peter Lovesey. I did enjoy this book. Then again, I’ve been trapped in many a Writer’s Club, wishing to gnaw my leg off. This author explores what happens when a speaker at a Writer’s Circle in Chichester ends up dying in an arson fire. Not too much detail for the squeamish. I’m sure actual police officers, detectives, and coroners wouldn’t be very impressed with it, but Lovesey did a better job than some at showing the vanities, weaknesses, and general inventiveness found among a pool of writers.

The other “C” close to my mind: “Construction”. We hates it. [cue Gollum imitation]. This is not construction for my benefit, but it is 3 doors down and very audible. A small, 1-story building is being reformed into a 2-story shop with a parking lot behind it. There is a crew of about 11 men in hardhats, kicking up concrete dust, dropping things on one another, and generally yelling four letter words from 7 in the morning until around 5. There is also a neighbor right next to the construction who spends much of her time in the sun on a folding chair observing everything and adding to the four letter salute. Since I’m unlikely to have air conditioning any time soon, my windows are open and my ears are tired. ‘Nuff said.