Sunday, May 13, 2007

A few moments of peace...

Mr Bani has actually gone off to Paris with his work, so I'm on my lonesome with the kids. This means I get to use the laptop. Somehow it's easier to use the laptop - probably because it's soooo quiet. Lovely. Now, if only the FUCKER UPSTAIRS WOULD STOP RIVERDANCING aaaahhhh I think I heard a SHHHH from the parents - this place it sometimes ludicrously un-sound-proofed (English lacks a word there I feel).

The first book from Elaine Viets Mystery Shopper series is called Dying in Style. I liked it better than the second, but I don't like this series as much as the Dead-End Job one. The shopping tips at the end of the book are fun though, if somewhat US-specific ( but hey, I'm not dissing, that's where she lives). She is apparently recovering from her stroke - good for her!

Agatha Christie's A Murder is Announced was first published in 1950, and is full of references to war, rationing, black market and the like. I don't know what I'm trying to say by mentioning that, but somehow it makes for a better book, possibly because it feels very genuine and thus makes the whole book seem genuine. After all Dame Agatha, like all other Brits, must have experienced it all first-hand, whereas she probably never got too close to actual murder scenes.

This is a Miss Marple book. In a rural community a murder is announced in the local paper's personal ads. A group of people gather at the house in question, assuming a murder game is in the offering (murder games do turn up frequently in crime fic of this era I've noticed). However, a real murder takes place, and Miss Marple turns up to solve it. Definitely one of the better Christies I've read - not saying much.

Laurie R. King: The Art of Detection - aaahhhh I waited for this one. I loved it. While reading it I wanted to blab about lots of different things in it, but of course I took no notes (was in breast-feeding agony) so poo to me.

A Sherlock Holmes aficionado and collector is found murdered in an almost inaccessible spot. Turns out that the very same spot is where the corpse is found in a purported lost Holmes story he had unearthed, and was hoping to make a fortune from, not to mention create a stir with. Kate Martinelli is back on cop duty here. I was so pleased to see that herself and Lee are doing so well and have a lovely daughter. (I'm sad, i know. They're not real people *repeat to fade*)

The Holmes story is, to those of us familiar with the Russell series, obviously "true". However, to Kate, living in our reality, Sherlock Holmes was an entirely fictional figure. We the readers recognize the tone and style from the Russell books and "know" that this is not at all fiction, and here everything becomes charmingly meta-something and post-modern (possibly). I was smitten by it. It's like being in a special club. I wonder how much non-initiates could appreciate of the book though, since the cross-over bits are what made the novel great IMO.

Thank you Laurie!

Now, a bit of a find: Gladys Mitchell: Late, late in the evening (the link there is for a tribute page, nothing official). Apparently Gladys is a Big Deal. I'd never heard of her. The shame, the shame.In my defence the library seem to have only two of her novels. Two. She has written (I now know) 86 (unless I miscounted). And short stories. More to the point, she's good. Sure, the cover has the usual blurbs "as good as Dorothy Sayers" one says, but I can now say with certainty that it's true (well, perhaps not AS good as Sayers, not much is).

Her heroine is Miss Bradley, who later on becomes Dame. Being lazy today, allow me to link you to synopsis (-es?) of the book here and here. I was very taken by this too. I loved the way we got the story from different points of view - we start off with the children telling it, but as adults, so we are hearing about something that happened in Miss Bradley's past, but one can assume that the devoted reader has lots of background info about what happens to Margaret and Kenneth and Miss Bradley later, and this is charming in itself. Then Miss Bradley sometimes takes over the narrative - but in letters to a friend. And other letter-writers pitch in too. It could be just confusing, as though the author hadn't made up her mind, but it works. Oh, and Miss Bradley is a psychologist - which is pretty awesome for a character created in 1929 or whatever.

My only mark-down might be for a slightly undramatic ending, but it does fit with the narrative style, and also possibly that the children's dialogue is slightly precocious.

Now, how am I going to get hold of more of her novels?

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