Sunday, November 22, 2009

Caroline Graham: Faithful Unto Death

All in all, Caroline Graham has written twelve books it seems, and our library has four (in English that is). Sad. Considering how immensely popular the Midsomer Murders is here too, you'd think there'd be more. With Faithful Unto Death I think I've read them all now. I have to say that I've enjoyed this one more than any of the others, and since it's been so long since I've read the others I can't be sure if this is due to some actual literary merit or just a case of Graham hitting the spot for me just now. I really revelled in her wittiness, even laughing out loud sometimes.

The storyline starts out fairly simple, with a woman disappearing, her husband acting increasingly odd, and then being found dead. On the face of it it seems to be an all too ordinary case of a jealous possessive man abusing his pretty, subdued and frail wife. There are twists to it though, some of which I guessed, but some I didn't. The plot hung together very well on this one I thought.

I started reading and before I'd come thirty pages even I'd found several bits I'd like to quote here, which stressed me as I didn't have a pen at the time to note them down with. Sadly this marred my experience somewhat, until I decided to let it go, I couldn't bloody well quote the whole book anyway. Allow me to laboriously type out one passage though. Mrs Molfrey (a former star of the stage, living out her last days in obscurity), visits Barnaby to report that her neighbour, Simone Hollingsworth, appears to have vanished:

'She vanished last Thursday. Into thin air, as the saying is, though I've never understood why. Surely if a person is to be concealed the air would have to be extremely thick. Rather like the old pea-soupers.'

'If you could - '

'Don't chip in, there's a good fellow. When I've finished I'll give some sort of signal. Wave my handkerchief. Or shout.'

Barnaby closed his eyes.

'I became suspicious the very first evening. I remember it precisely and I'll tell you why. The sunset, from which I usually derive considerable refreshment, was a great disappointment. A dreadful common colour, like tinned salmon. Cubby was feeding my onions - renowned, I might add, for their splendour - and I was rootling around with my little hoe anticipating a word or two with Simone. She would usually come out around that time to call her cat and we would exchange pleasantries, the latest bit of viillage gosspi from her side of the fence whereas I would discuss the progress of my plants, curse all winged and crawling predators and inveigh against the weather, the way all gardeners do.'

Barnaby nodded. He, too, was a keen gardener and had been known to inveigh againt the weather in his time in a  manner so robust it caused his wife to slam the French windows with such vigour the panes rattled.

Oh, that'll do. It's a very funny book in many places. As I've said, she writes miles better than the TV series, which is not at all as cynical and wicked, but instead rather bland and boring. It's a really clever blend of the modern and the old-fashioned, in that she is writing these village whodunits basically, but she is contemporary. Like, as we say on Facebook.

No comments: