things get crazy, and scary, and it all goes up in flames, down at the clay pits with Ratboy.
hooked on this, but tired at this point. that’s ok - more for me tomorrow!
it’s a wonderful book - adept at making me feel vaguely unsettled about what’s to come. also...have I made an incorrect assumption about something that seemed very basic?
Harry introduces Harrington to Floyd, Ziggy, and courage, while Harrington mainly thinks about death.
okay, why am I flashing back to The Blackboard Jungle by Evan Hunter so much? was I more likely to do that, having Hunter novels on the brain since reading Buddwing only a few books ago? no of course not - it’s simpler than that; The Blackboard Jungle and this one, Different Class, are both “school” novels. boys and their teachers at school. sure, there are differences...but I’m surprised at a number of parallels, that have tied the two books together, in my mind.
both books feature a teacher who likes to play records for his students (or anyone who will listen to and appreciate them). that ended very badly for the teacher in The Blackboard Jungle, but it’s too early to tell what the fate of the phonograph records will be in the Joanne Harris novel...but at least in Different Class, the records are not the old “78s” from the 1950s that broke very easily.
certain cynical, jaded teachers in both books have taken to classifying other teachers by pejorative labels, that break them down into groups based mainly on personality or attitude towards their job. in both books, it says as much about the teacher coming up with these somewhat nasty labels, as it does about the teachers being labeled.
deep into The Blackboard Jungle, teacher Rick Dadier is accused by a student of using inappropriate and offensive language in class, and takes some official heat for it. a similar scenario has played out here, early, in Different Class, and in both cases the boy making the complaint seems to have a grudge against the teacher, and is twisting the truth to serve his attack on his instructor. in the Harris book, the boy, Harrington, is more of an enigma in terms of motive for causing trouble, whereas in The Blackboard Jungle it is perhaps silly of me to say “seems to have a grudge”; Artie West was definitely committed to wrecking Rick Dadier’s life in any way possible.
other than that, both schools don’t have the greatest reputation, though in Different Class it seems to be more of a recent fall from high standing at St. Oswald’s (hints at something pretty horrendous happening, the previous academic year!), whereas Hunter College in The Blackboard Jungle, was always - as I recall - a rough place to get an education.
anyway, these unexpected echoes of an earlier book I loved are fun! and, as far as Different Class goes, I’m very happy with it, so far.
reading 'The Wild Huntsman', which is more of a novella than a short story. the length of this tale is allowing me to become more involved in what is going on within the dynamic of old Honeck, the granddaughter Louise, and the young artist who has suddenly shown up and stayed with them - he also being the narrator. obviously, something creepy occasionally makes its presence known near Honeck's isolated abode...
my first dance with Joanne Harris, so I’m excited, and anxious, and curious, and all that sort of thing.
guess what. the first two chapters featured Maigret in court. this gives the novel quite a different feel than all the other entries in the series I’ve read so far. but Maigret on the witness stand, answering questions and describing vividly - for the jury and everyone else present (plus reader) - details of a double murder and ensuing investigation, has taken us through the early stages of another major crime...it’s just that we are going back into the past. usually we are on the ground, with Maigret, as things unfold and develop, as he moves about following leads, tracking suspects. here, much - maybe all - of that has already happened...and it seems the court scenes will be used to present the reader with all the details of the case, but also, Maigret seems doubtful about where things have ended up. what is he doubting...whether the man on trial is the killer? something else?
to be revealed!
when I read My Friend Maigret many months ago, I was convinced it was the only Simenon novel I had left to get to, when it comes to what got picked by H. R. F. Keating for his list (and book of essays) Crime & Mystery: The 100 Best Books. but when I pulled Keating’s old reading guide down to confirm that, I got a surprise: Maigret in Court is on the list too. whoah. The Stain on the Snow (not part of the Maigret series) taken care of ages ago, My Friend Maigret recently absorbed and enjoyed...but wow, I forgot about Maigret in Court. so, I’ll scratch it off the list now, just as a new English-language edition has arrived from Penguin Books.
I’m also a bit surprised that I have more than one or two books left on the Keating list to find and read; I was sure that I had only failed to read Mr. Splitfoot by Helen McCloy, and maybe one other straggler I assumed I had forgotten - but there are a few more titles left for me to conquer than that: Post Mortem by Guy Cullingford, The Long Shadow by Celia Fremlin, Appleby’s End by Michael Innes, Murder Against The Grain by Emma Lathen, and R.S.V.P. Murder by Mignon G. Eberhart.
oh well. so near and yet so far. one day...
for now, the outstanding Simenon. the last Maigret novel I read - The Cellars of the Majestic - was a particular favorite, and will be tough to top!
filmed as Mister Buddwing, with James Garner. this marks a return to one of my favorite writers, who also wrote as Ed McBain. overall, this tale of an amnesiac wandering New York in search of his identity is hard to put down, and Hunter’s style pulls me in and makes reading effortless and a joy. the story gets surreal every now and then - would it all really happen that way? - but I think that’s deliberate, the feeling of being in an occasionally illogical dream. I haven’t seen the film, but I imagine some scenes were changed or left out.
some large scheme is at work here, along with a very hard-to-determine motivation for all this scheming - not to mention the murders - that I’m obviously not supposed to have figured out yet...so I’m not bothered by my befuddlement, but the flip side is: the big picture better make sense and not be “trashy read” ridiculous when it’s finally revealed. Melissa’s choices, and maybe even some of Joe’s, seem just a teeny bit hard to swallow, in terms of how people might really behave or feel in certain extreme situations, so I hope that the crux of the Mystery that underpins the entire book doesn’t evoke a similar, but much larger, feeling - that it’s too crazy to be possible.
it’s riveting reading, no doubt, and I’m anxious for the explanation for all these bizarre twists, but I’m not sure yet that this matches the work of two other authors I discovered over the past few years, Will Carver and Stav Sherez, even though I’m reminded of their books.
Joe has second thoughts about risking his future for revenge, both he and Sam try to deal with Ruby's rebelliousness, and the unnamed one waits for a meet with those who are supposed to fulfill their part of the bargain.
Joe agrees to a date with the sister of a man he would like to strangle with his bare hands, so he can get info and be sure he’s targeting the right guy (he’s got a reason that dates from way back). he gets some bizarre info, and even more bizarrely, feels a spark with the woman, during the date; this whole plot angle caught me by surprise - the date, and Joe’s (admittedly early and low-key) feelings for Melissa - but it’s certainly a unique situation.
meanwhile: this novel has dual plot lines; Sam - a Detective Constable and Joe’s brother - struggles to link two murders that happened a month apart and are different in the details. but there is one little connection, and this has led to the dubious notion of a “domino killer”...a term rejected by Sam as not an accurate description of what the killer is up to...
then again, Sam, the book is actually called The Domino Killer. which says something, unless it’s being ironical.
entertaining, if bleak and somewhat seamy, Mystery novel, so far.
Chapter One: violent. Chapter Two: tantalizing. very early - but eager for what's next. I've taken the bait.