speaking of deja vu's Dept. (didn't I just go through this with The Gates of Evangeline!?...marvellous, MARVELLOUS book, by the way, The Gates of Evangeline!):
here is the actual cover of my copy of the Durbridge book I am reading, and blah blah blah again, I'm using the ISBN to pinpoint the edition I own, but when I do that, some other cover makes its presence known. but I like all those diamonds more, so now you get to see them too.
this is the book I will be fitting in just before fulfilling my Buddy Read commitment--A Dance of Blades--on Saturday. any little gaps caused by finishing this one early can easily be filled by graphic novels...but truthfully, I think I've got things timed pretty good.
I'm anxious to read something picked from the choices presented by Martin Edwards' The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books...and this is elected. apparently, it features a 'Great Detective'...which catches me a bit off guard, because I had never heard of this Paul Temple fellow until, like, basically now! oh, he's Great, is he?? careful...that's Hercule Poirot/Holmesian-level talk, so I'm expecting, at the very least, to be dazzled by the gumshoe, if not the Mystery itself (actually, I'll take a brilliant whodunit solved by a slightly-above-average detective, over the reverse, any day of the week, if I'm to be honest; what can I say...I'm a Plot man; the Plot rules).
the truth is: I know already this book will be amazing. why? the track record, and deja vu quality, of how I had to get it. this was the same as Black Water Lilies--I had to travel a distance to the same mall. back up a bit: a while ago, I looked this book up (among others) on the public-use computer at the closest gigantosaur bookstore....just like Black Water Lilies. the chain of bookstores in question only had copies at a different store, north and east somewhat...same store as Black Water Lilies. Black Water Lliles is the best book I've read all year...so since I followed the same trail, that must be the magic bookstore at the magic mall! full of hard-to-find goodies! no regrets this time about making the trip, because of the final result last time (and no...why get it transfered from store to store; you're talking to a chronic store browser, here!).
bonuses: it was not raining this time. no rain means I didn't duck into the mall and get lost in it (very twisty, very serpentine, crowded) this time. I went across the front of the mall's exterior, in nice sun, and entered the bookstore from the easy entrance off the parking lot (albeit at the end of the mall farthest from the subway stop; can't fix that, alas...), this time. and I didn't even crash into a mall door that I thought was a sliding door, this time! and picked a better exit from the parking lot rather than trying to be too cute (parking lot is twisty, serpentine, crowded, dangerous--this is really not an easy mall to deal with, survive...). but since I basically did all this before to capture Black Water Lilies, and it was amazing, I know how Great the experience will end up. right? am I right or am I right? I don't think Mister Spock could fault the logic...
I will probably--I repeat, probably--read this just before tackling my next novel of choice. been a while since my last bit of comix, and I'm feelin' the pain, just slightly.
Charlie's friend Rae comes to visit with her in Chicory for a bit, and then they do make it to New Orleans for some fun. when Rae persuades Charlie to stop in and see a psychic, I was curious how the author would handle that scene, since it has been established that Charlie experiences a strong form of psychic power now and then...so the book already has established that as legitimate part of the story, but what about the psychic? now I have my answer. later, Charlie has one of her most disturbing but informative visions yet; on to Part 3!
oh, my, yes! perfect book for me at this time--Southern Gothic, some actual supernatural elements (Charlie has visions and dreams, seemingly either prophetic, or illuminating as regards events long past...and most seem to relate to wronged or ill-fated children; Charlie herself has lost a son), and a big old estate, Evangeline, sitting deep in the Louisiana swamps. lots of great characters (suspects, in terms of a child who disappeared from the place three decades earlier), and terrific pace to go with the sinister air that never goes away. there's also a Romance under way for Charlie, but even though she has finally come out of her most severe mourning period and gone off to be a sleuth, the start of a sudden love-connection has been awkward and wobbly at best. I like the little touches, like Charlie's African-American friend Rae being a bit put off by Charlie taking up residence at a former plantation loaded up with slaves, but Charlie copes as best she can, after swapping Connecticut for a place steeped in antebellum atmosphere, and temporarily trading in the company of old friends for a family with ancestors who made money on the backs of the unfree.
the whole thing is a breath of fresh air--such a great locale for nuthin-but-eerie--and I knew going in that this was a Mystery, but with some creepy Horror touches. Charlie could fit right in at The Overlook Hotel, of Shining fame; she's no slouch when it comes to nightmarishly informative visions!
just a taste, so far--but a swampy, cold-case Murder tale that may have ghosts lurking is exactly what I want now, and the tragic side of the early pages has got me hooked already.
I decided to go a bit farther with this. Chapter 3's subject matter is 'The Great Detectives', many of them created in the 1920s. I read three of the accompanying essays, which expand on the topic introduced in the previous chapter...so basically what we have here are essays on some fairly well-known books, overall. note: there are six more essays discussing individual books that give us "Great Detectives", but I'll leave them for later. interestingly, I have not heard of two of those six books--and so presumably I am completely unaware of the existence of two Great Detectives, which makes me wonder how Great they are, but Martin Edwards will get the chance to make a case for lesser-known Greatness.
of the three books I have just read about, courtesy of Edwards' assessments, I have actually sampled only one: The Mysterious Affair At Styles, which I very much enjoyed, long ago. I remember very clearly the crux of the solution...and how lousy it must be to die from strychnine poisoning! meanwhile, I have read other Peter Wimsey books, and been very happy with them. but I have not read his debut (NOTE/EDIT: I have made an error calling the book Wimsey's debut--see Comments section below! my bad!!), Clouds Of Witness; I must get to it. similar situation with the Anthony Gethryn series, by Philip MacDonald: I have not got to The Rasp, but I loved The Polferry Riddle. one of my favorite solutions to a Mystery (a rather creepy Mystery), that can be considered a bit "way out there" (call it tragic deaths, all from a horrible misunderstanding--a bit heart-wrenching, when finally revealed, actually). anyway, when I go into work and see the rasp beside all the other tools, I'm reminded I should, well, read The Rasp. you, however, should keep an eye out for The Polferry Riddle!
some tidbits of knowledge Martin Edwards passed along, or reminded me of: Agatha Christie had worked in a pharmacy, which helped her sort out using strychnine in her book; both Dorothy L. Sayers' and Philip MacDonald's Great Detective characters had both done Intelligence work against the Germans (spies, spiesspiesspiesspies!), so, new love and respect for Wimsey and Gethryn respectively. meanwhile, the taboo of injecting a love-interest into any series where the whodunit factor should quash such distractions became an outmoded, trampled taboo when authors gave in and started lovey-doveying things up even when they had pooh-poohed the idea earlier (here's looking at you, Sayers).
This! is actually the cover of the copy of Gates Of Evangeline that I own. the book entry I have attached myself to at Booklikes has the same ISBN number as my book, but alas, has a diffo covero (sorry...I'm coming off Clubland, where slang is a bit of a thingio). and I thought I would show lovers of beauty the cover I actually get to enjoy, as I read this book.
the slang was a bit of a struggle, at first--Liverpool street-speak?--but like working one's way deeper into A Clockwork Orange, code starts to make sense as it just keeps coming. a bigger challenge is perhaps keeping track of who is narrating each section, as the narrator changes every 2 pages or so, and sometimes a lot quicker than that. for instance, when Jade and Moby meet for the first time and try and get a sense of whether they can work together, over maybe 5 or 6 pages, the viewpoint and inner thoughts presented alternates between them. which is really interesting in its own way, because by moving swiftly from brain to brain, the reader can delight in how either Jade or Moby's internal reactions to each other differ from the crap they sometimes verbally fling back and forth. that kind of narrator-jump-cutting is an extreme--but even when the shifts happen every 2 pages or so, I have to make sure I note the name in bold print, at the top of each change in storyteller.
overall, it has grown on me very quickly! I'm charmed by this very different feel, effected simply by having maybe 6 narrators tossing the baton back and forth at a frantic pace. as far as story content goes, this book does remind me a bit of another from not long ago: The Long Firm, by Jake Arnott. it also reminds me of the Gangster film The Long Good Friday. no brutal violence yet, although the book starts with various takes on some recent executions that have paved the way for a bit of a power-shift as far as some expanding territory for drugs and prostitution goes--including politicians and lawyers in the thick of it, trying to lighten the applicable laws in the "leisure" districts. it does feel like there will be some nasty violence ahead, that's for sure. and a heads-up...the language used by some of the narrators is what we can safely label Filthy. Jade and Ged are my favorite characters so far, Moby is a creep, Margo may not go quietly, and Cormack seems too civilized to wield more than a metaphorical hatchet, while not expecting a real one in the back.
this is generally what I wanted right now, for one book's worth, and I'm glad it has such a unique feel in the specifics. nasty, though.
if I had started this on the morning of one of my days off, I would have no problem with getting it all done before sleepy-time. as it stands, I'll wrap it up tomorrow and then head for Clubland (probably).
I must say, I'm really enjoying dipping into this series now and then. certainly there was a bit of a longish wait for our (first?) murder, this go-around, but now that someone is actually dead, I'm thinking that was one of my favorite 'discovery of the corpse " scenes I've encountered. not only is the victim the person I would most have suspected of being the murderer were this person to be still alive on page 96, but I love how ever-curious Mordecai, who just couldn't resist taking one little "peek" (it had been gnawing at him since the day before), went up the ladder for a bit of fun, and to take his peek, and...there's a dead person, while the individual with the closest link to the deceased shows up simultaneously, wondering where so-and-so is, since so-and-so seems to have gone missing/"gee, I hope nothing terrible has happened, you haven't seen [him or her], have you, Mr. Tremaine...?".
uhhhhhmmmmm, yes. yes, I have...
as I was reading Harbor, I thought about my next Mystery read maybe also having a maritime, even oceanic, theme to it. the power of the sea, and all that, transferred from Horror to a whodunit. I thought about a few books I have ready: A Watery Grave; Inspector French and the Sea Mystery. the phrase "watery grave" even turned up in Harbor, like an omen.
well, I ignored it. I decided going to a book with either the word "sea", or the words "watery grave" was a bit too obvious--and I settled for Behold A Fair Woman, which hinted at a "killer stalking the sand dunes", and had a cove complete with windmill on the gorgeous cover. I thought to myself: "well, if it starts on a beach, but moves to a big city after 10 pages, you had your shot to pick something more obviously watery, and declined. so let's see how we do...".
so far...VERY maritimish! we do have a windmill--possibly haunted--and a lighthouse too! turning out to be the perfect follow-up to Harbor, if I wanted a similar vibe, but with better weather and a lovelier climate. I'm on the island of Moulin d'Or. there's a jetty, St. Julian's Harbour, tourists, and instead of a hostel, like in Harbor, there's a full-scale hotel--big and ugly, and peopled with catty, enigmatic passive-aggressive types who definitely have a weird history. Mordecai's vacation is clearly going to end soon, when the first body drops (detectives are very good at taking vacations where evil people are planning mayhem, aren't they?). anyway, it's got the verve I now expect from this fairly fast-paced author--not the most colorful stylist in the world, but not constructing a book out of dry wood and stale vanilla hardened with sawdust; in fact, some of the turns of phrase are frightfully melodramatic. but, I like it. this is exactly what I wanted for more harborside shenanigans after, uh, Harbor. and David Niven is Mordecai Tremaine, in my mind.
time for another Mordecai Tremaine Mystery! actually, I'm bloomin' lucky to own this one, as opposed to the other three I bought. a trio of books from this series were in the Mystery section of the bookstore, and their lovely covers and tempting back-cover synopses got me to spend. days later, a browse of the General Fiction section at that same store brought my eye to the spine of Behold A Fair Woman by pure chance--thank goodness for similar spine-design, leading to a quick peek at a now-familiar author name...and I even tracked the one that was filed completely out of place! nice try, series-splitter-uppers.
they don't seem to have his Yuletide title, though--Murder For Christmas. maybe in the Spiritual section...?