One of the numerous catalogues that arrive in the mail at this time of year was the Rosie Nieper T-shirt catalogue. Flicking through the pages made me wonder if all of civilisation’s accumulated wisdom has been encapsulated on T-shirt slogans. Here are some examples:
Out of my mind (back in 5 mins)
I’m not 40. I’m 18 with 22 years of experience
Make tea, not war
Dad. n. A man with pictures in his wallet where his money used to be
Let us remember that in this RICH and BEAUTIFUL world there are only 2 things worth living for — LOVE AND HAPPINESS*
*Oh, OK, and maybe CHOCOLATE
Forbidden fruit makes great jam
"Not a morning person" doesn’t even BEGIN to describe it
Hail to the mocha latte
Boys are strong. Bury them deep
I’m only wearing black until they make something darker
There are other,
more risque, ruder, options which I’m not writing here but are viewable at the Rosie Nieper site.
Can you come up with a slogan that sums up life more pithily than any of the above?
Isn’t this cup beautiful? I have been looking at it for ages, not daring to buy it because it seems so self-indulgent, as well as "not me".
But yesterday, I thought "so what?" and I bought it (and another very similar).
It is lovely drinking my tea or coffee from it and its companion.
Here is a link to the manufacturer’s website. (Maxwell and Williams, an Australian company.)
Another of those books I have read recently but not reviewed is Fire Sale by Sarah Paretsky. I am an admirer of Paretsky, so much so that she is one of my "top 10 detective authors" on my David-Montgomery-alternative list.
But Fire Sale is a stinker. First two chapters, good. After that, the book gets completely bogged down in a boring plot relying on things like V. I. being upset about a female colleague of her boyfriend’s staying at his place; V. I. being so much of a pushover that she takes over being coach of a girls’ basketball team even though she doesn’t want to; etc. The main plot depended on an unbelievable family-run company. I just could not remain interested in the book at all — which seemed interminably long — and skimmed the last half.
I think this is a great pity, as Paretsky’s last V. I. book, Blacklist, was both gripping and moving.
If you would like a rather different assessment of Paretsky and Fire Sale, please see this post at The Rap Sheet.
Before I read Case Histories, I read a little run of crime fiction which I hadn’t reviewed here for various reasons. I’ll mention two of these books now: The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett; and Bones by Jan Burke, which share a common decomposing theme.
Jan Burke writes a series featuring journalist Irene Kelly, and comes recommended by the peerless Sarah Weinman. Being me, I read the first in the series, Goodnight Irene, and did not think much of it. Sarah commented that the later books in the series are better, so I read Bones. She’s right, it is a lot better: Irene has ‘grown up’, and the book is far less romantic girly thriller genre and more straight Reichs/Cornwell territory. What was the problem? The plot. The first half was a tight and tense account of Irene and various police and forestry specialists searching a remote mountainous region for some old murder victims, accompanied by said murderer. Inevitably, the murderer escapes, hunts Irene, etc. The second half, however, drags; everyone kind of sits around waiting for something to happen, which in the last few pages, it does — predictable and perfunctory. There are plenty of descriptions of bones, the villain’s creepy obsessions, and hints at evil acts, but nothing that made me too queasy ( I did skip a few of these passages). I found the "twist" (if you can call it that) — the identity of "Moth" — rather obvious. Sarah says that Burke’s latest, Bloodlines, is her best, so I may give her a "third strike and you’re out" go when the book is available in paperback over here.
The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett is a debut novel that received excellent reviews when it was published in March; because it was very cheap on Amazon I bought a copy. Having now read the book, eight months later, I can confirm that it is well-written. Although it is of the Cornwell/Reichs-with-a-dash-of Thomas Harris genre, it isn’t too gruesome for me (i.e. it does not lovingly dwell on the gory bits). The passages I liked the best were the descriptions of various ways in which the exact time of death could be pinpointed. The parts I liked least were the cliched "hero with tragic past" aspects. The girlfriend character, necessary for the plot, is unconvincing — and of course ends up in a very predictable situation. The other problem with the book is that the villain has to be one of two people as there are no other suspects. I guessed wrong because I went for the least obvious. But I think the book is pretty assured taken as a whole, and I believe this author will get even better with future books.