The reading week started out well, as I completed The Cipher Garden by Martin Edwards (review will follow), but went downhill from there. For various reasons I read another thriller, this one called Requiem by Jack Ross. It is an easy read and exciting enough, but flat, leaving me wondering what the point had been. It seemed to me as if the author was going for the Patterson ticket. But although I find Patterson’s currentish (haven’t read the past few) books shallow — written by computer market-research programme — the early Alex Cross novels were darn good of their kind. Patterson worked to build a readership. Now he is cashing in on that, throwing in a few other genres (historical, chick lit) for good measure. (For some good thrillers recommended by me, see yesterday’s Petrona post).
After that I read The Golden Section, Pernille Rygg’s follow-up to The Butterfly Effect. The sequel continues the theme of exposing the seamy underbelly as well as the alternative culture of Oslo, but has a sentimental "Disneyfied child" theme included. The book is also too long. For me, a disappointment compared with the author’s first novel.
So it is a pleasure to turn to a familiarly reliable author, Donna Leon, and her latest novel The Girl of his Dreams — wonderful, so far — readable, evocative, sad and infused with that sense of place for which this author is so renowned. I haven’t got very far into the book yet, but here are some delights (look away now, Norman):
"..he recalled an observation Paola had once made, after a train trip from Padova to Venice when they had sat opposite a long-gowned mullah, busy with his prayer beads for the entire trip. His robes had been whiter than any businessman’s shirt Brunetti had ever seen, and even Signorina Elettra would have envied the perfection of the pleats in his skirt.
As they walked down the steps of the station, the mullah moving gracefully off to his left, Paola said ‘If he didn’t have a woman to take care of his costume for him, he’d probably have to go out and work for a living.’ In response to Brunetti’s observation that she was displaying a certain lack of multicultural sensitivity, she replied that half the trouble and most of the violence in the world would be eliminated if men were forced to do their own ironing, ‘which word I use as a metonym for all housework, please understand’, she had hastened to add. "
"That day’s headline, giving further details about the recent capture of one of the chief leaders of the Mafia, looked up at the room, shouting for attention.
She stopped behind the sofa, two cups of coffee in her hands, and asked, ‘Reading about your triumph?’
Brunetti closed his eyes. ‘Indeed’, he answered, ‘a triumph’.
‘It’s enough to make a person give serious thought to emigration, isn’t it?’ she asked.
‘He’s been on the run for forty-three years, and they find him two kilometres from his home.’ He raised a hand and let it fall with a helpless slap on the open newspaper. ‘Forty-three years, and the politicians fall over themselves praising the police. A triumph.’ "
(PS Typepad spell check wanted to replace "Disneyfied" with "dignified".)