Month: June 2012

  • A mystery writer I forgot about, but I can recommend.

    Catherine Aird, who writes the Inspector C. D. Sloan books, set in England.  She doesn't do the puzzle as well as, or to the extent of, classic mystery writers, but I still had a good time figuring out some aspects of the solution.  The one I finished was "Losing Ground," and what I think is rather cool is it is simply a mystery...not a murder mystery.  I enjoy a lack of bodies occasionally.  And there is no bad language in Aird's books, either, which is always appreciated.  Not to mention, they're written in third person, not that tiresome first person!

    Thinking about it, dollars to donuts it's the prevalence of first-person which has led to more and more mysteries being walk-alongs instead of puzzles.  Yes, Rex Stout managed the feat, but then the first-person voice was Archie Goodwin, assistant to Nero Wolfe, who solved the puzzle.  And Christie's Captain Hastings was helper to Hercule Poirot.  When the actual detective is the first-person voice, how the deuce is the reader supposed to notice clues the detective must have missed and put them together?

    Oh, and the book I checked out from the library today is "Evanly Choirs" by Rhys Bowen, a Constable Evan Evans mystery, set in North Wales.  Also third person, and also with no foul language.

    You know what is odd, though?  Rhys Bowen writes two other series, but I've never been able to get into them.  For one thing, one of 'em at least is first-person, which I generally avoid.  It likely wouldn't make much difference, as roughly half the time I don't care for more than one series by an author.  I like the Hamish MacBeth books by M. C. Beaton, but cannot stand that awful Agatha Raisin.  I will read the Laura Childs' scrapbooking mysteries (although the language leaves a good bit to be desired, and they are definitely walk-alongs), but not her Tea Shop books.  Used to read the Alpine series by Mary Daheim (though it's first person), yet didn't care for the same author's bed-and-breakfast series.

  • An open letter to the buyers of large-size women's apparel...

    (I've always insisted I'd never do the "open letter" thing, but have obviously changed my mind.)

    What is up with my going to the department featuring plus-sized clothing to be met with surprisingly few items in my size, due to the ridiculously high number of 18W's and 1X's?

    Let me clue you in to something:  a size 18 can be found in the regular size departments.  Women who can fit into clothes in the regular size departments, do so.  They don't shop in the large-size department unless it's necessary.

    Multiple times today I found a blouse or dress that I thought I might like, only to discover that of the six or so available, every single solitary one of 'em was a 1X or 18W!  Anything larger was hard to find.

    This is backwards, y'all.  Stock up on the larger sizes, and only purchase a minimal number of the 1X's and 18W's.  

    Both your customer base and your profits will thank you for it.

  • What happened to the mystery genre?

    It has come to my attention that most so-called "mysteries" are not truly worthy of the name, as the author hasn't even made an attempt to scatter clues throughout the book, so that the reader could deduce the identity of the killer if only the puzzle pieces were assembled properly.

    You know, like Agatha Christie was skilled at doing, allowing one to experience the bittersweet feeling of "DANG!  I should have SEEN that!" when Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple revealed the solution.

    Rex Stout was good at creating puzzles.  Emma Lathen, especially in her (actually, "their," as that was the name used by a writing duo) earlier works, was pretty good.

    A few days ago I finished a Laura Childs' book, "Skeleton Letters," and it struck me that I wasn't intended to decipher clues and guess whodunnit.  The reader simply discovers the identity of the villain when the main character does so.  Mulling it over, it dawned on me that most "mysteries" nowadays are essentially suspense novels, not actual mysteries.  

    Does anyone know of a current author who takes the trouble to create a puzzle for the reader to unravel?  confused