A little over two weeks ago I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
Right now, beside my bed, I have a splayed Ngaio Marsh. The Fontana paperback cover from 1977 shows an elderly man in white tie and tails slumped in the back of a car, a nasty wound on his head. I think he's dead. The book's called Death in a White Tie and was first published in 1938, so it's time travel as well. Back to pre-WW2 London. That alone is fascinating. The pages are quite brown now from age - and the style is showing its age as well. I loved Ngaio Marsh as a teenager. While she herself was a New Zealander, she set most of her books in Britain. Her series hero is Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn. I admit to having had a bit of a crush on him. And to Mrs. Marsh's credit, as the series progressed, so did Alleyn, eventually getting married (to Troy) and having at least one child.Visit Louise Penny's website and blog.
But while there's a definite charm to the book its power for me is pure nostalgia - still a formidable attraction. The writing is stilted and sort of silly. The victim - Lord Robert - is called Bunchy and is described as a 'pet'. Alleyn himself is more than a little annoying at times, calling his solid second in command nick names that are a little too precious. There is not much emotion, or real characterization. I haven't yet reached the death of Bunchy (beyond suspecting that's him on the cover) - but I think when he does 'go' there'll be a series of, 'poor old Bunchy,' murmured around his club and that'll be about it.
Still, it is harmless and fun and I don't lie in bed worrying what that thump might have been. I just finished another Ngaio Marsh, so I thought I'd try this one. Easy, light, distracting. Just right for a Quebec winter.
As I read that, I was also reading the latest GM Maillet. Her publisher sent it asking that, if I like it, I might agree to endorse it. Frankly, I get quite a few of those requests and since I'm a slow reader and feel overwhelmed by the demand I generally decline with thanks. Though I'm more likely to agree to a debut author since I remember how much I was helped with my first book.
But I'm such a fan of GM Maillet, who writes traditional mysteries. She's American, but she sets her books in the UK. So I was enthusiastic to read her latest, which is also the start of a new series. The book will come out later in 2011 and is called The Michaelmas Mystery, though that might change - you never know. Either way, it's a terrific book. Lots of fun - pithy, insightful and often hilarious descriptions of characters. I read it in just a few days, by the fire. Which for me is lightning speed. I happily wrote an endorsement.
Next on the pile? The Rule of St. Benedict, The Life of Thomas Merton, Monastic Life, and The Naked Now by Richard Rohr. I start writing my next book in March and its set in a fictional monastery in Quebec. So the research begins. I find it all fascinating.
Hope you're enjoying whatever book you're into! How magnificent to be enthralled by stories.
Coffee with a Canine: Louise Penny & Trudy.
The Page 69 Test: Still Life.
My Book, The Movie: A Fatal Grace.
The Page 99 Test: The Cruelest Month.
The Page 99 Test: A Rule Against Murder.
The Page 69 Test: The Brutal Telling.
My Book, The Movie: The Brutal Telling.