The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

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December 21, 2010

Mindless Murder

Because of everything else that goes in the week or two before Christmas, the only reading I’ve been able to get to was the mindless kind. Sometimes I think mindless reading is like shabby old clothes … hopefully, you’re usually more put together, but sometimes you just need stuff to lounge around in. I read Envious Casca, one of the nine or ten mysteries written by Georgette Heyer (I was going to read it this summer, as part of the Celebration, but when I saw it was set at Christmastime I decided to save it for now). I wish I could say that I enjoyed it more…the writing was clever and witty, the twist in the story was well done, the scenario (house party at Christmas, uncongenial company, murder in a locked room) was vintage, but the unfolding was so so very slow.

Then, a fond farewell to Robert B. Parker (or so I thought*). My brother introduced to me the Spenser novels 20 years ago, and I think I’ve read (or listened to) all of them. Parker was credited with bringing a wider range of characters (ethnicities, sexual orientations) into crime fiction. The writing is never great, and the plots follow a formula (Spenser gets dressed. He cooks something. He ogles women. He spends quality time with Susan, the girl of his dreams, and Pearl, the wonder dog. He works out. He says many witty things. He spends quality time with his friends, who are all contract killers. He shoots someone. He saves someone. ) But I like the Boston settings, and for me, reading these books is a little like going to McDonalds. It’s not good, it’s not good for you, but you always know what it’s going to be like, and secretly, as long as you don’t go there too often, you kind of look forward to it when you do. So it was a little bittersweet to read (actually, listen to) Painted Ladies. The plot revolves around the theft and attempted ransoming of a painting belonging to a family lost in the Holocaust, and as my brother said, Mr. Parker went out with a bang. {*Then we read that one more Spenser novel, Sixkill, will be published next year.}

Louise Penny’s second Three Pines mystery is also set at Christmas, so that’s going into my luggage. That’s enough murder for a while … I’m inspired to read a Barbara Pym (with which I would also like some snow and endless cups of tea) and an Angela Thirkell (I’ve happily found a few of her books in audiobook form, so she’ll be with me in the car too). My reading time will still be in short doses this week and next, and I’m looking forward to some comfort reading before I start fresh and with more seriousness (sometimes) come January 1. 

Thank you for visiting these pages in my blog’s first year…I appreciate it, and I hope you enjoy a wonderful holiday season and a very happy new year.

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Danielle said...

This isn't a good week to concentrate on books, is it?! I think I need to revamp my reading pile for the new year. Have a really great holiday! Merry Christmas!

Vintage Reading said...

Merry Christmas - love the Emma quote at the top of your blog!

lyn said...

Hope you had a lovely Christmas & read some of your planned books. Looking forward to reading the blog in the New Year.

Thank you for visiting!

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