Archived from LivejournalWhat I've Finished Reading
Could I possibly have enjoyed The Man in the Brown Suit
more? Maybe we could all have done with a little less colonial condescension along the African tourist route, but that's in character for Anne “the Adventuress” Beddingfeld, whom I suspect has more than a few things in common with Agatha Christie. This book includes a brief but lively description of surfing, and this glimpse into Anne's internal monologue:
"This is South Africa," I kept saying to myself industriously. "South Africa, South Africa. You are seeing the world. This is the world. You are seeing it. Think of it, Anne Beddingfeld, you pudding-head. You're seeing the world."
There are actually two narrators: Anne, who is a delight, and the unreliable memoirst Sir Eustace Pedlars, whose diary fills in some helpful details along the way. TMitBS is a rom-com nearly as much as a mystery-adventure – of the Hollywood Comedy Atavism type, wherein the plucky career girl wants nothing more than to be slung over the shoulder of The Right Man and dumped on the floor of a rustic cabin while he paces around going, “Don't tempt me, Anne!” (one of many actual lines spoken in this book). There's enough dubious philosophy about men and women to fill a small but very dubious book. Some readers will probably find this annoying. I found it funny. Christie and I are just going to have to agree to disagree about whether or not strangling is attractive.
Technically, this is another story in which all labor unrest is the work of criminal masterminds, but the writing is so much more assured than in The Secret Adversary
(the refreshingly strangulation-free adorableness of Tommy and Tuppence notwithstanding) that I just went with it. Great fun all around.What I'm Reading Now
“That's queer,” I ejaculated suddenly beneath my breath.Poirot Investigates
is a collection of eleven short stories in which. . . Poirot investigates. The first, “The Adventure of the Western Star,” is a cleverish diamond-heist plot with surprise ethnic slurs and a a twist that is either racist or a depiction of the casual racism of its characters, take your pick.
In “The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor,” Poirot solves a case of suspicious death using a combination of word-association and fake ghosts. “The Case of the Cheap Flat” is mostly a joke about how you can't get a cheap flat in London. I enjoyed “The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge,” wherein Hastings has to be the detective because Poirot has the flu! Of course he makes a botch of it, despite being guided by delightful Poirot telegrams:
Of course black-bearded man was not Havering only you or Japp would have such an idea wire me description of housekeeper and what clothes she wore this morning same of Mrs. Havering do not waste time taking photographs of interiors they are underexposed and not in the least artistic.
Still in the middle of A Conspiracy of Paper
, whose first-person narrator is still getting in the way a little.
I don't think there's anything wrong with him particularly, but it's harder to sell the kind of atmosphere Liss is selling (an atmosphere of generous historical infodumping) when a supposedly contemporary narrator keeps taking it upon himself to explain his own cultural assumptions at length to his audience. A good old-fashioned third person omniscient might have gone over better. Partly I'm having trouble keeping the story straight, which is undermining any suspense that may have been intended. But I'm still reading it, so it can't be too bad, right? I don't think it's bad. We'll see what happens by the end. What I Plan to Read Next
I've got another round of Agatha Christie waiting for me, starting with The Secret of Chimneys
, but I might read Maisie Dobbs
first. It's a contemporary historical mystery about an ex-WWI nurse who opens a detective agency in 1929, and the front-cover blurb enjoins me to "Be prepared to be astonished." New York Times Book Review, I am always
prepared to be astonished.