Sunday, October 15, 2017

Lazy Sunday Service

Hurricane Orphelia should be a tropical storm by the time it hits Ireland in the early hours of Monday. It's predicted to be the biggest storm in 50 years with winds gusting 90-130 km an hour. Hopefully our nearly complete house and garage will survive. Fingers crossed the storm loses energy very quickly and veers west into the Atlantic.

My posts this week:
Review of Moth by James Sallis
Pharmakon

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Pharmakon

Grogan opened the front door. ‘It’s yourself.’

‘I thought you’d appreciate a personal visit. You don’t look so well.’

‘No thanks to you.’

‘You seem to think I’m the poison, Grogan, but I’m the remedy.’ Phelan held up a bag containing an off-white powder.

‘Ha! A pharmakon.’

‘Pharmakon?’

‘It’s Greek. It means poison and remedy. Both you and the H.’

‘Nobody made you take drugs, professor.’

‘Nobody tried to stop me either.’

Phelan shrugged. ‘You’re an adult, and I’m a businessman. Now, you want a fix, I want my money.’

‘I’m broke.’

‘Then you need remedy that situation. And mine.’



A drabble is a story of 100 words.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Review of Moth by James Sallis (1993, No Exit Press)

Lew Griffin has lived a meandering life of unfulfilled relationships, sorrow and regrets. After years of working as a private detective, scouring the underbelly of New Orleans, he has become a novelist and university professor, transforming his past into fiction. Shortly after the death of one of his past loves her current partner asks Griffin to locate her missing daughter.  She has dropped out of school and seemingly gone on a drugs-filled bender. Griffin agrees to try and track her down, returning to his old crafts and haunts, and occasional violence he thought he’d left behind. The trail takes him out of the city and to memories of his parents and his own long-lost son.

Moth is the second book in the Lew Griffin series set in New Orleans. In this outing Griffin comes out of retirement as a private detective to track down the missing daughter of an old flame who has recently died. His journey threads him through the underbelly of the city and out into rural Louisiana. There are three real strengths to Moth. The first is the central character of Griffin, who is cloaked in a world weariness, worn down by years of operating as a PI and dealing with oppressors and victims, everyday racism, successive failed relationships sabotaged by his own unwillingness to commit, and his inability to find his missing son, yet remains compassionate and resolute. The second is philosophical observations and asides about human nature and society, as well as some nice intertextuality concerning the authorship and narrative form. The third is the prose and voice; Sallis also writes poetry and it tells in the lyrical nature of his writing.  The plot is engaging enough, tracking Griffin’s progress in locating the wayward daughter, with a second thread added near the end, though the resolution of both are rather flat. However, Moth is really a tale about Griffin himself rather than telling the story of a compelling mystery. And that focus worked fine for me as he’s an interesting character to spend time with, as is Sallis’ prose and reflections on life and society.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Lazy Sunday Service

I'm finally getting round to reading the final installment of Charlie Huston's 'Hank Thompson' trilogy, A Dangerous Man. It's hardly cheery stuff, but it's rattling along.

My posts this week

The time I wrestled with a tiger
Review of Whisky in Small Glasses by Denzil Meyrich
September reads

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The time I wrestled with a tiger

Tom paused and stared at the fire.  He’d told the story so many times he was no longer sure as to what was truth or embellishment. Perhaps his memory had become so corrupted that it was all just a mutant narrative. Maybe it wasn’t a memory at all, but simply a story about himself; an expression of who he wanted to be.

‘Granddad? What happened next?’

‘I don’t know, son. I’m not sure if any of it happened.’

‘But you have the scar!  There on your hand.’

Tom rang a finger along the pale line.

‘The tiger leapt forward. Roar!’


 


A drabble is a story of exactly 100 words.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Review of Whisky in Small Glasses by Denzil Meyrich (Polygon, 2012)

The body of a young woman is washed up on a Scottish beach in the West of Scotland. Detective Inspector Jim Daley is sent from Glasgow to the remote, close-knit town of Kinloch to investigate. There he discovers that the woman was infamous for performing sexual favours for drink and drugs and that her friend and a local club owner have disappeared. Daley and his team start a search while also hunting for other clues, though their task is not aided by the lukewarm reception of the local sub-divisional commander. Also acting as a distraction is the presence of Daley’s wife. She has followed him to the seaside town with her brother-in-law in tow hoping to try and patch things up despite her infidelity and Daley's hair-trigger temper. When the body count rises further pressure is applied by Daley’s ambitious boss. Soon there is much more at stake than Daley’s job and his rocky marriage.

Whisky in Small Glasses is the first in the DCI Daley series set in the West of Scotland. Daley is for the most part calm, collected and reasonable but he also has anger management issues that flair up when stressed. Given the state of his marriage, the pressure from his boss, and a difficult case, he’s never far from snapping. His sidekick is DS Brian Scott, a no-nonsense cop who’s reached his career ceiling. Together they make an interesting pair. Where the story suffers though is with respect to the plotting and telling. Meyrich uses a succession of plot devices to keep the story moving forward, some of which are seem barely credible, such as the backstory and unfolding drama involving the local chief cop, and Daley’s wife following him to the murder location. Moreover, the identity of the killer is strongly telegraphed from about halfway through in what is meant to be a whodunit. This is not helped by the lifeless, workmanlike prose. The result is a fairly weakly told police procedural anchored by a couple of intriguing lead characters.

Monday, October 2, 2017

September reads

September proved to be quite possibly the slowest reading month of the last eight years of the blog. I managed one book a week. At least they were good reads! My book of the month was Eva Dolan's After You Die.

Prussian Blue by Philip Kerr ****
After You Die by Eva Dolan *****
Love Story, With Murders by Harry Bingham ****.5
Hanns and Rudolf by Thomas Harding ***.5