?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

There is flair, there.

Some things, I won't get. Texting (predictive text? I want my spelling mistakes to be my own). The idea that I'd have enough skills to be, and enjoy being, a Live-Action Role-Player. Curling. The band Blue October. Eating animals that are still alive.

For a long while, that list of Things I Don't Get included mysteries. I tried reading them; they didn't grab me. I gravitated to what did (science fiction, some fantasy, entertainment industry stuff like The Late Shift by Bill Carter). More recently I've dabbled -- here's why I tried (and wound up liking) Nora Roberts's first J.D. Robb mystery, and I've read and enjoyed my first Agatha Christie -- and then earlier this year I decided to try Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone books. Pulling from my parents' collection and beginning at the beginning with "A" is for Alibi. Because, hey, if I like them, there were plenty more where that came from.

That I finished "E" is for Evidence this week is thus a good sign.

As a lot of you know since you've read it, "E" is for Evidence ups the stakes in P.I. Kinsey Millhone's life in a way that hadn't happened in the series before. To be as non-spoilery as I can, she copes with the uncertain and, it turns out, dangerous circumstances in close to her usual manner. And I like that manner: rather deadpan, quietly looking out for herself when she suspects (rightly) that others are out to get her, being funny but not trying too hard to be funny, aware of her personal ups and downs and working to head off the downs at the pass, shall we say. And the series continues its deftly-handled touching on the events of the previous books. Millhone still has injuries and psychological fallout from what she mentioned on Page 1 of the first book.

By the way, here's one way mysteries are good for me: they're strong reminders that we have laws for a reason, and that there's the chance that seriously breaking one law might lead to plenty more breaking of laws, in more dangerous ways. OK, I won't do dangerous stuff! Though I'm sure you'd be surprised if I were doing dangerous stuff, especially the kind of dangerous stuff Kinsey Millhone investigates. ANYWAY.

Mysteries can still be relatively simple "plot engines," as I called them: crime happens, someone investigates, the crime-committers deal badly with this and cause escalating badness to happen, the crime gets solved before things run totally out of control. (A mystery ESPECIALLY should not end with "Rocks fall, everyone dies!") That can be a big part of making these page-turners work, though now I wonder if I could keep up with a more complicated mystery story. (If you have any suggestions, I'll take them.) I do understand that you want your protagonist to have flair, and quirks, and the stories to have surprising details. This series pulls that off. I had the feeling I'd likely like the series all the way back two years ago, when my parents mentioned Millhone's crossword-writing landlord, for instance.

Again, it's an especially trying story for her, this time. I almost want to dive straight into "F" is for Fugitive, to more quickly see how Millhone deals with this novel's fallout, but earlier this year I vowed to pace myself, Grafton-wise. Different stuff deserves to be read. (And for a time this week I was trying to read both "E" and Stephen King's Cujo, and my oft-tired mind tried combining the two so I concentrated on just the Grafton. Back to King now.) And as events get trying, Grafton gets a touch more eloquent. I especially appreciated this little description:
Being with him had brought back the pain in fossil form, evidence of ancient emotional life, embedded now in rock. I studied the sensations as I would some extinct subspecies, for the curiosity, if nothing more.

Tags:

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
coyotegoth
Oct. 23rd, 2010 05:16 am (UTC)
"C is for Cujo"?
chris_walsh
Oct. 23rd, 2010 05:23 am (UTC)
Heh. I kind of wish. It was more a mingling of characters for about a day there, making me go "Oh. Let's focus on one and get it completed before I wind up REALLY confusing myself."
coyotegoth
Oct. 23rd, 2010 05:17 am (UTC)
Actually, I very much like Larry Block's Matthew Scudder novels, although those are more character-driven. (Random: did you know that Hunter S. Thompson knew Sue Grafton in high school?)
theloriest
Oct. 23rd, 2010 11:07 am (UTC)
Ok, you've convinced me to add the first Grafton book to my kindle. I'll read it and see what I think.
docbrite
Oct. 24th, 2010 01:16 am (UTC)
I definitely recommend pacing yourself on Grafton. I like her, but IMO she has a bad habit of dropping in big repetitive chunks of Kinsey's background, personal habits, etc. from book to book. It's hard to avoid a certain amount of this when you write about recurring characters, but that's one of the challenges. Don't copypaste!

Nora Roberts is a smart cookie. I haven't read her fiction, but I might give the J.D. Robb book a shot.

Now picturing Donna and Tad Trenton trapped in a Pinto by a rabid St. Bernard with Kinsey Millhone rushing to save them.
chris_walsh
Oct. 24th, 2010 01:27 am (UTC)
Now picturing Donna and Tad Trenton trapped in a Pinto by a rabid St. Bernard with Kinsey Millhone rushing to save them.

Have I told you lately I really like the way you think?

It's hard to avoid a certain amount of this when you write about recurring characters, but that's one of the challenges. Don't copypaste!

Noted. Haven't run into that too badly yet, but it's early. (I'm now remembering how deftly J.K. Rowling recapped without info-dumping.)

Nora Roberts is a smart cookie. I haven't read her fiction, but I might give the J.D. Robb book a shot.

That same Roberts-related event that I mentioned got my former girlfriend Alicia to read a couple of those books, and she liked them. (Alicia also gave me the spur to read Grafton: I was running errands with her, we went to a library, she got an omnibus with the first three Millhone books, I read her the first page while we walked away from the library, and I got intrigued.) P.S. Alicia likes your stuff, too: was pretty impressed with the first one she read, which was Exquisite Corpse. And she's not usually a horror reader. I got her into the Liquor books, too, which are more her speed.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

Profile

Whale fluke
chris_walsh
Chris Walsh

Latest Month

December 2022
S M T W T F S
    123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Comments

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Lilia Ahner