2016: Re-Re-Reading Rut! (or, books 12-15)

Oh, my lord I do not know what has happened to me, but I am in such a reading rut. I’ve got a few non-fiction books going, and I’ve read a few odd things, but for some reason in the past few days, all I have done is re-read books I have easily read at least twice before (at a minimum twice before, some I am sure it more than that). Because they are all re-re-reads, I haven’t been keeping terribly good track of them, but I do know that in the last week I have read:

12. Night Shift, Stephen King

I was probably 13 when I first read this short-story collection (I started my Stephen King reading in the Masconomet Junior High Library), and have re-read it a number of times since then. It absolutely holds up - King is so tight and restrained in the short story genre, and these are early short stories, so there is almost no bloat.  Not as scary as Skeleton Crew (in my opinion, “The Jaunt” is one of the creepiest stories in history), but you have two ‘Salem’s Lot stories, and “The Mangler” and “The Children of the Corn” and the one where the trucks take over. And the one where the bad beer turns the dad to sludge.  All totally entertaining.  And still spooky even after all these years. 

On another note, it has recently come to my attention that ‘Salem’s Lot is much closer to Bath, Me., than I had originally thought (I was thinking it was near Bangor, not Falmouth).  Say safe, sis!!

13. The Road to Yesterday, L.M. Montgomery

This is a weird little short story collection where all the stories mention the Blythes in passing, but none are actually about Anne and her brood. There is another version called The Blythes Are Quoted, which has some interstials about the family, but they are mostly super depressing about how Walter’s death has devastated Anne (I mean, duh, it devastated us all. Walter’s death is my version of Beth’s death or Old Yeller, and basically was a formative experience in my life). Or they are crummy poems. So that version is weirder. These stories are pretty good. Very Montgomery-esque, so if you like that thing (and don’t mind the constant weird references to “Mr. Dr. Blythe”) you’ll like them.  But only for superfans, I think.

14. Death and the Dancing Footman, Ngaio Marsh

Marsh is one of those “Golden Age” queens of crime, and I’m a reasonable fan.  As I’ve said before on the blog (but am too lazy to link too), her books are of varying quality.  Some are so, so good - and earn the tag that is on many of her books that she “writes better than Christie.”  Others are just super dumb and lazily written. Understandable when you write so many, but Christie (barring the ones she wrote very, very late in life, which are just rotten), is much more consistent. And I think her plots are better.  But, that having been said, this is a pretty good one.  A bored rich man decides to throw a weekend party in which everyone hates each other, just to see the fur fly (he calls it “the theater of life”).  Unsurprisingly (at least for a mystery novel) it ends in murder. And a locked room/life threatening snowstorm murder (so no one can get in our out), too.  The characters are types, but pretty good ones, and the solution is satisfying.  I did write on the endpaper, last time I read this, that “it rips off [Sayer’s] Busman’s Holiday” but at least Marsh refers to the Sayers' novel in the text. 

15. Death of an Expert Witness, P.D. James 

I have re-read like, all the P.D. James lately, though mostly at the end of last year.  This one I read last week. It’s a pretty good mystery, set at a forensics lab on a marshy part of England, and has a classic “everyone hated the victim” premise (though you later feel sorry for him). I would say it’s right at the turning point between the earlier, sort of basic Dagliesh novels, and the really, really good ones (like Devices and Desires).  It also is funny because Dagliesh is one of those detectives who never ages and lives forever, so it’s got all this totally ancient forensic science, and if you read all the books he ends up in the age of DNA and so forth. But the atmosphere is good and the solution is satisfying. And the end is poignant, so I say, read it. (Or in my case, re-re-read it).

That’s basically it - I went to the library and got a whole bunch of books today, so hopefully the blog will be more exciting soon.  

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017