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I'm behind on everything, and heading out to visit my family this afternoon, but a couple of notes:

1) Spinsters in Jeopardy provides yet more evidence why you should never marry a detective, even a nice professional one who promises to leave murder at the office. Murder cannot be left at the office. You'll be living your life, not hurting anyone, when suddenly fate or the author will swoop down and contrive to get your small child kidnapped for maximum drama in the middle of one of her occasional Reefer Madness Orgy Cult plots while you are just trying to enjoy a peaceful vacation. The drama will not even be successful.

1a) It's not my favorite plot, but this iteration of the Reefer Madness Orgy Cult is a lot better written than the (twenty years earlier) Death in Ecstasy. The final infiltration of the cult is beautifully silly and really funny. Unlike Death in Ecstasy, it's set in a foreign land that is not New Zealand, so cringe-inducing local color blossoms abundantly at several points.

2) Cormoran Strike gives me life. I'm still not done with The Cuckoo's Calling, but I already recommend it to anyone who likes competent investigators who are also great characters. The mystery is excellently paced and the balance between investigations and Strike's trainwrecky personal life is perfect. So is the awkward but highly productive relationship between Strike and his accidental temp/co-detective Robin, who turns out to be a natural at the mystery-solving game (and at getting Strike to eat kebabs when he's had too much to drink).

2a) That said, I'd love it if JKR could tone down the phonetically spelled dialect a bit? She's perfectly able to create/evoke strong character voices without it, and it can get very distracting at some points. Particularly when the character is already dipping heavily from the caricature bowl, like Lula Landry's birth mother. I don't even hate phonetic dialect as much as some people, but . . . we really will get the point without this fog of apostrophes. You can trust us, Rowling!

(I also can't understand why JKR or her publishers have chosen to use "handwriting font" to represent handwritten notes. That's pettier than the dialect complaint, but still baffling. You don't need a special font to represent handwriting! Any more than you need a special font for typing or a drunkenness font or a Cockney font or a painfully-still-trying-to-hide-your-prosthesis-from-your-de-facto-partner font. What purpose does it serve?)

There's more, but it will have to wait.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 23rd, 2015 06:58 pm (UTC)

I don't often read mysteries (too many other books like sc-fi or history often take first place) but I devoured both Cormoran Strike books. The mysteries seem unusual and definitely held my attention. And I like both of the main characters a lot.

Jan. 2nd, 2016 11:09 pm (UTC)
I do often read mysteries, as you can probably tell. But I agree that Strike and Robin are stand-out excellent characters, and I thought the mystery was really well-plotted. I'm definitely going to pick up the next one as soon as I can get to the library.
Dec. 23rd, 2015 08:05 pm (UTC)
Oh...I think I may have to pick up the Cuckoo's Calling then!

and yeah I hear you on the handwriting thing! I'm also not a huge fan of using typewriter fonts though at least those are a lot more legible.
Jan. 2nd, 2016 11:16 pm (UTC)
There are actually three distinct non-standard fonts: for typing, text messages, and handwriting. Nothing interesting is being done with them; they're just there. But The Cuckoo's Calling is 1000% worth picking up anyway. I already have enough goodwill toward Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott to coast on happily for many more books, I think.
Dec. 23rd, 2015 09:35 pm (UTC)
I am now trying to envision a painfully-still-trying-to-hide-your-prosthesis-from-your-de-facto-partner font. So far, I'm thinking that maybe the letters in words about locomotion would jump up and down a bit - the second letter higher than the first, and the third low again, not literal jumping - to stimulate limping.

I actually like handwriting fonts for handwritten notes, provided that it's not hard to read. Especially if the publishers put effort into selecting the right handwriting for each character, so you get a little bit of extra insight into them. If it's the same handwriting font for everyone, then it doesn't really add anything.
Jan. 2nd, 2016 11:21 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, there is no such selection: this is just a standard handwriting font used to signify "handwriting." It doesn't convey any more information than italics would, except unflattering information about the judgement of whoever was in charge of typesetting for this book. But it's really good anyway, so I shouldn't complain too much.
Dec. 24th, 2015 03:47 pm (UTC)
I don't like lots of phonetic dialect as I find it hard to read. If I see writing with lots of it I won't bother reading. When I did a fic with Scottish OCs I decided not to write phonetic speech because I wasn't writing Ben, a cockney(ish), phonetically so I thought it would be wrong to do one accent and not both.

If the publishers are using handwritten font does it mean are they bothering to proof read as well?
Jan. 2nd, 2016 11:47 pm (UTC)
Maybe! It isn't shoddily and obviously un-proofread -- or maybe I'm just too invested to notice whether there are a lot of mistakes or not. Nothing's jumped out at me, anyway, except that someone really should have reined her in on some of the dialect. Who knows, maybe someone did and it used to be ten times worse.

It's not a barrier to understanding for me -- I grew up reading a lot of vintage juvenile fiction that was wall-to-wall dialect spelling. But especially in a contemporary novel where it's being laid on extra thick by a more or less RP narrative voice, it becomes a nuisance. And I think the fact that it's J. K. Rowling does make me more prone to jump to negative conclusions, which maybe shouldn't be the case.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


blase ev

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