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Murder in the Balance Monday

What I've Finished

Miss Pym Disposes shed its harem-anime lightness eventually -- well, the harem goes first and then the lightness, though neither one completely -- and becomes something else: a slow-building meditation on justice and responsibility? Shrewd and quiet dismantling of the entire premise of the mystery genre? Fascinating period piece about the presumably lost world of Physical Training Colleges? All these things, but especially the latter. Structurally, it's odd but effective -- not much happens, until everything does - and the ending is deliberately unsatisfying.

Miss Pym stays on at Leys for the company and finds herself in a position to suppress evidence of wrongdoing twice: once for cheating on an exam, once for murder. There is no investigator and no mystery in the traditional sense, just Miss Pym who is in the wrong place with all her fallible judgement at the wrong time, and all these earnest young women she thinks she's come to know but doesn't know at all. The moral dilemmas, and the final twist, might be more compelling if they didn't lean so much on Face Detection, but that's classic Tey. So is the protagonist getting everything wrong. Our old friend Richard III makes a cameo appearance -- and so does another Tey bugbear that it might be too much of a spoiler to mention.

What I'm Reading

Singing in the Shrouds by Ngaio Marsh. Another serial killer story! Featuring a flower-fixated serial killer who might be hiding on board a ship? Possibly [this is only a spoiler if I get it right]in disguise as a woman? but if that's going to be the case, then there shouldn't be this many comments on her mannishness, so maybe not!. Alleyn has been sent on board to investigate, in disguise as Not A Detective (it's not a very convincing disguise, despite how annoyed the captain is by his undetectively poshness), which means instigating a lot of sprightly conversations about popular psychology. Alleyn has just been writing a very Alleynesque letter to Troy, in which carefully measured portions of soppiness act as awkward buffers between long passages of forensic observation. Never change, Alleyn. <3

So far, I love The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler -- actually a Murder Monday/99 Novels overlap! It fell into my hands as part of a book donation, so I thought, "Why not?" Chandler's dialogue is terrific, brittle and artificial in the best way; he walks that tricky line between "characters have seen too many movies" and "author has seen too many movies." A private detective in Los Angeles does a reckless favor for an acquaintance, and lands himself in the middle of more mystery than is healthy. A few chapters in, I thought I knew more or less where this story was going, but now I have no idea, and it's the best thing.

What I Plan to Read Next

After I finish Brat Farrar, I will be all out of Josephine Tey mysteries. I'll be sorry when that happens, even though Tey and I don't always entirely get along. Of course, I can always re-read the best ones if I want to. I haven't decided if I'm going to try her non-mysteries.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 4th, 2016 12:52 pm (UTC)
Alleyn has just been writing a very Alleynesque letter to Troy, in which carefully measured portions of soppiness act as awkward buffers between long passages of forensic observation.


And naturally, you don't always get along with Josephine Tey - she is much too suspicious of your eye colour! ;-)
Apr. 4th, 2016 04:11 pm (UTC)

I'm going to miss Tey when I run out of books -- not that I can't reread if I feel like it, but I'll miss being surprised by her plots and not at all surprised by her total lack of sympathy for labor unions and people with unpleasing faces.

Tey is the only writer with the COURAGE to tear away these flimsy masks of non-lying non-nymphomania to reveal the dark blue heart of our true eye-selves! We ought to be grateful for such piercing clarity.

Apr. 4th, 2016 04:25 pm (UTC)
Until now we never knew ourselves! *nods*
Apr. 4th, 2016 01:55 pm (UTC)
*Drive-by squish*
Apr. 4th, 2016 04:15 pm (UTC)
I hope your job sorts itself out soon!
Apr. 6th, 2016 12:15 pm (UTC)
It did. Still a few hitches, but nothing like it was that first night!

Apr. 4th, 2016 02:51 pm (UTC)
The Long Goodbye is ace! Chandler changed whodunit for the movie. He likes a good textile too. I like the step to his house (it is described!) but I don't know if that's where he's living in The Long Goodbye.
Apr. 4th, 2016 04:25 pm (UTC)
He drags a drunk Terry Lennox up the steps to his house on Yucca Avenue, is that the one?

I love it a lot so far. I'm also pretty confused, but it works, because who could live in this world and not be confused? Chandler is a whole deck of aces.
Apr. 5th, 2016 02:19 pm (UTC)
I think so?:) I think the Long Goodbye is one of his best.
Apr. 4th, 2016 03:13 pm (UTC)
I don't read Chandler for the plot, I read it for the language. in fact, the only one I remember who the muderer is, are The Woman In the Lake. Probably because it was the first I read. But I love his language!
Apr. 4th, 2016 04:40 pm (UTC)
Me, too! I mean, I haven't gotten to the point of knowing who killed anyone yet, but I love Chandler's language.
Apr. 5th, 2016 12:14 am (UTC)
I've been planning to read another Chandler! Perhaps I should make The Long Goodbye my next one.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )


blase ev

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