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No Rest for the Murder Monday

What I've Finished Reading

I keep meaning to say something about The Automatic Detective, the robot detective story by A. Lee Martinez. I liked it well enough, but not as much as the other Martinez book I read, the breezy comedy about devouring eldritch gods Chasing the Moon. To be fair, CTM was pretty close to perfect tonally, and there's still a lot to like about The Automatic Detective. The narrator is a robot created to conquer the world, who suffered a free-will glitch in his programming, and is now trying to make good by driving a taxi and solving crime. His difficulties and calculations for negotiating the fleshly world are a perfect fit for Chandler-style narration. At the same time, the worldbuilding was a little cluttered for me - people are constantly explaining things about Empire City to the reader and each other, which also suits the narration but which gets to be a bit much after a while. Even though (because?) nearly all the seemingly extraneous details end up being part of the plot, it was a little more wall-to-wall wackiness than I could appreciate. I think it made the plot seem a little stringier than it actually was. I struggled to follow the action sometimes. I smiled when Mack Megaton's scientist ally gives him a hat, because every detective needs a hat, but not all of her genre cheerleading quite worked for me (that one didn't either, exactly, but I can't not smile at jokes about detectives and their hats). Definitely worth a try if you like robots and detectives, or A. Lee Martinez.

What I'm Reading Now

Does Men at Arms count? I'm going to say it does. Night Watch Captain Samuel Vimes is detective to the bone, even if he inhabits a world where detectives haven't been invented yet. I think this one is a little slower to start than Guards! Guards! but only by a fraction, and Carrot is there, so it's not like my time is being wasted. Carrot has been promoted, and has some new recruits to look after from Ankh-Morpork's "ethnic" populations: a (non-adopted) dwarf, a troll, and a werewolf who is trying to hide her werewolf status but keeps getting not-very-effectively blackmailed about it by a talking dog. The talking dog is a lot funnier than you might guess just from the words "talking dog."

Also, Vimes is engaged! to Sybil Ramkin, the hearty dragon breeder from Guards! Guards!, who is also the richest woman in Ankh-Morpork. I approve of this union 1000%, but unfortunately it means Vimes is going to be socially obligated to talk to a bunch of rich people other than Sybil, and rich people, as explored in this text, are the worst. And what's this about him retiring to lead a life of leisure? Vimes is not a man of leisure; he's a damn detective, damn it! Surely they can talk this over and figure out a solution to this obvious oversight. I mean, Pratchett wouldn't set up "Vimes is going to retire from the Watch and smoke cigars all day in a Stately Home, ha ha oh well," and then actually go through with it, would he? This seems unlikely. Your city needs you, Captain Vimes! This bottle of Bearhugger's also needs you, but NOT NEARLY AS MUCH. :(

Meanwhile, someone's gone and invented firearms, a scenario that never ends well. And my recurring favorites DEATH and Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler are back, but that's not exactly part of the plot summary.

Also reading: N or M? by Agatha Christie:

"It's bad enough having a war," said Tuppence, "but not being allowed to do anything in it just puts the lid on."

Tommy and Tuppence are all grown up with grown children of their own, and naturally now that there's another war on they want to go out and get tied up by enemy agents and saboteurs like before! It isn't fair that no one wants middle-aged people for intelligence work; they have loads of experience blundering into people's secret meetings and finding coded messages stuck to the bottom of their shoes and all that, and besides, they're adorable; doesn't that count for anything these days? Clearly it should!

It's Christie espionage, which is a poor limping second to Christie murder, and sprinkled with the same kind of awkward political lecturing as The Secret Adversary, but on the other hand, 1) Tommy and Tuppence make everything better, and 2) even awkward espionage Christie is still a joy to read, like a cold glass of lemonade on a hot day.

Tommy has finally managed to score a TOP SECRET assignment doing observation at a hotel, on the obviously appalling condition that he go alone and keep the nature of his work a secret from Tuppence. He agrees, and goes to the hotel in disguise, where he finds Tuppence waiting for him in the sitting room. She's arrived ahead of him, having already discovered the location and formulated her own disguise, because of course she has. <3

What I Plan to Read Next

I'm not sure! haven't gotten much further in The Keeper of Lost Causes and might shelve it for the rest of the week and grab something else for my last out-of-town trip of the summer - I haven't decided yet. Something, probably. If The Monkey's Mask gets here by Wednesday then I will have hardboiled blank verse to keep me company, but it looks like it might not.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 2nd, 2016 03:52 am (UTC)
The Automatic Detective sounds hysterical!! Think I'll want to be reading that one...
Aug. 3rd, 2016 04:30 pm (UTC)
I hope you like it! Let me know if you want a copy! A. Lee Martinez for Everyone is my goal for today, apparently.

Edited at 2016-08-03 04:32 pm (UTC)
Aug. 3rd, 2016 06:59 pm (UTC)
Actually, I would love one! :D
Aug. 3rd, 2016 07:06 pm (UTC)
Just sent you a private message!
Aug. 2nd, 2016 07:52 am (UTC)
Does Men at Arms count? I'm going to say it does. Night Watch Captain Samuel Vimes is detective to the bone, even if he inhabits a world where detectives haven't been invented yet.

To be fair, the Watch is currently busy inventing them, at least the police versions.

I'm glad you're enjoying so far! My favourite Watch book after G!G! is Feet of Clay, but they're all good, really. Gaspode, btw, if you're enjoying him came here via Moving Pictures, which as you might guess is Discworld inventing cinema at the wrong moment and nearly destroying the world as usual.

The Robot Detective sounds like fun! And Tommy and Tuppence always are, of course. (Even if ITV think that you can steal them and stick Miss Marple in them, but whatever, ITV.)
Aug. 3rd, 2016 04:29 pm (UTC)

Moving Pictures, which as you might guess is Discworld inventing cinema at the wrong moment and nearly destroying the world as usual.

Hah, typical! Is this one the fault of the wizards, or of Leonard of Quirm?

Do Tommy and Tuppence meet Miss Marple in a TV program? Because I feel like I could go for that.
Aug. 3rd, 2016 07:29 pm (UTC)
Is this one the fault of the wizards, or of Leonard of Quirm?

That would be telling. :-)

I stopped watching the ITV Marple before they started inserting her into the wrong stories with gay abandon, but the tiny bit of saw of the Tommy & Tuppence one suggested that they had binned Tommy for Miss Marple.

(There was, I think, a 1980s Tommy & Tuppence series, I think it had Francesca Annis. I don't know what it was like, though.)
Aug. 2nd, 2016 09:06 am (UTC)
The Automatic Detective sounds great - wait, what, not available on Kindle? Unfair! But I've added Chasing The Moon to my neverending list.

I think Men at Arms is in that sweet middle point of the series where he's found his voice but the world is not yet too 'crowded' with previous developments. Vimes is the best.
Aug. 3rd, 2016 04:15 pm (UTC)
If you want a free paper copy of The Automatic Detective, send me your address in a PM and I'll send it to you. A. Lee Martinez should be shared!

VIMES <3. I thought I couldn't love him any more than I already did, but why do I even bother to think things like that? They're never accurate. There is no limit.

I hope the sweet middle point lasts a long time! I'm enjoying Pratchett enormously but have heard rumors of a steep decline later on? I guess the best thing to do is just to read until I don't want to anymore.

Edited at 2016-08-03 04:19 pm (UTC)
Aug. 4th, 2016 11:26 am (UTC)
Aww, that's such a nice offer! However I'll say no, just because I'm trying to cut down on hard copies and stick to as many ebooks as possible. Thank you though, I really appreciate the thought! :)

Aaahh, and there's more Vimes books for you to read and discover! Can't to hear your thoughts as you read through them.

I know some people who enjoyed Pratchett to the very end, and I think even those who think he declined admit there were some good ones scattered in the later years (Nation, for example, is fairly universally loved - though that's not Discworld). Personally I just left the last few alone. I might get around to them one day but I won't rush...
Aug. 2nd, 2016 10:51 am (UTC)
I take it Men At Arms is a reread? Great fun! And so is N Or M, and I love the last scene... No, better not say, in case you haven't read it before. Let us know when finished.
Aug. 3rd, 2016 04:03 pm (UTC)
I'm reading both books for the first time!

Edited at 2016-08-03 04:16 pm (UTC)
Aug. 5th, 2016 02:12 am (UTC)
Oh! Your first time with Men At Arms? You have a treat, then. Next is Feet of Clay. Enjoy!
Aug. 2nd, 2016 02:00 pm (UTC)
An 'Automatic Detective' sequel sounds like it would be a better read once all the explaining the set up is out the way? If there is one!

Love your engagement with 'Men at Arms' I won't tell you how it ends and keep you in suspenders;p

Tommy and Tuppence make everything better unless the BBC do an adaptation of it. On the plus side I did get a lot of interesting chapter of academic books on google books during the shows.
Aug. 3rd, 2016 04:11 pm (UTC)
I don't think there's a sequel, but I would read it if there were!

I love everyone in the Night Watch <3

Was there a bad adaptation of Tommy and Tuppence? :( :( That doesn't surprise me, but it does make me :(
Aug. 4th, 2016 03:02 pm (UTC)
The adaptation starred David Walliams and he was the exec producer or something so I expected it to be more humorous, as he is a comedian. Tommy didn't come across well - I couldn't understand why Tuppence married him. I guess I was supposed to go "Aw!", but I thought "loser". It was too dull to hate properly.
Aug. 4th, 2016 08:14 pm (UTC)
I have a very good memory, so it says something that I never remember who the killer is in N nor M?. But I always enjoy reading it- for the moment I read it. :)
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )


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