Sunday, May 13, 2018
Each of the stories in this book was written by a Scottish author and inspired by one of the nation's historic buildings.
In all fairness I should say I am pretty much the ideal target for this book. You know how I feel about mystery stories and I love Scotland. I have been in at least three of the buildings described herein.
But not Bothwell Castle, where our story takes place. There's a historical reenactment going on and the place is crowded with tourists, and also with some very bad people up to no-good. Soon they are taking hostages and making demands.
A cop named Catherine McLeod takes control of the situation but the hostages' best chance for rescue might be Sanny and Sid, two young sneak thieves who were scooped up with the tourists.
The plot is clever but what I most admire about the story is its language which is alive and feels real. (One of the young thieves make a complaint about telecommunicaations that made me laugh out loud.)
But in the passage below Sid has just called one of other hostages a "Septic," and the man demands an explanation.
"Septic tank. Yank."
This doesnae go down well either.
"I ain't no Yankee. I'll have you know I'm a proud Georgian. I'm from the South."
"The south of whit?" Sid asks.
"The Southern states," Sanny tells him. "Sure, the ones that got pumped in the Civil War."
"Silence," says the gunman... "Do not speak. And give me your phones. All of you."
This provokes a load of moaning, like the prospect of handing over their mobiles is worse than the prospect of imminent death...
Monday, January 8, 2018
This is the second appearance in this blog by my friend and fellow SleuthSayer Thomas Pluck. And that brings up an interesting point. Most of the stories I have read by him are somewhat raw and visceral. This one is nuanced and sophisticated. Notice I am not saying that one is better than the other. Pluck has fit his style to his material, as good writers do.
The narrator is the host of TV shows about archaeology. He has been invited to a German dig by Emma, a woman he knew in school, who is leading the dig. But he is not there because of old memories, or his TV show. He is an expert in the Kurgan civilization, which is known only by the strange burials they left behind.
And there may be Kurgan burials here. Emma has found some weird stuff, like evidence of cannibalism, and a headless female skeleton in a well. Very mysterious stuff.
Speaking of mysteries, reasonable people could disagree over whether this is a mystery, i.e., a crime story, or something else. But if you don't like my decision, start your own damn blog. And that's about as raw and visceral as I get here.
Sunday, January 1, 2017
A warning: this is not a collection of crime stories, per se. The connecting thread is that they are all inspired by paintings of Edward Hopper. No doubt that this story is about crime, though.
The narrator is a projectionist at a movie theatre. He's naive and not that bright - one character calls him a "retard" but that's not fair. The job is okay, and then Sally arrives. Sally is an usherette, and beautiful.
Sounds like we are building up to a classic noir plot, but that's not quite the way it happens. Instead the theatre gets a visit from The Community Protection Board, a bunch of shakedown artists who threaten the theatre and Sally.
But they underestimate our hero. He's seen some bad times and knows some bad people. And soon the Protection Board may need protection...
I must say that of all the stories this one felt most to me like a Hopper painting.