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Austen to Zafón

Reading widely since 1972.

Currently reading

A London Family, 1870-1900: A Trilogy
Molly Hughes
The Cellist of Sarajevo
Steven Galloway
Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher
Lewis Thomas
All the Names
José Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa
A History of the World in 100 Objects
Neil MacGregor
Down the Garden Path
Beverley Nichols
Virtue Betray'd, Or, Anna Bullen
John Banks
Year of Wonders
Geraldine Brooks
Swallows and Amazons
Arthur Ransome
Illusion in java
Gene Fowler
The Big Clock - Kenneth Fearing, Nicholas Christopher When Raymond Chandler says that a noir crime book is as good or better than his own, I want to believe it. I'm not sure why he said it, but it certainly wasn't true for me. Maybe he inflated my expectations. The set-up is good: George Stroud is a philanderer and heavy drinker and he doesn't seem to give a damn about that until he has an affair with his boss's girlfriend and she ends up dead. He's pretty sure who done it, but he soon figures out that if he can't prove what he believes, the murder is going to be pinned on him. Not only that, but the publishing company he works for (apparently based on Time Magazine) decides to have him investigate the murder, so he's having to make it look like he's doing a thorough job when he isn't. The rest of the novel is him squirming in the hot seat. Written just at the end of WWII, the mood of the book is colored by the sense of post-war anxiety, depression, and displacement men felt returning. My problems with the book are mostly about the clunky way it's handled, the plot holes, and some distracting details. I don't want to go into a lot of detail and ruin the plot, but George often acts in unbelievable ways and the ending seemed slap-dash and ridiculous, like Fearing was bored of the book and just wanted to send it off to the publisher. Much is made of the fact that George is married to Georgette, their daughter is named Georgia, and they all call each other George. Every time it happened, it felt silly and out of place and took me out of the book. I had a hard time getting into the book for the first two chapters, then the mostly enjoyed the middle, but toward the end, I was mentally rolling my eyes pretty frequently and when I got to the end, I was pretty peeved that the time I put in was not rewarded with a plausible and interesting ending.