They were looking out for him at the airports.
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Pargeter overhears his employees on the phone dealing with clients. The Pargeter series seems determined to recycle some of the most time-honored situations and plot elements in detective fiction.
See for example the method of smoking out the killer in Mrs. As for Mrs. The Body on the Beach introduces the odd-couple sleuthing team of Carole Seddon, staid and proper, prematurely retired home office functionary, and her free-spirited alternative-healer friend Jude Nichols, inhabitants of the seaside community of Fethering. Like the Paris saga, the Fethering series began in a fairly comic mode—we learn in the first entry that a neighboring community is called Tarring—and grew more serious in later books.
My pick for best of the series is Murder in the Museum , set at a stately home once occupied by a semi-famous World War I poet. The recreation of documents from that period gives the novel an extra resonance, and the prickly family relationships and satire of academic scholarship are beautifully done.
So Much Blood by Simon Brett – In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel
Only in his newest series does Brett essay a flat-out comic novel. Twinks has deduced the real culprit, and she and Blotto spend the rest of the book trying to clear their servant while battling the sinister League of the Crimson Hand, led by the mysterious Crimson Thumb. In Blotto, Twinks and the Rodents of the Riviera not yet in US book form but available as an ebook , the sleuthing siblings travel to France to retrieve two stolen portraits. Much punning fun is had with the French language and personalities of Paris in the '20s, including a couple of rival American novelists based on Fitzgerald and Hemingway.
Be warned that Blotto and Twinks are best taken in small doses. Reading a whole novel at a stretch is like overeating a rich dessert. Even the least of his books rewards the reader.
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Publication in the UK is usually a year or two earlier. Pargeter's Package Mrs. Pargeter's Pound of Flesh Mrs. It took him about four years to write. At the time he was living in a small studio apartment in Manhattan. After Americana the novels poured out in a rush: five more in the next seven years. They did not sell well. The books were known to a small but loyal following.
Things changed in the eighties. The Names was more prominently reviewed than any previous DeLillo novel. White Noise won the National Book Award. Libra was a bestseller. This interview began in the fall of as a series of tape-recorded conversations.
Transcripts were made from eight hours of taped material. Maybe I wanted to learn how to think. Writing is a concentrated form of thinking.
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Maybe I wanted to find more rigorous ways of thinking. It requires the simplest tools. A young writer sees that with words and sentences on a piece of paper that costs less than a penny he can place himself more clearly in the world. He learns to think about these things, to ride his own sentences into new perceptions. How much of this did I feel at the time? Maybe just an inkling, an instinct.
Writing was mainly an unnameable urge, an urge partly propelled by the writers I was reading at the time. No, not at all. Comic books. Not much at first.
Dracula when I was fourteen. A spider eats a fly, and a rat eats the spider, and a cat eats the rat, and a dog eats the cat, and maybe somebody eats the dog. Did I miss one level of devouring? This was an amazing thing to discover. Then, when I was eighteen, I got a summer job as a playground attendant—a parkie. And I was told to wear a white T-shirt and brown pants and brown shoes and a whistle around my neck—which they provided, the whistle. But I never acquired the rest of the outfit.
I wore blue jeans and checkered shirts and kept the whistle in my pocket and just sat on a park bench disguised as an ordinary citizen. And got paid for it. And then James Joyce, and it was through Joyce that I learned to see something in language that carried a radiance, something that made me feel the beauty and fervor of words, the sense that a word has a life and a history. All this in a playground in the Bronx. It showed up in early short stories. I think it translates to the novels only in the sense that it gave me a perspective from which to see the larger environment.
This was a private declaration of independence, a statement of my intention to use the whole picture, the whole culture. Not left them forever—I do want to write about those years. I was sailing in Maine with two friends, and we put into a small harbor on Mt. Desert Island. And I was sitting on a railroad tie waiting to take a shower, and I had a glimpse of a street maybe fifty yards away and a sense of beautiful old houses and rows of elms and maples and a stillness and wistfulness—the street seemed to carry its own built-in longing. And I felt something, a pause, something opening up before me.
But there was a pause in time, and I knew I had to write about a man who comes to a street like this or lives on a street like this. And whatever roads the novel eventually followed, I believe I maintained the idea of that quiet street if only as counterpoint, as lost innocence. Do you think it made a difference in your career that you started writing novels late, when you were approaching thirty? First, I lacked ambition. I may have had novels in my head but very little on paper and no personal goals, no burning desire to achieve some end.
It took me a long time to develop this.
I worked haphazardly, sometimes late at night, sometimes in the afternoon. I spent too much time doing other things or nothing at all. On humid summer nights I tracked horseflies through the apartment and killed them—not for the meat but because they were driving me crazy with their buzzing.