Reviews and ramblings....

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Oh my word, I'm so far behind.

Far behind on laundry, thank you notes, housecleaning, potty training Violet, and all that lifey stuff that gets thrown to the wayside when there's a newborn in the house. Although, I'm not sure if Faith is a newborn anymore--she turned 6 weeks old this week! It's a milestone I really enjoyed with Violet, because it seemed mark the transition from newborn to baby. (This time, I hope I will be awake enough to appreciate it.)

So in addition to all the other things I'm backlogged in, I'm also quite behind in blogging. As I very gradually figure out how to be a mommy to two little girls, I hope to catch up with all the books I've read these last few months. I'll start with a double review of two mysteries I recently finished.

Arson Plus, by Dashiell Hammett
I enjoyed reading a few Dashiell Hammett novels in high school. I hoped that this short story would be a fail-safe good read, but was disappointed. The characters, especially the hardboiled detective who solves the case, have nothing compelling about them and the story it ended up having the emotional impact of a newspaper. It could be from my sleep-deprived state, but I had to go back and read the first part of the book again after I finished it, because I had no idea who the bad guy was. That should only happen in Russian epics or Dickens' novels .

Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers
Why isn't Dorothy Sayers more renowned? She was brilliant and surprisingly well-rounded. Her friends and peers seem to have stolen some of her thunder, but her crime novels are on par with Agatha Christie, her love of medievel times was as reverential as CS Lewis', and her essays are just as obtuse as GK Chesterton's.

This mystery was a great counterpoint to Dashiell Hammett's, especially how the story revealed the characters' humanity--both good and bad. It played by the classic rules of mystery novels: the baffling crime, the interesting setting, the crime-solver and his sidekick, and the objective truth, deduced by both logic and awareness of man's capacity to do evil.

If the story has any faults, it's that it is dated. Here's an example of some dialogue:

"Bunter," said Lord Peter, "I beg that in the future you will restrain me from starting two hares at once. These cases are gettin' to be a strain on my constitution. One hare has nowhere to run from, and the other has nowhere to run to. It's a kind of mental D.T., Bunter. When this is over I shall turn pussyfoot, sorswear the police news, and take to an emollient diet of the works of the late Charles Garvice."
What? Nevertheless, it's a good story.