inverarity: (inverarity)
An Edwardian psychic detective chases Scooby Doo villains and the occasional Outer Monstrosity.


The Casebook of Carnacki the Ghost Finder

Wordsworth Editions, Ltd, 2006, 191 pages. Available for free on Project Gutenberg. (The Gutenberg edition is missing three stories — you can also find all of them here.)




Thomas Carnacki is a ghost finder, an Edwardian psychic detective, investigating a wide range of terrifying hauntings presented in the nine stories in this complete collection of his adventures. Encountering such spine-chilling phenomena as 'The Whistling Room', the life-threatening dangers of the phantom steed in 'The Horse of the Invisible' and the demons from the outside world in 'The Hog', Carnacki is constantly challenged by spiritual forces beyond our knowledge. To complicate matters, he encounters human skullduggery also. Armed with a camera, his Electric Pentacle and various ancient tomes on magic, Carnacki faces the various dangers his supernatural investigations present with great courage. These exciting and frightening stories have long been out of print. Now readers can thrill to them again in this new Wordsworth series.


Invisible horses, demonic pigs, stolen rare books, haunted ships, and good-old fashioned human skulduggery. )

Verdict: Florid Edwardian prose and formulaic stories that nonetheless show a raft of influences, and some really creepy creatures. Fans of Sherlock Holmes and/or Lovecraft, but especially fans of both, will probably enjoy them. 7/10.




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The world's greatest detective uses drugs, the I Ching, and an old French book to solve a missing persons case in New Orleans.


Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011, 273 pages




Claire DeWitt is not your average private investigator. She has brilliant skills of deduction and is an ace at discovering evidence. But Claire also uses her dreams, omens, and mind-expanding herbs to help her solve mysteries, and relies on Dètection-the only book published by the great and mysterious French detective Jacques Silette before his death.


A badass female detective without a romantic subplot? Surely this cannot last. )

Verdict: Claire DeWitt joins Joanna Brady, Amelia Peabody, Precious Ramotswe, and Ellie McEnroe as one of my favorite lady detectives. I wasn't really interested in this book when it showed up as an Audible Daily Deal, but some positive reviews convinced me to give a try, and I'm glad I did. It's right on the borderline, but I'm adding it to my Highly Recommended list for anyone who likes detective mysteries.




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Hippie noir in 60s California.


Inherent Vice

The Penguin Press, 2009, 369 pages




Part noir, part psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon.

Private eye Doc Sportello comes, occasionally, out of a marijuana haze to watch the end of an era as free love slips away and paranoia creeps in with the L.A. fog.

It's been awhile since Doc has seen his ex-girlfriend. Suddenly, out of nowhere, she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. Easy for her to say.

It's the tail end of the psychedelic sixties in L.A., and Doc knows that "love" is another of those words going around at the moment, like "trip" or "groovy", except that this one usually leads to trouble. Despite that, he soon finds himself drawn into a bizarre tangle of motives and passions whose cast of characters includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, a tenor sax player working undercover, an ex-con with a swastika tattoo and a fondness for Ethel Merman, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentists....


The names are the best part: Shasta Fay Hepworth, Vincent Indelicato, Christian 'Bigfoot' Bjornsen, Petunia Leeway, Sledge Poteet, Leonard Jermaine Loosemeat... )

Verdict: Thomas Pynchon is very good, but despite some nice passages and memorable characters, I found it hard to keep track of all the plot threads in Inherent Vice. It's a funky but confusing novel with a kaleidoscope of characters and a noir plot on LSD.

Also by Thomas Pynchon: My review of The Crying of Lot 49.




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A murder mystery set in a creative writing class — one of the best books I've read this year!


The Writing Class

Thomas Dunne Books, 2008, 326 pages




Amy Gallup is gifted, perhaps too gifted for her own good. Published at only twenty-two, she peaked early and found critical but not commercial success. Now her former life is gone, along with her writing career and beloved husband. A reclusive widow, her sole companion a dour, flatulent basset hound who barely tolerates her, her daily mantra Kill Me Now, she is a loner afraid to be alone. Her only bright spot each week is the writing class that she teaches at the university extension.

This semester's class is full of the usual suspects: the doctor who wants to be the next Robin Cook, the overly enthusiastic repeat student, the slacker, the unassuming student with the hidden talent, the prankster, the know-it-all... Amy's seen them all before. But something is very different about this class---and the clues begin with a scary phone call in the middle of the night and obscene threats instead of peer evaluations on student writing assignments. Amy soon realizes that one of her students is a very sick puppy, and when a member of the class is murdered, everyone becomes a suspect. As she dissects each student's writing for clues, Amy must enlist the help of everyone in her class, including the murderer, to find the killer among them.

Suspenseful, extremely witty, brilliantly written, unexpectedly hilarious, and a joy from start to finish, The Writing Class is a one-of-a-kind novel that rivals Jincy Willett's previous masterpieces


For anyone who's ever been in a writing workshop and fantasized about killing that obnoxious guy who keeps going on and on about his Lovecraftian steampunk romance... )

Verdict: I loved this book! I didn't really expect to, but the notion is fresh and funny, it's entirely self-contained (I do not foresee a series of cozies starring a mystery-solving creative writing teacher), and best of all, it's written with the skilled prose, wit, and multi-layered, surprising characters of a gifted literary writer. The Writing Class is high quality lit-fic disguised as a high-concept genre murder mystery.




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A sub-mediocre book of paper plots, cardboard characters, and endless cliches that finally triggers my writer's rage.


Mr. Churchill's Secretary

Bantam, 2012, 384 pages



Publisher's description:


For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Laurie R. King, and Anne Perry, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary captures the drama of an era of unprecedented challenge - and the greatness that rose to meet it.

Inverarity's comments: I don't even know who those other authors are, but I'm never reading them.

London, 1940: Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and remarkable gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined - and opportunities she will not let pass.

Inverarity's comments: Boy, this sounds interesting, doesn't it? Yes, 'indefatigable spirit' if by that you mean breaking into 'hot tears' on every page. Her 'remarkable gifts for codebreaking' could be demonstrated by a 9-year-old with a cipher wheel from a box of Captain Crunch.

In troubled, deadly times, with air-raid sirens sending multitudes underground, access to the War Rooms also exposes Maggie to the machinations of a menacing faction determined to do whatever it takes to change the course of history.

Don't worry, there is no changing history here. Nor much awareness of it.

Ensnared in a web of spies, murder, and intrigue, Maggie must work quickly to balance her duty to King and Country with her chances for survival. And when she unravels a mystery that points toward her own family’s hidden secrets, she’ll discover that her quick wits are all that stand between an assassin’s murderous plan and Churchill himself.

Her 'quick wits' do fuck-all in this book.

In this daring debut, Susan Elia MacNeal blends meticulous research on the era, psychological insight into Winston Churchill, and the creation of a riveting main character, Maggie Hope, into a spectacularly crafted novel.

HAHAHAHAOMG they are serious...


DID YOU KNOW THAT ENGLAND IN THE 1940S WAS SEXIST? ALSO THERE WAS A WAR AND IT WAS CALLED WORLD WAR II AND GERMANS DROPPED BOMBS ON LONDON AND EVERYTHING IT WAS CALLED THE BLITZ! ALSO DID YOU KNOW THAT NAZIS WERE VERY MEAN TO JEWS? AND ALSO DID YOU KNOW THAT ENGLISH PEOPLE ARE KNOWN FOR THEIR STIFF UPPER LIPS AND ALSO THEY LIKE TEA, WHEREAS AMERICANS LIKE COFFEE! AND ENGLISH PEOPLE DO NOT MAKE GOOD COFFEE AND AMERICANS DO NOT MAKE GOOD TEA HAHAHAHAHAHA I'LL BET YOU'VE NEVER HEARD THAT ONE BEFORE! )

Verdict: Die in a fire, Maggie Hope. (That's the character. I am not wishing harm upon the author. Obscurity, ignominy, a career change, yes, but not harm.) This book is an insulting product of fanfiction-quality writing (YES I GET THE IRONY AND YES I WILL THROW STONES) and laziness. It could have been a brilliant story with an engaging protagonist... if it weren't crap. Someone else who's read it tell me I'm crazy, or that I'm not. :\




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The last of Hillerman's Navajo Mysteries is a tepid coda to the series, but it was still a great series.


The Shape Shifter

Harper, 2006, 288 pages




Since his retirement from the Navajo Tribal Police, Joe Leaphorn has occasionally been enticed to return to work by former colleagues who seek his help when they need to solve a particularly puzzling crime. They ask because Leaphorn, aided by officers Jim Chee and Bernie Manuelito, always delivers.

But this time the problem is with an old case of Joe's--his "last case," unsolved, is one that continues to haunt him. And with Chee and Bernie just back from their honeymoon, Leaphorn is pretty much on his own.

The original case involved a priceless, one-of-a-kind Navajo rug supposedly destroyed in a fire. Suddenly, what looks like the same rug turns up in a magazine spread. And the man who brings the photo to Leaphorn's attention has gone missing. Leaphorn must pick up the threads of a crime he'd thought impossible to untangle. Not only has the passage of time obscured the details, but it also appears that there's a murderer still on the loose.


Only a dedicated fan would read all eighteen books, but I was a dedicated fan. )

Verdict: Tony Hillerman's last novel was not his best, but it's a satisfying conclusion to a series that went on for almost 40 years. The Navajo Mysteries will always be one of my favorite series, and Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee are like old friends to me. This review was really a review of the entire series, because The Shape Shifter is at best an average entry, but I hope it will entice you to at least try some of Hillerman's earlier books.

Also by Tony Hillerman: My reviews of The Sinister Pig and Skeleton Man.




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Diamonds and DNA in a cold case on Navajo lands.


Skeleton Man

HarperTorch, 2004, 368 pages




In 1956, an airplane crash left the remains of 172 passengers scattered among the majestic cliffs of the Grand Canyon - including an arm attached to a briefcase containing a fortune in gems. Half a century later, one of the missing diamonds has reappeared... and the wolves are on the scent.

Former Navajo Tribal Police Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn is coming out of retirement to help exonerate a slow, simple kid accused of robbing a trade post. Billy Tuve claims he received the diamond he tried to pawn from a mysterious old man in the canyon, and his story has attracted the dangerous attention of strangers to the Navajo lands - one more interested in a severed limb than the fortune it was attached to; another willing to murder to keep lost secrets hidden. But nature herself may prove the deadliest adversary, as Leaphorn and Sergeant Jim Chee follow a puzzle - and a killer - down into the dark realm of Skeleton Man.


Not terrible, but will make you long for the old Hillerman. )

Verdict: Reading Skeleton Man is kind of like checking in to visit old friends who've become banal and boring. You still want to see them every now and then, but you miss the good times. I would urge anyone to read Tony Hillerman's Navajo mysteries - but start with the early ones. The later ones reach a point where you'd only read them if you are already a fan.

Also by Tony Hillerman: My review of The Sinister Pig.




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The only female detective in Botswana hangs out her shingle.


The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Polygon, 1998, 250 pages




This remarkably fresh and charming best seller took the world by storm upon its publication. It has since earned two Booker Judges' Special Recommendations and was voted one of the "International Books of the Year and the Millennium" by the Times Literary Supplement.

Mma "Precious" Ramotswe sets up a detective agency in Botswana on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, making her the only female detective in the country. At first, cases are hard to come by. But eventually, troubled people come to Precious with a variety of concerns. Potentially philandering husbands, seemingly schizophrenic doctors, and a missing boy who may have been killed by witch doctors all compel Precious to roam about in her tiny van, searching for clues.

Chosen as a Top Ten Mystery by the Organization of Independent Booksellers, U.S.A., The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is that rare novel that imparts a sage wisdom while inspiring hearty laughter and lasting smiles.


I'd be less cautious in my enthusiasm if the author weren't a white dude. )

Verdict: A series of light entertainment featuring Botswana's finest lady detective — what's not to love? The "mysteries" here are strictly low-rent, at least in the first book: Precious Ramotswe is a Jessica Fletcher or a Miss Marple, but with fewer murders to solve. Like many mystery series, its attraction is the main character and the setting, and, to my eye, Alexander McCall Smith renders decent service to both.




My complete list of book reviews.
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The only female detective in Botswana hangs out her shingle.


The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Polygon, 1998, 250 pages




This remarkably fresh and charming best seller took the world by storm upon its publication. It has since earned two Booker Judges' Special Recommendations and was voted one of the "International Books of the Year and the Millennium" by the Times Literary Supplement.

Mma "Precious" Ramotswe sets up a detective agency in Botswana on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, making her the only female detective in the country. At first, cases are hard to come by. But eventually, troubled people come to Precious with a variety of concerns. Potentially philandering husbands, seemingly schizophrenic doctors, and a missing boy who may have been killed by witch doctors all compel Precious to roam about in her tiny van, searching for clues.

Chosen as a Top Ten Mystery by the Organization of Independent Booksellers, U.S.A., The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is that rare novel that imparts a sage wisdom while inspiring hearty laughter and lasting smiles.


I'd be less cautious in my enthusiasm if the author weren't a white dude. )

Verdict: A series of light entertainment featuring Botswana's finest lady detective — what's not to love? The "mysteries" here are strictly low-rent, at least in the first book: Precious Ramotswe is a Jessica Fletcher or a Miss Marple, but with fewer murders to solve. Like many mystery series, its attraction is the main character and the setting, and, to my eye, Alexander McCall Smith renders decent service to both.




My complete list of book reviews.
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In Stalin's USSR, the only thing worse than a psychopathic serial killer is Stalin's USSR.


Child 44

Hachette, 2008, 439 pages




It is a society that is, officially, a paradise. Superior to the decadent West, Stalin's Soviet Union is a haven for its citizens, providing for all of their needs: education, health care, security. In exchange, all that is required is their hard work, and their loyalty and faith to the Soviet State.

Leo Demidov knows this better than most. A rising, prominent officer in the State Security force, Leo is a former war hero whose only ambition is to serve his country. To defend this workers' paradise - and to guarantee a secure life for his parents and for his wife, Raisa - Leo has spent his career guarding against threats to the State. Ideological crimes - crimes of thought, crimes of disloyalty, crimes against the revolution - are forcefully suppressed, without question.

And then the impossible happens. A different kind of criminal - a murderer - is on the loose, killing at will. At the same time, Leo finds himself demoted and denounced by his enemies, all but sentenced to death. The only way to salvage what remains of his life is to uncover this criminal. But in a society that is officially paradise, it's a crime against the state to suggest that a murderer - much less a serial killer - is in their midst.

To save his life and the lives of his family, Leo must confront the vast resources and reach of the security forces, with only Raisa remaining at his side, to find and stop a criminal that the State won't even admit exists.


Bleak, scary, violent, and insane, and the killer is pretty disturbing too. )

Verdict: It makes me feel old to realize there are people reading this who don't actually remember the Soviet Union. Now the USSR can be used as the setting for a dystopian thriller. Although I am not enough of an expert on Russian society or Soviet history to swear that every detail of Child 44 is accurate, I do know that it captures the harshness and paranoia of of Stalin's regime. In that regime we have a good man working for a bad system in what's an exciting, gritty, if not always entirely believable thriller. Characters and plot are twisty and intriguing enough to make up for a few "Oh really now?"s. A good read.
inverarity: (Default)
In Stalin's USSR, the only thing worse than a psychopathic serial killer is Stalin's USSR.


Child 44

Hachette, 2008, 439 pages




It is a society that is, officially, a paradise. Superior to the decadent West, Stalin's Soviet Union is a haven for its citizens, providing for all of their needs: education, health care, security. In exchange, all that is required is their hard work, and their loyalty and faith to the Soviet State.

Leo Demidov knows this better than most. A rising, prominent officer in the State Security force, Leo is a former war hero whose only ambition is to serve his country. To defend this workers' paradise - and to guarantee a secure life for his parents and for his wife, Raisa - Leo has spent his career guarding against threats to the State. Ideological crimes - crimes of thought, crimes of disloyalty, crimes against the revolution - are forcefully suppressed, without question.

And then the impossible happens. A different kind of criminal - a murderer - is on the loose, killing at will. At the same time, Leo finds himself demoted and denounced by his enemies, all but sentenced to death. The only way to salvage what remains of his life is to uncover this criminal. But in a society that is officially paradise, it's a crime against the state to suggest that a murderer - much less a serial killer - is in their midst.

To save his life and the lives of his family, Leo must confront the vast resources and reach of the security forces, with only Raisa remaining at his side, to find and stop a criminal that the State won't even admit exists.


Bleak, scary, violent, and insane, and the killer is pretty disturbing too. )

Verdict: It makes me feel old to realize there are people reading this who don't actually remember the Soviet Union. Now the USSR can be used as the setting for a dystopian thriller. Although I am not enough of an expert on Russian society or Soviet history to swear that every detail of Child 44 is accurate, I do know that it captures the harshness and paranoia of of Stalin's regime. In that regime we have a good man working for a bad system in what's an exciting, gritty, if not always entirely believable thriller. Characters and plot are twisty and intriguing enough to make up for a few "Oh really now?"s. A good read.
inverarity: (Default)
Two murders in Mississippi and one of the saddest protagonists you'll ever read.


Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

William Morrow, 2010, 274 pages




In a small Mississippi town, two men are torn apart by circumstance and reunited by tragedy in this resonant new novel from the award-winning author of the critically-acclaimed Hell at the Breech.

Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones were unlikely boyhood friends. Larry was the child of lower middle-class white parents, Silas the son of a poor, single, black mother - their worlds as different as night and day. Yet a special bond developed between them in Chabot, Mississippi. But within a few years, tragedy struck. In high school, a girl who lived up the road from Larry had gone to the drive-in movie with him and nobody had seen her again. Her stepfather tried to have Larry arrested, but no body was found and Larry never confessed. The incident shook up the town, including Silas, and the bond the boys shared was irrevocably broken.

Almost 30 years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence in Chabot, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion, the looks of blame that have shadowed him. Silas left home to play college baseball, but now he's Chabot's constable. The men have few reasons to cross paths, and they rarely do - until fate intervenes again.

Another teenaged girl has disappeared, causing rumors to swirl once again. Now, two men who once called each other friend are finally forced to confront the painful past they’ve buried for too many years.


You will want to give this poor guy a hug. )

Verdict: Highly recommended if you like mysteries, literary fiction, damaged but not pitiful protagonists, and Southern literature. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is pure Mississippi, with white and black characters who aren't playing out some sort of didactic racial drama but equally interwoven into their problematic pasts.




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Two murders in Mississippi and one of the saddest protagonists you'll ever read.


Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

William Morrow, 2010, 274 pages




In a small Mississippi town, two men are torn apart by circumstance and reunited by tragedy in this resonant new novel from the award-winning author of the critically-acclaimed Hell at the Breech.

Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones were unlikely boyhood friends. Larry was the child of lower middle-class white parents, Silas the son of a poor, single, black mother - their worlds as different as night and day. Yet a special bond developed between them in Chabot, Mississippi. But within a few years, tragedy struck. In high school, a girl who lived up the road from Larry had gone to the drive-in movie with him and nobody had seen her again. Her stepfather tried to have Larry arrested, but no body was found and Larry never confessed. The incident shook up the town, including Silas, and the bond the boys shared was irrevocably broken.

Almost 30 years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence in Chabot, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion, the looks of blame that have shadowed him. Silas left home to play college baseball, but now he's Chabot's constable. The men have few reasons to cross paths, and they rarely do - until fate intervenes again.

Another teenaged girl has disappeared, causing rumors to swirl once again. Now, two men who once called each other friend are finally forced to confront the painful past they’ve buried for too many years.


You will want to give this poor guy a hug. )

Verdict: Highly recommended if you like mysteries, literary fiction, damaged but not pitiful protagonists, and Southern literature. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is pure Mississippi, with white and black characters who aren't playing out some sort of didactic racial drama but equally interwoven into their problematic pasts.




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A murder mystery in Saudi Arabia with interestingly complicated men and women, Westerners and Saudis alike.


City of Veils

Little, Brown & Company, 2010, 393 pages




When the body of a brutally murdered and severely disfigured woman is found on the beach in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Detective Osama Ibrahim dreads investigating another unsolvable housemaid murder—unpleasantly common in a city where the veils of conservative Islam keep women as anonymous in life as the victim is in death. Digging deeper, however, an ambitious lab-tech named Katya discovers that the body is not that of a disobedient servant, but Leila Nawar, a rebellious young filmmaker who has made more than a few enemies with her probing documentaries on religious hypocrisy and sexuality.





What CSI: Jeddah might look like. )

Verdict: The hook for this otherwise typical mystery is that it's set in Saudi Arabia, but I found it fresh and interesting, with characters who were mostly likable (except of course the religious police, whom nobody in Saudi Arabia seems to like) and a straightforward approach to a setting that could easily be either exoticized or turned into a long screed about misogyny-and-terrorism-and-oil-and-camels-ZOMG! Not fantastic or brilliant, but a good read.
inverarity: (Default)
A murder mystery in Saudi Arabia with interestingly complicated men and women, Westerners and Saudis alike.


City of Veils

Little, Brown & Company, 2010, 393 pages




When the body of a brutally murdered and severely disfigured woman is found on the beach in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Detective Osama Ibrahim dreads investigating another unsolvable housemaid murder—unpleasantly common in a city where the veils of conservative Islam keep women as anonymous in life as the victim is in death. Digging deeper, however, an ambitious lab-tech named Katya discovers that the body is not that of a disobedient servant, but Leila Nawar, a rebellious young filmmaker who has made more than a few enemies with her probing documentaries on religious hypocrisy and sexuality.





What CSI: Jeddah might look like. )

Verdict: The hook for this otherwise typical mystery is that it's set in Saudi Arabia, but I found it fresh and interesting, with characters who were mostly likable (except of course the religious police, whom nobody in Saudi Arabia seems to like) and a straightforward approach to a setting that could easily be either exoticized or turned into a long screed about misogyny-and-terrorism-and-oil-and-camels-ZOMG! Not fantastic or brilliant, but a good read.
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American gothic: it's always the quiet ones.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Viking Press, 1962, 214 pages


Six years after four family members died of arsenic poisoning, the three remaining Blackwoods—elder, agoraphobic sister Constance; wheelchair-bound Uncle Julian; and 18-year-old Mary Katherine, or, Merricat—live together in pleasant isolation. Merricat has developed an idiosyncratic system of rules and protective magic to guard the estate against intrusions from hostile villagers. But one day a stranger arrives—cousin Charles, with his eye on the Blackwood fortune—and manages to penetrate into their carefully shielded lives. Unable to drive him away by either polite or occult means, Merricat adopts more desperate methods, resulting in crisis, tragedy, and the revelation of a terrible secret.


Creeeeeeeeepytastic! )

Verdict: A superlatively creepy American gothic, light on horror for those who don't really want violence or thrills, but no less chilling for its relatively mundane events. Shirley Jackson had a way of conveying how seemingly ordinary people have squirming eels in their heads.
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American gothic: it's always the quiet ones.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Viking Press, 1962, 214 pages


Six years after four family members died of arsenic poisoning, the three remaining Blackwoods—elder, agoraphobic sister Constance; wheelchair-bound Uncle Julian; and 18-year-old Mary Katherine, or, Merricat—live together in pleasant isolation. Merricat has developed an idiosyncratic system of rules and protective magic to guard the estate against intrusions from hostile villagers. But one day a stranger arrives—cousin Charles, with his eye on the Blackwood fortune—and manages to penetrate into their carefully shielded lives. Unable to drive him away by either polite or occult means, Merricat adopts more desperate methods, resulting in crisis, tragedy, and the revelation of a terrible secret.


Creeeeeeeeepytastic! )

Verdict: A superlatively creepy American gothic, light on horror for those who don't really want violence or thrills, but no less chilling for its relatively mundane events. Shirley Jackson had a way of conveying how seemingly ordinary people have squirming eels in their heads.
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'Murder, She Wrote' with Jorge Luis Borges in place of Angela Lansbury and Lovecraftian demons among the suspects.



New Directions Publishing, 2000, 135 pages

From the back cover:


Vogelstein is a loner who has always lived among books. Suddenly, fate grabs hold of his insignificant life and carries him off to Buenos Aires, to a conference on Edgar Allen Poe, the inventor of the modern detective story. There Vogelstein meets his idol, Jorge Luis Borges, and for reasons that a mere passion for literature cannot explain, he finds himself at the center of a murder investigation that involves arcane demons, the mysteries of the Kabbala, the possible destruction of the world, and the Elizabethan magus John Dee's "Eternal Orangutan," which given all the time in the world, would end up writing all the known books in the cosmos. Verissimo's small masterpiece is a literary tour de force and a brilliant mystery novel rolled into one.


Not many authors can pull off JLB fan fiction, let alone RPF using Borges as a character. )

Verdict: Highly recommended for fans of literary murder mysteries, especially if you're a fan of Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Jorge Luis Borges. If you are not familiar with any of them, however, you may simply find this story exceedingly strange. (But hie thee hence and read some Borges!)
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'Murder, She Wrote' with Jorge Luis Borges in place of Angela Lansbury and Lovecraftian demons among the suspects.



New Directions Publishing, 2000, 135 pages

From the back cover:


Vogelstein is a loner who has always lived among books. Suddenly, fate grabs hold of his insignificant life and carries him off to Buenos Aires, to a conference on Edgar Allen Poe, the inventor of the modern detective story. There Vogelstein meets his idol, Jorge Luis Borges, and for reasons that a mere passion for literature cannot explain, he finds himself at the center of a murder investigation that involves arcane demons, the mysteries of the Kabbala, the possible destruction of the world, and the Elizabethan magus John Dee's "Eternal Orangutan," which given all the time in the world, would end up writing all the known books in the cosmos. Verissimo's small masterpiece is a literary tour de force and a brilliant mystery novel rolled into one.


Not many authors can pull off JLB fan fiction, let alone RPF using Borges as a character. )

Verdict: Highly recommended for fans of literary murder mysteries, especially if you're a fan of Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Jorge Luis Borges. If you are not familiar with any of them, however, you may simply find this story exceedingly strange. (But hie thee hence and read some Borges!)

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