WYCLIFFE AND THE THREE-TOED PUSSY appeared in 1968. It launched a mystery series that lasted over 30 years and over 20 books. The mystery is set in the village of Kergwyns in Cornwall. The bizarre murder of a beautiful young woman puzzles Detective Superintendent Wycliffe because the only thing taken from the crime scene is the shoe and stocking from her left leg – exposing the murdered woman’s deformed foot. Wycliffe finds the victim sexually manipulated the men in her life. Wycliffe reminds me of Miss Marple who could dissect small town life. If you enjoy traditional detection, I highly recommend WYCLIFFE AND THE THREE-TOED PUSSY.
Whiskey is basically distilled beer. That’s just one of the facts I learned from Adam Rogers’ informative Proof: The Science of Booze. Rogers provides scientific and historical insights on the production and refinement of liquor. It’s obvious Adam Rogers is obsessed with his subject. If you’re interested in how those libations we enjoy are made and tweaked, take a look at Proof. You’ll discover plenty of fun facts. GRADE: B+
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
6. Smell and Taste
7. Body and Brain
Phyllis Rose embarks on a great reading experiment. She chooses a shelf at the New York Public Library at random and reads all the books on it. In the end, Rose reads 23 books by 11 authors: William Le Queux, Rhoda Lerman, Mikhail Lermontov, Lisa Lerner, Alexander Lernet-Holenia, Etienne Leroux, Gaston Leroux, James LeRossignol, Margaret Leroy, Alain-Rene Le Sale, and John Lescroart. Phyllis Rose honestly admits when some of the books she reads are “weak.” And, I was amused when she took a “break” from reading the random books to binge on Alan Furst’s spy novels. I found Phyllis Rose to be a perceptive critic. Her experiment is one I’m unlikely to replicate (I’m way too focused), but I admire Rose’s spirit. GRADE: B+
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. The Experiment Begins
2. The Myth of the Book: A Hero of Our Time
3. Literary Evolution: The Phantom of the Opera
4. The Universe Provides: Rhoda Lerman
5. Women and Fiction: A Question of Privilege
6. Domesticities: Margaret Leroy and Lisa Lerner
7. The Nightingale and the Lark: Lernet-Holenia and LeRossignol
8. Libraries: Making Space
9. Life and Adventures: Gil Blas
10. Serial Killers: Detective Fiction
I picked up Monsters vs. Aliens: Supersonic Joyride at Sam’s Club for a mere $4.98. There are nine episodes on this DVD, over 3 hours of entertainment. Susan (who can grow into a giant), Link (the fish man), Bob the Blob, and Dr. Cockroach are back to fight alien menaces.
These episodes were first broadcast on Nickelodeon. I really liked the original DreamWorks movie. These animated episodes are great fun for kids of all ages! GRADE: A
24: Live Another Day concludes its abbreviated run tonight. The original 24 consisted of 24 1-hour episodes–each episode represented one hour in an action-filled day. I’m not a big Kiefer Sutherland fan, but he was effective as rogue agent Jack Bauer. I really liked Yvonne Strahovski as CIA agent Kate Morgan. I’m hoping she doesn’t get killed off in tonight’s explosive conclusion. It would be nice if 24 gets renewed for another season. It’s silly, but entertaining.
I am the most casual of causal soccer fans so my opinion is shallow and weak. But I’m picking Germany to win the World Cup. Diane and I watched parts of the World Cup games–mostly the U.S. games–but I’ve been impressed by Germany from the start of World Cup play. I wouldn’t bet the house, but I have a Good Feeling that Germany will win this game. Who are you rooting for?
The cover of Charles Stross’s The Jennifer Morgue shows Bob Howard, an operative of the super-secret agency The Laundry, underwater. I really like this cover because the cover artist’s depiction of Bob Howard looks a lot like my son, Patrick (with his glasses). I have a lukewarm relationship with Charles Stross. His science fiction novels fail to entertain me. But I do have a fondness for Stross’s “The Laundry” series. Think 007 meets H.P. Lovecraft. There are plenty of spells and geas and wards. The plot of The Jennifer Morgue involves an evil billionaire who wants to restore a Lovecraftian alien entity. Plenty of mayhem results. If you’re in the mood for a spy novel with Lovecraftian overtones, The Jennifer Morgue is fun. GRADE: B+
For today’s FFB Femme Fatale Special, I’ve chosen Jean-Patrick Manchette’s cool and clever noir novel, Fatale. Jean-Patrick Manchette is one of France’s best crime writers. This New York Review of Books edition, with an Afterword by Jean Echenoz and translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith, presents Aimée as an avenging angel who manipulates men and leads them to their doom. If you’re in the mood for a noir novel with blustering action and heart-pounding intensity, you can’t go wrong with Fatale. It doesn’t get much better than this.
You could not pay me enough money to do what Geoff Dyer does in Another Great Day at Sea: Dyer spends two weeks aboard an aircraft carrier. Dyer tells us about the maze of passageways, the noise, the stress, and the exhilaration of life on an aircraft carrier. Dyer is a Brit (although he now lives in Venice, California) who is saddened by the fact that England does not have an aircraft carrier. But Dyer is more that willing to praise the staff of the USS George H. W. Bush. Dyer captures he danger of life on an aircraft carrier as well as its excitement. As a guy who has a love/hate relationship with water, the thought of living on a floating city freaks me out. If you ever wondered what life aboard an aircraft carrier was like, Dyer’s book tells all. GRADE: B+
Robert Stone wrote one of my favorite novels, Dog Soldiers, so it pains me to report that Stone’s latest novel–Death of the Black-Haired Girl–isn’t very good. For starters, the black-haired girl named Maud (who names their daughter Maud in the past 20 years?) is killed on page 127 of this 281-page book. From page 127 on to the end, the book explores the impact of the black-haired girl’s death on her father (a NYPD cop), her lover (a college professor), her therapist (a former nun), and her roommate (an actress). Dull, dull, dull. GRADE: C