Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dear Great Book Guru,  My friends and I are planning on attending the annual Good of the Village Antiques Fair this Saturday, September 8  right here on  Sea Cliff Avenue near St. Boniface's.  I always find such great things at this fair but I did promise myself that before I bought a single item, I would check with you about a new mystery series for the fall and winter months.  My criteria?  An interesting location,  well developed characters, and a  complicated plot.  Any ideas?           Seeking Mysteries                                                        

Dear Seeking Mysteries,  How lucky are you!   I just discovered a great, great series that I know you will love. The first book in the series (the fifth was just published)is CHRISTINE FALLS by Benjamin Black who is a pseudonym for the literary award winner John Banville. Set in 1950's Dublin, the novel features Quirk, a fiftyish agnostic pathologist who has a complicated back story-abandoned by churlish parents, and raised by a wealthy Dublin politician whose son Mal is Quirk's rival in many arenas.  Christine Falls is a young woman who has  fallen from grace but then most of  Black/Banville's characters  could share that description.   As you can see, Black/Banville uses the Dickensian technique of naming characters based on their personality traits. His writing is startlingly lyrical, but the mood is definitely fifties noir with clouds of cigarette smoke, vats of whiskey,  rain soaked nights, and a cadre of corrupt politicians and clerics. When asked if he is lonely, Quirk answers, "Of course-isn't everyone?"  Highly recommended!

P.S. Dan and I attended the annual Barbara Pym Conference in Oxford, England last weekend . As usual it was fabulous with wonderful speakers, fascinating participants, and entertaining dramatizations-  with the lovely setting of St. Hilda's College. Next year will be Pym's centenary so you might consider joining the Sea Cliff Pym Society in Boston, March 16 and 17 for a gala conference and celebration.

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