Mystery, Review

Review: Minis

Today I am going to do a…

eugie fosterHmmm, not sure what to call this. A bunch of mini-reviews, I guess. I’m up to my elbows in writing Dragon Noir, 1200 words already this morning, when I looked at the clock and realized I’d better stop a moment and do the blog. I’d planned to review one book, which I haven’t finished, still, and another book that also isn’t finished, because I was mood-reading and reading to marinade my brain for writing noir again, and neither fit either category. So! This is what I’ve been reading this week. Or rather, since Wednesday night, when I wrapped the finals and had time to myself again. 

Murder in Monaco by John Flagg

A cynical, dark murder mystery set in the glitterati of Europe. A former spy turned PI with more hotel bills than he can pay is suddenly beset with clients… only they are all working against one another. Hart Muldoon must juggle them and keep them from killing one another before he can get paid. I was reading this one for noir flavor, which it has in bunches. Unlike many of its kind, Muldoon isn’t interested in any of the primary dame characters, and his romantic interest is… something different. This is a book with loads of sex, but not onstage, as it were. A very quick read, I think it might be about 40K words. Funny how our perception of novel-length has changed since 1957. It’s not available in ebook that I know of, I have a brittle old paperback I picked up for the cover.

Octopussy, by Ian Fleming

I’ve had a soft spot for the Bond books since I first discovered them at about age 14. This is actually two stories in one cover, and I read Octopussy. I don’t remember reading it before, although I probably have. Bond himself plays very little role in this tale, of the corrupt and dissipated British major living in self-exile in the Caribbean. Bond’s role is nonetheless significant, as he oh-so-quietly menaces the major into relating his tale of past misdeeds. The horrible death of the major is heavily foreshadowed, but still shivery to read. It’s not noir, per se, but it still has that dark gritty feel to it when reading.

Returning my Sister’s Face and other Far Eastern Tales by Eugie Foster

A friend gave me this ebook shortly after Eugie Foster’s death earlier this year, and I have been treating it like a box of very good, very lovely chocolates. Every so often I take one out and savor it. I’m very sorry I didn’t know of her before her passing, and I really must take the time to write some fan letters soon to other authors I have loved their books.

Some stories are sad, others more poignant. I think the two I have liked best so far are the tale of the Snow-spirit’s daughter, which ends with her being an old woman with ten fat babies and a loving husband. The other one is a woman who becomes immortal through the death of her lover, but is allowed a night a year… I won’t spoil it. This is a story collection worth collecting.

Pamfret and Peace, by Rex Stout

This is found in the collection Rex Stout in the Pulps

This is an allegorical tale with a hard-boiled flavor, and I had to look up when it was written, because it reads like… not science fiction, but perhaps sociological foreshadowing? But it was written in 1913, set in 1970, and resonates still today, only what he saw coming isn’t… quite! here yet. The story is of Pamfret, a bad man who dies in 1910, but through service to Satan is granted ten years more of life, in 1970. Satan warns him with mocking irony that he will not enjoy his renewed life, and sets him back on Earth. Pamfret discovers to his horror that there are rules and regulations for simply everything! Everything!

This collection is not the mystery and detective tales best known by Rex Stout, but a little bit of everything, and very enjoyable to see the breadth of what that author was capable of, from stinging satire like Pamfret, to lighter humor, and of course, the hard-boiled and mysterious.

That’s it for now. I will force myself to read something more substantial for next Friday, and we will see about the rest of the month, as I will be traveling. Also, I have a novel to write. Which I’m going to go back to work on now. Whee! 

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