"When in doubt have two guys come through the door with guns"
Raymond Chandler [1888-1959]
A great line from Chandler who obviously learned his lessons, as I did , from that typical English Public school education at Dulwich College.
Well it is probably time to look back and assess the highs and lows of a year which seems to have whistled by even quicker than 2005. I am convinced that as well as global warming being a reality there is also something Einsteinian occuring, and that as I get older time is speeding up.
This was the first year for a long time that we had not been abroad on holiday, but that surprisingly did not seem to make the year drag, because we were kept so busy with our family chores.
We can't feel sorry for ourselves about not having had a foreign holiday because in the previous 7 years, we had been four times to the USA , and three times to Italy, as well as touring Spain and Ireland.
FAMILY HIGH: Our son getting a 2:1 Sociology degree from University of Bath, and a fork lift driving licence. I am not sure which will be more useful in the long term.
LOWS: The inevitable funerals and trips to see friends and relatives recovering from illness. When they are younger than you it seems even more traumatic, and quite sobering.
WORLD WIDE WEB:
This was the year I made real use of the internet and met some interesting people online. I was also able to keep in touch with old friends and relatives in Mauritania, Jamaica, Zimbabwe, Sciota PA, Forest Hill, Columbus OH, and Oxfordshire.
In the first half of the year I worked on a game enhancement for a computer baseball game with some helpful guys from Phoenix, Arizona and Portland, Oregon. It was a very successful collaboration, but on those rainy days in Devon one gets a bit jealous when informed about Arizona's superb weather and Oregon's wonderful scenery.
Later in the year I started Crime Scraps and met online with a very friendly group of crime bloggers, especially Maxine, Rhian, Karen, and Peter. My apologies if I have forgotten anyone.
ALMOST GOOD REAL CRIME MOMENT:
The conviction of Danny and Ricky Preddie for the manslaughter of 10 year old Damiola Taylor. It had taken 6 years, three trials, and two police investigations to reach this conclusion and frankly the 8 year sentences were too lenient. There can really never be a "good moment" in this sad saga, but at least the convictions brought some kind of justice for young Damiola.
WORST REAL CRIME INCIDENT:
The shooting of five young girls aged between 7 and 13 at a school house in the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania.
The lack of anger in the community and their forgiveness for the shooter, who had committed suicide, was an example of their deep faith.
I think these two incidents particularly affected me because I knew both areas quite well, Peckham from my childhood in Camberwell, and Lancaster County from holidays there in 1979 and 1994.
MOST INTERESTING REAL CRIME INCIDENT:
The reappearance of 18 year old Natascha Kampusch near the Austrian home of Wolfgang Priklopil, where she had been imprisoned for 8 years. The full story will probably never be revealed as Priklopil threw himself under a train when he realised she had escaped.
BEST CRIME FICTION MOMENTS:
The discovery of authors Leonardo Sciascia, Andrea Camilleri, Gianrico Carofiglio and Carlo Lucarelli, and enjoying every page they had written.
The realisation that Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo were as good as I remembered after a 15 year gap in reading their police procedurals.
Learning so much history from the wonderful crime fiction of CJ Sansom and David Liss.
And of course delving into all those other crime fiction blogs with their excellent recommendations.
MOST ENJOYABLE CRIME READ OF THE YEAR:
A difficult one this as there were so many good books, but the choice is a triple tie:
The Locked Room by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, Day after Day by Carlo Lucarelli, and The Coffee Trader by David Liss.
I really could not seperate these three novels.
MOST BORING CRIME READ OF THE YEAR:
Another tie between Half Broken Things by Morag Joss, and Predator by Patricia Cornwell.
I really enjoyed the best of them, History of Violence and Criminale Romanzo, both were exciting and even though you knew the probable outcome very gripping.
At the other end of the scale I nearly walked out of Hidden, and was only prevented doing so by the fact that most of the people in our row were comatose and asking them to move could have been dangerous. A totally hideous film that had all the subtlety of a charging rhinoceros, and none of the excitement.
NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS:
To lose weight, my regular New Year resolution, and to enjoy every day whatever it may bring.
Today the weather is Devonian in that it is dark, very windy and raining, obviously an ideal day for reading about Salvo Montalbano and his problems on sunny Sicily.
"It is a great thing to start life with a small number of really good books, which are your very own."
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [1859-1930]
HAPPY NEW YEAR