Sunday, March 25, 2007
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Monday, March 19, 2007
THE FALL OF AN ANGEL
Friday, March 16, 2007
THE MANHATTAN OF 1909
Thursday, March 15, 2007
SELECTED PAPERS AND SAVAGE INSTINCTS
Jed Rubenfeld's melodrama set in the New York of 1909 is a really good read on several levels. He produces a clever mix of real life characters and events and melds them with fictional characters in a puzzling complex mystery.
Elizabeth Riverford, a beautiful young debutante, is found in her penthouse apartment at the Balmoral bound and strangled. The city coroner Charles Hugel is put in charge of the investigation by the Mayor George Brinton McClellan junior. [McClellan is the son of the civil war general]
Sigmund Freud, accompanied by his disciple Carl Jung, has just arrived in New York prior to travelling to Clark University at Worcester, Massacusetts to give a series of lectures. He is asked to examine and treat the young Miss Acton as it is believed that some kind of hysteria has caused her symptoms. Freud designates one of his followers a young American colleague Dr Stratham Younger to attend to Miss Acton.
Charles Hugel brings in Detective Jimmy Littlemore to help with his investigation into the Riverford murder, and Littlemore and Younger begin to work together as the book proceeds, and become joint investigators into the mystery.
George Banwell, the owner of the Balmoral, a friend of the mayor is a suspect, but there a many red herrings in the plot. Banwell's firm is building the Manhattan Bridge, which plays a major part in the action.
If you have not studied the period you will be surprised reading the author's notes that so many of the book's incidents were real life events.
But nothing in the story is quite what it seems, and as one layer of mystery is peeled away, we find a fresh series of events to puzzle us.
Rubenfeld frankly gives us too much to absorb, a crime novel with numerous suspects and a love interest, a social history of Manhattan, a treatise on the origins of psychoanalysis, and on top of this an essay on Hamlet.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
NO SIN BUT IGNORANCE
Dulwich College had 6 athletic houses named for Tudor or Stuart personalities; Drake, Sidney, Raleigh, Grenville [my house which was usually last in competitions], Spenser and Marlowe.
That is why Raymond Chandler's detective is Phillip Marlowe, with an e.
It also explains why Robert B Parker presumably in homage to Chandler called his detective Spenser.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
I think it went a lot of the way to explaining the bleakness and despair in the character of John Rebus.
I do have a lot more respect for Rankin, and the struggles a writer has to go through after watching the interview. In fact I feel a bit guilty at not liking Rebus more, because Rankin's first real success with the novel Black and Blue was achieved at the time he discovered his second child had "special needs".
His ability to exorcise his anger on the written page, with the character of John Rebus is probably very cathartic.
I will probably read more of Ian Rankin.
Ian Rankin joins Carlo Lucarelli, and David Liss, as PhD students who started a thesis, which they never finished because they wrote a crime novel instead.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
The world turned upside down!
This shows the power of television, because Jed Rubenfeld's The Interpretation of Murder was a Richard and Judy Book Club selection. This is a British version of the Oprah Winfrey book club in the USA.
There is the photograph of the Flatiron Building on the cover, and I am sure Freud would have something to say about the part this played in the novel's success.
The history of this era is one I have studied at length, and this is helping me enjoy the book even more than usual. Although I have only read part one I have become involved with the characters, interested in how the plot will develop, and intrigued as to what other historical figures will be included.
Do not play this piece fast.
It is never right to play Ragtime fast.....