Sunday, March 25, 2007


After I finish the Donna Leon I hope to have these beauties on the to be read pile.


"Am half way through Shape of Water. All you have said about this series is true. Wonderful."

It certainly is a boost when someone who really knows her onions Maxine at Petrona agrees with my recommendations.

We have been sharing the house with plumbers and electricians, while our 24 year old bathroom and kitchen are "Grand Designed". After one week I now know why the participants on that program look like they have spent time being questioned by the Camorra or Mafia.

My current read is Through a Glass Darkly by Donna Leon. I certainly need to relax with a book in which I know the characters very well, and therefore I am under no "intellectual" stress. Returning to Brunetti is like putting on a familiar pair of old carpet slippers, very comfortable.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


(ANSA) - Naples, March 20 - Police arrested over 170 people Tuesday in a massive operation targeting two of the main drug clans of the Neapolitan Mafia.Police said the swoop was the result of an investigation into the Giuliano and Mazzarella clans, which are suspected of controlling much of the drugs trade in central Naples. "Today's operation is important because it hits the clans' greatest source of income," said Tommaso Pellegrino, a Green Party MP and secretary of Parliament's Anti-Mafia Committee. "You have to impoverish the crime world to defeat it".In some cases whole families were detained in raids carried out by around 1,000 officers in Naples and the surrounding province, police sources said.The operation also showed that women are increasingly assuming high-ranking positions in organized crime gangs, taking the places of incarcerated male mobsters. A number of the people arrested on Tuesday were women suspected of being bosses of the local Mafia or Camorra operations.

Monday, March 19, 2007


I have not read the Roth Trilogy, but watched the television adaptation of the books by Andrew Taylor. The technique of going backwards in time as a why-did-it rather than the normal who-dun-it was extremely well done.
We followed Rosie's journey from an adult psychotic mass murderer back through time to a very spoilt jealous teenager, and then back again to a little disturbed 5 year old, who cut the wings off birds. I think one of the real lessons we can learn from the series is the difficulty of dealing with anyone who has no remorse, and is prepared to lie with a straight face. Our society cannot cope with the barefaced psychotic liar, because our police powers and psychiatric services are geared up for the normal person and their "rights".

Will our liberal "don't punish anyone too severely" society breed more murderers?

Will young child murderers such as the killers of Jamie Bulger go on after release to be perfect citizens, or have they been irrevocably compromised by their despicable acts?

The Roth Trilogy left many questions unanswered, or perhaps the answers are not what we want to hear.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Brill whispered, "He sleeps with them. He is notorious."

"Myself, I have never, said Ferenczi."But I have not yet faced too many temptations, so congratulations in my case are sadly premature."

Some of the minor characters in The Interpretation of Murder have some wonderful scenes, and I do think it would make a marvellous film.

But time to move on.......The choice Donna Leon or Boris Akunin, which is it to be or not to be?

Thursday, March 15, 2007


The fact that I have taken a long time to read The Interpretation of Murder is not a reflection on the book. I am so busy with family committments and other tasks, and I wonder constantly how did I manage when I was working!

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]
The next night Nora Acton, another beautiful young girl, is found tied to a chandelier in her parent's home, wounded and unable to speak or recall her ordeal.
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.
The novel is full of interesting characters including Banwell's beautiful wife Clara, Freud's translator Abraham Brill, psychiatric expert Smith Ely Jelliffe, and the most even the famous murderer of the age Harry Thaw.
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.
With Freud in the story sex and sexuality play a major role in the plot, but as the Jewish mother said when told by the family doctor that her son had an oedipus complex: "oedipus schmoedipus who cares as long as he loves his mother."
Jed Rubenfeld has written a fine crime novel, within an extremely interesting historical setting. He has obviously thrown his heart and soul into the project, with its meticulous research, and it will be interesting to see if he has similar success with a sequel.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Lindsey Davis was interviewed in the April edition of Writing Magazine, and her Marcus Didius Falco was described as being a kind of Philip Marlow-type detective. Three more times the article refers to Philip Marlow, or Marlow!

From a previous post:

Alleyn founded a "College of God's gift" at Dulwich, which was attended over the years by such distinguished alumni as explorer Ernest Shackelton, C.S.Forester, Raymond Chandler, P.G.Wodehouse and myself.
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.

Raymond Chandler's detective is Marlowe with an e, named after the playwright Christopher Marlowe.

Well now I have got that little diatribe off my chest I feel better.
"I count religion but a childish toy, and hold there is no sin but ignorance."The Jew of Malta; Christopher Marlowe 1564-1593

Review of Interpretations of a Murder coming soon.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


I watched a very interesting interview with Ian Rankin last night on BBC4.
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


Something strange has happened I am reading a book by the Robert R. Slaughter Professor of Law at Yale University featuring a Viennese psychiatrist, and it is top of the best seller list. [Daily Telegraph paperback fiction 3 March 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.....
Scott Joplin