Sunday, December 31, 2006

Flu! - or something. The bathroom and I have spent the past 15 hours becoming better acquainted. I would take the aches and chills of flu over any kind of stomach problem. And today I seem to have both.
What have I read lately? It's hard to concentrate when you don't feel good. But BEFORE I got sick, I read the latest installment in Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series AND the latest Charles Todd Ian Rutledge mystery. Of course, I can't remember the titles so just a minute - Okay, Winspear's book is "A Messenger of Truth". Todd's book is "A Long Shadow."

Winspear - when a graduate from Maisie's old school asks her to clear up any confusion over an artist's "accidental" death, Maisie is introduced to the Bohemian side of Britain's landed gentry. The aftermath of World War I has changed the economic status of many wealthy families and has made the lot of the working poor even more desperate. Maisie is suffering from the aftermath of a "breakdown" and her relationship with a young doctor further complicates things. This is a measured mystery and a satisfying entry to the series.

Charles Todd, actually a collaboration between a mother and a son, writes a creepy post WWI series of mysteries, starring the barely recuperated shell shocked Inspector Ian Rutledge, and the ghost that haunts him, his murdered sergeant, Hamish. (Sorry, Hamish, I forget your last name.) Rutledge's superior has sent him out to investigate the bow-and-arrow attack on a local constable, once a London police officer. The village has been reeling from the disappearance of a young girl just a few years earlier and the wounded officer is a suspect. There is a haunted wood involved and someone is stalking Rutledge and leaving shell casings in his car and on his bed. And what of the woman who leads seances? Just exactly what does she suspect of Rutledge's precarious mental state? Pretty creepy stuff.

And then there's Nina Bawden and her book, "Granny the Pag". Nina writes for adults and children and her books have been turned into BBC features. The most recent BBC movie is "Carrie's War", a story of a girl's adjustment to being relocated during WW II.
"Granny the Pag" takes place in present day Britain. Cat lives with her grandmother, since her actor parents are too busy pursuing their careers to look after her. Her grandmother is not a typical grandmother. She's a well-known doctor, a therapist, who chain smokes, wears old, tattered or outlandish clothing and drives a Harley. (Her Black Vincent has been put in a museum.)
Cat and her grandmother are happy with the arrangement but two things converge to shake up their world. Cat draws the attention of the school bully, Willy Green. All the teachers at school think Willy is an angel and the head master accuses Cat of bullying him. Willy's father is a powerful man, as well. And Cat's parents have arrived, acting-wise, bought a house and want their daughter to live with them. Granny is stuck between her daughter and her grand daughter and it is up to Cat to start the ball rolling on a solution.
I liked the book because the bully's character is not black and white. By the end of the book, the reader sees him as a victim. (Granny takes him for a ride on her motorcycle.) And the psychological warfare that Cat's parents wage is impressive if finally ineffective.

I'm not sure what has happened to Bawden. She hasn't published any new kid's books for several years. I hope she's still around.
This is my last post for 2006. Tomorrow starts a New Year! Whoo hoo! Happy New Year everyone. Let me know what you are reading.

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