however improbable

Wednesday reading — mysteries and wartime

What I've been reading

I read both volumes of Matt Fraction's The Defenders, a sort of unconventional team book that starts out all messy and then gets brilliant and then canceled in short order. Alas.

I reread Surfeit of Lampreys, and I do still love the Lampreys. Plus Roberta Grey, honorary Lamprey, of course.

I read A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return, a graphic memoir about the civil war in Lebanon. The pairing of the art style and the subject matter obviously owes a lot to Persepolis, and indeed this is what made me pick it up, but Abirached also does some really effective storytelling through maps and floorplans and uses lots of fields of repeated figures (like the cars on the cover) in a visually striking way.

I read Broken Homes, the new Peter Grant book, and well. I'm of two minds. As a book, it really is, structurally, broken, so even though there are lots of little fan-friendly yay! moments, they're all embedded in a framework of wait, what? Like, I mean, it's great that part of the mystery revolves around the architecture of the council estate, because I love it when Peter goes full-on architecture geek, but considering it's his special subject, he's incredibly slow to catch on that there's something going on there. Also, I like that Nightingale is feeling all nostalgic these days and revealing little snippets of his past, but he had better not die anytime soon. I'm hoping that the fact that he keeps blatantly speaking as though his death were imminent means that he is actually going to subvert the fate that genre tradition dictates for the wise old mentor wizard. But mostly I love this series too much to be objective and I think everyone should read it.

I read New X-Men Volume 1, the beginning of Grant Morrison's run, and it was entertaining enough.

I read Harlequin Valentine, a graphic adaption of a Neil Gaiman story. I am really not in love with the art, which is allegedly supposed to be "a combination of digitally enhanced photo-realism and dynamic painting" but just looks like the slightly-classier version of the fanart which is just airbrushing over a photo and pretending you drew it. But, I mean, the pages themselves are fine, and it's a legitimate artistic choice, I just don't like it.

I reread Death and the Dancing Footman, which I think wins for the Ngiao Marsh book with the least-representative title. I mean, there is a footman, he dances, and logistically the solution of the mystery does involve him, but it doesn't give you a hint of the setup. This book was published in 1941 and all the characters are gearing up for war in one way or another and thinking about how odd it is to investigate one death so particularly when lots of people are going to be dying indiscriminately soon, which is not a subject that generally comes up in your English country house murder. Also, two of the guests in the house reference Busman's Honeymoon; they have good taste in detective novels.

I reread Colour Scheme, which is okay (and has a great title) but not my favorite of the Alleyn-hunts-spies-in-WWII-New-Zealand duology.

I reread Died in the Wool, which, by process of elimination, is. I had forgotten/not noticed how cool the structure of it is.

I reread Final Curtain, and I love Troy, I love her as a POV character especially, and I love her reunion with Alleyn after their long separation during the war. There is a gay character among the group of suspects—this is indicated via incredibly subtle hints, like one character actually saying "He's one-of-those, of course, but I always think they're good mixers in their own way," which managed to go right over my incredibly sheltered head at twelve or thirteen—which I do not love. Ngiao Marsh's ability to characterize has come on leaps and bounds since the last serious spate of extended homophobia in book four, so that's something. Something fairly repellant.

What I'm reading now

I just started rereading Swing, Brother, Swing.

What I'm reading next

I put a hold on A Tale for the Time Being, because it was the only title on the Booker longlist that looked interesting to me, and it just came in at the library, so we'll see. Also, the next Ngaio Marsh after this one is A Night at the Vulcan and I'm excited about that one, although I've reread it enough times already that I actually remember who the murderer is.

(I never remember the murderer. The solution to the mystery is the first thing I forget about a book. This compensated somewhat for my chronic shortage of reading material as a kid.)

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