Saturday, September 13, 2008

A very satisfying read

I just finished Faye Kellerman's newest novel The Burnt House. It's been a very satifying read over the past couple of days. I can report that Lieutenant Peter Decker and his wife Rina Lazarus are well, and Lt. Decker as usual solved the case. Two cases, actually; because while searching for the body of victim one among plane crash wreckage they instead found the body of victim two who had been murdured and buried in the basement of the apartment house long before the plane crashed into it. Victim one had never been on the plane. Very improbable, just like real life; and thus very satisfying. Faye Kellerman has a gift for this sort of plot. And she has a gift for describing and portraying ethnic characters and religious traditions. In this case she incredibly manages to put a somewhat shamanistic Catholic Hispanic/Indian couple, grateful parents of victim two, together at a Shabbat dinner with Rina Decker's orthodox Jewish family.

Go figure where she gets the guts to do that. And go figure where she gets the skill to carry it off.

I know, I know; I'm supposed to be finishing Robert Lacey's book Little Man which Sam lent to me when I was avoiding finishing V.S. Naipaul's book The Enigma of Arrival. And I'm also supposed to be finishing the various magazines that I have half finished around here.

But there you have it. The evidence of my disorderly life. I found the Faye Kellerman book on the rack at the supermarket and picked it up. Then I picked it up off the coffee table where it was supposed to wait quietly until I finished at least one of the other books in process. I have no excuse except that it called to me at a weak moment; and it was a great excuse to avoid the other two books.

I should also confess at this point that when I picked up the book by Faye, I also picked up Jonathan Kellerman's new book and Patricia Cornwell's latest book. But I'm determined to return to Little Man before I open either of those two.

However, as I mentioned above, life is an improbable twist of random happenings. And I am an abject slave to my whims rather than a faithful servant of my rational desires and plans. I'm also old enough to realize that resistance really is futile. So, if I should succumb to the very strong desire to see what Milo Sturgis and Alex Delaware are up to, or if I should be unable to resist the siren call of a look into the lives of Kay Scarpetta and Pete Marino, it should surprise no one.

Little Man is a biography of Meyer Lansky. It's a true story, insofar as any book can be a true story of such a deeply private and devious subject who spent his life in such a dangerous business. It's full of interesting twists and turns, and it bears on a lot of subjects that I find deeply interesting. But it is a true story, after all, so it's not nearly as realistic as fiction.

The Enigma of Arrival, well, what can I say? It's by a great author, an author some of whose other books I have enjoyed a great deal; but it's, it's, so self absorbed. V.S. Naipaul was burrowed so far into contemplation of his own navel when he wrote it that it's almost beyond belief.

How can anyone be so self absorbed? I wonder about that from time to time.

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