Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Detectives, Literary and Otherwise

Quiz time! Match these investigators with their authors:
A. Resides in Alterna-Swindon, or sometimes Fictional-Alterna-Swindon, reads a lot, doesn't mind a good bit of violence, especially if it will protect those she loves most (and she does seem to love those who get in the way of trouble almost as often as she does.)
B. Resides in a Boston chock-full of depressing characters scarred by traumatic childhoods, knows her team better than herself and plays to their strengths as she tries to stay one step ahead of the criminal element. Tends to get there in the nick of time, though not without serious collateral damage.
C. Resides in Sicily, apparent land of more inventive seafood-based meals than anywhere in the world. Excellent (if whimsical and befuddling to his team) investigator when not pausing to savor some meal or another (or another.) A bit short-tempered (okay, that applies to all of these detectives), rigidly moral, and far from forgiving.
1. Gardner 2. Fforde 3. Camilleri

Answers (yes, I know it's not that hard a quiz. My husband's the teacher, not me.)

One of Our Thursdays Is Missing: A NovelJasper Fforde brings Thursday Next back (or does he?) for more detecting in the Book World (and in Swindon of the Outland) with One of Our Thursdays is Missing. I so enjoy this series (of his three, it's my favorite) and the chance to dive back into the weird wonderful world Fforde creates. This time, Thursday is missing, and is needed both within Fiction (or peace talks between Racy Novel and Women's Lit will fall to pieces) and in the Outland (or the cheese mafia and Goliath Corp will succeed with their evil plans), so the Written Thursday has to step into Thursday's shoes as never before. Fortunately she has the aid of a clockwork butler, since things at home are a little dicey too, what with the Men in Plaid and the thieving goblins next door. Confused? Then you're on the right track.

Love You More: A NovelFor a far more straight-forward cop-based suspense, I've plowed through several of Lisa Gardner's D.D. Warren novels. Love You More is the fifth one, but other than a certain amount of progression in her private life, D.D.'s investigations don't change her much, so if you like a thriller with damaged psyches, smart villains (though they sometimes profit from not-smart investigation, which does not seem to be intentional on Gardner's part), tense action, and a bit of inter-agency bitching, these are a good enough pick. Just don't do what I did and read a bunch of them in a row - they're too much alike, not in plot, but in the makeup of the players involved. Hopefully by the time #6 comes out, I'll have forgotten or Gardner will have added some more choices in her "Pick two traits from Column A and three extenuating factors from Column B" approach to character building.

The Snack Thief (Inspector Montalbano Mysteries)Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano mysteries are as much repast as reading. Montalbano is a gourmand, and more than a bit of a self-centered, arrogant prick sometimes, but his world is all light and scent and taste and dream. I just finished The Snack Thief (and boy am I hungry!) and am still lingering on Sicily contemplating intrigue and base motivations while also grinning at the way poor Mimi is thwarted by Montalbano at every turn. For all of his bastardly qualities, Montalbano is a brilliant strategist with a keen sense of how far he can push people, and when to deploy those skills. Camilleri unfolds it all in a seductively simple way, and the fun here isn't trying to second-guess the detective or talk back to the characters, but in watching Montalbano perform.

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