Friday, December 16, 2011

black tower

I've never read P.D. James before; the old broad's got some fire in 'er belly! is it wrong to say that?

The Black Tower is carefully woven--maybe intricately woven is better--right up until the end. Unless I missed something, our man Dalgliesh forms an hypothesis based on nothing, for one small element in this mystery. I encourage you to read this, if only so that you can 'splain to me how he pulls this little rabbit out of his hat.

Now I'm not complaining (so much.) I understand that writing a complex mystery is, you know, complex. And frankly, based on how well the story is written, I'm guessing that it was in fact me that missed the clues about this niggling little bit that caught in my teeth.

James writes in a very tight language, that assumes her audience is quick and well read. Bully on that, dear lady. What, what? The text is however peppered with words that are either Englishisms or just a cut above your average vocab (and my Dictionary is in need of repair, therefore not as ready to hand.)

image: Cavell Tower, 1830. the inspiration for The Black Tower

Huge (relative term) cast of characters here, at this wind swept coastal Grange*, and a little confusing. There's four or five ladies that are 40s to 60s, described as starting to gray, graying or gray, all vaguely unhappy and with a axe to grind, and thereby not above suspicion. Two of them are patients at the Grange, two work there, and three of their names start with the letter M. This was true of some of the male characters too. And they all vaguely played the same roll, so I couldn't keep them straight, and maybe it didn't really matter. It was like the Quenta Silmarillion there for a bit. Finrod is the son of Finarfin, and Fingon is the son of Fingolfin, right?

I picked this book up used at the library, and I would certainly grab another if it shows, or borrow one of the other Commander Dalgliesh novels in the series. James has written a bunch of detective novels.

* Another Englishism: Chiefly British A farm, especially the residence and outbuildings of a gentleman farmer.

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