Red Chair Listens: The Borough Treasurer

I keep telling myself, “No more mysteries with inane heroines!”  And then I go and blow it.  The latest: The Borough Treasurer by J. S. Fletcher, 1921.  It started out promisingly with a description of the town of Highmarket, its mayor Mr. Mallalieu, and his partner and the borough treasurer Mr. Cotherstone.  Enter the wily Mr. Kitely, former policeman turned blackmailer (a man has to eat, right?) who recognized Mallalieu and Cotherstone as a pair of embezzlers from 30 years ago . . . .  Murder, of course!

Mr. Kitely is dead, strangled like a pig, and Mallalieu and Cotherstone suspect each other without actually accusing each other of the crime.  Mr. Cotherstone tries to throw the suspicion on the mysterious Mr. Harborough: what is his alibi and why does he refuse to just come out with it?  And why does Mr. Brereton, young lawyer from London, suddenly decide that Mr. Harborough is innocent and he simply must defend him?  Well, OK, that last part is easy . . . .  One look at Avice Harborough, and Mr. Brereton is determined to prove her father’s innocence.  Meanwhile, Mr. Cotherstone has to make sure his past stays in the past, not the least because daughter Lettie is engaged to the wealthy Windle Bent, who is also Mr. Brereton’s best friend.  And rounding out the list of unsavory characters, there is Mr. Stoner, Cotherstone’s clerk and neophyte blackmailer, and Miss Pett, a woman with her own secrets to protect.

In the end, everything is explained, even the lamest red herring plot ever.  I do, however, appreciate the moral imperative that everyone gets what he/she deserves, even if the message could have been less heavy-handed.

IMG_3067Tula, waiting for it to be all over.

Red Chair Listens: Masquerade

I used to be able to read and knit, but I have become much less capable of multitasking as I age.  DH says that’s because humans were never meant to multitask, and he can point to many studies that show that people who claim to be good at multitasking are in fact deluding themselves.  Anyway.  These days I listen and knit:  BBC Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra, Librivox (very uneven quality), audiobooks.  The more interesting the book, the less I knit; the multitasking rule apparently still applies.

Our local library has a decent selection of downloadable audio books  and sometimes I take a chance on someone I have never read.  The latest listen was Walter Satterthwait’s Masquerade, set in 1920s Paris and starring Pinkerton detectives Phil Beaumont and Jane Turner.  As a rule I don’t go in much for historical fiction, mainly because I tend to be fairly stringent about historical truth, so the whole idea of “historical fiction” seems an oxymoron.  But once in a while, I get sucked in when a writer does his research and knows how to write.  Masquerade was a fun romp until it started getting bogged down in its own wittiness — which fortunately did not happen until about 3/4 of the way through.  I don’t know if my impatience was because of the actual writing or because of the narration; I suspect it was both.  The name dropping (Hemingway!  Gertrude Stein!  Scott and Zelda! ), the caricatures, the knowing references — they became just a little too twee, spun on just a little too long.  So much cleverness, then deflation, and an ending that left me thinking, “Really?  Why bother?”

_____________________________________________________________________________

CSA Share Week 23:  collard greens, kale, broccoli, onion, garlic, potatoes, carrots, acorn squash, butternut squash, leeks, eggs

Recipes:  Three Sisters soup (Hopi black beans, Mexican red beans, onion, leeks, butternut squash, collard greens, corn), roasted vegetables

CSA Share Week 22: white cauliflower, purple cauliflower, collard greens, broccoli, onion, garlic, potatoes, carrots, turnips, butternut squash, green onions (gave away), flat leaf parsley, eggs

Recipes: steamed broccoli, roasted vegetables, cauliflower marranca (from Mollie Katzen: Moosewood Cookbook)

The Reading Pile

Readings-in-progress: October, 2009

Readings-in-progress: October, 2009

A pile of books, some more in progress than others …

I am finally getting around to Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections — it is strangely addictive, though I’m still not sure I would have stuck with it if I had to actually read it rather than listen to it.  But, here I am, on disc 13 of 19, and enjoying the combination of Franzen weirdness and George Guidall’s performance.  Could a family be more normal, or more dysfunctional?