Monday, September 24, 2012

Bernard Knight, DEAD IN THE DOG

1950s murder mystery set in Malaya. Interesting historical details, but tends to be repetitive (same phrases about diseases and so on); ends on a flurry of deaths and two suicide notes.


I first read this in high school, and quite a bit of it went over my head. But it is one of my favorite novels. Written in 1953, and set in South Africa, it is narrated by Sophie, the spinster aunt of Pieter van Vlaanderen, a man who looks quite perfect: he's a lieutenant, he's 6'3" and handsome, he's a rugby star. But then he breaks the Immorality Law and sleeps with a black woman. This book is nearly perfect as a  character study--they're all round, all flawed, all wanting things they can't have. Makes my A list.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


O.K., if anyone told me I was going to really like a book about two wild west outlaws in 1851, one of whom who kills people who merely look at him wrong, I'd say ... mmmm, maybe not. But I liked this book very much; the narrator's voice is as clear as a bell, and it's really about loyalty, brotherhood, greed, loss, and redemption. The SAD part is I got halfway through rereading it before I realized I have read this before! My friend Evan gave it to me a while back and when I read the part about the prostitute and the gold, I realized ... oh ... duh. Not sure why it's not on my blog. (I never blog about books I don't like, but I like this one.) My blog is my memory when it comes to books. Now, not only my true memory but my blog has holes in it. Alas.
Eli (the narrator) and Charlie Sisters are on yet another job for the Commodore. Eli tends toward having a conscience and is looking for a quieter life; but his older brother Charlie has always been the leader. When they are put on the trail of a man who has a chemical formula for finding gold ...
First lines: "I was sitting outside the Commodore's mansion, waiting for my brother Charlie to come out with  news of the job. It was threatening to snow and I was cold and for want of something to do I studied Charlies' new horse, Nimble. My new horse was called Tub. We did not not believe in naming horses but they were given to us as partial payment for the last job with the names intact, so that was that. Our unnamed previous horses had been immolated, so it was not as though we did not need these new ones ..."