I’m on the road this week so I’m reading in my extreme comfort zone. I’m now about halfway through the medieval mystery The Hand Of Justice by Susanna Gregory. I’ve read about a dozen in this Brother Matthew Bartholomew series. I try to do them chronologically but sometimes the next one in paperback is out of stock or being imported and will take longer than I am willing to wait. This book is the 10th in the series and I must say that some of the things I was a bit critical about in the earlier books (Matt and/or his sidekick, Brother Michael, rehashing every clue they’ve had so far, is a particular one) have at this point vanished from Ms. Gregory’s writing. The details of medieval life are worked into the story in a very realistic way and this particular mystery involves a twist on the dead body in the locked room scenario. There are many lesser mysteries woven into the plot and some very interesting details about the law and medieval milling surface without being tedious at all. I’m having trouble figuring out who did it and how, so I will keep you informed.
Just before I started The Hand, I finished a book that I hope to include in my submission to another blog where they are inviting readers to participate in their meme, Six Degrees of Separation. The Summer We Read Gatsby: A Novel by Danielle Ganek
was a very easy, enjoyable read, enabling readers to transpose their actual summer to a virtual summer in the Hamptons. I knew very little about the Hamptons other than it is a prestigious area to either live year-round or summer and weekend. The story features two half-sisters, the flamboyant fashionina from New York City and the younger, sedate (almost prim) sister from Switzerland, who used to summer together with their rather eccentric aunt who has died and left them her ramshackle home along with the instructions that there is a “treasure” to be found and they must sell the house. The story is full of fun and strange characters, complicated relationships, architects, and real estate agents. Of course, the Gatsby/Fitzgerald theme is running throughout, beginning with the wealthy neighbour with the ugly, self-designed, ostentatious home throwing a Gatsby party where everyone must come in period costume. Another theme is that the narrator is named after a Grateful Dead song, Stella Blue (it could have been worse), and, according to her half-sister, is afraid to live. The wealthy neighbour is an old crush of Peck’s (short for Pecksland) and there is a handsome architect who Stella can’t remember liking at all from the summer her mother had just died. Throw in a strange artist-in-residence cum butler staying in the studio above the garage (who should be long gone but can’t tear himself away), who is perhaps hoping to rob the girls blind and you’ve got a pretty good novel going here. Take it to the beach or out on the boat or even just into the backyard with a tall, cold drink and a lounge chair. * * * *