library · mini-review · stuff I read

Death of a Hollow Man by Caroline Graham (Chief Inspector Barnaby #2)

454571Summary from Goodreads:
Actors do love their dramas, and the members of the Causton Amateur Dramatic Society are no exception. Passionate love scenes, jealous rages? they?re better than a paycheck (not that anyone one in this production of Amadeus is getting one). But even the most theatrically minded must admit that murdering the leading man in full view of the audience is a bit over the top. Luckily, Inspector Tom Barnaby ? first seen in The Killings at Badger’s Drift — is in that audience, and he’s just the man to find the killer. With so many dramas playing out, there’s no shortage of suspects, including secret lovers and jealous understudies galore. Ms. Graham tweaks her collection of community-theater artistes and small-town drama queens with merciless delight until the curtain falls on the final page.

Now that I finished all the seasons of Midsomer Murders on Netflix, I decided to go back and read the original books.  I had to start with book two Death of a Hollow Man, since someone else had book one (The Killings at Badger’s Drift) out from the library. Tom Barnaby is the original dad detective, he is a delight. And Caroline Graham does write in a very witty, almost Agatha Christie way. For being written in 1989, the book doesn’t feel that dated. However, I don’t like Sgt Troy’s character here, he’s much better in the TV adaptation.

The adaptation from book to screen – which I think was done by Graham herself – is very different in that the show adds in a connected murder to start the episode and lend motivation for the events leading up to Esslyn’s murder. I think it was a good choice for TV. All the extra stuff about Amadeus and the characters’ sniping at one another works on the page, but would have been really boring on screen.

This edition of Death of a Hollow Man, that I read, is very cheaply and poorly typeset. Words are misspelled, copy editing mistakes abound. I can’t decide if the use of “Persued” in the chapter heading “Exit, Persued by a Bear” instead of “Pursued” was meant to be a joke, since that was a spelling possible in Shakespeare’s time, or just another example of sloppiness. Won’t deter me from reading more though. It was fun. So if you’re looking for a mystery series that is fun and interesting without being gory, misogynistic, or too “cozy”, this might a good choice.

Dear FTC: I borrowed this book from the library.

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Booker Project · library · new books (yay) · Newbery project · random

Lazy Saturdays are necessary!

I had a lazy (but busy!) Saturday morning.  The weather is all sorts of Iowa crazy – humid with pop-up thunderstorms, tornado watches, and flood watches – so that means it must be time for the Iowa Arts Fest!  There seemed to be more booths this year than previous and any sort of art or handcraft you can think of was represented.  Painting, drawing, ceramics, photography, metalsmithing, jewelery, basket-weaveing, furniture-making, stained-glass, someone who “paints” with thread, and the guy who makes wind-chimes out of found objects (I can’t decide if it was kitchy or just junk).  I’ve never been able to afford anything I like at the Arts Fest in previous years but I found something I wanted this year:

Aren’t they cool?  A guy in Kalona, IA, makes trays, lazy Susans, salt-and-pepper shakers, trivets, etc., with this inlaid wood technique.  These were noted to be trivets but they’re a little small, in my opinion, so I want to use them as oversize coasters.  I really liked the irregular chevron pattern and the little bits of reddish wood that pop.  Additionally, they were affordable.  Yay!

On the way back to the car I stopped at Dick Blick (to indulge my love of colored pens and pencils) then swung by the yarn store to pick up the Addi turbo needle I ordered (I needed a 32-inch #7US circular).

Then I hit the library.  I checked out books:

All kids’ books this time around.  Dear Mr. Henshaw is one of the few Beverly Cleary books I never read – it also won the Newbery so it’s for my Newbery Project as well as A Gathering of Days.  I’ve been thinking about reading the “Series of Unfortunate Events” so I picked up The Bad Beginning.

And then in the library basement they were having the Friends of the Library sale.  Now, Day 1 of the library sale is ALWAYS on a Friday so if there was anything super good I certainly missed it since I, and a good portion of the adult population, was working.  Day 2 is not without its merits, however, because all adult books are half off.  Check it:

The Life of Pi, Empire Falls, House of Sand and Fog, and Sula all for TWO DOLLARS.  Yup, adult paperbacks are fifty cents each on the second day of the sale.  So it’s worth missing out on the first choice stuff on Friday.  The Life of Pi is a deaccessioned library book (from the library itself) and the library stickers are under the plastic covering the book; I don’t think I’ll be able to get them off.
It’s also extra-discount week at the bookstore so I made a small, preliminary purchase (technically last night) to get me started:
The Siege of Krishnapur and The Singapore Grip are the next two JG Farrell books I need to read (I’m reading Troubles right now); Siege will also count toward my Booker Project and Challenge.  I also got the very pretty two-volume Rabbit novels (one and two) set.  I’ve only ever read Rabbit, Run – and it wasn’t so pleasant since it was for high school English – so the four-books-in-two looked appealing.
I was also conned into buying by the merch manager seduced by this ridiculously cute, and very true to life, Cat Companion Journal by Jeffrey Brown.  The front and back illustrations are reproduced in color and there are more cartoons throughout.  For the record, my cats have done probably everything depicted in the cartoons.

Hooray for new books!

PS: The Iowa Arts Fest thoughts remind me that I will miss the Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival in Adel, IA, next weekend because it’s my niece’s baptism.  I’d love to be able to visit a fiber festival just once although it does sound like a hay fever festival for the sinuses but I’d be willing to deal for some good wool.
PPS edit: I just had an exhausting shift at the bookstore.  So much for my lazy Saturday.