There is a character in Louise Erdrich’s latest novel who has two stacks of books by her bedside. One stack is called the ‘hard stack’ and the other is called the ‘lazy stack’. The Hard Stack contains books on species loss, antibiotic resistance and viruses. The Lazy Stack contains Gothic novels.
I got sick last week (nothing serious!), and my attention span shrank to the size of a piece of bacon. When I was trying to remember how much Ibuprofen can be consumed without risking liver damage, I worked through my own version of the Lazy Stack, which is another way of spelling “Treats I’ve Been Saving for an Emergency.”
Someone should start an investigation into why “Rhode Island Red” wasn’t adapted into a miniseries. The ingredients are present: dialogue of citric acid; a protagonist of depth and weight; a premise that sucks you in like one of those Dyson vacuums that looks like a Pixar character.
“Rhode Island Red” is the first in a crime series that stars Nanette, a former child prodigy who is now scurrying about what she can earn playing saxophone with mediocre skills on the streets of New York. Nanette is a dead letter for Grace Jones and has a French diploma with a minor in music from Wellesley; she’s a woman of refined taste and grim humor that ends up with a dead undercover cop and $60,000 in her apartment. And that’s on page 18! At one point, while solving the crime, she goes to a coffee shop to eat a muffin and think “dark thoughts.” Who can’t relate?
Read if you want: Richard Price, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, who wondered if you can put on a leather jacket, the TV show “I May Destroy You”
Available from: Penguin Random House
I never judge a book by its cover, unless there’s an illustration of a manicured hand surrounded by a menacing curl of film stock – then I DO judge, and my verdict is, “This should be awesome!” Such is the case with ‘Dupe’, a crime novel in which Anna Lee, a former British police officer turned private detective, investigates the case of a young woman who was killed in a seemingly random car accident. Except the crash site had a strange chemical smell, and the corpse had odd markings, and maybe it wasn’t an accident after all…
The young lady’s death turns out to be linked to movie piracy – a surprisingly topical subject for a novel published over 40 years ago! Anna Lee, like any good detective, is pragmatic in spirit and strong in constitution. More importantly, she solved the crime before I did. There’s nothing worse than getting caught up in a mystery and then being 10 steps ahead of the sleuth.
One of the great things about buying used books is the opportunity to discover an evocative inscription. My copy of “Dupe” read the following: To my premiere mystery (lover) – Merry Christmas ’81.
Read if you want: Picking up Britishisms like “narky” or “bickies” or “squiffy”, Kate Atkinson, Jane Gardam, drinking tea strong enough to curdle your stomach
Available from: Check Abebooks, eBay or your local library
Why do not you go…
Travel back in time to the year 2001 with this delightful Michael Lewis profile of a kid who skillfully took the wrath of the SEC. GAMING ON THE STOCK MARKET?
Stop organizing your loved one EMERADS AND RUBYS for one second to take in this delightful contemplation of Fabergé eggs – “Toys that children cannot play with, objects of sheer quirkiness to be treated with utmost seriousness, embarrassing exaggerated trifles made for insolent people”?
Listen to a middle-aged hedge fund manager who has 99 problems, one of which is his ATTITUDE?
Read the 80s surf thriller that inspired “POINT BREAK”, the classic Keanu Reeves movie?
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