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Reading Slothfully

I was told in elementary school that I only could read at half the speed for success in college. Oh well, one benefit of slow reading is you get to live with the characters a longer period of time. I read in a vain attempt to better understand people. At my other homes, I'm known as a spouse, pop, guy in the choir, physical chemist, computer/web dilettante and child-care provider. In theory, I'm a published author, if you consider stuff like Quenching Cross Sections for Electronic Energy Transfer Reactions Between Metastable Argon Atoms and Noble Gases and Small Molecules to count as publications. I've strewn dozens of such fascinating things to the winds.

Currently reading

A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens
The Way Some People Die
Ross Macdonald
Envy of Angels
Matt Wallace
The Fellowship of the Frog
Edgar Wallace
Code of Conduct (The Jani Kilian Chronicles Book 1)
Kristine Smith
A Good Death
Christopher R. Cox
The Black Cargo
John P. Marquand
A Highland Christmas
M.C. Beaton
Tales from Moominvalley
Tove Jansson, Thomas Warburton
Moominland Midwinter
Tove Jansson, Thomas Warburton

The Black Camel

The Black Camel - Earl Derr Biggers In his fourth adventure, Charlie is back in Hawaii, albeit still dealing with California types. This time, he must investigate the murder of a hugely famous Hollywood actress. She had been filming in Tahiti, or some such place, and was going to finish up the final scenes in Hawaii. She had just arrived, was setting up a household on the beach, and had gathered a bunch of friends for a dinner party. She didn't make her expected grand entrance into the party, she was found stabbed to death in a pavilion across the beach from her house.

There are lots of possible culprits, including the man who wanted to marry the actress, her psychic advisor (whom she had just called to Hawaii to help her decide to accept the marriage proposal), some of her film buddies, a local tycoon married to a former Hollywood actress friend, the very proper British butler, and so forth. The psychic advisor, in particular, appears to be trying to help Chan all the while also trying to derail Chan's investigation. One can never figure out if he's a good guy, despite being a charlatan, or a not-so-good guy, in keeping with his being a charlatan (all self-styled psychics are charlatans by definition). Whatever, Charlie figures it all out in the end.

Interestingly, given that the book came out in 1929, this woman's being a hugely successful Hollywood star meant that the was a star of silent films, maybe like Clara Bow or Theda Bara, the first sounded feature-length film having only just come out in late 1928.

I don't know if I'm just getting used to Charlie, or if things really have changed by the fourth book. It seems to me, however, that Charlie's bizarre grammatical constructions are toned down in this book from those in the earlier books. I think, perhaps, Charlie is taxed with a greater share of the dialog this time around, and that writing all that tortured syntax just got too tough for Biggers. Whatever, it's still a good enough book. Well worth the download from our friends at Roy Glashan's Library.