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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 Camera Clue

The Camera Clue - George Harmon Coxe Wow! I found this book and another like it at a church fair book table. I had thought I'd like me some pulp detective fiction from the 40s, and that's what this is. For some reason, GoodReads claims this book is from 1950, but the inside of the cover says 1937, and Wikipedia says 1938. The ambiance seems more 30s to me than 50s. As such it's great. As literature, of course not. It certainly merits a 3*+ rating, because it's a great example of its genre.

The story is about an ace newspaper photographer (in Boston no less) who is asked by his wife to see if he can bail our her best friend, who apparently has just murdered someone who had been blackmailing her. When the photographer gets to the place where the victim was murdered, he takes a picture of a street parade (that also has a bunch of odd people watching/by standing), then goes inside and takes a couple more shots of the crime scene. This, before the cops even know about the crime. Well, all and sundry start tracking the guy down to try to get the pictures from him before they get published, or even to the cops. Several more people get murdered on the way to a surprise ending.

That's as much as I'll tell of the plot. But it's wonderful pulp fiction. It's full of tough guys, floozies, rich people trying to pay off folks to get the odds bent in their favor, double crossing, adultery (alluded to, and only tastefully at that), con men, and so forth. Oh, and, of course, lots of drinking. This is stuff right out of Guy Noire or Humphrey Bogart, i.e. awesome in its tawdry way. The copy I had—a Dell paperback—has just about the worst typography one could imagine (although a campily lurid cover). But thinking about the time period, they were likely saving on money, so skimped on niceties like margins, white space and so forth.

Anyway, if you fancy an occasional cheesy 30s/40s dime novel, this is a great choice; if you want real literature, hunt up some Dickens of Murakami.