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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 Abbot

The Black Abbot - Edgar Wallace Edgar Wallace certainly has a fine mind for thinking up skulduggery and clever ways for people to defraud each other. Throw in some legends involving ghosts and lost gold, and you've got quite a story.

So, we have Harry Alford, Earl of Chelford who lives in Fossaway Manor, where his family has lived for centuries. There used to be an Abbey on the grounds as well, and there's a legend that a "black abbot" haunts the place. People within the manor, i.e. servants, and the rubes in the environs begin to tell tales of seeing, once again, a "black abbot" stalking the grounds. Who or what is he? What is his purpose? Certainly something isn't quite kosher. Harry is obsessed with an old legend about buried gold in the manor and is determined to find it. He is much more interested in finding the gold than in spending time with his finacée Leslie Gine.

Then we have the "second son", Richard Alford or Dick, who actually runs the estates for his older brother. He is also clearly in love with Leslie Gine and she with him.

Leslie's brother, Arthur Gine, has been handling family finances for quite some time and has managed to embezzle and fritter away not only Lord Chelford's money (or maybe just his mother's money), but Leslie's considerable fortune as well. He has a serious gambling problem. His trusted advisor, Fabrian Gilder, also fancies Leslie, and appears to be more involved in his employer's financial tribulations than one might first imagine.

Toss in Mary Wenner, who used to be Lord Chelford's private secretary, and who was heavily involved with the research related to finding all the buried gold. She set her cap toward Lord Chelford, and Dick manages to save his brother from such an entanglement and has her dismissed. But she figures she can sell what she knows about the hidden gold to Arthur Gine in exchange for his promise to marry her, and barring that, Fabrian Gilder will do. It seems that she just wants to be married, despite repeatedly disavowing this desire: "I should no more think of throwing myself at his head than I should of flying to the moon".

So anyway, there's lots interesting and colorful characters and lots of opportunities for skull duggery, murder, lurking around in the shadows and so forth. All in all an engaging tale. I'm becoming rather fond of Edgar Wallace.