Sentence of the Day, Third Friday of 2022

In Brasov, he had managed to claim a corner of what purported to be a first-class compartment, but if things grew worse when they reached Sinaia — as they had on his earlier such trip — he would have to consider some means of taking revenge on his brother.

Castle Shade, Chapter Nineteen

LOL LOL LOL

Holmes is on a separate trip from Mary, having received urgent summons from his brother Mycroft (apparently, their paths continually diverge, throughout this series. And neither of them, of course, seems the least bit put out if they do not see each other for weeks on end. Is this what Victorian marriages were like? How very dry!). Right after the sentence above, Holmes ruminates on his marriage (a very interesting passage. Say what you will, self thinks Holmes cuts a very romantic figure, especially when he broods)

On p. 129, there is finally a kiss, “on the side of the head,” from Holmes to Mary, as he prepares to take on his next assignment, which will entail his leaving her for who knows how long.

Self searches goodreads to see if there’s a follow-up book to this one. No, not yet. She finds this dynamic very interesting, despite the cool indifference between the two. All the reader’s frustrated hopes bust out of the Victorian corsets in the fan fiction.

A Local Witch

Self is on p. 75. That should count for something. btw, she’s just discovered Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell fan fic — so top caliber! There’s the May/December trope, the Having-a-Baby trope, the How-To-Be-a-Kickass-Detective-While-Pregnant trope, all kinds of tropes!

On p. 75, Mary and Sherlock go for a walk in the woods and find ‘apotropaic marks’ (i.e. ‘run away’ marks) on the trees around the home of a woman living in a wee cottage in the woods.

“Isn’t it odd that they let your Mrs. Varga live in the area, yet mark their paths and houses to drive her away?”

“Not necessarily . . . Although I do imagine they take care to ensure that she doesn’t stray into their private area.”

“Yet they ask her to heal their goats and, I don’t know — make their amulets? Help at childbirth?”

“Probably.”

“Isn’t that a bit like trusting the crocodile in your moat to let you go for a swim?”

“You of all people, Russell, should not be surprised at the lack of consistent logic in a system of belief.”

Self is really enjoying Castle Shade.

Stay tuned.

Suspense!

Self adores the vampire references, the creepy castle. This book has a Gothic feel — are all the others like that? It’s her first Laurie R. King. She is prolific, Castle Shade is #17 in her Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell series. The characters are charming (though hardly affectionate). Self loves the supernatural lore, and the historical context.

Slight digression: What a gorgeous day today was! The sun was out, strong and warm. There were no groups of wandering high schoolers on El Camino. Self wondered if schools had gone back to remote learning in light of omicron.

Chapter Nine

I wasn’t sure what had awakened me, but I had been dreaming. Dracula again, with horse-drawn carriages and dancing blue flames. I turned irritably on the pillow, puling it down under my head — and froze.

Was that wolves?

I jerked up from the pillow, straining to hear, feeling the ghostly stickiness of drying blood on my palms. A long minute ticked by . . . then yes, it came again, a distant howl, unearthly in the night.

Finally, They Arrive!

Holmes and Mary Russell arrive at their destination, a CREEPY CASTLE with a CREEPY, SUPERCILIOUS BUTLER (named Florescu, self is inclined to pronounce the name with a French accent)

Self is all agog. She only wishes Holmes and Mary Russell could behave like married people. Maybe not PDAs. But what is the POINT of having Sherlock Holmes MARRIED if he doesn’t behave like it?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Break

Self keeps dreading that moment when something really bad happens to Anonymous. This evening, she decided to skip ahead a few pages (to prepare herself) and saw that, in a few pages, instead of daily diary entries, we have: “Looking back on ____________.” And it continues like that, the rest of the way till the end.

Oh . . . it’s happening soon, then. The Russian army is about to enter Berlin. The women in the narrator’s building seem somewhat resigned. They even say things like, “Well, at least we aren’t virgins.” (!!!) One asks another woman to read her cards, and the card-reader says, “In the short run you will experience disappointment in connection with your husband.”

In the meantime, the narrator hauls buckets of water, lines up for hours each day just to get a scrap of food, lugs 50 lbs. of coal in a knapsack, tries to snatch two hours of sleep in her own bed, keeps writing in her journal . . .

She’s damn heroic.

Here it is, the very last entry of Before:

Friday, April 27, 1945:

It began with silence . . . Around twelve o’clock Fraulein Behn reported that the enemy had reached the gardens and that the German line of defense was right outside the door . . . I finished dressing and combed my hair. Within minutes the whole basement was on its feet.

A Woman in Berlin, p. 44

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Next: Chris Offutt, The Killing Hills

The old man walked the hill with a long stick, pushing aside mayapple and horseweed, seeking ginseng.

The Killing Hills, p. 1

TBB Quote of the Day

After the hit man gets mugged in a dark alley in Denver (Denver! He kills the muggers of course. Thankfully, there are just two), existential despair:

He caught sight of himself in the other mirror, sitting naked on the bed. A small, whitish animal with a few tufts of hair. And hurt, too. As he watched, the injured face in the mirror contracted a little, seemed to clench and compress itself into a mask of despair. A sigh like a strangled squeak escaped from its throat. He said aloud to the face, “You sorry little bastard.”

The Butcher’s Boy, p. 39

Self does not know how Thomas Perry does it, but she feels empathy for this hit man — his alone-ness, his (of all things) vulnerability. The fact that he doesn’t have a name makes him more sympathetic, not less.

Stay tuned.

Elizabeth Waring in The Butcher’s Boy

When self was reading Michael Connelly’s great introduction to this novel, she was very excited to read that the plot actually has two main characters: the professional hit man, and a woman, Elizabeth Waring, the DOJ analyst who’s on his trail.

She is so happy that Elizabeth is introduced almost right away. It’s a very mundane scene: as a relatively new addition to the department, she has to hone her chops by reading over piles of reports to sniff out the details that seem “extra” suspicious. She consults with a colleague, who looks over her “possibles” and then picks out one — a very ordinary case — and says, why don’t you look into this one?

There is no reason on God’s earth why that agent should pick out that one case, but it’s pretty exciting when he tells Elizabeth, “Just a hunch.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

M. Night Shyamalan, End of July 2021

Self read one review before watching Old. The review said the film had a silly ending. That didn’t worry self. She knows M. Night Shyamalan movies. At their worst, they’re supernatural hokum. But if he sells it, there is a feeling after watching an M. Night Shyamalan movie that is never there at the end of a Christopher Nolan movie, in self’s humble opinion. And she’s seen almost every Christopher Nolan movie (except Dunkirk)

The young actors and actresses are very, very good. Well, the old ones — especially Rufus Sewell — are good as well. It was nice to see Ken Leung in a movie, and in a kind of crucial role.

This isn’t really a horror movie, but by the end, self was vested.

Okay, there was one development that was borderline ridiculous, and it involves a pregnancy. She wants to talk about it more, but she doesn’t want to drop any spoilers.

This is such a strange movie-watching year. When she tried to think of another recent movie that called forth the same pure joy (despite silliness), the only movie she could think of was Mortal Kombat. Truly, Mortal Kombat made self so nostalgic that when she finally heard the immortal lines “Finish him!” and “Get over here!” she wanted to stand up and cheer!

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

Question of the Day

How do the pensioners in The Thursday Murder Club know about the Dark Web when self only heard about it a month ago?

She’s on p. 181.

Also, it turns out, the DCI likes Oasis. OASIS.

Normally, she would just barrel through to the end (especially as it’s getting pretty exciting), but today has had all sorts of appointments, and she’s meeting someone for dinner — DINNER! — at the Beach Chalet. Her cousin from Manila, who’s only here for a few days.

Stay cool (it’s hard, that sun’s like a laser), dear blog readers. Stay cool.

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