Did not think I would get to number ten on my Three Things list! One post in three parts “Reading Looking Thinking” a clever idea started by Book Jotter blogger Paula Bardell-Hedley for those little things in life. I have posted TT irregularly since June 2018.
‘The Strings of Murder’ by Oscar de Muriel
This lurid Gothic treat took me by surprise!
For starters, I didn’t exactly click with the protagonists Inspector Ian Frey and Inspector Nine-Nails McGray.
Londoner Frey is foppish and fastidious about his clothes, and Scottish McGray is the opposite, a rough tough fellow who believes in the supernatural. McGray has formed Elucidation Of Unsolved Cases Presumably Related To The Odd And Ghostly subdivision within Edinburgh CID. This goes against the grain for scientific Frey who resents being posted to Edinburgh under the pretext of hunting a copycat Jack The Ripper. Animosity and resentment bounces between the two men most of the time, especially when McGray gives Frey an effeminate name.
Frey and McGray investigate the ghastly slaughter of prominent violin players in Edinburgh who used beautiful old violins prior to their death. Clues range from an ancient curse, a Will, madness, and the work of the devil himself. What is that shadowy apparition the townsfolk see at night?
This is the first book in the series (four other books) so I overlooked many of the author’s foibles in relation to the Victorian era, but will mention these:
- Characters regardless of status say ‘erm’ before they hesitantly speak.
- Characters, particularly Frey, continually raise or arch their eyebrows in surprise.
- Characters blush visibly; flush with fury; go red-faced; red with rage, etc.
- People are described as fat or thin and most are ‘coarse’ in looks or behaviour.
- Female characters are secondary and written as lowly, crazy, slovenly, weird, etc.
- The unwarranted inclusion of horses for the Inspectors.
Regardless of the above, I did enjoy the paranormal plot with its clever use of clairvoyance and chemistry. It has some gruesome yet original chapters, with the occasional clue more obvious than others, but it’s written in a way that lead me through the story at a fast pace. I wanted to find out what was going on!
The author Oscar de Muriel was born in Mexico City. He lives in Manchester after moving to UK to complete his PhD in Chemistry. Oscar is a violinist and chemist, and both professions are used to great effect in his Frey and McGray series. GBW.
Of course I am looking at a screen!
Today, two of the main things holding my world together
are the internet and my computer screen.
My current thoughts!
◊ Thought One
Since my forays out into the real world have been curtailed by The Pandemic, my writing has suffered. As mentioned above, a screen has replaced real human contact (except for family) to the extent that my ideas and creative stimulation have been subdued. Yes, I can Zoom and watch as much as I like online—more than ever before—but it’s not enough, it’s not the same as laughing and chatting in a coffee shop with best friends. Okay, yes, I know I’m an introvert who enjoys ‘stay home days’. However, there is a limit. It’s not necessarily tolerance, or intolerance, more a case of suspended animation. Australia has done well facing the COVID-19 challenge, we have done all that was asked of us as a nation. Now, as the country slowly grinds back into action, we are wondering how much has changed, how much will never be the same again. GBW.
◊ Thought Two
I have long believed that everyone should read anything they like and that includes comic books. The more we read, the more we discover what we like to read, and sooner or later we become aware of the good authors and the not-so-good authors. Then it’s not long before we realise there are divisions in the reading world. We falter, we question our choices in literature. The Guardian article (below) says do not let snobbish separatists stop you from enjoying your favourite books. GBW.
The link to an edited version of the speech delivered by Emily Maguire at The Stella Prize 2019 longlist announcement https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/feb/08/theres-no-shame-in-reading-whatever-books-you-want-literary-snobs-be-damned
“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” Attributed to US author poet Albert Pike
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward