Monday, March 26, 2007

The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes

As I said last week I have to be careful about what I read at the moment, so that I don't muddy the waters for the novel I'm writing. This collection of early detective stories from the decade or two before the first world war fits the bill nicely. It was edited by Hugh Greene (Graham Greene's brother as I recall) in the 1970s. They are enjoyable for the period detail especially. Sheer escapism. There is a real spine-chiller, 'The Horse of the Invisible' by William Hope Hodgson, which combines ghost story and crime story to powerful effect. 'A Game Played in the Dark,' by Ernest Bramah, featuring the blind detective, Max Carrodos, was good, too.
A friend who reads my blog asked me how I could find time to read so much. I have to. I'm a word addict, simple as that. The hardest reading times in my life have been when I had an eye-operation in my twenties and couldn't read for a while (this was before taped books) and when my daughter was small, in every other way a wonderful time. However she would play on her own only when she was in the bath and that was the time when, sitting next to her on the lid of the loo, I could have half an hour with the paper or a book. On one occasion I was desperate, absolutely craving to finish a book - I'd like to say I was hungry for a work of classic literature, but it was Lawrence Block's OUT ON THE CUTTING EDGE. On that day the poor kid had two baths. So maybe that should be my ultimate accolade: a Two-Bath book.
I've got a bit more time now - though not that much more and then there are days like today . . . British Summer Time began on Sunday and the clocks went forward an hour. It's always a bit disturbing and I couldn't sleep last night and felt really groggy when I got up (6.30 old time) and it was a struggle to get my daughter up too. I also had to remember to fill the bath and jugs etc with water as the water main is cut off today from 9- 6 today for repairs. Then I had to get the cat in the car to go to the vet. It's impossible to get him in the cat carrier while he's still in the house, because he struggles so much. I can only get him in the car by running out of the house with him in my arms and throwing him in and slamming the door shut before he's worked out what's happening. Then I had to get my daughter in the car without letting the cat out. I dropped my daughter at school (late) and took the cat to vet. When I got back home I realised that my daughter's snack for break-time was on the front seat of the car so I drove back to the school with it. I drove home for the second time and had just got in the house when I realised that I had lost my watch (silver - engagement present from my husband). I drove back into the village and looked for it but no luck. Then when I got home for the third time, the door bell rang and it was the local Jehovah's Witnesses enquiring about whether I had read the leaflet they had left the last time . . .
Some days it's all I can do to keep with the losers.

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