In The Spotlight: James Sallis’ The Long-Legged Fly

Hello, All,

Welcome to another edition of In The Spotlight. New Orleans is a city rich with history, different cultures, world-class music and food, and plenty of dark secrets. It’s a complex place, and that’s part of what makes it such an effective setting for a crime novel. Let’s take a look at one today and turn the spotlight on James Sallis’ The Long-Legged Fly.

Beginning in 1964, the novel tells the personal and professional story of private investigator and sometimes-debt collector Lewis ‘Lew’ Griffin. He’s good at finding people, and he knows New Orleans well enough to know where to look. The novel spans nearly thirty years of Griffin’s life, divided into four main sections.

In the first part of the novel (1964), Griffin is hired by two members of the Black Power movement to find noted activist Corene Davis. She’d been scheduled to fly from New York to New Orleans to give some speeches and make some appearances, but she never showed up. Or, if she made it to New Orleans, she disappeared shortly after her arrival. Griffin takes the information he’s given and slowly traces her movements on the day she went missing. He finds that Davis did land as scheduled in New Orleans. And that means that she is (or was) somewhere in the city. He finds out the truth about that case, and the novel goes on.

In the next major case Griffin gets, in 1970, Thomas and Martha Clayson hire him to find their sixteen-year-old daughter, Cordelia. She left their home in Mississippi, and they believe that she’s come to New Orleans, since that’s what she’d talked about doing. Griffin gently tries to warn them that she might not want to be found. Even if that’s not the case, there are plenty of dark and ugly places where a sixteen-year-old girl might end up. But the Claysons want to know the truth, so he starts asking questions. And, in the end, he puts the pieces of that puzzle together.

The next major case we learn about takes place in 1984. Griffin has had a major downward slide in his life and ends up staying in a halfway house for a time. He slowly gets his life together, but he maintains some links to people from that house. One of them is Jimmi Smith. When Jimmi’s sister, Cherie, goes missing, he worries about her and asks Griffin to see if he can find her. Griffin agrees and begins the work of tracing what’s happened to Cherie.

The last major case in the novel begins in 1990. Griffin’s ex-wife, Janie, calls to tell him that their son, David, who’s become an academic, hasn’t been in touch with her since he went on a sabbatical trip to Europe. David hasn’t been in contact with Griffin, either; and, after all, David is his son. So, Griffin starts making telephone calls, trying to trace his son’s whereabouts.

These cases are, if I can put it this way, the backdrop for the ups, downs, and changes in Griffin’s personal life. He begins as a PI/debt collector representative, slides badly downhill, picks up his life, bit by bit, and writes a novel that becomes very well-received. He ends up teaching some literature classes, too, and it’s not spoiling the story to say that he does achieve a certain sort of balance and even contentment.

The story is told from Griffin’s point of view (first person, past tense). So, we learn a lot about him. He’s always loved reading, and there are several references to various authors and books throughout the novel. He’s somewhat philosophical, too, and does his share of self-reflection. He doesn’t blame anyone but himself for his downfalls and troubles, and he does the best he can with what he has.

Griffin has his faults. At times, he drinks a lot more than he should, and he finds it very hard to be emotionally close to people. But you couldn’t really put him in the category of the ‘damaged detective who can’t maintain friendships.’ In fact, throughout the novel, there are several characters who are his friends (some are lovers), and who support him. And their help proves to be invaluable.

He has a compassionate side, too, that we see when he interacts with clients, with some of the down-and-out people he meets, and so on. In fact, it’s that compassion that sometimes gets him in trouble, as cases have an impact on him.

The novel takes place in New Orleans, and that city’s lifestyle, music, culture and society are woven throughout. But it’s not all the New Orleans that you see on tourist websites. The city is home to desperately poor people, gritty bars, ugly racism, sleaze, and more, and Griffin knows about it all. Parts of his cases take him to some very dark places, both literally and figuratively. Still, Griffin loves the city, and so, through him, does Sallis.

This isn’t a happy ‘light’ novel. Some of the cases are very bleak, and there’s real sorrow and ugliness. There’s violence, too, although it’s not protracted or always ‘on stage.’ But Sallis doesn’t gloss over the reality of what can happen in a big city like New Orleans. That said, though, it’s not relentlessly dark. Griffin has some long, supportive friendships, a gradually developing sense of stability, and a determination to survive.

The writing style is literary, with narrative description and thoughtful reflection. But there’s also a focus on the characters and action in the story, so it’s not overly long. My edition clocked in at 184 pages.

The Long-Legged Fly is a gritty, sometimes dark, story of life in New Orleans over the course of about thirty years. It features some haunting cases, a PI who is as much a part of the city as it is of him, and a cast of characters who support and influence him through the years. But what’s your view? Have you read The Long-Legged Fly? If you have, what elements do you see in it?

 
 
 

Coming Up On In The Spotlight
 

Monday, 25 March/Tuesday, 26 March – Lay On, Mac Duff – Charlotte Armstrong

Monday, 1 April/Tuesday, 2 April – Full Curl – Dave Butler

Monday, 8 April/Tuesday, 9 April – Masks – Fumiko Enchi

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Filed under James Sallis

Clear the Air*

Most of us keep at least some things to ourselves – things we may not even tell our partners. And that doesn’t necessarily have to be a terrible thing. We all have our private histories and thoughts. But there are some things that are actually very much better shared.

When people keep too many of the wrong secrets, it can lead to misunderstanding or worse, much of which could be prevented with an honest discussion. Of course, that can be harder to do than it is to write about. But keeping the wrong secrets can be even harder.

For example, in Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Captain Hastings goes to Styles Court, Essex, to visit his friend, John Cavendish. Cavendish lives there with his wife, Mary; his brother, Lawrence; his stepmother, Emily Inglethorp; her husband, Alfred; her ward, Cynthia Murdoch; and, her friend, Evelyn Howard. One night during Hastings’ visit, Emily Inglethorp is murdered. The Cavendish brothers do not want the police brought in, because of the potential for scandal. But they are finally persuaded to ask Hercule Poirot (who makes his début in this novel), to look into the matter. Among other things, he finds that a few of the characters have kept secrets from others that would have been better told. At the very least, it would have prevented several of the misunderstandings that impede Poirot’s investigation.

Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent features Kindle County Deputy Prosecutor Rožat ‘Rusty’ Sabich. When a colleague, Carolyn Polhemus, is murdered, Sabich’s boss, Raymond Horgan, assigns him to work on the investigation. Sabich starts the job, but he doesn’t tell his boss something important: he had a relationship with Polhemus. It ended a few months before she was murdered, but it’s still relevant. When Horgan finds out about the affair, he’s furious. He takes the case away from Sabich, and gives it to one of Sabich’s rivals, Tommy Molto. Before long, the evidence begins to suggest that Sabich might be the murderer. In fact, it’s so compelling that Sabich is arrested for the crime. He hires Alejandro ‘Sandy’ Stern to defend him and begins to try to clear his name. While it might have been a risk to admit the relationship, it’s also possible that it might have made things easier for Sabich in the long run.

We might say a similar thing about Martin Clark’s Mason Hunt, whom we meet in The Legal Limit. He’s a prosecutor for the Commonwealth of Virginia, serving Patrick County. His past comes back to haunt him when his brother, Gates, is arrested for cocaine trafficking and given a long prison term. Gates asks Mason to help get him out of prison, but Mason refuses. Then, Gates threatens that if his brother doesn’t help, he’ll implicate him in an unsolved murder. Years earlier, Mason was present when his brother shot a romantic rival. At the time, he helped Gates cover up the crime out of a sense of filial loyalty. But now, he finds himself in deep trouble when Gates threatens to tell the police it was Mason who committed the murder. When Mason refuses to help his brother, Gates follows through on his threat, and Mason finds himself accused of murder. For a time, he doesn’t share much of what’s going on with his assistant prosecutor, Custis Norman. That proves to be a mistake, as it raises up a barrier between the two men and makes it harder for Norman to help his boss. It’s not until Hunt tells Norman the truth that he can really get the benefit of his help.

Kirsten McDougall’s Tess begins as Lewis Rose is driving towards his home in the Wellington region of New Zealand’s North Island. It’s pouring down rain, and Rose notices a young woman standing by the road, getting soaked. He offers her a lift, she accepts, and he drops her off not far from a local hostel. The next day, Rose sees some thugs harassing the woman, and rescues her. He takes her to his home and offers to let her stay there. He’s got plenty of room; so, with no other better alternatives, she agrees. It’s soon clear that the young woman, who says her name is Tess, is suffering from an internal infection. Rose gets her medication, and cares for her, and she slowly begins to get better. All the time, though, she is keeping an important secret from him and from his daughter, Jean, who comes for an extended visit. That secret plays an important role in the reason Tess is more or less homeless. And it has a major impact on the family. While Tess has her reasons for not sharing that secret, it might have been easier all around if she had confided it.

Donna Morrissey’s The Fortunate Brother is the story of the Now family, who lives in the Beaches, Newfoundland. Sylvanus Now, his wife, Addie, and their son, Kyle, are still reeling from the death three years earlier of the oldest Now child, Chris. His death was accidental, but that doesn’t make it any easier to cope. It’s not any easier, either, for Kyle’s sister, Sylvie, who now lives on her own. The family really hasn’t started to heal yet, but they’re getting by as best they can. Then, a local bully named Clar Gillard is murdered. No-one in the area is sorry to have him gone; but, of course, the police have to find out who the killer is. And, little by little, they find evidence that implicates more than one member of the Now family. As the investigation goes on, the Nows have to cope with the fact that they are all under suspicion. It’s hard, but they do start to draw closer to each other. And, as the story goes on, several truths come out that might have been better told earlier. Once the air is cleared and the truth is told, the family can start the work of healing.

And that’s the thing about some secrets. We all have our private truths. But some of them really do need to be told. The alternative can be misunderstanding or worse.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is the title of a song by Off With Their Heads.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Donna Morrissey, Kirsten McDougall, Martin Clark, Scott Turow

Ridin’ the Storm Out*

Tragedies have a way of showing what people are made of, as the saying goes. Some people possess quite a bit of inner strength and resolve, but it’s not necessarily evident until something terrible happens. Then, people can show a surprising amount of resilience and strength.

That’s certainly true in real life, and it’s true in crime fiction, too. For example, in Paddy Richardson’s Traces of Red, we meet the Dickson family: Rowan Dickson, his wife, Angela, and their children, Katy and Sam. One horrible day, three members of the family are murdered. Only Katy survives, because she wasn’t at home at the time of the killings. Angela’s brother, Connor Bligh, is arrested, tried, and imprisoned for the murders. Years later, there are little pieces of evidence that suggest that Bligh might be innocent. Wellington journalist Rebecca Thorne learns of this possibility and decides to investigate. If Bligh is innocent, this could be a major story for her – one that will cement her place at the top of New Zealand journalism. Naturally, she wants to talk to Katy, but Katy is convinced of her uncle’s guilt. Besides, she’s survived the trauma of her family’s deaths, and wants no part of raking everything up again. Still, Thorne presses on, and soon finds herself closer to the case than she had imagined. Throughout the novel, Katy Dickson is a strong character who hasn’t let the deaths in her family defeat her. It’s helpful, too, that she’s got friends and family to support her.

Cat Connor’s Ellie Conway Iverson is an ex-pat New Zealander who now works as an FBI Supervising Special Agent (SSA). (Qubyte, the tenth novel in this series, has recently been released). Since her early days with the FBI, Ellie has been through more than one tragedy. I don’t want to spoil story arcs or major plot points. Suffice it to say that she’s had more than one death among people she cared about, and more than one terrible thing happen to her. But Ellie isn’t the type to give up and run away. She’s smart, capable, and determined to survive. Plus she knows how to use weapons. What’s more, she has the strong support of her team. Things may go wrong, but Ellie doesn’t quit.

In Finn Bell’s Dead Lemons, we are introduced to 37-year-old Finn Bell (yes, he shares a name with his creator). He’s at a crossroads in his life as the real action in the story begins. His marriage has ended, and a car crash has left him in a wheelchair. In part, it’s his own doing, and he admits that. His drinking led to both the car crash and his divorce. Now he has to make some difficult choices and decide what he’ll do next. He takes a cottage in the tiny town of Riverton, on New Zealand’s South Island, and arranges to meet with his assigned therapist, Betty Crowe. Then, he becomes intrigued by a mystery surrounding the cottage he’s taken. It seems that the Cotter family, who owned the cottage before Bell bought it, suffered a double tragedy. In 1988, Alice Cotter disappeared. A year later, her father, James, also disappeared. It was always believed that the Zoyls, who live not far away, were responsible for both incidents. But there’s never been any proof. In part out of curiosity, Bell starts to look into the matter. And he soon finds that crossing the Zoyls is a dangerous thing to do. But he doesn’t give up. With Betty’s help, he doesn’t give up on himself, either. Little by little, he returns to the world, if I can put it that way. He doesn’t quit, and he finds out the truth. He also finds support in the community.

Jenn Shieff’s 1950s-era The Gentleman’s Club introduces readers to Istvan Ziegler, a refugee from Hungary who’s come to Auckland to help build the Harbour Bridge. He doesn’t speak the language well, and he has no guarantee of a job, but he takes a cheap room and gets started. One day, he hears someone obviously in distress in the next room. He goes to see if he can help, and discovers Judith Curran, who’s come to Auckland to have a (then-illegal) abortion. She’s gotten an infection and is in real danger. So, Istvan nurses her as best he can, and takes care of her until she’s back on her feet. Each in a different way, Istvan and Judith become aware of Brodie House, a home for children run by Lindsay Pitcaithly. On the surface, it’s a haven for children who don’t otherwise have a place to go. But it soon comes out that some dark things may be happening there. Both Istvan and Judith are, in their ways, vulnerable. But they stick together, and, with help from some friends they make, they learn what’s going on at Brodie House, and take the risks they need to take to do something about it.

And then there’s Nathan Blackwell’s The Sound of Her Voice. In it, we meet Matt Buchanan, an Auckland police detective who’s been on the job long enough that it’s left deep scars on him. But that doesn’t stop him from wanting to solve a case from 1999: the disappearance of Samantha Coates. She went missing while coming home from school one day and hasn’t been seen since. Buchanan works other cases, of course, as the years go by. But he doesn’t give up on the Coates case. Then, small bits of evidence related to the case come up, and he’s determined to pursue those leads. And he finds that the trail may lead to something much bigger than he’d imagined. He doesn’t give up, though, and it doesn’t stop him that he may have to face some of his own monsters.

In case you hadn’t noticed, all of these novels are by New Zealand authors, and about Kiwis. I’m not a Kiwi, myself, but I can say this. These stories show two important things: Kiwis don’t give up and quit when things get difficult; and, Kiwis stick together and help each other. Doesn’t matter whether they worship in mosques, synagogues, churches, somewhere else, or nowhere at all. Kiwis stand by each other. Yesterday’s awful tragedy in Christchurch isn’t going to stop New Zealand in its tracks or make New Zealand fearful. And it’s not going to divide a group of people who stick together when the going is tough. Fear and hatred will not win. To those whose personal lives were touched by this horror, please know that millions of people, myself included, stand with you, and wish you healing. And be in no doubt: this isn’t going to stop New Zealanders from supporting each other, no matter who they are or what they believe religiously.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is the title of a song by REO Speedwagon.

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Filed under Cat Connor, Finn Bell, Jen Shieff, Nathan Blackwell, Paddy Richardson

And Meet the Best Innkeeper in Town*

Staying at an inn can be a really pleasant alternative to staying at a large, ‘corporate’ hotel. Inns are often smaller, more intimate, and more ‘homey’ than larger places. They have a long history, too – longer than that of the large hotel chains. And they’re quite varied.

One important difference between the larger hotels and inns is that, instead of being owned by corporations, and managed onsite, many inns are privately owned. This means that innkeepers and owners have a lot of say and personal stake in their inns. They can be interesting people in their own right, and they certainly figure in crime fiction. After all, innkeepers have a way of knowing what goes on in their places.

In Agatha Christie’s Evil Under the Sun, for instance, we are introduced to Mrs. Castle, who owns the Jolly Roger Hotel, a holiday destination on Leathercombe Bay. She prides herself on running a respectable establishment; she is painfully respectable herself, too. So, it’s a source of great distress when one of her guests is murdered. Famous actress Arlena Stuart Marshall is strangled during a visit to the Jolly Roger. At first, her husband, Captain Kenneth Marshall, is a natural suspect. But he has a provable alibi. Hercule Poirot is staying at the same hotel, and he works with the police to find out who the real killer is. Through it all, Mrs. Castle is determined to preserve the good name of her hotel.

Matsumoto Seichō’s Inspector Imanishi Investigates is the story of the murder of Miki Ken’ichi, whose body is found early one morning under a Tokyo train. Inspector Imanishi Eitaro and his team take the case. The victim wasn’t from Tokyo, so there are no nearby family members of close friends. So, one important task for the police is to find out where the man was from and try to trace his movements. It takes time, but eventually, it’s established that Miki was from Okayama. He was taking what was, for him, a very unusual trip, so Imanishi starts with Okayama, and traces the man’s journey. This leads him to the Futami Inn, where Miki stayed briefly. The innkeeper isn’t exactly thrilled to have the police asking questions, since he’s concerned about the inn’s reputation. But he co-operates with the police, and so does the maid who waited on Miki. Between them, they provide Imanishi with interesting and important information.

Ross Macdonald’s short story The Singing Pigeon features his PI sleuth, Lew Archer. In it, Archer is heading north from Mexico into Southern California. He stops for the night at a motel called the Siesta. At first, the innkeeper doesn’t seem eager to rent out rooms, but finally, he gives Archer a room for the night. The next morning, Archer is awakened by a woman’s scream, and rushes to the room next door to see what’s going on. There’s blood on the bedsheets, and the young woman who was screaming starts to say something about it, but she’s quickly hushed up. The innkeeper, who is her father, says that one of the guests had a nosebleed, but Archer doesn’t believe it. Still, there’s not much he can do. He checks out of the Siesta and prepares to be on his way. Not far from the motel, though, he finds the body of a man. Making the obvious inference, he goes back to the Siesta, where it’s soon clear that nobody is telling him the truth about what really happened there. In the end, though, Archer finds out who the dead man was, and what his connection is to the Siesta and the family that owns it.

In Sujata Massey’s The Salaryman’s Wife, Tokyo-based art expert Rei Shimura decides to treat herself to a New Year’s trip to a traditional inn/B&B near Shiroyama, in the Japanese Alps. The inn is owned by Mayumi Yogetsu, who takes pride in her establishment, and wants to maintain its reputation. She keeps up traditional standards, and that makes for a bit of awkwardness with Shimura, who is more modern in her outlook. Still, the visit starts out well enough. Then, early one morning, Shimura discovers the body of another guest, Setsuko Nakamura. The police are called in, in the form of f Captain Jiro Okuhara, and the investigation gets underway. It’s all very difficult for Mayumi Yogetsu, who now has to cope with police everywhere, uncomfortable questions about the guests, and more. It’s not a lot easier for Rei Shimura, who is, at the very least, a ‘person of interest’ since she found the body. In the end, we learn who and what is behind the murder, but not before there’s great danger to Shimura, as well as another murder.

There’s also Louise Penny’s A Rule Against Murder (AKA The Murder Stone). In that novel, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec, and his wife, Reine-Marie, take their annual anniversary trip to the Manoir Bellechoise. It’s a lovely, rural place that they both enjoy. There, they are greeted by the proprietor, Clementine Dubois, who knows them and makes them welcome. She makes it her business to know all of her guests, and to make everyone as comfortable as possible. And she is a consummate professional. But even her skills are put to the test by the members of the Finney family, who are also staying there. It’s a very dysfunctional group, and that makes things awkward for everyone. Then, there’s a murder. All sorts of old secrets come to the surface; so does a connection to another series character.

And I don’t think I could do a post about innkeepers without mentioning Joss Merlyn, who owns the eponymous inn in Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn. Merlyn’s twenty-three-year-old niece, Mary Yellan, comes to stay with him and his wife, Patience; and, right away, there’s trouble. Merlyn is abusive and rude, and it’s clear he doesn’t want Mary there. Patience is terrified of her husband and does her best to placate him when she can. It’s a cold, eerie atmosphere, and Mary dislikes it immediately. Even the inn itself is chilling. No-one ever seems to stay there, and it’s not hard to see why. Then, Mary discovers that something eerie is going on at the inn. Neither her aunt nor her uncle will tell her anything, so she goes looking for answers on her own. And she soon finds herself in very real danger. Then, there’s a murder. And it’s very likely that Mary could be the next target.

Inns and other such small places can be warm, friendly, positive experiences. They can be unique, too, and often have a much more ‘personal touch.’ And the people who own and run them can be as interesting as the inns themselves.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from  Claude-Michel Schönberg and Herbert Kretzmer’s Master of the House. 

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Daphne du Maurier, Louise Penny, Matsumoto Seichō, Ross Macdonald, Sujata Massey

Words of Wisdom*

You might not think of crime novels as sources for ‘words of wisdom.’ But they can be. In fact, there’s a surprising amount of everyday wisdom in lots of crime novels. Sometimes, those gems come from the sleuth; sometimes they don’t. Either way, though, you can learn some interesting lessons when you read in the genre.

For instance, in Agatha Christie’s Dumb Witness (AKA Poirot Loses a Client), Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings travel to the village of Market Basing in response to a letter from Miss Emily Arundell, who lived there. She wasn’t specific in her letter, but referred to a delicate matter on which she wanted to consult Poirot. By the time Poirot and Hastings get to Market Basing, though, it’s too late: Miss Arundell has died. At first, it’s put down to liver failure. But Poirot is not convinced, and he decides to look into the matter. One of the people he and Hastings consult is Miss Caroline Peabody, who’s known the Arundell family for a very long time. She tells the two men about Miss Arundell’s sisters, saying that one of them had ‘a face like a scone.’ Here’s what she says next:
 

‘There’s something to be said for marrying a plain woman; you know the worst at once and she’s not so likely to be flighty.’
 

Now, admittedly, that might be seen as a dated way to think about a woman’s value. But it does hint at the importance of character as opposed to outward appearance. And it’s an interesting perspective on the times.

Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder has learned some important lessons in his time first as a police officer, and now as a private investigator. And, although Block’s novels aren’t necessarily what you’d call philosophical, they do offer some of Scudder’s hard-won wisdom. In The Sins of the Fathers, for instance, successful business executive Cale Hanniford hires Scudder to find out about the death of his daughter, Wendy. There seems no doubt that she was murdered by her roommate, Richard Vanderpoel. In fact, the case has already been closed. But Hanniford had been estranged from his daughter, and he wants to know more about the person she had become. Scudder agrees to find out what he can, and he starts asking questions. He slowly traces Wendy’s last weeks and months and learns more about her. And, in the end, he finds out the truth about her death, too. At one point, here is what he says about getting information:
 

‘You have to know when to stop. You can never find out everything, but you can almost always find out more than you already know, and there is a point at which any additional data you discover is irrelevant and any time you spend on it wasted.’
 

It’s not easy to know where the right stopping point is, but it’s interesting to consider that there is one.

Pascal Garnier’s The Front Seat Passenger is the story of Fabien Delorme. When he is informed that his wife, Sylvie, has died in a car crash, he is, of course, sad at her loss. But their marriage hadn’t been a good one for some time. What upsets him even more is that she was with someone else at the time of the crash. Her lover, Martial Arnoult, also died, and Delorme learns that he left a widow, Martine. Delorme finds out more about her, and slowly becomes obsessed. That obsession draws both of them into a spiral of events, and the end result is real tragedy. At one point, Delorme reflects on their marriage, and how happy they were at first. In fact, he thinks that they were so happily wrapped up in each other at that time, that their friends started avoiding them:
 

‘Everyone knows that excessive happiness is as off-putting as excessive misfortune.’ 
 

That’s a very cynical point of view, of course, but there’s a grain of wisdom in there about constant cheerfulness without the acknowledgement that misfortune happens, too.

One of Kerry Greenwood’s sleuths is Melbourne-based baker, Corinna Chapman. At one point, she was an accountant. But she has discovered that baking, especially breads, is her passion. In Trick or Treat, though, she is in great danger of losing the bakery. In one of the plot threads of that novel, some of the local supply of flour has become poisoned with ergot. In fact, there’s already been an ergot-related death. Now, all of the bakeries have to be temporarily closed until they can be shown to be ergot-free. There are other plot threads, too, that threaten Chapman’s, and the bakery’s, peaceful existence. When the danger is past, here’s what Chapman thinks about it:
 

‘I had come very near to losing all the things I valued and I valued them more now that I knew how very much I would miss them.’
 

It certainly offers a perspective on the things we hold dear.

And then there’s the list of Solomon’s Laws. They are the creation of Paul Levine’s Steve Solomon, a Coconut Grove (Florida) lawyer. He’s not afraid to push the limits of what’s accepted in the courtroom, and some judges do get annoyed at his antics. But he is completely dedicated and tireless when it comes to defending his clients. And he’s good at what he does. He’s developed a series of laws that guide the way he lives. Here are a few of them:
 

When the law doesn’t work…work the law
In law and in life, sometimes you have to wing it.
I will never compromise my ideals to achieve someone else’s definition of success.
Lie to your priest, your spouse, and the IRS, but always tell your lawyer the truth.
We all hold the keys to our own jails.
 

The novels have a lot of wit in them. Still, there is some real wisdom in some of these laws.

And that’s part of what makes crime fiction such an interesting genre. Yes, there are characters, plots, and so on. But there’s also a lot of wisdom. Who’d’a thunk?

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is the title of a song by Christopher Cross.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Kerry Greenwood, Lawrence Block, Pascal Garnier, Paul Levine