I have already read this book in hardback and liked it, but I would say that because Roz Watkins is my niece.
So, much more to the point is that this lady really liked it, without in any way being Roz’s uncle, or even aunt.
I have indeed. Been in France. I didn’t tell you, my readers, because I did not wish London’s criminal community to be aware that, if they wished to plunder my home, the last week would have been the week to have been doing it. Silly I know, but I actually have been robbed, or at any rate attempted robbed. He climbed the stairs, knocked on the door, but I was slow to answer and he broke the door down. When I finally gave the guy my attention he fled, but I don’t want anything like that happening again, I can tell you. That is, I can tell you now.
So yes, I have been in France. I took many photos, as you would expect, but here’s a France related photo I took just now, in my very own kitchen, here in my very own London:
I bought this bottle of grapefruit Volvic at Carcassonne Airport this afternoon. I sipped it during the flight home, and finished it here. Delicious. Yet, I have never come across grapefruit Volvic in London. In London, Volvic is mostly a particularly disgusting and pointless sort of fruit flavoured sugar water, but made with fake sugar, which tastes like something concocted in a laboratory by mad scientists hellbent on killing every human now alive with extreme obesity. British Volvic used to do orange, and I still encounter that from time to time. Also delicious. But, grapefruit Volvic, in London, does not happen. I googled “volvic grapefruit”, and Google, which knows I am a English, spontaneously changed the subject entirely to foreign parts. It had nothing English to tell me about this subject.
This is terrible. I hereby protest. (See this posting for why I like to complain about capitalism from time to time, even though capitalism is obviously superior to all known alternatives.)
I considered selling my weapons “back” to the government, but after a background check and thorough investigation into the buyer, I determined the buyer has a history of violence and is mentally unstable. Big risk to everyone around it.
This sounds logical enough, but this “government” (the government of the USA) of which this tweeter tweets already possesses an abundance of weaponry. If the US government collected more guns, that would affect those disarmed, but not the US government. The US government would just become a tiny bit more armed.
Gun control laws would likewise make criminals only a bit less armed. But they would utterly disarm the law-abiding. Which would make the law-abiding far less able to defend themselves against crimes of all kinds. These are, and always have been, the real arguments against gun control.
When a joke is felt to be expressing a truth – and if the comments on this tweet that I have read are anything to go by, then this joke definitely is so felt by many – then it becomes important to get serious about the joke.
Two interesting recent postings by Norman Lebrecht.
First, Anna Nebtrenko has been bunking off from Bayreuth in order to go to a family wedding. Both she and her also-bunking-off husband were simultaneously “ill”, but then put themselves all over social media, being not at all ill, in Azerbaijan.
Lebrecht is not impressed:
Today’s breed of opera managers does not contain many heroes but at some point – and it will not take long – one manager will stand up and say to Netrebko, as Rudolf Bing did to Maria Callas: get out of my house.
For Callas, it was all downhill from that point on.
For Netrebko and Eyvazov, it’s just a matter of time.
I did not know that about Callas and Bing. Blog and learn.
Second, another operatic superstar, Placido Domingo, has been accused of sexual harassment. No force involved, but definitely harassment. Persistent sexual pressure and not taking no for an answer: bad. If the suggestion is that saying yes may result in career advancement, that’s bad too. If the further suggestion is that saying no may result in career retardation, that’s very bad. Domingo is definitely being accused of the first two.
Accused. The comments at Lebrecht alternate between wanting justice for the harassed, and those wanting justice for those accused of harassment, perhaps wrongly.
I favour both. As does Jeannie Suk Gersen.
Am I the only person who thinks Epstein’s death makes it MORE likely we will find out the extent of his crimes? He wasn’t going to talk, but he might have kept others from doing so while he was alive.
In other words, nothing about this is now certain, not even that Epstein’s death will be “convenient” for a lot of people. Maybe it won’t.
But, what do I know?
Who will play Epstein in the movie? What a part.
Until around yesterday, fans of Roz Watkins’s DI Meg Dalton (who include me (Roz being my niece)) had to be content with knowing that there were, or would be, for sure, in all, just three Meg Daltons to be read. There was the first, The Devil’s Dice. There is Dead Man’s Daughter. And in 2020 there will be Cut To The Bone. So, if you liked the first Meg Dalton, you could only be sure of two more books spent in her grumpy but appealing company.
But yesterday, with the announcement of a further three-book deal between Roz and her publisher, that three has now turned into six.
What this means is that if, before yesterday, you were wondering whether to make a start with this series, your best case would be that you liked your first Meg Dalton and would have two more to enjoy, one straight away, and another one quite soon. But now, if you like the first Meg Dalton you read, there will be five more.
Accordingly, the economics, if that’s the word, of reading about DI Meg Dalton’s adventures and ordeals have radically altered. Worst case, you won’t like the first Meg Dalton you read, and that will be that. That hasn’t changed. But if you like that first one, then the eventual reward that will follow just got massively bigger.
All of which means that there will now be an increased demand for the two early Meg Daltons, the two that have actually already been published.
Now is also a good time to be buying the very first one, The Devil’s Dice, for another reason, which is that Amazon is now selling the paperback of this for just £2. And actually you now can get it for under a quid from other sellers. Well worth that sort of money, I’d say.
Here is something of what I thought, of the second Meg Dalton, Dead Man’s Daughter.
I’ve just finished reading Lethal White, the latest Cormoran Strike book by J.K. Rowling, aka “Robert Galbraith”.
The book is very long, nearly eight hundred pages in the paperback version I read, and far longer than its three predecessors (all three of which I also possess and have read with enthusiasm). I’m guessing this was a trick that JKR discovered when writing her Harry Potter books., which I seem to recall got ever more huge both in their size and in their popularity as that series proceeded. If your readers love your stuff, they just cannot get enough of it. As I neared the end of Lethal White, the desire to find out what the hell explains everything vied with the desire to slow down because I didn’t want to be in a position where there was no more of the story to read.
I won’t tell you what I think of the plot, because that would involve revealing the plot, which is not done with detective fiction. Is the senior villain a satisfactory senior villain? Ditto. Why is the book called “Lethal White”? Not saying.
What I can tell you is that Lethal White, like all the Cormoran Strike books, is based in and around London, and the book features a number of locations with which I am well acquainted, including Denmark Street (with its musical instrument shops) where Strike lives and works. Strike and his side-kick Robin Ellacott have one of their close-of-play evening debriefing and note-comparing sessions in a pub near St James’s Park tube (also mentioned) called “The Two Chairmen” (that a “chairman” was a man who carried chairs for a living is explained), in one of the upstairs rooms of which Libertarian Home used to have their speaker events, which I often attended and where I did a few speeches myself. And one of the people whom Cormoran and Robin visit to question has a house in Upper Cheyne Row, the rather off-the-beaten-track street in Chelsea where Samizdata had its HQ until a short while back. There’s no doubt that knowing a lot of the places where this tale unfolds added greatly to the fun of reading it. (The Rebus books must surely sell particularly well in Edinburgh.)
Local appeal to Londoners like me aside, I think that maybe the key quality the Cormoran Strike books possess, and again maybe this one especially, is that the stories are not too carefully contrived. JKR’s imagination, you feel, really flew, when she was writing this one, especially the bits about Robin’s newly acquired husband, that being all part of why the book is so long. (The book opens with Robin’s wedding and its aftermath.) In Lethal White, things get said and things happen, which, you get the feeling, surprised its author, let alone the rest of us. (I was too old to become a Harry Potter devotee, but I suspect that something very similar can be said about those books.)
If a fictional work seems too contrived, too carefully constructed, too mechanically perfect, so to speak, then suddenly all you can see is the mechanism, the formula, the conscious calculation of the creator or creators about what the “secret” of the success of the franchise consists of. At which point this secret is no longer any sort of secret. Disbelief is suspended. The mere characters degenerate into robots. And we readers stop caring about what happens, because it becomes impossible for us to forget, while we attend to the story, that it is all just made up. It no longer even feels real.
I am well aware that Cormoran and Robin are made-up people, and that a lot of contrivance and construction went into the making of Lethal White. But while I was reading it, it didn’t, to me, feel that way.
I like what Jake Arnott of the Guardian says about Strike:
Strike is a wonderfully complex creature, with just the right balance of contradictions to guide us through this labyrinthine world. An overweight former boxer with one leg amputated below the knee, ex-military police – and you don’t get much more authoritarian than that – he grew up in the counterculture of squats and communes with a groupie mother who died of an overdose. He’s one of those lost souls who joined the army in search of family, an outsider who knows the belly of the beast. And the time taken in describing the day-to-day workings of his craft ensures that he’s plausible enough in his occupation. One element of realism is that Strike, having solved many high-profile murders (not something actual private investigators do much in real life), has now become famous and compromised in his operations. His cover is blown and this predicament seems heartfelt to the author. For we now know Robert Galbraith as the nom de plume of JK Rowling, who intended to write her crime novels incognito until someone blew the gaff. The opening line, after a long prologue, is the most quotable in the book: “Such is the universal desire for fame that those who achieve it accidentally or unwillingly will wait in vain for pity.”
Yes, I’d forgotten that first line. Now, I remember liking it a lot.
Photoed just now:
Although, I should say that I didn’t actually purchase Kristian Niemietz’s book about
Socialism. I tried to buy it, at a recent IEA event, but they wouldn’t take my money and just gave me a copy. It’s very good.
There are more that I didn’t include. E.g. one by fake-antiques architect Quinlan Terry that is too wide. (Fake architectural antiques are a good thing. The world now needs more of this. Terry does them very well.)
Memo to self: A habit I must cultivate better is the ability to read a book, while seated in front of my computer, concentrating on the former and ignoring the latter. The internet is just too damn interesting. But books are extremely interesting also, and I love to read them. Or at least: I love to have read them.
I love Amazon. I miss remainder shops.
In this blog posting, someone called Judge Ellis is quoted saying, somewhere in America, some time recently or not so recently, in connection with something Trump-related, this:
“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud – what you really care about is what information Mr Manafort could give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump or lead to his prosecution or impeachment.
“This vernacular to ‘sing’ is what prosecutors use. What you’ve got to be careful of is that they may not only sing, they may compose.”
Good expression. Never heard it before, although it must have been around for decades.
Niece Roz tweets:
Had enough of your relatives already? Don’t just think about murdering them – come along to @scarthinbooks tomorrow afternoon and talk about how you could actually– (Just kidding, Twitter. Just kidding)
Scarthin Books is, alas, in the Peak District, where Roz lives. This is impossibly far away from London, where I live. If she ever holds an event like this in London, I will definitely attend. I will make sure that all present know that she and I are related. Otherwise I will say little. I will concentrate on looking quietly attentive and quietly thoughtful.
Photo of Roz’s second Meg Dalton book here.