Books & Blog: September 12, 2016

Blog

 

For a homeowner, “you have to find a contractor” are words of doom. You may live in a small town, in which case all contractors worth a hoot are all booked up, or you may live in a suburban or urban area, in which case finding one (a) reliable enough to actually turn up, (b) able to carry the job through to the end without delays, or (c) talent to do the job in a professional manner, seems almost impossible.

 

After the recent water damage to our home, we have had many, many strangers coming in and out. Most of them are telling us that what we want to happen will not happen, for one reason or another. Some of them simply don’t turn up when they say they are going to, and when they do, they don’t explain their absence.

 

I am supposed to be grateful that they show up at all, presumably.

 

If I sound disillusioned and disgruntled, you’ve read me right. I am. I am at the stage where I know some obstruction to each phase of the repair will pop up. Most often, this obstruction will require hiring yet another subcontractor. The aperture will be too narrow, or too wide. Sometimes the workmen will have to leave to “get a part,” and will not return for days.

 

I have counted all my blessings, believe me. I am lucky to have insurance. I am lucky to be able to pay our deductible. I am lucky to have an intact home at all. But I’m finding those reminders will only carry me so far. Right now, I feel mad and powerless. You know when the floor people can come? Next year. That’s right. Next year.

 

Sooner or later, I will be able to look back on this and laugh. But it will be a long, long time.

 

Maybe after next year.

 

Charlaine Harris

 

 

Books of the Week:

 

 

  • Gone too Deep, Katie Ruggle
  • Shooting Gallery, Hailey Lind
  • Nightzone, Steven F. Havill
  • The Midnight Assassin, Skip Hollensworth

 

I happened upon Katie Ruggle’s books by accident. My friend D.D. Ayres has a book coming out soon, and when I was ordering it I saw Katie Ruggle’s books were recommended if you liked D.D.’s. (I know her under a different name.) So I ordered one, and after I read it, I ordered the rest in the series. The protagonists are attracted to (or a member of) Rocky Mountain Search and Rescue team. Most of the women have dysfunctional families, and often the men do, too . . . which makes their bonding, unlikely under other circumstances, much more credible. In Gone too Deep, city girl Ellie comes to the tiny mountain town of Simpson, CO, to find her father, who has serious mental issues – but she believes him when he says he is being followed. The best mountain guide in town is the silent George Holloway, who grudgingly agrees to lead Ellie to her father’s cabin. I love Ruggle’s characters. They’re sharply drawn, and vividly alive. I’m happy when they find each other. These are wonderful escapist books.

 

 

Hailey Lind’s Shooting Gallery is the second of her series of mysteries featuring the talented faux finish expert Annie Kincaid, formerly an art forger. In this book, Annie attends a modernist art gallery show, only to realize before the other patrons the body parts in a tree are not an installation, but actual bits of corpse. There are some repeat elements; Annie wears a very nice dress to a fancy event, and utterly trashes it, Annie’s assistant wears outrageous clothes, Annie neglects her business to investigate skullduggery in the art world. But this is a fun book, and Annie’s suitors are very different and very entertaining.

 

Nightzone features retired New Mexican Sheriff William Gastner, who is watching the stars one night from a remote cliff when he sees a series of suspicious events; lights go out in a construction site, and a lone vehicle speeds away, leaving a corpse at the downed electrical pole. As Gastner makes his way to the scene, he finds a deputy shot by the road after a traffic stop. The construction site belongs to Gastner’s friend Miles Waddell, a very rich rancher, who is building a mysterious facility. Waddell asks Gastner to help him with security, and reluctantly, Gastner is persuaded to go along with his request. Gastner is a warm and reliable presence, with ties to his community and his former profession, and he is a good person to spend some time with. This is a pleasurable mystery with some surprising elements.

 

Skip Hollandsworth is a well-known journalist and scriptwriter living in Texas. He became fascinated by Texas’s own gruesome serial killer, who operated in Austin in the late 1800s. At that time, servants slept in separate structures in the back yards of the families they served, and this killer attacked (mostly) women who were sleeping in those structures. The sharp line between white and black Texas impeded the investigation of the murders, and the survivors could not help out with a description. Hollandsworth has done a masterful job of investigating this little-known episode in the history of Texas, and it’s a picture of the times as well as the chronicle of a terrible series of crimes.