BOOK & BLOG
November 7, 2011
Books of the Week:
What an interesting batch of books this week. There could hardly be a greater contrast among the three. Morgenstern’s book deserves all the attention it’s been getting, Lindsay’s latest Dexter has our anti-hero shucking self-doubt to get back into his killing mode, and G.M. Malliet has written a very entertaining English village mystery.
The Night Circus is simply amazing. I approach bestsellers with a grain of salt. Maybe I’m afraid of being disappointed, maybe I’m feeling envious! But Morgenstern’s book lives up to its excellent press. Here’s the basic premise: in the late 1800s, early 1900s, a circus only open at night tours the United States and Europe. Its tents are black and white, and all its acts are unique. Its performers never age. Against this background, two young people are locked in an unwilling competition by their magical sponsors. It’s a competition to the death. Though I was grudging the first twenty pages, after that I was completely hooked.
I’ve always been a fan of Jeff Lindsay’s, and I think he has had as wonderful an experience with his television crossover as I have. As in my case, his “Dexter” character is fascinating on the small screen . . . but still great on the pages. In Double Dexter, our serial killer protagonist is interrupted in the middle of one of his murders by a man who is so riveted by what he sees that he starts to imitate Dexter, and this copycat actually succeeds in identifying Dexter as a blood spatter expert. Dexter can’t let that go on, of course, but the copycat frames Dexter for the death of one of Dexter’s co-workers. This is Lindsay at his best.
I’d never read G.M. Malliet before, which is my loss. If you love traditional mysteries you’ll enjoy Wicked Autumn. Max Tudor is an Anglican priest in Nether Monkslip. He’s also a former MI5 agent. The skills from his old job come in handy in the new one when one of Max’s parishioners, the loathsome Wanda Batton-Smith, is murdered during the Harvest Fayre. It’s a classic, and one almost any reader will enjoy.
Fall always gets very busy in my household, and I suspect in yours. The school system has started back up, and all the attendant activities your kids may be involved in. Sad to say, the holiday season kicks in earlier and earlier every year. Football, falling leaves, getting out the coats and boots . . . it all seems to add up to a not-unpleasant busyness.
The pears are almost gone from tree in our backyard, the one right by a crabapple tree with lovely low branches – the one our terrier mix Scrunch climbs. When the pears are gone, perhaps we’ll see the last of the terrible Pear-Stealing Squirrel, and I won’t have to go pull Scrunch out of the tree any more. (There is only so high a little dog can climb, apparently.)
We have a new enemy. It’s an armadillo. In case you didn’t know the bad habits of armadillos, they like to root in the dirt, creating little divots in the turf . . . not as destructive as feral hogs, by a long shot, but still, the damage is noticeable. Since we have a few acres, this would not be an issue, but this armadillo prefers the area between my office and the fenced part of the yard to any other in our acreage. Of course.
I think our yard must be busier after we go to sleep than it is during the day. There’s also a skunk who keeps perfuming the area, and myriad deer. We’ve had a close encounter with a skunk – our big dog Rocky has, actually. And after that, we want to dodge skunks. We want that passionately. But there’s a skunk out there spoiling to give out some damage, and we just hope that our fence-jumping dog, Colt, doesn’t decide to challenge him.
While we are sleeping under the autumn blanket, the woods and the meadow seem to be full of creatures going about their lives. There’s something kind of reassuring about that. We haven’t taken over everything. And I find that wonderful.
© 2011 Charlaine Harris