BOOK & BLOG
|April 15, 2007
This week I read Robert Craiss THE WATCHMAN and LOVER REVEALED by J.R. Ward. This was a very strange combination, and one that didnt sit well . . . like eating chocolate with green beans.
I enjoy Wards books despite myself. The constant interjection of the letter h into words and the comic book names of the warriors (Phury, Rhage, Tohrment) are absolutely irritating to me, and for the life of me I cant see why the writer chose to do this. Having set this issue aside, I think Ward really has a wonderful talent for portraying emotion, and she never goes for the easy cure. Bad things happen to not-so-bad people in Wards books, and some of these bad things are irreparable. Thats always a bold choice, and one I respect. So I guess Ill grit my teeth and keep reading her books, like thousands of other people. Thats the mark of a good storyteller you have to find out whats going to happen to the characters.
Robert Crais is one of Americas writing treasures. His Elvis Cole novels are just wonderful; classic private eye novels with Craiss own twist. In THE WATCHMAN, the action centers on Elvis Coles literally silent partner, Joe Pike, whom long-time readers know well. Joe Pike has a sad background, a habit of not talking, and an unyielding philosophy. He is ferocious, intelligent, and loyal. Hes a sharp contrast to the loquacious Elvis, and hes just about the perfect sidekick. The conflict in THE WATCHMAN is caused by the predicament of spoiled and reckless Larkin Barkley, a very rich and very young woman who has the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Someone is very determined to kill Larkin, and everywhere she goes, her hiding place is revealed to her unknown enemy. To satisfy a debt, Joe Pike is asked to protect Larkin. Larkin is pretty, chatty, pampered, and neurotic. Joe is silent, down-to-earth, and absolutely businesslike. This time, Pike has to ask Cole for assistance, and somewhat to Coles surprise, Larkin prefers Pike.
Its been too long since Crais published a novel about the duo. I hope another one is in the works.
Its been a depressing week for reasons ranging from the very serious to the simply irritating.
The serious part would be the catastrophe of a stroke befalling my friend Elaine Viets, one of the most intelligent, incisive, and beautiful people I know. I have known Elaine for at least ten years, I guess, and in that time my respect and affection for her have grown every time we spent time together. Her husband, Don Crinklaw, is a great guy. Any good wishes and prayers you can send their way will be greatly appreciated. As anyone who has cared for a stroke victim knows, the road back can be long and frustrating, but if anyone can do with grace and panache, that person is Elaine. Her new book comes out May 1, MURDER WITH RESERVATIONS, one of her Dead-End Job mysteries. Elaine is worried about her sales sagging since shell have to miss her book tour; so when you see a copy, pick it up. You wont be disappointed.
The irritating would be the concession stand at the girls softball field. Somehow, I got elected president of the Boosters Club at the beginning of the season, a serious piece of miscasting to begin with. Then I discovered that to keep the concession stand open during games, both varsity and junior varsity, I had to draw up a schedule of moms (hey, wed take dads, too, if theyd volunteer) to work the booth. Okay, I did that, trying to make sure I balanced the times and switched the pairings so we could all get to know each other. This was as much a challenge for me as writing a piece to go on the Borders website about my next book.
Also, theres the issue of ice. Someone has to bring ice early every game day so we can ice down the drinks in coolers. And the drinks have to get there in the first place. Someone has to shop for them if we get low on something. And then you have to plug in the crockpot to heat up the cheese for the nachos. And the microwave for the popcorn. And I have to store the pickles and the jalopeno peppers in my refrigerator between home games. And then sometimes moms dont show up (though that hasnt been such a big problem at all, thank God). Or they stroll in at game time, not realizing that theres at least thirty minutes worth of prep to do before games. Okay, they dont all have flexible schedules like I do. But both those things happened at the home game this past Thursday, plus I had to ask another mom to turn around in the parking lot and go in search of ice.
This Booster Club gig has grown into a major kink in my life. I can only be glad that we have two more home games, and then my agony will be over. Im on the board of the Mystery Writers of America, Im the senior warden of my little church, Ive been on the board of Sisters in Crime, and Ive been the vampire captain of the panels at Romantic Times.
Guess which has been the most trouble? Oh, yeah, the concession stand.
Brought down by nachos and ice and parents from other teams who complain we charge too much for candy bars.
Next week has got to be better.
© 2009 Charlaine Harris