X – Sue Grafton


This is a book in the author’s Alphabet series featuring private investigator Kinsey Millhone. I started reading them when the first book was released, and faithfully followed all the way through to the middle of the alphabet. At that point, I read one that fell completely flat, and lost interest. Fortunately, the missing parts did not prevent me picking up the flow of Millhone’s life, as I rejoined her adventures.

The story starts with a request to locate a son put up for adoption. Of course, all is not what it seems, and soon Kinsey is trying to find out the truth. At the same time, there are other threads in the book, including an unlikely diversion into plumbing and water conservation, and a widow needing help with her tax records.

The author does bring all the threads together in a reasonable conclusion, but at times I felt as if the story was going off on its own accord, for no good reason. It was as if the author had lost control, and was no longer able to tell the difference between quirky and boring. I think boring won out too often.

This was OK, but did not demonstrate the author’s talents at their best. I do recommend the series – especially the opening dozen or so books – but this experience means I am unlikely to try and fill in the unread parts of the series, nor bother about Y and Z if ever completed.

There’s always next season

Last night’s Wild Card loss to the Giants was the end of the season for the Mets. There were too many losses in the regular season to suggest the Mets would do anything but struggle if they made it to the post season, so a single game knockout may have been the least painful exit after all that. (But that ninth inning collapse after Noah Syndergaard‘s domination over seven innings must have hurt.) If they are to do better next season, they will need to strengthen the offense, hope for less injuries, and see if they can find that magic ingredient: consistency – especially in winning!

There’s always next season.

Another warning Europe will ignore

Not the happiest way to start the New Year, but it’s a message that needs to be publicized. From an interview with Monika Schwarz-Friesel – “one of the most quoted experts on anti-Semitism in both international academic literature and the German media” at the Times of Israel:

“Many of the refugees that have been pouring into Europe recently come from societies that are deeply anti-Semitic. It would be foolish to assume that their anti-Semitism can be educated away in a few years and that it won’t leave its mark on European societies.”

The trouble is, many Europeans do seem to be foolish when it comes to antisemitism. That standing ovation for Abbas ‘poisoning the wells’ speech to the European Parliament in June this year is just one clear example. And the other notable issue is whether Europe will “educate” in any effective fashion against anti-Semitism or indeed, educate at all.

Another warning Europe will ignore.

Read the whole thing, here.

Shanah Tovah


To those celebrating the Jewish New Year, which begins tonight and runs through to Tuesday night, Shanah Tovah! – have a good and sweet New Year, and well over the fast.

Career of Evil – Robert Galbraith

Private detective Cormoran Strike’s assistant, Robin Ellacott, takes a delivery of a package addressed to her. It’s a woman’s severed leg. With wondrous powers of deduction, Strike identifies four potential candidates who may have perpetrated the dastardly deed. (Ahem.) The police focus on one of the four, but Strike is unconvinced. This is the start of a race against time, with Strike’s foe closing in for a final deadly encounter, with Robin very much involved as both joint target and part of Strike’s defense team.

First, this was an impulse purchase. I read the blurb, and went for it. These people who wrote the promotional quotes must have read a different book.

Second, the story’s interesting enough, and the plot twists are OK. But it’s not what I would call top notch. I thought the writing was patchy in places, where the author seemed to have been uncertain as to how to tell the reader what is happening.

Third, this is J K Rowling (of Harry Potter fame) in disguise. Disappointing. I have not read any others by Rowling, and can only hope that the mass hysteria over the Potter books is actually deserved.

The characters are interesting, again in patches, with Rowling trying to deliver insights into personal and work relationships that don’t quite convince. The plot is not the page turner that is suggested, though again it is passable.

I will be restraining my impulse purchases for a wee while.