30 October 2013

Library Limelights 41

Keith Richards (and James Fox). Life. Copyright 2010. New York: Back Bay Books/Little, Brown and Company, 2011.
Tell the truth here: just skimmed it looking for young Marianne Faithful of the haunting voice (The Ballad of Lucy Jordan), who only figures peripherally because she was Mick's girl. For a while. And not Keith's. Except for one night. 547 pages of life with the Rolling Stones even with an index is a lot of pages. Falling in and out of love, creating songs, drug culture, Altamont 1969, the estrangement with Mick, an operation on his cracked skull, some glossy photos, it's all there. And some quite moving reflections. The years and their life have not been kind to many of these musicians. Yes, Keith, we too are amazed you are still alive.


John Harvey. Still Water. Copyright 1997. London: Arrow Books/Random House, 2005.
A police novel with Charlie Resnick that I somehow missed, not to be confused with Ian Rankin's erstwhile Jack Harvey pen name (which my addled brain has now sorted out). This one is about art theft and women dying, serially, in water; abuse of women is one sub-theme. Harvey juggles and weaves other threads adeptly. Resnick also has to deal with a deepening romantic situation, a fellow policeman run amok, and a burglar who's impossible to dislike. Marvellous character development.

Vitality really picks up about the time the fifth body is found and the newly formed Serious Crimes takes over. The appointed head of the new squad, DCI Helen Siddons, is a character highly appealing to me, deserving of her own series! Having read later novels in the Resnick series, of course I can't recall if or how much she figures as time goes on.

The regimented osteopath's marriage is over:
Alan Prentiss began each day with twenty minutes' meditation, fifteen minutes of simple exercises, a bowl of rolled oats mixed with skim milk, nuts, dried apricots and chopped banana. Alternately, The Times or Telegraph crossword. Four letters, ending in L and beginning with A, the word his wife had scratched into the leather of the raised couch where he treated his patients, the one morning she got up earlier than him and left. (195)
Siddons on letting go:
Resnick wondered if he should go over to where Helen Siddons was sitting, or if she would come to him; he was still considering when she stubbed out her cigarette and, grim-faced, headed his way.
She lit up again as soon as she sat down. "Scotch," she said, not bothering to look at the barman. "Large. No water. No ice."
...
She drank the first half of the scotch fast, the rest at even speed, and called for another. Resnick wondered how long she had been there, whether this particular session had started at lunchtime and simply flowed.
"This woman of yours, Charlie, what's she called?"
"Hannah."
"Hmm, well, promise me this; promise me this about you and darling Hannah ..."
Resnich waited while she dragged deep on her cigarette.
"Promise me if she ever wants to leave, if ever the day comes when she wants to walk away and call it quits, promise you'll let her go. God's blessings, Charlie. Godspeed and goodbye. None of this snivelling and whining, you're-the-most-important-thing-in-my-life crap. Right?" (323)
 
Jeffery Deaver. XO. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012.
You know .. the "xo" you sign for affection on your emails. Well, superstar singer Kayleigh Towne does that ― her handlers do that when answering fan mail. That naturally leads to complications, and a stalker, and several puzzling murders. It's typical Deaver with more than the average twists between suspects. His main protagonist, Kathryn Dance of the California FBI, is familiar from previous novels. Her acknowledged expertise in kinesics and behavioural baselines is played up again, actually not the greatest contribution to resolving this strangest of cases. There's a clear homage to country-crossover music here: songs composed by the author, verses forming part of the clues.

Despite the detailed research into the music industry and its offshoots, Deaver's tale does not always hang together for the addicted-to-crime reader. Lots of second-guessing by Dance. I found myself questioning the improbabilities and links of some of the alleged evidence. Then again, I sometimes question my own tracking ability, don'tcha know. Can a cigarette be seen "glowing" in the dark if no-one is inhaling it? How did the villain know exactly when and where to be waiting for Sheri's tire to blow? At some points you have to say, don't these people ever learn not to trust emails? Nevertheless, the climax itself hurtles ahead and unexpectedly bursts like fireworks.

Kathryn's professional life:
It felt good, being with him again, working with him. Some of this was simply the comfort of being with a person you were close to, whose subtle looks and gestures communicated perfectly, without the need for words.
But part of the pleasure was their combined skill as law enforcers ― the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Policing's a tough business and can't be done alone. The job can be a nightmare when you aren't connected with your partner ― and that not only makes for a tough working day but it also means the bad guys are less likely to get caught.
Police investigation can be an art form, like ballet, a choreography of technique, purpose, and she felt this in near perfection with Michael O'Neil. (235)


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