In fact, the obituary section may be why I still subscribe to several newsprint papers, which, unlike their digital cousins, invite me to really read, rather than skim. That’s important when we’re talking mini life stories. Friends, mere acquaintances, total strangers—it doesn’t matter. I want to know what they invented, who they loved, how they made a difference in the world.
As a journalism student I worked at the Boston Globe, initially as a newsroom clerk (we all were called copyboys, even though by the late 1970s some of us were female).
We wrote on these back in the day.
One of my duties was to write basic obits. When person died who was moderately famous (or infamous), at least locally, the city editor would assign whichever copyboy wasn’t otherwise occupied to gather information and write it up.
It’s great to have Lawrence Block’s Matt Scudder back, even if it’s a short trip. The two charges leveled against the book by many Amazon and Goodreads reviewers are 1) the book is too short and 2) there is too much sex. In both cases, these are complaints not worth listening to. In the first case, the book is listed, blatantly advertised as a novella. Complaining that a novella is too short is redundant! As for item number two, the blind, the uninformed ant all those who miss the point will whine and complain, but for those who get it, will understand that Mr. Block has written a timely tale of what we read or hear about almost every day, the idea of sexual consent.
In this story, An aging Matt Scudder and his wife Elaine Martell get involved in helping Ellen, a younger woman, Elaine met at her support group for women, all former call girls. Ellen is being stalked and harassed by a former client who does not understand or won’t accept the meaning of the word no. We only know him by the name of Paul. Paul manages to terrorize Ellen forcing her to consent to his demands without breaking the law keeping the police at bay and making Ellen a helpless victim. Paul is obviously getting off feeling the power he has controlling Ellen.
In helping Ellen, Scudder finds himself searching for a man he has no idea who he is nor what he looks like. In digging in, putting pieces of a puzzle together, Matt skirts the legal process himself.
A Time to Scatter Stones is a satisfying return with an old friend facing a #metoo world. It’s a short visit, but I for one did not need a full blown three and fifty-page novel to satisfy my soul. Nice to have you back Matt.
Last week we did an overnight trip to Lakeland’s Circle B Bar Reserve. It’s one of the few reserves where there is activity all day long thanks to an abundance of wildlife. You don’t have to get up early and be out there at sunrise, though that is still a good idea, to capture nature’s beauty.
Ex-con Elmer Vartanian and millionaire Juliet Van Allen, The Double V’s, are back in this cozy New England mystery; the fifth in the series. The setting is summer theater and author Jacqueline T. Lynch creates a fabulous sense of time (1950’s) and place (Summer theater on the Connecticut shore). The leading actress is missing and the amateur detectives soon find themselves embedded in the theatrical world; Juliet as an actress and Elmer as a backstage hand.
Richard Segal is going through a rough patch in life. Since beginning his new job, he cannot land a new account as a network systems salesman and is worried about getting fired. Meanwhile, his wife Paula has just received a promotion which irritates his fragile male ego. There are other worries too: Richard has started drinking again, he is having flashbacks of teenage memories and a bully named Michael Rudnick who sexually abused him, and if this is not enough he fears his wife is having an affair. In the middle of all this he runs into Rudnick on the street one day. Rudnick, now a lawyer, doesn’t recognized him but Segal has become obsessed with revenge.
Jason Starr writes dark noir like stories about seemingly average characters with hidden amoral streaks that once exposed lead them down violent, train wreck type paths of destruction.