Chapter-by-Chapter Final Third

Fog of Doubt Chapters 14-18 (I think)  –  Spoilers!   Total spoilage ahead!

C.14 – The arraignment, I guess, of Thomas Evans.   Tedward comes forward and testifies Tom could not have put his car away because Ted’s car was blocking the garage.   Um, anything else?  They all ought to be arrested for obstruction of justice, but no, they all just say oh, I forgot.

C. 15-16 – Oopsie.   Kinda read two chapters.  Ted’s trial.   We finally find out what Melissa’s been hiding.  She’d seen the body before.   Only about 3 minutes before.   She also called Damian over.   She hysterically testifies about how she overheard the conversation between Tilda and Raoul and how they had been lovers and accused Tilda of killing him.   Meanwhile, it’s revealed that she had thought it was Damian and he had thought it was her.  Kids!   Neither of them seems to have a motive in any case whereas Tilda might.   I think I still have to go with Tilda.   Tom didn’t need to write a note to send himself on a fake errand.   He could’ve just said he got a call.   Or pretended he was leaving solely because Tilda wanted him to.   Rosie said Ted could have done it, which makes it sound like that will be revealed, but I don’t see how.   Melissa saw them together.  I think Tilda had the strongest motivation too about Rosie.   She would’ve had to care for the baby if it wasn’t gotten rid of.   Rosie probably would’ve done it again.  She was the cause of Tom’s being imprisoned.   Tilda may just have gotten fed up enough to tell her how to do herself in in the guise of aborting the child.  So, I’m sticking with Tilda.  Finally Cockie says he knows something.   I think this is one of the most wretched investigations I’ve ever read.   Everyone was hiding something and neither the police nor the brilliant detective sussed any of it out.

C. 17 – Only 17 chapters, not 18.   And Rosie was apparently not making it up.   I’d forgotten about him getting lost in the fog and leaving her alone while he supposedly figured out where they were.   I had no idea they were that close to the house.   But yes, she successfully made me forget that while focusing on when they finally got to the house.   But seriously, what a lame-ass plot.  I’d’ve let the old lady take the blame.   This doctor with his madonna-whore complex, not even bothering to make sure he was killing the right guy.  And that hallway busier than Grand Central Station.  A ridiculous crime.   Melissa calls Damian, looks in the hall and then takes the dog for a walk?   Is that right?   I need a minute by minute timetable.  He saw the old lady there and still brained the guy?   And they’re all crazy.   So, Tom lied to protect Ted?   I just shake my head.   Grumble, grumble, grumble.

Fog of Doubt Super Spoilery C-by-C Extravaganza

Welcome to J.J.’s Chapter-by-Chapter Extravaganza Fog of Doubt Edition part 2!    If you’ve only just arrived, J.J. of The Invisible Event had a cunning plan – read a mystery and write one’s thoughts chapter by chapter.   Guessing the ending before it is revealed preferably, but just as likely looking like a dope.   It’s a bit of a hassle stopping each chapter, but it’s a fun exercise and I did it with The Red Widow Murders previously.  These posts are, of necessity, chock full of spoilers.  You can read the previous post which has the first six chapters probably without spoiling too much, but probably more entertaining to read Brand’s Fog of Doubt and then see how far wrong I go.  It is also called London Peculiar, a Dickensian name for London’s famous fogs, which were really smog, but nevermind.  Onward.   You’ve been warned — there be spoilers ahead!

Chapter 7 – Okay, cut me some slack here.   I’ve slept since I read this.   Inspector Charlesworth of the Yard and Cockrill meet again and have a chat about the case.   They speculate on whether it could be some outsider, but come up against the fact the weapon was not immediately to hand if they were surprised by Raoul.   Only the immediate circle knew where to get it.  Tedward’s calling and phone number are prominently on every phone in the house, which explains Raoul’s calling there.  Tom and Tilda discuss the murder a bit.   How she couldn’t have done anything.  He puts the doll’s limbs on it back-to-front so, apparently not as calm and cool as he seems on the outside.  They have told Tom about Rosie’s pregnancy which he claims not to have figured out before.   Damien and Melissa are revealed to have been doing something last night which has made them both sick and freaking out.   Damien insists to his mother he’s fine and he’s not limping.  Later they meet and she thanks him for whatever it was.   He is very worried the police are going to come ’round and his mother will give him away.   Rosie gets a call from the famous Stanislas, who was supposedly walking around with Melissa in the fog, but turns out to have been groping Rosie in a phone booth.   This girl has a problem.   She bumped into him in the fog, didn’t know him from Adam, but makes out with him instantly.  He somehow had missed the news of the murder, so she fills him in and also tells him that Melissa used him for her alibi.   He does a bunk to the continent, so there goes my bright idea that he’s a suspect.  Sergeant Bedd has listened in on all this, so presumably next chapter will be a re-questioning of Melissa.  Now, I’m thinking the baby must’ve done it.   Tilda brought her down to say goodnight or something and the mallet happened to be lying around and as babies do, she picked it up and started pounding things with it and Raoul had one of those fragile skulls.   He goes down,  Tilda runs back up with the baby.  Calls Tedward mimicking Raoul and then runs back up to put her murderous little toddler to bed.

Chapter 8 – Okay, things are getting ridiculous.   Cockrill intuits a gun is involved.   Sure enough, there’s a gun in the drawer which seems to have been slid into the drawer on top of the other stuff.   This is a non-working gun so, theory goes whoever used it threatened Raoul with it and asked him to use the phone.   Raoul obligingly turns his back on the person with the gun and said person bops him over the head with the mallet, dropping the mallet, putting the gun away and fleeing the scene.   Brand tries to convince us this would work because we’ve all seen movies where people are forced to make phone calls at gun point so victim would relax and turn his back.   Rubbish.   You’d keep that person in sight as much as possible.   And knowing Tilda was in the house, I’d probably yell.   Let’s hope this is a false trail.   Probably is as I’m not even halfway through.   Oh, and that person would be a doctor because he knew where to hit.

Chapter 9 – There’s blood in Tom’s car and no way it could have gotten there according to his own testimony.   He garaged the car, locked it, had the only key, and did not go back to the car that night.  Logical conclusion, he killed Raoul and went back to his car, drove around and pretended to arrive later.  He’s arrested.   If he’s covering for someone, he’s doing a pretty poor job of it.   Then again, he could be covering while trying not to get hanged himself.   If he sat outside the house for an hour and a half and this cockamamie plot was the best he could come up with…   Wouldn’t you try to make it look like an outside job?  Leave the door open.   Steal something.   Damned silly of whoever did it, not to try to make it look like some burglar.  Anyway, the three investigators are having a beer and talking it over when it finally occurs to Cockrill that Raoul might not have made the phone call.   His reasoning: Raoul would not have known to call it  a ‘mastoid mallet’ any more than I would.   I should have thought of that myself.   What I did think of and fail to record was that I thought the whole ‘someone’ or ‘a man’ has hit me was weird.   I guess you might say that if you had never met the person.  So, now the call looks bogus, which tells us what?   Tilda still didn’t go up until 9:15, so unless she did it, it couldn’t have happened before that.

Chapter 10 – In which Cockie proves that Tedward could have faked the call himself.   Though how he was supposed to kill the guy, I don’t know.   He’d been expecting Rosie since 8.   Had he left while expecting Rosie assuming she’d be late, conked the guy, then driven back?   And how do we explain Tilda’s absence before 9:15?    Unless we’re going with a Tilda and Tedward collusion?

C.11 – Gran confesses, sort of.  Followed by Tedward.  Melissa laughs hysterically and Rosie faints away.  Perhaps the only thing keeping Ted from confessing was he couldn’t figure out the phone call, but Cockrill did that for him, leaving him free to try to take the blame.

C.12 – Entire chapter of They would never hang… and then all the suspects.   Some because they know something – Tom and Ted about the car.   Matilda would never let Tom hang if she’d done it, so therefore hasn’t done it?   Does that stand?   Police don’t know about Damian.    Melissa does.   Everybody knows something and they’re not talking.   Rosie states at the end that Ted went in alone.  Probably lying.   Not sure why Cockrill would believe her or just wants to know if she’ll lie about it.   Anyway, she’s about to be offed, apparently.

C. 13 – Rosie managed to forge twelve prescriptions and get them all filled for what Tedward gave her to begin with.   This killed her.   According to Cockrill, she wasn’t smart enough to think of this herself, although the book keeps pointing out she’s smarter than she seems.  But this really lets the baby off the hook.   A baby might whack someone in the head — probably every parent has experienced this at some point — but she could not counsel taking 12 times the amount prescribed in a purely evil attempt to do her aunt in.   Maybe none of this is about what they thought it was about.    Although how we’ll ever find out, I don’t know.

This is probably enough for one post.  I’ll do the rest of the book in a final post.   We’re down to six suspects.   Tilda, Tom, Ted, Melissa, Damian, Gran.   I think my money’s on Tilda.   Raoul could have told her what he had to tell her and whatever it was could have driven her to kill him and Rosie.

Reverse Readathon & J.J.’s Chapter-by-Chapter Extravaganza

It’s too much excitement, isn’t it?   I thought the best way to enjoy the readathon was to do a chapter-by-chapter reading of Fog of Doubt by Christianna Brand.  But now I’m wondering if this was the best choice.  I actually started early because I was headed downtown on the subway and I wasn’t going to read one thing for 45 minutes and another thing home, so I started Fog of Doubt, but then, I had to stop to write up my thoughts and now it’s late and just about the last thing I want to do is type them here, but then I can’t go on and I do want to go on.   It’s a readathon and I’ve missed most of the first 4 hours.   Warning — this chapter-by-chapter review is FULL OF SPOILERS!

Chapter 1 – Incredibly short first chapter.  We’re plunged into the situation and the fog.  Rosie and Tedward are driving to Rosie’s house through a London peculiar – one of those legendary fogs they used to get – because she received a phone call from a man she believes is Raoul Varnet saying he’d been hit over the head with a mastoid mallet.   Whatever that is  Tedward is a doctor and it’s taking them a good deal longer than the five minutes it should to get to Rosie’s.


Chapter 2 – Is set a week earlier and consists entirely of Rosie, young, pretty, empty-headed and up the duff confessing her problem to everyone but her brother and hoping to get help getting an abortion.   Nothing doing, says her sister-in-law, Tedward the Doctor, her gran, her radical friend Damian and the family maid.

It is now almost the end of the 5th hour and I must read the next chapter in bed and then presumably sleep some.   I’m not as young as I used to be, you know.

Almost forgot:

Opening Survey

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Stack, ha, yeah.   Fog of Doubt aka London Peculiar
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Italian cookies?  Yeah, probably those.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

Too sleepy now to think of anything.
5) This is our VERY first Reverse Readathon! How does it feel in your time zone?

I think I’d like it if I could have fully participated.   I have only spent a little of the last five hours reading because I had plans.   I’ll also have to stop early.   But I hope you do this again when I can spend more time at it!

Good Morning!   I woke up at 6:45 and read a chapter before going back to sleep:

Chapter 3 – A week later, but earlier in the day.  Tilda, Rosie’s sister-in-law, who had a dalliance a few years back with Raoul Vernet, gets a call from Raoul.  He’s in town and needs to see her tonight.  It is the help’s night off so she invites him over.   Apparently she had suggested he keep an eye on Rosie while she was in Geneva, so Rosie’s not the only stupid one.  Melissa the maid listens in on the conversation on the extension while making pastry.  Gran is re-enacting The Sheik.  Tom, the husband and doctor, plans to be out or slip away after.  He is worried about Rosie who is suffering from morning sickness.  Has Tom figured it out?   What does Raoul have to say?   Why is Melissa making pastry?   Stay tuned.

Oh and since I missed the mid-way point:

Mid-Event Survey

1. What are you reading right now?

Fog of Doubt.  It’s gonna be Fog of Doubt the whole time.  Sorry.
2. How many books have you read so far?

3 chapters
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

Yeah, still Fog of Doubt.
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

Yaas.  I slept around seven hours.  I can’t help it.  Plus I’ll have to quit around 5:30
5. What surprises you most about the Reverse Readathon so far?

That there are blog updates every two hours.  I mean, that’s not a huge surprise, this is a more casual readathon.  Almost impromptu, but I haven’t been surprised otherwise.  It’s really nice.  I hope they do this in January, too.

Chapter 4 – Everyone goes out except Mathilda (Tilda) and Raoul.   Thomas to attend a baby.  Rosie meets a man.  Tedward waits for Rosie.  Damian is running a poorly attended meeting.   Melissa has seemingly been stood up.  Gran sat in her room staring at the fire.  The baby is asleep.   Brand says one of these seven people is about to do the murder.   I’m guessing the baby can’t be a murderer and the man in Rosie’s arms is a suspect.  Unless she means Tilda, but that seems too obvious.   How could she hope to get away with it?   Although how anyone could hope he’ll be alone long enough they could sneak in, hit him on the head and sneak back out, is anyone’s guess.   Tom could be jealous or resentful of Raoul’s involvement with both his wife and his sister.   Damian and Tedward for his involvement with Rosie.   Gran could think he’s a sheik about to ravish her, or she could be more with the program and have a similar protective motive to Tom.  Onward.

Chapter 5 – We catch up to chapter 1.   As Rosie and Tedward make their way to Rosie’s home they see a light on in the nursery.   Presumably Tilda was up taking care of the baby while Raoul was being murdered.   In fact, someone could have sneaked in and wakened the baby to get Tilda upstairs.   Run down, bang Raoul on the head and run away.   All the suspects are apparently white as sheets and clearly upset.   It could have taken Tilda a long while to quiet the baby.   Maybe we’ll find out in the next chapter.

I’m not going to tell you I slept half the day.   Lie down for an hour and blip! the day disappears.   But I’m not sleepy any longer 🙂

Chapter 6 – Rosie calls in Inspector Cockerill, the most amusing part of Green for Danger.  I think of him as Alastair Sim.  Wish they’d done all the books as movies with him.  Anyway, Rosie’s called him in, which is a point against Rosie having done it.  Now she says Raoul was definitely not the father though we don’t know for sure that’s true.  Raoul never got to say what he was going to say because luckily for the murderer he wouldn’t say it over dinner and then Tilda had to take care of the baby and Gran, which she does religiously every night at 9:15.   Raoul supposedly phoned right after that because Rosie and Tedward were setting out anyway, so he only had a few minutes to call.   If he acksherlly did.   Which if he didn’t means Rosie did it.    It doesn’t seem possible for either of them to have done it though since Tilda did not go up until 9:15.    Unless someone mucked about with the clocks.   Thomas couldn’t find his patient, the house was empty, it took him two hours to find it and get back.  He burned the note though, so there’s no evidence it ever existed and no one in the house took the message.   We know Melissa’s lying about meeting her Stanislas.   Hard to see why she’d brain Raoul.   Unless perhaps he were Stan and she found out.

So technically the Reverse Readathon ended while I was out, before I finished Chapter 7, so I’ll end this post here and continue on another.

Closing Survey!

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

Most of them.   I guess it turned out to be 11:30 AM Saturday when I thought I’d just nap for an hour.    Oh, well.
2. Tell us ALLLLL the books you read!

Yes, well, about that…
3. Which books would you recommend to other Read-a-thoners?

I am enjoying Fog of Doubt, but you never know until the end whether a book is really worth recommending.
4. How did you feel about this first-ever Reverse Readathon? Should we do it again?

Excellent.   Yes.   I was unprepared, but I enjoyed it and want it to happen again.
5. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? Would you be interested in volunteering to help organize and prep in October?

I always read some, but I’m not helpful.   Sorry about that.

The Key to Rebecca – 9th of the #20BooksofSummer

The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett was Follett’s second book and a major succuess.   They made a TV movie of it starring David Soul, which I’ve already complained about.  I don’t think I’ll watch it, even if I can find it, because I’m just not interested.    The plot:  a German man adopted by an Egyptian grows up familiar with both European and Egyptian ways, including those of his nomadic cousins.  We meet him as he’s almost finished crossing the desert from Libya.   No easy feat.  But Alex Wolff is all that and a bag of chips and so he makes it through with his radio and his suitcase full of cash.  Unfortunately for him, he meets an overly helpful English officer which forces him to kill a man.  Thus his slipping into Egypt does not go completely unnoticed.  The British are alert and the only place Wolff can find to stay is with his ex, the sexiest belly dancer in Egypt.   She hates him, but she cannot conquer her lust for him.   Reunited and it feels so bad.   Now, to be a spy, at least a successful spy, you need access to some secrets.   I’ve complained about this too, already.   He starts off attempting to steal some, but realizes that’s not a long term solution, so he devises a plan to get access on a regular basis.

The book is entertaining.   Follett seems to have had a good time writing it with two extraordinarily sexy women, two different types of cool alpha males in a game of cat and other cat.   There wasn’t a whole lot of spying.   I’m not sure why it took readers by storm in 1980.   The somewhat sadistic relationship they hope to turn into a trio?  The hooker with a heart of gold?  Actually, I like her.   Not so much a hooker as a kept woman who’s tired of that life.   She has brains and guts and doesn’t run around screaming and fainting.  All of the main characters actually do, which is a thing I like about it.   Vandam probably being the least brainy main character, though he’s not an idiot.   Anyway, I believe most people would enjoy this book.   There’s some spy stuff, some action, some sex.   It’s not badly written.   It just didn’t grip me.   And that probably says more about me than about it.    I’m generally not into action novels.   I will add some spoilers after the picture, so stop here if you don’t want to know.


keytorebecca2 Here there be spoilers:   So, my major beef with Vandam – they’ve captured a German intelligence post and discovered from what the Nazis didn’t manage to burn, that there is a spy in Cairo getting hold of their battle plans and sending them to Rommel.   Naturally, they don’t know who or how, but they know there’s a very serious leak.   Vandam still thinks, and no one else corrects him, that he needs to capture Wolff and the key and then send the coded disinformation himself.   When no, it would be so much easier to give the wrong information out to the officers and let it get to Wolff via whatever the usual manner is and let Wolff radio the wrong info.   They’re supposed to be in intelligence!   But no, they release their real plans in the usual way.   As far as I can tell they don’t try to change a thing.   That just seems stupid to me and then it’s one long chase.    Bah.   Also, when Wolff fools them on the first date with Elene, they assume he will meet her when and where he says on the second.  Should have seen that coming.  End spoilers.

I also keep wondering it there were houseboats in 1942 Cairo with indoor plumbing.  Perhaps if I read more of these I’d appreciate how much better Follett is than the others, but no that seems painful.


Tonight is the Reverse Readathon.  Dewey’s in summer starting 12 hours earlier than regular Dewey’s.  This would be just dandy except I’ll be out for the beginning and end.  It’s a shame, but I will start tonight on Fog of Doubt when I get back.  Another chapter-by-chapter extravaganza and I’ll try not to cop out in the end.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (8 of 20)

So, in what for me was quite a book reading blitz, I finished The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry in a couple days.   The story of a curmudgeonly bookstore owner – or should I say stories?   Each chapter starts with a short piece about a short story that has meaning for Fikry.   I thought at first it was going to spoil them all, but then I realized I had read most of them, or knew them somehow.   Fikry, always apparently cranky, became downright hostile after his wife died in a car accident a year and a half before the book opens.   He is thrown off by the death of a book rep he knew and liked and is very rude to the new book rep.   Shortly after this a series of events takes place culminating in him becoming the adoptive father of a two year old girl.   And, a la Silas Marner, Fikry thaws and rejoins the living.   This is hardly a new or surprising plot, but it’s quite sweet following along.   The bookstore is the only one in a small tourist town on an island in New England.   My favorite character was the cop who learns to enjoy reading.   Not sure I’ve got too much to say about it beyond what I’ve said already.   I enjoyed it and if you like charming stories of cranky booksellers becoming human, you probably will, too.   But then you probably read it when it came out.



Fire in the Thatch – Book 7 of the 20BooksofSummer

I’ve actually fallen behind in my reviewing.   A thing that hasn’t happened before that I can recall.   When I finished The Golden Child, I went on to E.C.R. Lorac’s Fire in the Thatch.   A number of GAD blogs talked about Lorac and her works and her life and she sounded pretty good.   British Library Crime Classics has reprinted Fire in the Thatch which I read last week.   Set in 1944, a recovering Navy sailor and engineer comes to live in a run down tenant farm of a fine manor house owned by the St Cyres, father and daughter, good country gentry.   Also in the area is the daughter-in-law Judith who hates country life and her dubious friend, and his dubious friend, and a dubious lawyer.   There’s quite a lot about country life and a fair amount about how the war affects their lives.  The tenant, named Vaughan, mostly keeps to himself, but is surprisingly well-liked considering what a newcomer he is and how insular the country is supposed to be.   Sadly, he dies in a fire about five months after moving in. It appears to be an accident, but, of course, then there’d be no story.  Enter Scotland Yard.


I managed to read this pretty fast even though it felt slow with all the country detail.  There were few suspects and yet I didn’t guess.   And still I’m unsatisfied somehow.   Not as unsatisfied as I was reading it.   I was convinced she was going to cheat and bring in someone at the end we never met before.  I think the clueing is what is not very satisfactory.   But then the details of the story have faded rather quickly and I’m not sure.   I seem to recall it as one of those “I suspected X almost immediately because of their attitude,” which to me is not evidence.   I like evidence.   As far as I can tell any of several people could have done it, it just so happens that one of them did.   And [SPOILER ALERT} It makes no sense to me that the guilty party phones up and the victim actually apparently answers and still chooses to meet this total stranger.  The author should have made it a message as usual, not a direct phone call.   Makes no sense. [END SPOILER]

It was okay.   I’ll probably try another of hers, but can’t say it was better than so-so.

What I’m really thinking about at this point is Key to Rebecca.   Jewish girl spy is about to meet German Nazi spy and presumably have erotic adventures with him and his belly-dancing girlfriend.   Is there anything less erotic than erotic scenes you’re not into?   I liked the stuff with Vandam trying to track down Wolff – who I found out, not sure if I should have known before — is full German, adopted by an Egyptian man.   He is described as having dark hair and eyes though, I double-checked.   So, David Soul is still out.  And I liked reading about Wolff trying to get at the British secrets.  But then it’s not all that clever – a honey trap.   Anyway do I want to keep reading?   I kinda don’t.   I guess I see why this took the world by storm when it was published, although surely sexy stuff wasn’t new?   Bond came long before.   Maybe that’s not why.   Maybe I should keep reading and find out.   I’m only a third of the way through.   If there’s a lot of moderately sadistic menage a trois it could be a big waste of time.


Less Than 24-in-48

So, I knew my reading would be way under 24 because I was away yesterday.   Got about an hour and a half done in The Key to Rebecca.   It’s now 2:10 Sunday afternoon and I will try to get some quality reading time in before the end.   This might be the first time I’ve done a 24-in-48 readathon.  It is rainy here, so hopefully I won’t curl up with a book and fall asleep.

4:30 – Can’t tell how much I’ve read because the pages are messed up on my Kindle.   But one thing that really bothered me — and some may view this as a spoiler although it happens in the first or second chapter — Wolff, half-German, half-nomadic tribesman, is heading for Cairo.   He has crossed the desert from Libya and he’s a mess.   “His skin was a mass of sores, he’d lost 20 or 30 poounds.”   He’s grown a beard.   His nose is red and split.   He shaves.   And this is what I think is a huge mistake.   A deeply tanned man who shaves is going to be much paler where the beard was.    That’s going to look extremely noticeable whether he’s passing as European or Arab at least for several days.   So it’s really bothering me despite otherwise being an interesting start.

8:00  –  And then some serious napping occurred.   When I was young, I could read in bed for hours without falling asleep.   Actually, as recently as last Friday I could read in bed for hours without falling asleep.   Then there are days like today.   It’s going well, what I manage to read.   They’ve now introduce the Jewish ‘girl’ from the description.   I was expecting some 14 year old orphan, but she’s 23 and just parted ways with her 3rd sugar daddy.   Now she’s working for Vandam on spec.  Characters all lined up.

keyrebecca 10:00 – I can’t not watch Endeavour.   Maybe Morse should have worked for Special Branch.   Anyway, I doubt I’ll be at the computer at midnight to pronounce on what I’ve done by then, but the plan is to read until sleep after Endeavour.   I just learned they made a TV movie out of this with David Soul playing Wolff.   Really?   He’s supposed to be able to pass as European, yes, but he’s supposed to easily pass as an Egyptian as well.  A thing I find difficult to believe of David Soul.  I think I would’ve liked to see Maximilian Schell in the role.

So, I did read after Endeavour, but not sure how long I read altogether.   I don’t think it was more than 5 hours.   Much room for improvement, but given I had plans from long ago, I’m not going to chastise myself too harshly.

Dewey in Summer — Yaaas!

This is a thing I’ve hoped for for a long time.  It’s such a long time between Dewey’s.  They are hosting a lower key (no prizes), 12 hour earlier, 24 hour readathon.  I imagine this will make some folks happy.   It will start for those on the east coast of America, July 27th at 8:00 pm and at the same time around the world, so if you’re in Japan or Australia, it’s sometime Saturday morning.  I am only sorry I’ve got some plans so won’t be able to participate fully, but I will do what I can and I think you should join me!

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This weekend is the 24-in-48 Readathon which I will also be attempting despite plans which make it pretty certain I will not hit 24 hours.   These readathons should help with the 20 Books of Summer.   Join me for either or both!

The Golden Child – Book 6 of the #20BooksofSummer

This has, as far as I know, nothing to do with the old Eddie Murphy movie, although that’s what you’ll find if you Google ‘Golden Child’ without ‘Fitzgerald’.   It was Penelope Fitzgerald’s first book, written to entertain her dying husband in 1977.   I hope it did.   It entertained me.   She was also inspired by the King Tut exhibit.   The Golden Child of the title is a mummy of a people called the Garamantes.   This was a real tribe in Africa which had an empire referred to by Herodotus.   I don’t know if any of the rest of her description of the tribe and its customs is true or not, but the setting of the book is an exhibit of their golden child mummy and other golden treasures is so huge people are lining up for hours like they did for Tutankhamun.   The museum is run by a smooth, mostly admired man named Sir John Allison.   He became director so young that there are a few department heads who resent his rise and especially the fact that an expected legacy to the museum will probably be spent by him on all his favorite things and ignore their departments.   This legacy will come from Sir William, an eccentric, lovable archaeologist who is the equivalent of Howard Carter, if he hadn’t died.   Decades ago, he found the treasures.    The main character is Waring Smith, a lower level display expert, who, because of his friendly relationship with Sir William, is returning a tablet to the exhibit late at night and is nearly strangled.   Is it the Curse of the Golden Child?   Has one of the museum staff lost their mind?   Why strangle Waring?   Did he interrupt a robbery?   Other mysterious events follow and poor Waring, who has enough to worry about with his crumbling marriage and his mortgage, is borne along like flotsam from one to the next.



This cover, while handsome, is far too Egyptian.  It’s a short book and an entertaining one.  I was worried the end might be a let down, but I need not have worried.   While I have a tendency to think that people should behave in certain ways — like report crimes to the police — I’m also not overly concerned with How Things Look, which is all in all to some of the characters in the book.   Understandable, they are museum men.   And they are all men.   The only women are secretaries and Waring’s wife is heard about.   But that is how things were.   Overall, a highly entertaining read, if like me, you’re into an academic atmosphere with a bit of absurdity thrown in.


Forgotten Fatherland

Jean @ Howling Frog thought she may have read Ben MacIntyre’s Forgotten Fatherland : The True Story of Nietzsche’s Sister and Her Lost Aryan Colony  and I’m sure she did because it seems to be the only book on this subject.   There’s a couple of biographies, but none with a lot of the focus on this Aryan Colony in Paraguay the remains of which MacIntyre sought out in 1991.    I think it was his first book.  Still in his 20s, there’s an awkward phrase or two, but overall it’s an extremely well-written and fascinating yet repellant story of Nietzsche’s sister Elisabeth, who was a real piece of work, her fellow anti-semite and husband Bernhard Förster, the colony they founded , and her other great work, the Nazification of her brother’s philosophy.   


Elisabeth was courageous, strong-minded, stubborn, dishonest, racist, a bully, a liar, pretty much capable of anything to get her own way.   She was close to her brother when they were young, but as she got older her anti-semitism and marriage drove a wedge between them.   Nietzsche, an extremely passionate and nearly unread philosopher, went mad in 1889 and never recovered.   His sister made it the second great work of her life (after the founding of the extremely unsuccessful colony) to promote his work and control it.  She was so successful at this that decades later a completely misunderstood Nietzsche became the darling of the Nazi party and Elisabeth, the grand dame lauded by Nazi officers up to and including Hitler himself.

As I said earlier, a fascinating though painful story.   A well-told interweaving of the history of Elisabeth, the history of Paraguay and the Nueva Germania colony and MacIntyre’s expedition to find whatever remained of it.    This was my 5th of the #20booksofsummer.    I seem to be sticking with my list, much to my own astonishment.   Perhaps it was choosing mostly recent aquisitions?   My enthusiasm hasn’t waned as much as usual?   I don’t know, but so far, so good.