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.

mastoidmallet

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?

Maryland
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.

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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.