the children's' The Complete Adventures of Curious George, Anniversary Edition series does not bulk large in the world of detective fiction, but after seeing the curious george show at the jewish museum in new york this week, i think the clever monkey deserves to rank with some of our great detectives: he's always getting out of scrapes, he's flexible and agile, and another adventure will soon seek him out.
a few days ago i talked in this blog of adventurous explorers and the mysteries they seek. i used The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (Vintage Departures) as a fascinating example. during the period of exploration for the lost city of z, the real lost city of machu picchu was discovered in neighboring peru. those of you who are interested in this type of mystery and discovery might like to read Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham, a Real-Life Indiana Jones, and the Search for Machu Picchu, the story of the discovery and of its discoverer hiram bingham 111 by christopher heaney.
the two mystery novels that i have recently read are Shutter Island by dennis lehane and Life Sentences: A Novel by laura lippman. they go to show what impossible likenesses we try to fit under the one genre of mystery novel.
i read shutter island because i had seen the movie and thought the denouement too abrupt. it is more abrupt than the novel that does give the reader a little clearer picture of what is going on. but i came away from reading the book with great admiration for script writer, director, and actors in the movie. they did a wonderful job of catching lehane's twisted characters in their twisted tunnels. conversations are repeated word for word. characters are drawn as if paint by numbers was involved. it's a page turner of a book, worth your time, whether or not you have seen the flick. the paperback is 369 pages. harper is the publisher.
laura lippman's novel life sentences has its dark side, too, but it is a dark side played out in a contemporary setting not in an insane asylum of the 50s. this book is a departure from lippman's usual tess monaghan series. it is a stand-alone story starring cassandra fallow, a popular writer who is difficult to identify with. fallow she is. i would go so far as to call ms. fallows unlikeable, which is a problem with this story.
life sentences is based in part on a true story. lippman can write sympathetic characters. in this book an ex-detective now works at nordstroms where she uses detective skills to sell high end clothing. it's a very well done portrait. you'll find an excellent three-page riff on callie's (main character) cooking interests, too.
the unraveling of the mystery is really an excuse for a story about women's friendships and perhaps more deeply, the meanings of perceptions, specifically how cassandra saw the past nd how her girlhood friends saw that same past
william morrow is the publisher of this 342-page novel.