Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Sunday Salon: My Weekly Reading – So Far So Good

Well, today I finished reading Jo Dereske's Index to Murder, and I can now tell the world that the butler definitely didn't do it! Other than that, I'm not saying anything about the ending of the 11th installment in Dereske's Miss Zukas mystery series, centering around dedicated small-town librarian Helma Zukas. Well nothing else except that there's not a single butler in the book, murderous or otherwise – so you can relax.

But I can say I enjoyed it and I've put the first book in the series on my TBR list. Officially, of course, I'd always recommend starting out with the first book of a series and working one's way through. It just so happens that "Index" was the one Miss Zukas book I found at the used book store a few months back. So – in medias res and all that.

It's been a really lovely day here in Northern Virginia – at least to look at. Still a lot colder than I'd like it to be, even with all the gorgeous sunshine. But at least the "wintry mix" that was predicted never developed this weekend, so I've been able to lull myself into believing that spring is just around the corner.

However, staying indoors has its "up" side, of course – I was able to get quite a lot of reading done today. Started off with the Sunday book review supplements (last appearance of the Washington Post's Book World – boo-hoo), and then progressed to sessions with each of the three books I've been reading this week. Aside from Index to Murder, I've got Land of Marvels by Barry Unsworth and Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence both started. And I'm about midway through "Marvels," so I should be able to finish that one in a day or two. I'm trying to get through at least a book a week, and so far I'm doing pretty well – but, of course, the year is still young.

Well, I suppose that's all I have to report for today. So I'll leave you with a little snippet from Index to Murder, with librarian Helma Zukas spending a restless night, near the book's end:
In her apartment, during the darkest of the night, Helma did what she often did during puzzling times. She Cut Things Out. Using a pair of imported Scherenschnitte scissors . . . Helma began with last month's Smithsonian magazine. So precise that not a fraction remained of the surroundings or was excised from the illustration. She cut out two leopards, then the letters of the word "Smithsonian."

She opened the magazine and cut out the editor's head, then excised the colorful figures occupying a South American landscape. A llama, two girls weaving, an ultramodern hotel, storm clouds, palm trees, rare flowering orchids, . . . rubies found in Egypt, a mummy, a double rainbow. The pieces grew on her coffee table, each perfect image after the next.
[p. 212]
And I thought I had some really deep and interesting neuroses! Miss Zukas and I are obviously kindred spirits.

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