April was not really a banner month in reading for me, but the arrival of my new Kindle at the end of the month should turn things around. I only managed three books last month, once you exclude the one book that was a reread. AS of writing this, though, I have already surpassed that number in May.
Maurice LeBlanc and Edgar Jepson
I have found out that this is a novelization of a play written by Maurice LeBlanc and not actually part of his series of Lupin mysteries. This makes perfect sense after I learned it, because this book doesn’t quite fit with the other Lupin I’ve read. I had already realized something was up when Lupin gave up crime at the end; also nearly all the action, which would be shard to stage, takes place off the page. Still, its not all bad, though it is rather obvious. There is no mystery here. The story goes through the motions with little life or charm, like a play that is expecting its performers to carry the show.
The Well of Lost Plots
The third Thursday Next novel takes place entirely in “bookworld,” as Thursday solves book crimes and Fforde plays with his metafictional world. There is a plot to take over the bookworld, and someone is killing Jurisfiction agents and it is up to Thursday to get to the bottom of it.
It has all of Fforde’s trademark profound silliness. There are stock characters learning to be more believable, a mind reader erasing Thursday’s memories and counseling for the cast ofWutheringHeights. The plot is a still a standard detective story, but it wrapped in such a fun interesting world that that is hardly a concern. The best part of this series has always been just how much Fforde’s love of literature comes across. There is some gentle ribbing of popular classic novels and threads drawn from so many that it can be hard to unravel, but it is always worth it. The Thursday Next books satisfy on at least two levels, and I defy any fan of literature to not have a near constant grin from all the in jokes.
I knew Sturges from his comic book work, which I liked well enough to make a point of tracking down his novels. Midwinter, as the back flap says (though since I read this on my Kindle there is no backflap) is a fantasy Dirty Dozen. As long as it stick to that set up it was really enjoyable. Unfortunately, as the book goes on it gets further away from that set-up and much less enjoyable.
Midwinter struggles with tone. Sometimes it tries for deadly serious drama, others it skews toward jokey. All of the element here could have gelled into a compelling world, but it falls just short. Sturges does succeed in putting some genuinely compelling characters on the page. Mauritane is the stereotypical stoic badass, but he is a well done rendition of that sort of character. Raieve and Silverdun are also entertaining. While the plot is nothing special, there are several great scenes as Mauritane and his crew try to complete their mission. My biggest problem with Midwinter is some half baked subplots. Outside of the mission itself there is little resolution. Worst of all is the storyline of Mauritane’s wife, which gets just enough time to be insulting but not enough time to seem at all real. I found it hard to believe that anyone involved there even knew each other.
I wish I could give Midwinter a glowing review, and when it is good its really good, but the book is very uneven. Still, I have already purchased the sequel and will likely have it finished in the next month or two.