mjj (flemmings) wrote,
mjj
flemmings

The run-on English sentence made the run-on English road

Picked a Bernard Cornwell mystery off the curbside, possibly thinking he was some other author. But the blurb sounded good- 'The Countess of Avebury, once an opera dancer, was killed while having her portrait painted. The artist was convicted of her murder and is due to hang. But influences in high places brought Rider Sandman on the scene as an investigator for the government.' So far so good, and hot weather is mystery reading weather. The opening scenes, of a public hanging, are harrowing, even if the unsympathetic characters are all presented as grotesques. And then Sandman appears, walking back to London because he's pissed off at a thrown cricket match.
He walked because he refused to share a carriage with men who had accepted bribes to lose a match. He loved cricket, he was good at it, he had once, famously, scored a hundred and fourteen runs for an England eleven playing against the Marquis of Canfield's picked men and lovers of the game would travel many miles to see Captain Rider Sandman, late of His Majesty's 52nd Regiment of Foot, perform at the batting crease... He could not afford the stagecoach fare, nor even a common carrier's fare, because in his anger he had thrown his match fee back into Sir John Hart's face and that, Sandman conceded, had been a stupid thing to do for he had earned that money honestly, yet even so it had felt dirty.
Does no one hire editors any more? Are the colon and semicolon dead? I'm a subvocalizer, and I truly can't be having with writing like this. Back on the boulevard it goes.

Alas that one can't link to goodreads. So I shall quote from this woman who has three of Aaronovitch's zingers among her own list of favourite quotes:

"My biggest peeves? Right off the bat (cricket pun intended) is the hero of the hour: Captain Rider Sandman, or as I like to call him, Captain Awesome McCoolname. Cpt Mcname here is, indeed, awesome. He is a former cricket superstar, memorable figure of the Waterloo battle, and so righteous I wanted to knife him in his damn holier-than-thou face. He lives penniless to care for his undeserving mother and sister! He is outraged by the corruption brought by money into sports! He WILL DO EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD to save a man from the gallows! He will gallantly lace up the dress of a platonic-but-hot lady friend! Oh, but he needs a flaw, so he has a bad temper that only flares up around bad people. And he's dirt poor. Eventually I had to stop rolling my eyes at the man out of eyelid exhaustion.

Anyway, super ex-soldier goody two-shoes is hired to check on a claim that a man condemned to the gallows might be innocent, uh-oh. But the execution is in a week! GASP! Can you tell who is going to be rescued at the very very last minute? SUSPENSE!

Hilariously there are, of course, rich young men full of evil who are in a secret society doing evil things, because I guess that's what everyone did for entertainment back in the day. And because they are SO EVIL, our hero spends the whole time convinced one of them is the real killer. Red herrings? Who said anything about red herrings? Not me, that's for sure.

Don't be mad at me if you think I have given away a spoiler, because as soon as the character-who-would-be-killer is introduced, you peg him. Why? Because apparently all good men are beautiful righteous creatures of the Lord, and the bad ones are weak and annoying. So when you are introduced to the weakest, most annoying snivelling creature of the lot, you know he's the murderer."
Tags: reading_16, writing
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