Thursday, August 12, 2004

In the beginning, there were the words

As promised, here's the umpteenth review of Louise Welsh's Tamburlaine Must Die, along with the article on "reviewese", the cliched reviewer-speak which most critics are guilty of. I read the article with gritted teeth and a slightly anxious expression as phrases I have used in the past were paraded in front of me like a line of ex-lovers (not, of course, that I have any ex-lovers; or event current ones, by the way. Just to set the record straight).

Also, here's a review, from last Sunday's Times, of James Lee Burke's latest.

Without further ado, I shall move on to my main business of the day...

As I don't have much to say, and found myself in a bored moment, I decided to concoct a quiz-type affair. I'll give the first lines of about 15 crime novels (well, with one or two exceptions), and as a note you give me the novels from which they come. I'm afraid that all the person who gets the most right will gain is the prestige of having got the most right. (I'm assuming that someone's going to participate; if not it'll be rather embarassing and I'll just have to answer myself.) I don't think they're too hard, and I've tried to include a good mix. Answers in a couple of days, I expect.

Number 1: "Four of us drove together to Cheltenham races on the day that Martin Stukely died there from a fall in a steeplechase."

2: "The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation."

3: "My earliest memories involve fire."

4: "The evening sky was streaked with purple, the color of torn plums, and a light rain had started to fall when I came to the end of the blacktop road that cut through the twenty miles of thick almost impenetrable Angola scrub oak and pine and stopped at the front gate of Angola penitentiary."

5: "I could never decide whether "Mad Annie" was murdered because she was mad or because she was black."

6: "The man in the house was going to kill himself."

7: "In eighteenth-century France there lived a man who was one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages."

8: "Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write."

9: "The terror, which would not end for another 28 years - if it ever did end - began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain." (NB: not actually from a crime novel.)

10: "It was the summer of love and I had just buried my husband when I first went back to see the resevoir that had flooded my childhood village."

11: "It was a warm spring night when a fist knocked at the door so hard that the hinges bent." (NB: it's not thought of as a crime novel, but it is. I think this one's probably a bit obscure.)

12: "The house on Silverlake was dark, its windows as empty as a dead man's eyes."

13: "I did not kill my father but I somtimes felt I had helped him on his way." (Again, not really a crime novel.)

14: "The cold dusk gives up its bruised color to complete darkness, and I am grateful that the draperies in my bedroom are heavy enough to absorb even the faintest hint of my silhouete as I move about packing my bags."

15: "Ten days after the war ended my sister Laura drove a car of a bridge." (Again, not really a crime novel.)

Finally, once again not from a crime novel, but I think it's funny so I want to include it...

16: "The rumour spread through the city like wildfire (which had actually often spread through Ankh-Morpork since its citizen's had learned the words "fire insurance".)

Have fun :)