Monday, 9 November 2015

See Also Murder by Larry D Sweazy



published 2015



See also Murder


I’d thought of dressing up, putting on my one fine black dress and pillbox hat, but I would be wearing it plenty in the next few days. See also Murder 2It wasn’t like I had a huge wardrobe to choose from. Dress up occasions had always been rare: weddings and funerals mostly. I had on my best everyday dress, a light shade of gray with a broad white collar, cut below the knee – another McCall’s pattern that I’d sewn myself a few years ago. The dress went with my best shoes – the black ones with the thick sensible heels that had been originally bought for Sundays and expected events.

Most of my clothes were utilitarian. Fashion was the least of my worries on the farm
 
see also murder 3
 


commentary: This is yet another book recommended by blogging friends Tracy K (at Bitter Tea and Mystery) and Col (Col’s Criminal Library) – Col donated his copy of the book. I think, rather neatly, I liked it more than Col did, but less than Tracy did.

The protagonist is Marjorie Trumaine, a farmer’s wife in North Dakota in 1964. Her husband has been badly hurt in a hunting accident, and an already harsh life has become that much harder to cope with. She makes some extra money doing some indexing for New York publishers. The farm is just outside a small town, and she knows everyone.

A horrific double murder interrupts this: her neighbours, another farming couple, are found with their throats cut. There’s a strange amulet on the scene, and Marjorie starts to investigate where it might have come from, if it has any special meaning. This takes her into a bigger town, with a university, and an encounter with a librarian friend, and an antagonistic cousin. More murders follow, and it seems Marjorie may be in danger.

This was a very interesting and unusual book, for several reasons. Firstly, it was more like a literary novel in its portrayal of a way of life in a specific time and place. It reminded me of many books with a similar setting, from Willa Cather’s My Antonia, to Kent Haruf’s work, and Jane Smiley’s recent novels. Secondly, the author, a man, has chosen to write in a woman’s voice, and very effectively too. If I had read it without knowing I would absolutely have assumed a woman wrote it – the details of life, and clothes, and ways of thinking were wholly convincing. I liked reading about her profession of indexer too.

In fact I liked all that a lot better than I liked the murder plot, which was completely over the top and not wholly convincing – the violence and gruesomeness seemed unnecessary and I’m not sure how well the story hung together. As Col said, there were a lot of unanswered questions when you thought it over later.

But I’m guessing this is the first of a series of investigations by Marjorie, and I would certainly read more.

The main picture is of a woman called Mildred Yoder doing some sewing in Minot, North Dakota.

The woman sitting at her desk is from the Library of Congress and is from a much earlier date – 1935 – but I liked her cheery face, and Marjorie does enjoy her work in the book.

Thanks again to Col for the book.












17 comments:

  1. I do like those historical details, Moira, I must admit. But I'm not much for a lot of gruesomeness, to be quite honest. And over-the-top and not convincing just isn't me. Hmm.....I may read this one, if only for the history. But it'll wait until I can handle the gore.

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    1. I thought it was a shame it was so violent Margot, when there was a really good book in there - setting and characters. It will be interesting to see what the next one was like.

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  2. Moira, glad you enjoyed this mostly and cheers for the link and mention. Yes on reflection, I had a lot of.....why did X do this, why did X do that?......questions which kind of ruined it for me slightly. Including one big fat question which kind of sets the whole thing off and running. I wasn't especially gruesomed out and the setting was great, just the plot seemed implausible.

    I'm hoping I enjoy A THOUSAND FALLING CROWS more.

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    1. I suppose you wouldn't object to gruesomes! I wouldn't mind so much if it hadn't seemed so pointless, and if I hadn't liked the other aspects. I can put up with some violence, but the plot didn't seem to justify it. But I will keep reading.

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  3. I did love this book. Thanks for linking to my review. Not sure if it was the indexing aspect or the life on the farm and how much she loved it or the protagonist's ability to adapt to life changes that would have me giving up entirely. I agree that the mystery plot was over the top but not much more than a lot of other thrillers (and I usually don't like that). This one just had enough aside from the thriller plot to keep me engaged. And the time period. I was only a teenager then but the male / female roles seemed very true to that time.

    Your summary of the book is just perfect. Wish I could do that. I do hope the author continues the series but I also hope it is done in a realistic sense. My problem with protagonists that are not PIs or policemen is that multiple murders in their lives strains my ability to suspend disbelief.

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    1. Yes to all you say - such an interesting setting, great characters. And you do wonder how she will find more murders... but we live in hope.

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    2. It is funny (or maybe not), I don't even remember the gruesome parts. Guess I blank them out if I am enjoying it otherwise. Thanks to Col for finding the next one in the series; this is beginning to sound like one of those small towns you don't want to live in. But I will be there to find out how it all works out.

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    3. Yes, and the librarian is the one from the first book isn't she?

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    4. I am assuming so. Should be interesting.

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  4. SEE ALSO DECEPTION (May 2016).........October 1964—just months after freelance indexer Marjorie Trumaine helped solve a series of murders in Dickinson, North Dakota, she is faced with another death that pulls her into an unwanted investigation. Calla Eltmore, the local librarian, is found dead at work and everyone considers it suicide. But Marjorie can’t believe that Calla would be capable of doing such a thing.

    At Calla’s wake, Marjorie’s suspicions are further aroused when she notices something amiss in the open casket. But neither the sheriff nor the coroner are interested in her observation.

    Despite pressing job commitments and the burden of caring for a husband in declining health, Marjorie recruits Deputy Guy Reinhardt to help her uncover the truth. What she finds is a labyrinth of secrets that she had no knowledge of— and threats from someone who will kill to keep these secrets hidden.

    Story Locale: A small town in North Dakota in 1964

    Series Overview: Marjorie Trumaine, a freelance book indexer, uses her research skills and attention to detail to help the police solve crimes in rural North Dakota during the early 1960s.

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    1. Oh great - thanks. I'll look out for it.

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  5. Never heard of this one before (I know, I say that a lot around here ...) - thanks Moira,

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    1. This one definitely thanks to the blogfriends , and I'm really glad they pointed it out to me.

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  6. Larry D. Sweazy's fiction is already on my wish-list, Moira. I only have to decide which book to read first. I'm tempted to try one of his Lucas Fume westerns, though.

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    1. I noticed he wrote Westerns too - I would expect you to go for them first Prashant.

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  7. I always find historical fiction creaky (that's the sound of the research being winched in). For me, it has to be written at the time, about the time.

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    1. I know what you mean, though the best ones transcend that. And even the not-best ones - I read a ton of Jean Plaidy when I was young, and still think some of my outline historical knowledge comes from them. She made up the conversations, but the facts were pretty much OK.

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