Thursday, 6 April 2017

See Also Deception by Larry D Sweazy

 
published 2016
 
 
See Also Deception


[Set in 1964]

The modern look was taking over the world and had come to North Dakota via magazines and television. From what I understood there was a British invasion descending upon us. I wasn’t sure what that meant, since I was more worried about the Russians than a quartet of mop-headed musicians. But even with a hint of the modern, there was no mistaking Betty Walsh for a farm girl. She had on a pair of well-worn denim pants and a red plaid shirt that looked like it might have come straight out of Jaeger’s closet...


 
See Also Deception 2See also Deception 3


The wind had a voice all of its own. The wind was so common – omnipresent – and I was so accustomed to it that I barely noticed – at least until it sang in the depths of winter. Just to remind me that  it was there, a hard gust pushed up my back, and I instinctively pushed my hand down to trap my simple navy blue dress against my thigh. I’d made the dress myself from a McCall’s pattern. It was one of three that I owned that were suitable to go into town in, even though it had seen its better days. I hadn’t had time to sit down at the sewing machine lately. Betty looked at me like I was an old lady, and she was probably right, even though I was just shy of 36. I felt old. All of my friends were dying anyway.
 
 
commentary: First point about the clothes description is that there is room for a strange ambiguity for UK readers – Jaeger is the name of a British fashion design house, and ‘clothes from their closet’ would not be jeans and a plaid shirt, more likely a smart suit, or a navy dress like the one the narrator is wearing. (In the book, Jaeger is Betty’s boyfriend.) Second point – is this a regional difference? – ‘there was no mistaking Betty Walsh for a farm girl’ to me means she doesn’t look like one, where the point is clearly that she does.  Is it a colloquial or US usage?

No complaints though – this is the second in Larry D Sweazy’s excellent series, and it is even better than the first - on the blog here. The earlier one had some unrestrained and gruesome violence which seemed unnecessary – this one is far from cozy, but the whole story hung together better. The books feature Marjorie Trumaine, a farmer’s wife in North Dakota in the 1960s, who has trained as an indexer, looks after a husband paralyzed in an accident, and investigates crimes. This time, sadly, it’s her friend Calla the librarian who is dead . (Sadly, because Calla was a fine character who would have been a continuing asset to the books.) Marjorie uses her logical mind to make connections and links and try to work out what’s going on. She also gives us her strong and uncompromising views (read: prejudices) on this and that as she goes along.

Marjorie is not wholly likeable – she is an annoying but very real person.  At one point she apologizes for having ‘acted like a mean old harpy’ – but that seems to be all she ever does. And, as with so many fictional characters, she is very hard on other people’s attitudes and manners while continuing to behave badly herself. But with all that, she’s great fun to read about, the plot was intriguing, and the descriptions of life on the remote farm, and the weather, and the nearby small town are all wholly convincing and fascinating. And there was quite a major incident at the end – leaving me looking forward even more to the next book to see how things change. The words “She’s a treat” are used sarcastically about another character in the book – but Marjorie really is one. Let’s hope for a long series.

This book is the high cusp of overlap in the blogs of my friends Tracy (Bitter Tea and Mystery) and Col (Col’s Criminal Library). They introduced me to Sweazy, and now we are all fans, and Col actually sent me a copy of this book. Thanks to both....

The girl in jeans is from the State Library of Queensland. The other pics are dress patterns Marjorie might have used.















16 comments:

  1. Without spoiling it for anyone else, I was pleased with the "major incident" at the end - it seemed a logical step in Marjorie's story arc. I'll have to ping you WHERE I CAN SEE YOU - not Marjorie but still very good. Cheers for the mention.

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    1. Thanks for sending this one on - it took me ages to get to it, and then I couldn't put it down. Look forward to reading something else by him.

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  2. I've only skimmed your review Moira because I am hoping to get my hands on this book soon (is it wrong to imagine knocking off some of the people above me in the library queue?) - I loved the first book in the series - one of those great finds that makes me so grateful for the community of book bloggers who introduced it to me too.

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    1. That's exactly how I felt about it - I doubt I'd have come across it any other way. I think Marjorie and Calla are such keen library-lovers that they would totally understand your murderous tendencies...

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  3. OK, that's it. With all of you folks in on it, I must read this one. I sense a conspiracy... In all seriousness, I think it's fascinating that the main character is an indexer. That in itself gets my attention.

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    1. Resistance is futile Margot - we're all on your case! But honestly I think you'll like it - the bits about indexing and dealing with publishers will particularly appeal. And Marjorie is an all-round great protagonist.

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  4. Thanks for mentioning my blog. I do love this series and I was hoping you would like this one as well as the first one. Realistic strong female characters in a book set in the 1960s are hard to find, but Marjorie is forced into being independent and I like that aspect of it. And I like the setting of North Dakota, since I know little about that area.

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    1. She's a real winner, and as I say, I liked this one even better than the first one. Yes, I have never visited N Dakota, and know little about it, and the setting is wonderfully well done.

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  5. I was SO confused by the Jaeger thing cos I was imagining stuff like the famous shot of George Bernard Shaw in his Jaeger all-in-one underwear....

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    1. I think we've found the Rorschach Test for fashionistas: What do you see when you visualize the Jaeger closet...

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  6. With the mention of the Beatles, I was wondering if she meant Jagger's closet. The Stones followed the Beatles pretty closely in the British Invasion. But I can't imagine a red plaid shirt in his closet!

    The expression about mistaking Betty a farm girl... as a USAian, I read it as, yes, she looks like a farm girl. But once you start to analyze the phrase it makes no sense at all, does it?

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    1. Jagger's Closet is even better! See my answer to Daniel above. And yes - phrases (in both countries) don't always make perfect sense: the one that used to puzzle me was 'I could care less' which plainly means 'I couldn't care less.' At least, I think so...

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    2. ARGH. That annoys me SO much. It's wrong. But so many people say it wrongly that I'm afraid it's going to become one of those "acceptable" wrongisms.

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  7. I agree with your review and enjoyed reading about Marjorie Tremaine and North Dakota in the 1960s. A breath of fresh air in the mystery reading business.
    Marjorie's next venture takes her to my city, i believe, and I can't wait for that book to be available.

    And how did you find the perfect picture to go with the description, although it didn't really fit with the character.

    And I liked Calla, too. But I can't wait for the next cast of characters.

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    1. Thanks, I was very pleased with the picture. And yes I have every faith in Sweazy, and wherever he takes Marjorie she will find good characters.

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