I think I heard about the Martin Beck series, by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo (my umlaut key is broken!) from either NPR or a blog last summer. This series is usually recommended as a “if you liked this, then you’ll like this…” type scenario with The Girl Who books by Stieg Larsson. The Martin Beck series also takes place in Sweden and was also intended (and succeeded) in being a ten-part series. The couple who wrote these books alternated authoring of chapters.
And so on to the mystery! Roseanna starts in the middle of a hot summer with a canal being dragged (for some sort of naval, watercraft, canal type issue, I don’t know) and the discovery of the body of an unidentified woman. For months nothing is known about this woman. No one claims her body, no missing person matches her description, and no suspects are present. Martin Beck becomes increasingly obsessed with the unidentified woman as the colder fall months begin but the case appears to go dormant. Until a break arrives from the US! in the form of a missing tourist who looks like the victim found in the bottom of the canal.
I am not much of a mystery connoisseur. I mostly read mysteries as a quick diversion from other books and don’t spend much time thinking about the logic of the mystery. This seemed to me to be a solid mystery different from most only in it’s location. The majority of the book takes place during the winter and there are abundant descriptions of cold wet snow which didn’t do much for my desire for summer. If I were to ever attempt to solve a mystery I want it to be in a warm location without cold dampness. So this might be a mystery novel best read during the summer when it is so hot that one fantasizes about the cold of northern Europe during winter.
I am lately obsessed with books that are about either people trying to grow up or twenty-somethings attempting to find their way. Scott Pilgrim is stuck in a rut. He is 23, between jobs, and dating a high schooler (named Knives Chau, If I ever have a daughter I’m going to push hard to name her Knives). One night as he’s sleeping he dreams that he’s in a bleak desert lamenting his lonesomeness and a girl on rollerblades glides past him saying, “You’re not alone, you’re just having some idiotic dream.” Later the Scott finds that the dream girl is actually an amazon.ca deliverer named Ramona Flowers who uses a “convenient subspace highway that goes through (his) head.”
Soon after Scott and Ramona start to date Scott is attacked by Mathew Patel and his back-up harpies. Scott defeats Mathew but only earns $2.10 for his efforts. It turns out that in order to date Ramona Scott will have to defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends. (Which brings up the question- Romona obviously has a thing for evil guys- seven evil boyfriends! Maybe Scott is evil too…) There are several references throughout the book to the subsequent books (maybe that will be covered in vol 2, we’ll address that in volume 3… etc) which adds a funny later of meta-ness to everything.
Scott Pilgrim’s universe is a funny mixture of (our type of) reality and video game reality. (Wouldn’t it be fun though if it turns out that we do have different realities- maybe some people do see the world has a video game reality, and other see it as a comic book reality. Or if you’re Kenneth on 30 Rock you see it as a muppet reality. I decided yesterday that even though I don’t know what is going on with my life right now I’m determined to spend my time experiencing things that are strange and wonderful, so bring on the strange and wonderful books!) Characters are introduced with a brief summary of their characteristics and statuses. Not to mention that when characters are defeated they pop into non-existence and leave behind coins! However not enough for bus fair, (much to Scott’s chagrin).
I liked the character of Ramona Flowers solely on her predilection for tea. Listen to the list of tea from her cabinet, “Let’s see… Blueberry, raspberry, sleepytime, green tea, green tea with lemon, green tea with lemon and honey, liver disaster, ginger with honey, ginger without honey, vanilla almond, white truffle coconut, chamomile, blueberry chamomile, decaf vanilla walnut, constant comment, and earl grey.” Reads like my own tea cabinet! With a little less chai.
I can’t really gived educated comments on the artwork. I don’t know enough (and then, what do I ever know?) With the exception of the cover all of the drawings are in black and white. I find the characters to be appealingly drawn. Once again it takes place during winter- I’m mistiming all of my reading! I’m trying to read more graphic novels. I’ve taken Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi out from the library and purchased Asterios Polyp by David Mazzuchelli with a gift card.
Final thoughts- was there ever a word whose sound mismatched it’s meaning more than diphthong?