BOOK & BLOG
January 31, 2010
Mike Carey’s latest Felix Castor book finally sees Felix free Rafi, the friend in whose body Felix trapped a demon. But by this time, with all the things we’ve found out about Rafi, we’re (and of course this means me) wondering why Felix and Penelope love Rafi so much. Everything about his character we discover in this book simply makes him sound like a giant jerk. However, we can hope that now Felix will be free of the load of guilt he’s been carrying around, and it’ll be interesting to see the developments in the next book. Felix, an exorcist and ghost-layer, is even more sleepless and harried in The Naming of the Beasts, because his enemies are arrayed against him. Fortunately, most of them hate each other as much as they detest Felix.
I like Lilith Saintcrow’s books a lot, as you know if you’ve been following this column for any length of time. Flesh Circus, which has a brilliant premise Jill Kismet, guardian and Hunter of the city, has to let the hellish circus into the city with all kinds of safeguards for their good behavior while they’re there. But the if the hostage dies, the hellbreed will be free to roam Jill’s city, instead of waiting for the tormented and suicidal to come to them. And someone’s trying to kill the hostage, plus voodoo practitioners in the city. And it looks like Jill’s beloved Saul is going to take a walk. Here’s the issue I had with the book; Saul is acting distant, so distant Jill fears he’s leaving her. She tries to pull away from him to make it easier. Then he’s astounded she thinks he’s leaving, and there’s a happy ending on that front. But there’s no explanation for his behavior, so there’s no satisfaction at its resolution. Maybe we’ll find out in the next book.
I think Laurie R. King is one of the most reliable and satisfying traditional mystery writers working today. Her standard of scholarship and excellence is remarkable, and each book seems as good as the last, if not better. She’s written nine Mary Russell books, and they’re all great reading. If you don’t know the premise, in the first book a teenage Mary Russell, a miserable orphan who’s having a terrible summer, meets the great detective Sherlock Holmes, who has retired to the English countryside to raise bees. The two form a friendship, and the very intelligent Mary challenges the temperamental Sherlock to take up his tasks again. In The Language of Bees, Mary and her husband, Sherlock, return from their travels to get a surprise visit from . . . Sherlock’s adult son. Ooops. And it turns out Sherlock’s a grandfather, too. But not to our surprise, since this is a mystery, the son’s wife is missing . . . .
Sadly for you, this week I’ve decided to talk about our dogs. Theoretically, the three dogs that live in our house belong to three separate people. Oscar, the dachshund, is my dog. Rocky, the half-boxer half-cocker spaniel, is our middle son’s dog. And Scrunch, who is God knows what, belongs to our daughter. In practice, they are all mine, though my husband is more and more sharing in that ownership since we’re alone with them now.
I found Oscar about eight years ago. He was in our local animal shelter. I’m an Episcopalian, and our priest at the time decided to bless the animals at the shelter on St. Francis Day, which was a great idea. If any animals in the world need such a blessing, it’s the ones in the shelter. I went to hold her prayer book. As our priest blessed each animal, I looked into the pen, and I was astonished to see a brown (in the dog world they’re called “red”) dachshund curled up in one. Not only was he there, he’d been there for five months. I’ve always had a soft spot for the breed, and in two days I was back to pick him up. We have no idea how old Oscar is, of course, but my guess is that he’s about eleven now. Oscar has bad teeth and is not one to pal around with other dogs, though he doesn’t bite them, either.
Rocky came to us in the trunk of a car. Our son wanted another dog, and we saw that a family had put a notice in the paper. Their dog had had unwanted puppies, and they were trying to find a home for the pups. The lady drove over to our house with all the puppies in the trunk. I don’t need to tell you I was taken aback by this approach, but after some looking, our son picked Rocky out of the bunch. Son’s previous dog was psycho-dog, so unpredictable we finally had to put him down, with great unhappiness. As if to make up for that, Rocky has always been incredibly sweet-natured, though as dumb as a box of rocks. However, when you’re handsome and have gorgeous golden brown fur, you don’t need to be smart, I guess.
Scrunch okay, we didn’t name her came from my daughter’s friend’s father’s girlfriend’s grandmother. I’m still not sure quite how that all happened, but we went to view Scrunch at the friend’s father’s house. She was in a pen outside, a small pen because she’d been kicked by a horse and didn’t need to run on a damaged hip. Scrunch was truly one of the ten ugliest dogs I’d ever seen in my life, and I tried to be tactful about it when I asked my daughter if she was sure this was the dog she wanted. I wasn’t sure I could look at this dog for very long. Of course she was quite dirty, and when a black and white dog is dirty, it looks pretty bad. Probably about the same size as a miniature schnauzer, Scrunch is the only dog I’d ever seen with two colors of fur that were also different lengths. Maybe it was because the black fur only seemed shorter than the white, but the effect was bizarre.
Now that we’ve had Scrunch for year, I see the beauty in her character. She is one of God’s lap dogs. Her favorite lap is my husband’s, but mine will do. We had her hip fixed, a major surgery. We take her to get her groomed, so that she looks more like a real dog than an accident. She is happiest when she is held and patted, and she adores Rocky to the point of idiocy.
So that’s me gushing about my dogs. For all we’ve given them, they’ve returned doubled. Sure, they can be huge pains. But if they’re in the kennel for some reason, the house seems so empty without them. By the way, they’re all neutered, of course.
And yes, I love cats. But my husband and daughter are both quite allergic, and though we tried shots and so on, it finally seemed like too much trouble. So we’re happy with the mutts, and I think they’re happy with us.
And for those of you who’ve asked after Not Duck; she flew away to the pond in the area, and another family is enjoying her company.
© 2010 Charlaine Harris