Friday, May 25, 2007

The Cuckoo in Spring

Elizabeth Cadell, as I think I have mentioned before, is high on my list of most rereadable authors. Her romantic comedies, now out of print but standard at most civic libraries, hark to a simpler day when writers, reluctant to exploit sex and bad language, had to resort to plot and dialog to move the story along.

The Cuckoo in Spring is one of which I wish to make particular note, because I vaguely recollected the plot but couldn't find it anywhere. There was, of course, a handsome young man and a girl, but there were also missing paintings and the girl turned up at the end right under his nose. Try as I might, I couldn't locate it, until I browsed around Saratoga Library and found it in the Large Type section. Something in the synopsis caught at my memory and I checked it out, discovering, to my delight, that this was the missing half-remembered story.

As I said, there is a handsome young man, an art dealer and man-about-town named Julian. He goes to the end of nowhere to evaluate some paintings which may or may not have value, and discovers a gorgeous cook named Alexandra. They fall in love in a matter of days, and he proposes to meet up with her in London, as soon as he completes a social engagement in Scotland. When he returns, he discovers Alexandra has disappeared, along with the four valuable paintings she brought back for him. After a frantic search, he discovers his lost love, and the rest of the story, right under his nose (as I said before). The tale is light-hearted and fun from beginning to end and I'm glad I found it, poetically enough, right under my nose.

But no, I don't know why it's called The Cuckoo in Spring.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Remember Me, Irene

Jan Burke is a current author whose Irene Kelly series has a well-deserved following. This one, my most recent read, begins with Irene's chance encounter with Lucas Monroe, her former statistics professor, now homeless and trying to recover his good name. Irene becomes increasingly aware that Lucas's emergence is tied to suicides, resignations, vicious attacks, and even murders, and tries to piece together the story before it's too late--for her.

Ms. Burke delivers a satisfying tale, a great escapist read. Some quibble with the extraordinary number of life-threatening adventures Irene encounters in the course of her lifetime (yes, there is a chronology to the stories), but this is FICTION, folks, so I say go with the flow and enjoy.


Ross Thomas won an Edgar award for this one (named after Edgar Allen Poe, and awarded to mysteries), copyrighted in 1984, so I had high hopes.

The title, derived from the Uncle Remus stories, refers to one's home turf, in which one can expect to be safe. This is not immediately apparent, as the story begins with the murder of a young police detective, and continues with her brother, Benjamin Dill, trying to unravel who did it and why. As he draws nearer to the answer, he finds that it all hinges on who is in whose briarpatch.

Good things: excellent writing, interesting story, compelling characterizations.

Bad things: language and gratuitous sex--not constant, but enough for an "R" rating. Indeterminate ending, which may be more realistic, but is less satisfying.

In the end, I really enjoyed it, but I won't be seeking out his work in the future.