Friday, 25 December 2009

What am I doing for the holidays?

In two words: hopefully nothing. I mean, is it really a holiday if you're stressed about everything? I have my step-daughter down to visit and we've been doing touristy things and I visit my parents for turkey but really, I hope to have a really quiet, routine holiday. Just the way I like it.

Also, I hope to get some reading done, grab a book with pages (not read on-screen) and sit on a nice comfy chair with a coffee and read, read, read. I need the book to be short so I've done the best thing -- chosen a book with various short mystery stories. First up, The Beauty Specialist by Leslie Charteris.THE SAINT IN ACTION (originally The Ace of Knaves) - The Spanish War; The Unlicensed Victuallers; The Beauty Specialist - Simon Templar Adventures
It's a Simon Templar Adventure. I've never read one of those. Let's see how it goes.

Review for:  The Beauty Specialist by Leslie Charteris

I have to admit, it's difficult to read some of these older classics after editing for so long. I wanted to go through the short story with a red pencil.

Things I would have edited: Constant POV changes mid-paragraph and spelling errors (he spelled thousand as tousand). That aside, because it's not like the story can be edited anymore anyway, it's an interesting mystery filled with interesting characters.

The one thing about characters that have to last through a series of books, they need to be unusual. We need to remember them. Who could forget Poirot's mustache or Mrs. Marple's knitting? Sherlock Holmes with his hat and drug habit or Tony Hill and his forgetful, absent-minded nature?

When the reader first starts the story, we are made aware of the Saint's arrogance. This is the first line: "The fact that Simon Templar had never heard of the "Z-Man" was merely a tremendous proof that the Z-Man himself, his victims and the police authorities had joined forces in a monumental conspiracy of silence."
What a pompous arse! WE LOVE HIM! 

Also, I love the Chief Inspector in the story -- Mr. Teal. He hates the Saint. I like that, too. Why? Because in the real world no hero is ever liked by everyone. Even if apparently they are on the same side.

The only thing I can suggest before reading this book, read number one in the series first. Why? Because, the writer mentions characters as if we should know who they are and ... well, I don't. The writer mentions a woman named Miss Holm and another named Pat. Should I know these people? He explains nothing about them. Oh wait, about a quarter way through, I find out Pat IS Miss Holm. Patricia Holm. 

Three for the Chair (The Rex Stout Library: a Nero Wolfe Mystery)I like the Saint but I really like Patricia Holm. Her character is smart. Not your typical 1940s woman in the movies that stands behind the man and screams bloody murder every times she sees a gun. She acts with intelligence.

The ending was unusual. I wasn't following any clues because I didn't know if the writer left any to begin with. I read the story just for that, the read. Would I class it with the best detective stories I've ever read? No. But, I would recommend the story to you if you like Nero Wolfe. It reads somewhat like a Rex Stout mystery.

I give it... (three red cups out of five)