Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Inheritor's Powder: A Tale of Arsenic, Murder, and the New Forensic Science

I wanted to like The Inheritor's Powder, but just couldn't.  Not particularly well written, it switches between a shallow history of arsenic as a murder weapon, the confusing family history culminating in a murder, and a sprinkling of primitive forensic science.  I read it quickly, hoping it would get better.  It didn't.

Razor Girl

I saw Carl Hiaasen on his promotional tour for Razor Girl.  Besides learning that the frozen dead monitor lizard in Basket Case was real (I did not expect that), I found out that a woman did cause an accident by shaving he personal topiary while driving to a date (with her husband in the passenger seat).  Hiaasen used that Only in Florida story as a jumping-off point for another novel featuring restaurant inspector Andrew Yancy.  Still stuck on roach patrol and dating Dr. Rosa Campesino (who's transferred from the morgue to the ER), he meets razor girl Merry Mansfield because of beard hair in a pot of quinoa.

I should explain.  The beard hair belongs to Buck Nance, a/k/a Matt Romberg, a Wisconsin-born accordion player turned (along with his bandmate brothers) star of Bayou Brethren, "reality" TV stars who raise pedigree chickens and use the feathers for bespoke flies.  His beard ends up in the quinoa because Merry Mansfield rear ended the wrong rental car leading to the kidnapping of Buck's agent, Lance Coolman, instead of Martin Trebeaux, owner of Sedimental Journeys (and someone unwise enough to refurbish the beach in front of a mob-owned resort with broken glass).  Without Lance to keep him on script, Buck adds some racist and homophobic jokes to the "colorful" stories he's been booked to tell at The Parched Pirate in Key West.  Not unreasonably fearing for his life, Buck escapes, ducks into the kitchen at Clippy's, and hacks off his beard.  Since the mayor and his partner own Clippy's, Andrew's boss calls him out on an emergency inspection, and he keeps the hair.

OK, maybe I can't explain.  Suffice it to say that Hiaasen adds in some six pound rodents, a fake emotional support dog, a shady lawyer, multiple kidnappings, a relocation to Norway, a mongoose, the notorious Stoney's, and a combination deodorant and roll-on Viagra.  Typical Hiaasen - half a dozen crazy plots which somehow all come together in the last few pages.  One of his better novels, and guaranteed to get you some extra space if you read it on public transit.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Royal Stuarts

The Royal Stuarts is a straightforward summary of the reigns of the titular family.  The monarchs before Mary get short chapters, and Allan Massie adds little insight to the English/Scottish monarchs.  The book also suffered from poor editing, occasionally confusing me with ambiguously placed pronouns.  It's the rare volume to go straight into a donation box.