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Week 23: 8 – 14 June

9how23aMore incremental progress this week, as the Edinburgh climate has finally taken its toll and landed me with my first cold of the summer; helped no doubt by the fact that this week also marked a bit of a lull after a fairly hectic and stressful few weeks at work, which probably meant that my immune system was off guard and looking the other way when the enemy microbes sprang their ambush, rising out of the heather in their little microbial kilts and waving their tiny diseased claymores.

So, to be honest, even picking up the stitches round the neck felt like quite an achievement. (This is sad but true – I usually look forward to picking up stitches with a certain amount of fear and loathing, but it’s never as bad as I expect; ha, not this time!)  One of the effects of the bug I’ve picked up has been a certain blurring of my vision, like having a blocked nose in your eye, which made it hard to focus; and so, for whatever reason, I found it nearly impossible to find the sweet spot for picking up each stitch, but jabbed away like an incompetent nurse trying to find the vein with a syringe (the voice of experience here, folks).

9how23bFinally, with the gansey severely bruised and no doubt badly traumatised, though not as badly as me, the ghastly chore was done. I’ll probably make this a short collar, just an inch or so, to round off the neck.

Last week’s mention of the somewhat unconvincing ending to Dissolution has had me wondering, what is the clunkiest conclusion of a detective story I’ve read? I think the palm has to go to PD James’s “Unnatural Causes” in which, and I kid you not, the killer is rescued from a rooftop during a flood by the detective in a helicopter; she falls to her death, but our hero is left clutching a small bag that she kept round her neck, which contains – don’t laugh – a tape onto which she dictated a full confession. And yet James remains highly regarded as a writer, which to my mind is the real mystery…

2 comments to Week 23: 8 – 14 June

  • =Tamar

    Take care of that cold. Wear your ganseys!

    Was “Unnatural Causes” early in P.D.James’s career? Dorothy Sayers wrote that she made the mistake in her early books of making the killer too clever in leaving no solid evidence, so she had to fall back on the villain’s confession.
    The “death plunge” is another easy way to dispose of the villain – no hard-to-write trial, nobody has the guilt of killing them even in self-defense, just a mess to clean up and a confession to relieve the survivors of any need for second thoughts. Easy for a lazy writer or an inexperienced one.

  • Gordon

    Hi Tamar, the cold could of course be hay fever, allergies, general malaise or swine flu, so anything is possible!

    “Unnatural Causes” was an early PD James, true, though she’s capable of similar errors of taste in her later books too. So in “A Taste For Death” the central mystery of why the victim didn’t put up a struggle is that he knew his killer and was having a religious experience at the time, so he just let himself be killed.

    PD James also writes the most hilariously unconvincing poor and working class people in the whole of fiction. And as for snobbery – ! The best way to spot a pleb is to see if they drink instant coffee (all her good characters grind their own coffee beans), and when her detective visits a working class home one time he notices that all the chairs in the lounge point towards the TV – the implication being that their wretched lives are so empty their only occupation is watching television, unlike middle class homes where one sits around discussing Proust! Pah!