Monday, April 02, 2007


from the diary: “Saturday 3/14/87

“Kinda boring day. Started reading another of the paperbacks from the huge stacks on my white dresser. Don’t know how many of them I’ll eventually read. Tsing-Boom, the one I’m reading, is a murder mystery. Bleh. It’s interesting but I’m not all that thrilled by mysteries. They all sort of meld into one another after awhile.”

I’ve tried reading mysteries now & then over the years. They tend to come in series and I like a good series. Right now I’m reading the Dave Brandstetter mysteries. Dave is a death claims investigator for an insurance company. Like I care. I am reading the series because Dave is gay and doesn’t have any trouble with it. He likes his boys femme, though he’d rather they didn’t wear dresses. “A femme in a black leather jacket”? He also smokes & drinks. A lot. I like author Joseph Hansen’s spare prose.

The problem with mysteries, however, is that I rarely find myself caring who did it. I don’t expend much effort trying to beat the author to the reveal, though I am disappointed when it’s hammer to the head obvious.

I don’t remember Nicolas Freeling’s Tsing-Boom. I suspect I read it merely because I liked the title. The lead character of the novel is “the Amsterdam detective Piet Van der Valk.” According to an obit for Freeling, after ten Van der Valk mysteries (which were so successful they were adapted for television and allowed Freeling to buy “a grand and romantic, if dilapidated, house at Grandfontaine, in the Vosges, France”) the author killed off his detective, “tired of the tyranny of having to write the same story over and over again.” Eventually, to placate his fans, Freeling drafted Van der Valk’s widow into the crime-solving business. Tsing-Boom was the eighth Van der Valk novel.

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