Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Eventide and Painted Ladies

Typically I drive to Virginia during this holiday week.  This year I didn't have it in me to make the 1200 mile round trip journey.  So what does a yid do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone with a non-observant cat?  There are basketball games to watch and a great bagel bakery in Brookline where I went this a.m. to address my cholesterol deficit.  But most of the time I spent sitting in my easy chair and read.

Eventide is the sequel to Kent Haruf's Plainsong and the novel that precedes Benediction.  All three of these books are about a small town in the flat lands of eastern Colorado, that he calls Holt.  Some easy sleuthing discovered that Holt is based on a town called Yuma Colorado.

Eventide is a true sequel in that the McPheron brothers who play prominently in Plainsong are central to this novel and without having read its predecessor you might miss out on something when reading Eventide.  The novel is, like his others, a beautiful depiction of life in this town not without its problems.

Two challenged parents cannot protect their children from a ne'er do well abusive uncle.  A mother to two daughters discovers that her husband off in Alaska for work has decided not to return.  A young boy is left to take care of his grumpy grandfather when his mother passes.  And then there is the story of the McPheron brothers and their adopted daughter.  I read Plainsong about a dozen years ago. Tough to forget the McPheron brothers   Eventide is highly recommended.

Painted Ladies was written by Robert Parker the author of the  Spenser novels.  This is the next to last Spenser book that he published. It is not the best Spenser, but not the worst one either. Spenser is trying to discover why a client of his was murdered and unearths a relationship between descendants of holocaust survivors.  The plot is thin, and not atypical, but still an easy and enjoyable read.  Spenser survives, but sadly,  Parker is gone.

 What I liked about the series was the ethical nature of Spenser's pursuits. He was always guided by some moral principle and I would come away from the books with the reinforced sense that toeing the ethical line was more or at least as important as toeing the legal one. In some of the novels it was a little tough to tell the good guys from the bad ones, but not in this one.  Fast read. Another writer has gotten the Spenser "franchise" so there will be more books with Spenser leading the way but Parker will not be the one driving the action.

Probably time now for me to go get some Chinese food.

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