Scarweather – Anthony Rolls

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reading and listening to anything I thought might be useful, filling homemade notebooks with all sorts of stuff, and finally took the test on Thursday. Surprise – I thought it was at 8:00 – and it was. 8:00 PST. 11:00 here. Oops. It’s odd, because I’d swear the times were always given in local time before. At least I didn’t show up at eleven to find that I’d missed it at eight. And this gave me the chance to see an online concert by someone I discovered a little while ago, S.J. Tucker, who is pretty wonderful.

Oh, the test? I screencapped each question like I always try to do, so I’m pretty sure I got 32 out of 50. Which feels pretty sad – I don’t think I ever got a D on a test in my life – but I don’t think I could have done any better. I got a couple right I thought were wrong (including a baseball question and one I can credit to all that outside-my-wheelhouse “studying”) and missed one or two I maybe should have gotten, so it balances. We’ll see.

I can’t work up too much enthusiasm about this or anything else right now, with what happened in England last night (and in Manchester less than two weeks ago) (though I’m suddenly and unexpectedly a real fan of Ariana Grande) … and with the response from our … “president”, the Pavlovian barking about travel bans, only followed almost ten minutes later (what, did someone say “Uh, sir?”) with the afterthought of “oh, right, and what happened was bad and we’re on your side”. (I know, Pavlov’s dogs didn’t bark, they drooled. I’m sure he does that too, if someone offers him really good chocolate cake.) I … I’m very nearly as nauseated by our commander in chief as I am by the terrorism. I won’t be able to take four years of this.

Anyway. Test over, now I can get back to normal reading and reviewing. Yay.

So, Scarweather.

Dorothy L. Sayers loved the writing of Anthony Rolls, so I went into this with expectations. And the writing was excellent – I enjoyed the way Rolls (that is, Colwyn Edward Vulliamym using the pen name Anthony Rolls) strung words together. Believable characters, believable dialogue, tension and humor both.

The reason I didn’t rate this higher or enjoy this more is that once the characters’ roles were sorted out – for the apparent murder victim was not who I expected it to be – I foresaw pretty much everything that was to come. Funnily enough, it’s as though Rolls anticipated this: “Does the reader now perceive the shadow of these events? If so, I congratulate him upon possessing a swift and practical imagination.”

Still, the writing was excellent, everything you could ask of a solid Golden Age mystery. “Their boy, Peter Laud Ellingham, was about twelve years old—he was not more offensive than the average boy of twelve.” “We spent our time very harmoniously and pleasantly, and in a manner that was decidedly sociable without being too restrained. It has always been my belief that only intelligent people know how to enjoy themselves.” The glancing blow at the Great War and the narrator’s part in it is kind of wonderful. I felt an actual pang when I realized who the murder victim was; I was worried about what would happen to the star-crossed couple who obviously belonged together. Dorothy Sayers wrote about him, “he handles his characters like a ‘real’ novelist and the English language like a ‘real’ writer—merits which are still, unhappily, rarer than they should be in the ranks of the murder specialists”. Unhappily, that hasn’t changed, so actual good writing still has a worth far above rubies or pearls.

I look forward to tracking down as much as possible by this author, under whatever name I can find him.

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.

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