Book Series I’m Reading
You may know that I’m fascinated with (and horrified by) all things World War II. Has there been an event with more of an impact on the world, from appalling atrocities to ruined families to the seeds of the cold war? Based on a recommendation from a reader, I started Philip Kerr’s acclaimed period noir detective series starring the oddly named Bernie Gunther. The series takes place in Germany during the run-up to WWII and aptly depicts the atmosphere of authoritarian hate and compulsory acquiescence in mid-1930s Berlin that empowered the rise of the Third Reich.
I’m on book two – The Pale Criminal – and Kerr masters the elements of noir; the femme fatale, intricate plots of corruption and murder, cynical worldview, and ambiguous morality. One complaint is some of the unfamiliar period vernacular takes me out of the story – e.g. a pistol is called a lighter? Perhaps after one of the first lighters invented that resembled a tiny handgun?
Note: the books employ some language more commonly used in the period in which the stories take place, so some readers may take offense. I understand why he wrote it that way, but I still find it jarring in places.
Start with book one: March Violets. Recommended, so far, with the above asterisk.
Video I Made
A very short Jack Arbor introduction video. Click here to watch. Jill makes a cameo if you need a reason to watch.
Travel We Just Finished
I made a brief stop at the Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221B Baker Street, and am sad to report the experience was mediocre kitsch at best, shameful exploitation at worst. The tour guide led a passable discussion featuring Holmes and Watson trivia, but C-grade wax figures and an oversized gift shop detracted. Skip it and do a river tour instead.
The polite professionalism with which Londoners do their business was refreshing, and I love the ubiquitous touchless payment systems that the US seems to struggle with. We walked everywhere, marveled at the city’s cleanliness, strolled the gorgeous parks, and of course, took in a pint at a local. We’ll be back as soon as we can. London Book Fair 2024, anyone?
Series I Just Finished Streaming
The Diplomat, season one, starring Keri Russell, streamed on Netflix. I fell in love with Russell while watching the excellent series The Americans, where she stole the show as the backbone of both her family and her country.
In The Diplomat, Russell plays Kate Wyler as the heart and soul of a diplomatic couple on assignment to Great Britain as ambassador. It’s a fish out of water tale and Wyler partners with Great Britain’s Foreign Secretary (superbly played by David Gyasi) to foil a plot to start World War III. I loved the combination of thriller, humor, and romance. Or maybe I just have a thing for characters named Kate. Highly recommended, and I’m waiting anxiously for season two.
Kate Shaw Trivia
The first strong female character I fell in love with was not Keri Russell’s character in The Americans, but Carrie Mathison, the CIA case officer protagonist of Homeland played by the uber-talented Claire Danes. Claire Danes’s middle name is Catherine, and she was the inspiration for my own Kate Shaw. Is it time for Kate to embark on her own adventure?