October 6th, 2013

The Librarian

Even-day series yet again

This one 'cause I've been re-reading it as I collect the complete anthology books (replacing my incomplete scattering of raggedy secondhand paperbacks) ... on volume 7 of that with volume 8 awaiting (three more to acquire!)

My mother was/is an Agatha Christie addict ... she eventually acquired her own copies of every title (and was always royally pissed off when what appeared to be an obscure find would turn out to be an American edition that had been renamed). Me, I grew up reading everything in our house, from the Victorian novels that Mom had been given by an elderly neighbour when she was a child to my father's monthly issues of Hoard's Dairyman as soon as he'd put them down. But I never got into Christie. Her occasional standalones and short stories were okay, but when it came to the majority of titles I disliked both Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot as "people" and there's no fun in reading a character who sets your teeth on edge and who you'd avoid like plague if they were real. Strangely, in televised form I DO like David Suchet's Poirot (he's written and performed as a much more likeable individual than the print version), but still haven't encountered a performed version of Marple that I can stomach (even though I love all the actresses who've played her when they're in other roles)

Fastforward the wheels of time a bit: in my twenties I came across Christie-contemporary Ngaio Marsh and her mysteries featuring Roderick Alleyn and was instantly addicted ... these were everything to me that Christie was to Mom. The tale is that Marsh, on her first trip to England, read a Christie, thought "I can do better than that!" and proceeded to write the first Alleyn novel. (this is Marsh's own often-told story ... whether or not it's true, I think she did). Alleyn is a working cop, born into a titled family and originally destined for "the diplomatic" along with his older brother, but went his own way into a career that let him use his intelligence. And, like the best of fictional characters, he evolves throughout the series, both professionally and personally ... gaining promotions in one and courting and marrying and becoming a father in the other. His working partnership/friendship with Inspector Fox (who he affectionately addresses as Brer Fox when the suspects aren't in earshot) and their banter is great fun (as is Alleyn's mock jealousy of Fox's ability to walk into the servants' domain of any household and have all the staff confiding in him within minutes, right after being less than forthcoming in the presence of Alleyn's posher accent), and the rest of his mobile investigative team (consisting of forensic photographer, fingerprint specialist, and pathologist). On the domestic side, Alleyn and Agatha Troy (at home he's Rory) have a similar bantering relationship ... they are buddies as much as they are spouses and lovers and, eventually, parents.

From "Singing in the Shrouds" (my current reading):
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The Alleyn mysteries, in order, are:
A Man Lay Dead
Enter a Murderer
The Nursing Home Murder
Death in Ecstasy
Vintage Murder
Artists in Crime
Death in a White Tie
Overture to Death
Death at the Bar
Surfeit of Lampreys
Death and the Dancing Footman
Colour Scheme
Died in the Wool
Final Curtain
Swing, Brother, Swing
Opening Night
Spinsters in Jeopardy
Scales of Justice
Off With His Head
Singing in the Shrouds
False Scent
Hand in Glove
Dead Water
Death at the Dolphin
Clutch of Constables
When in Rome
Tied up in Tinsel
Black As He's Painted
Last Ditch
Grave Mistake
Photo Finish
Light Thickens

The Alleyn anthologies which I'm currently collecting contain the entire series in order, three novels plus one short story or essay per volume.
The Librarian

Today's accomplishment: Prepping for Skittaleum Eruptus

Today I fished some yarn leftovers out of their basket and dug up the instructions for the Two-colour Italian Cast-on, which I've only done once before and that was when I started this scarf a little over two years ago. As I figured would happen, hit the same brick wall I did that first time I followed the book instructions and ended up hunting down online video to get it right ... at least this time I KNEW there was a little twist of the yarns involved that doesn't show up well in the still illos. Got the technique down again, cast on stitches until I was well past doing it without thinking, and then on to phase two of this "rehearsal" ... trying out double knitting technique. Having made the scarf linked above made it easy ... that has a dominant colour on each side with the second colour showing between the stitches (two-colour brioche technique), while double knitting is close to the same thing but only the dominant colour shows on each side, with no "peeking" by the other. Couple of rows plain (one colour on each side), and then tried a patterning row (some stitches of each colour on each side and mirrored by their opposite on the other). Got it nailed! :-)

So now all I need is for the official yarn to arrive (tracking says Wednesday), get it wound, register my cast-on of The Null Hypothesis in the official online chart and then get started. Finish date for the event is December 1, 2013 ... dunno if I'll make it or not (not holding my breath on that), but I should still have a good start on the thing. The important part is the participation and fun of the event. :-)