Tag Archives: mystery

The Mysterious Can Opener Caper

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The very new and the very old and why are those apples so shiny?

It’s obvious to me by my title choice that I have been reading way too many crime stories lately, featuring detectives who are enamoured of their own wit in naming cases.  I download sometimes up to three free e-books a day with not a hope in hell of ever reading all of them.  But I do it for a couple of good reasons.  One, they’re free.  And two, if I can’t get past the first chapter I have a minimum amount of remorse hitting “home” and choosing another title.  Because hey,  they were all FREE.

As usual, I digress.  I have a can opener story.  I mean, come on, doesn’t everybody?   It wouldn’t surprise me to find authors giving them away for free on Amazon.  Get Book One of the Suspense Filled New Can Opener Trilogy Thriller!  I’m a sucker for that kind of thing.

Anyway, this little black electric can opener I’ve had for many years was on sale for less than ten dollars way back eons ago.  I never thought at the time what possible reasons there could be for such a low price, but I wonder if the freaking racket the thing makes had something to do with it.  There can be no stealthy opening of cans in my house.  Unless you want to root around in ‘the drawerfor the hand held quiet ones.  We still have three of them I think.  Pretty sure two of them still work.

As with many such incredibly cheap items, this thing refuses to die.  If I’d picked up a forty dollar deluxe model it would have broken down in six months.  There is no doubt some Murphy’s Law about that very thing.

With use, however sporadic,  the little blade gets gooped up with the liquid from whatever I’m opening, and the little wheel that turns to rotate the can also gets grungy, as does the handle I press down to start the gawd awful wake-the-dead noise because I normally open a can only when I’m in the middle of some kind of complicated messy food prep. Like making tuna salad sandwiches. Trust me, I can make that complicated and messy.  So my point is, the thing gets dirty. And although I always have good intentions of cleaning it up in a timely fashion, the task does get overlooked.  Until it’s so disgusting I can’t do that anymore.

Yesterday afternoon I realized a soapy wipe was not going to be good enough this time around, so I armed myself with a pointy paring knife, dish soap, an old tooth brush, and super hot water from the sink sprayer, thinking if water somehow gets into the motor and ruins it, well it is old and cheap and who cares unless I electrocute myself later.

As I was scrubbing away and cursing the man who designed this impossible to clean piece of crap (it’s always a mans fault when something is hard to keep clean, have you ever noticed that?) the silver handle popped off and clattered into the sink.  And suddenly it was super easy to wash, and the little wheel was now exposed and clean in no time.  Seriously. And it all popped back together again.

It was one of those eureka moments.  The piece comes off so you can throw it in the dishwasher.  The guy who designed it (probably a woman) was not such a moron after all.  This is the second time I’ve been dumbfounded in the kitchen this month.  (Contrary to popular opinion, this does not happen on a daily basis.)  My son unscrewed the top from my immersion blender so it’s easier to clean the blade half.  I did not know it was meant to come apart.  Well, now I know two new things.  I wonder what other totally obvious things I’m missing.

This is why life for some people is a continuing exciting adventure of discovery.  In which a small thing like getting your can opener cleaned up can be the highlight of your day.

Okay, so this wasn’t really a caper, and also not particularly mysterious.  It’s about a kitchen utensil, so I don’t know what you were expecting.  I did hint at death by can opener, and that was pretty exciting, right?  And the story is free.  So we’re all good.

Happy last day of April.  Hope you’re enjoying the sunshine.

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Girls on Trains

imageThe reading of this book went a lot faster than the previous one I ploughed my way through, and when I finished it I gave it four out of five stars.  Then I read some reviews and was surprised to see so many negative ones.  The biggest complaint was its comparison to “Gone Girl” with reviewers saying it either didn’t live up to expectations or that they didn’t like either one since the characters in both  were unlikable dysfunctional idiots.

Well, it was full of those, but I liked it anyway.  The story is told in bits and pieces by three women.  Rachel is an alcoholic who has blackouts and often a less than firm grasp of reality.  She has lost her home, her husband and her job and spends most of her time feeling bad about her situation, telling lies and making excuses and riding on the train.  She wallows and is unable (or unwilling) to change.

Anna (married to Tom, Rachel’s ex) lives in Rachel’s old house with Tom and their new baby.  She is exasperated by Rachel’s inability to let Tom go, her drunken phone calls at all hours and her lurking about, and she fears for the safety of her child.

Megan lives a few doors away with her husband, does not have the idyllic life that Rachel imagines as she observes the couple each day from the train, and has her own set of issues and secrets to deal with. For a short time she helps Anna out when the baby is small.  And gets herself up to even more shenanigans, but we don’t learn about that until later.

When Megan disappears, everyone left is a suspect, including Megan’s therapist who was seen by Rachel (from the train)  kissing Megan on her deck the morning of the day she went missing.

I can’t count how many times I sighed and thought OMG Rachel, what kind of asinine thing are you going to do next?  But hey, it kept me interested and reading right up to the end.  There’s a real art to giving out just enough information to get readers headed in a certain direction and then having them find out some new thing that changes their minds.

I stand by my four stars.  Even if you figure out the mystery well before the end, it’s still an enjoyable journey getting there.

A Finished Book

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Look at me, all done reading a book!  And not knowing how to explain why it’s been so long since the last time I did that.

I remember reading Kate Morton’s other books…

  • The House at Riverton
  • The Secret Keeper
  • The Forgotten Garden
  • The Distant Hours

…so I didn’t think it would be a stretch to like The Lake House.  And I did like it.  I just didn’t love it.  There was way too much messing about getting to the point.  And far too many coincidences and characters and back stories and sub plots and descriptions and hopping around in time.  Just too many words.  I guess that’s why I could never write an entire novel, lacking the patience to expand everything to death without giving the ending away in the first chapter.

A child disappears and it takes seventy years to solve the mystery of what happened to him.  People with secrets!  You just want to give them a shake.  How’s that for a book review?

If the reading of this book hadn’t started well before Christmas and proceeded in fits and starts up until this afternoon I suppose I might have found it shorter.  Mostly I read in bed when I was already tired and rarely came across anything riveting enough to keep me awake.  Not even half way through I found myself no longer caring what really happened or why, but FINALLY the end arrived and it all came together in the neatest little package ever, tied with a bow.  I don’t know why that felt trite and disappointing, but it did.  Just too darned neat and tidy and resolved.

Anyway, it’s a story and it’s been told.  If you like Kate Morton you will enjoy this.  But I don’t think you will be blown away.

Murder on the Beach

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Yellow crime scene tape flutters and flaps in the cold wind off the lake.  Shutters click,  red lights flash.  The detectives unblinking eyes sting and tear, mesmerized by the bludgeoned body lying face down in the sand.  Seagulls slowly circle and cry.

 

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Written for Yeah Write # 156 Gargleblaster – 42 words – Who Dunnit?

The Litmus Test For Dogs

Cover of "Scary Dog (Starters)"
Cover of Scary Dog (Starters)

I am afraid of dogs.  Not just big ugly ones either, although they’ve been freaking me out in nightmares since childhood.  Perhaps I was Little Red Riding Hood in a former life.  To me, big black canine type creatures are terrifying.

I am also afraid of little dogs.  I was riding a bike once and got chased by a yappy little terrier who jumped up and nipped at my ankles.  I suppose if I had stopped I could have kicked him halfway across somebody’s yard, but that thought didn’t occur to me until much later (once my heart beat had returned to normal) and I probably could never have done such a thing anyway.  I just rode faster to get away from him.  Which made him like his little game even more and try even harder to bite my foot off.  It seriously scared me.

Where this fear of dogs comes from is a mystery.  I have never been viciously attacked or bitten by a dog.  We grew up with dogs for pets, and with friendly familiar dogs I’m fine.  It’s the strange and unfamiliar ones that make me uneasy to the point of panic.  Somebody told me once to calm down because dogs can sense fear.  So of course ever since then I’ve been twice as apprehensive thinking I’ll be attacked simply for being such a wimp.

I’m not a dog lover, but I’m not a dog hater, either – more of a dog tolerater. There are dogs I like okay, some I like less, and many I don’t care for at all.  Sorry to all my family and friends who love their dogs so much.  I like your kids and your cats – I hope that makes up for it.

So if you want me to like (tolerate and not run away screaming from) your dog, here’s my deal breaker.  He can’t look scary.

growl.
growl. (Photo credit: kunkelstein)

Plus it’s also good if he doesn’t growl at me, drool on me, smell bad, jump up and knock me over, bite me or lick my face. Or crap on my floor.

This blog post was inspired by Rarasaurs’s Prompts For the Promptless, Ep 8:  The Litmus Test is a test in which a single factor (as an attitude, event, or fact) is decisive.  In other words, it’s a single question test, not necessarily related to the information that is gleaned from the test.

For Flavia de Luce Fans

And if you’re not yet a Flavia de Luce fan, here’s how to become one.  It starts with this book.

flavia 1It continues on with these:

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Then just when you think you know all there is to know about Flavia, out comes another great mystery by Alan Bradley in this excellent series.

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On GoodreadsFrom award-winning author Alan Bradley comes the next cozy British mystery starring intrepid young sleuth Flavia de Luce, hailed by USA Today as “one of the most remarkable creations in recent literature.”

Eleven-year-old amateur detective and ardent chemist Flavia de Luce is used to digging up clues, whether they’re found among the potions in her laboratory or between the pages of her insufferable sisters’ diaries. What she is not accustomed to is digging up bodies. Upon the five-hundredth anniversary of St. Tancred’s death, the English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey is busily preparing to open its patron saint’s tomb. Nobody is more excited to peek inside the crypt than Flavia, yet what she finds will halt the proceedings dead in their tracks: the body of Mr. Collicutt, the church organist, his face grotesquely and inexplicably masked. Who held a vendetta against Mr. Collicutt, and why would they hide him in such a sacred resting place? The irrepressible Flavia decides to find out. And what she unearths will prove there’s never such a thing as an open-and-shut case.

It’s a mystery to  me why these mysteries are so appealing to a non mystery lover such as I have always been.  Although I suppose when I consider how much I’ve grown to love Flavia, it’s not such a great mystery after all.  I read this latest addition to the series yesterday, and it was like sitting down to have a long friendly chat with an old friend.  Except that Flavia is barely twelve at this point.

The last line in this book (an eye rolling, teasing groaner of a sentence if there ever was one) has to be a promise that there is more Flavia to come.  So while we’re waiting for that, there’s time for you to read this delightful series (or re-read it, it’s that good) and get ready for the rest of the story.

The Genius of Gone Girl

Maybe genius is over the top for those of you who are much closer to being a genius than I am, so I’ll settle for saying it’s brilliant instead.  There is really no safe way to review this book without giving something away.  It’s one of those stories you have to read for yourself for the pure joy of finding out where it leads you.

It lead me in six different directions at once.  What’s true?  What’s pure fabrication and imagination and delusion?  A wife goes missing on the day of a couple’s fifth wedding anniversary, and the husband becomes the main suspect in her disappearance.  There are as many clues as there are bizarre things I didn’t see coming.  Gotta love a book with all kinds of twists and turns.  In other, better words….

I cannot say this urgently enough: you have to read Gone Girl. It’s as if Gillian Flynn has mixed us a martini using battery acid instead of vermouth and somehow managed to make it taste really, really good. Gone Girl is delicious and intoxicating and delightfully poisonous. It’s smart (brilliant, actually). It’s funny (in the darkest possible way). The writing is jarringly good, and the story is, well…amazing.  Read the book and you’ll discover—among many other treasures—just how much freight (and fright) that last adjective can bear. (Scott Smith, New York Times bestselling author of The Ruins and A Simple Plan)

So, yes!  Do read this brilliant book.  You can’t say now that nobody ever told you how brilliant it is.

I’ve Got All the Answers

Pink Floyd in January 1968 Left to right: Maso...
Pink Floyd in January 1968 Left to right: Mason, Barrett, Gilmour (seated), Waters and Wright (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And I don’t really give a hoot if they’re right or wrong.  I had a hard day yesterday, on my own and busy for six hours straight without a break.  Boo hoo.  At least today there will be someone there to share the misery.  And then I work Sunday as well.  There is no rest for the weary.  Or the wicked.

List three things you’ll never understand.

1.  Buttermilk

2.  Quantum Physics

3.  Chinese

I do understand WHAT number one is,  just not WHY it’s allowed to happen. Or how people can drink it without gagging and retching and dropping dead.  The other two are strictly off the top of my head in random order.  There were way too many choices to warrant thinking any harder about all the things that confuse the hell out of me.

Describe the best view you’ve seen from a rooftop.

Another brain wracking moment while I try to remember the last time I was actually physically on a rooftop.  With my eyes open.  I think I was eight and had climbed out of an upstairs hallway window onto the veranda roof on my brother’s dare.  It wasn’t much of a slope or a great drop to the ground, but scared me silly anyway. The view would have been of the front lawn and the maple trees down the laneway and a field of corn under blue skies and sunshine.  I should have taken a picture.  But that would have involved letting go of the window frame with at least one hand.

What’s your favourite fried food indulgence? 

 W makes the best deep-fried ‘fish in batter’ on this planet.  I don’t ever want to learn his methods or his secret recipe because frankly it looks like a lot of work.  Especially the part where you have to catch fresh walleye first.  There’s nothing like it.  He can have (and truly deserves) all the glory.

What book is next on your ‘to read’ list? 

Odd Jobs, by Ben Lieberman.  It’s been so long since I downloaded it to my Kindle that all I can say about it at this point is that it’s one of those .99 cent specials and it’s a mystery.  In more ways than one.  If it’s great, you will be hearing more.

Name your favourite rock album of all time. 

Of ALL TIME?  I’m not going to live that long.  But anything by Pink Floyd and Queen will make the short list.

Describe your earliest memories. 

It’s difficult (maybe impossible) to know if some of the things you think you remember (from a time when you were probably too young to keep them in your head), may after all simply be images you’ve dreamed up from the stories you’ve been told.  So the memory may not be your own at all.  I’ll share one of mine anyway.

We were riding in a car on a narrow road with dense bush on either side.  Dad was driving and I was standing behind him, peering over his shoulder from the back seat.  Mom says I was not yet three.  A huge brown animal that looked sort of like a cow crossed the road in front of us and the car slowed down to a crawl to let him pass.  My mom and my grandma and whoever else was in the car were gasping and exclaiming and pointing.  “Look at the moose!  Look at the moose!”  A mile or so down the road when everyone had calmed down, I made my own observation, somewhat after the fact.  “My, that was a big mouse!”  It was astonishing to me that a tiny little mouse could grow up to be such a great size.  It was one of those moments when all the grown ups laugh and you have no idea what’s so funny.

Books On The Go

Even though I didn’t need another pedicure I had one done today to keep my sister company and to help keep her daughter in business.  She does a great job.  My toenails are now a slightly different shade of purple.  I’m feeling rather pampered and spoiled.

Rather than a boring account of all the things we did this afternoon, I have a boring account of all the books I am in the process of reading.

I’m kind of at a loss for words.  I’m 30% in (as per kindle) and keep thinking it can’t get any more weird and then it does.


All historical fiction is not created equally – but this one looks like a keeper.  Twentieth century war-time Russia,  love, loss, survival, family.

This one I have to read simply because it’s co-authored by a married couple.  It’s a mystery.  Not just the book itself but how it ever got finished and published without one author choking the other.

After a long hard day of soaking my feet and other strenuous activities I do the eeny meeny miny moe thing and read something, which may or may not include any of the above.  I find reading several books at once keeps me mentally on my toes.  The ones that are painted purple, in case you missed that.

Romance

Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but looking outward in the same direction. (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

How do I define romance? Romance is a novel and a movie genre. They tell stories about people and events that make us believe we would like to have similar things happen to us in real life. But they probably won’t. These are stories of heart racing excitement and deep emotional desires and mystery and idealistic love affairs. The tales are intense and adventurous and crazy and usually end blissfully and happily with two perfect soul mates together forever at last. (Insert deep wistful sigh here.)

The idea of romance either genuinely appeals to people because they believe it can happen to them, or it makes people uncomfortable and pessimistic and skeptical because they are sure that only air heads take the notion seriously.

I married a man who really does not have much of a sense of romance. He doesn’t buy me roses or ride around on a white steed saving me from lonely towers, or sweep me off my feet with grand gestures and candle lit dinners and weekends in Paris. He’s never thrown pebbles at my window and proclaimed his undying love for me on bended knee for all the world to hear and see. I’m pretty sure he knows something like that would probably crack me up.

What we do have is an intimacy based on communication, deep friendship, respect for each other, sharing, and a more subdued kind of love that is long-lasting. Romance is a good thing at the beginning of a relationship, but in the long haul if you keep it up it’s going to wear you right out.

So yes, I’m one of those air heads that likes the romantic stories, the boy meets girl, soul mates bond forever fairy tales. The happy endings are so satisfying and lovely when all the characters finally get things sorted out and accept their fates of being hopelessly devoted to each other for life.

If you over-estimate the importance of romance in a relationship you will be disillusioned eventually. You don’t have to give up on it entirely, but it is best to be realistic and realize it takes some effort and maturity to make things work. Still, a lot of candle-lit dinners can’t hurt.

“Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable.” (Bruce Lee)

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