If you’ve ever tried to learn a foreign language, you will sympathize with Sedaris. Lost in the wilds of French grammar and vocabulary, he stumbles around trying to find his way.
Interspersed with his language struggles, are glimpses of his family. As a child growing up in the south, being ‘different’, trying to find his way, he spins it all into gold for the reader.
I like David Sedaris. His off-beat humor matches up with what I think is funny. I don’t like it so much when he ventures into fiction, although I have to admit his Six to Eight Black Men and The Cow and the Turkey were spot on. The Monster Mash just didn’t click with me, but the SantaLand Diaries was worth the price of the book.
Sedaris is meant to be heard, and I can hear his voice reading these short stories as I read them. His unique speaking voice and writing voice are unmistakable. Nobody sound just like David Sedaris. Funny and poignant, both voices combine into a reading experience like none other.
The lovely Daisy Majesty is unsettled when she sees images in her crystal ball. She uses it as a prop in her spiritualist act, and she knows it isn’t real. The images, however, lead to the recovery of a lost man and the breaking up of an illegal distillery. Daisy is shaken by the experience but not enough to quench her detective leanings. She sets out to solve the mystery of people dropping dead at communion at her church, and the disapproval of Det. Sam Rotondo is not enough to dissuade her from poking her nose into police business. Besides, the widow of one of victims has asked for her help.
The delight cozy mystery is the ninth in the series, and I will be sorry when I catch up to the author’s output and have to wait for the next one. The setting, 1920s Pasadena, is as charming as the characters who inhabit the books. Daisy is a delight.
Judith Merkle Riley
You think you have in-law problems? They’re nothing compared to what Margaret has to contend with. Her sister-in-law is insane. Her father-in-law has decided to sell her 12-year-old daughter in marriage to collect the money. Her brother-in-law is only concerned that he is in the latest fashion, and her husband seems unable to protect Margaret from the worst of them, at least not while the latest poem is uncompleted. With the help of her old friends Brother Malachi and Mother Hilde, she come up with a plan to save the family.
I can’t help thinking what a lovely television series these books would make. What with insane in-laws, spirits, ghosts and general hilarity interfering every turn she makes, Margaret simply wants to return to her quiet life in London and settle down as the mistress of her own peaceful home. Boring. Instead we get the benefit the discomfort and chaos surrounding her, until she is forced to take action. At least her husband values her steady common sense, even if her in-laws don’t.
This third of the trilogy wraps everything up nicely. For now. Who knows what further adventure would have lain in store for Margaret had Judith Merkle Riley lived to write them?