Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Reading and Watching Mysteries

Mireille Enos as Sarah Linden in The Killing

I don't, actually, read or view mysteries on a regular basis.  Almost never, in fact.
The fact that I've just finished reading one, am almost through a second, and am even watching a third on television tells you that life is pressing in on me.  Two many decisions hanging in the summer wind, too many moments in which I'm thinking, "Just blew that one," and too much clutter in my household.  My response: Burrow in with something absorbing but entirely nondemanding.  I don't even attempt to keep track of most of the characters beyond the main protagonists.  Here's what I've been up to:
The Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva.  Gabriel Allon, brilliant restoration artist, always up to his neck in religious Renaissance paintings and, by the way, also master Israeli spy and assassin, confidant of popes and secular government officials, happily married man whose psyche is marred by the murders (car bomb) of his first wife and son, is the hero of a series of Silva novels.  Since his work in both the artistic and surveillance arenas so often takes him to the Vatican, other main characters often include devastatingly handsome priests with tortured pasts and lovers with whom they are entangled for life, and Italian women of astonishing beauty and professional acumen, often the former lovers of said priests.  In this particular novel, the lady in question is married to the mastermind of a Vatican banking scandal (sound familiar?) unraveling at the hands of the priest hero with the assistance of his friend Allon.   These novels are great fun ~ although, having heard Daniel Silva interviewed in NPR a couple of weeks ago, I decided to purchase his new one and discovered that I can only take so much Gabriel Allon at a time.  Therefore, I'm now reading . . .
Faye Kellerman's Hangman.  In Kellerman's series, Peter Decker is the Los Angeles homicide detective and Rina Lazarus is his beautiful Orthodox Jewish wife.  I'd long since forgotten how the two of them got together ~ so I've just looked it up. There've been nineteen novels in the series, and the couple met in the first, when Decker was investigating a rape in a yeshiva community where Rina, a widowed mother, ran the mikvah.  The Ritual Bath gives her an opportunity to explain her religious customs and the two of them a window of time in which to fall madly in love.  Naturally, I enjoy the combination of religion, crime, and family as I do in the Silva novels.  Here, the added bonus is that, having spent those six years teaching in an Orthodox school, the small details of Jewish life jump out at me and ring entirely true, and having a complicated family of origin of my own, the Decker-Lazarus combination of adults and children is intriguing.
Finally, my son Matt and I have become obsessed with the third season of The Killing, an AMC drama.  The first two seasons focused on the murder of one teenaged girl in Seattle, reaching an entirely unsatisfactory conclusion.  I swore that I would not get involved again ~ this year's combination of the gray and rain of Seattle with the lives of homeless teenagers being picked off one-by-one at the hands of a serial killer, and Detective Sarah Linden's unsuccessful, as of last Sunday, attempt to save the life of the man condemned to death as the result of a previous investigation of hers, was more than I wanted to stomach.  However . . .  my son was watching and I found myself drawn in the again, by the utter brokenness of both Sarah and her partner Stephen Holder, and by their intertwined search for redemption as they seek to carve a modicum of justice out of impossibly brutal situations.  So far, with one episode left, Sarah is in some ways responsible for the execution of a man innocent of at least the particular crime for which he dies,  and Holder for the death of a homeless girl ~ and it is apparent that the man finally in custody, to the relief of the police department and the entire city of Seattle, is not, in fact, the killer.
All stories of mayhem and murder, all absorbing, and The Killing beautifully filmed and acted. If you need a break from the intensity of your own life,  immerse yourself in someone else's!

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