Friday, June 30, 2006


Who uses it: Police officers and drug addiction counselors
What it means: Someone addicted to methamphetamines
How you can use it: When you've had too much caffeine.

Yesterday was a seriously overcaffeinated day. I was up around 6:00 a.m., but the usual pre-travel emergencies kept me from getting on the road until close to noon -- which meant that I didn't get to Washington until a few minutes after midnight. Torrential rain slowed me down from New Jersey to about Baltimore, but here in Washington the sun is out and one might even think it was summer.

I stopped for dinner at the Red Oak Diner in Fort Lee, New Jersey. In the booth behind me was a woman about ten years older than I, also eating alone with a book in front of her, talking to someone on her cell phone about her mysterious physical ailments. If I ever become that woman, homicide would be a kindness. I thank you in advance.

What I Read This Week

Mo Hayder, Pig Island. Journalist Joe Oakes goes to a remote Scottish island to investigate a fringe religious group founded by a faith healer he'd exposed years earlier. Oakes is also interested in reports of a demonic creature who appears to be living on the island. This is an extraordinarily ambitious book that doesn't entirely succeed, but Hayder's trying to do so much here that I felt like applauding. About halfway through, I realized that the book is the retelling of a medieval legend -- to say which one would give too much away.

Peter Robinson, Strange Affair. Inspector Alan Banks, recovering from a near-fatal attack, gets a desperate call from his estranged brother -- who then disappears. Robinson has created a world with completely believable characters, but this book suffers from the problem of several long-running series -- how can so many terrible things happen to the friends and relatives of one person?

Karen E. Olson, Secondhand Smoke. New Haven reporter Annie Seymour investigates a suspicious restaurant fire in her own neighborhood, and must deal with her status as an outsider in the world she grew up in. Annie is an excellent, believable character, as are her parents.

Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear. I read a long excerpt from this book when it first came out, but the instructor of the gun course I took earlier this month recommended it so strongly that I went back to read the whole thing. I second that recommendation: everyone needs to read this book, which explains how to recognize the signals of potential violence and how to avoid escalating situations that may lead to violence.

P. G. Wodehouse, Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit. The audiobook of this was my company on yesterday's trip. Bertie Wooster comes to the aid of his Aunt Dahlia, who's trying to sell her women's newspaper (Milady's Boudoir), and winds up almost going to jail and getting married. Jeeves, as always, saves the day.

No comments: