I have started a new book, Jar City, by Arnaldur Indridason. It takes place in Reykjavik, Iceland. It starts out with the body on the floor, and it’s rather dark and bleak. The blurb on the back cover mentions a twist of an ending, so I can’t wait to see what that turns out to be.
I know a few people who read the last chapter of a mystery FIRST, so they can see how it turns out, but I think that’s just wrong. Part of the pleasure of reading a mystery is following the story and wondering how it’s going to end. I want to be surprised at the end of a book. I don’t even try to figure out whodunit as I’m reading. I have read a few mysteries where the clues were too obvious (bad storytelling) and I was disappointed when I finished. I’m thinking Jar City is not going to be like that.
Another Scandinavian mystery I’ve read is The Laughing Policeman, by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. This one takes place in Stockholm. There seem to be no clues whatsoever in this story and it keeps you guessing until the end. The translation was a little rough at first. I don’t know if the translator improved as he went on or if I just got used to his style, but I soon forgot about his writing and got involved in the story. I’m going to read more of this series.
The main characters in Jar City (Erlendur Sveinsson) and The Laughing Policeman (Martin Beck) are similar in that they’re both policemen, divorced, living alone in tiny flats, and each with an ex-wife who is no longer a friend. That’s pretty bleak. I guess the protagonist in a hard-boiled, police-procedural mystery doesn’t need to be a happy-go-lucky guy, does he?
As I mentioned in my last post, Richard and I usually go out to dinner on Wednesdays, and last night I wanted comfort food. Richard asked me what I considered comfort food and I told him it usually involved carbohydrates, like mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, casseroles, something with gravy, pie, etc. His comfort foods are meats. He likes a good steak or pot roast, I guess. I like the accoutrements. Well, I got my comfort food. We went to Sonny's (a barbecue joint) and I got fried shrimp, fried okra, coleslaw, and cornbread. Only the coleslaw doesn't qualify as a carbohydrate, but I love Sonny's slaw. The shrimp and okra were breaded and of course the cornbread is mostly carbs. I ate every last bit of food on my plate and it hit every spot that responds to carbs. Richard got pulled pork and french fries with a baked sweet potato on the side.
Did I fail to mention that food is one of the et ceteras referred to in the title of my blog? Neglectful of me, wasn't it?
Since we're on the subject of food, I want to mention our current favorite restaurant. It's called the Tarragon Grill and it's in Moultrie, GA, about a half-hour's drive south of Tifton. We have friends that we try to go out to dinner with on every available occasion (they live in North Carolina). On one of these forays into foodland, Don wanted to go someplace that wasn't in Tifton, so he called up the secretary of the Presbyterian church in Moultrie and asked for some recommendations and the Tarragon Grill was one that she mentioned. So we went there.
It's a small place, located in an old farmhouse, and it's run by a husband-and-wife team. He's the chef and she manages the place. The food is good and hearty and the desserts are wonderful (cheesecake with a caramel sauce -- mmmmm). They have a modest wine and beer selection and the whole staff is very pleasant. It's the kind of place where you're happy to leave a tip. They are even pleasant when they're packed with people and folks are waiting at the door. Richard and I went there on the Friday before Christmas and we had made a reservation. Good for us: people were waiting on the porch to get in. They had our table ready and we got seated right away. While we were eating, we saw Sen. Saxby Chambliss come in, and he had to wait for a table. He didn't make reservations. (Chambliss is from Moultrie, although now he spends most of his time in D.C.)
I could go on about food and restaurants, but I want to post this sometime today. Maybe someday I'll tell you about the favorite restaurant that is no more. Sigh.