Book 3: The Map of Lost Memories

by Kim Fay

When I received my new present, I had to actually wait a week to read it because I was finishing a long treatise on the economy. That one took forever, but I glided through The Map of Lost Memories in a day. Dr. Levine’s statement about being a Dickens addict comes to mind. He said, “When it comes to Dickens I’m like a chocoholic with a box of chocolates. I can’t put the book down.” That’s me and a good fiction novel, and unfortunately, chocolate too.

Kim Fay is a good story teller. She has at least a few more tales to follow her main character into more recent times than the 1925 setting she chose, but she’s writing eastern travel and cook books (aromas dominate more of this story than food) in the meantime.

Her novel is reminiscent of the Nicholas Cage movies on treasure hunts in the America’s and Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas’ Joan Wilder adventures. Her lead character is a curator rather than a romance novelist and has to have more knowledge about her quest than Wilder’s accidental forays. Fay does seem to be writing for the big screen though as she has many action-packed scenes in the story, including the frail rope-bridge trope.

Anyway, now I have to learn more about the history of Cambodia and the Khmer people. It’s fascinating that when we look at a time-line of ancient civilizations that we manage to leave out the whole Indonesian area when they had advanced cultures that existed as early or earlier than the Mayans, and they made credible contributions to their communities that fell into ruin either through greed or colonization. I guess they just didn’t leave a calendar behind.

The main character strives for recognition of her work in a world that belongs to men with PhD’s. She has to outdistance others who are aware of her quest and joins forces with some strong people and some very greedy ones whose family histories are rolled together in various scenarios. It’s a good read all the way through, but a bit lightweight in plot. The characters are not quite Dickensian, but well-sketched in a more modern sense. You are welcome to borrow it. :-)

Book 2: The Glimpses of the Moon

by Edmund Crispin

So book two was a quick read and quite enjoyable. You both would probably like this cute little mystery set in present day England. Crispin’s metaphors and similes are unique and refreshing. His references to historical moments means some required research. For example:

“In the meantime he had made further arrangements about Routh’s head, and these had manifested themselves to an evening angler, a local unemployable called Don Goody who was futilely attempting to poach trout from a reach of the Burr where nothing was known to have been taken since the year of Alamein.”

Brits who know their history would immediately recognize that would be 1942, but just the name makes it sound even longer ago than that.

The vocabulary is also challenging.

One character is totally misunderstood by various employers because he loves to work. Union shops get rid of him quickly as a result. People also easily believe that he must be daft. All the characters are very richly Dickensian in development. Our hero isn’t a Miss Marple or Hercule Peirot, but he listens well and knows the right questions the detectives should be asking.

More of Crispin’s mysteries will be good for mindless days, which occur frequently now.
I’m already looking forward to next month. In the meantime I’m reading a fascinating work by Julie Drew and Bill Lyons about adult fear of teenagers and implanting fear in teens so they can be educated in an authoritarian manner. They have a great chapter on Pleasantville which must be Julie’s contribution.