Friday, March 16, 2012

What I've been reading lately...The illusion of murder

Have you seen that old Hollywood movie, The Great Race, starring Natalie Wood and Tony Curtis?  In it Natalie Wood admirably portrays the feisty nineteenth century reporter, Maggie DuBois, dressed to the nines and always looking a million dollars as she races around the world and reports for her newspaper along the way.  I have read that Maggie DuBois is loosely based on Nellie Bly.

So it was with this in mind that I read The illusion of murder, but as I was reading I couldn't quite picture McCleary's heroine (true life) character Nellie Bly to Natalie Wood's portrayal of Maggie DuBois.  That is I kept waiting for Bly to be as feisty as Wood's Dubois.  And somehow this detracted from my reading of the book.  In my last post I wrote about how when a book is critically examined it is nothing but an autobiography of the critic who is writing it.  Firstly I need to say that I completely agree with this notion, and my precursor to the character of Nellie Bly comes from watching the movie, The great race.  Secondly I need to point out that my blog posts regarding what I read aren't meant to be read as a critical reading.  They're just my thoughts and views about what I have just read.  However, perhaps in trying to distance myself from trying to be too critical, I'm only showing that you cannot?

The illusion of murder is written in the first person and present tense.  As I read I kept thinking why not write in the third person and show a more omnipresent view?  I'm thinking this may have worked a little better.  The book is well written and there is some nice smart dialogue, but maybe in the third person this dialogue would have been allowed to shine or taking a bird's eye view the characters could have been fleshed out a little more, rather than just depend on one view point?

This book is reminiscent of Elizabeth Peter's series featuring Amelia Peabody, and I love the Peabody series!  Author McCleary has probably come closest to writing something in this vein, and since I love the series so much, I'm always on the look out for 'like' books to Peters

Nellie Bly is touted as being the world's first investigative female reporter and McCleary has taken this exceptional historical figure and based her story line on true events when Bly raced around the world in 1889 in an attempt to beat Jules Verne's fictional hero Phileas Fogg's time of eighty days. For those wanting to know more about her a good website to try is Nellie Bly Online.

My final thoughts is that The illusion of murder is a good read.  I haven't read the first book, but it didn't seem to matter too much.  If I spot the first book sitting on a shelf somewhere I'll be sure to read that too.  Oh and did she beat Fogg's time of eighty days?  You will have to read it to find out.

I discovered that Egypt is a land of both mystery and magic, an exotic place where trees talk and men turn staffs into snakes, so it should not have come as such a surprise that death would also be mysterious in this ancient, haunted land of pyramids, mummies, and the eternal Nile.
That I could meet a bizarre end in this strange land has not occurred to me until now as I stand, frozen, staring down at the long black snake I've stepped on.
I don't dare lift my foot; I can't even breathe; I just stand stiffly in place, the toe of my shoe pressing down on the serpent as it thrashes and tries to coil.
Darkness is closing in as a burning torch on the dirt a few feet from me fades.  When the bundle of sticks burns out, there'll be just me and the snake - in the dark.

1 comment:

Katriina said...

oh gosh, that passage from the book made me want to go out and find it ASAP! I don't have any preconceptions about Nellie Bly, so I'm looking forward to what sounds like a great read.

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