Monday, October 19, 2015

Word of the Week - 85

Richard III, "The Daughter of Time."
Word of the Week:  MYSTERY

Discussing possibly the best mystery ever, Josephine Tey's "The Daughter of Time" - a friend of my son's had just read it and was urging him to do so - brought to mind other classics, favorites, of the genre.  To lounge about and read mysteries has been among life's great joys since I was in grade school.

Over many decades I've read my way through Dorothy L. Sayers,  Rex Stout, Raymond Chandler, P.D. James, Dashiell Hammett, Carolyn Keene, Francis and Richard Lockridge, Josephine Tey, Elmore Leonard, Deborah Crombie.  I've spent time with knitting mysteries, coffee house mysteries, scrapbooking (!) mysteries, cat and/or dog mysteries, cooking mysteries, horse racing mysteries.  I don't want to know, nor do I try to figure out who is responsible.  Those are surprises I enjoy.  Being the smartest guy in the room is seldom my goal.

I find life itself to be a daily mystery.  It may intrigue or merely baffle.  We have no idea how it comes out, other than that it does eventually cease.  Every moment is a new unknown.  There is much we can learn from the fictional sleuths for, in our way, each of us is a detective, following thin leads or playing our hunches.  Intuition is a great ally, for many people will tell us any old thing.  Knowing true from false is a desirable skill, one that can save us from some terribly unpleasant and startling moments.  But it comes with the territory.  At least everyday situations rarely leave us knocked unconscious, drugged with chloroform or attempting Houdini-like escapes.  Simply keeping our wits about us and our spirits buoyant is enough of a task.

Being of the old school, still having a land line without caller I.D., brings its own unexpected encounters.  Depending on the time of day, I may ignore any calls, see if there is a message or if it was just another robot.  In Los Angeles, I suppose our biggest current mystery is whether or not it IS an El Nino year, whether it will rain and, if so, when and for how long and then what do we do?  Venomous water snakes washing up on California beaches does not speak of good days to come.

The answer to most things is that we don't know.  Like members of a book club all making their way through the same story, we keep turning the pages to see what's next.  I promise to share any clue I find and hope you'll do the same.

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