This is where things begin to go sideways! Here comes the third act… Much of what I anticipated was going to happen has; the question now is how will he manage to extract himself (and his friends/family)?
For a parlor-type mystery, there were almost too many characters/suspects, but given the potential size of the conference, I’ll let Mcdonald take a flier on it as he did an excellent job fleshing out each of the characters to make them unique enough to stand on their own without giving up too much. I also suspect that he may have thought of cute little character descriptions over one afternoon and then assigned them to people as they appeared–some of them are really delicious particularly:
The man’s shoulders were little more than outriggers for his ears.
One of my favorite constructs in this book that sets it apart from others in the series were the conference session titles being used deliciously as chapter openers. Many of them provide some hilarious counterpoint to the plot and certainly add to the humor of the overall piece.
Another interesting turn was the romantic portion of the plot in which one of Fletch’s unfortunate choices of pseudonym finally gets him into trouble, though not in the way in which one might otherwise suppose. The sub-plot with Freddie was hilarious and tense without actually coming to a final head. (Writing this after I’ve now read Fletch and the Man Who makes me even more glad that it didn’t. Their relationship is like the unrequited Sam/Rebecca pairing in the NBC television series Cheers, which this book preceded by several years.)
The humor at Crystal’s expense was all great if perhaps maybe even too much, though it was done with enough warmth that it’s obvious that Fletch is doing his part in the nicest way. (Now that I’m in the midst of Son of Fletch, it’s interesting to think back on his relationship with Crystal.)
This book read very quickly and was well plotted though the ending was perhaps all too quick. I would have preferred a slower unfolding in the third act. At least in this one, we get the payoff in the end of seeing some of Fletch’s machinations coming to a head all at once–something we didn’t get to see in Fletch when he set both of his ex-wives up to unwittingly move in together with each other while thinking that they were getting back together with him.
This is sure to rank at the top of my favorite Fletch novels by the time I’m done with the series.
- 08/7/16 marked as: want to read; “The Rio Olympics reminded me that I’d gotten Carioca Fletch to read back in the 80’s and never got around to it, so I thought I’d come back and revisit the series.”
- 09/23/16 marked as: currently reading
- 09/23/16 14.0% “As usual, a great zinger of an opening… Mcdonald knows how to open a first act.”
- 09/24/16 22.0% “Things have slowed down a smidge, but the forward momentum of the murder investigation begins to move things along a bit.”
- 09/28/16 53.0% “Making good progress, hope to finish tomorrow. There are certainly some interesting characters here, though perhaps feeling like too many, particularly since most seem to potentially have committed the murder.”
- 09/29/16 100% “The second half read incredibly fast. The plot particularly began unfolding in the end almost too quickly. I wish the last act could have lasted a bit longer. I really enjoyed the Crystal character and the snide banter she continually spouts with Fletch. The wrap up with Freddie was generally unexpected, but delicious in its oddity in the larger canon. There was surprisingly little talk of Fletch’s ex-wives or even of his potentially adding another to the collection. Some of my favorite jokes were the chapter headings of the schedule of the conference along with even funnily named rooms in which the sessions were taking place.I’ll hope to write a longer review shortly.”
Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia
“C.I.A., Mister Fletcher.”
“Um. Would you mind spelling that?”
“The name’s Arbuthnot,” Fletch said. “Freddy Arbuthnot.”
“If we wanted coffee,” said Fabens, standing up, “we would have made it ourselves.”
“Part of the C.I.A. training, I expect,” Fletch said. “Trespass and Coffee-Making. A Bloody Mary? Something to raise the spirits on this Sunday noon?”
Trans World Airlines
“Yet here you are, living in a villa in Cagna, Italy, the Mediterranean sparkling through your windows, driving a Porsche … unemployed.”
“I retired young.”
“In your lifetime, you have paid almost no federal taxes.”
“I had expenses.”
“You haven’t even filed a return. Ever.”
“I have a very slow accountant.”
“Did you have a nice flight?”
“Sorry to hear that. Why not?”
“Sat next to a Methodist minister.”
“What’s wrong with sitting next to a Methodist minister?”
“Are you kidding? The closer to heaven we got, the smugger he got.”
“That’s what I say.”
Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:03:45 PM
“They weren’t gentlemen.”
“Sorry to hear that. We usually send only our finest abroad. I haven’t made it yet.”
Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:09:42 PM
“I’m working on a book about Edgar Arthur Tharp, Junior.”
“You’re working on a book about an American cowboy painter in Italy?”
“It brings a certain perspective to the work. Detachment.”
Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:19:44 PM
“What’s your name?”
“I. M. Fletcher.”
“Fletcher? Never heard of you. Why so pompous about it?”
“You announced your name, I am Fletcher. As if someone had said you weren’t. Why didn’t you just say, Fletcher?”
Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:22:21 PM
“You have nice hands.”
“One on the end of each arm.”
Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:23:56 PM
“Arbuthnot,” she said.
“Arbuthnot. Fredericka Arbuthnot.”
“You’ve heard of me?”
Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:25:49 PM
Helena Williams pushed the mental button for A Distraught Expression.
Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:32:02 PM
“Now you must tell me all about yourself, Fletch. Whom are you working for now?”
“The C.I.A.” He looked openly at Freddie Arbuthnot. “I’m here to bug everybody.”
“You’ve always had such a delightful sense of humor,” Helena said.
“He’s bugging me,” Freddie muttered.
“I’ve heard that joke,” Fletch snapped.
Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:38:07 PM
“Would you children like to share a room?” Helena asked.
“We are sort of crowded—”
“Definitely not,” Fletch said “I suspect she snores.”
“I do not.”
“How do you know?”
“I’ve been told.”
Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:38:42 PM
Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:39:31 PM
🔖 Bookmark on Location 494
Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:45:44 PM
Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:20:59 AM
“I was pregnant.”
“How could anyone tell?”
“Pardon me while I chuckle.”
Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:30:50 AM
“What else do you know about the murder, Crystal?”
“That it’s going to be the best reported crime in history. There are more star reporters at Hendricks Plantation at this moment than have ever been gathered under one roof before. In fact, I suspect more are showing up unexpectedly, simply because of the murder. Do you realize what it would be worth to a person’s career to scoop the murder of Walter March—with all this competition around?”
Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:33:09 AM
Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:34:51 AM
“Experts,” he said, “are the sources of opinions. People are the sources of facts.”
Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:37:09 AM
“Did you tell the other reporters about him?”
“No.” She said, “I guess it takes nine times being asked the same questions, for me to have remembered him.”
Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:51:06 AM
“Good night, sweet Princess.” He turned out the bedside lamp. “Dream sweet dreams, and, when you awake, think kindly on the Bumptious Bandit! ‘Daughter, did you hear hoofbeats in the night?’” He left a light on across the room, to orient her when she awoke. “‘Father, Father, I thought it were the palpitations of my own heart!’”
Letting himself out, the telephone information sheet firmly in hand, Fletch said, “‘It were, Daughter. Booze does that to you.’”
Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:58:07 AM
🔖 Bookmark on Location 780
Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:58:25 AM
Added on Sunday, September 25, 2016 3:07:52 PM
“The Administration has decided not to ignore us completely,” Crystal Faoni said, “just because we’ve taken to stabbing each other in the back more openly than usual.”
Added on Sunday, September 25, 2016 3:14:47 PM
“My, my,” Fletch said of his marvelous machine, “it walks, it talks, cries ‘Mama!’ and piddles genuine orange juice!”
Added on Sunday, September 25, 2016 3:45:05 PM
“I take it we’re not sleeping together?”
Fletch said into the phone, “Who is this?” It was 1:20 A.M. He had been asleep a half-hour.
“Damn you!” said Freddie Arbuthnot. “Damn your eyes, your nose, and, your cock!”
The phone went dead. It wasn’t that Fletch hadn’t thought of it. He knew she’d washed her knees.
Added on Sunday, September 25, 2016 4:20:42 PM
🔖 Bookmark on Location 1087
Added on Sunday, September 25, 2016 4:21:06 PM
“I. M. Fletcher?”
“One of us is.”
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:19:06 AM
“Will you be needing equipment, sir?”
“I guess so. Also a partner. Playing tennis alone takes too much running back and forth.”
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:19:25 AM
“Hendricks. H, as in waffle.”
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:22:30 AM
“Presently unencumbered by earned income.”
“You have no outlet?”
“Only the kind you can flush.”
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:23:38 AM
“That was a little song I was taught. As a child.” She was blushing more. “The ‘Wash Me Up’ song.”
“Oh!” Fletch said. “There is a difference between boys and girls! I was taught the wash-me-down song!”
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:37:12 AM
“Would you please go get dressed?”
“Why are people always saying that to me?”
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:37:53 AM
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:48:54 AM
“Hey, Bob. We’re supposed to be journalists, aren’t we? Journalists live it up. I saw a movie once.…”
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:52:22 AM
The man shook hands as would an eel—if eels were familiar with human social graces.
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:53:46 AM
Other journalists referred to Lewis Graham as “the Reader’s Digest of the air.”
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:54:41 AM
Trouble was, his colleagues read the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlanta Constitution, the Los Angeles Times, Time, Newsweek, Foreign Affairs, and the Old Testament as well as he and could identify the sources of his facts, insights, and understandings, precisely, night after night.
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:55:07 AM
He painted quite a picture. Sailing off into the sunset, hand in hand with his childhood sweetheart, sitting on his poop or whatever it is yachts have.”
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:59:44 AM
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:00:22 AM
“How do,” the Major said.
“Do I have the honor of addressing Irwin Maurice Fletcher?” The drawl was thicker than Mississippi mud.
“Right,” said Fletch.
“Veteran of the United States Marine Corps?”
“Serial Number 1893983?”
“It was. I retired it. Anyone can use it now.”
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:04:23 AM
“Anyway, this here sharp-eyed old boy—he’s from Tennessee—I suspect he was pretty well-known around home for shooting off hens’ teeth at a hundred meters
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:05:00 AM
“Major, do you have a point? This is long distance. You never can tell. A taxpayer might be listening in.”
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:05:59 AM
You asked the question. You could wear an elephant down to a mouse.”
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:14:22 AM
🔖 Bookmark on Location 1888
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:20:03 AM
“Now I’ve got the Fletch story to cap all Fletch stories! Tousle-headed Fletch kneeling by his bed, lisping, ‘Now I lay me down with sheep’!”
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 5:54:39 PM
Crystal said into her parfait.
putting us up in their best hotel, which had the ambience of a chicken coop,
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 6:08:57 PM
🔖 Bookmark on Location 2307
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 6:14:56 PM
Would you care for some coffee?”
“I don’t use it.”
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:14:17 PM
What’s keeping the wolf from the door?”
“My ugly disposition.”
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:14:56 PM
WOMEN IN JOURNALISM:
Face It, Fellas— Few Stories Take Nine Months to Finish
Aunt Sally Hendricks Sewing Room
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:21:31 PM
“Of course I’m at the Star. Would I be home with my god-awful wife if I could help it?”
“Ah,” Fletch said. “The Continuing Romance of Jack and Daphne Saunders. How is the old dear?”
“Fatter, meaner, and uglier than ever.”
“Don’t knock fat.”
“How can you?”
“Got her eyelashes stuck in a freezer’s door lately?”
“No, but she plumped into a door the other night Got the door knob stuck in her belly button. Had to have it surgically removed.”
Fletch thought Jack remained married to Daphne simply to make up rotten stories about her.
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:27:05 PM
“Okay. You want background or gossip at this point?”
“Walter March was murdered,”
“Scissors in the back.”
“Next you’re going to say he fell down dead.”
“You’re always rushing ahead, Jack.”
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:29:08 PM
“How do I know? If it is true, it happened at a dangerous age for Rolly—fifteen or sixteen—I forget which. Loves and hatreds run deep in people that age.”
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:30:59 PM
The world’s greatest practitioner of the sufferin’-Jesus school of journalism.”
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:31:31 PM
“If that’s an ivory tower, I’m a lollipop.”
“I can lick you anytime.”
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:33:59 PM
“Sure, Jack, sure. Anything for ‘old times’ sake.’ “
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:35:19 PM
🔖 Bookmark on Location 2628
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:41:04 PM
Fletch said, “Oh. Well, you haven’t identified yourself.”
The man shook his head. “I.R.S.,” he said. “I.R.S.”
“But what do I call you?” Fletch asked. “I? I.R.? Mister S.?”
“You don’t need to call me anything,” I.R.S. said. “Just respond.”
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:58:00 PM
Fletch looked at I.R.S. The man was almost entirely Adam’s apple.
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:59:48 PM
The man’s shoulders were little more than outriggers for his ears.
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:00:00 PM
“Crystal? I’m going to say something very, very rotten to you.”
“The dining room is still open for breakfast.”
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:01:07 PM
“As a matter of personal curiosity, may I ask why you have not filed returns?”
“April’s always a busy month for me. You know. In the spring a young man’s fancy really shouldn’t have to turn to the Internal Revenue Service.”
“You could always apply for extensions.”
“Who has the time to do that?”
“Is there any political thinking behind your not paying taxes?”
“Oh, no. My motives are purely esthetic, if you want to know the truth.”
“Yes. I’ve seen your tax forms. Visually, They’re ugly. In fact, very offensive. And their use of the English language.
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:02:47 PM
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:03:19 PM
Address by Horsch Aldrich
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:10:24 PM
“Almost everyone here has made a point of telling me how important he or she is. Such a lot of important people. The seas would rumble and nations would crumble if I kept any of you out of circulation for many more minutes than I had to.”
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:20:52 PM
“Right,” Crystal said solemnly to her fruit salad. “News does not happen unless a reporter is there to report it.”
“For example,” said Fletch, “if no one had known World War Two was happening.…”
“Actually,” Crystal said, “Hitler without the use of the radio wouldn’t have been Hitler at all.”
“And the Civil War,” said Freddie. “If it hadn’t been for the telegraph.…”
“The geographic center of the American Revolution,” Fletch said, “was identical to the center of the new American printing industry.”
“And then there was Caesar,” Crystal said. “Was he a military genius with pen in hand, or a literary genius with sword in hand? Did Rome conquer the world in reality, or just its communications systems?”
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:22:25 PM
Did you try those blueberry muffins this morning?”
“I tried only one of them,” Freddie said.
Crystal said, “The rest of them were good, too.”
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:23:22 PM
“It’s been like trying to sing ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ while your head’s stuck in a beehive.”
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:23:48 PM
Neale was paying more attention to the remainder of his salad than Crystal would do after trekking across a full golf course.
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:26:39 PM
“Oh, yum!” said Crystal. “Who cares about death and perdition as long as there’s chocolate cake?”
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:29:10 PM
Who’d ever want to kill the Vice-President of the United States? One could have a greater effect upon national policy by killing the White House cook.”
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 11:25:46 PM
And while the General was making this big entrance, landing in a helicopter on the back lawn, the Vice-President of the United States was arriving at the front of the hotel in an economy-size car—completely ignored.”
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 11:26:18 PM
Added on Thursday, September 29, 2016 12:13:05 AM
“‘Live like journalists,?’ ” Fletch quoted. “‘Disgusting.’ ”
Added on Thursday, September 29, 2016 12:18:30 AM
Guide to highlight colors
Yellow–general highlights and highlights which don’t fit under another category below
Orange–Vocabulary word; interesting and/or rare word
Green–Reference to read
Red–Example to work through
While most of the Old World was writing on papyrus, bamboo, and silk, Europe carved its own gruesome path through the history books.
Thursday on the NewsHour, President-elect Trump travels to Indiana in celebration of a jobs deal with Carrier. Also, recovery efforts mount as the Tennessee wildfires wane, the future of American manufacturing jobs, volunteer medics struggle to save lives in Mosul, advances in the battle against AIDS, how failing infrastructure is limiting U.S. productivity, a new book on Iran and the war on weed.
The short snippet on the history of cannabis was also relatively interesting, particularly the discussion of how it’s perception was changed by the government.
From the groundbreaking author team behind the bestselling Winner-Take-All Politics, a timely and topical work that examines what’s good for American business and what’s good for Americans—and why those interests are misaligned.<br><br> In Winner-Take-All Politics, Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson explained how political elites have enabled and propelled plutocracy. Now in American Amnesia, they trace the economic and political history of the United States over the last century and show how a viable mixed economy has long been the dominant engine of America’s prosperity.<br><br> Like every other prospering democracy, the United States developed a mixed economy that channeled the spirit of capitalism into strong growth and healthy social development. In this bargain, government and business were as much partners as rivals. Public investments in education, science, transportation, and technology laid the foundation for broadly based prosperity. Programs of economic security and progressive taxation provided a floor of protection and business focused on the pursuit of profit—and government addressed needs business could not.<br><br> The mixed economy was the most important social innovation of the twentieth century. It spread a previously unimaginable level of broad prosperity. It enabled steep increases in education, health, longevity, and economic security. And yet, extraordinarily, it is anathema to many current economic and political elites. And as the advocates of anti-government free market fundamentalist have gained power, they are hell-bent on scrapping the instrument of nearly a century of unprecedented economic and social progress. In American Amnesia, Hacker and Pierson explain how—and why they must be stopped.
Recent developments have put the so-called “alt-right” movement in the news. They highlight the need for clarity around use of the term and around some related terms, such as “white nationalism” and “white supremacism.”
This piece also reminds me of a Joanne Jacobs quote I wrote about recently.
A new year is apparently beginning, and so those of us who both eat and write feel compelled to tell you what you should expect from the…
Because they are 100% true, and that’s a verifiable fact
A dream Thanksgiving vacation in the Big Apple turned into the nightmare before Christmas for a California couple whose Airbnb reservation went bust. Annette van Duren, a 63-year-old talent agent f…
One of my favorite aspects of the IndieWeb community is that when you get things
My commitment for 2017 is to always, 100% of the time, post RSVPs to public events on my own site first, and only secondarily (manually if I must) RSVP to silo (social media) event URLs. What’s your 2017-01-01 #indieweb commitment?
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
I visited Oxford this week to talk to the Women in Physics group, mainly made up of students and postdocs (not all of whom were women). Tea and excellent scones
Sexism in the workplace starts long before the job has even begun.
From Indonesia's Spice Islands to your local craft store.