April 16th, 2010

The Terror and the Tortoiseshell (2)

The second part of my real-time review of ‘The Terror and the Tortoiseshell’ (A Benji Spriteman Mystery) by John Travis (Atomic Fez Publishing Ltd. 2010).

Continued from here:

"The further we went, the more exclusive the breeds became, the clothes more refined."
Once more, I must force myself to avoid re-telling the story! This is a review, after all, not a précis exercise for my O Level exam. I don't need telling again. I promise.
Rest assured, however, that I won't leave you alone till you decide to read this book for yourself. This chapter is full of details, interesting characters, bizarre crimes to investigate, social inter-breedings  - all anthropomorphised Travisthetically. You can only know what I mean, by putting your tongue into this particular hume-bowl.  A novel that's sure to become a classic and will also become a major cinema film. There is no doubt in my mind about that. That's me being serious. As always. Proud if this turns out to be the first detailed review of this landmark book.
Inter alia, an ASBO Mouse in this chapter and a slow build-up of a major mysterious crime relating to extremely cruel killings of Sappies...or did I dream that bit?
  (16 Apr 10 - another 2 hours later)

" 'You never know when things are going to change.' "
You know, I don't know whether or not it's me (I'm not good at plots at the best of times, as my wife will attest) but, as with most crime and spy fiction, in my experience, I'm very easy to confuse. But it doesn't seem to matter here. I simply know that there is a part of me that is following things intrepidly on a level beyond my conscious self, following it in spite (or because?) of the many names of characters and the commingling events and slick innuendos and dark intentions perceived and re-perceived and mis-perceived - and, meanwhile, the book's language style is so perfect for these types of events and feelings, it doubly doesn't seem to matter that I'm becoming lost in Benji's world. But what's HFC stand for?
" 'You know, I don't know why I said that.' "
(16 Apr 10 - another 4 hours later)

"Turning to the mirrored wall, I gave my paws a lick and had a good clean, flattening down my fur and removing the stickiness of the sundae."
Benji's relationship with the official police (as the plot also thickens stickily) continues to be skilfully portrayed in this brief chapter.  
(16 Apr 20 - another hour later)

"Besides, the buses intrigued me - I'd heard they went anywhere you wanted them to, like oversized taxis."
This is a meaty chapter, compared to the previous one. What HFC stands for is now clear to me and I literally spluttered when I realised.  And Benji, our narrator, sort of pays a high price for the discovery afterwards. Very cinematic, trash-canned and hard-boiled. Very legs eleven. The Mystery of the Sappy Murders continues, in spite (or because) of now possibly knowing too much instead of too little. Knowing too much than is good for any reader
. (16 Apr 10 - another hour later)

"What happened next was a strange amalgam of farce, bloodbath and organised bun-fight."
A raid on the HFC followed by Benji's aggro with his police 'buddy': double-crossed with clumsy ploy like - aptly today - Ashes to Ashes. No planes, just animals on the ground.

“When men are most sure and arrogant they are commonly most mistaken, giving views to passion without that proper deliberation which alone can secure them from the grossest absurdities.” -- David Hume
David Hume on the Reason of Animals: "
Next to the ridicule of denying an evident truth, is that of taking much pains to defend it; and no truth appears to me more evident, than that beasts are endow'd with thought and reason as well as men. The arguments are in this case so obvious, that they never escape the most stupid and ignorant." http://www.animal-rights-library.com/texts-c/hume01.htm (16 Apr 10 - another 3 hours later)

I feel sorry for Benji. I haven't got it in my heart to tell you about it, but he heard it first from a bird he fancied. Sorry, a cat he fancied.
As an aside, I must tell you that there's a newspaper in Benji's world (one that is not too hot on spelling). Today it's running an article - as well as news on the HFC raid - about a 'religious' group that takes the works of Arthur Machen as gospel.  What a hoot!  I never take fiction literally.
(16 Apr 10 - another hour later)

"While I had been occupied the city had turned ash grey..."
Poor Benji continues to be done over since the raid on the HFC and he blames his police buddy. I'm only scratching the surface of the plot here (without raising too much spoiling-dust) and, furthermore, I don't think I've yet emphasised enough the cornucopia of great, sometimes touching, sometimes hilarious, characters in this story.  The plot is their plot.
(17 Apr 10)

This real-time review is now continued here: http://weirdmonger.blogspot.com/2010/04/terror-and-tortoiseshell-3.html