Sunday, April 30, 2017

Deadlock by Ruth Fenisong

Today was a sad weekend.  Lately I have had a horrible time keeping my boy guinea pigs in their pen outside.  Somehow they were breaking out and finding their way to the girl guinea pig pens.  No doubt the girls are pregnant and this has also made the boys aggressive with each other.

So, with heavy heart, I gave the girls away to a family with middle school children who are excited about caring for them and are delighted that they are pregnant.  A teenage boy took Bosephus Hambone.  Thank you Craigslist.

So goodbye Bosephus

 Goodbye Henrietta Sweet Pea

And goodbye my little Nellybelle

That leaves me with my two original piggies, Percy and Little Bear.  I combined the pens and they now have a lot of room to run around in.  They seem to have accepted that the girls are gone and have settled down.

 Appropriately, I am listening to some poignant music:  the Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor Mov. IV by Gustav Mahler

I may have mentioned that I read nonfiction and fiction during the week, but weekends are for fun and that usually means a mystery novel.  Today's review is on what I read this past weekend by a new (to me) author.

DeadlockDeadlock by Ruth Fenisong

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had never read anything by Ruth Fenisong before. She has not lasted as Dorothy Sayers, Rex Stout, or Erle Stanley Gardner have (not to mention Josephine Tey and Agatha Christie) and maybe with good reason.

Her writing is definitely dated, which is not a bad thing in that it can give the reader a taste of a writing style that speaks of a certain era, even if it is archaic. In this case the style is one that was popular in the fifties.

The mystery is not extraordinarily profound although it does keep the reader moving to the end.

What I liked especially was that none of the characters were one dimensional or hateful. Each person was presented in a way that allowed the reader to feel a certain amount of compassion for them.

From the get go the murder victim, Glen Williams, is not shown to be a sympathetic character. Before we turn the first page we know that he is a drug addict and trafficker and a very wealthy one. Or is he?

As the story develops we learn through the various suspects and eyewitnesses that Glen was someone who created an image for himself as very important person who had all sorts of terribly "high up" connections that he was going to use to "help" all his new friends become "hugely successful". As we learn through the other characters, perhaps Glen was not rich or particularly important, in fact maybe he created this legend of himself in order to manipulate other people.

But why? The people he manipulated were just every day people, usually struggling in the world trying to make ends meet. What purpose did it serve to deceive these people? They had no money or connections themselves? Was it just a fantasy world that he wrapped himself up in?

The motive is not immediately apparent. Unlike Agatha Christie whose normal formula was to make the victim someone whom everyone would like dead, we don't see at first what the motive for murder would be.

And, as I said, the other characters, while not perfect, certainly don't seem capable of murdering anyone. So who did it?

All of the above makes a decent story but what sold me and what inspires me to read more stories by Fenisong (she was rather prolific so there's plenty of her material to be had) is that the police aren't stooges to be outwitted by a brilliant detective (think Nero Wolfe or Nick Charles) but decent, intelligent people who care about getting home to have supper with their wives while getting to the bottom of the mystery instead of plowing over everybody to get a verdict. This really appeals to me and why I like Josephine Tey's Inspector Grant so much.

The ending might be considered by some a little hokey but I didn't mind it.

Since finishing Deadlock I have bought two more Fenisong mysteries. Josh said I could break the book fast and buy three books, one for each pig I gave up.

View all my reviews

Hercule Parroh has taken the departure of the pigs more philosophically than me.  "Just a few less ears to nip."


  1. condolences re the little pig exodus; losing pets can be very tough: it's been four month since Uncle Wiggley went and we're still not over it(he was a four pound chihuahua)...

    don't know much about Mahler; i've heard a few of his symphonies but it's not a familiar sound for me... i've been listening lately more to mideastern music, the modal stuff without chord progressions... it relies on rhythm and cadence changes for effect, sort of like Ragas, but not as programmed... i'ts exciting, but gets boring after a while...

    1. Hi Mudpuddle. I'm sorry to hear about Uncle Wiggley. chihuahua's are so cute. I have two dogs that are becoming increasingly geriatric. They can't hear or see very well. Odie looks so dead when he sleeps I sometimes poke him to make sure he's still among the living. It's just a matter of time...

      I like some Mideastern music, but as you say, it gets to be bit monotonous. I have a cousin who is a belly dancer and I enjoyed watching belly dancers for a while. Some of the more agile ones can be amazing to watch.

      I think Mahler is a composer that one has to cultivate a taste for. Like Mideastern music, I wouldn't want to only listen to Mahler.

  2. Sorry that you had to give the guinea pigs away. I love animals and I understand how sad something like that could be.

    I have not read many book in this mystery genre. As per your description Ruth Fenisong sounds different. My wife has read some of the more famous authors so I will mention this writer to her. I would like to try the genre but I will probably start with Agatha Christie.

    1. Hi Brian. I appreciate the condolences.

      Fenisong is truly a throw away read. I don't mean that disparagingly, just, if you have an hour to read something light, she would fit the bill.

      Really not one of my more profound reviews, but I'm trying to make myself sum up everything I read as a personal exercise. I do appreciate other people taking the time to read and comment.

      Have a good week.

  3. I'm sorry to hear that you had to give away some of your guinea pigs. They're so cute!

    1. Hi Kate!

      It was hard to do. My piggies are absolutely adorable and the girls were so pretty. But I think they are in homes that will give them more attention that I was able to.
      Have a good week!

  4. Sharon,

    Losing a pet is hard, regardless of how it happens.

    I haven't read anything by Fenisong, but she sounds interesting. What's another name on my mile long search list?

    1. Hi Fred,

      I know what you mean. I probably shouldn't read blog reviews. It just makes my Amazon wish list that much longer. Not that I will ever, ever stop reading blogs or other book reviews, I just ought to.

    2. And, also, thanks for the condolences!

    3. Sharon,

      I read blog reviews and the like, but it's not that much of a problem for me. I have a search list which is many pages long, and I just add another name to it.

      I have, I must admit, stopped browsing in bookstores, though. I simply walk in, look for a specific book, and leave. Browsing is far too dangerous an activity for me, especially with Mount TBR looming overhead.

    4. Ha! You're singing my song, Fred. I can't even go into bookstores for any reason and that's a shame because that was one of my all time favorite things to do on the weekends. Hunt for bookstores and browse. Sigh. Got to make a dent in Sharon's Mount TBR first. It is like a mountain now you mention it. Maybe I should give it a name: Mount Crazy Book Pile...


I welcome comments from anyone with a mutual interest in the subjects I written about.