Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Thursday, April 8, 2010

"The Bellini Card: Inspector Yashim Goes to Venice" by Jason Goodwin

I was not especially wanting to read this book. I'm not sure why I bothered to borrow it from Joyce, because although the first two Yashim the Eunuch books were decent reads, I wasn't so wild about them that I wanted to read every one that Goodwin ended up writing. On the other hand, I'm a sucker for a book set in Italy.

Even with an Italian setting, though, it took me a long time to pick up this book. And not just the first time. You would think I'm trying to say the book is boring, but it wasn't. It was, like the others, a decent story with a few tasty-sounding meals thrown in and standing out like jewels. Once again I wish Goodwin had included a more specific recipe for those meals (or that I was a more adventurous cook and could just wing it and end up with a scrumptious meal instead of something to feed to the dogs). Anyway, my main problem in picking up the book probably had more to do with the fact that all of a sudden spring has sprung, and I'm finding more often I'd rather be outside digging in the dirt than reading.

I think I have found a fault in Goodwin's writing. I frequently have trouble picturing the scene he is describing. OK, so I admit, the fault might possibly lie with the reader rather than the author, but somewhere between his descriptions and my brain there is what sometimes seemed like an unbridgeable gulf. This was especially evident during the "fight scenes," where all Goodwin's careful choreography was lost on me. He might as well have just said, "they fought, and he won," because that's about all I got out of it. I also had no idea what the "Sand-Reckoner's Diagram" might look like, so thank goodness for google (again).

Yashim's Polish friend Palewski gets a much larger part in this book, although it is funny that from the other two books I got the idea that Palewski was a friendly, heavy-set, older drunk; in this book he is described as younger, slimmer, and more handsome than I realized. Yashim and Palewski fall into what seemed to me to be Sherlock-and-Watson roles for the first time, probably because Palewski is more involved in the investigation this time.

This time, instead of loaning me more books, Joyce gave me some amaryllis bulbs to plant. I'm heading out to dig in the dirt again.

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