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Friday, January 13, 2017

New Series based on Dan Simmons' The Terror

A while back, I mentioned Dan Simmons' The Terror in a post because the lost ship HMS Terror had been found after 168 years.  Although the novel is a fictional account (with some horror genre elements), when I finished it several years ago, I took a reading journey through other books about the Franklin Expedition, the rescue attempts, and some of the characters mentioned in the novel.

Now, AMC has a series based on Simmons'  2007 novel.

I'm currently reading Gretel Ehrlich's The Solace of Open Spaces.  Essays about Wyoming and her time there in the late 1970's.  The essays are descriptive and philosophical--but the philosophy is very personal--Ehrlich's version of the west and the people she knew.  There are parts I'm really enjoying and parts that are so specifically her own views, her own generalizations,  that bother me a bit.  

I find myself wondering how much has changed since the book was first published in 1984 when she combined her journal entries and thoughts for publication. Ranching as a way of live was rapidly changing in the 20th c.  Her interviews with elderly cowboys and sheepherders are interesting; she was recording a dying breed even as she wrote, and she knew it.  Now, over 3 decades have passed since the first publication of the book.  

Born on a horse ranch in California, Ehrlich's familiarity with horses stood her in good stead when she decided to retreat to Wyoming after the death of  the man she was in love with.  The two of them were supposed to be working on a Public Radio documentary, but his illness prevented him from being joining her.   Ehrlich adds very little context concerning her personal life, and it is a couple of essays in that she even mentions the man's illness and death.  She refers to him as David, no last name, and she speaks of her numbness and grief, but there is little other personal context.

I don't think anything in her life  (aside from being a horsewoman) would have prepared her for becoming an integral part of ranch life.  She graduated from Bennington College in Vermont and attended UCLA film school--not exactly the harsh environment presented by a  Wyoming ranch with all the attendant hardships.  Nevertheless, Ehrlich settled into the rigorous and austere life of a ranch hand, giving it her all.

Last night, I put it down after realizing that I was about half way through.  Time to let some of the essays kind of settle in.  My memories of Wyoming are vivid, even though I was only about 7 when we left.  The essays make me a little nostalgic.  I remember the snow, the wind, the cactus on the prairie that stretched behind our house into the horizon on three sides and the view of  Casper Mountain to the west.   Dreams about the mountains in Wyoming and Montana lasted for years after we moved.

I may try to read the rest of the essays more slowly.

I've read more of the Captain Lacey Regency series, and I liked these better than the first three.  

The Sudbury School Murders #4.  Grenville has secured Lacey a position as secretary at the Sudbury School outside of London.   Grenville failed to mention that Lacey was supposed to solve the mystery of several dangerous pranks which had been occurring at the school.  The murder of the school's groom (who also was one of James Denis' hired men until about 6 months previously) involves Lacey in a much more serious situation, especially as an innocent man is accused and arrested.

In the midst of trying to save Sebastian, the man falsely accused of murder, Lacey learns where Marianne has been disappearing to when she goes AWOL from Grenville's luxurious accommodations.  

The plot, characterization, and dialogue improve in this installment.  

A Body in Berkley Square #5.  Colonel Brandon is accused of murder at a society ball.  Lacey, despite the evidence against Brandon and their ongoing feud, does not believe Brandon guilty of the murder.  Although there is some re-hashing of the Brandon/Lacey past (which I tired of in the first book in the series), at least Brandon is actually part of the current plot.

Lady Breckenridge's role is further developed, and she is willing to do what she can to aid Lacey in his investigation.  A mystery document is missing and guess what?  Not only does Lacey need to find it, but James Denis wants it.

The author prefers to keep the reader on tenterhooks regarding James Denis, that shadowy figure who has a touch of Moriarty about him.  The almost priggishly honorable Lacey finds Denis both fascinating and offensive.  I can't help but be intrigued by Denis since Gardner has his behavior consistently ambiguous.  She's taking her time about giving more information about Denis, but keeping him involved in each installment.

A Covent Garden Mystery #6.  Pomeroy, Lacey's former sergeant, now a Bow Street Runner and Thatcher of the River Police approach Lacey about the disappearance of two game girls.

Denis has brought Lacey's wife (yep, the one who left him 15 years ago) to London, along with Auberge, her French "husband," and Lacey's daughter (who, of course, has no idea that Lacey is her father).

Gabriella disappears.  Is she lost in the unfamiliar streets of London or is the person who took the game girls responsible?

Whoa!  Even Brandon tries to help!

These novels are a little addictive.  I may have my criticisms about certain elements, but I always want to find out what will happen next.  :)


  1. There's way too many fun mystery reads out there; I'll never catch up. :D

    1. Nope--none of us will ever catch up! Just as long as I have a book, though, it is fun to keep trying. :)

  2. I have a copy of THE TERROR. Need to find it and try to read it this year. I keep meaning to read a book or two by Dan Simmons. I have a good friend who lives in Wyoming and then there are always the Longmire books. That's my 'view' of the state.

    1. I really liked The Terror and look forward to seeing how AMC handles the series. The Longmire books are my favorites!

  3. I remember wanting to read The Terror but unfortunately I think I kept putting it off because it's quite a chunkster isn't it? Oh and I love binging on a good series. I really need to read this Captain Lacey series. I get the feeling I'd enjoy it!

    1. It is a chunkster, but it was strangely enthralling with the supernatural aspect. Simmons managed to be historically correct in so many ways and introduce a horror aspect! The Captain Lacey series is kind of like those tiny Snickers for me--just one more.

  4. That show based on The Terror sounds interesting. I've never read that one by Simmons, though I've read others, with mixed results, by him.

    1. The Terror was fascinating, but later, I tried Drood and ended up not finishing it!

  5. Oh boy! How exciting about the series based on The Terror! and I see it has Ron Perlman in it. Woo hoo!

    1. It has been 8 years since I read the book, so I should be able to watch without too much in mind about the characters. :)