Tuesday, December 29, 2020



WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here.  

1. What are you currently reading? Marina and Lee by Priscilla Johnson McMillan. Ms. McMillan examines one of the most unlikely and at the same time most consequential marriages in modern history. A pretty Russian girl moves to Minsk to live with her uncle. At a dance, she happens to meet a former US Marine, a local celebrity because he was one of the few Americans to defect to Russia, instead of the other way around. They married just six weeks later, emigrated back to the United States and landed in Dallas. Their tempestuous marriage exacerbated the husband's financial, sexual and emotional issues until, on 11/22/63, he murdered John F. Kennedy.
This is one of those books I've always meant to read, and now is finally its time. After reading Vincent Bugliosi's brilliant Reclaiming History, I am convinced Oswald acted alone and McMillan attempts to explain why. Like the Civil War, JFK's assassination is one of the wounds this country has never recovered from, and it's important to understand it.
2. What did you recently finish reading? The Battered Badge by Robert Goldsborough. I love the adventures of genius detective Nero Wolfe and his sexy, smart ass assistant Archie Goodwin, so I'm enjoying this one. It's not written by Rex Stout, who created these wonderful characters, but Robert Goldsborough who took over the series after Stout died. He does a creditable job.

The story starts at breakfast, when Archie sees a newspaper article about a murder. Lester Pierce was a crusader with the GGG (Good Government Group), a consumer organization that had been campaigning for the removal of Inspector Cramer from the homicide division for going easy on organized crime. When Pierce is assassinated, it looks like Cramer might somehow be involved, and the NYPD suspends him. While never friends, exactly, Cramer and Wolfe have been crossing paths and annoying one another for decades. Wolfe is a good judge of character and simply cannot believe that, despite all his shortcomings, Inspector Cramer could be a murderer. Savvy Archie smells a set up. And so they set out to clear Cramer's name by solving Pierce's murder themselves.
This mystery was entertaining and comfortable as a pair of slippers. The old gang is here: Fritz, the chef who serves Wolfe and Archie gourmet meals and insights on what he naturally overhears; Saul, the homely but fabulously talented private investigator hired by Wolfe when an extra pair of hands or legs is required; Lily Rowan, Archie's girlfriend, of whom I am insanely jealous. 
My only complaint is that one of the characters stutters, and Archie stoops to imitating him. Archie is a wiseacre, but he's never cruel. This was sadly out of character. I don't recall Stout ever writing Archie this way.

3. What will read next?  I don't know.