Friday, May 22, 2009

What is Lyndsay Faye reading?

The current featured contributor to Writers Read: Lyndsay Faye, author of the acclaimed debut novel, Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson.

The entry opens:
My favorite mysteries are almost always historical, and a great comment made by fellow author Marco Conelli at Southhampton's MAYHEM festival last weekend clarified one of the reasons for me: technology (from pinning your location through your cell phone to finding matching fibers in a suspect's car) is a huge buzzkill. For the real police, technology is wonderful, but for the author it can be deadly. It's simply too easy. Where is the joy in telling a suspect his alibi was busted by his own car's GPS system? As a result, I'm always delighted to find a good period mystery, and greatly enjoyed Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor, which I finished a couple of days ago.

There are several things going for this novel, not least of which is Andrew Taylor's spare, cutting prose, but one that interests me for its sheer cleverness is his use of diary entries. They're a classic device, of course, but presented here with a cunning twist--the omniscient narrator addresses you directly, presenting a passage for you to read near the beginning of each chapter. And while the murder mystery is certainly compelling, it's not more compelling than figuring out who you is. Or are, rather. It sounds rather existential without an example, and one of the best is at the beginning: "Sometimes you frighten yourself. So what is it exactly? A punishment? A distraction? A relief? You're not sure. You tell yourself that it happened more than four years ago, that it doesn't matter anymore and nothing you can do can change a thing. But you don't listen, do you? All you do is go back to that nasty little green book." The diary entry follows, but the commentary has already set an ominous tone....[read on]
Read an excerpt from Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson, and learn more about the author and her novel at Lyndsay Faye's website.

Writers Read: Lyndsay Faye.

--Marshal Zeringue