Category Archives: Rex Stout

There is Nothin’ ‘Bout Me That’s Unsuitable*

A lot of us have at least something about our appearance that we’d like to change. That’s part of why the fitness, beauty, and pharmacy industries are as lucrative as they are. And there’s nothing at all wrong with choosing healthy foods or getting just the right haircut. After all, when you like the way you look, that can build confidence.

But it’s really refreshing to meet people who are, as the saying goes, comfortable in their own skins. Yes, it might be nice to be taller/shorter, a little younger, or perhaps have blue instead of brown eyes. But people who are at peace with themselves are content with the way they look. They don’t desperately try to be different, and that makes them more confident, interesting characters.

Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, for instance, knows full well that she’s not a young, lithe beauty. And, yet, she doesn’t dye her hair, or spend lots of money on the latest beauty remedies. She keeps her appearance neat and clean, but she doesn’t obsess about what she looks like. And her age and comfort with herself gives her a certain confidence. On the surface, she’s everyone’s well-mannered, polite grandmother. But fans know that she has a razor-sharp mind and is confident enough in herself to be assertive when she needs to be. And that adds interest to her character.

Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe isn’t exactly ‘movie star’ attractive. As his partner, Archie Goodwin says, he weighs a seventh of a ton. Wolfe isn’t overly concerned about his appearance, though. He doesn’t dress in the latest fashion or spend a fortune on his hair or clothes. As fans know, there are a few novels in which he diets and (gasp!) exercises. But in the main, he’s not worried about losing weight or being on the ‘cutting edge’ of men’s fashion. He’s comfortable with the way he is, and he is utterly confident in himself – sometimes, as Archie would say, too confident. But Wolfe lives life on his own terms, with no attempt to look the way he’s ‘supposed to’ look.

Fans of Reginald Hill’s Andy Dalziel can tell you that it’s much the same with him. He knows he’s wrong at times. But he’s confident in himself and comfortable in his own skin. He certainly doesn’t worry too much about how men are ‘supposed to’ look. He doesn’t spend a fortune on clothes, men’s cosmetics, or gym memberships. Instead, he accepts himself exactly the way he is. If others don’t like it, he doesn’t much mind.

The same is true of Kerry Greenwood’s Corinna Chapman. She’s a Melbourne accountant-turned-baker, who will be the first to tell you that she’s heavy. Here’s what she says about it, though:
 

‘I can’t afford to spend all day in self-loathing, as everyone expects fat women to do. Self-loathing eats your life. Being fat isn’t my fault or even my sin, despite what all those TV ads say. I was myself and that was what I was…’
 

She shares some wit about it, too:
 

‘I could not get that thin if I starved myself for ten years, and that is a fact. We are famine survivors, we fat women and ought to be valued for it. We must have been very useful when everyone else collapsed of starvation. We would have been able to sow the crops, feed the babies and keep the tribe alive until spring came. If you breed us out, what will you do when the bad times come again? At the very least, you could always eat us. I reckon I’d feed a family of six for a month.’ 
 

Chapman certainly has those moments we all do, where she’d like to have that beautiful outfit, or that perfect hair-and-makeup look. And she’s not what you’d call egotistical or arrogant. But she is confident and comfortable in her own skin.

So is Sophie Littlefield’s Stella Hardesty. She’s in her fifties, and she’s not exactly a magazine model lookalike. She likes her Johnnie Walker Black, and wears whatever’s comfortable. Her confidence is a real asset in her line of work, too. On the surface, she owns a legitimate sewing supply store. But she also has a ‘side business.’ Women who’ve been abused know that they can go to her for help evening the score. When she gets a new client, she pays a very uncomfortable visit to the abuser. If that’s not enough to teach him a lesson, she pays a second, even more unpleasant, visit. And she keeps track of her ‘parolees’ to make sure they stay on the proverbial straight and narrow. And after a visit from her, few of her ‘parolees’ want to fall afoul of her again. Hardesty knows that she’s not perfect, and she does make mistakes. But she is very comfortable in her own skin and doesn’t spend a lot of time obsessing about her appearance.

And that can be refreshing in a character.  We all have our anxieties; that’s perfectly natural. And it’s normal to wish we had perfect hair, a sculpted body, or something else. But people who are content with what they look like and who they are tend to have a real sense of confidence. And that can be very appealing.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman’s Big, Blonde and Beautiful.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Kerry Greenwood, Reginald Hill, Rex Stout, Sophie Littlefield

Find Me a Find, Catch Me a Catch*

One of the major social changes we’ve seen in the last hundred years or so is the acceptance of people, especially women, who don’t marry. It used to be considered almost shameful if a woman wasn’t married by the time she was in her late twenties (sometimes even earlier). And there were reasons for that, too. For one thing, an unmarried woman was an economic burden on her family in times and cultures that didn’t permit women to earn an income. For another, there was no comfortable social place for what used to be called a spinster. She might keep house for elderly parents or a widowed brother. But it wasn’t an easy life.

Today, of course, many women choose not to marry. They may or may not be involved in relationships, but there’s not the rush to marriage that there was. And modern crime fiction certainly reflects that fact. It’s interesting to see how the roles of unmarried women have changed over time.

K.B. Owen’s Concordia Wells series takes place at the very end of the 19th Century. Wells is a teacher at Hartford Women’s College, in Connecticut. She’s also an amateur sleuth who keeps getting drawn into mysteries, even though she’s not exactly eager to be involved in crime. She’s modern in her thinking in some ways, but she’s also, in ways, a product of her times. And in her times, a young lady’s main goal is to get a husband, not pursue a career. In fact, one of the requirements of her position is that she must resign when she gets married. That ends up creating a dilemma for her, as in one story arc, she meets and falls in love with David Bradley. She wants her own identity outside of marriage, and she loves her teaching job, but she also loves Bradley. That balance is difficult to achieve in her society.

Several of Agatha Christie’s novels and stories include unmarried female characters (still called ‘spinsters’). One of them is Georgina Morley, whom we meet in One, Two, Buckle My Shoe (AKA The Patriotic Murders and An Overdose of Death). Miss Morley keeps house for her brother, Henry, who’s a dentist. When he is shot one day in his surgery, she’s one of the people whom the police interview. At first, they think that the killer is someone who personally hated Morley, and it’s natural that they’d speak to his sister. But soon, other possibilities come up. One of Morley’s patients is famous and powerful banker Alistair Blunt. He’s made his share of enemies, and it’s possible that one of them might have been involved in this murder. The case gets even more complicated when another of Morley’s patients disappears. And another dies of an overdose of Novocain. Hercule Poirot is also a patient of Morley’s, and he was at that office on the day of the murder. So, he works with Chief Inspector Japp to untangle the threads of the case. I know, fans of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and of The Clocks.

Brian Stoddart’s Superintendent Christian ‘Chris’ Le Fanu series takes place in 1920s India, during the last years of the British Raj (A Greater God, the latest in the series, came out just recently). Le Fanu is based in Madras (now Chennai), but some of his cases take him elsewhere. In the society in which Le Fanu lives, young ladies are under an awful lot of pressure to find a husband. And sometimes, that’s not easy to do. One of the ways they go about the task is to travel, often with companions, to India to meet young men who are in the military or perhaps in some other professional position (such as the police or medical field). These groups of young women are not very charitably called ‘the fishing fleet.’ Such a group figures in A Madras Miasma, when one of their number is murdered during her visit to India.

Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe series spanned several decades, and it’s interesting to see how the roles of unmarried women change over that time. In Champagne For One, a murder takes place at a glittering dinner dance hosted by socialite Louise Robilotti. She is the owner of Grantham House, a home for unwed mothers and their babies, and the dinner dance is held in support of that cause. In fact, a few of Grantham House’s residents are invited to the event each year, in hopes that they will learn from mixing with the ‘right people.’ And a not-too-hidden agenda item is that they will meet eligible young men. It’s not considered acceptable for an unmarried woman to have a career and a child, so the object is to get Grantham House’s residents ‘settled’ if possible. Archie Goodwin attends this year’s dinner dance in place of a friend and ends up getting involved in the murder when one of the guests suddenly dies of what turns out to be poison. In later novels, there are more unmarried female characters who are more comfortable being single.

Even today, in some societies, it’s not always easy being an unmarried woman. Miyuki Miyabe’s All She Was Worth, for instance, is in part the story of Shoko Sikine, who moved to Tokyo from Utsunomiya to make something of herself. And that included, if possible, finding a husband. In fact, one of the facts of life for young women in that society (1990s Tokyo) is that the goal is to go to the city, work for a few years, and then meet someone and marry. When younger women, who are twenty or so, join a company, those who are only a few years older can already feel like ‘spinsters.’ Shoko met Jun Kurisaka, and the two began a relationship. They were even supposed to marry. But then, she disappeared. Kurisaka wants to find her, and he asks his uncle, police detective Shunsuke Honma, to help. Honma agrees and starts asking questions. Before long, he learns that the Shoko Sikine that his nephew was engaged to isn’t the real Shoko. So, who is she? And what has happened to Shoko? It’s a complex murder mystery and reflects the pressure on young women not to stay single. There is arguably less pressure now; in fact, young Japanese people are staying single longer than ever, according to recent research. But there is still the traditional idea that a young woman should find a husband.

It’s not always easy to fit into society. That’s certainly been the case with unmarried women until recently. And it’s interesting to see how that social fact has changed over time (or has it?).

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s Matchmaker.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Brian Stoddart, K.B. Owen, Miyuki Miyabe, Rex Stout

‘Cause We Are Patrons of the Arts*

It can be expensive to run a theatre group, or an art gallery. Writers, visual artists, and other artists often find that it’s helpful to have a patron – someone who can underwrite an endeavor. Symphonies, galleries, and other such places depend on patrons to help pay overhead expenses and other bills. And charitable groups benefit greatly from patrons, too.

But it’s not entirely a one-way relationship. Patrons often support art or a given charity because they love it, and they know their patronage helps keep it going. That’s not to mention what patronage does for their reputations. To be coldly practical, patronage can also serve as a tax benefit.

That relationship can be interesting to explore in a story. And sometimes, it figures into a plot in a crime novel. That’s not surprising, either. Sponsors and patrons wield a certain amount of power, and that can make for an interesting layer in a story. And there’s the relationship between the patron and the artist(s). That, too, can add to a story.

Agatha Christie explores this relationship in a few of her stories. In Murder on the Orient Express, for instance, we are introduced to Princess Natalia Dragomiroff. She is a very wealthy patron of the stage, and has many friends among the stage’s elite. She finds herself drawn into a murder mystery when she takes a three-day trip across Europe on the famous Orient Express train. On the second night, an American businessman named Samuel Ratchett is stabbed. Hercule Poirot happens to be on the train, and he is persuaded to investigate. The hope is that he’ll be able to find out who the killer is before the train crosses the next international border. The only possible suspects are the other passengers in the same carriage; and, since Princess Dragomiroff’s first-class cabin is in that carriage, she becomes a person of interest.

Rex Stout’s Champagne For One introduces readers to Louise Robilotti. She is the very wealthy patron of Grantham House, with is a charitable (rather than artistic) endeavor. It’s a home for unwed mothers and their babies, and it’s intended as a place for those women to live while they find jobs or get job training. Eventually, it’s hoped that the residents of Grantham House will meet eligible men and, hopefully, find husbands. To that end, every year, Mrs. Robilotti hosts a benefit dinner/dance at her home in aid of Grantham House. Among the guests are usually several eligible bachelors, as well as some of Grantham House’s residents. Archie Goodwin gets the chance to attend this event when a friend of his persuades him to go. At the event, he meets a few of the women who live at Grantham House, including Faith Usher. When Faith suddenly dies of what turns out to be cyanide poisoning, it looks as though it might be suicide. But Goodwin, who was there, isn’t so sure of that. He and his boss, Nero Wolfe, look into the matter to see who might have wanted to kill the victim.

Patronage can also, of course, be professional. For instance, C.J. Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake is a 16th-Century attorney. Today’s attorneys generally work either for a law firm (unless they have their own offices), or for the government as prosecuting attorneys. Not so Shardlake. He works on commission from wealthy, noble patrons such as Thomas Cromwell and Queen Catherine Parr. On the one hand, having the protection of a powerful patron gives him both ‘clout’ and a certain amount of security. After all, he travels on royal or noble business. On the other hand, Shardlake doesn’t always get the answers his patrons might want him to get. And they generally have enough authority and power to imprison him, or worse, if they don’t like what he uncovers. So, he sometimes has to be very careful about how he goes about his work.

Laura Joh Rowland’s Shinjū takes place towards the end of the 18th Century, in Edo (now Tokyo). Sano Ichirō is a yoriki, a senior investigator/police officer. In the novel, he investigates the deaths of the ‘well born’ Niu Yukiko and her lover, an artist named Noriyushi. At first, it looks as though this is a case of the double suicide of lovers who knew they could never be together. But it turns out to be much more than that, and Sano finds that the trail leads to some very high places. And that could be a problem for him. He himself is not ‘well born,’ as are most of his colleagues in the same position. Instead, he got his job through a wealthy patron whose family owed a debt to the Sano family. So, Sano doesn’t have any real social standing; he depends for that on his patron. It’s an interesting example of how a patron can influence someone’s career.

And then there’s Ausma Zehanat Khan’s The Unquiet Dead. In that novel, Inspector Esa Khattak and Sergeant Rachel Getty of the Community Policing Section (CPS) of the Canadian federal government get a new case. It seems that a man named Christopher Drayton died after a fall from Ontario’s Scarborough Bluff. On the surface, it doesn’t seem the sort of case that the CPS would handle. Their normal focus is hate crime. But then, they learn that the victim might have been Dražen Krstić, a notorious war criminal also called the butcher of Srebrenica. If so, this could be a matter for the CPS. Khattak and Getty get to work and begin to look for possible leads. The fact that Drayton might have been Krstić is one possibility. But there’s also the victim’s personal life and his professional life. Soon, Khattak and Getty learn that Drayton was a patron of the Andalusia Museum, a project created to celebrate the culture, music, and art of Moorish Andalusia. He wanted to be on the museum’s board of directors, but several people objected strongly to this. They didn’t want him to have that much influence in the museum. This turns out to be a complicated case, and it’s interesting to see the patron/art-loving side of the victim’s character.

Patrons can make all the difference in the world to a struggling orchestra, gallery, or charitable group. And they can be interesting characters in and of themselves. So, it’s little wonder they show up in crime fiction as they do.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Shawn Mullins’ This One’s For the Majors.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Ausma Zehanat Khan, C.J. Sansom, Laura Joh Rowland, Rex Stout

A Few More Nights on Satin Sheets*

Most of us feel the need once in a while to take a break and get away. And for a lot of people, a stay at a resort is the perfect antidote to life’s stresses. There are all sorts of resorts, too: mountain resorts, safari resorts, beach resorts, and lots more. Resorts can cost an awful lot of money, but they often offer matchless pampering and personal service. And they’re designed to be worlds unto themselves.

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, whenever you get a disparate group of people together in the same place, as you do at a resort, there are all sorts of possibilities for crime-fictional mayhem. Add to that resort staff, who may have their own backgrounds and secrets, and you have a custom-made context for a crime novel. So, it’s little wonder that resorts show up in the genre as they do.

In Agatha Christie’s A Caribbean Mystery, for instance, Miss Marple’s generous nephew arranges for her to visit the Golden Palm Hotel, on the Caribbean island of St. Honoré, so she can have a much-needed rest. The hotel is really more resort than simply hotel with all of the pampering and amenities you’d imagine for the time. One day, another guest, Major Palgrave, tells Miss Marple a story about a man he knows of who lost two wives. The theory in both cases was suicide, but Major Palgrave says he knows that they were murdered. He doesn’t get the chance to finish his story, but it’s soon clear that someone at the resort overheard what he said. The next day, he’s found dead. Miss Marple is sure that someone connected with these cases is either a guest of, or an employee of, the Golden Palm, and she starts searching for the truth. It turns out that the resort has some very dark secrets.

Fans of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe will know that it takes a lot to get him to leave his brownstone and travel. But, in Too Many Cooks, that’s exactly what he does. He and Archie Goodwin travel to the exclusive Kanawha Spa, in West Virginia, so that Wolfe can deliver the keynote address to a meeting of Les Quinze Maîtres, the world’s fifteen greatest chefs. The resort is quite luxurious, but that doesn’t prevent murder. One of the master chefs, Phillip Laszio, is killed, and the most likely killer seems to be another chef, Jerome Berin. But Wolfe doesn’t think Berin is guilty. So, although he’s very reluctant to investigate, Wolfe looks into the matter. Among other things, this novel shows how things work at a very upmarket resort.

There are several resorts in South Africa’s wildlife preserves. I had the real pleasure of staying at one of them some years ago, and it was a wonderful experience. There are, of course, all of the luxury amenities you’d imagine for an upmarket place. And you can travel out into the bush on a camera safari. There’s nothing quite like being out in the bush to give some perspective on modern life. Deon Meyer takes readers into such places in Blood Safari. Cape Town professional bodyguard Martin Lemmer is hired by Emma le Roux to accompany her to the Lowveld to search for her brother, Jacobus. He was working in the Nature and Environmental Conservation Unit of the South African military when he disappeared. It was thought at the time that he was killed in a run-in with animal poaches. But now, twenty years later, Emma sees a man on television who looks just like her brother. She can’t resist trying to find that man and learn the truth. So, she and Lemmer make their way to the Lowveld, where they stay at more than one bush resort. But luxury surroundings aren’t enough to keep them safe from some very dangerous people who do not want the truth about Jacobus to be revealed.

In Louise Penny’s A Rule Against Murder (AKA The Murder Stone), Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec takes his wife, Reine-Marie, to the Mansoin Bellechasse for their annual anniversary trip. It’s a lovely luxury resort, and the Gamaches are hoping for a relaxing visit. Such is not to be, though. Among the other guests are members of the Finney family. It’s not spoiling the novel to say that they are a very dysfunctional group, and that alone adds tension to the atmosphere. Then, there’s a murder. Now, all sorts of old secrets come out, and Gamache finds a surprising connection in this case to another character in this series.

And then there’s Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s My Soul to Take. Jónas Júlíusson owns an exclusive luxury resort and spa, but he’s facing an unusual problem. He believes the land is haunted. He hires Reykjavík attorney Thóra Gudmundsdóttir to represent him in a lawsuit he wants to bring against the former owners of that land. His claim is that they knew the place was haunted and never told him. Thóra doesn’t believe in ghosts or haunting. But a fee is a fee. Besides, the case gives her the opportunity to stay at a five-star resort. So, she takes the case and goes to the resort. During her visit, another guest, Birna Hálldorsdóttir, is found murdered on a beach not far from the property. Soon enough, Jónas becomes a suspect in the murder, since he was having a relationship with the victim. He asks Thóra to continue to represent him, this time defending him against the murder charge. She agrees and looks more deeply into the victim’s life. It turns out that several people in the area are keeping some dark secrets, and more than one could have had a reason to want to commit murder.

See what I mean? Resorts are wonderful places – they really are. You can escape the world, get some pampering, and enjoy world-class cooking and other amenities. But safe? Peaceful? Perhaps not so much…

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Billy Joel’s I’ve Loved These Days.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Deon Meyer, Louise Penny, Rex Stout, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

Just Picture a Great Big Steak*

One of the things I love about crime fiction is the way it shows how we’ve changed over time. As society changes, so do social attitudes and customs. One of the many kinds of changes we’ve seen is in our diets and the way people eat.

I got to thinking about this after an interesting comment exchange with Brad at ahsweetmysteryblog. By the way, if you like to read crime fiction, especially classic and Golden Age crime fiction, you don’t want to miss Brad’s richly detailed and informative blog. I learn every time I visit. Every time.

Brad and I were mentioning Fritz Brenner, who, as Rex Stout fans know, is Nero Wolfe’s chef. He is world-class, and always creates gourmet eating experiences for his boss. But, by today’s standards, we’d probably say that his cooking is far too rich and too full of calories, fat, and so on. Our views about what people should be eating have certainly changed since Stout was writing. Today’s top chefs know that there are healthful ways to cook that are also unforgettably delicious and beautifully presented. And many restaurants now offer vegetarian/vegan options, smaller servings, and low-fat/low-calorie dishes.

Choices such as low-calorie foods or vegetarianism haven’t always been seen as mainstream as they are now. For instance, in Agatha Christie’s Dumb Witness, Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings travel to the village of Market Basing when one of its prominent residents, wealthy Emily Arundell, unexpectedly dies. At first, her death is put down to liver failure, but soon enough, it turns out that she was poisoned. And that wasn’t the first attempt on her life. Not many months before, she had a fall down a staircase that was deliberately engineered. There are several suspects in this case, since Miss Arundell’s relatives are all in need of money. And there’s the fact that her companion, Wilhelmina ‘Minnie’ Lawson, has inherited most of her fortune. Two of the witnesses that Poirot talks to are Isabel and Julia Tripp, who are friends of Minnie Lawson, and who were there on the night Miss Arundell died. These are eccentric ladies, to put it mildly. They have many non-conformist beliefs and are avid spiritualists. To add to this, they are vegetarians. While that fact isn’t the reason for Miss Arundell’s murder, it offers a glimpse of how such a diet might have been viewed at the time. Certainly, Poirot, who is a gourmand, is not exactly excited about the prospect of having dinner with the Tripp sisters…

Just because our views of what ‘counts’ as an appropriate diet have changed, doesn’t mean that all fictional sleuths eat healthfully. For instance, Reginald Hill’s Andy Dalziel isn’t particularly concerned with keeping to a healthy diet. He’s not stupid; he knows that it’s a good idea to limit fat, salt, and so on. But he likes his pub grub and has no intention of cutting things like bacon out of his diet. The same goes for Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse and for Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone. It’s not that they don’t know what they ought to be eating. Fans of Dexter’s series, for instance, know that Morse’s doctors have told him often enough. But that’s not the way they live their lives. What’s interesting about these sleuths’ attitudes is that they go against the proverbial tide. It’s now considered perfectly normal – even healthy – to eat less meat, less salt and fat, fewer fried foods, and so on.

We see another interesting example of that change in attitude in Anthony Bidulka’s Russell Quant series. Quant is a Saskatoon-based PI who does enjoy the occasional ‘not-good-for-you-but-delicious’ meal at his ‘watering hole,’ Colourful Mary’s. Still, he tries to watch what and how much he eats. That becomes difficult when his mother, Kay, comes for a visit in Flight of Aquavit. She is a farm wife, who’s spent her life making heavy-duty meals for hard-working farm people. So, her idea of what ‘counts’ as breakfast, for instance, are quite different to her son’s. It’s not that Quant doesn’t enjoy her cooking; he does. It’s delicious. But he also knows it’s got many times more calories, fat, salt, and so on than he should be having. This difference in views isn’t the main plot of the novel, but it does show how our attitudes about diet have changed. It also shows (but this is perhaps the topic for another time), how lifestyle, culture, and other factors influence diet.

Helene Tursten’s Irene Huss is a Göteborg police detective, whose squad investigates murder and other violent crimes. In Night Rounds, we learn that Huss’ daughter, Jenny, has decided to become vegan. In fact, in one sub-plot, Jenny goes out one night with a militant vegan group to do what she thinks will simply be putting up vegan posters. It turns into something far more than that, and things quickly turn ugly. Fortunately for Jenny, Huss has suspected there might be trouble, and is able to get Jenny out of harm’s way. Jenny’s choice to become vegan does set up a conflict with her father, Krister, who is a well-regarded chef. But neither veganism nor a more conventional diet is portrayed as ‘right.’ It makes for an interesting discussion of what we think of when we think of ‘good’ food.

Sujata Massey’s Rei Shimura is a half-Japanese/half-American antiques dealer who’s originally based in Tokyo (although her adventures do take her to several other places). She likes and respects some of the Japanese traditions she’s learned, but in many ways, she has a very modern outlook. And that includes her choice to be a vegetarian. What’s really interesting about that is that it doesn’t even raise an eyebrow as a rule. It’s simply accepted. And that shows something, at least to me, about the way our views about diet have changed.

That makes sense, too, since society is always changing. Thanks, Brad, for the inspiration. Now, folks, if you’ll be kind enough to go visit Brad’s blog, I’ll excuse myself. It’s time for lunch!

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Lionel Bart’s Food, Glorious Food.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Anthony Bidulka, Colin Dexter, Helene Tursten, Reginald Hill, Rex Stout, Sue Grafton, Sujata Massey