Book Note: Turning Point

Sunday, 4th October, 14.39 hours
in which an AT&T repair truck is blockaded at the intersection by angry and desperate residents, and the blogger is at home to the most charitable reader.

An observer would note this, the following: he, or she, would be unable to call and ask why I am writing in this somewhat stilted fashion.  Perhaps because of the rain, or perhaps because squirrels have chewed the copper, one, but not both, of our phone lines is down.

We stopped the car in the middle of the intersection up the block to the great consternation and surprise of the worker in the AT&T repair truck.  Husband got out to inquire after the status of neighborhood service, but learned nothing other than what we already knew.  Namely, that a driver already in the area who does not have your house on his service list is not about to even pretend to care about your problem.

The helpful automated repair request line suggested the problem was, like any scary villain worth his salt, inside the house. I persisted in reporting line trouble, which the auto-attendant helpfully assured me would be fixed at some point tomorrow between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.  Sure hope none of my clients need to reach me during business hours.  I mean, yes, they could call my cell phone, but the Heights is the Bermuda Triangle of AT&T cellular service.  Here’s hoping the cable company won’t give out, and that people think to try my email . . .

Peter Turnbull, internationally successful crime and mystery novel, sets many of his works in Yorkshire, England, his home.  Turning Point is billed as a Hennessey and Yellich mystery, but other detectives get equal time.  Each chapter starts in the manner of this blog post.  The first part of the first chapter made me suspect I was reading the runner-up in the Bad Hemingway Contest.

It got better.

If you’d snatched the book away after I’d reached the midway point and asked me when it was published, I would not have been able to be any more specific than saying any time between 1970 and the present.  It was actually published last year, but the author managed to write without relying on trend-shorthand to drive the story.  In other words, the plot didn’t turn on the time-stamp of a text message.

I think crime novel a more accurate description than mystery novel.  The book is procedural but not flashy, more like the BBC series Spooks than any of the CSI franchise.  It is with great reluctance that I trot out the entirely appropriate but horribly trite  observation that this is a good old-fashioned shoe-leather detective story.

This is the second story I’ve read set in the watershed of the Ouse, a delightfully onomatopoetically-named river that flows across England to the North Sea.  The first was Graham Swift’s Waterland, which was turned into a movie with Jeremy Irons.  No book I’ve read gives me a sense of personality for the River Thames, nor did I really glean one when I rowed upon it, my chin just a few inches above the water, but both Waterland and Turning Point treat the Ouse as a character-minor in the latter, large and looming in the former.  I think I’d like to meet the Ouse, and see the country around it.  Not when the waters are up, however, as both books demonstrate that people get up to all kinds of no good when that happens.

Although the author makes no attempt to represent the local dialect (thank goodness, as that gets tedious fast), he does not hesitate to use local language.  Hennessey meets his snitch in the snug of various pubs.  The snug? You get it before you get it, but if you don’t get it, it is a private room in the pub with a window to the bar.  Often, your drinks cost more if you ordered and drank in the snug.

Learned a new word that probably won’t get trotted out too often – yclept.  It comes from the Middle English past participle of a word meaning to call or name.  The character who launches the story, yclept Ebenezer, had parents who came from the Boy Named Sue school of naming children.

Oh yes, back to the beginning.  All the chapters start the way this blog entry starts, with a time and date stamp and a glimpse of what is to come.  Could be annoying and contrived, but it fits very well with the pace of the story.  I’ll have to go back to some of Turnbull’s earlier works (apparently, he’s written 19 since 1999) to see whether he hit the ground with this formula or picked it up along the way.

This entry was posted in books I've read, customer service is dead and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s