White Corridor by Christopher Fowler


White Corridor

It’s always a gamble to pick up books by unknown authors. And I seem to do a bad job of it at Christmas every year. Each year we spend some time in the car, so we grab audio books. This year’s selection was a mixed bag of known authors and unknown authors. We listened to this title and it was definitely a mixed bag.

The story revolves around two older gentlemen who run a Peculiar Crimes Unit in London. They are quirky, cranky, and odd. Which of course makes them fun. They can get away saying and doing things that a younger detective would be fired over. In this story, the two detectives are stranded out in a snow storm miles from anywhere with a killer, the killer’s intended victim, and plenty of innocent people. A blizzard trapped many cars on a busy bypass through the English countryside in subzero temperatures. This situation becomes a race for personal survival in the cold and an effort to rescue the victim from killer.

Meanwhile, back at the PCU, their staff has a mystery on its hands that could eventually give their political enemies the leverage to shut them down. The two older detectives attempt to help solve that crime as well using their cell phones while stranded out in the cold.

All in all, it makes for a great setup. There are a few downsides to the book though. First, two of the characters have an affair. (I have no idea how descriptive it was as I skipped it.) The author uses this as a plot device as the girl believes she is now psychically bonded to the man.

Update: From the author’s comments below: “My romantic scenes are chaste; imagination is better.”

Second, there is profanity in the book. Third, the author is very anti-God and anti-religion. The lead spends much of his time supporting, encouraging, and getting assistance from witches, warlocks, and all sorts of cultic groups. (They were traveling to a cultist convention when they were stranded.)

I can ignore the cultist things. What I have less trouble accepting is the affair and the language.

I did find one other thing disturbing. Despite the modern setting, so much of the described English life could have been pulled right from an Agatha Christie novel that I found the modern technology jolting. It’s not the author’s fault; most of my experience with English detectives come from Christie and books set in the early to mid 20th century. So, I often dropped back into that mental picture until a cell phone appeared again. Whoops….

Have you ever had that experience?

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The Winning of Kay Slade By, Albert C. Wyckoff

Plot: During a long stay at my grandparent’s home, I picked up this book, which, unknown to me, was a romance novel. I do not tend to enjoy these, but found this one to be different.

It is not apparent at first who will be the main character, but as we read through the first few chapters it becomes clear that Kay Slade, second youngest of four children, is she. Kay’s parents are tenets for a man named Mr. Potter, they live in a shack and wear filthy clothing. As we read, it is obvious from the people visiting the Slades home viewpoint, that the food they eat would not pass normal standards of cleanliness.

Kay is quite young when a preacher and his wife come to teach at the Poletown church, and is delighted when they plan to hold a vacation Bible school in the summer. It is through this preacher that Kay is taught to follow Christ, and better her situation in life with education. She does this and meets many good people along the way, including her future husband, and a few not so nice people. Her great desire is to one day marry and provide a better home for her children than what she was brought up in.

Positive: This book has strong Christian content, contains no swearing and our main characters are good role models. There is also some humor, which adds greatly to the story.

Negative: There is one part where a bad guy tries to force our heroine to kiss him, but it isn’t bad, and our hero does rescue her before anything happens. The heroine’ parents are not exactly the greatest role models, but considering their upbringing and circumstances they’re not bad. One girl does elope, but quickly makes up with her parents.

Overall: Though a romance novel and not the type I usually pick up, it was at my grandma’s house and I liked it, not my favorite, but it wasn’t bad.