I have a rather eclectic selection of books in the apartment, a mix of light and serious, fiction and non. When Helen was over recently her in-plane reading was a book called Indemnity Only by Sarah Paretsky, an early (80s) VI Warchawski crime novel. So I got it out recently and read it. It's the clunkiest, most laboured and humourless book I've read for ages. It's certainly not a thriller. Tolkien writes better dialogue. I can't see how this got to be a cult series if they're all like this one. For instance at one point she's in the middle of a conversation between our heroine and a young girl while driving on the freeway, and one sentence reads: "I changed lanes." That's it, nothing happens, she just tells us she changed lanes as if it was somehow significant. Gripping, no. Relevant, no. Plot development, no. Just clunky.
For comparison I re-read a crime novel by Iain Pears, called The Last Judgement. I like his books, because in part they're about the world of art which I can relate to, but also because they have wit and intelligence. It was like night and day, lightness of touch, good dialogue, interesting plot. Paretsky is American, Pears British, so it's tempting to say something about that, but there are plenty of American authors I enjoy greatly. I think this may be the last Paretsky I try.