Having forsworn television political commentary and on-line statistical analysis of the election, I have a good deal of time on my hands, and in true retro fashion, I bethought myself to read a book. My first effort was John Sandford's latest Lucas Davenport thriller, Extreme Prey. Sandford has written twenty-six Lucas Davenport novels, all with the word "prey" in the title, and I think I have read fifteen or more of them. They are all well-plotted and gripping, with two striking characteristics that distinguish them from the general run of cop novels, or procedurals, as they are sometimes called. The first is that although they are urbane and sophisticated, they have an uncommonly large number of murders in them. Most such books have one big murder, which the main character has then to solve, but in Sandford's novels, people drop like flies. The other striking characteristic is that Sandford gives Davenport really snappy dialogue, quite delightful except for the fact that everyone in the novel talks snappy dialogue, which is, when you think about it, implausible.
The main drawback of Sandford's novels [and those of everyone else, save perhaps Simenon], is that no matter how careful and restrained I am, I read them much faster than he can write them, so as I turn the last page, as I did last night, I know it will be another year before the next one.
Fortunately, since lots of people write books, the solution is to move on to another author. Guided, as I so often am, by my big sister, Barbara, I have now turned to a non-fiction work, A Primate's Memoir, A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons, by Robert M. Sapolsky. I have just read the first two sentences, and they are so delicious that I had to stop and write this blog post. Here they are:
"I joined the baboon troop during my twenty-first year. I had never planned to become a savanna baboon when I grew up; instead I had always assumed I would become a mountain gorilla."
This bodes well.