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Happy Birthday to the London Underground!

I really like the London Underground. Maybe because I don’t live there and if I am riding it, well, that means I’m in London. So what could be wrong? The Tube is 150 years old. That’s pretty old, and you can see it in certain stops. When I heard this story this morning on NPR, I remembered Russell Square station. I was staying nearby this stop and after being trapped in an elevator during rush hour one afternoon, I decided I’d never take the elevator in that station and only take the stairs. So I took the stairs, which hadn’t been changed at all since it opened in 1906. The walls surrounding the narrow passage (with hundreds of stairs up, up, up) were stone and damp and out of the corner of my eye I saw a mouse (rat?). I hiked all the way up those stairs. Just me. Proper Londoners don’t care about getting caught in an elevator for 20 minutes with ABSOLUTELY NO PERSONAL SPACE OR AIR. That’s part of their day. I, however, needed to carefully consider TRAPPED IN AN ELEVATOR vs RATS/WEEPING, DAMP STONES. I came to the conclusion that I’d just get off at Holborn or Covent Garden.

Fred Vargas: Do I Love French Crime Novels?

0,,9780143115953,00I was in an antique store a few months back and eavesdropping on a conversation about Denise Mina, so you know I jumped in. Because I love British police procedurals — all the tea and cursing in dialect! The woman recommended Fred Vargas. She’s a French crime writer. So I picked up her Chalk Circle Man. I’m really loving the characters in the book. I can’t wait to rejoin them when I pick up the book. But the crime solving part is weak. In a British crime novel, solving the crime is a meticulous process (or procedure) with the occasional out-of-the-blue revelation. But this book is all revelation. There’s not a single clue to lead to anybody. Random people become suspects suddenly without any process.

But, I am still enjoying the book very much. The characters are fantastic. I’ll read another of her books, but probably not in this rainy season when I need the meticulousness of a British police procedural to focus my brain.

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