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A foray into self indulgence
on 18 March 2014
This is difficult. I was a huge fan of the Dr Siri series and was looking forward to this new series too. Jimm Juree and her family present entertainment and charm, if not quite capturing the reader in the same way that Siri and his colleagues did.
Focussing on this book though, we see a journey into self indulgent waters by Mr C, casting one of the main characters and suspects as himself. It would be easy to describe the portrayal of this character and Mr C poking a little fun at himself - but having the arrogance to turn himself into a main character, perhaps his portrayal of himself as a lothario is based more on self image than we would like to believe.
Despite the fact I don't want to be financing Mr C's forays into such fantasies of himself, I could have forgiven this had it been the only annoyance. However, I was confused by the passage below:
"Like Tesco, Christmas at the Gulf Bay Lovely Resort was not a celebration of Jesus getting hammered to a cross and bleeding out. But I tend to believe that most of the people who celebrate the day barely give a thought to that aspect either. No, for us it was a chance to put our predecessors’ beautifully hand-crafted English sign out front"
Now, I don't claim to know my bible, nonetheless, I remember (not celebrate) Jesus 'getting hammered to a cross and bleeding out' at Easter, not Christmas - at which time, my friends and I celebrate the birth of Jesus and sing songs about mangers and bearing gifts etc......
Another trend that keeps cropping up is weight issues. Poor Jimm, at 50 kilos, is described as overweight. When I weighed 55 kilos, once upon a time long long ago - I was quite underweight. One can only assume that Jimm is 3ft tall. Weight crops up several times in this book, has cropped up several times in other recent works. I would be starting to think that Mr C is a closet anorexic, except for the fact he describes 85 kilos as 'a perfectly normal weight for a male'. Whilst it is scientific fact that the healthy weight for a male is somewhat more than that for a female - not by 35 kilos it isn't. So, girls - if you are not seriously underweight and have a delicate self image, skip these books and stick to Mr McCall-Smith. Paranoia? Perhaps. However, in another of Mr C's works, 'Ageing Disgracefully", the author expresses an opinion that put him in the gutter in my estimation (as a brief summation - scantily clad western girls deserve to be raped and brutally murdered by the indigenous Thai population - made my Thai friend rather angry upon reading too).
So, why is this difficult? Why not give one star, have done and move on? Well, because Mr C has redeeming features. He is funny. His books are easy to read, often charming and mood enhancing. The negatives can't make one toss ones hair in indignation and confine a work to the bin when there is a lot of good too. I LIKE reading Mr C's work. I just wish he would remember why he became a successful author and start writing for his readers again rather than for himself. And bring back Dr Siri, for goodness sake!