Monday, June 28, 2010

A Masculine Ending

Just finished up A Maculine Ending by Joan Smith. This is one of many books that I've snatched up because it has an English professor (or other academic) as the central character. In this one (from the back of the book) Loretta Lawson, English professor at London University, is annoyed when she discovers a sleeping stranger in the supposedly empty Paris flat she has borrowed. When she returns from a feminist literary conference to find the stranger gone but his bed sheets bloody, Loretta doesn't need an encyclopedia to figure out her mysterious roommate has been murdered. With urgent business calling her home, Loretta heads back for the start of the term with one precious clue--a book that must have belonged to the victim--and more than an academic interest in discovering exactly what happened to a corpse with a penchant for literary criticism.

This is a good debut novel. The writing is solid and overall it makes for a good story. I gave it three out of five stars on Visual Bookshelf. I would have rated it higher, but I absolutely HATE those open-ended endings. The kind where you find out who did it (I guessed but didn't know exactly why), but you don't know if s/he gets caught or not. Does Loretta turn the culprit in? Considering that she doesn't notify the police about any of her discoveries along the way, who knows? I sincerely doubt it. And there is no evidence at all that the police are anywhere near the right answer.

There's some good by-play among the academics. Working in an English Department, I can say that she's gotten the tone of things right. I look forward to reading another by her. (And I just happen to have another sitting on my To Be Read shelf....) But next up is Willa Cathers' The Professor's House.


J J said...

Thank you! You've given us *just* the right amount of plot info and overview-musing -- and your mention of Willa Cather is a welcome, and gentle, reminder that I ought to pick up something by her ASAP (former English major hangs head in shame -- I've focused on British writers rather than American). Thanks again.

Bev Hankins said...

JJ: This English major is also a Brit Lit girl and under-read in American authors. I'm sorry--not sorry about that. :-) American authors just don't do it for me like British authors do.