Sunday, February 2, 2020

The Death of a Joyce Scholar

The Death of a Joyce Scholar (1989) by Bartholomew Gill

From the back of the book (my comments in italicized brackets):

Who stabbed Irish author/professor/philanderer Kevin Coyle to death on Bloomsday [and who really cares?]--Dublin's annual citywide celebration honoring its most beloved literary figure? who brought the promising career of the brilliant scholar to an abrupt and bloody end on Joyce's own "Murderer's Ground?" [repeat chorus: and who really cares? Apparently not his wife and her "Sisters."] The list of suspects seems endless [Is anyone surprised after learning about the man? Not me.]--from deceived wives to cuckolded husbands to spike-haired street punks. And Chief Superintendent Peter McGarr is about to discover that the motive for homicide can hide as easily in the pages of a classic book as in the twisted passions of a human heart.

This novel makes about as much sense to me as Joyce's Ulysses.

There. That's my review in a nutshell. But if you must have more, then here we go. Kevin Coyle is not a victim that you care about. Despite McGarr's wife moaning and groaning about the loss of such a brilliant mind, the man himself wasn't anything to write home about. Reading murder mysteries, one generally has some sort of sympathy for the victim. Or at least is on the side of law and order and wants to see justice served. But, honestly, it didn't matter much to me if McGarr figured out who did it.

And I had no patience with the whole "Sisters" moving the dead man's body around and having some kind of allergic reaction to calling the police. They took him from his position propped up against an alleyway wall, toted him in a cart a couple miles, and propped him up in his own bed. And left him that way for three days before his wife (one of the "Sisters") bring McGarr into it. And then she keeps on insisting (for every daft thing she and her friends do along the way) that "Kev would have wanted it that way." [Annoyed the crap out of me--best thing about that is it helped me to fulfill the "character that frustrated you" category on one of my challenges.]

I really don't have anything positive to say about this one. The mystery plot didn't do much for me. The intertwining with Joyce and Ulysses did even less. And there weren't even good characters that could make the thing more palatable. One of the few academic-related books that I'll probably kick off my book stacks permanently. 

Vintage Mystery Silver: Rule #12 Must have a detective
Calendar of Crime: July (Pub date)
Deaths = one stabbed
Mystery Bingo
  Clues & Cliches (card #1): Bloodstain
  Crime Scenes (card #2): Alley

First line: It began during an unprecedented period of June heat.
Last lines: There was a pause, and then his smile changed, and eyebrow arched, and his eyes flickered toward the bed.

and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

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