Just want to take a moment to pimp fellow mystery author Steve Hockensmith, who writes a bunch of stuff, including the Holmes on the Range series, which I love. In his recent blog post, he writes about the art of the short story.
Scary messages in the soup, slugs in the bedroom, strange lights in the woods — and a painting that seems to age while its subject does not.
All that — which may have Oscar Wilde chuckling in the clouds — takes place in “The Portrait of Doreene Gray” (306 pages, Minotaur Books, $24.99), the second in Esri Allbritten’s series of Chihuahua mysteries featuring the staff of Tripping, a magazine devoted to the paranormal: editor Angus MacGregor, writer Michael Abernathy and photographer Suki Oota.
This time out, the three are off to Port Townsend, Wash., where rich, 58-year-old Doreene has put the painting by her twin sister, Maureene Pinter, up for sale. Determined to make a feature story out of the supposedly magical portrait, the journalists soon see the stakes elevated when death enters the picture. Meanwhile, Doreene’s Chihuahua, Gigi, finds herself depending on the kindness of strangers.
Clever and comical, Allbritten’s second outing is as entertaining as its predecessor, and the reader’s verdict on it is reached quickly: Aye, Chihuahua.
Yet another good writer/reviewer. I like “death enters the picture,” and I LOVE “Aye, Chihuhaua,” ’cause he spelled “Aye” the Scottish way, not the Mexican way. Clever.
Here’s a link to the full article. He reviews four other books.
It wasn’t until I read my own first line in a review of The Portrait of Doreene Gray that I realized I’d used one of the oldest writing tropes in the book.
Outside the darkened windows of Doreene Gray’s second floor bedroom, a squall buffeted the house and whistled across the gingerbread trimming.
Yup. I’d essentially written, “It was a dark and stormy night.”
Then I thought about the word “cliché,” and then I wondered what the heck it meant in the original French.
Wikipedia to the rescue.
The word is borrowed from French. In printing, a cliché was a printing plate cast from movable type. This is also called a stereotype. When letters were set one at a time, it made sense to cast a phrase used repeatedly as a single slug of metal. “Cliché” came to mean such a ready-made phrase. Many authorities say that the French word “cliché” comes from the sound made when the molten stereotyping metal is poured onto the matrix to make a printing plate, including the statement that it is a variant of cliquer, “to click”, though some express doubt.
Pretty interesting, non? Anyway, this is all by way of pointing out that there’s a new review for Portrait. Bonus points for her use of “inveigling.” Haven’t heard that word in ages.
This is the first book in my favorite mystery series EVER, and you can get it free today (and remember, you don’t need a Kindle device, just download one of their free apps). If you’ve never read one of the Phryne Fisher books, I envy you. You have the whole series ahead of you. Enjoy!