The story is told through the eyes and mind of a serial killer. This book is often hailed as a pioneer in that genre of mystery and an influence on other writers. It was written in 1947 and that’s the setting as well. It has the appeal of a museum – giving the curious reader a glimpse into a different place and time. Unlike modern novels set in the past, this one doesn’t have to imagine life as it was, so it is more authentic. I’m old enough to remember some of it – the drinking and smoking by my parents, for example, and wearing suits or dinner jackets to go out, rather than jeans and T-shirts. I found that aspect entertaining in a nostalgic sort of way.
The only character that is really developed, however, is the narrator and killer, Dix. The author’s representation of his mindset is not what I’d call credible, but it is plausible. Her guess as to a serial killer’s tortured thinking is as valid as mine or yours, I would say. However, I found the other characters woefully undeveloped and the plot line not plausible. As a retired FBI agent, I am always bothered by novels (and movies and TV) that portray law enforcement in unbelievable ways. This book fits in that category. Still, the book is all about the psychology of Dix; it’s not intended as a police procedural.
There were a few stylistic oddities that grated at times, sometimes seeming pretentious, and other times, well, just klunky. For example, the repeated use of archaic words such as slattern and megrims, the of the nominative case in similes (“as normal as I”), and the use of the word “like” as an adjective (“…drove a like car”). These cannot be chalked up to the writing style of the times. I’ve read Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain. Their writing was better and certainly free of these peculiar choices.
What3Words is a company that provides a unique service. It has named every spot (3 meters square) on the globe using a set of three words. The intent is to provide a way of identifying locations, especially those without normal addresses, such as rural areas or ocean waypoints, with a unique identifier that is easier to remember than a set of coordinates. Click on the above link and enter a specific location, e.g. coordinates, address, or name into the search box, then click on the magnifying glass. The page will return a three-word “address” at the bottom of the page. The identifiers are randomly assigned. You can also search the opposite way. Enter three words, separated by periods, into the box and if all three words are in their database, the map will send you to the corresponding location. It has many uses, but I have devised my own: finding interesting or amusing word combinations that are oddly appropriate to the location, or perhaps ironic or even totally inappropriate. I will provide a few below, but I encourage you to add as a comment any surprising or entertaining combinations you find. Note that a location such as a building may have many combinations that apply to it, since if you move three meters (about 10 feet) any direction you’re in a different square. Feel free to change the punctuation or spacing to improve the result.
continental.united.states = a spot in Wyoming. The chance of it being anywhere in the continental U.S. is only about 1.5%, but this spot is only about 500 miles from the geographic center of the continental United States (about a 4/10 of 1% chance).
enjoyable.civic.impact = Apple HQ in Cupertino, CA
jumpy? float? bump!, next loss: couple = Golden Gate Bridge (famous for its many suicide jumpers)
Petty, vast knots, stays same really = the U.S. Capitol Bldg.
Hill.Opera.debit = War Memorial Opera House (on a hill in San Francisco and still being paid for)
National.wildlife.refuge = a spot in E. Angola proposed for Mussuma National Park, to be joined with Liuwa National Park, a wildlife Refuge in Zambia 20 mi. away.
speeds.spoke.moves = The London Eye
prosecuted, spells restraints = San Quentin Prison
The White House has many, some to satisfy every political view:
regime: enjoyable income
Guilty! Mental! Reduce
poster saying “Cheat!”
answer? obey, agreed
result.hype.today (middle of the west wing)
comb.backed.bucket ( ” )
square.oath.melt (Oval Office)
lowest.level.since = middle of Washington D.C.
deep.ocean.trench = middle of nowhere near Great Falls, Montana at 3600 ft. elevation
grow.fats.tour = Graceland Mansion, Memphis, Tennessee
young.people.today live in Wheaton, Ill. but you may be surprised to learn that the public.broadcasting.service is in a remote area of Queensland, Australia, National.Public.Radio is in Kosovo, and the central.intelligence.agency is hiding out in a field in Barton, Ark.
W3W says that Sweden has rapid.economic.growth while Norway has health.insurance.coverage.
It turns out the word trump is one of the valid W3W words, so you can do a lot with that.
Trump.country.whites live in northeast Alaska, but then so do people.against.trump. Others may think Trump.saves.country but unfortunately the country is China (near Anhui).
Please add your own in the comments (if they’re entertaining).
I have a tool that will return up to 100 word combos for a location, such as your house or office. If you would like me to send you a list for a location of interest to you, contact me through the Contact link in the top menu and provide me with the address or other information sufficient for me to find it on a map and I will send you a list. Please refer to this post, since I get contacts about other unrelated posts.
My sister taught me a way to always remember: When the mites go up, the tights come down.