Grimes, Martha. The Knowledge. Grove Press, 2018.
[An Installment of the “Read Me” Project.]
What made me stop reading mysteries like they were candy?
Aside from the advent of Netflix – which makes it possible to watch mysteries on TV like they’re candy instead of reading them, and crochet things for the next church bazaar at the same time – it might have been bumping up against mysteries that are not as fast as candy, that are more like macaroni and cheese or some similarly denser substance. Then, instead of just being able to zip along enjoying the frothy flow of the narrative and reading entirely for plot and whatever entertainment value the characters and their quirks provide, the mystery begins to demand the same kind of time demanded by a real book [pardon that prejudice there], at which point I start feeling like “I don’t have time for this.”
The Knowledge was very nearly a casualty of this “I don’t have time for this” response. For me (I say, not wanting to presume your experience would be the same as mine), the undemanding enjoyment – to – density ratio was less than optimal. Fortunately, it was mid-session break and the week after Christmas and I was working on not working, so it all worked out nevertheless.
In this case, the bogging down may have been a product of scenarios that demanded too much from my suspension of disbelief. I can feel how ridiculous that probably sounds, since we’re talking detective fiction here, which is intrinsically disbelievable. But there are limits, and The Knowledge exceeded mine, in the end. That made for a finally unsatisfying resolution to the puzzle, and the resolution of the puzzle is, after all, the essence and sine qua non of the genre.
I suspect it didn’t help that the victim was a “gambling addict”’ whose addiction, miraculously and fantastically, didn’t seem to cause anyone any trouble. One of those limits.
That doesn’t mean, however, that the book didn’t have its delightful moments, in particular the interesting and appealing new character of Patty Haigh, a modern and highly self-sufficient Artful Dodger, whose exploits provide some of the book’s best entertainment value, despite pushing those limits again.
Despite the difficulties, in the moment The Knowledge actually delivered a good deal of what I used to read detective novels for.
Though not enough to make me crave more right away.