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Many of the reviews on Goodreads claim this is one of the poorer Donald Strachey mysteries, and it's easy to see why. Aside from the first chapter -- which is par for the course for Stevenson, and probably one of the funniest things I've read in a long, long time -- it's slow to get interesting, and a little less witty than the others that I've read, probably because the reader spends less time inside Strachey's head listening to his inner dialogue than s/he does listening to him actually converse with other people, during which conversations he has to censor his sarcastic inner cynic.

Still, the first chapter is gold, and I want to lock Dale and Timothy in a room together and watch them snipe at each other until the end of time, or at least until one of them dies. It would provide hours and hours of priceless entertainment. But since I can't lock them up like lab rats and observe them for hours at a time, quotes from the first chapter will have to do.

1.

He looked at me as if I had spoken to him in Gheg. After a moment, he said, "One's a good chain, and one's a bad chain. One's a daisy chain, and one's a chain of fools."

"I got that, Skeeter. I just wish I had a clue as to what the hell you're talking about."

"You know what I'm talking about, Donald. You know damn well. Oh, ho, ho."

Timothy returned. "Skeeter," he said, "you're on a steroid drug that's affecting your mind. Now that the pneumocystis is under control, maybe they can change the medication. The nurse is going to check."

"It's your mind that's affected, not mine," Skeeter said. "You could cut my heart out, the way you did the last time, and plead temporarily asinine."


2.

I asked, "When was the last time you two saw each other?"

Skeeter said, "September second, 1963, four twenty a.m. I still have his taste in my mouth."

Timmy blushed some more and said, "You've got a mighty long memory, Skeeter, or poor habits of oral hygiene. Anyway, you and I can do some catching up when you're feeling better. Which will be soon, I hope. I want to hear all about your life in the wilderness. I think that's great -- all you ever wanted to be, when we were kids, was a forest ranger, and that's what you went ahead and did. I'm impressed. Maybe even a little envious."

"Now you're impressed. Then you were undressed."


3.

"Instead of staying with me, he gave himself to the Mother Church," Skeeter said.
"What he gave me was the Poughkeepsie royal kiss-off."

"By that, Skeeter means I went off to Georgetown, where I majored in political science."

Skeeter said, "Now it's thirty-two years later and he's still the all-American Irish hunk with milk-white skin and hair as soft as eiderdown, and me, I'm a dead duck."

"Eldon, you're a long way from dead," Janet said, "and the nurse says you're making steady progress."

"Quack, quack."


4.

"Couple of nellies," Skeeter said. "Timmy, do tell me: Is it still your habit to take three showers a day?"

"No, Skeeter, I make do with two now that I'm middle-aged and am called upon to perspire less often than when I was younger."

"Living with me has turned Timothy into a big slob," I said.

"I was sure your skin would be all dried out from washing your natural body oils down the drain three times a day for forty-some years, but your skin's not hideous at all. I don't know why. You're almost totally bald in the back though."

"Skeeter, I would have expected that as a forest ranger you'd have progressed to concerns less fleeting than those of mere human vanity."

"Oh, so now you're into enemas. I could have predicted this."


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Jason

March 2012

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