Posts Tagged ‘beginnings’



May 28th, 2023 Posted 7:08 am

Sunday is when we do beginnings, taking a look at the start of a Peter Abrahams novel, including those written under the Spencer Quinn moniker™. Since Chet refers to this scene more than once in the Chet and Bernie series, including in Up On The Woof Top, coming in October, preorderable) how about today we turn to The Dog Who Knew Too Much, an in media res beginning where Bernie is giving the keynote speech to the Great Western Private Eye Association? It would be dishonest to say Gussie Fink-Nottle’s speech at Market Snodsbury Grammar School in P.G. Wodehouse’s Right, Ho Jeeves, wasn’t in the back of my mind:
Was I proud of Bernie or what?
True, he’d been pretty nervous going into this gig. I can always tell when Bernie’s nervous – which hardly ever happens, and never when we’re in action – because his smell sharpens a bit, although it’s still the best human smell there is, apples, bourbon, salt and pepper; but now, up on the stage, he was doing great.
“Which, um,” he was saying, “reminds me of a joke. “Sort of. Maybe not a joke,” he went on, turning a page, “more like a – “ and at that moment the whole wad of papers somehow jumped out of his hands, all the pages gliding down in different directions.



May 14th, 2023 Posted 8:07 am

And now to Beginnings, our regular Sunday feature where we take a look at the start of a Peter Abrahams novel including those written under the Spencer Quinn moniker™. How about Mrs. Plansky’s Revenge (coming July 25 but now preorderable). You may notice that Mrs. Plansky, the main character, does not appear at the beginning. I plan to talk about this soon the tour (schedule coming soon).
“Hello, it is I, your grandson, insert name here,” said Dinu.
“Correct,” said Professor Bogdan, language teacher at Liceu Teoretic. He leaned back in his chair and lit up a Chesterfield. “But too correct, you know?”
Too correct? Dinu did not know. In addition, he was asthmatic and the mere presence of a cigarette aroused a twitchy feeling in his lungs. No smoking in school, of course, but these private lessons, paid for by Uncle Dragomir, weren’t about school.
Professor Bogdan blew out a thin, dense stream of smoke, one little streamlet branching off and heading in Dinu’s direction.
“There is English, Dinu, and then there is English as she is spoken.” He smiled an encouraging smile. His teeth were yellow, shading into brown at the gumline.
“English is she?” Dinu said.
“For God’s sake, it’s a joke,” said Profesor Bogdan. “Is there gender in English?”
“I don’t think such.”
“So. You don’t think so. Come, Dinu. You’ve studied three years of English. Loosen up.”
“Loosen up?”
“That’s how the young in America talk. Loosen up, chill out, later.” He tapped a cylinder of ash into a paper cup on his desk. “Which is in fact what you need to know if I’m not mistaken, the argot of youth.” He glanced at Dinu. Their eyes met. Professor Bogdan looked away. “My point,” he went on, “is that no American says it is I. They say it’s me. The grammar is wrong but that’s how they say it. You must learn the right wrong grammar. That’s the secret of sounding American.”
“How will I learn?”
“There are ways. For one you could go to YouTube and type in ‘Country Music.’ Now begin again.”
“Hello, it’s me, your grandson, insert name here,” Dinu said.
“Much better,” said Professor Bogdan. “You might even say Yo, it’s me.”




May 7th, 2023 Posted 6:52 am

Sunday is when we do beginnings, taking a look at the start of a Peter Abrahams novel, including those written under the Spencer Quinn moniker™. How about the Chet and Bernie novel A Fistful of Collars? It’s one of my few novels where Hollywood is a factor. The only others I can think of are Revolution #9 – where a character appears on Jeopardy – and Oblivion, where a TV movie is made of the case that made Nick Petrov, a PI and the main character, famous. Armand Assante was cast as Nick. (There’s fun to be had in the little corners of this business.) Here’s the beginning of A Fistful of Collars:

“Heard you drove another one off a cliff,” said Nixon Panero. He spat a thin brown stream of chewing tobacco into an empty paint can, or maybe not that empty. Yellow paint, the yellow of egg yolks, now with a brown swirl in the middle: there’s all kinds of beauty in life.

“You heard wrong,” said Bernie.




April 30th, 2023 Posted 8:22 am

On Sunday we do beginnings, taking a look at the start of a Peter Abrahams novel, including those written under the Spencer Quinn moniker™. (We’ll postpone Chet’s Friend of the Month reminder till tomorrow.)There used to be a time when you could live a reasonable American life without paying too much attention to the world of politics. Politics comes up in two Chet and Bernie novels – I hope in a more entertaining way than … well, let’s leave it at that. The more recent of the two is Tender Is the Bite. And away we go!
“I think we’re being followed,” Bernie said.
That had to be one of Bernie’s jokes. Have I mentioned that he can be quite the jokester? Probably not, since we’re just getting started, but who else except Bernie would even think of saying that? We were creeping along at walking speed on the East Canyon Freeway at rush hour, stuck in an endless river of traffic – of course we were being followed, followed by too many cars to count! Not only too many for me to count – I don’t go past two – but also for Bernie. And Bernie’s always the smartest human in the room, one of the reasons the Little Detective Agency is so successful, leaving out the finances part. It’s called that on account of Bernie’s last name being Little. I’m Chet, pure and simple, not the smartest human in the room, in fact, not human. I bring other things to the table.

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