Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Winged Cupid painted blind

I did, in fact, time my reading pile perfectly so that I would be reading The Twelve Clues of Christmas on Christmas Day. The latest in Rhys Bowen's gleefully delightful Royal Spyness mystery series, it did not disappoint. It took the romanticized notion of a "classic" and "traditional" English country Christmas to a different level.  But one of the best plot developments for Lady Georgiana fans is that our heroine can finally stop worrying about her dashing Irish suitor; (SPOILER ALERT!) they finally get engaged in this cheerful holiday book. The reader no longer feels strung along after 6 books...

... unlike Victoria Thompson's Gaslight mystery series, where our Knickerbocker-turned-midwife and her Irish police captain are still doing the "will-we-or-won't-we" dance after 12 --12!-- books.

In Murder on Bank Street, Sarah's husband's cold case murder is finally solved. (So at least that's one loose end wrapped up.) However, with the two children our heroine has adopted comes the introduction of more mysteries about characters' pasts.  In Murder on Waverly Place, one of those pasts comes to light during a seance. (Because what mystery series taking place in the late 19th or early 20th centuries is complete without exposing a seance as fraudulent while solving a murder? Rhys Bowen herself did it with the Molly Murphy series.)

But the most fascinating Gaslight book in a long time is Murder on Lexington Avenue, which addresses the different approaches to education for the deaf: sign language versus lip reading. The same issues and arguments for and against both sides still exist: create and build up a supportive deaf community around a shared (signed) language, or assimilate into the hearing world by learning to "hear" spoken words differently? As a deaf college friend of mine has taught me, the development of the cochlear implant has also added another layer to this debate. At any rate, Thompson created a great mystery story that revolves around the controversy.

In related news, Alexander Graham Bell supported the eugenics movement and hated immigrants and sign langauge.  Even during flights of escapism through fiction, it's never really possible to truly free fall.

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