Tuesday, 3 September 2013

StoneDust by Justin Scott

published 1995





[Chapter 7] I parked by the garage and knocked on the back door. High heels clicked busily over the kitchen floor and the next second Michelle flung the door open with a whiff of perfume and makeup. She looked very pretty, dressed to go out to lunch in a little suit that hugged her hips and stopped just above her knees…. I liked Michelle very much.

‘Ben. Hi. Come in. I’m just running out, but what’s up?’…




[Chapter 19] Rita Long came by in her Jaguar, top down, a sight that stopped traffic like a jackknifed horsebox. She climbed out, oblivious to screeching pickup trucks, and hurried to my table on the front porch. She was dressed for New York in a pale green silk jacket and skirt, and a peaked driving hat to protect her hair. ‘I thought you might be here. I stopped at the house.’



observations: The pleasures of reading this short series include the vignettes of the 1990s in New England. The two women are wearing clothes very much of their time: power suits, even for social occasions, something less likely to happen now - and look at the shoulders on the lower photo. (However I have no idea what a peaked driving hat is, and it sounds like something that would completely ruin the outfit.)

This is another really good detective story, with a slowly unwinding plot and a good cast of characters: there is a long absorbing section where Ben is trying to fill in the final hours of the dead man, ten minutes here, an hour there, with an update on his mood at each stage. It's a bit of a tour de force: Justin Scott is a good writer and a great plotter – he should be better known.

The hero is a likeable, affable, attractive man, a realtor (UK: estate agent) by trade, who interacts nicely with Scott’s well-drawn women characters (as I pointed out in an entry on an earlier book). This is just an observation: non-American readers are likely to be brought up short by the news that he keeps ‘several dozen’ guns in his house.

In an entry on the first book in the series, Hardscape, narrator Ben’s great-aunt wore a Lily Dache hat, and she’s wearing it again in this book, along with a blue dress-and-pearls ensemble that sounds like the ones in this book – another small-town American mystery with a male protagonist, from the same era.

The books are set in a Connecticut town called Newbury – apparently a recognizable picture of a real town with a different name.

Links on the blog: Bridget Jones was a bit of a power dresser too, with her very short skirt.

The photographs are from fashion magazines of the era.


7 comments:

  1. Moira - Oh, this is a great post! Thanks. I so well remember those 'power suits' and those shoulders on the jackets of same. As you say, you don't see them anymore in that way, but they ruled for a while. Just on that score those novels seem worth reading. And the small-town crime premise sounds interesting too. Thanks

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    1. It is a good book - it's a pity we all have such huge TBR piles, it's not a favour to keep recommending is it! The hair is very 90s too, big wavy hair....

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  2. I have got to find some books by this author. Another author to add to my already too long list. (Even this American reader is a bit taken back by several dozen guns in the house. My father liked guns, but he may have had three total. Of course, we did not have a lot of money for such things.)

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    1. The guns are a collection, but they are working.... I hope you find some books by Justin Scott - have you had your big book sale yet?

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    2. Sorry, I had forgotten you had asked this question, and had meant to come back and answer. Work has been too demanding and cutting into leisure time (or really just energy). Sale has come and gone. Friday and Saturday of this last weekend. I will be posting on it soon.

      My father's guns were mainly a "collection" also, although he may have had one for protection. Amazing the things one forgets.

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  3. I'm 99% certain this resides alongside the 1st in the series, as well as the next somewhere in the shambolic Keane library. Maybe next year it will see some light!

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    1. It'll work its way to the top - and then I think you'll like it...

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