Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Book Review by Mr. Peter Magee!

The Calling, a mystery by Inger Ash Wolfe, was released in hardback last month. This book got a lot of buzz due to the mystery surrounding the author's identity. It was common knowledge that Inger Ash Wolfe was a pseudonym for a North American literary writer. Possibilities that have been bandied about include Jane Urquart (A Map of Glass), Michael Redhill (Consolation), Linda Spalding (Who Named the Knife). A little bit of literary trivia which has nothing to do with The Calling: Linda Spalding is married to Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient)

The Calling's protagonist is Detective Inspector Hazel Micallef, an almost senior citizen addict (alcohol and prescription drugs), who lives in Port Dundas, a small rural Ontario town. Against difficult odds (little support from her superiors, impending back surgery, an overbearing mother, a messy divorce), Micallef attempts to catch a serial killer who targets the elderly and the ill.

I actually haven't read this book yet. Although it is the type of oddball mystery that catches my eye.

However, my former English teacher, Mr. Peter Magee did read and review The Calling for us.

Ah, the good old days, although this time I was the bossy boss in charge of the assignment and got to give deadlines and make rules like, "Please stick to about 500 words." This role reversal thing was too fun!

Oh yeah, fair warning: there is a spoiler.

Take it away, Peter!

Inger Ash Wolfe, whoever you are, really are, I do not care.

The jacket of The Calling promises a “brilliant debut crime novel.” Sorry; this is not true.

If only there was one person with whom I could connect or even feel sorry for, it would not have taken me a month to read this book.

Detective Hazel Micallef has no redeeming qualities. She is an a overweight alcoholic controlled by her domineering ex-mayor of a mother. Micallef insists on bothering her ex-husband as he tries to start a new life with a new wife. In addition, Micallef irritates all her underlings. Why these characters rush to support her in her hour of need at the close of the story is something I’ll never in this world understand.

My other complaints include: The chapters are too long. There is no depth to the characters. And the plot twist where the serial killer begins his career as Simon, but ends up as Peter, Simon’s brother? Not interesting enough.

Halfway through the book, the writing heats up a little. There are several really well written scenes, especially with the young girl who eventually survives Simon/Peter.

I am sure that Margaret, David and Allen still love you, but I would shy away from having a book of this nature dedicated to me.

The most fun I had with The Calling was looking up the word “horripillating.”

I would advise the readers of this review to save their money and look the word up in OED*.

Sorry, Inger, but you will not learn your craft by testing me with another “Novel of Suspense.” Not in a genre that has been amply satisfied by such great mystery writers as James Patterson, Michael Connelly and Kathy Reichs.

*Oxford English Dictionary

Hmmm...I think he didn't like the book.

And, now, the all important question of how to sign off.

Peter, you could use our high school's motto: "Plough a straight furrow."

Hello, where exactly did THAT come from? I went to a suburban high school with, like, cars and streetlights and a PA system. There was no ploughing or farming or furrowing. Small wonder I'd totally forgotten our motto until Peter reminded me.

How about if you sign off with this:

Yes, indeedy, that it how you signed my yearbook all those many years ago. Little did you know, your message would day show up on a blog! It's blurry, but what a cool way to end the post. Thank you, Mr. Peter Magee, for the book review!

(For those of you having trouble with the yearbook autograph, it reads: Best Wishes and a nice life. Peter Magee)

Now...go ahead and look up "horripillating." You know you want to! (One "l" for American spelling)


Just a Plane Ride Away said...

Barrie, what a hoot! It is so much fun that Mr. Magee did this for you and your readers :-)

Monnik said... gave me this definition:

"to produce horripilation on."

Ah, now that cleared things up! Yeah, not so helpful.

What was helpful, was Mr. Magee's book review! Good stuff!

Charles Gramlich said...

I only read the first part because I didn't want to get to the spoiler. This sounds like something I might try.

Larramie said...

I *heart* Mr. Magee and all English teachers who "keep in touch."

Bina said...

Okay, I looked it up! LOVE the word.

And you know, it's nice to see such honestly from a book revue. I really appreciate that, ya know?

Anonymous said...

Holy cow, if your teacher taught you anything about writing, never mind life, I think I'll be avoiding your book. The main character lacks redeeming qualities because she's overweight and an alcoholic? Let me guess, Teach favoured the good-looking kids in the class? Her employees support her in her hour of need? Not a value I gather Teach agrees with. And the chapters are too long! I suspect the chapters in Horton Hears A Who were too long for this guy. Honestly, I was just looking for reviews to help me decide if I was going to buy The Calling and Mr. Magee has convinced me that anyone who can sound so idiotic about a book must be totally wrong about it. So I'm buying one for me and one for my own old English teacher. And whoever runs this site: why don't you do your own homework?

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon.
Buy the book, read and enjoy!

kim said...

Barrie, you keep "farming out your homework", I guess anon doesn't understand the concept of a guest blogger.

Anonymous said...

Anon certainly understands the concept of "those who can't, teach." Mr. Magee is one of those fine old fools who some institution in the fifties gave a degree to and then another institution entrusted young minds to him. His self-satisfied tone and obvious heartlessness told me more about him than the book. And that is always the mark of useless criticism. As Delmore Schwartz said (you folks can look him up too) "Literary criticism is very inneresting." People who don't know how to think have no choice but to talk about themselves ...

Bina said...

So I'm wondering, is ANON the author of the book? Why else would that person be so bitter?

Barrie said...

The whole anon comment is just very weird. I don't know who Inger Ash Wolfe is, but he/she is supposedly a well-known writer, which means he/she'd be used to negative reviews. Very odd. I'm tempted to take down the comment. With four kids, I deal enough with people who don't get along in the sandbox....

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon.
sp. interesting(SHAME, SHAME)
Could you be Inger Ash Wolfe "in sheep's clothing"??
"Best to you and have a nice life",
Peter Magee

Mary Ann said...

Such a fun review. I love that your former teacher is still connecting with you. I'm also glad he's saved me from reading the book, although I'm wondering if you actually liked it. I love your books so that would sway me. I also like Michael Connelly and the others he mentions.

The anon comment is a bit odd. Sounds jealous of you and your former teacher. Possibly a former classmate?

Anonymous said...

LOL. I'm not the author, but I am a teacher and Mr. Magee does prove my point. Schwartz did say "inneresting," ie, criticism reveals something of the "inner" world of the critic. Which was my point. That Mr. Magee saw the word and not the meaning does speak to how he reads.

Anyway, good luck to him in all his endeavours.

Anonymous said...

Friday, June 13, 2008.
Dear Anon.
"I So Don't Do Mysteries" by Barrie Summy will be published by Random House on Dec. 2, 2008.
Peter Magee