|It's a lump of candy cane coal,|
not a mouse dropping.
Now, I'm not talking about villains so nasty their own mothers, if sensible, would shriek and run at the sight of them: Not Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter of Thomas Harris's Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs or the serial killer of T. Jefferson Parker's The Blue Hour. Not the criminal masterminds Professor Moriarty (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) and the Deaf Man (Ed McBain). Or the psychopathic lawmen of Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me and Pop. 1280.
The Terror of Living is Waite's 2011 debut, a book that straddles literary and mystery fiction. If you only read cozies, it's not for you; rather, it's for people who like Cormac McCarthy, Robert Stone, Graham Greene, Dennis Lehane or George Pelecanos. It's about how bad things happen to good people or how good people make bad decisions, setting them on a train going too fast for them to leap to safety. Waite's tale isn't entirely unpredictable, but his characters are eloquent, the setting is beautifully described, and the writing is assured. I look forward to this young writer's books in the years ahead.
Raffles appears in a novel and more than 20 stories chronicled by his old school friend Bunny Manders. (All of Hornung's short stories featuring Raffles, written from the 1890s to the 1920s, can be found in the 1984 book, The Complete Short Stories of Raffles--the Amateur Cracksman. After Hornung, other writers continued the series.) Bunny loves Raffles and is ambivalent about his criminal career. Hornung's friend and brother-in-law, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, also didn't entirely approve of anti-hero Raffles. Although these stories exhibit the prejudices of their time, they are classic adventures that are a pleasure to read. You can also search for a play, several films, a radio series, and a British TV series that feature Raffles.
Westlake's page on Stop You're Killing Me.
Our coal all delivered to its worthy recipients, let's relax with some Speculoos Wafers (from a Washington Post recipe based on a thin, spiced French cookie) and some strong coffee. While we're relaxing, we can talk about other characters who require our coal and the gifts we're going to give those who are nice.