If you grew up in the United States, you probably heard the story of the young George Washington and the cherry tree. His father finds his beautiful tree lying on the ground and asks George if he knows who chopped it down. George replies, "I can't tell a lie, Pa; you know I can't tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet." Rather than punish George for cutting down the tree, his father praises him for his honesty. We'll postpone debating the truth of this legend.
On Washington's birthday in February, my idea was to write not about an honest hero, but about Louise Ure's Jessica Dancing Gammage. Washington's birthday is past, but it's never too late for reading about Jessie. If there was a 12-step program for liars, like there is for alcoholics, prosecutor Ted Dresden says she'd be its "queen and founder and president." Jessie is honest enough with us, however, to begin her narration of Liars Anonymous with these words:
I got away with murder once, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen again. Damn. This time I didn't do it. Well, not all of it, anyway.
The story about Markson that she tells Detective Deke Treadwell is undercut by Markson's wife Emily, who knows nothing about an accident and says her husband called her the day after Jessie says he was rear-ended. Markson said he was flying to a meeting in New Mexico and that he'd left his car in the airport parking lot. Jessie, an expert in lying, diagnoses a bad liar and resents being drawn into a subterfuge.
Jessica Dancing Gammage is an extraordinary character whose story deals with personal responsibility and the gulf between guilt and innocence. Liars Anonymous is full of action, but it's Jessie, the honest liar, and the story's ending that blew me away.
My husband and I are enjoying our own crime fiction film festival. Don't put off reading these outstanding books and watching their movies:
|A Kiss before Dying|
Fellow procrastinators, I hope you enjoy our week. Let's all vow to be better about being on time. Tomorrow. For now, I vote we curl up with a good book. I'm heading for the couch with Herman Koch's The Dinner. What about you?
|Deciding on your style is one more good way to procrastinate|