#325: Adventures in Self-Publishing – Impossible Mysteries: The Message in a Bottle (2017) by Merapi Omnut

Message in a Bottle

For reasons that are not entirely clear — he is not mentioned in the synopsis, nor the single review of this item at the time of writing (which is itself a single word — “Read” — whose tense is undetermined), nor used as a “For fans of…” comparison — this title appears when you search for Paul Halter on the world’s largest website of buying anything.  And it happens to be a self-published impossible crime story, so why wouldn’t I buy it?  The question is, should you?

In short, no.

I’m aware how difficult it is to write a book, and I have no desire to trample on anyone’s hopes or good intentions, but if the intent of these Adventures in Self-Publishing is to find laudable works featuring impossible crimes that have reached a public audience through a non-traditional route, this represents as big a step backwards from Impossible Bliss (2001) as it’s possible to take.  It’s not even worth getting angry about.  I almost can’t quite summon the energy to write this because it doesn’t seem right that I put more thought into this story critiquing it than the author did when conceiving, writing, and publishing it.

The plot runs approximately thus: a man in America is walking his dog on the beach one morning when it runs out into the surf and returns carrying a bottle in its mouth.  Espying some interesting-looking contents of said bottle, yer man opens it and discovers a letter claiming to have been thrown into the sea off the English coast some hundred (or something) years ago.  Interesting enough, but the letter also mentions him — the man whose dog has randomly found this in the water — by name, and so he gets non-specific journalist Jasmin Jones on the case to find out what’s going on.  Why her?  For the obvious reason that she’s the narrator of the story, which is the sort of circular reasoning that abounds throughout, and she manages to turn this puff piece into a trip across the Atlantic and a fateful meeting with destiny…

At least, that’s what I think is intended.  She meets Dr. Marcus Steinbeck, they exchange toe-curlingly awful dialogue, some things happen, they come to the conclusions that the answer requires, solve the mystery, and end up apparently in love.  After reading the progression of this relationship, I shall never again scoff at any shoe-horned GAD romance subplot, nor the fact that Jack Reacher ends up sleeping with the first moderately attractive woman he meets in every book, nor any form of inter-personal connection formed by any two characters no matter how unlikable, poorly-motivated, and lacking in discernible traits they may be.  From dialogue that thinks saying something bordering on the hateful counts as flirting to shenanigans like accidentally walking in on someone when they’re naked in the shower, all the “Well, this shows progression of their mutual antagonism towards affection” targets are set up, aim is taken, and then something else is shot instead.


The only way to get through this is with cute dog pictures…

And the more I read, the more I found to irritate me, which isn’t like me at all.  When it’s asserted that a PhD in Psychology is qualification enough to lecture university Mathematics (possibly some statistical modelling, at a push…)…I should let that go, as it has no bearing on the plot, but it’s emblematic of the nonsense that pervades into every single corner of this.  And I think that’s my gravamen here: there’s no single element of the plot where some basic idea isn’t malapplied — even Steinbeck being an authority on psychology, the academic discipline of applying principles of behaviour to large groups of people, gets turned into pop-psychological “Your body language tells me you’re feeling awkward” and “Now I’m a human lie detector” nonsense.

The easiest way to get through this is, I think, an annotated bullet-pointed list.  With apologies to Merapi Omnut, there will be spoilers…but the only way I can make sense of this experience is to lay it all out there in the hope that it gives me some closure.  Non-specific hints will not, I’m afraid, cover this.  And so…

  • Even simple punctuation goes awry

When speech attribution interrupts the dialogue there’s simply a speech mark and then the attribution or action, with no intervening comma.  Ever.  So you get this:

“Thanks” I said somewhat in trepidation.

But this happens without fail throughout and is therefore clearly intentional, like it’s some sort of experimental narrative from the mid-70s.  And I don’t see why.  It’s a basic tenet of punctuation, and simply gets more annoying the more it happens.

  • There is a huge amount of neither telling nor showing

At several key junctures, you get a line like: He then told me the key piece of information, and Jasmin reacts to that information…and then several lines later we get told what the ‘key piece of information’ actually was.  So, for instance, when the guy who finds the bottle tells her his name — and now I think of it, how does she not already know his name? — it’s done like this:

And here at this point, Mr Sanders gave me the final piece of information that established a mystery so baffling and so strange it sent my head into absolute dizziness.

“What?” I said in utter perplexity. “No way! You’re kidding me!”

“I’m not, I’m not” maintained Mr Sanders “I’m as serious as the sky is blue.”

“Holy hell” I exclaimed, somewhat to myself as I looked away from Mr Sanders for a second and focussed on the bottle and the letter before me.

“Holy hell indeed” echoed he.

This goes on for some time before you find out that it’s his name that he’s told her.  And it’s a little frustrating, but happens time and again with phone calls, answers to questions, so many revelations.  However, I have some thoughts on this…


I think I prefer tan dogs.

  • I think it’s a way to pad the word count

At one point, you get this exchange, wherein Marcus has been telling Jasmin much information discovered about the man who threw the bottle into the sea:

“The second thing. . . . .but I’ll tell you later. . . . .”

“What?” I nagged him, feeling he has seen something that I had not.

We hurried through the London streets where a mid-afternoon, grey drizzle was pleasantly spitting down.

“Are you coming to my grandfathers’ [sic] party tonight?”

I told him I was.

“Then I’ll tell you there.”

“Tell me now!”

“Ok, ok” he said…

…and proceeds to tell her.  So the delay was…what, exactly?  And why would there be a need to delay telling her anyway?  Is it a hint of their growing attraction?  No, I think it’s just someone with a thin story needing to bulk it out so it can be sold as a novella.

  • Oh, hey, and on the subject of his grandfather…

Okay, this is just weird.  The grandfather remains off-page until the very final scene, by which point our central, er, characters are limping their merry way towards some sort of relationship and he’s all twinkly and happy and avuncular.  Well and good.

Except that when we’re first told about the character, it’s explicitly — and rather too casually — mentioned that he was:

…accused of sexually molesting several students of his.  The story was not comprehensive, and the details scant.  He had kept his job.  There was even talk that the girls had been willing participants and even ‘enjoyed it’.  The bottom line however, was that it had caused quite a stir at Oxford, where he had then been a professor.

Now, nothing is ever made or comes of this.  Nothing.  It’s never mentioned again, never turned into a thread, never confronted in any way…so why the hell is it in there?  Add to this that Jasmin is aware of this when she first heads to meet him, is slightly creeped out by the solicitous tone of his emails, and then says:

…and more to the point wasn’t it my job as a journalist to use any ‘skills’ I might have in order to grease the wheels of enlightenment and get to the heart of the story?

I mean, fuck.  “I will willingly submit to potential molestation” is a fucking dark door to open so lightly.  Who is under the impression that’s something you just say or think or do in a situation like this?  This might be the single most revolting sentence I’ve ever read.  You don’t even need the current qualifier of “post-Weinstein” — this is a toxic attuitude to portray, and holy crap the more I think about it the angrier it makes me  I take back the apology above.  Merapi Omnut, you should be fucking embarrassed to have written this shit.

  • Jasmine Jones — the main character — is just the worst person ever

Good heavens, where to begin?  Never mind that the bant-tastic dialogue runs along these lines:

“Ha! Ha! You little milksop” said I

Oh, yeah, she calls him a milksop waaaaay too much, like that’s a word anyone uses.  Anyway…

“Ha! Ha! You little milksop” said I chiding him “So you would quite like the money then eh! But here’s the deal Einstein, Dr Steinbeck, Mr PhD: I bet you can’t solve it.

“I like you, but you’re really quite stuck up and condescending.  You need to take your head out of your ass!” I said jokingly, daring to insult him, as I had felt myself insulted, though also slightly regretting my harsh words when I had said them, because I wanted him to like me.

He’s rude to her, she’s rude back to him — instant connection!  Right?

Later on, following another thread that goes nowhere revolving around her ex-boyfriend who “made me do chores for him and his gang”, Jasmin ends up in Marcus’ room at 3am scared, and of course it is hilariously misunderstood and he thinks she’s coming onto him.  Au naturel.  Then a similar thing happens a few nights later and she goes to his room again and, without even trying to wake him, sits and watches him sleep for ten minutes before he wakes up.  At this point I shouldn’t even care, but I can only imagine that this is again intended to show their growing affection…but it comes out of nowhere, just hideously juvenile insults and then a sudden need for a man, and is again a product of the circular reasoing that abounds: if she was developing feelings towards him she’d watch him sleep, and so she’ll watch him sleep because she’s developing feelings towards him.

The point where she justifies a trainee journalist who is tailing around with her — despite being freelance at the newspaper she’s writing for, she apparently is not immune from Bring an Obscure Relative to Work Day — poking around in the home of a woman whose house was partially destroyed by a hurricane and is fed up of these reporters nosing into her life almost goes unnoticed, if I’m being honest.  There are probably other things, too, but I’m getting bored.


Yup. the tan ones are definitely better.

  • The answers are the answers because that’s why the questions were the questions

Detective fiction is about establishing a situation that leads to an intended revelation, I get that.  The author stacks the deck in advance so that certain events happen, certain information therefore comes to light, and the question posed is therefore answerable within the pages written.  Hell, I don’t think anyone stacks a deck quite as much as Paul Halter, and I delight in the machinations of that man’s plots and his ability to sustain a narrative thread because of the need to cover certain ground.  This is where the Genius Detective is needed, as their orphic proclivities enable them to carve through from the setup to the denouement without it seeming too forced that someone would know about the double-cross coding system and the mating habits of rare Belarusian moths.  The setup usually starts where it does because the answer must fall out a certain way, and most of the fun is in connecting the former with the latter (Carr, especially, excelled at this, as we know).

But, man, never have I been more aware of that manipulation than here.  Marcus is supposed to fill this genius amateur role, but the deductions he makes can only be made because the author knows they’re true because they make the answer possible.  This even contains one of the traits of lazy reasoning that I bemoaned in the comments somewhere recently and was taken to task over by Brad — the old “well we know one thing about their character and so therefore they would have definitely performed this action…” trope (in this case — spoilers if you care — that a man who didn’t like travelling away from home much would put his passport into a glass bottle along with a random letter of greeting and throw it into the sea…don’t get me started).

The inability to make any of this feel even vaguely organic — dialogue, character beats and interactions, plotting, solution — or to apply any internal consistency to the events herein is wearily apparent in the summing up of what must have happened to enable the bottle to contain a letter with that guy’s name in it.  It’s almost passable in some ways, but would require a far superior writer to hammer it into anything like workable shape — Halter could do it, Norman Berrow would have a field day, and I want to celebrate something so batshit out there as a notion in this field…but, as it stands, this is crap of the highest order and now has 2,000 words more written about it than it deserves.

But it will save your time and money, I suppose.  You, the internet, are welcome.


I’m off to gargle some cleansing bleach, and then bulldoze this out of  my mind with some Freeman Wills Crofts.  Happy weekend, all y’all!


Previous Adventures in Self-Publishing:

1. The Third Gunman (2016) by Raymond Knight Read

2. The Mysteries of Reverend Dean [ss] (2008) by Hal White

3. Impossible Bliss (2001) by Lee Sheldon

58 thoughts on “#325: Adventures in Self-Publishing – Impossible Mysteries: The Message in a Bottle (2017) by Merapi Omnut

  1. Hooray! I dodged a bullet! I came across this book a few weeks ago, but everything about it, synopsis, cover and self-published status, made me back away from it slowly and pretend that I had never seen it. Good to know my instincts were spot on. I could not have taken another Dead Box (my personal Nam).


    • I’m still holing out for a cheap copy of Death Box — it sounds intriguing in the extreme, and I really want to see just how badly it goes wrong. Ah, well, we can but dream…


  2. Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a barrelful of ‘milksop’s – except perhaps a smattering of whey faced poltroons. And that throwaway line about sexual abuse is particularly repellent. Thank you for throwing yourself under the bus for the rest of us. But the most important question arising is – what is your position on black and tan dogs?


    • If the tan predominates, all good. An excess of anything other than tan…well, I just do not know how I could love an animal that didnt match the flooring in my house — you’d be able to see the hairs the shed and everything. Things like border collies seem too gross in nature to be allowed to live, I don’t know how people maintain the enthusiasm for them…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I sometimes love a terrible book but this sounds a bit too much. At least the review you got out of it was very funny.

    I thought of an explanation for the impossibility which must be at least as terrible as the one in the book Obviously the bottle will wash up on a beach, so the letter actually began “Dear Sandwalker(s)”, only the extra letters didn’t appear somehow (perhaps the cork wasn’t air-tight and they wore away, or the letter-writer wrote it in the dark and his pen was sputtering, we’ll just never know).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nice thinking, but it uses the guy’s actal name — he’s mentioned in a post-script to the letter proper. How it comes about is certainly heavily thought through, but more in a Latter Era Jonathan Creek way than a Huh When You Get Down To It That’s Actually Pretty Clever way. In a way, a more incompetent overall plan would have improved the experience of this book, because now something about 20% sellable (and very distinct) has been wasted by someone who doesn’t have the talent to pull it off.


  4. Wow that sounds like one heck of a bad read! Does make reading a Freeman Wills Crofts novel sound like a much better read, which is no mean feat. On a canine note, I agree that the tan dogs look nicer. I think the all black ones, due to being all black have less distinguishable features facially. All tends to blend in a bit.


    • The right-hand one in the final picture looks like a baby bear — sweet, but not as wonderful as the tan ones. Perhaps it’s a distinguishability of features thing, that might make sense, and is definitely wothty of more consideration that the book (almost) under discussion…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Like TomCat, I also came close to reading this the other week when looking for John Dickson Carr ebooks. The idea sounded intriguing so I am disappointed to hear that the author does nothing with it.

    Enjoyed your review very much though!


    • For the payoff, it’s got a short story’s worth of material, but in order to set it up it needs much more than a short story’s length. The problem come when that length is used not in service to the solution, but instead to feed what I can only confusedly call the “romance”…and then the solution is one clever idea mashed into more than a few horribly-realised ones. The result is…confusingly bad.


  6. I think there’s different types of intelligence in dogs. Border collies, yes, they are rated as the most intelligent and yes I think they are amazing. I personally would never own one. Too much energy for me. They are meant to have all that intelligence and energy put to use. You don’t want a bored border collie.

    That said, I have couch potatoes who don’t waste a movement. They find performing tricks demeaning. Now that’s a different type of intelligence.
    As for black vs tan: I like black but I think it’s harder to see expressions in a black dog.


      • I don’t own one and wouldn’t to be honest. I’ve known too many disappointed owners. Plus people think they are getting non shedding dogs, and that’s possible but the whole breeding thing has to be done properly. (F1-F2, F3-F4 etc)
        I’ve seen a lot of hyper labradoodles. Funnily enough I spotted a new one in the neighbourhood last night. Taking his owner for a walk.


  7. Boy, are YOU about to have an awkward moment!! Yes, if you rearrange the letters to “Merapi Omnut” it spells . . . Bradley Kenneth Friedman! That’s right, JJ, you exposed my secret identity. I worked for a good half hour on this book he. said with. trepidation . . . ??///

    When in the world did I “take you to task” regarding your comment about character traits?!? As I recall, I simply responded that I love dialogue slips. I also love good character trait clues, and I know there are bad ones as well, and I don’t like those! Is that why you didn’t read my post on Crooked House??? Are you mad at me, JJ?????????

    I grew up with basset hounds (all tan) and poodles (two cream, one black), and so I feel I can honestly say I love dogs. But the vicious exclusion of a discussion on cats here has got me steaming. I want to point out that I redecorated my entire house to match my rag dolls! Pet obsession takes many forms, people!


  8. I once wrote a short mystery in a day for a reddit writing prompt, and I’m pretty sure it was better than this.

    See, I can forgive some errors from amateur writers, writing is a pain at the best of times especially when you have to deal with small grammar bits, but man if you expect people to pay actual money for it I expect you to run it through a grammar check, if nothing else. At least reading a bad book can be informative on what not to do.

    Also this is petty but the tense is wrong here: ““What?” I nagged him, feeling he has seen something that I had not.” Should be “had seen something.” Now I’m tempted to go through your snips there and rewrite them.


  9. Note for the curious: In his book The Intelligence Of Dogs, Stanley Coren has ranked 140 breeds of dogs according to their working intelligence. The top 10 are:

    1. Border Collie
    2.Standard Poodle
    3.German Shepherd
    4.Golden Retriever
    5. Doberman Pinscher
    6.Shetland Sheepdog
    7. Labrador Retriever
    10. Australian Cattle Dog

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This sounds like the work of a teenager. Adults acting like characters from mediocre TV shows, dialog inspired by comic book movie adaptations and bad graphic novels. I certainly hope it was a teenager. God help Merapi if s/he’s a college graduate or well past middle age years.

    Merapi Omnut actually sounds like an exotic dog breed. (Overheard at the AKC Nationals: “Oh Muriel, what a beauty! Such lines and grace. So much more dignified than your Shiba Inu. What is it, again?” “She’s a Merapi Omnut, tracing lines to ancient Balinese hounds. Just like a Kintamani, in fact.”) I wonder where it falls in the Coren ranking of dog intelligence?


    • You raise an interesting point — if it’s someone around the age of 14 or 15, they may have a promising career ahead of them. Less laissez-faire around sexual misconduct and more listening to how people actually speak to each other and we could have another Carr on our hands…in 30 or so years. Here’s hoping…?


  11. I am the writer of this book and here is what I will say:

    1) The idea for this series of books is to recreate Jonathon Creek. Most of you are fans of this I think so I’m surprised at the snarky review.

    2) You might say that’s not original. Well I’d say two things: first, the originality comes in the form of the complex plots; and secondly, as a writer of many books none of which have been commercially successful, I made the decision with this one to ‘dumb it down’ somewhat.

    3) To that end, yes I agree, the romantic stuff between the two main characters is not great. But it’s not meant to be. And it worked for Jonathon Creek after all.

    4) Yes the plot premise is fantastic. But I thought that was what impossible mysteries were meant to be about? Crumbs. And I think the resolution is excellent if you consider how difficult to resolve the problem was.

    5) On your point of neither showing nor telling: what I’m doing at those points is hinting to the reader that something of interest is coming up. Everyone does this in this type of fiction, including Jonathon Creek and Paul Halter.

    6) The details of the grandfather’s transgression will be revealed in future. That was always the plan.

    7) Everyone disagrees on grammar rules. Now maybe there are some hard and fast rules, but even these are overridden by usage, especially for the newer generation. I am sorry about this point, but it is an inevitable by product of not having a dedicated team around you.

    All in all, I’m surprised you were this snarky. Also you mention Paul Halter. But I think he is somewhat overrated. He’s not in the same class as Jonathon Creek (Series 1-4) in my humble opinion. Thing is however, is that since I know that Paul Halter is still a good writer and has written some excellent books and doesn’t get much money for it, I stop myself from writing a negative review of his works.

    I thought you people were all about finding the next great mystery writer? And not just writing snarky reviews which reflect badly on your character. And it would be nice if you could put your name on it for future reference.

    But here’s the thing: come on my YouTube channel in the New Year and we can debate this live. I’d like to hear what you’ve got to say in public. I presume you’re not a chicken?


    • *sigh* I’ve been blogging for 30 months without having to deal with anyone making semi-personal demands about my reviews and opinions, so I’m not going to make a point of this. But to address the points you raise:

      1) I am a fan of Jonathan Creek. This does not recreate the mood, humour, ingenuity, character-work, complexity, or charm of Jonathan Creek.

      2) I did not say it was not original .

      3) You seem to admit here that you deliberately wrote something that you intend to not be of a good standard. That might be the problem, then.

      4) A difficult-to-resolve problem can still be resolved poorly; I commend your attempt to come up with something original, but the situation alone does not make a good mystery.

      5) “Everyone does this in this type of fiction”. No, they do not.

      6) Awesome, I commend your long-term planning, but you still aloowed this to be turned into a moment where a journalist expresses apparent willingness to submit to sexual molestation to forward her story. That is short-sighted, toxic, and horribly judged. Do not do this again.

      7) No, a grammar is the formal rules that govern language usage. “Everyone” does not disagree. I do not have a dedicated team around me, but I manage to apply grammar broadly correctly. This, I’m afraid, is a failed attempt at dodging a bigger issue.

      If you think Paul Halter is somewhat overrated, still a good writer, and has written some excellent books then I’m very confused. My advice is that you don’t review anything by anyone until you have a solid perspective on what you want to say.

      With regards to you invitation to discuss this, I fail to see the point. Everything I have to say about this is written above, and time spent repeating myself is time that could be better used reading. However, please do use this experience to adjust to the fact that not everyone will like what you write, and allowing criticism — snarky though you see it, I feel my points are all well-explained and -justified — is important if you wish to develop as a writer.

      If it puts anyone’s mind at ease, I am not a chicken. If, however, you’re trying to goad me in some way, please don’t: it’s very unbecoming, and I will not tolerate trolling on this website.

      I do however wish you every sincere success with your writing in future. I cannot say that I will be willing to read any of it, but I nevertheless wish you any and all success you earn in this endeavour.


  12. Well firstly, you say grammar is everything, but openly admit above that you misquoted my work. So you can’t even get the grammar of a tiny blog article correct? (I noticed that you still haven’t corrected this at the time of writing and you’re happy in the comments for it to be left as a slur on me).

    Second of all, the reason Jasmin falls in love with the main character so quickly is that he’s attractive and educated.

    But here’s the thing: could you please tell me why the solution to this mystery doesn’t work? For me a book is successful in this genre if and only if they can pull of the impossible mystery. So please could you tell us all why mine doesn’t work? Don’t worry about spoilers, I want to know why you think it was bad. And this is the crux of the matter.

    You see with Paul Halter you recommend ‘Death Invites You’. But are you honestly telling me that the solution to that is in any way satisfying?

    In fact let’s move on to The Demon of Dartmoor. Great book, great problem, great build up. But the resolution? I’m still not convinced by it.

    I can’t write things on here without your permission. Therefore it would be better to move to a neutral space. I would like too see you defend your opinions on the public space. So you can come on my Youtube channel for a chat. You’re obviously the expert on impossible mysteries, and I want to improve, so you can give me some advice sensei.

    I understand that as someone who bought and read the book you’re entitled to review it. However, I don’t think you’re being objective. I’m also interested, in terms of psychology (I have a PhD in maths so I’m qualified to talk about it) why anyone would spend their time reading and negatively reviewing an unimportant book like this. I could understand it, if you were slamming a book that had won prizes and was a bestseller and everyone was raving about it. But I would have thought if you really didn’t like this book, you might have just quit after ten pages and said ‘nah not worth my time and energy.’

    The fact that you read to the end and were then so keen to put it to the sword is interesting from a psychological perspective.


    • Grammar is one thing, typing is another. I mistyped, it was rasied in the comments, I took responsibility for my mistake, it’s clearly there for everyone to see if they care that much. This is a non-problem.

      Your complaint about my review would be a complaint either way. If I gave up and wrote a review saying it was terrible, I’d be wrong for not completing it. As I read the whole thing — psychologically very uninteresting, I assure you — I have a perspective that I’m free to share. I read on in the hope it would be worth the effort. This is not the only book I disliked but also finished — look around this site, there are plenty of zero- and one-star reviews, none of them psychologically interesting. Most of them are pretty funny.

      Do I wish to discuss why it doesn’t work in greater detail? No. I’ve spent enough time on this, I’m not your editor, and the flaws in anything are — as you seem to raise with your point about those Halter books — subjective. You keep using the term “public space” as if this is some private forum. It’s not; anyone can read this, we’re talking about it, but my point is clear and my objection to your attitudes in your book clear. And when I raise a legitiamte objection — the sexual molestation issue, which I’ve mentioned three times now — you ignore it. This alone makes me suspect that, even if I were willing to spend more time on this, it would be entirely wasted effort on my part. And I have a lot of books to read. Like, so, so many.

      I’m not an expert on impossible crimes. I never claimed to be. I enjoy reading them, that’s it. If I ever branch out into editorial or advisory services you will, of course, be most welcome to hire me. Until that point — unless you wish to address the part in the novel you wrote where a woman is willing to submit to unsolicited, physically sexual advances purely for the sake of a tiny newspaper story — we have nothing to say to each other. In fact, even then we really have nothing to say.

      Good luck.


  13. The sexual harassment stuff. Dear, dear me.

    First off, the thought flitters through Jasmin’s mind that she might help herself get the story she’s after if she uses her charm on a man who clearly likes her. That’s it. She wasn’t thinking about sleeping with him for Heaven’s sake.

    Second of all, the reason that thought goes through her head is to create a comedy moment: when it turns out that one of the men she later meets doesn’t find her attractive at all and so where she was thinking she might use her charm it’s ultimately not wanted.

    In any event, I find you’re whining about the #metoo Hysteria, total virtue signalling on your part. You’re just trying to prove to the world how you’re not a sexist, misognyst etc like Mr Bad Guy me. You’re trying to make yourself out to be the moral knight in shining armour helping to create a better world for all.

    I’d say that’s a good use of your time. Whilst thousands of people die around the world in illegal wars, you’re worried about a character in an obscure book that nobody’s ever going to read, having a thought concerning how she might take advantage of the fact that a man finds her attractive….

    I don’t know whether you’ll censor this. In any event I’m surprised you’re not willing to come and speak with me about all your issues. You gave an opinion, but you’re not willing to put your face or name to it, you’re not wiling to own it. Like I say you can come onto my channel and tell me what you think. Even we can discuss Halter and Jonathon Creek as well. In fact let’s just do that.

    We’ll discuss Paul Halter only and you can tell me why you think he’s so good and I’ll give you my honest opinion. There you go, a simple Paul Halter debate.


  14. Pingback: 2017: The Favourites as Reading Bingo | Reactions to Reading

  15. “There is a huge amount of neither telling nor showing.”
    There is an instance of this in Paul Halter’s La Toile De Penelope”. The butler finds a photo which he regards as curious. He shows it to another character who also regards it as curious and is astonished. The reader learns only later why the photo was curious and amazing.


    • This photo thing, where someone sees a photograph featuring “someone who looks like someone we’ve seen in this case” or similar, recently reared its head in something I read — review forthcoming — and it irritates the hell out of me. Might use this as inspiration for my final High & Low post next week: tropes of GAD I love and loathe…


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