Sunday, March 15, 2009

Guest Blog - Killing a Unicorn

I spent last week visiting three of my granddaughters. The youngest who is not quite three years old had me read some witch stories again and again. I don’t remember being attracted to witch stories when I was little. However, I did notice that at the end of all of the tales, the wicked witch received a just punishment. Maybe Camille’s enjoyment of reading witch stories gives her the same reassurance that justice can prevail as a good mystery with a satisfactory ending brings to me.

I did find time to read Killing a Unicorn by Marjorie Eccles on my trip. I still have not read any of Eccles’ books about Gil Mayo. Killing a Unicorn is a cozy murder mystery where it doesn’t take long for the police to realize that the murder of Bibi must have been committed by someone in the family.

The story was satisfactorily interesting and so were the characters, but I did not feel comfortable with the author’s shifts from past tense to present tense throughout the story. “Forty minutes later, Fran steps off the train...” just does not feel comfortable to me as a reader. The use of the present tense did not give me any sense of being right there in the action of the story. The words were still there on the page that was apparently printed in 2002.

Other than that quirk of the author, it was an enjoyable novel with a few twists that I did not expect. The wicked were punished and the innocent resolved their problems. A comfortable ending.

However, I never quite understood the title of the novel either. I have always associated the killing of a unicorn to an act of wanton violence. The dead woman in the story does not turn out to be the kind and caring person that she seemed at first glance. Definitely not a person who is gentle and good like a unicorn or without enemies.

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