Glass Houses


I enjoyed my first taste of Louise Penny’s work, Glass Houses. Set in a small Canadian town, this police/detective with hero Chief Inspector Gamanche break the most basic rules o policing in hopes of combatting two drug cartels, one Canadian and one US. Woven into this story is a spooky storyline with a mysterious character shrouded in black robes. Gamache soon learns about the legend of the Cobrador, the dark figure who stalks and scares those with guilty consciences. In Spain a Cobrador was a dramatic means of scaring people who were guilty of something or who owed a debt, i.e. a way to shame someone.

While Gamanche is trying to catch the drug runners in his questionable way, a Cobrador comes to his small town and is soon found dead.

Penny crafted characters I enjoyed. Her plot was daring and well-paced. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator was superb. I can’t imagine reading the paper version and having a better experience.

There were portions where I wish the style was tighter, but all-in-all I recommend Glass Houses for any mystery fan.


In Line

We needed to get train tickets for the second leg of our trip. After walking in circles to find the ticket booking agency near our hotel, we jumped in a cab for the station on the outskirts of town. Had we known what laid ahead, we’d have hunted for the agency with more tenacity.

At the station, there was a long line for tickets. This we expected. We didn’t expect that a raving lunatic would stand behind us.

Soon after joining the line, an American yahoo and his long suffering Chinese host got behind us. The American ranted incessantly and tried to pull us into his ramblings about how the US should bomb Syria, how the US has the best army in the world and he was going to go bomb Syria, how Obama wasn’t a good president, but W. Bush was the best ever and on and on. He asked where we were from and I responded Canada hoping that would end his attempt to communicate.  Unfortunately K. said she was from Michigan.

She actually got off better than I did as this guy in his very cheap USA t-shirt started berating Canada. We didn’t look at him, though I wanted to offer a glance of sympathy for the Chinese man who was with him. The ranter seemed drunk and probably mentally ill. It soon came out that he’s married to a Chinese woman and had decided he’d never visit this Chinese man again. I can only imagine how that promise fueled the patience needed to host this guy. The ranter kept goading his friend to bribe someone so they could get tickets faster. The Chinese man kept stating that that was illegal and he’d have no part in such dealings. God bless him. I’d have been tempted to do anything to get this guest out of my house.

The ranter went on and on about how weak the Chinese military was and I hoped no one else in line spoke English. This guy was so offensive and out of control and I wasn’t sure that others would understand that he doesn’t represent the US and probably was mentally disturbed. As we neared the window, I kept hoping that the line would move faster and that the ranter wouldn’t notice that I had an American passport. Figuring out I’d lied, would have resulted in more unwanted rants.

In any travel, there’s a fair amount of travail.

Also some people come overseas because they can’t handle life in their own country. If they do have a mental problem, it’s likely to go undetected because after all, “foreigners are strange.” Alcohol is a handy self-medicater, but it also exacerbates the problem.

The White Dinner


I saw on Paris Daily Photo some images from the last few years’ le dîner en blanc. It’s a semi-spontaneous event for which invitees are told to dress in white and bring picnic tables, chairs and food for a dinner around a Paris landmark.

Très cool, n’est pas?


They also have done this in Canada.