Tag Archives: Detective

Book Review: Blood Meridian, Or, The Evening Redness in the West

McCarthy, Cormac. Blood Meridian, Or, The Evening Redness in the West. 2010 Modern Library Edition ed. New York, NY: Modern Library, 2010. Print.

 

Many consider Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian too violent to read. Violence begins onGUEST_e7b7a5bd-5894-4e82-907d-da212ef1d4e8 the second page and continues unabated to the end. McCarthy delivers a treatise on man’s inhumanity to man in the form of genocide. Blood is a constant theme as blood is spilled in one senseless massacre after another. Blood is not the result of conflict, but the reason for it.

McCarthy weaves what could be a series of short stories describing the worth or lack of indigenous people’s lives in the latter half of the nineteenth century west. The story, seen through the eyes of the narrator, follows the Kid and a gang of killers. McCarthy’s narrator never allows the reader inside the mind of the characters. We learn only what McCarthy wants as he develops his characters. He forces the reader to imagine one’s vision of the murderous thoughts. He is masterful in constructing his performers while forcing his readers to judge them.

McCarthy uses understated allegory to deliver messages that express what the characters are or what they represent. Spitting is used throughout as a symbol of the low regard the men have for anything, including human life. The insult of the act says more than dialogue could deliver. Wolves are symbolic actors. Almost daily, we see wolves. The humans and the wolves are representative of hunters looking for easy prey. The only difference, wolves kill for survival.

Glanton and his gang are inherently immoral, evil, clichés of bad guys in black hats. The governments of Mexico and the United States, equally evil, legitimatize genocide. This allowed for the ferocious and persistent murder and attempted extermination of the native peoples of both countries.

Genocide is the predominant theme. Except for the Delaware’s, the Indians are shown as savages. This holds even when the Diegueño Indians rescue the Kid and the ex-priest. “They would have died if the indians had not found them” (312). The narrator refers to these people as savages, as aborigines. “they saw the halfnaked savages crouched…” (312).

Two central characters, Glanton and the Judge, build upon the theme of genocide. Glanton, when he kills an old Indian woman sitting in the square of an impoverished Mexican village. When he sees three of his men squatting with her, he dismounts and kills her. “The woman looked up. Neither courage nor heartsink in those old eyes. He . . . put the pistol to her head and fired” (102). On the very next page, he confirms his complete contempt for life when he tells the only Mexican in his band to scalp the woman’s corpse with these chilling words, “Get that receipt for us” (103). She is nothing more than a hundred-dollar bounty.

The reader becomes almost inured to the violence. Once the butchery began, it seems as though there can be nothing more disturbing—there is—the Judge is evil incarnate. The gang surprises and attacks a large Indian encampment, “the partisans [Glanton’s men] nineteen in number bearing down upon the encampment where there lay sleeping upward of a thousand souls” (161). The Judge leaves the devastated village with a captured child, a ten-year-old boy. He treats the child humanely, and the boy becomes somewhat of a mascot. Three days later, the depth of the Judge’s evil is shown. “Toadvine saw him with the child as he passed with his saddle, but when he came back ten minutes later leading his horse the child was dead and the judge had scalped it” (170). The reader is left to wonder if the Judge killed the boy because he thrives on murder, or if he defiled the child and killed him afterward.

McCarthy’s colorful and graphic language adds significantly to the ability of the reader to see, understand, and experience the scenes and settings. Short and straightforward, his portrayal of the gang as they cross the desert, conveys in a few easy to read lines, in which the reader can feel, and smell the riders. “They rode on, and the wind drove the fine gray dust before them and they rode an army of graybeards, gray men, gray horses” (259).

The Kid, born into a violent world, dies a violent death forty-five years later. Some assume that the Judge, a pedophile, and sexual deviant, rapes the Kid and leaves him for dead. We’ll never know the answer.

McCarthy’s final message to the reader, evil cannot be eradicated; it lives forever.

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A Visit From Mystery Writer Marilyn Meredith

Mother Nature and Her Influence on My Writing

Murder in the Worst Degree

Though I’ve experienced several hurricanes, I’ve yet to use one in one my books and there’s a good reason. Both my mystery series are set in California and we don’t have hurricanes here.

The Rocky Bluff P.D. series is set in a small beach community in Southern California. I lived in the area for many years, and yes, we did have some winter rain storms and flooding. Living on the coast though, fog is so frequent that it plays a big part in nearly all of my RBPD mysteries.

Though new writers are often warned not to begin a book with the weather, using it to up the tension and to add another layer to the action works well.

waves 1
Murder in the Worst Degree does have its share of fog. It also has unusual surf which brings in a body—and that’s how it begins.

There is one more natural phenomenon that happens in California without warning and yes, it plays a part in Murder in the Worst Degree.

If you live in California, you can probably guess what that is, if not, you can read the book and find out what happens and how it affects the story.

Blurb for the lasts RBPD mystery, Murder in the Worst Degree: The body that washes up on the beach leads Detectives Milligan and Zachary on a murder investigation that includes the victim’s family members, his housekeeper, three long-time friends, and a mystery woman.

Meredith in patio

Bio: F. M. Meredith aka Marilyn Meredith is the author of over 35 published books. She enjoys writing about police officers and their families and how what happens on the job affects the family and vice versa. Having several members of her own family involved in law enforcement, as well as many friends, she’s witnessed some of this first-hand.

Webpage: http://fictionforyou.com/
Blog: http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marilyn.meredith/

Contest:
Once again I am offering the opportunity to have your name used as a character in a book if you are the person who comments on the most blogs during this tour for Murder in the Worst Degree.

Tomorrow I’ll be visiting Evelyn Cullet at http://evelycullet.com/blog/

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Rewrites and Edits

Over the last ten days, I’ve put in at least eighty hours editing, editing rewrites, and editing the edits of A Tale of Robbers and Cops. Writers will detect an overabundance of “echoing” in the previous sentence. Tough.

Three days ago, I finished my seventh or eighth round of edits. Wow, I’m getting there.

Two days ago, I began to read ‘Robbers’ aloud. What a mess. I began another round of edits.

Today, feeling exhausted, beyond frustration, and just plain whiny, I tweeted:

Editing “Robbers” again today. Will the book never be finished?

I haven’t written a word for the next book in weeks. Detective Hector Miguel Gomez and the other members of the Liberty Police Department Anti-Gang Enforcement (AGE) unit must think I’ve given up on them. They’re probably wondering, “How will we ever lock up Geronimo and the Knife?”

Brian Thiem sent me a note:

“I’m doing a rewrite now and plan one more after that. Once I accepted that rewriting/revising IS writing, it’s been easy. If you’re like most writers, even those best-selling authors, you’d wish you could take another crack at it even after it’s in the bookstores.”

My friend, mentor, and sometimes editor, Vi Moore sent one as well:

“Best-selling authors tell me they do at least five full edits. Congrats! You’re on your way.”

Several other friends wished me Good Luck.

Thank you all for your comments and support.

I went back to work with a fresh and positive attitude. Yes Brian, I’ve accepted the fact that rewriting is writing. With yours and Vi’s comments in mind, I accomplished more in the last four hours than the previous two days. Thanks.

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Filed under A Tale of Robbers and Cops