Cloister Commentary, Day 81: Beaumont Noir

As both of our schools (I will actually be negotiating three) edge toward a decision on how they will open in the fall and Covid-19 cases rapidly increase in our locality, Nicole and I are struggling to appreciate each present moment. Part of that increase is due to a barrage of testing we participated in last week, but nonetheless the phenomenon is not a comfort, and it’s just the truth that we will all only be able to control our own responses to the work environments we re-enter. Maybe it’s best to remind ourselves it’s still a marathon, not nearly a sprint, and to reach the fall in strong mind, body and spirit, fortified by not neglecting the moments between, is the right set of actions. I hope I can be disciplined enough.

As always, in times of stress, we turned to deviled eggs. Amazingly, I did not eat all 16 yesterday: eight sriracha, eight wasabi. But I think we’re down to less than half.

Quivering, shivering deviled eggs trying to hide in the fridge.

I am so encouraged by the change already being brought about by our citizens’ constant protest pressure. It is inspiring. At the same time, though I am pro-union, I worry about the defiance soon to be mounted by police unions led by humans who have no interest in change but do have an interest in maintaining a culture of impunity for demonstrably dangerous police officers. There is only one way that kind of leadership can be changed.

If you’re seeking out detective fiction with strong, complex female characters (and at least one reasonably tolerable male one), may I direct you to the “Beaumont noir” of Lisa Sandlin‘s Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan novels? At present, there are two, though I’ve been apprised that Sandlin has a new one in the chute. Phelan is a war veteran and former oil rig worker who sets up as a P. I. in that strange Texas town; Wade, freshly released from prison at 32 after 14 years on a questionable murder charge–she killed someone, but–is, almost by fate, Phelan’s first hire. She’s his secretary, but she’s the more intuitive and observant detective, and she soon transcends that job and mesmerizes her “boss.” Sandlin’s deftness and wit with dialogue, plot, characterization and local color are truly amazing, and she’s fearless, funny and earthy. Compulsively readable, the first is The Do-Right, the second is The Bird Boys. Thanks to Beaumont’s own Frissell Boys for leading me to them. I think Sandlin is a genius.$

Streaming for Strivers:

This came up in my YouTube feed, and like a virus I must infect you.

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