And Gutenberg Lived Here: Death in Causton, Stars Hollow, and Gutenberg Land

We have been in the middle of a blizzard the last couple of days here in Gutenberg Land-

wintry white trees,

twisting in the breeze,

and sighing “oh why didn’t I go to Florida in October,”

squirrels throwing snowballs at anyone who tries to get at their nut supply,

dogs making the snow yellow

so the snowmen , and hopefully the houses behind them,

can be seen in the dark,

when the snow plow drivers

finally get around to ploughing the streets.

And through all of this,

my only consolation has been death.

Dead heaters.

Toll house cookies.

(Death by death by chocolate)

Mahler’s dead children songs,

Bach’s Oh Sacred Head Now Wounded,


of course,

the latest Barnaby series-

incredibly popular over here in Gutenberg Land,

series number 19,

to be exact.

With a Barnaby who isn’t a Barnaby,

so to speak.


John, Not Tom.

A man who just doesn’t play by the rules.

Which means:

when you’re originally from a small town on the Mississippi,

like I am-

picture a cross between the Gilmore Girls’ Stars Hollow,

which my birth town’s  locals are immensely thrilled to be compared to,

and Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn,

which is only a few miles from us.

So now picture how people there die-

not murdered,

but, blessedly. old-age,

and healthy to the last,

due to the constant hard work of raising a family,

or even bringing in the harvest on time.

Sad, but somehow, after a long satisfying life,


And then, there is Carolyn Graham’s wonderful entertaining world of the abnormal.

A member of a sun worshiping cult shot with a golden arrow from a barrow burial find,

Ritual beheading in a film company,

Pregnant nuns falling out of windows.

And suddenly,

when it is all so absurd,

and bizarre,

and has more to do with local color,

and the fact that the much aligned inspector’s wife

is one very bright,

and very observant local,

who gets back at her husband

by not being able to cook,

and always being up on the local absurdity of the week,

the classical Miles,

the soldier or servant, or helper

brighter than his master,

you get joy,

and fun,

And Tom, Joyce, and Calley.

But then,


the times change.

More people live in cities than villages,

manners are no longer soft.

Murders are no longer part of the murder game,

as defined by Agatha Christie and the Detective Club


no one in authority ever kills some one-

no mysterious Chinamen,

the only reason to kill is money,

or dishonor,

or to save someone.

Murders are not planned by leagues of computer gamers,

or virtual reality players,

or dungeon and dragon players,

or if they are,

at least they are never really carried out.

In reality.

Because the game of kings,

or, actually Queens,

as Elizabeth II is a huge fan,

is to enlighten

and entertain,

and thus is a game,


Enter John Barnaby-

degree in psychology,

wife a head mistress of a school-

and still,

the only one bright enough to give clues is the dog-

“woof, woof, he’s in the well, you idiot.”

And it is  not DCI John, but  Sykes the dog, who rolls winsomely on the floor,

paws over eyes.

thus giving the all-important clue

when the baddy enters the room.

And the murders-

even the spark-shooting roulette wheel was boring,

in my opinion,

in comparison to over-seventy year old hippies

poisoning the locals with their Alice B Toklas brownies.

Or the murders in an old-folks’ home-

Can Tom save his aunt on time?

Or the incredible lengths someone will go to to win a cricket game.

Buried treasure-

a fake painting with pictures of the four Beatles instead of the four apostles.

I laughed at that one till I cried.

So what is the point?


Local color.

And under no circumstances,

does anyone but a  really really Vile Nasty Perils of Pauline type villain,

deserve to be done in.

Oh, and of course,

mosst important is  recognition that,

if you turn something we all face,


into something so bizarre, weird, strange, and exotic,

but vampire-and-supernatural free,

it is taken from the realm of the  bizarre

into the realm of the fairy tale,

or, in this case,

The Game,


a game where the reader,

or viewer

can face the ugliness of reality,

and supersede it,

for just a few moments,

before going back to shoveling the car out,

cooking according to a new diet book,

or paying taxes.

Or have you ever seen a victim,

eating a fat-free rice biscuit,

as he shovels his car out to get to the post office,

to pay his taxes on time,

being suddenly killed by trained assassin squirrels,

throwing iceballs with poison-filled acorns,

in order to steal the documents,

that would show that the victim’s occupation

is actually head of a zombie ring,

who have as their goal

the internet robbery of one tenth of one cent for each bank transaction,

in order to buy the blood necessary

to lure vampire extraterrestrials

from the planet Sirius,

to collect the few remaining citizens of


Midsommer Worthy,

Badger’s Drift,

Or even Cabot Cove-

a town where.

in my humble opinion,

they must reproduce like rabbits

to balance the effect of Jessica Fletcher living there.

Has anyone else noticed that the only safe job in Causton

is Police inspector,

or that the name of the town where Jessica Lives

on the city limit sign,

is now

Cabot Cov ?

Or that this helpless little schoolteacher-

who can’t drive a car-

keeps inheriting houses

from her dearly departed neighbors?

Or that with Cousin Cally now married,

and Tom Barnaby off playing Christmas Pantos,

and Joyce all alone in the house in Causton,

with nothing but heavy as  lead biscuits,

or cement hard-baked chicken

to save her..

Maybe we need a new show…

“Sykes To The Rescue?”

copyright 2017 All rights reserved.

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