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For some reason, while Roughead's elaborate sentences charm, Henry James' makes me want to rip his head off. I guess I am surprised that James' epistolary style so closely matches his fiction; it takes 20 minutes each to decipher the clauses and digressions and distill them into sense. How would he have handled e-mail? In your link, James sympathetically describes Mary Queen of Scots as the "wondrous mother" and her consort as King James' "horrid papa" -- I'm sure Roughead must have covered the famous true crime of the murder of Darnley, but I can't remember his conclusions. He tends to cast a sardonic eye on pretty women whose inconvenient husbands end up dead, though ...


Thunderstruck is really, really badly put together. It just is. The problem is that while you can weave the incidents in Devil together pretty effectively, you just can't do that in this book. Much of the Crippen stufff took place long after the Marconi, so the book kind of jerks back and forth in time, which makes for a somewhat jumbled read.

The real payoff of the book is the last 25 pages, where everything comes together.

The first time I read it, I honestly didn't enjoy it. Then I did this: I read all of the Marconi chapters, then all of the Crippen, then the last 25 pages. Fabulous! If they had done the book as two novellas with the last 25 pages merging the stories, I think it would have had a better flow. It's certainly a better read, at least for me.

Anyway, just my two cents.


Spoon River Anthology

Fans of Spoon River Anthology might be interested in a new online edition that has cross-links and other features that help readers get more out of it. See

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