Julie came down to spend some time with me the other day and we went on a murtle. (sp?) The Mancine family lexicon is rich with words that are either re-purposed, mis-used, or just plain made up. "Murtle" is one of the latter, and it means, roughly, to wander about, when used as a verb, or an outing, when used as a noun, as it is here. Anyway. We wanted to drive down to Catonsville proper to find the local yarn shop, Cloverhill. We found it easily enough, and were pleased to find it bustling with customers who were both buying yarn and sitting and knitting.
We were delighted to find that there is a downtown Catonsville with shops and restaurants and off-street parking. Definitely something to explore another day. We were most excited to find the local public library, and, in fact, Julie pulled in the parking lot so we could check it out. We found it to be architecturally reminiscent of the Elyria Public Library on Washington Avenue. A large one-story box of a building with a local history room in the basement, the Catonsville library is actually a branch of the Baltimore Public Library System. This is exciting to me because it means I have that whole system to draw from.
I went to the reference desk to apply for a library card and was delighted to find that with the proper identification (which I had) I could get my card right away instead of having to wait for mail to arrive at my new address. So I got a library card! And I checked out a book! Yes, it's all that exciting to me. And it was not just any book that I checked out - it was a book by my favorite mystery writer, Carol O'Connell, that I had not yet read.
Carol O'Connell is the author of the Mallory books, a hard-boiled detective series set in contemporary New York City. I love everything about that 9-volume series (all of which Ben gave to me one Christmas) except for the fact that the ninth book, Find Me, seems to be pretty clearly the end of the series. O'Connell also wrote Judas Child, a stand-alone book that was so compelling and so incredibly well-written that as soon as I finished reading the last page, I flipped the book over and read it all again. I almost never do that.
This is all prelude to saying that the book I checked out of the library the other day is another stand-alone entitled Bone by Bone. O'Connell's books are not for the faint of heart - not so much because they are violent or gory, which they sometimes are - but because they are so heartbreaking. The author deals with "the damage that humans can do to each other" as the Library Journal says in its review of this book. O'Connell's characters are badly damaged, but, for the most part, manage to function in spite of that, frequently in ways that will break your heart.
In Bone by Bone, a man is summoned back to the small resort town where he grew up - a town he has not seen in the twenty years since his teenage brother disappeared there. His brother is returning home, "bone by bone" and the protagonist must determine why. There are perhaps too many suspects and too many red herrings, but having read all of O'Connell's other books, I just sat back and enjoyed the ride. This was a book to be read slowly and carefully, and now that I have finished it, perhaps for a second time. Yes, it's that good.