Saturday, October 19, 2013

October 19: A Night in the Lonesome October-fest

We open with some reflections and Things.

I went out last night and sniffed around the ancient manse. There were signs of recent work on the place, smells of fresh-cut lumber, of paint, of roofing, but it was locked up tighter than a canopic urn, and I couldn't tell whether there was anyone about. I walked home, still feeling relieved that I was done with my corpse dragging. The wind whistled and dry leaves blew by me. There were flashes of lightning from off in the Good Doctor's direction.

The Thing in the Circle said, "French poodle?" when it saw me enter.

"Not today."

"Anything else? Anything at all? I'd sure like to get out and kill and rend. I'm feeling stronger all of a sudden."

"Your time will come," I told it.

The Thing in the Steamer Trunk had poked a small hole in the front. An enormous yellow eye regarded me through it. It didn't make a sound, though.

Snuff goes to asleep, only to be awakened by a Gipsy caravan in the morning. I usually see the word spelled with a "y", "Gypsy", though it sees less use in 2013 as it's considered somewhat offensive. (Though I certainly don't hold that against a book from 1993, which is in turn referencing characters from Dracula)

Quicklime calls to Snuff from the side of the road and they confer about the development. ("The master spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe, where he learned something of his ways. When the Count travels, he's often accompanied by a band of Gipsies. Rastov thinks he came here in a hurry when he determined where the locus would be, then sent for his band.")

Quicklime offhandedly mentions the possibility that the Count may have established more than one residence, causing Snuff to exclaim "Good Lords!" I leave it as an exercise to the reader whether that's a bit of flavor from Zelazny or a line with deeper meaning. Snuff and Quicklime realize that this may disrupt the pattern they've painstakingly constructed (though Rastov is the Calculator of his pair and Quicklime is surprised that Snuff plays that role in his) and go on to verify that the Count is where they expect him to be.

Snuff tells Quicklime that the Vicar holds services to the Elders, and is therefore a player and an opener. They part ways and Snuff travels to Larry's home, where an older woman is paying Larry a visit. The pair steps within, Snuff peers into the window and sees them talking. He waits until the woman departs, then runs up to Larry and asks about her.

He's not certain if Larry will be able to understand him, as he can only communicate with Jack between midnight and one, but Larry is able to understand him perfectly and tells him the woman is a widow named Linda Enderby. In reality, she is the Great Detective in another disguise. My friend Jen is right. The Detective is one of the best characters in the book.

After they complete that conversation, Snuff returns home to find Graymalk waiting for him. She informs him that the vicar brought the search party directly to the location where the constable's body had originally been dumped, and concluded that he was involved in the murder.

I like the Vicar. He's a really interesting character. The impression I get is that he's an amateur cultist who had been established in the area well before it was clear that it would be the location for the climax of the Game. He's small potatoes and not particularly good at anything (it takes him four days to get the police to the site of the murder?), but just ruthless and canny enough to cause trouble. They say the best fencer in the world doesn't fear the second best fencer, but rather the beginner who could do something completely unexpected. The beginner would die, but he might cause some real trouble first. I think something similar is at play here.

Snuff wanders a little after this, swinging by the vicarage, where he sees Linda Enderby's coach, and an albino raven.


  1. The Great Detective- huzzah! It's amusing to me how Holmes has these fantastic disguises throughout the book, but Snuff is never fooled. It's yet another reinforcement of Snuff's canine nature. I don't know if it's like this for you, but since I've listened to the audiobook, when I read the book, I hear Snuff speak with Roger Zelazny's voice.

    1. If you like the Great Detective's disguises, you might appreciate A Counting Game, from last year's Lonesome October issue of the eZine. The story revolves around a particularly clever disguise.