Monday, April 5, 2010

Miles to Go

Dear readers, by now you must know Miss Lemon and all of her quirks: how she values order and efficiency; how she loves Devonshire cream atop a freshly baked rock cake; her passion for filing; and how she likes nothing better than to curl up on her divan on a rainy Sunday afternoon to read a good old-fashioned British murder mystery.

You also may have noticed Miss Lemon's reluctance to dip her toe into the pool (mind she did not say 'cess') of modern politics.  So I think you will be pleasantly surprised to learn that, on occasion, an old cat can indeed change her stripes.

Just such a realisation struck when Miss Lemon discovered how much she enjoyed reading the very modern, very American and very action-packed spy thriller Miles to Go (2010), by Amy Dawson Robertson.

The intrigue centers on Rennie Vogel, the only woman to land a permanent place on the FBI's elite and newly formed counter-terrorism team charged with hunting down the leader of a terrorist training camp in Tajikistan. From the race that cements Rennie's spot on the team to a harrowing trek through the lush forests of Shuroabad, Miss Lemon can see why this genre is called 'thriller.' Double agentry, hostage manipulation, narrow escapes -- it's all here in dramatic splendor.

Lest one think that Miss Lemon's literary sensibilities have veered madly from the British cosy, she begs one to consider the many things in common Ms. Vogel and her milieu have with their literary forebears.  Like Poirot with his little grey cells and Miss Marple with her village parallels, there are things that set Rennie Vogel apart from her peers and ultimately make her the one able to vanquish evil and establish order where others fail -- all the while unmasking that which is not at all what it first appears to be.

What's more, Miles to Go is smart and literary. From its apt title, taken from Robert Frost's poem, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," and references to Hawthorne, to Fareed Reza, a reluctant terrorist still moved by the first time he ever laid eyes on Da Vinci's Ginevra D'Benci and Rennie Vogel, who remembers her childhood as if it were a cloister, shut up as she was with all of her books, Miss Lemon challenges her readers to find genre fiction so literate.

Ms. Dawson Robertson names Patricia Cornwell as an influencing figure on her writing, and indeed Miss Lemon could see many Cornwellian elements in Miles to Go, particularly in the scenes set  around Quantico, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Ms. Dawson Robertson also seems to have picked up Ms. Cornwell's knack for pacing. Miss Lemon picked up the book on a Saturday afternoon and had finished the bulk of it by nightfall. (Granted, she had to avert her eyes during many of the decidedly onstage acts of violence.)

Even so, dear readers, please don't laugh when Miss Lemon says that after reading Miles to Go, she rather regretted not taking up a career in the MI5. Then again ... one is never to old to be recruited, is one?


  1. Well, if you recommend it, I think I can trust that I will like it! Thank you.

  2. It is a bit more action than what Miss Lemon is used to -- but the change has done her good. BTW, she's reading The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie at your recommendation, so thank you likewise!