Just My Inbetweeners

I’m done with books that are just OK, now that my longed-for novel has arrived

A book with flowers

I’M STOKED this morning – just because I’m getting a new book.

I’m having to ram my arse down deep into my seat to make myself work, instead of doing what I desperately want to do: leap on my bike and point the wheels towards Waterstones, so I can finally pick up my longed-for new reading matter. 

I’ve been stalking this particular historical detective story– Execution, by SJ Parris – for almost a year now. As its publication date shifted, agonisingly, from early spring to mid-summer, I tracked it like Shere Khan followed Mowgli through the tall grass.

Come July 9, I high-tailed it to Clapham to pick up my expensive hardback copy, only to find the book wasn’t in stock – there, or in any other branch.

So I placed an order, which the clerk said would probably be ready to collect within three days, but I was still waiting more than two weeks later.

I visited another – larger – shop but still couldn’t find any trace of Execution. I looked at the Guardian Bookshop online, only to find it listed as unavailable, and then in desperation at Apple Books. No dice.

Feeling sick with worry, I turned to SJ Parris’ own website in search of an explanation but found only old, old news. I tried the publishers’ site, and found zilch.

The object of my affection had disappeared without trace… until an email from Waterstone’s finally flopped into my inbox late yesterday. At last! Confirmation that my baby was alive and well!

I am gagging for some of that hot 16th century Kings and Queens/spies and heretics action”

I’m planning to go and collect her as soon as I finish writing this, and maybe some chocolate to nibble when we all finally snuggle up together in bed tonight.

After what seems like years without a new title from either Parris or CJ Sansom, I am just gagging for some of that hot 16th century Kings and Queens/spies and heretics action.

And yet, I’m not sure if reading it immediately would be right…

The problem, you see, is that I’m already involved with another book.

I’m not even half-way through another detective story: Death In The East – the latest in Abir Mukherjee’s very serviceable series about 1920s Indian Raj sleuth Sam Wyndham.

Much as I want to dive straight into Execution, Parris’ latest about ex-monk (and, of course, ace detective) Giordano Bruno, I’m enjoying spending time with Wyndham as he recovers from opium addiction (and, of course, solves murders) in a remote Assamese monastery.

The truth is, Wyndham is a great guy and a great read. It doesn’t feel right just to chuck him over the minute that Bruno comes back and flutters his eyelashes….

It’s complicated right now. But a month ago, it would have been heaven if Parris/Bruno/HarperCollins had just dropped in and expected me to be free.

Then, I was just hanging out with a series of inbetweener books while I looked around for something better. These unfortunate volumes mostly came and went in a bit of a blur, but I do remember Adrian Chiles’ football memoir We Don’t Know What We’re Doing, and The Chestnut Man, by Soren Sveistrup, creator of The Killing

Inbetweener books are the literary equivalent of Friends With Benefits – they’ll scratch that itch until The One arrives”

Of course, the main point about inbetweener books is that we all know where we stand.

They’re the literary equivalent of Friends With Benefits – they’ll scratch that itch until The One arrives. But they also know that if my True Love walks right through that door, there’s a good chance that the inbetweener will never be finished; just consigned to the charity shop pile without a second thought.

Of course, I’m being a bit disrespectful to my inbetweeners, because they are books that deserve to be loved, too.

Maybe I just felt a bit embarrassed by We Don’t Know What We’re Doing: a book I picked up off free off someone’s garden wall, written by a TV presenter, about an unfashionable football club and ordinary people from the Black Country.

It was, in fact, an unexpectedly funny and moving read. But it was also a bit like going out with someone you know from school: once the novelty of snogging them has worn off, you start to see his/her limitations compared to their sexy mate, your next planned conquest.

I’m shallow enough to have my head turned”

Execution, with its dip into the dangerous 16th century, its dalliances with murder, intrigue, politics and sex, is altogether more thrilling stuff – and I’ll admit that I’m shallow enough to have my head turned.

But I don’t think Death In The East is an inbetweener… It’s a keeper that I’ll happily recommend to friends.

And if Execution has any respect for me, especially after keeping me waiting all this time, it won’t mind sitting on the shelf, for just a few days…

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