Some people read crime for the plots, others read crime for, well, other reasons. I’m an ‘other reasons’ sort of reader. The most important thing for me is the character of the main protagonist. Am I interested in them? Am I entertained? Do I want to ‘hang out’ with them? Otherwise frankly what is the point? Ghost Flight is the third in the Moss Reid series, figuring the Irish PI based in the Stonybatter area of Dublin. The other two in the series are Another Case in Cowtown and Black Marigolds.
Moss, I am happy to say, is well worth hanging out with. He is amiable, funny, not afflicted with irritating flaws and wouldn’t be seen dead falling asleep in his chair while listening to his old vinyl collection. He likes a pint and hanging out with his friends, Colley and Arnaud and although he loves his food, he is not pretentious about it. An amuse bouche is a ‘gob tickler’ and he’s as happy with ‘a big dirty Ulster fry’ as ‘tellines de camargue‘. Oh, and he’s got something in common with Doris Day and Whoopi Goldberg. Always a good sign in a man.
This is not to say that Mel Healy is a slouch at putting together an intriguing plot and if plots are your thing you’ll find plenty here to keep you puzzled and entertained. It involves three men going missing in a light aircraft off the west coast of Ireland and then one of them turning up in France six years later. Then a woman goes missing…
The reason I enjoyed this book is because I now know a whole load of things I did not know before including:
- what Developmental Prosopagnosia is
- what the dual nationalities of Schrödinger of Schrödinger’s cat fame were
- how to whip up perfect scrambled eggs
- how to pick a pin-tumbler (that’s a lock by the way)
- what tellines are and how to cook them; it involves pink garlic and hazelnuts
- how to get out of a French police station if I’ve been arrested for not having enough breathalyzers or high vis jackets in my car
- where the flying sequences of the film The Blue Max were filmed
- what the origin is of the canker which is affecting the plane trees which line the Canal du Midi …
I could go on but I’m sure you’re getting the idea by now. Ghost Flight is very well written and funny. This is one of my favourite lines:
You can tell a lot about a man from his shoes: who he is, what he’s like. If eyes are the window to the soul, then shoes are the Velux skylight.
So there’s something for everyone here, including a few good recipes thrown in for free. In fact my feeling is that if Kinky Friedman were Irish he might well turn out to be Mel Healy.
The last paragraph in the book is this:
That’s the trouble with this town; when people say, “I’ve just finished that book,” you never know whether they are talking about reading one or writing one.
I, for one, am hoping that Mel Healy is getting on and writing the next Moss Reid mystery right now.
Finally, I must issue a severe warning: WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK WHILE HUNGRY. Otherwise you’ll find yourself listening to a growling stomach, while staring disconsolately into your fridge, wishing for Arnaud, Moss and Colley to turn up at the door in Tintin (read the book to find out what Tintin is) and rustle you up some perfect tellines de camargue.
Mel blogs at http://melhealy.wordpress.com and his blog is as funny, idiosyncratic and eclectic as his books. Oh, and there are recipes…