Recently I've been reading through my collection of Janet Evanovich books. I started reading her books a long long time ago - I bought book 6 in hardback when I was living in Canterbury and she's just done number 11. The only other authors I can remember reading consistently like that (current authors that is) are Terry Pratchett and Katie Fforde.
Anyways, I read book 1 and didn't remember the storyline! It's been so long since I read it, mainly because I was missing odd ones in the sequence so tended to only read the three that I had in a row. Then at Christmas I filled in all the gaps, but since I'd also done that with Pratchett and was reading those, Stephanie Plum drew the short straw.
But I digress. The real point of this post follows below.
Where's My Cow? 1st October 2005. £10.99
At six o'clock every day, without fail, with no excuses, Sam Vimes must go home to read "Where's My Cow?", with all the right farmyard noises, to his little boy. There are some things you have to do. It is the most loved and chewed book in the world. But his father wonders why it is full of moo-cows and baa-lambs when Young Sam will only ever see them cooked on a plate. He can think of a more useful book for a boy who lives in a city. So Sam Vimes starts adapting the story. A story with streets, not fields. A book with rogues and villains. A book about the place where he'll grow up.
Thud! 1st October 2005 £17.99
Koom Valley? That was where the trolls ambushed the dwarfs, or the dwarfs ambushed the trolls. It was far away. It was a long time ago. But if he doesn't solve the murder of just one dwarf, Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is going to see it fought again, right outside his office. With his beloved Watch crumbling around him and war-drums sounding, he must unravel every clue, outwit every assassin and brave any darkness to find the solution. And darkness is following him. Oh...and at six o'clock every day, without fail, with no excuses, he must home to read "Where's My Cow?", with all the right farmyard noises, to his little boy. There are some things you have to do.
And those lovely people at Author Tracker just sent me this in an email.
What you have here is an excerpt from my new novel, Thud! It's about a murder in the dark that resurrects an ancient mystery (that statement is true and, since this is a mystery, carefully misleading), and about the man -- Commander Sam Vimes of the City Watch -- who must figure it all out. And avert a war at the same time. And make sure he's home by six
o'clock every night to read a bedtime story to his little boy. Some things are important, after all.
If you haven't read one of my books before, don't worry. Although I've written a lot of them, and most are set in the same place and occasionally share characters, knowing what's gone before might enhance the fun, but it's not necessary to the overall experience. This is pretty much a standalone book and anyone who's ever read a crime novel or a thriller or a fantasy book, for that matter, should be able to hum along happily until they pick up the refrain.
Yep, I used the word "fantasy" But the Discworld, on which a lot of my books are set, isn't your classic fantasy world. All the big wars were a long time ago. Now people just want to get on in the world and make a buck or two. The people might be dwarfs or trolls or wizards, but at the same time they can be bureaucrats or thugs or shoe salesmen. (I guess that's why the ubiquitous "they" have said that I'm a master of satire. Right. I didn't know it was that easy.) It's life in a big city where a young female vampire points out that the real problem with turning yourself into a flock of bats is keeping track of the one that's carrying your underwear; where a werewolf can only take a B.A.T.H. if she spells it out in her head; and where being the commander of the police department is just as much of a headache as it
And, just like here, the dragons to watch out for are no longer the big fiery things in the sky, but the same old evil one ones that live in our minds . . .
Thud . . .
. . . that was the sound the heavy club made as it connected with the head. The body jerked, and slumped back.
And it was done, unheard, unseen: the perfect end, a perfect solution, a perfect story.
But, as the dwarfs say, where there is trouble you will always find a troll.
The troll saw.
It started out as a perfect day. It would soon enough be an imperfect one, he knew, but just for these few minutes, it was possible to pretend that it wouldn't.
Sam Vimes shaved himself. It was his daily act of defiance, a confirmation that he was. . . well, plain Sam Vimes.
Admittedly, he shaved himself in a mansion, and while he did so, his butler read out bits from the Times, but they were just. . .circumstances. It was still Sam Vimes looking back at him from the mirror. The day he saw the duke of Ankh-Morpork in there would be a bad day. "Duke" was just a job description, that's all.
"Most of the news is about the current. . .dwarfish situation, sir," said Willikins, as Vimes negotiated the tricky area under the nose. He still used his granddad's cutthroat razor. It was another anchor to reality. Besides, the steel was a lot better than the steel
you got today. Sybil, who had a strange enthusiasm for modern gadgetry, kept on suggesting he get one of those new shavers, with a little magic imp inside that had its own scissors and did all the cutting very quickly, but Vimes had held out. If anyone was going to be using a blade near his face, it was going to be him.
"Koom Valley, Koom Valley," he muttered to his reflection. "Anything new?"
"Not as such, sir," said Willikins, turning back to the front page. "There is a report of that speech by Grag Hamcrusher. There was a disturbance afterwards, it says. Several dwarfs and trolls were wounded. Community leaders have appealed for calm."
Vimes shook some lather off the blade. "Hah! I bet they have. Tell me, Willikins, did you fight much when you were a kid? Were you in a gang or anything?"
"I was privileged to belong to the Shamlegger Street Rude Boys, sir," said the butler.
"Really?" said Vimes, genuinely impressed. "They were pretty tough nuts, as I recall."
"Thank you, sir," said Willikins smoothly. "I pride myself I used to give somewhat more than I got if we needed to discuss the vexed area of turf issues with the young men from Rope Street. Stevedore's hooks were their weapon of choice, as I recall."
"And yours. . .?" said Vimes, agog.
"A cap-brim sewn with sharpened pennies, sir. An ever-present help in times of trouble."
"Ye gods, man! You could put someone's eye out with something like that."
"With care, sir, yes," said Willikins, meticulously folding a towel.
And here you stand now, in your pinstripe trousers and butlering coat, shiny as schmaltz and fat as butter, Vimes thought, while he tidied up under the ears. And I'm a duke. How the world turns.
"And have you ever heard someone say "let's have a disturbance"?" he said.
"Me neither. It only happens in newspapers." Vimes glanced at the bandage on his arm. It had been quite disturbing, even so.
"Did it mention I took personal charge?" he said.
"No, sir. But it does say here that rival factions in the street outside were kept apart by the valiant efforts of the Watch, sir."
"They actually used the word "valiant"?" said Vimes, still tidying up under the ears.
"Indeed they did, sir."
"Well, good," Vimes conceded grumpily. "Do they record that two officers had to be taken to the Free Hospital, one of them quite badly hurt?"
"Unaccountably, not, sir," said the butler.
"Huh. Typical. Oh, well. . .carry on."
Willikins coughed a butlery cough. "You might wish to lower the razor for the next one, sir. I got into trouble with her ladyship about last week's little nick."
Vimes watched his image sigh, and lowered the razor. "All right, Willikins. Tell me the worst."
Behind him, the paper was professionally rustled. "The headline on page three is: "Vampire Officer For The Watch?" sir," said the butler, and took a careful step backwards.
"Damn! Who told them?"
"I really couldn't say, sir. It says you are not in favor of vampires in the Watch but will be interviewing a recruit today. It says there is a lively controversy over the issue."
"Turn to page eight, will you?" said Vimes grimly. Behind him, the paper rustled again.
"Well?" he said, "That's where they usually put their silly political cartoon, isn't it?"
"You did put the razor down, did you, sir?" said Willikins.
"Perhaps it would also be just as well if you stepped away from the washbasin, too, sir."
"There's one of me, isn't there?" said Vimes grimly.
"Indeed there is, sir. It portrays a small nervous vampire and, if I may say so, a rather larger-than-life drawing of yourself leaning over your desk, holding a wooden stake in your right hand. The caption is "Any good on a stake-out, eh?" sir, this being a humorous wordplay referring, on the one hand, to the standard police procedure."
"Yes, I think I can just about spot it," said Vimes wearily. "Any chance you could nip down and buy the original before Sybil does? Every time they run a cartoon of me, she gets hold of it and hangs it up in the library!"
"Mr., er, Fizz does capture a very good likeness, sir," the butler conceded. "And I regret to say that her ladyship has already instructed me to go down to the Times office on her behalf."
"Moreover, sir," Willikins went on, "her ladyship desired me to remind you that she and Young Sam will meet at the studio of Sir Joshua at eleven sharp, sir. The painting is at an important stage, I gather."
"She was very specific, sir. She said if a commander of police cannot take time off, who can?"
On this day in 1802, the painter Methodia Rascal woke up in the night because the sounds of warfare were coming from a drawer in his bedside table.
One little light illuminated the cellar, which was to say that it lent different textures to the darkness and divided shadow from darker shadow.
The figures barely showed up at all. It was quite impossible, with normal eyes, to tell who was talking.
"This is not to be talked about, do you understand?"
"Not talked about? He's dead!"
"This is dwarf business! It's not to come to the ears of the city watch! They have no place here! Do any of us want them down here?"
"They do have dwarf officers --"
"Hah. D'rkza. Too much time in the sun. They're just short humans now. Do they think dwarf? And Vimes will dig and dig and wave the silly rags and tatters they call laws. Why should we allow such a violation? Besides, this is hardly a mystery. Only a troll could have done it, agreed? I said, are we agreed?"
"That is what happened," said a figure; the voice was thin and old and, in truth, uncertain.
"Indeed, it was a troll," said another voice, almost the twin of that one, but with a little more assurance.
The subsequent pause was underlined by the ever-present sound of the pumps.
"It could only have been a troll," said the first voice. "Is it not said that behind every crime you will find the troll?"
Excerpted from Thud! Copyright © 2005 by Terry Pratchett. HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.