Friday, May 04, 2012

Dust To Dust

Good book: Dust To Dust. Author, Tami Hoag has been around for a while, but first of her novels that I read.

Long Beach Public Library sends e-mails listing the latest library additions. I have Hoag's latest book on the To Read list I sometimes remember to take with me when I visit the library. As is usual for new books, it has not been available for a while.

I learned something new at my last visit to Brewitt ~ there is a separate section for Thrillers, or per the label on spine of Dust To Dust: Danger, Suspense novels. I guess that is why I have had such a hard time locating certain novels the system said were checked in, but I could not find on the Mystery shelves. I do not think they are set up like that at Main library.

I hesitated to check out Dust To Dust because it is the second novel in the Kovac/Liska detective series. The first is not available at Brewitt branch; since the new novel and author got rave reviews in the e-mail, I wanted to read something by the author ~ now ~ to find out if she was that great. Glad that I did.

"Parking ramps were a favorite of muggers and rapists. Vagrants, most of them drunk or mentally ill, liked the ramps for shelter and to use as public toilets..."

That sentence took my mind straight back to sleeping ~ trying to sleep ~ not on the sides of a parking ramp, but in the stairwell leading from street to underground parking levels. There was a one toilet ladies room on the back side of the lot. Sometimes it was open all night; other times it was locked and I had to use my portable urinal.

Many of the homeless men and a couple females did use anyplace for public toilet. I still remember being shocked to see (name escapes me) using a potted plant early one AM to empty her bowels.

A man who thought he had been stood up at a club, left by the back door. He was dressed in drag for a part he was playing at a cafe a couple of blocks away. "Drunks and drug addicts and the homeless traveled this maze of back routes, avoiding the cops." It was the same reason he used the alley rather than street sidewalks. He felt, "Every Dumpster, every empty box was a potential hiding place for a predator or scavenger."

A flood of memories came to mind reading that. Even before I was homeless, I saw people sleeping near the dumpster behind my Elm Avenue apartment. Saw lots more during my street living days. Never could understand how they could sleep behind, or around dumpsters. All those cockroaches running around. I was so tired, many a time I contemplated alley sleeping, even on a discarded mattress near the dumpster where I once lived.

One night, "The homeless who had spent their day in the warmth of the library had been shooed out along with him. They milled around on the sidewalk, instinctively shying away from Kovac, smelling cop. The librarian had probably thought he was one of them."

I do not know that many of Long Beach homeless spent their days in the Main library. I still see some, asleep, snoring in chairs, or quietly reading. Since the bathroom has been remodeled, have not run into any homeless women bathing in the sink or trying to sell me something. I think the library has relaxed its restrictions regarding homeless backpacks. There used to be quite a few of them piled on floor in front of windows at entrance.

Many times see homeless sitting along outside getting, I am guessing, some free WiFi for their laptop computers. I get nostalgic; wondering if the night scene around the civic center is as it was when I spent some nights sleeping in the area. Not related to homelessness, Hoag writes:

"As with most funerals, it didn't matter what the presiding clergyman had to say anyway. What mattered was the panorama of memories playing through each person's head, the mental and emotional scrapbooks of experiences with the person lost."

That brought back an image of me sitting in a pew at my childhood church at my father's funeral. I was listening to what the priest was saying. Most often at a wake and funeral, I stare at the deceased, thinking, but also listening. I can not say that I was thinking about experiences with the deceased. When I was very young, I wondered why all the wailing and beating of breasts ~ the dearly departed was in heaven now, which should be a joyful occasion, not one of despair.

Then I got to thinking, um, maybe they feared the loved one went in the other direction; to hell. As an adult, I came to understand grief over the loss of a loved one, much better. The tears were not for the deceased as much as for themselves, missing the person.

Dust To Dust kept me guessing to the end about whodunit, making it an excellent mystery. I like Hoag's sense of humor and little touches, like the bit about funerals. Will enjoy a Hoag reading binge; finishing the Kovac/Liska series and reading other series ~ hopefully from book one on to the last.

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