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Death and the Language of Happiness

Straley, John

143 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0553096796 / ISBN 13: 9780553096798
Published by Bantam Dell Pub Group, Westminster, Maryland, U.S.A., 1997
Condition: Fine Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Death and the Language of Happiness

Publisher: Bantam Dell Pub Group, Westminster, Maryland, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 1997

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


Cecil Younger is a private investigator who takes comfort in the absurdity of the universe.  And the universe is obliging him with a joint phone call from his lawyer and his shrink to convey a message from another client: Someone will pay Cecil well to get rid of a killing a man.

Though the bank is about to foreclose on the house he shares with the autistic Toddy, Cecil knows he's not the man for this job.  Common sense tells him that murder just isn't a good career move.  But he does need the money, so Cecil decides to meet his potential client.  Ninety-seven-year-old William Flynn is none too clear on what's happened this week, but he's razor-sharp on the events of eight decades past.  What's happened this week is the murder of Angela Ramirez, a young woman who used to visit Flynn in the nursing home where he resides.  And the subsequent discovery in Flynn's room of the gun used to kill her--which makes him the prime suspect.  Flynn wants Cecil Younger to find, and kill, the man he believes is responsible for Angela's murder: her husband Simon Delaney.

Cecil, his shrink, and Flynn's attorney all figure it may help Flynn's defense to find Delaney, so Cecil sets out on the trail.  It leads him from a rough-and-tumble Aleutian Island town to the perilous streets of Seattle, from the pathetic murder of a drunken woman in a cheap hotel to a decades-old slaughter that is still reaching into the present.  And its dark and chilly grasp may extend to Cecil Younger himself....


What makes this latest Alaskan mystery a must is--as always--the sheer beauty and energy of John Straley's writing. "His right hand engulfed mine in a leathery grip and I held onto it for longer than might have been called for," says detective Cecil Younger of a meeting with an ancient bearer of secrets about old and new murders. "It wasn't until after my grip tightened on his that I felt the quaver of his body his left hand betrayed. I saw in his blue eyes the distant haze of ice, the toehold of confusion and uncertainty. William Flynn was a very old man in a durable body. His soul was a weary traveler. Looking at him I began to feel uncomfortable, as if I were walking over a canyon on a narrow railroad bridge hearing a train whistle far down the line." Available in paperback are Straley's other wonderful books about Younger, The Curious Eat Themselves, The Music of What Happens, and The Woman Who Married a Bear.

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