Death Wore White by Jim Kelly

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“The pickers didn’t watch; they were cocooned in their cotton-wool world which helped them live through the pain in their backs, the numbing boredom.” Death Wore White, p. 108

Hmmm. I had visions of showing off a tad when I agreed to start another blog, one that required a mention of whatever book I was reading that week. And yet, this very first week, I find myself reading not a noteworthy classic, or the much-anticipated debut of an up-and-coming prodigy, or even a brainy article from the New Yorker. No. I’m reading a mystery in which three corpses have already been discovered in a sleepy northern England village.

Jim Kelly is one of those writers, though, who just happens to write mysteries. But he’d be writing the next Pulitzer winner, or how-to-knit books, or teenage zombie romance novels and I’d read him. He’s good in a solid, smooth way, like your favorite pinot that manages to provide the comfort of familiar taste while hinting at parts of you that are more exciting, better-read, more willing to dash out of the house on an adventure.

Take that line about the pickers. (Who, by the way, know more than they should about murder number two.) We all have some version of cotton wool we apply to our own lives, don’t we? Mine is the hope I’ll someday make the leap from digital pages that no one pays for to wood pulp pages nestled between cardboard covers that people will willingly submit a credit card number for the pleasure of reading. ┬áMine is also children. These adorable creatures that suck the majority of my time and energy and leave me free to ignore the steps I’ve missed over the past dozen years, the branches in the past I felt secure in ignoring because: babies! Babies needed me! My children are my favorite excuse for why I haven’t done more, done better.

Even now, the happiest I’ve ever been, there’s cotton wool to brush from my face in order to better breathe. Wine. Frozen coconut fruit bars. Facebook. These crutches we apply to our lives in order to better endure our failures and fears.

Huh. I did not expect to get this dark.

Anyhoo, let’s get on with our lives. Poke holes in your own cotton wool, whether it’s work, aspirin, mean boyfriends, painful high heels, marathon Netflix viewings, sex, or potato chips. Feel the pain in your back, feel numbingly bored. Corpses are plentiful in northern England villages, and they’re plentiful in our modern, chaotic lives. We don’t need to add to the casualty list, even in a metaphoric way.

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