2014年4月28日 星期一

殘酷的四月:The Cruelest Month讀後感



之前說過,我覺得Louise Penny小說的推理部份寫得普通,吸引我的,是Three Pines村和督察長Gamache的故事線。來到系列的第三本,我終於認同Louise Penny寫偵探小說的功力。

The Cruelest Month的故事發生在復活節期間,殘酷的月份指的是四月,典故來自T. S. Eliot的一首詩:The Wasted Land,在此節錄一段:

APRIL is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.


為何生氣蓬勃的四月會是最殘忍的月份?其中一個角色的見解是,因為春天天氣陰晴不定,溫暖的氣溫令花兒紛紛從酷寒的冬季中醒來,但是只要一下雪,花兒便會凋萎。這是生之時,也是死之時。



這首詩為這本書定調。一位活潑可人的中年女士在一場鬧著玩的降靈會中嚇死了。本來大家以為這是自然死亡,但警察卻在她的體內發現Ephedra(麻黃)。Ephedra被用來當作減肥藥,但此藥有副作用,如心臟有問題的人服用過多,再加上外來刺激,便可能致命。所以,她確實是「嚇死」的,但卻不是自然死亡。

負責這宗案件的督察長Gamache,因為幾年前揭發警隊高層Arnot的惡行而得罪了好些人,更有人派卧底到他麾下工作。他不是蠢人,一早知道此事,但他覺得留卧底在身邊更安全;因為趕走一個可能會有另一個,而讓卧底在身邊,反令他有機會猜度對方的行動。(spoiler alert!)不過,他想不到的是,想對他不利的人竟然不是Arnot的餘黨,而是他的多年好友...... (spoiler 完)

這兩條線平衡發展,兩條線都很吸引,但以Gamache那條線寫得更為緊湊。亦因為Gamache是一個非常有魅力的人,所以讀者都關心他的安危。而且,他敵人的手段十分卑劣,令讀者看得手心冒汗。

雖然Three Pines Series裡的每本書都獨立成章,但最好是順序看。單看一本,你不會對Three Pines的村民和Gamache投入太多感情,亦會對過多Gamache的描寫不耐煩。但當你從第一本開始看時,你便會感受到這些人物的魅力,而且他們在每個故事中都有所成長。

我感到今次作者比前兩作更用心地鋪排案件,書內有頗多伏筆和隱喻,兩條主線亦能互相對照。今次的謀殺動機比之前兩個故事的更為合情理,而當中所涉及的感情,普通人也容易有共鳴。警察們與村民對話時,比較像是查案而不是閒話家常。「開估」的那刻,督察揭破多位村民的秘密,這做法其實很殘忍,他們之後還要一起相處啊,秘密都給人知道了,怎麼辦?兇手的秘密讓人知道也就罷了,但沒有犯案的人為什麼要承受這一切?

不過話說回來,心裡藏著秘密的感覺很辛苦,將秘密公開,可能有置諸死地而後生之效。而且村民都很善良,他們不會利用別人的秘密來做不法勾當。(而且,講到尾,都是情情塔塔為主)

有趣的是,Louise Penny經常被人與克莉絲蒂相提並論,但她卻覺得克莉絲蒂的筆調過於純真。這我不同意,《謝幕》和《無盡之夜》便寫得頗為黑暗。但是,Louise Penny寫警局的黑暗,卻寫得觸目驚心。事實上,中國大陸也發生同樣情況。那就是,「上訪者」被政府無視、抺黑,被當成不合作的人。需要有一個像Gamache的人才能打救他們。但是,這類正義之士會被視為叛徒,下場可能很悽慘。總之,無權無勢又沒有法律保障的人都很可憐。

又來quotation時間:

He’d taken the seat right next to the man who wanted him gone. Preferably right off the planet.
--Gamache有這樣的勇氣,我便沒有。

He’d known even as he did it what it meant. He’d be cast out. Sent from the tribe.
--如果這是維持正義的代價,你會怎樣做?

Of all the things we keep inside the worst are the secrets. The things we are so ashamed of, afraid of, we need to hide them even from ourselves.

Our secrets make us sick because they separate us from other people. Keep us alone. Turn us into fearful, angry, bitter people. Turn us against others, and finally against ourselves

Murder was a secret spread over time.

This is a tragedy of secrets,’ said Gamache. ‘It’s a story of hauntings, of ghosts, of wickedness dressed as valor. It’s a story of things hidden and buried. Alive. When something not quite dead is buried it eventually comes back,’ he said after a moment’s pause. ‘It claws its way out of the dirt, rancid and fetid. And hungry.
--有問題便要徹底解決,不要讓壞思想死灰復燃啊。

‘The near enemy,’ said Myrna. ‘Exactly. Pity for compassion.
--書中關於The near enemy的討論很有意思。什麼是The near enemy?這是一個心理學的理論,意指兩種相近其實相反的感情(Two emotions that look the same but are actually different)。而且:The one parades as the other, is mistaken for the other, but one is healthy and the other's sick, twisted.
書中舉的例子是(希望譯文正確吧):
Attachment & Love 依附與愛("Love wants the best for others. Attachment takes hostages")
Pity & Compassion 可憐(有由上而下之意)與同情(有同理心)這讓我想起最近看過的一段關於pity和empathy的分別的短片,有興趣可看。
Indifference & Equanimity 冷漠與自若 (Equanimity is balance... People with equanimity are unbelivably brave. They absorb the pain, feel it fully, and let it go. And you know what? ... They look exactly like people who don't care at all, who are indifferent. Cool, calm and collected."


Clara thought of all the wedding invitations she hadn’t received and how she’d felt. Partly relieved at not having to go to the party and bring a gift they couldn’t afford, but mostly offended at being left out. Forgotten. Or worse. Remembered but not included.
--你有沒有這種心態?

Everything had changed. Even her grammar. Suddenly she lived in the past tense. And the singular.
--形容愛人過世的悲痛

the television wand in her hand,
--電視搖控器的另一講法。

He’d picked up a stick when he’d entered the woods. To knock the bear on the nose. Or was that sharks? Well, he was ready either way. The bear could always use the stick as a toothpick after eating him.
--在加拿大的野外真的有機會遇上黑熊。牠們是公認危險的動物,不容招惹。

‘Bon. We all hoped you’d come.’ The grocer leaned into the open window, patting Henri(狗狗) who’d climbed over Gamache to see who was there so that it appeared a dog was driving the car.

She’d made the mistake of giving him (指Henri the dog) a soiled hot dog and now she was his new best friend.
--看了就想養狗。

...face settling into the middle years of a life fully lived.
--如果能live life fully,便不會這麼怕老。

加拿大將Louise Penny的第一本書Still Life改編為電視劇,imdb評價很差。老實說我看到演主角Gamache的演員照片(左面那位)便對電視版不抱幻想。這張劇照中,只有演Agent Nicole的演員看上去比較符合我對這個角色的想像。

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