Tag Archives: Third Sentence Thursday

Third sentence Thursday – a moment in literary history

(What is Third Sentence Thursday? Open the book you’re reading to a random page. Post the third complete sentence on that page. Add a few comments about the book.)

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

p. 5 – “‘A fellow who is working in the chemical laboratory up in the hospital.'”

Up to this point, the story has been all about Dr. Watson and how he ruined his health as an army doctor in Afghanistan and India. Now the doctor is back in London, living on a pension, and looking for someone to share apartment rent with him. An acquaintance from Watson’s medical school days is starting to tell him about an eccentric young man who needs someone to share expenses with, just like Watson.

World, meet Sherlock Holmes.

Third Sentence Thursday – Is there a dog at all?

The Case of the Howling Dog by Erle Stanley Gardner

p. 52: “He pounded on the panels of the door with his knuckles, and received no answer.”

Perry Mason is trying to locate his client – but nobody’s home at the client’s house except his housekeeper. She’s deaf. Will anyone ever answer the door?

Mason has been doing his best for his new client, Arthur Cartwright. Mr. Cartwright insists that his next door neighbor Clinton Foley trained his dog to howl just to torment Arthur, as well as poor sick Mrs. Foley. He wants the police to put a stop to the howling, but he’s afraid that Clinton Foley will take revenge on him.

Oh, and just in case anything happens to him, Cartwright wants Mason to help him make a cast-iron will leaving everything he has to Mrs. Foley.

Mason calls on an assistant district attorney – who owes him a favor – to start slow with an official letter to Foley. (That proves that this is a very early story; later in the series, nobody in the district attorney’s office would ever admit they owe Mason anything.) Next thing you know, Foley is accusing Cartwright of being a homicidal maniac and offering witnesses who will testify that the dog has never ever howled since it was a puppy. And Cartwright has disappeared.

And so has Mrs. Foley.

Third Sentence Thursday – I remembered this week!

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

p. 77: “I went to my window, opened it, and looked out.”

And what she sees is the same view she’s looked at for eight years, a tiny sliver of the whole world. After ten years of a miserable childhood in her aunt’s house, Jane Eyre was packed off to a cheap boarding school. Her aunt had every reason to expect that she would soon die there, like many of the other students, but Jane was always an uncooperative child.

Instead, she thrived – partly because a scandalous epidemic soon after she first got there led to some major improvements at Lowood School. For two years, she’s been one of the teachers, even though she’s only just eighteen. (Schools could do that in the early 1800s.) She hasn’t left the school since she was ten, and she hasn’t wanted to.

But now Miss Temple, the superintendent, who has been a sort of mother figure for Jane, has married and left. Her soothing influence is over. Suddenly Jane is restless. She wants more, more excitement, more experience, more life. She’s about to make sure she gets it.

It’s Thursday. Time for third sentence(s).

(Just a quick recap: Third Sentence Thursday is another one of those book-related web games. The idea is to open the book you’re reading to a random page and post the third complete sentence on that page, with a short teaser description of the book.)

Thirteen at Dinner, Agatha Christie

p. 158: “‘She was very startled at seeing me, of course.'”

The next day, you might think she’d have been seriously worried, not just startled, about having seen the speaker (her cousin, a man she’s at least half in love with). She – Geraldine Marsh, the daughter of Lord Edgware – was supposed to be at the opera, but her penniless cousin Ronald met her there during the intermission and persuaded her to go home, sneak in and get her pearl necklace, and give it to him to sell. He’ll wait in the taxi…but as she comes down the stairs with the pearls, there’s Ronald in the hall.

Next morning, she learns that her father was murdered in his library, just off that hall, sometime during the evening when she filched the pearls. (So poor cousin Ronald is now the new, wealthy, Lord Edgware.) What was he doing in the hall instead of the taxi, anyway?

Garden Spells, Sarah Addison Allen

p. 4: “Long roads like snakes with no tails.”

Claire keeps having dreams about her early childhood when she and her mother roamed aimlessly down those snaky roads. Back then, she spent too many nights waiting in the car outside bars and too many days acting as lookout while her mother shoplifted.

But what really bothers Claire is that everything changed when her younger sister came along. Suddenly, her mother decided that children need roots and security. Suddenly, they went home. Her mother and sister wandered off again long ago; Claire’s still there, rooted like the famous family apple tree, careful to make sure nothing ever changes again.

Everything is about to change.

It’s Third Sentence Thursday time again

Twilight, Stephenie Meyer, p. 187:

“‘Don’t let that make you complacent, though,’ he warned me.”

One thing I like about Twilight? I don’t have to worry about spoilers. There can’t be more than three people left on the planet who can read English and don’t know the basic situation in this book.

So I feel perfectly comfortable in telling you that what’s going on here is that Edward has just told Bella that his “family” of vampires avoids dining on people. Now he’s going to try to convince her that he’s still dangerous.

What I can’t decide is whether Edward is being cleverly manipulative here – he’s had lots of time to learn how to sell himself to shy teenage girls – or whether the poor guy is a sincere monster who genuinely wants to protect this delicious, tantalizing prey animal. Doesn’t much matter, though. He is dangerous.

Bella, you idiot, run far and run fast, no matter how pretty he is. And don’t look back.

My third Third Sentence Thursday

The Masque of the Black Tulip, Lauren Willig, p. 65:

“If Miles could have also stripped himself of his white silk stockings and knee breeches, he would have, but somehow, he thought he’d arouse more attention striding in there buck-naked than he would clad as though for a court audience.”

Got your attention yet? We’re in the midst of a Regency spy story. Miles Dorrington, an undercover agent of His Majesty’s government in the war against Napoleon, is following a suspicious gentleman through the slums of London, and he’s dressed to kill because the chase started from an elegant evening at Almack’s. The suspect has just slipped into a low-life pub, and Miles has removed and hidden his jeweled shoe buckles before following. Even without jewels, he’s going to be obviously out of place. But there really isn’t much more he can do to change his appearance without making things even worse.

A page or two earlier, we get treated to a wonderful mangling of one of those detective story cliches. The suspect left Almack’s in a sedan chair carried by two strong men (a fairly common type of London transportation in those days). Miles jumps into the next available one and orders the front-end carrier, “Follow that chair!”

(The carrier just says, “That’ll be extra if you want me to run.”)

Three-book third sentence Thursday

(What is Third Sentence Thursday? Open the book you’re reading to a random page. Post the third complete sentence on that page. Add a few comments about the book.) I started playing with Third Sentence Thursday last week, and I’m still reading multiple books. It seems like it’s in the spirit of the game to include – what else? – three of them.

The Summoning God, Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear, p. 237:

“‘What do they do with them after they’re cooked?'”

On page 237, we’re in the present-day part of the plot. (Another, parallel, story is happening among the Anasazi about 800 years ago.) “Them” and “they’re” refers to dead babies – bad enough – but the first “they” in the sentence are witches among the native peoples of the U.S. Southwest. And the young archaeologist who’s the unheard other half of this conversation is becoming convinced that he himself has been witched.

God Has a Dream, Desmond Tutu, p. 46:

“How do you tell your little darling that she could not go because she was a child but she was not really a child, not that kind of child?”

Archbishop Tutu is talking about raising children under apartheid in South Africa, and how impossible it was to explain to his little daughter why she couldn’t go play on the nice swings. He goes on, in this chapter (God Loves Your Enemies), to describe various hateful things that people have done to one another. But how can we move forward and not be trapped forever in pain and anger? Truth and reconciliation are called for. By God, and by practicality.

The Case of the Dangerous Dowager, Erle Stanley Gardner, p. 54:

“‘Let’s see if he’s got those IOUs.'”

Notorious lawyer Perry Mason is trying to settle his client’s gambling debts…but the manager of the casino is sitting at his desk, in his private office, shot dead. The casino’s co-owner Charlie Duncan has turned up at the most awkward possible moment and seems to suspect Mason. At the moment, Duncan wants an assistant to take Mason away and search him. (Mason has burned the IOUs and is busily chewing up the ashes mixed with a wad of chewing gum.) And what happens next?

Third Sentences Thursday – the introduction

I just happened across yet another reader’s blogging game – Third Sentence Thursday. Basic idea? Open the book you’re reading to a random page. Post the third complete sentence on that page. Add a few comments about the book.

Simple, right? Of course not. I can complicate anything, and usually do. But what are you supposed to do, when you’re reading several books at once? (Five pages here, a chapter there, depending on which book is in the same room as I am when I’m ready to pick something up and read.)

There’s only one solution. I’ll just have to post Third Sentences from each of the current batch. Here you go, ready or not –

Agatha Christie, A Holiday for Murder,
p. 153:

“‘However,’ said Poirot, after a brief pause during which George tried to speak and failed, ‘many stupid men have been criminals!’”

George – a very, very conventional politician – has been estranged from his obnoxious father for years; but this year, the whole family accepted the old man’s invitation to a Christmas reconciliation. Or did they? Because not very far into the book, George’s father was horribly murdered….

Bradley P. Beaulieu,
The Winds of Khalakovo, p. 34

“It rippled again, and an enormous jaw unfolded itself, revealing a triple row of thorn-sharp teeth.”

We’re in an alternate version of nineteenth-century Russia, I think. Two young princes are visiting a boatbuilder, one of the men who can construct the great flying ships, and he is showing them a strange creature he just bought from a fisherman. Meanwhile, outside, a hungry crowd waits for the fishing fleet to unload the day’s tiny catch. But every last fish is going to be sent to the court. There’s about to be a riot….

Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe, p. 109

“If any combatant was struck down, and unable to recover his feet, his squire or page might enter the lists and drag his master out of the press; but in that case the knight was adjudged vanquished, and his arms and horse declared forfeited.”

It’s the Middle Ages in England. Good King Richard the Lion-Hearted is missing; his evil brother John is in charge; and meanwhile, there’s a tournament to win. Scott gets pretty talky explaining the background to us; in fairness, he was in the process of inventing historical novels at the time. (He was also trotting out some fairly objectionable stereotypes, all the while appearing to think he was being very modern and fairminded. But I’ll go into that in my full review, later.)

Melisa Michaels, Sister to the Rain, p. 24

“That left the long-term residents suspicious of the newcomer elves.”

Because none of the more plausible explanations (such as Bigfoot) of what’s causing the nighttime disturbances in the artists’ colony make sense. Gotta be elves, right? Whatever the real Trouble is, private detective Rosie Lavine has let the Fresh-Out-Of-Faerie elf lord Finandiel talk her into straightening everything out….