Not everything among the Children of the New Revelation is benign, and even benign things can sting, as Emily Fisher finds out in “Hazards,” chapter 11 of Prophecies and Penalties, my weekly serial about a murder investigation set in a Vermont religious commune.
We have plays with music, musicals, so why not books with music? In the old days, writers would sometimes quote song lyrics to set a mood, expecting the reader would know the tune and the song from which the lyrics came. I would have thought the logical progression would be books with music discs included. (I actually do have one.) But the more common practice these days seems to be for writers to give the reader a list of popular songs that are supposed to go with the book. The idea is that the reader will download the songs into an mp3 player, and listen to them while reading.
I’ve never seriously considered doing this myself. Like many people, I have less time and interest in following popular music as I get older. So if I were to construct such a list for my stories, it would be heavily weighted toward songs that are decades old. And I normally am happy to let my stories stand on their own.
However, every so often a particular episode or story reminds me of a song. This chapter of Prophecies and Penalties, particularly the opening section, is one such example. It evokes an old Paul Simon song, one from when he was just starting his solo career in 1972. It was a minor hit then, but I’m happy to see it listed among the “under-appreciated songs” of Simon’s career, and that it was even got recycled onto a movie soundtrack in 2006. Anyhow, here’s a link to the song, “Duncan.” Give it a play just before or after you read the chapter, and let me know what you think.