The World According to Shelf Barker

An excerpt from Laura Harrison McBride’s mystery novel, Car Full of Death: A quirky British Mystery Romp.

“I have been a driving instructor for almost a decade now, since shortly after
it became dangerous to be alone with those who might possibly be on a
government watch list: Muslims, Mafia operatives, people who had protested
government activities…in short, types one often finds within the crumbling
corridors of ancient university buildings. But that makes it all the more
interesting. The dual controls have come in useful more than once, although
that one Iranian man is suing me for breaking his nose.”

“She did much less well with her month of the Finnish tongue…not that many
people know what pidgin Finnish sounds like. How many Finns are there? Funny
you should ask…so I looked it up. Only a little over five million. It would be
tough to hear Finnish outside Finland. It’s similar to Estonian, though, and
related to Hungarian, which sounds very different. How do I know this? Recall,
I was a professor. I looked it up. You thought professors just KNEW all that
stuff? Hah. Mainly, we are really good at looking stuff up.”

 “By the way, just so you know, my vocabulary has grown considerably since I
met my wife. Anyone who grows up in New York City, the world’s melting pot,
learns not only their own ethnic slang, but the ethnic slang of other cultures
they are rubbing shoulder with 24/7. Tchotchkes is a Yiddish word meaning
small (annoying) useless objects, the sort of thing you find in your old
Gran’s house, since she has doubtless reached the age where moving all that
crap around and dusting it constitutes the sum total of the week’s
excitement….I realize all this sounds horribly bigoted or maybe even ageist,
but it isn’t. It is simple fact. Old folks don’t work, so they dust.”

 “I always thought they didn’t let wildly pregnant women fly because of
possible damage to the baby, or maybe she’d end up spreading her legs in the
aisle if the pressure changes opened the birth canal. That would be so
inconvenient, I always thought, because then they couldn’t get the
pay-per-drink beverage cart down the aisle. I figure his accountants told Sir
Richard not to let preggers broads on because he might go broke without that
extra four pounds fifty per head for firewater that they don’t give you on
planes anymore so you can forget you are squeezed into a germ-laden tube
hurtling through space and doing god-knows-what to your internal organs,
biological clock, and so forth. Make that six pounds fifty; the economy is
tanking, which means you can always get more shekels out of punters for booze.
Helps ease the pain, which is what my second glass of wine was doing, now that
the gulped-down first glass had hit behind my belt buckle.”