Wednesday, August 31, 2022

August Reading: Quantity Was There, Quality Not So Much


 

While I did manage to read 11 books during August, a good part of my reading seemed to go more sluggishly than usual. I'm not sure if I simply made some poor choices this month or if it's more a problem with my general attitude. Whichever it was, I'm really looking forward to a fresh start in September...although that's the peak of hurricane season in this part of the country, so it could turn out to be an extra-interesting month. Looking at the ones I finished in August, I'm a bit surprised to see that six are novels and five are nonfiction because I don't usually read nonfiction in that kind of ratio to fiction.

  1. The Good Daughters - Joyce Maynard - Two very different families share a huge secret for over 50 years
  2. We Came, We Saw, We Left - Charles Wheelan - man travels around the world for 9 months with wife & 3 teens - Nonfiction
  3. To Hell with Honor - Larry Sklenar - Brilliant explanation of what happened at The Little Big Horn and who was responsible
  4. Stupid Things I Won't Do When I Get Old - Steven Petrow - writer vows to practice what he learned from watching his parents age
  5. The Woman in the Library - Sulari Gentill - Disappointing mystery using novel-inside-a-novel structure that is stupefyingly formulaic 
  6. Real Tigers - Mick Herron - #4 in the terrific Slough House series 
  7. A String of Beads - Thomas Perry - Jane Whitefield #8 - Jane hides he childhood Seneca best friend from cops and killers 
  8. Bridge of Spies - Giles Whittell - Account of U-2 pilot Gary Powers, his capture by Russia and exchange for Russian spy
  9. Blood Safari - Deon Meyer - Second novel in Meyer's Lemmer series about a South African bodyguard
  10. In a Dry Season - Peter Robinson - Inspector Banks #10 - a case going back to World War II; Banks meets DS Annie Cabbot
  11. Packing My Library - Alberto Manguel - Argentinian author's 10 essays and 10 "digressions" on packing away his personal library
I think I'm a little disappointed with this lot because even some of my favorite crime writers didn't impress me all that much this month. I read four of my favorites this month: Mick Herron, Deon Meyer, Thomas Perry, and Peter Robinson. Of the four books of theirs, the only one that stands out to me as representative of their best work is Herron's Real Tigers, and based on that one's not-so-promising plot summary I was surprised by how much I liked it. I absolutely loved the first third of Meyer's Blood Safari, but it became a routine thriller after one of the book's two main characters was sent to hospital in a coma - where she stayed for almost the rest of the book. I "liked" Perry's A String of Beads right up until I realized that Jane Whitefield was going to be using the same evasion techniques that she uses in all of the novels featuring her and that she was simply teaching them to a new client. This is only the second Whitefield novel I've read, though, so maybe that criticism is premature. As for Robinson's 10th Inspector Banks novel, it is built around one of the things I like least in fiction: an author "telling" what happened rather than "showing it." In In a Dry Season, Robinson flashes back and forth via an unpublished manuscript that fills in most of the holes from the WWII portion of the novel. And that goes on for about ninety percent of the novel. It became tedious because the "manuscript author" wrote so passionlessly.

And then there were two 2-star books this month: the robotically written The Woman in the Library and the way-over-my-head Packing My Library. I had high hopes for the latter, even to purchasing an e-book copy of it, but it was a real slog for me, and I'm still not sure what I read...or why. The Woman in the Library is so formulaic that it could have been written by a software program. Before that one is over, just about every main character in the novel has been featured in the role of red herring. It just got silly sometimes.

My favorite book of the month turned out to be To Hell with Honor by Larry Sklenar, an in-depth study of exactly what must have happened at the Little Big Horn in 1876 when Custer and most of his 7th Calvary were destroyed. It is very well researched and explains how such a thing could have happened - along with whom was really responsible for the poor decisions made that day by the US Army leadership. It is a real eye-opener, and it's earned a permanent slot on my History bookshelf.

Now that I've come to the end of this month's reading recap, I realize just how "blah" a reading month I really had. Having had only one particularly outstanding book all month long means that September almost has to be better without even trying very hard. 

As August ends, I'm at various stages of reading: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, The Burgler (a 1954 noir novel by David Goodis, Isaac's Storm (Erik Larson's third book), The Three-Cornered War (a Civil War history by Megan Kate Nelson), and Leave the Grave Green by Deborah Crombie. Already, these seem to be going better than almost everything I finished it August.

Bye for now.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

July 2022 Reading Highlights Include New and Old Favorites


I managed to get away for two weeks in mid-July, a road trip through parts of Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and Iowa that I explored for the first time. All in all, I drove just over 4,400 miles but, thanks largely in part to audiobooks, I still managed to read ten books during the month. I find that I more easily absorb audiobooks of the mystery/spy thriller type, so my July reading largely reflects that: 

  1. Devil's Peak - Deon Meyer - Benny Griessel #1 - South African
  2. Blank Pages - Bernard MacLaverty - 12 memorable short stories from an excellent Irish author
  3. Thirteen Hours - Deon Meyer - Benny Griessel #2 - Two American teens run for their lives in South Africa
  4. The Trawlerman - William Shaw - Alex Cupidi #5
  5. Back of Beyond - C.J. Box - Standalone set in Yellowstone
  6. The Ranger - Ace Atkins - Introduces the Quinn Colson series
  7. Seven Days - Deon Meyer - Benny Griessel series #3
  8. Cobra - Deon Meyer - Benny Griessel series #4
  9. The Splendid and the Vile - Erik Larson - WWII history (1942) focusing on Churchill, Hitler, Goring, and Roosevelt
  10. The Bomb Maker - Thomas Perry - crazy bomb-maker tries to wipe out entire LAPD bomb squad
My newest "favorite" writer is South Africa's Deon Meyer, whose books are translated into English from the original Afrikaans. I read the first four books in Meyer's Benny Griessel series, and I highly recommend them to fans of the police procedural genre. The books have a great feel for what life must have been like in South Africa soon after all the big political changes impacted that country - especially what happened inside the big police departments there. 

The old favorites I revisited this month were Ace Atkins (finally read the first Quinn Colson novel), William Shaw, and Erik Larson (finally read the remarkable The Splendid and the Vile). In addition, I read the relatively disappointing Back of Beyond by C.J. Box and the wonderful The Bomb Maker by Thomas Perry, an author I'm appreciating more every time I read something of his. 

I'm not sure where my reading will lead me next month, but I find myself wanting to spend some time reading books on 19th century American history, along with revisiting some of the classics from the likes of Austen and the Brontes. I've purchased four books in the six-book set by Andrews McMeel Publishing that includes beautiful new editions of Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, and Little Women. Each of the books is illustrated by Marjolein Bastin and include realistic facsimile inserts true to the period and story. Bottom line is that the books are all so beautiful that I consider them to be individual pieces of art. 

Let's see what happens.

Friday, July 01, 2022

June Reading Highlights and One Disappointment

June worked out pretty well for me as I continued to explore Mick Herron's work, read the latest from one of my all-time favorite authors, and read what I think is the definitive biography of my favorite singer, Merle Haggard. 

It's kind of hard for me to believe that I only so recently discovered Mick Herron's "Slough House" series of novels and short stories because I've now read three of the books. The series is a rather cynical look at international espionage and those who spy for a living, and I've enjoyed reading all three books - and I'm looking forward to reading the series all the way through. 

Merle Haggard is unfamiliar to lots of people who don't believe they have anything in common with real country music (not that watered down stuff called country today...that's not even close to being music, much less authentic country music). But if a person were forced to listen to only one singer for the rest of his life, Haggard would be a good choice. The man was a musical genius who combined his wonderful voice and songwriting skills with his life experience to create some of the most beautiful, and meaningful, music ever recorded. Haggard's life story is so unusual that Marc Eliot's Merle Haggard bio, The Hag, reads like a novel at times.

It was nice to catch up, too, with Anne Tyler again via her latest novel French Braid. This, like most of Tyler's work is an understated look at a Baltimore family over several generations. It's impact begins to hit the reader about three-quarters of the way through, and by the novel's end I found myself truly caring what would happen to these people.

So, these are the ten books I completed in June:

  1. Dolphin Junction - Mick Herron - collection of short stories & novellas featuring his series characters - uneven, but fun
  2. The Hag - Marc Eliot - maybe the definitive Merle Haggard bio
  3. Dead Lions - Mick Herron - "Slough House" #2 - excellent story about Soviet sleeper agents who "wake up" after two decades
  4. Trunk Music - Michael Connelly - Harry Bosch #5 in which Harry reconnects with ex-FBI agent Eleanor Wish and they marry
  5. Death Be Not Proud - John Gunther - memoir of a father who watched his son fight a brain tumor for 15 months (1947 death)
  6. Hidden Depths - Ann Cleeves - Vera Stanhope #3 (2007)
  7. The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery - Amanda Cox - heavy-handed Christian novel with boring final third
  8. The List - Mick Herron - Novella, "Slough House" #2.5 
  9. French Braid - Anne Tyler - Gradual changes in family-tightness over four generations of a Baltimore family 
  10. Nightfall - David Goodis - New York noir classic from 1946
I have to say that I was disappointed and bored by The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery but that was more my fault than the author's because I didn't do my homework before getting well into the novel. If I had, I wouldn't have begun it at all because it is part of a genre I try to avoid: "Christian novels." My distaste for these novels has nothing to do with personal faith; I simply find the vast majority of them to be very heavy-handed and predictable. And, as a result, boring.

Nightfall is a 1946 novel that could serve as the blueprint for the entire noir crime genre with its very dark, almost surreal, setting and the way that all of the main characters (cops and crooks, alike) seemed to be doomed in one way or the other. I've been a fan of David Goodis novels ever since reading Dark Passage a while back, and this one is even better than Dark Passage in my estimation.

I spent the last couple of days in June immersed in Deon Meyer's Devil's Peak but didn't finish it up until today, so it will go down as a July read. I only discovered Meyer a couple of weeks ago when I saw that he was featured on the cover of the current issue of Mystery Scene magazine. Meyer is a South African novelist who is translated into English from Afrikaans, and he is brutally honest about the culture in which he lives and writes. I'll try to add something more about him later as time allows.

I hope you are all doing well these days and that things, tough as they can be, are at least slowly returning to the life we so used to take for granted. Still busy here as always, but hoping to speak with you guys soon.

Sam

Thursday, June 02, 2022

May Reading: Highlights & Disappointments

It's been a while, guys, but I thought I'd post a really brief recap of my May reading today in hopes that I may hear from some of my old friends out there.

This is what May 2022 looked like for me:

  1. Savage Run - C.J. Box - Joe Picket #2 - modern range war
  2. Pudd'nhead Wilson - Mark Twain - slave-baby & master's-baby switched at birth - lots of social commentary of the times
  3. Indemnity Only - Sara Paretsky - V.I. Warshawski #1 - good introduction to series main characters, but mediocre plot 
  4. 1979 - Val McDermid - OK 1st book of proposed 10-book series
  5. One Damn Thing After Another - William P. Barr - at almost 700 pages, it answered all the questions I had about truth in politics
  6. Last Stand at Saber River - Elmore Leonard - excellent character-driven post Civil War novel set in Arizona
  7. Old Man Country - Thomas R. Cole - Interviews of elderly men about living into the "4th Age" - somewhat disappointing
  8. Rediscovering Travel - Seth Kugel - travel stories and tips from a professional traveler 
  9. The Madness of Crowds - Louise Penny - Unnecessarily long, dark post-pandemic novel; Penny may have "jumped the shark"
  10. Tyrus: A Memoir - Tyrus - short  memoir that completely manages to ignore the author's marriages and children
  11. The Babes in the Wood - Ruth Rendell - excellent mystery until Rendell ruins it by having Wexford recount its climax second-hand: show me, don't tell me  
  12. Slow Horses - Mick Herron - excellent tale about group of MI5 castoffs with ideas of their own - Book #1 in Slough House series

Currently Reading:
  • The Splendid and the Vile - Erik Larson
  • Dolphin Junction - Mick Herron
  • The Hag - Marc Eliot

The book that knocked my sox off last month was Mick Herron's Slow Horses, and I only even became aware of Herron's "Slough House" series because Apple TV decided to make the first book into a six-part series. I was immediately fascinated  by the characters, the actors, and the premise that a bunch of MI5 failures were shunted off to a dump of a building to do nothing but paperwork for the rest of their careers. 

I'm really excited by the series and Herron's writing. Dolphin Junction is a new collection of some of his short stories and novellas, and for the most part, I'm loving those too. I'm also reading a brand new Merle Haggard biography and struggling a bit to get into The Splendid and the Vile by another of my favorite authors, Erik Larson.

I do have to say that I was disappointed by several of my old favorites, specifically by Val McDermid's 1979, Ruth Rendell's The Babes in the Wood, and Louise Penny's The Madness of Crowds. Oh, well, can't win 'em all, I guess. 

Here's hoping all of you had a wonderful reading month and that you are all doing well. I've not been able to check in on your blogs as often as I hoped, but I may surprise you with an appearance soon.

Stay well, guys.

Thursday, February 03, 2022

2022 Reading Log




(For personal reasons, I've been forced to put an unplanned end to 
Book Chase. I do intend, however, to use the site to keep a record of my reading and will do so via this list - and perhaps other variations. Please feel free to comment in the usual manner if so inclined; I miss book blogging a lot, but I miss our conversation the most...Sam.)

5-Star Books (Ranked within Fiction and Nonfiction):
The Searchers - Alan Le May
Slow Horses Mick Herron
Nightfall - David Goodis
French Braid - Anne Tyler
The Bomb Maker - Thomas Perry
Cobra - Deon Meyer
Spook Street - Mick Herron
Devil's Peak - Deon Meyer
The First Stone - Carsten Jensen
Trunk Music - Michael Connelly
Endangered - C.J. Box
Red Bones - Ann Cleeves
The King Is Dead - Ellery Queen
Raven Black - Ann Cleeves
The Junction Boys - Jim Dent - NF
To Hell with Honor - Larry Sklenar - NF
The Splendid and the Vile - Erik Larson - NF
One Damn Thing After Another - William P. Barr - NF
Stolen Focus - Johann Hari - NF

4-Star Books:
Black Ice - Michael Connelly
Crime Hits Home - Various Authors
Little Big Man - Thomas Berger
Wednesday's Child - Peter Robinson
Get Back - The Beatles
Cold Earth - Ann Cleeves
Harlem Shuffle - Colson Whitehead
Tennison - Lynda La Plante
Innocent Graves - Peter Robinson
White Nights - Ann Cleeves
Cry Macho - N. Richard Nash
Dead Water - Ann Cleeves
Red Handed - Peter Schweizer
The Anthropocene Reviewed - John Green
The Silence - Susan Allott
Murder in Mykonos - Jeffrey Siger
Open Season - C.J. Box
One Writer's Beginnings - Eudora Welty
Grave's End - William Shaw
Angry Mobs and Founding Fathers - Michael E. Newton
Pudd'nhead Wilson - Mark Twain
Last Stand at Saber River - Elmore Leonard
Rediscovering Travel - Seth Kugel
Dolphin Junction - Mick Herron
The Hag - Marc Eliot
Dead Lions - Mick Herron
Death Be Not Proud - John Gunther
Hidden Depths - Ann Cleeves
The List - Mick Herron
Blank Pages - Bernard MacLaverty
Thirteen Hours - Deon Meyer
The Trawlerman - William Shaw
The Ranger - Ace Atkins
Seven Days - Deon Meyer
We Came, We Saw, We Left - Charles Wheelan
Real Tigers - Mick Herron
A String of Beads - Thomas Perry
The Burglar - David Goodis
Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë
Isaac's Storm - Erik Larson
Cold Is the Grave - Peter Robinson

3-Star Books:
Expats - Christopher Dickey
The Kings of London - William Shaw
The Illusion of Simple - Charles Forrest Jones
Final Account - Peter Robinson
The Mountain Lion - Jean Stafford
The Dutch Shoe Mystery - Ellery Queen
Black Money - Ross Macdonald
Blue Lightning - Ann Cleeves
Rizzio - Denise Mina
Thin Air - Ann Cleeves
Wild Fire - Ann Cleeves 
Maigret in New York - Georges Simenon
Blood at the Root - Peter Robinson
Savage Run - C.J. Box
Indemnity Only - Sara Paretsky
1979 - Val McDermid
Old Man Country - Thomas R. Cole
The Madness of Crowds - Louise Penny
Back of Beyond - C.J. Box
The Good Daughters - Joyce Maynard
Stupid Things I Won't Do When I Get Old - Steven Petrow
Bridge of Spies - Giles Whittell
Blood Safari - Deon Meyer
In a Dry Season - Peter Robinson
Leave the Grave Green - Deborah Crombie
Vanishing Act - Thomas Perry
Wrong Place, Wrong Time - Gillian McAllister

2-Star Books:
The Words Between Us - Erin Bartels
The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections - Eva Jurczyk
Shadows of Pecan Hollow - Caroline Frost
Sea of Tranquility -  Emily St. John Mandel
Tyrus: A Memoir - Tyrus
The Babes in the Wood - Ruth Rendell
The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery - Amanda Cox
The Woman in the Library - Sulari Gentill
Packing My Library - Alberto Manguel


 January 2022

  1. Black Ice - Michael Connelly - Harry Bosch  #2
  2. Crime Hits Home - Various Authors - Short Stories
  3. Little Big Man - Thomas Berger - Classic Western Novel
  4. Wednesday's Child - Peter Robinson - Inspector Banks #6
  5. Get Back - The Beatles - Documentary Companion Book
  6. Cold Earth - Ann Cleeves -  Jimmy Perez #7
  7. The Illusion of Simple - Charles Forrest Jones - Crime Novel
  8. Expats - Christopher Dickey - Nonfiction 
  9. The Kings of London - William Shaw - Breen & Tozer #2
  10. Harlem Shuffle - Colson Whitehead - Crime Novel
  11. Raven Black - Ann Cleeves - Jimmy Perez #1
  12. The Words Between Us - Erin Bartels - Thriller Romance 
February 
  1. The King Is Dead - Ellery Queen - 1952 Classic Mystery
  2. The Searchers - Alan Le May - 1954 Classic Western
  3. Final Account - Peter Robinson - Inspector Banks #7
  4. Tennison - Lynda La Plante - Jane Tennison #4 - Prequel 
  5. The Mountain Lion - Jean Stafford - 1947 coming-of-age novel
  6. Innocent Graves - Peter Robinson - Inspector Banks #8
  7. White Nights - Ann Cleeves - Jimmy Perez #2
  8. Stolen Focus - Johann Hari - Big Tech impact on ADD
  9. The Dutch Shoe Mystery - Ellery Queen - 1931 Classic Mystery
  10. Black Money - Ross Macdonald - 1965 - Lew Archer #13
  11. Red Bones - Ann Cleeves - Jimmy Perez #3
March
  1. The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections - Eva Jurczyk - Novel about thefts from a university library 
  2. Cry Macho -  N. Richard Nash - 1975 novel & 2021 coming-of-age movie starring Clint Eastwood (brilliant book/so-so movie)
  3. Blue Lightning - Ann Cleeves - Jimmy Perez #4
  4. Shadows of Pecan Hollow - Caroline Frost - Predictable crime/coming-of-age novel set in Southeast Texas
  5. Dead Water - Ann Cleeves - Jimmy Perez #5: Jimmy is back
  6. Red Handed - Peter Schweizer - How prominent Americans are bribed by the Chinese government and what they do in return
  7. The Anthropocene Reviewed - John Green - A revealing memoir disguised as 44 short, unrelated essays
  8. Rizzio - Denise Mina - novella, 16th century historical fiction
  9. Thin Air - Ann Cleeves - Jimmy Perez #6
  10. The Silence - Susan Allott - British mystery set in Australia 
April
  1. The First Stone - Carsten Jensen - Danish novel about Afghani war
  2. Wild Fire - Ann Cleeves - 8th & Final Jimmy Perez novel - flat 
  3. The Junction Boys  - Jim Dent - Coach Bear Bryant's infamous 1954 football camp at Texas A&M (favorite sports book ever)
  4. Sea of Tranquility - Emily St. John Mandel - time-travel novel in which I never felt a connection to any of the characters
  5. Maigret in New York - Georges Simenon - Maigret #27 (1947)
  6. Endangered - C. J. Box - Joe Pickett #15; excellently plotted
  7. Murder in Mykonos - Jeffrey Siger - CI Andreas Kaldis #1
  8. Open Season - C.J. Box - Joe Pickett #1 - Perfect introduction
  9. One Writer's Beginnings - Eudora Welty - memoir in three parts
  10. Grave's End -  William Shaw - Alex Cupidi # 4 - well written, character-driven crime novel
  11. Blood at the Root - Peter Robinson - Inspector Banks #9
  12. Angry Mobs and Founding Fathers - Michael E. Newton - a revealing look at the American Revolution
May
  1. Savage Run - C.J. Box - Joe Picket #2 - modern range war
  2. Pudd'nhead Wilson - Mark Twain - slave-baby & master's-baby switched at birth - lots of social commentary of the times
  3. Indemnity Only - Sara Paretsky - V.I. Warshawski #1 - good introduction to series main characters, but mediocre plot 
  4. 1979 - Val McDermid - OK 1st book of proposed 10-book series
  5. One Damn Thing After Another - William P. Barr - at almost 700 pages, it answered all the questions I had about truth in politics
  6. Last Stand at Saber River - Elmore Leonard - excellent character-driven post Civil War novel set in Arizona
  7. Old Man Country - Thomas R. Cole - Interviews of elderly men about living into the "4th Age" - somewhat disappointing
  8. Rediscovering Travel - Seth Kugel - travel stories and tips from a professional traveler 
  9. The Madness of Crowds - Louise Penny - Unnecessarily long, dark post-pandemic novel; Penny may have "jumped the shark"
  10. Tyrus: A Memoir - Tyrus - short  memoir that completely manages to ignore the author's marriages and children
  11. The Babes in the Wood - Ruth Rendell - excellent mystery until Rendell ruins it by having Wexford recount its climax second-hand: show me, don't tell me  
  12. Slow Horses - Mick Herron - excellent tale about group of MI5 castoffs with ideas of their own - Book #1 in Slough House series
June
  1. Dolphin Junction - Mick Herron - collection of short stories & novellas featuring his series characters - uneven, but fun
  2. The Hag - Marc Eliot - maybe the definitive Merle Haggard bio
  3. Dead Lions - Mick Herron - "Slough House" #2 - excellent story about Soviet sleeper agents who "wake up" after two decades
  4. Trunk Music - Michael Connelly - Harry Bosch #5 in which Harry reconnects with ex-FBI agent Eleanor Wish and they marry
  5. Death Be Not Proud - John Gunther - memoir of a father who watched his son fight a brain tumor for 15 months (1947 death)
  6. Hidden Depths - Ann Cleeves - Vera Stanhope #3 (2007)
  7. The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery - Amanda Cox - heavy-handed Christian novel with boring final third
  8. The List - Mick Herron - Novella, "Slough House" #2.5 
  9. French Braid - Anne Tyler - Gradual changes in family-tightness over four generations of a Baltimore family 
  10. Nightfall - David Goodis - New York noir classic from 1946
July
  1. Devil's Peak - Deon Meyer - Benny Griessel #1 - South African
  2. Blank Pages - Bernard MacLaverty - 12 memorable short stories from an excellent Irish author
  3. Thirteen Hours - Deon Meyer - Benny Griessel #2 - Two American teens run for their lives in South Africa
  4. The Trawlerman - William Shaw - Alex Cupidi #5
  5. Back of Beyond - C.J. Box - Standalone set in Yellowstone
  6. The Ranger - Ace Atkins - Introduces the Quinn Colson series
  7. Seven Days - Deon Meyer - Benny Griessel series #3
  8. Cobra - Deon Meyer - Benny Griessel series #4
  9. The Splendid and the Vile - Erik Larson - WWII history (1942) focusing on Churchill, Hitler, Goring, and Roosevelt
  10. The Bomb Maker - Thomas Perry - crazy bomb-maker tries to wipe out entire LAPD bomb squad
August
  1. The Good Daughters - Joyce Maynard - Two very different families share a huge secret for over 50 years
  2. We Came, We Saw, We Left - Charles Wheelan - man travels around the world for 9 months with wife & 3 teens - Nonfiction
  3. To Hell with Honor - Larry Sklenar - Brilliant explanation of what happened at The Little Big Horn and who was responsible
  4. Stupid Things I Won't Do When I Get Old - Steven Petrow - writer vows to practice what he learned from watching his parents age
  5. The Woman in the Library - Sulari Gentill - Disappointing mystery using novel-inside-a-novel structure that is stupefyingly formulaic 
  6. Real Tigers - Mick Herron - #4 in the terrific Slough House series 
  7. A String of Beads - Thomas Perry - Jane Whitefield #8 - Jane hides he childhood Seneca best friend from cops and killers 
  8. Bridge of Spies - Giles Whittell - Account of U-2 pilot Gary Powers, his capture by Russia and exchange for Russian spy
  9. Blood Safari - Deon Meyer - Second novel in Meyer's Lemmer series about a South African bodyguard
  10. In a Dry Season - Peter Robinson - Inspector Banks #10 - a case going back to World War II; Banks meets DS Annie Cabbot
  11. Packing My Library - Alberto Manguel - Argentinian author's 10 essays and 10 "digressions" on packing away his personal library
September
  1. The Burglar - David Goodis - '50s noir at its best - really gets into the heads of the gang members and what motivates them
  2. Leave the Grave Green - Deborah Crombie - Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James #3 - in which the pair get "romantic"
  3. Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë - the classic anti-Jane-Austen-novel; filled with dark, cruel, and egotistical characters
  4. Isaac's Storm - Erik Larson - nonfiction account of the September 8, 1900 hurricane that almost wiped out the city of Galveston
  5. Spook Street - Mick Herron - #5 in Slough House series - proves that this series really does need to be read in order; it's brilliant
  6. Vanishing Act - Thomas Perry - Jane Whitefield series #1; Jane fails a client - does not feel as formulaic as the more recent books
  7. Wrong Place, Wrong Time - Gillian McAllister - "Can you stop a murder after it happens?" One woman sure hopes so.
  8. Cold Is the Grave - Peter Robinson - Inspector Banks #11 - Banks's chief nemesis has his whole family destroyed

Currently Reading: 
  • Fight Night - Miriam Towes
  • Bookends - Zibby Owens

Categories:
  • E-books - 24
  • Audiobooks - 28
  • Abandoned - 7
  • Translations - 7
  • Library Books - 66
  • From My Shelves - 24
  • Review Copies - 3
  • Amazon Prime Loans - 3
  • Fiction - 75
  • Nonfiction - 21
  • Male Authors - 66
  • Female Authors - 29
  • By Both - 1
  • American - 50
  • British - 33
  • Canadian - 3
  • Danish - 1
  • French - 1
  • South African - 5
  • Irish - 1
  • Australian - 1
  • Argentinian - 1

  • 2022 - 13
  • 2021 - 13
  • 2020 - 3
  • 2010s- 26
  • 2000s - 13
  • 1990s - 13
  • 1980s - 1
  • 1970s - 1
  • 1960s - 2
  • 1950s - 4
  • 1940s - 4
  • 1930s - 1
  • 1920s - 0
  • 1910s - 0
  • 1900s - 0
  • 1800s - 2
Pages Read: 
  • Jan -    3,348
  • Feb -   3,559
  • Mar -  3,326
  • Apr -   3,466
  • May -  3,316
  • Jun -    3,229
  • Jul -     3,702
  • Aug -   3,265
  • Sep -    2,107
  • Total - 29,318

Sunday, January 16, 2022

International Television Crime Series - Part 2

More of my favorite television series from around the world:


Astrid (Called Astrid et Raphaëlle in France) 

French with subtitles

One Season (9 episodes in total) with more to come

Premise: Astrid Nielsen, who has Asperger's syndrome, maintains the evidence and case files in the judicial police library. She has an incredible memory and uses her own brand of logic to solve puzzles, so the police district commander decides to have her take a look at a number of cold cases. She is partnered with Raphaëlle, and their relationship is half the fun. Great characters. Good mysteries.

Starring: Sara Mortensen, Lola Dewaere, and Benoit Michel

My Rating: 5 Stars



Guilt

British (PBS/Masterpiece)

One Season (4 episodes in total)

Premise: Two very different brothers, one wealthy and successful, the other barely scraping by as a record shop owner, get themselves into big trouble one night when they accidentally run over a pedestrian on a quiet residential street. Their attempt to cover up their involvement in the old man's death takes numerous twists and turns. Quirky, fun, sometimes funny, this one will suck you right in.

Starring: Mark Bonnar (a personal favorite), Jamie Sives, and Ruth Bradley

My Rating: 4 stars



DCI Banks

British

5 Seasons plus the pilot (32 episodes in total)

Premise: Based on the long Inspector Banks series by author Peter Robinson, this is a character-driven series of police procedurals headed up by a man who fled London police work for a quieter career. Looks like he was wrong about that...of course.

Starring: Stephen Tompkinson and Andrea Lowe

My Rating: 3 Stars



Bloodlands

British

One Season (4 episodes in total)

Premise: A police detective is charged with investigating a series of disappearances that occurred almost 20 years earlier during Northern Irelands violent and bloody past. One of the people who disappeared was his own wife, and when people around the investigation begin to die, the detective knows he is getting close to finding those responsible. The main character is always interesting, but this one is very dark.

Starring: James Nesbitt, Lorcan Cranitch, and Charlene McKenna

My Rating: 3.5 Stars



Elizabeth Is Missing

British (PBS/Masterpiece)

One 87-minute movie

Premise: An old woman, who is moving deeper and deeper into dementia, worries that something bad has happened to her missing friend, Elizabeth. She begins looking for clues on her own but her old memories get confused with her present day investigation to the extent that she starts inadvertently recovering clues to her sister's disappearance of decades earlier. She needs to solve both mysteries before her own mind makes it too late for that to ever happen. It's a race against the clock and calendar. 

Starring: Glenda Jackson (a personal favorite), Helen Behan, and Sophie Rundle

My Rating: 5 Stars



Bäckström

Swedish with subtitles

One Season (6 episodes total)

Premise: By this point in his career, Bäckström is as much a national TV star in Sweden as he is a police investigator. He has become everyone's go-to guy for TV interviews that television commentators love to do when fresh crimes are being speculated about. This time he is investigating one of the strangest murders he's ever run across during his long career: the skull of a recent murder victim has been uncovered but the victim is known to have died years earlier. Great characters.

Starring: Kjell Bergqvist, Agnes Lindström Bolmgren, and Livia Millhagan 

My Rating: 4 Stars