More Recent Reads: A Variety

A Full Dark House: A Bryant & May Mystery and Seventy-Seven Clocks: A Bryant & May Mystery, both by Christopher Fowler – the first and second in the series about London’s Peculiar Crimes Unit. The author uses an ingenious method of flashbacks and contemporary narrative in the first book to relate the unit’s first case during World War II. The characters are an odd mixture and the mysteries are bizarre and compelling. Truly looking forward to the next one.
The Demonwars trilogy by R.A. Salvatore: The Demon Awakens, The Demon Spirit and The Demon Apostle – quite complex fantasy series revolves around a hero and his girl, religious and political power struggles, and bad creatures trying to take over the world. Magic and fighting galore, lots of characters and locations, and even a love story thrown in for good measure.
Murder is a Girl’s Best Friend by Amanda Matetsky; second in the Paige Turner 1950’s girl-Friday mystery series (see below), very enjoyable light read.
Resurrection by Tucker Malarkey, an young nurse goes to Cairo in 1948 after her father dies there, and discovers a secret archaeological project on which he was working. Character study, slightly depressing, very British.
The Black Hand: A Barker & Llewelyn Novel by Will Thomas; the fifth in the series of historical mysteries including the bizarre detection duo from late Victorian England. Just as crazy and fun as the others.
The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel by Diane Setterfield; Finally was able to read this incredible, gothic tale of a truly disfunctional English family told via flashbacks. I wasn’t disappointed. THIS is what I call a novel.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski – I only made it halfway before giving up, and I considered that generous on my part. When you don’t care what happens or who it happens to and you wonder why the author bothered, what’s the point?
A Duty to the Dead: A Bess Crawford Mystery by Charles Todd – A very British mystery, indeed, and although the subject matter includes war, mental illness and murder, the book doesn’t drip with gloom. The heroine is a nurse during WWI who promises to pass on a dying man’s message to his brother. The Great War had a profound affect on the English people, and the authors (a team) have extensive experience in this genre, and it shows.
I loved the descriptive language. The atmosphere is fully developed, as are the characters. The story includes red herrings, some unexpected turns, and some pages that seemed to drag on a little too long. I had to ask myself a few times if a “real” Bess Crawford would have persisted in the quest, so a few stretches are necessary on the part of the reader. However, the quality of the writing and the mystery itself are quite enjoyable. [Review on LibThing]
Goddess for Hire by Sonia Singh – Fun, quick read about an modern woman living with her Indian-American parents in southern California who discovers that she is the incarnation of the Hindu goddess Kali. Lots of fun with culture clash.
A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen – the second Lady Georgie mystery from the 1930’s (see below). Still fun if a little overboard on the over-the-top.
A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – Incredibly wonderful stories of everyday people in Afghanistan and their lives as the country changed around them. Both are tragic, both are full of love, and both should be read by everyone who reads this.

Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons – Read this book, if for no other reason than to experience life through a young girl’s eyes again, however difficult that life may be. The point of view is Ellen’s, written first person. The style is Ellen’s, too; written as she thinks and speaks instead of the typical cleaned-up narration for reading. This is particularly fascinating in this story of a girl who never gives up hope, is flexible enough to adjust to her circumstances, and knows what she wants. The tone is not maudlin, even through hardship, and her observations about life are poignant and appropriate for her time. This is really a story of resilience. A quick read, with flashbacks and other time-bending devices galore.

A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World by Tony Horwitz – Horwitz journeys through America to the places where the earliest European adventurers appeared. Sometimes condescending, the author succeeds in his plot to learn more about the time between Columbus and Jamestown, and passes his thoughts on to readers who he hopes are interested enough in history to care. Well-developed and written with plenty of sarcastic humor, be prepared for his sometimes smart-aleck attitudes about life then and now. [Review on LibThing]

© Jan McClintock of We Need More Shelves

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