Sunday, September 6, 2015

Reading in August

In August I read nine books, eight mysteries and one non-fiction book. This was one of the best reading months I have had, with so many books that I loved that I cannot pick a favorite.

I read one non-fiction book this month, Erik Larson's account of the years from 1933 to 1937 when William Dodd was the American Ambassador to Germany. He and his family lived in Berlin and took part in society functions there, although Dodd worked hard to stay within the Ambassador's salary. The full title is In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin; it is a very interesting account.

Please check out Bill's review at Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan.

I am having a hard time realizing that it is already September and we are two-thirds through this year. There are so many books I planned to read this year that I haven't gotten to yet. That does mean that I have lots to look forward to in the last four months of the year.

These are the crime fiction novels I read in August:

Motor City Blue by Loren D. Estleman
Shotgun Saturday Night by Bill Crider
Charity by Len Deighton
Hopscotch by Brian Garfield
Dead in the Morning by Margaret Yorke
The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie
Diamond Solitaire by Peter Lovesey
Funeral in Berlin by Len Deighton

One interesting thing to me was that all of the crime fiction books I read in August were published in 1996 or earlier. I have always preferred reading older books, and often let books sit for years before I read them, but lately I have included more newly published novels or more contemporary reads. The oldest book in this group was The Moving Finger by Christie, published in 1942. The most recent was Charity by Deighton. So I will tell you just a little about each in order of publication.

The Moving Finger is set in a small village, and I liked all the characters and village stereotypes. The novel is considered to be a Miss Marple story, but she shows up very late as a visitor to this village. I did not miss Miss Marple at all in this story and her participation is minimal. I have not reviewed the book yet, but I liked it a lot. One of my favorite Christie's so far.

Funeral in Berlin (1964) is the third novel in the Nameless Spy series by Len Deighton. It was made into a film starring Michael Caine and I will be watching that soon. I will confess to being confused about plot points when reading books in this series. In this particular book, there were only a few chapters where he lost me temporarily and later it all began to make sense. This is my favorite so far of that series.

Dead in the Morning (1970) is the first book in the Patrick Grant series by Margaret Yorke. Grant is a likable, highly intelligent, but also extremely nosy amateur detective. In this first book, Grant visits his sister at the same time a death occurs in the small village she lives in and he insinuates himself into the investigation. The Patrick Grant series is not considered to be Yorke's best books; there were only five books in the series. I enjoyed it though; it inspires me to read more of her books.

Hopscotch (1975) was another spy thriller, a genre I am very fond of. I was motivated to read this one because I loved the film Hopscotch so much. The book and the film are both wonderful. I think just about anyone would enjoy the film because it has something for everyone: adventure, lovely locations, romance, and beautiful music. And Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson. I liked the book equally well, but the tone is more serious and there is no romance.

Motor City Blue was my book of 1980 for the Crimes of the Century meme at Past Offences. It was my introduction to Loren D. Estleman, and as a result both my husband and I got interested in his Valentino series, and my husband has already read the first book in that series.

Shotgun Saturday Night (1987) was the second book I had read by Bill Crider, and I liked this entry in the Dan Rhodes series even more than the first one. Dan Rhodes is the Sheriff of Blacklin County, Texas. I am hooked on the series, which has now extended to twenty two books.

Peter Lovesey's Diamond Solitaire (1992) is the 2nd book in a police procedural series that is now 15 books long. Its protagonist, Peter Diamond, is ex-CID, due to difficulties in his last assignment. At the beginning of this book, Diamond is sacked from his job as a security guard at Harrods in London. He pursues a personal investigation into the identity of a young Japanese girl, traveling to New York City and Japan along the way.

Len Deighton's Charity (1996) is the last in a nine book spy fiction series, set during the Cold War, mainly in London and Berlin. As the series starts, Bernard Samson is an agent, married to a beautiful and intelligent woman in the same office, with two children. In the nine books, we follow Samson and his trials and tribulations over five years, 1983 to 1988. A wonderful series of books which I will certainly reread.


pattinase (abbott) said...

I had forgotten Margaret Yorke!

col2910 said...

Great post - Garfield's novel was a real blast. I have Deighton to look forward to.

TracyK said...

A new author for me, Patti, although I had been planning to read some of her books for years.

TracyK said...

I agree, Col. I was very impressed with Garfield's writing and I will have to try more of his books. Deighton is now in my pantheon of favorite authors. I hope you find some of his writing entertaining.

Anonymous said...

I love your choices this month, Tracy. I think Margaret Yorke's work often doesn't get the attention that it should. And Deighton is so talented; I'm glad you chose one of his books too.

TracyK said...

Margot, I did not realize Yorke had written so many novels, from 1957 to 2001. I will have to try some from various decades.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Tracy, Brian Garfield is such a terrific writer. I intend to start reading some of his books soon. I'm glad you'd a good month of reading.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Like you, I seem to focus on older books though I always feel like I should be a bit nearer the pulse of contemporary publishing - and then I find a great old book on my TBR and the thought passes ... :)

TracyK said...

Thanks, Prashant. I am glad I finally discovered Brian Garfield.

TracyK said...

Sergio, the thing with contemporary books is that I have to take more chances. I like to go for a sure thing. Impossible I know but still.... This year I am trying to pay attention to the spread of my books for the year and see which time periods (re written in, not setting) I prefer. Either way, this month was a great one.

Elgin Bleecker said...

Good list, good month, Tracy. Estleman and Crider are on my TBR pile. It’s been a long time since I read Garfield. Thanks for the reminder.

Bill Selnes said...

TracyK: Thanks for the kind mention of my review and the blog. I am glad you enjoyed the book. I thought it was a memorable picture of Nazi Germany before the war.

TracyK said...

More books by all three of those authors you mentioned are in my reading plans, Elgin. It has been so great to discover them this year.

TracyK said...

You are welcome, Bill, I remembered how much I enjoyed your review and it encouraged me to read the book (in addition to my husband's recommendation). My husband is a great fan of Larson's books.

Clothes In Books said...

What a great set of books Tracy - I think if you took that list on holiday it would make a perfect varied selection of reading.

TracyK said...

It was a good variety, Moira, and I was surprised at how spread out the publication dates were, without going into the 21st century. Well, except for the non-fiction, which was a very interesting account of Germany in the 1930's.