Sunday, May 1, 2016

Reading in April 2016

In April I read seven books; six of them were crime fiction. The seventh book was True Grit by Charles Portis, a novel of the American West set in the years following the Civil War, the early 1870s.

The six books of crime fiction I read were:

  • The Defection of A. J. Lewinter by Robert Littell
  • Call for the Dead by John le Carre
  • Trouble on the Thames by Victor Bridges
  • Sweet Silver Blues by Glen Cook
  • The Big Clock by Kenneth Fearing
  • Moonraker by Ian Fleming

Of the six crime fiction books, four can be categorized as spy fiction. Two of the spy stories (Trouble on the Thames and Moonraker) were more adventurous and not so bleak as the other two (The Defection of A. J. Lewinter and Call for the Dead). April was a great reading month, with a lot of variety, even with the preponderance of spy fiction.

Sweet Silver Blues by Glen Cook  is a cross-genre book, combining fantasy and a detective novel. It is the first novel in a series of fourteen books, written between 1987 and 2013, so I would say the series has been fairly successful. Glen Cook has written many books of science fiction and fantasy, but he is most well known for his Black Company fantasy series.

True Grit by Charles Portis, published in 1968,  was one of my favorite reads of the month. This type of book is not one I would normally read. In early April, when we decided to get a copy of the 2010 film adaptation, I decided I wanted to read the book first. (I had never seen the adaptation starring John Wayne and Kim Darby.) So I quickly acquired a copy of the book and read it almost as soon as it arrived.

If you are not familiar with the story, this is from the summary on the back of my edition:
True Grit tells the story of Mattie Ross, who is just fourteen years of age when a coward going by the name of Tom Chaney shoots her father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robs him of his life, his horse, and $150 in cash. Mattie leaves home to avenge her father's blood. With the one-eyed Rooster Cogburn, the meanest available U.S. Marshal, by her side, Mattie pursues the homicide into Indian Territory.


My favorite crime fiction read of the month was The Big Clock by Kenneth Fearing, published in 1946. I had seen the movie starring Ray Milland and Charles Laughton within the last few months, and after reading the book we watched it again. Both book and movie are good but there are significant differences. The book has an unusual narrative structure; each chapter is told from the first person point of view, but there are several narrators. Most of the story is told from the point of view of the main character, George Stroud, but several other characters narrate at least one chapter.

The Crime Fiction Pick of the Month meme is hosted at Mysteries in Paradise. Bloggers link to summary posts for the month, and identify a favorite crime fiction read for the month.

14 comments:

  1. I loved the John Wayne/Kim Darby version of True Grit but have not seen the more modern one. It's never occurred to me to read the book but now I quite fancy the idea. LOL! I'll have to see if I can find a copy. A good reading month for you.

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    1. True Grit is a wonderful book, Cath. The story overall is good, and I love the ending, but the best part is the central character of Mattie and the way she tells the story.

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  2. Tracy, my pick of the lot would be TRUE GRIT as I like reading about the American West set in and around the Civil War.

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    1. I will definitely have to read more Westerns set at this time, Prashant.

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  3. I admire the way you vary your reading, Tracy. I think that helps keep a reader 'fresh,' and gives a much broader perspective. And I do want to read The Big Clock.

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    1. You would like The Big Clock, Margot, I am sure. It is different but that is what I liked. Not that many of the characters are too appealing.

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  4. THE BIG CLOCK is the book that inspired the movie, NO WAY OUT with Kevin Costner. Have you seen it? Big fan of that movie. I must read it now since you deem it your favorite read of the month. I also want to read TRUE GRIT having watched the movie by the Coen brothers. I didn't think it was bad but it seems to have followed the book most thoroughly.

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    1. I think the recent Coen brothers version of True Grit was very close to the book. At first I thought I noticed some small differences but those I checked on were in the book too. I liked the book better because of Mattie telling the story, but both were very good.

      I had read recently (at Tipping My Fedora) that No Way Out was also based on The Big Clock, and Sergio also recommends it. So I do plan to see it sometime.

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  5. So glad the Fearing book, and the first film version, went down so well. Not read the Portis but enjoyed bot the film versions.

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    1. I enjoyed both of my book to movie picks this month. Now I have to see how I like the film version of Moonraker.

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  6. Couldn't finish the Big Clock - I was more interested in the strange publishing firm that sounds very like one that both Kenneth Fearing and I worked for...

    True Grit is great (as is the film with Wayne and Darby), but the book is a lot tougher and sadder. :-(

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    1. Lucy, I worked for a strange publishing company once, and for many years, but it was not like that one.

      True Grit (the book) was a different experience than the film but I liked seeing the interpretations of the roles.

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  7. I liked book and both films of True Grit, but the voice of Matty in the book was the best thing - I loved the way she talked.
    The Big Clock is a book I've always meant to read some time...

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    1. I agree about the voice of Mattie in True Grit, Moira. I just read that the book was first published as a serial in The Saturday Evening Post. Very interesting.

      I found the book, The Big Clock, somewhat confusing but still loved it.

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