Saturday, June 4, 2016

Reading in May and Crime Fiction Pick of the Month

In May, I read five books, and four of them were crime fiction. I read one book that fits in the fantasy genre: The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett. Pratchett's book was very enjoyable, although it took me a while to get into it. It was the first book by this author that I have read. I will save further thoughts on that for a full post.

The crime fiction books I read this month are:

  • Fast Company by Marco Page
  • The Guns of Navarone by Alistair MacLean
  • Background to Danger by Eric Ambler
  • Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming

I suppose if I am pressed to pick a crime fiction favorite from this month's reading it would be Background to Danger. It is a typical spy thriller by Eric Ambler, with the innocent bystander being pulled into a conspiracy unawares. A bit more thrillerish than the other books by Ambler that I have read.

But truly, of the crime fiction books that I read, The Guns of Navarone and Diamonds Are Forever are right up there, only a smidgen below Background to Danger. All of them are adventurous thrillers that entertain.

This has been a year of wanting to do new projects related to reading. I would love to read more graphic novels and understand more about that format. But I already have a lot of "projects" going and I know I can't handle too much. So that one will have to wait.

I had planned to read a lot more short stories this year and I haven't done well with that. I enjoy short stories when I read them, but they don't call to me and I am not good at picking up one here or there to read. I do have an anthology I am planning to read this summer for a Friday Forgotten Books special edition (Grifters & Swindlers edited by Cynthia Mason).

Another personal project is to read all the Smiley books by John le Carré, and I am doing fine with that. I am reading The Honourable Schoolboy right now, almost 2/3 done with this 600 page chunkster. And liking it a lot.

And the most recent project is to read the James Bond books (and watch the associated movies). Also doing fine with that. That one is easy. The  books are different from what I remember, but they are engaging reads with great pacing. Never a dull moment. I was inspired by Moira at Clothes in Books, who has read and posted about Casino Royale through Goldfinger so far. I started with Live and Let Die in March and have read one a month so far. Tonight we will be watching our DVD of the film, Diamonds are Forever, with Sean Connery.


20 comments:

  1. TracyK: I am glad your personal projects are progressing well. I seem to be evolving into a pattern. As in the past couple of years I will be reading the shortlists for The Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel and the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

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    1. Thanks, Bill. I always enjoy your post on the shortlist novels for those awards, especially the Arthur Ellis, because I like to learn about Canadian crime fiction.

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  2. Personal projects are great, I love them. Yours are so much fun. I'm reading a book from every state in the USA... a project that will take me years but that's fine with me. :-)

    The Light Fantastic is not typical of Pratchett's work really, which is why I saved his first two books to read until I'd read almost all of his others. I would recommend his crime/fantasy Sam Vimes series (from the Discworld as well) starting with Guards! Guards!

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    1. After this, Cath, I am going to read Mort because I already have Reaper Man. After that I will read Guards! Guards! and continue on with the Sam Vimes series. I agree, that series sound sounds like it will be best for me.

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  3. Ambler's reputation rests on his early books but his later postwar spy thrillers are worth reading as well. Very different in tone compared with the earlier books but in some ways more sophisticated and even more cynical.

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    1. The only Eric Ambler I have read so far that was postwar is The Light of Day, but I have a couple more. And only one more novel that is prewar. After that I will have to go looking for more.

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  4. I'm glad you had a good reading month, Tracy. It's always nice when you have a month without reading disappointment. And I'm impressed with the progress you're making on your personal reading plans, too.

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    1. I would have been happier to get one more book read this month, Margot. I have been reading the 600 page The Honourable Schoolboy for over a week now. It is a combination of too much going on at work, a guest coming, and the length of the book. No problem staying interested though, it is a great book.

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  5. You read more than me this month. Ambler is someone I've been meaning to read for a couple of years now, the same with Fleming. The problem is there's about another 200 authors exactly in the same boat in the tubs!

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    1. I know exactly what you mean, Col. Every time I say... this is an author I want to read... I know there are so many others and the books are on my shelves. Even though I know I read some books by Fleming when I was younger, I was still surprised by the style of his writing.

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  6. Guns of Navarone...a classic movie I saw in the 60' on my favorite show on TV "Saturday Night at the Movies" ( before DVD and Netflix, the good ol' days). I would never consider reading the book b/c I can 'dream' the movie from memory. Curious: have you compared the film to the book? What do husband and son think, as avid movie buffs?

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    1. It has been a while (15 years) since we watched the movie, and we will be watching it again soon. So I don't remember the differences. The only difference I know was mentioned in someone else's review: there are women who are featured in the movie, none in the book. I remember liking it a lot, but I am a sucker for just about any movie set in that time period and I like the actors.

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  7. Tracy, I have been inspired to read Ian Fleming since reading Moira's reviews of his books, as you have noted. I also need to read some of MacLean's novels that I missed in my youth.

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    1. I am really glad that Moira started reading the books, Prashant, it gave me the push I needed. Combining reading the books and watching each movie has been a goal for a long time but I never moved on it.

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  8. Glad you are enjoying SCHOOLBOY - I was a bit less keen actually ... but I really should read some Ambler soon!

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    1. If I was ranking the le Carre books I have read so far, Sergio, I don't know where they would go, Sergio. Tinker, Tailor is tops for me, Call for the Dead was much better than I remembered it. I just like the way le Carre writes and I don't get tired of reading a long book, which happens with some other authors for me.

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  9. I haven't read Eric Ambler yet and I see I need to put him on my list! Among other writers.

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    1. Keishon, I really wasn't that impressed with the first book by Ambler that I read. It was The Mask of Dimitrios, which so many people love. But all the books I have read since have been very good, although he is not my favorite writer of spy fiction.

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  10. A good reading month, and glad about the Bond. I've actually watched a couple of the films recently...

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    1. We did enjoy watching the Diamonds are Forever movie, Moira. It is far from the best Bond movie with Sean Connery, but at least we have reached the Sean Connery movies. Those we have around on DVD so easier to watch.

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