Saturday, June 9, 2018

Reading Summary for May 2018

May was another good reading month, all of the books were winners. Most of them came from my TBR piles, although two were borrowed from my husband. Mostly crime fiction, as usual.


This time I only read one book outside of the crime fiction genre. It was nonfiction, and it was a great choice.

A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal (2014) by Ben Macintyre
I was about to read Young Philby by Robert Littell but decided that I wanted to know more about the Cambridge Five before I read any more fiction related to that group. My husband had this book in his stacks and very kindly let me read it. It was perfect. The focus is on the longtime friendship of Nicholas Elliott and Kim Philby. They were both officers in MI6 for many years. The story is very interesting, the writing is fantastic, and there is an afterword by John le Carré. I still want to read more in-depth about other spies in that group but this was a great introduction.

And the list of crime fiction read:

Downfall (2018) by Margot Kinberg
This is the fourth book in the Joel Williams series. Joel is a former policeman who has left that job to teach criminal justice at Tilton University. I enjoyed visiting with Joel again, and this time he moves outside of his university environment. See my full review.
The Victoria Vanishes (2008) by Christopher Fowler
The Bryant and May mysteries star two elderly detectives, Arthur Bryant and John May, members of the fictional Peculiar Crimes Unit. The series is set primarily in London. Bryant witnesses a drunk woman coming out of a pub in a London backstreet and the next he learns she is dead. But when he goes back to the scene, the pub has vanished and the street is different. Thus this is obviously an homage to Edmund Crispin’s The Moving Toyshop
Portrait of a Murderer (1933) by Anne Meredith
First sentence: "Adrian Gray was born in May 1862 and met his death through violence, at the hands of one of his own children, at Christmas, 1931." So we know at the beginning who will die, and not too long after that we learn who did it. An inverted mystery, a format I generally enjoy. My husband read this in April and encouraged me to read it. I enjoyed it immensely.
The House at Sea's End (2011) by Elly Griffiths
This is the third book in the series featuring forensics archaeologist Ruth Galloway. Ruth lives in Norfolk in an isolated cottage on the saltmarsh. She is often used by the police as an expert when unidentified bones are discovered. This time the bones date from World War II, and this leads to very interesting story from that time that ties in with the present.
Cutter and Bone (1976) by Newton Thornburg
Why did I wait this long to read this book? It is a very well-written thriller, although extremely bleak. But best of all for me, it is like a tour through Santa Barbara and surrounding areas in the mid-70's and the author obviously knew the area. The book was adapted to film with the title Cutter's Way.
Unorthodox Practices (1989) by Marissa Piesman
And here is another novel that I should have read long ago. It has been on the TBR piles for nearly 12 years. Nina Fischman is a Housing Court attorney, Jewish, single, and a little bit worried about that. It was a lot of fun, humorous, I found myself laughing out loud (very unusual when I read a book). The first half was better than the second half and the mystery was slight, although interesting. 

Traitor's Purse (1940) by Margery Allingham
This 11th in the Albert Campion series, published in 1940, is entirely different from the preceding books. Albert Campion awakens in a hospital bed with amnesia; he doesn't know who he is but he knows he was on a very important assignment. He leaves the hospital with the help of Amanda Fitton, who is his fiancée but it takes him a while to realize that. I loved it. See my full review.

The List (2015) by Mick Herron
A novella in the Slough House series, set between Dead Lions and Real Tigers. I haven't Real Tigers yet, so thought I would read this one first. Very good, mostly about a spy who handles older, retired spies, but featuring some of the characters in the books.



20 comments:

  1. A good lot of books you read this month. Note your interest in British spies... I love discovering a bookish interest like this and wanting to find out more via good books. It makes life quite exciting.

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    1. I do like to read about espionage, Cath, and from what I hear, many of Ben Macintyre's books are about that. And fortunately my husband had several of them. And the Cambridge spies are the most interesting of all.

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  2. TracyK: You are just roaring along with your 2018 reading. I have found my pace this year faltering. I hope to read more in the second half of the year.

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    1. It does seem like I am getting more read each month in 2018 than I have in the past, Bill. No explanation, still working full time, etc. I am definitely enjoying my reading.

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  3. Nice to see all of what you read in May. Lots of good ones it seems. Glad the Ruth Galloway series is still working for you. I love that one.

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    1. This was my favorite in the Ruth Galloway series so far, Kay. The writing in present tense did not bother me so much this time and the story was very interesting.

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  4. I'm very glad you had a good reading month, Tracy (and thanks for the kind words). I'm happy to be reminded of Portrait of a Murderer, because I really want to read that one. It's been on my radar for a while.

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    1. It was a good reading month, Margot, and I found Portrait of a Murderer a good read. I am sure you will like it. Some people don't like it because of knowing who did it early on, but I like the variety in format.

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  5. I make that a book and a fraction per week, which is darn good. My goal each year is two per week, but I'm a bit behind this time. I have four books with bookmarks in them just now, and that's a rare thing!

    I'm not much for spy fiction (though I did recently read Anthony Horowitcz's Bond novel, Trigger Mortis), so for the most part what you read in May is not of interest to me. Most of what you read usually is, though. Good month.

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    1. I have never done well at reading multiple books at a time, Rick. Don't know why. I do hope I can read more when I retire. I generally read in the evenings now and then I end up staying up too late.

      I have Trigger Mortis on my book piles and hope to get to it sometime soon. I have never tried a James Bond novel written by anyone else but Fleming.

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  6. I enjoyed the Margery Allingham and the Elly Griffiths books that you read. I also prefer to concentrate reading one book at a time, luckily as I'm retired I can read a lot, especially during winter. But that means that I have quite a backlog of books to blog about.

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    1. I am looking forward to retirement, Katrina. More reading, more blogging, and time for other things too. Unfortunately I have a backlog of reviews now. That used to bother me but I have learned to live with it.

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  7. The usual great collection. I have read five of these, and would be interested in the others - particularly the Philby book. At one time I read everything I could lay my hands on about that group of spies, so a new book would be interesting.

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    1. I think I am going to have to just try whatever I can find on the Cambridge spies, Moira. I could not decide on the quality of other books I ran into on that topic. But if you have any specific suggestions, they would be welcome.

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    2. I just looked on my shelf: Philby's own book, My Silent War (obv what he chooses to tell), and Philby by Page, Leitch and Knightley, and Philby by Seale and McConville. BUT - the story changes as time passes and maybe more facts come out: those two are from 60s and 70s and may be outdated by current standards, I don't know. And I think Knightley wrote another book about Philby, presumably an update, about 10 years after these. I read it, but don't know what new info there was! So these are not really solid recommendations....

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    3. Thanks for checking, Moira. I could tell from A Spy Among Friends and the introduction and afterword that many facts have been revealed over time and who knows what the full story was. It is all so fascinating. I did see that many people who were mentioned in the book had written books themselves, about that time. It would be hard to trust what they say but also interesting to hear about it from that viewpoint. And for other books that covered one or more of the Cambridge spies, it was hard to tell their quality. I will do more research and then just try my luck.

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  8. I should get the Thornburg book back on the radar soon. I did enjoy the Herron filler.

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    1. You would definitely like the Thornburg book, Col. I was glad I read the novella by Herron, usually I just skip those but it was well worth it.

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  9. Great reading list! I’m reading Portrait of a Murderer right now. Slow going at the start, I’m struggling as the characters are so unpleasant but I have the feeling if I keep going I’ll be glad. You just made me sure of it!

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    1. The characters in Portrait of a Murderer are very unpleasant, as you say, Peggy. But I did like how the characterizations have depth and sometimes explains how they got that way. I did like it a lot, but not everyone does.

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