Saturday, August 11, 2018

Reading Summary for July 2018

I cannot believe it is August. And hot and muggy in Santa Barbara. I read ten books in July.  Seven of them were on my list of 20 Books of Summer.

I read two books that were not in the crime fiction genre. Although one of them was strongly related to crime fiction.

Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous With American History (2010) by Yunte Huang
This non-fiction book is a blend of many things. It covers much of Earl Derr Biggers' life and it talks about most of the books he wrote, including the success of Charlie Chan in novels and on film. It also provides some background on the history of racism in the US.  
It was a very readable book; I often have problems with non-fiction writing but this one was informative... without being boring or dry.
The Night Watch (2006) by Sarah Waters
The second was a historical novel, set in the 1940's in the UK, one of my favorite times and places to read about. This novel has an unusual structure, with three sections, one set in 1947, the next set in 1944, and the last in 1940. The book never returns to 1947 so we know the ending early on, so to speak. I did not find it totally successful, but I am glad I read it.
The crime fiction books I read this month are:

They Do It with Mirrors (1952) by Agatha Christie
In this fifth Jane Marple book, Jane visits Carrie Louise Serrocold at her Victorian mansion, Stoneygates, at the request of an old friend. The US title is Murder with Mirrors. My thoughts on the book are HERE.

Gasa-Gasa Girl (2005)  by Naomi Hirahara
This is the 2nd book in a crime fiction series featuring Mas Arai, a Japanese-American gardener in Los Angeles. Mas is seventy years old and the book starts as he arrives in New York City on his first visit with his daughter and her family. Mas and his daughter have not gotten along for many years, but now she is asking for his help. I enjoyed it very much.

Moskva (2016) by Jack Grimwood
I have read two of this author's books published as John Courtenay Grimwood and I was very impressed with them, so when I heard he had written a cold war spy thriller set in Russia, I had to read it. I was not disappointed, but there was more violence and sex in the novel than I was prepared for.

The Diggers Rest Hotel (2010) by Geoffrey McGeachin
Set in post-World War II Australia, the hero is Charlie Berlin, who rejoins the Melbourne police force after the war. This book won the 2011 Ned Kelly Award. I look forward to reading more of the series, although affordable copies are not easy to find.

Night Rounds (1999) by Helene Tursten
The second book in Helene Tursten's series featuring Inspector Irene Huss, set in Sweden. I enjoyed this book; it covers social issues in Sweden and sexual harrassment in the police department. My full review (and links to other reviews) is HERE.

The Woman Who Married a Bear (1992) by John Straley
This first novel about Cecil Younger, unofficial private investigator, is set in Sitka, Alaska, a port city on the Alaska Panhandle. I found Cecil to be a very unusual character that I grew to like. This book was winner of the 1993 Shamus for Best First P. I. Novel.
A Study in Scarlet (1887) by Arthur Conan Doyle
I have finally read a novel in the Sherlock Holmes series. This very short novel introduces both Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr. John H. Watson. I did enjoy reading A Study in Scarlet, but it was not at all what I expected.

Queenpin (2007) by Megan Abbott
I did not know quite what to think about this book but I do rate it very high. The tension that builds wore me out when I was reading it, similar to when I was reading Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith. The two books are very different; Highsmith's book centers on two men, this one centers on two women. Set in the 1940s or 50s, in the world of gangsters and gamblers. In 2008, Abbott won the Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original Novel for Queenpin.


Anonymous said...

I think you had a good month, Tracy, despite the heat! I'm glad you got to read some Conan Doyle, even if it's not what you expected. He was such an influential writer. I'm also glad to see that you read McGeachin and Abbott - both are authors whose work I really admire.

TracyK said...

Yes, it was a good month, Margot. I read a lot of authors that I had been meaning to get to, and was very glad that I did.

col2910 said...

Sounds like a very good reading month. There's a few there I wouldn't mind getting to myself that sit on the pile - Abbott and McGeachin. I think I have something else by Straley.

NancyElin said...

Tracy, I'm always looking for a new book for
my Australian reads (#AusReadingMonth)!
This CF sounds great.....The Diggers Rest Hotel! Thx.

TracyK said...

I liked both the books you mention, Col, and I will be reading more by Straley. It was a very nice reading month.

TracyK said...

The Diggers Rest Hotel is very interesting, Nancy, and I learned new things about Australians fighting in World War II, although that wasn't the main subject of the book.

Clothes In Books said...

A good month for you - I will be interested to read longer reviews of some of these.

TracyK said...

My reviewing has slowed down, Moira, while my reading has increased. Too much stress at work, other necessary tasks demanding my attention, but I do hope to post on most of them.

Ken B said...

I thought Queenpin was outrageously fun. My second Abbott, her first novel, did not match up.

TracyK said...

That is interesting, Ken. The only other book I have by Megan Abbott is one of her more recent novels, but I want to try more of them. This one was not what I expected, but very good.