Saturday, August 4, 2018

Six Degrees of Separation from Atonement to The Coffin Dancer

The Six Degrees of Separation meme is hosted by Kate at booksaremyfavoriteandbest. The idea behind the meme is to start with a book and use common points between two books to end up with links to six other books, forming a chain. Every month she provides the title of a book as the starting point.

The starting point this month is Atonement by Ian McEwan.  It sounds like it would be my kind of book, based on the time periods it covers, but it never appealed. I do have a copy and it is on my "maybe someday" list to read.

The link to my first book is by author name... first name. In the last few years, I have read a lot of the James Bond books by Ian Fleming, and my favorite so far is From Russia With Love. James Bond is a serious spy, and Fleming modeled him after people he knew in the Secret Service, but the novels are sometimes more adventure stories than spy fiction and sometimes verge into fantasy. In every book James Bond romances one or more women.


From James Bond I move on to Funeral in Berlin, a novel about the nameless spy created by Len Deighton. The nameless spy, known as Harry Palmer in the movies based on the books, is more of a common, everyday person than the James Bond type of spy; sure, he visits exotic locales, and he deals with dangerous situations and dangerous people, but he is just a working-class guy, doing a job, and has a girlfriend from the office.


I discovered Len Deighton's books in 2012, and since then have read many of his books. Another favorite is Winter: A Berlin Family 1899-1945. This story of one family in Germany shows the rise of the Nazi party, how it affected Germans and how they dealt with the changes in their society. The focus is on two brothers, both born around the beginning of the twentieth century. Their mother is from a wealthy American family, the father is a well-to-do German industrialist. Both grow up in Germany, and they fight on the German side in World War I.  Between World War I and World War II they take different paths.
Another book related to Germany  between the two world wars is In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin. This is Erik Larson's non-fiction 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. An extremely interesting book.

The "garden of beasts" referred to in the title is Berlin's central park, the Tiergarten; the Dodd family lived in a home on the edge of the park. Another book with a similar title is also set in Berlin, Garden of Beasts by Jeffery Deaver. This book is a standalone historical thriller, set at the time prior to World War II that Germany was building toward rearmament. The protagonist is a German-American mobster hit man who is forced to take on the assignment of killing Reinhard Ernst, the man behind the  rearmament effort.


Moving away from Berlin and earlier times, my final stop is another book by Jeffery Deaver, The Coffin Dancer, the second book in the Lincoln Rhyme series. Rhyme is a quadriplegic who is skilled at forensic investigations, usually working as a consultant to the police department. Here he is looking for an assassin who is targeting witnesses to a killing. I read this book nearly two years ago and never reviewed it. It was very suspenseful, kept me entertained throughout, but had too many twists and turns at the end... and too long. On the other hand, a lot of the subject matter relates to flying airplanes and aviation, and if Deaver isn't an expert on the topic he did tons of research because it is very realistic in that area.


My chain covered mostly earlier periods in history but ended up with a thriller. It was a lot of fun. Check out the other chains, the links are always interesting.



20 comments:

  1. Some interesting books there. I too have not read Atonement but feel I ought to somehow. Especially intrigued by Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts... sounds like my kind of thing. I also keep meaning to look for a biography of Ian Fleming as I gather he was an interesting man. His brother went up the Amazon... which is a book I *have* read.

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    1. Cath, I feel the same way about Atonement. Maybe the mood will hit me someday. I have read one other non-fiction book by Larson and I like the way he writes. I also plan to read his book on the Lusitania. My husband has all of his books. I have an older biography of Ian Fleming by John Pearson (not read yet) but there is a newer one. Probably either would be good.

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  2. This was fun, Tracy! I love looking at the other chains that are created. I haven't read Atonement either, but I might at some point. I have intended to read In the Garden of Beasts and will go now and put it on my library list. Our mystery group discussed The Devil in the White City several years ago. Quite a book!

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    1. The Devil in the White City is the other Erik Larson book that I read, Kay. If I was more into non-fiction I would probably read all of his books.

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  3. Atonement is a bit challenging to get into. I don't know why...but anyway, once you are a few chapters in, it's difficult to put down. It was a rare unanimous '5 stars' from my book group.

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    1. That is good to know about Atonement, Kate. I feel like I already know what it is about, that the summaries reveal too much, but there must be more to it than that or it would not be so well liked.

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  4. I like the way you linked these, Tracy. And I especially like that you used a few different books by the same author. It's hard to go wrong with Len Deighton...

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    1. And I did not even mention the Bernard Samson series by Deighton, Margot, which is my favorite of the things he wrote. I want to reread those books and read SS-GB too.

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  5. I also have never had much interest in reading Atonement. I didn't like the movie a whole lot either, but then WWII is my achilles heel. Great chain!

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    1. Thanks, Katie. All month I was having trouble finding a link for Atonement and then all of a sudden it all clicked. One of the things I love about doing the chain is being reminded of what I have read and thinking of more books I want to read.

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  6. I am off to investigate In the Garden of the Beasts- that does sound very interesting indeed! Thank you for the suggestion.

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    1. It is a very good book, Marina Sofia, interesting in many ways.

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  7. I really enjoy these, but never feel clever enough - or perhaps well-read enough? - to try to create one.

    Another garden one you could have followed is Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which would have taken you to Savannah.

    I might try that Deaver. My wife loves the Lincoln Rhyme books, but I have yet to try on, though I did read Deaver's short story collection, Twisted. BTW, Tomorrow I'll be posting my Current Reading post.

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    1. I thought the same thing before I did a Six Degrees, Rick, and I thought it would take too long, my time for blogging is already too limited. But it was fun and I know that you are both clever enough and well-read that would not not have a problem doing it.

      Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is an excellent suggestion and it would be interesting where that would have taken me. I have thought that I would enjoy reading that book but it did not occur to me in this context. I did see the movie. I hear Savannah is a beautiful town but I have never been there.

      Deaver is definitely a writer worth trying.

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  8. I must get back to Len Deighton because I loved the last one that I read - Winter. The Erik Larson book sounds very interesting.

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    1. I have quite a few Len Deighton books to read too, Katrina, and I look forward to them. The good thing about the Erik Larson book is that the story of the family is interesting, and the picture of that time is good.

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  9. I like the Lincoln Rhyme books though I tend to close my eyes and skim through the more brutal parts - still, Rhyme is an interesting protagonist. I'm not keen on any other of Deaver's books though - I've tried a couple in the past. It's Rhyme or nothing though I haven't read any of his latest exploits. Erik Larson's book is on my TBR list and I can't remember why I never read it. I like his work.

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    1. I will be looking out for more Lincoln Rhyme books at the book sale this year, Yvette. Also more Lee Child books, although I did not have success with those last year. Not many of the old ones available.

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  10. I like the books you've chosen, most of which sit on my TBR pile - and have done for far too long!.

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    1. Ah yes, the ever growing TBR pile, Col. I have one of those.

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