Sunday, October 7, 2018

Reading Summary, September 2018

September was another good reading month. The eight books I read were divided equally between vintage crime fiction and more contemporary fiction. I read a children's book, unusual for me, but I maintain that a good children's book will be equally enjoyed by adults.

NON-MYSTERY FICTION


Saffy's Angel by (2001) Hilary McKay
Winner of the 2002 Whitbread Children's Book of the Year award. I read about this book at Clothes in Books (and here) but I actually decided to read it when I read the first three or four pages in a preview. I loved the story because personally (even in my old age) I can identify with Saffron and her quest, but also because the author makes each of her brothers and sisters interesting, caring people. 

CRIME FICTION reads in September:


The Drowning Pool (1950) by Ross Macdonald
This is the second Lew Archer novel, published in 1950 and set on the southern California coast (Ventura, although the name is changed), in an area where oil is the prime source of money. Archer is dealing with an extremely dysfunctional family. My full review is here.
The Demolished Man (1953) by Alfred Bester
This book is a cross between mystery and science fiction and was the winner of the first Hugo for best novel. Set in 2301, the police are aided by humans with advanced ESP (called "espers") and it is impossible to get away with murder. Nevertheless, business mogul Ben Reich is plotting to murder his rival, Craye D’Courtney. I think I missed a lot in this book. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed reading it. But when I read other reviews or articles on the book, there was a lot of symbolism, etc., that I just missed. This is one of those books I will reread.  
Brewing Up a Storm (1996) by Emma Lathen
This is the next to the last book in the Emma Lathen series about John Thatcher, Wall Street banker. This one focuses on a group that is against the selling of non-alcoholic beer in grocery stores, seeing it as a mechanism to encourage young people to move up to real beer.  As usual it is the characters and their interactions that really shine.
Real Tigers (2016) by Mick Herron
The third book in one of my favorite espionage series, set in the UK. The basic setup is that agents who have messed up in some major way are put out  to pasture at Slough House, and thus are called the Slow Horses. Their leader is Jackson Lamb; everyone in the group has their problems, but none of them give up hope that someday they will get back to a "real job" in the secret service. A great series and this one was my favorite so far. 
Outrage at Blanco (1998) by Bill Crider
This is a Western, set in 1887, with a strong female protagonist, Ellie Taine. It does start out with several crimes, and we know exactly who the bad guys are. A  very good and unpredictable revenge story, with interesting characters. The book is described as "True Grit meets Grand Torino" and I can see the comparisons there.

The Asphalt Jungle (1949) by W.R. Burnett
This is a noir heist novel, set in an unnamed city in the midwestern US. It has a large cast of characters and the focus is on the team setting up and carrying out the heist. My first novel by W.R. Burnett, who also wrote Little Caesar and High Sierra. We watched the film adaptation, and it was very true to the book, with a marvelous cast.

The Murder of My Aunt (1934) by Richard Hull
This story is an inverted mystery, in which the reader knows who commits the crime. In this case, the narrator, Edward, is planning to murder his aunt  and that takes up a large part of the book. He is an unlikable character but still entertaining. A very interesting story, just different from most crime fiction. See my thoughts here.


14 comments:

  1. You had a good reading month. I'm terrible at spotting symbolism in books. The Demolished Man sounds interesting though so will keep an eye out for it. Also The Murder of my Aunt, missed your original review of that somehow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I read too fast, Cath, I get too involved in the plot and don't catch a lot. There is a British Library edition of The Murder of my Aunt and another book by Richard Hull too. I am go to look around for the other one, Excellent Intentions, which has a great fallish cover. I should not buy just for the cover, but it does influence me.

      Delete
  2. Loads of variety there, Tracy. I have made a mental note of "The Demolished Man" by Alfred Bester (great cover!) and "Outrage at Blanco" by Bill Crider.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Prashant, it took me longer than it should have to read both Demolished Man and Crider's Outrage at Blanco. And now I am glad I did.

      Delete
  3. Nice. Your reading months would make good read lists for anyone, or a readers/book club. This time I have read 4 of the books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Rick. It was a good mix of books in September, but so far in October I have stuck with older murder mysteries. Maybe I will try one of Anthony Horowitz's books next.

      Delete
  4. I really like the variety in what you've been reading, Tracy. You've mixed genres, settings, and other aspects,too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Margot. The Asphalt Jungle was quite different from what I usually read and I really enjoyed the film too. And then a children's book was on the other end of the spectrum.

      Delete
  5. I'm interested in reading Saffy's Angel, I've just finished reading another Whitbread winner and really liked it. Unfortunately my library only has this book on CD, very annoying as they probably sold the books off. I'll have to track one down.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Katrina, I hope you don't have much trouble finding a copy of Saffy's Angel. I will be tracking down the rest of the books, one by one, and looking different covers. I don't particularly like the US cover, but I was in a hurry to read it.

      Delete
  6. Looks like a great month's reading Tracy. There's a few there I fancy reading when I get myself organised - Macdonald and Herron for starters. I think I've read the Crider though there's a second book with the same character I ought to read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have read the Crider, Col, I remember your review. And I am going to read the 2nd book with Ellie Taine also.

      Delete
  7. You always have such good varied collections each month. So glad you liked Saffy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Moira. I did enjoy Saffy, and I looked for books in the series at the book sale, with no luck. I will check for it at our local book store.

      Delete