Sunday, November 4, 2018

Reading Summary, October 2018


I read eleven books this month. One book was a re-read. One book was a fantasy, the rest were crime fiction. About half the books I read were vintage mysteries. I started one new (to me) series, and continued a few more recent series that I am glad I returned to.

FANTASY FICTION


The Halloween Tree (1972) by Ray Bradbury
This book is described as being both as fantasy and horror fiction. I would  categorize it more as spooky, not so much horror. I was initially attracted to this book because of it cover. It is a  charming children's book that I can see myself re-reading every Halloween. My thoughts are here.

CRIME FICTION reads in October:


Behind That Curtain (1928) by Earl Derr Biggers
My first book in October was a return to the Charlie Chan series. Although there were many Charlie Chan movies released in the 1930's and 40's, there were only six novels in the series. This one is set in San Francisco, and Charlie meets a retired Inspector from Scotland Yard, Sir Frederic Bruce, who has come to the US to continue the investigation of a case he was never able to solve. My husband and I are both fans of this series.  

The Case of the Weird Sisters (1943) by Charlotte Armstrong
I picked up quite a few books by Armstrong at the 2017 Planned Parenthood book sale, but I had not read any of them. Colm Redmond's review at Clothes in Books motivated me to read this one. I remember Armstrong's books as being just a bit more creepy and weird than I like but this one was "pleasantly creepy" as described on the cover.
The Book of the Dead (1944) by Elizabeth Daly
I remember Elizabeth Daly as one of my favorite authors from the 1940's, but it had been a long time since I had read one of her books. I was glad to find that I still enjoy her writing. My review here.
The Mirror Crack'd (1962) by Agatha Christie
This is a Miss Marple mystery and I always enjoy a visit with that elderly sleuth. This time Miss Marple is really feeling her age, which made me sad. But her wits are just as sharp as ever and I liked the picture of the changing times in St. Mary's Mead, with a new housing development and more modern shops.
The Water Rat of Wanchai (2011) by Ian Hamilton
This is the most current book that I read this month. Ava Lee is a forensic accountant who works for a family friend, Mr. Chow, who she calls Uncle. Ava is Chinese-Canadian, living in Toronto, but Uncle is based in Hong Kong. Together they track down large sums of money for their clients. I found this story to be a bit over the top but it engaged me so much I will be coming back for more. A book by a Canadian author with a setting initially in Toronto, but later the action moves to many other parts of the world. 
And Be a Villain (1948) by Rex Stout
This book, the 13th in the Nero Wolfe series, is the first in a trilogy that features Wolfe's archnemesis, Arnold Zeck. This is a re-read for me, of course. In this case, the characters are a radio talk show host, Madeline Fraser, and her entourage. A guest on the show dies from poisoning, and Wolfe investigates. An enjoyable read, as always.
His Burial Too (1973) by Catherine Aird
This is the fifth installment in the Inspector C.D. Sloan book series by Catherine Aird. The novels are set in the fictional County of Calleshire, England, and also feature Sloan's assistant, Detective Constable Crosby. Although Sloan usually tries to avoid working with Crosby because he is generally inept. There is always an element of humor in the stories, although it is not prominent. I must mention here that this is a locked room mystery, since I forgot to say that in my review.
A Colder Kind of Death (1994) by Gail Bowen
The fourth mystery in the Joanne Kilbourn series. This book won the Arthur Ellis award for Best Novel in 1995. At this point in the series, Joanne is a widow, with older children, but now raising an adopted child, the daughter of a close friend who died. She is an educator who is deeply involved in politics. In this book, the man who killed her husband a few years earlier has been shot and killed while in prison, and the fallout from that event reveals secrets and surprises for Joanne. Another book by a Canadian author, set in Saskatchewan.
The Shortest Day (1995) by Jane Langton
The 11th book in the Homer Kelly series. This story is set in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Homer and Mary Kelly are teaching a class at Harvard University. Mary is participating in the annual Christmas Revels when a young singer in the event dies in an automobile accident. When other deaths follow, Homer resists getting involved, even though he was once a homicide detective. This book centers around the production of the Revels and an activist group seeking housing for the homeless; the author illustrated the story with her own pen and ink drawings. 
Blood and Rubles (1996) by Stuart M. Kaminsky
The Inspector Rostnikov series began in 1981 when Russia was still part of the USSR; the 16th and  last book in the series was published in 2009. I am now at book 10 in the series. The protagonist is Moscow detective, Chief Inspector, Porfiry Rostnikov. Per the book cover: "Crime in post-communist Russia has only gotten worse: rubles are scarce; blood, plentiful. In the eyes of Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov and his metropolitan police team, newfound democracy has unleashed the desperation that pushes people over the edge, and has emboldened those already on the path to hell. ...A trio of nasty cases confirms their worst fears."

20 comments:

  1. Excellent reading month, eleven books is fantastic!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did enjoy my reading this month, Cath. I am beginning to wonder is my higher count of read books per month lately is in correlation to the amount of stress at work, which has peaked this year. Whatever the reason, I get excited every time I get to pick a new book to read and I am having fun, so that is good.

      Delete
  2. I agree with Cath - excellent reading month and I do admire your devotion to those vintage mysteries. Yes, your reading pace might have something to do with the stress in your life. Sometimes at those points I find myself reading slower or even (horrors!) not at all, but other times I'm a reading whirlwind. Regardless, hope you are able to destress a bit and if reading helps, go for it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kay, there were several years in the 1990's when I stopped reading fiction at all and spent way too much time on a development project at work (different job). I don't think I came back to reading until 2002. That will never happen again. Reading and watching quality TV and movies with my husband and son are a higher priority now.

      Delete
  3. You read such fine books this month, Tracy! A Christie, an Aird, a Kaminsky and a Bowen?! Nice... And, of course, the Rex Stout, too. I'm impressed. I'll be interested to know what you think of the Ava Lee series as it goes on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Ava Lee series was not what I expected, Margot, and it was very fun, especially for a thriller. I was glad I finally got back to the Kaminsky series, and I need to read more from his other series too.

      Delete
  4. I am lucky to read four books a month whereas I used to read twelve. A fractured focus, I think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have not figured out how I am reading so much lately, Patti, because I usually only have evenings to read and we watch series or movies most nights too. Sometimes I cannot sleep well, so get more reading in when I should be sleeping. And lots of the books I read are shorter.

      Delete
  5. Nice list! Especially the Christie, Daly and Langton! I have a couple Catherine Aird books but haven’t read any yet. October was a terrible reading month for me! Only two books. Yikes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had not read Langton in a long time, Peggy, and it was fun. I am sure your reading pace will pick up when you have more time for it.

      Delete
  6. Another fine list, Tracy, in content and number. I'm very sorry to read you're in stress at your employment, but it seems you are coping well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Rick. Work stress is not the worst thing that can happen, I am just ready to start slowing down in that area. I took two days off and had a four day weekend, so that has helped.

      Delete
  7. I am glad you enjoyed your reading north of the border. I am trying to decide about reading more of Ava. More violence and less brains in further novels. Early or middle or current in the series I find Gail Bowen writes consistently excellent mysteries.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bill, I did see a review you wrote on one book in the Ava Lee series where you commented on the increase in violence. I will definitely read the 2nd one because I already have it, then I will go book by book to determine how I like the direction the series is taking. I do have more books by Bowen but not the next one and that is definitely a series where I will not skip around.

      Delete
  8. Another great month Tracy, your mini-reviews always intrigue...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I could write longer reviews for most of the books I read, Moira. Maybe someday, when I retire.

      Delete
  9. I agree, 11 books is fantastic, Tracy. And you read some fine books too. Much to choose from for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did read some new authors this month, Prashant, and sampled more books by authors I had read in the past.

      Delete
  10. Seems like we both had good reading months. There's nothing there I've read, but a few authors in common that sit eon the shelves - Bradbury, Christie, Kaminsky.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did not feel like I read so many books, Col, but most of them were shortish. Kaminsky is another author I need to read more frequently. I have a ton of his books, in 4 different series.

      Delete