Sunday, March 10, 2019

Monthly Reading in February 2019

In February, I read ten books. Four of the books were not crime fiction, although one was a reference book about classic crime ficton. And I read six crime fiction books, published between 1941 and 2015.

Mystery reference

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books (2017) by Martin Edwards
From the introduction by Martin Edwards: "This book tells the story of crime fiction published during the first half of the twentieth century. I see it as a tale of the unexpected. The diversity of this much-loved genre is breathtaking, and so much greater than many critics have suggested. To illustrate this, I have chosen one hundred examples of books which highlight the achievements, and sometimes the limitations, of popular fiction of that era." 
The book is comprised of chapters discussing various types of Golden Age mysteries, with several examples of each type examined in detail. My favorite part was the introduction to each group of books, where many other books and authors are briefly discussed.


Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania (2015) by Erik Larson
In telling this story of the events leading to the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915, Erik Larson focuses on the Lusitania, the U-boat that attacked the ship, and governmental groups in the US and the UK. This was a very entertaining book and I raced through it. Of course, I knew the basic story, but there was so much I did not know, so there were many surprises.

Graphic novel

Descender, Vol. 1, Tin Stars (2015) by Jeff Lemire (Writer),  Dustin Nguyen (Artist)
One of my reading goals in 2019 is to read more of the graphic novels I have. In this science fiction story, TIM-21 is a robot designed to be a companion to a child. He wakes up from a 10-year long sleep to find that everyone on his world is dead and robots have sort of been outlawed. I will be continuing with this series; this was an intriguing start to the story.


The Tin Flute (1945) by Gabrielle Roy
This is a classic Canadian novel, first published in French as Bonheur d'occasion. The book tells the story of the Lacasse family in the St. Henri area in Montreal, during World War II. They are poor, and only the oldest daughter, Florentine, is working. Eugene, the oldest brother, has joined the military. The father, Azarius, is usually unemployed, a dreamer, always leaving one job for a "better" opportunity. It took me a while to get into the story, but about halfway into the book it gripped me and I could not stop reading.

Crime Fiction

Murder in Mykonos (2010) by Jeffrey Siger
This is the first book that features Inspector Andreas Kaldis. In this book he is Police Chief on the island of Mykonos, but in later books he works in other parts of Greece. I am looking forward to reading more of the series. Reviewed here.

A Chill Rain in January (1990) by L.R. Wright
This is the third book in the Karl Alberg series by L. R. Wright. Alberg is a Sergeant in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The novel is set in Sechelt, which is on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia, Canada. I have read books 1 and 2 and will be continuing on with the series. Reviewed here.

A Killing in Quail County (1996) by Jameson Cole
This is a perfect story of growing up in the 1950's in rural Oklahoma. Fifteen-year-old Mark Stoddart lives with his older brother Jess, a deputy sheriff in the small town of Bob White. Mark plans to spend his summer looking for evidence of a local bootlegger, to help out his brother. This turns out to be very complicated and more dangerous than he expected. The teenage characters are depicted especially well.

Evil Under the Sun (1941) by Agatha Christie
A while ago we purchased a set of three films based on mystery novels by Agatha Christie, and one of them was Evil Under the Sun. So I skipped ahead to read this book in the Hercule Poirot series out of order. The setting is the Jolly Rogers Hotel, on Smugglers’ Island, off the coast of Devon. A beautiful woman is killed and the murderer must be one of the guests on the island. As usual for an Agatha Christie novel, this is a clever and entertaining story.

The Shanghai Factor (2013) by Charles McCarry
Charles McCarry is one of my favorite writers of spy fiction and this novel did not disappoint. It is narrated by a young male American spy, working as a sleeper agent for an unnamed US agency, who is living in Shanghai to learn Mandarin. Many of the spy novels I have read have an underlying theme of betrayal and mistrust, and this one is no different.  Reviewed here.

All the Old Knives (2015) by Olen Steinhauer
Olen Steinhauer is another of my favorite authors of spy fiction. This book has an unusual format, taking place during a dinner between two people who used to work together at the CIA station in Vienna. Henry is following up on an investigation into the hijacking of an airliner that occurred when Henry and Carol worked together. During the dinner they both think back to that event and we gradually learn how it turned out. 


Bill Selnes said...

I was introduced to Gabrielle Roy in high school 50 years ago. I did not expect to like her as a teenage boy. I found myself absorbed and loved her writing.

Cath said...

Wow, you had a very good reading month, Tracy! I don't have that Martin Edwards book but I do have the one previous to that, The Golden Age of Murder. Must get to it and then possibly this one.

A Killing in Quail Country appeals to me, partly because it sounds good but also you don't come across many books set in Oklahoma and I need one for my ongoing (10 years now) American states challenge.

Kay said...

You did have a nice reading month, Tracy! EVIL UNDER THE SUN is one of my favorite Christie books. Glad you enjoyed it.

Clothes In Books said...

The usual great reading list from you Tracy. I am intrigued by the sound of the Gabrielle Roy book - I haven't heard of it, and am off to look it up.

Anonymous said...

Nice reads here, Tracy! And a timely reminder to me that I need to spotlight a Jeffrey Siger book. Soon.

Rick Robinson said...

Excellent choices, a nice spread of genres and authors. Well done.

col2910 said...

McCarry, Wright and the Jameson Cole would be my picks from your list. I did enjoy the Steinhauer as well. Glad you had a good month, Tracy.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have always meant to read Roy. THanks for reminding me.

TracyK said...

I wish I had been introduced to Gabrielle Roy in high school, Bill. But maybe I would not have appreciated her writing as much then.

TracyK said...

I have the earlier Martin Edwards book also, Cath, and have read a good bit of it but not finished it. I liked this one better; the format and content just suits me better.

A Killing in Quail County was very very good, and I agree, books about Oklahoma are scarce or I just haven't run into them. I did not realize how close Oklahoma was to Louisiana. My geography issues again.

TracyK said...

I enjoyed Evil Under the Sun, Kay, and it was a bit different for a Poirot book, but then there are so many Poirot books.

TracyK said...

Moira, I learned of the Gabrielle Roy book from Brian Busby at The Dusty Bookcase, when I was looking for World War II books a couple of years ago. I just got a copy in the last few months. I hope to read it again, I think it would benefit from multiple readings.

TracyK said...

I agree, Margot, Jeffrey Siger would be a great author to spotlight.

TracyK said...

Thanks, Rick. Now I just need to get some science fiction novels and / or fantasy in the mix.

TracyK said...

I don't know why I put off that book by Steinhauer for so long, Col. Now I have ordered his most recent book, The Middle Man. Like I need more unread books.

TracyK said...

Based on The Tin Flute, Gabrielle Roy is worth reading, Patti. I do want to read more of her books, just not sure which ones.

Cath said...

Have ordered a cheap copy of A Killing in Quail County from AM. Really pleased, so thanks for the rec!

TracyK said...

That is good, Cath, I hope you like the book as much as I did.