Sunday, October 6, 2019

My Reading in September 2019

When I review this month's reading, I can see that I have been moving away from vintage mystery novels and reading more contemporary fiction. That is neither good nor bad but I don't know why it is happening.

Of the ten books I read, seven were crime fiction although one was a mystery / fantasy blend. Of the crime fiction books, only one was written before 1990--Margery Allingham's More Work for the Undertaker, from 1948.

My first foray into Georgette Heyer's historical romance fiction (Frederica) was a success. That one was published in 1965. Reading Neil Gaiman's Coraline was not quite as successful for me, but that is because I don't like dark, creepy stories.

I started two series by "new to me" authors. I read Heartshot by Steven F. Havill and Snowblind by Ragnar Jónasson. I was very happy with both of those and will continue reading the series.

Overall, a very good month of reading. Here are the books I read...

Mystery reference

Brit Noir: The Pocket Essential Guide to the Crime Fiction, Film & TV of the British Isles
(2016) by Barry Forshaw
This book covers crime fiction authors from the UK. It is divided into geographic regions within the UK. There is also a section on UK authors whose books are set outside the UK. I do enjoy reading about crime fiction authors and their books, and each mystery reference book has its high and low points. This one is not perfect but is a good overview.

Historical Fiction / Romance

Frederica (1965) by Georgette Heyer
This is my first Regency romance. It has been many years since I have read a book in the romance genre, but so many people enjoy Heyer's romances that I had to give them a try. And I was glad I did. Frederica was an engaging book, and I learned a lot about Regency England. I have more of Heyer's Regency romances on my wishlist and will definitely be trying more.

Fantasy / Horror

Coraline (2002) by Neil Gaiman
This is a very dark and strange story of a young girl who goes through a door in her house into an alternate version of her house and her parents. Beautifully written and very creepy. Definitely a good read to get into the mood for Halloween. It isn't the type of story I enjoy very much, too creepy for me, but I am glad I experienced it.

Crime Fiction

Paper Son (2019) by S.J. Rozan
I wish I could convey to you how excited I was to find out that S.J. Rozan had written another book in the Lydia Chin / Bill Smith mystery series. That is one my favorite contemporary mystery series and the last book was in 2011. The surprise here is that Lydia and Bill are both in Mississippi helping one of her cousins who is in serious trouble. And Lydia had not even known she had relatives in Mississippi. If you are already a fan of this series, I highly recommend this book. If you haven't tried the others, I would read a couple of the earliest books in the series first.  I will be reviewing it, sooner or later, in more detail.

Heartshot (1991) by Steven F. Havill
The first book in a  24-book series set in a fictional county in New Mexico. It features Undersheriff Bill Gastner and Detective Estelle Reyes. I enjoyed this book a lot and will be reading more. My review here.

Joe Country (2019) by Mick Herron
The 6th book in Herron's Slough House series about spies who have been demoted due to some disgrace or screw up in their jobs, and are now working under Jackson Lamb. Amazingly, this is one series I have kept current with. I love the writing, the characters, and the plots get better and better.  

More Work for the Undertaker (1948) by Margery Allingham
The 13th book in the Albert Campion series. I am rereading the series in order because I enjoy Allingham's writing so much. Not my favorite book in the series, but many readers like it a lot. My review here.

The Manual of Detection (2009) by Jedediah Berry
My son bought this book at the book sale last year. We both read it recently, and we both enjoyed it. But it is very hard to describe. It mixes both mystery and fantasy, and I did find it more confusing than most books with that blend. The story is dark but with a good bit of humor, and I liked the ending.
Snowblind (2010) by Ragnar Jónasson
Snowblind is the first book in the Dark Iceland series. The setting is the northernmost town in Iceland, Siglufjörður, close to the Arctic Circle. I have read other mysteries set in Iceland but this part of Iceland is new to me. I liked it, I will be continuing the series. See my review.

A Foreign Country (2012) by Charles Cumming
This was my 2nd spy fiction read of the month. I really like spy fiction, and this book worked really well for me. This is Cumming's first book in the Thomas Kell series. Kell has been tossed out of MI6 but is called back to run a secret investigation. Very complex, lots of surprises, and believable characters. 


Cath said...

Oh, I love Frederica! And there are so many more excellent Regencies by her... Sylvester (I reread that one frequently), Bath Tangle, The Black Sheep, Arabella, The Grand Sophy, The Nonesuch... *loads*. To be honest I don't think she wrote a bad one, and 'beautiful' writing. You have some treats ahead.

Margot Kinberg said...

You've had a good month, Tracy! And I really like the choices you made. It sounds as though you enjoyed them, too - even better!

Rick Robinson said...

Interesting blend of books. I'm so glad you liked the Posadas County book, and look forward to you reading more and reporting on them. Barbara just finished Final Payment which she liked as much as I did when I read it last Summer.

As I said elsewhere this morning, I have had such bad luck with novels (all SF) lately after getting them because of strong reviews that I am giving up on them for a bit and am going to focus on short story collections and anthologies. I hope that cures my reading woes. YOU don't seem tone having any difficulties, though, which is good.

Katrina said...

This year I haven't been reading as much vintage crime as usual either. I must admit that I'm a bit annoyed with myself as I have quite a queue of them to get around to.

TracyK said...

Thanks for the suggestions, Cath. I have The Grand Sophy on order. Then I will find some of the other ones. I did get my copy of Frederica at the book sale, which was very fortunate, but no other of her books there and none last year.

TracyK said...

Yes, it was a very good month, Margot.

TracyK said...

I am looking forward to reading more of the Posadas County series, Rick. I have the 2nd one on my table and will be reading that soon. I am hoping reading short stories will work well for you. I have been very lucky in my choices recently.

TracyK said...

I know how it is, Katrina, I have stacks of vintage mysteries to read. I did just read an early Ed McBain, and the nice thing about older books is that they are short.

col2910 said...

A fair few there I wouldn't mind getting to. Herron - obviously. Charles Cumming, Ragnar Jonasson and I ought to try Rozan. My wife is in the middle of one at the minute. I succumbed and bought the Havill book after your review.

TracyK said...

I do hope you like the Havill novel, Col. I was impressed with the book by Cummings. I had read two others, and one was so so, but I really liked the other one. I am going to read more of his books (of course).