Tuesday, April 7, 2020

March 2020 Reading Summary

In March, most of my reads were crime fiction (and spy fiction, which I include under that umbrella).  I also read two books of historical fiction and a classic novel from the 1930s.

As the month wore on and the coronavirus situation got more scary, my reading leaned more to the comfort books. For me, spy fiction is included in comfort reading, so my reading of that genre may increase.

General Fiction 

Diary of a Provincial Lady (1930) by E.M. Delafield
This book is a satirical and humorous look at the life of a married woman with two children (and a cook, a French governess/nanny, and a maid or two), living in an English village, and dealing with money problems and the foibles of others. The diary format took some getting used to, but I liked it, and I am reading The Provincial Lady in London right now.

Historical Fiction

Bring Up the Bodies (2012) by Hilary Mantel
This is the sequel to Mantel's Wolf Hall; it explores the downfall of Anne Boleyn, from the viewpoint of Thomas Cromwell. I liked this book even better than Wolf Hall.
Margaret the First (2016) by Danielle Dutton
This very short novel tells the story of Margaret Cavendish, an unconventional 17th-century Duchess who dared to write and publish all types of literature when it was unthinkable for women to do this. I enjoyed the story very much, and learned more about those times.

Crime Fiction

A Quiet Place (1975) by Seichō Matsumoto
Crime fiction set in Japan, by a Japanese author. This book portrays culture and working life in Japan in the 1970s very well. My review here.

The Expats (2012) by Chris Pavone
A spy fiction thriller set in Luxembourg, although not your standard spy fiction story. I loved it. My review here.

Rest in Pieces (1992) by Rita Mae Brown
This is part of a mystery series that features a cat (Mrs. Murphy) and a dog (Tucker) as characters (in addition to humans). Not my usual type of mystery, but I enjoyed it. My review here.

Miss Silver Deals with Death (1944) by Patricia Wentworth
Miss Silver #6. As I noted in my review, this book has one of my favorite  settings for a mystery... London during World War II. And the mystery story is well done too.

October Men (1973) by Anthony Price
This is the fourth book in the David Audley series, a cold war espionage series set in the UK (and sometimes other countries) and usually featuring some historical element. In this case, Audley is in Italy. Although Audley is the central character throughout the series, each book is different and may place the focus on other characters. My review here.

Snow Angels (2009) by James Thompson
This is the first novel in the Inspector Vaara series. A very interesting setting: Finnish Lapland, a hundred miles into the Arctic Circle. There was too much violence, described graphically, for me. My review here.

The Second Confession (1949) and
In the Best Families (1950) by Rex Stout
When I embarked on comfort reading this month, Rex Stout was one of the first authors to come to mind. These two books are books 2 and 3 in the Zeck Trilogy; And Be a Villain is book 1 in the trilogy. Arnold Zeck is Nero Wolfe's archenemy, and in these two books Wolfe encounters Zeck once again.  

Dark Provenance (1994) by Michael David Anthony
Second book in the Canterbury Cathedral series. The protagonist, Richard Harrison, is an ex-Intelligence Officer who has taken on the position of Secretary of the Diocesan Dilapidations Board for Canterbury. By coincidence, a man he worked with in Germany at the end of the war is found dead nearby, and that man's daughter refuses to believe it is suicide. I enjoy these books more for the picture of life at Canterbury Cathedral than the mystery; this book was a good read.

Coffin in Malta (1964) by Gwendoline Butler
I read my first John Coffin novel earlier this year and enjoyed it very much. This book takes Coffin to Malta to investigate a crime and, like the earlier book I read, it features Coffin only later in the book.

Tiger in the Smoke (1952) by Margery Allingham
Albert Campion #14. Set in London a few years after the end of World War II, this is more of a thriller than the typical detective novel that Campion is involved with. My review here.


Bill Selnes said...

What a range of books. I am reading some Nero Wolfe stories to aid me in the writing of my next post. In the introduction to this collection by John McAleer, Rex Stout's biographer, he said P.G. Wodehouse said "Stout passes the supreme test of being rereadable".

Cath said...

You had an excellent reading month last month. I loved The Diary of a Provincial Lady. I read it and then bought an omnibus with four books in it, the original, The Provincial Lady goes Further and then 'In America' and 'In Wartime'. I just fetched it from its shelf (had to blow some dust off) and will read one of them soon, something different to death and destruction. Thanks for the reminder.

Rick Robinson said...

I am amazed that you have been able to read so much and such variety. Well done, Tracy. I'm really struggling. I have several books started, in various stages of completion, sitting here. Nothing has grabbed me so far, and I'm pretty listless, though I want to read. HOWEVER, Julia Spencer-Fleming's new book HID FROM OUR EYES was released yesterday. I'd been getting them from the library, but of course that's a non starter, so I bought the ebook. It's a favorite series and it's been years since the last one and I'll start that today.

Your blog is a bright spot in my day. Stay safe and well.

Margot Kinberg said...

You had some great variety in your reading last month, Tracy. And your post reminded me that I haven't read enough historical fiction lately. I enjoy it a lot, and I really ought to get back to it.

TracyK said...

Bill, how interesting that you are reading some Nero Wolfe stories now. I read the John McAleer biography years ago; I should read it again. I have read all the Nero Wolfe books multiple times. Usually this means I have a notion of how it ends but don't remember it all.

TracyK said...

Cath, The Provincial Lady books are good, uplifting reads for this time. I have access to them all because my husband has a set of the books in this edition. I will probably read through them all. I am very interested in the "in Wartime" book.

TracyK said...

Rick, I am sorry that you are struggling with reading at this point and I hope that changes. I have heard about the new book by Julia Spencer-Fleming. I have only read two books in the series and I have to get back to it and read more of them.

Thanks for the kind words.

TracyK said...

Margot, I am finding I am enjoying historical fiction a lot this year. Previously I mostly stuck with historical mysteries, but I have quite a few now that are not mysteries.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am also amazed at the variety and depth. Brava!

Katrina said...

They all look well worth reading to me a lovely mixture and I've only read one of them, The Provincial Lady. I'll definitely look out for the others. I think for me espionage books might be comfort reading too.

TracyK said...

Thanks, Patti. I am whittling down the books on my TBR shelves a bit.

TracyK said...

I am enjoying the Provincial Lady books, Katrina. Amazing that they have been sitting on my husband's shelf for years (decades, probably) and I just now gave them a try.

Spy fiction can be just as violent as other crime fiction but somehow it doesn't seem so real to me.

Neeru said...

That's a great reading month, Tracy. Like Rick, I too am having trouble concentrating, picking books and abandoning them after a few chapters. The only book from your list that I have read is TIGER IN THE SMOKE. Almost all of the others are new to me.

Happy Reading in April.

TracyK said...

Neeru, I have had off days where I have trouble concentrating, but I haven't had any problems sticking with a book. Even the book with too much violence (Snow Angels) had good points that kept me coming back. I hope your problem with concentrating on reading improves. My problem is with spending too many hours checking reports on the coronavirus, and I have been trying to cut back on that.

Rick Robinson said...

Tracy, the Julia Spencer-Fleming series MUST be read in order!

TracyK said...

Rick, I agree, that series is important to read in order. I looked it up and actually I have read the first three in the series and I have the fourth one on my shelves. After I read that one I will find copies of the others.

Clothes in Books said...

You always have such a great range of books, Tracy: the usual wonderful selection.

TracyK said...

Thanks, Moira. My reading month in April is going pretty well, not so much variety so far, but great books.

col2910 said...

A productive reading month Tracy, congrats. I'm seeing that a lot of people are struggling to concentrate on their reading during the current situation, not you apparently!

TracyK said...

Col, I am not having problems reading during this stressful time, but I do have problems staying focused on much else. Thus writing reviews and other posts is hit or miss.