Saturday, September 1, 2012

Mysteries in August and Pick of the Month

I read seven books in August and all of them were mysteries.One of the things I noticed about my reading this month is that all of the books were set in earlier times. Three of them are historical mysteries, and the others were published in the 1980's or before. No contemporary fiction this month. I enjoyed all of the books I read this month, but it is easy for me to pick a clear favorite this month.

The mysteries I read this month were:
  1. A Lily of the Field by John Lawton
  2. Spy Sinker by Len Deighton
  3. The Miernik Dossier by Charles McCarry 
  4. Night at the Vulcan by Ngaio Marsh
  5. The Property of a Lady by Anthony Oliver
  6. Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
  7. Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
The Crime Fiction Pick of the Month meme is hosted at Mysteries in Paradise. Kerrie encourages bloggers to link summary posts for the month, and identify a crime fiction best read of the month.

Birds of a Feather and Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear are part of the Maisie Dobbs series. The novels are set in Europe in the time period following World War I and revolve around life following the war and the effects it had on the people. In these books, Maisie's development from a servant in a rich household to an educated young woman with a career, and the relationships she has with friends and relatives, are just as important as the mystery.

The Property of a Lady is one of four books by Anthony Oliver. It was published (and set) in the early 1980's, and it is an English village mystery. I would describe it as a cozy with dark elements.

Night at the Vulcan (1951) is a very enjoyable vintage mystery novel by Ngaio Marsh. The story is set in the theater, and revolves around the arrival of a young, aspiring actress who is without funds and desperate for any job in the acting company. It was my only vintage mystery for this month.

The Miernik Dossier is the first novel in an espionage series by Charles McCarry. McCarry is one of my favorite authors and I love espionage fiction. This was not my favorite book in the series, but it is certainly a unique and entertaining novel. The story, set in the late 1950's, is told entirely through documents, including but not limited to transcripts of conversations and diary entries.

Len Deighton's Spy Sinker was another in an espionage series, the sixth of nine books. This is a favorite series of mine, and I am trying to get through all nine books by the end of the year. The series centers around Bernard Samson, an intelligence officer in the British Secret Intelligence Service. The first five books are told in first person, with Samson as narrator. This book is in third person narrative, focusing on Samson's wife, who is also an intelligence officer.

And now we come to my favorite book of this month... A Lily of the Field by John Lawton.

The Inspector Troy series by John Lawton is one of my favorite crime fiction series. Overall, the series provides a compelling picture of England before, during and after World War II. Most of the books are a combination of historical fiction, espionage fiction, and police procedural, although some of the books don't have a strong espionage element.

Like some other books in this series, A Lily of the Field covers a span of years. It starts in 1934, leading up to World War II, covers some events during World War II, and picks up again after the war is over. The first portion of the book is called "Audacity" and features Méret Voytek, a talented young cellist living in Vienna, who is not Jewish but ends up in Auschwitz; her teacher and friend, Viktor Rosen, who ends up interned in England on the Isle of Man; and Dr. Karel Szabo, a Hungarian physicist, who is involved in the development of the atomic bomb. The second part of the book, "Austerity," is set in 1948 London, and brings in Frederick Troy and his brother Rod, who was also interned on the Isle of Man due to issues with his citizenship. This is a longish book, and seems almost like two books, although there are definite links between the two stories.


Shanae Branham said...

I’m glad I dropped by from Crime Fiction Pick of the Month meme. .
My Blog

srivalli said...

I have picked up Birds of a feather last week from library. I will be reading it this month. Lily of the field is also available in the library. I will pick it up soon.

Anonymous said...

Nice choice Tracy. I plan to start reading soon the Troy series.