Sunday, July 31, 2016

Reading in July 2016

In July, I read seven books... all of them crime fiction. Four of them were published before 1960, and three of them were published after 1999. That includes more current crime fiction than usual for me, but the majority of my reading this month was still early crime fiction.

This is the list of books I read in July:

Fire Will Freeze by Margaret Millar
Vertigo by Boileau-Narcejac (originally published as D'entre les Morts in 1954)
Shot in Detroit by Patricia Abbott
She Shall Have Murder by Delano Ames
The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon
Dead Lions by Mick Herron
Jar City by Arnaldur Indriðason

The two books that I read this month that had the most impact on me were Patricia Abbott's Shot in Detroit and Delano Ames' She Shall Have Murder. The subject matter and style of the books were poles apart but they both engaged me 100% while I was reading them.  And the fact that both of them were favorites illustrates one of things I love about crime fiction: it has so much variety to offer.

She Shall Have Murder is a Golden Age mystery, published in 1948, set in London. Post-war London, with rationing, feeding the gasmeters, etc. is one of my favorite settings. At the beginning of this book, Jane Hamish is writing a mystery story and Dagobert, her lover, is giving her ideas for the plot. Dagobert is unemployed; Jane works in a lawyer's office. Although at first I found Dagobert very annoying, he grew on me as the book moved along and Jane Hamish and Dagobert Brown quickly became my favorite detecting couple in Golden Age fiction. I read some of this series in my youth and I was glad that this one did not disappoint.

Shot in Detroit is a novel of psychological suspense, set in 2007 Detroit. It does not paint a pretty picture of that area or the struggle to survive financially in that environment. The story centers on a female photographer who is working on a project to photograph black men who have died much too young. The subject matter is sometimes unsettling and the story is dark. My full review is here.

The rest of the books I read in July were also very high quality and great reads. I had a wonderful reading month.

I am reading from a list of books for the 20 Books of Summer challenge (which covers the dates June 1 - September 5th). I took this on because I had a list of books I wanted to read and I thought the challenge would keep on that path. So far my only deviation has been a book for the Crimes of the Century meme at Past Offences.

Still, at the end of July I have only 36 days to read another nine books and I probably won't accomplish that. An average month for me is 6 books. I have been happy with all the books with my list of books so far. Only one of the remaining books (a Smiley book by John le Carré) is exceptionally long, so wish me luck.


col2910 said...

Tracy - a great month's reading - a few there I've read, a few I have to read. I'd pass on the Ames and I'll get Margaret Millar and Patti Abbott read one day, but most probably something else.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am reading pulps by women mid-century. I am finding it tough going so far. I love Millar and Highsmith but these are a step below--at least so far.

Anonymous said...

You had a good month, Tracy; I'm glad for you. And I couldn't agree more about Patti Abbott and Margaret Millar. Both real talents!

Katrina said...

Delano Ames books are quite difficult to find here, the few I have read must be later in the series as Dagobert and Jane are married and I love the dialogue between them, the best married couple in crime fiction I think.

TracyK said...

It was one of the best month's reading I have ever had, Col. Every book was great.

TracyK said...

I have not read any Highsmith yet, Patti, and I do want to. I want to start with the first Ripley novel and then decide what next.

TracyK said...

So true, Margot. I love it when all my reads in a month are very, very good.

TracyK said...

I haven't had a very easy time of finding copies of Ames' books either, Katrina. I don't think one has ever turned up at the book sale, and we don't have a lot of good used bookstores here. I must have read library copies when I was younger.

I agree, I think the dialogue between them is what really charmed me about the book, and I was very surprised. And I really like Jane's character.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

I've actually read four of those - cool choices Tracy! And I really, really want to try a book by Ames

Ann Summerville said...

I stopped by your blog today.

TracyK said...

I am trying to guess which 4 you read, Sergio. I know Fire Will Freeze is one. I do hope you try Ames, so I can see how you like his writing. Although I am sure it depends on which book you choose.

TracyK said...

I am glad you did, Ann. My reading has been at a good pace this month, but my blogging has slowed down, a combination of illness and heavy workload.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Tracy, it's Margaret Millar and Patti Abbott for me, too. I'm looking forward to reading their books.

TracyK said...

And I am sure you will enjoy books by both those authors, Prashant.

Clothes In Books said...

I really should read that Ames book next - I do enjoy them, and I think that was the first one? I'm not as fussy as you about order. I've heard good things about Dead Lion, will you be reviewing?

TracyK said...

Yes, She Shall Have Murder is the first one, and then I will move on to the one you sent me. Later in the series, I may not worry so much about missing a book here and there.

I will be reviewing Dead Lions, but who knows when? I getting behinder and behinder. I liked it a lot. I think I like his endings better than the beginnings in the spy series. In the other series, I like everything (in the one book I have read so far).

Anonymous said...

I'm going to "bite the bullet" and read "Shot in Detroit." Reactions to Reading convinced me by having a complicated review of a well-written book with a disliked protagonist. What a combination! I can't resist.
My only qualm is the dead bodies, a bit gruesome for me. But I'll try it out.
I just read a 492-page book, took me days, a family saga, romance, no violence. But if one wants to distract, rest, escape, it's find.
I'm so glad Shot in Detroit is 320 pages; that is enough reason to read it for me now. That, and that friends who are retired Detroit city workers had their pensions and health insurance cut by the city managers. So, must read it.

TracyK said...

I am glad you are going to give it a try, Kathy. It is well worth reading. That is horrible about retired workers getting cuts to pensions and insurance.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Detroit emergency managers cut the city retirees' pensions and health insurance, upheld by a bankruptcy court. But the banks and other financial institutions got their money back.
Some retirees are paying hundreds of dollars a month for health insurance now. The cuts violate the state constitution, but a bankruptcy judge overruled it.
So, reading about Detroit is a must-read for me.