Friday, August 4, 2017

Reading Summary for July 2017

July has been another good reading month. I read nine books, which is a lot for me.  I am making progress on my Twenty Books of Summer. Of the nine books I read this month, seven were from that list. The other two were read this month because I wanted to read the book before I watched the movie.

One of the books was not crime fiction: Their Finest by Lissa Evans, set in the the UK in 1940 and 1941. The story is about a young female copywriter who gets an assignment to the Ministry of Information, writing parts of scripts for a WWII propaganda film. That alone would be an interesting subject, but the story follows several other people associated with the filming. Each one provides a different view of the UK during the war. It is a lovely story, very humorous, and one of my favorite reads of the month. I much prefer the UK title: Their Finest Hour and a Half.

Now for my list of crime fiction books...

City of Dragons by Kelli Stanley (2010)
A story about a female private eye set in 1940 in San Francisco's Chinatown. I have posted my thoughts on this book HERE.
Red Bones by Ann Cleeves (2009)
Red Bones is the third book in the Shetland series by Ann Cleeves; the books are all set on the Shetland Islands, which are part of Scotland. They feature Inspector Jimmy Perez. I read the first two books a few years ago; although I liked them a lot, I don't remember much beyond the basic plot. I read this book (at this time) because we wanted to start the Shetland TV series and Red Bones is the first book which was adapted. I liked the book just as well as the first two. (I just finished Blue Lightning on Thursday, and it is my favorite of the four.)

New Orleans Mourning by Julie Smith (1991)
During the Mardi Gras parade, the King of the Carnival is shot and killed by someone dressed as Dolly Parton. Skip Langdon is one of the cops working on crowd control for the event. She is a friend of the family,  and thus gets involved with the investigation. This book won the Edgar Award for Best Novel. The setting was done well and it was interesting to see this view of New Orleans.
The Distant Echo by Val McDermid (2003)
This is the first book in the Karen Pirie series, but she only shows up after 200 pages into the story and even after that only plays a small role in the story. Regardless, this was a very good tale of the investigation of a cold case, with close to half of the book taking place at the time that the crime is committed. I have posted my thoughts on this book HERE.

Bodies are Where you Find Them by Brett Halliday (1941)
I have a good number of the Mike Shayne novels by Brett Halliday, but I started with this one because the film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was loosely based on this novel. I did not really expect there to be much similarity between the two, but the basic premise is the same in both. In the book,  a woman’s body shows up in Mike's bed but disappears; Mike and his friend, reporter Timothy Rourke, are searching for it. I enjoyed this book, but I am pretty sure I am going to enjoy my next Mike Shayne story even more now that I have a taste of the series.

Brothers Keepers by Donald Westlake (1975)
This is about a small, obscure Catholic order of monks who are in danger of being tossed out of their home. This summary from Goodreads is just perfect so I am going to use it.  
"When the order's lease on the Park Avenue monastery expires, sixteen monks face a greedy real-estate mogul, and Brother Benedict falls in love with the mogul's daughter."
I loved this book. Another of my favorite books of the month.

A Shock to the System by Simon Brett (1984)
This is a very different book by Simon Brett. Most of his books that I have read are humorous mysteries about Charles Paris, the actor. A Shock to the System is part dark comedy, and part thriller. Graham Marshall is an HR professional, a seemingly ordinary man, who kills a man in a fit of pique. Initially he is remorseful and fears retribution; when it does not come, he begins to see murder as a solution to his problems. (This was the 2nd book I read because we want to watch the movie again. It just came out in a new Blu-ray edition.)


The Fashion in Shrouds by Margery Allingham (1938)
The simplest description of this book is that Albert Campion’s sister, a fashion designer, is implicated in a murder, and Albert wants very much to find the culprit. The story is, of course, much more complicated than that. Amanda Fitton, from the earlier book Sweet Danger, shows up again and she and Albert stage a fake engagement. My thoughts on the book are HERE.


14 comments:

  1. I'm glad to hear you had such a good reading month, Tracy. And you chose some excellent reads, I think. Their Finest Hour sounds especially interesting; I may have to look that one up...

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    1. Margot, I first learned about Their Finest Hour and a Half from Moira at Clothes in Books. Then when the film (with Bill Nighy) came out on disc, my husband wanted to watch it soon and I always like to read the book first if possible. It was very very good (the book).

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  2. I really must begin to read Val McDermid's books, (she's a local author) I've been put off them because someone told me they were very violent and gory - was this one? I should try Ann Cleeves too.

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    1. This Val McDermid book was not violent and gory, Katrina. I had thought the same about her books until I read some reviews of some of the later Karen Pirie books.

      I do recommend Ann Cleeves. From what I have read she has spent a lot of time in the Shetland Islands, and she seems to have gotten the setting right.

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  3. Tracy, you always have some good reading tips for me....
    perhaps you'd like the CF I'm reading now! It is an Italian CF series...this book is #1. I'm reading it in French....but it has just been translated into into English (Jan 2017) Sandrone Dazeri "Kill the Father". It's on Amazon... "In this fascinatingly complex thriller, two people, each shattered by their past, team to solve a series of killings and abductions..."

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    1. Nancy, Thanks for the suggestion. That does sound like a good new series. I have also looked into the David Rosenfelt series with the Golden Retriever that you mentioned earlier. I think I would like to try that too.

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    2. I loved the first 2 books by Rosenfelt....
      I'm finally getting into CF!!

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    3. Nancy, your enthusiasm for the Rosenfelt books is what motivates me to try them.

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  4. I bought the DVD of Their Finest and am so looking forward to it.

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    1. We got the DVD also, Nan, and enjoyed it very much. I liked the book better but that is usual for me, especially if I read the book first.

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  5. A decent reading month, probably not too much that I would go for. I do like the sound of the Westlake though.

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    1. I loved the Westlake book, Col. I look forward to reading more of his books...

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  6. Every month I think that your reading list would make the perfect bookpile! So glad you liked Their Finest, and also very interested in the Brett Halliday. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is one of my very favourite films too. I just saw the same director's The Nice Guys - have you seen it? Very very similar to KKBB in many ways, lots of plot parallels, but I enjoyed it hugely anyway.

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    1. Moira, I loved Their Finest, that and Brothers, Keepers were my favorites this month. Makes me very eager to read Crooked Heart soon (which is in my plans).

      We did see The Nice Guys, and will watch it again, I am sure. Not quite as fun as KKBB, but it did get me interested in Ryan Gosling. And maybe I will like it better after watching it more times. That often happens.

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