Sunday, April 29, 2018

Reading Summary for April 2018

Once again I have read more books this month than I expected. One book was very very long and took most of a week to finish (All Clear), and several were vintage mysteries which usually don't have lots of pages, so I guess it all balances out. Mostly crime fiction, as usual. I also read a good mix of older and newer fiction, which I am happy about.

I read two books outside of the crime fiction genre. One was Connie Willis's time travel book All Clear. The other was a book of short stories, I Bring Sorrow by Patricia Abbott, which had 25 stories, all dark, some crime fiction, some from other genres.

All Clear (2010) by Connie Willis
When I started reading Blackout and All Clear, all I knew about the books was that they took place in 1940, during the London Blitz, and they were about a group of time travelers who were from Oxford in 2060. And I did not want to know more than that so I hesitate to go into more depth here. A more detailed summary that doesn't give away much is available at Goodreads. The two books are really one book in two parts so I did end up reading both of them together, between March 24th and April 6th. It was a wonderful read, very emotional at the end, and I loved it.

I Bring Sorrow: and Other Stories of Transgression by Patricia Abbott
This book contains 25 short stories; some are very short (3-6 pages), most fall between 10-15 pages in length. There  are definitely some that fit the crime fiction label, with violence and murders, but there are others that are more atmospheric and thought-provoking. Actually all of them made me stop and think and that is what I loved about them. See my full review.

The remainder of my reads were crime fiction novels. Four were written before 1960, one in the 1970's, one in the 1990's, and two were after 2000.  I got in two more vintage mysteries than last month so I am happy about that.

The Silent Speaker (1946) by Rex Stout
This was a reread; I have read all of the books in the Nero Wolfe series multiple times. The Silent Speaker is one of my favorites in the series. Nero Wolfe is investigating the murder of the Director of the Bureau of Price Regulation (BPR) and the group footing his bill is the National Industrial Association (NIA). The two organizations are rivals. This was the first novel that Rex Stout published after World War II and it depicts an interesting time. See this post for more on the book.
Hidden Depths (2007) by Ann Cleeves
This is the third book in Ann Cleeves’ Vera Stanhope series, which is also now a TV series. This one takes place in the summer on the Northumberland coast. A woman returns home after a night out to find her son dead in the bathtub; she assumes it is suicide. But it was murder and Vera and her team are investigating. I liked this one for the same reason I liked the first two in the series: wonderful characterizations and a great sense of place.
The Case of the One-Penny Orange (1977) by E.V. Cunningham
This is the second of seven mystery novels starring Masao Masuto, a detective on the Beverly Hills police force. The mysteries were  written by Howard Fast, using the pseudonym E. V. Cunningham. Matsuo is Nisei, a native-born American who parents were Japanese immigrants. Matsuo is a Zen Buddhist and his religion shapes his way of looking at things and his behavior in his work. I enjoy these books, at least the ones I have read so far. See this post for more on the book.
Goldfinger (1959) by Ian Fleming
Back in April 2016 I started a project to read all the James Bond novels by Ian Fleming. I was inspired by Moira at Clothes in Books, who has read and posted on all the books now. I am far behind. Goldfinger is only book #7 of 14 books (although two of them are short story books, not novels). This was a fun read because I have watched the movie so many times, but it is not one of my favorite Bond books so  far.
Malice Aforethought (1931) by Francis Iles
This is a classic mystery novel, mentioned frequently as one of the first examples of the inverted mystery novel. I have read and enjoyed many inverted mysteries but I did not like this one as much, although it is usually very well reviewed. I will be posting on this book soon.

Eva's Eye (1995) by Karin Fossum
The story begins with a woman discovering a body while walking on a river bank with her young daughter. The woman is Eva Magnus, and soon we learn that she is also linked to another unsolved case, the murder of a prostitute.  The police get to work on figuring out how the two cases are related. I enjoyed this first book in the Inspector Konrad Sejer series very much, although I found the ending quite sad. The setting is Norway; I read this book for the European Reading Challenge.
The Private Practice of Michael Shayne (1940) by Brett Halliday
This is the 2nd in a long-running series featuring Michael Shayne, private detective. I read the book at this time primarily because I have a few Mike Shayne movies starring Lloyd Nolan and the first of those is based on this book. This is only the second book by this author that I have read, and I enjoyed this one even more than the first one. And a bonus is the cover illustration by Robert McGinnis.
Death of a Nationalist (2003) by Rebecca Pawel
Carlos Tejada Alonso y León is a Sergeant in the Guardia Civil, and stationed in Madrid in 1939. The bitter civil war between the Nationalists and the Republicans has ended and Tejada is part of the Guaria Civil that is attempting to impose order in Madrid. Reading about the Spanish Civil War was new for me, and the book was  extremely well-written, I read this book for the European Reading Challenge.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Great selection. Somehow I have missed that Fossum one.

Kate said...

Interesting that you didn't enjoy the Iles, because as you say it tends to be a popular one, so I look forward to your review with interest. It's refreshing to see classics from other people's points of view.

Anonymous said...

I really like the variety here, Tracy! I'm glad you had some good reads, too.

TracyK said...

I left out some facts on that one, Patti. Eva's Eye was also published as In the Darkness, in the UK. And it was the first in the series, but published after others in the series. I had had the 2nd in the series for some years without reading it, and when I saw this one I decided to read it first.

TracyK said...

I know, Kate, I was disappointed both because of the reputation of Malice Aforethought and because I generally like inverted mysteries, although the ones I remember were published more recently.

TracyK said...

I am enjoying the variety in my reading, Margot. I think I am reading more current books than I used to, although I still prefer to mostly stick with books published before 2000.

Rick Robinson said...

Wonderful range in your selections, Tracy. I've read the Shayne, and the Stout and Fleming, and am nearly midway in the Abbott. The two novels by Connie Willis sound very interesting, but I'm not sure I have the stamina for them.

TracyK said...

I thought I remembered that you like the Mike Shayne books, Rick, and also the Nero Wolfe series. Those two books by Willis are very long, I had to push myself to start reading them.

Jo said...

I love your vintage mysteries! The oldest I have read were my mom's original copies of Agatha Christie!! Definitely like your reads. I hope you have a great May as well!!

col2910 said...

Seems like you had a great reading month, Tracy. Better than me - my reading fell off a cliff with the house move. Hopefully May will be better!

TracyK said...

Thanks, Joann. I have a goal of reading through all of Agatha Christie's mysteries ... in order when it works out well. I do like her mysteries.

TracyK said...

Of course it is understandable that your reading would slow down when moving, Col, and I assume your are glad to get the house move done. I am sure May will be good for you.

Clothes In Books said...

That's a great month of reading Tracy. Keep going on James Bond! It's good to hear I inspired you..

TracyK said...

It was a good month, Moira but almost too many books. I cannot keep up with reviews, which I have now accepted as a reality. I was glad to get back to the Bond books.

-blessed b9, Catalyst4Christ said...

Coming to my BIG-ol,
John Belushi, party-hardy,
Seventh-Heaven which is
eternal pleasure-beyond-measure?

Do you...
1) love God?
2) love your neighbor?
Cya Upstairs.