Sunday, May 12, 2019

Reading Summary for April 2019

In April, all my reading was related to the crime fiction genre. One non-fiction book about Scandinavian crime fiction. Of the fiction books, four were published between 1985 and 2002, so nothing very recent. One book published before 1900, and two books published in the 1930's.

Mystery reference

Death in a Cold Climate: A Guide to Scandinavian Crime Fiction (2012)
by Barry Forshaw
The book covers the authors thoughts about crime fiction authors whose books have been translated to English from these countries: Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, and Finland. Sweden gets the most coverage and I suppose that reflects that more Swedish authors have been translated. Most of the coverage is for current authors, although earlier translated works by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö are discussed. No way to give a good overview of this in one paragraph. I will read any book on mystery reference, and I learned a lot from this one.

Crime Fiction

The Shortest Way to Hades (1985) by Sarah Caudwell
The Hilary Tamar series centers around a group of young barristers who often seek Hilary's help when they run into trouble. This is book 2 in the series. See my review here.
Tarnished Icons (1997) by Stuart Kaminsky
This is the eleventh novel in Stuart Kaminsky's Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov series, set in Russia in the late 1990's. The prolific Kaminsky is one of my favorite authors. See my review here.

Save the Last Dance for Me (2002) by Ed Gorman
This entertaining and nostalgic book takes us back to the summer of 1960, when John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon were running for President. It is the fourth of ten books starring Sam McCain, a young and not very successful lawyer in Black River Falls, Iowa. In need of money, he often works as an investigator for District Judge Esme Anne Whitney, who is rich and influential in their community. As the book begins, McCain is attending a religious service with the local newspaper reporter, Kiley Burke. Unforturnately, the Reverend John Muldaur is poisoned and dies during the service. Judge Whitney wants the crime solved quickly because Nixon will be visiting the town and she will be hosting an event in his honor. 

Free Reign (1997) by Rosemary Aubert
Set in Canada. The unusual protagonist of this story is a homeless man who was once a judge, high in Toronto society. At the point that the book begins, Ellis Portal is about 50 years old and has been homeless for five years, living in a homemade shelter in a ravine in Toronto. See my review here.

The Woman in White (1859) by Wilkie Collins
I had resisted reading this book for years. Even though it a well-known crime fiction classic, I did not think I would enjoy the old-fashioned story (how wrong I was!). Even then I might have tried it if it had not been so long (600-700 pages).  Finally I overcame my prejudice when Judith at Reading in the Wilderness blogged about how much she enjoyed it.
This book is one of the first sensation novels.  It tells the story of a young woman who marries unwisely and the man who loves her and tries to rescue her from the clutches of an evil. It has multiple narrators, which I really like. William Hartright, a young drawing teacher, starts out the story and is one of the major players, but at times he is only on the fringes of the story.

Death Sends a Cable (1938) by Margaret Tayler Yates
Anne Davenport McLean, better known as "Davvie", is a Navy officer's wife who is living in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Her husband is a doctor; she is an ex-Navy nurse. Recently a young officer on the base has committed suicide; both his wife and Davvie insist that the death was not suicide. Eventually his death is investigated and that leads to other crimes and discoveries. This was the second book by Margaret Taylor Yates in a four book series featuring Davvie as the sleuth. John Norris introduced me to this book at his blog, Pretty Sinister Books, and kindly offered to send me his copy to read. I enjoyed the book, both the mystery and the picture of life in the Navy in this time period. A post with more of my thoughts on the book will follow soon.

Cards on the Table (1936) by Agatha Christie
This is another Christie novel with a different approach. A strange and somewhat disconcerting man, Mr. Shaitana, has invited Hercule Poirot to dinner. When he arrives, he learns that three other sleuths have been invited: Colonel Race, Superintendent Battle and Ariadne Oliver. (Mrs. Oliver is actually a mystery writer, but in this case she tries her hand at detecting.)  After dinner, two foursomes play bridge. At one table are the sleuths, the remaining four guests play at the other table. During the bridge game, some one dies. This was the first appearance of Mrs. Oliver and I enjoyed meeting her. I always love it when Colonel Race shows up. So this was a fun read for me.


col2910 said...

I think the Ed Gorman book holds the most appeal for me, based around what you've posted. I ought to try something by him.

Margot Kinberg said...

You had a solid month, Tracy! I like it that you've explored crime fiction from several different places, too. For me, anyway, that always makes for more interesting reading.

Rick Robinson said...

You had a good reading month, Tracy. Well done.

Cath said...

I too have firmly resisted The Woman in White, silly of me, I must try to get to it this year. Especially as you and Judith clearly enjoyed it so much.

TracyK said...

Ed Gorman wrote several series, Col. The only series I have tried is this one and the Dev Conrad series.

TracyK said...

I do enjoy reading crime fiction from other countries, Margot. Soon I hope to read more European mysteries from various countries. Right now I am reading A Private Venus, which I probably heard about first from you.

TracyK said...

Thanks, Rick. All of the books were entertaining.

TracyK said...

Yes, it was very good, Cath. The writing kept me coming back for more, and seeing what life back then was like was very interesting. Could have been shorter, but I still would recommend it.

Clothes in Books said...

The usual great selection, and I look forward to a bit more comment on some of these books.

TracyK said...

I do hope to comment more on most of those books, Moira, but I always have more to do than I have time for, on all fronts. There will definitely be more on Death Sends a Cable and The Woman in White.