Saturday, August 31, 2019

What I read in August 2019

I had a good reading month in August. I read mostly mysteries, although I read one excellent classic novel. I completed my 20 Books of Summer reading list. I read books from three more countries for the European Reading Challenge.

Classic Fiction

Cold Comfort Farm (1932) by Stella Gibbons
This book is a parody of rural novels written in the early 1900s. I had heard so much about it I had to try it, but I was hesitant. Flora Poste moves in with her country relatives, the Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm. I loved it, from the first page. Introduction by Lynne Truss.

Crime Fiction

If The Dead Rise Not (2009) by Philip Kerr
The 6th book in the Bernard Gunther series. The series jumps all over the place in time. The first four novels are set  between 1936 and 1949, then the fifth book is set in Argentina in 1950. This book takes the reader back to 1934 Berlin. At the beginning of the story, Bernie has resigned from his job as a policeman, and is working as house detective at the Adlon. Berlin has been chosen as the site for the 1936 Olympics and there are illegal maneuverings by powerful men to make money out of that situation. Later, the novel hops to Cuba in 1954. Coincidence brings the same players from the first part of the book together but the story has an interesting ending.

Death Knocks Three Times (1949) by Anthony Gilbert
This is the second book I have read featuring Arthur Crook, criminal lawyer. I liked this one a lot, even with its complicated plot and plethora of characters. See my thoughts here.

Champagne for One (1958) by Rex Stout
I enjoy rereading the Nero Wolfe mysteries. Here Archie is invited to attend an annual dinner party and dance for unwed mothers, and one of the mothers ends up dead. This is one of my favorite books in the series.

City of Shadows (2006) by Ariana Franklin
A rich Russian emigré in 1922 Berlin believes he has discovered Anastasia, the last surviving heir to the murdered czar of Russia. (Or at least sometimes he does.) His secretary, a poor Russian emigré, helps him, unwillingly, as they prepare to announce her identity. Very complicated and interesting story. See my thoughts here.

Innocence; or, Murder on Steep Street (1985) by Heda Margolius Kovály
Set in the 1950s in the early days of Communist Czechoslovakia, this novel portrays the paranoia and pain of that time when no one knew who to trust, and policemen and State Security agents were looking for traitors at the slightest excuse. See my thoughts here.

Death in Amsterdam (1962) Nicolas Freeling
This a police procedural where we see less of the detective than we do of the suspected murderer, who is being held in jail. The novel was originally published in 1962 in the UK with the title Love in Amsterdam. See my thoughts here.

The Axeman's Jazz (1991) by Julie Smith
Skip Langdon, a police detective in New Orleans, is new to her job, uncertain of her skills, and eager to prove herself, and she gets her opportunity when a serial killer names himself after the historical serial killer, the Axeman. The New Orleans setting is very well done. This is the second in the series, following New Orleans Mourning.


Margot Kinberg said...

You really did have a good month, Tracy. Stout, Franklin, Kerr, Kovaly, Freeling... definitely talented authors. I give you credit, too, for the different sorts of novels that you read within crime fiction.

Rick Robinson said...

Another interesting month of reading. I liked very much the BBC version (or whichever production company) I watch on PBS many years ago, but have not read the book. Now I may have to try it. I must have read that Nero Wolfe, but have no memory of it. I'll have to dig it out. Gee, Tracy, I have books stacked everywhere and they are luring in from the library, and you keep suggesting others to read! Help!

Katrina said...

I've only read Cold Comfort Farm from your lot and it had me laughing out loud a lot. I like Nero Wolfe books too so hope to get around to that one sometime.

TracyK said...

The problem is, Margot, that there are too many good books out there and I cannot read them all. But better too many than too few.

TracyK said...

You suggest a lot of books I end up getting and reading, too, Rick. In fact, I commented on your blog today that I had not decided on my next read, but now I am just about to start Heartshot by Steven F. Havill.

TracyK said...

I laughed a lot at Cold Comfort Farm, too, Katrina. Flora was a wonderful character and I liked the writing style.

Rick Robinson said...

That's cool, Tracy. Both Barbara and I have really enjoyed that series, and are into the teens of it. Certainly 1-9 are musts.

TracyK said...

I finished HEARTSHOT last night, Rick, and I loved it. I will look for more of them at the book sale, but I don't hold out a lot of hope. Regardless, I will be reading more of the books in the series. Thanks for steering me in that direction.

Rick Robinson said...

You're so welcome. Speaking of steering, your review of When Books Went to War and my reading of it has resulted in my next two Friday Forgotten books. I'm an associate member of the Tracy Book Club.

TracyK said...

I am glad to hear that, Rick. I look forward to seeing what your next to FFB books are.

Clothes in Books said...

I love Cold Comfort Farm so much, was delighted to find your recent comment on my blog entry. Will you write a post on it? - I hope so. What a great cover you have for it: I immediately thought it was Roz Chast, is that right? I love her cartoons, so clever and funny. what a great choice for this book.

TracyK said...

I will write a post on Cold Comfort Farm, Moira, but I am intimidated by the effort. Sometimes the more I like a book the more difficult it is to say why. But I was glad to find out it was one I would want to reread and experience the fun again. And find new things to like.

Yes, the cover is by Roz Chast and that is why I bought this edition.

Anonymous said...

I loved Ariana Franklin's books. She passed away several years ago so I treasure the books I own read/unread by her. Very unique writer/voice. She is missed. --Keishon

TracyK said...

I agree, Keishon. I have three more historical mysteries by Franklin to read. Maybe someday I will even try one of her earlier novels.

col2910 said...

Tracy, there's not too many we have in common. Philip Kerr is on the pile, but I haven't got around to him. The same old story.

TracyK said...

Philip Kerr is one I think you would like, Col. His writing is closer to your tastes than most of my reading, I think.