Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer Reading

I have read a couple of really good books this summer that I want to tell you about.  It was May and I was in Barnes and Noble, perusing the mystery section (my favorite genre!) and I saw a book with an interesting cover.  (I know, don't judge a book by its cover, but I totally do.  If I ever write a book, it had better have an AWESOME cover.)  I picked it up because of its cool cover.  I liked the way it felt in my hands. (Another reason why I will never have a Kindle unless I become a world traveller and cannot carry all of the books I want with me...)  I read the comments on the cover.  It was a New York Times Bestseller.  It was an Edgar Award Winner.  It got a great review from The Washington Post.  It was published by Penguin. (I am partial to their books.)  I checked out the back cover.  More awards.  Brief description sounded good.  I bought it.  This was at the end of May, and since school was still in full swing with senior grades due right around the corner I knew I wouldn't be able to start it until school ended.  I read it in June and it was AMAZING!

The plot was intriguing, the characters were beguiling, and the writing was excellent.  Two thumbs way, way up for In the Woods.  I stayed up late to finish it, and then I raced out the next morning to buy the second book in the series.  I devoured it as well.

Tana French does something interesting with these books.  While they are a series, each book has a different narrator.  In the first book, Rob and Cassie are detectives in Ireland on the Murder Squad.  They are investigating the murder of a 12-year old girl.  Rob is the narrator.  In the second book, Cassie takes an undercover job to investigate the murder of a young woman and she is the narrator.  The story in The Likeness is very different from In the Woods.  Each is a stand alone novel.  There are a few references to things and characters from the first book in the second.  If you had not read the first book the references in the second would just seem vague; if you have read the first book then the references are filled with meaning.  While you can read the second without having read the first, I think it is better to read them in order.  (I am a devoted in-order-mystery-series-reader for the most part.)  I finished the second book on the 4th of July sitting on the beach and then read the first chapter of the third book which was printed at the end of the second book.  Love the teasers!  I raced out the next day and bought the third.

The narrator in the third book is Frank, an undercover cop who was a character in the second novel.  I decided that I love these books so much that I didn't want to race right through the third.  Sometimes I appreciate an author more if I haven't read her in a bit.  So, I put The Faithful Place on the shelf and started another old favorite, a Martha Grimes Chief Inspector Richard Jury novel.  Oh, do I love these books and Richard Jury.  Now, having just told you that I like to read mystery series books in order, I am reading this one - the latest by Martha Grimes - out of order.

I started reading Martha Grimes' Inspector Richard Jury books back in 1992.  Back then I didn't have kids and I worked in retail (no papers to grade), which meant I could check out six mystery novels from the library each month and read them all.  Sigh.  Those were the reading days!  I read a lot of the Richard Jury novels, but then fell away from them.  I am not sure where I left off in the series.  Reading The Black Cat has reinvigorated my love for the Richard Jury series.  I went to a used book store today and bought all of the Richard Jury books they had, which included: The Five Bells and Bladebone, The Blue Last, Jerusalem Inn, The Anodyne Necklace, and The Stargazey.  Each of the books titles is the name of a pub in England and plays a role in the novel.  I am pretty sure that I have read The Anodyne Necklace before, as it is nearer to the beginning of the series, but it has been so long since I read it and I got buy two get the third free, so I figured I could read it again.  The Black Cat is number 22 in the series.  I want to read them all again! (Go here to see all of the titles and covers.)  I also picked up two non-mysteries, Between, Georgia, by Joshlilyn Jackson (love her Southern Gothic style books) and The Bookseller of Kabul, by Asne Seierstad, which I know nothing about.  It is described as "The most intimate description of an Afghan household ever produced by a Western journalist..."  Because I know so little about Afghanistan, and because it is so important in our current world picture, I thought this sounded interesting.

As I write, it has clouded over a bit.  The Oldest Son is at work.  The Tiny Dancer is with her dad.  The Youngest Son is at his mom's house.  The Darling Husband is on his way across Lake Michigan on a sailboat to prepare the boat to race in the Chicago to Mackinac race.  All is quiet here.  I think it is time for a glass of iced tea and a little Richard Jury.  Happy summer reading!

Yikes!  Just as I was about to post this I heard a huge thump on my deck outside the kitchen where I am sitting writing this post.  I jumped.  As I said, it was very quiet here.  All of a sudden a big black dog came clomping up my deck steps.  By the time I started to get up and say hello, he clomped off again.  Now I hear some voices calling for him.  If you are looking for a black lab mix with a blue collar, he just ran thataway...

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