Thursday, June 7

Recent Reads

Because I know that most of you enjoy books as much as I do, and also because I can't think of another topic, I thought I would give you a run down on books I have recently enjoyed.

Currently I am reading a new author and I'm a little excited because the book is really pretty good. A new author is cause for excitement, don't you think? The book is A Faint Cold Fear and the author is Karin Slaughter. Yes, she does spell that with an "i." It's a mystery/suspense and I think part of a series. The character is a doctor in a small Georgia town who also doubles as the coroner. The body of a student from the nearby tech college is found by a bridge and it looks as if the kid commited suicide by jumping. But something just doesn't add up for the coroner and chief of police - who just happens to be the coroner's ex-husband. Then the coroner's pregnant sister disappears from the vicinity. So far it's a pretty good page-turner. The characters are fleshed out nicely and the plot is keeping me interested.

The last book I read was Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett. I liked the book a lot, as I do all Pratchett's books, but not as much as I like his City Watch series. This book involves the witch Granny Weatherwax who takes on the job of educating a young girl with powers. However, the girl's powers are not that of a witch, but that of a wizard and "the lore" says that women can't be wizards. Tradition and discrimination are the obvious themes in this book and Pratchett handles the subject in a fairly charming way. But it comes across a bit too strongly as a moral tale.

Much better are his City Watch books. Pratchett uses a lighter hand in these books, letting the characters drive the story. And in spite of their mythic quality (trolls, dwarves and werewolves to name a few) the characters have a familiar feel.

Also recently read was Bill Bryson's Neither Here Nor There. An adult Bryson tramps across Europe, revisiting locales from his backpacking youth. I think this book is shelved in the 'travel' section in bookstores (I got mine from the library) but I can't say I learned much about Europe from it. However Bryson's trademark humor comes through nicely and makes it all worthwhile. It's not up to the standards of his A Walk In The Woods but is a good read just the same.

Just before that I read Carl Hiaasen's Lucky You. I really have no idea how to describe Hiaasen's books. I guess you could call them 'suspense' for the sheer "I have no idea what is going to happen next" quality. In this book there are two winners of the Florida lottery. The heroine wants to use her share to purchase local acreage and keep it from being developed. The hero is a newspaper columnist sent to reluctantly interview her. And the other winner? A pair of racist, militia wannabe's that give rednecks a bad name. They decide that half the winnings aren't nearly enough. When they steal the heroine's lottery ticket, she and the columnist team up to track them down and it's a very wild ride. Where Hiaasen gets the inspiration for some of his characters is anybody's guess. They are so far out there that they might even be cartoonish if they weren't so well handled. I sometimes think of his books as being like driving past a particularly gruesome car accident. Part of me shies away from looking while the other part can't resist peeking.

The new Amanda Quick (AKA Jane Ann Krentz) book, The River Knows was very good. Unlike her other recent books this one did not center on the mysterious Arcane Society and I think I liked it all the better for that. It's a historical romance featuring the strong heroine and urbane heros that she writes so well. There is of course mystery and suspense mixed in but I mostly read her books because they are so much fun.

And lastly (well not my last book, but the last one I'm going to mention here) is Jane Haddam's Glass Houses. It's the most recent in her Gregor Demarkian series, but could easily stand alone if you aren't caught up. Gregor is acting as a consultant to the Chicago police departon on a serial killing dubbed "the plate-glass" murders by the press; but he is distracted by the return of his errant lover Bennis Hanniford. Haddam tends to give a lot of backstory in her books but she does so with skill. In this respect her writing reminds me of Ngaio Marsh. She writes a good mystery and this one is no exception. But really I read her for the characters that populate Gregor's world, the mostly Armenian neighborhood of Cavanaugh Street. As I said, this book stands alone very nicely but it is worth reading them in order (starting with Not a Creature Was Stirring) to watch as Gregor and his relationship with Bennis arc throughout the series.

That's it for now.


BCB said...

Oh, I love Karin Slaughter. I've read all her books. Some of her characters are so terribly broken and damaged it hurts to read about them, but her writing is just amazing.

me said...

So Lucky You is good? Good to know, it's in my TBR pile, got it at a library used book sale for a buck. Maybe I'll read that next.

McB said...

BCB - this was my first time reading her stuff, but I really enjoyed it. Yeah her characters have issues, but she does a nice job of portraying that without drowning you in angst.

Me - Yes, it was good. Strange, but good.