Down Among the Dead Men
by Peter Lovesy
2015 / 384 pages
read by Simon Prebble 10h 41m
(15th in the Peter Diamond series)
I’d not read any of Peter Lovesly’s books prior to this one and I enjoyed it. Actually, I’m coming to enjoy non-US crime novels more and more. I’ve read English, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Icelander, Italian, Russian, Irish, Scottish, Canadian, South African, Botswanan, French, Japanese, Australian, and likely others – depending on the term “crime.”
The group 4-Mystery Addicts (4-MA) chose this to read for December and I decided to try it. Never read a book by Peter Lovesy before (so this completes my new-to-you authors challenge.)
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by John Grisham
2015 / 352 pages
read by Mark Deakins 11h 18m
rating A+ / legal thriller
Sebastian Rudd defends the indefensible – those criminals who have no other recourse, the “untouchables,” the bottom of the barrel, the scum. As a result he’s not a beloved man – not by the good citizens, not by the judges, not by his clients and not by his ex-wife, mother of his son. But he does what he’s been trained to do, what he says he has to do. So the title is apt – Rudd is not a nice, up and coming, idealistic and clean cut guy. He actually calls himself a “fringe lawyer” who sometimes plays with the boundaries of ethics.”
In this, Grisham’s 30th non-series novel, Rudd is working with different cases which are almost like short stories rhey are so distinct but which become somewhat interwoven by the end. This is a bit of a twist on the normal legal thriller in that most fictional detectives handle one case at a time – Rudd is handling at least 3 including his own custody battles. It might be more realistic – I’m not sure it works as a novel. >>>>MORE (no spoilers)>>>>
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
by Malala Yousafzia with Christina Lamb as a contributor
2013 / 352 pages
read by Archie Panjabi 9h 55m
At first I felt like I’d read too many books like this before- memoirs of women in Muslim countries – usually at about young adult level but okay for adult. As I got more into it though the story is a bit different in that Malala goes into the history of her area in northern Pakistan and its struggles with the Taliban in a very informative way.
For those who don’t know – Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize “for (her) struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education” http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2014/yousafzai-facts.html
She won the Nobel Prize after the book was published. >>>>MORE: no spoilers >>>>
by John Updike
1960 / 336 pages
read by Arthur Morey 12h 5m
Rating: 5 / classic 20th century angst
I got it read – been tempting me for years solely because it’s a series of books although I couldn’t stand the one Updike I’d managed to struggle through – (The Beauty of the Lilies – 1996).
Anyway – a reading group chose it and I am an obliging member and found it on Audible. Okay – I’m listening with an ear toward Updike’s literary qualities, his style, the metaphors and the other tropes which I suppose is what’s important. He’s good that way but you do lose the plot – this is apparently a book that needs a couple readings – one for the descriptions, one for the plot and one for the themes (in whatever order you want). >>>>MORE with no spoilers >>>
by Émile Gaboriau
1869 / 316 pages
Rating: A+ / literary classic – police procedural –
I guess it’s the history embedded in classic lit which gets to me – this is the first full length detective novel of the Western world. It was published only three years after the death of Eugene Francois Vidocq, the first professional detective, founder of the French national police force (Sûreté Nationale), and grand inventor innovator of devices and methods.
Edgar Allen Poe was inspired by a news clipping about Vidocq to write the first detective story and Wilkie Collins based much of The Moonstone by on the Vidocq. Finally, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes was modeled on the criminal-detective. >>>>MORE>>>>
The Inner Circle
by Brad Melzer
2011 / 544 pages
read by Scott Brick 14h 15m
rating B / political thriller
The Inner Circle was first published in 2011 and it takes place in the not too distant future.
I bought the book because I thought I’d read something by Meltzer prior and because I enjoy Scott Brick’s narration – the man can make a dramatic performance out of a techie manual.
Anyway, The Inner Circle is the first of three (so far) books about Beecher White, an archivist at the White House. White is also involved in what is called the Culper Ring, a group dedicated to preserving the presidency (as opposed to the president himself). In this first book of the series Beecher and his new-old friend Clementine are looking at some documents in President Warren’s archive cubicle when they find a very old dictionary with many pages pulled out hidden inside an armchair. Then the guard dies suddenly. >>>>MORE>>>>
by George Meredith
1860 / 427 pages
rating 8 / classic satire
This is a bit outside my comfort zone – I can read late Victorian lit very nicely thank you, but when it comes to the earlier Victorian novels it seems to be a different ballgame. The vocabulary is more esoteric, the syntax more complex – it’s just plain archaic and takes me awhile to get used to it.
That said – I do enjoy a good classic novel because, as I’ve likely said here before, it gives me a real bird’s-eye view into the times – not some historical fiction writer’s explanation and interpretation of the times (which is nothing against historical fiction. As a result the things a reader of the author’s own times would know are often mysteries to me and I have to do a bit of research. Also the style and the substance of the narrative form has changed – we rarely see and intrusive author these days, but in Evan Harrington the narrator is almost a character. Also, social “class” is not a common theme of literature about 21st century times. >>>>MORE (no spoilers>>>>