10/2015

These are the books I read in October, 2015:

I read 16 books (1 twice) including 10 Crime books,  1 Classic,  1 Nonfiction and 4 General Fiction.  6 were translated (thanks to one reread and Adler-Olsen) and only 3 by women authors.  (I just keep track of that stuff – don’t really gear my reading toward it)

I rate crime books using an A-F scale and non-crime book get 1-10.

GENERAL FICTION:
Missing Person
by Patrick Modiano ( France)
1978 (1980 Eng) / 168 pages
Rating:  9.5

Nobel Prize winner of 2014 – this is his most well known novel – I’ve also read 3 others. They’re about Paris during the Occupation and are very atmospheric, melancholic – there’s usually a mystery in the books but the main theme is identity and memory.  In this book a detective has amnesia and sets about to find out who he is and remember his past.

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J  (second reading) 
by Howard Jacobson
2014 / 342 pages
read by Adjoa Andoh and Colin Mace  11h 5m
Rating:   7 / literary dystopian

“Something happened, if it happened”  about three generations prior and measures were taken to insure it was forgotten and that it would never happen again, “if it happened.”   This has created a seriously grim situation in that the violence which was taken out on others is no longer allowed so angry people take their frustrations out on women, family members or on themselves.   Very interesting concept and Jacobson writes very nicely, but on the whole it gets rather confused.

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City on Fire
by Garth Risk Hallberg
2015 / (946 pages)
read by Rebecca Lowman and others/ 37h 53m
Rating:   9  / literary crime

This is a long, long book but not a slow read by any means.  The story is set in New York City circa 1977 especially focused on the night the lights went out.  Focusing on several groups of characters who make up the real New York – a family of the  rich and powerful, a group of punk-rock musicians who are squatters in the tenements,  plus a reporter, a businessman,  and a cop.   A girl is shot in the first few chapters and the story of the aging detective’s mission to find the shooter is woven into the stories of all the other characters – but it never takes precedence.   It’s a fine book – wonderfully well written with plenty of page-turning tension but also  capturing the essence of NYC at the time –

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Trespass
by Rose Tremain
2010 /  263 pages
Read by – Juliet Stephenson 9h 15m
Rating:  8.25 / literary suspense – an A in the crime category –

Very suspenseful and nicely written tale of two pair of siblings living in south Central France.  One man wants to sell his property which has been in the family for generations,  but his sister’s neighboring ugly house discourages buyers.  The other man wants to buy the house but his sister’s lover discourages him from even living near them.   And then someone dies –   The themes are memory and living in the past or letting go of it.

CRIME:
The Hanging Girl
by Jussi Adler-Olsen  (Danish)
2015 / (512 pages)
read by Graeme Malcolm 15h 37m
Rating:   A- / crime
#6 in the Dept. Q series

Good enough if you really enjoy the ongoing characters of Dept. Q (which I do).  Otherwise it’s another shady bossman messing with women and some killing gets done.  Not to discourage anyone – it is rather innovative in some respects and I enjoyed myself enough to give it an A. –  (The problem is probably that I may have OD’d on Adler-Olsen these last couple weeks –  I read 4 different books,  1 of them twice.)

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The Purity of Vengeance
by Jussi Adler-Olsen  (Danish)
2013 / 528 pages
read by Graeme Malcolm 14h 6m
Rating:   A+ / crime
(Dept. Q mystery – #4 )

This Dept Q novel deals in part with a sad situation in Danish history – it’s a bit different in some respects – (they all are).  Told in various time frames and from different points  of view (as is Adler-Olsen’s MO) the suspense builds as we watch Detective Carl Mørck along with side-kicks Assad and Rose home in on the reason several persons suddenly went missing on the same date, years prior, never to be seen again – at all – ever – anywhere.   Great story.

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The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine
by Alexander McCall Smith
2015 / 224 pages
read by Lisette Lecat – 9h 20m
Rating:  A+  /  very cozy crime
#16 in the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series

Basically,  Mma Precious Ramatswe needs a vacation but when she takes it she can’t quite trust Mma Makutsi to run the office – even with a temporary assistant.  A big case comes up and … well … anything else might be a spoiler.

These are great if you’re following the over-arching character development/plot line,  but if you’re reading it for the crime part well … (As you can tell I read them for the characters – and have since 1998 or whenever the first one came out and I still love them although I did wonder if Smith is losing his touch this time.)

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Career of Evil
by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
2015 / 512 pages
Read by Robert Glenister  17h 58m
Rating:  A-  / crime-detective
(3rd in Cormoran Strike series)

I am so impressed with JK – Galbraith – another wowser,  but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart – pretty grisly.   Galbraith’s first Comoran Strike novel was about the fashion industry, the second about the publishing industry and this one is about rock ‘n roll – specifically the Blue Öyster Cult and Patti Smith – and their groupies and wannabes.

The intriguing thing about Career of Evil is that the points of view include an inside peek at the perpetrator’s mind  –  without telling the reader whose mind it is!   lol –

The relationship of Strike and Robin continues – Robin improves her detecting skills – shows her stuff.

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The Marco Effect  (2nd reading)
by Jussi Adler-Olsen (Danish)
2014/ (496 pages)
read by Graeme Malcolm 15h 25m
Rating:  A- / detective
(5th in the Dept. Q series)

I read this a second time for really “getting it” because all the characters and three or four time frames make it a bit rough.  That’s okay – it was just as good the second time ’round.

To be discussed here –

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The Marco Effect 
by Jussi Adler-Olsen (Danish)
2014/ (496 pages)
read by Graeme Malcolm 15h 25m
rating A / detective
(5th in the Dept. Q series)

Marco, a 15-year old boy,  escapes the abusive “family” life of Zola the group’s charismatic leader.  Their job is basically do pick-pocketing and begging in the streets of Copenhagen and other cities while Zola takes on some bigger outside jobs.

Meanwhile (and this is where the story opens) some financial shenanigans have been uncovered in Cameroon – on western edge of Africa.  This leads to someone’s having to be eliminated – or maybe more than one if too many people start finding out –

And Dept. Q is at their best when they finally make an appearance.  Carl is love-lorn, Assam is mysterious and Rose is … well … she’s brilliantly and emphatically Rose. Their story continues.  lol

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A Conspiracy of Faith
Jussi Adler-Olsen (Danish)
2013 / 528 pages
read by Graeme Malcolm 15h 27m
Rating A / crime – thriller
(Dept Q series #3)

A bottle with a message in it arrives on Carl’s desk –  huh? – Was that really about a kidnapping all those years ago?   Meanwhile another kidnapping in the contemporary time frame may be getting under way including a man who is really mysterious, devious and apparently leading at least two lives.

I very much enjoyed this one,  but it may be because some time had passed between my reading of #2 Dept Q and this one, #3.  The others I read this month were read too close together for me to really appreciate properly –  (oh Lord let me learn)

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The Case of the Late Pig
by Margery Allingham
1937 / 170 pages (Kindle – no pages)
#9 in the Albert Campion series
rating B-  / classic crime (amateur sleuth who-done-it)

For this group –

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The Suspect
by John Lescroart
2007 / (321 pages)
read by David Colacci 11h 11m
rating/ A- / legal thriller
(Stand alone but may be a series)

Gina Roark is a new attorney in the firm where Hardy is a partner.  A travelogue writer is accused of murdering his wife who wanted a divorce. The writer has no alibi at all,  but insists he didn’t do it.  The police don’t believe him a bit,  but Gina does. So how gullible is Gina?  There are twists –  there are other possible suspects – possibly dangerous leads for Gina to follow.

Lescroart’s style, although sometimes uneven, never detracts from the flow of the tale – I stay up late listening to these.

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Living with Your Kids is Murder
by Mike Befeier
2009 / 381 pages
read by Jerry Sciarrio 7h 14m
Rating:   C / very cozy crime –
(#2 in the Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit series)

I just get a tickle out of these silly books – one more to go in the series,  but I think I’ll wait a few months – until too much seriousness gets me down and I can’t find anything else.

CLASSICS:
Lady Chatterley’s Lover
by D H Lawrence
1928 /  557 pages (Kindle)
Rating:   8 / classic – literary romance  (erotica)

Not as good as it was in 1966.  lol –  Read for a group and I was curious how it would hold up.  I do remember enjoying the style back then,  but that’s not why I read it then  –  Times have changed –

NONFICTION
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
by Daniel James Brown
2013 / 418 pages
read by Edward Herrmann
Rating:  9 / nonfiction history

Great nonfiction along the lines of Seabiscuit and In the Garden of the Beasts – “reads like a novel.”  In 1935-1936  the University of Washington had a chance to put a really good rowing team together.  This is the story of  how that team was chosen, eventually went to the Berlin Olympics and rowed their hearts out in front of Hitler.  The tale focuses on a couple of the team members who had a hard time of it.   These weren’t the Harvard boys of the rich folks back East – most of the parents of these boys were loggers and fishermen who had to earn their own tuition and sometimes help their families – this was the Depression.

I enjoyed this book so much I sent a copy to my granddaughter for Halloween (funny Halloween present but I’m a funny grandma).

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