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Mysteries: Cosy, Cats, Capers, Historical, Medical, Procedural and everything in between


lady narcissa
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I must finally give in.  I do not like John Banville's writing, whether Quirke series (couldn't watch the tv series either), stand alones, or his self-consciously Literary output.

His latest Quirke is April In Spain (2021). After 1/3 of the way through this slender volume, I gave up, despite its location in post-war 1950's Basque country.  Almost all the pages were the protag's paeons to how much he loves his wife, the miracle of them being together -- but despite their combined dreadful back stories, neither of them were interesting to this reader. I emphasize 'this reader' because this is fiction and what doesn't interest some is exactly what works for others. But I figured out that all this undying, grateful love meant that yet again a murder detective of whatever sort the protag in play is, it meant his wife was going to have to be killed in order for Reasons.

I skipped to the end to check, and sure 'nuff, wife is dead, murdered, and of course murdered because protag sticks his nose in where it wasn't even necessary.  It's not as though he's checking up on a cadaver's death in his morgue back in Ireland.  He's on vacation.

So back to Horowitz, who plots much better, even when he tells you in his Hawthorne and Horowitz series how he's plotting, how he has plotted, etc. And a lot more interesting.

Of course H 'n H have the benefit of being set in the prosperous milieus of Britain in the late second decade of the 21st C, whereas Quirke's worlds are the long-term deprivations and devastations and troubles of Ireland that began long before WWII, and were nowhere close to ending yet. 

I will say this for Banville though, I was able to sympathize with Quirke's preference for Ireland's rain washed plain world over the sunny Vacationlands of Northern Spain in summer -- not that I would prefer that, but I can understand it.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I started to read The Madness of Crowds (2021), Louise Penny's latest Gamache Three Pines novel. Early on, it looks as though they never go to Three Pines in this one, though,* I thought Gamache had retired there. It is billed as a Three Pines novel -- and Three Pines, it's locale and community, is why I have read all the novels in the series. But already, in the two previous books prior to Madness, were  disappointing with little or no time spent there, instead, the one before this one was all Paris. So,  I swore I'd never bother with another Gamache, yet, here the book was, in my hands, my eyes on the text. Which text, provided in Penny's narrative voice, right at the start, was different.  It was lecturing me about the pandemic in what I swear was Hillary Clinton's lecture voice. It was so off-putting, so unlike the other Gamache novels, I slammed it shut.

Ay-up. The solution to the mystery of what has happened to Three Pines in the latest installments a has been found. Penny's star-struck hanging out with Clinton destroyed the community.  Ugh.  I already knew I wouldn't read their 'collaboration' thriller, State of Terror (2021), in which lady Sec of State saves the world -- just reading the reviews inspired the same revulsion the Clintons inspire. In any case, that collaboration seems to have sunk w/o a trace.

* They did get to Three Pines, I saw upon paging through -- but it's still not a Three Pines novel.  It's that a demagogue, female, scientist who believes in culling the populations of all the undesirables, beginning with aborting fetuses revealed to be born with mental and physical challenges, gives a speech at a university nearby.  Political and academic shenanigans must be discovered and revealed and thus all shall be sort of well.

 

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Just posted in First Quarter 2022 reading my review of Julia Spencer-Fleming's A Fountain Filled With Blood, second in her series where the detectives are Rev. Clare Fergusson, a woman Episcopal priest, and Russ Van Alstyne, chief of police in a fictional New York town which would be inbetween Glens Falls and Lake George in upstate New York near the Vermont border.  This was a great book. The characters in the series are complex and interesting, with realistic depictions of what a small-town Episcopal church would be like as well as what it's like to fly a helicopter. The mystery itself had some great twists and turns and well-realized dangerous moments. I've only read the first two books in the series, but so far it seems to be a particularly good one to me. 

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On 9/29/2021 at 12:50 AM, A wilding said:

Can't get into the Matthew Venn books either. For me the issue is with his characterisation. As with Vera's skin complaint (though that gets forgotten after the first few books), she has given him an initial character trait to make him more interesting, but failed to flesh it out and make it plausible.

I suppose details are a mild spoiler:

  Reveal hidden contents

He is a gay man brought up in a homophobic religious sect, who came out at university, and was disowned by the sect and his family as a result. And yet he is happily married to another man and completely relaxed about his sexuality without the slightest feeling of guilt or sin, and not even the recollection of a heroic internal struggle to reach that point. It just does not feel realistic.

 

Very delayed response to a post. I had the same reaction, but I have recently seen the first episode of the series made from the first book, and really enjoyed it. I wasn't that keen to see it but I'm glad I did. Maybe what is a bit thin in a book seems like more when adapted for TV?

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Because I watched the 2018 BBC The Little Drummer Girl this last week, I requested Paul Vidich's third nove, The Good Assassin (2017)from, The Good Assassin  Paul Vidich came to mind, though I haven't read any of his books.  It seems Vidich is another massively successful crime-thriller novelist, like Penny, Child, Horowitz, who started rather late in life after long and successful careers in the entertainment/media industries.

https://paulvidich.com/

His are 'historicals,' focusing on the Cold War 'intelligence'side of things.  His latest, The Matchmaker, is just out, being reviewed, which is why he came to mind.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Elizabeth George's latest Havers and Lynley, a door stop, Something to Hide (2022), dealing with FGM and selling  child brides.  There is little, relatively speaking, of Havers and Lynley in this novel, though Deborah and her household, including ravenous dachshund, Peaches, have reappeared -- I don't recall hers and Simon's household presence really in most recent preceding novels -- one of which is mostly set in Italy anyway.

Considering what a mess Lynley is these days (the woman he yearned for as his wife for years and finally got, was killed off some years ago -- spoiler -- by author's hand, and he's not functioning generally speaking in area of life, and he's thus very boring.  Havers continues in the author-decreed Havers shick mostly.  So less of their presence, probably, the better.

No covid in this Britain.

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I thought I’d mention the book I just discussed in the First Quarter reading thread, The Paradox Hotel, by Rob Hart, a sci-fi murder mystery.

There’s a murder at the hotel, which specializes in time-traveling guests. The narrator is a hotel security person who may also be a murder victim. She’s slowly going mad, suffering from a condition that can happen to time-travelers, slipping in time. Stage 1 of the condition (which seems to be incurable) is having brief, split-second or slightly longer, flashes of another time overlayed on the present. However, she’s lied (or at least, not disclosed) to her doctor and management that she’s actually in Stage 2, where the time slips start getting longer and longer, 10, 20, 60 seconds or more of other times being overlayed onto the present.

I’m looking forward to reading the book.

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I have not.  I looked them up.  The Elsa Hart novels do look appealing!

Today I brought home The Good Assassin (2017), one of Paul Vidich's cold war spy mysteries (mentioned above), to sample.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Leon, Donna. (2022) Give Unto Others. The 31st title in her Commissario Guido Brunetti series.


Last night I read the first quarter; it’s a pandemic/post pandemic novel, with references to the pandemic throughout.

When it comes to stealing from the state,  corruption and organized crime, the pandemic has only offered even more scope to the corrupt and criminal, and for the destruction to the environment, which Brunetti recognizes with weary familiarity on every page. Just more of the same thing he was dealing with, with weary and cynical resignation for many books already of his life.

Leon's still operating at the top of her game, despite the weariness, resignation and grief she shares with Brunetti. We also learn some things about Brunetti's early life.


 

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10 hours ago, lady narcissa said:

I've got that book ready to read as soon as I finish my current read.  February/March/April seems to be my sweet spot of new book releases every year and they all come out in quick succession and I can't keep up. 

This is one of those novels in which one becomes more involved as the pages turn.  Finished it last night.  It was well worth reading, particularly for the perspective of someone who, if not Italian or Venetian by birth, knows Venice and her peoples so very well, regarding the pandemic and what it is / was like for the Venetians -- particularly, suddenly, Venice empty of the relentless tsunami of tourists dominating their city, leaving only those who are the residents -- and generally their families residents going back centuries.  There's a great joy in having their home back, as well as so much grief for what is lost.  The pandemic deaths were not only of people, but of little shops that had been part of Venice from before they were born, from before the tourist tsunami.

~~~~~~~~~~~

On you all's recommendation I have requested Jade Dragon Mountain from the library.

 

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On 3/27/2022 at 7:15 AM, Zorral said:

Leon, Donna. (2022) Give Unto Others. The 31st title in her Commissario Guido Brunetti series.


Last night I read the first quarter; it’s a pandemic/post pandemic novel, with references to the pandemic throughout.

When it comes to stealing from the state,  corruption and organized crime, the pandemic has only offered even more scope to the corrupt and criminal, and for the destruction to the environment, which Brunetti recognizes with weary familiarity on every page. Just more of the same thing he was dealing with, with weary and cynical resignation for many books already of his life.

Leon's still operating at the top of her game, despite the weariness, resignation and grief she shares with Brunetti. We also learn some things about Brunetti's early life.


 

I'm only up to No 2 in the series so it's a bit dispiriting to realise that I have 30 more to go - although I have read a couple of random ones along the way. At my age (early 60's), I think I need to restrict myself to starting shorter series.

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10 hours ago, Wall Flower said:

it's a bit dispiriting to realise that I have 30 more to go

Not dispiriting -- consoling, that these books, which are slender, are always there as a go to when other things pale.

I will say though, that reading them in order, as I have, is an admirable description of the late 20th (starting with Death At L Fenice 1992) and then 21st century history of Italy, generally, and Venice in particular. It's the same with Andrea Camilleri's Montalbano series, for Sicily; the first novel in his 28 book series was published in 1994.

So the two writers cover the same eras of Italy, she from the top, so to speak, and he from the south.  The two of them build we outsiders a deep picture of a country's underbelly becoming the entire corpus.

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7 hours ago, Zorral said:

Not dispiriting -- consoling, that these books, which are slender, are always there as a go to when other things pale.

I will say though, that reading them in order, as I have, is an admirable description of the late 20th (starting with Death At L Fenice 1992) and then 21st century history of Italy, generally, and Venice in particular. It's the same with Andrea Camilleri's Montalbano series, for Sicily; the first novel in his 28 book series was published in 1994.

So the two writers cover the same eras of Italy, she from the top, so to speak, and he from the south.  The two of them build we outsiders a deep picture of a country's underbelly becoming the entire corpus.

Thanks Zorral, consoling is a much better word. I picked up a bind-up of the first two Montalbano books secondhand, so I plan on starting that series this year. Despite my grumbling, I'll probably still be starting long-running series when I'm in a retirement home.

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21 minutes ago, Wall Flower said:

Thanks Zorral, consoling is a much better word. I picked up a bind-up of the first two Montalbano books secondhand, so I plan on starting that series this year. Despite my grumbling, I'll probably still be starting long-running series when I'm in a retirement home.

We need books to look forward to, when we're in a retirement home too!  :) :read:

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