Thursday, March 19, 2015

Remarks on Recent Reads: March Edition

A few of my recent reads have leaned toward mysteries or stories with an element of mystery, and then there were a couple of books that couldn't keep my attention. 

And Justice There Is None by Deborah Crombie (2003). What I love about Deborah Crombie's mysteries is that they all have to do with a particular subject, and I always come away having learned something interesting. The plot of this novel revolves around Portobello Market in London, past and present, and the relationships among a group of antiques dealers. The solution to the murder mystery lies in the past, and it was fun reading the flashbacks to London of the 1960s. Then there is the subplot involving the personal life of Scotland Yard's Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and Sergeant Gemma James. They've rented a house now that Gemma is pregnant, and Duncan's son, Kit, from another marriage is joining the family along with Gemma's young son, Toby. I enjoyed this novel and recommend it.

The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart (1908). Last year, I read an article about Rinehart (1876-1958), known as the Agatha Christie of America, and downloaded several of her books to my Kindle. This is the first book of hers I've read. The story is narrated by Rachel Innes, a spinster, who has rented a large summer home in the country called Sunnyside for a vacation with her adult niece and nephew. A mysterious murder of a man Rachel doesn't know (but turns out to be the local banker's son) happens in the middle of the night inside the house and sets Rachel on a course to solve the crime. This story has it all--someone assuming a false identity, an illegitimate child, a secret room, an elusive woman with a secret, things that go bump in the night, that mysterious circular staircase, and more. Also, Rachel is very opinionated and very funny. This is a fast read, and a lot of fun. I recommend The Circular Staircase.

Pigeon Pie by Nancy Mitford (1940). Taking place during World War II, this is the story of Lady Sophia Garfield who volunteers for the war effort but discovers a ring of Nazi spies intent on destroying London. The book is a satire on the English upper class, and the plot reminded me a bit of a screwball comedy. But there was something about the writing that made me feel like I was watching everything from a distance. I still recommend this novel, but I enjoyed Christmas Pudding more.

I tried a couple of novels that I couldn't finish. A book club selection, Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks (2012) details the life of Budo, an imaginary friend of nine year old Max. Max has Asperger's Syndrome, and getting through the day can be a heartbreaking challenge for him. I read a third of this book and never finished it mainly because other books got my attention. Another book that I tried was Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures by Emma Straub (2012) about a teenager who runs away to 1920's Los Angeles, is discovered and becomes a big star. I read the first fifty pages and just couldn't get into it. I've put these books aside and am hoping to return to them soon.

This week, The Soul of Kindness by British author Elizabeth Taylor has been hard to put down. Also, I'm also reading Big City Eyes by Delia Ephron which also looks promising.

What are you reading this week?

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