Okay, so don't be alarmed by these two photos. If you drop by here regularly you'll know that when it comes to books I rarely do things by halves. Are you curious about the mysteries I've been dipping into? I admit that my reading pile of mysteries is pretty indulgent even for me. But it's summer, I am in need of lots of distraction, and there are no rules when it comes to books and reading in my house.
I'm at varying stages of reading in these books. I've already finished one and am making stately progress in most of the others. In some cases I'm not in any rush to finish, in others I don't want to put the book down. The photo below is the pile I have (mostly) been drawing from and adding to as suggestions come in or books catch my eye (and I'm afraid the pile is not complete as I forgot to grab a couple of library books I want to read, too).
First, though, a little rundown of the books that have been holding my attention. The pile is in no particular order. I tend to reach for whichever I am in the mood for most at that particular moment, unless of course I am nearing the end or have reached a "point of no return"--you know when you get to that place in the story where you have to find out what's going to happen and can't put the book down!
Laurie King's A Grave Talent, the first in the Kate Martinelli series, has turned out to be surprisingly good. Not sure why I should say surprisingly as I love her Mary Russell books and am slowly making my way through them, but maybe because it is one of her earlier novels. The initial draw here was the San Francisco setting, though this first book is actually set just outside the city. A good straightforward police procedural with a strong female protagonist. She's hooked me.
In my opinion Thomas Cook is always good (at least I've liked all the books by him I've read). I don't know why I don't read more of his books, which is what I was thinking when I picked Instruments of the Night up (which when I thought that, I then thought--well, why not go and pick one up then . . . so I did). It was sort of a random choice, but I think it will turn out to be a good one. The main character is sort of curious, but interesting. His books tend to follow a similar style, which is in its way comforting.
I'm totally digging Jean-Claude Izzo's Total Chaos. It's one of the 'don't want to put this one down' books I tend to reach for more often than not, and I have only just started reading it. He creates a great atmosphere when it comes to setting. Until just now I can't say I had ever had a great desire to visit Marseilles, but now I do. Maybe it's partially thanks to the essays he wrote in which he talks about his city so lovingly. Also the writing (translation) is superb and he immediately has drawn me into the story.
I'm reading Dashiell Hammett's The Continental Op, which is a collection of stories. Since I already have gone on about the book in some detail, I'll save the stories for next Sunday. I've already mentioned, too, Peter Lovesey's The Last Detective and Louise Penny's Still Life. Both good, contemporary detective stories and both series I plan on continuing on with. I tend to switch back and forth between these two (I need to devote a day of reading to each and finish them) waiting for that moment of 'no return'.
Cold Flat Junction is the second Emma Graham mystery by Martha Grimes and also a reread. I loved Hotel Paradise (the third time around) and couldn't wait to start the second book. Since I've read it once there is no need to rush it, but I've not read the third or fourth books, so I won't want to tarry too long either. It's funny as I was thinking how I would like to read a good coming of age story, but don't dare pick up any other new books. Conveniently this could easily pass for just such a story really, since Emma is only twelve and the events of this and the last book are sort of life forming. I'm still at the beginning which is a rehash really of what happened in the previous book and am looking forward to when the story really kicks in again.
The book I've just finished is Pierre Lemaitre's Alex. Let's just say this was one rollercoaster of a ride sort of book. I am going to write about it soon, so I am afraid I'm going to leave you hanging a bit on this one! I can see why it's been shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger Award, though, which will be a little bit of a teaser for you.
I'll just share the links to the books in this pile as most of them are suggestions so you might already be familiar with them. Maybe looking at all these great books will help explain how I end up with such a massive pile of in progress books. There is always a new (and exciting) mystery read just around the corner!
Last Bus to Woodstock by Colin Dexter -- The first Inspector Morse story, and this would also be a reread (I read it a very long time ago, though, so it will be almost like reading it for the first time). I'm leaning very heavily towards starting this one next.
Quieter Than Sleep by Joanne Dobson --A literary/academic mystery featuring Emily Dickinson's poetry.
Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers -- This it the first Lord Peter Wimsey mystery. I know this is a series where you can skip around (and maybe should?), but I do have this thing about reading mysteries in order.
I'm always up for Italian crime, and I think I will definitely need to read a few books at some point. I've got Christobel Kent's The Drowning River, Magdalen Nabb's Death of a Dutchman (really liked her first Marshal Guarnaccia novel) and Maurizio de Giovanni's I Will Have Vengeance.
Quiet as a Nun by Antonia Fraser is set in a convent. I read this years and years ago but have been thinking I'd like to read all the Jemima Shore mysteries so had better go back and start at the beginning.
I'm also in the market for a good vintage cozy (though I've already got Joan Coggin lined up) and Edmund Crispin's The Moving Toyshop would fit the bill nicely, though I have the first Gervase Fen mystery coming soon in the mail, so that will be something to look forward to.
I happened to get Swedish author, Anna Jansson's Strange Bird as a ARC. Jansson has been called a modern Agatha Christie, though her plots are all hardboiled detective--sounds like an interesting combination. This is the first Maria Wern mystery, which I am looking forward to reading.
Last but not least is a library find--The Mammoth Book of British Mysteries edited by Maxim Jakubowski. It's the tenth book, which makes me think I should look for the previous nine--well eventually anyway. I'm looking forward to exploring a few of these short stories.
As you can see I have quite a line up of good mysteries both in progress and in the reading queue (and then there are the ones I left out but are in other piles calling out for a little attention. I think I am going to need a few afternoons off from work to dedicate to (mystery) reading.