Yesterday the CWA announced the winners in several of its Dagger categories as well as announced the longlists in several others. If you are a mystery/crime fan it's always well worth taking a look at the books and authors nominated for the awards (there are ten categories by the way).
As it turns out I have read one of the winners of the International Dagger and happen to have the other on my current my library pile. This year's award is shared between two French authors, Pierre Lemaitre and Fred Vargas. I was fairly floored by Lemaitre's Alex, which I thought was a rollercoaster ride of a book. I have yet to read anything by Vargas, but I have heard a number of good things about her books (and she seems to consistently be nominated for or have won a variety of awards for her writing). As The Ghost Riders of Ordebec by Vargas is close at hand and I have yet to pick up a book for Paris in July (I am actually waiting for a book to come in the mail that will fit perfectly), I think I'll give it a whirl.
I had hoped to read all the short stories longlisted for the Short Story Dagger, but I have so far only managed half the list (am still waiting for the book containing two of the stories to arrive via ILL). Of course the one story which won and I do have on hand that I hadn't yet gotten to happens to be Stella Duffy's "Come Away with Me", which is in The Mammoth Book of Best British Mysteries, so you know what my short story will be this weekend.
Andrew Taylor won the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger (for the third time) for The Scent of Death (due to be released here in the US on Thursday--good timing). I've read some of his Lydmouth books set in post-WWII England, which I've enjoyed very much and think are excellent for capturing the atmosphere of England after the war (should really get back to those sometime soon), and will now give his other books a go.
I'm also keen to read Paul French's Midnight in Peking, which won the Non-fiction Dagger. I had already been eyeing the book before (had it out once from the library but didn't get to it--you know how that goes), which is about an 80-year-old murder that took place in the expat community of Peking just before WWII.
Now I'll be studying the lists for the Gold Dagger (best crime novel of the year), the Steel Dagger (best adventure novel or thriller a la James Bond) and the John Creasy Dagger (new blood/debut fiction) lists for potential new reads. And just when I thought my mystery reading would be wrapping up for the month.
Not that I ever read the books on the list (good intentions gone awry and all that), the Booker Prize longlist will be announced a week from today. I am always a little curious to see which books the judges choose. Maybe this year will be the year I read a few. Someday I would at least like to try and get around to reading some of the winners from years past. Jackie from Farmlane Books has given her predictions for the list, and I see a number of books there I would like to read.
I've got my reading cut out for me this week (but then I always seem to, don't I?). A mixture of crime and mysteries, several review copies that require some attention and then a few surprises that caught my eye. A few highlights?
I'm not sure how I came across She Rises by Kate Worlsey. I'm sure I saw it ages ago but it has only just now been published here in the US. There are times I go looking specifically for seafaring tales and can't seem to find one that fits my mood, and then along come two purely by accident and I am thoroughly enjoying both. Worlsey is a good storyteller and I do love a really good, ripping yarn. She Rises is a story about two different characters whose paths will eventually cross. The story is told in alternating chapters (so far)--in one a young man is press ganged into joining his Majesty's Royal Navy, and in the other a young dairymaid is asked to come work in a Naval captain's household. Lots of wonderful details that vividly set the scene and very realistic and engaging dialogue.
The same really can be said about Silver:Return to Treasure Island. Another good story to fall into and lose oneself. This one is narrated by young Jim Hawkins (well, the son of the famous Jim from Treasure Island). I do love a good adventure story and both are perfect summer reading--and now that we are in the dog days of summer when the heat is on and the humidity high I need a good dose of escapism--and in both cases good, literary escapism at that.
The last book I want to quickly mention is Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures by Emma Straub, which follows the rise and fame of a small town midwestern girl as she reinvents herself during the Golden Age of Hollywood. It seems I've not read much historical fiction of late, but now I am getting a good dose of it. If only I could sit on the porch with my books and a cold glass of lemonade. Surely the weekend's not too far off?
What books are keeping you entertained this summer? (Or winter if you happen to be in the Southern Hemisphere!)?