A round of applause, please (I say this tongue in cheek and only because this has been such a wonky disappointing reading month for me), but I finally finished a book over the weekend. Why as readers (and maybe this is my own quirk and no one else's) is it so disconcerting to feel like I read and read and read yet never actually finish a book or feel as though I make any progress. Well, diligence seems to have won out in the end.
I finished a RIP read, Kate Riordan's Fiercombe Manor (or in the UK, The Girl in the Photograph). It turned out to be a somewhat uneven read for me. Perhaps, since initially I was so enthusiastic about it, it didn't quite click in the end due to my bad reading month in general. It was certainly atmospheric yet the story turned out to be less a ghost story than a story about postpartum depression and the Victorian's misunderstanding on how to deal with women's psychology. This novel had two narrative threads that very much paralleled each other. I found I was enjoying one thread less and less and the story seemed, therefore, to sag in places. I'm not sure if I will write more about it or not. I always feel bad when I get to a place in a book where I simply want to finish it and the enjoyment wanes somewhat. That said, I read many very good reviews about it, so I think it was more me than the story and we simply got out of step along the way.
So, two RIP reads down, no short stories, but there is still one week left to squeeze one in. I'm happy to have managed two RIP reads, but now the question is whether it is time once again to reshuffle my reading pile and move on to something new. I started Shuichi Yoshida's Villain, which I am looking forward to getting back to now and have picked up Laurie King's The Game once again. In part I am swinging back into a mystery/crime/thriller reading mood and I want to try and chip away at that pile of partial reads in order to clear those books away as the year nears the end. I never start a new year with a totally clean reading plate, but it is nice to start with a "smaller" reading pile and not have so many hangers-on.
A couple of other mysteries I want to get back to are Maurizio de Giovanni's second Commissario Ricciardi mystery Blood Curse. Yesterday as I was finishing those last few pages of Fiercombe Manor all I could think of was how much I would love to be in Italy, if not in reality then in the pages of a book. Also I love that quiet longing between the Commissario and his neighbor, Enrica. Anthony Quinn's Curtain Call is not exactly a traditional mystery, but the story involves a character having an affair with a married man who on one of their illicit rendezvous sees an attempted murder. Besides it is set in 1930s London and in the theatreworld both of which have a serious appeal to me right now.
As for the "something new" to take the place of RIP, I am thinking now of Caroline and Lizzie's upcoming 6th Annual German Literature Month. It takes place in November and I have a few books in mind for it (more on those later). Caroline suggested reading Ursula Archer's Five, which Karin Slaughter calls ". . . a terrifying journey. This is a superior psychological thriller with twists at every level." Archer is Austrian and I believe this is her first novel to be translated into English. I have it next to my bed already.
Yesterday's errands ended in a stop by B&N to look at their new books tables and use the discount coupon they keep waving in front of my eyes. I didn't let myself browse too much, but I found two promising mysteries. One is one of those very appealing reissues of Georges Simenon's Inspector Maigret novels. I decided on The Saint-Fiacre Affair originally published in 1932. "The last time Maigret went home to the village of his birth was for his father's funeral. Now an anonymous note predicting a crime during All Souls' Day mass draws him there, where troubling memories resurface and hidden vices are revealed." It was the mention of All Souls Day, which is coming in a mere week that made me bring the book home. I like the idea of this book being a nice transition from October into November. All Souls Day is like Mexico's Day of the Dead, which I have to say I rather look forward to since I love Pan de muerto (I have been thinking about it all month . . .). So Simenon is going to find a place in my bookbag this week.
My other bookstore find is M.C. Beaton's Introducing Agatha Raisin, which I see has been made into a TV series in the UK. I have never read any of the Agatha Raisin books but I see them all over. The book I found has the first two mysteries in one volume: The Quiche of Death and The Vicious Vet. She sounds like fun. One of the blurbs on the cover says: "Beaton has a winner in the irrepressible, romance-hungry Agatha." So I shall give her a try. I also indulged in the Winter issue of Mystery Scene, which I think will be my bedtime reading later.
I've got a nice variety--mysteries in translation, British 1930s crime, Mary Russell, a Commissario who sees dead people and even a cozy mystery. I think I am only missing something along the lines of a thriller/suspense. I always look at books by the likes of Tammi Hoag or Lisa Unger or Karin Slaughter or C.J. Box--a US writer, maybe a FBI story, but I always put them back, unsure about which to choose. I am fairly predictable when it comes to my mysteries. If anyone has a suggestion for something with a US setting, more thriller-ish I am always open to reading ideas.
Even though I am reaching for books that have been in my reading pile for some time, I am excited about something "new". I still have a current NYRB that I am chipping away at, my chunkster and a good library read (all books that were neglected over the weekend--perhaps absence does make the heart fonder since I can't wait to get back to the stories). Curious how a meh sort of finish will make everything else look so very appealing.
Hmm. How to pack my bookbag for work this week . . .