This is a Good Book Thursday, May 2, 2019

I’ve been doing a massive reread of Ngaio Marsh. I hadn’t read her for decades, so most of the time I don’t remember who the murderer is, which is fun, but the best part is her characterization. Inspector Alleyn leaves me fairly cold, somewhere between Miss Marple (my gold standard) and Peter Whimsey (I like him but only in small doses), but her casts of characters are stellar. There are usually five to eight of them in a small village or on a ship or in a big house, the contained community thing, and she has such sharp skills for writing vivid characters who combust when they’re together. I’m enjoying the hell out of Ngaio Marsh.

What are you reading?

115 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, May 2, 2019

  1. YA action/adventure fest! Just finished GRAVE MERCY (by Robin LaFevers–teenager trained by convent of assassin mind in medieval Brittany) and DREAD NATION (by Justina Ireland–zombies rose during the civil war, and teens fight them and the real enemy, white supremacists) and enjoyed both! Currently staying on DEATH PREFERS BLONDES (by Caleb Roehring–teen socialite and her drag queen heist gang) and it’s interesting so far but I’m only two chapters in.

    7+
    1. I read Dread Nation this week, too, and loved it. Zombie books have certainly changed from what they used to be–The Girl with All the Gifts was also wonderful.

      2+
    2. Picked up Death Prefers Blondes yesterday on this recommendation. Looking forward to it!

      1+
  2. Just finished reading The Winters, by Lisa Gabriele. A wonderful re-envisioning of Rebecca in the present day. I found it deliciously tense and gripping, and I knew–just knew–that THIS time things were going to end a little bit different.

    5+
  3. I love Ngaio. Particularly adore Troy. Roderick is a bit stiff, I like his son better. I love the novel where Rickie goes to the seaside to write and aquires a mad crush on a married woman and uncovers a drug ring.
    The best Roderick novels are the ones set in New Zealand, more for the local colour and side characters. Colour Scheme is one of my faves. Bubbling pools of hot sulfurous mud…

    10+
  4. I just finished rereading the Hitchhikers Guide series. I plan to hunt down the sequel that was commissioned of Eoin Colfer, althoughi have a feeling it ant be very good as itsank without much of a splash when it came out some years ago.
    Also rereading a Barbara Michaels in which the heroine and love interest inherit a jewelry shop together, lots about memento mori and hair rings and nifty old stuff. Barbara was a queen of her species.

    10+
    1. That sounds good! What’s the title?
      Barbara Michaels (real name Mertz) was a costume collector. She wrote a couple of books on a woman starting a shop in antique (19th-century) costume. She really knew her stuff. I believe the titles were Shattered Silk and Stitches in Time.

      10+
      1. Into the Darkness is the title of this antique jewelry oriented mystery. Barbara Michaels/ Elizabeth Peters always did her research so well when writing a theme novel like this.

        5+
        1. I expect the knowledge was already there. A love of antique costume and a love of antique jewellery tend to go together. She dressed Nefret (who had loads of money) in the most wonderful Poiret creations just before WWI in the Amelia Peabody books.
          And there’s a Vicky Bliss book where Vicky takes the antique Greek earrings from her vanquished rivals ears and puts them in her own (the rival had come by them unfairly and they were meant for Vicky). A couple of years later I saw Greek gold earrings in an exhibition of ancient jewellery, and I thought: Hell, yes!

          3+
      2. Now I need to go dig out Shattered Silk from wherever it’s hiding–barely started unpacking books after the move. I don’t remember anything about the plot, only the clothes.

        4+
    2. I found the Elon Colfer Finale to the Hitchhiker series surprisingly good.

      FWIW.

      3+
  5. Thanks to Arghers who recommended Miss Buncle’s Book. I needed a bit of 1920s English village storytelling. My life was definitely getting too anxty.

    I’m not interested in continuing the series, but I’ve read Miss Buncle’s Book twice in the past 4 days.

    11+
    1. Just bought it, by all the recommendations here. The Goblin Emperor has become a favourite, thanks argh readers.

      6+
  6. Finished The Sisters Brothers by Patrick de Witt last night and now not sure at all I want to see the film, some gory sections that make Game of Thrones look tame and trigger warning, bad stuff happening to a horse.

    Just about to start Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys by Viv Albertine, who spent the late 1970s/early 1980s as guitarist with the Slits.

    Have also been using Alice Chetwynd Ley to soothe some insomnia moments. Not as good as G. Heyer, but that’ll do, donkey, that’ll do.

    6+
  7. I was going to lie and say I wasn’t reading anything (because I’m reading porn), but remembered that I’m also listening to the Welcome to Temptation audio book.

    8+
      1. Here is the recommendation:

        ===============================================
        Book recommendation…ish – Three Square Meals
        By DaveB on March 19, 2019 at 1:09 pm
        Posted In: Blog
        So, while waiting for Amazon to sort it’s shit out with Michael-Scott Earle, and we can finally get some new Star Justice and Tamer books, I’ve continued reading a bunch of other novels, and I came across one I really like. I’ve been kind of sheepish about recommending it because… well, it’s “erotica.” At least that’s the category it’s listed under at Amazon, but quite frankly, calling it erotica is underselling it a bit. There’s a lot of sex in this book. Like, a lot. So if that doesn’t interest you, you’re just not going to enjoy it. You’d be skimming through… quite a bit of text to get to the rest of the story.

        Unlike a lot of other harem novels, however, the sex actually factors heavily into the actual plot. Yes, it’s almost like the author came up with a reason for the characters to have a lot of sex, beyond them being horny for the usual reasons, and then wrote a story about it.

        If the sex doesn’t turn you off, or, if in fact you don’t mind some sex (or a lot) in your harem books, there’s a shockingly good space opera to be had here. I would actually put it on par with Star Justice, which is something I never thought I’d say, as it’s one of my favorite series of all time. Another thing I like about Three Square Meals is that there’s a lot of it. The story is over 2 million words long and counting. By the time you get through the first three books, the overarching plot is only barely starting to reveal itself. What can I say? I enjoy it when there’s a lot of something I enjoy. In a shorter story, you get to see the characters interact with one group or another, but then that’s usually it. In this longer format, you get to revisit those groups and see the sometimes empire shifting consequences of their interactions with the MCs. Plus, IMO, the story keeps getting stronger as the cast expands and the momentum of the story builds.
        ===============================================
        DaveB says that calling it Erotica is underselling it. I say the correct category is Stroke Porn. The protagonist is a total Marty Stu. He’s only half human, and doesn’t know what the other half is – but whatever it is, it has gifted him with a *magical boo-yah*, the length and girth of which make this more fantasy than sci-fi. That’s not enough? He has four testicles, each the size of a grapefruit. He does not ejaculate a teaspoon or two – he comes in quarts! (FOUR pints. women’s stomachs are distended. They look pregnant.)
        But wait – there’s more.
        These quarts of output are also magical. The female goes into a semi-coma for about 14 hours, the first few times. Then, over the course of about three weeks, her body and mind are modified. She grows to about 5’9″, 32D bust, all hair below the eyes falls off forever, however plain they might have been to start, they all resemble runway models after a month.

        But forget all that. He said there was good space opera. So now we get to meet Space Commander Marty Stu, Space Marines Retired. He’s a trader at the start, scores an incredible bargain in Unobtainium and acquires the first girl of his harem. He trades the Unobtainium for a de-commissioned (but fully armed and automated) Navy Cruiser. Then he out-shoots, out-flys, out-plans space pirates and the rogue navy people who are supplying them with ships and ammunition. Being an ex-marine, he frequently leads boarding parties and slaughters all the bad guys. If the good guys (his harem) are injured, guess how he cures them.

        No. Not GOOD porn. And I won’t be reading Michael-Scott Earle and some Star Justice and Tamer books. I love the Grrl Power comic, but its author has No Taste in Books.

        On the other hand, we’re up to Zane in the shower curtain.

        3+
  8. I started rereading Nora Robert’s Whisky Beach last night. I’ve got a yen to reread her ones about the Russian Mafia and the one about the art collecting world. Esp. since I’ve found my paper copies of them.

    I skimmed through The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Helm, to help my 3rd grader with his book report. I might to a proper reread as there’s a sequel and my daughter wants it.

    And Good Omen’s is on deck as I saw some stuff on it last night.

    3+
  9. Where should I start with Ngaio? At the beginning?

    I finished The Goblin Emporer. Thanks for the rec, Argh people. I enjoyed it a lot.

    (And this is why I’m crap at reviews. My Vocab ends up failing me. I mean I supposedly have an above average vocabulary – Thanks to Grammarly for that knowledge – but when it comes to expressing why I like a book… I’m complete trash.)

    12+
    1. I’d be interested in knowing where to start with Ngaio Marsh, too. Sometimes I start in the middle of a series, because by then the writer has honed their craft and/or world and I am more forgiving when I go back to the first books. But sometimes that doesn’t work if the continuing character plotlines are too complex.

      5+
      1. I started with A Surfeit of Lampreys (the tenth) on the recommendation of someone here, I think. It has some very funny parts, and the Inspector is almost more of a side character in it. After that I started the series in order and overall I like them, some more than others. There was only one that I read out if order and it spoiled the previous book in the first chapter (it’s one where the Inspector is on vacation in New Zealand and ends up on a train with a group of actors – whichever it is, I’d recommend reading the one before it first), but in general they don’t tend to reference each other except for some of the relationships between characters.

        4+
        1. Surfeit of Lampreys is a great one to start with. If you like to start when the love interest shows up, Artists in Crime is that book, like Strong Poison in Sayers.

          5+
        2. I love the way she sets up her stories; sometimes the first half of the book is just the community in conflict, developing these terrific characters warts and all, and then the whole thing explodes and somebody dies, and Inspector Alleyn comes in and mops up. Instead of having to learn a list of suspects, you’ve spent time watching these people be horrible to each other and fall in love with each other and plot with each other and generally just chew up the scenery and it’s fabulous.

          Surfeit of Lampreys may be my favorite just because of Lampreys, but the ones set in the theater are terrific, too; she really knew her theater stuff.

          8+
      2. When I went back, I started with Artists in Crime and Death in a White Tie because those were the books where he met and courted Troy. (Books 6 and 7). It’s not a great romance, even for restrained British detectives, for that you’d need Lord Peter and Harriet and I would definitely count Albert and Amanda Campion, but even those are understated. Well, they’re subplots, that’s why. Albert and Amanda will always be my favorites because he’s so restrained that you’re never really sure how he feels about her until something happens like the one where he has amnesia and thinks they’re already married and then finds out she’s dumping him, and the one where she’s trapped in a house with a killer, and he goes nuts trying to get to her. So much for British reserve. And then there’s Archie and Lily. A good mystery couple are worth their weight in clues and corpses.

        10+
    2. I’d maybe start with Artists in Crime. It’s not the first one, but it’s the one where Alleyn meets Troy. Or A Surfeit of Lampreys would also be a good one to start with.

      3+
      1. I thought Artists in Crime was good, too. Every now and then she misses–well, 32 books, you’re bound to miss now and then–but that one was fun, in a murderous kind of way.

        3+
  10. I read the fourth book in the Kate Shugak series by Dana Stabenow. I am really enjoying this series and there are still many to go. I am now re-reading Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair, a bit of a comfort read. It is a sci fi romance, with a cyborg hero, a smart, capable space captain heroine, a great secondary romance between an empathic doctor and a space pirate, and it even has telepathic cats which save the day – this last would normally be a big no-no for me, but it is rather charming. I’ve re-read this one many times.

    5+
    1. I think Dana Stabenow is terrific. She’s got another series besides Kate Shugak, which I loved; it features Liam Campbell and I liked that one, too.

      2+
    2. Dana also has a couple of thrillers set on a US Coast Guard cutter (I assisted with research), and has recently been writing historical fiction. She’s got a trilogy with the granddaughter of Marco Polo traveling the Silk Road, and a new series with Cleopatra as the lead character.

      2+
    3. I love Linnea Sinclair’s sci fi romance. Not sure whether I’ve read Games of Command –must check it out. I remember really enjoying Gabriel’s Ghost and Hope’s Folly.

      I’ve read many of Dana Stabenow’s mysteries– great reads.

      1+
  11. Not reading anything new, trying to get work done. Continuing with snippets of favourites. Found a new copy of “Marshmallow “ for granddaughters and a real hard cover book “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.” Tried to find a copy of “The Ivy Tree.”

    2+
  12. I like Ngaio Marsh too, more than Agatha Christie in fact, but there are a couple of AC’s that I re-read whenever the mood hits: The Secret at Chimneys, and The Orient Express.

    4+
      1. To date with AC I’m a Miss Marple fan. Which others should I read? I was put off her in my teens by maybe trying the wrong book and it’s only fairly recently that I gave her another go.
        Long time fan of Ngaio Marsh though I never read them in order and specially loved any that were set in a theatre.

        1+
        1. I always enjoy the AC’s Tommy and Tuppence books. Their first book is The Secret Adversary.

          4+
        2. I pretty much go back to the Marple every time. I get tired of the little gray cells, although they are splendid mysteries.

          Have you read Josephine Tey? I think Brat Farrar is one of the great mysteries of all time.

          7+
  13. I’m continuing with my quest to read everything by D.E. Stevenson. I’m falling in love with her writing. Just finished The Baker’s Daughter. Charming. I don’t know how I missed this writer before. I’ve been reading English novels since I immigrated to Canada in 1994. How come I never even heard of this writer before this year?
    Also finished Curse on the Land by Faith Hunter – a dark-ish urban fantasy. Not as good as the first book in the series, but not bad. I’m going to read the next one.
    And I started a re-read of Dogs and Goddesses. I wonder which of the three POVs was Jenny. My bet is on Shar, but maybe I’m wrong. Abby is a contender too, but not Daisy. And another question: who wrote Kammani? I love her POV. An ancient Mesopotamian goddess would certainly be confused by the modern Western world.

    4+
    1. I’m pretty sure D. E. Stevenson was out of print by the nineties. She was also a library stalwart, but again the copies would have got too old and been retired. Things might have been different in Canada, but I doubt it. Ebooks are allowing loads of authors to be back in print, because the overheads are so small; and because authors (and their heirs) don’t have to find a publisher willing to take the risk.

      4+
    2. Yes, Shar was such a Crusie heroine! I also remember that Abby was Krissie (Anne Stuart)’s. I think Kammani was Jenny’s though?

      1+
      1. For some reason, I usually get the villain. Well, with UMF it’s because we added Xan at the last minute because the book needed her. I think I wrote all of her scenes over a long weekend and sent them to Krissie and she edited and sent them back. I loved Xan. But I had fun with Kammani, too. And Clea in Faking It. There’s just something about a completely selfish woman that is a BLAST to write. None of this, “I’ll do it for the good of humanity” crap, what’s in it for me? I loved the evil queen in Galavant much more than the good princess, too; I’d have loved to have written for her. That soliloquy song, “No One But You” that she sings is genius. As is her duel with the princess at the end: “Your castle and your ass’ll be mine.” She really snarls that line.

        Bad women. Maybe I should write a story where the bad woman is the heroine. Think how much FUN that would be.

        No, wait, that’s how I ended up with three years of Nita, going on four now. NO NEW IDEAS, JENNY.

        But, OMG. Hi, I’m the Evil Queen and this is my story. No, I’m not misunderstood, I’m evil. I enjoy it. Evil makes me happy. I often laugh gaily as I’m doing something horrible. The darker the deeds, the lighter my heart. Now sit down, shut up, and listen to me explain.

        Or I can just go watch Galavant again and fast forward to the Madalena parts. Especially the part where Richard sings, “Although there’s something scary/Behind your cold, dead eyes” to her. Such great lyrics. Not as good as the “Maybe You Won’t Die Alone” ballad, but still damn good.

        Off to watch Galavant again.

        9+
        1. Crabby Appleton said it well, “I’m just as mean as mean can be. I think good deeds are sappy. I jump with glee, it pleases me when everyone’s unhappy.”

          4+
        2. And now I’ve got Kristin Chenoweth stuck in my head singing “Do you wanna be evil like me?” Descendants had some decent moments, in spite of the Disney sap.

          2+
          1. Kristin Chenoweth as Brenda, with Clea and Nita’s mother in hell together. Maybe a musical. Debbie Reynolds could have been awesome in it. Or Jane Lynch.

            2+
          2. Nita’s mom turned out to be all right, so I’ll save her (Mitzi). Brenda was boring and homicidal, not a good combo. Clea, I loved. That speech she makes to Davy outside the gallery, calling him on his jealousy, was so much fun, as was her interview with Ford who’s trying to get her to say “kill.” And I loved her internal monologues, too, while she smiled and smiled and was a villain. Basically, I agreed with Clea, or at least identified with her. Same with Xan. With Kammani, not as much but still fun to write.

            I was thinking more along the lines of Helen Mirren for Mitzi or Patrcia Clarkson. Huge Patricia Clarkson fan here.

            3+
        3. Um. Now I want this evil queen book.

          In other news, I don’t feel like I have finished enough books to report on. I am still reading Goblin Emperor and The Austen Playbook, but I am busy as heck during play rehearsals.

          I did trying reading one book (“Loves Me, Loves Me Knot”) that starts out with the heroine drugging, typing up and raping her ex-husband so she can get pregnant with his baby. They broke up because he decided they wanted kids. The scene is all about how sexay it is to be tied up, not the whole violating-against-his-will thing. WTF. Wallbanger.

          1+
        4. One of the series in my Kindle Library is the Night Terror series by Amy Archer. The series starts with Villains Don’t Date Heroes. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36443791-villains-don-t-date-heroes

          Night Terror. The greatest villain Starlight City has ever known. The greatest supervillain the world has ever seen. She rules her city with an iron fist, and there are no new worlds to conquer.

          Needless to say life is pretty damn boring.

          0
    3. My exposure to Stevenson happened in the late 70s when the librarian on the bookmobile in Miami was concerned Heyer might be too seamy for me (1978! Miami! Heyer too seamy!!) and gave me a stack of Stevenson and Dunnett instead. When I tried to find more Stevenson back in New Jersey that fall, the librarian told me it was too old-fashioned, they’d got rid of them all and got me a mix of harlequins and Norma Johnston.

      Okay, giant tangent but – yeah, Stevenson, like a lot of other good but never going to be taught in litfic classes authors (who I love), slid out of print for a long time and one of the joys of ebooks is not having to haunt used book stores, estate, garage, library, church and tag sales to find their work.

      8+
    4. Reading the comments backwards (sorry), I wrote Shar, Lani wrote Daisy, and Krissie wrote Abby, and I wrote Kammani. And then we all revised and polished together. Mina was fun to write, too. And her horrible little dog. Oh, that was the book with Wolfie and Milton in it; we’d just gotten Milton and he was a puppy, so we put him in. He has gray ears now.

      7+
  14. Still on my non-fiction kick. I just started The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Unamerican by Andre Seidel.

    2+
  15. I’ll be on my way to the library to pick up my copy of Alafair Burke’s The Better Sister soon. Also to return the DVD of C. B. Strike. It had three stories from the books and we had to watch it quicker than planned because my husband is starting the fourth book in the series that takes place jumping from right after the third story. I’m also going to pick up the DVD Delicious that should give us an interesting break from crime drama. Adultery with a twist – second wife asks for advise from first wife. It’s listed as a drama but with Dawn French involved I’m hoping for comedy.

    2+
    1. I had high hopes for Delicious for the same reason (Dawn French, say no more)! But after sitting through the first season I just found it too soap opera-y in its revelations. Not nearly as comedic as I was expecting.

      2+
  16. I’m on a Melissa McShane kick right now. I just finished Abounding Might, the third book in her Extraordinaries series. It’s Regency romance / Napoleonic War, where psychic powered people exist, Bounders, Scorchers, Movers, Seers, (Teleporters, Pyro-kinetics, Telekinetics, Clairvoyants) exist, and there also exist extraordinary versions of these. The first two were a lot of fun and the third one, while not quite as good, was still decent.

    I also discovered a new series by her, The Last Oracle, (The Book of Secrets, The Book of Peril and The Book of Mayhem). It’s about a young woman who gets a job as a bookstore clerk and on her first day her boss is murdered and she discovers that it’s actually an oracular bookstore and she is now the custodian, despite being completely non-magical herself. Other people want the job of course, and someone may have killed expecting to get it.

    2+
  17. Miss Buncle’s Book (and 2 sequels) are back in print here in the U.S. Our public library has purchased new trade paper versions of them and Miss Buncle and a few other D.E. Stevenson titles are available as eBooks through our public library.

    Some of these titles have lengthy hold (aka reserve) lists at the library. “Baker’s Daughter” has an estimated 6-week wait, though that is on 1 e-copy, so probably worth buying it if you can’t wait 🙂

    2+
    1. Yes, our library has some new issues of her in paperback. Those are the ones I’ve been reading. But not all of her backlist has been re-issued so far. After I’m done with what is available through the library, I’ll start hunting for her other stuff.

      2+
  18. I’m still, mostly, in a “little book” mood. I started reading “Dear Zealots” (Amos Oz, on Israel and Palestine forever war) and Stephen Greenblatt’s “Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics,” both of which were excellent “little books,” but depressing given their reminders that humans just keep getting more and more lethal to their (our!) future existence on this earth.

    I’m also reading “If Cats Disappeared from the World,” by Genki Kawamura, and another “little book” (a novel). It’s that rare “unusual” book that is quite readable, humorous and somewhat dark, and I may just finish it – wonder of wonders.

    I was also prompted to re-read Jenny’s “Fast Women.” A group of friends were talking about cohousing, intentional living/housing, and variations on those themes for Where to Live Next. I remembered that delightful scene in Fast Women where Gabe visits a retired police officer, who lives in a “terrific apartment above the garage.” I could certainly get around that sort of simplified living, especially if there was an elevator. One goes off lugging groceries up stairs, especially as the years pile up 🙂

    5+
  19. I’ve been soaked in Ngaio Marsh for the first time and love, love them. I agree some are better than others. I’d read them in order. Love Alleyn, Troy & Ricky so much. You have to read them a little slower to catch Alleyn’s dry humor & some subtleties, particularly when falling in love, i.e., my favorite, Death in a White Tie.

    4+
    1. Is that the one with the nutso lord who wants to play the drums in a swing band? No, wait, I think that’s Swing something or other. I loved the people in that. Oh, Death in a White Tie is the one with the debs. That is a good one, although I really liked the victim in that one. Argh.

      3+
  20. I’m reading Caroline Graham’s Inspector Barnaby novels, the basis for MIDSOMER MURDERS. There are seven books altogether—which is sort of funny because there are now more than 120 episodes of the show, with more to come—and I had read some of them back in the 90s before MM was even a thing. What I find interesting is that the character of CI Barnaby in the books is clearly the same man that is carried through the TV series, but Sergeant Troy was pretty much reinvented, which is good, because the guy in the books can be a real jerk.

    3+
    1. Didn’t they keep switching out the sidekicks in the series? I thought there were three of them. Yes, I’ve seen all zillion episodes, they’re like a nice cup of cocoa before bed, with blood.

      The series I really loved was Lewis. I thought his relationship with his second in command, Hathaway, was great, plus there’s that lovely slow burn romance that took a thousand seasons to complete because he was mourning his wife, whom we never meet so we’re all sitting there saying to the TV, “Have you noticed Laura? Because Laura is GREAT.” I love that scene in one of the last seasons where she kisses him, not knowing the boss and Hathaway are sitting right there, and Hathaway turns to the boss and says, “I go away for ONE WEEK and this happens.” It’s a lot grittier than Midsommer, but it’s not cocoa, either.

      My favorite Midsommer is the first one. They shifted gears pretty radically after that and it became English Comfy, but that first episode in the first series is completely batshit and so good. My god, the characters in that. They were all picking things out of the air.

      5+
      1. Chiming in days late and off-topic to put in a plug for Endeavour, a Morse prequel which is also not a cozy and can be dark but the performances are so very, very good.

        Could we please have a British crime series day on Argh someday?

        0
        1. I never connected with Morse, possibly because I came to him after Lewis, but I did watch Endeavor and thought it was good. I think I may have missed at lot because it’s a prequel to Morse, so when people showed up that I should know, I was clueless. But I loved seeing Lewis as a young man, especially since it was the same actor as the middle-aged Lewis in the later series. I can’t imagine playing the same character for decades and aging along with the character, but the guy who plays him (Dennis Whateley maybe?) is excellent.

          British crime series, oh boy. So many good ones. Life on Mars is my gold standard for that, well, for TV really. Luther. Lewis. I still haven’t seen Helen Mirren’s series, Prime something? so I need to look at that. I love the Brokenwood series but that’s New Zealand; it’s uneven but the cast and community is so great, I don’t care. What’s the one with with Gillian Whosis, the one about the serial killer? That one curled my toes. Every now and then I try a new one, but so many of them are bleak. I love John Hannah, but only made it through one episode of his. There was another one with the Children of Men actor–Clive . . damn, can’t remember–but the character was such a bastard, I dropped it; premise was good (he was going blind and trying to hide it). It’s the grimness that gets to me; I like my murder like I like my Diet Coke: light and bubbly.

          1+
  21. I read The Near Witch, by V.E. Schwab. It’s her first novel, re-released. It’s a ghost story with witches. The world building is good, and the story is original and it’s got a slightly eerie storytelling style which I liked a lot. I wanted more from it though – there is a romance subplot that I would have liked to see more developed, and this was the same with a number of the relationships. I definitely enjoyed it though, and recommend it.

    I also re-read A Fashionable Indulgence by K.J. Charles – I’ve realised that she has become a comfort read for me in the year since I first read her – so thanks Jane, I think she was your Good Book Thursday recommendation! If anyone hasn’t tried her, I can’t recommend her books highly enough. They’re historical romance (sometimes with a fantasy twist), and smart, with great writing and well plotted. I think I actually enjoy them more having read Jenny’s posts on writing craft – the pacing is good, and you can see how every scene moves the story along, the subplots are essential to the main romance plot, every character earns their place in the book, it’s all good.

    A Fashionable Indulgence is my current favourite because Julian is a fantastic character, and the subplot (the romance is the main plot) is great – sedition and radicalism in the Regency era.

    5+
  22. P.S. I’ve also been really enjoying the BBC’s “Inspector Alleyn Mysteries” (1993-4). They adapted 8 books into 8 episodes, about 1hr. 37 min. each. They really captured the tone and characters, though the plots had to be changed, shortened, &/or eliminated. If you’ve seen the series, I’d be interested to hear what you think of them.

    2+
    1. I should look that up. It’s one of the few British detective series I haven’t at least tried.

      In a completely different vein, has anybody seen Luther? NOT a cosy series, but oh my god is it good. Plus Idris Elba, who’s phenomenal in it. And Ruth Wilson as Alice, an amazing performance.

      2+
      1. Have you seen Father Brown. Another comfy detective series. The new series started in January – the last few have seem to be going in a different direction, always love the episodes with Hercule Flambeau. Deliciously twisted.

        2+
      2. Luther is BRILLIANT. That was my introduction to Idris Elba and my god. He and Ruth Wilson together are a straight up phenomenon. (I watch very very little anything outside ancient Dr Who & Torchwood because I have no more attention span and yet during Luther I cannot move. It is a gift, seriously, to have something have my brain not lurch sideways). It is not at all cosy but entirely worth it.

        5+
        1. I was blown away. The writing and the acting are superb, and that’s before you get to the weirdness that is Alice. Elba anchors that show, but my god, Wilson is brilliant.

          1+
          1. 100% agree. I think the story should have been titled Luther & Alice. Or, you know, maybe just Alice.

            0
          2. I’m good with calling it Luther because it’s his journey; Alice remains Alice, Luther becomes Luther.
            Just thinking about the whole cast makes me want to watch it again. It’s not fun, but it’s fascinating and wonderful, like Person of Interest. Or maybe Life on Mars (my passion for the original UK Life on Mars knows no bounds.)

            3+
  23. I almost never read nonfiction unless it’s a how-to (and I include cookbooks in this category) but I read Such a Strange Lady by Janet Hitchman this week. It’s a biography of Dorothy L. Sayers and truly it was the title that caught my attention on the library shelf. Later I saw on Goodreads that many people did not care for it but I found it interesting.

    3+
    1. That book is generally considered pretty weak. But fret not, there’s a much better book by Barbara Reynolds: Dorothy L. Sayers, Her Life and Soul. Try checking that one out.

      4+
  24. I read all the Marsh out of order, starting with Light Thickens, which is the last one. It was some combination of out of print and library availability – Black As He’s Painted, Hand In Glove, Singing in the Shrouds, When In Rome, Clutch Of Constables – they are just really great, so I am pretty firmly in the boat of sequence doesn’t matter a whole lot. That said, I don’t care at all about the first three, and after Death In Ecstasy they just get better and better.

    Also, this is tacky of me and whatever but after Wimsey and Campion I was quite relieved Alleyn wasn’t blond.

    5+
    1. My favorite Wimsey/Campion story is that Sayers and Allingham ran into each other on a train and sat together and discussed how difficult it was getting their detectives married because they’d written themselves into corners. Allingham said she was going to bash Campion on the head and Sayers thought that was great. I love the idea of these two Golden Age giants laughing on a train about how to get Peter/Harriet and Albert/Amanda to the altar.

      6+
  25. Skimming all of these is fun. I love March but no desire to be with her at the moment. I Saw a mention of Delicious There is a book by Ruth Reichart (sp?) by that name that I adored. I finished the view from Alameda Island by Robyn Carr. Most of the week I Read the semi final edit of Irish Magic, trying to read as a reader. I’m actually enjoying the book. It’s a love letter to Ireland and I like my leprechauns And the Fae.
    My big deal this week is I finally finished the book I am working on. Which meant I got to see endgame. And I loved it. I thought they may be glitched time theory in one place. And it made me feel really good about my book, Time and Forever because I think my theory holds up.
    Now I have a yen to rewatch the whole avengers series. And also to re-read my own book. That’s very odd for me because I never want to reread anything I wrote. I’m going to grab the two Nora Roberts about costumes that I mentioned off my shelves and take them on the plane.

    2+
    1. Oh, congratulations!

      I love the Marvel movies. I don’t know if I can bear Endgame; I’ve read the spoilers and I almost cried just from them. They’re going to rip out my heart and feed it to the cat, aren’t they?

      1+
      1. No, not in the way you think. It’s beautiful. Think of it as a Möbius strip.

        2+
      2. Yup. Absolutely. I am still mourning but I want to see it again. I came back to check on the names of the costume books. I’m so happy it is Michaels and not Nora Roberts because Barbara/Elizabeth is much lower on my shelves.

        0
    2. Do you mean what I think of as the “real” avengers – John Steed and Emma Peel – or the MCU avengers?

      2+
  26. I loved Clothes, Clothes,etc. and I’m with you on A.C. Ley. Not Heyer but not bad. I particularly remember enjoying her Letters For a Spy – but then I like Spy stories…

    2+
  27. I dunno if it’s a good book or anything but the junk mail that I get from Amazon that recommends books based on my browsing habits thought I might like something called Wickedly Unraveled by Deborah Blake.

    Never heard of her. 🙂

    13+
  28. I finally made it to the front of the waiting list for Anne Bishop’s Wild Country, which I must say I did enjoy. It was a great relief once more to find myself in the world of the Others, and I grew very fond of the Intuits and their varying areas of sensitivity. It was a bit scattered, though, and had a much darker tone overall than Lake Silence or the best of the Lakeside series. But the fact that the author was exploring the whole question of “how do you tell for sure when a person is a bad person?” felt very timely to me. Because politics.

    A long time ago, I used to work with a lot of different police groups, so I also find the law enforcement themes of these novels very interesting. I’d love to know what Bishop’s own connection to the world of police is — she’s got it down very accurately, I though, in all its different settings. It’s going to be hard waiting the long time before she might do another book set in this world.

    2+
  29. Someone here mentioned Lock In, by John Scalzi. I think it came up because the gender of the protagonist, Chris, is never explicitly spelled out. The whole premise is very imaginative. I’m now on the wait list for the next book, Head On, at the library.

    I also read Who Slays the Wicked, by C.S. Harris. It’s about the 14th in the series about Sebastian St. Cyr. Enjoyable as a mystery, but we don’t see as much interaction between Sebastian and Hero as I’d like.

    3+
  30. I read Jennifer Rowe’s Love, Honour and O’Brien, which was a really enjoyable romp about a woman who gets stood up almost at the altar by a con man, hires a private detective to find him, and then finds the private detective dead.

    I also read Brittany Cavallero’s The Last of August, which is the second in her YA Holmes and Watson spinoff. I’m really enjoying this series, though it’s getting pretty tortured emotionally.

    Now I’m reading The Canoe Boys by Alastair Dunnett, who was the husband of Dorothy Dunnett. This is the story of how he and a friend set out in kayaks in the 1930s (when they were in their 20s) to paddle through the islands on the west coast of Scotland. He’s a beautiful writer and makes the whole thing fascinating, particularly their contact with isolated communities.

    3+
  31. I’ve read Christie and Sayer and a bunch of other British mystery authors, but never heard of Ngaio Marsh! Thanks Good Book Thursday!

    I pondered over her name and found this article on how to pronounce it. Apparently, almost no one was pronouncing it the way she did:

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/books/66476172/null\

    I just started the first book by her, and it’s kind of funny. I’m afraid I know the murderer, but no clue how he pulled it off, so that’s good.

    2+
    1. Don’t judge her by the first book (in general, don’t judge anybody by their first book) although it’s a perfectly fine mystery, it’s just not her best. I think the second one–set in a theater? victim shot?–is pretty good, and then in general she just keeps getting better.

      And really, Josephine Tey. I don’t think she ever wrote a bad book or even a mediocre one. Daughter of Time is an interesting one, too, even though the murders took place centuries ago.

      3+
  32. A couple of years ago I came across a book on Amazon, possibly a freebie, in which Josephine Tey was the protagonist and I think Alfred Hitchcock was also a character. I can’t remember the author or even the title, but it made an interesting read. I do recall reading DAUGHTER OF TIME years ago, and since then I’ve never trusted historical dramas about Richard III, even though the play is still probably my favorite Shakespeare.

    2+
    1. She probably did more to rehabilitate Richard III and condemn Thomas More than any historian. And I’ll never forget “Tonypandy” as a metaphor for blatant politicking.

      3+
  33. I’ve been listening to the Audible version of _Spinning Silver_, which book I reread a couple of times. I find the plot tight, tight, tight, including the fairytale-logic parts, and I love the different voices of the many first-person chapters. And the reader is *great* with the different voices though she’s hardly doing impressions, just following the writing.

    1+
  34. I quite recently read “Money in the Morgue” which is a novel apparently created by Stella Duffy out of scraps left behind by Ngaio Marsh. It is not at all a bad book though not up to the level of the original – some slightly strange sentence construction, which coming from me is probably to be taken with a barrel of salt, and more importantly from my point of view an inconsistent characterization of Alleyn. However, as said, not at all bad. Set in New Zealand during WWII at a military hospital isolated by a storm.

    Also read “Miss Buncle’s Book” by D.E. Stevenson which I believe was recommended here and I’m heartily glad it was, because gee that book is fun.

    1+

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