Forgotten book: Jeopardy is My Job by Stephen Marlowe

Jeopardy is My Job by Stephen Marlowe, © May 1962, Gold Medal 1962 paperback, mystery featuring Chester Drum

In this Chester Drum adventure, Drum is hired by “the Governor” to find his adult son, who has gone missing in Spain. As the search gets underway, Drum is put off by the lifestyle of American expatriates living on the Costa Del Sol, and wonders if the missing son has simply melted into this live-for-today group. As he digs deeper, however, he uncovers widespread smuggling. It’s used as a form of investment: give some money to an “agent” to invest with a smuggler, get your dividend which is a share of the profits of the shipment.

He also discovers the missing man’s beautiful daughter, who is in love with a local bull fighter, is involved up to her pretty neck and seems to know a lot more than she’s admitting. With few clues to follow, in true hardboiled P.I. fashion Drum has to poke his nose in wherever he can to sniff out motive and try to figure out where the missing man may have gone—and whether he is alive or dead.

This is an entertaining P.I. novel, and the setting, typically of Drum novels set around the world, provides a nice change from big-city grit. Though I suspect this isn’t the best of the series, I like the character of Drum and Marlowe’s writing.

~  ~  ~  ~

Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews
at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.

Posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Mystery | 17 Comments

Current Reading: still Lafferty, Mankell

Not a much reading progress for either one of us this last week. I’m still plugging along in Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty, a science fiction novel that’s also a murder mystery. I’m enjoying it, but I’ve been busy with other things and so it’s become one of those books I drop into when I can, instead of a leave-me-alone-I’m-reading kind of book.

Meanwhile the library books continue to pile up, so I’d better get my reading act together.

Barbara is still reading The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell. She has three other library books stacked up here, so we’re both falling behind.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

note: replies to your comments will be delayed due to the usual weekday reason.

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Mystery, Science Fiction | 28 Comments

Forgotten Book: Wilderness Days by Sigurd Olson

this is the 253rd in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

Wilderness Days by Sigurd Olson, Alfred A. Knopf (a Borzoi Book) ©1972, this 7th printing 1984, hardcover
non-fiction – essays on nature

wilderness-daysI find reading about nature soothing. Part of it is my being an armchair naturalist. I’d rather read about the caribou migration than be there in the cold and swarms of blackflies. But it’s more than that. The insights contained in a book like this put the world into perspective for me, reminding me of how richly textured it is, how much more of it exists than what I see on a daily basis. It’s refreshing.

“My wilderness is concerned with the simple joys, timelessness, and perspective found in a way of life close to the past. I have heard the song of the wilderness in the beautiful lake region of the Quetico-Superior, where travel is still by pack and canoe over the ancient trails of Indians and voyageurs.

Everyone is listening for something and the search for the places where the singing may be heard goes on everywhere. There is a restlessness within us, an impatience which modern life with it’s comforts and distractions does not satisfy. We sense intuitively there must be something more.”

– Sigurd Olson, from the prologue

I’ve been interested in “nature” for as long as I can remember. I grew up on a few acres of fruit and avocado trees bordering on a huge tract of undeveloped land. Cross a narrow gravel road and there was nothing but sere hills, scrub, pepper trees, narrow defiles filled with poison oak occasionally harboring a trickle of water. Birds, snakes, spiders, skunks, possum were there. Each summer I roamed this space, alone and happy.

I bought Wilderness Days in 1985, read a little of it, boxed it up for a move, and recently rediscovered it, a bookmark about a quarter way in.

This book is a collection of Olson’s writings taken from many books over years of travel in the Quetico-Superior region of Canada. The book is organized by seasons beginning with Spring. Each piece is illustrated with a sketch by Frances Lee Jaques or Robert Hines.

Olson is a keen observer and a talented enough writer to relate what he sees so the picture is clear in the mind’s eye. When he talks about the special quality of light on a late afternoon I get as much of an idea of what he is seeing as possible without seeing myself. His words build the atmosphere of the scene, give the texture of the place, it’s sounds, smells, magic.

This is a book to read a little at a time, to savor, to mull over what I’d read, relating it to what I knew, contemplating concepts and enjoying the word pictures. Very nice indeed, and calming in our current world.


Posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Non-fiction | 7 Comments

Stimulating the Economy: Speed Queen washer & dryer

We’ve had to replace our six-and-half year old (!) GE washer and dryer, as the washer was working poorly and the dryer control broke. Honestly, we’ve never been that happy with them, but they were on sale…

After doing the research, we decided on a Speed Queen washer and dryer. It’s a brand I’d not heard of until we read Consumer Reports and other research sites.

So we bought the made-in-America Speed Queen model RSP113TW01 (top of the residential line) front loading washer and it’s companion electric dryer. Speed Queen exclusively made commercial washers and dryers (the company has no other product lines), until about 5 years ago, when they moved into the residential market. They’re top rated for reliability and durability ever since.

These units are pricey, but we decided quality and durability were more important than price in this instance.  They come with a 5 year warranty and are expected to last five times that long. These days that’s a lot. We should have them installed in about 10 days.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 13 Comments

Current Reading: Czerski, Doyle, Vaughn, Lafferty, Mankell

I put requests in for books at the library, and they all seem to become available in bunches.  The first was Storm In A Teacup, by Helen Czerski, which I learned about from George Kelley’s blog. It’s non-fiction, about physics in every day life, and I found it interesting and skimmed through it with pleasure.

Next was Martin Marten by Brian Doyle, a coming of age story about two characters, a young Pine Marten and a fourteen year-old boy, both living in the forest below Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood. Local setting and author. Well written.

Then Carrie Vaughn’s Martians Abroad, a science fiction story of a girl from Mars who is sent by her mother to attend Earth’s Galileo Academy, a highly prestigious school prep school for young adults who are going on to careers in business or space. Polly wants to be a starship captain but she needs the classwork. Being from Mars, when almost all of the other students are “Earthers” causes problems, but she and her brother Charles manage. I enjoyed the book a lot and am hoping for a sequel.

Now I’m reading Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty, a science fiction novel that’s also a murder mystery. Automatic systems awaken clones of the six-person crew of the Dormire where they find the original crew floating, dead, in null gravity. How is obvious, but why and by whom is a mystery. It’s a locked room mystery on a ship which has somehow veered off course with potentially disastrous results. Good so far.

Barbara finished Night School by Lee Child, and is now reading The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell. It’s the 12th (and last, due to his death) in the Wallander series.

She’s reading the series in order, but has skipped over The Grave the 11th book, as it has yet to be translated.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

note: replies to your comments will be delayed due to the usual weekday reason.

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Mystery | 30 Comments

Current Reading: Rankin, Child

I decided to read the other Rebus book, Mortal Causes, that I’d gotten from BookSwap, a couple books earlier in the series than Let It Bleed (my review here) I’m nearly done with it, and liking it better. Still, I think it will be a while before I read another by Ian Rankin.

Now, suddenly, I have several books waiting at the library. Funny how that happens. So when I finish the Rebus, I’ll start on those.

Barbara finished Harbour Street by Anne Cleeves, and has started Night School by Lee Child, a Reacher novel. She always likes those, so I’m sure she will enjoy this one too. 

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

note: replies to your comments will be delayed due to the usual weekday reason.

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Mystery | 19 Comments

Forgotten Book: Final Proof by Marie R. Reno

this is the 256th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

Final Proof by Marie R. Reno, Popular Library 1977 mass market paperback, mystery

This is one of those books I read something about somewhere, very possibly in a Friday Forgotten Book post, and based on the review decided to try it. I found a copy on Paperback BookSwap, and when it came, I tossed it onto the TBR shelf. Last week, needing a “waiting room book”, I grabbed it and started reading.

This is a cozy, the dynamic being an female amateur detective working with the investigating cop on a nuder case Needless to say, a relationship ensues.

Marcia Richardson is editorial director at the Book Circle, a major book club similar to Literary Guild and Book of the Month. She is murdered  at home while reading the galley proof of a novel the company is considering for purchase. Karen Lindstrom works for Richardson, and wants to know who did it and why, and whether it has a connection to Book Circle.

Karen meddles, pokes and prods, and is soon spending a lot of time with the (single, handsome) Inspector who is in charge of the case. Sparks fly, clues are considered, suspects eliminated, and finally the case is solved, as the now couple go happily off.

The author uses the usual technique of having her characters run over and over the list of possibilities each time some new hint of a clue appears, has her characters talk endlessly about who might or might not have done what when, and it seemed to me all that accomplished was to stretch the thin plot to a still-thin 196 pages. To say more would be a spoiler.

This appears to be a stand alone novel, not part of a series.

Posted in Books & Reading, Fiction, Friday Forgotten Books, Mystery | 6 Comments

Current Reading: Pronzini, Cleeves

I had started Bill Pronzini’s latest, a stand alone novel, The Violated but I gave it up after about 45 pages or so. The change of character POV with each short chapter bothered me enough that I quit the book, despite my liking Pronzini’s nameless books a lot.

I went back to the Raoul Whitfield collection I was reading in February and read more of that until the latest science fiction novel by John Scalzi came, which I read straight through in a couple of days. I’ll try to get a review up with either this coming Wednesday or the following one. I’m not sure what I’ll get into next.

Barbara is reading Harbour Street by Anne Cleeves, which she says is good, but she’s had a lot of distractions lately so it’s slow going on the book.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Mystery | 29 Comments

FFB: Impossible Stories by Zoran Zivkovic

I revamped this from Wednesday’s post, as I think it qualifies as overlooked. I found out about these on the fine Black Gate blog. Covers first, info after.

From the February 24th Black Gate post by John O’Neill:
(reposted with permission)

“Serbian master fantasist Zoran Zivkovic has an enviable international reputation. His novels include The Writer (1998), Impossible Encounters (2000), and The Ghostwriter (2009), and his mosaic novel The Library won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novella in 2003.

But his appearance in English here in the US has been spotty. Which is one of the reasons I was so delighted to see Cadmus Press publish The Zoran Zivkovic Collection, four gorgeous volumes of his best work, translated into English:

Impossible Stories I — 422 pages, $34, November 10, 2016 (Includes “Time Gifts,” “Impossible Encounters,” “Seven Touches of Music,” “The Library,” and “Steps through the Mist”)
Impossible Stories II — 428 pages, $34, Dec 10, 2016 (Contains the collections Four Stories Till the EndTwelve CollectionsThe BridgeAmarcord, and Miss Tamara, the Reade)
The Papyrus Trilogy — 608 pages, $41, August 1, 2016 (The cases of Dejan Lucik. Includes three novels: The Last BookThe Grand Manuscript, and The Compendium of the Dead)
The Five Wonders of the Danube — 198 pages, $26, August 1, 2016

All four are hardcovers featuring striking cover art by Japanese artist Youchan Ito. On his website the author calls them “the first four volumes of The Zoran Živković Collection,” which implies there will be more. The publisher claims all four volumes “will be available in hardcover, trade paperback, and electronic editions,” but for now the hardcover editions are the only ones I can find.”

That’s my sum total knowledge about the author and I know nothing about the translator, Alice Copple-Tosic, but I decided to get the first two books to try. The covers are wonderful, aren’t they?

Posted in Books & Reading, Fantasy, Fiction | 8 Comments

Current Reading: Krueger, Pronzini, Cleeves

As I said last week, I finished William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor novel Tamarack County, and went straight on to the next in the series, Windigo Island. This is, in my opinion, the darkest O’Conner novel so far. It’s more wordy, and preachy, than any of the previous ones, and the subject of badly mistreated teen girls and society’s failures on their behalf are reiterated in every chapter. In many ways this book is Jenny’s (O’Connor’s daughter), as she takes a lead character role, involving herself, often wrongly or dangerously, throwing common sense out the window and unnecessarily putting herself in the path of danger. I rate this as a weaker effort by one of my very favorite authors. I have one more book in the series to read and I will be caught up, but I’ll take a break before I go to that one.

I read a couple more short stories in the Raoul Whitfield Jo Gar collection, and have now started Bill Pronzini’s latest, a stand alone novel, The Violated. I like Pronzini a lot, but the change of character POV with each short chapter is challenging me. I’m never sure why authors choose this approach, but it’s certainly not a personal favorite. I’ll continue to plug away as long as I can.

Barbara finished Michael Connelly’s The Wrong Side of Good-Bye and was planning on reading Night School by Lee Child next, but it was due back at the library, so she’s now reading Harbour Street by Anne Cleeves.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Mystery | 30 Comments