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

Current Reading: Martin Edwards, William Kent Krueger, Belinda Bauer

After I finished Ian Rankin’s Let It Bleed (Friday’s FFB), I started on a fantasy novel, Plague of Shadows by Howard Andrew Jones. I’m about a quarter way in, but decided I wanted to read more mystery instead. So I finished Crimson Snow, a winter setting short story collection edited by Martin Edwards. I enjoyed it a lot and recommend it.

Then I continued my catch-up on William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series, with Tamarack County. There are two plots running side by side, one the disappearance of the wife of a retired Judge, the other a threat to Cork’s son, or perhaps his girlfriend, by running off the icy road into the lake. These events seem unconnected, but as we mystery readers all know, they tie up later in the book. Though I thought the plots wandered a little, I enjoyed the book. The ending left some things up in the air, so I went straight on to the following book, Windigo Island. I’m just starting it today.

Barbara finished Black Lands by Belinda Bauer, suggested by the article in the current issue of Mystery Scene. She liked it well enough that she’s requested the next book from the library.

Now that she’s got it back from the library (having turned it in as it was due and not renewable), she’s finishing up Michael Connelly’s The Wrong Side of Good-Bye which of course she’s enjoying a lot.

Next up is Night School by Lee Child.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Mystery, Short Stories | 10 Comments

Forgotten Book: Let It Bleed by Ian Rankin

this is the 255th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

Let It Bleed by Ian Rankin, St. Martin’s / Minotaur 1998 mass market paperback, mystery novel, Detective Inspector Rebus #7

Perhaps not forgotten, or even seldom read, less than a decade old, but some readers may be unfamiliar with the author or series, so this is for them, the seventh novel in the Detective Inspector Rebus series, set in Edinburgh, Scotland.

In this one, the theme seems to be suicide. The book opens with an exciting car chase which ends with a horrific accident, then, as Rebus watches, a double suicide. Before he can expunge the picture from his mind another suicide occurs, and this is just as meaningless…or is it?

Ex-con “”Wee Shug”” McAnally shotguns himself as local ward councilor Tom Gillespie watches in horror. Rebus believes that McAnally chose his witness carefully, but when political higher-ups pressure Rebus to lay off, he is given an involuntary week off “vacation”.

Rebus lives to work (and, perhaps, drink) so he continues on, following hunches with covert help from two sympathetic colleagues. It appears there are odd goings-on in some new development plans for “”Silicon Glen” (Edinburgh’s computer industry) and the suicides, or at least one of them, may be connected. With pressure from above and big money at stake, Rebus ducks his head and soldiers on.

Before this, I had only read the first book in the series, Knots and Crosses, and that several years ago, so I had to re-aquaint myself with Rebus. Rebus is a hard character to like; he’s smart but not kind, savvy but selfish with his emotions and he usually puts himself first in any business or personal interaction. He often seems blind to the realities of a situation. There were times when I thought Rebus, you idiot! but it didn’t stop me from turning the pages. Only the ending seemed a bit off to me, either not what the character would really have done, or come by a little too easily, but that would be for the reader to decide. Worth reading.

Posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Science Fiction | 11 Comments

Short Story February Wrap Up, plus Current Reading

And that’s a wrap for Short Story February. All told, including the few more stories I read in the last two days of the month, I read 74 stories during the month, which is pretty darn good, I think.

lib-coverCertainly, my goal to read a lot of great short stories was accomplished. I finished two books, and I plan to keep reading some of the other collections until I finish them.

Thanks to everyone who read a short story, or some extra ones, over the month, for SSF. We’ll do it again next year!

Current Reading – Now back to novels, I’m reading Ian Rankin’s 9th Rebus novel, Let It Bleed. Rebus is a hard character to like, but the plot is growing increasingly interesting as I reach the halfway point. Summary of my opinion next time.

votviolinBarbara started Michael Connelly’s The Wrong Side of Good-Bye but it came due and she had to return it to the library. While waiting for it to come around again, she read The Magnolia Story by JoAnna Gaines, The Voice of the Violin by Andrea Cammilleri, which is the fourth in the Inspector Mantalbano mysteries, and Make Me by Lee Child.

Now the Connelly book is back and she’ll be finishing it up this week. Next up is Black Lands by Belinda Bauer, suggested by the article in the current issue of Mystery Scene.

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Mystery, Short Stories, Short Story February | 20 Comments

Short Story February – Week 4

Here’s week four (Feb. 20 – 26) listed in story-author-source format. * An asterisk indicates a story I particularly liked.

  • theroux-collected-storiesWhite Lies * – Paul Theroux – The Collected Stories
  • Clapham Junction – ibid
  • The Odd-Job Man * – ibid
  • Portrait of A Lady – ibid
  • The Longest Voyage – Poul Anderson – Queen of Air and Darkness, the Collected Short Fiction of Poul Anderson, Volume 2
  • Brave To Be A King * – ibid (a Time Patrol story)
  • Brake – ibid
  • The Last Visit – Conrad Aiken – Collected Stories of Conrad Aiken
  • Mr. Arcularis – ibid
  • Arsene Lupin in Prison * – Maurice Marie Emile Leblanc – The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked Room Mysteries, edited by Otto Penzler

    Big Book of Locked Room Mysteries

    finally finished

  • The Mystery of the Strong Room – L.T. Meade & Robert Eustace – ibid
  • No Way Out * – Michael Collins (Dennis Lynds) – ibid (a Slot-Machine Kelly story)
  • The Episode of the Codex Curse * – C. Daly King – ibid (a Mr. Tarrant story)
  • The Poisoned Dow ’08 * – Dorothy L. Sayers – ibid
  • A Traveller’s Tale – Margaret Frazer – ibid
  • Death At the Excelsior * – P.G. Wodehouse – ibid
  • Waiting For Godstow * – Martin Edwards – ibid
  • Moriarty and the Two-Body Problem * – Alison Joseph – The Mammoth Book of the Adventures of Professor Moriarty edited by Maxim Jakubowski
  • A Good Mind’s Fate – Alexandra Townsend – ibid
  • Everything Flows and Nothing Stays – John Soanes – ibid
  • A Scandalous Calculation * – Catherine Lundoff – ibid
  • The Last Temptation of Frankie Lyman – Peter Blauner – Crime Plus Music edited by Jim Fusilli
  • The Blackbird – Peter Robinson – ibid
  • The Misfits * – Naomi Rand – ibid
  • Shaderock the Soul Shaker – Gary Phillips – ibid
  • The Long Black Veil * – Val McDermid

A few thoughts:
26 short stories read, an improvement over last week.

Over at Bitter Tea and Mystery short stories are being read. Click over to see the latest post. Congrats on five years of blogging, Tracy!

My first exposure to Paul Theroux’s writing was The Great Railway Bazaar, published in 1975. I loved it, and continued to read his sometimes contraversial travel books for years. The Collected Stories was published in 1997, when I bought it new, read a few stories, and set it aside, fully intending to continue reading my way through. I hadn’t picked it up again until this month, but have enjoyed many of the stories I’ve read so far.

After more than a year, I’ve finished the thick, very good Black Lizard Big Book of Locked Room Mysteries, edited by Otto Penzler. A fine anthology.

The next post will be the Short Story February wrap-up.

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Fantasy, Fiction, literary fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction, Short Stories, Short Story February | 25 Comments

Forgotten Book: The Department of Dead Ends by Roy Vickers

this is the 254th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

The Department of Dead Ends by Roy Vickers, © 1949, my copy: a 1955 Penguin paperback

dodeVickers has here selected his “ten best” DoDE stories. These are all “inverted” mystery stories; the reader knows from the start the murderer, the motive, the details of each crime.

An investigation is made but the files find their way to the Department of Dead Ends, the repository of cases not solved, clues which led nowhere. Then eventually, sometimes many years later, some small fact or occurrence comes to the attention of Inspector Rason who finds a connection and solves the case.

I got this paperback second hand some years back and let it sit on the shelf for some time before picking it up to read. That was foolish. Once started I couldn’t put it down. These stories are terrific!

Posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Non-fiction | 13 Comments

Jigsaw Puzzles

I’ve mentioned in the last couple of Short Story February posts that my reading was down some because my wife have been working on jigsaw puzzles. So I thought I’d share pictures of one we recently finished and another nearing completion. Click images to see them larger.

Something about this time of year seems right for doing puzzles and we enjoy the challenge of it, but it does eat up a lot of time.

img_4121 img_4124


Posted in At Home in Portland | 9 Comments

Short Story February – Week 3

Here’s week three (Feb. 13 – 19) listed in story-author-source format.
         * An asterisk indicates a story I particularly liked.

  • miniaturesDeath in December * – Victor Gunn (Edwy Searles Brooks) – Crimson Snow edited by Martin Edwards

From Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi by John Scalzi (entire contents)

  • Missives from Possible Futures #1: Alternate History Search Results *
  • Pluto Tells All
  • Denise Jones, Superbooker *
  • When the Yogurt Took Over *
  • The Other Large Thing
  • The State of Super Villainy
  • New Directives for Employee-Manxtse Interactions
  • To Sue the World
  • How I Keep Myself Amused On Long Flights
  • How I Keep Myself Amused On Long Flights Part II
  • Life On Earth: Human-Alien Relations
  • Morning Announcements at the Lucas Interspecies School For Troubled Youth *
  • Your Smart Appliances Talk About You Behind Your Back *
  • The AI Are Absolutely Positively Without A Doubt Not Here to End Humanity
  • Important Holidays on Gronghu
  • Cute Adorable Extortionists
  • Penelope
  • The Queen of Air and Darkness – Poul Anderson – Collected Short Works of Poul Anderson, Volume 2: The Queen of Air and Darkness edited by Rick Katze (NESFA)
  • Industrial Revolution * – ibid
  • Operation Afreet * – ibid

A few thoughts:
Twenty-one stories this week, with the majority very short ones.

Over at Bitter Tea and Mystery short stories are being read. See Tracy’s short story post HERE.

When I laid out a dozen books from which to read short stories, as a way of organizing things, one of them was the Scalzi, which I’d recently gotten. It’s a thin book, of very short stories, and as expected I read it straight through. I liked a few stories (asterisked) but over all it was just so-so. I like his novel length science fiction much better.

 I have long been a fan of Poul Anderson’s stories since first reading them in Astounding Science Fiction back in the old days. I’ve been buying the collected short works volumes as they were published by NESFA Press. I read the first one, and the rest look nice on the shelf, but it was past time I started reading the second one. I said last week it had been too long since I read any Hemingway. The same goes for Anderson.

With this week I’ve come back around to the beginning of the row of books I set out. However, three books have been pulled and replacements made, so you will notice the new sources as you look at the lists for the next two weeks.

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction, Short Stories, Short Story February | 20 Comments