Current Reading, August 17 – 23, 2015

I finished both The Human Division and The End of All Things by John Scalzi (covers shown in last week’s post), the two latest novels in his Old Man’s War universe. While I liked them both, I thought the newest book was the weaker of the two.

Man In Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker by Thomas Kunkel was interesting. Impressed earlier this year by Mitchell’s writing in the collection of his essays The Bottom of the Harbor, I wanted to know more about him. The book filled the bill.. Following that, I savored The Art of Mouse Guard by David Petersen, a gorgeous art book with lots of text. See my New Arrivals post on it here.

Then, since there will be a single author Friday Forgotten Book Friday on Ed McBain, and author I hadn’t gotten to, I checked out one of his books from the library, Hail, Hail, The Gang’s All Here. It wasn’t a very good place to start reading the 87th Precinct books; it’s the 25th in the series, every character played a part, however small, there were a variety of crimes dealt with, there was little depth of plot. Twelve characters introduced in the first thirteen pages was overwhelming to me, but I eventually caught up enough to finish the book. I suspect this, written well into the series, was a confection for fans of the series, who knew the setting and people. I have a couple more 87th Precinct paperbacks I picked up, which I hope will be more focused.

The-White-Lionessterra-cotta dogBarbara finished The White Lioness by Henning Mankell. The Wallender series is becoming one of her favorites, and she says this was a particularly good one.

Now she’s reading the second Inspector Montalbano Mystery by Andrea Camilleri, The Terra-Cotta Dog

How about you? Have you read these
books or authors?
What are you reading?

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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15 Responses to Current Reading, August 17 – 23, 2015

  1. Richard, I have read 87th Precinct books and generally enjoyed them. I have an unread copy of the one you did. I hope to read some of McBain’s novels this year.

  2. Jerry House says:

    Roichard, I actually read more than one book this week. First off, two westerns by Murray Leinster: TEXAS GUN SLINGER and WANTED — DEAD OR ALIVE. The first, my FFB this week, was originally published as FIGHTING HORSE VALLEY. I enjoyed both very much. I read THE BEST OF ERIC FRANK RUSSELL, a 1978 collection of thirteen stories. I like Russell’s work a lot but, for some reason, can only take him in small doses. That was followed by another SF book, ATTACK FROM ATLANTIS by Lester del Rey, one of the Winston Adventures in Science Fiction series, this one first published in 1953. Interesting but minor; not the best that I have read from either the author or the series. Finally, I read THE MYSTERY OF THE LAUGHING SHADOW, the twelfth in The Three Investigators juvenile series and the second to be authored by Dennis Lynds under his “William Arden” pseudonym. This series has a strong fan base and I can see why. A fast-paced, well-written juvenile mystery.

    I’m currently reading C. M. Kornbluth’s TAKEOFF, a 1952 novel about the first moon rocket. Kornbluth was a major talent in the SF field who taken much to soon and been about to become editor of F&SF whe he died. Also coming up this week is Patti Abbott’s CONCRETE ANGEL; I’m able to devote enough time now to savor this one properly. Also this week will be Bill Crider’s latest Dan Rhodes mystery, another book which deserves to be savored.

    Things on the moving front are going chaotically as usual but, like a bad Mexican dinner, this too shall pass. (I’m speaking metaphorically, of course; I have never met a bad Mexican dinner!)

    Hope all is well on the Portland front.

    • Richard says:

      Jerry, sounds like you are either further along with the move and have reading time, or things have bogged down and…you have mor reading time. That’s some good stuff this week. I really wish I could find some of those 3 Investigators books, I’d love to try them! The Mystery of the Laughing Shadow is a great title.

      I’m familiar with Kornbluth, I’ve read a few of his books. I didn’t realize he was about to be editor of F&SF when he died. Sorry about the chaos, do you at least have a house to move into? Things here are fine, except for the acrid smoke from the fires in OR and WA. We and the cats are all coughing a lot.

  3. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Sorry if I steered you wrong on the McBain, but I can see that HAIL was probably not a good place to start. In fairness, I did recommend starting at the beginning. I trust you’ll find the other titles more coherent.

    I did get in a few books this week. From PaperbackSwap I got THE YELLOW DOG, the sixth new edition Penguin of an early Maigret book I’ve received from that source.(My previous copy was called A FACE FOR A CLUE.) After I read Susan Beth Pfeffer’s LIFE AS WE KNEW IT, Jackie expressed an interest in reading it. Since the second book in the series (THE DEAD & THE GONE) had a long library wait I ended up buying the first three (third is THIS WORLD WE LIVE IN) from ABE for about $10 total.

    Books read. First was VANISHING GAMES by Roger Hobbs, again a good action thriller but I was much less taken with it than the first, GHOSTMAN. This one is set in Macau. I also read a cheap (free? 99 cents?) ebook that sounded interesting, and was, Simon Goodson’s LAST SUNRISE & Other Stories. I’d characterize it as mostly science fiction, some horror and a little mystery. My favorite story might be the shortest, the wonderfully ironic “Translation.”

    Current reading: the latest collection of early writings, unpublished stories, and reviews and essays by Shirley Jackson, LET ME TELL YOU. I started William Kent Kreuger’s non series ORDINARY GRACE. How could I resist when the protagonist is a 13-year old boy in 1961 Minnesota? I couldn’t. But the book I’ve been racing through (against the author’s advice), which I should finish today, is Michael Dirda’s BROWSINGS: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living With Books. It is a collection of the columns he did weekly for The American Scholar in 2012-2013. Dirda is no snob, but an extremely well-read fan of mysteries and science fiction as well as more obscure 19th Century fiction. This is the kind of book that has me making lists of titles to read.

    Up next are new books by John Scalzi and Peter Robinson, among others.

    • Richard says:

      I don’t think you steered me wrong, and yes, you did suggest starting at the beginning, which advice I ignored for no good reason. I’ll read another after I finish the new Louise Penny, which will arrive tomorrow. Oh boy! I’m probably going to skip the Hobbs. I’ve had Ordinary Grace on the shelf for a year and haven’t read it yet. I keep meaning to… I’m behind on the series too. I have the Doyle book by Dirda on hold at the library, don’t know how long it will be.

  4. Like Jeff, I read Michael Dirda’s BROWSINGS and now I have a dozen books to track down. Dirda’s essays on books and collecting are a joy to read! I’m back to work this week working Registration (next week, classes begin). So, short books from now until Christmas.

  5. Bill Crider says:

    Rick, I thought THE END OF ALL THINGS was a bit talky. I enjoyed it, but I agree with you that the previous book was a bit stronger. I’m currently reading SPANISH LUCK, the new one from Robert Skinner, who’s making a comeback after being out of the writing game for 10 years.

    • Richard says:

      Talky, yes. I wonder if he’s running low on plot for that series, or trying to do too much with it. Spanish Luck is a great title. What sort of mystery is it?

  6. I’m not that big a fan of the 87th precinct novels. I like his other mysteries much better

  7. Patti Abbott says:

    I am reading THE PAINTED VEIL (Somerset Maugham) for my book group and REMEMBER THE LOBSTER (D. F. WALLACE) after seeing THE END OF THE TOUR. Phil is reading ANNA KARENINA after finishing GENERATION LOSS by Elizabeth Hand.

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