Current Reading, August 24 – 30


A break in the weather with cooler temperatures also brought a storm that, by lightning strike, fried our Comcast connection. Thus we were without internet, cable or landline phone for three days and have just now had services restored.

nature of the beast

The new Three Pines / Chief Inspector Gamache novel by Louise Penny, The Nature of the Beast, came Tuesday afternoon and I finished it Thursday, which is fast for me to read a 384 page book. This is the eleventh book in a series that’s a real favorite of mine. I liked it. The plot line is interesting, if different, and Penny always keeps me turning the pages. I won’t say more to avoid spoilers.

Inspector ColbeckAlso read – in ebook format, a physical copy is not available – was Inspector Colbeck’s Casebook: Thirteen Tales from the Railway Detective by Edward Marston (Keith Miles). In 1988, Keith Miles began his Nicholas Bracewell series set in the theatrical world of Elizabethan London, using the pseudonym of Marston. He has continued to use Marston with his Domesday Book series, set during the reign of William the Conqueror and with this Railway Detective series, set in Victorian England during the 1850s against a background of the development of the railways. On Conan DoyleI’ve read the first three Railway Detective novels which I liked very much. The short story collection is comprised of 13 light, character-driven stories which I found enjoyable, even charming, though there is murder, action and humor throughout.

From the library came On Conan Doyle, or, The Whole Art of Storytelling bMichael Dirda. Dirda’s books come highly recommended by both George Kelley and Jeff Meyerson, whose opinions I value. I enjoyed it, though I skipped some small sections on his spiritualist writings, as I was mainly focused on his Holmes writings. It made me want to read some Doyle, of course, and I decided to re-read The Hound of the Baskervilles, which I haven’t read in years. I’m at about midpoint now.

And after that? The TBR bookcase is chock-a-block with things, of course. I’ll probably start with a few more stories in The Big Book of Locked-Room Mysteries, which I may get through sometime next year. Then I’ll choose between another Ed McBain or a Mike Shayne mystery, which I’ve been in the mood for.

terra-cotta dog

Another possibility, with the huge three volume MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories coming sometime in September (separate post coming on that) I may keep going after the Dirda book and Baskervilles and read more Holmes stories or a couple of Holmes pastiches.

Barbara finished the second Inspector Montalbano mystery by Andrea Camilleri, The Terra-Cotta Dog. She liked it, and better than the first in the series, and she’ll continue with the series. Now she’s half way into The Nature of the Beast, the new Louise Penny which I recently finished.

After that, she may read Bill Bryson’s A Walk In the Woods, which is on hand, as she plans to see that film, and there’s also an ebook thriller, London Underground by Chris Angus, waiting in the wings.

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

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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14 Responses to Current Reading, August 24 – 30

  1. I’m back to work tomorrow so I’m only reading short books. Right now, I’m reading a book on H. P. Lovercraft. The Louise Penny book arrived from AMAZON but I’m a couple books behind. And, I really like “Edward Marston” books. I was able to buy a dozen of them at a Library Sale so I might be reading them in the weeks ahead. Glad your Internet connection has been restored!

    • Richard says:

      George, it was the lightening strike that fried the cable line. The time down wasn’t wasted, I baked a cake (chocolate w/ sour cream frosting). I like Marsten’s books, quick easy interesting. We’ve talked before about the historical Domesday series. I hope the school year goes smoothly, though I realize the first week or two hold their special charms (heh).

  2. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Boo for the three-day outage but hooray for the return. I’ve met Marston and seen him speak at conventions and he is charming. The short story collection appeals to me too.

    Last week I finished Michael Dirda’s BROWSINGS, as previously mentioned. Terrific, fast read and I got a number of suggestions of other books (*sigh*). I’m currently reading one of them, Jonathan Yardley’s SECOND READINGS: Notable and Neglected Books Revisited. Like Dirda, Yardley was a Washington Post columnist. Here he writes 5-6 page re-reviews of books he’s read previously and is recommending. These range from John D. MacDonald’s THE DREADFUL LEMON SKY ro Robert Lewis Taylor’s very good biography of W. C. Fields (which I’ve read) to Margaret Leech’s REVEILLE IN WASHINGTON, a non-fiction picture of the Capitol during the Civil War.

    I got two books in last week and one was from reading Dirda, Barzun & Taylor’s A CATALOGUE OF CRIME. I had the original edition from 1971 and read it cover to cover and annotated it before selling it, but I was able to get a really nice copy of the expanded 1989 edition in dust jacket for $4! The other was from PaperbackSwap – THE ADVENTURES OF CARDIGAN by Frederick Nebel. Every once in a while something cool like this turns up from my wish list.

    Also read: William Kent Kreuger’s ORDINARY GRACE, a non-series book set in 1961 Minnesota. This one won the Best Novel Edgar Award and I read the 300 pages in a day. Good stuff. Next (these are all library books) was John Scalzi’s latest, THE END OF ALL THINGS. I didn’t like it as much as some of the earlier books in his Old Man’s War series but it grew on me as it went on. Lastly was Peter Robinson’s latest Ch. Insp. Alan Banks book, IN THE DARK PLACES (originally called ABATTOIR BLUES in England). It is as dark as the title(s) would suggest. I also read (and finished today) the new collection of Shirley Jackson’s uncollected and previously unpublished stories, LET ME TELL YOU.

    I have seriously pared down my library pile (now a fraction of Jackie’s), though I did get two more books today. I’m currently reading a first mystery set in Upstate New York, M. P. Cooley’s ICE SHEAR.

  3. Jerry House says:

    Richard, I’m glad your internet is back. I’m also happy to hear you were porductive while it was down — that cake sounds good, Which begs the question: Do you deliver?

    On the Conan Doyle front, I’m two-thirds through John Dickson Carr’s THE LIFE OF SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE, an interesting biography. (I didn’t realize that Doyle got the idea of BASKERVILLES from mystery writer Fletcher Robinson, who also helped Doyle sketch out the plot.)

    As far as reading this week goes, I finished C. M. Kornbluth’s TAKEOFF and read Bill Crider’s latest Dan Rhodes mystery. As mentioned above, I’m well into the Conan Doyle bio as well as halfway through Patti Abbott’s CONCRETE ANGEL. I’ve also read half of a George P. Elliott collection, AMONG THE DANGS. I hope to finish all three, as well as the new Spillane/Collins western, before we move on Saturday.

  4. Richard says:

    Jeff, I just finished a Very Long reply comment to you, and by accidently pressing instead of it vanished. Damn. So I’ll just say the Dirda was okay, the Marsten was good, we have nothing checked out from the library just now, and wow you read a lot.

    • Jeff Meyerson says:

      Not nearly so much as I should. I’m not even at 100 books this year yet, though I am at 500 short stories read.

    • Richard says:

      well, the words TAB and CAPS LOCK didn’t appear in there. Odd. I’m at about 75 books so far, and expect to make my 104 goal. As usual I’ve fallen behind on the short story reading.

  5. Richard says:

    Jerry, with all you have going on I’m amazed you are getting ANY reading done. The Dirda book I read also said he got the Baskervilles idea from Robinson. I find I’m more interested in Sherlock Holmes than the life of Doyle.

  6. Hard to be without connectivity in this day and age. I hate it when it happens. I also do so much of my work via the net

  7. I finished a short little one-sitting read by Pico Iyer called The Art of Stillness. It’s based on a TED talk he gave. The book is better, the talk unwatchable IMO. It’s basically about unplugging for awhile, heh.

    I also read Jim Harrison’s first novel, Wolf: A False Memoir. Harrison can ramble, but I sure like his writing. I’m on a quest to read all of his novels and novellas, and as much of his poetry as I can find. Oh, and his nonfiction as well.

    Right now I’m reading Conversations with Barry Lopez by William E. Tydeman. Also reading Patti Abbott’s Concrete Angel on the eReader. I’m enjoying both of them very much.

  8. I finished listening to the audio of The Nature of the Beast the other day. Really enjoyed it. As always, I’m disappointed and a bit sad when it is over because of the long wait for a new story.

    • Richard says:

      I figured you’d be getting to this one soon, Carl. I agree, it’s hard to wait a whole year, then gulp the book down and have another long wait. I did that with the Scalzi, too, and also CONSTELLATION 3.

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