Current Reading: December 21 – 31

The Corpse in the Snowman

This is the final Current Reading post of 2015.

It’s snowing as I type this late Sunday afternoon, it’s the first snow of the Winter. I feel like curling up by he fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa and a book.

I hope everyone had a terrific Christmas holiday and that you found some books under the tree. I know we did! I’ll put up a “Christmas Goodies” post in a day or two, but for current reading here’s what I have.

Christmas week I read The Corpse in the Snowman by Nicholas Blake. Written in 1941, it’s a classic golden age British country house mystery, and so it’s everything, good and bad, you might expect therefrom. Lots of theorizing, lots of “if X was in the library at 7:10, then the drinks had to have been poisoned before that, which means that Y could…” You get the idea. Possible suspects are added and removed from consideration as Nigel Strangeways works with Chief Inspector Bolton to solve a murder. I don’t read many of these type of books, but I knew what to expect. The solution was acceptable, the ending not so much so. I found some humor, some silliness and the plot got thin in spots, but I don’t regret reading it.

splinter the silenceBefore I start on Everybody Had A Gun, a Shell Scott mystery by Richard Prather for that forthcoming Friday Forgotten special, I’ll spend some time with Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard Volume Three, which was a gift.

Barbara finished The Dark by V. M. Giambanco, which she enjoyed. Speaking of gifts, Barbara got the latest Val McDermid, Splinter the Silence. Since McDermid is a favorite, she’s eager to get started on it.

I hope you have enjoyed this series of posts through the year, both seeing what we’re reading and sharing your own reading in the comments. It was a fine year, and hopefully the coming one will be even better.

Have you read these books or authors?
What have you read recently, or are reading now?

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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18 Responses to Current Reading: December 21 – 31

  1. macavityabc says:

    Always enjoy seeing a post from you, Rick. Happy New Year!

  2. I’m reading Big Fat Books right now. Patrick also gave me a video game for Christmas, THE STANLEY SYNDROME. Still no snow here and temps way above Normal!

    • Richard says:

      We knew it would be cold and wet, but when the flakes began to fall, we were surprised, but delighted. The snowfall lasted about 2 hours, didn’t stick, just big, fluffy flakes drifting down. Nice. We never get your amount of snow here, so it’s usually a treat unless we get iced in on the hill. I look forward to reviews of those BFBs.

  3. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I definitely look forward to these weekly posts. I read some Nicholas Blake but not a lot and not this one.Not sure why he didn’t appeal to me more in my Golden Age phase.

    New arrivals: THE GRAND BANKS CAFE by Georges Simenon, the latest in the new Penguin reprints I’ve picked up. I now have 9 of the first 19 Maigrets in the new translations. (I’ve read non so far.) I also got (thanks, Angela) a copy of Angela Crider Neary’s LI’L TOM AND THE PUSSYFOOT DETECTIVE BUREAU, which Jackie is looking forward to reading.

    I’m still having trouble with novels and I’m reading mostly non fiction and short stories. I read INVITATION TO MURDER, edited by Ed Gorman & Martin Greenberg. Eighteen authors were given a premise – a young womam is found dead on the floor of her apartment – and they could do anything they wanted with it. First of all, the last story by Loren Estleman does not follow that plot at all. I liked Richard Laymon’s story (same title as the book) a lot, for one. Also read THE MODERN LIBRARY: The 200 Best Books Published in English Since 1950 (originally 1999), which gave me a few new titles to read. Authors are Colm Toibin & Carmen Callil. And since there will be a movie version next year, I read J. K. Rowling’s very short FANTASTIC BEASTS & WHERE TO FIND THEM, as by “Newt Scamander.” The movie looks a lot more interesting.

    • Richard says:

      Sometimes my opinion of a book like CORPSE IN THE SNOWMAN changes upon reflection, but for now I’d say it’s an “okay” book. I might read another of the Nigel Strangeways novel, but not until I run out of other mysteries to read. Probably not soon.

      I got THE YELLOW DOG, a Penguin Maigret, my first. I’m looking forward to reading it. I scanned that Rowling, but decided against reading it.that Modern Library book sounds interesting, but I don’t have time for it.

      Glad you enjoy these posts, you always submit a lengthy, interesting comment, which I appreciate a lot.

  4. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Maybe try END OF CHAPTER, a Nigel Strangeways book about the publishing industry.

  5. Patti Abbott says:

    I love seeing what you are reading. I am reading my Prather book and also THE PRICE OF SALT. But I have a pile of books to decide on taking to CA. So many books and more to come with my birthday on Friday.

    • Jeff Meyerson says:

      That’s the beauty of having our car with us, Patti. We can each take all the books we want without having to worry about shipping home any new ones. Plus, I have an awful lot on the Kindle.

    • Richard says:

      But Patti, I thought you’d be going to used book stores and library sales in La Jolla. Happy Birthday to you.

  6. Jerry House says:

    It’s been a while since I’ve read any Nicholas Blake but I have enjoyed the ones I’ve read, including SNOWMAN. There was one (can’t remember the name and I’m too lazy to look it up) about torturous British vacation camps that Kitty particularly enjoyed since it showed that Brits have a strange idea of fun. Strangeways has always been an interesting character, moreso after the author killed off his wife. I was never able to get into anything else by the author, including his poems. (“Blake,” of course, was a pen name for the poet laureate C. Day Lewis, who is now mainly remembered for being the father of actor Daniel Day Lewis.)

    I had really planned to read a lot of books this past week, but — wouldn’t ya know it? — SOMEBODY snuck a holiday smack-bang into it! I certainly hope that doesn’t happen again this week!

    I did finish the new Stephen King collection. I know he’s not your cup of tea, Richard, but there’s some very good writing among the 20 stories here. Even the stories that are not fully up to snuff are interesting. King is not afraid to experiment , to try something new, and to push his boundaries — I have to respect that.

    I have not finished the shirley Jackson collection (dammit!) but I will this week (unless SOMEBODY sticks another dang holiday in there). I only other books I did finish were my FFB (John Creasey’s MARK KILBY STANDS ALONE, written under his “Robert Craine Fraser” pen name) and THE CAVES OF FEAR, a 1951 Rick Brant “scientic adventure” (remember those?) by “John Blaine.” This was number eight in a series that went on for 23 books from 1947 to 1968. (One book, rejected because it hinted that ESP might be real — because these books are laid on a solid foundation of science — saw the light of day in 1990 in a limited edition, brining the full count to an even two dozen. “John Blaine” was a pen name for science writer Harold Goodwin, and the first three books in the series were co-written by Peter J. Harkins.

    I’ve also started Martin Edwards THE GOLDEN AGE OF MURDER and Mary Karr’s THE ART OF MEMOIR. Good stuff, both.

    I’m glad you got some fat, fluffy snowflakes. (The only thing fat and fluffy here is my granddaughter’s cat.) Florida, it seems, is not noted for snow this time of year. They try to make up for it by putting lights on the palm trees. (Take a hint, Florida, it’s not working.)

    I hope 2016 will be as wonderful for you and Barbara as I hope it will be for Kitty and myself!

    • Richard says:

      Yep, those holidays do get in the way, but in this case it came with books wrapped and under the tree, so I’m okay with it. New Year’s Eve and day always have seemed pretty worthless to me, except for the football. But there’s so much of that on these days, January first isn’t special for that anymore either.

      Oh yes, I remember the Rick Brandt books. I have several of them. I read all the library had when I was a kid, which was maybe a third of them.A year or two ago I bought several from eBay, though not CAVES OF FEAR. I’ve re-read the first three and they’re fun.

      I knew series had 23 books, but had no idea there was a 24th. That’s okay, I don’t need another one to read, there are enough. Where/how did you come across your copy of CAVES? I also didn’t know the first three books in the series were co-written by Peter J. Harkins. You are a wealth of information.

      • Jerry House says:

        Richard, eleven of the books are available on Project Gutenberg, which is where I read this one. I do have a couple more that I picked up at thrift shops over the years and I am sure they are available on abebooks and eBay.

        P.S. Still no fat, fluffy snowflakes but we now are under a tornado warning.

  7. I’ve only read one Mouse Guard book but much enjoyed it

  8. Deb says:

    I’m seeing out the year with FAMOUS FOR 15 MINUTES: MY YEARS WITH ANDY WARHOL published in 1988 by former Factory denizen and Warhol “Superstar” Ultra Violet (aka , Isabelle Collin Dufresne). I suspect Ultra’s relationship with the truth in this memoir, published only a few months after Warhol died, is as tenuous as you can expect from anyone who spent the majority of the 1960s ingesting quantities of drugs and hanging around with the speed freaks, junkies, users, and hangers-on who were all part of the Factory life.

    • Richard says:

      I find that a surprising pick for you, Deb, but it should get you through the end of the year. I have read a minuscule number of such memoirs, but have read several biographies and memoirs by reporters and news anchors (Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Dan a Rather and the like).

  9. Matt Paust says:

    Lucky you, getting snow! Christmas in Hampton Roads, Va. was tropical–79 in the shade. It’s cooler now, but still no white. Happy New Year!

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